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:
   glowing mushroom
Wednesday, August 26 2009
The downhill neighbors were having trouble with their computer (an old Pentium IV), so I went over to find out what was what. It turned out that their LCD display was having some sort of problem in its button reading electronics and kept automatically dimming itself, as if someone was constantly decreasing the brightness. It was a cheap LCD, so I considered it broken. (Who wants to try to fix things these days?) And then the computer, which was complaining about a missing file, wouldn't let me fix it with a install CD. This meant the hard drive was busted, and thus the computer itself (since it was old and I didn't want to recommend any fixes that would take much of my time or require new hardware). Mrs. Downhill Neighbor took the news pretty well and seemed to like my recommendation of perhaps getting a cheap laptop to replace it. The only thing I don't like about working for her is that she likes to ask me questions about things for which I have no easy answers, such as what all those messages mean at the bottom of the screen when the Windows XP install CD is loading its drivers. (She actually puts it to me in a particularly absurd form, volunteering that she doesn't know what it means, as though, somehow, I expected her to know and that she fears it might be on the test.)
As for Mr. Downhill Neighbor, he harrumphed and humbugged the entire time, constantly repeating the idea that computers are pretty much useless for their lifestyle. He's in his 80s and she might be as well, and it's a generational thing, though he's apparently a bit more conservative with regard to technology than she is.
So it was much more comfortable talking to them about about chanterelle mushrooms, which they seemed to like even more than I do. They'd recently gotten a large batch of them though Mr. Downhill Neighbor declined to reveal where they'd come from. I ended up leaving with the flaky LCD display under my arm, crossing the rocky ravine back to my greenhouse barefoot, the same way I'd come. Maybe I could fix it; otherwise it would just be thrown out.

Gretchen had some leftover pizza dough and decided to make another pizza so we could reprise yesterday's deliciousness. As with yesterday, we had no mushrooms in the refrigerator, so I went out in the woods of hoping to find some (the best I could do yesterday was a few boletes and a Lactarius, none of which I used). This time I went down to the Chamomile River, followed it downstream a couple hundred feet, and then went up the bottom of the ravine separating our property from our downhill neighbors. I'd seen some orange mushrooms in the distance (41.930507N, 74.106474W) and wanted to see if they were chanterelles. But no, they looked to be Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms, a poisonous mushroom whose gills glow in the dark (many people misidentify these as chanterelles and are poisoned, though none die). I was so sure of this identification that I gathered them and took them into one of the windowless basement bathrooms to see if their gills did indeed glow. Within about a minute, my eyes had adjusted enough to the darkness that I could see the faint greenish glow. It's true!
At around 7:00pm tonight, the world outside took on that weird glow it occasionally gets when the setting sun is reflecting off of tall clouds. Gretchen and I stood around in the yard and moving our hands in front of our faces because it looked like we were tripping on LSD. Or, as Gretchen observed, it was like we were on a Star Trek planet.
I started scything the grass, which hasn't been properly mowed in several weeks. The scything was actually pretty effective, but it didn't take long before I'd opened up two angry blisters on my left hand: one on my palm just below the base of my pinky finger and one on the inside of the base of my thumb. My right hand was fine, perhaps from the armor of calluses it never loses.

My happiest achievement of the day was getting hierarchical recordsets in an HTML table to sort correctly using Javascript routines operated by links in the header. The code I wrote was so generic that it actually worked without modification in a different application. All I had to do was update the Javascript library and turn on something I'd turned off in the PHP.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

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