After last week’s calamity, I got another MacBook Pro up and running in what must be record time; the FedEx guy dropped off the box at about 12:30 Tuesday afternoon and by dinnertime I had backed up the local Dropbox folder (381GB), installed a fresh copy of Catalina, Office, the Creative Cloud suite, a handful of utilities, and then dumped the Dropbox folder in place so I wasn’t syncing everything over the cloud. Wednesday morning I was up and running by 9AM.
I could not be happier with Apple for the way they’re handling the repair claim. After checking my serial number against the warranty yesterday, I had a human on the phone within 5 minutes, who set up a return with no static. A prepaid shipping box arrived on our doorstep today at noon, and I’ll drop it off at FedEx tomorrow morning to go get worked on.
In stark contrast, AT&T’s upgrade website could not be a steamier pile of shit if it tried. Every attempt to upgrade both of our phones at the same time met with failure; apparently the idea that we might add two things to the cart at the same time never occurred to their engineers. So, I handled each upgrade separately and hopefully we’ll get new shiny new phones sometime in May.
The front porch is ready for a floor upgrade. The last drywall mud got sanded and painted yesterday so I moved a bunch of stuff out of there and set up an order of sanded 1/2″ plywood to be picked up at Home Depot on Saturday. I can’t wait to get cracking in there.
This is somewhat sobering. That’s about 10 years worth of yuck in there.
This is a Fram CA133 filter, about $9 from Amazon.
Here are 85% of my seedlings in one place; there are several others in less healthy shape in another flat on the side, but these are the ones that will get planted and cultivated. They’ve been hardening in the greenhouse for the past two nights, and I’m hoping they’ll get nice and healthy so that I can plant them in containers this weekend.
The sun was out today, warming up my morning walk with Hazel, so I loaded up the Scout with the giant pile of construction debris from the front porch and and a nervous dog, and headed to the dump. It felt wonderful to get out and drive on the freeway, do some errands, and see the outside world, even if it was only within a 10-mile radius of the house. It felt so good to be out, I drove into Catonsville and went through the Krispy Kreme drive through for two donuts and another cup of coffee. At home, Finn had completed her homework, so we sat at the table and enjoyed our treat together.
Krispy Kreme had about eight donuts to choose from, down from a normal selection of about thirty. That was a little worrisome.
Hazel is wearing her headscarf again, because one of her ears started scabbing up. She’s been battling warts under her chin because the medicine for the vasculitis is lowering her immune system. The antibiotics for the warts upset her stomach yesterday, so she’s off the vasculitis medicine and only on her behavioral pills; she hasn’t eaten all day and has been moping about the house and sleeping. This fucking blows.
The front porch is waiting for about an hour with the block sander. All of the long seams have a second skim coat of mud that’s been dry since Sunday, and if they clean up well I’ll be able to roll wall paint over them and call the walls done. Then, it’s on to the floor.
Last night I was sitting on the couch surfing the web, putting off going to bed, and my work laptop notified me that the battery was getting low. I plugged in the power cord and the screen suddenly blinked off, leaving only a momentary flash of green in the upper left of the screen. I unplugged it, reset the SMC, plugged it back in, and got nothing. Figuring it was too late to do anything productive, and too tired to give a shit, I left it plugged in on my desk and went to bed.
This morning it was still dead. No power, no nothing. I’ve only got one brick that goes with this machine (everything else is MagSafe) so I can’t test that; I’m stuck. I do have a laptop being sent to me by one of my former designers, which should be here on Wednesday via FedEx, in which case I can test the brick. If that doesn’t work I can use that machine while I send mine out for warranty AppleCare.
Meanwhile, I’m using a 12-year-old MacBook Pro I salvaged from WRI’s recycle pile to read email through Outlook’s web interface and coaxing Photoshop and Illustrator to do some basic work until the newer machine arrives. SO SLOW.
This was a quiet weekend of Getting Things Done:
- I replanted the surviving tomato seedlings into potting soil and let them harden in full sunlight for the entirety of Saturday. I made the mistake of leaving them out in the greenhouse for an hour too long last Thursday and they all got toasted in the mixture of heat and humidity, so the last few days I’ve been nursing them back to health. All of the cherries, about 70% of the Chef’s Choice, and three Cherokees out of ten survived. So I may have to break down and buy some other varieties from the store just to mix up the crop. Still, this is the first time I’ve grown anything from seed, and I’m pretty stoked.
- Pumped 45 gallons of rainwater into the greenhouse barrel from the garage barrel, in advance of a new week of rainfall. Before it was filled last week I pressure-washed all of last year’s green slime from the inside, so they’re both clean.
- Dumped all of last year’s soil from the containers out behind the neighbor’s garage and replaced it with 15 cubic yards of fresh container soil, ready for healthy seedlings.
- Wiped a couple of years’ worth of algae off the insides of the polycarbonate walls of the greenhouse; it’s like someone opened the drapes in there.
- Replaced the front and rear brake lines on my road bike, wrapped it in grip tape, and took a shakedown cruise up to the post office to mail off a Netflix disc. I like the cowhorns better than the old drop handlebars, but I wish they were about 2″ narrower and didn’t have a bend. That being said, it’s great to be on a bike again, but I feel the complete lack of conditioning in my legs about 100 yards up the road from our house. Time was when Pat and I would ride 20 miles around Baltimore on a whim (without helmets or healthcare, at midnight) and barely feel winded; it’s obvious I need to get out and ride a lot more. Finley’s bike is now too small but it’s impossible to shop properly for a full-sized bike during lockdown, otherwise I’d get her out for a ride every day.
