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:
   careful with that woodchipper, Felix
Friday, September 19 2008
I went over to David and Penny's place at around noon today to pick up some pieces of Basswood. It's a low-density hardwood and not all that great as a fuel, but it was all cut up and the alternative was to disappear it into the woods, so I'd said I'd take it. I showed up while David's hired woodman, Felix, was cutting up some random pieces. Meanwhile David was making a lunch of pesto and pasta. Eventually, Felix, David and I sat down to that lunch out in the front yard under the umbrella providing shelter from the falling acorns. With our pasta David served Vino Verde, which everyone but Felix (who'd been running — and would soon resume running — a woodchipper) partook of. For all he knew about wood and trees, Felix was a remarkably humble, understated guy. He told us about the house he'd built for himself in Kerhonkson out of various random wood species. Periodically his lefty survivalist perspective would manifest in comments about what will happen after "the shit goes down." I suppose lots of people have been talking this way of late, but I had the feeling that, like me, this guy talks about it even when the stockmarket isn't in a nosedive.
Penny and David needed to split some firewood, so I'd also brought over a splitting maul and a pair of wedges, though I had my doubts how skillful they'd be with them.
Meanwhile back at the greenhouse hole, I was discovering the downside of digging a foundation down to bedrock. It means the necessary drainage ditch also runs perilously close to bedrock, and there are few things worse than having to blast a ditch through stone. Bedrock is always an upredictable basement beneath the soil, and today I noticed that there were definitely places in the ditch where the rock reached high enough that I was going to have to break it up.
Gretchen's friend Sarah the Korean (who isn't even Asian) came for a visit today, and the three of us ended up going to a house warming party down in the Rondout. We stopped first at the Armadillo, were we sat at the bar eating chips & salsa and drinking margaritas (a cosmo for Gretchen) while waiting for Gretchen's friend Deborah. After a couple margaritas, I remember trying to tell Deborah about Jared Diamond's theories of geographical determinism, but I was reminding myself of my brother trying to interest random people in the arcania of dinosaur evolution. Still, Deborah seemed interested. I said that Jared Diamond's books were ideal candidates for book-on-tape listening, but Deborah said she can't drive and "read" at the same time.
Deborah knew where the party was: a few blocks away on a stretch of Ravine Street as steep as anything in San Francisco (but with snow in the winter!). The host of the party was a little Mexican guy named Miguel, one of the most promising students in a class taught by Gretchen and Deborah back in the Spring. His house was a 100 year old duplex whose interior had recently been rennovated, leaving it cursed with the plain drywall, uninspired moulding, and cheap gold-trimmed ceiling fans one expects in fresh subdivision housing. Miguel and his wife had only lived there two weeks and the place was definitely in need of warming. Miguel gave us the tour, ending in a finished attic accessible only by retractable ladder.
Later I found myself talking to a couple of strangers on the first floor, two of whom were young women. They spoke disparaging of "alcohol abuse" (the tragic wasting of alcohol) and about storing their shoes in the ovens and cabinets of their unused kitchens. They were vapid and immature, but far enough out of the mainstream to keep my interest. I found myself thinking, "The young haven't changed, but I have. At some point I must have quit being young."
Later Miguel was telling us about some non-invasive surgery he'll soon be getting for an arteriovenous malformation in his brain, a malformation that randomly began bleeding some weeks ago. The surgery will consist of four powerful laser beams fired through his head at a point inside. This should cauterize the abnormal blood vessels but leave the tissue around them unharmed.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next