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

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

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.


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 »

Somehow, the axis of the earth shifted beneath my feet, and I didn’t feel a thing.

When I was a teenager, in the heady days of MTV and before the second wave of video games hit, we had only a few things to do to get out of the house. When we were too old to build forts in the woods or make jumps for our bikes, we bugged Mom or Dad to drive us to the Mall, where we could go hang out and wander for hours and maybe meet up with our friends and not look like miserable lonely schlubs. I’d spend a half an hour in the Koenig Art Emporium, looking at brushes or expensive oil paints; I’d go to the poster store and maybe buy a cardboard-backed picture of a Porsche or a Lamborghini. I’d go to one of the two music stores and agonize over whether I should spend $15 on a cassette that might only have two good songs on it. And I’d always stop at the Gap.

The Gap was my touchpoint for fashion in the 1980’s; I wasn’t a Chess King guy (we quietly made fun of the pleated slacks, Capezio and black fedora set in our high school) and I had more style than Sears or K-Mart offered. The Gap was always mobbed. They played decent music, and all my friends and I bought clothes there. I worked for months to afford a fleece-lined denim Gap jacket. I had the Gap’s version of Jams when Jams were cool. I had multiple Gap polo shirts, alternating those with J. Crew polo shirts which hid my pencil neck—I only popped the collar a couple of times, I swear.

I still buy Gap jeans, as they have a wide selection of available styles which still tend to fit me in a 25-year-old way and not a Dad way, and usually it’s a breeze to buy them online during a sale and have them delivered—if they don’t fit, you run them back to the store. After I had a wave of knee blowouts in my “work uniform” this winter, I ordered three pair to replace the fallen soldiers. Two fit as advertised, but one pair was so skinny as to be latex, and I can’t rock that look without major ball squishage (I’m so old I remember when the Gap’s clothes were all 14 sizes too big). They’ve sat in the bag patiently, waiting to go back for a couple of months now, and my blood draw this morning took me in that general direction so I stopped in to the mall to return them. Donning my mask I noticed several shuttered storefronts (the beads and baubles store is gone; the Apple store moved further down the row and has been replaced with a Lululemon store. Macy’s is closed, darkening one whole wing.) When I reached the storefront where the Gap was, I was faced with a boarded up wall.

I was momentarily flabbergasted. Having a mall without a Gap is kind of like having a hand with no thumb; inconceivable to a child of the 80’s like me. They’ve been in dire straits for a long time now, so I can’t say this is a complete shock. But I figured with Columbia’s clientele and proximity to middle-class shoppers, this would be one store that would have stayed open. The closest I’ve got is a factory outlet in another nearby mall, and hopefully they’ll honor the return. If not, I’ll have to squish my balls into some skinny jeans and pour another one out for the inexorable march of progress.

Date posted: July 14, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

When I was a kid my Dad gave me his wooden X-Acto toolkit and a plan for a balsa wood Sopwith Camel. I spent hours in the basement cutting and gluing and assembling and doping (the fabric, not myself) until I had a working, barely flyable airplane model. I graduated on to a TBM Avenger that I kept for awhile until my buddy Stas and I filled it with fireworks and flew it off the roof of the house to explode over the driveway (Hi, Mom!).

Finley has decided she wants to make a miniature kitchen set with working appliances, and the plan we found online is constructed with balsa wood and glue. In helping her work on the project this afternoon, I recall the pleasure of completing the models and flying them, and the hours of painstaking work it took to get them there.

Working with balsa wood again, I’m really tempted to buy a new model and start building it; this B-24 has a 4′ wingspan and looks like it would be fun as hell to assemble but it’s currently on backorder. Maybe that’s a good thing…

Date posted: May 30, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

It’s been a hell of a ride so far, blondie. I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else.

Date posted: May 22, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

Gen. Webb didn’t realize that the president was going to be there, so he stood to give up his chair, and President Obama just motioned him, no, you sit right where you are. Gen. Webb had this little laptop, messaging somebody. And so the president pulled up this hardback portable chair right next to him.

Politico does a great oral history of the leadup to and the day of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden from the POV of the government officials who planned and executed it. It’s a fascinating look at how global decisions like that are made, and underlines the fact that they weren’t sure he was even there—they took a giant calculated risk, and it paid off.

Date posted: May 12, 2021 | Filed under history, politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »