I’m spending the first couple of days with a gift from Santa: The Hamilton field watch I’d picked out months ago appeared under our tree, and I’ve been wearing it since Christmas day. My first impressions: It’s bigger and heavier than my Field Watch. Overall, I like the dimensions, and I’m getting used to the extra weight. The stock wristband is made for a bigger wrist than mine, which means it likes to slide down behind the far side of my hand, so I put one of the bands from my old watch on it. It looks great, and the crystal is slightly beveled instead of flat. The knob is about three times the size of the one I’m used to, which means it tends to get snagged more on my sleeves. The biggest issue I have with it, though, is the fact that it’s a manual-wind watch, something I didn’t notice on the listing. That’s not a dealbreaker. It just means I have to remember to wind it in the morning and in the evening. I like it a lot. It fits my aesthetic, and I’m keeping it.


In the meantime, my buddy Rob (he of the Seiko modding underground) clued me in to the huge eBay market in replacement watch parts. I did a quick search in the summer and found handfuls of replacement crystals which should fit my trusty Field Watch, so I’m going to drop off the watch and the parts with him to see if he can help me out.

I also found a Benchmade Mini Griptillian in my stocking, as a sidekick to–but not replacement for–my Skeletool. I’ve carried a Leatherman around for the past four years (my first was the original, now residing in the toolbox of the Scout),  and I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve used them for different things.


The Benchmade is lightweight, solid, and compact. The blade is razor-sharp and I’ve used it for ten different things this weekend. The action is smooth, and the locking mechanism is rock-solid and impossible to accidentally release. It’s got a pocket clip that reverses to either side based on your preference. I’m still taking the Skeletool most places I go, but the Benchmade will be my slimmed-down companion.

I’ve been trolling the ‘Best-of’ lists and plugging a lot of the individual songs into Spotify to find some new music. One of the tunes on constant repeat is Mike Doughty’s new single ‘Light Will Keep Your Heart Beating In the Future‘, which starts out with an odd banjo figure but slides hypnotically into Soul Coughing free-association wordplay territory from there. I’ve always been a fan of MD, in spite of his spite of Soul Coughing, and I really dig this tune.

I have a love/hate of Aphex Twin from back in the day, but ‘minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]‘ from Syro is another heavy rotator. Selected Ambient Works 85-92 was a masterful album, but I had a hard time going in some of his more exotic directions. This tune is somewhere in the comfortable middle.

Brill Bruisers‘ from the New Pornographers is a third favorite. They have a distinctive sound, which is to say, none of their songs sound the same. This one is a loud stadium sing-along that always gets Finn moving.

Date posted: January 6, 2015 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

Some asshole attacked my WordPress install and temporarily blew it up. I’m working to clean things from the ground up, which means I’m defaulting to this ugly template for the time being. It also means my automatic FTP backups weren’t working properly, so I need to rebuild my theme template.

Happy 2015.

technical difficulties

Update: I hadn’t upgraded to WP 4.1 yet and someone made some sneaky changes that I didn’t find in my server logs. Looks like most everything is back up to date, minus the entries I’d made between Dec 29 and yesterday.

Date posted: January 6, 2015 | Filed under housekeeping | Leave a Comment »

PT Cruiser seats

After many years of saying, “I need to go buy a pair of PT Cruiser seats for the Scout,” I got a pair today. The weather was as warm as it’s going to get this week (a balmy 50°) so I suited up in some warm clothes, packed a bunch of tools and headed into the brownfields of Crazy Ray’s. I found a total of eight PT Cruisers in the Chrysler section in various states of disassembly. Three had black leather seats but all of them were in bad shape. The other five had gray cloth. I found that there are two seat types in the PT Cruiser: the kind where the passenger seat folds forward and those that don’t. The folding kind are identified by the plastic tray insert on the back. I also found that 2001-2 models have integrated airbags in the side cushions, while the 2003-4 models don’t. Airbags made me nervous so I passed on a beautiful pair of gray seats for a second, slightly dirtier pair from a 2003. They came out with little fuss (13mm bolts in front, 15 in back) and I spent more time on the line waiting to pay than I did pulling them out.

loaded seats

In the garage I pulled the back mounting plate off to expose the whole rail and found that the width does indeed match up perfectly, but of course the front-to-back bolts don’t. I’m going to ask Mr. Scout what he did (drill two new holes or fab up a mounting plate) and which ones he used the original bolts in. My spare seat mounts are a bit janky, so I either have to repair them with some angle iron or buy new/used ones. The other alternative is pulling the mounts already in the truck and examining just how much welding damage they did when they put the GHLS seats in it.


