This is the pantry in my Mom’s basement at about 9:30 this morning and again at about 11. My Mom, sister and I went through all the stuff on these shelves and filled the back of my brother-in-law’s pickup with expired canned goods, pasta and flour. My father had apparently spent the last fifteen years either preparing for the End Times or unable to prevent himself from resisting a good sale. He’d filled four steel trashcans with flour, pasta, rice, and beans, and we had to go through it all and get it cleaned out.

After lunch we started in on the tools and worked our way around the back side of the basement. By the end of the day, we’d dropped off a pile of stuff at the goodwill and built a huge pile of stuff to be sold on Craigslist. There is a ton more to be done down there, but having the first part done is a great feeling.

Date posted: April 13, 2019 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

Date posted: April 12, 2019 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Wow, OK. Pitchfork gave the new Chemical Brothers album an 8.0. As an unapologetic holdout for big-beat dance and electronica, I’m happy to hear there’s at least one group still making the kind of heavy, hook-laden music I like. I will buy this.

Date posted: April 12, 2019 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

As noted in the Scout blog, I spent Saturday over the river at Brian’s house, but I wanted to get home and cleaned up because Finn was at a sleepover that evening and Jen and I could enjoy a date night together. Initially we were a little worried about the sleepover but when we found out it would be somewhere between ten and eighteen girls we knew she’d have someone to hang with (everything is extremely cliquish and temporary right now). Jen and I had a couple of drinks downtown and caught up on a lot of the past week together, which was just what we both needed.

Sunday I was a little hung over (my new hard and fast rule has to be one whiskey-based drink per night and no more) but after some breakfast, coffee, and a trip to Target I was feeling better. The girls came home and immediately went down for a nap—Finn only had four hours of sleep—and I ran out to Lowe’s for dirt and mulch. While I was there I picked up six tomato plants, and when I got home I offloaded the dirt and mulch and got the bins ready for planting. There’s one cherry plant, a roma, two heirloom beefsteak plants and two reds. I’d like to find a couple of Oaxacas and four more cherry plants to fill things out, but there’s still time.

When that was done I set up a rain barrel on the garage to start collecting water and cleaned up the area behind the greenhouse. The second barrel platform needs to be replaced but I didn’t want to run a circular saw under the bedroom window and wake the girls, so I started rebagging leaves and cleaning up the back side of the house. By dinnertime I was tired but had made good progress straightening things up; I’ve got a major dump run to make with all of the castoff foam insulation from the greenhouse and two bags of plastic, and we’re going to cover the front curb with about thirty bags of leaves next week.

Looking over our overstuffed garage, I’ve been puzzling over where to put the old fridge, but looking things over I think I’ve got a plan. If I move two of the old kitchen cabinets to a space over the workbench I can clear a spot out along the back wall to fit it, but I’ve also got to move some Scout parts around and reorganize things.

* * *

This week is going to be nuts. Today I’m running into DC to do a runthrough of the event we’re holding on Wednesday, and then I run back to teach tonight at 4. Tuesday I’m on a train to New York City, and Wednesday I’m at the Ford Foundation in the morning to shoot video of Christiana Figueres, then over to Hudson Yards to shoot photos of the event that evening. We don’t have a full slide deck set up yet but I’ve had a friend working on the video presentation to make things look good. I still have to get a contract signed and officially hire a pro photographer to get the key event moments (at the recommendation of my fellow director, who allayed a lot of my anxiety over that responsibility).

Thursday I’m on a train back home and I’ll probably do a little work when I get in. And then I’m headed up to Mom’s house to start going through Dad’s stuff in the basement, organizing and hauling things out of there. That will be a long but productive weekend, I think, and then it’s back to the grind on Monday.

* * *

I bought Jen a Fitbit of her own on Friday, and she’s been wearing it all weekend. I think it took a little time to get used to (it’s not as comfortable as a regular watch, but once you’re used to it, it’s not bad) but I think she’s keen on knowing what her sleep patterns are as well as some of the other features. As watches go they are super handy and as much as I like wearing regular watches I’ve noticed that I’m wearing my Fitbit more, just so I can see what my exercise levels are. If I’m to believe the numbers it’s giving me, my Saturday/Sunday steps are more than double my weekday steps, and my overall numbers are much higher—last Sunday I climbed 65 floors when I was installing the greenhouse plastic. I do think it’s a bit confused, because it thinks I climbed 109 floors this Saturday which I know is not true.

