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:
   breading and frying marginal old tofu
Wednesday, April 17 2024
This morning when Oscar tried to wake us up at 5:45 for his first lump of the day, I carried him into the laboratory and ignored him until about 8:00am, something my sleeping capabilities allow me to do (but which Gretchen's do not for her). I had a dream during those couple hours of being back at my childhood home, feuding with our old nemesis Bobby Shipe, the neighbor who decided to open an auto body repair shop across the street from us in the late 1970s. (He died in 2002 and my parents bought his "Creekside" property in 2007. His old trailer is now the cluttered primary residence of my brother Don.) Such dreams that put me back in my childhood frequently are informed by the person the person I am now. For example, when Bobby Shipe was doing something that needed to be photographs, I was ready with the nice Nikon camera I'd bought around New Years 2017, the one that allows me to zoom up into birds' faces.

As it has been for the past few days, we had sunny spring conditions this morning. When Gretchen went out the car to leave for her Wednesday shift at the bookstore, Neville was in the driveway and Charlotte was nowhere to be seen. So Gretchen quietly urged Neville to get in the car and she took him to work, just like in the old days. (She'd once tried to do this when Charlotte was around, and she made such a fuss that she had to abort the plan.) Later when Charlotte returned from whatever she'd been doing, she kept looking for Neville and eventually settled into a funk, sometimes lying in the bed by herself or next to Diane the Cat on the laboratory beanbag. She acted as if there had been a death in the family. I'd planned to go over to Ray's house and do more work on the minisplit, but there was no way I would be leaving Charlotte alone. And it was doubtful she'd get in the car without Neville, and even if she did, I feared she'd do something weird at Ray and Nancy's place. So instead I worked on building a local remote control for my cabin remote control system.
As I mentioned earlier, I have an Adafruit MagTag, small ESP32-powered device with a few buttons, lights, and an eInk display. I'd decided to program it in CircuitPython, the language it was designed for. But once I started tinkering with the code, I found the Adafruit documentation (which, on the surface, looks comprehensive) inadequate. Nowhere, for example, is the MagTag class comprehensively documented. I couldn't find any detailed description of how to use magtag.add_text(); all I could find was examples. And these were maddening because they didn't actually set the content of the text. One had to use magtag.set_text() for that. But what if you had multiple blocks of text on the eInk display and needed to channel text to them separately? How do you connect an add_text to a set_text? At some point I found that set_text takes a second parameter, an index to a text location created by add_text, but there is no way to set that index from the add_text side, so you have to keep track of these indexes on your own. Despite these headaches (and, again, ChatGPT's suggestions were garbage), I managed to actually build a little "form" containing the name of the contoller device and a list of the things it controlled based only on the JSON produced by an ESP8266-based controller. Once I tried to add interactions with this form using the MagTag's buttons, though, I soon had a mess on my hands, because add_text and set_text aren't really designed to make small reversible changes to an existing eInk display. Instead I would need to something more like adafruit_display_text, a completely different display library that also works on the MagTag. But I could also see that eInk might actually be a terrible technology for a control panel. Even if you consolidate all the changes to the screen into one update (which is essential), the updates take a little over a second, and that's an eternity when you're waiting for a cursor to move from one line to the next. I might end up having to use twenty by four line LCDs, the tech I use for a surprisingly-nice local data editor on my Solar Controller.

It being Wednesday, I needed to come up with something to make for dinner. I develop performance anxiety about this sort of thing, an anxiety that typically has me making the same two or three things over and over. We had a large block of bulk SoyBoy tofu Gretchen had bought a couple weeks ago at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, and Gretchen had said it was paramount that I use it up. I'd cut a hunk out of it earlier today and could tell it was already starting to turn. Its surface had become somewhat slimy and there was a faint sweet odor that tofu doesn't normally have. I ate that hunk anyway, and the tofu inside seemed to be good. So I'd decided to clean the big hunk of tofu by trimming away a thin section from all six surfaces, cut the remainder into slices, and then marinade them in garlic and soy sauce. This evening I found a recipe for a breading mix, which I modified by adding nutritional yeast and paprika, and proceeded to bread and fry all those marinaded slices of tofu. Frying breaded objects in a half inch of oil is a decidedly frightening process, one that had me wondering the whole time if I really should be doing it. I was also worried what Gretchen might say about the nutritional value of what I was making. But the batter-fried tofu ended up working pretty well. I also fried up a pan of mushrooms and onions and a separate pan of spinach and garlic. As for carbohydrates, I made two cups of white rice.
When Gretchen got home, I was back working on Gretchen's computer, trying my best to figure out how to make it go to sleep and stay asleep. Charlotte lost her mind when she heard Gretchen's arrival, though at first she seemed to only know that just Gretchen had returned. This alone turned her into a wiggling bundle of excitement. But then she saw Neville, and holy shit, I don't think I've ever seen a dog happier than Charlotte became in that instant. Gretchen said Neville had had a great day and met a lot of dogs (including one she stopped along Dug Hill Road and let him out to meet). He's such a good boy that when he works at the bookstore, Gretchen can just leave the store's door wide open.
Happily, Gretchen was genuinely delighted by my dinner effort and declared my batter-fried tofu "delicious."
After dinner and Jeopardy!, I returned to Gretchen's computer. I'd tried all sorts of software-only tricks involving the command powercfg, including using the promising /requestsoverride parameter. I tried swapping in a new video card (that didn't work) and disabling devices from the Device Manager. Ultimately what seemed to work (though only time will tell) was disabling USB 3.0 support in the BIOS settings. I probably worked on this problem for something like two hours. Again, this has me wondering: what do normal non-computer-professionals do?

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