I’m on my third month of decaf, and I have to say I don’t miss caffeine at all. I phased it out after suffering through withdrawal during the biopsy process, and by the time I made it to surgery I was clean. I’m not any sleepier in the morning, and I don’t feel like I need the jolt to keep awake or alert through the day. I still love coffee, and I will still drink decaf until they pry my mug from my cold dead hands. I do wish there was a greater selection of decaf blends available.
Meanwhile, my hair, as shown in the GIF below, has been coming in slowly but surely over the last month. I’ve shaved my goat three times since it got to the hair-in-my-mouth stage, but the hair on my scalp is taking its sweet, sweet time. I’m almost tempted to shave it off again for giggles, but I will admit it’s nice to see some color covering my pasty scalp again.
My stomach has been getting less and less tender. A month ago the beltline under my bellybutton was uncomfortable by the end of the day after constantly rubbing against the fabric of my pants, and I’d have to unsnap the button for some relief. This meant my fly was always sneaking downward, so I’d have to constantly be adjusting my package to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently becoming a target of the #metoo movement. Overall, an embarrassing and annoying situation. Now I can leave my pants snapped for the whole day and don’t notice any irritation unless I’ve been walking super-long distances.
I’ve done some light digging about the watch I found in the Mildew House last year, which was produced by a lesser-known Swiss company called Ollech & Wajs. They were formed in the 1950s and sold via direct mail, thus keeping their overhead and pricing low compared to their peers. In the 1960s they became popular with American military personnel, who replaced their lousy government-supplied watches with better quality timepieces, and the company enjoyed its best years during the Vietnam War. Mechanical timepieces fell out of favor in the ’70s, and O&W closed up shop in the 1980s with the advent of cheap Japanese watches. (O&W was one of the few Swiss makers who never offered a quartz movement). One of the partners opened the business back up in the 1990s and continues to produce watches under the brand name to this day. Interesting trivia: My watch cost $9.50 US in 1970, which equates to about $60 today.
This is a timelapse from November 6 to February 16, with a bunch of days missing here and there. I should have started this at the beginning of chemotherapy but actually started it about a week before Jen shaved my hair off. I would have kept shooting them (that was the plan) but the shutter on my D80 has decided to stick open. Maybe I can fix it in the next week, and if so I’ll start this back up again.
So the Smashing Pumpkins are having a sort-of reunion tour with three of the four original members, and they will be playing in Baltimore in July. As I’ve mentioned here in the past, Siamese Dream is one of my top 10 desert island albums, and I love most of the band’s output up to about 2000 or so. I’ve seen them live once, at the peak of their powers, and enjoyed the show. Since then I’ve been less interested in anything Billy Corgan has said or done. I thought about buying tickets, but I don’t think I want to be disappointed that much.
This was one of the busiest weekends I’ve had since before chemo started. First up was an early-morning soccer game for Finley, where I drove us to the wrong venue first but made it to the right one with minutes to spare. Our team won again, but Finn wasn’t on her A game like she was last week. She really got lucky with her teammates, who are very good, and her coach, who is awesome. I think she’s enjoying soccer, and having a good team to work with makes it more likely she’ll want to continue with it.
Then, she and I ran some errands. We had a man at the tile store help us with calculations and got the remainder of the underlayment mat we needed, plus a couple of numbers for professional installers. As I get further into the details of how to put the system in, the more nervous I get, and I’m not sure if Mario has done it before. I think I’d prefer a pro installer putting it in rather than me. Meanwhile, our tile is still at the warehouse because it’s closed on weekends, so Jen will run out and pick it up this week.
Then I decided Finley and I needed a project to work on together. The cats have been crowding themselves up on the dining room window ledge since they were kittens, and they often lay on the carpet in the afternoon, chasing sunlight as it crawls across the floor. I proposed that we build a ledge for the window and enlisted her as my work partner. First we took measurements and drew out a plan at the table, talking over ideas. I listened as she proposed drilling screws into the wall, using Play-Doh as an adhesive, and a wire suspension rig. Then I showed her how we could do it non-destructively, using gravity and some clips.
