I got out into the garage for the first time in two weeks to run up the engine, and found a nasty surprise: the front passenger’s tire was flat.

Flat tire

A quick inspection revealed a screw lodged in one of the treads. I broke out the compressor and put air back in it, and it held for a day; Finn and I picked up a new tire repair kit at Lowe’s but I didn’t have time enough to put it in before I had to park her back in the garage.

Morning Ride

But, before I did that, I took her down the street to the coffee shop and picked Finn up from daycare.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: February 24, 2014 | Filed under Repairs, Scout | Comments Off on Flattened.

This post is one in a series based on a format at another website; much like music, I can measure much of my adult life with the cars I’ve driven.

Ate Up With Motor recently did a comprehensive history of the Honda CRX, a car I owned for a brief while and the sale of which I still regret to this day. Which leads me to the next chapter in my automotive history…

My CRX was a hand-me-down silver HF model from my girlfriend’s father, who had driven it, given it to her, and then let her brother rag it out for a while before parking it in his driveway and then offering it to me. My B2000 was blowing oil and beginning to get expensive. I had a desk job as a designer, having gotten out of the contracting business a few years previously, so I did what any 20-something male with disposable income would do: I sold the truck and bought a beat up sportscar.


It had about 90k on the odometer when I got it, the CV joints were already bad, the brakes were shot, it needed some muffler work, and it smelled like cigarettes and feet. I put some money into repairs, got it running reliably, and, unbelievably, got three years of dependability at 40mpg. It was a stick, and first gear was a dog. But once it was at speed, it was a blast to drive–nothing like the pickup.

It was beat up, sure. Her brother had obviously tried to drag faster and lighter cars, played tag with trashcans and mailboxes, spilled coffee, ash, fast food, and bongwater over every inch of the carpet. It rattled and squeaked. The wiring behind the radio was a rat’s nest, left over from multiple hack installations. The AC worked as long as the car was in motion, but the minute it stopped I had to turn it off. This foreshadowed future problems with overheating in Baltimore traffic and a pattern that repeated itself with several other cars until I bought the CR-V.

But, I could fit two mountain bikes under the hatch, park it in a shoebox, and the money I saved on gas more than offset the thirsty V-8 of my first Scout. Where was the downside?

In its third year, it began to show its age by leaving larger and larger clouds of blue smoke behind, and soon it was burning through a quart of oil every two weeks. The rings were shot, and I was living in the city with no tools and no garage to effect repairs. Regretfully, I placed an ad in the paper and sold it to a guy who told me he was planning on setting it up for SCCA racing against MR2s.

Had I been thinking smarter, I would have driven it up to my sister’s house and parked it in the chicken barn out back until I could have afforded a rebuilt engine, but hindsight is, as they say, always 20/20.

Other entries in this series:
’86 Honda CRX
’84 Subaru GL Wagon
’86 Mazda B2000
’73 Volkswagen Camper Bus

Date posted: February 24, 2014 | Filed under cars, history, honda | Leave a Comment »

Walking the trail


Date posted: February 24, 2014 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Sweet! WRI just launched Global Forest Watch yesterday, and we’ve been getting a lot of killer press about it. I was happily surprised to see it pop up on Boing Boing this morning.

Date posted: February 21, 2014 | Filed under shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

What’s inside your camera bag? Shotkit dives in. There’s lots of good info in there. As someone who obsesses over gear and usable storage of gear, this is like crack.

Date posted: February 21, 2014 | Filed under photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Jen is getting on a plane tonight to visit her sister, who is due to deliver a baby any minute now. We originally scheduled the flight and our plans around the baby being induced on Saturday, but a serious lapse in communication between expectant mother and doctors revealed that nothing was actually scheduled and there was nobody available to deliver on the weekend, so now it’s on for Monday. Which means that everyone who went north to lend support will probably miss the birth. I have thoughts, Internet, but I won’t share them here.

So Finn and I are winging it this weekend. We’re scheduled to learn how to make maple syrup tomorrow morning, taking advantage of a break in the cold weather, which should be lots of fun, and my hope is to stay outside for as long as possible to soak in some fresh air. Sunday we have some morning obligations and then we’ll probably do a bit of shopping to stock up before Mama gets back.

A box arrived for me at work this week with some replacement goodies for my home built loudspeakers. I got two replacement tweeters, two ABS molded ports, and eight rubber feet for the bottoms. Wednesday night I started replacing the hack wiring job I did in my freshman dorm with a cheap soldering iron and speaker wire; this time it’s new 14 gauge copper, clean solder and heatshrink over everything. As it turns out, the ports I bought are way too wide for the top of the enclosures, so I’ll either have to return them or find a different place for the vents. I may switch it up and put them in the back depending on how much clearance I’ve got; I don’t think this will affect the sound quality at all. Hopefully I can get a little time over the weekend to finish the other side and start making some holes for the ports and tweeters, and finish buttoning these cases up.

Date posted: February 20, 2014 | Filed under music, projects | Leave a Comment »

At Grantland, Steven Hyden listens to Beck’s new album Morning Phase.

It’s undeniably pleasant music. But peering inside those sleek, circular contours reveals a whole lot of nothing. What are these songs supposed to signify? Sea Change was tied tangibly to romantic loss; Morning Phase was made by a contented suburban husband and father.

Sea Change is one of my top 20 favorite albums. I’ve only heard the first single from the new album, but I’m very curious to check out the rest of it.

Date posted: February 18, 2014 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Date posted: February 17, 2014 | Filed under finn | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on print layouts lately, and when I’m at home I set up the iPad and stream movies as I work. First up, I’m catching up with the HBO series True Detective after seeing the pilot episode on a repeat. It’s really, really good. Whatever your opinion of Harrelson or McConaughey, they are both doing outstanding work in this show—one as a flawed family man and the other as a haunted, nihilistic addict. The last episode (4) ended with a 6-minute tracking shot that rivals anything Scorsese or Cuaron have done for its complexity and fluidity, and I was white-knuckling the edges of my iPad without realizing it before it was over.

I used to watch Justified in its first season, but when our schedules and TVs got scrambled, I fell off and got behind. I’ve been catching up now that we have Amazon Prime, and I remember why I liked the show. The second season picked up all kinds of awards, and rightfully so; the characters are rich and the writing is solid.

I’ve also been watching selected episodes of The Walking Dead to see if it’s something worth picking up, and while it’s not as compelling as True Detective, it’s not bad. I’ve read reviews that complain about characters continually making poor decisions, and from what I’ve seen it’s pretty true, but I like some of the leads and I’ll keep sampling it here and there.

Amazon also has a couple of pilots available to sample, the first of which I watched was Bosch, based on a Michael Connolly character. It’s got Titus Welliver, another Deadwood alumnus, as the lead, a strong storyline, and good writing. I can’t say the same for The After, which comes off as a weak ripoff of LOST with annoying characters and more tropes than I care to admit.

Date posted: February 16, 2014 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Night Station

I’m starting my second day of working from home, looking out onto a white wonderland from my desk. It snowed and then rained all day yesterday, changing back over to snow when the sun went down, so there’s a layer of snow, then ice, and snow on top of that. The sun is out today, though, which means it should be heavy but easier to move (in theory). We didn’t lose power, so I’ll have to find some way of storing three loads of firewood I brought in Wednesday night.

Date posted: February 14, 2014 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »