Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   chiseling away at the grout
Monday, December 30 2002

While Gretchen and her folks were off investigating the local bed and breakfast scene in anticipation of a large formal event, I was driving around in search of a seven eighths inch socket and half inch socket driver. Gretchen had erroneously told me that Broadway and Albany Avenue were the same thing in Kingston, but this wasn't correct, so I never did find the auto parts place she'd sent me to find. I got a seven eighths inch socket at a car parts place on 9W and then a 22 millimeter socket at Lowes, which had the cheapest prices. For the particular copper fitting I was trying to turn, I needed a socket of 21.5 millimeters or 27/32 inches, but no such sockets were available.
Back at home, I tried the better-fitting metric socket on the fitting, after first blasting it with a liberal dousing of WD-40. But it wouldn't budge. So next I tried heating it with my butane torch, which took awhile because first I had to burn off all the WD-40. After several attempts to back out the reluctant fitting, the brass piece in which it was lodged simply snapped off its moorings in the wall. At that instant I knew my only recourse was to dig out the tile in front of it and redo the underlying section of plumbing. If I hadn't researched tile removal the night before, I might have been thrown into an abyss of despair, but instead I got out a screwdriver and a hammer and began chiseling away at the grout.
When Gretchen and her folks came home from their bed and breakfast tour, I was trying to figure out how to detach the tile from the underlying Durarock. Always handy with an idea, even if it doesn't differ from common sense, Gretchen's father suggested that I just cut through the substrate and replace it all later. That was fine with me, so I continued digging into the grout lines until I'd hit the air trapped in the center of the wall. Before long I'd extracted both of the foot-square tiles that needed to go - and yet I hadn't ruined them.
I spent much of the rest of the day redoing the underlying plumbing. This time I didn't leave any threaded fittings in the wall. Instead I had sweated pipes coming out of the wall with fully-exposed threads suitable for attaching stopcocks.
It was sort of depressing to spend a whole day undoing work that had previously been considered done, but in the evening I made sure to do a project that constituted real forward progress. Using three quarter inch copper pipe and fittings, I made a custom shower curtain rod for the master bathroom. Happily, it turned out better than expected. Gretchen told me that her father actually seemed jealous about it, wishing there was some place to put such a curtain rod in his completely-finished house. He turned his attention to the situation at the top of the attic stairs, which ends in a simple rectangular hole. It's unsafe and should be enclosed somehow, but how can posts be anchored in a way that is both discrete and solid? Gretchen's father was now so inspired by the idea of using copper pipe as a structural material that this was his first (albeit somewhat facetious) suggestion. Later he came up with an idea for doing it all using thin pieces of wood.

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