I’ve been organizing a fall IH meetup for the last month or so (I got nominated at Nationals, as I organized the last meetup in 2014) and it’s looking good. So far I’ve got 10 confirmed attendees and 6 Scouts coming to a lunchtime/parking lot gathering, which is about all we can do in late November. Previous meetups have been work days, but it’s just too cold to work outside, and nobody has a big enough space to gather in at this point.

Pretty Trucks

If you’d like to stop by, here are the rough details:

November 17 @ 11:30-?
Famous Dave’s Barbecue
6201 Columbia Crossing Cir, Columbia, MD 21045

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

Date posted: November 9, 2018 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Meetup Update

W00t. Tickets have been purchased for the Massive Attack show at the Anthem on March 20, and our friend Pete is coming with us!

Jen and I are going to the Gilah Press open house this evening to look at pretty pretty letterpress, drink some drinks, and meet people. Then we will go out and have a drink together at a bar like two adults! I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE.

Elsewhere in the world, shit is burning down, people are being shot, and politicians are still lying. Maybe I’ll have more than one drink and call us an Uber to get home.

Date posted: November 9, 2018 | Filed under art/design, music | Leave a Comment »

Minolta X-700

This is the first in a series of posts I’m writing about objects I have that I love. I set up a light tent in the basement to use for a winter photography project and I’m going to try and post one of these a week and see where it goes.

This is the second camera my Dad bought me for college. Yes, you read that right, I’ll explain in a minute.

It’s a 35MM film camera first introduced by Minolta in 1981, and it was a wildly popular camera for its day.It was designed to be a prosumer entry into the compact SLR market, and with a healthy selection of accessories, the basic model was in production for 18 years. It features two main modes, Program (basically point-and-shoot) and Manual, which is what I set it on for most of the 90’s.

As a college freshman, we were assigned a photography class in fall and spring semester, so I needed a camera. Dad  could have given me a second-hand camera from our collection of unclaimed electronics out of the repossession business (as per New York State law, after 120 days, any valuables left in a repossessed car were forfeit) but he wanted to make sure I didn’t have a piece of junk. So he spent big money at that time to get me a new camera with two lenses–a 50mm and a zoom of some kind, as I recall. I plunged into photography, spending days prowling Baltimore looking for subjects to shoot and long nights in the dark room, listening to Zeppelin III, Disintegration, Ritual De Lo Habitual, and Master of Puppets on my Walkman as I developed and printed. I didn’t learn the technical aspects of photography like I should have, but in shooting a lot, I had a lot of happy accidents. The camera did everything I asked of it and more.

Over the winter break, my roommate Pat and I lost one roommate to attrition and another to irritation, so the housing department placed another student in our suddenly vacant four-bed apartment. He was a flighty, dreamy individual who admittedly had artistic talent but also a couple of untreated mental issues and an annoying girlfriend who smelled like feet and cheap incense. Over the next couple of months we realized we’d traded a mildly irritating roommate for an absolute dipshit who stank of patchouli and left dark rings in the bathtub.

So, the camera. One day I came home from class and noticed a strange man sitting in our living room with my flaky roommate, who told me he was a friend and he needed a place to stay for a couple of days. I thought this was a little odd but naively went along with it, and Pat had the same response I did. A couple of days later I went to the back of my closet to grab my camera for something, and found it missing. When Pat got home I told him, and he found his camera missing as well. Livid, we waited for the Flake to come home. He blithely showed up with his girlfriend and we asked him exactly where he knew this friend from. It turned out he’d met the guy on the street begging for change and invited the guy to come and stay in our house. We told him our gear was missing and asked him if he knew where it was, which he claimed he didn’t. Then we told him we were throwing his friend out, to which his girlfriend started objecting, not so vaguely hinting that we were being racist. At this point I was furious and might have asked her to get the fuck out, but I don’t think I was that collected.

We called the cops and filed a report, and the Baltimore City officer who showed up could not have been more racist and homophobic. Thank you, sir. then we had to call our folks and tell them what happened. I recall standing in the hallway on the payphone, completely ashamed at how stupid I’d been for trusting my stupid fucking roommate and terrified that I’d let my parents down as I explained what happened. They were scared at first (I think I might have started out by saying something like, “I have some bad news…” which is not the way to open a long-distance conversation with one’s parents) but understanding when I they heard the whole story, and probably relieved I hadn’t been mugged or shot. A short time later, the Flake left school after being arrested for driving with an open container in his stepdad’s car. Hopefully someone put him on the medication he so desperately needed.

