The plan for this Sunday was to clear a bunch of small items off the to-do list; thankfully the weather was sunny so it wasn’t a chilly chore day. We started out with a walk downtown for coffee and empanadas with Hazel, who had been denied a morning walk for multiple reasons most of the week. After pulling the Scout out and taking care of some business there, I culled through a bunch of old computer and electronic gear to figure out what needs to go and what can stay. Then I replaced the taillight bulb in the Accord, which attracted a cop and a repair order last week, and put the storm windows in on the porch. Pretty standard stuff.  I’m trying to be OK with a slow day because yesterday I drove down to Bob’s house to continue work on the upstairs hallway, where the rest of the wallpaper needed to come down and I had to smooth out the giant canyons in the drywall left behind. Between the gallons of wallpaper paste used and the temperature Bob had his thermostat set at, I was dehydrated and sore by the time I was ready to leave.

Date posted: October 30, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

The exhaust leak on the passenger side manifold has been getting progressively worse, especially as I’ve been putting a lot of miles on the girl this summer. I’m not the kind of guy who needs a loud truck to announce who I am; I figure the unconventional look of the truck covers that pretty well, and I’d honestly prefer to have a quiet sleeper under my right foot than a Harley. So I ordered a couple of different gaskets from the interwebs and got to work this morning after breakfast.

My plan was to leave the back bolt in place, as I can’t really reach that without major effort and lots of cursing, and use leverage on the front bolt to snug the assembly together after the new gaskets were in place. I used a set of tin snips to cut a notch through to the bolt hole on one side, and worked it into position. When that was done I replaced the outside fine-thread copper bolt with a new coarse-thread Grade 8 bolt and snugged it tight. There’s just a hint of exhaust leaking from the front of the connection now but the BRAP-BRAP-BRAP from that side of the engine at throttle is gone. Hallelujah. 

While I had the wheel off and the starter exposed, I pulled it off and removed the shim that’s been on there since I got the truck (and through about six different starters). Due to differences in the manual bellhousing vs. the automatic, the shim isn’t required for manuals—something I wasn’t aware of until recently. So with that buttoned back up and the wheel back on, we did a spin around the block and I basked in the (relative) silence.

Now I’m looking at both a felt kit for the windows and some of those sexy new rubber gaskets for the butterfly windows; both sides rattle and leak and I’d love to get things buttoned up tighter with colder weather here. Among each of the four sets I have available, the only good pair is the one on the truck—so I’d have to pull things apart or weld a spare set back together before updating the rubber.

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

Date posted: October 30, 2022 | Filed under Repairs, Scout | Comments Off on Now With Slightly Less Thunder

I never really understood the lure of Twitter, and only posted there twice. Elon bought the whole thing yesterday, and apparently the tech world is abuzz. I think the best summation of the situation comes from Nilay Patel over at the Verge; the whole thing is one big quotable chunk, but he offers the best summation of what it is I’ve seen, and what the future holds for the platform.

…the tech stack is not the valuable asset. The asset is the user base: hopelessly addicted politicians, reporters, celebrities, and other people who should know better but keep posting anyway. You! You, Elon Musk, are addicted to Twitter. You’re the asset. You just bought yourself for $44 billion dollars.

Have fun with that, buddy.

Date posted: October 28, 2022 | Filed under geek | Leave a Comment »

I upgraded the PHP engine behind idiotking from 7.3 to 8.0 and apparently it made the hamsters mad and they are on strike. One of the key plugins I use for the sidebar is apparently the culprit; the author wrote it 17 years ago and apparently doesn’t want to update it anymore, so it’s officially EOL. I’ll have to spend some time figuring out how to fold the sideblog entries into the main feed, but for now things will be a bit broken.

Update: Got it working again; there was some legacy code I was using to denote the Scout syndicated posts that I need to sort out. For now, all of the sidebar posts are showing up in the main feed, which isn’t a huge problem.

I’ve been using this template for over a decade, partially because it’s not overcomplicated and also because visually it’s very simple. But it’s getting creaky as the years move onward; there are some newer templates that offer the same visual simplicity without featuring a shopping cart, integrated twitter feed, and product carousel (WordPress ceased to be a true blogging platform a decade ago). The idea of refreshing the site makes me tired, but I suppose I need to really consider it.

technical difficulties

Date posted: October 28, 2022 | Filed under geek, housekeeping | Leave a Comment »

I went in and got my dual booster/flu shot yesterday afternoon, after weeks of thinking about it, putting it off, and getting mad at myself for having procrastinated. My flu shot is in the left arm, and the booster is in the right, so I fully suspect I’ll be unable to eat food with my own arms tomorrow and possibly down with a reaction. We’ll see how I respond to the double-whammy.

