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:
   carrying Neville through a swamp
Sunday, November 5 2023

location: 940 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

Last night at about midnight our SolArk inverter had decided to turn off power to the cabin when the battery still had a 31% charge. It was throwing a #56 DC_Fault error, which meant (I think) that there was too little power in the battery. But 31% is a large fraction of its capacity, so both Gretchen and I were confused. The power eventually came on this morning, but it was pretty late in the morning when it did so. I tried tinkering with some of the SolArk parameters, but it didn't respond the way I expected to.
After I'd had my coffee, Gretchen and I had solved nearly all of the day's Spelling Bee, and I'd exhausted what I could of my usual web haunts (ending with my reading of a terrifying poll showing Joe Biden losing to Donald Trump in a bunch of swing states), I grabbed a rake and began piling more leaves against the now-brown foundation wall, concealing the little grey line along the bottom where we'd stopped painting so as not to drag a wet paint brush through the dirt.
Next I set up the radio outside to play WFNY, the weird Gloversville oldies station I listen to. This weekend for some reason they were interspersing their usual oldies with short clips that included "God Bless America," "Taps," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." While listening to that, I processed the rest of the dead white ash that had fallen behind the propane tank. Gretchen then stacked up the pieces, adding to a wall of firewood that was now nearly complete in blocking our view of the propane tank. There was something addictive about adding to that wall, so I went out in multiple forays (mostly into the woods several hundred feet southwest of the cabin) to gather more wood. One of the pieces I found was of some white ash that was so dry and hollowed-out by fungal rot that it was as light as balsa wood. By then the indoor firewood rack wasn't quite full, so I added to that as well.
While I was out doing that, I found some nice piece of granite that I then used to further build up (and add a proper top) to the retaining wall northwest of the cabin.
I'm very negligent when it comes to oiling the bar of my 18v Ryobi chainsaw (which is not the brushless model). But today I oiled it thoroughly and found it cut noticeably better afterwards. It's now also clear that the cutting chain doesn't dull as quickly as chains dull when cutting the oak-rich firewoods of the Catskill foothills. This suggests that the wood I cut in the Adirondacks (mostly beech, sugar & red maple, and white ash) are less abrasive. But it might just be that the contaminating soil in the Adirondacks contains less abrasives (because it is comprised of decomposed granite instead of decomposed bluestone and shale).
Later in the day, Gretchen and I gradually started cleaning up and also deciding what food items we should take back to Hurley, since we'll be winding down our use of the cabin soon as the weather grows colder and snowier.
We began our drive homeward before 4:00pm (Eastern Standard Time, which I'd been led to believe was no longer a thing) taking the scenic route through Newburgh. The DC_Fault errors had prevented us from putting any more than 130 miles of range into the Bolt, so I was extremely conservative about running the heat or even the defrost as we drove. I was able to drive even with the windshield fairly fogged up, only running the defrost briefly every 20 miles or so. By doing this, we were able to drive all the way to Woodstock using only 80 miles of range.
We drove directly to Woodstock because Gretchen had arranged for us have dinner with one of her newer friends Lynne and her husband Greg (she'd met Lynne through the bookstore). Part of what we wanted to do was introduce Charlotte to other people in our lives, particularly the staff at the Garden Café. We were a little concerned that Charlotte's neuroses would make her a basket case in a crowded restaurant, but she was actually well behaved, at least once she'd settled down. She was genuine friendly with a bunch of strangers, some of whom were men, which I would've expected. As for misbehavior, most of that was done by Neville, who started chewing one the baseboards near where he was lying. (For some reason Charlotte has made him more of a chewer of late.) Later in the meal, Charlotte barked her incredibly irritating coyote-like shriek at something she saw through the window, which as annoying, though Gretchen managed to get her to stop. Everybody seemed to think Charlotte was a winner, even Lynne (who claims to be allergic to dogs).
Over dinner, we talked about a number of topics, including a problem at Lynne & Greg's house where part of a concrete porch slab had settled at a different rate, leading to a 1.5 inch level disconuity between adjacent parts of the slab across a crack. They wanted my opinion on the matter, and initially I thought they should jackhammer it all up and replace it with bluestone set in sand.
Later they made suggestions for things we should see on an uncoming trip to Portugal. And then when it came up that my dead father had just had his 100th birthday, Greg, who is only four years older than me, said his dead father had just had his 105th birthday and that he had lived to be 99. Then he told us the crazy story of how he'd served as Jewish soldier in the Polish army, escaped into Russia, ended up in Taskent, Uzbekistan, and then somehow become a dentist in the United States. This led me to telling the story of my father's adventures doing such things as quelling race riots while serving in the military police during World War II. Then I ended up detailing my mother's side of the family, how a blue-blooded WASPy woman married a famous marathon runner from a poor family and gave birth to five children (one of whom died in childhood) who were all, I think, in various awkward places on the autism spectrum. I also talked about how my father's mother had been in mental institutions before marrying a widower with a bunch of children, a man who then died in a fire soon after fathering a child with her. This, I explained, threw my grandmother into poverty and led to my father being partially raised by her brothers.
Later in the meal, Gretchen, Lynne, and Greg (all of whom are Jewish) discussed the current situation in Isræl, mostly from a liberal Jewish perspective (that is, they all have sympathies for the Palestinians and consider Netanyahu a Trumpian authoritarian). It's a terrible situation, but I had nothing really to add, so I just sat there silently, feeling bored. I'd followed my Abbey Ale with a cup of black coffee, but that was gone too. (The vegan BLT and potato-kale soup I'd ordered had both been surprisingly good.)
On the way home, Gretchen and I stopped at Lynne & Greg's house on Hill 99 Road so I could look at their weirdly-settle porch slab. Once I'd seen it, I'd decided it was probably done settling and that they should just have the high parts shaved off and maybe cover it with tile. While they were showing us a little cottage in the back, Charlotte and Neville went off into the nearby woods to snort around. Charlotte came back fairly quickly when we called for them, but not Neville. This forced me to go get him, using Lynne's iPhone as a flashlight and walking into a thorny, bushy, increasing swampy wasteland in the back. I could hear Neville walking back there and wasn't sure if perhaps what I was hearing was tame deer leisurely walking away from me. I kept hollering with increased franticness as Neville seemed to be walking away from me. But finally I saw him and, not bothering to try to have him follow me, I snatched him up in my arms and carried him back to where we'd parked the Bolt in front of Lynne & Greg's house. I managed to step (in my Crocs!) into deep puddles several times on the way, making me completely miserable by the time I'd carried Neville back to the car.
Back at the house, somehow (despite having just shat in Woodstock) Charlotte managed to shit yet again behind the woodstove, casting into doubt all the progress we'd felt we'd made with her over the weekend (she hadn't shat or pissed in the cabin even once, and she hadn't vomited in the car on the drive home).

Neville and Charlotte in the cabin with our full indoor wood rack. Click to enlarge.

The outdoor woodpile, concealing most of the propane tank. Click to enlarge.

The southwest corner of the cabin once the painting was all done and the leaves piled up to conceal the unpainted line along the bottom. By zooming in you can see the tiny holes that were so difficult to paint in the Durock. Notice that I've thrown the stalks of various summer plants on top of the leaves to keep them from blowing away. Click to enlarge.

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