At work today, while I was setting up a camera shoot, I overheard a discussion one of the subjects was having about 3D printing, and he mentioned that his local library had 3D printers to rent. Astonished, I filed this away for future reference. While inhaling my lunch at 2:30 (it was a long shoot, and there were surprises) I checked the Baltimore County Library website, and behold! they have 3D printing services. Unfortunately they’re not taking orders right now, but if and when our local branch opens back up—they’ve been remodeling for a year and a half—I’m going to pop in and see if I can get my design printed.

Date posted: May 21, 2024 | Filed under art/design, projects | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a low-tech article on how to build your own solar power system. Good information here. A pair of 4’x2′ 100-watt solar panels is $160 on Amazon right now. (via)

Date posted: January 1, 2024 | Filed under projects, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: February 21, 2023 | Filed under living room, projects | Leave a Comment »

This past week has been a blur. Work is extremely busy with added responsibilities, and i missed about three days of solid work due to a pre-existing commitment to shoot video for a WRI event in New York City. Ordinarily that kid of thing is fun, but we don’t have a dedicated event planner on staff so the stress level for everyone was extremely high. For my part I was tasked with shooting video of the event, which is normally fine, but I spent most of Wednesday running up and down the stairs at the Ford Foundation getting set up and tearing down after the event was over. I really noticed my age at about 7PM when I’d been kneeling and standing for four hours and my joints were getting creakier each time.

I got back home on Thursday afternoon and was devoured by meetings and managerial work until Friday at quitting time; this administrative stuff is extremely draining.

Saturday we went back down to Lexington Park and I got the tile grouted. Next up we have to schedule a delivery for the vanity, and I have to shave the excess off that toilet flange and put a new one in flush with the floor.

Date posted: February 5, 2023 | Filed under projects | Leave a Comment »

How it started:

How it’s going:

Both of the main structures are built. Now I’ve got to attach them both to the wall permanently, build boxes in below the last shelf, bring the kickplates around the boxes, and find a 12′ section of 10″ board for the top shelf.

Date posted: January 16, 2023 | Filed under house, projects | Leave a Comment »

Tonight, after two months of farting around and ignoring the blue bike sitting forlorn in the basement, I cut the rear brake line off the frame and began rerouting cable to the new brake levers at the ends of the bullhorn. I’d bought brake line, grip tape, and a wirecutter pre-quarantine with the idea that I’d get to it one night after work, never thinking I’d have more time than I bargained for. It took a can of beer, a little doing and a lot of adjusting, but I’ve got both levers connected to the brakes front and rear, and the grip tape is ready to be installed tomorrow. It’ll be nice to get her back out on the road. I suppose I should order some replacements for the 20-year-old tires…

Meanwhile, Finn has outgrown her blue bike (she grew an inch in the last month) and needs a new one, but we can’t visit a showroom to get her measured for a new one. I’m tempted to try Amazon but I’m trying to keep our deliveries to the essentials so that we don’t put someone at risk if we don’t need to. I’d love to get out for some bike rides when it finally warms up—this morning was 32˚ at 6:30AM—so I think I’m going to have to pull the trigger soon.

* * *

Progress on the front porch is happening. Yesterday Jen rolled two coats of wall paint on the areas that haven’t been taped and mudded, and I need to get back out there to finish sanding and sealing those sections. We got three jealousie window cranks delivered to replace the broken ones we inherited 20 years ago, and I spent a couple of hours working with the drill press and bench grinder to modify the included parts to work with our windows. As of last night the two west-facing windows are connected and working, which leaves one of the front windows to be fixed. It’s currently jammed shut and no amount of leverage has been able to free it up, which sadly means that it may be a lost cause.

There is a gallon of semi-gloss waiting for us at the Lowe’s in Glen Burnie. Apparently everyone is painting right now, because our local store was out of stock. I’ll roll that on tonight to clean up the ceiling and crown molding. When the walls and trim are covered we can start pulling up carpet and prepare the floor for the next phase.

* * *

Renie sent us a huge care package last week filled with Christmas presents, which was a lovely April surprise! Inside we found a bunch of things that will make the next couple of weeks fun for Finley, including a laser-cut wind up clock featuring about 300 gears, the LEGO Hogwarts Great Hall set, and a bunch of other goodies. Finn and I busted into the clock set a few nights ago and after getting a bunch of the gears assembled I’m excited to see how the whole thing comes together.

Date posted: April 22, 2020 | Filed under house, projects | Leave a Comment »

I’m on the couch sipping a cup of coffee while Finn, who has off from school today, sleeps in upstairs. I have off from work today myself, but it’s only most of the day, as I still have to teach tonight. Last week was canceled due to the ice storm so the class is sort of a week behind (I assigned the second project via email so we’ll see how this whole thing shakes out today). Overall it’s going OK this semester, even though they’ve packed my class with 18 students, the absolute maximum–and frankly, about 4 students too many. They did contact me last week about teaching the branding class again in the fall, which would be ideal; I’m tired of this syllabus and would like to mix things up again.

