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:
Saturday, March 2 2019
Before firing up the woodstove this morning, I tore out the old fraying & delaminating fibreglass gasket and replaced it with one I'd bought the other day at Lowes. Unfortunately, at 3/8 inch thickness, the new gasket was too thin to fill the gap it needed to fill on our particular stove. Because Lowes doesn't sell a thicker one, I then had to buy another one online. The too-thin gasket will be good enough in the meantime.
Today was out first Saturday morning coffee since Costa Rica, and Gretchen was so committed to it that she would be drinking real coffee, none of this decaffeinated bullshit. She ground up the new light-roast we'd bought at the El Toledo coffee plantation and added water that was hot, but not too hot. The results were, well, not ideal. The first attempt produced coffee that was too weak, partly because Gretchen had been careful not to grind the beans "too much." So we added more grounds, and the coffee was indeed stronger, though now we were wondering if maybe what we really like is a darker roast. In the context of the coffee tour, for whatever reason, I'd decided I'd liked the lightest roast the best, and was pleased to learn that this was actually the most complex-flavored (and caffeinated) of the roastings. But here in our living room, it tasted a bit too "planty" and even "medicinal." Instead of tasting like coffee, it tasted like some kind of herb ground up for some specific use. Next week we'll be trying a darker roast from El Toledo, and if that doesn't work out, we'll probably go back to our long-time favorite, Zanzibar, a locally-roasted dark roast from Catskill Mountain Coffee.
Gretchen had to work at the bookstore in Woodstock today, and time was tight, so I was the one who took them for a walk. I brought along by fancy Nikon camera (the one with the 42X zoom) in hopes of photographing some wildlife. But the Nicoya Peninsula this is not. It's still beautiful, even with the old crusty snow. Crunching my way down the side of an escarpment, I slipped and fell on my ass.
The plan tonight was to go to some place down in Gardiner to celebrate a birthday, so of course I painted a tiny painting. I'd wanted to maybe paint a polar bear on an ice floe so I could do the whole thing with a few well-placed strokes of grey and blue. But in the end I decided to go with a beluga whale that required a fair amount of blue paint to depict. See for yourself:

The original.

Kaleidoscopic version.

With that out of the way, I could drink some booze and eventually drive out to the Tibetan Center thrift store for my fist visit in over a month and a half. There'd been a reorganization since the last time I'd been there, and the fun shelf of office supplies (where I would go to look for old scientific calculators) had been replaced by a rack containing CDs (and perhaps DVDS). I live such a post-optical-media life that I will never investigate what is over there. Meanwhile, the shelves dedicated to electronics are spilling over with crap that nobody will ever buy (including several speaker systems designed for the connector on the original iPhone). I found a couple USB cables with mini (not micro) connectors, and you can never have too many of those. I also found a nice stout pi-shaped cabinet handle that could have lots of uses. But the real score was an old 7 inch by 8 inch Wacom tablet. I've never really been able to draw with a proper pen on a computer before (unless you count the Elitebook 2740ps, which have built-in pen-based system), and I'm thinking that if I have a Wacom tablet plugged in at all times, I'll make more use of freehand drawing when editing images in Adobe Photoshop.
I should mention that my feeling as I was driving to and from the Tibetan Center was a very good one. It's the feeling I am shooting for every time I drink. It doesn't happen often and when it does, it only happens early in the drinking (before, that is, I am actually drunk). It's a feeling of contentment and mastery of my present situation. It's a feeling that tells me that my life is going right and I'm good at living it.

By the time Gretchen got home from Woodstock, the birthday celebration had been canceled for fear of what the weather was predicted to bring. So we stayed in and Gretchen made a big pot of delicious soup containing noodles, dumplings, broccoli, edamame, green beans, kale, and soft rice cakes.

It will surprise no one to learn I have a bunch of laptops in the laboratory. Today I began a slow (and probably doomed) effort to go through them and decide which are worth keeping as laptops and which are better stripped for parts or otherwise thrown on the salvage pile. The first I looked at is a ponderous Dell Inspiron 7000 from 1999 that my old buddy Josh Furr found in his job driving a garbage truck in Staunton, Virginia circa 2013 (that is, it was already considered worthless in a tech-unsavy part of America six years ago). It sports a Pentium II running at something like 300 MHz. Evidently I'd installed Windows XP on it, and it seemed to run great, though it has one terrible problem: a column of keys on its keyboard no longer works. This includes E, D, and C. Not that I would ever use this laptop as an actual laptop, but it not having a working keyboard is kind of a problem even for other uses. Still, maybe I could use it as the display in some sort of art project. Thinking this way is what keeps me from ever throwing laptops away. After all, even the biggest of laptops take up almost no room. Generally, though, my thinking is that any x86 machine having a Pentium IV or earlier processor is essentially worthless as a general-purpose computer. Pentium IVs are partiularly terrrible, since they use a lot of power to not do all that much thinking. I do have some fondness for a few older laptops, such as my Compaq N410c (featuring a 1.2 GHz Pentium III). That was my travel computer for a few years in the late '00s, and it still works great (though the left trackpad button is a bit unresponsive). There's also a Thinpad 2640 with a crappy old Pentium I from a time before USB ports. It's an early example of an ultraportable. The only thing I've ever done with it is play MP3s from a Linux command line, but the fact that it does so without complaint endears it to me somehow.

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