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:
   a good use for marijuana crumbs
Wednesday, June 3 2015
The other day I'd been looking up Big Boggle on the Internet and came across something called Super Big Boggle. Instead of being a five by five grid of letter cubes (like Big Boggle) or a puny four by four grid (like regular Boggle), it's an astounding six by six grid. I immediately ordered it. Today it arrived, and I turned the box immediately over to Gretchen, saying it was a present for her (and then I started mumbling through a half-assed version of "Happy Birthday," the song that is still not in the public domain).
Gretchen was amazed and excited not only that such a version of Boggle existed, but that she held it in her hands. She immediately wanted to play a game. So we threw a blanket down on the grass and played a game. Given the number of words we expected to see, we made the minimum word length five characters. But, strangely, we didn't see as many words as we expected. The problem with letters delivered by a semi-randomized process in a two-dimensional grid is that letters tend to clump in unhelpful ways, with consonants imprisoned behind impregnable walls of other consonants with which they are never juxtaposed in English words. Super Big Boggle tries to help with this problem with wildcard cubes and cubes with common two-letter juxtapositions. While the former opens up all kinds of possibilities, the latter was mostly useless. We played three games I think, and in one of those I only managed to find three words. Gretchen always did significantly better than me, but her game was off too. Perhaps Super Big Boggle has a greater chance of producing unproductive grids, but when it produces good grids, they are really excellent.
Today I turned my attention to my barometric windvane again, trying to make sure all of its five directional pressure-measuring tubes were functioning correctly. All but one were airtight (that is, they were functionally identical to test tubes and only admitted air into their open ends). Unfortunately, the downward-facing tube, designed to measure airspeed regardless of direction, proved to have a leak through the manifold into the space where the electronics will be contained. It had been the fitting with the largest opening for the passage of wires, and evidently I'd never completely sealed it despite using lots of Seal-All adhesive sealant. I couldn't access the leak from its sensor end, since the sensor itself was now in the way, so I had to deal with it from the electronics end, where lots of wires were in my way. I tried blowing into the pipe and checking for breezes, but they were too feeble to feel. Next I tried holding a fluffy paintbrush near possible leaks as I blew, but that didn't show anything. I needed to test it with smoke. But what kind of smoke? It had to be something I could safely hold in my lungs, which narrowed my substances down to only one: marijuana.
So I loaded some crappy marijuana crumbs into a pipe, took a long hit, and then blew through into the sensor tube. Smoke came out, but it was hard to see where. I set up a bright light near a mirror, took another long hit, and this time could see where in the bundles of wire the leak was coming from. I gooped fresh Seal-All into the site of the leak, and then sucked on the sensor tube to draw the Seal-All into the leak. Seal-All is nasty stuff, so I was careful to only inhale its vapors into my mouth and then immediately blow them out.
As you might imagine, a side effect of this unorthodox use of marijuana was that I got stoned. I actually got really quite stoned even though I never inhaled enough smoke to cough or feel even slightly uncomfortable, giving lie to the maxim, "If you don't cough, you don't get off." Indeed, two hours later when it came time to drive to Woodstock, I was perhaps a bit too stoned to drive, though I drove anyway, feeling the whole time as though I was on the edge of an anxiety attack. Usually I drink alcohol when I smoke pot, but today was not a drinking day for me.
Gretchen and I drove to Woodstock at a little after 6:00pm to attend the season's first Woodstock Farm Festival. We only go to those because of Aba's Falafel, and Gretchen had arranged with a bunch of friends to meet us there. We also brought blankets, our dogs, and two devices designed to help us keep them out of trouble. They each consisted of a helical stake that could be screwed into the ground and, from a spring-loaded spool at the top, release a finite-length of leash to attach to a dog.
When we arrived at the little park where the festival is held, it turned out that our friends were there already at a picnic table, and they were already eating their falafel. We got in line and eventually got our falafel, but it was complicated when the woman from the farm animal sanctuary in Willow appeared and wanted me to get her a falafel too. But how was it to be paid for? And didn't her husband want one too? These are the sorts of questions you don't want swirling in your head when you are stoned but not drunk.
Eventually everyone came to our blanket where we had the dogs staked out. Those present included Ray and Nancy with their dog Jack and Eva and Sandor. Seeing the woman from Willow was sort of a surprise because she hadn't been invited. Why? Because Eva used to work with her, and, as with most of people who used to work with her, the two are no longer on speaking terms. I didn't realize how cold their relationship was until I saw her and her husband walking out way to join us and then suddenly turn around and leave. It was as if Eva had set up a force field. Indeed, in the process of making light of what had just happened, I pantomimed reaching out and touching an unseen wall, at which point I used my lips to synthesize the sound of an electric chair in operation.
The dog stakes didn't work as well as we'd expected. The dogs kept getting the lines crossed or whipping them through and among us, exposing us to the possibility of rope burns. And then when the dogs wanted to go somewhere, they weren't used to the idea of being on long leashes, so they (especially Ramona) would charge at full speed only to be snapped suddenly to a stop when the spool could produce no more leash. At a little over 60 pounds, Ramona was a bit larger than the stake's 55 pound limit. That concerned Gretchen but not me; I assumed the stake had some built-in margin for error. Perhaps I wasn't factoring in Ramona's unfamiliarity with leashes and her incredible running strength.
Near the end of our falafel eating, a cute little Pit Bull puppy came wiggling across the park, and when Ramona hit the end of her leash in hopes of playing with it, the spool made a sickening snap. After that, its spring had to be coaxed to take up the slack. Then I noticed that the lead had managed to saw an inch and a half into the housing, only stopping once it encountered a steel screw. Further investigations showed that an important protective ferrule around the leash had disappeared, and that was what allowed it to now act like a saw. I also noticed that now the helical stake was bent about 20 degrees from vertical, although I was able to straighten it back to the way it had been by brute strength right there in the park.

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