We are home for the first full weekend in a month and a half, and I enjoyed a day of puttering around the house doing small things. Saturday morning I took Finley over to school for a catch-up in Math and Spanish, and when I got home I took Hazel on her 2-mile coffee walk. I spent most of the walk obsessing over a cheap local Scout on Marketplace that I convinced myself I could afford.
When I got back home I figured I’d get my mind off it completely by reading the second half of the comic run of Paper Girls, a title written by Brian K. Vaughn (of Saga and Y: the Last Man fame) and drawn by Cliff Chiang. It’s a bit hard to describe, but I found it completely engrossing and absolutely riveting storytelling. Back in the Before Times, when I was going to the library, I read a couple of issues but found it hard to follow out of order. I’m nervous because Amazon is making it into a series—I hope to got they don’t fuck it up.
My mind sufficiently clear, I got to work fixing the steering wheel on the Scout and then taking Finn out thrifting. While she browsed in one corner of the store, I found a 4-gallon pot and a couple of cheap shirts but not much else. We did some other shopping and then came home with dinner for Mama. When we’d cleaned up the kitchen, I brought the beer stove outside, filled the new pot with water, and boiled the deer skull for about two hours. As the light faded I used a stick to scrape off the loosened skin and hair and set it out to dry. On Sunday I’ll dump it in with some hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for a day to whiten up. Then it’ll be ready to hang.
There are three tomato plants in the greenhouse, but not much else right now. I bought seedlings from the store and threw them in some new dirt, but I’m not planning on filling every inch of the greenhouse like I did last year; I just got too discouraged at the end of the season with how things went. I’ll probably buy five or six more and focus on keeping them watered and happy, and see if I can get some different results with fertilizer and watering schedules.
Today will be more puttering. The dog needs a bath, the bathrooms need a cleaning, and I have a list of things that need attention around the house.
The weather on Saturday was 70 and sunny, so I decided to tackle the turn signal canceler not he steering column. I’ve previously covered how I pulled apart my spare column but this time I took more pictures, and I’ll repeat it here. The only difference between that column and this one is the shape; my spare has a round horn button while the one on Peer Pressure has a larger triangular horn button.
First, park the truck with the wheels pointed straight. Now unscrew the horn cover: it’s a two-piece mount. There are six screws on the backside that need to come out. From there you should be able to pull it off and see the mount:
Pull the horn leads off (you did disconnect the battery, didn’t you?) and pull the three screws visible out. The mount should come off, leaving this:
Next, unscrew the locking nut off the center bolt (it’s already out in the picture above). Use your steering wheel puller to get the wheel itself off: screw the two long bolts into the holes at 1 and 7 o’clock above, put the center bolt on the head of the nut, and start cinching down.
With that off, you’re looking at the plate that holds all of the guts in place. You need a different tool now to push it down and expose a lockring on the center of the stem. I built my tool out of some steel bar and bench stock bolts:
Use a couple of small flathead screwdrivers to widen the locking enough to slide it up out of the groove, and then slide it off the stem . The plate should come off easily then. You’ll see the turn signal canceling cam:
There should be a post holding a spring sticking out of the cam. Grab the spring and pull the cam off. (The post on mine was cracked and broken; this could be why mine wasn’t working).
From here you’ve got to unscrew both the turn signal lever at 9 o’clock and the hazard button at about 4 o’clock. Next, there are three bolts that hold the entire lever assembly in place—you’ll have to use the selector to move the assembly to reach all three.
Now, scoot down below the column and find the wire harness on the right side. Carefully unclip the smaller section of the two from the larger with a flathead screwdriver and push it aside. The entire lever assembly should now be free to pull up through the column. Take note of how it snakes down through the collar and mount, because you have to feed the new one through the same way.
Visually, there isn’t anything wrong with my stock harness. The plastic isn’t completely exploded like the spare was; I have no idea why it wasn’t working correctly, but I suspect it had something to do with the cam being broken. I did notice there’s a spring missing at about 9 o’clock in the picture below, which I never found in the column. Regardless, I fed the new one down through the mounts and clipped it back into place on the column.
Then, I used some steel wool to clean the rust off the turn signal lever and put that back in place.
From there, it’s just reassembling what you just took apart, in the right order. Remember how you parked with the wheels straight? make sure you align the wheel up correctly (I aligned mine in a Y shape so that I can see the dashboard through the top of the spokes).
