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:
   late night at Hannaford
Tuesday, December 21 2010
Another project I've been working on is a lamp that telescopes from the ceiling to be down wherever it is needed. I'd already solved the problem of creating the telescoping hardware, so today, after building out the part cradling the light socket, I dealt with the problem of spooling out a variable length of electrical cord down the center of the telescoping apparatus. I'd had the idea of maybe using a coiled telephone cord to supply the power, but the conductors in a telephone wire are truly tiny and might not even be up to the task of supplying an LED bulb with its power needs. So instead I cannibalized a cord from an old IBM AT keyboard. Such cords have several connectors as well as a braided sheath. I decided to use the two thickest conductors (black and white) as the hot wire and the shielding as the neutral. The cord was just thin enough to make it through a quarter inch brass threaded nipple (which provides a threading that perfectly matches the base attachment of standard light sockets of all sizes). Unfortunately, though, I found that the coiled wired had to be kept at tension when the telescoping arm of the lamp was collapsed. Otherwise the cord would bunch up and gum up the mechanism. I'll have to devise a system to maintain this tension and feed the coiled wire reliably into the telescoping arm.

My experience with the salvaged wood from the dead tree recently delimbed by the Town of Hurley in front of the house has me convinced that it was a Slippery Elm (or perhaps an American Elm) and not a mulberry. Supporting evidence is as follows: the funky smell of the wood, the stringyness of the wood that complicates splitting it, the reddish-brown color, and also the number of other smaller trees nearby that I've taken to be Slippery Elms. The only characteristic of this tree that doesn't support it being a Slippery Elm is its size. Like Red Mulberry, a Slippery Elm is not expected to exceed 19 inches dbh (and this tree is 25 inches dbh). It might be an American Elm, but it didn't have the characteristic vase shape that I remember from the many American Elms I saw on the campus of Oberlin College. Also, American Elms are generally rare these days due to Dutch Elm Disease (thanks a lot, first white settlers of the Hudson Valley!).
It being the season of Christmas and the birthday of Gretchen's father, Gretchen felt moved to make a bunch of candy. Unfortunately, our pantry was lacking in a number of important candy ingredients, including confectioners' sugar and chocolate chips. So I volunteered to make a late-night run to Hannaford, which is open 24 hours a day. This was, I think, the first time I ever took advantage of its extended hours.
The Hannaford in Uptown Kingston is always something of a freakshow, though tonight (sometime between ten and eleven), there was only one woman there who looked like she might have been in possession of an extra chromosome. Young interracial couples seemed to be predominate, and there was only one checkout line in operation. I managed to buy a whole cart's worth of stuff and, because it tended to be expensive stuff (organic veggies, fake turkey cold cuts, microbrew IPAs, and fancy chocolate), I spent nearly $150.

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