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).

Date posted: September 16, 2019 | Filed under history, music | Leave a Comment »

I could read articles about the space race in the 1960’s/1970’s for the rest of my life; almost everything about this part of America’s history represents the best of who we are and what we ascribe to. Ars Technica published a great article on the tremendous gamble the Apollo 8 mission was, in the shadow of the Apollo 1 fire and the gains the Soviet space program had been making to that point. Also see the Apollo 11 mission in real time.

Date posted: July 18, 2019 | Filed under history, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

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).

Date posted: June 6, 2019 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

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!

* * *
So the guy who built the $20M Frank Lloyd Wright house on an island in my high school town has dropped his list price down to $12.9M. A bargain! The short story: FLW designed a house for the island but the owner couldn’t build it at that time. Later, after I’d left town, a contractor bought the island with the plans and built the house as closely to the original specs as possible. The FLW Foundation does not recognize it as a real FLW house (what a bunch of insufferable assholes) but it still looks spectacular. My friend Jon lived on the lake and we spent many an afternoon/evening motoring around Petra Island on his boat when it was mostly empty. (Previously.)
Date posted: May 21, 2019 | Filed under cancer, general, greenhouse, history | Leave a Comment »

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:

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?


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

Date posted: March 11, 2019 | Filed under history, Scout | Comments Off on Decoding

scout 1

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.

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

Date posted: January 27, 2019 | Filed under history, Scout | Comments Off on Historical Photo 1

Well, shit. It just occurred to me that I’ve had this Scout for 10 years. That’s longer than I had my first one.

Safari style

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

Date posted: January 10, 2019 | Filed under history, Scout | Comments Off on Milestone

My Dad replaced the mufflers on his Ford F350 stakebody sometime in the late ’70s with a set of Thrush mufflers–generally, a brand associated with hot rods and drag racing. He got a sticker with the package and put it in the back window of the truck: an angry-looking bird. I thought it was cool as shit. I still dig the logo, even if it’s almost obliterated by rust.

Date posted: May 22, 2018 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

First thing Saturday morning, I was on transport duty to get Finn to the dentist for the removal of some baby teeth that have been hanging on for too long. Her adult teeth were coming in underneath, and the root structure was all but gone, but they refused to let go. One side was hurting after eating some hard candy, so we were there to address that one, but Jen wisely suggested they pull both while she was under. The dentist numbed her gums, lit her up with laughing gas, shot her with some novocaine, and pulled them both out in no time.

I then hit the Home Depot for a new lawnmower and other supplies, selecting a Toro push model with a mulching bag and oversized rear wheels. It’s shiny and red and starts on the first pull and feels solid, unlike the ghetto mower I just retired. I guess I’m going to have to hose off the deck every time I’m done mowing, so that the moisture trapped by the grass doesn’t eat away at the steel of the deck like it did the old one.

I brought supplies home and got to work on chicken wire doors for the greenhouse, ripping some pressure-treated wood to build frames to fit in the doorways. They both went pretty quickly. I put a semi-permanent panel on the back and a removable panel on the front. Now, for plants.

By the time I was done with that and assembling the mower, it was time to stop and get ready for dinner: I made reservations at a fancy-looking place downtown based on a readers’ poll in Baltimore magazine for Jen and I to celebrate our anniversary. Upon entry we realized we were a little overdressed for the venue, but our extremely helpful waiter steered us toward some delicious cocktails and good food. Arepas are tasty but not exactly fine dining-friendly food, so we busted out our silverware and made the best of things (the entrees were not lighting our fire). After dinner we had some dessert and digestif cocktails, and our waiter had us sample Amari, an Italian digestif liqueur that was better than the cocktails. Overall, it was OK but not stellar; the service was the high point, but we made the best of it. Happy Anniversary, baby. 

Sunday morning I got up early and headed over to Bennett’s house to return a favor. He’d been the catalyst for organizing my Scout brake workday, so I offered to help him clear out his Mom’s farm now that it’s been sold. I’ll leave the detailed version of that story for the Scout blog, but overall it was a great, productive day with one hiccup.

Date posted: May 21, 2018 | Filed under garden, greenhouse, history | Leave a Comment »

Paul Allen, Microsoft billionaire and patron saint of war archaeology, has announced his team found the USS Lexington, a US aircraft carrier sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942. The photographs are absolutely breathtaking: planes on the bottom of the ocean, still wearing their pre-war roundels, Rising Sun flags stenciled on the side of the cockpit.

Date posted: March 6, 2018 | Filed under history, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »