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:
   a garden, ants, and jalapeñnos
Thursday, May 16 2019
It was another beautiful, sunny day, and so at lunch I walked to Bubby's to have myself a burrito. But the place was so crowded, there was no place to sit, and so I ordered it to go. I found some dense shade under a group of norway maples across the street ( 41.995101N, 73.876573W), and that was where I sat to eat my burrito. As with any picnic, there were ants (both big and small), and they seemed particularly drawn to the jalapeñno salsa (the "heat" of peppers is something only experienced by mammals). So when I left, I put my paper salsa cups (still containing some salsa) under a piece of bark so that, for the ants, the good times could continue to roll.

On the drive home from work, I stopped at the Lowes on 9W to buy more hydronic antifreeze and also get one of those magnet sweeper tools that allows you to pick up nails, screws, tools, and other things that have, say, bounced off your roof into the weeds. Using my phone, I saw that Lowes stocks several such magnet sweepers. But when I went to aisle 53, bay 5 (where they supposedly were), there were no tools of any sort. So I walked out of the store with just the two gallons of antifreeze. As I crossed the parking lot, I saw an english sparrow feeding on insects stuck on the bumper and in the grill of a car in the parking lot. This made me realize that this was a whole continually-resupplied source of free nutrient-dense food, a niche that english sparrows (due to their flexibility and comfort around humans) are well-prepared to exploit. When in Lowes, I'm often distressed at all the english sparrows inside the building. I imagine that they're trapped and will eventually starve. But today I'd seen a group of them just hanging out together in an aisle, and they'd seemed perfectly happy.

When I got home, my I put my initial focus on the big homemade panel in the custom hydronic solar array. It hasn't been collecting all that much hot water despite recent sunny days, and that's usually a problem with bubbles in the circulating fluid, which restrict the flow (sometimes completely). But when I tried to add more fluid, the system didn't seem to want any more. This caused me to look at the edges of the new panes of glass I'd installed. Perhaps not surprising, I found a quarter-inch gap between the wood of the panel box and the glass in the top west corner. This was a large enough gap for a substantial amount of heat to escape, so that might've been my actual problem. Fortunately, I had lots of high-end silicone on hand.
Earlier today, Gretchen had gone to a seedlings sale down at the Hudson Valley Seed Library and come back with lots of greenhouse-started plants, mostly lettuce, brasicas, tomatoes, herbs, and some sort of pepper (probably jalapeñnos). It's always my job to start the garden, and this year was no exception. Like actually going to get the plants, planting them isn't particularly fun, but it's satisfying to behold the results. Might as well get to it!
First, though, I had to do some basic tilling. This was a good opportunity to bury the accumulated kitchen compost, which is another job that isn't particularly fun. Had I had composted humanure ready, I would've added it to the garden too, but I don't. Since our kitchen renovation back in the winter, our compost has been packaged in "compostable" plastic bags. I don't know for sure, but (despite their green coloring and eco-marketing), I suspect that these are expensive and energy-dense, and probably erase any of the ecological benefits of composting to begin with, but, as with anything, I have to choose my battles. These plastic bags did little to encapsulate the nastiness of the semi-composted muck I found in our compost bins.
I would've planted all the plants that Gretchen had bought, but as I hurried to get them into the ground, some unseen insect kept biting me on my legs and forearms (this was the first time I'd worn shorts this season). Such insects seem to particularly exploit humans whose hands are too filthy to swat their own body, and by the time I called it quits, I was covered with welts. I'd managed to plant all the tomatoes and brasicas, but the other plants would have to spend another day in their plastic seedling trays.

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