I’m not on Facebook much, but I jumped on there the other day, following a link from somewhere else. On the Super Scout Specialists page they announced that the next Nationals will be in 2021, skipping next year for the Harvester Homecoming, which is held a little further west in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve got mixed feelings about this, as we had such a blast this year, but my family has tentative plans for a long vacation next year that might impact a trip to Ohio anyway.

While we were out there, I talked to Bennett about the historic license plates he has on his D Series truck, and learned that it’s a $25 one-time fee to switch from current Maryland plates to a set of antique plates correct for the year of your vehicle—if you can find them. The local antique store in town had a bin with about 20 different plates, in pairs and in singles, and I found a clean set of 1976-era plates for a total of $15. This is a screaming good deal, as eBay’s average price for two is about $60. I could have gone with Bicentennial plates but I didn’t like the look of them—red lettering over a white plate will look better with a dark purple paint job.

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

Date posted: August 30, 2019 | Filed under Future Plans, Scout | Comments Off on Nationals 2021

John Margolies was an art historian and critic who traveled America and took photos of signs he saw along the side of the road. His collection, almost 40 years’ worth of work, was purchased and donated to the Library of Congress, who digitized the negatives and have now lifted all copyright restrictions on the photos.

As a student of design and a fellow enthusiast, this is like a bucket of dopamine injected straight into my cerebral cortex.

Date posted: August 30, 2019 | Filed under art/design, photography, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Prompted by a post on Kottke.org, I followed a link to an Ask Metafilter thread where the poster was wondering if any old-school bloggers were still active and what the links were. I’ve been a member of Metafilter for over a decade and visit it daily, but haven’t posted anything for years. I figured this was as good a time as any and added my site to the list.
Update: See this interesting 2018 review of a blogroll from 2003. These names take me back, kids.

Date posted: August 29, 2019 | Filed under links, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Oh, man, this sucks: Jessi Combs, a television personality, fabricator, racer, and speed record holder, was killed yesterday trying to break her own land speed record in Oregon. I used to watch the 4×4 show she was on about 15 years ago, and then was pleased when she did a stint on Mythbusters. She was doing a bunch of other things since then, including setting the Women’s Land Speed Record of 398mph in 2013 and winning in her class in King of the Hammers. There aren’t enough positive female role models out there, and she was one of them: someone who could design, build and race her own stuff. RIP.

Date posted: August 28, 2019 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I pulled a bunch of little caterpillars off the tomato plants last night, probably about 20 of them, and crushed them beneath my shoe. They destroyed the top foliage on half of the plants and in doing so killed off the third wave of fruit. Disgusted, I cut back most of the brown foliage, watered everything, and picked the remaining ripe tomatoes. There’s still some green fruit left but it’s pretty sparse, so this is pretty much the end of our tomato season for 2019. It looks like they are Yellowstriped Armyworms, which are pretty common up the eastern seaboard and love to eat crops.

* * *

After measuring and re-measuring the windows in the dining room, I called and got pricing for four new replacements, two for the outside wall and two for the porch wall. The outside wall should be a cut-and-dry operation, basically pulling the outer moulding, removing the windows themselves, and pulling the sash weight mechanicals. I think the biggest issue is going to be filling the sash pockets with some kind of insulation—whether it’s spray foam or compressed cellulose, I’ve got to find a good solution for getting in there and making sure they’re packed.

The front windows are going to be more of a challenge, because when the Doctor had them covered over, the workers chopped about 2″ off of each of the verticals in the windowframe so they don’t extend all the way to the edge that meets the wall. I’m faced with either ripping the entire dual windowframe out and replacing it, or taking each vertical board out one at a time and replacing it without moving the horizontal header and plate. The latter solution is the best, but requires nonstandard wood dimensions—the boards are 1 1/4″ thick, which hasn’t been standard since before the Second World War. So I’ll either have to have something milled or work with what Home Depot has.