Hooking the battery back up, the truck roared back to life, and both of the turn signals now cancel as advertised! My days of puttering along in the middle lane with my blinker on are (hopefully) over with.
I hopped on to Reverb last week to see what the latest comparable offerings to my Steinberger were, and the first one that popped up was a twin to mine, and the only other red XP-2 I’ve ever seen, for sale in Austin, Texas. It looks like pricing has come down some since I listed my bass—the average seems to be hovering right above $2000. The shop selling this one is calling it “rare” and are hoping to get another $500 above average, but it’s also been for sale since last year.
My listing is down, as I only got one inquiry (a trade offer for a Rickenbacker 4003) in the year I’d listed it, and no serious offers. Perhaps I lower the price and relist in the spring. It’s sitting in the corner doing nothing and I’d love to see it move to a good home.
This afternoon, on a phone call, I moved some data into Flourish and built a story around the four main cancer data points: white and red blood cells, and lymphocytes. This is a much easier way to display (and update) the data as I get it.
I saw this picture in a series from a parts truck listing online and grabbed it. The typeface is perfect; everything about this is perfect, except for the extra apostrophe.
The update from downtown Baltimore is thus: my white blood cell count is still below average, trending slightly downward since a post-surgery high point in August of 2020. Everything else in the bloodwork seems to be leveled off and within normal ranges, with the exception of lymphocytes and eosinophil, which are specialized white blood cells. We are told that my lymphocytes may never rise to pre-cancer levels as a result of chemotherapy, and I’d guess eosinophil is probably the same. The CT scan showed no new passengers, and my oncologist seems pretty positive about everything. So, that’s good! I’ll take it. If I make it to the five year checkup in October with a clean bill of health they say the chance of any new tumor drops dramatically; let’s hope my rare surprise doesn’t return.
I’ve been wearing my Vaer watch almost exclusively the last couple of months, but knowing I was going to start welding class regularly I figured I should switch to one of my utility watches. I wore my LL Bean watch, and during class I was wondering why time was moving so slowly—until I realized the minute hand was stuck and not advancing. This is not the first time this watch has been in the shop for repairs. I’ve been waiting on having the Ollech & Wajs diver tuned up, but now that I have two that need servicing, there’s more of a push to visit a repair shop. For now, my Timex will work just fine for shop use.
A couple of months ago, two writers from one of my favorite sites, Jalopnik, quit that site and started up a car blog of their own: the Autopian. David Tracy has always been a great read; his exploits with busted jeeps, insane wrenching projects and cross-country shitbox trips are the stuff of internet legend. His partner Jason Torchinsky was the weird beating soul of Jalopnik from its inception, writing about taillights, strange Chinese electric vehicles, and his Nissan Pao, as well as being the illustrator for many of its articles. They have assembled a crew of writers covering odd engineering history, daily car news, bizarre car-related videos, and other random stuff—basically a better version of Jalopnik with more personality and less corporate bullshit (as well as many fewer ads). I don’t see a subscription system set up yet, but when it comes (as it is for Defector) I will gladly send them money. More of this, please.
Last night I joined about fifteen other guys in a cinderblock room and sat through my first welding class. The training facility is on the other side of town on Pulaski Highway, surrounded by commercial printers, auto shops, machinists, small factories, and cheap motels. I got there early and found I was one of three men over the age of 30; as we went around the room for the getting-to-know-you part, I learned I was taking the course with a farmhand, two young men who were learning a trade to get out of their houses, a father and his two sons, and another kid who was being put through the course by his company, among others.
My instructor is a year older than me and became a welder the same year I started college. He’s a bit gruff but approachable, has a sense of humor I haven’t cracked yet, and seems to really know his shit. Don’t judge a book: when a guy in frayed Dickies starts explaining the different molecular reactions behind different welding processes, I lean forward. We sat through the standard safety and basic background presentations, got some books, and did some light Q&A before calling it a night. Tomorrow night is nothing but theory, and we’re starting with oxy-acetylene for the first hands on practice. From there we do TIG, then stick, then MIG, and some quick demos of cutting with torch and plasma. I have a giant binder of reading material to go through and a test to take at the end of the course. I can’t wait.
