I’ve talked about the comic Paper Girls here before, and I just started watching the series on Amazon Prime this week. Overall it’s really good! I’m enjoying the dialogue and direction, and I think they got the casting of the four leads 90% right. (When I see the actress they got for Mac all I can think of is squeaky Edward Furlong in T2). I have NO idea how they’re going to pull off the wider crazier future-world aspects of the story if/when the series gets renewed, but I’m hopeful they can do it justice. And, the music has been excellent so far—there’s a needle drop moment with an LCD Soundsystem song that is perfect, and now this song is stuck in my head:

Date posted: August 31, 2022 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

The schoolie project I helped Brian on is officially on the road as of today. He’s put weeks of time into getting it over the finish line these last couple of months, and it damn near killed him; I can’t imagine how much sweat equity he’s got in that thing compared to the relatively few weekends I pitched in. As the project moved forward, the scope of the project got wider, but he handled it with grace and wisdom; for my part I like to think I made some key suggestions early in the process that will have larger benefits for the family as they make their journey.

Date posted: August 30, 2022 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a quiet, gripping song called Nothing to See by a woman named Miya Folick:

This is a fantastic melody paired with some devastating lyrics, and it’s on repeat in my brain. She’s got some other really good tracks available on Spotify—Bad Thing is another standout.

Date posted: August 29, 2022 | Filed under earworm, entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »

Our extended family is pretty amazing. We were invited to a celebration on Saturday afternoon: Karean’s grandmother turned 91, and the family invited us to her party. Mother is an amazing woman; if I hadn’t seen the candles on her birthday cake I would have sworn she’s thirty years younger. We sat on the back deck and picked crabs and laughed and enjoyed every minute of our stay.

I had a successful day at my FIL’s house repairing a bunch of things; first on the list was the hot water line in the guest bathroom, which I’d struggled with two weeks ago and given up on. The fitting was leaking, and I couldn’t get it off with the tools I’d brought, so last week I splurged on new locking pliers and brought a smaller set of vice-grips. In about five minutes I had the fitting off, which was a relief. I replaced it with a Shark-Bite and hooked everything up, and within twenty minutes had the whole cabinet buttoned up and hot water running again. That was a huge relief, because I’d prefer never to have to crawl under the house to access the main water shutoff again in my life.

Next up was the kitchen disposal unit, which wasn’t functioning at all. It’s very new—I don’t recall installing this for him, but I did do the dishwasher fifteen years ago—so it should have been working fine. After testing the power at the switch and to the unit, both checked out fine. I found a manual online and learned that it has a fuse on the bottom. after resetting that and pulling a piece of glass and a metal pin out of the bucket, I got it working and cleaned it up. There were various other projects around the house to tackle, and after some weeding in the side yard, I made a dump run and got the garage cleared out. Then we met with a salesman who gave us a quote on replacing the guest shower; it’s been torn apart for years and could stand to be replaced.

We had to get on the road by six to get Finn back for a good night’s sleep—her first day of school was today—so we said our goodbyes and hit the road. It was a lovely evening for a ride with the top down, but by the time we got home I was exhausted. It took a long time to get to bed and I woke up groggy and tired.

Date posted: August 29, 2022 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

So my MotorTrend Online subscription lapsed about a year ago, and I’ve held off on renewing it for reasons I can’t really explain. Dirt Every Day was always one of my favored shows on that channel: two guys cutting and welding and building crazy vehicles to take on crazy adventures. Turns out they’ve ended the show—no idea if they’ve cancelled it or if the hosts have hung up the towel. There are some other shows on the channel I like—it’s the best place to see the old episodes of Top Gear, but I’ll have to reassess whether or not I’ll renew it now.

Date posted: August 25, 2022 | Filed under cars, entertainment, shortlinks | 1 Comment »

Wow! The Smithereens are releasing a “lost” album from 1993, when they were between labels and had some time to record. This comes chronologically after the 1-2-3 punch of Especially For You, Green Thoughts, and 11, three albums that were on heavy rotation for me in college.

Date posted: August 25, 2022 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

One of the many things Dad left behind in the basement was a collection of cords and wires of all shapes and sizes: specialized computer cables, lengths of romex, decommissioned electrical cords, and other odds and ends. As I went through everything a couple of years ago, I set aside a box and slowly filled it with the collection, keeping the good stuff and tossing the bad. I added two frayed extension cords that dated to back before my birth and a load of TV connector cables from his ad hoc surround system, and threw it in the trunk of my car the last time I was at Mom’s. Today I tossed it into the truck along with a pile of my own wire, a couple of old brake drums and some other scrap metal and took it down to the recycling center at lunchtime. After clipping the ends off the plugs, I wound up pocketing $38 and change for the whole thing; the steel was the cheapest by the pound, but apparently romex is the money item.

In the afternoon the sun was too warm and the day too beautiful to resist; I played hooky at 4 and drove up to the pool to meet Jen and Finn and our sister in law’s family. I went from being Work Guy to Fun Uncle in about five minutes, and spent about two hours splashing in the pool with the kids. We hung out until a lot of the other families took off, and I used my $38 in recycling money to have a couple of pizzas delivered for dinner. All in all, an excellent way to spend a summer evening.

* * *

I put all of my homebrewing equipment on Craigslist a couple of weeks ago and have heard back exactly once, from an obvious scammer. I think I need to post it on Marketplace and see if I get a better response there, as much as I try to stay off FB. Sadly, it is where the best leads come from these days, so I guess I have to deal.


