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:
   Olive's brain
Monday, August 11 2014 [REDACTED]
In the past week, I'd done a lot of bug fixes for the Lightroom-interfacing webapp I've been building for nearly a year now. Today the client came over, and he seemed happy with all the progress. But he always comes up with more for me to do. Today, for example, he proposed having a new place in the database to store pluralized versions of words so as to avoid generating those plurals algorithmically. It would be a pretty big change, though I think I can hold him off by finding a better pluralization algorithm. Happily, many of the other changes are cosmetic in nature.
This afternoon, I carried a pair of five gallon buckets down the Stick Trail to couple of places where I had bucked firewood in the recent past. I wanted to gather clean sawdust for use as a lightening agent in gardening soil I need to prepare. Most of the base material I have is very sandy, and what I really need is a good source of clay. I still have some composted manure and, to balance the acidic pH of oak-based sawdust, wood ashes. I didn't end up finding much sawdust, so I turned my attention to rotten wood from large fallen trees. Some recently-fallen living trees have, at their core, a material that closely resembles topsoil (it might actually be the middens of generations of squirrels combined with rotten wood), and that's great stuff to collect. But I also gathered wood with still-identifiable rings and grain that was nevertheless so rotten that it could be crumbled into dust between the fingers. When wet, this material is a great habitat for amphibians far from a source of water, and I encountered a Speckled Black Salamander and a fat toad in the large rotten oak from which I salvaged most of my material.

This evening I met loaded up the dogs and drove over to Susan and David's new place off Zena Road to meet Gretchen, Susan, and Susan's friend Samira (David was off judging an art show). When I arrived, the door on the house was wide open, and Ramona and Eleanor charged in the way they do. They were instantly back in the kitchen with Gretchen, Samira, Susan, and Susan's two dogs Olive and Darla. And just like that, Olive and Ramona were fighting. It was that bad kind of fighting, the kind that encourages other dogs to get involved and requires the intercession of lots of people to somehow separate them all. In the process of dragging them apart, an amazing new set of scratches were inscribed in the kitchen's wooden floor. So for the rest of our visit (with one brief exception), Olive and Darla were kept out in the front yard. It was a traumatic and disheartening experience, suggesting that we can no longer bring our dogs over when we visit. There's something in Olive's brain that makes her violently protective of that space, and it's completely asymmetrical; she never gets into fights with our dogs when she visits or stays at our house (although Darla has been known to instigate fights there). Samira, who had just met us and our dogs, wasn't sure what to think. The solution for our rattled nerves was prosecco and beer.
Gretchen had bought a couple vegan pies at Catskill Mountain Pizza and the hope was to check out the progress Susan and David have made on their house and eat the pizza. That's the thing about pizza: it's what you get when you don't feel like cooking. But for some reason Susan had it in her head that she had to grill up a bunch of vegetables and make a pot of kale. So before we could dig into that pizza, Gretchen (who had been working all day and would have loved to just eat pizza) gave what amounted to a cooking class on kale preparation [REDACTED] and I did the manly thing and grilled all the vegetables on a brand new propane grill out on the unscreened south deck. As I did so, Samira smoked a cigarette and we chatted. I learned that she'd recently been the artist in residence at the University of Virginia, giving us Charlottesville as conversational touchstone.
Catskill Mountain Pizza is stingy with the toppings, but fortunately we also had all those grilled vegetables, including bell peppers, zucchinis (referred to by Samira as "courgettes"), and portobello mushrooms. They greatly increased the deliciousness of the pizza. Among other topics of dinner conversation, Gretchen explained how I compost all my manure in the brownhouse, which didn't seem to shock Samira at all.
At some point Olive managed to get back into the house, precipiating yet another fight with Ramona requiring our intercession. Later when we left, we had to do this elaborate dog shuffle where our dogs were locked in a room, Olive and Darla were brought through and put on the porch, and then Ramona and Eleanor could be let out and make it to our cars.

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