Date posted: April 8, 2019 | Filed under family, garden, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »


About a month ago, Brian blew one of the cylinders on the front brakes of his shiny new Scout and decided it was best to just upgrade the entire thing from drums to discs instead of fixing the old technology. We local guys traded emails around to organize a work day, and settled on April 6. I loaded up Peer Pressure with some basic tools, stopped over to Bennett’s house to pick him up with a load of specialty tools (brake tools are exotic and having the right ones is the difference between a great Saturday and a miserable weekend), and then we headed across the bridge to Brian’s house. There we crawled over his new Scout ooohing and aaahhing at the shiny metal and clean mechanical bits before jacking it up on stands and breaking the wheels down.


Having done mine last year I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the process but getting his drums and backing plate off (he has a Dana 27 axle, the smaller cousin of the Dana 44) required removing the hubs. I’ve pulled several hubs off—the wrong way—so watching over Bennett’s shoulder on the passenger side was super handy. After he’d gotten halfway done I went over to the driver’s side and with Brian’s help we got that hub off ourselves. From there it took a little test fitting to put the caliper mounts in the right place, and suddenly the rotors were installed and in place. We kept joking that everything is much easier to work on when it’s not covered in 40-year-old grease and there isn’t rust falling in our eyes.


When we’d gotten the rotors and calipers on and the brake lines swapped out, we bled the system and Brian took it out for a test. It was still pretty spongy so we bled it again, and then a third time. It never did get as strong as a Scout II, which has a full size brake booster, and nowhere near the power of hydroboost, but it’s stopping straight and it feels good. It’s really a beautiful Scout. The guy he bought it from had excellent work done, and it’s about as close to a new Scout as I’ve ever seen. The engine (a 4-cylinder) purrs and there’s no oil on the engine at all.

By this time it was about 4, and even though I’d brought my radiator and a flush kit I knew it was too late to start on that. We sipped some beer and shot the breeze until about 5, and then packed up to head back home.


Bennett hasn’t been able to run Heavy D (his D-series pickup) because of a blown hub left over from some adventures at Pinelands, and mentioned that he was running up to Barnes IH for a replacement on Sunday. I remembered I had a spare I pulled from the Traveler we found in Mt. Airy back in 2013 and told him it was his for the taking. We also talked about the lovely ’66 Mustang sitting in his garage waiting for new brakes and I told him to name the date so that we could set up another work party.

Peer Pressure ran like a top the whole way out and the whole way back; about 160 miles. I did throw a quart of oil in her before I left and that made a huge difference in the sound and feel of the engine.

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

Date posted: April 7, 2019 | Filed under friends, Scout, Trip Logs | Comments Off on Workday

I had a bin full of projects from my UMBC class sitting at my desk waiting to be graded last weekend. Saturday was all about the greenhouse, and Sunday started out rainy, so I spread them out on the coffee table and dug in. By 1PM I was about halfway through and by 6 I had grading sheets written out, grades entered, and printouts ready for proofing. That’s the first time I’ve turned grades around in one week, but it was worth the effort. I’ve got several students in danger of failing who needed the feedback as soon as possible, and I’m going to be tapped out for the next two weekends with other commitments.

* * *

We’re gearing up for a huge event at work, being held at Hudson Yards in New York City two weeks from now. It’s a huge deal for WRI because it’s our biennial fundraiser and this year we’re honoring one of our biggest donors in the middle of his largest project, which as of right now isn’t even finished yet. I’ve been tapped to assemble and oversee the video backdrop for the whole thing, as well as all of the printed visuals, and take photos on the night before and the night of the event. It’s exciting and interesting and will be a challenge to execute, but right now it’s taken over everything else I’m doing at work–which is itself an above-average workload.

* * *

Finley’s business is moving forward through profit and investment; she’s increased her net to $21 through a second day of sales, completed a page of color studies, and is now ready to go to final on her logo. I had a long chat with her about profit, loss, and partnership after she mentioned she’d made a friend a co-owner of the business. Digging deeper, I got her to tell me she’d invited a friend to work the stand with her, which sounds great, but I asked if she was going to split the profits as she’d done before. When she told me that was her plan, we got into a discussion about profit-sharing with partners who don’t invest the same amount (I’ve been teaching her about re-investing her profits into supplies as a way to teach her basic business skills) and after a couple of examples I got her to see that maybe giving half of her profit away to friends who just come and hang out might not be the best business model.

Date posted: April 3, 2019 | Filed under teaching | Leave a Comment »

The guy with the diesel Traveler, who I never wound up meeting up with, has listed his truck on Craigslist for $5500. He painted the entire thing army green, but he’ll get the money for it.

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

Date posted: April 3, 2019 | Filed under Scout, Sightings | Comments Off on Easy Come, Easy Go

There’s another major IH event happening on August 10 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the original Scout plant was located: the Harvester Homecoming was just announced, where you can drive your Scout on the grounds of the original plant and meet up with other owners. This is an interesting idea, but I’m already committed to IH Nationals the following weekend.

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

Date posted: April 1, 2019 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Harvester Homecoming