Date posted: August 25, 2022 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

Add this to the list of HOLY FUCK TAKE MY MONEY: An engineer figured out how to stuff a tiny computer and display into a LEGO 2-stud sloped brick and power it with the old 9-volt battery system from the 90’s; the displays are proceedurally generated, but he’s found a way to stream DOOM to them (naturally). He’s not ready to sell them yet, but OMG he could make so much money…

Date posted: August 22, 2022 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I feel like I earned a Boy Scout patch in carpentry this weekend. We’ve been traveling to my father-in-law’s house almost every weekend since the end of March, and one of the many things on the list of repairs was a set of kitchen cabinets that had delaminated and separated from the wall. The house itself dates back to the late 70’s, and the cabinetry is all original builder-grade material. There were two  cabinets in play: a single and a double-wide connected to each other. The single, on the end, was in the worst shape.

The previous weekend we’d boxed up their contents and got everything ready, so when I arrived on Saturday morning I hit the ground running. After clearing off the counters and making some room, I pulled the Hi-Lift jack off the back of the Scout and braced the single cabinet, then pulled out a mixture of wood screws and nails holding it to the wall. After disconnecting it from the double it popped off the wall pretty easily. Finn and I repeated the process on the double and within about a half an hour we had both on the floor and ready for triage.

In the 70’s these were built with the cheapest materials possible: particle board shelving, laminate sides, and pressboard everywhere else. They used glue and staples to construct it all, not even bothering with nails, so when the glue finally dried out the staples gave way and the backing board separated from the rest of the box. It’s a miracle the whole thing didn’t fall down under the weight of all the glassware we pulled out.

I’d brought some extra lumber with me, so I got to work re-gluing the wood together with clamps and cutting new backing boards while that dried. When working on the bus with Brian we used his framing stapler—built to shoot 1.5″ industrial staples, not glorified desk staples like the ones they used in 1978—so I’d gone to Harbor Freight and scored one last week. Between that and careful application of wood adhesive, we had the boxes squared tight and sealed in a couple of hours. I then re-hung the double, leveled it to the rest of the cabinets, and attached it to the wall with deck screws. By mid-afternoon both cabinets were back in place and I had the doors re-hung; I had to swap out some hinges from another cabinet to get the middle door to hang correctly. Then I rebuilt one of the drawers next to the dishwasher which had come apart and fixed two bent roller tracks.

Luckily the weather was perfect for a drive in the Scout; because I was laden with tools and needed to go out for supplies while Jen had her Dad out doing errands, we took two cars. We didn’t get on the road until 9PM that evening, but it was a beautiful night to drive home under the stars with the top down.

* * *

On Sunday I tackled Finley’s IKEA dresser, which was suffering from similar problems: it’s designed to be assembled with an allen head wrench but not to stand up to an impatient child. She’d stuffed laundry into the shelves and pushed the fiberboard bottoms out so that the drawers wouldn’t close, and instead of fixing the clothes she just shoved the drawers closed until the tracks bent.

I pulled the shelves apart and ran the fronts and backs through my table saw to open the grooves up wider, then replaced the fiberboard with laminate wood and braced them all with strips of wood and framing nails. I glued and screwed the backs in place (IKEA held them together with ribbed plastic slugs) and straightened out the tracks; upstairs in her room they slid into place like butter. She has now been notified that any further damage to the dresser will result in her immediate destruction.

I spent the rest of the day laying about and relaxing; it was good to take a 2-mile walk with Jen and Hazel, wander the farmer’s market for lunch and snacks, and taking the time to slow down a little.

Date posted: August 22, 2022 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been scouring the classifieds for the last six months, looking for some kind of a project vehicle to work on. Peer Pressure has been running smoothly all summer, and I’ve been hesitant to mess with anything (the First Rule of driving an antique vehicle: if it’s running, don’t fiddle with it) but I’m looking for a project I can tackle on the side to scratch a couple of different itches. It’s gotten to the point where there are some nights that I wake up and spend an hour going over the details of a project I don’t even own.

The current market reflects a wide range of options and prices. There are factory-fresh trailer queens available for high five figures, as well as piles of rust for scrap value; and then there are people who think a clapped-out shitbox buried in a field is suddenly worth thousands.

I started obsessing about pickup trucks last year when I was working on the schoolbus, and that kicked back in when I was doing a lot of hauling at my FIL’s house. A pickup would solve a lot of problems: all of the debris and crap is contained outside the cab of the vehicle; the bed is larger and can hold more stuff than the Scout. Several pickups have come and gone, but the right truck within the right distance and right price range hasn’t appeared yet.

Ideally, I’m looking for something in the ~$2K range. I don’t need for it to run (I’d actually prefer it didn’t) and I don’t need for it to be complete. If it’s a pickup, I’d like for the body to be in decent shape, the glass to be present, and the hidden sections of the cab to be solid. If I’m looking at a Scout, I’d like to see the outer body in decent shape, but if the floors are crusty, I can deal with that—I’d actually like to practice welding using that as the project.

There’s a guy who listed a Scout 800 on Marketplace about three weeks ago. He posted pictures of a topless, doorless blue Scout sitting in a forest with plants growing in the rear bed. It looks mostly complete otherwise, and it would be the perfect project vehicle—at least through the photos presented—if only the seller would respond to me. I’ve messaged him about eight times since he posted it, but it’s not been taken down and I’ve heard nothing from him. It’s only miles from here and it’s something I could tow home with a dolly trailer; the price is perfect. It looks exactly the way I want it to; I’m not interested in perfect paint and laser-straight panels.

I guess what I’m looking for is something I can tear down (within reason) and not worry about having to get it back on the road by the end of the weekend; I’d love to practice welding skills on the floor of that ratty Scout and get it sturdy enough to drive, then take it over to Brian’s and use it as a testbed for an EV conversion. I really want to buy some metal and bend it and start shaping things with it.

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

Date posted: August 17, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration, Scout | Comments Off on Obession Update