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:
   flowing solar data
Wednesday, May 1 2024
Late this morning I had what I thought was a couple small landlording chores over at the 1R apartment in the brick mansion on Downs Street, where a new tenant (supposedly one with both a rescue chicken and a rescue dog) would be moving in. On the drive over, I stopped at Herzogs and bought all three kits they had of locking bushings for lamps, since a lamp in the bathroom was missing such a bushing. That proved to be an easy fix, but the leaking cold water faucet in the bathroom was a different matter. I removed the handle to find that underneath it was a nut that others had destroyed trying to remove, as it was frozen in place by some unholy marriage of corrosion and mineral deposits. The leak was pretty small and I could've just left it, but then I would've had to have a conversation with Gretchen in which I would've admitted that I hadn't fixed it, she would've wanted to know why, and then she'd second-guess my thinking while knowing nothing at all about plumbing. So I drove back to Herzog's, bought a $60 faucet set similar to the one I was replacing (with a four-inch spacing between the handles), and returned to Downs Street. What followed was one several kinds of unpleasantness that keeps people out of the plumbing trade. I was on my back under the sink with water from one of the hoses dripping on me (the shutoff valve couldn't be completely closed of course) trying to find the space needed in the narrow space behind the sink bowl to get a wrench to remove the corroded-on bushings keeping the old faucet attached to the sink. As I was finishing up the installation, the new tenant appeared with her boxes of stuff (and perhaps her pet chicken as well).

At noon back in Hurley, a pair of local roofers came over in a huge shiny red pickup truck to have a look at our roof, which is about thirty years old and needs to be replaced. I was already put off by the truck, which suggested poor financial decisionmaking, gouged customers, not much work experience, or a combination of all three. (I'd prefer my roofer to drive a beat up old pickup.) The guys looked at the roof and made some groaning noises and then admitted that they were just a team of two and that our roof would require a much bigger team than that.

With all that out of the way, I could finally work on the thing I'd been itching to work on since I woke up this morning: piping data from the cabin's SolArk inverter into my client-server-microcontroller-local-control-panel remote control system. First, though, I wanted to use a different library than Guzzle, which was what ChatGPT got me to use. Guzzle works fine, but I like the relatively few dependencies that my system has. Modern software often is built on towering stacks of dependencies managed by dependency managers. For Guzzle, the dependency manager was something called Composer, but my web front-end could've easily been in something like React, which would've also required a Javascript dependency manager like npm. But I've been avoiding all that and building my own self-contained (and relatively flat) software ecosystem instead of the turtles-all-the-way-down approach most developers today seem perfectly happy with. So I asked ChatGPT if it could reimagine the code it had suggested yesterday (and which it could still remember, because the session hadn't been lost) done with the cURL, and older, more established HTTP library that is more baked-in to PHP. (It's occasionally missing from PHP, but then so too sometimes is the ability to connect to a MySQL database.) Best of all, cURL requires no dependency manager or (god forbid!) autoload.php to use. Before long, I had a version of my SolArk communication code written to use cURL without any dependencies. I then encapsulated it into a function to be called by data.php, the backend page that my NodeMCUs interface with on the internet. This gave me a new endpoint at data.php that would give me the four most important values from the inverter: the power coming from the solar panels, the total load being used by the cabin, the percentage full of the battery, and what rate the battery is either charging at or being drained. Eventually I will have code that will use these values to determine what device_features to turn on or off, but for now all I wanted to do was display them on my local remote (on another screen reachable by a push of the "mode" button). I worked on these things all afternoon and into the evening, adding nice-to-haves along the way, such as symbols on the weather display screen showing whether the values have increased, decreased, or stayed the same since the last time the weather values were looked at some specifiable amount of time ago.
Late this afternoon, I took the dogs on a walk up the Farm Road and then east across the wetlands at the bottom of the Chamomile Headwaters Trail and then all the way to more or less where that trail joins the Stick Trail (more than a half mile south of home). As Neville crossed the wetlands, he took advantage of a deep spot to momentarily wallow like a hippopatamus, and of course my camera decided not to work when I wanted to take that photograph. The forest is gorgeous at this time of year, what with all the unfurling fiddleheads and tiny little light-green leaves emerging from their buds.

This evening I cobbled together a dinner of sorts made from brown rice, tempeh, and onions. We didn't have any mushrooms and I didn't want to use any vegetables that Gretchen had earmarked for meal planning on this week when we'd be having guests. When Gretchen came home, she suggested we add a can of green beans to the tempeh and onions, and that proved to be a good idea.

Neville, moments after wallowing in the puddle at the bottom of the Chamomile Headwaters Trail. For some reason this didn't make him muddy. Click to enlarge.

This is a living hemlock with massive hole created by woodpeckers (probably the pileated kind) extracting burrowing insect larvæ. Click to enlarge.

Unfurling fiddleheads along the Stick Trail. Click to enlarge.

The stone wall I built back in 2019 is mostly unchanged. Click to enlarge.

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