Texas Raiders

Longtime readers here might know that I’m an aviation history buff; I love reading and learning about WWII-era planes of all kinds and I’m fascinated about the history of those still flying. So it was a shock to  read this evening that Texas Raiders, a flying B-17 on the airshow circuit, was involved in a horrific midair crash with a fighter from the same era in Dallas today. I was never able to see Texas Raiders up close but I did get to see it fly in formation with a small armada of antique planes in DC back in 2015 during the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover. This marks the second loss of a B-17 in three years; Nine-O-Nine crashed as the result of poor maintenance back in 2019. Sadly, I suspect the era of seeing antique planes fly will soon come to an end.

Date posted: November 12, 2022 | Filed under history, photo | Leave a Comment »

I drove three hours up into the Poconos to look at a crusty truck on Sunday, hoping it would be good enough to drag home, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I was able to make the best of the trip by scooting through the Delaware Water Gap to visit our house in Hackettstown, where I went to elementary school up until the 5th grade. A lot has changed there and much is still the same. First I stopped off at the old house to see how it looks: it’s in good shape!


1981


2022

What strikes me the most is that a lot of the trees I remember are gone. The willow in the front yard I fell out of is long gone. All of the tall oaks in the neighbors’ yard to the east are gone. The house to the north looks like it was completely overtaken with new construction. And the overgrown forest and park down at the end of our street where I played Little League baseball and rode BMX bikes has been leveled and cleared, probably for some kind of new development.

Driving around town was wild. It looks like it’s doing very well—the fact that they have the M&M Mars plant anchoring the town is key. Main Street is busy and all the storefronts are full. My middle school is still standing, and still handsome despite the ugly emergency stairwells bolted to the front of the building. The winding route to my elementary school looks almost exactly the same. All of the buildings on the way  still stand, and the path up the hill from the dropoff circle is still there. As I drove out of town I found myself passing the VFW hall where I raced my soap box derby car, the Dairy Queen next to the river where we celebrated little league wins, and the Walmart that used to be a Jamesway.

I’m glad to see the town doing well. Sometimes I wonder how our lives might have been different if we’d stayed there. Hackettstown wasn’t perfect but I have lots of good memories from there.

Date posted: October 16, 2022 | Filed under family, history | Leave a Comment »

Jen and I got to talking over coffee yesterday morning about mixtapes and 45’s and the first albums we had as our own people (not inherited from our parents or siblings). In 1984 my sister and I both got boom boxes for Christmas (the exact model I had is in the picture above), with a selection of five cassettes to listen to. My five were:

Looking back on that selection, it’s pretty solid, from an early 80’s point of view. There weren’t a lot of clunkers there—the Def Leppard album fell off on the B side pretty steeply and there was some filler on that particular Van Halen album, but everything else was tight. I played all of these constantly and then when I got my first brick of blank tapes I started taping songs off the radio. At some point I probably had 30 or so cassettes like this, where the DJ was talking over the intro to the song, it played through, and they came back in again only to cut into another song. You Kids Don’t Understand, and all of that.

But man, I miss mixtapes. I miss the time and patience it took to sit by the radio and wait for the DJ to mention he was gonna play a Who deep cut at the top of the hour, and I’d sit with my fingers over the Record button hoping it would be Baba O’Reilly because there was no way I was going to spend $12 on Who’s Next for one song. I had a whole stack of “goddammit” cassettes, a hundred dollars’ worth of store-bought albums that sucked except for that one good track, and that really sucked at a time when when I was making $7.50/hr slinging tacos. Mixtapes may have sounded shitty, but we got the music we wanted.

Date posted: February 3, 2022 | Filed under general, history, music | Leave a Comment »


620 South Lakewood Avenue, 2002

I spent all of my available time from Friday morning to after midnight on Monday working on a video project for WRI. Much of this was in direct communication with a remote video editing team, but there were sections of time where they were working and I needed to be on call near a computer. So I busied myself with some digital archaeology.

The path to the rabbit hole began with a simple question I had about my old 68K Macs, and I spent a fair bit of downtime on Sunday shuttling machines up and down the stairs to boot up and check out. At some point I’d wiped and formatted two of my legacy machines for looking through legacy files; it’s been so long since then that I forgot what I’d done. So a lot of this was a pleasant surprise. I made a list of all of the legacy machines, their specs, their OS condition, and any notes needed to make repairs or updates to each one.

Then I got to thinking about files. I’ve got CD’s burned with working files that date back to 1997 containing work I did all the way back to 1995. When I organized the drives on the basement server I copied a lot of it to a new disk. But there are things I know I had that I couldn’t find, so I dug deeper. Buried within some of these disks I found more of what I was looking for:

  • Old backups of my original website, the first and second versions, which I’d thought were lost to time
  • Old pictures of the Scout, which I also thought were lost to time. I remember taking a lot of pictures back then; the number of good ones I have of that truck are strangely few
  • Work backups from Back In The Day—my first two pro jobs, to be exact
  • An archive of the Mad Puppy work I did with Robby, back in the day, which I thought was lost forever on a scratched CD drive
  • Email backups from 2002-2006 (gotta figure out how to save these in a viable format)
  • Pictures of my first house, many of which I only had small thumbnail versions of. Gonna find something good to do with those
  • Various writing projects, some of which make me cringe rereading them 20 years later; some of which make me feel good. I found something I wrote about driving up to Grandma’s funeral that I thought was lost forever
  • Backups of the old IHCDigest from 1998
  • Tons of my site archives from System Source, from the Wild West days of web development (I miss that time)

There’s more to sift through but for now I think I’m done.

Date posted: January 18, 2022 | Filed under geek, history | Leave a Comment »

Brian sent me this picture with the caption “13 years ago today”.

Date posted: January 18, 2022 | Filed under Chewbacca, history, Scout | Comments Off on 13 Years

This video totally brings me back; Dad owned a repo agency at the same time this video was produced, so a lot of this stuff is very familiar—”Japanese cars are the easiest to break into” made me nod my head without thinking about it. I remember figuring out how to slim jim a domestic car (24:03)  in one afternoon; I’m mechanically inclined but cars were engineered so simply in those days it wasn’t really that hard. He shows a special tool for busting into the Ford Fairmont (12:13); I just made them with coat hangers. The part where he busts into the garage made me laugh; I wonder if this guy got sued or prosecuted for making this.

(via reddit.com/r/obscuremedia)

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

I wrote a quick piece for a car blog I frequent about the repossession business, inspired by pictures I took as a 14-year-old of the coolest cars to come through the lot. The Lotus was hard to beat, but I wish I had that shiny gold Porsche now.

Date posted: November 26, 2021 | Filed under history, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’ve written about my grandfather’s brother, Tom Dugan before, and mentioned his experience as a sailor on the USS Borie in World War II. The Borie was a WW I era destroyer pressed into service escorting convoys in the early days of the war, and it fought the most desperate and close-quarters battle with a U-Boat I’ve ever heard of. The History Guy does a good job of finding stories like this to feature, and he just released this video explaining the battle.

Date posted: November 11, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been slowly traversing the archives of a blog called Last Stand on Zombie Island, where the author does a weekly post on different warships from the post Civil War era up until the present day. He’s very good at the context of the time and place, and is able to find all kinds of fascinating examples from periods in history I wasn’t ever aware of.

Date posted: October 4, 2021 | Filed under history, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I got some mail from Maryland529, the folks administering the College Trust Account we have set up for Finn, and had to do a double-take at the address, which looked very familiar at first glance. Turns out it’s the same building I used to work in at my last gig. Hopefully the mojo in that place has changed for the better. It was a cool old building—one of the only ones in that area to survive the Baltimore Fire (the original Alex. Brown & Sons building around the corner is still pockmarked and stained from the fire) and used as a storage facility for the banks in the neighborhood. There was a great old diner in the ground floor of the building that appeared in many Baltimore-based TV shows and movies which is now under new ownership. I hope they left all the 1940’s era fittings and furniture intact.

Date posted: August 4, 2021 | Filed under Baltimore, history | Leave a Comment »