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:
   Dr. Neville and Mr. Guard
Saturday, June 8 2019
When I next saw Neville this morning, he was in the living room standing over the dead fawn, which he'd somehow gotten in through the dog door. He looked miserable, but he was in a mode he could not break out of. The fawn forced him to do what he was doing, which was to stand there gaurding it against all comers. I certainly wouldn't be going anywhere near him.
Gretchen and I had our Saturday morning coffee out on the east deck. We tried to entice Neville away from the fawn with a the end of a can of cat wetfood (which is normally a great treat in our household). He considered it, and even came out on the deck briefly. But then he ran back to his fawn.
Later, though, Gretchen managed to convince Neville to join her and Ramona on a walk in the forest, an activity that is normally a highlight of the day. But he didn't make it far before doubling back to return to the fawn. But then I acted like I would be running off to join the walk, and Neville set out a second time. This gave me a chance to double back to the house to dispose of the fawn. I carried it out onto the east deck and threw it off, then ran down below and carried the fawn off across Dug Hill Road to the north and then down to the edge of the gorge of Englishman's Creek. There, I draped the fawn over a branch high above the ground, out of reach of anything incapable of climbing. As I returned home, there was Neville running down Dug Hill Road. He was apparently tracking some combination of me and the fawn. His skill in tracking made me realize something interesting: if something (an organism or a robot) has enough sensors, they don't actually need all that much intelligence. If Neville could actually read my scent and the fawn's scent in microtraces on the ground, he wouldn't have to do much deduction to discover where the fawn ended up. Mercifully, though, Neville was easily distracted from any plans he had of recovering the fawn. I managed to convince him for a third time to go on that walk with Gretchen, who was (by then) a good twenty minutes into the walk. She and Ramona ended up returning home well before Neville did. And then Gretchen took Neville for a rare Saturday shift at the bookstore in Woodstock, which would help to reset his brain completely. It's important to stress that Neville himself doesn't like the way he gets when there is something to guard. He wants to be Dr. Neville, not Mr. Guard. He always seems to be delighted once we've managed to get rid of whatever he'd been guarding, though it's best if he not see us doing it.
This afternoon, I took delivery of a new 1.25 inch diameter telescope eyepiece. That measurement is apparently something of a standard, making eyepieces interchangeable among a large variety of telescopes. My first such eyepiece had come with a Galileoscope (and had helped me get my first-ever live view of the moons of Jupiter). The new eyepiece had a much wider viewing angle and half the magnification of the 10mm focal length eyepiece I'd been using for my second woodpecker cam, which, as you may recall, was producing crappy overly-magnified images. When doing experimental placement of the Raspberry Pi's camera on this new eyepiece, I discovered that it produced the best images when it was about a half inch away from the lens. To help make this placement possible, I built a little device from a piece of plumbing pipe (a cheap plastic sink tail piece from which I cut a 3/4 inch segment) and glued to a large steel washer. The plumbing was chosen because it fit snugly over the rubbery top of the eyepiece, allowing me to scootch the steel washer close to and then further away from the lens (the "z dimension"). I could then also scootch the camera (which, remember, now includes two rare earth magnets) in both x and y dimensions on the washer until I found the best spot to capture the image coming through the hole in the washer. Using this technique, I was able to get pretty good video clips with the long-range woodpecker cam. The image was a little washed out in the center, but that's not too noticeable when there is an actual live woodpecker in the scene. In this clip, you can see the female flicking her tongue:

Gretchen and Neville got back from work at around 7:30pm. [REDACTED] Initially she had been unsure whether we should even have Saturdat Night date night this week, since we'd gone to Baba Louies yesterday. But I wanted to go. It was a nice summery evening, so Gretchen wanted to eat somewhere with outdoor seating, but she also kind of wanted the food to be ethnic. Oddly, though, there aren't many ethnic restaurants that offer outdoor seating. The closest I could think of was La Florentina, which has Middle-Eastern-influenced Italian food, but their outdoor seating is kind of dreary and small. But when Gretchen asked semi-rhetorically if there were any Mexican restaurants that offer outdoor seating, I had an idea: what about Armadillo? We'd stopped eating there long ago, after the crazy woman who used to run the place hosted a pork barbecue to benifit some sort of dog rescue. Recently, though, we'd learned (from that photogenic vegan couple from Rhinebeck we'd met at Palizzata) it had come under new management and that it now had better options for vegans. Gretchen thought this was a spendid idea.
On the way to Armadillo, we stopped yet again at the rental property on Downs Street, hoping to find our deadbeat tenant. She wasn't there, though the message Gretchen had left in the door was gone. So Gretchen left another message.
We had a bit of a wait before we could get an outdoor table at Armadillo. While waiting, Gretchen walked up and down the Abeel to see what recent waves of gentrification had wrought. We used to come to Abeel regularly to do the monthly thing at KMOCA, but then it came under different management and we drifted away. Gretchen reported that some formerly-derelict buildings had been totally redone and now looked like fancy condos. And next door to Armadillo was a trailer surrounded by picnic tables where one could buy tacos. It (and some of the boxy buildings nearby) looked positively Portlandian.
When we finally sat down for our meal at Armadillo, we were amazed by how many people seemed to be working there. By the time we'd given our order, we'd talked to five or six different members of staff, and sixth one later came up to us saying that Gretchen looked familiar (maybe he'd seen the article about her in a recent issue of Chronogram). Since many of the staff looked to be very young, I wondered if perhaps the idea here was to hire lots of inexperienced people and make up in quantity what was lacking in quality. Indeed, it did take a surprisingly long amount of time to get a second basket of chips (and the chips weren't all that good either). They did have a bottle of habañro sauce when I asked for one, suggesting Armadillo is a little more legit than it used to be. But the menu was largely unchanged from the one we'd remembered. They did offer a side of cauliflower that made Gretchen happy, but otherwise we both agreed the meal was "meh" at best. You can't know unless you try.
We went by Downs Street after dinner as well on the chance that our tenant was there, but she wasn't. So then we thought maybe we could drop in on Chrissy. Chrissy seems like a rock 'n' roll chick, the kind who rock 'n' rolls all night and gets up at noon. But it turns out she goes to bed at 9:00pm, and (judging from her groggy voice) we'd come at a very wrong time. So we let her keep on sleeping.

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