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:
   ideally I'd have a JSON API
Saturday, May 6 2023

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

I made a fire in the woodstove this morning to deal with the initial chill, but eventually it warmed up enough for me to throw open the doors and let the warmth of the outdoors in. After I was done with all the usual coffee drinking, Spelling Bee solving, and article reading, I went down to the basement to make some edits to the hot water circulator plumbing I'd done last week. If I ever install a hydronic hot water loop on the roof, I will want to be able to thoroughly drain it in isolation from the rest of the plumbing in the early fall, well before I have to worry about conditions falling below freezing inside the cabin. I'd pre-assembled some of the plumbing pieces, but for an additional broiler tap I wanted to install just upstream from the hot water circulator pump (the biggest component I'd installed last weekend) I needed to remove an existing tap, install a half-inch T-fitting, and then install the new tap as well as the old one. The old tap was the kind you typically see controlling water going into a toilet tank, and I had a hell of a time re-attaching it. Its solder joint them proceeded to fail after I installed everything and turned on the water, cauing me to have to try to solder it better. But no matter how much heat, solder, and flux I threw at the joint, the solder kept beading up and refusing to flow into the gap (normally an almost-magical process that requires no particular effort to achieve). After a second test again revealed leaks (this time they were actually worse), I removed the acursed tap and installed a new one in its place. This time the plumbing passed its test, and I could finally clean up my mess.


Late this afternoon, I convinced the dogs to come with me down to Woowdworth Lake. Once I got down there, I set out in the canoe, picking up Ramona at the dock. I ten paddled towards the outlet bay, but when I saw there were ducks in there, I decided to leave them be. I turned, went briefly along the shore west of Joel's dock, and then returned to our dock, where Neville was whining from either FOMO or loneliness (though he doesn't really like riding in the canoe). While I was at the lake, I saw a few people over at the public dock and I could hear Pyotr running a chainsaw over on his parcel, where he is building a log cabin.
This evening, I had to defer two cabin projects. The first was the one where I was going to electrify the underside of the east deck. I'd thought I could just hook into a light fixture in the basement and take electricity from there, and I had my cable ending at the light junction box I had in mind, ready to go. But when I opened up the junction box, I found that the only hot wire it contained was switched. That was going to work; I needed to have electricity under those decks even when the basement lights were switched off.
Another thing I'd imagined at least getting started on was making a microcontroller system to switch on the electric heatpump-based hot water heater only when there was lots of electricity stored in the battery. The thinking here was to only heat water when solar electricity would otherwise be wasted. Ideally I'd have a JSON API that I could use to determine when the battery was full or near-full. But SolArk supplies no such APIs, and neither does PowerView, the web app I use to monitor the system remotely. Without that information in digital form, I thought perhaps I could just read the analog value of the batttery's voltage, which has a relationship to how full it is. But when I was testing how the terminals related to such things as the cabin's ground, I found both terminals were unrelated to ground. This means they are floating, and I don't have a clear idea how to measure across pins that are floating with respect to the power levels of the measuring device (which, in this case, would be a microcontroller). I asked ChatGPT what to do in this situation, and it suggested an "isolation amplifier."
Eventually I re-ran the hot water circulator system with the boiler to pre-heat all the water in the heatpump-based hot water heater. This worked great, so I decided to take a bath. But when I ran the hot water, it only got slightly tepid. When I went down to the basement to figure out why, I realized that hot water from the tank was mixing with cold water from the cold water supply via the alternative water path I'd made for the hot water circulation system. I could easily stop this from happening by closing one of the ball valves along the route. But a smarter solution would be to install a check valve making it so water can only go in one direction out of the circulator pump. This would make it possible to have a solar hot water circulator working at the same time as hot water is available for household use (without my having to open and close valves depending on what I needed to do).

I don't listen to much music when I'm in the Adirondacks, though I tend to listen to more music at the cabin these days than I do back in Hurley. When I'm in the cabin basement working on plumbing or electrical circuits, I usually tune a radio down there to the local retard-rock station, which caters to the kind of people who need the services of, a local attorney specializing in DUI cases. Such people tend to also get really excited about, say, an Aerosmith farewell tour. When I'm upstairs at my desk, I have a hard drive full of the MP3s I collected between 2000 and 2022, so I can listen to all my favorite music. What I've been listening to up there for the last two weekends, however, has been an random mix of MP3s with a modified date of 2002 by the band And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. When I'm in neither place, I can often be heard singing to myself, repetively concentrating on what I find to be the catchiest part of a song. Favorite songs to sing this weekend have been from the country and country-rock genres, including "Broken Lady" by Larry Gatlin (where I like to turn the lyrics into " how a farmer mends a fence... eventually"), "Last Night" (a contemporary bro-country song by Morgan Wallen) and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles. I like to sing all such songs in an exaggerated Appalachian accent, which is the most effortless accent I can affect.


A trout lily just below the cabin. Click to enlarge.

Ramona in the canoe. Click to enlarge.

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