I’ve spent the last couple of weeks polishing my YouTube channel up to see what kind of traction I could get, and I’m actually quite impressed with the results of nothing but organic traffic so far. When I set up the account 15 years ago I posted a timelapse video of putting polyurethane on the office floor, which somehow generated 11,000 views over time. I dumped random videos there from time to time but never really took it seriously until I posted the Hudson recovery video last year, which racked up another 11,000 views in five months.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of hours watching or listening to about thirty channels on YT, mostly “Will it run?”-themed. From what I’ve seen a lot of the top posters in this category have 500K+ followers, allowing them to monetize the channel and buy their own racetracks or move to larger properties and build giant garage workshops. I’m nowhere at that level, but testing out the algorithm and learning how to produce the videos has been fun so far.

I’ve been working mainly with a couple of older GoPro Session cubes, Dad’s 12-year-old Canon Vixia camcorder, and my iPhone to capture footage. The GoPros are great for set-and-forget timelapse shots, which I’ve been leveraging heavily, and the iPhone is great for handheld interstitial shots with narration. I have a Hero Session 5 with built-in stabilization and a Hero Session which  doesn’t, so I use the 5 along with my phone for any handheld work. The Vixia is definitely showing its age. Its sensor is old so it’s very contrasty, and the footage is grainy compared to the modern cameras. However, it makes for a good tripod-mounted talk-into-camera unit, and with a $10 DC-in cord and a $10 XLR to 1/4″ headphone cable, I can use an old shotgun mic from work to improve its built-in sound quality.

I think the working model for filming moving forward is going to be something like:

  • The Vixia is set up on a tripod for into-camera shots, where I’m explaining something I’ve found or setting the stage
  • The GoPro Session 5 is a hand-held/maybe head-mounted unit for showing what I’m actually working on
  • The GoPro Session is set up as a dedicated tripod-mounted timelapse unit
  • My iPhone is used for supplemental handheld shots—usually when I’m taking a break and giving updates.

For editing I’m using my old friend Final Cut Pro but I’m finding that even with an M2 chip in my MacBook Air it’s still laggy at times. I should have sprung for 16GB of RAM in hindsight, but for now it’s getting the job done, and like everything else I’ve ever done, I’ll keep working on a shoestring budget and making it work.

As I assemble each video, what I’m finding is that I have to spend a lot more time planning shots out to get better coverage, and also to narrate what I’m doing in the moment without repeating myself. The pros make it look a lot easier than it actually is. Usually when I’m working on the trucks I’m hustling flat out so that I can make the absolute most of the day, and any footage I pick up is a bonus. I don’t want to slow progress down but I do need to carefully consider what I’m doing, think ahead about how I can set up new shots, and fluidly move between tasks so that it’s not as jumpy. I’m also considering some kind of head or chest GoPro mount to easily capture what I’m working on up close instead of depending on tripod-mounted static shots.

I followed some basic instructions for how to set up a channel and for how to post each video with the right information—adding the right titles, descriptions, keywords, and leveraging the built-in tools to cross-promote other videos in the channel. From what my analytics show, I’m getting a fair bit of views from my embedded posts on The Binder Planet, but there are a lot more folks finding it through organic search on YouTube.

As a basic exercise it’s been really good to practice shooting and editing skills, and develop a workflow for collecting and editing all the footage (there’s so much footage from each one of these) as well as the ins and outs of building a social media channel, which is helpful for work.

Date posted: March 28, 2024 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

This is mostly for music nerds of a certain pre-Spotify age, but I found it fascinating: the oral history of Pitchfork from Slate magazine.

Greene: It was always, and only ever, a bunch of nerds writing essays about records. It was that before it became famous. And it was that after it became famous. It was only ever that, and those are the people who still come to Pitchfork, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

Date posted: March 22, 2024 | Filed under entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »

Hmm, this looks interesting. A self-described fan of The Three Body Problem novel series gives it a glowing review after seeing the screeners. It’s written and produced by the guys who fumbled the ball at the goal line with Game of Thrones, but hopefully (because the source material has all been written) this will be better. I’ll put this on the watch list, even though I rarely watch series TV these days.

