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
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Irving housing

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Like my brownhouse:
   free stinky wood
Friday, January 22 2016
Today is always an important day for people who work to supply the bulk of their heating fuel. In Hurley, New York (and probably other areas at about this distance from the coast)1, January 22nd is statistically at the very center of the cold season (and could be said to also be, statistically, the coldest day of the year). This is a function of the climate, not the weather, and any given January 22nd can diverge wildly from the pattern established over many years. This year's January 22nd was slightly colder than normal, with a low of 14 and a high of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas a typical January 22nd has a low of 15 and a high of 35. Temperatures on January 22nd in Hurley have been as high as 60 (in 1959) and as low as -29 (in 1961). For me, January 22nd represents an important "halfway through the heating season" milepost, though I suspect the actual halfway milepost happens a bit earlier due to the substantial role solar heating plays in the late winter and early spring, when days are getting longer yet the sun is still low enough to come in through the windows. By contrast, fall tends to be warmer but with short days and, before mid-November, the sun is still being blocked by leaves on the deciduous trees.
Today I salvaged 118.95 pounds of firewood relatively close to home just above the Stick Trail maybe 400 feet south of the Chamomile Crossing. There are still a fair number of skeletonized trees either dragged there or felled in previous salvaging operations dating to a time when I was less thorough about completing a salvage before moving on to the next one.
Tomorrow, Gretchen and I would be hosting a big pasta-themed birthday party for both Gretchen (whose birthday was on Tuesday) and David (of Susan and David), whose birthday was today. Normally I make birthday presents for my friends, but I realized David, who is doing electrical work on his studio, would be in need of a multimeter. So today I went into town mostly just to get him one. If I'd thought about this beforehand, I could have bought him a nice one for cheap, to be delivered on a slow boat from China. But I'd have to settle instead for whatever Home Depot had in stock.
It turns out that Home Depot keeps its stock of multimeters in a locked cage, where the cheapest ones were at least $40. I'll never spend that much for a multimeter even if someone plays the Powerball on my behalf and "I" "win." Luckily, Home Depot also sold a number of electrician kits that included things like diagonal cutters and wire strippers, and the cheapest of these kits was only about $16 and included a perfectly good multimeter. Birthday shopping complete!
On my way back home, I pulled to the side of Dug Hill Road just a little above the bus turnaround (the place where local gun nuts go to make monotonous loud noises). I'd been eyeing a skeletonized Red Oak recently cut down (probably by the highway department) and had been disappointed to see that it had mostly been cut up and taken by someone. There were still two pieces left, and I could see why: one was full of knots and looked difficult to split, and the other included a lot of rot. Still, together the pieces came to 117.5 pounds, which is a typical day's salvage. And, using wedges, I was able to split the one with all the knots and crotches. Unfortunately, once I warmed the pieces up, it became clear that they were soaking wet, as if they'd been flooded on the ground and then flash frozen by a rapid drop in temperature. There was also the problem that some of the rot had an unpleasant fragrance, one that resembled vomit. Gretchen was the first to notice the odor problem, which I initially laughed off. But by this evening the house smelled like a vomitorium (if "vomitorium" actually meant what people think it means). Clearly I wasn't going to be able to continue drying this stinky wood in the hours before tomorrow's party.

This evening, Gretchen needed some supplies from Mother Earth's Storehouse (aka "Motherfucking Earth"), and she asked if I wanted to come along so we could have dinner at Kodomo next door. So that was how I came to be drinking a tequila sunrise and eating vegan sushi (the two go together better than one might expect). We were both really hungry and we ordered a bit more than we needed. Fortunately we stopped before eating too far into that final noodle dish that came out at the end. Meanwhile, an explosion-rich movie set at the Whitehouse was playing on the big screen over the bar, though it kept being interrupted with interviews of the actors involved. Evidently there was a big actorly backstory to that particular movie.

1Helena, Montana, which is much farther from the ocean (and thus much more continental in terms of climate) experiences peak cold on the night of December 24th, only three days after the winter solstice. Seattle, Washington, meanwhile, experiences peak cold on January 26th.

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