At Jalopnik, David Tracy looks at the 2021 Honda Civic, which will be offered as a sedan with an automatic transmission, and more interestingly, as a hatchback with a stick. And, I really like the look of it. The rear end doesn’t look like a dekotora truck anymore. I have no immediate plans to upgrade cars, but this is the first thing I’ve seen that makes me reconsider. Maybe when the car markets all calm down next year…

Date posted: June 25, 2021 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

A guy bought a cheap Jeep YJ and drove it from Alaska to Argentina in 2012, and then began a tour of Africa in a different one. He put together a quick article about preparing a vehicle for extended overlanding in remote areas, where rolling up to a service station isn’t an option. His TL;DR list: Keep it as stock as possible, replace high-wear parts before leaving, know your vehicle and prep with any specialty tools you’ll need, and obviously, don’t drive it like a meathead.

Date posted: June 15, 2021 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Tweedy Pie was a Model T custom made in the early 1950’s that influenced hundreds of other cars before fading into obscurity. The author of these well-made videos does a deep dive into the history of the car, and then details his quest to build a replica. Half of the videos are in-progress fabrication and the other half are his travels around Southern California to friends’ houses and shops to source period-correct parts. There are many reasons I’m glad I don’t live in California, but the hot rod scene out there is something I definitely wish I was closer to.

Date posted: June 7, 2021 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

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Sadly, the pretty Mustang that’s been sitting in our driveway is headed to California tomorrow. Matt organized a pickup, and while it’s been fun having it here, I can’t really drive it much due to mechanical and legal worries. It really deserves to be out of the rain and in the warm dry sunshine of Southern California. So off it will go to automotive Valhalla to make someone very happy.

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I’ve been fooling around with some illustration during my downtime, and the more I work on it the more I want to try out some methods I’ve seen online using an iPad Pro. Before I spend a shit ton of money, I’d like to test drive the process. It turns out my favorite lens rental company also rents iPads, and for about $120 I can try one out for a week to see if I like it. The idea of being able to do scratchboard-like work with an Undo button and have it go right to vector artwork is super-appealing, and the ability to change brushes and sizes on the fly is even more interesting. So when I get paid next week, I’m going to give this a try.

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Digging around in the idiotking archives I found some now outdated links to the timelapses I shot painting the house in 2004; I found the original picture sequence, built a new timelapse file, and put it up on YouTube:

Date posted: June 2, 2021 | Filed under cars, drawing, house | Leave a Comment »

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Jen got to drive her dream car last night! She was nervous but I think she had fun.

(P.S.I’m triggering the photo with my phone, not influencing my Instagram followers).

Date posted: May 19, 2021 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

I think everybody spends time thinking about living a lifestyle larger than the one they currently do. Being directly on the dividing line between upper and lower middle class, we don’t want for much, but we don’t have a maid service or send Finn to private school or enjoy ski vacations on the West Coast. What we’ve got is due to luck, hard work, and no small amount of privilege—I’m not so stupid as to ignore that truth—and believe me, I’m thankful for the life we have together.

I do still dream, though, of having true fuck-you money, living the kind of lifestyle where we could just do something large and irresponsible without worrying about groceries for the next six months. A spontaneous trip abroad. A summer cottage somewhere warm and within sight of the water. The ability to go to graduate school and not worry about crushing debt. Given who we are, we’d probably still be working, but just to have the ability to do those other fun things the shiny people get to do as a matter of course would be great. As I’ve gotten older my vistas have scaled back somewhat, and now I dream of having the time, space and education to pursue other careers and travels.

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It was with anticipation, then, that I waited for the flatbed to drop off Matt’s Mustang on Friday afternoon. The guy drove it off the back and parked it out front, and I hustled to get it in the driveway, recalling past horrors involving cars that weren’t mine out there. I’ve always wanted to have a stable of old cars to play with, and the Scout has been my salve for that itch. It’s nice, then, to have another, completely different one to play with for a while.

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This Mustang is a 1965, black over red coupe with a 6-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. Beyond that, there isn’t much mechanically. It’s only got manual steering and manual drum brakes, which means parallel parking it in the driveway is a full-body workout.  The engine bay is about as complicated as a tractor’s: there might be eight wires in total, and three hoses. Sitting inside is like going back in time. You sit in two low-back bucket seats with lap belts, inches off the ground. The steering wheel sticks way out into your lap from a shiny steel and plastic dashboard. The ignition is to the right of the steering column, and the engine fires right up. Being a 6-cylinder it idles rougher and sounds more agricultural than the Scout. The transmission is vague and floaty: the detents that indicate where you are in the P-N-D-L sequence are rubbed away, so there’s a bit of guesswork involved before you unlock your left leg from the brake pedal and hope you’re aimed in the right direction.

I grabbed one of the Scout plates and put it on the back to take it for a spin around the block to give Matt my impressions. Out on the road, it’s another whole world. It cruises happily in second gear, and the world looks completely different from behind the shiny chrome wheel. The windows crank down smoothly, the wing windows let the breeze inside, and it just floats down the road.

