I had a couple of days over the holiday weekend to do not much of anything and decided to get out of the house and get my hands dirty. The first thing I wanted to tackle was the inner fender and windshield frame I’d sanded a couple of weeks ago, which were sitting in my not-so-dry garage waiting to be sealed up. I wire-brushed the surface rust off of the frame and covered the bare metal with Eastwood rust encapsulator.
Then I hit the inner fender with the brush and cleaned up some more of the bad rust. It too got sealed, and overall it doesn’t look too bad. When it was dry I hauled it back up into the attic to stay out of the way.
Then I pulled my old roof racks down from the rafters and disassembled both completely. One bar was bent from a mishap on the old Jeep so I straightened that out, and looked over the steel mounting clips. All four were covered in equal amounts of Siam Yellow, Chewbacca’s old color, and surface rust, so I wire-wheeled and hit them with some primer. After a trip to Lowe’s for new hardware, I painted the clips black and reassembled both bars. I’d forgotten that Chewbacca’s old top did not have a factory rack. These aftermarket bars are just low enough that they won’t clear the top of the OEM rack so I scooted them forward and backward to clear everything and tightened them all down.
Looking through the Interwebs for local spare parts, I came across an ad for a guy building and selling bumpers up in Pennsylvania. He calls the outfit Affordable Offroad and he has a prerunner-style front bumper for $280 (additional options push the cost up to $320). Overall it doesn’t look too bad, and would be a good-looking upgrade to the front of Peer Pressure, which is a little bland.
The other thing I’m looking at is 16″ replacement wheels that are an inch wider in diameter than the current wheels—where the selection of narrower tires is wider. Summit carries a Coker 5×5.5 16″ steel rim, the look of which I like a lot, for a little over $100/each. There’s no reason to jump on this now, but it’s food for thought in the next five years.
Finn’s school was cancelled on Friday due to a cyberattack on the school network:
The cyber attack has halted school for 115,000 students, with no timeline for when classes will resume. It came as the school system has shifted to online classes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
More troubling, there was a report issued the day before the attack that found multiple problems with the network’s security:
The network was not adequately secured, and sensitive personal information was not properly safeguarded, among other issues, the Office of Legislative Audits found.
Last year, Baltimore City’s computer system was locked down for months until they paid a ransom; we couldn’t pay our water bill all summer. All of Finn’s classwork is virtual, so I have no idea how Monday is going to go.
File this under bummer: Looks like Geoff, the guy I bought my blue traveltop from, is selling his Scout via Facebook Marketplace. His rig looks cool but the pictures he’s posted show a lot more rust in the body than I remember seeing in 2013. He made the questionable decision to cover the front body panels in some kind of bedliner years ago, and somewhere in the last five years swapped an LS under the hood. Overall it’s a nice rig with a lot of good parts, and someone will be lucky to own it.
New jaws are installed and I scrubbed it down last night to take some beauty pictures. There’s a little more pitting in the aluminum than I remember but she still looks great.
Here’s where we stand in the kitchen right now. The grout is sealed and ready but there are two plugs in the corner that aren’t working for some reason—they were fine before I put the tile in but I can’t get them to work. I replaced both of the outlets with new units; sometime GFCI outlets fail over time, but I can’t for the life of me understand what’s happening with these. Strangely the one in the back corner works fine because it’s on a separate circuit. The other big update is that I replaced the rope lighting above the cabinets. Over fifteen years the original filament unit had slowly died, so I pulled that out and replaced it with an LED version. It looks strange in the photo because the under-counter lights are bright white LEDs while the rope is warm light, but in person they warm up the whole kitchen dramatically.
Jen and I were talking this morning about how much brighter it is in there during the day, due to the light reflecting off the shiny white surfaces. It could all be wishful thinking, but I know there’s a big difference when I walk in there every day. Best $200 spent this year.
As mentioned elsewhere, Finn and I put about 70 miles on the Scout this weekend looking for a Christmas bike. Pulling in to the first bike store we were met by the saleslady who asked me if I’d like to trade the Scout for a bike before I could even say hello. Laughing, I told her I was going to have to turn her offer down. At the third bike store, the salesman told us he loved the way it looks and asked how well it ran.
I told him the truth; she’s running great and seems to bring good vibes wherever she goes.
Finn and I drove from one end of Baltimore to the other to find an early Christmas present: a full-size bike to replace the awesome but now tiny Diamondback Santa brought in 2015. The bicycle industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, as all the factories in China have been closed and dealers sold out of their stock pretty quickly this summer, but apparently they’re doing a great business fixing and upgrading what people already have. Finn has grown several inches since the beginning of 2020 and Jen’s bike was just too big for her to ride. I considered looking for used bikes but I wanted to get her something she’d have for high school and college, so I thought we’d hit the stores before everything gets completely locked down again.
We started at one store in Ellicott City and got her sized for a Diamondback model that was in stock; the color was an odd earthy mauve and it was several hundred dollars above the price point I wanted to pay. The saleslady was awesome and super helpful, but I figured we might be able to find a bike at a better price elsewhere. We put a hold on it and continued to our local store in Catonsville, which is tiny, just to see what they had. He was completely out, but told us a store in Arnold had just gotten a shipment of bikes in, so we drove down there in the afternoon to check out the situation.
The Bike Doctor had a bunch of shiny new Trek models in stock, and we quickly sized one out for Finn in the parking lot. I hesitated over settling on a small or medium frame, worried that she’d either outgrow a small or never size into a medium, but in the end we went medium and I had the mechanic cut about 2″ off the seat stem so that it would drop enough for her to feel comfortable. (Seat stems are cheap and easy to replace).
This bike is a beautiful red, features disc brakes and beefy 29″ tires with a knobby but not aggressive tread, and weighs lighter than it looks. And, it was $150 cheaper than the first bike. Plus, it’s got lugs for a rear pannier on the frame—something the Diamondback lacked—and should be easy to upgrade.
We got it home and took a ride around the school to get her comfortable with it. She’s still struggling with the size but I think as we practice some more in the spring she’ll grow right into it.
Over at Kottke.org, Tim Carmody writes about two perspectives on COVID-19, Rachel Maddow’s experience caring for her partner, who has the virus, and Farhad Manjoo’s article in the New York Times about doing the calculations around whether he should go to visit his family for Thanksgiving or not based on his contact bubble. He does an excellent job of summing up both perspectives, so just hop over there to read it—it’s worth the time.
But it was his summation of the whole thing that stuck with me; he’s a much better writer than I will ever be and this final thought sums up how I’ve been feeling this whole time:
We do not know who to trust. We have no money, no help, and no plan but to wait. We have no sense of what rules our friends and neighbors, colleagues and workers, are following when they’re not in our sight; we don’t even know what practices they would even admit to embracing. We have no money; we have no help. We are left on our own, adrift in deep space, scribbling maps and adding sums on the back of a napkin. We are all in this together, yet we are completely alone.