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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

We met the new neighbors on Tuesday. After more than six months of intrigue, random realtor showcases where carloads of strange people showed up to the house and wandered around the neighborhood shouting (yes, this did actually happen) and long periods of inactivity, a very quiet couple moved in soon after we got Hazel. Jen met them one day when she had a stoned dog out in the backyard after she’d been hit by the Prius, and couldn’t really talk to them much. She resolved to properly welcome them to the neighborhood with some flowers. We walked over after dinner and rang the bell; they invited us in and we stood in the foyer of the house and talked to them for about 20 minutes. They are lovely people and we got along very quickly. We agreed to organize a dinner with them after the holidays and get to know them a little better.

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Renie was in town on Wednesday courtesy of the FAA, and she was able to get a hotel very close to the office. We met up and got some dinner at Union Station on Wednesday night and did a debrief from Thanksgiving; it was great to get some quiet time to catch up with her where we weren’t making food or driving somewhere or cleaning up something.

Carni, my lead designer, left us on Friday after over five years with WRI. Back when I was the whole design department, I knew I needed to hire someone to help with the rapidly increasing workload. After looking at a pool of over 200 applicants, his work stood clearly out above the rest, and I was lucky to get him. An incredibly capable designer, I leaned on him a lot for many different things while I was focusing on the larger picture and learning how to be a manager. As he grew into a larger role, I made sure to get out of his way and let him run with the things he wanted to tackle. He’s moving to a local studio that focuses on data visualizations, which is where his interests have been for several years, and I couldn’t be happier for him. But now I’m scrambling to find someone who can do a quarter of what he could, and I’m going to have to fill in for the rest.

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One of our awesome Advent activities this year was to meet up with the Morrisses and make sock monkeys at the American Visionary Art Museum. The girls did this two years ago when I was laid up in the hospital, and they had a great time together, so we put it back on the calendar. At the top of the back warehouse there’s a huge open room where the staff had set up scores of tables with basic necessities—bags of stuffing and some directions. You are expected to bring socks and scissors, and they supply thread, buttons, and other decorative elements. We found a table and got to work, making friends with a young woman who was sock monkeying solo. It’s incredibly satisfying to sit and stitch something together with friends; I can almost see the allure of a quilting group (but there’d need to be copious amounts of alcohol). I chose a striped sock and used the most basic of stitches, while Jen used a hook-and-loop and made hers more professional. Three hours later we realized we were all famished (somehow it got to be 1PM without us noticing). We packed up our monkeys and drove down Key Highway to Little Havana and chowed down on delicious cuban-inspired food. It was great to hang out with them, and I have to say, my sewing skills were not too bad!

Sunday morning I spent tinkering around the house getting small tasks done; I ran the Scout up and realized the 11-year-old battery is probably due for a replacement. I straightened up the backyard and cleaned up the garage, then went downstairs and organized a bunch of stray boxes. It’s at the point where I need to put proper shelves in along the wall in the ice room, because we’re out of wall space for racks and there’s no clear floor space. Another holiday break project will be building a longer laundry sorting area and organizing the shelves on the west wall.

Date posted: December 9, 2019 | Filed under family, friends, house, photo, WRI | Leave a Comment »

One of our local Scout friends sent out a call for help this week via text: he’d located an original International Harvester fridge and was asking if anyone could help him move it from a basement in Woodlawn up to his house in Timonium. Intrigued, Bennett and I answered the Bat-Signal and we made plans to meet up at the house on Sunday morning.

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For those that might not know, IH produced refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners for a short period of time directly after World War II up until 1955, when they sold the division to Whirlpool. (The fridge on Friends was an IH model). The idea was that they would use their existing distribution channels to sell products to rural communities that had just been electrified, which is pretty clever, actually.

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Bennett picked me up in Heavy D and we met Stephen in front of a 1950’s saltbox off Liberty Road. The house, and neighborhood, had clearly seen better days, but George, the owner, welcomed us inside his cramped, neat little house and led us down to the basement where we found our subject: a 1951 Model HA-84 refrigerator in very good condition, lined up against a wall. After measuring the doorways and the unit, I found a way to remove the door and we pulled all of the interior parts out—All either made of enamelware steel or glass, no shitty plastic here.

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With George’s heavy-duty furniture dolly, we got it out the back door, pivoted in a tiny area, and then hauled it up the basement stairs to the backyard. From there it was pretty easy to move down the driveway, and the three of us deadlifted it up into the back of Heavy D’s bed.

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At Stephen’s house, we brought it up the back stairs and into his dining room, where we stood it upright and put all the parts back on. It’s really in fantastic shape—all the internal parts are present and not broken, which is amazing. The steel on the outside is faded but will probably polish up well after a cleaning. The chrome is all in excellent shape. And from what we understand it runs perfectly.

We hung out and shot the shit for a while, including looking over Stephen’s IH Cub tractor and his new Scout 80 project, then grabbed some lunch before parting ways. All in all, a fun way to spend a gloomy Sunday, even if it wasn’t directly truck-related.

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

Date posted: November 25, 2019 | Filed under friends, Scout | Comments Off on Furniture Delivery

Hey, this is cool! The guy standing at the table talking to people, and working at the computer in the following shot, is Matt, my roommate from college. He’s not getting any fat Adobe money for his work, but it’s pretty sweet!

Date posted: November 8, 2019 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »