On Sunday the heat finally broke and we were blessed with cooler weather and lower humidity, so Finn and I picked up five sheets of T-11 for the walls of her fort. While we were at Lowe’s I looked at cordless drills and impulsively threw one on the cart. I’ve had the same DeWalt 12V cordless since I bought my first house, and it’s been through about six batteries in the span of its lifetime. It still works, it’s powerful, but it’s heavy. I bought an off-brand battery last year to save a little money, and found that off-brand means it’s 70% as good as the name brand, it’s cheaply made, and thus has the annoying tendency to fall out of the bottom of the drill and directly on to my foot. The new one is probably half the size and weight and came with two batteries, Finn and I can work simultaneously and I can throw my corded Ryobi drill with no clutch into the woods, which is where it belongs.

While we were out I stopped in at the Harbor Freight and picked up a $15 angle grinder, as well as a $25 pneumatic DA sander. If I’m going to prep the Scout for a paint job sometime in the spring, I’ve got to get the tools together and start making some progress.

Sunday was, unfortunately, not my best day as a Dad. I was grumpy when I woke up and my attitude got progressively worse until about 3PM, when I dropped something on my foot for the fifth time and had to tell Finn we were packing things in for the day. I recognized that I was getting shorter and shorter with her, and I didn’t want to take my bad mood out on her any more than I already had. I was disappointed in myself because the last couple of weekends I felt like she and I were making awesome progress, she was engaged in what we were doing, and I was doing a decent job of teaching her basic carpentry and building.

Every day is a challenge, especially when we’re closed in together, and I’m vacillating between being outgoing and misanthropic for reasons I can’t pin down yet. I’ve explained this part of my personality to Finn in that I’m like a battery that gets run down, and there are some days when I just need to recharge away from everyone and everything. A modern workday filled with Zoom calls and bouncing from project to project seems to be draining me more that it would at the office, and some days I’m just a blank screen by dinnertime. I look forward to weekends because we get outside and work with our hands, and on days when I’m not being the best Dad I can be, I get very depressed.

To her credit, she is understanding, but she’s also eleven and I want to be the on my A game with her whenever we’re together. Especially when she’s having fun seeing her new fort come together.

We did get the back wall cut down and in place, and it’s actually looking pretty good. Once the walls are all in, we’re going to head down to Second Chance and see if we can’t find some inexpensive used windows to install, as well as a door of some kind—if we can find one that fits.

* * *

There’s five gallons of session IPA sitting in the kegerator, slowly carbing until next Saturday, when it should be ready for a first pour. I’m hopeful this will be the first truly good batch I’ve made this year, as the last couple have been disappointments due to brewing methods. In cleaning up the brew stand, basement, and kegerator on Saturday, I was looking askance at the cabinet filled with empty bottles and wondering if I should just recycle them all to clear out space. I’ve kept them with the idea that I’ll eventually brew another Irish Stout or something worth bottling, but in reality I hate bottling and don’t drink stouts enough to be motivated to bother.

Date posted: August 31, 2020 | Filed under brewing, finn | Leave a Comment »

“Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”

The UK artist Banksy bought a 90-foot former French customs vessel and gave it to a group rescuing migrants coming to Europe. On Thursday they rescued 89 people.

Date posted: August 28, 2020 | Filed under art/design, politics | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: August 28, 2020 | Filed under greenhouse, photo | Leave a Comment »

The server is now back in the basement, happily humming along with a fresh copy of OS 10.7 Lion installed, the last supported version for that 14-year-old machine. I used an Other World Computing SSD drive and adapter to utilize the free SATA bus below the optical drive so that I could free up the fourth internal drive bay for storage. Over the last two weeks I’ve pruned and cleaned the music folder on that drive, removing duplicates, cleansing metadata, replacing old rips of my library with fresh, higher quality versions, and deleting stuff I’ve never listened to. Both my websites send their weekly backups to the email address linked to that machine. My entire photo library is pruned and organized by date. The home video library is organized by date in a separate folder on a separate drive—mostly videos of Finn, but some older stuff too—and the Movies have been reorganized.

It’s been a long project, but it feels good to have things done. Now I’ve got to get back to processing the balance of the slide scans I worked on in March.

Date posted: August 28, 2020 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

“There is broad and overwhelming agreement among public health leaders, education experts and parents that finding a way to begin safely returning children to classrooms must be a top priority,” Hogan said at a news conference Thursday.

Our Governor has decided that it’s OK to start sending the kids back to school two weeks before all of Maryland’s schools are set to begin remote learning plans they’ve been frantically assembling through the summer break, at a time when the United States is still one of the top three concentrations of COVID cases.

Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost said that, “At a time when educators are focused on working hard to make the best of this year for students, the governor and superintendent are focused on throwing school communities under the bus.”

Thankfully, our superintendent has stated that virtual learning will proceed as planned.

