I’d like to say Memorial Day Weekend was spent in lazy pursuit of relaxation, but it kind of wasn’t. We were at the neighbors’ on Friday night for dinner and drinks, and had a great time, but one extra-strong beer gave me a pounding headache Saturday morning.


I took on some freelance work last week, and so I found myself behind a computer for 2 of the 3 lovely days we were given; in retrospect I would rather have left the money on the table and gotten outside with my family. Even so, Jen and I celebrated our anniversary at The Food Market, a wonderful hipster restaurant in Hampden. The food was delicious but the bar tab for 4 drinks came to $50, which is Manhattan money, not Hampden money!

Sunday was more work for me while the girls went out to be social; later in the day we were invited back over to the neighbors’ for a more low-key cookout which was what we were all really in the mood for.

Saturday our neighbor stopped by to mention he’s getting a dumpster to haul off a bunch of brush from his yard; he figured he’d have room left over and wanted to know if I might be interested in filling it for splitting the cost. Given that I’ve had a pile of construction rubble sitting alongside the driveway since last summer, I thought this was a swell idea, and will spend part of this coming weekend happily hauling concrete.

Date posted: May 28, 2015 | Filed under family, general | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: May 27, 2015 | Filed under humor, photo | Leave a Comment »

Look to the sky

Date posted: May 24, 2015 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Eleven years ago today, I married this lovely woman. While it hasn’t always been easy, it sure has been interesting. I love you, blondie.

Date posted: May 22, 2015 | Filed under history, life, photo | Leave a Comment »

Last night I went downstairs to check on my kegs and found that they were sitting in about 4 inches of Hefeweizen. Careful application of some soapy water revealed the outflow post on the keg is leaking, allowing about two gallons of beer to fill the bottom of the kegerator. I pulled out my beer siphon, hooked up a tube, and cleaned it out manually.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a flooded kegerator; this same keg was leaking from the main seal a year or two ago, and I fixed that with a new seal and some food-grade grease. It’s just annoying to have taken the time to brew the beer and then have it wasted by mechanical error.

Date posted: May 21, 2015 | Filed under brewing | Leave a Comment »

I don’t have many things left over from my time at Cidera other than a damaged liver, some old promotional materials, a suspicious bottle of red wine, a bunch of great friends, and a black Pelican case. (I’m not listing my wife because I’ve never presumed to own her).

The Pelican case has been sitting on my shelf in the basement for years. It was originally bought to carry the roadshow laptop, a bit of paramilitary flavored theater for a serious mission (for some context, my boss was famous for owning a certain yacht): a dog-and-pony presentation given to investors who might possibly provide the next round of seed funding, and a crucial part of the dot-com burn cycle. I was in charge of building the presentation and buying the hardware, and spec’ed out three blindingly fast Thinkpads with three identical Pelican cases. I’ve written about the experience before. After I bailed out I’d forgotten I had one of the cases at home, and wound up with it when Cidera imploded months later.

In 2003, I refitted it to carry my Pismo Powerbook to Bimini with a spare battery and power supply. Specialty replacement foam was expensive, so I found a shop in Federal Hill who sold closed-cell foam and cut it to fit myself. It worked great; I carried it on the dive boat and offloaded pictures from my then-cavernous 256MB CompactFlash cards between dives. Then, it returned to a shelf in the basement.

I’ve been thinking about travel since I joined up with WRI, and the question is not if, but when. Now that I can afford to kit the Pelican out for photo gear the way I want it, I came to realize I didn’t remember what model it is. I called the number on a sticker pasted to the inside of the lid, and talked to a salesman from the company who’d originally sold it. I gave him the case number, he did some research, and he was able to give me the info I needed. Then he chuckled and said, “Ha! It says here Cidera was my account. I must have sold them this case.” I chuckled back at him and said, “I’m the guy you sold it to. Nice to talk to you again!”

Date posted: May 20, 2015 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

Hmmm. Filing this away for future reference: How to Modify a Cheap BBQ Smoker for Better Tasting Meats. It’s mostly clickbait, but the part about sealing it up is good advice.

Date posted: May 20, 2015 | Filed under shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

This is pretty cool. It’s a visualization of how Baltimore looked 200 years ago, with an overlay of what it looks like now and some basic landmarks for orienting. Funny to see that my house in Canton was underwater in 1815. (You will need Chrome to view it; unfortunately, we’re back to 1998 when you need a special browser flavor to view a site.)

