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:
   serial water heaters
Sunday, May 29 2022

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

After yet another cabin morning of coffee & Spelling Bee, I began my big tast of the day, which was to add pipe and valves to the basement plumbing network to allow the Ruud heat-pump-based hot water heater to pre-heat water going into the Navien hot water heater (which is still in disrepair). This differed from the plumbing I'd installed last week, which only allowed each of two hot water heating systems to operate to the exclusion of the other or to operate in parallel. By permitting the Ruud to pre-heat water for the Navien, it seemed possible to maximize performance in parts of the year when less sunlight is available. (At this time of the year, though, there is more than enough sun to heat all of our water using heatpump or even electro-resistive technology.)
The new plumbing required me to cut out a section of Little John's plumbing. Then I could assemble the replacement (which included a number of ball valves and attachments for pipes from the Ruud water heater) and solder it together out on the front stoop of the cabin, using a scrap of Wonderboard to keep me from toasting the railing. Once I had this piece installed, I could pressurize it and see if my soldering was any good. Usually it is and it works great the first time. But not today; water started spraying out adjacent to a big 3/4 inch ball valve. Fortunately, it took only seconds to drain the water out of that part of the plumbing and a minute to resolder it. And this time the joint proved sound. After I was finished with that, I did a thorough cleanup of even the most minor of messes I'd just made, including all the random solder drips beneath where I'd been soldering. I think I was still in the mindset I'd been in at the end of my tiling, which is one of obsessive cleanliness so as to prevent the difficult work of chiseling away hardened stone.
Meanwhile Gretchen and Ramona had hiked out beyond the Woodworth Lake gate to put some trash in the public trash can. When she came back, she returned to her job of repainting the walls of the upstairs bathroom. Part of what was making that go so slowly was that she'd failed to bring all the parts of a fancy paint roller device and was forced to do all the painting with a brush.
On top of her irritation with all that, she decided she didn't like the dark grout I'd used between the upstairs bathroom's wall tiles. She'd been convinced to get that color from an exercise performed with grey block stand-ins for that tile at the Tile Shop, but in the lighting as it actually exists in the bathroom, the grout seemed to merge into a random darkened edge color of the tiles, making it seem as if the grout was smearing out well beyond the grout lines. Now Gretchen was wondering if anything could be done about this. Could a different color grout be applied over top? How hard would it be for me to chisel out the grout I'd just worked hard installing. I told her that the things she was proposing ranged from impossible to very difficult, and any attempt to chisel out the grout would not only take enormous amount of work but would also damage the tile. Couldn't we just learn to live with it? From my perspective, I thought it looked great.
This afternoon I made a few refinements to my Moxee Hotspot watchdog project. That watchdog hadn't been working for the past couple weeks because I hadn't had it hooked up correctly. But another problem I'd noticed came during periods when the cell signal was a bit weak (which seems to happen more now that there are leaves on the trees). The watchdog will go to restart the hotspot, but then (due to imperfections in the timing of the power-button-closure code) it will need a second round of resetting right away. This wouldn't happen for however long the server polling rate was (I'd selected five minutes), which is a very long time when you're trying to use the internet. So I added code to the watchdog to use a much more rapid polling of the connection quality (every 20 seconds) until there is confirmation that it is working. After that, it goes back to the more leisurely polling.
Gretchen likes the look of all the various plants I've been transplanting into the little gullies northwest of the cabin in hopes of slowing down the rate of erosion. She said she wanted to add to the effort, so later this afternoon I grabbed a shovel and a bucket and gave Gretchen a crash course on my transplantation technique. We went into the woods, found little clumps of fern, moss, or solomon's seal, and then tried to dig them up. I had no problem getting up the first clump of ferns, but when Gretchen tried to dig up the second, it was as if she was pressing the shovel into concrete. So I gave it a try and, with a little jerk, easily cut through whatever roots were in the way and managed to carve out another root ball. But when Gretchen tried to gather a third plant, she again failed. It was as if I was an order of magnitude stronger than her. But part of it was her technique; she wasn't attacking the ground at the right angle and she wasn't effectively using a jolt, which greatly magnifies the force at the tip of the shovel. Eventually she was able to dig up a root clump on her own, and I left her to putter away at this by herself. Not long after that, I looked out from the cabin and saw she'd abandoned the bucket and shovel. It turned out she'd gone down to the lake and gone for a long swim all the way over to Joel's dock and back.
Later I went by myself down to the lake with a few tools intent on working on the dock. I didn't have the right screws for attaching planks, so all I could really do was make further improvements to the dock's stone abutments. I managed to wrest a number of large flat pieces of granite out of the water and stack them behind and along side the dock. I also leaned a large flat rock in a way that caught against the bedrock below and the top of the dock framing above in a way that would buttress the entire dock and prevent it from being dragged away from the shoreline.
As I worked, I systematically removed and reused (in the abutment) the many rocks that I'd amassed on the submerged granite bedrock reef that the dock was crossing. But whenever I tried to remove rocks from a pool in the reef, something in the water attacked me. I'd noticed this yesterday, and, not being able to see the assailant, I'd been skeeved out enough to retreat. By "attack," I mean some creature was running into my ankles at high speed. This didn't hurt, and there was no biting, but it wasn't the kind of thing that could be ignored. This evening I finally saw what had been attacking me. It was a large fish, maybe six to eight inches long, that appeared to be protecting something near a rock the size of a large coffee cup. Evidently this was a nesting site, either one that contained eggs or soon would. The fish looked to be a bluegill sunfish, the same species my father and I used to catch and eat on Lac Murray in southwestern Quebec (near Otter Lake) in the 1980s when we'd stay at the off-grid vacation farmhouse of one of his professor friends who taught at the University of Ottawa.
Another unexpected incident of contact with a wild animal came as I was stumbling onto the shore just west of the dock and startled a frog, who leapt into the air and somehow flew directly into the palm of my right hand, where he bounced off and disappeared. Meanwhile Madyson the Beaver kept swimming slowly back and forth about 50 feet from shore. She slapped her tail once, but for the most part she seemed to be getting used to me. And what I was doing: hauling rocks out of the lake or from a temporary brook nearby and stacking them near the dock, wasn't all that threatening.
Meanwhile, across the lake, I saw a few humans at the old Boy Scout boathouse (which now belongs to Pyotr). They were drinking beers or something and making a festive (though not obnoxious) rukus while dogs cavorted about nearby.
Back at the cabin, Gretchen had made an Asian noodle dish with a bit too many edamame beans in it. It was pretty good and I had seconds. I was also drinking a Hazy Little Thing IPA that had overwintered in the collection of tools and supplies down by the dock. It tasted a little weird, but was fully carbonated, meaning freezing hadn't caused the can to rupture. Gretchen doesn't really drink, but tonight she busted into a can of some sort of sour beer that had been languishing in the refrigerator for months.
After dark, I went outside to unplug the car and heard a couple of loons going crazy down on Lake Edward. I'd heard a loon briefly on Woodworth Lake last weekend, though there hasn't yet been much loon activity in this area this year.
Before bed, I took a shower mostly to burn away the itch from all the accumulated insect bites. [REDACTED]

Madyson the Beaver not being too aggravated by me today.

The stone abutments as they existed at the end of my work on the dock today. Click to enlarge.

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