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 source of many compliments from passing pedestrians
Saturday, July 6 2019
After Saturday morning coffee, I turned my attention to the task of physically stuffing my speakerbot into its forever home, the battery compartment of the cheap 30 watt Pyle megaphone it will be using to make its mark on the world. Since the battery compartment already contained the megaphone's amplifier circuitry wired to the speaker, the only connections to the outside world I would have to provide were three: a USB cable to power the megaphone itself (acting through a relay), a USB cable powering the Raspberry Pi, and an antenna connection to the Raspberry Pi's WiFi dongle. For the first two, I cut small slots in the place where the back of the megaphone snapped onto the rest of it. For the antenna connection, I drilled a small hole, meaning an antenna could be attached directly to the underside of the megaphone. I managed to get everything (the relay board, the audio filter board, the WiFi dongle, the Raspberry Pi, and various cable connections) to fit in the roughly 21 cubic inch volume available. Once I had it all packaged and working, I tried taking it some distance from the house, about 50 feet down the trail south of the woodshed. Unfortunately, I couldn't connect to it at that distance. Some testing revealed that the problem was that the antenna connector (a male RP-SMA) passing through the wall of the megaphone wasn't long enough to properly engaged with an antenna's connector attached to it. Too much of its thread was being lost in that plastic wall, thin though it was. Some of my whip antennas worked and some didn't. But I was probably going to need a high-gain Yagi antenna for the distances I would be sending my WiFi signal. So I modified the connector of one of my WiFi Yagis (I have several that have been collecting dust since the burst of WiFi experiments I did back in early 2012) by grinding down the female threading, allowing it to tighten nicely onto the connector on the megaphone. In the course of a few tests, I was surprised by how well the Yagi worked. It was both nicely-directional and able to greatly increase apparent signal strength (as measured with iwlist wlan0 scan | egrep "Cell|ESSID|Signal|Rates"). I'd sort of assumed those cheap Yagis I'd bought from China had been designed just to look "good enough" so they could be sold to American suckers such as myself (or, more accurately, the 2012 version of myself). But no, they seem like good antennas.
Tonight was date night, and the plan was to attend an art opening in the Rondout featuring the work of a man named Frank, an artist who has been dead for years. He'd been the husband of a woman named Barbara, one of the sisters of the man whose family had been living in our house in Hurley before we bought it. Barbara might seem only incidental to our life, but she ended up being crucially important. Her poetry group is where Gretchen met a woman named Celia, and Celia is the Bard connection that got Gretchen years of employment in the Bard Prison Initiative. And Celia's husband Alex has given me plenty of work (and thus experience) over the years and is now my boss at a local software firm.
Our first destination was our Wall Street rental to drop of a water bill. The garden where the front yard used to be has become spectacular, particularly one of the squash plants. Where I'd cut down those noxious barberry hedges, the tenant had put in two additional raised beds. There was a thunderstorm rumbling nearby, but the tenant was out on her front porch preparing to do more gardening. She told us that the garden has helped provide good balance for her stressful work life and it's also been a source of many compliments from passing pedestrians. Since their neighbor also has a garden instead of a front yard (hers is more flower-oriented), the whole street is starting to look like something you'd see in Portland. As gorgeous as it is, I expect soon there will be others replacing their stupid useless grass with gardens. Gretchen even thought our tenant should start a blog.
The most picturesque drive to the Rondout from the south end of Wall Street is via South Wall Street, a winding, seemingly-rural road that is nevertheless entirely within the City of Kingston. It dumped us out onto Wilbur about a quarter mile from Abeel. Along this route there was no evidence of Kingston's ongoing wave of gentrification. In particular, the north end of South Wall Street looked like a permanent redoubt for the region's long-suffering Trump supporters.
The late Frank's show was in the middle of the first floor galleries at the Art Society of Kingston. The first people we saw and recognized were Barbara and her brother Tommy. Tommy lives up the street a quarter mile or so and is the one who maintains a set of mountain bike trails that coincides somewhat with my Stick Trail system. Also there was his daughter Mary, whom I'd last seen as a little kid. Now she's all grown up and living in New York City.
Frank's are consisted mostly of collages of carefully-cut pieces of colored paper, sometimes bound together with coils of tiny wire. It looked to me like his art might've been an outgrowth of his interest in making fly fishing lures. We eventually bought one of the pieces, a small $50 work that had a nice balance between chaos and symmetry.
Since it was conveniently nearby (and, important for me, not over-air-conditioned), we ended up dining at Mole Mole, the Mexican/Hispanic restaurant we used to patronize frequently back when we used to regularly attend KMOCA art openings. It's not a bad restaurant, but these days we rarely venture to the Rondout part of Kingston. There weren't actually any tables available, but we were fine just sitting at the end of the bar. I looked around at the other customers, and they were nearly all white non-Hispanics, the kind of not-especially-photogenic crowd one is used to seeing in Kingston (and which one rarely sees at Uptown restaurants post-gentrification). Later, a fair number of African-Americans showed up. Perhaps white people have a preference for those early bird specials. As she usually does at Mexican restaurants, Gretchen ordered no alcohol and a dinner comprised of sides. And, as I usually do, I ordered a veganized burrito (the "guacamole" burrito without sour cream or cheese). Burritos at Mole Mole are small and decidedly east-coast style (that is, they are intended to be eaten with a knife and a fork), but mine was pretty good, especially when hit with the black habañero sauce they have on hand. Gretchen had also ordered tostones, which are the Purerto Rican equivalent of patacones: fried pancakes of lightly-mashed plantains. At Mole Mole, they're only about an inch and a half in diameter (compared to three or four inch diameter patacones), but they taste pretty much the same and make a good substrate for pico de gallo. Dinner conversation spent a fair amount of time on the subject of my family. What are we going to do with my mother if she gets old and infirm? What will we do about my brother once my mother dies? He's incapable of taking care of his own affairs, but he could live forty more years. [REDACTED]

Chongo, standing about where I found my fallen crown on July 4th.

A beautiful green dragonfly, also on the bluestone walkway.

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