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:
   Neville dislikes skateboarders
Saturday, July 3 2021

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

Some idiot was shooting a gun this morning; it sounded like it was coming from a quarter mile or so to the southwest. Gretchen was about to have another bout of buyer's remorse, but I pointed out how this was different from what we face back in Hurley. Whoever was shooting was probably doing so on his own land, and the shooting was likely to end whenever he was tired of doing it. That's very different from a de facto public gun range patronized by dozens of different people. If something were to happen to one such person, the amount of shooting wouldn't change much. But if something were to happen to one person shooting on his own land, there might not be shooting from that land ever again. (I don't mean "something untoward," I mean something like a change in interest, an onset of illness, or a change in land ownership. No such things will ever fix the bus turnaround on lower Dug Hill Road.)
After eating a breakfast of things like tempeh salad, bread, and hummus, we walked somewhat over a mile to Ed's palatial log cabin to retrieve our Chevy Bolt. Along the way, we were passed by various others in the association, all of them in either conventional vehicles or four-wheel off-road recreational vehicles. A few of them stopped to say hello.
After getting our car, we drove from Ed's directly to the place where the home owners' association get-together was happening, in the old boyscout lodge, now owned by a guy named Mel. Like all the other buildings of the former boyscout camp, the lodge is a bit run-down, and inside it looks like a space from a very different time, dimly lit and, in the center, a massive table with a moose skull on it. There would be a meeting, but before all that, the 30 or so of us in the lodge were milling around, meeting each other. Given the rapid deployment of our cabin, others in the home owners' association were eager to meet us. Coming from an environmentalist anti-sprawl family, I always process the arrival of a new house in a place where one hadn't been as a kind of death, another ratcheting forward of man's replacement of nature with his artifacts. That wasn't how people were processing our new cabin here; they seemed to take delight in the fact that the neighborhood was being developed. And, I suppose, given the restrictions on what can be done and the fact that houses going into building envelopes is the plan, the controlled arrival of improvements is exactly what is supposed to be happening.
The Woodworth Lake homeowner's association turns out to be more diverse than I'd expected. It includes one gay gentleman, B, an interracial couple, the male half of which comes from Nigeria, and a couple from Poland (the male half of which we'd met back in April). There are also plenty of white guys who like to fish, ride motorcycles, and do other manly things. Indeed, as Gretchen pointed out to me, there's a single look that a bunch of the male homeowners have. It involves a short beard & moustache, a baseball cap, and work boots. I was one of the few white guys present without that look (Ed, being a close-shaved boomer, and Ibrahim, the Nigerian guy, were two exceptions. Even the gay association member sort of had that look.)
Eventually the meeting itself happened, and we learned about things like road maintenance and the cellphone-connected camera set up at the entrance gate to deter things such as burglary and dumping (recently someone dumped a large brown couch near the gate). But there's no cellphone signal at the gate, so the best the phone can do is collect images on an SD card. One possible solution is a multi-thousand-dollar gate system that could be operated by all of us remotely, but that too would require some sort of connectivity, as well as a huge outlay of funds. Gretchen whispered that that was a stupid idea, but not as another idea that came up: to spend a thousand dollars or so stocking Woodworth Lake with trout. The idea of our association dues paying to put fish in the lake so that people could pull them out with hooks in their mouths horrified Gretchen. "But it might be good for the loons," I offered. Fortunately, we weren't asked to decide the question now, and the subject moved on to something else.
After the meeting, I got an ice tea out of the cooler in hopes of doing something about my caffeine withdrawal headache and then took the dogs down along the lakeshore. Meanwhile Gretchen was having a long conversation with the B, the association's one gay member. Meanwhile, Ramona was being perfectly nice to B's little 3-legged Jack Russel. Ramona and Neville were being nothing but charming, with Ramona marching up to random people and introducing herself and Neville indulging the little half-Nigerian kids when they came up and stuck him in the mouth with sticks they thought he'd like. I thought he'd ignore them or perhaps even get annoyed, but no, he dutifully started chewing the sticks as if to say, "thanks, that's exactly what I want!"
At some point Gretchen talked with Mel and learned about his crazy life, which included getting out of Desert Storm due to an injury from an car crash. He then started up some sort of hot rod racing event on the beach in New Jersey that has been franchised to other countries. Unfortunately, the pandemic made it so the race couldn't be held last year, and he's fallen on harder times (and has been unable to add bathrooms to the lodge, among other things).
