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:
   damn pin
Friday, May 15 2015
Yesterday I could feel an unusual feeling in the back of my throat that suggested that I was maybe beginning to come down with whatever had afflicted Gretchen on our recent trip. I awoke this morning with enough of a sore throat to have trouble getting back to sleep. But I took some ibuprofen and was soon feeling reasonably healthy.

Yesterday's discovery that the Subaru had a broken right front axle meant that I would have to remove the old one. That wasn't difficult on its wheel end, but on its engine end, it's held by a pin that must be driven out with a punch. I did some research to discover which direction was best for driving out this pin, but precisely none of the sites that discussed it even mentioned direction. Perhaps it doesn't matter, but even when it doesn't, it's good to just say it doesn't. Anyone reading this who is in the business of writing technical instructions, I beseech you: even when it seems obvious to you that something can be left unsaid, say it anyway. (And that applies to you too, the Bible. Why exactly did you forget to mention that it's an abomination for a man to have sex with his own daughter?)
I didn't have an appropriate punch, so I tried using a narrow screwdriver. That ended up being a mistake; the screwdiver got stuck in the side of the axle and I was nearly unable to extract it. It did, however, leave the pin sticking out about an inch, but I could get it to go no further. I even tried fashioning a punch out of a piece of thick steel wire that had once framed a political yard sign, but it was just a little too narrow and managed to go out through the middle of the hollow pin without causing it to advance any further. It's looking like I am going to have to invest in a good set of punches (and not the crappy kind from Harbor Freight that disintegrate at the worst possible moments in the most unhelpful-possible ways).

Since yesterday or so, I've been drawn into a crisis regarding a website I work for. It seems some of the users have complained about cards being stolen after being used to buy things on the website. While it's possible that there is no fire behind this smoke, the people in charge of the company are taking no precautions. They've called in a web security company that ran a series of security scans on the website and produced a report running a mind-numbing 57 pages. Somehow (perhaps because of my history of fearlessness on this particular project) I got roped into being the point man on the engineering team, and so wound up being part of several phone conferences. The guys from the web security company struck me a bit as snakeoil salesmen, but then again, I'm not a server administrator and I have almost no experience with the bad things hackers can potentially do. And it turned out that website scan found a number of important issues that a human might never otherwise notice, such the presence of a form on an HTTPS page targeting an HTTP page. Oops!

To reduce my cold symptoms, this afternoon I took a 120 milligram dose of pseudoephedrine. It worked like a miracle, but by this evening I was in need of some form of alcoholic beverage. Fortunately, we went out for dinner at La Florentina (the place with the sformato, aka "purple pie") with our friends Juliana and Lee (it was the first time we'd gone there with them). Before our meal, they were talking about how they were trying to cut back on their consumption of carbs to undo the ravages of winter weight gain (which wasn't obvious at all; they both still pretty much have the bodies I imagine that they had back in high school). Gretchen and I pointed out that La Florentina is all about carbs, so they allowed that they were willing to make an exception for tonight. So we had our usual meal of salad for everyone but me, soup for me, an inflated steam balloon of bread for the table, and two orders of purple pie. My alcohol came in the form of a Goose Island IPA.
I was having a good time initially, but as our meal wound down, something about my cold and the pseudoephedrine made me really uncomfortable when the conversation lingered too long on such issues as why it is that Jon Stewart doesn't take animal rights seriously enough (especially given that his wife is a vegan who is starting up her own animal sanctuary). It seemed naive to expect John Stewart to make an exception to his jokey take on the world for some particular cause. Similarly, despite the fact that animal rights awareness is a growing thing in this country full of fat apathetic slobs, the expectation that somehow there will come a day when average working stiffs will give up their bacon and cheese seems deluded to me. Well, maybe not deluded, but spending any time talking about what it will be like on that happy day seems like a waste of perfectly good socializing time. For even more selfish reasons, I could feel my eyes glazing over during a discussion of numerous television shows that I have never seen and never will see.
Randomly during our meal, I saw a bald headed guy come in from La Florentina's outdoor area, and my first thought was, "he looks way too hip for this place." My second was, "wait, don't I know him?" Then, right behind him, came Susan and David (also looking too hip for La Florentina) and I realized that the bald guy was Susan's brother, a guy who has had dinner with us at our house. We called Susan and David over and gushed about what a surprise it was to meet them here. But this wasn't even the first time we randomly come upon close friends dining at La Florentina; back in October, we came to La Florentina and found Ray, Nancy, Linda, Adam, and Linda & Adam's kid all sitting at a huge table.
On the drive back home, Gretchen had the idea of running the dogs around the grounds of the old IBM facility on Enterprise Drive. So I took a right into a parking lot next to a building mostly obscured from the road by trees (41.968376N, 73.998678W). There were some lights on inside, and it all looked fairly tidy in there. Evidently, unlike other parts of the facility, it has not been abandoned; indeed, it looks like it currently has a tenant.

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