At the Lowe’s, we used our tape measure and plans to source the materials, talked over how we were going to repurpose deck hardware to make our clips, and then headed to the basement workshop to start building. I showed her how to use the compound miter saw, table saw, and router on the platform, then moved to the legs. This was more difficult because I wanted to show her how to find and cut the angles (we were working with specialized geometry here) and I could tell it wasn’t sinking in–until I cut some scrap wood, led her upstairs, and showed her how it would go together. Then she got excited.
Back downstairs we busted out the compressor and I showed her how the nail gun works, and then the Dremel tool to grind down the two nailheads that came through the other side. Finally, we used the angle grinder to cut a $.75 deck fastener in half, trim the wings down, and smooth the edges. This made the two clips that grab onto the inside window guide and hold the platform in place. She was bouncing with excitement when it was time to show Jen, and except for a few moments, was engaged and excited through the whole project.
On Saturday morning, an ad popped up on Craigslist for the lens I’ve been waiting for for a year and a half: the Fuji 35mm f/2.0. This lens is a fast, weather-sealed prime with an improved AF motor that blows the 35mm f/1.4 lens I’ve already got out of the water. The price was $125 less than list, so I jumped on it. Finn and I drove up to a McDonalds by the Security Mall and within 10 minutes had the deal done. It’s a sweet little lens and will probably stay on the camera for the next couple of months.
On Sunday I cleaned and prepped the 35mm f/1.4, Rolleicord, and the drone for Craigslist sale. With the new f/2 Fuji lens I don’t need the 1.4, so that can get converted to cash. The Yashica D is an improved version of the Rolleicord, and it has a leather case, lens cover, and built-in remote timer. The DJI Phantom II is great but way too big for travel, and has been sitting in my office unused for months. If I can gather some cash together for a DJI Mavic Air with the sale of some other camera gear, I’ll be very happy.
Then Finn and I went ice skating with a group from church. Sunday afternoon is a very popular time to go ice skating, so the rink was FULL of people. Finn didn’t seem to have her skate legs on as well as she did last time, but after a couple of laps around the ice with me, she zoomed off to skate with her friends–a harbinger of the next 10 years to come. I am acutely aware that the time when we are the center of her attention is rapidly coming to an end, so I enjoyed every single second of looping around the rink, her warm mittened hand in mine, both of us smiling like goofballs.
Currently burning up my iPhone: Slate’s Slow Burn podcast, a series investigating the Watergate break in and its aftermath, focusing mainly on the details people have forgotten or never knew about. I’m three episodes in and it’s riveting, maddening, angry-making stuff. And so, so relevant in today’s jaded, diluted media cycle. To wit: The break-in happened in June of 1972. Nixon was re-elected in a landslide victory in November, after months of nightly news reporting, congressional hearings, and FBI investigations. The American public didn’t care until the beginning of the following year, when the burglars were sentenced to long stays in prison and one of them ratted out the White House in a letter to the judge.
Our bathroom project is currently stalled. I bought a huge roll of underlayment for the floor heat system three weeks ago, but it isn’t enough to cover the whole thing, so I’ve got to go back and get more. I was across the bay last Saturday and they’re closed on Sundays. The tile is sitting in a warehouse waiting for me, but I can’t lift anything over 10 lbs and they’re understaffed on weekends, so I can’t ask the showroom women to help me. GAAAAAHHH.
The blood thinners I’ve been on for weeks appear to be working. my brachial artery is still numb above my wrist up to my elbow but there’s little to no pain on a daily basis. I’ve got a numb spot on my right wrist, but the rest of that side is fine. When I go in for the next CAT scan, however, I’m going to ask them to take a look at my right knee, which is still numb since before chemo started.
