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:
   Flying Squirrel happy ending
Monday, September 21 2015
I'd gotten up at about 4:30am and did my best to feed the baby Flying Squirrel, though he continued to be a reluctant eater. After I'd done the best I could, I had trouble getting back to sleep, but when I did, I slept until nearly 11:00am, which was a long time for the squirrel to be without. But he didn't seem to care much, eating for about 20 seconds and then trying to snuggle away between my fingers. Meanwhile Gretchen was calling every wildlife rehabilitator she could and leaving messages (nobody younger than sixty answers calls from strangers these days). By this point, I'd identified the squirrel as definitely male and Gretchen had decided his name was Lester.

Lester the Flying Squirrel. (Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

Eventually a wildlife rehabilitator who works at the nearby Cornell University Extension (near the Hannaford in Uptown Kingston) agreed to take Lester off our hands, so we packed him up in his big grapefruit jar on top of a couple heated gel freezer packs and drove him into Kingston. The woman who took him seemed to know a lot about rescuing squirrels and even claimed to have a special squirrel milk formula back at her place that was even better than Esbilac. Initially she touched Lester and thought he'd gone cold again, but no, he was getting some heat from those gel packs. Once we left the Cornell Extension, a huge weight was off my shoulders. I'd gotten Lester to the place he needed to be and, as far as I knew, the story would go on to have a plausible happy ending.
Back at the house, I made a firewood gathering foray not far down the Stick Trail, where I gathered 100.4 pounds of fallen Chestnut Oak, making for a fairly easy hike back home. Again, I was wearing nothing but Crocs and boxer shorts.
I found Gretchen down in the basement moving the smaller things back to where they needed to be in the aftermath of the recent floor resurfacing project. Part of her goal was to ascertain whether or not the remaining shag carpet in her library was free of cat piss or would also need to be thrown out. I'd already detected a couple feline hot spots on the remaining carpet, but I was keeping mum; if Gretchen gave it the okay, that would be less work for me. Once she had the carpet clear, she went around on all fours sniffing it and quickly reported that it was good. Soon thereafter, she detected a single urine hotspot in the northwest corner of the carpet near the libary's little-used second door and proposed cutting that part of the carpet out as well, since it forms a little hall-like extension from the square shape of the bulk of the carpet. But yesterday while at PetSmart buying Esbilac, I'd also bought a bottle of a product called Urine Destroyer, and I suggested that we should at least try using that first. We could attack the hotspot from both the top and bottom, and if Urine Destroyer works at all, it should work when used this way. So she agreed, and I went at it. Later, after Gretchen was gone, I went around on all fours until I found two of the hotspots I already knew about as well as two other I discovered, and I attacked all four with Urine Destroyer. The library no longer smells anything like cat piss, though I can't say I'm a big fan of the fragrance that is present in Urine Destroyer.
For the past four or five days, the circulator pump for the solar hot water collector has been stuck in the on position. I haven't wanted to tackle this problem just now, so my solution has been to turn off the circuit breaker powering it every night and then turn it back on in the morning. This evening, though, I began to investigate the problem. I opened up the relay-based solar controller box (which serves as a sort of 19th-Century-level-technological "reptilian brain" to the Arduino-based "cortex" of the solar sufficiency controller. In the "reptilian box" there is a big relay that switches on the 120 volts necessary to drive the pump when conditions are appropriate. I suspected it had failed in a way that kept its contacts in the closed position. Unfortunately, I'd designed the "reptilian box" without ever considering the need to replace the large relay (perhaps because it looked like the sort of thing that should basically last forever). I'd shrouded it behind a piece of bent aluminum sheet metal to isolate its 120 volt contacts, but I'd attached this sheet metal using bolts that were difficult to remove without first removing the whole "reptilian box" from the wall. Using needle-nosed pliers, I was able to remove the screws, and once they were gone, I decided to replace them with a different fastener technology, one that barely existed when I'd built this box: rare-earth magnets. I superglued a couple to the aluminum sheet metal so that they'd be drawn up against the steel sheet metal of the "reptilian box" and stay there until the next time I needed to get in there. Interestingly, by the way, once I got a look at the large relay, it seemed to be behaving normally. This suggested that it actually wasn't the problem.
The other emergent crisis in the basement is the water damage in the ceiling above the south-end of the walk-in closet. Late tonight (at around midnight), I cleared everything out from beneath that ceiling and began sawing at the drywall with a key saw. It take long to find the problem: there was a tiny leak in the joint between two pieces of PVC carrying water from the sinks in both the first floor half-bath and the bathroom on the second floor. Evidently the joint had been formed improperly 20 years ago and either failed recently or was subjected to strange conditions that caused it to flood. I suspect the problem is a combination of the two; I couldn't produce a single drip even when running lots of water in the first floor half bath; all I could see was the glistening of a little water coming out around the joint and staying there due to surface tension. What probably happened was that, as a consequence of Gretchen's "mellow yellow" flushing behavior, a massive quantity of toilet paper suddenly got introduced into the plumbing below where the upstairs bathroom sinks drain. There it lingered for a time and formed a little dam. At that point someone ran an enormous amount of water in the sink, and it backed up behind the obstruction and flooded the imperfect joint in the PVC.

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