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

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Like my brownhouse:
   incident at Middle Deep
Saturday, July 13 2019
There were no gun nuts at the bus turnaround at all today, which was a little weird considering what a beautiful Saturday it was. It was hot, but not too humid. Moisture is actually becoming a scarce commodity; we haven't had a substantial rain weeks. But it's hard to maintain a perfectly pleasant environment. This morning, for example, we ended up relocating our Saturday morning coffee from the east deck to the yard west of the house because Crazy Dave's dogs kept barking and barking with a monotony not unlike the target practice of a gun enthusiast. In the yard, sounds coming from the east (such as Crazy Dave's dogs or gunfire at the bus turnaround) tend to be muffled somewhat by our house. A few days ago, the yard would've been uninhabitable due to mosquitoes, but the dry conditions seemed to thinned out their population. Today for the first time this season I heard dog-day cicadas, an important summer seasonal milestone. Gretchen took it as an ominous portent; she didn't want our summer to be passing us by quite so quickly.
Yesterday Gretchen and I had been making waffles with some super-yeasty batter. This morning we finished that batter off with a waffle each. As I had been doing, I put some semi-sweet cashew-based cream on my waffle. But today I also added a few slices of super-hot peppers straight from the garden to mix. Gretchen didn't think that would be a good combination, but she was very wrong.
I'd noticed this morning when trying to run hot water from the tap that the solar-heated water was not very hot. Some investigation revealed another bubble had formed at the top of the solar hydronic loop, preventing flow. This only happens after there has been a power outage on a sunny day (or some other solar system malfunction). The solution was to add fluid (in this case, a gallon and a half of tap water) to the top of the loop. It got me thinking though: maybe all the electricity running the system should be solar-generated, thereby allowing it to function right through a power outage.
Meanwhile Gretchen returned home (as she often does) after her morning walk in the forest somewhat before the dogs. She took the opportunity to cross Dug Hill Road alone to meet the new neighbor in That 80s House. As people who live in that house always do, there's a contractor there almost constantly, even on weekends. The contractor these days is a bit of a loud talker, and that was how Gretchen knew today would be a good one to make an introduction. The new owner is 40-something and has a thirteen year old dog who weighs only five pounds and dates from before our new neighbor knew that buying from a breeder is a bad thing to do. Gretchen says they a little about dogs (on a night some weeks back, Ramona had reportedly been terrorizing the contractor). But they mostly talked about bears, including the male that's been in the neighborhood lately, one we've started calling Gregor. When the contractor talked about his days of hunting bears, Gretchen said she's more of a "live and let live kinda gal," and the new neighbor said she is that way too. So, aside from her choice in house, she seemed surprisingly ideologically simpatico.
Early this afternoon, I tried a different library for recording audio directly from the web page served by the speakerbot. But it was all written with Javascript promises and commands such as await (instead of callbacks). I've never really had to understand promises, so I tried to get my brain around the concept, since it seemed like something I should know. But it was a hot summer day and Gretchen and I had plans to go swimming, so I ended up watching YouTube videos instead. That guy LGR had recently become aware of a huge abandoned computer repair shop full of vintage equipment, mostly from the 1990s.
As we normally do when taking the dogs to a swimming hole in the summer, we parked at Little Deep east of Woodstock and then walked to what we call "Middle Deep," just below a derelict concrete dam (42.038184N, 74.091623W). It being such a gorgeous summer day, the cars in the parking area at Little Deep was spilling up and down Zena Road.
Middle Deep definitely is no longer a secret; there were a good 20 people spread out across the rubble below the dam. There were also a number of dogs, including a big, heavyweight hairy she-dog who didn't seem all that bright, at least three little dogs, and one with a very similar color pattern to Neville's, though her face was thinner. Her name was Olive. Ramona was being better than expected with all these unknown dogs, which was all the more surprising given that they were largely female, her least-favorite canine gender. At one point I saw her growling at the big hairy dopey dog and I reprimanded her from across the water, and she behaved herself. Later she had a brief altercation with Olive, but it was almost as if Ramona was managing to suppress her inner demons through sheer force of will. Both Ramona and Neville outswam all the other dogs at Middle Deep, crossing the Saw Kill multiple times and even disappearing into the forest for a time. In the past I would freak out about Neville, but (as Gretchen pointed out before we even got to Middle Deep) it's Neville's pattern to vanish for a time but to then circle back on his own.
