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
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Irving housing

got that wrong

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Backwoods Home
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Like my brownhouse:
   impromptu Thai
Friday, October 15 2010
I retrieved most of the firewood sawed up yesterday in a backbreaking procedure that involves pulling a heavy car across rough terrain and climbing 50-foot-long flights of stone stairways carrying individual segments of trees. It's the kind of work that leaves me drenched in sweat even when temperatures are in the 20s, but today they were in the 50s. I was already feeling the yesterday's exercise in the muscles of my back. It was a good pain, the kind that comes when one begins exercising again after months of being seated in front of a computer screen.

This evening Gretchen and I drove out to visit our friends Tara and Brian at the off-grid house they built for themselves near the nortwest corner of the Shawangunk range west of Tillson. (As some may recall, I helped out with some of the framing and the installation of the passively-aimed photovoltaic array.) As we approached their house down a rutted, bumpy road, I disgorged Gretchen and the dogs so they could take a stroll across a large field on the wide valley floor. I got to Tara and Brians' house first and it was a little embarrassing because Tara was sure she'd set the day of our dinner for Sunday and hadn't expected us tonight. Also, it had been overcast all day and they were forced to rely on a generator for electricity. But no matter, somehow Brian quickly changed direction from whatever he'd been intending and whipped-up a delightful Thai noodle dish.
Meanwhile Tara showed us around the house and grounds. The house had made great progress since we'd last been over. The interior surfaces had been clad in pine boards painted with thin white transparent paint, making them look like some sort of hardwood. That transparent layer of paint unified all the surfaces visually and the results were beautiful.
We also went out to a series of makeshift greenhouses where Brian and Tara run an large-scale sprouting operation. They sprout such things as peas and sunflowers in actual soil, harvesting them after they produce their third or fourth set of leaves. It makes for an especially tender salad green. They've been selling their special soil-grown sprouts at local stores and hoping to make their sprout business into a full-time operation.
In the next week or so, Brian and friends will be moving the photovoltaic array to a fixed position on a shed-roofed out-building and installing a small wind turbine atop the pole where the photovoltaics had been. Supposedly this $700 wind turbine can generate 400 watts in a 20 mile per hour wind. Depending how that works out for them, I could easily see myself wanting to get my own wind turbine.
At some point in the conversation, Tara (whose family came from Norway) said that she liked how spontaneous people are in Europe, feeling free to drop in on their friends (which is sort of what, from her perspective, we had done today). In this country, by contrast, people are always getting out their calendars and looking for open places where they can pencil in their friends. The irony of this, as Gretchen explained on the drive home, is that Tara is one of the worst offenders when it comes to consulting her calendar before agreeing to a social event. What makes her calendar research especially difficult is how painstakingly deliberate Tara is, spending two minutes to do (or say) something most other people could do or say in 20 seconds (and that Gretchen could dispatch in 10).

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