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:
   informal Chanukah home inspection
Tuesday, December 7 2004
Tonight would be the first night of Chanukah, and Gretchen had plans to go do Chanukah stuff with Ms. Meatlocker's family down in Orange County. The thing about the Meatlockers these days is that they no longer live in a meatlocker on Dug Hill Road. They've bought and moved into an eighty year old house in the center of Tillson, the next town north from New Paltz up route 32. It seems I should probably start calling them something else. The lesson here is obvious: never pick a pseudonymn for someone based on his or her residence. For the same reason, people should never have their email addresses at the same locations as their internet providers. Not so much in the English language, but in Spanish there's a built-in sense that location is impermanent, even for cities.
I came along with Gretchen so I could spend the evening hanging out with Mr. Meatlocker and perhaps helping with construction. While the ladies were off lighting candles on a menorah, we could be tearing down walls and erecting onion domes, or at least that was the theory. What actually happened was that I brought along some test equipment to see if there was an open wireless network they could use in place of DSL. Tillson has a much higher population density than our part of Hurley, so it seemed possible to scavenge internet access. But Tillson is hardly a hip and happening neighborhood full of Manhattan transplants and young gay couples. About the only internet you're likely to find within wireless distance is AOL, a fact supported by the absence of nodes detected in my wireless site survey. I was using a powerful DWL-800AP+ (complete with the DWL-810AP+ firmware and the fabled "power hack"), so if there was anything within 400 feet, I should have found it. This didn't leave the Meatlockers without the various Interwebs, however. As I was performing my experiments, an automated telephone call came from Verizon with the prerecorded voice of James Earl Jones telling us that Verizon DSL for this phone number was now ready for use. For the rest of the night, Mr. Meatlocker kept referring to his DSL as "James Earl Jones."
Later we explored the basement, looking for problems with the pipes, insulation, and the foundation. The biggest mystery of all was where the shit from the second floor toilet went when it was flushed. We didn't get an answer to that problem until we had a flashlight and could shine it back into a eighteen inch crawl space. That's when we saw it, a shit pipe worthy of a king, made out of a three inch copper pipe.
Another mystery concerned cable television. There was a DirectTV dish on one corner of the house, but its cables weren't attached to anything. There was another cable attached to the municipal cable system and it executed a most unusual path on its way into the house. It entered the basement, crossed its ceiling, went out the other side, made a 180 degree turn, and then entered the living room. Ms. Meatlocker had tried it and found three channels, and she was very excited because one of those was TNT, your one-stop shop for Law & Order (a show whose crossover appeal is demonstrated by the two largest components of its audience: conservative men and liberal women).
Supposedly there's a new Indian restaurant in New Paltz, so Mr. Meatlocker and I drove down there to look for it. It was supposed to be near the bus station somewhere, but we walked up and down street in the cold rain and couldn't find it anywhere. Being men, we didn't think to ask anyone. So instead we went into P&G's Restaurant, whose cozy wood-rich interior seemed like the perfect antidote to the rainy dreariness outside. Over chili and Sam Adams, we talked about the long term prospects for real estate in what might prove to be a bubble market, and how all of this is affected by interest rates. If interest rates make money so easy to get that people can afford really expensive houses, but then the prices of houses inflate by the same amount, has anyone really gained anything? Doesn't that just mean that people can afford about the same kind of house they always could afford all along? The only difference is that now everyone is paying much higher real estate taxes. Those fucking schools had better be churning out the Einsteins, that's all I have to say. (And if I find my property taxes are paying for abstinenence education, I really don't know what I'm going to do.)
Mr. Meatlocker is still sort of operating under the delusion that he can just pick up and move on any time he wants to, even though he's not only a homeowner, but a freshly-married one at that. "I can always rent the house out to SUNY New Paltz students," he reckons. Recently he even applied to one of MIT's postgraduate programs. Such determined flexibility is something I admire, but it's a difficult thing to relate to.

After Gretchen and I returned home, we had a little menorah lighting of our own, followed by a little gift exchange. Her gift to me was a book I'd been wanting for years called Sound of the Beast: the Complete Headbanging Guide to Heavy Metal. For Gretchen's present, I'd painted a little acrylic panel of our cats Clarence and Julius (based on that photo I posted the other day), but I hadn't really put enough time into it and Clarence was far too grey. Normally one doesn't critique art received as a present, but Gretchen observed, "Isn't Clarence a little too grey?" I had to agree that he was, so I whisked him away and applied a new layer of colors, what was to be the first of several alterations.

I stayed up well into the wee hours trying to get a Hawking H2WR54G dual-WAN router to work on the household network, but the damn thing was basically useless. Its DHCP server was dismayingly ineffective at assigning IP addresses to computers, and I was unable to reach the internet through either of its WAN ports from my local network. I should have known better that to get this model of router, considering the bad reviews I'd read about it online. But now that I have two ways to reach the internet, I really could benefit from the capability of a dual-WAN router, and I'd held out the hope that maybe by now the H2WR54G's firmware has been fixed. (The latest version was released on Dec. 1st, 2004, but using it improves nothing.)
The problems with the Hawking H2WR54G are evident on every level, as if the Hawking product development team consists of a couple of engineering school dropouts and there's no quality assurance at all. When you go to make a change to the router from the web-based management system, it takes a good ten seconds for the changes to take effect. What is happening during these two seconds? Who knows. But at least it's all happening on the router and not degrading your computer, which is what happens when you try to run any of the Hawking configuration utilities found on the CD that comes with the router. Running these immediately slows your computer to a miserable crawl as enormous amounts of CPU power are directed to... God only knows. The only experience I routinely have with my computer running this slowly is when I'm using it to help me with the computation-intensive task of... filling out rebates. I never use Adobe Acrobat on my machine except when I'm printing out rebate forms, and getting Adobe Acrobat to run smoothly (as I've said before) seems to require a massive supercomputer, the kind that Moore's Law won't provide at afforable prices until the year 2050.
What with all the hours I waste working with poorly-engineered electronic gadgets, I have to wonder sometimes why selling them isn't, you know, a crime. Perhaps in some countries it is. Then again, like I said, I really should have known better.

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