I’ve been saving up money over the past year for a purchase that recently fell through, so I redirected my search for the next item on my list: a replacement for my ancient Nikon D70. I’ve had an IFTTT alert set up for my local Craigslist since last fall, and cameras have come and gone. This morning a D7000 showed up in my feed at the right price in the right place. I shot the seller an email and he got back to me within an hour or two. He lives less than a mile from my house and used the camera to shoot birds in Africa.
We had set up the deal for after dinner, so Finn and I walked downtown and met him on a sunny park bench. I popped my 50mm lens on it, tested things out, and gave him money. Then Finn and I continued down the street for ice cream.
As if to confirm the wisdom of my purchase, Flickr decided to roll out a redesign today. It’s nice. We’ll see.
Our neighbors have the backyard we lust after. It’s covered in lush, level green grass, fenced in with tasteful wood picket, and features a large play area with an industrial-sized playset. A couple of weeks ago they decided to go bigger, bought a new playset twice the size, and offered their old one to us. Would we like it? Sure. Can we move it? Maybe.
I started out Saturday morning renting a tiller for the garden, figuring I could get the whole thing turned over in an hour or two. On my way back from the rental store I stopped at a yard sale along Edmonson Avenue and happened upon a box containing two industrial sized casters for $3. Amidst some other assorted tools was a leather toolbelt, which I grabbed and paid for, and headed home.
We had standing plans to hit another community yard sale nearby with the neighbors, so I parked the truck and we all headed over. The pickings were kind of slim for such an upscale neighborhood, sadly, but I did find an overhead projector for cheap as well as two Leapster pads for $1.50.
After mowing the grass around the garden, it took about an hour to weed out the center and all of 15 minutes to till the soil. At this point it started to drizzle a little, but I knew we needed to get the playset moved, so we forged ahead.
Over at the neighbors’, I started by unbolting the smaller sections. The climbing wall, ladder, slide, and swings came off relatively easily, and between the two of us we got the swingset arm and roof section unbolted and moved off. The remainder of the set started to get a little shaky so I grabbed some 1×3″ from our garage and we screwed them into the top for support. Then I busted out the casters I’d found and bolted them to the bottom two legs of the set.
By now the drizzle had turned to rain, so we had a beer and contemplated our next move. He had eight cubic yards of wood chips in his driveway partially blocking our path, so we shoveled it into wheelbarrows and wheeled it into the new play area. By the time we got done, the rain had tapered off, so we planned our journey.
Once we’d tipped it on its side onto the casters and dragged it up onto the walk it moved easily, so we squoze it through the gate and placed the front section on a metal dolly. Then we continued down his driveway, across the street (in front of two carloads of incredulous people), up the neighbors’ driveway, and across two sheets of plywood to sit drunkenly on our lawn. By then it was close to dinnertime so we packed up the rest of the tools, had a celebratory beer, and called it a day.
It’s going to need four sistered 4×4″ supports on each corner, some crossbracing, and a really good powerwashing to clean up, but it’s in remarkably good shape for its age. We put it outside the kitchen window so that we can see it from the sink, on a spot that also happens to be the only (mostly) level spot on the lawn. Luckily, Memorial Day is next weekend, so I’ve got plenty of time to level it, bolt some stronger feet into place, wash and stain it, and then let Finn have fun with it.
Nothing better than driving the Scout home topless from work in 80° sunshine, an impromptu ride to the Home Depot in a stinkingly fast Corvette, multiple beers in the twilight, kids playing happily on the swings, and an early night to bed for a busy Saturday ahead.
This week has been stupidly busy. Between helping a friend get a responsive website up and running for a client, helping another client with email hassles, research on pre-rolled FTP services and scripts, planning the move of a backyard playground, and fitting in time with the girls, I’m exhausted. I also got a batch of IPA brewed and in the fermenter for the 4th of July party on Tuesday night; it’ll be close but should come in just under the wire. I’m going to brew a batch of Hefeweizen for the other keg, but that should only take four weeks to ferment and carb, so I have a little time.
I’m juggling money right now, trying to decide where to put a little extra cash, and the obvious choice is at reserving a vacation house in Hatteras. It looks like everyone we know is booked or busy this year, so I think it will be the three of us, which is fine by me. Hopefully I can find a 2 to 3 bedroom somewhere close to the beach with a small pool of some kind.
