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:
   the relocation of Phil and Henry James
Saturday, August 2 2003
I finally moved on from my FM broadcast experiments and began enclosing my transmitter in a box, installing metallic shielding, and terminating some of the wires as standard connectors. The shielding had a miraculous effect on the noisiness of the signal. This was how a persistent high-pitch whine (reminiscent of the sounds one hears on AM radio) was defeated.
Early this afternoon while Gretchen was baking a cake, I demonstrated the power of this new system by streaming an old episode of This American Life on my PC, broadcasting it as an FM signal, and playing it on the living room stereo - a sort of public radio on demand.

Later on I tried amping the final RF stage of my FM transmitter using a Radio Shack signal amplifier, the kind used to beef up a cable teevee signal so it can drive more than one television. It was a lark - I expected the amplifier to have no effect, since the usual application for these devices is to beef up extremely weak signals on the receiving end. But I was amazed to discover the amplifier extended my range far beyond what I could achieve by substituting parts in the FM transmitter all by itself.

At around 4pm Gretchen had me help her move a couple of cats from the Ulster County SPCA to their new digs at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Gretchen is a volunteer at both places and had lobbied hard for this move. The two cats in question were more or less unadoptable and had not exactly been thriving at the SPCA, despite the relative opulence of the colonnade-equipped Ulster County facility.
The first of these was "Scary Cat" or, as Gretchen calls him, "Phil" (sort for Philthy). Phil is a tall scrappy cat who looks like he might have tattoos and piercings under his course strawlike-fur, which is permanently discolored as if from dirt. Dark flesh around his eyes has the appearance of eyeliner. He's into Mad Dog, riots, and anarchy and had grown so discontented with the cramped cat room at the SPCA that the staff there started him on a regime of antidepressants. Gretchen had always thought Phil should become the official cat for a punk rock band, but could find no punk rock bands in need of cat. Short of that, the chaotic Old McDonald's Farm-style environment of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary seemed ideal.
The other cat is a fluffy black character named Henry James with a personality exactly opposite from Phil's. Henry James is reclusive and not particularly fond of people. In addition to providing the rich stimulation necessary for a Phil, CAS's barn is also perfect for hiding out in a semi-feral state.
We moved the cats using my pickup truck, since we'd also have to move large dog cages - temporary residences for the cats while they became familiar with their new home.
The Catskill Animal Sanctuary is an 80 acre farm for the rehabilitation of abused farm animals such as goats, horses, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and cattle. All the residents have horrifying life stories, but now they're free to live out their lives in a comfort probably superior to that experienced by presidentially pardoned turkeys. As I soon discovered, most of the animal residents of CAS are friendly, particularly a big sheep with enormous coiled horns named Rambo and a surprisingly cuddly white duck named Mr. Peepers. An overmature broiler hen named Consuela (those of you familiar with Logan's Run should picture a charcoal-colored crystal embedded in the palm of her wing) required cold water baths to keep from overheating in the stuffy discomfort of the hot summer day.
After we'd set up Phil and Henry James in their respective dog cages, I joked with the woman who runs the place that she'd probably have to worry about Phil dealing drugs.

In the evening, some of our friends from Brooklyn (who just happened to be in the New Paltz area) came by. They consisted of Ray and Nancy, Nancy's sister Linda, and Linda's boyfriend Adam. We all went out together for a late dinner at La Pupuseria. Surprisingly, we were the only customers there when we arrived, which seemed odd for a Saturday night. We'd thought maybe the place would be packed with Latin lovers and the ladies they love (as well as the lightly-loafered lads who love them). I ordered five pupusas, which I ate in the way that I always eat pupusas, treating them as soft tacos and stuffing them with hot sauce and semi-pickled El Salvadoran cabbage. While scanning the menu, I discovered yet another reason to love La Pupuseria: all their beers cost $3: from cans of Tecate or Budweiser to fancy foil-sealed bottles of Negra Modelo.

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