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:
   sometimes it's easier to fix something than to return it
Tuesday, December 27 2022
I have an upcoming need for a valid passport, and the other day I happened to see our passports out for something Gretchen was doing. It occurred to me at the time that I should check them to make sure neither are expiring soon. And, sure enough, my passport was due to expire on January 17th. Ten years before that date, my passport was renewed after a fiasco that caused us to postpone a planned trip to the Dominican Republic. Had I not checked the passport the other day, it's possible that experience would've echoed ten years later. But this time I caught the situation soon enough to do something about it. Late this morning, I began carefully filling out the forms necessary to renew my passport. Naturally, of course, I had to start over a number of times because of various errors (giving my mother's birthplace as Keene, NY instead of Keene, NH, for example). And when that was all done, I drove into Kingston and went to the post office on Cornell Street in Midtown. Gretchen had warned me that this post office tends to be dysfunctional, but that was probably from an incident years ago back when Kingston was more of a downtrodden rust-belt city. There was a specific line for passports, though it was a slow one. There was a young woman in front of me in the passport line, and she was spending all her time filling out forms. But then she had her photo taken, and while she was filling out more forms, the woman running the line called me up. But then it turned out that I'd filled out the wrong form; there's a different one for passport renewal than for getting one after not having had one, and I'd filled out the wrong one. I'd clicked a link on a government website that had taken me to that form, which pissed me off. But being angry wasn't going to solve any problem. So I stepped out of line to fill out the proper form, somehow avoiding making any errors. When I next went through the line, the clerk was happy with what she saw and took me to a side room to take my photograph. The rule for such photographs is no glasses and no teeth. So I took my glasses off and kept my mouth closed. I then told the clerk about the last time I'd needed to get my passport renewed and how it meant my wife and I went "to the Adirondacks in the winter" instead of the Dominican Republic. All the fees for all the services (including expediting the processing of my renewal) came to a little over $200, which had to be paid by cash or debit card. (If I'd brought a checkbook, I could've paid that way, but since I didn't I had to buy a money order.)
While in town, I drove out to the Home Depot to buy a gallon of hydronic antifreeze (which was $34, twice what that used to cost) and a soldering iron with a chisel-shaped tip. This was because all my soldering irons were pretty much trash, even ones I'd purchased fairly recently.
This evening Gretchen made a kind of Middle Eastern meal consisting of Isræli couscous with a side of chickpeas and some faux chicken nuggets, all with a tahini-based sauce containing lots of garlic. It wasn't really my sort of thing (particularly the broccoli, which had been a bit overcooked in our new toaster oven), but I ate it and mumbled some good things about it.
Later I took a nice hot bath.

In the mail today came a soldering iron I'd bought on eBay some some time ago. It was a modest 40 watt device with a very thin tip, which I thought might be useful for repairing the solder bridges I'd accidentally inflicted on my second PiTop. Now I had everything I needed to fix those solder bridges. But when I plugged in the eBay soldering iron, it never heated up, suggesting a break in its very simple circuitry. Sure enough, when I put it on a Kill-a-Watt, it drew zero watts. So I immediately began the process of returning it to the seller. But when it turned out that I would have to pay to ship it back, it seemed like it would be easier just to fix it than to have to box it up and pay to ship it. So I opened it up and quickly found the break in its wiring, which was between one of the two wires of its heating coil and one of the wires to the 120v plug. Unfortunately, the heating element wire was made of some metal that cannot be soldered (stainless steel perhaps?). But I was able to simply wrap that broken end tightly with a piece of thin copper wire and then solder the other end of that wire to the power cord. I then wrapped it all in electrical tape. That might not've been the best idea, since the heat from that heating element wire is likely produced along its entire length. And there was some smoking from the iron when it finally powered up. But that iron and its tiny tip were too small to impart the heat necessary into a piece of copper braid, which I was using to soak up the solder bridges through a generous puddle of rosen flux. But when I switched to using the chisel-tipped 60 watt soldering iron I'd bought at Home Depot, I fixed all the solder bridges in about a minute of work. I may have also slightly mangled the connector whose pins those bridges had been across, but hopefully it will continue to accept its mate.

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