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:
   brisk sale of chainsaws
Saturday, February 5 2022
Yesterday had been completely overcast, but by this morning the clouds were gone and, since we were now living in the pre-electrified 19th Century, I was up early enough to see the sunrise. With all the glassy ice covering every plant, I was able to take a truly magical photograph lit by the rising sun. I've taken similar pictures in the past, but nothing quite like this. As with those earlier photographs, this one resembled paintings by the "visionary artist" Charles Burchfield, but even somehow more so.

Sunrise this morning just east of the house. Click to enlarge.

By now the only flushable toilets were the two in the basement, where there was still just enough pressure to fill the toilet tanks from the head of water in the 50 gallon hot water tank. Since I wanted to be able to flush the upstairs bathroom, I went out into the driveway and managed to fill two five-gallon buckets from a rivulet of fast-moving runoff using a smaller container as a scoop. It had become very cold, and liquid water was only available in one spot through a hole it had maintained in the ice.
After a few hours of hanging out in the living room with Powerful and Gretchen, I really wanted to be by myself, something that seemed impossible in the house, given that the woodstove was the only source of heat. So I decided to begin scraping off the Subaru Forester with the goal of driving it into town to get a few things I needed. I found the back doors where the scraper was locked, so I went to unlock the doors by hitting the unlock button on the driver's side door and then flinging it shut. But I'd accidentally hit the lock button instead and, to my horror, discovered that I'd just locked myself out of the car. We have only one set of keys for that car, and those keys were inside the car. I'd jimmied our last Subaru open on a couple occasions, but it was an old car with old gaskets and hinges that lended themselves to being pushed past. The Forester, on the other hand, had been build in 2015. I went inside to tell Gretchen and Powerful the bad news.
As always, Gretchen immediately tried to help. She quickly brought up a YouTube video of someone using a special-purpose air bladder to open a space along the front passenger-side windown and then using a special-purpose probe to pull the door unlock rocker. I saw that and figured I could improvise the wedging away of a door window and then bend a piece of wire to serve as a probe. Using two large drywall taping knives and some wooden shims, I managed to open up a narrow gap for the probe I'd made. But the first probe was too short and the second one was too flimsy. The third was in the Goldilocks zone, and so I had Gretchen spot for me from the other side of the car so I could guide it into places on the inside of the door I was attacking that I couldn't see. Initially I tried to do what had been done in the YouTube video, but Gretchen seemed to think the series of motions I needed to execute were too complex. (It was very important for us both to understand what target I was trying to hit, something we didn't actually do immediately.) So then Gretchen thought it might make more sense for me to poke one of the buttons on the door. My probe (a piece of steel wire about four feet long and 5/32 inches wide) was too bendy and ended with a hook, but with some modifications I thought it might just be able to serve as a very long finger. After Gretchen had me poking around uselessly at the window-movement buttons, I realized I could actually see the lock and unlike buttons on the door I was attacking from my side. Gretchen was still coming up with suggestions, but by that point I needed to take a break to eat some food and warm up. Later, working all by myself, I managed to land the tip of of my probe on the tiny eighth-inch-by-eighth-inch square on the unlock button where its surface slope was such that the probe wouldn't slide off when pushed. And once it was there, I pushed, and the door made the clicking sound of being unlocked. It made me feel like a fucking superhero.
Before leaving for town, I suggested maybe getting us a pizza. But DiBella's on Lucas Avenue seemed to be closed (they probably didn't have power), and I didn't want to drive to Woodstock to get a pizza at Catskill Mountain Pizza (which might've also been closed due to the power outage). Since we didn't know of any other pizza places that have vegan cheese, we ended up deciding to get dinner tonight from the Uptown Yum Yum, which seemed to be open.
On the way to Herzogs, I stopped at Beer Universe (which, intriguingly, had a burrito truck operating in its parking lot) in hopes of getting some imperial stout. Beer Universe has an impressive collection, but it's not very organized, and imperial stouts were everywhere. Eventually the guy working the register (he was maskless and seemed Hispanic) came over to help, suggesting (naturally) the $20 imperial stout. When I said that was a bit outside my budget, he found me a $10 four pack of TenFidy from Oscar Blues Brewery for, well, about $10.50. It wasn't great, but it was 10.5% alcohol.
At Herzogs, my main goal was to get a big twelve inch mitre saw blade ($40) for a compound sliding mitre saw Gretchen's parents had bought me for my 54th birthday, which had arrived last week (a couple weeks early). I also wanted some plumbing bits so I can add proper drains to the two kickspace heaters in the cabin's basement, which I'd left with severed supply pipes. I also wanted to cut another key for the Subaru, which the guy at Herzogs said he could do, though it could only be used for opening doors (sufficient for my purposes). The desks where keys are cut is the same one from which chainsaws are sold, and Herzogs seemed to be doing a brisk business in $300 Stihl gasoline-powered chainsaws. I suppose it takes an ice storm to get some people off the fence and into chainsaw ownership. But chainsaws are temperamental tools, and Herzogs could probably sell them at a loss, knowing they can make it all up in the repair business. It was a little surprising Herzogs still had chainsaws to sell, but they might be sitting on a large stockpile just for such occasions.
After picking up the $85 Yum Yum order, I guzzled down a TenFidy road beer on the drive home and then, once home, immediately ate my Yum Yum Impossible Burger. Normally I get the Korean tacos with tofu, but spending however long it had taken outside in the cold trying to break into the Forester had me craving something substantial.

This evening at some point Gretchen announced that she wanted to be alone, which to her seemed impossible. But it wasn't; I told her the upstairs bedroom was likely warm from all the heat coming through that vent hole I'd cut through the wall however many years ago. It turned out that it was, and she was able to read alone up there for hours. Similarly, I also wanted some alone time, so I retreated to the teevee room couch. It wasn't as warm, but it was good enough, and I could happily lie there and drink another TenFidy while re-reading the beginning of the chapter of Jared Diamond's Collapse about the rise and fall of civilization on Easter Island.
Around that time, my brother Don called from Virginia to express more concerns about our mother Hoagie. These were, it seemed, mostly imagined concerns. One of the two horses had turned up dead, and Hoagie had called some livestock corpse service to have her body hauled away. But then when the corpse man showed up at Creekside, he couldn't get anyone to answer the door. This confused me, since I assumed Don would've been there. No, he explained, he was in town at the time and still was in town (at the Dollar Tree, of course). He'd tried to call Hoagie to get her to go out and meet the corpse man, but he couldn't raise her on the landline. Now he was worried something bad might've happened to her, and he was calling me to tell me to "brace" myself. I said okay, if, when he got home, something bad had happened to Hoagie to not hesitate to call me. But he never called, so nothing too bad must've happened to her. Maybe she'd just been asleep.

All evening long I'd been charging six different devices in the Chevy Bolt. We'd neglected to charge the car before the power outage, and it only had 29 miles of range left in the battery. But when charging things like phones and battery-powered lights, it burns down its charge at a very low rate, even with the headlights on (they cannot be turned off).

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