Date posted: March 20, 2024 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I celebrated my birthday quietly at home, on a day that felt a lot like the day before it and the day before that. I walked the dog with Jen, we had coffee and breakfast, and then we went to work. I’d bought some marinaded chicken at Trader Joe’s on the weekend so I fired up the grill and cooked it,then shredded the meat and made quesadillas for the family. The girls bought chocolate cupcakes and sang happy birthday and I blew out my candle. That was a highlight, as were the many messages I got from family and friends.

Date posted: March 19, 2024 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

Somehow I missed this when it first came around. Stereogum interviewed the band Air and went through each track on the 1998 album Moon Safari to explain their influences and background.

Date posted: March 18, 2024 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Last week, while considering the two trucks I’d learned about in New York, I got a text from Bennett:

The owner is a friend’s family and they wanted it gone before it collected more tickets from the local constabulary; I told Bennett I wanted it and asked for his help in going to get it. He got in touch with his brother for the towing rig and a plan was hatched.

Sunday morning I met Bennett over at his storage yard so that we could pull the Hudson off the trailer, park it, and use that for hauling. Before we could leave, we had to replace the hot lead to his trailer winch, which took some surgery and delicate tinkering. Moving the Hudson was pretty easy (we’re used to this procedure by now) so we were on the road north by 9:30.

The truck was at the bottom of a tricky driveway at the end of a fast curve, so I stood outside and stopped traffic while Bennett expertly backed the trailer up the hill (digging the bottom lip all the way up) on his first try. He backed it down the lane to stop at the rear bumper of the Travelall.

She looked worse in person than in the photos (big surprise!) Like she’d been at sea for years and had been beached in a storm. The owners of the house came outside and watched as we busied ourselves setting up the ramps and unloading tools.

The first issue was that it was on four flat tires: two of which were questionable and two of which looked like a dinosaur had been snacking on them. I put my compressor on the “good” ones and got the passenger’s front to fill and hold, while the driver’s side rear would fill and empty at almost the same rate. So: it was up to the winch. We aligned the ramps and yanked the truck backwards up to their edges, and realized the trailer hitch would never clear the deck of the trailer. But we’re pros at this: we stacked up some scrap wood and propped them with 2×4’s to lengthen the ramps and make the angle work better. I put a long board between the hitch and the trailer, levered it over the edge, and we were quickly up on the deck. Turned out the one good tire was bolted to a drum which had frozen, so it was effectively useless.

We pulled it back as far as possible but knew having the engine over the rear axles was dangerous, so we made a plan to flip it around as soon as we found a good-sized parking lot. After strapping it down tightly, we said our thank-yous and I went back out to the street to cover traffic. Bennett got up a head of steam and came down out of the driveway at an angle to avoid getting high-centered, and we were soon on our way.

Down the road we found an empty restaurant parking lot with a couple of steel posts that would be perfect for our next trick: pulling the truck off the trailer, then loading it on facing front. He backed it up to a post which we fastened a strap around, and he gently pulled forward to pull the trailer out from underneath the truck. The front tire—the one with air—still wouldn’t budge. We used the strap to pull the truck backwards to clear the post, and Bennett turned the trailer around to meet the front of the truck.

When we’d gotten the Travelall about 1/2 of the way up the trailer he remarked that he was impressed with how well the battery was holding up on the winch; fifteen seconds later the winch began to sputter as the power dimmed. We dicked around with ratchet straps and a come-along that was definitely not strong enough, and finally unhitched the Ford, pulled it up to the front of the trailer, and used jumper cables to juice the battery enough to get the truck winched all the way forward.

From there it was easy to strap the truck down and get on the road. After a quick lunch at the diner up the street, we drove back to Maryland through howling wind and snow showers to my house, where I’d moved the red Travelall backwards to make room.

Here we used a similar method to get the truck off the trailer: we hooked my tow strap to the telephone pole and the tow hitch on the truck and Bennett simply pulled the Ford forward. We quickly threw a tarp over the carcass to hide its beauty from my neighbor, who is coincidentally trying to sell his house—sorry!—and packed things up. Then we drove back to his storage lot to help get the Hudson back up on the trailer. We got everything covered and strapped down, and took off for home.

