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:
   no shade time of the year
Wednesday, April 29 2015
Today was so gorgeous that Gretchen and I celebrated with a french press of decaf (the totem of late middle age, though we're not there yet), which we drank in the yard. For once I was looking at a real book instead of an LCD screen, though in this case it was the O'Reilly book about writing Linux device drivers (which had been languishing for years in the laboratory bookshelf; I think I bought it before I learned about Arduino in 2006, when it seemed that if I ever wanted to make my own computer-controlled devices I was going to have to learn how to write device drivers in C).
Later Gretchen and I drove into Uptown Kingston to meet our friend Cathy the Falafeleer at Outdated. While Gretchen went on ahead to meet Cathy and order my tempeh reuben and coffee, I drove around looking for a shady place to park. I'd taken the Subaru so that on the way home I could gather some topsoil and we could walk the dogs in the corn fields, and the sun was too strong to be leaving Eleanor and Ramona in an unshaded car. Unfortunately, though, it seems that a sunny day in late April is perhaps the worst time of year to find a shaded parking spot. The sun is too high to cast shadows except on the south sides of streets lined with tall buildings, and the the only trees producing shade are evergeens. John Street, a convenient east-west street with parking on it only has parking on its north side. Front Street allows parking on both sides and the buildings are tall enough to cast useful shadows, but all the parking spots were taken. It was looking like I wasn't going to find any shade at all as I passed Outdated, but at that moment Gretchen ran out into the street to say, no problem, we'd be eating at a table outside. So I immediately parked right there on Wall Street (a north-south street with no shade whatsoever). I only had one leash in the Subaru, so I had to improvise one for Eleanor using a piece of hemp rope. In all the commotion of parking and getting the dogs out of the car, I forgot to drop money in the parking meter, and within ten minutes a burly gentleman in a bright green vest appeared and wrote my car a ticket. I'd never even seen a Kingston meter maid before. At $25, the fine wasn't a much of a catastrophe. In any case, Gretchen and I are happy to support our community.
Gretchen ordered the "meat lovers'" vegan sandwich, which came with fake sausage, slabs of tempeh, and other things. While we ate our food, a constant stream of pedestrians went past, a surprising number of whom we actually knew. Ramona mistook a jogger as a prey animal and lunged at his leg, which the jogger momentarily labeled a bite, though there didn't appear to be any injury. (Had Eleanor grabbed him, though, there surely would have been blood.)
I didn't speak much during the conversation, though occasionally I'd chime in. Cathy told us something about her backstory, how her parents, though Jewish, had been seekers and had actually been Roman Catholic at the time of her birth (thus her decidedly non-Isræli name). Growing up in Isræl, she learned to speak Hebrew like a native, though (since her parents were American), she has always also spoken English (though with a bit of an accent). She says she prefers to read Hebrew and says that when she writes, her spelling is terrible. This led me to interject the concept of "spelling like an atheist," which I learned on Facebook. In a nutshell, it is this: the better the spelling and grammer of a person writing a post, the more likely it is that that person is an atheist. This led into a conversation about recent Isræli politics, and how Isræl is being dominated these days by what Cathy calls "mezuzah kissers" (religious crazies). Her husband is an arline pilot for El Al, and El Al pilots, Cathy said, tend to be leftwingers. She told the story of how somber the mood was in the cockpit after her husband touched down in Isræl at the end of the recent election and the pilots finally learned of Netanyahu's surprise victory.
After that, somehow Gretchen got to telling our love story and then Cathy told hers (it was complicated and involved airplanes and multiple male suitors).
On the way home, we stopped at my dirt mine (the chain across the road farm road was back, so I had to mine from the mine I started earlier in the season) and took the dogs on a fairly long walk along the Esopus. The field had been freshly plowed and seemed to be gathering solar energy like a parking lot (though its albedo was much higher than it would have been had it been freshly rained on). We saw lots of potential picnic spots down in the Esopus, which wanders back and forth dramatically and contains a surprising number of islands (which, in some places, constitute whole archipelagos). It also seemed like a great potential place to go kayaking.
Back at the house, I added the five new buckets of soil to the southwest corner of the cabbage patch and then actually broadcast seeds of Purple Savoy cabbage in the expanded territory. That brings to three the number or vegetable types growing in that patch and to 40 the number of buckets of Esopus levee soil it contains.