This week I’ve had Lies by Chvrches running through my head, mainly the chorus. The song starts out strong, and has a killer hook, but when that chorus kicks in, it’s like the band magnifies itself by a factor of ten. Chvrches was at the forefront of an electropop revival at the beginning of the last decade, all heavy synths and processed beats, but they did it better than any of their peers, and they’re still around and kicking today.
It’s hard to believe this song is almost ten years old at this point; this was one of my favorite albums of 2013 and is still on repeat in my favorites list.
Well, looky here. There was rumbling on the forums and through the interwebs that someone was working on producing new wing window rubber for the Scout II, as nobody was making replacements and everyone’s rubber was/is cracked, rotten, hard, or about to be all of the above. I’ve got, between spare parts and whole doors, about five spare wing windows per side, and all of them have either cracked rubber, a spring mechanism where the weld is broken, or a busted hinge. It was with great pleasure that I saw an outfit in North Carolina is going to be producing new rubber, for the eye-watering price of $375/set. Yeah, yeah, this isn’t an F-body Camaro or a ’66 Mustang, for which brand-new parts are everywhere, but I’ll have to really consider the purchase before I pull the trigger.
Tomorrow night, I’m headed out to the first proper welding class I’ve ever taken, and I’m pretty excited. My first “training” was in college in the sculpture lab after hours; a very brusque and attractive TA gave me a basic lesson in MIG welding for a six-pack of beer, and while she was detailed in her description, I had about 20 minutes of hands-on learning before she had to leave, and I was on my own to booger-weld anything I could find. I did a basic refresher in 2014 at the Baltimore Foundery, and while that was fun it didn’t improve my skills at all. This course is a professional 36 hours of training and in-class practice, and at the end of it I should know what I’m doing a lot better.
I just zipped up and sent off a W9 and an invoice for my second freelance gig of the year, which feels oddly comforting. I used to do a ton of freelance work, sometimes where it doubled my yearly income, and since it’s tailed off, not having a steady stream on the side has made me (uneasy? sad? nostalgic?) For about twenty years it was primarily front-end web consulting, and as that industry commodified, and as I got burned out doing it every day, I let my skills lapse while focusing on family and a job I really believed in. While not having work to do at night is nice—it’s good to have that time back—I miss the extra income and hustle it brought, even when it cut into my sleep or weekends.
So it was with happiness that I took on a simple illustration job a few weeks back, something I was able to knock out in an evening, and more recently a design gig, flowing a French translation into an existing document. I’ve done a lot more InDesign work in the last ten years to the point where I’m fluent again, so this kind of stuff is an easy way to make a buck. Having very nice clients to work with is a bonus.
Back in 2007, when he retired from the Navy, we bought Jen’s Dad a shiny new PC laptop, traded his work email for Gmail, and basically have been providing tech support long-distance since then. It’s been a bumpy fifteen years; providing over-the-phone repair service on a PC is like describing a giraffe to someone in Japan via morse code.
To quote the Captain himself, recent events have overtaken us, and it became clear he needed an upgrade. I did some looking and some thinking, and decided we weren’t going to buy him another PC—there’s just too much distance between my ancient knowledge of PCs and where they are now, and as we all know they can get fucked up in a hurry by anybody with two fingers. He’s always been averse to Macs for reasons I won’t get into here, so the obvious answer was out.
However, Finley’s school computer has impressed me over the course of the last two years even though the software provided by the school has been utter dogshit. They issued Lenovo-produced Chromebooks to the kids before COVID, and hers has been pretty bombproof with hard daily usage. I figured an OS that’s easy enough for a teenager to
not break use is perfect for a senior citizen to use; he’s only on there for email and the web anyway.
Looking around, I got a 14″ Lenovo Chromebook for a decent price at Best Buy and brought it with us to his house last weekend. Booting it up for the first time, I wound up fighting a weird verification problem that was only remedied by updating his OS. The problem there was that he’s has a DSL line and a 10-year-old wireless access point with 802.11X—limited to one connection. So the OS update took all day.
Back at home, and with his Google account information in hand, I got him up and running in minutes, and his account settings transferred over painlessly. I got into the ChromeOS settings and enlarged the fonts and screen for him, and reset the Gmail interface back to its old default—where it doesn’t try to sort what it considers “important” emails up front and hide everything else. I suspect they pushed that change, he didn’t know about it, and a lot of his email was hidden from view.
We have yet to put it down in front of him, but I’m already feeling better about this.