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:
   awaking on the solar deck
Wednesday, June 10 2015
Last night, Eleanor had several bouts of a snorty sort of sneeze. She'd do it four or five times, almost retching as she did so. And then she'd be fine for some hours only to do it all over again (causing us to wake up from the noise). Some upper respiratory tract disease is going around, because Ramona has been doing something similar on occasion. It's not kennel cough, because it doesn't sound anything like kennel cough (and in any case, Ramona was inoculated against it).
This morning, Gretchen took the dogs for a walk in the forest as usual, but, strangely, Eleanor didn't return at the end. That's a normal thing for Ramona to do, but not Eleanor (at least not these days). So I went out to look for her twice, each time riding up the Farm Road on my bicycle (with Ramona trotting along) to the bottom of the Chamomile Headwaters Trail (the last place Eleanor had been seen). I called her name, but she failed to materialize. The second time I went looking, I left my bike at the bottom of the Chamomile Headwaters Trail and hiked all the way over to the Stick Trail and then nearly all the way home, cutting back with a handy shortcut trail to where I'd left my bike and riding it home. Eventually I found Eleanor; she was upstairs in the teevee room (an unusual place for her to be at this time of day), but otherwise she completely normal. So I have added that to the collection of behavior to expect from her in the future (or, as they say in the world of business, "going forward").

The other day I had an idea for an Arduino-based gift designed to serve as a barometric storm warning indicator using the simplest of interfaces: a two-color LED. The idea is that when the device detects sharply-dropping air pressure, the LED displays red. Otherwise it displays green or perhaps yellow. (It would be possible to display such warnings with a single color of LED, but changing brightness would be a messy way to display information across multiple lighting environments, and changing patterns of pulses would be deeply inelegant.) Today I debugged most of the Arduino code for such a device on a cheap Chinese Arduino Uno knock-off. (I used that because it can be made to run at 3.3 volts with a flick of a switch, a necessity given that the barometric sensor is a 3.3 volt device.) The code stores the deltas between pressure readings in a ten-item array, throwing away the oldest delta every fifteen minutes, shifting all the deltas down and putting the latest delta at the top. It then scans through the history of ten deltas, adding them all together while giving the greatest weight to the most-recent delta. It then uses that sum to decide what color to display on the two-color LED on a continuum from red to green. I haven't decided which color will refer to calm and which to storm, but red seems more intuitive for the latter. This is the resulting code.

On and off for much of the day, I dealt yet again with an ongoing troubles afflicting that cursed website I work for in Los Angeles, the one that may or may not have suffered from a theft of a few credit cards. Today there emerged a problem with images getting copied to Amazon S3 servers using a complicated dance of code starting on a local machine running Filemaker and a Linux webserver running a cron job. As always, it was my job to fix the mess. But it was impossible to debug, because I don't know anything about the Filemaker client and couldn't do basic diagnostics such as seeing if Filemaker was actually uploading the images it was supposed to be uploading. I also had to fend of stupid theories about this being a database problem, when it was pretty clear to me that it was probably an SFTP problem.
So when Gretchen said we'd be meeting Jenny & Doug (the farm animal sanctuary people) at Market Market in Rosendale, I was glad to get the fuck away from my computer. I'd never actually been to Market Market before, though I've joked about it being one of the three local restaurants so nice they were named twice (the others being Yum Yum and Molé Molé). Supposedly there's outdoor seating there, so we brought both dogs. On the way to Rosendale, we stopped at that parking lot on Binnewater just north of the trestle and walked our dogs among the old cement mining infrastructure there. (It's not clear what all those ovens built into the side of a cliff did; perhaps that was how the limestone was baked to produce the cement.)
The outside area of Market Market is between the restaurant and Route 32, so the cars (and especially the motorcycles) accelerating up the hill to Tillson make it a not-entirely-pleasant place for dining. Ramona quickly befriended a little girl at the next table over, which happily didn't freak out the parents. Eventually Jenny and Doug arrived with their little three-legged dog Sophie (their only dog who gets along with both strange dogs and people and perhaps also cats). There proceeded to be an overly-long conversation about vegan mayonnaise that included an extended squeaky-wheel session with the waitress. The waitress was saying that Market Market doesn't stock vegan mayonnaise because it goes bad before it's used up, while Gretchen and Jenny were stressing how they could just use vegan mayonnaise in place of regular mayonnaise and the non-vegans wouldn't care. Given that their veggie burger contains egg and all the mayonnaise dishes contain mayonnaise, there were few options except for the Bi Bim Bop, the Pad Thai, and the Bahn Mi. Three of us (including me) got the Bahn Mi, though I got mine with fries. I'd requested mine to come with the electric-red Bi Bim Bop sauce, and that proved to be a much better dipping sauce for fries than catsup (though theirs is homemade and I did not try it). The beer options weren't great, so I ordered a Wolaver's Organic IPA in a bottle, which (perhaps because it's organic), always strikes me as an "eat your vegetables" IPA. Doug was surprised that I'd picked that over Hurricane Kitty on tap. I explained how I'd had a few bad experiences with the Kitty since coming back from Oregon and that I mostly avoid it now. But he insisted his had been great. So later, I ordered a Hurricane Kitty as a second beer, and I have to say, it was definitely better than Wolaver's. (They're rated about equal on
Back at the house, the problem with the failed image upload at that cursed website had metastasized into a full-blown crisis, complete with panicked emails and messages on the landline answering machine. My solution was to drink, make some configuration changes, and send some slightly-irritated emails, though eventually my man Michæl reached me by Skype and talked me down. He suggested I set office hours and charge more for work done outside of them.
At some point, I recreationally took an Ambien, which is always a bad idea when I've been drinking. The next memory I had was of waking up on the Solar Deck 20 feet above the ground. I'd climbed up there while in an Ambien-induced blackout. I don't want to be climbing on ladders in such a state in the future.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next