When I tell people that I’m starting to exercise, I don’t tell them that I’m running. Because I’m not running. I went out and bought the expensive shoes, and even some expensive sport socks that are supposed to wick the sweat away from my feet. And even some sporty shorts that will replace the irregular basketball shorts I bought at a long-defunct Champion outlet in Binghampton 20 years ago. I tell people that I’m working up to running, because I can only get 1-2 minute spurts in before I’ve got to slow down and let the puking feeling subside. I’m following a very loose and forgiving plan where I run as long as it feels good and then stop to continue walking, as long as I keep walking and stick with a schedule. So far I’ve been out four days out of seven and I’m still alive even if all my joints are sore and it hurts to climb stairs; this activity on top of my regular weekly chores around the house adds up to continual soreness. However, I think I’m feeling an uptick in my overall energy level, and I think my brain feels a little less fuzzy. I’ll check back in at the end of Week 2.

Saturday morning, after walking, I jumped in the car and checked out the local yard sales while the girls slept. In the line at Dunkin Donuts I ran into a neighbor who asked what I was out looking for, and I told him I had my eye out for a cheap set of speakers, among other things. He looked surprised and told me he had a pair in his garage he’d give me. We made plans to meet up later, and went our separate ways.

Out on the street, I found a handtruck with two flat tires and got it for $10 (I’ve been looking for one for years but unwilling to pay $80 for it), a gravel rake for $2, and a half-size practice guitar for Finn for $9. The hope is that maybe I’ll dust off my guitar and she and I can sit and practice together, and get each other motivated.

A post shared by @idiotking on

When I got back, the girls and I cleaned the weeds from between the bricks on the front walk and then swept two bags of sand into the joints, capping off that job. Then I went to get my hair cut and drove back to the house with six bales of straw in the Scout for use as a raised garden base. We gave up on the fenced-in mudpit garden a while ago, but Finley has been asking for a vegetable garden of her own for a couple of years. This approach keeps the weeds up out of the plants and is easier to work with; I sure hope so. We pulled the fence down, weeded the pit, and set the hay up as directed. Then I stopped over to pick up the speakers: a set of bookshelf KLHs, perfect for use in the garage with the dumpster Denon on the shelf out there. I enlisted Finley’s help to get the wheels on the handtruck pumped up, and they held air well until this morning when I found them both flat again. Upon further research, I need some tire bead sealant to paint the rims with first, and that should solve the problem.

Then we hit the shower and got dressed up to see a local concert: the Columbia Orchestra had a symphonic pops program with music from Lawrence of Arabia, West Side Story, Dr. Zhivago, and Rocky, among others, but we were really there to see the two selections from The Force Awakens. That was after the intermission, so we sat through the other performances, including two high-school students who did complex solo pieces with orchestral accompaniment–and were amazing. I will admit, the sound of the strings tuning at the beginning, and the lush sweep of a full orchestra had me thinking back to my days on stage, and I felt a strong desire to go find an upright bass on Craigslist and audition. But I’ve got enough stuff to do right now, thank you.


Sunday I got the lawn mowed and raked wood chips out of the grass for the third time; there are now seven bags of assorted lawn debris in the backyard waiting to be hauled away. The patches of mud back there are looking better now, but I’m waiting for some grass to grow back in. I’ll have to seed it all and throw some more straw down next week to get things kickstarted.


Then we joined some friends for a hike in the woods after lunchtime. The weather was cool, so we weren’t sweating our butts off, but we got out for a good three hours with some water time and a close encounter with a freight train before heading home.

Date posted: May 23, 2017 | Filed under family, house | Leave a Comment »

Date posted: May 22, 2017 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

A post shared by @idiotking on

Hey, that’s pretty cool: The Washington Post used this Instagram photo I took of a cicada yesterday for a quick video they produced about Brood X coming up early.

Date posted: May 19, 2017 | Filed under photo | Leave a Comment »

So all three main sections of Good Carb are washed and drying on the bench. I dunked them each in Simple Green for a couple of days and then scrubbed them with a toothbrush, and 99% of the crud came right off. After a rinse with warm water, they look close to brand new. I’m going to let them dry completely and then start tearing down and replacing parts next week.

Date posted: May 18, 2017 | Filed under Carburetor, Scout | Comments Off on Carburetor Doctor, Part 4


Date posted: May 18, 2017 | Filed under photo | Leave a Comment »

Oh, fucking hell. In a world of screeching guitars and screechier vocalists, Soundgarden was heavier, with more of a Sabbath-influenced sound, and they eschewed guitar shredding for emotion and momentum. They were my first baby steps out of the classic and hair metal rock genres, which dominated my high school years, and pointed the way towards my future tastes. Seasons was one of the key songs of my later college years, and still remains one of my favorite all-time songs. I’m sad to see him gone.

Date posted: May 18, 2017 | Filed under music | Leave a Comment »

Nighttime sink

Date posted: May 17, 2017 | Filed under house, photo | Leave a Comment »

We’ve been cursed with rain for the past three weeks, with intermittent days of warm sunshine. Usually these days fall on workdays when I’m stuck in a pair of chinos at my desk in DC unable to take advantage of the situation.

Saturday was one of those rainy days. We decided to make lemonade by getting out of the house and spending time together, running errands and taking Finley to be tested for a gifted and talented program at Johns Hopkins. They want to see where the kids fall in their ability to think, not measure how smart they are, reasoning that this is a better predictor of future success. Finn was a little nervous going in but came out feeling good about the whole experience, so we did some clothes returning and then some shopping, where I scored a sweet pair of black wingtip oxfords, Mama a dress, and Finley some much-needed summer clothes. Then we stopped in at a favorite sushi restaurant and celebrated.

It’s been a long, boring road, but we’re beginning to think she might be coming out of the flavor desert she’s had us trapped in for years. Up until that point she was a fearless omnivore, unafraid to try anything new and in possession of a gourmand’s taste buds. At about four that ability dried up and she wanted buttered noodles all the time. We don’t negotiate with terrorists, so this made meals difficult to navigate. We basically had to find stuff we’d all eat within the narrow confines of her taste.

At the sushi restaurant Mama and I got daring and tried a couple of wild new rolls we’d never had before, and each found them delicious. Finley, who had her own California roll, saw what we were eating and asked to try one, and then the other. We then had to stop her from eating the rest of our dinner. This and a couple of other smaller signs could mean she’s beginning to come around again–which would be fantastic.

Sunday was sunny and warmer, so I got out in the yard and started cleaning. First up was to finish staining the playset, which got done at about 11. Next I cleaned up the woodpile and got the bark in one area and the rest of the debris into bags. There’s big patches of mud under there but it doesn’t look like a brontosaurus shat all over the yard anymore (well, except for the pile of bark).

Then I pulled the grape trellis stakes out of the ground and cut down three newer, taller ones to replace them.  I was at the point where I could put them in when we had to clean up and run across the street for Finn’s piano recital. She did great for a kid who had just smeared both knees across the sidewalk in front of the church, requiring disposal of her mangled tights and four band-aids before her performance.

We had the neighbors’ kids over for playtime afterwards, and as I was finishing the yardwork their parents walked over with some drinks and we enjoyed the evening sunshine catching up. They invited us for dinner, so we grabbed some drinks and steak fries and made an evening of it on their deck while the kids played past their bedtime.


Date posted: May 16, 2017 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

I read an article last week ranking the best entries in a book series about seminal albums in music history, and I got curious. The series is called 33 1/3 (RPM for LP vinyl, you whippersnappers) and it covers everything from the Rolling Stones to Public Enemy. The authors are different for each volume, and there are (as of this writing) 120 books in total. Intrigued, I looked through Amazon’s listings, found that Paul’s Boutique was rated highly, and bought a used copy.

The books themselves are small, but there’s a pleasing amount of information per page. Dan Le Roy, the author, starts out at the launch party for the album and then resets the clock to the end of the Licensed to Ill tour, explaining where the band was creatively, why they moved to L.A., how they eventually met the Dust Brothers and a man named Matt Dike (the unsung third producer of the album), smoked a mountain of weed, somehow recorded the album, and details the aftermath of the release (which bombed). The end of the book is a track-by-track runthrough of the album which goes into short detail about the stories, samples, and background of each.

I was not a fan of Licensed to Ill when it was released; all the proto-bros in my high school loved it, which didn’t compute (these were the same casual racists who hated rap and loved Slayer) and I couldn’t stand the nasal whine of their delivery.

Paul’s Boutique is a touchstone from my college years, after I’d been exposed to De La Soul, Tribe, and Jungle Brothers, and found that I did, in fact, like hip hop. The first time I heard it I was blown away by how different it was from what had come before. It was the soundtrack of most of the parties I was at in the latter half of college. It stands as a monument in my life for a time of optimism, poverty, boundless creative energy, and a sudden discovery of who I was and what I was good at for the first time in my life.

I just put Endtroducing, Spiderland, and Exile on Main Street in my Amazon cart. Here’s to hoping they are as good.

Date posted: May 11, 2017 | Filed under books, music | Leave a Comment »

I reassembled the stunt carburetor I’ve had sitting on the bench since the end of January and put it aside so that I could tear down the good one. Actually, Jen needed the box that the rebuild kit came in for something, so I figured I’d straighten up the bench while I was moving the parts around. Once I’d gotten that put back together, I looked over the good one and started pulling it apart. I was pleased to find it’s in really clean condition, with a little dust in the phenolic bowl, a tiny bit of corrosion around the air horns, and a lot of clean metal everywhere else. The floats are almost brand new (but will be replaced with brass) and the internals are all clean as a whistle. There was a little leftover gas trapped in the horn that made the basement smell, so I moved it out to the garage this morning, where it’ll get a good dunking in carb cleaner.

Date posted: May 9, 2017 | Filed under Carburetor, Scout | Comments Off on Carburetor Doctor, Part 3