I also talked to Mitch, who strongly advised me to get a "water witch" to help with the placement of my cabin's well (he apparently didn't hear me when I'd said it was already dug). I didn't know what a water witch was, so he explained that it was a dowser. He might as well have told me the earth is flat, and I started to laugh. "Don't laugh!" he commanded. Mitch is full of advice, and it's doubtful I'll be taking much of it knowing he believes in water witches. He also thinks we shouldn't "fight the frost," and that buildings should just float on the frozen gound as it expands and contracts. There were other things he said that strengthened the view that he's not really that simpatico with Gretchen and me: he loves Ayn Rand's "the Fountainhead" and referred to the people who initially fought the Woodworth Lake redevelopment as "treehuggers." Gretchen was having none of that, introducing what she would say next by saying "we're treehuggers."
Meanwhile Mel's 11 year old son had started skateboarding down some boards that had been placed on the lodge's steps. At one point he came off the boards and jumped into the grass, avoiding the faceplant that seemed inevitable. At that point, a switch flipped in Neville's brain and he barked at the kid and then ran over and bit him in the crotch! The kid squealed with pain, and of course we feared the worse. Had Neville bitten him (as Mitch put it) on his "third leg"? But no, Neville had just bit his upper thigh and, as Mel was quick to say, hadn't even broken the skin. He was totally cool about it, and so too, after his initial shock, was the son. Why had Neville's done this? Nobody can be sure, though I have seen him react to people on skateboards in the past. He evidently doesn't consider them humans in that form, and due to some trauma or other issue, feels the need to attack when skateboarders are nearby.
After exploring the nearby infirmary (whose cesspool was now exposed to the open air), Gretchen and I drove back to the cabin for some much-needed downtime. We were surpised to find a plumber working in the cabin's basement. He was a youngish guy with a bunch of tattoos. He seemed nice, though he was filling the house with noxious PVC cement fumes. This caused us to move up to our cabin's loft, which was considerably warmer than the downstairs.
We have a free three-month trial of OnStar set up on our Chevy Bolt, and it comes with a WiFi plan that is free for the time being as well. It uses the AT&T cell network, and seems to work great at our cabin. This suggests we'll at least have that sort of internet connectivity available in the future.
As we were getting ready to go for a walk, the plumber guy wanted to talk about some of the esoteric fittings he'd installed and also about propane gas providers. Neville saw him carrying something to his truck and started getting belligerent (as he often does when tradesmen carry things), and Gretchen grabbed him. She wasn't going to be taking any risks with him after his performance earlier today.
Later we were able to walk with the dogs to one of our nearest neighbors, the Nigerian guy (Ib) and his wife. All they have right now on their lot is a cleared building site, which they've been camping in with a number of tents. They'd just put their two kids to sleep in their vehicle, so they could give us a tour of their parcel. They led us down a well-establshed trail to the lake, which was considerably closer than the lake is to our building site. Down at the lake, they'd cleared out the grounds under the trees, and it looked good. Ib had then used a kit to make most of small dock. Unlike the one on 29th Pond, or the one I envision building, this one just sat on the lake floor on large metal feet, and the dock hovered a certain level above the water, unable to rise of fall with its level. It didn't have any decking on it yet, but Ib plans to use cedar planks, one of which he handed Gretchen. It was amazingly lightweight. Ib and his wife have a great view from the dock; the lake looks bigger and wilder from here than ours does. But you can also see, off in the distance, a huge car-sized boulder adjacent to where our dock will be.
Ib and his wife followed us back to our cabin to see the progress. On the walk there, we learned that Ib is software engineer and that he is Nigerian. We showed them everything in our cabin, including the basement. Ib seemed to know a lot about solar panels, something Gretchen wants to deploy on our house (though I don't see it as a matter of any urgency).
Later Gretchen and I drove over to Ed's house to leave it for another night of charging.
Back in the cabin, Gretchen and I ate more of our food. Gretchen even ate most of a broccoli salad that already smelled bad from lack of refrigeration. I read more of Gut, using a battery-powered lamp for illumination. Even before dark began, a long, loud fireworks display began down on Woodworth Lake.
When I tried to sleep, I was again beset by highly-unpleasant waves of acid reflux. Sometimes pooping helps with that, so I grabbed a flashlight and went out in the fairly strong rain in hopes of pooping for the second or third time today. (I'd been pooping in the nearby woods to avoid the port-a-potty.) But alas, I couldn't do more than pass some gas. Somewhat later the acid reflux got even worse, but all I did for it was swallow saliva. At some point later, my esopus got tired of complaining and gave up. I then felt that perhaps the organs below my esophagus continued to complain, but in a muted way (perhaps through some sort of proxy) that didn't much concern me.

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