Not much to report on the Scout front, other than just getting things done. Last weekend we were out at the Home Depot hauling mulch and soil. This weekend we were…out at the Home Depot hauling mulch and soil. Before that, though, we made two trips to the dump with the remains of the greenhouse foam and plastic, as well as two barrels of trash and assorted wood. There will be another two dump runs made next week because I’ve already filled the barrels again.


I also took advantage of the fact that our new neighbors haven’t moved in and drove across their back lawn to straighten up the fenceline on the other side of our house. When the fence was put in, they poured concrete footers about 3″ deep and drove the posts the rest of the way into the ground. That was probably 20 years ago, and several of the posts were sagging. I threw a tow strap on them and pulled them upright, then drove wedges alongside and underneath, and got them to stand upright again.

She’s running well but I’m more and more concerned about the steering, so I want to move the timetable for getting it fixed sooner than later. The weather is getting warm and I’d like to get the traveltop off, but I don’t want to do that until she’s been over to the alignment shop and back, considering they’re on the other side of Baltimore and it’ll most likely be a couple of days to have the work done. I’ve been waiting on cashflow to pull the trigger, but March-April bills have been killing me. Hopefully May will bring a little extra cheddar to get this done.

I did take about 15 minutes to break down the dashboard and slap a new 4″x8″ speaker in place this afternoon. I went with the cheaper of the two options and used the feed from the left front speaker. It probably won’t make much difference at 60mph but rolling around town it’ll be nice to hear some tunes coming from up front.

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

Date posted: April 28, 2019 | Filed under Purchasing, Scout | Comments Off on Speaker

I returned from New York with more than just cameras. My father had a collection of tools from over the years that could fill several garages. We spent some time winnowing down the collection when he and my mother downsized from the lake house, and I filled a U-Haul with all kinds of stuff. Still, when they filled the moving truck later that year I’m certain 1/3 of it was toolboxes filled with mismatched sockets. I’ve now got those sockets, and while I’m not complaining, it’s going to take some time to organize them.


Because most of them originated out of repossessed vehicles, they aren’t complete sets—they are a mishmash of the best of the loose sockets picked up after 10+ years in the business: SK, Snap-On, Thorsen, Craftsman, Proto, Matco, Utica, and a couple of of lesser singles  stamped only TAIWAN or JAPAN. There are multiple driver sizes: 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ all to be collected and organized. There are multiple drivers, as well, and several breaker bars. There are handfuls of screwdrivers, which is a windfall, because now I can stock the garage toolbox with decent tools as well as the basement. I now have at least 5 pairs of vise-grips, an entire set of nut drivers, multiple pairs of regular and needle nose pliers, another fistful of open-ended wrenches in SAE and metric sizes, about 10 utility knives (this is a Good Thing because utility knives always disappear whenever you need them) and SO MANY other odd one-off bits and bobs, I don’t have room for them all in my toolchests.

The sockets will go out into the garage to supplement the ones I’ve got out there already, and the wrenches will come inside to bolster the ones I’ve got in the basement. I’m splitting the screwdrivers and knives and pliers between locations. The ultimate goal is to avoid having to run to the basement for something when I’m working in the garage, and vice versa.

Meanwhile, I’ve had to reorganize the garage again to fit the old fridge, which is now on the back wall where two of our old kitchen cabinets once hung. The garage was at full capacity before the fridge went in, but now it’s overfilled. I’ve started culling stuff that’s been sitting in there for months/years and moving things around but it’s not going to get any bigger in there. It’s to the point where I’m considering buying one of those premade sheds they sell at Home Depot to stuff Scout parts or lawn tools in. Or I’ll just Freecycle the fucking fridge.

The basement has also slowly filled with stuff over time; the amount of empty floor space has diminished to the point where it’s hard to walk down there without tripping. I’ve got a list of stuff that’s going to be donated to Goodwill that I’ve got to start assembling, and there are several piles of lumber that need to be relocated.

I was able to finally make a couple of dump runs to get rid of the foam insulation from the greenhouse, which had been stacked behind the garage collecting pollen, and two bags of old UV plastic from the walls. While I was out, 50mph winds brought on by this odd weather system we’re dealing with shook several of the retaining bars off the greenhouse, allowing the plastic to flap open in places. This is odd behavior, something I never had to deal with before, and I’m a little stumped as to the cause and solution. I think it’s because the foam is gone and there’s less structural rigidity, which means the plastic can billow open and shut much easier now. The only remedy I can see is putting the clips back in and securing them with some sheet metal screws—something that makes me nervous. If this continues I’ll have to spring for some polycarbonate panels in the fall and set up a rigid wall where the foam used to be.

Date posted: April 27, 2019 | Filed under family, garden, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »

What is this?

Simple Opt Out is drawing attention to opt-out data sharing and marketing practices that many people aren’t aware of (and most people don’t want), then making it easier to opt out.

It’s a site with deep links to the actual pages where you can explicitly request opting out of data sharing that you never opted into in the first place. There are a bunch on here that I need to contact tomorrow.

Date posted: April 24, 2019 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


On Saturday morning, Finn and I had stopped by the Lowe’s for dirt and I grabbed a bunch of marigold seed packets to plant among the tomatoes, as well as some dirt and six sheaves of leaf bags.

Baltimore County has timed the last leaf pickup day to come roughly three weeks before all the leaves have actually fallen, so every year we are caught with about 20 bags of leaves and no place to put them. I stacked them up against the house last December and naturally the bottoms all rotted out over the winter. Two weekends ago I got rid of about half of them, and this weekend I cleaned up all but two of the remaining bags before running out of covered space. I figure by next week (the next pickup day) we’ll have the rest of them gone. But this leads me to another garden project: a new mulch pile where I’m going to use next fall’s leaves for plant dirt the following spring.