As always happens, Gretchen met some cool people up from Brooklyn (including Olive's human parents) and chatted with people she knows from Woodstock. When Neville finally returned from his second vanishing, we started getting ready to leave. When Neville appeared, he was across the Saw Kill, behind a couple women camped out on a sandbar with their tiny antisocial dog. As I went to retrieve him and make sure he didn't bother those women and their dog, Ramona came swimming across. At that point, one of the women turned nasty and started telling me, "I wish you'd control your dog(s)." I just ignored her, since we'd be leaving soon. But when the woman said something else snippy, Gretchen was in earshot, and she never lets that sort of thing go. "This is public property," Gretchen announced, and when the woman kept at it, Gretchen asked rhetorically, "What, do you own that side of the creek?" Then the woman tried to instruct us on the law, that dogs are supposed to be on leashes here. While that's true, few dogs are actually on leashes. In the midst of all this, some fat hirsute man with well-tanned skin beneath his dense grey coat piped up to agree with the woman. Whatever, we were leaving. Gretchen said the fat man piping up to agree with the unpleasant woman reminded her of another incident in Woodstock, one where Gretchen confronted a woman who was tearing signs advertising community theatre from telephone poles. Some guy had appeared out of nowhere to say that, technically, putting signs on telephone poles in Woodstock is illegal. There isn't really a term for people who defend bad moral choices or irritating behavior by citing the letter of the law, but it reminds Gretchen and me of our old college acquaintance Daniel R. Reitman, who frequently did this. Last I heard, Daniel R. Reitman is a lawyer in Portland, Oregon.
Tonight being date night, Gretchen and I decided to have an early dinner (what we would call "lupper") at the Garden Café after leaving Middle Deep. The Garden is a great place to go when we have the dogs, and I've been liking the food more there lately. Today I had an Ommegang Abbey Ale, the red bean soup (always a good choice) and vegetable quesadillas, which was not a regular menu item. At some point in our meal, Leah, the owner, came over and told us all the crazy shit that the local Hispanic population has been going through from ICE under the Trump Administration. ICE is reportedly driving around asking dark-skinned people for their papers, and when they can't prove their citizens, they scoop them up, where they enter a legal limbo, inaccessible by their families and loved-ones. This is a real problem in the restaurant industry, which depends on a largely-Hispanic workforce. There are also children being terrorized by this new terrible reality. One of Leah's daughter's friends, for example, is an illegal alien, and her mother won't let her outside for fear she'll be scooped up. From Leah's telling, it sounded like some horrible not-so-early phase of Nazi Germany, when the Gestapo ran around rounding up people in an often extralegal fashion. Some people don't like it when people compare the malevolent antics of the Trump regime with the goings on of Nazi Germany, but Leah and Gretchen were completely on board. As I put it to Gretchen some minutes later, when the Nazis were rising to the monstrous place in history, there had to be some earlier horrible group that people compared them to, and for some part of that comparison, it was an exaggeration. But at some point it wasn't.

With determination and perseverance, at some point tonight I finally cracked the problem of why the audio being sent from the Recorder.js library was ending up garbled by the time it arrived at the speakerbot "server." The problem had to do with the Base64 encoding. Base64 breaks streams of bits into six-bit units and encodes each of those using a unique character (exactly like the ten distinct characters used in decimal encoding). To get the required 64 characters, all upper and lower case Roman characters are used, as are all ten digits, and then two additional characters: / and +. Apparently the + character gets garbled in the URL encoding that also happens during an AJAX post, ending up as a space character. By replacing the + character with ^ before posting it, the ^ survives the journey ungarbled. On the other end, I convert the ^ back to + before Base64 decoding. When I did all those things, the .wav file ended up on the server as a playable file, and my dream of being able to make recordings in nearly real time to play remotely on a distant speakerbot was finally realized.

Ramona at Middle Deep today.

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