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:
   socializing treefall risk
Friday, November 6 2009
Last night had been extremely windy, and I never sleep well in such conditions. In the back of my mind is the fear that a tree will land on the house or (at the minimum) some shingles will be blown off the roof. These aren't paranoid delusions; we've had one of our near-house trees blow over (thankfully away from the house) and we've suffered some shingle losses over the years. Today despite the cold blustery conditions, I decided to do something about the more catastrophic of these dangers, as embodied by the large White Pine just north of the house. This tree has severe basal damage that was inflicted by a careless bulldozer operator when the house was built in the mid-1990s. I'd already bought 5/8 inch cable and various hefty screw-eyes, and the screw eyes I ultimately went with were the kind used as components of fence hinges. As they come, such things are heftier than any other screw eyes you can buy but they aren't really screw eyes. Their edges are too squared-off. So I had to laboriously drill and file them into suitable shapes. Then I set up a ladder for as high as it would go and installed one of them in the problematic White Pine. After attaching a cable, I then ran it to another "screw eye" installed into the base of a Red Oak to its northwest. This cable, which can stand 8000 pounds of tension, should be able to keep the tree from falling southeastward (that is, on the brownhouse), and it should also arrest its fall with decreasing effectiveness in angles northeastward and southwestward from there, hopefully protecting the house and the greenhouse as well. With the cable in place, the most likely direction for the tree to fall now is northeastward, where the only potential victims are the road and the Dug Hill Road utility lines. But that wouldn't be our problem. Our society is all about privatizing benefit (having the tree) and socializing risk (what happens when it falls).

I have an idea for the brownhouse exhaust fan that involves mounting it on tracks that allow it to slide into position beneath the exahust stack when the toilet lid is raised, at which point it turns on. But with the lid down, the fan slides out of the way and turns off, letting convection take over. Such a system would only use a watt or so while the toilet is actually being used, and the fecal pile wouldn't be exposed to any more air flow than it could generate by thermal convection. This seemed like a sensible solution to the problem of compost air supply and odor suppression.
Meanwhile I've decided to go with a complicated design for the brownhouse sink. The sink will consist of two levels. The upper level will be a conventional sink (probably made of stainless steel). This will be on a set of hinges that can be lifted out of the way to expose a deeper sink containing gallons of wastewater collected from the upper sink. This second sink will play two roles: as a supplemental thermal mass to stabilize brownhouse temperatures and as a pool for the washing of things that one might prefer not to wash in a sink. Such a sink would contain an active biological system to rapidly process whatever trace amounts of organic matter might enter it.
So today I went into town looking to buy things necessary to build out these ideas in my mind. First I went to P&T surplus hoping to find scrap items that ran on tracks, but the only things of use I found were small-diameter cables and large-diameter pipe clamps.
Next I found myself at Home Depot looking for containers suitable for the aforedescribed lower sinks. But everything was too big, too small, or too circular. So I went to Target and found their container options covered a much more useful segment of the dimensional spectrum. I ended up buying three candidates: two large HDPE boxes and one enormous stainless steel mixing bowl. A mom pushing a little girl on her shopping cart was in line behind me as I made my purchases, and I impulsively turned to the girl and rushed the concave surface of the mixing bowl towards her face and then away, saying, "Look! Woo... Woo!" Kids love to be startled by the weird things reality can do and optics is full of many non-intuitive realities.

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