I did sell the other two radios on Saturday morning, which made me a little sad. I had plans at one time to fix and refinish the Philco tombstone, but the reality of the situation is that we just don’t have anyplace to put it. The buyer apparently got the Telefunken set working and mentioned that he specializes in repairing the electrical bits, so I might get in touch with him later in the spring to fix one of the sets I’ve got here. File that under future nonessential plans.

I’ve been learning a lot about my sleep habits with the Fitbit. Namely, even though I lay my head down on the pillow at 11PM and get up at 6:40, I’m only averaging about six and a half hours of sleep every day. Analyzing the data, it looks like I’m going down easy at first, and then bouncing up and down out of restful sleep starting at about 4AM or so. I’ve always worked better at night: my peak concentration hours start at about 8PM and go to 1AM, but I can’t follow that schedule anymore. I’m going to have to train myself to close my eyes at 10:30 religiously to make up for the loss.

Today’s plan is to get some stuff around the house done. I have wood ready for the refrigerator surround ready and want to put that in place first thing. I’ve got to keg the beer that’s been sitting in the basement for the last four months; god only knows what that will taste like at this point. Then I want to measure the greenhouse for new footers and new plastic, and make a plan to refurbish it for a fresh crop of tomatoes in the spring.

Date posted: February 18, 2019 | Filed under brewing, geek, projects, radios | Leave a Comment »

I had an idea a few months back for a T-shirt design and while I was in the hospital I knocked together the design. It’s basically a reproduction of the IH sticker found on the transfer case shift knob. Brian and I have tentative plans to go out to Ohio for the Scout Nationals at the end of August, the first time I’ve ever planned going in 20+ years of ownership. I figured what better time to screen an IH specific shirt design? I’ve got all the supplies ready to go. And I need to print Finn an updated FRD shirt as well. Come to think of it, Scout needs a new shirt too.

Mama got taken down by a migraine yesterday so Finn and I were a team. I made a big pile of mashed potatoes before I had to pick her up at camp so that was dinner. Then she and I walked down to the ice cream shop and got some dessert. I always forget how hard it is to suck the chocolate in a mint chocolate chip shake through a straw.

Date posted: August 7, 2018 | Filed under finn, general, projects | Leave a Comment »

This morning I fired up the Scout and got to work digging out the rest of the hedges in the front yard. We got sidetracked last fall after the sewer pipe incident, and so we’ve been living with half a moustache since November or so. It was pretty easy work, given we’d had rain on and off all day yesterday, turning to snow (!??!?!) and then a light frost this morning. The ground was damp and 4WD was in full effect, which meant I had them all out in about two hours.




Jen and I spent about a half an hour measuring out our yard so that she can map it out with graph paper; our lot isn’t actually a rectangle, but a parallelogram so that as you see the house from on center above, the property line shifts to the right as it goes back. We still have no real idea where the boundaries are, and we’ll need to have someone come out and mark it for us, but for this year we can get away with what we’ve guesstimated in the front yard.

I brewed my 33rd batch of beer with my neighbor last weekend. We brewed the same recipe, followed the same times, and brewed at the same temperature, but the only difference is that I poured my wort over ice to chill it while he used his copper chiller. We’re going to keep everything the same and do a taste test to see if using commercial ice to chill has any effect on the flavor. I’ve been using ice because it’s easy and cheap to do, but one of the mantras of brewing is that your beer is only as good as your water. I do have a chiller but I don’t have a pump to move water yet; a trip to Harbor Freight is in order this spring no matter what the results are.


Another quick project this weekend was to rebuild my light tent to be more portable and less of a giant pain in the ass. It’s been broken down for a couple of years now, but comes in handy every once in a while–so that it’s not worth getting rid of. It was originally set up at 4′ x 4′ but I reduced it to 3′ x 3′ and added two sets of cheap hinges to fold it into itself so that it packs away for easy travel and storage.

Date posted: April 11, 2016 | Filed under brewing, house, projects | Leave a Comment »

So it looks like Radio Shack is being put out to pasture.

On the way down, turning the stores into a chain of cell-phone kiosks staffed by hucksters alienated the DIYers.

This. One of my very first DIY projects was building my own speakers. I started with a Radio Shack-published book and a handful of parts from the local store. The last time I was in a store, the total parts selection was half a rack and the salesperson kept pressuring me to buy a cellphone.

Date posted: February 5, 2015 | Filed under projects, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »