On Sunday I found myself sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by books, holding a set of battle-worn dice, and leading my daughter and her friend through a musty dungeon full of lizard-people and Orcs. I don’t know how they learned of Dungeons & Dragons, but Finley had talked about it with her friend and knew I had played it decades ago and still had some old stuff buried in the basement, so she nominated me to lead them through their first campaign. Which is fine! But it was stressful to re-read the books to try and remember how to play—and, more importantly, to remember how to lead two 12-year-olds through a dungeon.
It was created back in the ’70’s by a bunch of geeky middle-aged white guys who loved dice and math and J.R.R. Tolkien, and so everything was super-complicated and over-thought. Realizing this at some point in the early 80’s, they began to re-write the rules not one, or two, or even three, but five times to make things easier to understand and streamline them for play. All my stuff is from that first complicated edition, so I had to wrestle the rules and dice tables and backstory to make things work for the girls. Because they are both novices, I also had to create four non-player characters to assist them in their adventure—and to provide timely hints when necessary.
Overall it went really well! I was a little rusty at first but quickly caught up to things, and once I’d remembered how to get the dice tables organized we had a lot of fun going through some of the easy sections of The Keep On The Borderlands, the beginner-level module included with the starter D&D set I’d been given in 1982. We spent about three hours working through the first sections of the adventure, powered by pizza and later with an artisanal hot chocolate bar organized by Mama.
By all accounts, the girls really had fun; Finn’s friend didn’t stop talking about it for a half an hour after she got home.
On Saturday I focused on the other side of the ice room, and built a set of shelves on the west side to get all of that stuff organized. It went in pretty easily, and all of the Dugan family slides are now up off the concrete. I also put in a rack for our storm windows and culled out a bunch of crap we don’t need to keep.
This nice-looking Traveler showed up on Craigslist and FB Marketplace for around $17K, which is a pretty good price for what they’re offering. What caught my eye, beyond the obvious good looks and desirable extra 18″ of wheelbase (and thus cargo space) was the location of the first staging shot:
That’s the former location of East Coast Scouts, my local IH mechanic in the early days when I had Chewbacca. He closed up shop in the early 2000’s when it got to be too much to stay on top of; he’s back in the area after moving to PA for a while and I traded emails with him last year.
Hemmings has a good writeup on the Scout SSV, which was to be International’s successor to the Scout II. From what it sounds like, they were aiming for the fences at a time when they could only afford to polish what they had.
Light trucks, on the other hand, were becoming more of a bother to the company. It discontinued its Travelalls and pickups in 1975 in response to the 1973 oil crisis, had trouble meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy standards set to take effect in 1979, and faced a second oil crisis that year.
I’ve always thought the SSV was a hideously ugly design that looked more like a Tonka truck than a production vehicle; even if they’d been able to pull this out of their hat, I wonder how many of them they would have sold—it reminds me of AMC’s attempts to shake things up with the Pacer, and later the Matador. And we all know how that went.
There’s a presentation at the ACD Museum in Fort Wayne about this subject on Saturday, which I’d love to be able to listen in on—but it doesn’t look like they’ve accounted for, uh, COVID. It’s a shame, because I’d definitely log in to a ZOOM call if I could.
I’m sad to read this morning that Ric Ocasek, frontman of the Cars, died in New York at age 75. As the author of one of the best rock songs of all time, this is a loss for humanity.
I’m also strangely excited about the news that Gary Larson may be resurrecting The Far Side after a long, dark hiatus. I don’t know if this means he’s going to be reprinting old strips or just producing new ones, but I hope it’s the latter. The world needs more weird humor. (On my desk here at work sits the Midvale School for the Gifted mug my parents bought me for my college dorm in 1989; I’ve had it with me ever since).
When I was a young boy, I was given this LEGO set for Christmas. I remember being fascinated with the little blocks, and for the rest of that day I put the set together and took it apart and put it back together. I loved looking at the instructions, printed in simple 3D side-view format, and I loved the ability to reform the set into some other creation that I imagined. It was the beginning of an obsession I harbored for years.
LEGO just released a new Moon Landing set, and the difference is staggering. The original was 364 parts; the new set has 1,087. I like how it’s now mostly to scale (I wondered how the giant blocky robots from the first set were supposed to fit in that weird blue capsule even as a young boy) and that they made special accessories for the minifigs. I also like that it’s more historically correct; the original landers were only made to fit two astronauts; the third orbited the moon alone in the Command Module. (previously).
Here’s our children as of yesterday afternoon. You’ll notice some leaf discoloration on the plant closest to the camera; I think this is a bacterial infection that can be treated with a copper soap spray (ordered). The marigolds have this too, which leads me to believe it’s something bacterial. That is to say, I’m hoping it’s not Verticulum, which is untreatable and basically means you’ve got to throw the plants out.
I’ve been a lot more mercenary with these plants this year, being sure to cut back any new shoots from the main stem before they produce flowers to prevent the giant explosion of leaves and branches I had last year. Because they’re in the center of the greenhouse they can grow taller instead of wider and it’s easier to access both sides to prune them.
Meanwhile, they’re all beginning to set fruit! The romas (up front) have four, the Beefsteak have three, there are several dozen cherries starting, and I think all but two of the rest have at least one fruit. Still no love for the tomatillos yet.
I did my year-and-a-half cancer checkup yesterday, and after a sonogram, a CT scan and bloodwork, it appears the clot in my arm is gone, I’m clear of any new passengers, and my white blood cell count is low. This last bit is alarming, because we don’t know what’s causing it. I’m not run down, I’m not sick, and there’s no reason we can think of for it to be so low (it’s roughly half the count it was when I was laid up with a busted small intestine). So there will be some more tests performed in a month and we’ll wait to see what they look like before any drastic action is taken. Meanwhile, I’m cleared to have the port removed sometime in the next couple of weeks, and when that’s over with, I’ll be off blood thinners. Hooray!
I got the Line Set Ticket from the frame serial back from Super Scouts this morning, and, well, the mystery continues. Here’s what I know so far:
- The VIN number on this Scout is for a 1976 Scout, painted Solar Yellow, and sold in Colorado.
- The body on this truck, based on the one-year-only Gold Poly paint under the purple, dates to 1975. I have no real good way of getting a serial from the frame.
- The LST for the frame specified a very fancy Scout (Rallye package, custom interior, A/C, tilt wheel, clock, deluxe trim package) painted Persimmon with a Sierra Tan interior. It was a 345/auto combination with 3.07 gears. It was built on January 17, 1979, and delivered to a dealer in St. Paul Minnesota.
Knowing that, I have to go out and see if I can read the engine serial to see if it matches what’s on the LST (311593) for confirmation.
As is common with most Scouts of its age, it’s a jigsaw puzzle from many different trucks. Maybe someone out west put it together and then shipped it east to sell?
Digging through the family archives this weekend, I found a couple of shots of Chewbacca and I in her prime. This was from about 2001 or so, out in front of my parents’ place in New York State. I guess I’m used to looking at a taller suspension these days, but she’s riding awful low on the springs.