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:
   cauliflower hot wing wraps
Friday, March 21 2014
I was up at 6:30am this morning, mostly just because my mind was racing and it was clear I wasn't going to fall asleep again. After doing some unexpectedly productive work in front of my computer (as work always seems to be at that hour), I took the dogs on a run up the Gulleys Trail and then down the Mountain Goat Path. Somewhere along there I slipped on a patch of crusty snow and my headphones flew off my head and then slid all the way to the bottom of the Valley of the Beasts. This meant that I had to go after them, down a slope that is probably pitched at more than 30 degrees. For a stretch of the descent it was easiest just to slide down the snow on my ass (partly because I was wearing a backpack and carrying the battery-powered chainsaw). Once at the bottom, I continued south upstream on the the seasonal creek that flows at the valley bottom until I reached the trail coming in front the Stick Trail, and there I proceeded to buck a small piece of dry weathered oak I'd found into woodstove-compatible lengths. In combination with a few other sticks, it made for a fairly light firewood load to carry home, but every little bit helps.

This morning I took advantage of a cold woodstove to remove the last 29 days' worth of ashes. It weighed 16 pounds, suggesting a wood burn rate of about 43 pounds per day. I updated my table of data, which I will be using to compare to future heating seasons. It's great that I collected data for the entire span of unusual cold, which began back in mid November.

Number of daysAsh
Est. firewood burntEst. firewood/day
Nov 14-Dec 19 20133613.5 lbs0.27 cords29 lbs
Dec 20 2013-Jan 22 20143320.5 lbs0.41 cords48 lbs
Jan 23 2014-Feb 19 20142824 lbs0.48 cords66.23 lbs
Feb 20 2014-Mar 20 20142916 lbs0.32 cords42.63 lbs
I drove with the dogs out to 9W to get a number of provisions: 9 volt batteries for a new metal detector, a variety of beverages for this evening, and an eggplant. I was also in the market for a cheap set of small screwdrivers, the all-metal kind used to open watches and other small devices. I'd recently noticed that most of the ones in the laboratory are awkward sizes. And then I accidentally broke off the tip of the smallest one. But it turns out that those kind of screwdrivers have disappeared from stores. I couldn't find them at Lowes, Sears, or Radio Shack. The screwdrivers that have replaced them all have thick plastic handles, but those handles get in the way in small devices. It seems if I want the old-style small screwdrivers, I will have to buy them online. (Amusingly, I remember as a kid in the late 1970s seeing a set of small all-metal screwdrivers for the first time and not being quite sure what exactly they were; they hadn't looked like my idea of a screwdriver.)
I didn't end up cooking up that eggplant I'd bought. Those cauliflower "hot wings" made for more meals than expected, and by the end I was using them as filler for burrito-like wraps (Gretchen's idea) that also contained greens and faux bluecheese dressing. Those wraps were a little weird, but they were filling and, in their own way, good.

At some point this evening I started smoking pot from the stash in the brownhouse (a surprisingly good place to get stoned, especially now that it has an MP3 player). Facebook is a fun place to be while stoned, particularly when you control a bunch of separate identities that interact with a bunch of entities that you do not control in a places (groups, walls, and pages) that you both do and do not control. As I'd do this, the MP3s in my music queue would play out and eventually run into some podcast I'd already heard. But because I was stoned, it all sounded refreshing and new. This was how I came to hear the Slate Culture Podcast about Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos over again. I hadn't really noticed, but those talking heads are really smart people who say surprising and interesting things even when they don't really know much about the subject matter. For example, Julia Turner says at one point that her faith in science is similar to the kind of faith religious people have in the tennets of their religion. She assumes that what is coming out of science is the truth, and that's good enough for her. This is, of course, what we all do, but I'd never actually heard it stated. Science requires faith the way religion does since there is no way for any one person to go and do to the science to confirm the things that get to delivered to us as science. But it's a kind of faith that has as its basis rationalism and naturalism even if the nuts and bolts of the informational architecture remain a mystery. As they point out in the piece about the new version of Cosmos, even though Tyson talks about science and how it does what it does, most of what he does is present the results of the knowledge that science has amassed without showing much of how that science came to be known. This is good enough for a lot of purposes, but it can also cause confusion. Evidently Tyson was a little vague about the nature of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, leading these Gabfest gabbers thinking that somehow an asteroid had managed to hit the earth on two separate occasions billions of years apart.
In thinking about how science is both generated and presented, I realized that all levels of scientific discourse (even the most elementary kind) can be thought of as layers, with nature at the bottom, basic science interacting directly with it one level up, and various forms of story-telling layered overtop that, ultimately ending up with glossy shows like Cosmos.

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