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:
   a framework for more effective socializing
Saturday, June 26 2021
The panagram for the Saturday New York Times Spelling Bee was "trackway" (with "r" in the middle), which didn't seem like a legitimate-enough word for a panagram. We ended up figuring out all but one of the words [with "cracky" eluding us until tomorrow].
I'm still in the habit of getting all my mass-market digital artifacts, including movies, music, and software, using Bittorrent. I always scan such software with Clam Antivirus before attempting to use it, and often I discover that software I want to use (in this case VNC Enterprise) tests positive for malware (in this case WM.Malware.Agen-6997369-0). But I get the feeling that these positives are for software used to patch programs, and that they're harmless except for those worried about piracy. With this in mind, today I decided to build a special low-spec computer for use when running such software on the chance that it really could be malware. The plan is to have a computer with no network access and to carry suspect software to it on removable media such as thumb drives. Once the software has been patched or whatever, I can then carry it from that testing computer and scan it for viruses. The computer I decided to set up for such testing is my old MSI U123 laptop, which I bought new back in 2010 and which has gone mostly unused since 2012. Today I was able to upgrade the U123's memory from one to two GB of DDR2 and disconnect and remove the WiFi card, but I ran into problems trying to install an older Windows OS on it, because its CPU (an Intel Atom N270) is 32 bit and not 64 bit.
At some point Gretchen came into the laboratory, horrified to report that Neville had a live woodchuck by the neck outside her screened-in porch. I knew there was nothing that could be done, since it doesn't take long for a dog to a kill a woodchuck. But there's also the fact that Neville fiercly guards anything like a dead or dying woodchuck. Happily, Gretchen only gave me one more report before the woodchuck was dead. She then tried to keep Neville from bringing the corpse into the house, but that was impossible. Fearing that a mark on Neville's face might be an injury severe enough to take him to the vet, we used the two-broom method to get the woodchuck away from Neville so I could take it hundreds of feet into the forest west of the Farm Road and put it on a rock for the vultures to find (that rock wasn't big, so coyotes or even Neville could theoretically find it). I was surprised how heavy the woodchuck was; it weighed about as much as a large cat. As for the mark on Neville's face, it turned out to be pine sap or something similar.

This evening Gretchen had plans to visit her college friend Lisa P. to test-play a new card game designed by EP, a somewhat famous psychologist friend. Powerful would also be there, but before that Gretchen and I would be going out for dinner. Initially the plan was to go to the Bear Cantina (the new Mexican restaurant in the site of the old Bear restaurant in Bearsville). But as we approached Woodstock, Gretchen announced that she had a hankering for mulligatawny soup. I could be in the mood for Indian food as well, so we ended up at Mountain Gate. That place is strange and we can't figure out it has stayed operational for so long. We arrived a little after 6:00pm and there were no diners at all. A sign said they preferred cash, so I set off on foot to get some from the ATM at our bank, the Mid Hudson Valley Credit Union. I hadn't reckoned for how far away that was, and it took awhile to walk over there. And then I was delayed by accidentally thinking my health savings account debit card was my MHVCU card. On the walk back, I thought I'd stop in the Cumberland Farms to get some beer. I just wanted one beer, but the only single beers one can get in there are the kind marketed to young urban men and 14 year old girls. So I had to buy a four pack of 16 ounce Ithaca Flower Power IPAs. The line took forever, of course, because multiple people in front of me wanted stupid lottery tickets, which always take a long time to sell for some reason. The drunk guy waiting in line in front of me seemed to know everyone who came into the store. Fortunately, he only wanted smokes in addition to his beer. Somehow he'd figured out that lottery tickets are a bad investment.
Meanwhile back at Mountain Gate, the skinny young waiter had eventually managed to produce two bowls of mulligatawny. Gretchen wasn't impressed with his waiting skills, suggesting to me that in a labor shortage (as exists now) one has to expect shoddier service, as many of the old competent servers have quit work entirely or have better jobs. Gretchen had ordered my vegetable vindaloo "extra spicy," and it didn't disappoint. As for Gretchen, she ended up just having two bowls of mulligatawny with a bunch of rice. As for drinks, I had one of my Flower Powers, since Mountain Gate doesn't have a liquor license.

Over at Lisa P.'s house, nine of us gathered in the living room (we were all maskless, since we were presumably vaccinated) while the psychologist EP prepared the game she'd developed. For snacks and such, Gretchen had made a banana bread. For drinks, I stuck to red wine.
EP told us she'd developed her card game during the long isolated months of the pandemic, and part of the hope for its release is that it will prepare people to socialize again. The game is basically a framework for personal story telling. Everyone starts with seven cards and then one person in the group is selected to be the story teller. The other players each give that player one card, which are all displayed face-up. The story teller also selects one modifier card (such as "embarrassing," "shocking," or (perhaps) "exciting." The other players all have access to "tokens" (which look like antacids) which they can place on the story teller's cards to help force them to choose that card. The story teller then has to act on the card(s) with the most number of tokens, free to pick whichever of those with equal number of the most tokens they want. And then they tell their story based on that card with the modifier card. The position of the story teller when clockwise around our circle, with Powerful telling a story about having to hide his intelligence in prison and me having difficulty coming up with "something I want that I haven't asked for" modified with the "shocking" card. I hemmed and hawed and then I realized what it was: "I want my mother to die," I said matter-of-factly. EP was delighted, and though some might've been initially shocked by this revelation, people understood what I meant when I explained my mother's current situation. Somewhat surprisingly, I thought the game was fun, as it made a framework for more effective socializing that something like Cards Against Humanity. It took the eight of us (EP wasn't playing) two hours to play a single round, and after that I left with Powerful so Gretchen could stay and talk with EP.

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