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

welcome to the collapse
Clusterfuck Nation
Peak Oil

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Capital Buffet loading dock
Friday, May 27 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Today in the remote workplace, my struggles with Azure DevOps build pipelines continued. A pattern I've noticed with newer software technology (such as, say, Angular and Azure DevOps) is that getting basic things to work is super easy, but once one needs to build for the complexity of the real world, you're soon forced into non-intuitive complexity that is much more baroque than attempting to accomplish the same thing in, say, a procedural computer language with access to a file system. A case in point is my desire to build a build-and-deploy pipeline that does most of the build with MSBuild but processes configuration files with a Python script. The problem was that files in an earlier stage that were needed in a subsequent one had already been deleted (or perhaps they were inaccessible due to permissions issues, though no errors were returned). It turns out that there's a way around this problem, but nothing about this work-around is intuitive and it appears to rely on techniques I've never seen in any documentation. It's an indictment of a framework (or other development environment) that whole classes of solutions require either magic or a form of Calvinball. By contrast, with a programming language like PHP, one only has to know the basics to deal with most programming challenges. There are a few things that come up later that will trip you up (especially he difference between pass-by-value and pass-by-reference), but dealing with it doesn't require a whole new suite of understanding.
It being the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, Gretchen wanted to leave for the cabin early. Her understanding of white-collar work in the summer is that everyone leaves early on a Friday, particularly a Friday before a three-day weekend. That was definitely true when I was working out of the Red Hook office, but since being moved to the company located near Boston, no such culture has been evident. But Gretchen was insistent that we leave early, and by early, she meant really early. So we left at 2:00pm. I let Gretchen do the driving so I could check in on my workplace every now and then. Fortunately, there was no work-related discussion in my scrum team's chat. There was a little witty banter now and then, and I contributed to this occasionally, particularly when I had an opportunity to mention Metallica's Injustice For All and its spiteful absence of Jason Newsted's bass.
Last weekend we'd discovered we hadn't bought enough wall tile to finish tiling the alcove around the bathtub in the cabin's second floor bathroom. So on the drive up to the cabin today, we stopped at the Tile Shop in Colonie (near Albany) to get more of those same four colors of tile. Around back at the loading dock, Gretchen let Ramona and Neville out to sniff around, and they immediately made a beeline for the loading dock of the nearby Capital Buffet, a establishment well-known to Albany's many obese people. As I was back there trying to get Ramona back, I saw something truly disgusting near the back door of Capital Buffet: a large multi-gallon bottle half-full of grease with hundreds of cigarette butts suspended in it. Then a UPS truck appeared to make a delivery near the Tile Shop's dock, and Gretchen mentioned something about the Capital Buffet and the driver said one should never go there, that he's seen things at their loading dock that are never good things to see behind a restaurant.
One of the guys working at the dock at the Tile Shop took an immediate shine to our dogs. But then he noticed our Chevy Bolt and struck up a conversation about electric cars. He mentioned something he'd learned about a new "solid-state" battery technology that supposedly has twice the storage capacity for half the weight. Knowing how close existing lithium technology is to the physical limits of what chemistry can physically store, I was skeptical. But Gretchen seemed excited. She puts more faith than I do in random people at loading docks, particularly if they like dogs or are vegan.
Next we went to nearby Trader Joe's, mostly to get food for this weekend at the cabin. I decided to wear a mask, but Gretchen is feeling invincible after her recent bout with the omicron variant, and she went mask-free. Despite our initial plans, we kept adding exciting things as we found them, beginning right at the entrance with some cute little succulent plants. It was soon clear that our shopping was experiencing scope creep. We only had one cart, and as Gretchen kept cramming additional things into it, I would say, "okay, but now that's it!" And then she'd add something else. Somehow our one over-stuffed cart of groceries came to $350, though much of it was nuts, seeds, and cherry juice intended to be taken back to Hurley.
We got to the cabin a little after 5:00pm and I immediately began the chore of installing tile, beginning with the installation of a new DeWalt-brand 7-inch diamond blade on the cheap wetsaw I'd bought at Lowes nearly nineteen and a half years ago. Then I mixed up thinset and began installing tile as Gretchen made stacks for me ordered in the sequence of colors we'd agreed to last weekend (a repeating square pattern of 36 seemingly-randomly-arranged tiles). The very first tile I installed today had to be cut for the tub spout's plumbing. But since this fell near an edge, this was an easy cut. And the new tile blade cut through the tile like a hot knife through butter. Like a frog in a pot slowly brought to a boil, that old blade had made me grow accustomed to the performance of a diamond blade with very few diamonds left on it.
I worked continuously for about six hours installing the tile and then cleaning up all the mess that needs to be cleaned up before it turns into stone. Somewhere on the wall with the plumbing protruding from it, I detected an error in Gretchen's tile stacks. That was easy to fix, but evidently I'd installed other errors in the sequence without noticing. But only two tiles of the same color had been put adjacent to each other, and when that was fixed, only two tiles in the whole job violated the pattern we'd come up with. But one would have to look for them systematically to find them. At the very end of the job, I had a few narrow leftovers to stack beneath where the tiles overhung the edge of the tub, making it so the tub was completely surrounded by tile.
As I'd worked, Gretchen had been DJ. She'd started by playing Ha*Ash, a Spanish-language pop band (based in Louisiana) she'd discovered listening to the radio in Costa Rica. It was good, in a kind of Hispanic Country/pop way (think a somewhat-more-sophisticated Taylor Swift, but in Spanish), but after a couple of hours of that, Gretchen switched to Led Zeppelin, reminding me of a few great songs I'd almost forgotten about (such as "Tangerine"). Also in the mix was a not-so-great cover of "Hey Hey What Can I Do" by Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish.
After all the necessary cleanup, I made myself a few tacos from the fixing Gretchen had put out for me. And then I cracked open a much-deserved beer, a Boatswain Double IPA from Trader Joe's. It's not great, but it's got a lot of alcohol in it.

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