The weather is plunging back down into the freezing cold next week, so this project will get put on hold until springtime.

Hi-Lift donut

Santa did indeed send me a donut for the Hi-Lift jack, which makes me very happy to have, and I got the first of the two lighting kits from Amazon this afternoon. Stay tuned for upgrade updates.

Date posted: January 2, 2015 | Filed under Purchasing, Scout | Comments Off

On the way north

Christmas 2

Bad boards

Silo view

Stylish farm girl

Driving with Uncle Brian

Slow moving girl

Renie and Finn

Finn and Grandpa

Date posted: December 29, 2014 | Filed under family, photo, travel | Leave a Comment »

After a sleepy morning, Renie and I returned to Grampy’s barn to go back through the available wood, and we wound up filling the CR-V until the springs compressed. After gearing up for a 20° decrease in temperature and battle with burrdocks, we waded into the weeds with saws and clippers. We made some surgical cuts with an arbor bow saw and walked out with about five 8′ lengths of siding board. Then we dug into a pile leaning up against the silo and found a door and about five more lengths of siding still painted red, with hinges, latch, and striker intact. SCORE. Then we grabbed another 30 or so dry lengths of tongue and groove flooring from under the stack. I pulled the CR-V around through the mud in the cornfield and got it as close to the barn as I could, and we loaded it full in a gentle flurry of snow. AWD for the win!

The 5×5″ beams are still there, so we’re headed back in the spring to grab those, as well as anything else worth taking before Uncle Brian bulldozes it up to the treeline. Renie’s car is loaded tight with flooring and the CR-V is strapped with boards inside and out.

And speaking of Brian, he invited Finn up to his barn for another tractor ride! She got her fill of dogs while waiting for Renie and me (a poodle, a shepherd, and a boxer) and then climbed into a big Deere dually for a spin around the yard. Then she asked to see the combines and he gleefully took her back through the shop to climb around on the equipment. He’s the best, and I don’t know who enjoys those visits more–he or Finn.

…I still can’t get photos off my camera so I’ll dump them all when I get home.

Date posted: December 28, 2014 | Filed under family, finn | Leave a Comment »

Finn and I are up at my parents’ for Second Christmas. Mama got taken down by a sinus infection a full week before the Big Day and gutted it out until everyone left after dinner; Finn and I took her to the Patient First that evening and got her diagnosed and treated. She’s resting up at home, as much as we wanted her to come up with us.

Santa is PSYCHED for these cookies, y'all

Christmas morning was perfect. Finn was patient enough to wait for us all to wake up and get our acts together. The Geblers came over in PJs and Santa hats and Grand got there a half-hour later, and we tore into the boxes. Finley got everything she asked Santa for (a rock tumbler, polished minerals, and lots of other science gifts), as well as a better pottery wheel and a plush kitten. Glen gave her an Osmo. which is some really cool technology.


Up in New York, Santa did his usual bang-up job, so I’m writing this among an elbow-high pile of presents in front of some bowl game after putting Finn to bed. After opening everything we got motivated to visit Grandma up on the hill and then to check out the remains of Grampy’s barn. My hope was to be able to salvage some decent wood for sculpture or furniture–well, really, my hope was to be able to reach something worthwhile; it’s been a few years since it fell down, and the brush grows quickly up there. It turns out that there’s still some decent wood to be found up there amongst the burrdocks. Renie and I found a stack of tongue-and-groove floorboards out in the open that might lend themselves to a good project. My Dad told us they were salvaged from the old gym in Sherwood. There’s a nice section of wall in the shadow of the silo that I’ve got my eye on–about five wallboards still nailed to a frame and standing off the ground–so we’re going back tomorrow with some kind of a saw to cut them out. There’s also a pile of six 5″x5″ hand-hewn beams off to the side that Renie and I are going to claim, even if we can’t carry them off ourselves this weekend, which are in beautiful shape.

From my grandfather's barn #IH #barnfind

I’d be posting pictures here but the SIM card reader on my MacBook Pro isn’t working and we don’t have a USB to Mini-USB cord between the four of us, so the only thing I have is my Instagram feed to point at. (shakes fist at TECHNOLOGY!!)

But overall, we have much to be thankful for: another great year, a healthy family, good fortune, and happiness. Here’s to 2015.

Date posted: December 27, 2014 | Filed under family, photo, travel | Leave a Comment »

We had the neighbors over for drinks and dessert on Saturday in front of a roaring fire, and Sunday morning was a bit rough for your correspondent. Having finished the local Christmas purchasing the day before, there wasn’t much to be done other than loaf around in our PJ’s, watch football, and visit the library (how awesome is it having the library within 5 minutes’ walking distance of the house? VERY AWESOME) so we took full advantage of the slacking.

I did finish moving and updating the wiring in the basement to the punchdown block, which makes a huge difference at the foot of the stairs. I then made some short 12″ patch cables and straightened up the router wiring, but the next big step will be installing a castoff gigabit switch I got at work and linking all of the wired ports in the house to one machine.

I also put a new restaurant rack up against the east wall to get a bunch of random stuff up off the floor, and there’s a growing pile of trash and recycling that need to get hauled away. The whole basement is getting an overhaul, in fact. The ice room is going to get cleaned out and organized. My scrap wood pile is being relocated in there, and I’m building a hanging rack along the front wall for our new dining room chairs.

Date posted: December 22, 2014 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »


Finn and I spent some good time running errands with Finn in the Scout this weekend, and it reminded me that I need to order and install new rear seatbelts. They are original to the truck, as far as I know. Finn pulled the female clasp side off of the belt early in the fall, so I shifted her carseat behind the drivers’ side. I’d like to get something more modern and reliable, as well as male clips that reach a little further. The big pain in the ass will be crawling under the truck to put a pair of vice-grips on the tiedown bolt in the center of the bed; at the very least I’ve got to measure everything and figure out what I’ll need for a warm day’s project.

I’m also going to spend a little cash on these LED marker lights and modify them for use, based on this thread from the Binder Planet. Eventually all the lights will go to LEDs but for now I’ll start with this.

And, I asked Santa to bring me a Rotopax setup for the third year in a row, so here’s hoping this time’s the charm. I also put a Hi-Lift retainer donut on my list, as well as a velcro-based LED light for the rollbar.

Finally, I’ve got some time between Christmas and New Year’s to myself; I think I’m going to mosey down to Crazy Ray’s and see if I can find a decent pair of PT Cruiser seats.

Date posted: December 21, 2014 | Filed under Future Plans, Scout | Comments Off

I haven’t been around here much lately–there’s a lot going on in the leadup to Christmas. Work is going full-bore (it hasn’t really let up since July) and by the time I get home I’m pretty beat. I signed papers with UMBC to be a teacher in the spring, so that gig is official. I’m in the middle of interviewing candidates for the Jr. Designer position at WRI, and I’ll probably pick that up after New Years’. I’m just about done with shopping for the holiday, just a few more things to order and we’re done. I wish I had more to show for things, but right now I’ll just be happy to make it to the 25th.

Date posted: December 17, 2014 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »


This weekend was filled with lots of Christmas time together with family. We spent a couple of much-needed mornings starting out on the couch being together, with no rush to get the day started. Saturday we ran some basic errands, cleaned the house up, and had some friends over for drinks and dessert and a screening of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Sunday we did some food shopping and decorated our tree in the evening, after hanging on the couch, watching football and playing with Legos.


I wish it had been another two days longer.

Decorating the Tree

Date posted: December 15, 2014 | Filed under general, photo | Leave a Comment »