Dad swung into action and sent me down a replacement camera, the one you see above. It served me well through three more years of college–I got A’s in my photography courses–and I continued to use it as my primary camera through the 90’s up until I got my first digital in 2000. I’ve put scores of black and white film rolls through this camera, dropped it on the ground, bounced it on the bottom of messenger bags, stuffed it under the seats of oven-hot cars, and it still cranks out crisp photos.

Somewhere along the way it was dropped a little too hard and the plastic wind lever/ISO wheel (on the right in the picture above) was cracked to the point where it fell off. Last year I used eBay to source a replacement and did some surgery to fix it. Batteries are still available, and I’ve continued to take pictures with it, here and there, for the last couple of years. Luckily, UMBC has a full-service darkroom available to faculty, so I can start printing photos again when I get some time and the supplies to take advantage of it.

Recently my sister came to visit while I was in the hospital (thanks, Ren!), and brought two boxes of film cameras with her. Most of these were holdovers from the repossession days that were sitting in her attic and did not downsize when she moved in with her husband. One of the cameras was another X-700, in a leatherette case, with multiple lenses. It was absolutely mint; it looked like it had never been used. I left it in the box, unsure what to do with it, and stuck it in my basement. A few months ago, I saw a post on Instagram from one of Jen’s cousins, looking for a film camera to send her son to school with. I messaged her back and told her I had what she needed. I dug out the spare X-700 with a zoom lens, put some new batteries in it, and sent it off to Ohio. Hopefully he will not fall prey to an unbalanced trustafarian or his homeless grifting friends; I don’t know where I’d find a third one of these at this point.

Date posted: November 8, 2018 | Filed under favorite things | 3 Comments »

The Deadwood movie is officially in production. Set 10 years after the series, almost the entire cast is back.

Date posted: November 5, 2018 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Steering on Peer Pressure has gotten…sporty since I put the new tires on. What was once a pretty stable platform has gotten wandery and looser, which makes me nervous when driving at speed. I bought a caster correction kit from Super Scouts a month ago or so, and realized pretty quickly that the installation is more than I’m prepared to take on. So I called the alignment shop I’d used before Nationals and asked if they could install it for me, which they agreed to. So I’ve got an appointment for Saturday morning, and hopefully I’ll see a difference when it’s complete.

Meanwhile I got my rebate card from General Tire in the mail, and the clown who has been hounding me to buy my tires for $100 lower than the asking price got back in touch with me this week. Fuck it. I want them out of my garage. With that cash (providing the guy actually shows up) I can order an aluminum radiator and new hoses, and set that aside as a fall project, if it doesn’t get too cold too quickly.

Finally, I pulled the shitty switch out of the fiberglas panel in back of the TravelTop. I don’t remember having this switch in Peer Pressure, which was a stock 1978 model, so it’s a new thing to me. As I was attempting to unscrew the live lead from the dome light, it was sparking (!!!) so I know I wasn’t seeing things last week. I marked the position of the switches and pulled it out, wrapping the live lead with some electrical tape. 

Examining it closer, it’s a miracle it didn’t burn the truck down earlier. It’s just the barest of mechanical parts with a flimsy plastic switch in the middle, and it appears to be missing a pin or other conductive metal object that was spring-loaded, providing resistance when toggled. I can’t find any mention of it on any of the IH parts sites and there’s no serial number printed on it anywhere. It’s clearly a factory part, as there’s a mount built into the fiberglas panel, but I don’t see any sign of it on the electrical diagrams in the manual (there’s just a straight run from the passenger’s taillight up the rear pillar to the dome light).

More sleuthing to follow.

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

Date posted: November 5, 2018 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Caster Correction


Our friend Christopher was in town this weekend, and we always try to find something interesting to do with him. Jen found that there was a John Waters exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which got all of us excited. The show is mainly his 2D work, stills he’s taken of television screens, playing with the juxtaposition of popular culture and stuff he’s created. There was also some sculpture, some video work (a children’s table reading of Pink Flamingos, which was hilarious) and some adult material we, uh, had to talk Finley through when we left the show. The rest of the BMA was great, as usual–it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been through there, too long–and we headed down the street afterwards to R House for some dinner.