Hogan has been getting a lot of press about being the rare Republican standing up to Trump. This feels like he woke up yesterday morning and just casually decided to shoot himself in the foot.

Date posted: August 28, 2020 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »


This is Finley, on the platform of her new fort, using Grandpa’s Swiss Army knife to whittle down a stick into a sword and hilt, held together elegantly with tree bark.


Date posted: August 26, 2020 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »


Hazel has been battling various side effects of the medication she’s been prescribed for side effects of medication she was prescribed since we’ve had her. To recap: she was given all manner of vaccinations as a puppy, some of which she developed allergies to, and they started breaking down the blood vessels in her ears. We were prescribed different medication to help with this condition only to find it lowered her immune system, causing her to break out with warts across her body. We got the ear thing under control, finally, and her dermatologist decided we were going to take her off that medication and switch to a different one. It’s been a month or so since the switch, and her ears are still clear and the warts are finally disappearing. Meanwhile, the Easy Lead we bought a couple of weeks ago, while not her favorite object in the world, makes walking her about a million times  more enjoyable. We’re doing about three miles daily, a long walk in the morning and a family walk in the evening, and it seems to be great for everyone’s mental health.

* * *

After fucking around with multiple different approaches to installing OX El Capitan on my 14-year-old Mac Pro, I decided to give up on janky scripts and poorly written directions and just clone the copy of Leopard I had running on it before to test that the SSD was viable, which did work. Now I’m going to have to buy a copy of 10.7 Lion from Apple (it is not available as a download anymore for reasons I can’t fathom, and among the hundreds of archived backup and install discs I’ve got in my collection, I don’t have this installer) and put a clean copy of the last officially compatible OS on the drive.

There’s a wealth of information out there about Mac Pros out there, which is super handy for keeping the original 2006 version I own (and the 2010 version I use at work) running smoothly. It’s hard to believe my work tower is that old, but it still cranks along happily, earning its keep. I see people complaining about the high cost of pro Apple gear, but if I amortize the purchase price over the time I’ve used it, it’s an incredible bargain.

* * *

Tomatoes are officially in season here in the greenhouse and the girls haven’t been able to keep up with the harvest. We have a bunch of Cherokee Purples ripening on several different plants, and they’re all about due to be picked. I pulled several beautiful Chef’s Choice on Saturday with a bowl full of cherries. At the same time there are several basil plants getting fuller with the heat.

Date posted: August 25, 2020 | Filed under apple, greenhouse, hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »






Date posted: August 24, 2020 | Filed under finn, friends, greenhouse, hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »

I know everybody thinks the music they loved when they were 18 changed the world, but it really did feel like something different was happening in those years.

Jesus. Nothing’s Shocking turns 30 this year.

Date posted: August 23, 2020 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Brian left his welding rig in the garage last week, and it’s been out there calling to me since Sunday. It’s a beautiful new Hobart MIG setup with a gas hookup, built to switch between 230 and 115, so it can run off the wiring in my garage and still burn 3/16″ steel.

I had some box steel scrap laying around from my bumper project, so Wednesday night I covered myself in bug spray and busted out the angle grinder to clean surface rust off everything. Then I gloved up and started laying simple lines down. It took some time to get the rig dialed in, but once I’d sorted that out, I took some deep breaths and just focused on getting some good lines across the tube.

After I covered all four sides I cleaned of some smaller scrap and welded them to the side and the bottom of the tube, with the goal of not burning through everything.

I was able to get things dialed in well enough that I started thinking about a bottle jack mount and how easy it would be to put one together with some steel and the welder.

After working on Finn’s fort Saturday morning through to the afternoon, I stopped at 3:30 and turned my attention to the garage. I began forming elements with cardboard and then moved to cutting down some steel we’d picked up at Lowe’s. I started with a piece going down the front of the inner fender and attached an L-shaped section to that, curving back around to the side of the fender to keep the jack in place. After tacking it in to see if it worked right, I welded each side in and cleaned the section up.

Then after dinner I cut two sections of galvanized electrical conduit down and welded them to the tail of the L for both of the jack levers to sit in. This was tricky, as the steel bar was 1/8″ and the conduit was much thinner. I hit it with short burns to avoid blowing through the thinner steel, and after some practice with scrap steel I figured it out.

When that was done, I ground everything smooth, wiped it all with acetone, and shot it with some black paint. When I went to install it for the last time, the threads in the hole I’d been using gave out completely and the bolt spun freely. Disgusted, I moved it to a second hole about 1″ outboard and tightened everything down for the night.

Tomorrow I’ll see if my tap and die kit has a tap for the next bolt size up, and hopefully I can get the whole thing permanently installed. I’ve got some toolbox shelf padding in the basement that will go under the jack and keep everything from banging around.


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

Date posted: August 22, 2020 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Welded