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:
   rosy chuckleheaded optimism
Wednesday, September 20 2006
At the last minute in the early morning as I was awaking I remembered all the trouble I'd had with frozen hydronic fluid last year. I'd used antifreeze, and it was good enough to keep the pipes from bursting, but even given last winter's mild temperatures, they'd still managed on several occasions to drop low enough to make the fluid incapable of flowing. There are, it seems, three solutions to this problem. One is to use so much antifreeze that this cannot happen. Another is to provide some sort of pipe heating on the few occasions when the fluid won't flow. The last is to not bother trying to gather heat when the temperature is below a certain value. Last year I opted for the middle solution, though I'd put the electrical heat tape in as an afterthought and it had never worked very well. Even if I don't end up actually using heat tape, it would be great to have it there in case I end up needing it. So today I ran out and got some electrical heat tape so I could put it where it will be most effective: under the insulation and along the hoses that I would be installing (and insulating) this afternoon.
Once I had the hoses connected, insulated, and tucked away inside of that grey PVC, the installation started having almost a professional sheen about it (as opposed to the hack job that these things can so easily be). The structure supporting it all, though a solid system of triangles, looks a little improvised and Tijuanaesque. Once the lumber dries out a little better I can unify it visually with a fresh coat of paint.
As the sun began to set I began installing the 20 vacuum tubes on the new collector's manifold. The instructions had suggested handling these collectors out of the sun, because otherwise their collecting knobs (the part that transfers their heat to the manifold) quickly get too hot to touch. It was somewhat after dark by the time I'd installed the last tube. The process went a lot faster than normal. I'd feared accidentally banging or dropping at least one of the tubes along the way, but these were both catastrophies that were easily avoided with proper habits and appropriate caution.

As I've been working, I've been listening to the soundtrack of a movie I downloaded recently using BitTorrent. It's The Decline of Western Civilization: Volume II, the Metal Years, a rockumentary mostly of the glam metal scene in Los Angeles circa 1987, along with commentary by some of its founding fathers (and the founding fathers of metal generally): Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, and Alice Cooper. Most of the soundtrack music is obscure glam metal from the period: forgettable high speed white boy blues for the most part, all derivative of mid-period Aerosmith. It has none of the creepy gravitas of genuine metal; it's music written and performed with the foremost goal of scoring with the trashy LA women of the period. Looking at all these macho white guys with their permed hair, girly-girl clothing, and makeup, and listening to them talk about how important groupies were to their very survival, I stumbled upon a realization: theirs was an entire culture built on the sexual selection of female groupies. Those men with the most effeminate demeanor combined with the most macho music would rise to be the biggest stars. Everyone else had to compete for smaller audiences in other scenes. While the biggest stars in this scene (Poison, Cinderella) could live on record contracts and concert tours, the lesser stars lived out of their vans and depended on the generosity of groupies for money. The selection forces placed upon them by the limited number of groupies caused them to enter into something of a flamboyancy arms race with one another, a speeded-up version of the evolutionary selection performed by peahens upon peacocks. It reminded me of documentaries I've seen of the pimp-ho relationship, another culture where women provide the money and men provide only semen, and where men are similarly driven to ever-more-outlandish spectacles of flamboyancy.
Though metal and even glam metal have usually been viewed as something of a dissident culture, filled with rejects from conventional society, in reality the members of the glam metal scene portrayed in The Decline of Western Civilization were most surprising for the utter conventionality of their world view. These were guys who had latched onto the American dream: hook, line, pole, and fisherman. There was no question in their minds what they wanted: all of them spoke of one day being the next Jim Morrison or Robert Plant, and all of them were absolutely certain they were headed there. For all their rosy chuckleheaded optimism, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the ones who survived are all voting Republican now.

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