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

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Like my brownhouse:
   dialog between building and environment
Sunday, May 19 2019
Today was almost summery, with temperatures climbing up into the upper 70s. Things started off on a bad note when we were unloading the groceries we'd bought last night and the top came off of one of the containers of oil, flinging about a cup of it onto Gretchen, the dining room table, and one of the chairs (they're upholstered). Oil spills are no joke, even when they're of such a modest scale. Gretchen had to wash her hair and change into a different dress before heading to her Sunday bookstore gig. And, despite plenty of soap and lots of scrubbing, I couldn't get all the oil out of that chair.
Next I turned my attention to the front entryway, where one of my chores is to replace the 12 inch by 12 inch pink tiles with 6 inch by 6 inch dark green tile. Ordinarily, I would never replace perfectly good tile (not a single one of them is broken), but we're at the stage of our lives when we can afford to make our environment precisely how we want it to be, and according to Gretchen, that pink tile is ugly. I listened to various stupid YouTube channels as I used a powerful 1100 watt handheld jackhammer to blast away at the grout lines of the tile. It came loose fairly easily, and I didn't always have to break a tile up to remove it. Dismayingly, though, there was no Wonderboard beneath these tiles. They'd been installed directly on plywood. I didn't know that was an acceptable practice, but the evidence is in: that installation had been successful. In 25 years, none of the tiles had cracked or broken loose, and only a few of the grout lines had experienced any visible erosion. That alone suggests the new tile can go directly on the plywood as well, though I will want to research the matter further. In any case, there isn't enough vertical room to install a layer of Wonderboard; as things are now, the front door barely has room at its bottom to clear the floor.
Despite the fact that the old tile was coming up fairly easily, I soon began to feel unmotivated, and this sent me into a procrastinatory spiral that was great for me getting other chores done. The other day I'd noticed a slow leak in the junction between a PVC pipe and a PVC fitting below the upstairs bathroom sink. That fitting would normally be lost in a wall, but in the teevee room there's a built-in bench to protect the plumbing as it goes briefly horizontal and down, and from under there I could reach right into the wall. Perhaps the leak had begun as a result of all the pipe distortion necessary to install the medicine cabinet (though that had been in ABS pipe further upstream), but in any case, it probably could've been ignored. But I'd learned from experience that leaks from the seams between pipes and fittings can easily be fixed. All I had to do was cut a ring from an equal-sized fitting, cut the ring in half to make a C-shaped piece, cover that in PVC cement, and press it against the leaking seam. One has to be very unlucky for this not to work.

Another procrastinatory chore involved the kitchen, which was a complete mess. So I washed all the dishes and cleaned the counters. Then I did a load of laundry and even hung up the clothes to dry out on the line so as to take advantage of the beautiful weather. (Normally when I do laundry, it's in the evening and too late to take advantage of the sun, so I use the dryer.) I also did a few somewhat-procrastinated gardening tasks and then proceeded to dig a wide, shallow hole in the lawn just west of the subtle artificial ridge that diverts surface rainwater away from the house. This ridge was a bit low at that spot and needed to beefed up, and I thought a great way to do that would be to bury the broken tile from the entryway there. I love disposing of inert building materials on site instead of hauling them away. This seems more in keeping with the dialog that happens between a building and its environment. Those tiles spent 25 years in the entranceway, so they're part of this site now. It's best to keep them here, particularly if (by raising the level of a low spot in the lawn) they could serve a purpose.
When I returned to the task of jackhammering away the old tile, I was feeling significantly more motivated, and the chore seemed to pull me in and hold me until it was completed. I buried nearly all the broken tile in that hole in the lawn, stashing a few additional scraps under the dog house wherein I like to store pine needles. There were ten or so unbroken tile, so I made a stack of those behind the woodshed. I can see using them as masonry shims or smooth surfaces upon which to place outdoor wooden structures.
As always, I worked without gloves, and that was probably a bad idea when working with random shards of broken tile. Occasionally I reach to grab a piece only to slice open a fingertip on a razor-like edge. This caused me to bleed profusely on several occasions, and I'd have to tape up the injury in order to be able to continue.
By this evening, we'd collected a full tank of hot water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so I could justify a bath. This was good for cleaning up the cuts on my fingers and washing away some PVC glue from that PVC pipe fix I'd done earlier.

Later, after Gretchen came home, Ray contacted me and asked if I wanted to come over to join him and Nancy to watch the final episode of Game of Thrones. I was a bit sleepy, but this was the last episode. So I said I would. At the time the dogs were in the woods and/or field just west of the Farm Road barking at some mysterious creature while lightning from a powerful thunderstorm to the north periodically lit things up. I definitely didn't want to show up at Ray and Nancy's without the dogs; that would've broken poor Jack the Dog's heart. So I called for Ramona and Neville and, when they ignored me (as I knew they would), I drove the Prius a short way down the Farm Road, shouting as I did through the open windows. This was enough of a spectacle to draw Ramona out of the woods, and Neville soon followed.
As for tonight's last Game of Thrones episode, it had a bit more of a Hollywood ending than I'd expected, but that was probably for the best given all the dread it had put in my subconscious. Spoiler alert: the Starks ended up winning the game, and Arya Stark sailed off to be Christopher Columbus on a planet that might actually be flat (or hyperbolic). Happily, the one surviving dire wolf made it to the end, though with only one ear. (Jack the Dog barked energetically whenever the dire wolf appeared on screen.) The one surviving dragon also made it to the end, though (for a reptile), he seemed to take the loss of his mother pretty badly. Unfortunately, it took the final episode for me to dub the fierce red-headed wildling Tormund "Groundskeeper Willie." It would've been nice to have that shorthand name at the ready for a number episodes in the past.
After I got hack home, the dogs immediately ran into the forest to resume whatever I'd interruped several hours earlier. [REDACTED]

How and where I buried the entryway tiles.

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