Meanwhile the bathroom cabinets are on order (have I mentioned that already?) and should be ready in another 2-3 weeks, which gives me enough time to sort out the last of the geometry problems over the back door of the bathroom. Basically the windowframe and the doorframe both come together at an odd angle, close enough that the cap moulding overlaps in space. The way it’s set up now I’ve got to pull the side casing I tacked in off the door and replace it with new boards about 1/4″ higher so that the top of the window and door are at the same height.

Once that’s done I can move inside the closet and finish off the moulding inside and work my way around the perimeter of the floor up to the shower.

* * *

Hazel is getting more and more used to our daily routines (such as they are) and mostly settling in to a schedule of her own. Inside accidents have reduced dramatically, and she’s very good at letting us know when she needs to go out. Her prey drive has ramped up though, and the cats are scarce whenever she’s out on her own. Her anxiety has also ramped up to double what it was when we first got her, so there’s been more whining and crying at night in the crate. We have a quote from the Invisible Fence guy to surround the house with wire, and I’m going to call him today to schedule it.

Date posted: August 27, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, greenhouse, hazel, house | Leave a Comment »

Nice! I wouldn’t have known this if I wasn’t faculty at UMBC, but we now get a free Lynda.com account through our Baltimore Public Library library cards. (I thought we might have access to an account through the college).

Date posted: August 26, 2019 | Filed under Baltimore, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I didn’t get much done on anything over the weekend, but I did get about a half an hour to take care of two things I was looking forward to: installing my new hood strut and re-attaching the rearview mirror to the windshield.

The strut took a little bit of understanding to complete, as the directions were basic text and included only two pictures, but I was able to understand the basic concept and get things aligned pretty quickly. The original spring-loaded pin gets removed. The new bracket goes in over the existing fender bolts. Then there’s a two-bolt bracket that installs in the original pin rail on the hood, and a plastic standoff that attaches to the top of the gas piston. Once I’d sorted that out I adjusted the length of the piston and then tightened everything down. It’s a world of difference and it means I can close the hood from the driver’s side instead of walking around each time.

The rearview mirror went in quickly, and this time I glued the clip on right-side up (last time I did it upside-down). Hopefully the Permatex kit will hold better than the 3M kit did.

Finally, I took a look at the heater valve in the engine bay while I had the hood open. It’s been stuck open forever, which means even when the fan is off it’s blowing hot engine air into the passenger compartment. I was going to soak it with PBBlaster again in the hopes that I could get it to move, but first I tried closing it with my hand—and it moved! Interestingly, the slide control on the dash is impossible to move, so I guess there’s something frozen or stuck closer to the dashboard. Either way, it’s closed for now.

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

Date posted: August 26, 2019 | Filed under Part Numbers, Scout | Comments Off on Quick Repairs


Two Wednesdays ago, the day I was rushing around trying to focus on work and also get organized for Ohio, I got a giant, heavy package via UPS delivered to the door. I opened it up to reveal a carefully wrapped group of antique cameras and a lovely note from my cousin Margaret (who, I believe, lurks here but has not commented). These were her father’s film cameras, and as they were gathering dust at her house, she thought she would send them along to me.


They are all beautiful cameras but by far my favorite is this one: a Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex, a twin-lens reflex model manufactured by Zeiss sometime between 1934 and 1939, according to this website (the shutter lens assembly is from an earlier model and the body is from a slightly later model, so my guess is that someone fixed this one by combining parts from both). It’s both a long way away from my Rolleicord/Yashica TLRs and very similar; the focus wheel is actually a lever mounted on the side, but all of the wind/shutter/aperture controls are exactly where I expect them. I cleaned up the optics with a damp cloth, dusted out the inside, and made sure the mechanicals all work.


Then there was a box in perfect shape that held a Kodak Senior Six-20, a medium-format bellows camera from the late 1930’s. All of the original sales material is included, and the camera looks like it was just pulled off the shelf of a Woolworth’s or Sears & Roebuck by a guy in a bowtie and shop apron; the leatherette is unmarked, the bellows is pristine, and the mechanicals are flawless. When I look at the packaging and design of this piece I think of modern-day Apple: the design is excellent and of its age, there isn’t anything on the package that doesn’t need to be, the craftsmanship of the package and camera is exquisite, and it feels like an event to open the box. I could put this next to an iPhone box from the modern day and they would be father and son.


