File this under bummer: Looks like Geoff, the guy I bought my blue traveltop from, is selling his Scout via Facebook Marketplace. His rig looks cool but the pictures he’s posted show a lot more rust in the body than I remember seeing in 2013. He made the questionable decision to cover the front body panels in some kind of bedliner years ago, and somewhere in the last five years swapped an LS under the hood. Overall it’s a nice rig with a lot of good parts, and someone will be lucky to own it.

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

Date posted: November 26, 2020 | Filed under friends, Scout | Comments Off on Scouts Come, Scouts Go

Our family moved from Connecticut to New York in the fall of 1983, from a rural, leafy house on a hill to a rural, leafy house on a hill—surrounded by a swamp and an impound lot. The second half of seventh grade pretty much sucked; I was in yet another new school surrounded by people who’d grown up around each other, and I was odd man out, again. I went into eighth grade with nobody I knew around me, and basically stuck it out for the entire year by myself. It wasn’t until I made it into ninth grade that I made friends with anyone I liked—and that had everything to do with music.

One of my best friends was a guy with an unusual name, and he was into most of the same things I was—comics, playing bass, Van Halen/Rush, crappy 80’s apocalypse movies, and shitty cars. His family was large and loud and lived right above town, much closer to everything than we did, and his house became the epicenter of all of my activities—mostly because we lived 10 miles outside of town and this was before I had a driver’s license. His mom and ad were kind and generous and larger than life; one of the first times I visited his house, I called home for a ride and for some reason both my parents couldn’t make it. I squared up my courage and asked his dad, a 6-foot wide Polish fireplug, if he could drive me home. He looked me up and down, and told me to go out on the deck, face my house, and bend over, and he’d kick my ass home. He waited a beat, watched me shit my pants, and then smirked through his huge mustache before pointing at his service truck. His Mom was a tireless booster for all four of her kids—from band to gymnastics to horses to wrestling, she was there on the bus, at the events, making sure they—we—all had what we needed, whether it was food or equipment or support or a clear spot on the floor to sleep.

They took me in when I needed a place to crash before a marching band event, or a party, or just on the odd Friday night after school when we were hanging around. I spent nights on S’s floor pretzeled into an uncomfortable set of cushions, happy that I wasn’t stuck at my house miles away from the fun stuff. S. and I spent countless hours together, and he was the guy who got me back out of the introverted shell I’d been building since Connecticut. His friends were my friends, and I was lucky enough to fit in with them all, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I found out years ago (back when I was on Facebook, I think) that his Mom had beaten breast cancer. I don’t visit there for obvious reasons, and I’m epically terrible at staying in touch with anyone. But she’s been on my mind over the last couple of months, on and off; I’ve also been mulling a drive up to Putnam County to say hi to a bunch of old friends. It was a gut punch a few weeks ago to find out she had passed from a second bout of cancer. My immediate thought was that I needed to go up and pay my respects to his family in person, to somehow show how much they’d meant to me. With COVID lockdowns in full effect, that wasn’t going to happen.

Fast forward to the beginning of last week, when I got a DM on Instagram from S., who was going to be in town for his daughter’s lacrosse clinic. Would I like to get together? Damn right I would. I picked him up about a mile down the street at the indoor facility where Finn learned to play soccer and drove him out into Ellicott City to the brewery on Main Street. He hasn’t aged at all, and we quickly caught up on the years that have gone by. We had about three hours to shoot the shit, and it felt good to catch up with him and his family.

Clearly, I’ve got to get off my ass and reach out to friends and catch up and see how they’re doing, now more than ever.

Date posted: November 8, 2020 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »

Your correspondent, in 1994-5 or so, with my friend Logan Hicks at the Sowebo Festival. Over Logan’s right shoulder is a sunflower design I did with the words “fuck you” on either side. We sold out of them. (Photo by Bridget Griffith Evans, stolen from Facebook)

Date posted: October 5, 2020 | Filed under friends | 1 Comment »

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Date posted: September 20, 2020 | Filed under finn, friends, photo | Leave a Comment »

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Date posted: August 24, 2020 | Filed under finn, friends, greenhouse, hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »

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Brian dropped off his very slick welding setup on his way out to West Virginia Friday afternoon. It’s set up with a multi-voltage plug, meaning it’ll run on 230 or 115 volts, and it’s hooked up to a bottle of shielding gas. I meant to look it over on Saturday but I just ran out of time.

He rolled into the driveway on Sunday morning and we began work on securable storage bins for both our trucks. We took some time to talk over a plan, then visited three separate hardware stores to find a suitable staple. Once we’d done that and had a little lunch, we started measuring and cutting and tacking and head-scratching.