This blue Scout happens to be parked right around the corner from my office. It hasn’t moved in a couple of months, so I think it’s a long-term project for someone. It definitely needs sheet metal work; the rockers are shot and there isn’t a panel without some kind of cancer showing.
Our good friend Linda sent her old Kindle up to Maryland when she upgraded. I pulled it out last week and looked it over, trying to figure out how to get new books on it without erasing what it already held. I’m new to the e-book thing, only having loaded some ePub files on my iPhone a few months ago. Kindles use a different format, so I had to find a way to convert and transfer my books: enter Calibre.
It’s a cross-platform app meant to do a lot of things, so it resembles an OS X app from 2001, before UI standards really got nailed down and people were porting things over from UNIX. It’s cryptic, so it takes some time to sort out what can be done and what will blow things up, but once I sorted out the UI and what I wanted to do, it was pretty straightforward.
The Kindle itself is really nice; I like the fact that it’s got wi-fi and it feels good in my hands. I’ve only played around with it a little bit, so I have no idea what its total capabilities are yet. Jen and I are looking into setting up a house Amazon Prime account so that we can buy more books, as well as stream movies and take advantage of free shipping, and I think that will make it even better. And apparently there’s some way I can access my New Yorker subscription on the Kindle too.
I think eventually I’ll take the plunge and buy an iPad variant, but right now I really like this thing.
I bought a bottle of 303 Aerospace Protectant last week from Amazon for our vehicles, because all I’ve read says it’s supposed to be better for plastic and vinyl than Armor All. I also broke down and bought a bottle of Meguiar’s #17 Clear Plastic Cleaner to refinish the panels on my soft top, which are hazy and scratched. I tried out both products last night, and the Meguiar’s seemed to do a great job of cleaning the small patch I tried. Hopefully I can get a little time this weekend to pull it out, wash the top, and clean the windows properly.
From what I hear, I can use the Mequiar’s on headlight covers too– which is great, because the covers on the CR-V are getting hazy.
Monday morning I dropped Grandma off at the airport and watched as she rolled her bag inside the Departure terminal and out of sight. She flew in last week to help watch Finn while Mama was out of town, and as always the visit was too short but a lot of fun. Poor Finn was sick for most of last week, so she spent most of Thursday and Friday on the couch, which made Grandma’s job easier. Saturday we got up early and spent the morning cruising the neighborhood looking through yard sales, where I found Finn a beach chair, a boogie board, and a 10-gallon aquarium for fish we don’t have yet. Grandma found her a pair of footie pajamas and a great kids’ cookbook.
It was 70° and sunny, so we spent as much of the day outside as possible. Finn dug in her sandbox while I chased the mower around the yard and got some other outdoor chores done. In the evening, we barbecued dinner and then took a drive in the Scout down to Opie’s for some ice cream, where we watched the sun set and made some new friends.
Sunday was another laid-back day; while I went out and hosted the Scout meetup, Mom and Finn walked downtown to the farmers’ market together until I got back. The day was chilly even though the sun eventually came out, so we stayed inside and read books and played together until bedtime.
I always get bummed out when family leaves (or I leave family) and Monday was no exception, made worse by the lousy weather we’re having here. I’m glad that Grandma got to go back to sunny 80° and a glass-smooth lake.
Another thing I got to this weekend while Finn was asleep was to pull out the A/C ductwork under my dashboard. It was inoperable when I got the truck, although there was power to the blower fan. There was no compressor on the engine and the supply/return hoses had been cut just outside the firewall. Figuring it would be a number of years and several Lotto tickets before I’m able to buy an aftermarket A/C system, and because I’d like to get under the dash itself to replace bulbs and fix electrical gremlins, I decided to yank it out.
The vent bar came out easily (in part because one of the bolts was already missing) and the PO had thoughtfully installed quick connects on all of the wiring. Once that was out, I tackled the condenser unit under the passenger’s side. This was trickier because my glove box latch is hopelessly broken, so I jimmied that open, removed the box liner, and pulled the door off. There are four bolts holding it onto the firewall, three in the wheel well and one in the engine bay. They all came off so easily I had to look around to see if anyone was pranking me.
Once that was disconnected and the hoses underneath came off, the whole assembly lifted right out. It’s definitely seen better days. The picture here doesn’t show five pounds of dog hair and mud caked into the rear of the condenser unit.
Now I can get underneath and sort out the wiring, replace all the bulbs, and (possibly) even pull the purple dash off and replace it with the black one I refinished four years ago. But I’ll have to be careful not to anger the Scout electrical gods.