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:
   failure of imagination
Saturday, June 13 2009
I drove over to Penny and David's house this morning to go yardsaling. I thought at first we'd be going in my car, but Penny likes to be in control and I like to not be in control, so we ended up going in the Land Rover, Penny at the wheel. We made two mistakes in our yardsaling today, and these might have been the mistakes of yardsaling amateurs (which we wouldn't have been had David been along). We didn't do any initial research, and we didn't go to Woodstock. It turns out that the greater High Falls area is a miserable place for yardsaling, or at least it was today, on a beautiful day that should have been ideal. There was a huge bookfair going on in "downtown" High Falls today, so we stopped into that for awhile. There was a sound stage with what sounded like the Grateful Dead, there was a guy hawking sausage-rich food items, and there were lots of plants for sale (including a "recession buster:" four forsythias for free). Over in one corner of the exhibit were a bunch of weavers and knitters, including one woman who was spinning yarn directly from the loose hairs from a huge friendly rabbit in her lap (whether or not the rabbit was being exploited is something I'll leave to the vegans). In other animal rights news, a cute dog from a residence neighboring the fair came through the Jewelweed to the edge of the fair and stood there looked around, curious as to what was going on but hesistant to enter. I took the opportunity to pet her.
Penny's big purchase at the fair was a basket of different grasses. As we were walking back to the Land Rover, I remarked that the energy of the fair had been too positive (the music as we'd been leaving had included a children's choir). Just one group of goths with black fingernails might have brought proper balance to the vibe, but no, it had been a riot of anachronistic tie-dye and grey-haired women in futuristic unicorn teeshirts wearing comfortable shoes.
It was time for our yardsaling bagel, and after a brief consideration of the possible value of the Nibble Nook (not much), Penny decided we should go see "the lesbians." "The lesbians" turned out to be the Morning Brew Café and Coffee House at the corner of 213 and Lucas Avenue, across the street from the High Falls Co-op. Women work there, although which ones were the actual "lesbians" was hard to tell. In any case, they made a great bagel with vegan cream cheese and non-vegan lox. These we devoured out at a table on the side of Lucas Avenue and as I sat there eating my bagel and sipping my coffee in the sun, I had the feeling that I would be happy sitting there all day.
We continued our yardsaling into Accord and points west, in a large part of the map through which I'd never ventured. It was peaceful and rustic back there, including at the mostly-untended yardsale of a heavily-tattooed fishnet-wearing motorcycle queen whose facial piercings made her difficult to look in the face. Somehow we made it out to 213 not terribly far from Penny and David's place.
By that point David was back from getting the ill-fated window on the Toyota Matrix fixed. I hung out long enough to drink a Stella Artois and wonder with David whether or not Peachy (the peach tree) had had its roots devoured through by rodents (as had happened to a cherry tree). Peachy had become, you see, suspiciously easy to wiggle back and forth in the ground.

Back at my place, I was concerned about a series of stain on the roof under the solar deck. These stains indicated some sort of leak, and at first I attributed it to rainwater slowly leaking out of the insulation around the hydronic hoses. Usually hydronic fluid has a slight odor, and I couldn't smell anything. But the stains were more persistent than they should have been, and when I checked on the status of the Arduino-based system in the basement pumping the fluid, it seemed no heated fluid was making it down from the roof despite a brilliant sun overhead. Clearly something was wrong, but I couldn't immediately tell what. It was only after pealing back some of the metallic tape (there to protect the rubber hose from being rotted by ultraviolet sunlight) that I found a tear in the rubber hose. Even without the effects of the sun, the hose had developed a leak. The leak was just beyond the place where a hose clamp secured a threaded female hose connector allowing it to attach to the top of the largest hydronic panel. The entire weight of the hose system hangs from this one fitting, and (though this arrangement had survived slightly over a year), clearly the hose had been slowly tearing during that time. For the time being, I cut out the tear (wasting less than an inch of hose) and reattached the fitting, though obviously I'd have to rework how the hoses climb up to the solar deck. My first idea was to take advantage of low copper prices and replace all the rubber hoses with copper pipe, though attaching hose fittings to copper pipe is a drag (appropriate sweatable connectors don't actually seem to exist and I've developed several improvisations where close fits between unthreaded copper and threaded brass are made up with solder).
Meanwhile Penny and David had invited me to go swimming with them at a pool belonging to one of their friends out in West Shokan. I could even bring the dogs. So I headed out on 28-A, looking as I drove for Peekamoose Road. But it turns out that Peekamoose Road isn't labeled as such on the ground, at least not at its intersection with 28-A. I knew I'd gone too far when I found myself at the intersection with 28 in Boiceville, the place where the two 28s fork to go on either side of Ashokan Reservoir, the single largest component of New York City's water supply (take note, sodomy-art-and-abortion-hating terrorists from Real America). So I turned around and headed back. At a major intersection with 28-A (41.969191N, 74.276901W) where the intersecting road wasn't provided a name, I headed south, guessing it might be Peekamoose. It turned out that it was.
The friend's house was all about the pool, which was heated. There was also a purebred Corgy for Sally and Eleanor to befriend. The Corgy had been provided a ramp so he could enter and exit the pool at will, something he enjoyed doing, though neither Sally nor Eleanor tried even once. They were more interested in the various fragrant meats being cooked on the barbecue. That's right, I had to remind myself, most people (even lefty weekenders from the City like these folks) prefer to eat meat at every meal, preferably with as little vegetative contamination as possibe.
At some point while I was bobbing around in the pool, I found myself talking about how I used to occasionally make 400 mile journeys by bicycle back when I'd need to go home from college. Two guys there (they were actually a couple) found this story more interesting than anyone has ever found it before (although, to be honest, I suspect most people to whom I've told this thought I was lying). It also turned out one of the guys is a road cyclist, and he'd even brought his bicycle. (Perhaps he's even been chased by Eleanor on Dug Hill Road.)
I hadn't expected there to be a meal at this place, but there was. It was a riot various meats: lamb, sausage, etc. Penny had also made a big dish of macaroni and cheese, and so that was what I ate. In the past I might have let myself eat the meat, but I've been making a better effort to avoid meat, at least the kind produced by concentrated industrial operations. It's easy enough to avoid, unless, of course, you find yourself at a barbecue where everyone but you seems to think unadorned meat is a perfectly good thing to eat. To me, though, it's not just unhealthy and supportive of revolting practices (if you gag from the stench when you meet the critters you will one day eat, then there's a problem), it also reflects a failure of imagination.
We sat for a time out on the front porch, a deep structure providing shelter from all but the slantingest of downpours. The guy with the road bicycle was out there with his laptop doing something work-related using a dongle that provided an internet connection through the cellphone network. He asked at some point what I did for a living, which is a common question asked by weekenders leery of the job market in the Catskills. I explained that I work remotely as an end-of-the-subcontract chain web developer, often doing things related to databases. The guy heard the word "database" and immediately thought of a job for me, though it would involve working on-site in New Jersey. Evidently the word "develop" hadn't registered and he thought perhaps I took assignments where I manually clean up data in databases. "Oh, that's a horrible job!" I said, though I added that it was jobs like the one he'd described that had taught me how to program, forcing me, by the sheer power of boredown, to figure out ways to automate the most miserable of repetitive tasks.
Later there was pie and ice cream as a thunderstorm passed through, causing Sally the dog a certain amount of mental anguish.

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