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:
   shiny phone and a floor girder
Wednesday, October 30 2013
Gretchen had received word that, since her two year contract with Verizon was coming to an end, she was entitled to get a new phone. She had it in her mind that the phone would be free. I decided to come with her out to the Verizon store on 9W (in the ugly King's Mall Court) to help her make her selection and also to make sure the salespeople didn't sell her anything but a phone. (In most cases Gretchen can avoid being bamboozled, but her knowledge of high tech is more practical than comprehensive.)
The Verizon store was nearly empty when we arrived, and the salesman got to us promptly. He was a nice enough guy, but he seemed to rub Gretchen the wrong way, particularly after she found out that her new phone wouldn't be free. And then he brought out an armload of extra crap to sell with the phone and, when Gretchen said she could just go somewhere else and get that stuff for cheaper, he agreed but tried to explain that by buying it here (at the Verizon store!) we'd be supporting a local business. (I believe we'd been told a similar story two years ago, suggesting that it is part of the Verizon sales script.) He also said that inflated prices for the add-ons was part of the business model and helped pay for the individualized customer service. "I work at a bookstore," Gretchen retorted, "and providing customer service is just what I do as part of my job." In the end, after nearly getting some new Samsung phone (and then realizing that promotion was wrong for Gretchen's phone plan), Gretchen ended up with a Motorola Droid Ultra, a thin, wide glossy monolithic slab of miniaturized technology.
Gretchen went off to Marshall's to shop for pajamas and I drove the car (we'd come in the Subaru) to the Home Depot, where I bought a four by six by eight foot piece of treated pine for use as an under-floor girder in the deepening greenhouse first floor. I also bought two pieces of inch-diameter steel conduit to eventually be used as a pole for mounting some sort of tree-top electronics housing on. (I won't be using that Portland cement contraption I recently built; it's too heavy, though I'll find some use for it.)
Gretchen and I met again at Mother Earth's Storehouse (diagonally across the court) and had lunch in the deli area, surrounded by what appeared to be some sort of ongoing baby boom. Two young women who looked to be twins were each fussing over their respective newborns, and there were at least two pregnant bellies in evidence as well. Gretchen had a plate of salad bar and I had tempeh reuben, and though the cheese was supposed to be vegan, both Gretchen and I agreed that it was probably conventional Swiss. This was the first time in my nearly four years of veganism that I accidentally ate real cheese and wasn't in some way disappointed by the flavor. While we were there in the deli area, Nancy randomly came through and sat and talked with us for awhile. She confessed that she should be looking for a job, but that she's enjoying joblessness too much to put much effort into it. Ray must be making enough money that the pressure is off. And once Obamacare kicks in, it will be as if someone has suddenly started paying them rent.
On our way home, we stopped first at the Hudson Valley Mall to get a case for Gretchen's new phone. There are actually two mobile kiosks in the mall that sell those sorts of things, but neither had the kind needed for a Droid Ultra in stock. The two young women working at the smaller of the kiosks were excited to see it, as if it were some sort of rare species of bird. They immediately took a photograph of it to send to headquarters to alert them to its existence. And at the larger of the two kiosks (actually a small Best Buy store that is totally separate from the main Best Buy store), the phone almost slid out of the salesman's hand while he was examining it. It's a slippery little slab.
Our last stop on the way home was at Petsmart, where we looked at pet doors on Deborah's behalf. They all seemed expensive and significantly flimsier than our pet door (which has lasted ten years, though I've had to glue it back together at least three times).

Back at the house, I went down to the greenhouse and measured how long an under-joist girder (running north to south) would have to be to support the west end of the deck that forms the flooring in the eastern half of the first floor. With that figure (83 inches), I cut the freshly-purchased four-by-six to size using the electric chainsaw (it makes quick work of less precise wood cutting jobs) and then slathered the girder with asphalt on all but one of its sides. Since it will be low enough to be soaking in water some of the time, I wanted to keep the toxic chemicals from being leached out of it. But I also want it to be able to dry out when it gets wet, and so I'm leaving its topmost surface asphalt-free.
Once that was done, I figured out how to temporarily support the deck while I removed most of the remaining rock in the place where the girder will run.

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