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
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Like my brownhouse:
   no acceptable food salinization protocol
Friday, January 10 2003

I got some fish tape at Lowes today, along with the usual pieces of trim that I hadn't realized I'd needed until it came time to install the last batch of trim I hadn't known I needed from the batch the time before. Once I got home, I immediately attempted to fish the supply line for the laboratory smoke detector down through the sloped ceiling/wall to top of the vertical wall of the garage below. Fish tape is nothing but stiff, flattened steel wire supplied in a reusable coil. Once I started using it, I understood its name. Using fish tape is all about poking and feeling, trying, retrying, and not paying close attention to the passage of precious time. As I "fished," I kept feeling like I was having success, but every time I'd run down the stairs and out into the garage, the tape was nowhere in sight. Finally I resorted to a steady progressive poking motion, hoping the tip would gradually find its way further and further down the wall and around obstacles. The idea was for the difference in length of each poke to be greater than the size of any potential hangup (or "minor energy valley") encountered along the way. Using this technique, I was successful the very first time I tried it.
Meanwhile Kristen Ma$$on had come for a brief visit. These days any and all visitors are given a tour of the upstairs, most of which looks like something out of a snazzy "homes you'll never have" type magazine.

In the evening Gretchen and I visited one of Gretchen's newer friends named Suzy. Suzy is an sculpture artist and part time Manhattan resident who has a log cabin and art studio down in Gardiner (in the southern end of Ulster County). The straightest route there took us on 6A over Mohunk Mountain.
Living with Suzy was Duke, a very fat cat with the same color pattern as our Edna. Duke was a cat with an unusually inflated sense of entitlement, and he tended to hiss whenever things weren't going precisely as he wanted them to go. Later in the evening we learned how he had come to suffer from his present weight problem. Suzy feeds him whatever he wants, and (unlike most cats) Duke has rather broad food interests. He likes all the usual cat foods, but he also enjoys sliced cantaloupe and pear sherbet.
After a few rounds of hot apple cider with Puerto Rican rum, we sat down to a dinner of vegetarian Thai Curry. Gretchen took one bite of it and wondered what she could do to remedy its extremely low sodium content. But there was neither salt nor soy sauce nor anywhere on the table. Evidently the issue of food salinization had never occurred to our host - either all her guests had been as polite as we ended up being, or else she was some sort of anti-salt extremist. There was a Seinfeldian moment early in the meal in which Gretchen got up to get herself a glass of water as a subterfuge for investigating whether or not there was salt in the kitchen at all. She found that there was, but it was in a large inconvenient container and it would have been too obvious had she tried to get any of it.
After dinner Suzy showed us her new studio, which she hired contractors to fashion from a detached, non-insulated, dirt-floored single-car garage. Now its size has been doubled, the floor is concrete slab, and a genuine electrician has come through and installed code-mandated outlets on every six feet of wall space. The weirdest detail was the interior walls in the old garage part of the studio. For some reason Suzy had had these done in corrugated aluminum, which the puzzled contractors had managed to fasten with conventional drywall screws. Suzy's excitement about her still-unfinished studio coincided nicely with our excitement about the work on our house. I know from having been a loveless, carless non-homeowner that there is nothing so dull as hearing someone gush about his baby/house/car/lover when you yourself don't have the thing being gushed about. It was great to finally have someone who wanted to gush along with us on the topic of construction.
Suzy's sculptural work tends to focus on the ephemeral (for this reason, the whole idea of actually "building" her studio had caused her subconscious discomfort). She showed us a videotape she'd made of one of her art installations in Manhattan. It was on the inside of a building that could only be viewed from the outside. On one window, she had arranged a perpetual indoor rainstorm. On the other, she'd backlit the continual circulation of flower petals caught in an updraft. The most interesting thing about this work was the technical story of how she'd managed to get the petals to stay in motion. Over time, you see, petals in a wind chamber gradually find the places where the wind blows least, and as they clump there, their wind stability increases. Her solution to this problem was to put the fans on a timer, since such clumps proved unstable when the fans were off.
A light dusting of snow had fallen by the time we left Suzy's place. It wasn't any big deal in the lowlands, but crossing Mohunk Mountain proved treacherous. Gretchen was driving as we we rounded a curve at about 30 miles per hour and suddenly she exclaimed "Oh no!." With that, we slammed softly into a snow bank. Not having any shovel, I commenced digging us out with a random piece of aluminum I found behind the seat. Moments later a woman pulled over and offered us her snow shovel. She claimed to be from California and not normally in possession of this essential tool, but for some freak reason she had it. In only two spells of digging I'd managed to clear enough of the snow bank from in front of the truck for me to drive it out. I took over driving duties at that point, proceeding very cautiously, rarely exceeding 20 miles per hour until I got to 209.

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