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The staples went on pretty easily, and we only had to knock each of them off once to reposition.

Don’t judge my boogery weld; I haven’t done any welding in anger in over ten years.

The thing I was having more problems figuring out was how to secure the backside, but after Brian and I futzed with it a bit, we realized the lip at the top would provide 90˚ of clearance if we bent it backwards 45˚, and then all we’d have to do is weld the sides of the rear latch to the bin. Once that was done, we had a locking, secure bin ready to be secured to the floor.

This is still a puzzle, because we’re trying to keep things removable and low-profile, but we’ve got a plan for the back latch and possibly a solution for the front.

In the meantime, I’m going to grab some scrap steel and go out and lay some beads down with the welder. I only put in some quick tack welds but it was fun and I miss welding so much. If I can talk Brian into it, I’d like to hang on to it for another couple of weeks until I get the bottle jack mount fabricated and completed. Only then will he be able to rip it out of my hands.

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

Date posted: August 17, 2020 | Filed under friends, Scout | Comments Off on Welding Projects, Day 1

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After 10+ years of faithful, if not mediocre service, our fancy HE front-loading washing machine has given up the ghost. I’m no stranger to basic appliance maintenance, but when the display starts showing strange error codes and failing to drain, and the internet tells you it’s expensive problems with the computer in the unit, it’s time to call in a professional. Jamell was super-cool and nodded his head sadly when I showed it to him; he confirmed my suspicions that we were either going to have to replace the main control board (~$500 plus labor) or the motor (~$500 plus labor). He suggested we replace the whole unit and this time go with a top-loader, as they are easier to work on, break down less, and wash clothes better. I wanted to do my part for the environment and everything but I also don’t want to stink. So we’re heading out this afternoon to the Sears Outlet American Freight to pick up a new Kenmore and have it delivered before we run out of clean underwear. I’m going to steal the top cover before it goes, because washing machine steel makes great automotive patch paneling.

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Finn and I were in Easton at Karean’s house yesterday to help move some furniture and do some house maintenance before she has her carpeting replaced with hardwood flooring; she’s got heavy and bulky furniture that would be impossible to move solo, so we got the coffee table and couch moved together. Then I fixed some stuff around the house and tried to revive Rob’s 400-disc CD changers, which both powered on and immediately made screeching noises—which leads me to believe either the motors are bad or the belts that the motors drive are bad. I threw them both in the back of the car to do some more research, and there’s a chance I can fix them if it’s just the belts, but either way I’m going to be ripping CD’s for the next couple of months so that she’s got her music available again.

Date posted: July 16, 2020 | Filed under appliances, friends, photo | 2 Comments »

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Date posted: July 5, 2020 | Filed under family, finn, friends | Leave a Comment »

27 February
I’ve spent a tense couple of days trading emails with my target hosting provider trying to hammer out the details of migration and transfer. As of right now they’ve migrated WordPress over to an instance on their servers and I just now got them to understand that I want to move the domain over as well. I sent over the Auth code Friday morning and got the ball rolling, so let’s see how fast it takes to get the rest of it moved. While this is all happening, I’ve been juggling tabs in my browsers like a circus clown, switching from account to account to communicate with the various companies involved. It’s making me feel schizophrenic. One minute I’m using my namesake account, next I’m using my idiotking account, and then I have to switch over to Gmail for authentication, which means logging out of my work account…

It’s been weird because the content is frozen while we sort things out; not having the site there to record on is like not having my phone in my pocket—I feel like there’s something missing. I have a problem with losing things, as documented here many times, and when something is unavailable or out of my reach I feel unmoored. This site has grown into something more than just a place to post pictures or links to funny websites; it’s an imprecise digital history of my life. Here and on Flickr are how I mark the years of my life, because I can’t keep track of it all in my head. It’s one of the only good habits I’ve ever been able to keep, and even when I’m having a slow month of posting, I’m still thinking about posting something. Even if it’s a list of shit I did over the weekend.

1 March
I’ve finished up a pile of small but time-consuming tasks in the bathroom. There’s kick moulding all the way around the perimeter of the bathroom, finished off with toekick at the bottom edge. Various holes and dents in the wall are patched and painted. There’s a coat of eggshell white on everything except for a few places I can’t see without direct sunlight.

I have the wall heater hooked up to a thermostat as of this afternoon, but for some reason the thermostat isn’t waking up. I called my neighbor and double-checked the wiring diagram it came with, and he confirmed my research. I’ll have to track that issue down later this week when I’ve got some time.

