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:
   gutters, wasps, and hornets
Thursday, July 10 2008
This morning Gretchen and I participated in a meeting of people seeking to help a struggling independent bookstore in one of the local villages. As the only male at this meeting, I was there mostly to provide advice on technological issues. But discussion rarely went there, and the one time it did (someone asked if I knew of a good program for printing out banners), I suggested the non-technological approach. A local independent bookstore shouldn't print its signs on a computer, it should have the employee with the best penmanship draw up the sign by hand.

I spent most of the day 20 feet above the ground on a ladder, installing gutters above the basement guest room's slab. I experienced surprisingly few problems and managed to get all 26 feet of gutter installed before a bunch of old ladies showed up to participate in a monthly poetry group in which Gretchen is the youngest member. The overall shape of today's gutter installation was that of a capital L. I didn't worry about downspouts; rain water will simply be ejected out of either end of the gutters like from gargoyles on a cathedral. The water will land in the bushes several feet either downhill from the house or along its lowest contour, although at some point I might intercept this water for horticultural use.
The one problem I did encounter during the installation was the presence of paper wasps. There were maybe a half dozen small nests within two feet of the gutter's intended path, and one lay directly in that path. That one had to go, obviously, but what about the others? Though capable of inflicting excruciatingly painful stings, paper wasps are docile creatures and will not attack unless directly provoked. In addition to the one nest in the path, I also destroyed another one nearby. I didn't use any sort of pesticide to kill the suddenly-homeless wasps; instead I used a technique from my childhood, squirting them with soapy water until they fell and then trying to find them down on the ground so I could smush them. But I only managed to kill one this way. The others buzzed around for a time and eventually disappeared, perhaps picked off by the many dragonflies and Phoebes flying about.
This business of killing wasps is not something I enjoy. I recognize that their paper nests are every bit as important to them as my house is to me and, though I believe amorality has no consequences for the amoral, I try to leave them be whenever possible. The ones I left alone today returned the favor; they'd go on alert, particularly when my hammering screwgun was banging away within a couple feet of their nest, and one even buzzed me, but I avoided being stung, a good thing when you're twenty feet up a ladder over a stone slab.
When I'd put the vinyl gutter in above the garage doors, I'd had to evict a globular hornet nest roughly four inches in diameter. (These hornets had been small and been decorated with black and yellow stripes, thus indistinguishable from Yellowjackets.) Hornets are much more aggressive than wasps and to destroy this nest I'd had to spray it twice with noxious HotShot spray. Even after that, hornets still had still been either hatching or returning to the nest and I'd been forced to eliminate the stragglers with a shop vac.

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