Some kind of crazy front is blowing through this evening, sending the temperatures down from an agreeable 65˚to somewhere in the low 30s. What the hell, man? Just when I was thinking I could leave my winter coat on the rack. We went from having the windows open to shutting the storms down to keep the heat inside. Oh, well.

Grandma and Renie are coming down this weekend to visit, which has us running around cleaning the house in preparation. It will be great to see them for the first time since Christmas, and I know Grandma is probably levitating off the floor with excitement. Hopefully the weather will warm back up so they don’t have to suffer a wet March weekend in Maryland.

The CR-V is at the shop with new ceramic brake pads waiting to be picked up tomorrow morning; I bought rotors and pads last weekend with the intention of changing them, but when I got the grindy side up on the jack, I couldn’t get the caliper to release the rotor. Instead of bashing it with a BFH, I wisely decided on calling in the pros, and they got it done today, no muss, no fuss. Certain things I’m willing to take on myself, but any monkey business with important systems like brakes I’ll happily farm out.

I kegged my latest batch of IPA, called Sinistral Warrior, on Sunday, and it’s carbing in the cooler this week. I’ve pulled two glasses from it so far, and it’s tasty–and strong. I have to remember to throttle back my intake because it tends to hit me rather quickly. Next up is getting some time to bottle the pumpkin, which has been sitting patiently since the end of December, and ordering a session IPA from Northern Brewer for the next batch. I also cut my 4″ shank down to 3″ last weekend. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be–maybe 5 seconds with a metal blade on the miter saw, and 2 minutes with a file to clean up the threads. Now, when I install tap handles in the front of the kegerator, the tubing and inlets won’t be in the way. Half the fun of owning a kegerator seems to be hose management.

I haven’t looked at Facebook in about two weeks. I popped on there this evening to answer a question (I get alerts in my mailbox, but rarely respond to them) and lost a half an hour; nothing much has changed. I talked about creating more and consuming less at the beginning of this year, and haven’t done much to change that yet. I could come up with lots of reasons why, but the truth is I just haven’t.

I have a lot of things to work on this spring; that is only one of them, and the least important.

Date posted: March 12, 2014 | Filed under brewing, cars, family, life | No Comments »

Sobering, to say the least. This truck is the spitting image of Chewbacca.

Date posted: March 10, 2014 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off

This week, Mr. Scout found a deal for me: a Blichman 8 gallon brew kettle with a thermometer and ball valve built in. I was considering buying a thermometer and drilling a hole into my existing pot, but this was too good to pass up.

Kettle

Date posted: March 7, 2014 | Filed under brewing, photo | No Comments »

It goes on for quite a bit at the end, but I dare you to resist the groove. Just what I needed on a crunch Friday.

Date posted: March 7, 2014 | Filed under music | No Comments »

I’ve spent the last week or two reviewing resumes for a new position at work, and I’m exhausted with the whole process. On one hand, the software we are using feels like it was written by trolls in 1998 specifically to abuse my carpal tunnel issues. Clearly the company responsible for it has never hired a UX or interface designer; every simple operation takes at least five clicks and a roadmap to get to.

On the other hand, the applicants we’ve been getting have been underwhelming. There have been standouts in the group, and we’ve contacted them, but the vast majority have clearly never read one of the thousands of How To Apply For A Job articles that litter the internet. So after reviewing 50 resumes this morning, here’s my unscientific list, in no order:

  • This is a design position. You should list your portfolio URL at the top of your resume, somewhere in close proximity to your name. It should be in your cover letter too. Don’t make me Google your name, because I won’t—you’ve already been dumped in the “NO” pile.
  • Buy a domain name and host your own portfolio. www.college.edu/portfolio/spanky57 is not a professional URL to pass out. You fail, because it shows me you’re not taking yourself seriously.
  • Along those same lines, your email address should be something professional.
  • This kind of goes without saying, but…don’t copy and paste the cover letter you wrote to that other job into the form field for this job. That’s just embarrassing. Check your work.
  • The position I posted is clearly described as a print design job. Show me print design, or don’t apply.
  • Something they don’t teach you in college is that good writers make good designers. If your cover letter doesn’t show me you’ve even done even a little research on my organization, you won’t get far. One sentence can go a long way.
  • When you proudly point out that you coded and designed your portfolio website, be sure to change the <title> to something other than PORTFOLIO TEMPLATE.
  • Speaking of portfolios, please keep the fancy navigation to a minimum. Your work had better be damned good if I’m going to fight your website to see it.
  • If you insist on using PDFs to showcase your work, make them web-ready, please. It won’t disqualify you, but it’s goddamned annoying.
  • If the job description clearly says Graphic Designer, don’t list your title as Desktop Publisher. That’s a bit like saying you’re qualified to fly a plane because you play Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Date posted: March 3, 2014 | Filed under art/design, humor, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Happy

Saturday morning we took Finn to soccer practice in a new facility close to our house; what used to be a 7-Up distributor’s warehouse is now filled with two indoor soccer fields for rental and two teams’ worth of sweaty high school lacrosse players. We signed her up for a kids’ intro class, and it turned out that we have several friends who had the same idea, so we got to stand around with other parents we know while the kids ran in circles. She took a class at her last school, so we were proud to see her kicking and actually dribbling the ball—until she got bored and decided to go off and do her own thing. Hopefully we can get it through her head that practice will make things more fun for her down the line.

Kick Around

After we were done with soccer we hit the IKEA to pick up one more bookshelf for the den, with the hope of consolidating all of the toys, art supplies, and other stuff that’s been clogging the living room, office, and den. With the big bookcase in the living room free of toys, we were able to uncover the entire collection of books we’ve collected from the library liquidation at her school. It’s really amazing how many good books Jen was able to save, and I hope that Finn takes to reading as much as I did as a kid.

Over the course of our Saturday errands in the CR-V, it became loudly apparent the passenger’s rear brake pads were grinding on the rotor, so I hit the parts store to buy a new set for the back half. It’s just enough of a project that I didn’t want to attempt it this afternoon with 6-12″ of snow on the immediate horizon, so I loaded the parts in the back and parked it behind the Accord until we can dig out this week. On my way to the store I guesstimated the amount of gas in the Scout and came up about 50′ short, stalling out on an incline within spitting distance of a pump. After borrowing a gas can, priming the carb, and standing on the brake, I got her started again. This being the second time it’s happened in two months (the first being directly across the street from our driveway in the middle of the road), I’m getting impatient to sort out the fuel gauge and tank problems in the spring. Hopefully, a long-awaited hydro boost brake conversion will give me more than 10′ of stopping power (both brakes and steering are powered, so when the engine cuts out so do my options for direction and stopping).

Speakers finished

Over the last couple of weekday evenings, I got both speakers rewired, mounted, and tested. Sunday I cut out and glued in 1/2″ corner supports around all the seams, then sealed the front edges and nailed them into place. They sound good! I’m still unsure as to how I’m going to finish the outsides off; I could wrap them completely in Tolex or speaker carpet, but I’m not sure yet.

sick monkey

Our soccer player was on the couch sick today, after waking to an upset stomach and then throwing up several times over the course of the day. She got to spend the day in front of the TV, which was good for her, but hasn’t eaten a thing all day, which is unlike her. At about 7:30 she turned on her side and fell asleep on the couch next to Jen, something that is VERY unlike her. She’s running a fever, so we’ll keep a close eye on her tomorrow.

Tonight we’ll hunker down, tuck the girl into bed, watch some good TV (Downton Abbey and True Detective), maybe sip a beer, and wait to see what the weather brings us tomorrow morning. Just when the lawn was almost clear again too.

Date posted: March 2, 2014 | Filed under finn, honda, house, photo, projects | No Comments »

I got some time to plug the tire this weekend, after hitting YouTube to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. It went very smoothly, and the tire is holding strong. I hit the tread with some white paint so I know where the plug went in if it does start leaking again. While I had a little time, I moved the fire extinguisher out of the console, where it does no good locked up, to the base of the driver’s seat.

IMG_0185

On Sunday I took her for a spin to the parts store, and misjudged the amount of gas I had in the tank (again). I was coming up on the gas station on the way into Ellicott City and felt the engine quit; I hoped I’d have enough rolling energy to get up the hill and next to the pump, but had to brake while a woman in an SUV blocked my path. So there I was, stalled on an incline, with no brakes and no steering. I cranked the emergency brake down, put it in gear, and went to borrow a gas can.

IMG_0186

So: what comes first for the spring? Drop the gas tank and fix the sender for good, or hydroboost?

Date posted: March 2, 2014 | Filed under Repairs, Scout | Comments Off

I got out into the garage for the first time in two weeks to run up the engine, and found a nasty surprise: the front passenger’s tire was flat.

Flat tire

A quick inspection revealed a screw lodged in one of the treads. I broke out the compressor and put air back in it, and it held for a day; Finn and I picked up a new tire repair kit at Lowe’s but I didn’t have time enough to put it in before I had to park her back in the garage.

Morning Ride

But, before I did that, I took her down the street to the coffee shop and picked Finn up from daycare.

Date posted: February 24, 2014 | Filed under Repairs, Scout | Comments Off

This post is one in a series based on a format at another website; much like music, I can measure much of my adult life with the cars I’ve driven.

Ate Up With Motor recently did a comprehensive history of the Honda CRX, a car I owned for a brief while and the sale of which I still regret to this day. Which leads me to the next chapter in my automotive history…

My CRX was a hand-me-down silver HF model from my girlfriend’s father, who had driven it, given it to her, and then let her brother rag it out for a while before parking it in his driveway and then offering it to me. My B2000 was blowing oil and beginning to get expensive. I had a desk job as a designer, having gotten out of the contracting business a few years previously, so I did what any 20-something male with disposable income would do: I sold the truck and bought a beat up sportscar.

CRX

It had about 90k on the odometer when I got it, the CV joints were already bad, the brakes were shot, it needed some muffler work, and it smelled like cigarettes and feet. I put some money into repairs, got it running reliably, and, unbelievably, got three years of dependability at 40mpg. It was a stick, and first gear was a dog. But once it was at speed, it was a blast to drive–nothing like the pickup.

It was beat up, sure. Her brother had obviously tried to drag faster and lighter cars, played tag with trashcans and mailboxes, spilled coffee, ash, fast food, and bongwater over every inch of the carpet. It rattled and squeaked. The wiring behind the radio was a rat’s nest, left over from multiple hack installations. The AC worked as long as the car was in motion, but the minute it stopped I had to turn it off. This foreshadowed future problems with overheating in Baltimore traffic and a pattern that repeated itself with several other cars until I bought the CR-V.

But, I could fit two mountain bikes under the hatch, park it in a shoebox, and the money I saved on gas more than offset the thirsty V-8 of my first Scout. Where was the downside?

In its third year, it began to show its age by leaving larger and larger clouds of blue smoke behind, and soon it was burning through a quart of oil every two weeks. The rings were shot, and I was living in the city with no tools and no garage to effect repairs. Regretfully, I placed an ad in the paper and sold it to a guy who told me he was planning on setting it up for SCCA racing against MR2s.

Had I been thinking smarter, I would have driven it up to my sister’s house and parked it in the chicken barn out back until I could have afforded a rebuilt engine, but hindsight is, as they say, always 20/20.

Other entries in this series:
’86 Honda CRX
’84 Subaru GL Wagon
’86 Mazda B2000
’73 Volkswagen Camper Bus

Date posted: February 24, 2014 | Filed under cars, history | No Comments »

Walking the trail

Field

Date posted: February 24, 2014 | Filed under finn, photo | No Comments »