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:
   we apparently haven't had insurance
Friday, September 22 2023

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

Gretchen went to refill her prescriptions today and found that our health insurance was non-existent, meaning that the talk about my former employer paying for our COBRA for a few months never actually happened. Our insurance had ended August 1st, and we haven't been covered since. It's good, then, that we've somehow avoided any medical emergencies in that time. Gretchen asked me to email my contacts at my former employer to ascertain whether or not money had been taken from my severance payment for insurance that was never provided. I sent the email, though I was pretty sure the answer was no. It looks like Gretchen will be forced to sign us up for Obamacare sooner than expected, and then we'll have the headache of figuring out what we can and cannot do with it and changing everything. This is one of the many hassles that Europeans don't have to deal with because they weren't as concerned about ending up in a hospital with a black people. (The absurdity being that, despite all this, now in the United States white people end up in hospitals with black people anyway.)

After drinking my coffee and getting my day underway, I beagn a jihad to clean up around the cabin, putting away all the tools and bits of lumber I'd been using to first insulate the cabin's foundation wall and then clad it in cement board. Much of this stuff was dusted with sand that I didn't want to bring into the basement, so I hosed it off and stacked it up before putting it away in the basement. I also gathered up all the pebbles and cobblestones that I'd found in the sand which digging and shoveling it and put them in a pile near the propane tank so I can use them as a "library" when building things like the stone wall atop the retaining wall along the north edge of the building site.
There was a minor setback when I was tinkering under the decks along the east foundation wall, removing bits of lumber that had been holding the Wonderboard in place. Suddenly one of the sheets of Wonderboard let go and flopped over, and when I looked at the glue that was supposed to have held it (Liquid Nails Heavy Duty) I found that it wasn't completely dry even after seven days (I'd glued it in place last Friday). Unlike the other sheets of cement board I'd installed recently, on the two sheets at the south end of the east foundation wall, I hadn't used any Gorilla Glue to form a quick bond to hold them while the Liquid Nails dried, and evidently that had been a mistake. So I put the sheet back in place, this time with plenty of Gorilla Glue.

At some point I used fibreglass mesh tape to cover the top six or so inches of the exposed styrofoam on the outside of the basement entrance bulkhead and then mixed up an enormous amount of portland cement and troweled it over the tape, creating a thin layer of stucco. Essentially what I was doing was creating my own Wonderboard, though, at only 0.1 inches (or less) thick, it was much thinner and more fragile. In this application, though, using actual Wonderboard wouldn't've worked very well because of how thick it is. There would a rough skyward edge on the outside of the wooden frame at the top of the bulkhead, and I don't think that would weather very well. The experience I had building the greenhouse showed me that such thin veneers of portland cement, especially if embedded with mesh tape, hold up very well. And if they do fail, they're easy to fix.
Even before this veneer of portland cement had set, I began backfilling the trench around the bulkhead, burying some of the portland cement in the process. I then reshaped the terrain in the vicinity of the Bilco doors to make it more to my liking. This involved building up a mound north of the bulkhead so that the steps leading to the basement aren't blocked by a concrete wall that I have to step over. I'd heaped up a lot of sandy fill for this purpose just north of the entrance bulkhead, but I ended up needing even more sand to complete my vision. Fortunately, there is lots of extra sand under the decks above the east foundation wall, since my vision for that space is that the terrain end up with a surface elevation lower than the builders had made it, giving me more headroom under the decks for more storage.
Once I had the landscape I wanted near the entrance bulkhead, I then built a path of bluestone connecting the top of the mound to the flagstone path west of the cabin that leads to the beginning of the path down to the dock. Usually my flagstone paths are either completely flat or they have steps, but this one I built on a slope to facilitate using wheeled moving tools such as handtrucks.

Down in the basement, I kept noticing deer mice running around. I'd bought some live-capture traps to deal with this problem, but had forgot to bring them from Hurley. I was trying to figure out what it was they were coming into the basement to do. I saw one of them expertly climb up through the copper pipes and disappear into a quarter-size hole at the bottom of the boiler. So I opened it up to see what was in there. But all I could find was some mouse turds. Maybe they were just going in there because it was warm (since, even when the boiler is off, it is heated somewhat by water from the heatpump-based hot water heater). I then blocked that hole with a spiral piece of wire.
There are a couple glass-topped desks that I'd salvaged from the old SCA office in Red Hook, and I'd assumed anything on them was unreachable by mice, since their glass-tops cantilever out over the slick metal framework of their legs in all directions. But then I notice mouse turds on top of these desks next to some bird seed I'd stored there. Were the mice strategically dropping down onto this table from the ceiling?
By this point Gretchen had told me she was coming up tomorrow, so I sent her a message telling her to bring the various mouse traps I'd forgotten. Since I hadn't wanted to trouble Gretchen with the news about the mouse infestation at all, I also had to explain how it was that mice were in our basement to begin with.

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