I haven’t had a ton of time to look the truck over, but here’s what I see so far:

The outside sheet metal is all Pennsylvania-good. Meaning it has rust in many of the same places the red truck does: in the front fenders at the bottom and over the eyebrows, in the front grille below the marker lights, behind the rear wheels at the bottom of the arches, and in the bottom corners under the taillights (mine is solid here). There’s good chrome trim around the outside which looks like it might all be intact. There’s one good chrome rocker trim on the passenger side—the driver’s side was ripped off at some point. Both bumpers are in excellent shape, and the rear bumper has a set of inset reverse lights. There’s a beautiful roof rack and luggage rail setup on the roof. It’s a single-tailgate model but we can’t figure out how to open it—there’s no handle anywhere, and this truck came without a key. The drip rail is in excellent shape given how long this truck had been sitting. There’s a lovely patina of the original IH green, buffed down to red primer, splashed with yellow lichen across the whole truck.

Inside, it’s a 4-speed stick, and the furnishings are all Custom—it says this on the dashboard. Fabric door cards, fancy steering wheel, padded dashboard, and deluxe headliner. The front bench is shot, and the rear bench had been folded forward, so I can’t see what shape that’s in. Water has gotten into the truck from the driver’s door seal so the front floors and seat are wet. In the far back, there’s what looks like a heat or A/C unit sunk into the wheelwell on the passenger side, and a square toolbox on the driver’s side. The chrome trim for the headliner inside is all intact, and there are two visible dome lights.

A quick look under the hood revealed a V8 with power steering, and a large brake booster, as well as a mount for an A/C compressor. It’s IFS up front, which means there’s no leaf springs for me to grab, but I can definitely pull the rears to have them re-arched.

So, the next steps are to do an inventory of what’s good and what’s not, and start pulling parts off the truck. I have no title and no bill of sale, although the owner said he’d look for the former. Our cursory inspection showed a lot of rust and I’m sure it’s deeper than it looks, so stripping this truck down to the shell won’t bother me too much. Jen doesn’t want it lingering in the driveway, and neither do I, so I think I’ll sell some Scout parts to make room for Travelall parts. I’ve already dug two spare fenders out of storage, and I can sell one set of spare doors to free up a lot more space—Bennett said he might be interested in them, in which case they are his for the asking.

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

Date posted: March 11, 2024 | Filed under friends, Scout, Travelall, Trip Logs | Comments Off on Recovery Mission

ill peach, BLOOM. Dumb name for a band, but a good track. I like the beat, and the bridge at 2:01 is a lovely transition. Gives me some strong Metric vibes, minus the guitar. The rest of the album is hit or miss, but they have a couple of other good tracks from earlier EPs available.

The runner-up from last week:

Acopia, This Conversation is Getting Boring. Much more downtempo, but another good groove. I wish the bass was better quality; the sound is flat and sounds just a hair late on the rhythm and not in a good way. Other than that, excellent.

Date posted: March 6, 2024 | Filed under earworm, music | Leave a Comment »

I haven’t written anything here in a while, but that’s not because I’m being lazy. Life is pretty jam-packed full of stuff right now, and by the time I sit down in front of this empty page, I’m usually too tired to organize any thoughts.

Work is going full-steam and I’ve got a couple of new projects I’m in charge of creating that could be very fun and interesting to produce. This week marks the beginning of the “flexible work policy,” which means simply that we are expected to be back in the office two days a week. So I have to dust off my nice shoes and start ironing my button-down shirts again to go in on Tuesday.

Meanwhile we’re burning the evening hours on a freelance project for a friend, which has sharpened my Illustrator skills and will help pay off our upcoming vacation and a bunch of bills. It’s been a challenging mixture of project management and basic technical skill, for which Jen and I have joined our Voltron powers to accomplish; I wish I could say it was exciting stuff to share, but it’s really not. We’re happy for the work even if it’s been draining at times, and I’ll admit I haven’t enjoyed sitting at my desk for 12+ hours a day.

I drove the OG-V down to Lexington Park on Saturday to visit Bob. I just put four new tires on her and did the front brakes, and she’s driving like a new car, even though she’s nearing 162K on the odometer. The weather was terrible on the way down, but by the time I pulled into his driveway it had stopped raining and an hour later the sun started peeking out of the clouds. After I went  through a bunch of bills and did some housekeeping, he was happy to get out and go for tacos at a little hole-in-the-wall stand we found a couple of weeks ago, who make the best al pastor I’ve eaten since I was in Mexico City. We ran some errands and I fixed a couple of small things at the house, and then I hit the road for home in the evening.

Date posted: March 4, 2024 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »