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:
   $5 telescope
Friday, March 8 2019
I arrived very early at work today, before 8:00am, and had to unlock the door to get in. I then turned my attention to figuring out why Microsoft SQL Server was automatically casting a varchar as a date. It wouldn't've surprised me to learn that there is some setting buried in some menu that automatically did this for any varchar that looked to contain date content. Had this been MySQL, I would've known what configuration file to search for this setting, and it would've been a text file I could use an automatic search to look through instead of depending on my eyes. This is where graphical user interfaces (GUIs), though convenient for things that are more visual than textual, allow errors to creep in where they would not otherwise appear. I could browse through settings until I found the right one, but menus are by their very nature non-linear and cannot be systematically gone through the way a text file of settings can be. I was so deperate for an answer that I asked yet another question on But it was by asking my colleagues that I found an answer to my question. It turned out there were two columns, one named RmdrNotcDueDate2 and another named RmdrNotchDueDate2. Note that one contains an "h" in the middle and the other does not. And one of those is a varchar and the other is a datetime. Browsing the names of columns in Query Analyzer (where they are not alphabetized), it's easy to see RmdrNotcDueDate2 and think you've found RmdrNotchDueDate2, and then to think it's supposed to be a varchar when in the one you're actually querying for is a datetime, and then you wonder why SQL Server is casting it to be that. Had I not been using a GUI, none of these problems would've happened. I wouldn't've been browsing an unsearchable list of columns, I would've been searching some text file with the precise name of the column in question, having copied it from somewhere else, and I would've found my answer in seconds. But because I was using a GUI, with all its inherent handicaps as well as advantages, I wasted several hours of my life.
At around lunch, I drove to downtown Red Hook and visited the Grog Shop to get provisions for the laboratory liquor cabinet. These consisted of a big half-gallon bottle of Gary's Good Vodka (only $12.99) and a litre of something called Henry McKenna Bourbon ($14.99). I would've gotten gin, but they didn't have any half gallons of the cheap stuff. I then visited a little mom & pop car parts place south of the village called Carquest and bought a replacement for the 12 volt battery in the Prius, which came to $250 after taxes and core deposit. Having had to jumpstart the Prius again this morning (with no identifiable drain on the battery), I'd decided it must have gone bad (as all car batteries seem to do every two or three years). The battery in the Prius had actually outperformed all our previous car batteries; we'd bought the car in late 2014 and this was the first time I'd ever replaced its battery.
As the workday wound down, I switched to kratom tea, which seemed to mostly help with the work I was doing. I'd discovered a pocket of unmigrated Python code that I now needed to migrate, and it was the kind of busywork I could do while listening to (and even watching) YouTube videos.
On the drive home, I further rewarded myself with a week well done by drinking a Little Sumpin' Sumpin' I'd prepared this morning as a road beer. I also diverted from my usual route home to swing by the Tibetan Center thrift store. I arrived just before 5:00pm, as Rob (the main guy there) was closing up. It seems they'd just reduced their hours of operation by an hour "until further notice." Out in front, where monitors and laptops frequently sit buried in snow was a somewhat-rusted reflector telescope (complete with tripod). It was an Orion SpaceProbe 3. I did some instant internet research and learned it was a good beginner's scope, which was good enough for me, particularly since I'm mostly just interested in increasing my stockpile of optical components. When Rob said I could have it for $5 (and, when I had no cash, I could pay him later) I threw in the Prius, never actually going inside the store. On the drive home, I again felt that good feeling I sometimes feel after one or two drinks. This feeling was probably augmented by the kratom tea I'd drunk earlier.
Back at the house, I fixed myself a drink and watched more YouTube, mostly retro-computer content and anything new I could find about the latest Chris Watts prison interview. He's now presenting himself as a Christian, though the Bible doesn't seem to have provided much of a morality upgrade. Now when he thinks back on the minutes he spent strangling the life out of his wife, he imagines her thinking, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." It's something he remembers reading in the Bible. It's a good example of how useless the Bible (or any one book) is as a guide to morality.
At some point in all this, Dan piped up on the Animal Activism Slack to ask if anyone wanted to do a "spontaneous happy hour." And so the usual gang of four jumped on: Allison and me to start, then Dan, and then Cameron. Today was Nicole's last day at Mercy For Animals, and (in keeping with the horrible HR habits of that place), her departure went as unheralded as possible, even though her three and a half years of working there had run her down to the point where she had no choice but to quit. The funniest moment in the happy hour was when Cameron correctly determined that I was secretly pissing in a can (because I didn't want to get up).
I should mention that I'd taken 100 mg of diphenhydramine before this impromptu happy hour began, and this caused increasing problems with coordination as time passed. At one point I set my screwdriver (the drink, not the tool) down on the surface next to my keyboard, but, since it just happened to be cantilevered too far over the edge, it immediately fell onto the floor, where it made a mess (but failed to destroy anything).

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