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:
   hawk, vulture, raven
Tuesday, August 18 2015
This morning Gretchen headed off again to Phoenicia to spend the next several days catsitting in a cabin belonging to a friend. There was a Red-Tailed Hawk circling in the sky to the north as she did so, but that's not an unusual thing. What was unusual was when, several minutes later, a Turkey Vulture swooped low and landed high in the tall White Pine at the south edge of the reforesting clearing around the septic field mound. I figured he or she had sensed the presence of a carcass, and I was curious where that might be. So I went out on the east deck with my Chromebook and kept an eye on the vulture while I read the Wikipedia entry about his or her kind. The vulture made a number of big clumsy movements, all of which had sounds that I could hear. And then he or she suddenly leapt from the branch and glided out through a gap in the trees at the edge of the escarpment and soared out over the Esopus Valley more than 400 vertical feet below, never needing to flap even once. Perhaps all he or she had landed in the pine to do was rest for a moment, or perhaps pull a thorn from his or her foot. As I continued watching the sky above the Esopus, I could hear and then see a Raven. He or she was soaring but not performing the usual flight acrobatics that they're famous for. There has been a fair amount of Raven activity for the past two years, including a lot of strange noises in the forest and the occasional appearance of bedraggled individuals, suggesting (to me) advanced age.
In the forest today, I gathered 123 lbs. of wood at the staging area a third of mile away on the Gullies Trail, though most of that wood was stuff I'd cut in the past. The GreenWorks saw had pretty much stopped working. Before leaving on today's firewood-gathering foray, I'd removed the plastic housing around the saw's motor so I could test it with a multimeter once it started crapping out on me. I don't normally carry a multimeter in the forest, but today was an exception. Once the saw started failing, I tested the voltages at the motor's brushes. It was reading 22 volts, which is about what it should have been, suggesting the problem was in the motor somewhere, and that if there was a short, it was not catastrophic one. I'd looked at the carbon brushes (which, on the 10 inch model, are obviously designed without replacement in mind) and they'd seemed okay. My guess was that the coils on the rotor were either shorting or a connection between them had gone bad. Perhaps the many occasions that I'd allowed the saw to overheat had either broken down the armature wire's enamel or a soldered connection. (With the exception of the lithium battery, the technology involved here is strictly 19th Century.)
In any case, it's possible to get a replacement saw with no battery or charger for $50. Since that comes with a chain (a $20 value), that means I can essentially replace the motor for $30, which isn't terrible. Technically, the saw should still be within its two year warranty, but I was forced to nullify that warranty when it turned out that the shop I'd been steered to for warranty repairs was no longer doing them (and I didn't want to fuck around; doing things by the book is often a lot more aggravating and expensive in terms of time, postage, and fuel than violating the warranty and fixing something myself).
I made a small recreational french press of kratom tea today, and this time it kind of sickened me as I drank it. But drink it I did. I can't say it felt too good in my body, and this time the feeling from it lingered even once I started drinking and eating (things I usually put off for awhile after drinking the tea). There might have been a little pleasantness to the feeling here and there, but it's a hard thing to put my finger on. Sometimes just feeling different is what I want, even when that different isn't necessarily better than my normal state.
This evening I met Gretchen at Alebrijes, the newish Mexican place in Uptown. But it was closed, so we went to Stella's (the old school Italian restaurant) instead. We were meeting our friends Jasmin and Mary Ann again, just like we had the last time Gretchen was catsitting in Phoenicia. This was the first time we'd ever sat outside in Stella's tiny little nook adjacent to the rooved sidewalk of Front Street. The food consisted of all the lovely things that come as a matter of course (bread, bruschetta, bean spread, and salad) and multiple copies of the two pasta dishes that can be made vegan. I don't remember much about our conversation, but I do remember sweating profusely near the end of the meal. It was reaction to overeating, the heat and humidity of the evening, and, I'm certain, that kratom tea I'd had earlier.
Gretchen wanted to show the others some guerilla animal rights advocacy someone had done earlier, and on the walk there, we came upon an unexpected sight: a photobooth on the north side of Front Street at the Wall Street intersection. Who knew photobooths were still a thing? We all crammed into it and, after some minutes, it spewed out four black & white photos on a glossy sheet of paper.

A couple photos from that photobooth

Gretchen pointing at the guerilla animal rights advocacy she wanted to show Jasmin & Mary Ann.

I drove home alone and continued my evening with the dogs, cats, and various objects controlled by microprocessors. Eventually I watched a bunch of television, including the Nova episode on the Fukushima nuclear disaster (thanks, David Koch!). As always, the program plodded along repetitively, in this case featuring heavy reuse of an animation of a core meltdown. I hadn't really thought of it, but Japan has an unusually large concentration of nuclear shitholes, and the future is only just getting started. What would it be like if society in its present form somehow lasted for many hundreds of years? Would the surface of the earth gradually become one big no-go zone from the steady drumbeat of nuclear accidents?
I've been DVRing a "reality" show called Treasure Quest: Snake Island, which purports to document a group of white adventurers trying to find lost Incan gold on an island off the coast of Brazil. I've generally found adventure reality shows interesting, especially when they involve gold. I get a special schadenfreudish thrill from watching idiots squander their time and money looking for and failing to find the most gaudy of metals. But Treasure Quest: Snake Island is almost unwatchable. The treasure hunt is slow going, and much of the drama centers on all the snakes living on the island where the gold might be buried (this is why it's called "Snake Island." These snakes, we're told, are deadly poisonous, and they're everywhere. Indeed, one of the treasure hunters is dedicated to the task of looking out for them and moving them out of the way when need be. After watching one scene after another involving snakes and people freaking out about them (but never coming into contact with them), I started fast-forwarding in hopes of seeing something more interesting. Reality shows frequently highlight dangerous animals as a cheap way of producing scenes that terrify and thrill (evidently this is a common reaction among humans). In this way, the television experience becomes a little like watching porn. Over and over you see the same basic thing happen, and it always goes the same way, and yet you keep watching. Treasure Quest: Snake Island could, of course, produce a better show if they were to perhaps look into the behavior and history of the snakes of Snake Island. What do they eat? Why are they so numerous? How do they raise their young? What websites do they frequent? But no, all we're ever told about them is that they are numerous and extremely dangerous. In parts of the island where there are no snakes, attempts are made to terrify us with other creatures such as sea urchins. The idiot who is supposed to protect the other adventurers from snakes managed to fuck himself up by somehow performing frottage on a sea urchin shortly after venturing into the water, and nowhere are we told that these creatures are essentially sessile, that to hurt yourself with one you have to make an effort. (I saw plenty of that same species of sea urchin when I was in Curaçao, and it was a simple matter to float above them. They are so harmless that I don't even remember my helicoptery brother and sister in-laws cautioning their kids about them.)

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