I ordered the sinks on Friday, and the marble folks are going to be here on Wednesday to measure for the countertops, which is a big relief. Once that’s all in I can hook up water and get the last big utility working in there.

2 March
Jen hit the Costco on Friday for bulk quarantine supplies, and Saturday morning Finn and I hit the store for the remainder. I’m watching the news with a wary eye not because I think it’s the second coming of the 1918 Spanish Fever epidemic, but because I know I’m standing square in the crosshairs of the virus: a low white blood cell count and a commute that takes me to and from a heavily trafficked city in a thin metal tube. Our leadership has been very cool about keeping people informed and offering telecommuting as an option, and I’m going to take them up on that when the first case hits D.C.

Sunday I took Finn and a friend to the mall for the afternoon. We walked inside and I asked the two of them to meet me at the same spot in two hours, and then I walked away and let them figure out where they were going to go. Then I texted Jen and said, “I have set them free on the mall. Should I be worried?” because I was a little worried. We texted back and forth and she made me feel better about it, and I put the worry out of my mind. We’ve been trying to give her more freedom in small doses. Apart from some stupendously dumb choices she’s made on her own in the last two weeks, we know she’s a good kid and normally does the right thing, so I put it out of my mind and looked for some work clothes. At 5:00 I walked back to the rally point and found them sitting on the floor drinking bubble tea, chatting happily with each other.

4 March
Laying in bed at 9:40 with a snoring dog next to me. I took Finn and Zachary snowboarding today (more on that later) so I’m a wee bit tired and emotionally wrung out; the two of them could not have done better today.

Meanwhile, the guy came to measure the counters and recommended two smaller sinks, so we’re changing the order to reflect that. We also need to buy the faucets before they come to install, as they’ll cut the holes for those while they’re here.

Date posted: March 4, 2020 | Filed under bathroom, finn, friends, housekeeping | Leave a Comment »

Brian texted me last week to see if I was available for some junkyard picking, and we set up a time on Sunday afternoon to meet. He picked me up in the white Scout and we headed over to Jessup to see what we could find. He was looking to supplement the electric steering parts we pulled from a Versa back in October. Apparently we didn’t get everything we needed; we’d just grabbed the motor and called it done, when we also needed the bracketry, shaft, and other assorted wiring.

After a few minutes to get our bearings, we found a Versa with some serious front-end damage and found that someone had already pulled the driver’s door, steering wheel, and most of the dashboard apart. All the bracketry we needed was intact, and without the door it was even easier to get what we needed from under the dashboard. After about 20 minutes of futzing we pulled the entire assembly out and continued on our way.

I was there for three things, one of which was Scout related: the horn in Peer Pressure is the wimpiest, most pathetic little toot of any vehicle I’ve ever owned. It sounds like an Italian scooter. I wanted to find something that had some more chutzpah. I did some Internet searching and found that higher-end 80’s Cadillacs came with 4-note horns (an individual horn for each note) that are loud enough to wake the dead. The W126 Mercedes was second on the list followed by 90’s GM minivans, so I was able to narrow the search down on the yard’s handy inventory tool. As luck had it, there was a 300SE in the yard with my name on it. We found it pretty quickly, and someone had already removed the entire hood assembly, exposing the horns mounted to the radiator. All I had to do was put a 13mm socket on one bolt and disconnect the wiring, and they were in my hands.

We then looked for an eighth gen Honda Accord so that I could pull the passenger’s rear door lock assembly (mine has never locked or unlocked remotely since the day we got the car) and after ten careful minutes we pulled it from a wrecked black model with leather seats and four blown airbags.

Wandering around the junkyard, we happened upon a Sprinter van that had given up its engine, and I pulled another horn from  behind the front bumper. It was getting late, and Brian’s motor assembly was getting heavy, so we called it a day and paid for our prizes.

Looking over these three horns on the bench, they’re identical—Mercedes apparently hasn’t updated their design in decades—apart from the note. The 300SE came with a 335hz and a 400hz horn wired in pair, and the Sprinter came with a 335hz. I’m going to start with the single from the Sprinter and see how it sounds in relation to the wuss stock horn, and if I need Get The Fuck Out Of My Way Loud I’ll put the dual set on and see how that does.

As for now, it’s cold and rainy (actually, snowing today) so Peer Pressure sits quietly in the garage, waiting for warmer weather.

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

Date posted: January 7, 2020 | Filed under friends, Purchasing, Scout | Comments Off on Yard Hopping