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

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Like my brownhouse:
   Eleanor's lovely lady lumps
Tuesday, August 31 2010
The other day I noticed a smallish lump on Eleanor's back. It was about the size of a pea and didn't cause much concern. Perhaps it was a swollen tick bite. But by yesterday the lump had expanded to an inch in diameter, and I noticed that there were two other similarly-sized lumps scattered across her back and sides. Something weird was going on. I thought maybe they were carbuncles in desperate need of lancing (it's a dirty job that ends up being highly satisfying). But why three all of a sudden?
By this morning Eleanor's lovely lady lumps had grown even bigger and I felt I needed to take some sort of action. They didn't seem to be caused by infection, as they weren't any warmer than the surrounding tissue. But they were oozing a clear fluid and clearly something unpleasant was in there. So at some point (I'd actually come down to the kitchen from the laboratory in hopes of making myself a sandwich), I decided to give one of those lumps a squeeze. What happened next is not exactly pleasant, so if you are eating or reading this to a child as a bedtime story, now might be a good point to stop.
Without much squeezing, a clear fluid came out in droplets from a tiny hole at the center of the lump. The fluid gradually darkened as it mixed with blood. Eleanor was a little anxious about all of this, but she didn't flee or give much evidence that this was painful. So I squeezed a little harder and something whitish and solid began to emerge. "Great!" I thought, "it's a lump of hardened pus!" But it wasn't a lump of pus. It was a plump little maggot, a little over a half inch long and a quarter inch wide. Life experiences don't get much grosser than squeezing a maggot out of a lump.
I told Gretchen and she was understandably horrified, though she couldn't quite understand the life cycle of a creature that would spend its infancy burrowed beneath the skin of a dog. I have vague memories of botflies laying eggs on my mother's horses, so I wondered how such a thing had happened to Eleanor. Had she been near livestock? Some internet research revealed that botflies often don't lay their eggs on mammals directly, but leave them on grass. The larvæ hatch and then burrow into the skin of any mammals that happen by. The creepiest thing about this is that if it could happen to Eleanor, it could happen to me.
Gretchen had to drive down to the prisons, and while she was gone I managed to squeeze another, bigger larva out of one of Eleanor's other lumps. The third lump looked like it had the tell-tale hole where a larva had already emerged. [But it turned out that I was wrong; I would squeeze out a third, larger botfly larva two days later.]

On her drive back from the prison, Gretchen called from the road to invite me and the dogs to meet her for a swim at the "Redneck Spot" (on the Esopus a mile downstream from the "Secret Spot"). The "Redneck Spot" is on the way back from the prison, but once you're there you are 90% of the way home.
So I drove to the Redneck Spot. I'd been there a few times in past years (but not at all last year, as that particular summer was not very hot). It's one of a series of large lake-like pondings of the Esopus in cornfield country. (You can easily see it on Google Maps, centered at 41.878692N, 74.128736W.) We call it the Redneck Spot because rednecks are pretty much the only people you see there. They drink beer, smoke cigarettes, drive four wheelers, fish, burn campfires, break bottles, leave trash, hoot & holler, and replicate their kind. Today, though, there was nobody there. And there wasn't even all that much trash. There was a whole mess of monofilament line scattered across the weeds on the southwestern end of the lake, and because of its danger to wildlife, Gretchen and I cleaned it up.
Unlike the Secret Spot, the Redneck Spot provides a good place for swimming laps even when the creek is running low. I don't swim laps, but Gretchen does. So I mostly walked along the beach looking for interesting pebbles or waded into the water up to my neck and just stood there. At some point Sally flushed a beaver from the southeast shoreline, and the it swam around aimlessly waiting for Sally to leave, occasionally swimming fairly close to Gretchen. Sally also did a remarkable amount of swimming, but mostly in pursuit of Gretchen, not the beaver.

At some point I drove out to 9W to get supplies: liquor from a liquor store, beer from a Stewarts, and groceries from Adams (which doesn't stock alcoholic beverages). I also bought hydronic antifreeze, a rubber vaccuum cleaner belt, and a small shovel from the Home Depot. As I was checking out using the robotic cashier, I selected Spanish as my language just to sew mental confusion in those around me. Had Arabic been an option, I would have selected it.

Back at the house, I stayed up late into the night working on offer and invoice administrative workflow for David's site. It was a complicated process, but (as with the rest of the site) very straightforward.

The first larva I squeezed out of Eleanor today.

Watch it move!

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