3D printing is nothing new; it’s been around for decades at this point, and people have been making cool shit for a long time. I’ve always been interested in seeing what can be achieved with different materials, and I’ve seen people design incredible things in 3D modeling software that then gets printed into solid objects. I thought I’d dip my toe in the water with a pretty simple first project: a fake car dealer badge like they used to make Back In The Day. My inspiration came from something I got off the Flintstone Scout, which still had the original IH dealer badge from Cumberland, MD stuck to the rear of the tailgate.

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I started looking for the proper typeface and settled on a classic House Industries font from the archives, modifying the S and making minor tweaks to the other letterforms to fit the era I was going for. The lower typeface was another old favorite, Bitstream Geometric 212, that I’ve had for probably 25 years. I set them up on a rectangle like some of the others I’ve seen in reference, put two beveled screw holes in place, rounded off the edges, and looked into how to build a 3D file with the tools I’ve got here.

Adobe makes a 3D program but it’s only available as a standalone package (not part of Creative Cloud) so that was out. I read up on how to build a 3D-readable file from within Illustrator, played around with the settings, and tried to bring it into SketchUp, but found that they’ve put a lot of their file import features behind a paid plan as well. So I messed with my file some more, found a free converter that switched an .OBJ file to an .STL (which most print-on-demand services prefer) and sent out for a couple of quotes. I was, frankly, quite shocked to see what they were charging: the first shop I contacted quoted me $50.02 for a piece of ABS plastic 4.5″ wide.

So clearly, it’s cheaper just to buy a fucking 3D printer than it is to ask someone to do a one-off project. Shit, I had metal laser-cut, bent, and powder coated for less than half that price. I don’t know what that plastic is made from, but it must be more expensive by the ounce than printer ink or something.

Date posted: April 25, 2024 | Filed under art/design | 2 Comments »

Our original CR-V (now called the OG-V) now in its 18th year, is rapidly approaching historic motor vehicle status. I drove it down to Bob’s house yesterday and marveled at how pleasant a driver it still is with 162K on the odometer: plenty of power from the engine, a buttery-smooth manual transmission, and all of the modern conveniences one might desire, minus all of the fiddly tech bits one might want to avoid. The seats are still firm and comfortable, the driving position is optimized for long distance travel, and having the  sunroof open was a pleasant way to prowl the highways of Southern Maryland—until it started raining.

That being said, it’s showing its age in small ways. Driving the new CR-V puts all of these things into stark perspective: It feels solid, it’s cave-quiet inside, and all of the doodads do the dads they’re supposed to.  In the OG-V, the seals around the doors and windows have all shrunk, so there’s a lot more wind noise in the cabin these days. Eighteen years of shitty Baltimore County roads have taken their toll on the suspension, which translates to squeaking inside and outside. The automatic window button doesn’t automatically lower the window all the way down anymore. Ever since the body shop fixed the rear hatch after the car’s unplanned departure down a hill and into a Jeep, the rear window release doesn’t work. She’s slowly burning more and more oil. And recently the battery has been getting weaker and weaker.

About halfway to Bob’s house I stopped for a bite to eat and some coffee, and when I got back in the engine barely cranked before catching. Alarmed, I got off the phone with my Mom and charted a course to the nearest auto parts store. I keep a toolkit in the well under the back deck, and pulled the old battery out to bring inside. Ten minutes and $200 later I was installing a new one in its place, and when I turned the key the engine fired right up with a gusto I haven’t felt in a year. She seemed a little peppier on the rest of the drive, and I was happy to know I wouldn’t be stranded thirty miles outside of our towing coverage.

I am going to add some stuff to the tools in the car, however—more wrenches, pliers, and metric-specific stuff I don’t currently have in there—knowing she isn’t getting any younger and that she may require more side-of-the-road surgeries to keep motoring along.

Date posted: April 22, 2024 | Filed under honda | Leave a Comment »

This is an update of the second half of last week—roughly Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, where I'm continuing to fight the steering box and column until I got it off, and stripping other parts off the engine and interior.

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

Date posted: April 18, 2024 | Filed under Scout, Travelall | Comments Off on Video Update

WordPress did one of its automatic updates earlier this week, and the 10+ year old template I was using for the Scout blog decided it didn’t want to cooperate anymore. Which is strange, because it’s basically a fork of the template I use here at IK (uh-oh….). I chose it because it was the simplest, most basic theme I could find at the time. I didn’t want an overdesigned, overcomplicated  theme built for e-commerce or stuffed with features I didn’t need; I just wanted something lightweight and easily customizable that I could adapt to my own needs quickly. It had its quirks but it was fast and useful and it served me well up until the point it stopped functioning. So I looked around for new themes and tried a bunch on and finally found a couple of theme frameworks that function well enough, but everything these days is, well, overcomplicated. Trying to move some basic page elements around took a bunch of exploration and some surgery, and I still haven’t found an easy way to add my old banner image to the top in a way I like.

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Waiting for Hazel to investigate a bush this morning, I noticed something on the ground nearby that set off an alarm bell, and I picked it up: a thin Tile location sensor laying in the grass. It’s pretty slick: very slim, just small enough to fit in a wallet. We’ve had some issues with the father-in-law’s wallet and keys going missing, and this looks like a better option than an AirTag, which aren’t made for slipping into a wallet. They don’t sell the model I found anymore, but I’m gonna jump on Amazon and set him up with a few so that we can keep tabs on his stuff.

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On a related note, I broke down and installed a Ring doorbell on the front of the house last week, partially because we’ll be vacationing soon but also to just have another eyeball on the front door. As much as I hate the idea of the surveillance state and Ring’s ethical bankruptcy when it comes to sharing data, there are no good alternatives (the cheap Wyze camera I trialled last year worked fine but then it was revealed they were leaking footage, so it’s been sitting in a box since then) and we’ve had good luck with the Ring on the front of Bob’s house.

Date posted: April 18, 2024 | Filed under geek, housekeeping | Leave a Comment »

I saw a lovely vintage watch cross my social media this evening, and while it’s waaaaaay out of my price range, a guy can dream. Behold, the Smiths W10:

It’s a milspec field watch issued between 1967-1970 by the British Army. It’s the proper size for my wrist—36mm, and has an elegant, uncomplicated dial that I really dig. They are north of $1000 on eBay these days but apparently there’s a guy producing new versions of them for around £400. As usual I’m weak in the knees for the expensive vintage stuff.

Date posted: April 15, 2024 | Filed under watches | Leave a Comment »

I have to go back to work today. I took last week off for some mental relaxation and to part out the green Travelall before the County starts leaving expensive love letters on our front porch about the abandoned junk in the driveway. I was still getting up early to help shepherd Finn to school while Jen fought off a cold, but I also used that early morning time to come up with a plan for each day. Right now my back is sore, my legs are stiff, my wrists ache, my right shoulder is throbbing, and my hands feel like sandpaper. They look like I’ve been bathing in grease even though I’ve scrubbed them with Dawn four times an hour. I was working from 9 until about 6 each day, pausing only to pick up Finn from school, yet it still felt like progress was very slow-going. I always underestimate how hard it is to get parts off an old rusty truck, and how much it kicks my ass on a good day. It’s been a challenging week, and it was Saturday when I finally got the last major piece I wanted off the truck. I took Thursday and half of Friday off to recharge my battery, but I still feel like I’ve been run over by a bus Monday morning.

Date posted: April 15, 2024 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

There’s rain pattering against the windows right now, in spite of the forecast that called for cloudy skies but no rain. I’m waiting out the wet stuff so that I can go back outside and continue truck-based activities in the hope that I can wrap things up this weekend. I took the day off yesterday to rest up a little bit and cover some errands, which was a good strategy in hindsight.

I had a set of new Invisalign trays waiting for me to pick up for a week; about a month ago I put in a new top tray and it clearly Did Not Fit, so they re-scanned my mouth and made some new ones for me. I’ve got 27 more to go, which means I may be done with these (barring any adjustments) by October or so.

