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:
   the trajectory of a DeLonghi mixer
Sunday, December 7 2014
Last night's scrubbing of that motherboard did no good, but it at least it didn't do any further harm. It had dried overnight, and when I attempted to start it up, I got the same post code 85 followed by nothing further. Evidently it had spontaneously died while not in use. I think I've only seen such a thing once before, with my old Macintosh IIsi. I'd used intensively from 1992 to 1996 and then abandoned it until circa 2007, at which point I got it working again with a minimum of effort. But a couple years ago when I tried to start it up again nothing happened. I still have it, but it has no more functionality than a brick.
The 2.5 inch Seagate hard drive that started failing the other day has remained marginal at best. I was able to reformat it, but attempts to copy large amounts of data to it always fail. Suffice it to say, the only use I have for it now is as source of aluminum plates and rare earth magnets. Unfortunately, though, for a time it had served as the most up-to-date storage location of my movies, podcasts, music, and asorted Bittorrent downloads. And some of the files that had been on it had become corrupted as it began to fail. Fortunately, all corrupted files I've noticed to date are obviously so: their file sizes are set at zero bytes. Interestingly, all the corrupted files I've found to date were added recently to the drive, meaning all the piles of old mp3s and avis weren't affected. Or so I think. But just to be sure, today I initiated a copy from an older storage location of this data to their new home, hoping any corrupted files would be overwritten with good data. Since the new location of the data is that 3 terabyte hard drive attached to the Pogoplug 4 as a NAS, copying to it gave me real-world experiences with using it as a NAS. I've never used language like that when describing any of my other attempts at using a NAS, so you're probably anticipating me saying something back about those experiences. You are anticipating correctly. The Pogoplug 4 is a terrible NAS server. Mind you, it connects to the local network via gigabit ethernet and the hard drive connects to it via a SATA cable, so there really shouldn't be any weak links in this arrangement. But the performance, at least in real world conditions, was dreadful. When nothing else was accessing the NAS, I could get a copy of perhaps 15 megabytes per second, which isn't great, but it's perhaps a little better than I had been getting when the weak link was a USB 2.0 connection. But the moment I had the NAS attached as the one place where podcasts, music, Bittorrent downloads, and movies resided, and once multiple simultaneous file transfers were taking place, the whole thing got bogged down, with every file transfer measured in kilobytes per second and the sum of the transfer speeds coming nowhere near 15 megabytes per second. Evidently, the weak link in a Pogoplug 4 NAS setup is the Pogoplug itself. It only has 128 megabytes of RAM and a single-core 800MHz ARM processor. Compare that to the Buffalo router, which has an 800 MHz single-core ARMv7 processor with 256 megabytes of RAM. I'd been very pleased with its performance under normal use conditions; my main beef with it had been its failure to set modified dates on files. Even the Verizon router attached via 100 megabit ethernet hadn't performed too badly considering the limitations of its ethernet connectivity. But with the Pogoplug, the mp3s stored on the NAS would actually pause for a half second or more on occasion as the Pogoplug struggled to keep up with demands. It was looking like I was going to have to abandon it as a NAS server.

The other day, Gretchen and I had celebrated Chanukah early so she could use a brand new KitchenAid Mixer I'd bought for her. She wanted to make icing for a birthday cake, and was tired of her old (and much-detested) DeLonghi Mixer. The new KitchenAid is a gorgeous candy-apple-red, while the DeLonghi is a filthy shade of stainless steel. With its grimy surface and futuristic lines, it now looks like an antique from the distant future. Gretchen had bought the Delonghi to replace an earlier and much-beloved KitchenAid Mixer after being brainwashed by Cooks Illustrated Magazine. Now that she once again had a KitchenAid mixer, order had been restored to her kitchen.
Gretchen had given me a number of books for Chanukah, include a volume from the 33 1/3 album dissection series about the Guided by Voices classic Bee Thousand. Late this afternoon, I took the book with me when I took a nice hot bath in the basement. It's a fun read, full of gems such as