- Painted a second coat of semigloss on the porch ceiling, crown moulding and window surrounds, and a second coat of eggshell on the walls. I also taped up the remaining seams in the original drywall and I think I can stretch the mud I’ve got to cover the remainder. Sunday I spent pretty much the whole day painting trim, first in eggshell primer (whoops) and then a second coat of semigloss white over everything. We’re reaching the end of the painting portion of this project, which means it’ll soon be time to rip up the carpet and move on to the flooring.
- Failed to empty the second keg of the IPA that’s been in there since last July; I sipped on it for most of this afternoon and poured a bunch into a growler, but it’s still not kicked. So the Shiner Bnock-off is still sitting in the carboy waiting its turn. And look! I got a new IPA kit in the mail from Northern Brewer on Saturday.
- Ordered a 24-port network switch from Amazon to replace the castoff unit I’ve had in the basement since 2018. I got it from the electronics dumpster at WRI in 2017 or so when they simplified the internal network and upgraded the gear, so it cost me nothing, but it has been running nonstop since about 2005 and thus the internal fans are both crispy. It’s been making terrible whining noises for a couple of weeks which tells me the whole thing is about to crap out, so I figure I’ll get ahead of that while I can. I also ordered a box of 100 RJ-45 connectors so that I can simplify the wiring situation while I’m down there.
We’ve made it through over a month of quarantine, and having been stuck in the house this long, I’m thinking more and more about driving and road trips and being outside in the sunshine behind the wheel of a wheezy rattling old truck. We originally had plans to drive out to the Harvester Homecoming this year, but given the current state of the virus, I wonder if that’s going to happen. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to the adventure.
With the eventual resumption of long road trips in mind, I’ve been thinking about locking security on the Scout. I’d like something larger and more spacious than the Tuffy, and something I could ideally put in and remove at will. Since the days when I was parking my Mazda pickup in Baltimore City, I’ve thought of a locking box of some kind with an open slot in the bottom that would accept a round loop welded to the bed of the truck. The loop would extend up into the box and lock in place with a padlock or some other device, and thus be attached to the truck from the inside. I’ve looked at mass-produced boxes for a while, but the majority of them are custom made for Jeeps and thus are engineered for specific uses and locations, like mounting under seats or across the back bed. Tuffy makes several standard boxes for basic applications, but they look either too small or too big for what I want to do.
The second problem is where to put it. There are specialty boxes made for Scouts that mount in the bed wall behind the rear wheel arch on the passenger side, but that’s where I’ve currently got my Rotopax, and until I get the fuel sender sorted out and the rear bumper rebuilt, my spare gas can isn’t going anywhere. The spare goes on the driver’s side most days, and especially on road trips. The next best logical solution would be directly behind the rear seat on the driver’s side, and it would ideally be large enough that I could stack something on top of it to use the space wisely. Something 12″H x 2″W x 2″D would be a good start: tall enough to hold a backpack, wide and deep enough to put other bins or boxes on top of. I normally keep basic stuff like engine oil, coolant, jumper cables and small parts in a milk crate in the back, but for longer trips with the top down I’d like to have someplace to secure a full toolset.
I’ve also been thinking about how to organize all of the tools, parts and recovery gear in some kind of bag or container so they’re easily carried and padded from vibration. The roll-up tool pouch I’ve got is great but there are a bunch of other things rattling around the bottom of the Tuffy, like a spare coil, distributor cap, ignition wires, plugs, and filters. I suppose the first order of business is to collect the recovery gear contents and then figure out how big a bag I need. Then I have to track down a locking box in the size and shape I want, and modify it to my needs.
Tonight, after two months of farting around and ignoring the blue bike sitting forlorn in the basement, I cut the rear brake line off the frame and began rerouting cable to the new brake levers at the ends of the bullhorn. I’d bought brake line, grip tape, and a wirecutter pre-quarantine with the idea that I’d get to it one night after work, never thinking I’d have more time than I bargained for. It took a can of beer, a little doing and a lot of adjusting, but I’ve got both levers connected to the brakes front and rear, and the grip tape is ready to be installed tomorrow. It’ll be nice to get her back out on the road. I suppose I should order some replacements for the 20-year-old tires…
Meanwhile, Finn has outgrown her blue bike (she grew an inch in the last month) and needs a new one, but we can’t visit a showroom to get her measured for a new one. I’m tempted to try Amazon but I’m trying to keep our deliveries to the essentials so that we don’t put someone at risk if we don’t need to. I’d love to get out for some bike rides when it finally warms up—this morning was 32˚ at 6:30AM—so I think I’m going to have to pull the trigger soon.
Progress on the front porch is happening. Yesterday Jen rolled two coats of wall paint on the areas that haven’t been taped and mudded, and I need to get back out there to finish sanding and sealing those sections. We got three jealousie window cranks delivered to replace the broken ones we inherited 20 years ago, and I spent a couple of hours working with the drill press and bench grinder to modify the included parts to work with our windows. As of last night the two west-facing windows are connected and working, which leaves one of the front windows to be fixed. It’s currently jammed shut and no amount of leverage has been able to free it up, which sadly means that it may be a lost cause.
There is a gallon of semi-gloss waiting for us at the Lowe’s in Glen Burnie. Apparently everyone is painting right now, because our local store was out of stock. I’ll roll that on tonight to clean up the ceiling and crown molding. When the walls and trim are covered we can start pulling up carpet and prepare the floor for the next phase.
Renie sent us a huge care package last week filled with Christmas presents, which was a lovely April surprise! Inside we found a bunch of things that will make the next couple of weeks fun for Finley, including a laser-cut wind up clock featuring about 300 gears, the LEGO Hogwarts Great Hall set, and a bunch of other goodies. Finn and I busted into the clock set a few nights ago and after getting a bunch of the gears assembled I’m excited to see how the whole thing comes together.