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:
   blinkenlights and high-end pizza
Saturday, May 11 2019
Marissa and David, Gretchen's friends from the Upper West Side, came to Woodstock with their two little kids yesterday evening and were staying at a hotel there (that is, not our basement, which has been incredibly moldy since last summer). Originally the plan had been to meet them for dinner last night, but by the time they'd arrived, it had been too late for that. Still, I'd mowed the lawn (for the first time this season) and would be doing some vaccuuming this morning. They'd traveled from the City by bus, which begged the question of how they would be getting around up here. This morning over coffee we learned the answer: they assumed Gretchen would be doing all the driving. So off Gretchen went to Woodstock, with me staying back to walk the dogs. I also took the opportunity to recharge the solar hydronic loop with two gallons of antifreeze (added from the top), since much of it had boiled off over the winter. As I was adding this, I neglected to notice a small leak from one of the solar panel's many boiler drains. Evidently I'd bumped against it while installing the glass panes the other day. Because it's $16/gallon, it's always bad to loose antifreeze in stupid ways like that. I think I lost about $4 of it that time. I also turned off the boiler for the season and switched the Arduino-based controller for the system into "summer mode," meaning the heating of potable water was prioritized. Happily, everything seemed to be working fine.

And then Gretchen arrived with our houseguests: two adults and two kids, that latter of whom had ridden without baby seats despite the fact that we're neither in Costa Rica nor 1976. The kids are actually pretty good for that age group. The girl isn't even three and she speaks in complete sentences, and the kid is obsessed with bugs, salamanders, and snakes. That latter interest had him overturning rocks in our yard, which was a little annoying. But he doesn't get to see a lot of interesting invertebrates on the Upper West Side. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and Gretchen took our guests (and the dogs) on a long walk in the forest while I tinkered with a Pimoroni Unicorn Hat attached to a Rasberry Pi Zero. It's a device that allows you to control an eight by eight grid of RGB LEDs with python and appeals to my fondness for blinkenlights (though I am not a fan of light pollution from LEDs that cannot be controlled, and frequently dab white paint over LEDs I'd rather not see).
Gretchen had slaved for a couple of days in the kitchen for an elaborate brunch that we ate out on the east deck. The food was waffles, homemade tempeh sausage, hashbrowns, pickled cauliflower, and berry-based sweet foods that didn't interest me. I successfully used the waffles as the substrate for a savory meal rich in tempeh sausage and that pickled cauliflower (with a zing of hot sauce). The sun was so bright that we had to raise up the umbrella, which had become habitat for sow bugs and other moisture-loving creatures. Everything was pleasant until the little two year old girl started dipping her grubby fingers in the Earth Balance faux butter to eat the stuff straight. That was disgusting in a few too many simultaneous ways.
Later Gretchen, Marissa, the little boy, and the dogs all went for another walk down the Farm Road while the little girl pecked at the keys of the piano, turning it mostly into a counting exercise (she could count to at least 40, though she pronounced "30" "Sirty"). She kept wanting to involve me in what she was doing, but all I would do was reply in a half-interested way, speaking as though I was talking to another adult. My whole thing with kids is to never talk down to them, and to (if anything) err on the side of bigger words. Eventually the little girl gave up on me and went out to the east deck to bother her father, who was trying to sleep.

Gretchen had another reading in Woodstock this evening, though I wouldn't be attending. I stayed back at the house with Ramona while Gretchen loaded Neville and all the guests into the Subaru and, after much fussing around, finally left. Departures are never fast when kids are involved.
At 6:50pm or so, I arrived in the Prius at the Woodstock Pizza Theatre (the high-end gourmet pizza place) with Ramona and all of use (except the dogs) had a nice dinner. I got my usual favorite, the vegan take on the Shrooms. It was good, but it was mostly just crust and could've used more toppings.
The little boy had just received a new book today, the Golden Guide to Reptilians and Amphibians, which he kept paging through and asking questions about. (I shuddered to watch him turn the pages, as he semi-crumpled each of them as he did so, suggesting he has no particular sense of the value of objects in his life.) He wanted to know what was the biggest snake I'd ever seen in the wild, and I said I thought it was probably an eight foot black snake. Periodically he would interrupt unrelated adult conversations to ask what people's favorite animal was. I said "giant squid," but that I was also partial to the now-extinct thylacine, which Marissa then looked up on her phone. Nobody ever knows about the thylacine, whose story is full of little lessons about the nature of the reality.

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