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").


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Like my brownhouse:
   one man unload
Sunday, July 6 2008
Our friend Jon in Stone Ridge is doing spring cleaning, the kind that requires the rental of a bus-sized haul-away dumpster. He told me the other day that he had a large wood stove to give me if I wanted it. So today I drove there to have a look. I brought a tape measure to see if this big stove would fit where our existing stove resides.
The stove was an early 1975 model Defiant with a huge firebox and an eight inch exhaust pipe. In addition to the two front doors and top lid was a side door for putting in those really long pieces of firewood. Its dimensions were acceptable for my purposes. So my next question was, would the damn thing come apart? Otherwise it seemed too heavy to move. In each of the four corners of the top surface of the stove were decorative round brass nuts screwed onto bolts. With some effort (a channel locking wrench proved essential), I managed to remove these, only breaking one of the four bolts in the process. But the top surface was being held on by much more than just those nuts. All the various pieces of the stove appeared to be welded to each other, which couldn't technically be the case since these pieces were made of cast iron, and cast iron isn't typically welded. Eventually I abandoned any hope of disassembling the stove and gave it a tentative shove to see how heavy it really was. It moved far enough for me to go fetch the car. I'd driven over in the "new" Honda Civic hatchback (which still isn't technically street legal), and my measurements indicated that the stove would fit in the back if only it could be lifted. Soon Jon joined me, as did one of his friends, a guy who claimed to know a lot about wood stoves (though most of bullet points in his verbal PowerPoint presentation turned out to be wrong). What mattered was that there were three guys, enough manpower to lift and carry the stove. Just before we were about to hoist it into the car, another of Jon's friends showed up, a guy who looked like he did a certain amount of weight training. We easily got the stove into the back of the car, though its suspension is so trashed that I only had about a half inch of spring left. But I knew I could move this kind of weight; remember back in March when I moved all that firewood with the pre-totalled Honda Civic hatchback? I'd completely filled every available space behind the two front seats with wood, and that had to have weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds.
I took it nice and slow on the drive back home. There was no space in the back for the dogs, but (as they often do), they rode together in the front passenger seat.
I let the car sit in the driveway for awhile as I contemplated how to unload that stove. It was sticking part way out the back and if it rained I didn't want it getting wet (though it was already quite rusty). I decided to back the car up against a part of the lawn that rises somewhat steeply from the driveway, thereby reducing the height of the drop from the hatch. Then I positioned a set of sloping two by fours as an inclined plane leading from the stove to the ground. Then, from the inside, I used a set of two by fours as levers and blocks to gradually lift the stove until it teetered on the brink of sliding down the inclined plane. It wasn't hard to pull it in for a smooth landing on the lawn from there. After getting rid of the car, I used my trusty hand truck to wheel the stove into the garage. This one-man unloading operation had taken about the same amount of time as the four man loading operation had taken.

This evening Gretchen and I watched a documentary entitled Street Fight covering the struggle by Cory Booker, an idealistic outsider (and Rhodes Scholar), to unseat Sharpe James, the corrupt long-time mayor of Newark, New Jersey. It's a wild ride! Along the way, we're treated to the sort of thuggish intimidation one normally expects not in the United States but in some tiny West African dictatorship. If you liked the mayoral race presented in The Wire, you'll love this film. The real thing is actually more incredible than the fictional.

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