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:
   late-summer garden fatigue
Saturday, August 15 2015
I can always tell when my backpack firewood load is up above 130 pounds when I'm climbing the several steps I've installed in the mountain goat path behind the woodshed. I don't think my legs have the strength to climb a step with a load any greater than 155 pounds, and above 130 pounds, I usually reach out with my left hand to grab onto a big chunk of Red Oak (a remnant of this one) that happens to be there at the steps. Today's load, from the same tree I'd cut from yesterday, came to 136 pounds. The wood is probably Chestnut Oak and is perfectly seasoned. As always for this stuff, the brownish-purple heartwood contains a number of tiny borer holes and nearly all the sapwood has either rotted away or turned into a material that resembles cork.

This evening, Gretchen made a dinner of rice noodles & tempeh and invited over our friend Michæl (of Michæl & Carrie; Carrie still is working as something of a nanny for her sister in Los Angeles). He came over with a bunch of stuff: veggies from his garden, a watermelon, four microbrews, and a new favorite indulgence: chickpea chips. Gretchen and I don't really eat watermelon, so he ended up taking that on to his next social call.
I wanted Michæl to look at the strange cucumber-like plant that has taken over part of our garden and sent runners dozens of feet out into our yard. He agreed it looked like some sort of squash or melon, but what of the fruit? It is now festooned with hundreds if not thousands of flowers, all receiving careful attention from the local Bumble Bee populations (individuals of which I frequently rescue from drowning in the nearby kiddie pool). I managed to find some nascent fruit where the mystery plant had climbed up the mosquito tent. They came in clusters of six or eight green "fruits," each (at least at this stage) about the size of a pea, the shape of an arrowhead and covered in course hairs. I bit into one and it had a somewhat cucumber-like taste. From there, I gave Michæl a brief tour of the garden. It's neglected and parts are very weedy, but the cabbage patch is prolific and gorgeous, as are the towering sunflowers (a strain we've been growing every year since at least 2006) and dense patches of lettuce (one a strain from a seed packet illustrated by Michæl himself). Michæl said his garden is also overrun with weeds, a consequence of too little time to spend on it and inevitable late-summer garden fatigue.
Out on the east deck over dinner, Michæl told us the dreary tale of attending a Mormon wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah. His 20 year old niece had joined that particular cult and gotten married. Because Michæl and most of his family are not Mormon, they weren't permitted to attend the actual wedding itself, which takes place in the temple (a place where non-Mormons are forbidden to go). Instead, they stood in the back of the temple at a set of doors where freshly-married Mormons are disgorged. Because Mormon is the most American of religions, it has adopted industrial efficiencies in the mass production of Mormon marriages. So Michæl and the other non-Mormons saw a great many other blandly-jubilant young Mormon couples burst forth from those doors before the ones he'd come to see did so. Most weddings are best undertaken under the influence alcohol (if not more), but, unless one comes prepared, Mormon weddings have to be undertaken stone cold sober. The irony, of course, is that the insufferably obnoxious blandness of many of the other attendees is precisely the sort of thing that would make most reasonable people want to drink even more. An example of this was a conversation Michæl found himself having with a guy whose business is to operate a retail chain in ports-of-call in various places where American cruise ships dock. Otherwise, you know, American tourists might get AIDS from interacting with exotic locals and handling the non-mass-produced trinkets they sell.
Another interesting thing Michæl told us about is his father, whom he now finds completely insufferable. These days his father operates an internet service provider in a remote Utah village. It's a cobbled-together system that uses WiFi, antennas, and towers, and, in the treeless West, it kind of works. But there are problems, and apparently Michæl's father has terrible people skills. He fields tech support calls with weakly-concealed contempt, but people stick with him because he's the only game in town. In recent years, his father has leased property to a cellphone tower and now makes a good baseload of income just from that. Michæl says that he used to respect his father a lot more and even think he was kind of "cool" in a gruff sort of way, but in recent years his attitude has changed, largely (I gathered) due to Carrie's opinion. She hates the man. This rather reminds me of how Gretchen affected my opinion of my mother. I used to sort of think she was cool and creative, but now I view her as an unpleasant, hopelessly inflexible, deeply-selfish, and not especially bright woman. In the past, my other friends and girlfriends always seemed to like my mother, but Gretchen called bullshit on her early in our relationship.

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