Sunday I took advantage of some rare sunlight to get outside and fix the soffit on the end of the garage, which had come loose from the roof joists and was hanging off the edge. I propped it back up, washed all of the squirrel nest material out of it, and nailed it back into place. Then I sprayed some commercial moss killer on three sides of the garage roof to kill giant clumps of the shit that have been spreading. Hopefully it will make a difference. In the afternoon I got half of the tomato plants pulled and tossed into the neighbor’s yard (don’t tell him), cut the rest of them back, and organized the back of the greenhouse so I could store the lawn chairs for the winter. I emptied two of the three rain barrels, got the front lawn mowed, buffed out a bunch of scratches on the side of the CR-V (the paint looks good as new), and cleaned up the garage somewhat. There’s still more to do but it’s good to have gotten a start on fall.


Date posted: November 4, 2018 | Filed under Baltimore, friends, general, greenhouse, house | Leave a Comment »

The online photography world has been buzzing with news of change at Flickr: the new owners have made sweeping changes to the service and are limiting free users to a cap of 1,000 photos. Apparently they will be nuking everything above that for free accounts in early January. They’re also finally getting rid of the Yahoo login (thank christ), fixing comment spam problems (which never affected me because I never got many comments) and enhancing Flickr Pro (step one: moving from Yahoo data centers to AWS).

I’ve been a Flickr Pro user for 12 years (I joined the day they were bought by Yahoo, so I blame myself for all that followed) and in the last 5 or so I’ve often wondered what my money was being used for. Yahoo was happy to charge me a fee but never added anything to the service–in fact, they wound up taking some of the things I liked away (the ability to post images and text to my blog from Flickr was super handy, and that’s been gone for years now). I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I was hosting more images from WordPress and less from Flickr, and how I might continue down that path in the future…but then I looked at my hosting bandwidth and realized it spiked when I started doing that. So I’ll keep using Flickr as my photo CDN for the time being, and get my money’s worth out of the Pro account for as long as possible. Hopefully they will start adding useful tools back in to the service in the near future.

Date posted: November 3, 2018 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

Date posted: November 1, 2018 | Filed under finn | Leave a Comment »

As an adjunct, I’m only peripherally connected to the University of Maryland; I teach every Monday night and get a check from them every two weeks. I get no benefits, although I do qualify for them, and I have no office or telephone number on campus other than a shared room. Oddly, I’ve been proud of my affiliation with them because I respect the idea of a strong state-run university, and having been a citizen of Maryland for 29 years, I call this home more than any of the other states I’ve lived in. Up until this week, I’ve been happy to consider sending my daughter to one of these schools. Now, I’m not so sure.

I’m embarrassed to hear how the university has handled both the death of one of its student athletes and the disciplinary action taken against the head coach this past week. Basically, the coach is a bully and a tyrant, and his staff completely fucked up by letting the player succumb to heat exhaustion and die (waiting over an hour before calling for medical help). The Board of Regents launched an investigation, which concluded there was wrongdoing but reinstated the coach. After a day of withering press, the President of the University (who was apparently forced to retire by the Board after he objected to the reinstatement) fired the coach last night, after deciding that he didn’t give a fuck anymore on his way out the door.

Some context: UMD made a huge, expensive gamble a couple of years ago by joining the Big 10 conference and pinning their hopes for new revenue on the football program, after being forced to cut 7 varsity  programs and barely breaking even on football as part of the ACC. They are apparently still trying to break even on the new program.

I’ve never been a fan of college sports, having attended a school whose only athletic “program” was a pick-up volleyball game in the elementary school gym behind our student housing. I understand the value of team sports and I respect the abilities of all athletes, even if some of them are assholes. It’s alarming how much athletic programs drive the priorities of colleges and universities and how dependent many have become on the revenue they generate. It’s pretty clear how transparent this decision leans towards keeping the financial status quo at the expense of their employees athletes. But it’s absolutely incomprehensible how any organization could have misjudged the appearance of this decision, or expected the coach to be able to return and effectively run the team.

It seems to me there needs to be an investigation into the Board of Regents and why they are a useless bunch of twats.

Date posted: November 1, 2018 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »