I’ve been playing Fallout 4 since I was recovering from cancer, off and on, and while I enjoyed it immensely, I’m pretty much finished with and bored of it. I haven’t seen any new single player campaign games that I’ve been interested in spending money on, and I refuse to subscribe to Xbox Live to play games online (this is why I haven’t moved to Fallout 76). But the folks behind Fallout: New Vegas have come up with a planetary exploration game called The Outer Worlds that borrows all the best elements from that series and puts it INNNNN SPAYYYYYCE. Ars Technica gave it a glowing review, so it’s at the top of my list of games to try next.

Date posted: October 23, 2019 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I was digging through old posts earlier today and found this photo, which helps me plan out exactly what has to happen to get the cabinets in place.

I’m glad I take boring pictures of things in progress, because this shows how the pipes were installed and what I’ll need to do to move the right side drain further to the right to clear the edge of the cabinet. I was thinking they were angled slightly upwards but they appear to be a pretty simple 90˚ bend, so all I’ll have to do is carefully cut a bit of the wall to either side of the final bend, cut the pipe, and add an extension. While I’m doing that I’m going to add doglegs to the supply pipes on both sides so that they come up correctly in the back of the cabinets.

I’m on the fence as to whether I’m going to extend the left side as well. Technically the pipe clears the edge of the cabinet, but it would be nice to have it centered. I guess we’ll see how hard it is to move the right side first. The biggest issue will be cutting through that diagonal sheathing in the picture; it’s 100-year-old true 1″ wood, and it’s hard as a rock. Oscillating saw to the rescue!

Date posted: October 22, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, house | Leave a Comment »

I drove into Hopkins this afternoon for my checkup. After a little mixup with the phlebotomist (who thought I still had a port), they took some blood and sent me upstairs to the imaging floor where I drank some shitty contrast that made me feel dizzy, and then laid down for my scan. Because the blood draw backed everything up I had about 10 minutes to run up to the café on the top floor and get a sandwich and some chips before running back down to meet the doctor—but not before the contrast all came out in a hurry. Boy, I don’t enjoy that.


The word is that my oncologist didn’t see anything funky on the scans, and my numbers are all slightly higher than they were in July—at about the same rate of climb during the last interval—so everything looks good. The radiologist will let us know something specific and the doctor will leave a message for me tonight.

That makes 22 months clear. I think on December 18 we’ll have to find a way to celebrate.

Date posted: October 21, 2019 | Filed under cancer | Leave a Comment »

Hazel was hit by a car on Thursday. She got away from her lead and ran toward the front of the house, where we’ve always taken her for morning and evening walks; she has no concept of what cars are or how they pass by the house, so she ran out in front of one and got hit pretty good. She was able to get up and run to the back of the house, where she waited for someone to get her. The vet did a bunch of tests and x-rays and found that her pelvis was broken at the growth plates, and blithely recommended we keep her from walking for two weeks, before sending her home with puppy Advil. This did not help our dog, who metabolizes everything at the speed of light. Jen had to call back and get a sedative and anti-anxiety medication to get her to calm down. One or more of these medications has the bonus effect of making her stool into fragrant toxic pudding, which smells only slightly worse than her farts.


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So she’s confined to the back room, mostly in her crate, and she’s not supposed to walk. The usual practice of sniffing around for a good place to shit is forbidden, so we have to try to discern between HAZEL FREAK OUT and HAZEL NEED POTTY, and carry her out to the side yard (hereafter known as Diarrhea Alley), put her on the ground, and try to talk her into pooping in that spot while she looks up at us with half-glazed eyes wondering what the fuck is wrong with you humans? I think Jen may have better luck with this; I’m only right 1/8 of the time.

I crashed out on the couch for the overnight last night and missed it twice; At 3AM and at 5AM I was awoken by a smell similar to that of an overflowing festival port-a-potty only feet from my face. She sat in the crate on the other side from the mess, looking at me with stoned reproach, wondering when I was going to clean things up. That took a half an hour and three sleeves of paper towels. Then it’s time to feed her the drugs; I’ve gotten pretty good at saving them down her throat. SWEET ANXIETY MEDS.

When the sedatives do hit, she’s a bag of wet cement in the shape of a dog, which is kind of nice after two months of constant spastic activity, but calm times are few and far between. She’ll pace in the crate and whine and cry and carry on and scream, and we’ll take her out and she’ll just stand there in the rain for ten minutes and then we bring her inside and she pees on the floor, and while we’re cleaning that she’s in the crate howling. It’s enough to make me want to pee myself. The back room looks like a bomb hit and smells like stale bus farts. I don’t know how we’re supposed to do this for two (four? six?) more weeks while her pelvis supposedly mends itself; I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll grind through this hell and come to find her intestines have moved to where her lungs should be and her pelvis has fused to her jawbone. I can’t wait to see that vet bill.

We have two more windows sitting in the hallway ready to be installed, but I have no idea when that’s going to happen. We’ll probably have to wait until the spring to get them in, as the warm days are disappearing fast. I’m in a holding pattern in the bathroom as well; last weekend I was able to get a shallow shelf built for the front two windows and framed out the insides, but I had to stop at the outer casings. I also put cap moulding above the closet and the front windows in the dining room. The next big push will be to move the plumbing under the sink, but I don’t see that happening when I have to cut holes in the drywall directly above Hazel’s convalescent bed.

* * *

Finn and I drove down to Grand’s house yesterday to help him sort out his computer issues. He was locked out of his Gmail account, the account he’s been using since Verizon shut down their email servers, and he couldn’t remember any of his passwords or account information. Through some judicious use of internet forensics I was able to answer enough questions to get the authentication started, and then my sister-in-law called wondering why her phone was blowing up with two-factor requests. I switched the number over to his cell, made him a shortcut on his desktop, cleaned out his keyboard, and we were back in business.

Date posted: October 20, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, hazel, house | Leave a Comment »

On Saturday the family gathered in Finley’s room to tackle a large, heavy project that took two nice deliverymen to get up the stairs: a birthday loft bed/desk combination.

The house has been chaos for months, between the bathroom project, the window projects and the dog, there are several cabinets, spare wood, and other building materials stacked in the blue room, tools in the hallway and a compressor in the dining room, and a baby gate between the den and the living room. Finley has been waiting patiently since September, so we tackled it as soon as possible after it was delivered. First we broke down her bed and moved its parts out into the hall, then opened the box and started organizing all 1300 parts. It was slow going at first but after I grabbed two more allen wrenches and another cup of coffee the three of us got the whole thing up and in place. She’s now got a full-size desk under her bed facing the side wall of the house, and her room feels larger and brighter. She’s slept up there several nights without falling out and breaking her head, so that’s a win.

I’m sad, however, that I can’t do “the Bull” anymore. When she was a toddler, I’d stomp around downstairs while she hid under her covers, squealing, and then I’d stomp up the stairs in increasing tempo until I was storming into the room to jump on the bed and yell “YAAARRRGGHHHH!!” and she’d scream under the covers in fear and giggles. It’s impossible to do that when you have to climb a ladder.

Maybe I can install a trampoline…

Date posted: October 18, 2019 | Filed under finn | Leave a Comment »

Vulture did a great interview with Rian Johnson about Brick, his 2006 debut that remains one of my favorites. In it, he explores seven ways he deconstructed the detective movie and leaned into each of the tropes. For example:

He’s not gathering clues or doing anything clever with a magnifying glass; it’s going around annoying people until one of them says something that leads him to the next person he can annoy. There’s really no plan.

Date posted: October 17, 2019 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I read with sadness this morning that my representative in Congress, Elijah Cummings, died this morning in hospice care. He was a strong voice in the House and held truth to power wherever and whenever he was present. As a strong opponent of our current administration, I was proud to see him stand up for his (and our) principles. He will be missed. Tyler Tynes wrote a great article about him over at The Ringer. 

Date posted: October 17, 2019 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

She’s getting a bit large to lay on my lap these days, but I’m not complaining.

Date posted: October 15, 2019 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »

Guard Pup

Date posted: October 13, 2019 | Filed under hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »

Bennett is now rocking fuel injection on Mr. Hanky, so he figured he’d ditch all the 40-year-old technology sitting in his garage. As we were beginning to wrap up with the project last week he walked out of the garage and handed me a spare Thermoquad he had sitting on a shelf somewhere. “I’m not going to need it,” he said confidently.

I put it on the bench this evening and looked it over in comparison to the known good International carb I’ve got already. The new one has a bunch of gewgaws and linkages and levers hanging off the body that I’m not familiar with; that’s because it was built for a 1979 California-market Chrysler 360 with an automatic transmission.

For comparison: the one on the right is a carb manufactured for International Harvester. The new one is in pretty good shape, so as a spare it’ll be good for spare parts. I realize at this point I just need to accept that I’m not going to finish the carb I’ve got and call the guy I met who rebuilds carbs for the  International dealer up the street.

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

Date posted: October 13, 2019 | Filed under Carburetor, Scout | Comments Off on New Carb