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:
   spring mix
Wednesday, March 4 2015
Today we experience something of a thaw. There was no sun, but temperatures climbed as high as 43 degrees and there was substantial melting, particularly from the roof. The sleet and snow from yesterday took on a mushy consistency, and though it was only about two inches deep, it was heavy and shoveling it from the driveway was real exercise.
While yesterday it had been too cold for the ice-damming leaks to manifest, this afternoon they came back with a vengeance, though only in the one window under the bottom of the house's southwest roof valley. The heat tape seems to have cut a nice narrow drainage gorge through the ice, though apparently it had failed to reach all the pooling happening above it.
As part of the procrastination of several web development tasks, I finally got around to doing another procrastinated task, this one with its own time sensitivity. I started some seedlings for the garden, including Goldie Tomatoes, Purple Peacock Broccoli, and Ragged Jack Kale (our favorite kind). I would have preferred to start Cosmonaut Volkov Tomatoes, but it turned out that our household seed library was depleted of those. I started all the plants in a mix of composted cow manure and sand (bought at Home Depot) with a few cat-urine-filled lumps of World's Best Cat Litter (which is some sort of corn product). You may find that last ingredient puzzling, but over the years I've found that these lumps provide noticeable boosts to plant productivity.
Instead of starting these seedlings in the south-facing window of the dining room the way I have in past years, this year I placed them in a large tinfoil-lined cardboard box, one that a foldable kayak had arrived in. Inside that box are two fluorescent grow lamps timed to be on for 14 or 15 hours each day. Seedlings just do better with consistent grow-light illumination, and the power needs of fluorescent tubes are not high. If there's a time to justify the use of electricity for growing plants, it's just before the growing season, when the days are short and the plants are small and need lots of light.

While we're on the subject of best uses for electricity, I should mention that today we received our highest electric bill ever, $320 for two months. During a comparable time period last year, we only used $220 worth of power. The difference this year is that I've been using a small space heater to assist the hydronic zone in getting my laboratory to a comfortable temperature. Without the space heater, it's hard for the zone to do that work in anything close to a timely fashion, especially when temperatures outside are in the single digits. In a normal winter, such temperatures are only common for a couple weeks in late January, but this year they've been common for the past two months.

Earlier today, Gretchen had put in a request for "bean glurp," so this evening I came through, making a big pot of chili complete with mushrooms, onions, three kinds of beans, crushed tomatoes, nutritional yeast, white hominy, and carrots from a can of pickled jalapeños. I also made a pot of rice, though I ate my bean glurp with Stand & Stuff taco shells and watever greens I could salvage from an increasingly-slimy plastic box of organic "Spring Mix."

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