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:
Wednesday, July 13 2011

Up here on the bluffs above the Esopus, the environment is surprisingly barren given that it is within the humid east. For whatever reason, there isn't much soil, and the local shale and bluestone, as it decomposes, produces a soil containing little of what most plants and animals need. You see this in the fact that our yard is full of slugs but devoid of snails. This is because the local rock contains almost no calcium carbonate with which a snail might build a shell. Vertebrates need calcium carbonate too, if only to have bones, so they must concentrate what little there is or bring it in from elsewhere. This probably accounts for the lack of Box Turtles as well; they're a vertebrate with an unusually large calcium carbonate requirement.
There are, however, a few benefits to living in an ecological desert. One of these is that our forests contain no Poison Ivy, which requires good soil in order to thrive. Around our house, however, soil has been trucked in to make a lawn and a septic field, and with that soil has come a certain amount of Poison Ivy. It can be found growing in a line roughly tangent to the north end of our house. There is a patch of it near a telephone pole on the farm road, another patch where our yard meets the finger of woods separating it from the farm road, another patch just north of the house, and a patch in the area through which I had to route the pipe that provides drainage to the greenhouse. By gradually pulling it up by the roots, I've managed to eradicate the Poison Ivy that had been growing immediately north of the house, making the path down to the brownhouse and greenhouse Poison Ivy free. Recently I've also been pulling up the runners of Poison Ivy trying to cross the narrow neck of yard to get to the tomato and asparagus patches. I really need to focus on that patch of Poison Ivy, as it is the most likely to cause problems; I always find myself having to mow it, and the resulting ærosol of Poison Ivy fragments generated by the weed whacker inevitably gives me some form of rash, no matter how carefully I clean myself afterward.
Today, as I finished mowing the lawn, I gave the encroaching Poison Ivy patch an especially solid weed whacking, though as I did so I could feel sharp bits of plant matter striking my ankles. Afterwards I showered and scrubbed vigorously, and then rubbed myself with the juices of the Jewel Weed plants growing prolifically near the south end of the house.
No matter what I do, though, my feet and calves are a mess. They've suffered from several mild Poison Ivy rashes, been heavily attacked by mosquitos, and have suffered from unusually persistent Athlete's Foot. So now they're covered with an archipelago of scabs, at which I find myself casually picking (particularly when seated in front of my computer). This wouldn't be so bad, except every now and then I feel that some part of my leg has become wet and sticky, and I'll look down to see a rivulet of blood pouring down from one of my scabs. Sometimes these rivulets reach the floor and leave a red patch on the carpet fragment I keep under my computer work area.

Meanwhile I've become so obsessed with iPhone development that today I returned to the project I'd finished on Monday and added a few new features, most of which related to the dynamic changing of a button. This was mostly to teach me how such things are done, but I also wanted to be sure that the thing I was handing off to my new bosses was totally awesome.
Later today, I decided to put real effort into jailbreaking my old iPhone (which has proved too primitive to use as a development tool for my new iOS 4 gig). I'd tried jailbreaking on the road (in Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy), but I'd run into problems because the computer I was trying to jailbreak it from was running Windows XP. Today, I did everything from my Mac Mini, and it would have been effortless had I used nothing but Firefox to look for the filez I needed. But for some reason I used Safari, which gives no indication that anything has happened when you download a file (terrible user design, Apple!). So I kept thinking that all the download sites I kept encountering (some of which made me wade through infuriating advertising parades) were completely bogus. But once I had my iPhone jailbroken, I felt a lot better about my recent iPad purchase (and the fact that I am training myself to become yet another cog in Apple's money extraction engine). A jailbroken iPhone is a delightful little creature that has access to multiple stores selling apps that Apple would never allow, including VOIP telephones that have no use for cell towers and the demonstrably evil telecom monopolies that install them.

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