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:
   fragile dike of surface tension
Tuesday, August 10 2004
It was a working day, but it was also a sunny day in August, so I decided to come along when Gretchen, Lin, Mark, and an additional person named Mary all headed out to the new secret spot on Esopus Creek. It was all very Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe sans the nudity. Gretchen had made little sandwiches using pumpernickel bread, cream cheese, and slices of nectarine. Someone had brought a species of potato chip that was so salty and vinegary that it had to be cut with cheese.
I spent most of the time there on various nerdy collection missions. The first of these was to find rocks that were as close to perfectly spherical as possible. It's interesting that despite the fact that a uniform piece of rock will tend to erode into a spherical shape over time, very few truly spherical stones can actually be found in nature. The nearest to spherical either have the shape of a hen's egg or are overly flat in one dimension. This second case is caused by the fact that most rocks are not uniform structurally but are comprised of a series of flat layers.
My interest in rocks led Mark to look for some interesting rocks of his own. He was more interested in the long, narrow kinds that could theoretically be drilled out and made into paraphernalia suitable for the smoking of marijuana. Ever since I showed him my drill press he's been interested in finding objects that would be fun to drill.
Later Jim, the guy who is dogsitting Mr. and Ms. Eagles Nests' dog while they are away, randomly showed up with Bowie (the dogsittee) as well as a freshly-installed stinger in his elbow. He'd managed to park his vehicle on the nest of some species of stinging insect in the secret spot's parking area. Before long he'd forgotten about the sting and was asking me questions about downloading free stuff using file sharing networks. I was amazed by how much he enjoyed talking about computers, particularly in such a natural setting. Another factor that makes this unusual is his age (he's at least 60).
Eventually Mark and I wandered down the Esopus to where a half mile of rapids begin and there we used river rocks to construct a low dam across the creek. I've been building dams since I was a kid and it's one of my few kid pleasures that refuses to die. I don't think Mark has built many dams in his life, but he seemed to really get into it.
Though called "Esopus Creek," the Esopus is much more of a river; it's by far the largest moving current I have ever dammed. After raising the depth of the water by a couple of inches for thousands of feet upstream, its surface took on a glassy stillness. I love the way water looks as it gently rises - each pebble-sized island lingers as dry land for a surprisingly long time after the surface of the water rises above them, each protected by a fragile dike of surface tension.
The strangest sight by far was a swarm comprised of scores of silver water insects, each about a half inch long, that danced together in a tight cluster upon the water. As I approached them it was as if the attractive force between them weakened and they became an increasingly rarified mass, still dancing with each other as a swarm, but spread out to cover five times the area.

Eleanor on the Esopus shore.

Sally in the Esopus

The silver dancing bugs. Click for a movie of them dancing that will play if you're lucky.

Our friends consult the map to find the best route back to Woodstock.

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