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:
   fifty dollar sheets of styrofoam
Sunday, October 9 2022

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

When I looked out the window this morning, the cars' windows were fogged up as if by frost. Had we had the first frost of the season? So I went out and ran my fingers over whatever was doing the fogging. Sure enough, it was frost. I don't know that I've ever encountered it so early. But then again, I don't have much experience with autumn in the Adirondacks (or other, similarly cold places). The temperature must've only barely dipped to freezing, because a tomato plant on the upstairs deck didn't seem injured at all. (Tomatoes cannot survive freezing.)
The cabin has managed to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures through such temperature dips and even in the face of persistent cold winds. But I'd burned wood in the cabin's woodstove on both Thursday and Saturday nights and the loud extroverted women would be returning to the cabin on Monday night and would probably need to start the woodstove (though I was skeptical they'd be able to; nearly everyone lacking years of woodstove experience finds them impossible to start). So I thought I should add some beginner-friendly wood to the indoor wood rack (instead of leaving them to try to start the fat un-split pieces currently in the wood rack). So I went into the woods just west of the driveway a couple hundred feet from the cabin and found a dead bone-dry beech tree of maybe eight inches in diameter. It took a few cuts to get and down and and unhang it from another tree. But it ended up being a substantial amount of wood, not all of which I processed today. What I did process, I bucked into stove-length pieces and then split them mostly into beginner-friendly halves. Later, I also cut up some small branches from a fallen limb to provide the small pieces that are necessary to get a woodstove fire started.

Last winter's experience with the cabin basement's temperature gradually falling below freezing and frost forming on the foundation walls even when I was explicitly heating the basement space had me regretting not carrying through on a desire I'd had to put styrofoam panels on the outside of the foundation walls before they were backfilled. (By the time I visited the site, the backfilling had already happened.) I can still put styrofoam panels on the outside of the foundation walls, but this will require lots of digging, and I won't be able to dig as deep as I would've been able to go had the backfilling never happened. But if I can just dig down a foot or two and install styrofoam to that depth, that will insulate the foundation walls from the worst of the winter chill.
Today I thought I'd take advantage of having the Subaru Forester up at cabin to use it to fetch some styrofoam insulation. I loaded up the dogs and drove all the way to the Home Depot in Amsterdam to get four foot by eight foot panels of two inch styrofoam (each costing nearly $50). The plan was to strap them down to the roof rack, though I wasn't sure how best to do this. As a trial run, I bought three of those styrofoam panels, a piece of the cheapest quarter inch luan plywood ($20), and two cheap rough-cut one by eight planks ($9 each). When I loaded all this on the roof rack, I started with the two planks set to run along the front-to-back edges of the roof atop the two horizontal roof-rack rails that run side-to-side. Happily, those horizontal rails span nearly 48 inches, which allowed me to place the two planks in a position to fully support the sides of the bottom-most piece of styrofoam. To keep the tie-down straps from cutting into the top-most piece of styrofoam, I covered it with that piece of luan plywood. This assembly survived the 20 mile drive just fine, though the tie-down straps hummed at times, something I was able to somehow stop by opening the moon roof slightly. While I was in Amsterdam, I also got a few items from the Hannaford near the Home Depot: diphenhydramine, antacids, Burly Beard Stout (one for the road!), peanuts, and coffee.
When I'd driven to Amsterdam, Gretchen had ridden with me all the way out to Route 309 with the intention of hiking back to the cabin. So I was little concerned when I returned to the cabin and found nobody there. Had Gretchen gone to the lake? It was a blustery cold day, but there had been some nice sunny moments, so maybe she had. I decided to hike down there and find out. On the way down, I came upon Gretchen hiking back to the cabin. Sure enough, she'd been down at the lake with a book but accidentally left it there, and she'd just gone and retrieved it. She said it actually had been nice at the dock for a time, but then the clouds rolled in and the bulldozer noises from Pyotr's site-clearing got to her and she'd to head back to the cabin (only to realize she'd somehow left her book at the dock). I continued down to the dock on my own, but there wasn't much to do there except take off my pants so I could wade in the shallows and add more rocks to the ice barricade I described working on yesterday.

We left the cabin earlier than usual, a little after 4:00pm. Since we both had vehicles, we had to convoy. I did a good job of following Gretchen closely all the way to our next destination, an Indian restaurant in Albany called the Dosa Grill that Gretchen had learned about from a friend in Woodstock. We arrived at around 5:00pm and were the first customers in the dining room. The menu wasn't all that exciting for me, as one can tell given that I ended up ordering the chana masala. But I ordered it "very spicy," and it ended up being so spicy that I had to take most of it to go. We also had lentil soup (they didn't have mulligatawny), which was very brothy and had almost no flavor. And it took three attempts at ordering before someone finally got me my glass of pinot noir (it was exceptional!). But Gretchen said her dosa was much better than the one she'd had last weekend at Sitar Palace. Among the things we discussed over dinner was my "allergy" to our guests from a few days ago (my excuse: "I couldn't handle the energy of four extroverted women.") and Gretchen's desire to get me to go to another Brandi Carlile show for which she'd bought four fucking tickets. (I liked Brandi Carlile at Sound on Sound, but if I'm immediately dragged somewhere to see her again I will probably start hating her. Appreciation of art is a delicate thing, and it's presumptuous to assume someone is a super-fan just because he or she enjoyed a performance.)
From Albany, I was able to continue following Gretchen even after darkness fell; the Chevy Bolt has very distinctive rear lights that I could make out from quite far away on the few occasions we got separated.

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