This seems appropriate today.

Date posted: June 30, 2020 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

Greenhouse July 30

Everything in the greenhouse has gone nuts in the last week. Where there were only a few tentative blooms on a few plants, now every plant has three or four branches filled with yellow flowers, and half of those already have fruit beginning. Even the difficult varieties are producing: the Cherokee Purples have five or six fruit apiece. They’ve suddenly gotten taller as well, and I’ve been pretty ruthless in cutting back the secondary growth unless it’s already got something growing. As a result the plants look thin and spindly compared to giant leafy bushes, which I’ve been accustomed to growing in years past. This time I’m pruning everything back except that which will produce, hoping they’ll mature and ripen faster.


I think the only stuff that hasn’t bloomed yet is the strange tub in the back, with seedlings that always seemed slower than the rest. Those plants have shot up in the last week but they’re 1/4 the size of the others. I think they’ll wind up being producers late in the season.

Date posted: June 30, 2020 | Filed under greenhouse, photo | Leave a Comment »

I put a mask on and went in for some long-delayed bloodwork last week, as my March cancer check-up was done via teleconference. We got the results back and while they’re not dire, they’re a little discouraging. Most of my levels are either holding steady or slightly lower than they were in October—most importantly my white blood cell and lymphocyte counts.

I’m a little confused because I feel like I’ve been healthier in the last four months than I have been in years—we’re eating home-cooked meals, I’m walking the dog a mile and a half every day, and my stress levels are lower. I wonder what the difference is and why it’s not reflected in the labs.

Date posted: June 29, 2020 | Filed under cancer | Leave a Comment »

Dries Buytaert did some sleuthing and found a way to remove YouTube tracking from embedded videos by using a simple addition to the embed URL. The result is that it’s GDPR compliant, and, as an added benefit, the page will load faster because it’s not sending a cookie off to Google. I used a WordPress plugin called Search Regex to find and replace all the YouTube links on, and now they should all be cookie free.

Date posted: June 29, 2020 | Filed under housekeeping, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


I got Finn outside on Saturday morning to help change the plugs in the CR-V and it went a million times better than last weekend. I must have got her on a good morning because she was pretty well focused for the whole thing, even when I had to run around hunting for a 10mm deep socket in my various toolboxes—turns out the only one I have is in a cheap set I bought to change the battery on the CR-V in a Columbia parking lot last winter.


It was pretty straightforward, and I talked Finn through the function of an engine and what the plugs do, and we talked about the difference between the Scout’s engine and the CR-V. She’s learning! After the plugs went in we changed both air filters and then scrubbed the engine down with Simple Green.



After a pressure wash, the whole thing looks much better. We drove out to the Gucci Lowes in Columbia that afternoon and Jen was shocked by how different the car drives. The idle is steady and there’s loads of acceleration response. It’s nice to make a huge difference like that in a few hours’ work.

After we got back from Lowe’s I went back out and swapped the plugs in the Scout. We grilled some dinner and hung out together on the porch, which is really turning out nice. There’s a plant hung in the corner, we found some shades for IKEA lamps I’ve had since Lakewood street, and we found a cool metal plant stand for the area next to the front door.

Sunday I was more tired than I was expecting, and the day was hot with high humidity, so I did some minor things on the porch—wired in a USB plug by the table, fastened the five seats of the couch together with metal plates, and touched up some paint. The rest of the day we all spent quietly hanging around; I wound up napping in the air conditioning for two hours towards dinnertime and caught up on some sleep. I feel terrible because I didn’t do anything with Finn or Jen, and the days are creeping by while we could be out hiking or biking or doing other activities; I have to make a serious effort to plan some physical activity for us. The trick is finding something away from other people who have stopped wearing masks.

