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:
   no rototiller needed
Tuesday, June 5 2007
There is a pathway connectiong our front door to our driveway, and as you may recall, back in the Spring of 2005 I peeled up the asphalt and, after first burying drainage pipes, repaved this path with native bluestone. This path forms a functional boundary between our yard and a smaller several hundred square foot area directly beside the house that had once, under the administration of the house's previous owner, had been the site of many decorative plantings: several shrubs, strawberries, and a great many lilies. Since Gretchen and I moved in four and a half years ago, I've planted a couple native ferns and more lily bulbs, and I've also encouraged native Sweet Ciceley, which seems to like growing here. Mostly, though, this area of garden has become overrun with weeds: Dandylion, Queen Anne's Lace, Garlic Mustard, Ragweed, and (most common of all), this weed which I have been unable to identify.

Please God at least let it be hallucinogenic!

Today Gretchen once again floated the idea that we should rent a rototiller and redo this weedy wasteland from scratch. This had been the suggestion of our neighbor Andrea, and when it comes to gardens, anything she says becomes an oft-repeated nugget of wisdom heard around the house (though it's only Gretchen actually repeating said nugget). Today, though, I showed Gretchen how easy all those noxious weeds were to pull out by their roots, and so she waded in there, and in less than an hour had extracted nearly all of them, making a sizable new compost heap out of their corpses. Later I went in there with a spade and turned the soil over, a task that only took about fifteen minutes, and mind you I was working barefoot. In the course of all this work we encountered only one snake.

I've played my fire engine red electric guitar (a Stratocaster clone) very little since setting it up in the laboratory all those years ago. Something about where I had it, and the shoddiness of the patch cords kept me from wanting to pick it up. Oh yeah, and the strings (the five that somehow miraculously remain) are the same ones it came with when I bought it at a San Diego pawn shop eight years ago. I have no idea how they've survived all the strumming they've experienced; I used to lose a string every couple months with my other Humbucker-equipped electric guitar (whose sound I prefer).
I'd lost all my guitar effects in the mail when I moved back east from Los Angeles, so I'd bought a Korg AX100G digital multi-effect pedal for it. It can do a lot of things, but its user interface is such a mess that I've never enjoyed using it, and when I have, it's always been something of a crapshoot. Technically, one of the most annoying traits of this device is the DC adapter interface, which looks like a standard coaxial barrel connector, but its polarity is backwards, with the interior conductor delivering ground and the exterior conductor delivering nine volts. This is such an infuriatingly non-standard arrangement that today I decided to flip the connectors in the interface and make them standard (and compatible with many wall warts that I have on hand). I ended up spending over an hour on what should have been a simple project. I knew I'd have to cut through and jumper around the foil patterns on the pedal's motherboard, but it turned out that I had to do this on both sides of the board. I even had to remove the DC connector to cut traces underneath it, and while doing this I figured out why the maker of the pedal reversed the usual DC supply standard. Its barrel connector has an internal switch to allow power from batteries to come in if there is no power cable in it (meaning you must disconnect the cable for it to work with batteries). But because of the way barrel connectors are built, this switch can only affect the outside conductor, not the inside one. And because the manufacturer didn't want to switch the device's ground wire (always a bad idea!), the polarity had to be reversed.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next