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:
   drone in a tree
Friday, January 29 2016

location: just east of the Village of Woodstock, Ulster County, New York

I woke up just north of the 42nd parallel this morning and attended to the needs of the dogs I was dogsitting before making myself some toast and tea. Susan and David had a box of Tetley tea on hand, which, like Red Rose, does not place annoying little envelopes around each tea bag. That might sound like a small thing, but the annoyance of those envelopes is the main reason I'm a Red Rose loyalist. But if Red Rose ever did something annoying (like produce a Creationism-themed collection of porcelain miniatures), Tetley could be a workable fallback.
On the drive home past the Ashokan Reservoir, I noticed that it was still almost entirely unfrozen (there were some tiny patches of ice along the shore). It's unusual for the reservoir to fail to freeze before our climate's day of peak cold (January 22nd), though it has happened, and I seem to even remember writing about it in the past.
Back ath the house, Gretchen had a bunch of social business scheduled, leaving me alone at the house. Without any pressing demands, I decided to take my larger drone for a couple of flights above the house. I'd finally figured out how to get its camera to work, and I wanted to see what sort of video I could shoot. The first flight went fairly well, though I was fighting a bit of a breeze from the west. My second flight was epic, soaring several hundred feet into the air and achieving stability several times. But I was panic-prone with the controls as the drone drifted south of the house. When it disappeared from view, I gave up and allowed it to crash land where it happened to be. But it never reached the ground; I saw it way up in the highest branches of a Red Oak growing about 50 feet south of the house. It was maybe sixty feet above the ground, utterly unreachable by ladder or other forms of climbing. If this had been a normal winter, I might have considered just leaving it there to maybe blow down until warmer weather arrived. But there were rains predicted for Wednesday, and if I left it in the tree through that, it was doubtful I'd even be able to recover the contents of its microSD card. So I tried to devise a way to recover my drone.
In the past, I've had luck shooting arrows over branches and then raising up a rope saw, allowing me to cut the branch down from safely on the ground. So that was what I tried first. Unfortunately, the ground under the tree in question was full of prickly brambles, many of which I had to cut off at the root before I could do anything. To get a rope saw over a high limb requires that I attach a light string with a lot of slack to an arrow and then shoot the arrow up over the branch to be cut down. But with brambles on the ground, the slack of the string keeps getting caught in things, quickly arresting the upward progress of any arrow. Eventually, though, I was able to shoot an arrow over the branch I needed to cut down. Unfortunately, though, the arrow always got hung up in lower trees and I could never simply drop it to the ground. Without my being able to reach the fired arrow, the technique was worthless. In frustration, I used a slingshot to fire first acorns and then stones at the drone, hoping to either destroy whatever part of it was hung in the tree or, better yet, destroy the tiny branch it was hung on. Lots of these fired acorns and stones got close to the drone, but none of them did me any good (or, for that matter, bad).
So I returned to the arrow technique. Eventually I fired an arrow over the correct branch and then deployed a ladder allowing me to get within about 15 feet of it (that is, with me more than 20 feet above the ground). From there, I needed a long stick with a lasso to grab the dangling arrow. My first such stick was a long piece of PVC (probably 3/4 inch) tipped with scraps of duct tape. But the PVC was too flexible for me to accurately use it to reach upwards. I needed a similarly-long, but less-flexible pole. Fortunately, I have a set of screw-together fiberglass poles that I use only once each year to clean the woodstove chimney. With fifteen feet of that terminated by a springy loop of windshield wiper metal (which I use to scrape creosote from the chimney), perhaps I could reach up over that arrow and pull it down. It took a few tugs, but eventually I had the arrow in reach, allowing me to pull the string down to the ground. By now it was after 5:00pm and evening had begun, so I couldn't do any more on this project, but I felt like I had a plan in place to eventually retrieve my drone. And the dangerous part was done.

There was a third night of dogsitting to be done at Susan and David's place, and last night had gone so well that I volunteered to do another night there. Things were much more laid back than they had been last night. I knew precisely what to do with the dogs, there was no web crisis on a server that concerns me on the west coast, and there was no Republican debate (Trump-free or otherwise). I just wanted to kick back and watch television, but none of the media options on the smart teevee were contemporary enough for my Friday night habits (I like to hate-watch Gold Rush). Eventually I created a new "Gus" profile in their Netflix account and watched the first third of The Interview, that Seth Rogan vehicle that resulted in a wave of North Korea paranoia among American movie theaters a year ago. It's a pretty bad film overall, though there are occasional moments of comedic quality.

I should mention that I didn't gather any firewood today; the indoor rack is already too full for Gretchen's æsthetic sensibilities, so I thought some depletion was in order.

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