Date posted: May 19, 2015 | Filed under Baltimore, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

My intention was to get a ton of stuff done this weekend: Do my grading, bottle some beer, brew another batch, fix the leaky keg in the kegerator, put the soft top on the Scout, maybe make a recycling run. Of all that, I got my grading 95% complete. The rest of the weekend was kind of a lazy wash.

Our third yard sale morning was somewhat beneficial. Finn and I got up late Saturday morning, wolfed down some breakfast, and hit the east side of town where a couple of community sales were happening. We came upon a man with some hand tools for sale, and I passed up all but three Craftsman metric wrenches because the sockets he had were all duplicates of ones I’ve got. Further down the road we came upon an unused smoker for $20, which I snapped up quickly, and Finn found a tiny luggage key and some good books for herself.

$20 yard sale steal: an unused smoker. You want to smoke up some breakfast? Done. You want to smoke up some Thanksgiving turkey? Done. #bacon #smoker #hellyeahyardsale

The pickings were pretty slim up the road, so we headed back home and farted around in the yard for a while. Then I stopped over to Finn’s old daycare to finish up training on the website I built for them back in October. After returning home for a shower and a shave, we picked up sushi and beer and went to visit Bear Gebler and his parents to get our baby on. NOM NOM NOM GIVE ME BABY TO HOLD. He was sacked out when we got there, slept through dinner, woke up to pee, had some milk, and promptly passed right back out again. Nice to see you, kid.


Sunday I got up and started work formulating a complicated spreadsheet to sort out my grading, which made no sense until my second cup of coffee. Then I went back and looked over my students’ midterm work and grades, compared it to their final work, factored in attendance and completion, and got my final numbers in order. With a few small exceptions I think it fits with what I was expecting very closely.

I’ve become a shoe guy. There, I’ve said it. I’m not Imelda Marcos with that shit, but I like to have a good classic pair of brown and black shoes for work. I’ve had a brown pair of Dr. Marten 1461’s since 1997 that I’ll never part with. I bought them with my ex at Nordstroms, and spent a lot of money on them, but they’re the original Made in England Docs, and they were made for my feet the day I tried them on. Those are the kind of shoes I like.

I’ve needed a black pair of casual dress shoes for forever; I also need another brown shoe to mix things up. And the trick has been finding something I like. I’ve been buying and returning black semi casual shoes from Zappos since the end of March, with no success. I started with Börn, which looked good online but wore like barges in person. Then a pair of Steve Maddens, which felt like I’d strapped cramped wooden blocks to my feet. Then I tried two styles of pricy Fryes, which looked great but suffered from crepe soles, which are made of snot and apparently turn black with age. For $250, snotty black shoes? No thanks.

With that backstory, we headed down to DSW to return a pair of shoes I’d bought last weekend which turned out to be torturously small in practice (how can that be when I tried them on at 4:30PM?). This was my second attempt at Steve Maddens–never again, no matter how lovely they look. Today I found Penguins, which feel great and look about the way I want them to. Unfortunately, they were out of black. So I got dark brown to replace a pair of $40 Target chukka boots I’ve worn the soles out of. (While I was there I tried a pair of Clark’s desert boots on, and OH MY GOD what crap shoes those were. I felt like I was lacing two sides of misshapen buffalo hide to my feet. What the fuck is that?) I then found another pair of casual dress shoes in the Clearance section for peanuts, so I grabbed those while I was at it; they’re a deep brown and could pass for black until I can find black. Who knew it was so hard to find the right shoe?

Date posted: May 17, 2015 | Filed under family, photo | Leave a Comment »

I drove up to the mountains of southwest Pennsylvania today to shoot a series of videos for our Forest team at a retreat. I’m exhausted from the work but I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve spent at my job in a while. The technical demands of setting up, adjusting, and shooting digital video with sound are difficult, made even more interesting when you add hiking through the woods and unpredictable weather to the mix (it was mostly sunny, but the mixture of clouds and howling wind through the valley made consistent lighting and sound challenging). I got six two-camera interviews in the can, with a small amount of B-roll and some solid ambient sound recording. I met a bunch of people, from new additions to foreign-based members, and learned about the possibility of some overseas travel. After we wrapped for the day, they fed us dinner with an excellent choice of beer and dessert, and then we played an epic game of kickball on the 18th hole fairway.

A photo posted by @idiotking on

Date posted: May 12, 2015 | Filed under WRI | Leave a Comment »