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:
   very post-industrial Gloversville
Saturday, January 22 2022

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

It was extremely cold outside the cabin this morning, something that was clear when I saw that it was -13 Fahrenheit in Gloversville, five miles to the south and (importantly) a thousand feet lower in elevation, I put a digital thermometer out in the snow on the east deck in the shadow (from the rising sun) of a post. But I never got a valid reading from that thermometer, because evidently the temperature outside lay below the lower limit of values it could display. Its screen simply read "LL." It looked like it was going to be a sunny day, and the solar panels were yet again covered in snow. I should've been out there clearing them in anticipation of all the energy that the sun would be providing, but with temperatures an unknowable number of degrees below zero Fahrenheit, I focused on building a fire, making coffee, and writing the day's New York Times Spelling Bee on a piece of cardboard. I also ate the rest of some leftover yuba-heavy Asian food that I'd begun last night; it was from Good Night in Woodstock.
After Gretchen got up and we'd collaborated on Spelling Bee for awhile, I finally mustered the initiative necessary to go out and attack the snow on the roof. A little had already slid off from the bottom without my having to do anything, but that only exposed a couple square feet of panel. I used the long striped maple pole to whip back and forth across the panels, mostly ablating away a little at a time. Since the snow was deeper than the panels are proud of the shingles, I had to also remove snow below the panels if I wanted snow sliding off them to have somewhere to go. Little by little, avalanches started happening, usually starting from the very top and clearing everything below them. Within a half hour or so, I had over 90% of the panels exposed and we were collecting as much as 900 watts from the 220 square foot array.
I then turned my attention to indoor projects. I wanted to install the sink in the upstairs bathroom, but it turned out that, after numerous trips to hardware stores to buy fittings and other bits for this project, I still lacked an essential fitting for making a straight coupling between two pieces of two-inch PVC (which was necessary due to one of my adapters wanting to act like a piece of two inch PVC pipe on its outside). So instead of working on the sink, I hooked up the bidet hose to the upstairs toilet using some brass bits I'd brought from Hurley. With that now set up, we'll be saving a lot on toilet paper (which I barely use at all if I can just blast myself sparkling clean).
At some point I filled a conventional bird feeder with bird seed and hung it from a small beech tree southeast of the house, with visibility from the couch where Gretchen likes to lie. The hope is that it will attract some birds and we'll start seeing some actual wildlife from our cabin, which there hasn't been much of.

This time when I drove down into civilization to give a hardware store my business, I drove into Gloversville via Route 309, which eventually turns into 11th Avenue and then makes a right turn to become Bleecker Street (named after the hamlet that Route 309 goes to). I knew that beyond an abandoned red-brick church (whose steeple provides a landmark visible from blocks away) was Gloversville's True Value Hardware store. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that neither of the two employees was wearing a masks. I had the cashier cut me some copies of the cabin's door key while I had the super helpful woman who works there direct me to the PVC fittings. Then I asked about outdoor thermometers and methods that would help me better get snow off of an array of solar panels. I hoped maybe they had tennis balls I could fling at the panels, which of course they didn't have. But they did have a number of snow rakes, some of which had very long handles and seemed designed for getting snow off the tops of tall trucks. I got a couple of those (one a set of telescoping poles that could reach 12 feet and another a set of telescoping poles with a foam plow end and a hard plastic scraper end). The kratom tea I'd been drinking earlier had me feeling very connected to other people in a Platonic civilized sort of way, and I was enjoying having my consumer needs and being tended by people in the business of satisfying them.
I still didn't have any balls to fling at the solar panels, so nearby I stopped at a Family Dollar store (which was next door to a Rent-a-Center; both very post-industrial Gloversville) to see what they had. It was dreary and depressing in there, with surfaces showing much fading, abrading, and staining. None of the employees were wearing masks, and only about half the customers were. I went up and down the ailses hoping to find toy balls. I did find some stuffed animals, but evidently balls are no longer things that children want. Instead I bought a set of cheap paint brushes (for painting houses) and a container of Planter's cocktail peanuts.
Back at the cabin, I eventually added the necessary PVC fitting to the stub of two inch sewer pipe coming up through the floor where the pedestal for the second floor sink will sit. Then I installed the faucet and drain hardware on the sink and put it all in place. It was little tricky (as it always is) to get the tailpiece pipe from the sink to fit into the flexible corrugated pipe leading to the trap, but eventually everything was in place and I could test for leaks. Which of course there were. The drain trap I'd bought had a gasket and articulation in the place where the water pools, and no matter what I did (and I tried a couple different gaskets) I could not get it to stop leaking. In such times, I demand of the crappy equipment I'm attempting to install, "Who designs these things?" Fortunately, I had a very long flexible 1.25 inch-compatible hose I'd bought on eBay, and I decided to tear out all the stupid trap plumbing I'd installed and just use that to both connect to the tailpiece and to serve (though an undulation) as a trap. It was cheating, and this hose didn't have a great connection to the tailpiece. But it didn't leak, so I took that as a win. So I was free to caulk the mechanical connections and bolt the sink to the wall. Now that the upstairs bathroom has both a sink and a toilet, it has the functionality of a complete half-bathroom. And the tub actually works as a tub; it just lacks the wall protection necessary for showering.
This evening Gretchen gave me the lion's share of two small (but rich) vegan pot pies she'd gotten from Vegan Essentials. One was mushroom and the other was "chicken."

My digital thermometer was not up to its assignment this morning. Later I attached an analog thermometer to the frame of the north-facing kitchen window. It measures temperatures down to -60 Fahrenheit.

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