How happy am I that the Eagles won the Super Bowl and the Patriots didn’t? Very happy.
Finn played soccer on Saturday and the coach put her in at goalie for the first half. I was initially worried, thinking that she might get bored and distracted if the majority of the play was far away from her and then suddenly right on top of her, but she did really well. The coach gave her five minutes of good advice, told her what to look for and how to set herself up, and she listened to every word. She was focused for the whole game, stopped multiple shots on goal, and by the half her team was up 4-0. The smile on her face as she walked off the field made my heart explode with pride. For the second half she played defense and did well, but I think I’ve got to work on ball-handling skills and her aggressiveness on taking shots. She treats the ball very gingerly and needs to get comfortable with hitting it hard and knowing where she wants it to go.
Afterwards we celebrated with a donut and then headed over the bridge to Easton for Zachary’s birthday, a Nerf dart war themed party held at the YMCA. The staff set up a room with obstacles and the kids chose weapons from a bucket of Zachary’s collection (Rob went a little crazy with buying and upgrading the Nerf gun collection; Zachary probably has 15 guns in various sizes and shapes) and they threw the kids in there for a half an hour to duke it out. By the time the staff blew the whistle the floor was covered in Nerf darts and jammed weapons. LJ and I loaded magazines and cleared jams and got things ready for the post-pizza rematch and I spent most of the second half in the room with the kids, fixing and loading guns for the kids. I might have taken a shot or twelve while I was there too…
Afterward, we went back to Karean’s house and let the kids play downstairs while the adults chatted over wine and snacks. By the time we got on the road, it was 8PM and Finn was beat.
A few months ago I switched DSLRs with Jen so that she would have the best one we own. The D90 I have is still a very good camera, but I haven’t used it much because I was shooting the Fuji almost exclusively in 2017. I charged it up today to carry it with me this week. When I turned it on, I got an error on the LCD reading r09, which means various things according to the Internet. It won’t autofocus or trip the shutter, which means something is wrong with the autofocus system. Either I have to clean the contacts on the lens and the body, swap lenses, format the memory card, reset the whole camera, or sacrifice a live chicken. None of the solutions online helped, so it might be that I’ve got to bring it in for servicing.
Clutch is a Maryland band that’s been around since I was in college. I stumbled across the video for Electric Worry and quickly remembered why they were on heavy rotation in all the dive bars I frequented in those days. I will add this to my “Driving Real Fast” playlist.
I got a really nice letter from Bennett, one of my local Scout friends, when I was laid up last month. He offered to get our local group of IH guys together and get some work done on Peer Pressure while I was laid up, the generosity of which blew me away. We set up a date in early March and he had me put together a list of stuff I’d like to tackle: Hydroboost, fuel sender, and maybe something else if we have the time.
The Hydroboost project involves removing the big stock brake booster and replacing it with a GM hydraulic unit sourced from an Astro van and hooking it into the power steering pump. What this does is improve overall braking power, allow for added stopping power in the event of an engine shutoff, and make more room in the engine bay. Back in 2013 I assembled all of the parts but stalled out, because I don’t trust myself enough to follow the sparse instructions found online or bleed the brake system correctly by myself.
Clockwise, from upper left: Astro brake unit, power steering hoses, power steering adaptors, aluminum standoff block, brass fittings.
So I’m sending this photo over to Bennett and Ray, the acknowledged experts, to make sure I’ve got everything I need. I’ve got to pick up new brake fluid for sure, but hopefully everything else is correct.
I wrote my Cars Of A Lifetime series a few years ago, inspired by a website called Curbside Classic. This past weekend, I noticed they’d put out a request for people to submit their own stories, so I shot off a quick email to the site admin and heard back from him within a few hours. He gave me a login and I posted a sanitized, embellished version of my Volkswagen Bus story this weekend, complete with a couple of new pictures I found, and I’ll be posting my Mazda piece this week.
…to my pop, who is 80 years old today.