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:
   DIY rework station
Friday, July 13 2007
Early this afternoon I made a run to the dump and took Sally and Eleanor, but before we stopped there I let both dogs run in the West Hurley Park. Some Town of Hurley employees were mowing the grass and a brown-suited UPS guy was taking his lunch under the roof of the semi-outdoor picnic area. Our walk took us around the backside of the dump area to the place where the town stockpiles its surplus drainage pipes and cut bluestone (though I can't think of any place it actually uses bluestone). We went back to the park on a roadway divided into three sections by gates. In the middle section the town keeps huge piles of chipped wood and leaves, and I'd long wondered what became of this valuable commodity. Today I learned that it does not, as I'd feared, go to waste. I saw people coming with trucks to gather the rich black "mushroom dirt" that these piles had become. One of the guys who'd come to load up on this bounty warned me about a possible Copperhead or Timber Rattler in the road, but we weren't headed back that way.
At the dump the dogs got to spend about ten minutes as junk yard dogs. If you're a dog, it's a great place to vacation but you wouldn't want to live there.
Later as I was preparing to take the dogs to the vet, I was showering in the upstairs bathroom and realized Gretchen had taken that bathroom's shampoo with her, so I had to use "Old Roy," a kind of doggy shampoo that we use whenever the dogs roll in shit. At the vet's office, the vet, who made no comment about the fragrance of my hair, characterized the recovery of Eleanor's knee as "proceeding nicely." He also dispelled concerns we had about growth that had been noted by the weekend vet who'd pulled porcupine quills out of the roof of Sally's mouth three weeks ago.

As part of my plan to build a device to allow me to rework surface-mount electronics (allowing me to possibly fix my Sony Vaio laptop), today I built a set of copper and brass nozzle attachments to allow me to suck or blow air through small vinyl hoses using a cheap shopvac I recently purchased. As you'll recall, a couple weeks ago I tried to build as sucker/blower using computer fans, but they'd proved too weak for my needs.
I loosely followed some online instructions for a DIY rework gun based on a Radio Shack desoldering iron, though I made one important change. I knew that the metal stem where the rubber suction bulb attaches never gets that hot, so I just removed the bulb and attached the blower hose to the stem directly. A side benefit of this arrangement is that I can use thumb pressure on the plastic hose as it runs across the desoldering iron's handle to regulate the flow of air. This was important, because my shopvac was supplying a lot more air than the puny aquarium pump suggested by the DIY rework gun instructions. (I'd actually included a ball valve at the shopvac attachment to allow an adjustable fraction of its blowing force to be sent into the room and not down the hose to the iron.) To try out this primitive, low-power rework station, I tried removing a 14 pin surface-mount 74LS32 integrated circuit from an old hard drive controller board, something I was able to accomplish in less than a minute.

My first attempt at a sucker/blower, based on two fans controlled by old computer power supply switches.

Inside that sucker/blower.

The copper/brass attachment for the shopvac. The ball valve allows some fraction of the suction or blow to not go into the hose, which is attached on the barbed fitting.

The attachment on the shopvac. That inch-to-half-inch copper fitting fits in there perfectly on the "Stinger 2.5 gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum" (available at Home Depot).

The Radio Shack desoldering iron, modified to act as a low-power rework heat gun.

Environmental consciousness is referred to in this country (and in others) by the shorthand monosyllable "green." I don't especially like the sound of this term, or the hyper-simplicity it bestows on what is complex subject, but "green" as a term is something I have to live with. More troubling, though, then the word itself is the implication behind it, that it is possible to flip a switch and be green while continuing to live a life full of waste and consumption. Green is not something you either are or are not, it's a continuum, with most of the world living very green without even wanting to, while even the most liberal, environmentally-conscious people in our society continue to be peer-pressured into unnecessary consumption. If you don't understand what I mean, let me break it down:

Driving a Prius does not make you green.
Having solar panels on your roof does not make you green.
Buying locally does not make you green.
Buying organic does not make you green.
Getting paper not plastic does not make you green.
Getting plastic not paper does not make you green.
Filling your car (even a tiny one) with ethanol made from corn does not make you green.
Waiting for scientists to save us from our environmental mess does not make you green.
Telling others to wait for scientists to save us from our environmental mess makes you brown, and browns those around you.
That your power company generates its power using dams, nuclear plants, solar, or windmills does not make you green.
Traveling only by bike is good, but it does not make you green.
Being a vegetarian is good, but it does not make you green.
Not mowing all of your lawn is brave, but it does not make you green.
Not having children is fairly green, but it does not make you green.
Voting for green politicians is essential, but it does not make you (or them) green.

What is green?

Green is living a third-world lifestyle even when you have the money to live otherwise.
Green is making do with what you have, not what others think you should want.
Green is acting as locally as possible in every activity, and thinking locally as well.
Green is seeing through greenwash marketing, which is everything a corporation claims to be environmental.
Green is investigating the energy accounting of things that are proclaimed to be green.
Green is accepting that we are animals, related to all other life on this planet, and realizing our common cause here.
Green is understanding that, while individuals are tempted to extract all they can from the commons, our long-term survival depends on organizations designed to promote the health of the commons.

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