When the whipsaw guitar, with its plangent, alloyed energy, stutters in and out of the mix at 0:53 seconds of the opening track — a song called "Hardcore UFOs" — of an album — Bee Thousand — you wonder if this is a result not of a flaw in the original recording by the band — Guided by Voices — (most bands don't allow such obvious mistakes to stand) but a problem introduced when you burned the CD from a friend's copy.
But other copies, you soon find, share this impurity, an imperfection that is from the source, and quickly becomes no longer heard as a mistake or a problem but as something essential, something transcendent.

The birthday cake Gretchen had been preparing would be for Sarah the Vegan, who tonight would be having a little get-together at her small house on a big estate along the west bank of the Hudson not far south of the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge. Often when Gretchen and I attend birthday parties, it's sufficient for the pair of us to give one present, usually a cake that Gretchen bakes. But in the case of our unmarried friends, there is an injustice here, since someone like Sarah is sure to give each of us presents on our individual birthdays. So this evening after I got out of the tub and before Gretchen got home from work, I quickly painted a painting for Sarah. It was of Wilma, the cat we'd gotten with Marie (aka "the Baby") back in 2006 and whom we rehomed with Sarah in 2010. Wilma died last year, and I'd yet to paint a creature that was no longer among the living. But I always work from photographs, and I figured Sarah would appreciate a painting of her dearly departed (if cantankerous) cat. I had a great picture of Wilma back in her prime, fangy mouth agape in protest of some trivial slight from the ottoman in front of the woodstove, her exclusive throne for much of the time she lived with us. The plan was to work quickly on a tiny canvas and not to be too concerned about things like distortion. The result made Wilma look a bit less fierce and somewhat skewed, but I surprised myself by what a little gem the painting was. I'd done the background as a series of speckled blue and yellow ribbons curving with the shape of Wilma's head, ears, and body, and the combination of realism and decoration gave it a delightful Gustav-Klimtesque quality. Unfortunately, I never got around to taking a picture of it.
After Gretchen returned from the bookstore, she put the finishing touches on Sarah's cake (chocolate, with a white cream frosting) and we drove over to her place. Already there were Nancy, Eric (the guy who painted our Wall Street house), and our friends Kate & Joe. Nancy made us all lemon drops (a vodka-based drink) and, after much eating of vegan cheese, crackers, and hummus, we had a dinner of salad and pappardelle with pesto. At some point, one of the guys there was insistent that I join him for the smoking of hashish, so we went out into the bitter cold and did it up. Remembering my terrible pot experience of a couple weeks ago, I was conservative in how much I smoked. Though it smelled weird, the hashish gave me a strong (though not unpleasant) buzz that didn't last too long. While under its influence, I held forth about the evolution of cetaceans from primitive piglike artiodactyls, something that none of the others seemed to know about. They're all smart and educated people, but based on the questions they asked, I was surprised by how little they actually knew about the basic mechanics of evolution. Other subjects discussed tonight included Nancy and Ray's bathroom, which Eric had retiled for them, and which had lacked a toilet for long enough to force Nancy and Ray to fill a distant part of their backyard with little holes full of human excrement. Another subject was that recent favorite on other occasions with other people: "words that sound unpleasant." (A new one Susan had offered the day before yesterday is one she'd made up: "froictus," which she imagines would be an adjective applied to unpleasant-smelling breath.)
In terms of her birthday haul, Sarah did well tonight, at least from Gretchen and me. In addition to the cake and the painting, we gave Sarah the old DeLonghi mixer, which has to be worth well over 100 dollars even though it looks like it has lain on the ocean bottom since the days of the pirates.
I ended up drinking enough tonight for Gretchen to remark on the way home that I smelled "like a still." But it was all in keeping with my current alcohol rules: my drinking was entirely social, and my current rules place no limit on such drinking.

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