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:
   lulled into complacency by animated figures
Wednesday, October 19 2022
When I went outside this morning, I saw a cloudy material on the windshields of the vehicles and when I ran my fingers over it, it was frost, what appears to be the first of the season for Hurley (I'd seen it ten days earlier in the southern Adirondacks). There was also frost visible on the west side shingles of the roof. The frost hadn't been hard enough to affect the peppers, though, indicating it was very light.
In amongst my workplace tasks, today I did a rare task involving welding. Up at the cabin in the Adirondacks, in addition to the big rugged mattock I'd used for trail building, I had a small cheap mattock I'd used to level the stones I'd set in the pathways and patio I'd built. Though the soil there is loose and sandy, it wasn't long before the mattock's flimsy steel blade and point started bending out of shape. I could bend it back into shape again, but just knowing it was so fragile kept me from using it as violently as I preferred. So last weekend I brought it back to Hurley with the idea of welding on some additional steel to make it stronger. Today I did that welding in at least three phases. The material I welded onto it was a piece of bar stock measuring about an eight of an inch thick and 3/4 of an inch wide. Since the main blade of the mattock is cuts into the ground perpendicular to the plane defined by the stroke arc (the arc the tool passes through before hitting the ground), it tends to get bent upward. A similar thing happens to the mattock's pick end. So I thought if I welded the bar stock as a dorsal fin to the top of the mattock, it would support the blade and the pick and keep them from being bent in those dimensions. The resulting tool has a nice heft to it and, were it narrowed down to a point at the end of the three-lobed pick, made for a formidable digging tool. I'll have to see if it ends up working well in the real world.

This evening after Gretchen came home from work, we hosted our first indoor dinner party in a long time. Our guests were K, a lawyer who works on behalf prisoners seeking clemency in New York, her husband S, who owns a vegan jerky company, and their two babies, one of whom is two years old and other of whom is only a few months old. They arrived a little after 6:00pm and something weird happened right from the start (I didn't witness it, but Gretchen told me about it later). K, who knows we have dogs, told Gretchen about a story she'd heard of a pit bull killing a baby and wondered if Gretchen would put our dogs away while she and her family were present. Gretchen said there was no way she would be doing that, that this was the dogs' house, that they weren't going to hurt anybody, and that was that. So K relented and by the time I showed up had moved on to other topics. Neville, though, seemed to pick up on her suspicions and displayed his own for the rest of the evening, barking at her and the older baby obnoxiously from his teetering perch atop the small tuffet that we keep in front of the woodstove (where I'd built an extravagant fire to dissipate the late October chill).
Initially we all sat in front of the fire in the living room, eating crackers and dips and chatting to the extent we could given the presence of two babies. I managed to tell a particularly well-developed version of my punk rock tooth tale, which I didn't even need to tell given that there's no longer a gap in my face. At some point K announced that she needed to "pump," which she said would look weird but she wanted to be able to hang out while she did so. We said no problem, and she attached things to her breasts which silently put milk into two sippy cups. It was a little gross to watch, and K overshared a bit too much about it. But that's how people reproduce, I suppose. We don't have much experience hanging out with people in this particular phase of child rearing.
Two years olds are terrible human beings, and the one present this evening wasn't as bad as as others I've seen. She had fairly good language skills for her age and was obsessed by Lester the Cat, who seemed curious of and flattered by this small human who followed him around wherever he went. But she killed any real possibility for adult conversation until dinner, when her imperious refusal to eat the delicious vegan lasagna Gretchen had made forced her parents to allow her to "w-a-t-c-h" something on a smartphone. Then, lulled into complacency by animated figures on a screen, she could be fed by her dad one forkful of lasagna at a time. This allowed us to discuss complex and potentially-fraught topics such as whether religious states of any sort, including Isræl, should exist. (S and I generally thought not, though Gretchen was raised as such a strong Zionist she's conflicted, and K never really voiced a direct opinion one way or the other. S, it should be mentioned, is Jewish, whereas K is mostly Polish with (according to 23&Me) only about 2% Ashkenazi Jewish genes.
Another amusing conversation concerned the gendering of animals and babies. Gretchen dislikes it when someone refers to an animal as an "it," preferring the appropriate gendered pronouns. Our guests were doing this about dogs and cats, and eventually Gretchen called them out on this (even though what they were doing is widely considered proper English). "For what it's worth," K said in their defence, "we refer to babies as 'it' too." They then talked at some length about how the genders of their two babies (both of them having double X chromosomes) wasn't really in their conscious minds. Indeed, S said, the first time he did his older daughter's hair up in pigtails and she looked like a girl instead of a genderless baby, it kind of blew his mind.
The lasagna was delicious, of course, and our guests ate so much of it that we didn't have the usual huge amount left over for tomorrow. After that, icecream was served, which as what the two year old had been saying she wanted from the get go. I was able to wash nearly all the dishes in real time, chiming into the conversation as appropriate from the sink.

The mattock I altered today. The shiny steel "dorsal fin" welded to the top is new and helps
to keep the cheap metal blades from being bent out of shape during use.

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