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I noted a bunch of things I saw and reported back to Matt: it hunts for second gear when it gets warm. There’s a clunk from the driver’s front suspension going over speed bumps. The seatbelts were installed backwards (latch on the door side). There’s rust in both rockers at the B pillar. But it fires up immediately and runs like a top.

I took Finn down the street for ice cream on Saturday night, and she had a big smile on her face the whole way there. So did I.

Matt has been awesome and told me it’s ours to drive around for a while, so we’re just waiting for him to send us the plates so it’s legal and then I’ll get Jen behind the wheel for some fun—she’s said this was her dream car (well, a convertible, if we’re being honest) and I’d like to give her the opportunity to live that dream for a while, even if it’s just a loan.

Date posted: May 16, 2021 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

Adult Swim canceled one of my favorite shows, the Venture Brothers, last year, with little fanfare. They announced today they’re going to produce a follow-up movie for the series along with Metocalypse and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, two other canceled shows. It’s not as good as having a whole season, but I’d love to see things wrapped up (and have a little more time with Team Venture).

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I haven’t mentioned the Mustang here because, well, it’s not here yet. The seller was being a little iffy about the possibility of it making an hour-long drive and crossing a 3-mile bridge with no breakdown lane, so we postponed the pickup and explored other options. I talked with Matt yesterday and he’s arranged for it to be towed here this afternoon, as he didn’t want us to get stuck on the bridge or somewhere in Eastern Maryland with a car we hadn’t ever driven. Which is, frankly, fine with me: as much as I’d love to road-trip it across the bridge, I’d rather do the 1-10-100 test with my USAA towing card handy.

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In other news, I dusted off my acoustic guitar a couple of days ago, tuned it up, and put it behind my desk in the office. There are a bunch of simple songs I was learning back when I was taking lessons ten years ago—sweet creeping Jesus time has flown—and recently decided I’d like to pick this thing back up and learn them again. I found my notes and chord books and I’ve worked on the progressions for two songs already, and my fingertips already hurt. But it’s nice to make music again!

Date posted: May 14, 2021 | Filed under cars, entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »

Cousin Matt texted me a picture of a pretty black 1965 Mustang on Sunday, nonchalantly asked me if Henderson Maryland was close by, and if I’d be interested in driving out there to pick it up for him, drive it back to the house, and hang on to it while he arranged for transport. I told him it would be a major inconvenience, but I’d do it anyway. Actually, I jumped at the chance. He’s getting the insurance and other legal stuff taken care of, and then we’ll drive out there later this week to grab it up—probably Thursday (which works best, as it’s going to be raining until then anyway). I’m going to load up a bunch of GoPros and make a fun afternoon out of it. I’ve driven a lot of different cars in my life, but never a ’65 Mustang; taking it back across the bridge is going to be a treat. I don’t know what driving condition it’s in, and I’ll have to do a pre-drive inspection before I get it on the road, but this should be fun!

Date posted: May 4, 2021 | Filed under cars, family | Leave a Comment »

Jalopnik, one of my favorite go-to websites for years, has been pretty much gutted by its private-equity overlords. Most of the authors I liked to read have moved on to other sites and I can’t stand 90% of what’s left, so I was pleased to learn that a couple of alumni have resurrected an older site called Carbibles.com and are building it out into something more along the lines of what I want to read: a mixture of how-to articles, personal stories, reviews, and opinions.

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Here’s an excellent article on how to manage up—and what it means to do it right: First, the author makes the point that a manager can’t know everything about their reports, and that it’s a good idea for the employee to push the right information upwards so that the manager can help them do their best. As a manager, I try to regularly ask my team to tell me what they need and what’s holding them back, but this is an even better way to frame a conversation.

Date posted: March 5, 2021 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

Wow. If Dad were still alive, I would buy this and offer to fly out to the West Coast to drive it back with him: a 1968 Ford Country Squire wagon, the spitting image of the wagon he had when Renie and I were little kids. This one has a couple of dents and dings, but overall looks like it’s in good shape. Of course, a 390 under the hood means we’d be filling it up every 15 miles, but that would be an epic trip.

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I would do some light modification to this wagon—I’d repaint it in the original Ford green, find a roof rack (or the equivalent Thule roof basket) and lift it slightly for some better tires—but keep the stock hubcaps. Refresh the engine, suspension and brakes, sort out the interior, and drive the piss out of it.

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So Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday after a bout of lung cancer. Cancer does suck, but seriously, fuck that guy. He and his kind are a cancer on our democracy; maybe that’s a sign of cosmic justice out there somewhere.

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Good grief. One of my go-to podcasts, Reply All, did a series on the racism scandal at Bon Appétit, a very popular magazine and online property which has been accused of keeping people of color out of the spotlight. That exposed an identical problem at Gimlet Media, the podcast channel that publishes Reply All. What a mess.

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I went back and looked at the Reverb listing for my bass after having forgotten it for a couple of weeks; it’s been viewed 8,000 times but there are still no concrete offers. Meanwhile there are a couple of others listed for more money elsewhere; I’d love to know if anything is moving right now. Here’s to hoping an offer comes out of the blue.

Date posted: February 18, 2021 | Filed under bass, cars, family | Leave a Comment »