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:
   two tempeh reubens
Friday, December 2 2005
Just a little before noon Gretchen and I set out on an errand to the 9W area of Kingston/Ulster Township to look at refrigerators at the big box hardware stores, Home Depot and Lowes. We didn't actually buy anything while we were at those places[REDACTED]. It turns out that neither superstore had large numbers of refrigerators in stock, though Lowes had more than Home Depot. None of the most-efficient GE models (which all consumer less than 500 kwh per year) were in stock and the kwh/yr measurement was sometimes difficult to find for the models that were there. When we asked the woman showing us the refrigerators about those numbers, all she'd say was "but it has an Energy Star label." I guess there are a lot of people out there who think only in terms of binary reality: either something has something (in this case, governmentally-acknowledged energy efficiency) or it does not. But we needed to know the actual numbers; it's foolish to ignore the linear realities of the non-digital world.
For lunch we stopped at Mother Earth's Storehouse near the Home Depot in Kingston's dreariest shopping center. As usual, we had tempeh reubens, since this is the source of Ulster County's best. The second-best are the odd open-faced versions made at the otherwise anti-gourmet Rosendale Café and I'd be having one there later for dinner tonight, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I spent much of the afternoon spraying foam along the copper pipes that run the length of the laboratory on their way to the solar panel. Those pipes are already insulated with standard lengths of pipe cozies, but I wanted increased R-values as a means of correcting the seven to ten degree temperature drop experienced by the water after it leaves the solar panel.

Further reading and thinking about the best way to handle the different heating requirements of the hydronic baseboard zones and slab systems has led me to abandon the idea of building a heat exchanger, fun as that would be. If I went that route I'd have to include yet another expansion tank, circulator pump, makeup valve, and air scoop, and at this point it would be difficult to find sufficient room in the boiler room. A better solution is the one generally used for slab heating system: a mixing valve allowing cold return water to mix with hot supply water before entering the slab. I did some research and such systems end up being more complicated than you'd think, but from the look of things all a successful system would require is two mixing valves, an additional circulator pump, a relay, and a little monkeying with the wiring.

This evening Gretchen and I went out to see a performance of Don Byron and his new band at the Rosendale Café. Don Byron is a jazz and film score musician and more famous as a "musican's musician" than as, say, a Joe Sixpack's musician (like, say, Foreigner or Styx). We happen to know Don Byron socially, and that had a lot to do with our going to tonight's show, though Gretchen happens to be congentially predisposed towards the sort of music we'd be hearing tonight.
In its present incarnation, the music played by the band tended to conform to a retro-Motown sound. A lot of the music consisted of long grooves and jams, which are not my thing, but whenever these coalesced for three minutes into a radio-friendly song, complete with vocals, I found these segments very enjoyable. Even though, much to Gretchen's dissatisfaction, my musical interests hew to a decidedly Caucasian standard, I can always enjoy live songs so long as they're interesting and played well. This band was amazingly tight given that (as someone told me) they'd only been playing together for a couple of days. The only instrument I didn't enjoy in the ensemble was the synthesizer, which spoke with a consistent tinny shrillness. The guy playing it was a somewhat geeky-looking cat, the only white guy in the band. Its other members were as follows:

The bassist was an extremely cooooooooooooool-looking gentleman lounging calmly in a chair beneath his beret.

The drummer was a tiny wiry dude who occasionally rolled his eyes in apparent dread at Don's infrequent points of conduction, but then sailed through the material like a virtuoso.

The guitarist could get just about any sound he wanted out of his axe once his fingers had warmed up, and he could change guitars just in the nick of time for occasions when he needed to come in with a completely different sound.

The vocalist was a tall guy wearing a "Negro League" sweatshirt and he could do a lot more than sing; he channeled various shamanistic spirits in the cause of all sorts of sounds, many of which were not embedded within recognizable words.

As for Don, he mostly played a saxophone, though (as already mentioned), he'd occasionally shout out brief commands over the music to change its course. Sometimes he'd also sing beautiful backing harmonies. Whenever a song would start he'd do the initial count off, pronouncing the last few numbers as "uh!" as he'd place the saxophone to his lips.

My favorite tune of the evening was their performance of an unexpectedly rocking "Reach Out, I'll Be There," a song whose chorus I've always liked for its unexpectedly dark Middle Eastern quality. The band managed to pump up the dynamics to keep things continuously exciting, and it was impossible not to move one's body to the sound (though it's not like there's much room for dancing in the Rosendale Café). We were sitting with Don's wife Susan and the film maker who had Don score Strange Fruit, and eventually Gretchen and Susan were compelled to get up and dance. At the Rosendale Café two pleasantly nerdy Jewish girls dancing is about the most life a band can expect of the crowd. Actually, though, a couple of other people had been dancing intermittently earlier, including Nancy Ostrovsky, the woman who had painted all the trippy paintings currently on display in the Café

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