I have several LCD panels that can display character-based data as four 20-character lines. I use one to display temperatures on the solar controller in the boiler room and will probably eventually use one to display data from all the AmbientWeather temperature probes (the protocol supports up to eight probes, though no AmbientWeather display console can actually display more than four temperatures at a time). There are several problems with these modules (they only display character-based data, and the number of characters being displayed is rather small in comparison to other inexpensive graphical options), but the characters it displays are fairly big and readable from a distance. When attached to an Atmega328 (or any Arduino), the biggest problem with these modules is the number of digital pins they require (either 7 or 11). Indeed, to permit all the functionality I needed on my Solar Controller, I was forced to offload the LCD driving to a second Atmega328 (which also ended up hosting several auxiliary features, such as reading the infrared signal from a remote used to control it in the absence of an attached computer). That auxillary Atmega328 communicates via I2C, the serial bus that allows dozens of devices to communicate while only dedicating two pins each. Ideally, though, the LCD itself would communicate via I2C, and I could simply add a display to any Arduinoesque device by clipping an LCD display to its four-wire I2C bus. With that in mind, some days ago, I took delivery of a couple tiny boards designed to solder onto the displays' wide parallel bus and then communicate via I2C. These tiny boards came on a slow boat from China and cost only $1 each (shipping is somehow free). I was a little skeptical that something so cheap would work reliably, but today when I tried one out and installed the necessary libary (LiquidCrystal_I2C), it worked great. So that looks like it will be my new standard for displaying character-based data directly on a microcontroller-based device.

This evening, my troll Suzy was in a generous mood, so she accepted the friendship of someone calling himself Lchaish Lchaish even though he had no friends he shared with her. Certain "friendships" with Suzy follow a predictable trajectory: the guy, speaking broken English, sends a private message saying "hello" and "how are you?" at random times, often persistently. Suzy usually ignores such messages, but today she (that is, I) decided to act like a poorly-programmed chatbot, one that would never pass a Turing Test (not that it would matter for most "friends" of this sort, whose "programming" is also a little shy of Turing-Test-ready). But Suzy soon abandoned the act after Lchaish Lchaish stated that he was from Iraq. I was relaying the chat to Sara Poiron as it happened, and the news that he was from Iraq made her make me ask about Iran. As Sara riffed about the possibility that Lchaish Lchaish was in ISIS, he said he didn't like Iran, so I asked if he was Sunni or Shiite. He said Sunni and that he was from northern Iraq. I asked if he was from Tikrit. No, he said. So I asked if he was from Mosul. Yes, he was from Mosul. Holy shit! Right now, Mosul is under the control of ISIS. Indeed, it was in the Mosul Museum that ISIS filmed themselved destroying priceless ancient relics (many of which were, it turned out later, plaster copies) because they dated to a time prior to Islam. Suddenly now I wanted to hear all about life in Mosul under ISIS (which I referred to using the derogatory term "DAESH," a word I have recently begun using as a onomatopoeic synonym for "dog shit" as I pick it up in the yard). Sadly, though, Lchaish Lchaish did not want to talk about DAESH. He said he didn't like DAESH, but he would not engage me when I asked about sawing off human heads or destroying priceless sculptures. All he wanted to do was talk about sex. Perhaps he thought that sending me a jpeg of a bunch of flowers was sufficient romance before getting to the business at hand, asking Suzy for a photograph of her pussy and asking if she wanted pictures of his penis. "Easy tiger," Suzy replied, trying to get back to the subject of DAESH, but Lchaish Lchaish only had one thing on his mind. I guess living in a city occupied by religious cutthroats focuses the mind on the essentials of human existence, but it was a little puzzling that Lchaish Lchaish didn't better exploit the storytelling opportunity his situation provided him. As I posted chunks of our ongoing thread to Sara Poiron, she shared my dismay. How could someone surviving DAESH not want to talk about it? By comparison, the subject of sex (particularly internet sex) seemed shabby and dull. In the end, following a suggestion from Sara, I sent Lchaish Lchaish off to bother another woman in the trolliverse, though she apparently wasn't online and before the night was over Lchaish Lchaish was back and had sent Suzy two pictures that he claimed were of his penis. He'd better hope DAESH hasn't found a way to monitor his internet traffic.

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