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:
   pulling the trigger on the floor
Wednesday, August 24 2011

Today I was working with ESRI, a tiled mapping framework for iOS (the iPhone/iPad operation system) similar to Google Maps. Most of this iOS stuff is actually fairly easy once you master the way things connect to each other. In that way its a little more like assembling digital electronics, more so than the other (more linear) programming environments with which I have experience. Still, there are complications lurking around every corner. Today, for example, I found myself having to translate latitudes and longitudes to an alien coordinate system based on Mercator projection, one where values x and y could easily be in the thousands.

On "Operation Iraqi Freedom," Gretchen's odd name for our recent phase of house improvements (notice I didn't say "home"), today I finished up the hanging of the bathroom door in the basement master guest room and began nailing the trim back in. Since parts of the door have moved as much as three quarters of an inch from their old positions, I'm going to have to redo the arrangement of other finishing items such as adjacent baseboards and, in the bathroom, the tile. (I'm really looking forward to that!)

Late this afternoon, Gretchen and I went into town to run a few errands, beginning at Carpet One on Albany Avenue. We were there to look at flooring options for the upstairs bedroom and teevee room, now covered with over 800 square feet of beige vomit-stained carpet. The guy who showed us these options was the very man who had installed the hardwood floors in our living room nearly nine years ago. Times have moved on and now he mostly has a team of younger guys doing the work. He first showed us some "engineered" wooden floors, about which I was initially skeptical given their absence of deep history. But their advantages are several: no need for a plywood underlayment, better stability of materials under changing humidity levels, and more rapid (cheaper) installation. We looked at several options and, after much deliberation, found one we liked. Its surface was smoothly-finished rough-cut hickory that looked like it would best conceal dust bunnies and mechanical trauma. (I've noticed that the glass-smooth finish of the living room flooring tends to advertise every little scratch and dent.) While we were there, also I took note of a linoleum product having a very convincing pattern seemingly copied from the floor of a hayloft ("Rolls of that stuff go flying out of here," our flooring guy said.)
In the end we decided to pull the trigger on the hickory flooring, which will cost us ten thousand dollars when all is said and done. But nobody said Operation Iraqi Freedom would be cheap.
We stopped at Home Depot for some hydronic antifreeze and another LED bulb suitable for a recessed light fixture, and then continued on to the Hudson Valley Mall, where we intended to buy me some "short pants" to replace the ones I've been wearing that might, if I'm not careful, land me on the sex offender registry. After not liking the options in Macy's, we went to Express, whose "shop palette" tended to be black, grey and earth tones (in contrast to other mall clothiers, which seemed heavy in the shade of electric pink preferred by eleven year old girls). and I bought two pairs that somehow came to $75. It was the first clothes shopping I'd done in years.
We ended up at Rolling Rock, the bar off the mall's food court. I used to really like that place maybe two or three years ago, but it seems I hadn't been there since becoming a beer snob, or else I'd never tried to order a beer there. Their beer options are terrible: a long list of light, diet, and insipid American lagers along with Guinness, Sam Adams, and Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale. There was not a single IPA to be had, nor even Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Any real beer lover would be horrified; the bar is clearly stuck in 1995. I ordered a Sam Smith and a veggie burger, and latter came with both fries and two onion rings and proved unexpectedly delicious, more so than I remember their veggie burgers being in the past. Gretchen and I decided that the difference was the bun. It was now of much higher quality than it used to be. Now if they'd just buy a case of Hurricane Kitty or Ithaca Brewery's Flower Power IPA (Rolling Rock employees: if you don't buy from the Pacific Northwest, at least buy local!), I'd give them a gold star. The atmosphere there is very pleasant, particularly given that it's in a mall and its walls are covered with flatscreens showing various sporting contests.

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