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:
   93% of my estimate
Thursday, December 24 2015
Over night, temperatures had warmed dramatically and there was no need for a fire in the woodstove. Freakishly, though, wood I'd loaded into it much earlier (at around 5:00pm yesterday) had caught fire during the night and there were still a large mass of glowing coals in the firebox. I turned up the air in hopes of burning it all up quickly so I could remove the ashes, though ultimately I had to remove the coals and place them in a separate heat-tolerant place (the lid of my ash bucket) while I did the chore. The coals were so hot that they quickly scorced a piece of firewood the lid had been leaning against.
Today's ash weight came to 10.85 pounds, which was only 0.4 pounds more ashes than I'd removed from the firebox a month ago. But the difference in wood burned was not proportional to that difference in the weight of ashes. Clearly, there is something else going on that I'm missing. There's also the issue of water evaporation: I brought 2698.62 pounds of wood into the house over that ash-generating period, and 926.75 pounds remain unburnt on the wood rack and piled around the stove. But perhaps that unburnt weight would be greater if the moisture it has lost was taken into accouunt, which would decrease the 1771.67 pounds that result when subtracting the remaining unburnt weight from the total collected weight. But it wouldn't decrease it by more 495 pounds, which is what it would have to be to keep ash production proportionate to wood burnt. Other factors include species of tree (which has changed little) and the heat of the fire (which hasn't been spectacularly different either). So this data is asking more questions than it answers. We'll see what happens during the next ash collection period. In the meantime, here is the ever-expanding table of firewood burning data:

Number of daysAsh
Est. firewood burntEst. firewood/day
Nov 14-Dec 19 20133613.5 lbs0.27 cords29 lbs
Dec 20 2013-Jan 22 20143320.5 lbs0.41 cords48 lbs
Jan 23-Feb 19 20142824 lbs0.48 cords66.23 lbs
Feb 20-Mar 20 20142916 lbs0.32 cords42.63 lbs
Apr 21 2014-Aug 16 201411810.6 lbs0.21 cords6.94 lbs
Aug 17-Dec 12 201411820.8 lbs0.41 cords13.62 lbs
Dec 13-Dec 26 2014145.8 lbs0.116 cords32.02 lbs
Dec 27 2014-Feb 2 201538 (31)13.75 lbs0.275 cords27.96 lbs (34.27 lbs)
Feb 3-Mar 5 20153112.25 lbs0.245 cords (actual firewood burned closer to 0.75 cords)31.12 (inaccurate)
Mar 6-Mar 31 2015268.4 lbs0.168 cords (actual firewood burned closer to 0.25 cords)24.97 (inaccurate)
Apr 1-Jul 25 201511611.8 lbs0.236 cords (much of which was paper ash)7.86
July 26-Oct 1 20156810.35 lbs0.207 cords (nearly all of which was paper/cardboard ash)11.7
Oct 2-Nov 19 20154910.45 lbs0.209 cords (est)
1229.4 lbs (measured)
0.293 cords (calculated)
16.4 (est)
25.09 (calculated)
Nov 20-Dec 23 20153410.85 lbs0.217 cords (est)
1771.67 lbs (measured)
0.422 cords (calculated)
24.66 (est)
52.1 (calculated)
Figures in red limit the calculations to days of actual firewood heating.

By late this morning, the windows in the basement were fogging up on the outside, meaning it was much colder inside than outside. So I opened the doors and let the fresh warm humid air in. I love the way the house smells on freakishly warm winter days when the doors can be left open. There's a nostalgic quality to that smell, and it's not the same as the smell of the house when doors and windows are open in warmer seasons.

Tomorrow Gretchen and I would be flying to Ecuador to begin a vacation with her family (and friends of her family) in the Galapagos (our second trip there). We'd be getting an Australian house sitter to look after our critters during our absence, so this meant a cleaning jihad was in order. Fortunately, since we'd had a deep cleaning back in November for Thanksgiving, this jihad wasn't as big as they usually are. For me it mostly involved vacuuming.

Since we'd be gone tomorrow, Gretchen and I had to do our yearly Jewish Christmas ritual a day early. Late this afternoon, we drove to the Hudson Valley Mall and bought two tickets to see the Big Short. Before going in, though, we went to a nearby snack vendor so I could buy a super-junky Monster energy drink (which my kratom-tea-affected neurology was then craving). The woman at the counter had posted a crappy cardboard sign talking about the glories of Jesus, and as she wished us a Jesus-filled Christmas, Gretchen gave her a look that she probably doesn't get very often. It's behavior like that which makes me feel weird about vegan evangelism, even thought vegan evangelism makes a lot more sense than evangelizing about the imminent return of a guy who has been dead for two thousand years.
It's hard to make an entertaining movie about collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, but the Big Short did its best. It used fourth-wall obliterating techniques from antecedents such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off and even a hot chick in a bubble bath to get through the tedious explanations. Still, it was a bit hard to follow at times and could have benefitted from more scenes set in half-built Florida subdivisions (as opposed to glassy office buildings). But, given my increasingly inability to sit still for the time it takes to watch a movie, it was better than expected.
Afterwards we drove across 9W to the plaza containing the Staples and the Baby Depot and went to the Kingston Wok for the Chinese part of our Jewish Christmas. The food there wasn't great, but it was good enough for the task at hand. I had to pay extra to get tofu on my Szechuan vegetable dish, and it was that super soft type of tofu that really has no place in civilized society. Gretchen had some very juicy gossip, and she knows I am the biggest gossip there is.
After dinner, we drove again the east fringe of Woodstock, this time to visit Susan and David. They were hosting two of Susan's brothers, as well as one of the brother's families. There was a long period during which a dull business development proposal regarding a micro restaurant startup was discussed, but later (at the insistence of Susan and the two kids) we all played a rousing game of Hedbanz, a game where each person gets a card put on a headband on his or her head and then asks yes/no questions round-robbin style until he or she can determine what the card on his or her head says that he or she is. As someone with software development experience, it was clear to me that the key to this game was conducting a binary search. The quickest route to a solution is to ask questions that divide classifiable possibilities into something close to two equal halves with every round. For me, my first question separated whether or not my card was a life form. After only five or six answers, I knew that I was an oceanic invertebrate. So I asked "am I a mollusc?" Susan's brother's family were taken aback by that question, since it was not a normal one to be asked during the playing of Hedbanz. But I was coming at it using my familiarity with biological taxonomy. Unfortunately, nobody there happened to be aware that Cephalopoda is a class within the phylum Mollusca. When I felt the need to point that out, it soon became clear from everyone's reactions that my card had a picture of an octopus on it. I should mention that the distinction between "fruits" and "vegetables" as understood by English speakers caused the binary searches of others to quickly run aground. It was better to use terms like "plant."

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