Date posted: June 29, 2020 | Filed under family, finn, general, honda, house | Leave a Comment »

After practicing my mechanical skills last weekend, swapping out plugs on Saturday was fast and relatively easy. The only issue I had was getting the #6 plug started; for some reason it didn’t want to thread in to the hole. Once I got that, the rest were easy. I left the #1 plug for last, as the position of the power steering pump makes it difficult to get a ratchet on the end of the socket. (Pro tip: a 3/4 box end wrench on the socket does the job nicely). The Autolite 303’s came out oily and fouled, and that was only after 75 miles or so.

Spark Plugs

I did a quick test run after the engine bay was buttoned up, and she runs better than ever. Lesson learned: the 303’s are in the trash.

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

Date posted: June 28, 2020 | Filed under Repairs, Scout | Comments Off on Sparky

This is awesome. Artist Alexandra Bell re-edits and rearranges the front page of the New York Times to highlight subtle—and often blatant racism:

Seeing what she did with their front-page reporting on the Virginia white nationalist rally is just stunning. And looking closer at how they’re reporting smaller stories is equally disturbing; a simple article about a man in Tulsa accused of murder is revealed to be plainly xenophobic.

Good art looks pretty. Great art makes you think. I’m definitely going to be looking closer at how things are reported both visually and narratively from now on, because of this work.

And the New York Times should hire this woman on as managing editor today.

Date posted: June 27, 2020 | Filed under art/design, politics | Leave a Comment »

I’ve had new spark plugs in the truck for a week and it hasn’t run this shitty in the 10+ years I’ve owned it. Startup is OK but the engine runs rough and slow, the idle is choppy, and throttle response is abysmal—to the point where I’m afraid the engine will die before the acceleration picks up. Finn and I drove about 25 miles to and from the pick-your-own farm out in Woodbine yesterday, and while it did OK at cruising speed I wasn’t impressed with anything else.

Autolite 303’s are NOT recommended in an International 345 V-8; don’t believe what the parts monkeys tell you. I have eight new Autolite 85 iridiums sitting here on my desk waiting for the weekend, and the 303s will be coming out as soon as possible. NOTE: Amazon and RockAuto don’t offer 85’s in their list of recommendations, but I’ve run 85’s in Peer Pressure for 10 years. 

I also swapped out the two courtesy lights at the corners of the dashboard, which were standard filament bulbs, with new LED lights I found on Amazon. It was hard to find replacements for these odd-sized 293 bulbs without the right search terms, but Amazon offers a Sylvania filament-based 10-pack. The passenger side wasn’t working so I pulled the bulb out and cleaned the contact before putting in the LEDs. The LEDs aren’t made as well as I’d like for the money—being bayonet-style they go into the socket and turn to click into place, and what I found was that the metal sleeve holding the two contact prongs was moving independently of the light itself. They are bright and throw lots of light into the cabin, though, and I like that.

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

Date posted: June 26, 2020 | Filed under Part Numbers, Scout | Comments Off on Lost Spark

McSweeney’s, normally a humor website, has been keeping tabs on what they call President Trump’s Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes. They’re up to 759 as of this post (June 26). It’s amazing, absolutely gutting, and makes me want to throw up.

Date posted: June 26, 2020 | Filed under politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


There’s an app called NextDoor which is supposed to be a neighborhood-based bulletin board social media platform where people can talk about their garbage cans or post pictures of their yard sale crap or ask about when the next yard waste day is supposed to be. As with all other social media platforms, our particular NextDoor neighborhood has devolved into a cesspool of MAGA vs. everyone else over the chalk messages written on the school—specifically the Black Lives Matter messages that went up last week. What started out as a wonderful, grass-roots show of support was met with a bunch of assholes complaining, people threatening to wash it off, other people threatening to cover it in Blue Lives Matter with spray paint, and finally some douchebag white woman actually going out and trying to wash it off herself. Seriously, trying to erase “NO HATE” written on the wall by children? What kind of a racist robot are you?

The school board had a crew come out and pressure-wash the whole thing and now it’s the same boring brick building it always was. Can I mention how much I hate people?

Date posted: June 24, 2020 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »