So it turns out the MARC doesn’t run on federal holidays (or, at least, Veteran’s Day) but WRI doesn’t get this holiday off. So after visiting a very empty train station with the girls, I drove into DC this morning. Which wasn’t really that bad, but the parking garage under my building was locked. It was supposed to be open and available but someone at the security company didn’t get their dates right, so I parked up the street at Union Station.
Our weekend was good, although Finn started out with a fever and some throwing up on Saturday Morning. I drove up to Hereford with some friends to look at a Scout in a field, which was a lot rougher than the ad made it out to be. The seller had an unused 6-point rollbar in pieces to offer, which was tempting, but the price was too high for me right now.
On my return Finn was feeling better, so we did some shopping and ran some errands. Finn fell asleep in the car for a couple of hours which was probably a very good thing.
Sunday the weather was warm and sunny, so I took Finn up to the tire park to play while Mama got some important work done at the house. She spent most of her time on the tire swing, making new friends and delighting in letting everyone know she’d thrown up the day before. After watching the Ravens game, I took her over to the Coopers’ for some cocoa and to donate money to UNICEF; hopefully it will make its way to the people in the Philippines, which sounds like it got absolutely flattened this weekend. The Coopers were filming the fundraiser for a PBS bumper, so hopefully Finn may make her debut on camera sometime this fall.
This is what I consider to be the best rendering of a cat, ever.
Busy week here. We took Finn to some friends’ for a Halloween straight from a greeting card: well-lit streets full of happy children, friendly houses, and great costumes. It made me proud to see my girl walk down the street holding hands with one of her best friends.
Leaves are in full swing here in the ‘Ville, and the streets are beautiful. It’ll take a week or so for all of them to drop and collect on our front lawn, clogging up the downspouts and rustling underfoot.
I got my final paycheck from idfive with an added quarterly bonus, so I splurged a little on some kegging equipment; a new gas block has replaced the two-way brass splitter I inherited, and now I’ve got a dedicated third line for carbonation installed with a one-way valve to prevent any backflow. The valve body is bolted to the edge of the surround and the gas lines are all cleaned up and out of the way.
I also picked up three sheets of 3/4 MDF board in preparation for building new speaker enclosures. I’ve run my woofer specs through some new online tools (I was using a poorly printed graph in a book in 1991) and it looks like my original calculations were pretty close. The tweeter I used in one of the two speakers seems to be on the fritz, so I’ve got to track down the issue and see if it needs to be replaced. The new speakers will also get different porting tubes and hookups, but the next big thing to source is a way to cut a clean circle for the woofers.
One of the items I inherited with the new job is a GoPro Hero 3, essentially a tiny HD videocam with a wide-angle lens and a waterproof housing, bolted to a giant suction cup. I tried it out on Sunday in some different situations, outside and inside the Scout as I drove out into Ellicott City and back. The built-in editing software is intuitive and powerful, but it’s going to take some more time to sort out how to get the best possible footage encoded in the right way.
Working in D.C. again is much different without the lousy commute. We’re only on our second day, and the scheduling hasn’t been sorted out yet, but I’ll gladly take 45 minutes on the train vs. 2 hours each way. And I haven’t sorted out the best way to take advantage of the train time yet, but getting through a back-issue pile of New Yorkers isn’t a bad way to start.
Everyone at my new office is so ridiculously nice. I got into Union Station on Monday at 8:45, stopped for a muffin, and walked into the office at 9:01. I was greeted by the Communications Coordinator, who gave me a tour, got me hooked up with email, oriented me with the basic office layout, and left me a welcome card on my desk. I met everyone else as they came in and they couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly. My office is cozy and warm, a welcome break from the meat-locker warehouse I was in before, although I miss my old office chair very much.
There’s a program staff to meet, 20 years of materials to review, a handful of ongoing projects to catch up on, a stack of HR paperwork to complete, a workflow to set up, and an entire shelf full of gear to be inventoried. I can’t wait to get started.
I had dreams, big dreams. I had a list of projects two pages long that I wanted to tackle in my free week. Most of them involved hefty tool rental fees, multi-day logistics, or the employ of multiple day laborers to complete. Some of them were simple. Most of them didn’t get accomplished.
I was supposed to haul an engine out of my friend Brian’s yard about two weeks ago, and for whatever reason we weren’t able to synchronize our schedules. We finally got together on Monday and got it moved into the garage without collapsing the floor, but it ate up most of the day. I did recover enough that evening to transfer my batch of Belgian Dubbel into the secondary, and then brew a Kalamazoo IPA, which started with a 25 minute grain steep and is mostly Centennial hops. It smells great and hopefully it’ll be done quickly because I’m running low on Texas Bock.
Monday was supposed to be the day I borrowed my neigbor’s pickup and hauled concrete chunks out of the driveway, but that didn’t happen. I did dispose of two old bucket seats, an inoperable snowblower, half a load of brush, and a spare tire, which made me happy.
Tuesday after I drove Finn into school, I came back and attacked the attic. We’ve been hurling stuff up there into piles for the last six years, so the whole room has gotten way out of hand. All of the baby gear is now organized into one section and the rest of it is separated into categories. After I got that finished I worked my way down the stairs into the atrium–what is now the master bathroom–and continued cleaning. More stuff had been piled in there by necessity, so that got sorted and moved to the right locations. Then I cleaned up the construction debris and made it all ready for whenever we’re able to get back to work.
I’ve been meaning to get a brewing stand built for months now, because the amount of brewing gear I’ve got has outgrown the table I was storing it on. I picked up a wire restaurant rack from Lowe’s and set it up to hold three fermenters, with a set of tubs below and storage for other gear up top. It’s much easier to work with everything organized and out of the way. It’s not as strong as the ones I bought from Sam’s Club years ago, but it does the trick.
I’ve had lengths of 2×4″ PVC cut for the kegerator for about six months. The plan was to replace the wood surround it came with, which had gotten stained and dented and had several holes drilled that I wasn’t using. Initially I was afraid to pull everything apart for fear that I’d never get it back together again, but with a full afternoon to work with I figured what the hell. My neighbor (the original builder) had warned me he used several tubes of silicone caulk to hold it together, and he wasn’t lying. Once I’d pulled all the screws out it took just a few taps with a rubber mallet and the whole thing came right apart. I made a few cuts to the edge of the plastic surround to fit and it all slipped right into place. A few carefully placed screws and some clean new caulk, and it looks brand new. The cover went right back on with no problem, and I mounted the temperature controller where it had been originally. I’ve held off drilling to replace the tap handle, gas lead, and temperature sensor because I’m not sure which side the gas tank is going to go on or where I’m going to mount a gas manifold that I don’t have yet.
Wednesday was taken up with a doctor’s appointment in the morning and a bit of rest in the afternoon, but I put a sheet of plywood down on the brewing shelf and cleaned up the rest of the kegerator before disassembling my old speakers. I was planning on buying some new MDF to cut down into new sections, but I held off in favor of some other more important projects.
Thursday, on my way in to drop Finn off, I passed a set of dumpsters by an apartment building and spied something that looked familiar: Two A/V receivers sitting on the ground waiting to be picked up. I backed up and when I spied the word DENON on the face, they quickly made their way into the car. Later, when I had some time to look them over, I realized they were units in the same family, separated by one model number. It took some time to sort out the controls and how they worked, but both of them fired up, recognized an iPod, and worked perfectly. They date to 2008, so they predate HDMI, but for utility use in the garage or basement they’re perfect.
I also sold a set of Scout doors I’ve had kicking around the garage for the past four years; they were painted blue with a white stripe by the PO and gave up their window regulators and some other hardware years ago, so they’ve been getting in the way ever since. Erik M. stopped by to pick them up before work, and he grabbed a spare set of wing windows as well. Now I can pull the windows from my good doors and stack them vertically where the other ones had been, which will make more room for the engine in the back corner.
In the afternoon, I had Jen help me lower the traveltop onto the Scout, and I pulled it out into the sunshine to bolt it in. Brian gave me a 3-gallon jug of muratic acid (he gets it free from work) to dip rusty parts into, so I dunked a pile of body bolts and other hardware and soaked it earlier in the week. After two days the bolts look brand new, and they go in just as easy as butter.
Friday we have plans to do a family trip out into the mountains and see leaves and pet cows, which sounds just right for all of us.
So Brian and I finally got our schedules organized to move the spare engine out of his backyard. First we had to borrow Bennett’s engine hoist, which meant disassembling it and fitting it into Peer Pressure, then driving that over to Brian’s. Then we had to build a ramp to coast the engine and cart down off his patio, onto grass, and then onto the driveway. Then we rebuilt the hoist and raised the engine.
Then we scooted the Scout under it and ratcheted it down with four straps.
The engine hoist got broken down and shoved into the back of Brian’s Prius. I drove gingerly up 95 to the house, backed in, and we reassembled the hoist.
Then we muscled the engine and cart up into the garage, got the hoist inside, and attempted to mate it to the Harbor Freight engine stand I’ve had for 8 years. We got three of four bolts to mount but when we let the hoist drop the whole stand leaned frighteningly forward. So we put it back on the cart and called it a day.
So, I’ve got some reading to do. I think I’m going to start with some basic engine rebuilding books and go from there. But for now, I’m resting my back.