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:
   like some kind of goddamn BLT
Friday, October 16 2009
This morning as I was going down to the greenhouse to take my morning crap into a five gallon bucket (which I've done almost every day since early August), I found myself musing about the people in our society who aspire to be environmentally conscious but aren't willing to endure even the slightest discomfort. Such people want to be at their ideal temperature, spotlessly clean, and fully entertained at all times. All elements of their environment are abstracted from human effort and environmental effects by economic interfaces. Such people might mean well, but they have no idea what effect their hedonistic desires have on the environment because they pay other people to produce those effects. It's a lot easier to keep an indoors sweltering in winter if you're not gathering firewood to keep it that way. It's a lot easier to just let the hot water run if you've become accustomed to the idea of a never-ending hot water supply. What would I call someone who is unwilling to voluntarily sacrifice any comfort for the sake of the environment? "Ecobaby" was my first thought, but the emphasis is wrong. "Petrobaby" is better.
As for my several-months habit of crapping in a bucket, it may not do all that much for the environment, but it is a surprisingly comfortable way to defecate. Being out in nature, surrounded by fall colors and cool breezes is somewhat more pleasant than being in a stuffy little bathroom, a volume whose atmosphere is much easier to misflavor than the big outdoors. When I'm done, I hang the bucket from a branch above of the investigative range of dogs and coyotes, and then cover it with pieces of scrap metal to keep out the rain. After 20 days or so, the bucket is full, and it's time to get another. This might seem an odd bathroom habit for someone living in a McMansion with four toilets, but it's been an important data gathering exercise necessary for my brownhouse project. And there have been benefits outside the merely æsthetic and environmental. Using nothing but wads of grass and water to clean my bung hole has resulted in the sort of anal health I haven't known since I was a teenager.

Late this morning Gretchen's parents took Gretchen and me on something of a shopping spree at Target (which Gretchen's father calls "Targets" and her mother and I jokingly pronounce "Tarzhay." The ostensible reason for going to Target was to get us a new tea pot, as our old aluminum Oxo pot had fallen on grimy times and had long ago lost its whistle to an incident involving the melting of its polystyrene framework. But once we got into Target, there were all sorts of other things we wanted, including pens and pencils, batteries, Pyrex cooking pans, a fuzzy brown blanket, and a smart power strip that turned off other plugs whenever a computer on a controlling plug powered down. It was as if we'd been living in a remote frontier town and had made our yearly pilgrimage into Dodge City to sell off a year's collection of animal pelts. We ended up spending over $300 there, which, since the money wasn't coming from either Gretchen or me, became our early Hanukkah gift. The things we got today were a good deal more practical than another idea that had been floated for a seasonal gift: a GPS gizmo for the car, which seemed to us like something that would quickly fall victim to theft (we never lock our cars except in major metropolitan areas and — sometimes — Woodstock).
Later we went shopping and at Mother Earth's Storehouse and then had lunch in its deli area. There was a guy there (he had a stringy grey ponytail) who became unusually invested in my soup order, overhearing me expressing interest in soup to Gretchen and then offering suggestions and even caveats. When he saw me coming back from the soup pot with my container, he waved his little bag of crackers in the air to make sure I knew about them. But I was a step ahead of him. I also ordered a burrito, just because I always do, hoping to win the lottery and find the one place on the East Coast that knows how to slap one together. Languishing pre-made in a glass display, these burritos didn't look promising, and the one I ordered seemed even less so upon delivery, when I saw that the deli staff had helpfully cut it in half for me like some kind of goddamn BLT. It had almost no flavor at all, though it did have a certain comfort food quality I hadn't anticipated.

Back at the house, Gretchen's parents headed off to a some sort of folk festival (though I can't imagine one taking place in such cold weather). As for Gretchen, she took a bus into the City to attend the memorial service of one Julius Margolin, the scrappy old union activist who had recently died at the age of 90 something.
I spent the afternoon down at the brownhouse, cutting bits of styrofoam and fitting them to the inside of the basement area, the place where a trashcan will someday collect the poo poo. I want that area to hold its heat, thereby facilitating decomposition.

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