Update: 99 degree fever and a headache. I’m sitting in on some meetings from bed but feeling pretty lousy.

* * *

Three years into COVID, I remain thankful we bought this house and rehabbed the front porch into a home office; I would have gone crazy working from the dining room table for this long. One slight drawback to this room is that it was built from an outdoor porch, and despite all of my efforts to weatherproof and insulate it, it remains about 5˚ cooler than the rest of the house. As a human being who is always cold, this sucks for me in the wintertime. As a result, I’ve spent the last couple of days wearing a pair of sweats Jen got for me last Christmas. They’re black and are lined with faux-sheepskin fleece, so they keep my legs warm at all times. I think I need to go back to Amazon and order five more pair: If I keep wearing these every day they’re going to stand up on their own.

Date posted: October 26, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

After early-morning bloodwork and a CT scan, the word is in: no surprises in my chemistry, no new passengers on board. This means we slow my visits from twice a year to once a year, and my chances of recurrence have dropped again. Good news we all needed on a Monday after a long, hard weekend.

Date posted: October 24, 2022 | Filed under cancer | 1 Comment »

A couple of months ago I took advantage of a sale offered by Kodak, the folks who digitized four reels of 8mm film from the Dugan family archives, and sent off the remainder of our family film—eleven reels in total. Nothing much happened for a while, but to their credit they sent me an email every couple of weeks with an update. I got an email notifying me they’d started digitizing last week, and with the space of four days I got download links for all of the reels and a box UPS’d back to the house with our film.

Overall, I’m pleased with the results, but I would have appreciated it all more of they’d focused everything better. I understand that there’s grain in the film, and that the light meter on dads camera wasn’t reliable, but I feel like I’m able to get sharper results with his old projector than they did with whatever system they used. I set up the projector in the den while watching football yesterday and waited for darkness to test out the focus: I was able to get a clean sharp image on a simple white background, but when I tried recording it with the DSLR I got very noticeable flicker. They must have some kind of interpolating software to remove that flicker, which could be the reason the images are blurry.

I’ve seen a lot of old film run through image processing software, both to clean up and sharpen the footage; I wonder if any of it is available at the consumer level…

Date posted: October 24, 2022 | Filed under family, photography | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a picture of the load-in for Bob’s house on Thursday evening. I met up with Christi and Rob and we got a ton of things done—but there is, as always, more to do.

Date posted: October 23, 2022 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

Polygon is reporting that Bungie may be considering a reboot of Marathon, the seminal mid ’90’s shooter exclusive to the Mac that destroyed my productivity for about five solid years. I have no idea what shape this would take or how they’d design it, but it would be awesome to revisit that world thirty years later.

Date posted: October 23, 2022 | Filed under apple, geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I drove three hours up into the Poconos to look at a crusty truck on Sunday, hoping it would be good enough to drag home, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I was able to make the best of the trip by scooting through the Delaware Water Gap to visit our house in Hackettstown, where I went to elementary school up until the 5th grade. A lot has changed there and much is still the same. First I stopped off at the old house to see how it looks: it’s in good shape!



What strikes me the most is that a lot of the trees I remember are gone. The willow in the front yard I fell out of is long gone. All of the tall oaks in the neighbors’ yard to the east are gone. The house to the north looks like it was completely overtaken with new construction. And the overgrown forest and park down at the end of our street where I played Little League baseball and rode BMX bikes has been leveled and cleared, probably for some kind of new development.

Driving around town was wild. It looks like it’s doing very well—the fact that they have the M&M Mars plant anchoring the town is key. Main Street is busy and all the storefronts are full. My middle school is still standing, and still handsome despite the ugly emergency stairwells bolted to the front of the building. The winding route to my elementary school looks almost exactly the same. All of the buildings on the way  still stand, and the path up the hill from the dropoff circle is still there. As I drove out of town I found myself passing the VFW hall where I raced my soap box derby car, the Dairy Queen next to the river where we celebrated little league wins, and the Walmart that used to be a Jamesway.

I’m glad to see the town doing well. Sometimes I wonder how our lives might have been different if we’d stayed there. Hackettstown wasn’t perfect but I have lots of good memories from there.

Date posted: October 16, 2022 | Filed under family, history | Leave a Comment »