I borrowed my neighbor’s pressure washer and cleaned the front stairs, the fenceline by the garage, two Scout traveltop inserts, and a bunch of the lawn furniture. Then it was time to get ready for the neighborhood happy hour/easter egg hunt, where Finn has now joined the ranks of the elders; we brought Bear and Ruby with us as representatives of the next generation. This one was in the early evening, so the kids had to wait a while for the hunt to begin, but I think they had fun.

Date posted: April 24, 2019 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

We have shower door glass!

And we have grouted floor pebbles! I’m told we can shower in this thing today, but I’m going to wait a day for the inaugural test run.

Date posted: April 23, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, house | Leave a Comment »

So apparently the Mueller Report has been released in a redacted format, and it says something completely different than the Barr summary. There are multiple takes on what it actually says, but the consensus seems to be that the Trump campaign colluded with and benefited from Russian interference in the election knowingly and willingly. Most importantly, Mueller made it to the point where he could have said Trump’s team committed obstruction but stepped back.

It’s been clear since the beginning that this presidency is riddled with blatant corruption and a complete lack of civil and moral ethics; these are people who went into public service without the public good in mind. What we need is a large group of lawmakers and legislators with the moral courage to stand up to the Executive Branch and actually call them out on their hypocrisy and lies. This was a missed opportunity to do just that, and it will be swept under the rug as fast as the next news cycle.

Date posted: April 19, 2019 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

“I just thought, If the typical N.R.A. member knew that this is how the organization really works, then there’s no way they would give money.” But Davis felt that the culture of the organization discouraged complaints.

I just inherited my father’s guns, and as a law-abiding citizen, I’m going to be licensed in the state of Maryland to own them. But there’s no way I would have ever joined the N.R.A. before reading this article; after finishing it, I’m even more disgusted by their absolute lack of ethics and morals; from what the article says, it’s just a moneymaking scheme for a P.R. firm and several top officers of the association.

Date posted: April 19, 2019 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

Finn and I went out to inspect the tomato plants last night and found three fruit already started on the cherry plant!

I have a lot to accomplish this weekend: All the bins need more dirt, there are two bins empty (with room for one more), and space for a total of eight more plants. I’ve got to buy a cheap box fan for ventilation, a long extension cord to power it, and a new drip hose to water everything, as well as repair the rain barrel platform and get that set up because the garage barrel is already full(!!)

Date posted: April 17, 2019 | Filed under garden, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »


This is a shot from the top of the Vessel at Hudson Yards, taken with a 16mm wide-angle lens on a full-frame camera body. it looks wild but it doesn’t really capture how big or how high this thing is. I do know that after having climbed it with a 60-lb. camera bag on my back, my calf and glute muscles were singing. More on that experience later.

* * *

One of the things I put aside in the Great Cleanout was my Dad’s camera bag, a big poofy faux-leather monstrosity that was more zippers than usable space. Inside, I walked back through his digital camera history, which included the following:

  • A Nikon Coolpix 995, their millenial attempt at a consumer-friendly point-and-shoot hobbled by an inane menu system and a confusing button layout. Maddeningly, though, in a world where two of my newer-vintage Nikon prosumer DSLRs have died from  mechanical failures, this camera from 2001 still boots up and takes pictures. Dad bought a couple of specialty screw-on lenses for it at some point, which are mostly fun for novelty value, and also a slide digitizing attachment. There are also about 10 aftermarket batteries of varying age and quality available. I think this might be Finn’s beater digital camera after I get it cleaned up.
  • A Nikon D80 I’d just given him a year and a half ago to have fun with. On the card inside were several pictures of his dining room table, the kitchen, and the front walk, when he was getting used to the features and controls. He’d bought a handful of new batteries for this camera as well. I wish I’d given it to him much earlier, because I don’t think he was comfortable with it yet. This will replace the aforementioned DSLRs I’ve got laying about the house.
  • A Canon Vixia HF R300, a tiny HD-quality video camera he’d bought last year at some point, and about six new off-brand batteries. It’s the kind of camera I would have killed for about 15 years ago but I don’t entirely know what I’ll do with it just yet; Finn can certainly have fun with it, and we may use it for things like school events or maybe I can bring it in for work events. This also came with a handful of batteries.
  • Finally, I inherited his Konica Auto S2, the camera he used to shoot most of our family photos up until the early 1980’s. After examining the outside of the case I realized it’s a lot different than the other 35mm rangefinders I’ve used in the past. This article goes into some good detail about the design and setup of the camera, and mentions that the lens (a 45mm f/1.8) is both excellent quality and fixed to the camera body, so my dad was shooting a fixed prime before all the hipsters were. I will need to scare up a new battery for it, as well as give the whole case a good cleaning, but I’m excited to put some film through this body and see how it turns out.
Date posted: April 16, 2019 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

Brian stopped by this morning to grout the glass tile on the walls and then lay down the pebbles on the floor in the shower. HOLY SHIT GUYS IT’S COMING TOGETHER. He was then able to haul all of his tile gear out, making the bathroom look 1,000 times bigger again—except for the section in back where I still haven’t finished up the moulding around the wall. Next up will be installation on the glass door and grouting the floor tile; after letting that set, installing a shower head and caulking the seams, we can actually use this shower!

…I’m going to go looking for new toilets.

Date posted: April 15, 2019 | Filed under bathroom | Leave a Comment »