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:
   too much kratom
Thursday, July 30 2015

location: southeast shore, Twenty Ninth Pond, remote Minerva Township, Essex County, New York

This morning, as always, we were out on the dock drinking our coffee and eating our breakfast (which, for me, was either toast with hummus or toast with pesto-bean dip). Throckmorton the Loon was near the cape that separates the two northern lobes of the pond, gradually drifting into the northeast lobe as he groomed himself, a long and time-consuming process that kept him above the surface and allowed us to watch him with binoculars. Then, unexpectedly, he began running and then soared up into the air. He climbed to about the treeline and proceeded to circle the pond clockwise, staying more or less over its shoreline as he did so. He circled it about three times, let out a loud mournful call, and then flew off towards the northwest. We would never see him again. Evidently he had decided that, though it is rich in fish, Twenty Ninth Pond isn't a suitable loon nesting site. This probably has something to do with the fact that, unlike Lake Edward, it contains no islands (which is where loons prefer to nest). It could also be that, as an unmated male loon, he has no need to stay any one lake for the duration of the summer.
There was an unexpected rain that came in the early afternoon. It was light at first but gradually ramped up into a downpour. The porch of our cabin was deep enough for us to enjoy the rain in the outdoors; indeed, I kept working at my Arduino code through the whole thing.
After the rain relented, I went off in the kayak to the western shore to look for evidence of beaver actvity. I got out of the kayak and walked among uphill through the woods. In so doing, I discovered something interesting: though nearly all the trees along the pond's shoreline were evergreen (mostly spruce and fir with a little hemlock and White Pine), about 80 feet inland, the forest became an entirely deciduous mix of birch, Sugar Maple and American Beech. The most common deciduous trees around our house, oaks and hickories, were entirely absent, though there might have been a few White Ashes. I had a feeling that beavers were the reason for the distance between the shoreline and the deciduous trees. Indeed, there was evidence that beavers had started eating hemlock; perhaps it's the least-bad of evergreens. In terms of evidence of beaver activity, I found a couple stumps that weren't any younger than a year, as well as a couple skid paths of indeterminate freshness (their freshness could theoretically be maintained by other creatures using them to get into and out of the water).
Soon after returning from that adventure, the skies opened up for a second time and I continued my computer work on the porch. I was building out the weather client code, implementing a passthrough system that allowed certain commands reaching the client via its downstream serial port to be forwarded via the second serial port to the barometric windvane, which would respond to them and then send data back which would then be forwarded out by the client. With some commands, uch as those using the initial verb "d" as in "display", the data would be routed to the barometric windvane as a command beginning with "p" (for print) and the resulting data would be intercepted by the client and routed to the Digole LCD for display there. In other cases, the commands only affect the client or the barometric windvane. I also made a verb called "b" (for "both") allowing data from the barometric windvane to both be forwarded out via the client's main serial port and also displayed on the Digole LCD. Since the Digole displays are themselves complicated devices, I also implemented a bunch of command sequences for setting and changing LCD settings such as font size and color.
Late this afternoon, I decided to make some recreational kratom tea using one of the cabin's two coffee machines. I soon had a big pot half-full of olive-green tea. I didn't have the vinegar (or lemon juice) for "activating" it, but I figured my stomach acids would be able to accomplish that on their own. As I continued work on my Arduino stuff, I started having a good kratom buzz. I felt alert but calm, energized, but not frazzled. At some point I decided to go pour myself another cup from the teapot. But when I stood up, I realized I might have had too much kratom. It's hard to say exactly what that feels like, but it's not too different from the feeling of having taken too much of any drug. A worry came over me about what the hell I would tell Gretchen if I started feeling much worse. And then I tried to find a way to relax, though that was difficult given the general malaise that had overtaken my body. I got up from my computer and went and sat in one of the Adirondack chairs at the south end of the porch and tried as best I could to read from a couple of field guides I'd found in the cabin's nature library. At some point I decided some sun might help, so I took a book entitled Adirondack Mammals (by D. Andrew Saunders, copyright 1988) down to the dock (where Gretchen was reading a work a fiction) and proceeded to read about beavers. I was hoping to get a more in-depth detailing of what species of trees they prefer, but all I got was that birch and aspen are their favorites (there is no aspen on Twenty Ninth Pond). I would've also liked a reminder of the evolutionary relationships between groups of North American rodents (especially which groups are descended from rodents that rafted from Africa to South America when it was still an island continent). But I suspect that, unlike Wikipedia, Adirondack Mammals was written before that rafting was well understood.
Before long, I was largely recovered from my kratom overdose, so I grabbed a Rolling Rock beer and went kayaking towards the northeast corner of the pond. Along the way, I looked up at the now mostly-blue sky to watch big fluffy fair-weather cumulus clouds drift eastward and setting in the trees above the pond. I beached the kayak at the shoreline near the third beaver lodge and climbed up into the forest with my beer. The terrain above the shoreline in this area is steep, sometimes taking the form of low granite cliffs and jumbles of huge cube-shaped boulders. I couldn't find any evidence of beaver activity aside from a few very old sticks with rounded ends that had clearly been chewed off by rodent teeth. As with the west shoreline, the trees nearest the shore here were all evergreen, though the forest further in was a mix of evergreen and deciduous. There were a number of large white Lactarius mushrooms on the forest floor, and there were a great many dead Paper Birches that had evidently died of old age (they don't live long). None of these showed any sign of beaver damage at their bases.
The kayak I've been piloting is actually a two-seater with a large uncovered floorplan. So when I paddled up to the dock, I encouraged Ramona to climb in. It wasn't easy paddling where he in front of me, since her body occupied the space where the paddle would normally go, and whenever she moved she threatened to throw the whole thing out of balance, but I nevertheless paddled us to the south end of the pond, where I let Ramona off on a tiny hummock (I hesitate to call it an island) where she proceeded to chew on an old stick. After a couple minutes, I paddled her back to the dock. This was merely a proof-of-concept for the idea of kayaking with a dog. It's doable in some kayaks, but it's not really very practical.

When we're at a cabin on a lake, I usually prepare one non-barbecue meal, and tonight was my turn. As always, I made a Mexican meal using (in this case) overpriced beans from Whole Foods. We'd neglected to bring our own cooking oil with us for this trip, so we've been subsisting on Price Chopper soybean oil. Gretchen insisted it was horrible, but I ended up using a fair amount of it when sautéing the mushrooms and onions, and the result was nearly as delicious as always (despite a lack of certain ingredients such as hominy and canned tomatoes). With the bean glurp, I diced lettuce, tomatoe, cilantro and even scallions. I also toasted a bunch of Garden-of-Eaten-brand taco shells, but they weren't any better than crappy Old El Paso brand, which at least has a stand & stuff option. Without that, a taco shell can't really hold any more than a trace of anything.

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