The next is a Minolta A.2 35mm rangefinder from somewhere in the late 1950’s, an absolute beast of a camera that probably weighs 35 lbs. It’s also in excellent shape and the mechanicals check out as far as I can tell. It’s enclosed in a leatherette case that probably adds another 10 lbs. to the whole package. How did people travel with stuff like this back in the day? My neck would snap like wet twigs if I had to haul this thing around Disneyland for a weekend.

There was a Revere Ranger 8mm winding cine camera, which is actually heavier than the Minolta. I think this thing was chiseled out of pig iron. It’s finished with that marbleldy texturing that was popular in the 1950’s for things like movie projectors and electronic equipment, and it feels solid as a brick in my hands. It’s actually the second of these that I’ve got: My Dad had one of these in the stash I bought back in 2002, and I’m curious to put them side by side to see if there are any differences. This one has a set of interchangeable lenses, which is kind of cool for its day.

Finally, there’s a General Electric exposure meter in a small velvet pouch. The pictures make it look really cool, like it’s an instrument that was pulled from the control panel of a DC-3. Unfortunately it’s jammed into its case, a half-box made out of bakelite, I’d guess, and I can’t seem to get it out. I’ve got to do some research on how to extract it without ruining the material.

Margaret, these are all wonderful timepieces, and I really appreciate your gift. I’m going to put them in a place of honor here on the Photography Wall, and I’m definitely going to put some film through the Zeiss—as soon as I finish the roll in the Yashica.


Date posted: August 24, 2019 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

Sometime last week, when I wrote about iPhone battery drain or our new family addition, I passed the 5,000 post milestone here on Idiotking. When I average out the numbers, that’s about 22 posts a month since March of 2001, including syndicated posts from the Scout blog. In the grand scheme of blogging, that’s probably peanuts; there are bloggers who have averaged two or three posts a day since before I started. But this site is still here, and I don’t intend on going anywhere. I look around at a wasteland of dead links and abandoned URLs and still feel a sense of perverse pride for keeping this thing going as long as I have.

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

So, the plants were doing fine up until the night before I came back from Ohio, when something descended on the plants in the darkness. Much of the topmost foliage on five of the ten plants was completely consumed by something that left big round black poop on the tables below. I did some reading and found some references to tomato hornworms, which I guess makes sense. The girls were able to harvest more fruit before the disaster but we did lose some ripening fruit as well. This could have also been due to the mice I’ve been trapping every week, who are jumping up onto the containers and chewing at the low-hanging fruit. I’ve put out two different types of traps baited with peanut butter, and they seem to be taking their toll on the population but there are always more where they came from. It’s clear I have more research to do as well as some serious varmint-proofing.

* * *

Cabinets for the bathroom were ordered the Wednesday before I left for Ohio, and should be delivered sometime in the next three to four weeks. I have more woodworking to do on all of the trim throughout the room, including some very tricky angle work on the back door/window area where two sections of crown moulding come together at the top. I have to pull off two precut pieces of casing and cut two new ones 1/8″ higher so that they line up with the top of the window moulding, which will help align the crown moulding. There are some sections that need some trimming above the closet door, and once that’s done I can permanently install that trim. Oh, and I have to find someplace to put the cabinets when they’re delivered. I think that treadmill is going out on the front curb this weekend…

Finally, I have to troubleshoot my $20 router table to allow for the super-wide bit I bought for the threshhold plates. I think I’m going to just widen the hole with a Dremel and lower the bit below the deck height; the only alternative is to build up a taller cutting surface with scrap wood, which is a janky solution at best. The threshhold plates are sort of the keystone for a lot of the moulding in each room; I can’t permanently install any of the moulding without setting them in place.

Date posted: August 22, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, garden | Leave a Comment »