Sometime in January I noticed the wood threshold between the office and living room had shrunk, leaving wide gaps between it and the floor planks. The mice in the ice room have been busy despite the bait I’ve left them, and our terrier mutt has been worrying at the gaps for several months now. I have a thin strip of oak I have to cut down to set into these gaps, but I have to wait until she can go outside, as the table saw in the basement scares the crap out of her. The other night she woke me out of a sound sleep to jump off the bed into the darkness. Groggy, I got up to investigate and found that Bella had caught a mouse, brought it upstairs to show us, and was releasing it to play when it snuck under the door to escape. Following her instincts, Hazel immediately chomped it. I picked it up with her empty water bowl and hurled it out into the backyard. Hopefully, now that it’s warming up, the mice will evacuate and we can go back to normal levels of anxiety.

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Meanwhile, I had the radio on in the garage the other day and this song from the ’80’s came on, and now it is stuck in my head and it is not even the best song on this album and I am kind of in hell:

Date posted: April 12, 2024 | Filed under earworm, family, house | Leave a Comment »

I’m taking the week off from work to both burn through some PTO time and to part out the green truck in the driveway to hasten its departure, and with a few setbacks I’ve made serious progress on the project. With the exception of the power steering setup I’ve gotten everything off the truck I wanted. I’m taking Thursday off from laboring in the driveway both because I’m pretty well exhausted but also because it’s going to rain from about noon today until tomorrow morning. I’ve got a list of other things I need to accomplish—mostly errands to run and some small repairs around the house.

One surprise addition to the list is diagnosing an issue with the Scout blog, where an update to WordPress has broken something in the backend of the site where it won’t load the media library and every update/refresh to a post or page is rewarded with a blank screen. I’ve narrowed it down to an incompatibility with the 10+ year-old theme I’ve been using (a slight variant of which powers this very site) which is about as bare-bones as a theme can get—and is the primary reason I’m using it. After switching to one of the pre-installed templates, the site works fine. So, I’ll have to debug that situation later today.

I’m a bit frustrated at my lack of stamina this past week, to be honest. I realize I’m coming off a cold winter where I wasn’t as active as I was last summer, but being completely worn out after four days was sobering. I powered through Wednesday with snacks and a burger for lunch but I just didn’t have the amount or duration of energy I did last year. So I’ve got to figure out how to add more high-impact exercise into my busy daily routine, I guess.

Date posted: April 11, 2024 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

Back in the 80s as a highschooler and aspiring comic book artist, I was at our local mall and picked up a copy of Heavy Metal magazine from the newstand rack. A story called Rebel was the feature in that month’s issue, and I was enthralled. It was a well-drawn post apocalyptic Road-Warrior-esque story set in New York City and I stood there for an hour absorbing as much as I could. I guess I didn’t have enough money to buy the issue, because I don’t have a copy. But I immediately went home and started drawing my own version of what I had seen, which went on for about 30 pages before I ran out of story ideas. Fast forward to yesterday, where two comic artists who run a channel reviewing comic books featured the trade paperback version of the strip I seen 30 years ago. I’m glad to see it holds up as well as it does in my memory; it’s an incredible work of art.

In a strange and bitter happenstance, one of the reviewers on this YouTube channel was accused of soliciting and grooming high school aged girls, and committed suicide a few days ago after she went public.

Date posted: April 5, 2024 | Filed under art/design, entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Wow, this is a PR nightmare. Volkswagen trolled its own biggest fans by teasing a new harlequin model on April 1, and then was shocked when people actually got excited about it. I suppose now they’re trying to figure out how to respond without being even douchier than they originally were. The harlequin was a multicolored, limited edition model produced almost 30 years ago, back when the VW brand still had some friendly brand equity, and it was a rare treat to see one flash by on the road; I remember one parked on the street in Baltimore City for several years. VW’s brand has faded since then, with lousy reliability eroding their cars-for-the-people image and Dieselgate erasing any reason to trust them. What could have been a great idea—imagine if they’d used April Fools to actually announce a cool promotion for a car they actually planned on rolling out—they tripped over their own feet again.

(previously)

Date posted: April 2, 2024 | Filed under cars, humor | Leave a Comment »