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:
   kitchen sink installed
Saturday, January 16 2016
Today the weather remained warmer than normal for this time of year. Rain is an unusual form of precipitation in January, yet I could hear it falling on the roof for much of the night and into the morning.

Late this morning, I returned yet again to the deep well of my skeletonized Chestnut Oak windfall. Usually when I'm cutting through twelve inch trunks, they've been processed a bit by insects and aren't as solid as they used to be. But this stuff is hard and dry and my chainsaw, despite a sharp new chain, is exhausted after little more than two cuts. Today I almost managed to make three cuts, but the battery was dead before the third cut was complete enough for me to finish it by applying the momentum of my leaping 174 pound body. Still, I managed to bring home 103.8 pounds of wood in the form of two large chunks from the trunk and two small pieces from branches higher up.
I spent nearly all of the rest of the day replacing the old stainless steel kitchen sinks (which we'd gotten with our granite countertops a little over twelve years ago). The old pair of sinks were perfectly good, but Gretchen has been lusting after a deep ceramic "farmer" sink since seeing them in the kitchens of her (admittedly wealthier) friends. And, as I've said, the kitchen is her domain, so if she really wanted a deep ceramic farmer sink, she could bloody well have one, particularly as a present for her upcoming 45th birthday.
Initially I'd assumed that installing one would be a bitch, and to the extent is was a bitch, it was not a bitch in any of the ways that I expected. Removing the old sink, for example, was unexpectedly easy. It had been glued to the underside of the granite countertop using silicone and tabs of stone held in place by epoxy. All I had to do to break the seam between the countertop and the sink was to position a putty knife in the thin crack between them and pound it in with a hammer. Once I'd done that all the way around, the sink just fell away. (I'd washed all the dishes first, so it was empty!)
Once the sink was gone, I could begin the process of getting the sink into place. I'd removed the doors and most of the wood from the front of the cabinetry, but still the gap available was slightly less than the width of the new sink. I had to wrangle it in on its side and then slowly lower it downward, being careful not to crush all the plumbing beneath it. I eventually landed it atop a stool (the one I'd made back when Celeste was tiny and needed help getting up to her food) that was tall enough to hold the sink above the plumbing. At this point, installing the sink seemed to be going a lot more quickly than anticipated.
But then I realized that I was going to have to degunk the countertop to have any hope of a fresh bead of silicone sticking to it. Silicone does not adhere to dry silicone. Nothing does. This meant I had to do a lot of scraping and scratching with a knife, a chisel, a razor blade, and even a wire brush. That brush would occasionally make sparks as its bristles smacked the underlying granite, but that was a good thing. I didn't care how scratched up the underside of the granite was, I just wanted silicone to stick to it. Not only does nothing stick to silicone, but there is no solvent for it either. Some web pages suggested soaking the silicone in paint thinner to loosen its bonds with the underlying material, but I had no way to soak the underside of the countertop and so had to be content with repeatedly wiping it with a paint-thinner-soaked wad of paper.
My original plan was to get the sink up to a certain height, build a structure under it, caulk its top lip with silicone, and then use shims to raise it into its desired position. But once Gretchen had helped me raise the sink to within three inches of where it needed to be, I realized that I could just jack it into place with automotive jacks, which would be capable of holding it in its final position while I built the underlying structure. So I applied the caulk and did the jacking. With a few adjustments, the hole in the countertop was almost perfectly-centered over the sink. The was a little more counter overhanging the sink at its front and back than at its sides, but it fit pretty well for something that hadn't been custom made for this countertop.
The inevitable rabbithole of trouble didn't come until I tried to hook the sink up to the household drainage system. With the sink, I'd also bought a supposedly matching deep drain/flange, but it could not be tightened sufficiently against the sink. Beyond a certain level of tightness, the threaded brass ring pressing the pressure cup from below snapped through the slightly-smaller hole against which it was pushing, and I'd have to start again. Eventually I realized that the pressure cup was inherently defective. It concave in a place where it should have been convex such that pressure from the brass ring was acting like an upward force on a parabolic archway. Such forces destroy archways, which depend on downward force (supplied in architecture by gravity) to stay together. I should have sent the drain back to Signature Hardware, but I wanted to get this sink working tonight, so I used a pair of pliers to carefully turn the concavity in the ring-facing bevel of the pressure cup into convexity. It was a little rough, but the fix made it so I could tighten the drain down to the needed pressure. Even so, getting this drain so that it wouldn't leak required an obscene amount of plumber's putty.
By 9:00pm, I mostly had the new sink in place, and Gretchen was delighted. Additional things still needing doing is the reinstallation of the cabinet doors and adding a bit more support structure (the sink weighs 80 pounds even before it's full of water; with water it could weigh as much as 236 pounds).

Back when I was in my teens and early 20s, I amassed a small collection of vinyl LP albums, mostly of British Psychedelic Rock from the late 1960s and early 1970s. My favorite records included classic-period Moody Blues and pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd (and bad purchases along the way included an Emerson, Lake & Palmer double album). Those vinyl albums are still in the Shaque back in Virginia; I don't have any particular sentimental attachment to them as objects, and the entire collection in MP3 form (good enough for my purposes!) would easily fit on whatever microSD card I might pull at random from my tiny yellow drawer that contains dozens of them. I've been able to reassemble what I liked of my old vinyl collection using free music downloads, but there have been a few gaps. The most notable of these was an album entitled Dark Side of the Moo (not to be confused with the more famous album whose name included an additional letter at the end). Not finding it in any of the available discographies, the other day I did some research and discovered that (at least according to Wikipedia) the album was actually a pirated collection, compiled mostly from obscure Pink Floyd songs produced for movie soundtracks and credited (for legal reasons) to the Screaming Abdabs (a name that Pink Floyd had used for a time early in their career). Supposedly only 15,000 of these records were ever made, and one of them is still back at the Shaque. Dark Side of the Moo includes several of my favorite Pink Floyd songs, especially "Crumbling Land" and "Embryo." Three of the songs on Dark Side of the Moo were from a movie called Zabriskie Point, something I knew back when I used to pore over my albums and liner notes (since that was all there was), but which I had difficulty exploring further. In these times, though, I can follow such cultural streams as far as I want both up to the headwaters of inspiration and down to the ocean of appropriation. So I simply downloaded Zabriskie Point, and throughout the day today I watched parts of it. Though it has some beautiful vistas and attractive actors, the acting is terrible, the plot is simple and deeply unsatisfying, and emphasis is placed on art at the expense of entertainment. But it was great to finally have a context for these songs that I have known intimately for about 60% of my life.

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