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
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Like my brownhouse:
   firewood compulsion
Tuesday, May 6 2014
This morning I drove into Kingston to get a new headlamp bulb and license plate bulbs at Advance Auto Parts near the Hannaford in Uptown. On the drive home, there was a patch of dirt in the middle of the south-bound lane of Hurley Avenue near the corner with Zandhoek Road. I straddled it, but it was high enough to catch the crappy plastic belly of the Honda Civic Hybrid and rip part of it loose. I could hear it dragging all the way home. So now I had three things to fix on that godforsaken car. I put it up on ramps and used wire and drywall anchors (the plastic things that expand when a screw tightens in them) to rig the loose bits of plastic belly to the car's metal framework. Now that I knew how to do it, the headlight replacement was easy, though I had to consult Youtube to see how license plate lights are replaced. (Of course I had to rip the plastic lining from the inside of the trunk's lid; nothing about the way that car is put together is intuitive.)

It's good to have quick low-commitment physical tasks available for me to do whenever there is a beat (a stopping place or a situation in need of further cogitation) in the web development work I do. In the grand scheme of things, this work may not amount to much, but in tactical terms, the work presents an endless stream of puzzles, all of which have multiple correct and incorrect answers (though some of the correct ones are better than others). Today I had to build three different reports that magically slide into view when a button is pressed. This was all being done within the Angular.js framework, which eliminates a lot of the fussy drudgery of dynamic HTML. My first attempt at a solution was done without the awareness of a deep intrinsic commonality between all three reports, but I became aware of this commonality over the course of several refreshing ventures outdoors for quick and therapeutic bursts of physical work.
Now that the woodshed is about half full of firewood (meaning it contains about 1.5 cords of wood), the compulsive urge to fill it completely has taken root in my brain. I know from experience that getting any project to a certain critical stage requires willpower and a certain amount of mental pain. But beyond that, the project appears to me to use compulsions within my brain to complete itself. This is true of web development projects, carpentry projects, hole digging projects, and, as I've noticed in past years, firewood gathering projects. I'd already gathered my daily pack of firewood today, so when I needed a break from the computer, my firewood-gathering compulsion sent me into the nearby forest just west of the Farm Road, where I found and then dragged home downed Chestnut Oak trunks. These all had to be small enough to drag, so none of them were much thicker than my leg or weighed more than about 150 pounds, though some of them contained substantial amounts of naturally-cured firewood, often with much of the sapwood rotten away.
Since all of this salvaged wood contains a fair amount of insects (mostly boring beetle grubs and ant colonies), cutting and splitting the wood tends to scatter tiny suddenly-homeless creatures everywhere. I've noticed that there is a group of tiny birds (they look to be mostly warblers and sparrows, as well as a few Phoebes) who congregate around the woodshed when I'm not there, snacking on the many opportunities I've provided. By the way, I've read that you're not supposed to stack firewood inside or against your house because of the danger that insects within that wood will migrate into your house's framing. But I strongly doubt that there is much chance of this happening. Wood within a house is usually pine or spruce, whereas most of my firewood is oak. Also, the firewood I'm gathering is constantly exposed to rain and so is never completely dry, whereas the framing in the house has been isolated from the elements for 20 years. If there is moisture leaking into the house and making the wood suitable for burrowing insects, the problem is not the insects, it's the leak. Termites are the only real risk to a properly-maintained wooden structure (because they can import their own water). But in this climate they have difficulty invading a house unless obvious rules like "do not pile dirt against your house" are violated.

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