exceptional burn rate
Friday, January 9 2015
There two or three inches of snow on the ground this morning, and weather condition exceptional enough to trigger a french press full of decaf. Ramona has been dismembering a dead deer in the forest since we were in Belize, and today she brought home one of its fully-articulated legs. While we drank our decaf in front of a raging fire, she picked meat off of it out in the snow. But eventually she got cold and tried to bring the leg in through the pet door. Not really knowing that much about geometry, she used brute force. That didn't work until she had the joints oriented in a way that caused the leg to fold into a chevron. But her success was short-lived; Gretchen didn't want a nasty deer leg in the house, so she threw it back out into the yard.
A little before noon, I drove the Subaru into Kingston to attend to a minor issue at the rental house on Wall Street (the first such issue in over a month). I'd been communicating with one of the guys, and he was wondering if there was a way to keep the boiler from running (and burning up oil) on days when it was too warm to circulate water through the radiators. I'd suggested turning down the boiler's internal thermostat, the one designed to keep boiler temperatures within a fixed range even when boiler water wasn't needed, and my renter thought that was a good idea. At the house, it took me awhile to find the boiler's internal thermostat, but eventually I did, and I turned it all the way down, to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
After that, I did a little shopping at the Uptown Hannaford and Herzogs. I needed jalapeños, corn chips, and 64 oz containers of grapefruit wedges. While I was there, I also got some white bread sandwich rolls that Gretchen would later describe as "trashy." In Herzoggs, I bought some weather stripping for the side door of the Wall Street house, which the renters there had said seemed drafty.
Back at the house, Gretchen made herself a fake chicken sandwich using one of those trashy white bread sandwich rolls. I asked her if she would be eating it ironically, and she gave an affirmative response.
This evening, while doing (or trying to do) other things, I ran a hot fire in the woodstove and used the heat to melt down a bunch of old aluminum beer cans that I'd stockpiled (mostly at the end of summer). As always, I used a large (28 ounce) steel bean can as a crucible and added cans no more than two or three at a time, crushing them into a slowly growing melted pool of aluminum that glowed a dull red.
As you may recall, I'd stockpiled a bunch of wood in a pile in the living room for Rob (our housesitter while we were in Belize), but he'd burned almost none of it, and so, since late Sunday night, I've been burning it instead. This has meant no trips whatsoever to the woodshed, which was really nice yesterday when it was super cold and that earlier day when the wind was bad. Today, though, the pile was finally exhausted, and I had to begin making trips to the woodshed once more. I've calculated the size of that pile to have been about 16.75 cubic feet, or 13% of a cord. So, given that it lasted about 5.5 days during a very cold week, I can calculate that we were burning wood at a rate of one cord every 42.3 days. Since I've also calculated that during an average winter we only burn about 1.7 cords, obviously the burn rate this week was exceptional, perhaps facilitated by the fact that I didn't have to go out to the woodshed to get the wood.
This evening Gretchen asked me to download a couple movies for her (specifically Boyhood and Get On Up), so I went on Google and typed the names of those movies followed by the word "torrent," since that's the easiest way to find torrents now that thePirateBay is no more (and probably was even back when thePirateBay existed, but I'd been stuck in my ways). The problem with searching for torrents this way is that Google is likely to dump me into one of several different torrent hosting sites, all of which are run by people somewhere on the bad end of the spectrum of unscrupulousness. Back when I used to use thePirateBay, I was familiar with their interface full of sleazy ads and links to executables that no right-minded person would ever want to run. But when Google dumps me into HappyGoodProsperousTorrents.net and I can't immediately find the all-important magnet link, I'm likely to absentmindedly click one thing and then maybe click something else. This was how I accidentally managed to install a Google Chrome plugin called Unisalesi, which was automatically given access to all my browser data. I don't know what Unisalesi does, all I know is that it cannot be uninstalled. After unsuccessfully trying to uninstall it using Chrome's UI, I gave up and searched through my computer's file system and registry for anything called Unisalesi. There was nothing. So then I deleted anything called "Extensions" in the directories belonging to all my various Chrome profiles (most of which are there for interacting with Facebook using my numerous troll identities). But Unisalesi survived all of this. In the end, I was forced to clear out all of my Google Chrome user data (including cookies and autocomplete data) for all my profiles. Only after I did that did Unisalesi go away. Then, of course, I had to rebuild my troll profiles from scratch. Fortunately, though, it seems Chrome stores most of my crucial user data (that is, things other than extensions) in the cloud, and all my cookies in my main Chrome profile were repopulated just by the act of logging into Google. It's a privacy nightmare, of course, but that's the world we now live in.
I should mention here that Google searches hoping to find advice for combatting possible malware or other infections have become a lot less useful than they used to be. The web is polluted with many varieties of junk content and other forms of spam. There are numerous sites designed to provide "help" in a programmatically-generated way, substituting a search term into a block of superfically-helpful (but ultimately useless) boilerplate copy. Compare, for example, this page about malware called Best Save to this page about malware called s7. See what I mean?
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