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:
   be merry, for tomorrow
Tuesday, May 12 2009

A long-awaited check came in the mail today, payment for a web development job subcontracted from a recession-bedeviled company on its way to becoming a nongoing concern. I gathered up the dogs, fired up the Subaru, and made haste for my bank in hopes of turning the check into cash before the check turned into a pumpkin.
While I was out on 9W, I went to the Hudson Valley Mall to see what the options were for improving the Honda Civic's rear speakers, which for years have been applying a distinct kazoo effect to everything played through them. I would have preferred to buy my speakers from Sears, but my mental image of a wall of car speakers in there is either a fiction or badly outdated. I ended up having to buy my speakers from Best Buy. Best Buy is the land of the extended warranty hard sell, and nearly everything they sell can have some sort of extended warranty tacked onto it. Typically the warranties cover low-likelihood events; this is why they are so profitable. In the case of this $53 pair of speakers, which were rated for over 100 watts each, the $14 warranty covered "blowing out them out" (or so the blue-shirted Best Buy dude claimed). Knowing that the car's existing stereo is incapable of generating a 100 watt signal was all the "blowing out the speakers" insurance I needed.
Back at the house, I realized that the speakers I'd bought were the wrong size. I'd measured them roughly and thought they were six by eight inch speakers. But it turned out that they were actually six by nine inch speakers. This problem happened to be me once before when I tried upgrading the speakers on our first Honda Civic hatchback (the one that Gretchen eventually totalled and that I went on cut apart with a reciprocating saw). In that case I'd built little adapter disks from galvanized steel; it was the best I could do with the limited tools and supplies available at the time. (I was attempting that speaker upgrade at my parents' house.) The handmade adapter disks worked, but the metal tended to vibrate and buzz and add various unpleasant sound effects to the music. So today when I made adapter disks, I used 3/8 inch plywood. The disks were easy to make because these days I have all the right tools. I used the bandsaw to cut the outside of the disks and then the scroll saw to cut out the oval hole in the middle (a topologically-impossible job for the closed-loop blade of a bandsaw). Finally, to make a few last-minute changes to the disks, I used my small stationary belt sander (bought at the same yardsale as the bandsaw). This particular sander is arranged in such a way that it was possible to the edges of the oval hole cut inside the disk. I had the speakers installed by the time Gretchen got back from the prison (she'd carpooled with someone else) and the kicking new sound system was ready to rock when she needed to take the car out an hour or so later.

Later I rendezvoused with Gretchen and Chris and Kirsty's new house off Zena Road. It was to be a small birthday gathering celebrating Chri's 40-somethingth birthday, and I brought the steel birdhouse I'd made yesterday and a complicated multi-layer vegan icrecream cake Gretchen had fabricated.
Chris and Kirsty's house is mostly complete, at least on the inside. There's a wrap-around deck that is nearing completion, although various minor improvisations are still in place, such as a gangplank crossing a chasm between the deck and the adjacent landscape.
After Jenny and Doug arrived with three vegan pizzas, there were six of us there. There was a sick cat in the house and we couldn't let the dogs in, so we tried sitting out on the deck. But the mosquitos gave us no peace. Chris tried turning on a shop fan to get the air moving, but the night was chilly already and the added breeze, though it seemed to keep the mosquitos away, wasn't pleasant.
So eventually Chris figured out how to move the sick cat into a bedroom behind a closed the door, and this allowed all of us (six humans and three dogs) to hang out in front of a large flatscreen and eat our pizza (Doug and Jenny doctored it up with vegan cheese and vegan chorizo and it was surprisingly good). At some point someone decided we should watch Justin Timberlake's recent comedic work, the audio of which was difficult to make out over the tinny laptop speakers.
At some point Kirsty went into the bedroom to check up on the sick cat and suddenly shrieked, "Lily's dead!" Soon there were three or four people in that room and diverse sounds of human unhappiness. Some of us were trying to be helpful and provide consolation, but our reason for being there had evaporated. We were told to go, so we cleared out. Regarding proper social protocol, this was uncharted territory.
Lily, the cat who had died, had only been about four years old. Chris and Kirsty had found her as a kitten wandering around helplessly on some highway. From the start she'd been blind (supposedly having suffered from eye herpes, whatever that is), and it wasn't long before it turned out that she also had serious heart problems. I'd seen her once or twice and by that point she didn't have eyes at all. Vision is an important sense for cats, so it's not easy being a blind cat, and Lily was high-strung as well. Though she hadn't been healthy, her death hadn't been expected. Its sadness was amplified by the festivities and mirth that had immediately preceded it. It was a microcosm of life itself. Eat, drink, and be merry...

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