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 pea-sized object the color of a pearl
Thursday, July 4 2019
It being a holiday and a day off from work, we treated it as an additional Saturday. I made a couple french presses of coffee, which we drank out on the east deck. Due to the terrible state of my mouth, there were few foods I could comfortably eat except leftover pasta with red sauce.
At some point I brought out the speakerbot, mostly just to show off its features to Gretchen.
I still hadn't completely given up on finding the lost crown from my punk rock tooth, and periodically, in addition to the extreme measures described yesterday, I'd do systematic searches of the bluestone walkway, since that seemed to be the likeliest place for it to have ended up. There were plenty of hiding places capable of swallowing it both in and along that walkway, and I wasn't going to be able to search the entire possible area as methodically as I would need to to uncover something so small. But if I got down on my knees and palpitated the weedy cracks for hard-pea-sized objects, periodically I'd find a little chip of concrete or bluestone that I'd then throw out of the searchable area. Though I was mad at myself for having to undertake such a search, there was something compelling about the act of searching. Every little discovery gave me hope that maybe the next one would be the actual crown. In the process of searching, I found a few unexpected things, including two different snail shells. (I don't know if I've ever seen an actual live snail in our yard.) This reminded me of the time I'd searched the neighbor's field for Gretchen's wallet and, in the process, discovered a rabbit skeleton. That time, I remembered a peculiar feeling after finding the wallet: something made me want to keep searching, as if there was another wallet to be found. I'd become addicted to the search! I've always liked the challenge of seemingly-hopeless projects of arbitrary complexity. This is probably what makes me an effective software developer. In the case of the lost crown, the opportunity (for example) of running my own feces through a sieve was too perfect not to pursue.
At one point I stood in the front doorway, looking down on the ground a couple feet out into the bluestone path. There, out in the open, in a place I must've looked over many times, lay a pea-sized object the color of a pearl. I knew exactly what it was. I'd found the goddamn crown! Something about being five or six feet above the ground had given me the perspective to see it. I immediately showed it to Gretchen as my mood overcorrected in a decidedly positive direction. To make the crown as clean as possible for when it is next installed (by a dentist, using proper dental adhesives), I carefully cleaned out all the superglue residue using acetone and a dental pick. I also soaked the tooth in hydrogen peroxide to bleach away whatever was giving it a fragrance. It smelled like dental chemicals mixed with a trace of biological decay. I finally revealed to Gretchen the story of how I'd been sieving my own fecal matter, and (being who she is) it neither grossed her out nor surprised her that I'd done such a thing. She was actually happy I'd done it because of what it had taught me about how poorly I chew my food. We also briefly talked about what I would've done with the crown had I found it inside a turd. I said I would've had it put right back in my mouth, adding, "once you autoclave that bad boy, it's as good as new." But I probably would've just washed it off with soap and water, soaked it in alcohol, and then hit it with some hydrogen peroxide.
Today I took delivery of a Raspberry Pi Zero, the non-W kind without built-in WiFi. I wanted to use this in my speakerbot with an external USB WiFi adapter so that I could easily try a variety of antennas, thereby giving me lots of options for the device's eventual placement in the forest. But nothing is ever easy with these sorts of devices, despite all the ease I'd experienced on this project to date. It turned out that the WiFi adapter I wanted to use didn't "just work" when I plugged it in. No problem, I thought, I'll take it up to the laboratory and debug it plugged into a monitor. But this required more than one USB device, and, since there is only one USB port on a Rasberry Pi Zero, this meant I needed to use a hub in order to get a keyboard & mouse hooked up (to have a proper GUI environment). Fortunately, the keyboard and mouse in this case are combined into one unit, but this still meant I required a minimum of two USB ports (I needed the other for the WiFi adapter). I tried every loose USB hub in the laboratory (and there are at quite a few), and I couldn't get even one of them to work with a Raspberry Pi Zero. I tried the powered kind, I tried the unpowered kind. I even tried a USB 3.0 hub. The experience was such a waste of time, it made me wonder how any one ever got the original no-WiFi Raspberry Pi to do anything. Eventually I was able to hook up a serial connection to the Raspberry Pi, meaning I could interact with it over a text-only console interface without the use of any USB ports, and this was how I was eventually able to debug the WiFi dongle and get it working. And once I had that working, I no longer needed the serial connection; I could just come in over ssh. Next I tried to debug why I wasn't able to run Python scripts from PHP, but that was too squirmy of a can of worms to tackle in what time I had available for such experiments today.

Later this afternoon, Gretchen and I dropped in on Carrie & Michæl down at the seed library compound west of Accord. This was mostly to give Carrie some books and puzzles to amuse herself over the next several weeks while she deals with the diagnoses and procedures surrounding a sudden piece of bad medical news. While there, we also got a tour of the gut-remodel the seed library boys did to a house they'd recently acquired adjacent to the compound. The house had been cheap and in a bad state of repair, but evidently the foundation had been good. The remodel had made resulted in a super-insulated house, the kind with triple-glazed windows that can be opened in two different ways. There had also been lots of black walnut used in the remodel (this included a four by four support pillar). It had all been milled "years ago" from trees on the property and hoarded, all waiting for this eventual deployment. Meanwhile, Ramona had found an old articulated deer leg, which she insisted on dragging back to Carrie & Michæl's house and gnawing outside.
At some point Gretchen got me to tell the story of how I'd lost and recovered the crown from my punk rock tooth. She didn't, as it turned out, expect me to include the part that had me running my feces (and those of my dogs) through a sieve, but I did. We talked about medical issues for awhile and then Gretchen and I left just as six-person dinner was starting. Michæl gave me a handful of watery mushrooms he'd taken from the rotten fallen branch of a cottonwood, and I carried these in my lap all the way home, eventually to be marinaded with soy sauce, hot peppers, and garlic and made into an ingredient to be added to leftover rigatoni pasta.

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