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This was my daughter’s elementary school response to National Walk Out Day. Not too shabby.

Date posted: March 15, 2018 | Filed under finn, politics | Leave a Comment »

What you see there is the underlayment for the heated floor. The black lines are heating wires that run the span of the room. The tile guy is now skim-coating the floor and may be laying tile as I write this, but he may be waiting until the other three boxes that I didn’t account for show up in a week.

I said goodbye to the Rolleicord yesterday, selling it to a nice man who is taking photography classes and will hopefully give it another productive chapter in life. Talking to him got me thinking about how to print the film I’ve got; one thing I’d completely forgotten about was the darkroom I’ve got access to at UMBC as a faculty member. At Service Photo on Saturday, there was an entire shelf of photo paper and other chemicals, and I’ve got a stack of 6×6 negatives that I’d like to blow up and print.

Date posted: March 13, 2018 | Filed under bathroom, house, photography | Leave a Comment »

In 1986, I was a young lad in Junior High School and beginning to look around at the fashions of people around me. One of the things I saw other people wearing (Renie, you had a pair of these, right?) and got stuck on was a model of white tennis shoes made by Adidas, called the Stan Smith. I don’t recall if I saved up money or asked my parents to buy them for me, but at some point I got a pair and wore them. Very preppy, I know. As with many other capricious purchases I made at that time, I was immediately unhappy with them. They were painful to wear, leaving the arches of my feet aching at the end of the day, and they pinched my toes. For shoes made to play tennis in, I didn’t understand how they could be worn for more than 5 minutes on a court, and this is coming from a guy who has worn Chuck Taylors for 30 years. They wound up in the back of my closet, unworn.

They have made a comeback in the last year, and as I see people wearing them around DC every day, all I can think is, I bet your feet hurt. 

Date posted: March 9, 2018 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Last night the installer recommended by our tile dealer stopped by, after about two weeks of missed connections. He looked over the room, made some suggestions, and put my mind at ease. I signed a contract and gave him a deposit to get things moving, and we settled on the third week in March to start. I got a text from him this morning telling me he’d had a cancellation, and would it be OK to start this coming Monday? Hell yes, it would.

Date posted: March 8, 2018 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

File Mar 07, 4 35 01 PM

Click and drag around the image.

UMBC reached out to me this week about teaching a class in the fall, and after some back-and-forth they offered me a junior-level typography class I’ve taught before on Monday nights. It isn’t as interesting as the senior-level classes I did before cancer, but it makes me happy to be teaching again. I’m going to ask them if I can update the syllabus, as it dates back a long ways and could probably stand to be refreshed.

I ordered brake hoses for the Scout this afternoon, and hopefully they will be the correct fit for what I need. I’m also looking at buying an ignition kill switch and will ask the guys if they can help me install that as well.

Date posted: March 7, 2018 | Filed under teaching | Leave a Comment »

Last night’s cold and gusty weather continued into today, freshly piled leaves cluttering up all the places I’d raked in the rain last weekend. I had guests coming to the ghetto garage, so I tried to church it up as much as possible. Ray arrived from PA early, and stopped to pick up coffee and donuts for me. Bennett arrived soon after, and then Brian, Dennis, Brian H, Carl, and Alan.  We stood around and shot the shit for a little while, and then dove into our list.

The Hydroboost unit went in with little fuss, although I can’t take any credit because I wasn’t doing much of the work. Bennett, Ray and Dennis are the subject matter experts, so the rest of us sort of stood around in my crowded little garage and watched as they worked their magic. Bennett pulled the battery, removed the stock brake booster and cleared the lines.

Ray set up the aluminum standoff block and drilled new holes in the Astro mounting plate while Dennis pulled the assembly under the dash apart. Within an hour the main unit was bolted in place and the hoses were run. There was some concern over the hard lines going from the pump to proportioning valve but Bennett showed his skill with a flare tool and had new ones bent and fitted in an hour.

While we had the brake system pulled apart, it made sense to pull the wheels and go through the brakes. However, NAPA failed me on Thursday and did not put my order through for pickup on Friday, so the pads, calipers, cylinders and other parts I’d ordered never arrived. Bennett raided his considerable parts stash and brought a new set of front pads, but when we pulled the front wheels off and looked at the calipers (and banged on them with a hammer) it was clear we would need replacements. I started working the phone, and a different NAPA came through for us. Somewhat stalled, we took a break for lunch at the local diner, and by the time we were done the parts were waiting for us.

Back in the garage the new calipers went on smoothly, and we bled the brake system from the front to the back. A few adjustments to the pedal were made, a legacy vacuum hose to the old booster was plugged, power steering fluid was procured and added, and the truck was idling smoothly with no squealing from the pump. However, Brian noticed the rear passenger brake started leaking heavily, so we shut the truck back down again. Apparently the brake cylinder blew up with the increase in pressure from the pump.

It was 6PM, getting cold, and already dark, so we called it a day at that point. I’ve got a list of parts to buy for the rear brakes–mainly a spring refit kit and two new soft brake lines, because I have shoes and bought cylinders today. We’ll pick up part two in a couple of weeks.

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

Date posted: March 4, 2018 | Filed under friends, Hydroboost, Repairs, Scout | Comments Off on Work Day

My Uncle Ed passed away last weekend, after a brief stay in the hospital. He was 79, and lived in his own house and drove his own car up until he went in for treatment. He was a quiet, private man who lived with my Grandmother until she died, and then in the home my Grandfather built for her back in 1964. I hadn’t had a whole lot of contact with him in the last 20 years, but almost every Christmas I’d get a handwritten card from him, talking about his health and, up until recently, his cats.

Normally I’d post a picture of him here from my archives but it appears I don’t have a scan of the one I’m thinking of: a shot my Dad took from the mid ’70’s, where he’s standing in the backyard of my Grandma’s house in either the spring or autumn, wearing a jacket and smiling at someone off-camera.


Date posted: March 2, 2018 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

Date posted: February 27, 2018 | Filed under finn | Leave a Comment »

a boy and his donut

I haven’t uploaded anything to Flickr in a couple of months, partially because I have no good photo workflow anymore. I sat down and worked through shots from the last month and picked out a couple to post and share.



Date posted: February 25, 2018 | Filed under photo | Leave a Comment »

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.


Date posted: February 24, 2018 | Filed under cancer | Leave a Comment »