I’ve had this album on repeat for the past couple of days, and it’s helping me relax while I work.
I spent most of the weekend working around the house with headphones in, listening to a podcast called 13 Minutes to the Moon, the first season of which detailed the Apollo 11 moon landing:
The host, a BBC World News host, spent a lot of time traveling to meet the surviving astronauts, Mission Control specialists, and NASA scientists responsible for one of this country’s best efforts. Given everything else that’s been happening, it’s been a welcome boost for my spirits. Season two goes into the Apollo 13 disaster and I’m about halfway through already.
A few weeks ago I got an Amazon alert that used copies of Fallout 76 were on deep discount, so I grabbed one. I’ve played its predecessor, Fallout 4, pretty much nonstop since my family bought me an Xbox during chemotherapy two and a half years ago, so I figured that plus a 3 month Xbox Live pass (required for this new game) was a good investment. So far, it’s everything Fallout 4 was plus a bunch of new problems to solve—there’s no pause, starvation and radiation are real game mechanics, and it’s a multiplayer environment. So far I’ve not had problems with other players, but the threat of someone coming along and murdering my character for fun is a real threat. The first couple of hours were confusing and stressful but I’ve figured out the big questions and I’m settling in to enjoy the game.
I read this morning that Adam Schlesinger, the founder and songwriter of the band Fountains of Wayne, died from complications of coronavirus on Wednesday. I was never a giant fan of FoW—Stacy’s Mom was a pretty good tune—but I was a huge fan of another band he co-founded called Ivy, whose album Long Distance has been one of my favorites since I stumbled across it ten years ago. He was, by all accounts, an extremely busy and prolific writer with multiple projects, so Ivy’s output was sporadic; their last album was released in 2011. In any case, this is shitty news.
Back in 2012 or so I started watching a goofy YouTube show called Roadkill, about two guys who would drive somewhere remote to find a junky car, fix it up, do some burnouts, and drive it somewhere else. It was pretty popular, and eventually the two hosts—who then were both editors of Hot Rod magazine—quit their jobs and hosted Roadkill full time. A couple of years ago it was put behind a paywall at MotorTrend, and I missed the show.
Last week, deep in Week 3 of working from home, I was actually on the “buy” screen for a year’s worth of MotorTrend On Demand, but for some reason I never pushed the button.
This afternoon, I got an email from Hagerty announcing they were giving us members a free year of MotorTrend On Demand as part of our membership. I’m looking at several days at my desk making edits to WRI’s Annual Report, so this gift could not have come at a better time. Bravo, Hagerty, you just made my quarantine 100% more bearable.
The installation folks showed up on Friday morning and put in two counters in the bathroom that match the seat and ledge in the shower, and it looks fantastic so far. We chose white round undermount bowls for the sinks, and due to some scheduling mixups we didn’t have the faucets purchased, so we’re looking at those and they’ll come back out next week to drill the holes. Then it should be a not-so-simple matter of setting up the drains (I’m not looking forward to that bit of under-counter gymnastics) and hooking up the water supply, and we’ll be able to use everything in there.
Finley and I took a drive into Baltimore to hit the MICA Bookstore for some art supplies in the afternoon. She was making linoleum cuts in art class at at school and decided she wanted to make a T-shirt design of her own, so we needed to find clean linoleum to work with. I figured I’d look and see what kind of scratchboard supplies they still carried, as it’s been forever since I’ve picked up the pen and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I miss it, and whether I could get similar results from an iPad Pro. The store is in a building directly across the street from my first Baltimore apartment, and I told Finley that my roommate and I used to throw frisbee in the parking lot (and under passing buses on Mt. Royal Avenue) out in front of it.
We found her supplies quickly and then split up to check out the rest of the store. I found scratchboard in the back, manufactured by a different company (I used to use Essdee exclusively, this is made by Ampersand), picked up some new nibs, and then found Finn a pin in the student goods section. Then I took her on a quick tour of the neighborhood and showed her some of my old apartments.
At home we set up a craft work area at the dining room table and she worked on her design for the rest of the afternoon while I tested out the scratchboard. I wasn’t going to overthink things so I just transferred a picture of the truck and started working with it, and found that I really like it. It has a good feel—the last few sheets of Essdee I used had a harder surface, harder to work with, and didn’t make clean marks. This cut cleanly and felt good under the nib, and after a lot of initial hesitation (oh, I remember that feeling clearly) I started to work out what I was doing and lost myself in the image. We broke for dinner after a test print of her design, and when we were done I pulled out my silkscreen inks and we printed her design on a blank shirt, then ran off several Scout shirts for Brian. (Linda, I still owe you several shirts).
I sold my old compressor on Saturday afternoon, and made back 75% of the money I spent on the new one. While we were out for some supplies in the morning I picked up fittings, hose, and a water filter, and installed them while I was waiting for the guy to show up. It’s going to take some serious reorganization, but when I’m done I think the garage will be much easier to use.
I’ve been on a Stephen King binge for the last two weeks after watching It: Chapter Two, which involved reading the book over again and listening to a companion podcast that discusses the book by section. It was one of his books I enjoyed the most, and it’s been decades since I read it last. There’s so much I appreciate about his style of storytelling, and apart from the problematic section toward the end, the story is as good as I remember. Listening to the podcast was a fun way to dive deeper and think about stuff I hadn’t considered when I was reading it (the perfect introvert’s book club, really).
The movie was better than the reviews would have made us believe; I don’t know who was complaining about the length or the lack of scares, but I could have stood for another half hour (or honestly, if they’d blown this out to a 6- or 8-episode Netflix series, which would have captured all of the detail better). The casting was spot-on, except, I think, for James MacAvoy, who I like, but wasn’t Bill Denbrough in my mind.