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:
   enthusiasm for crickets
Friday, September 1 2023

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

This morning after weekend-like rituals of coffee and Spelling Bee, I resumed work on the foundation insulation project. I was able to dig fairly rapidly down to a depth of about 84 inches (about ten inches short of the footing). As has been the pattern of late, the side of the ditch experience a wall collapse as I was tidying it up in preparation for the installation of a sheet of styrofoam despite effort to shore up that wall by pounding rebar rods through it in a criss-cross pattern and pounding wooden stakes sideways into the trench wall near the bottom. The resulting collapse then gave me more room to maneuver, and I was able to finish the ditch deeper on the second attempt. Now the trench was about 88 inches deep. Since this slot was also under the small deck in front of the cabin's front door, I made things easier on myself by cutting the styrofoam sheet into two pieces. I'm finding these split sheets under the front entrance deck aren't lining up perfectly orthogonally with the other sheets, perhaps because I've stopped bothering to dig all the way to the footing (which tends to be a very level reference. This is an easy problem to fix with spray foam, but obviously it would be better not to have to rely so much on that.
Later I managed to convince Ramona to walk with me down to the dock, where Gretchen and Neville had hiked down to some hours before. Since this was the first time Ramona had gone down to the lake in awhile, I decided to reward her by taking her for a canoe ride. Gretchen drew my attention to the fact that a dock we've never seen people active at (the next one north of the public dock on the lake's east shore) actually had some people active at it earlier in the day. And now there were red chairs on it that I'd never seen before. This probably also meant that the a draw-bridge system designed to "close" the dock when not in use (a system that only takes into account people who are scrupulously rule-observant) was no longer up. So I padded over to that area for a better look. The people who had been at the dock were gone, though they'd left a green canoe tied to their dock. Ramona likes to get out on distant shores, so I let her do so at the nearby public dock. That dock is high above the water (especially compared to our floating dock) so I had to help Ramona get the boost she needed to get up there. She then proceeded to wade into the lake, which is shallow and suitable for wading near there (it's where all the people who used the public dock do their wading, stirring away muck and probably clearing the most obnoxious of rocks in the process). Ramona had no difficulty reboarding the canoe from the public dock when it was time to leave, since that only required her to jump downwards.
I left Gretchen and the dogs back at the dock and hiked back to the cabin, visiting the beaver dams at the lake's outflow along the way. Back at the cabin, I decided to run an errand into Johnstown to buy more dog good, as our stockpile of it had all been used up (in fact, Gretchen was forced to feed the dogs garbanzo beans last night). Some internet research had made us aware of a large pet store called Benson's on Comrie Avenue (not far from the Price Chopper I'm always going to), and supposedly they carried the Natural Balance vegan dog food we feed to our dogs (despite their lack of enthusiasm for it). It took me a little while to narrow down just where on Comrie Avenue the store was, but it was a big friendly place full of wholesome "real Americans" engaged in pet-related retail business. I couldn't find the Natural Balance, so one of the staff showed me where it was. But it turned out they didn't have the vegan flavor. So I was foreced to get something else. Normally in this situation, one in which I'm trying to buy dog food with as small of an animal rights and ecological impact as possible, I end up buying something containing fish. But Benson's had something even better: Jiminy's, a dog food made up of various grains, sweet potatoes, and ground-up crickets. Sure, a real vegan doesn't want to be supporting the exploitation of crickets either. But in this case the alternative would've been driving forty additional miles to Amsterdam and back, probably killing a good many insects on my windshield and in the roadway along the way. The cashier asked if my dogs liked Jiminy's and I all had to say was, "It's low on the food chain."
Next I drove over to the Noble Ace hardware store further down Comrie, mostly to get more spray foam and panel adhesive (since I'd forgotten to bring the stuff I'd bought the other day at Home Depot). I also looked at their various garden tools to see if any of them would be useful for trench digging, but none of them looked like they would be. I did, however, end up buying some steel mesh that I might be able to use to support a trench wall under some circumstances.
On the drive back up Comrie, I stopped at the Price Chopper to get things like bananas (so Gretchen could make smoothies), nuts, vegan bacon, and (since they didn't have sourdough bread) kaiser rolls (later described as the "rolls of my people").
On the drive back home, I was listening to one of the several ultra-rightwing radio stations broadcasting to the feebleminded of the "Leatherstocking Region." The particular show I found myself hearing was called "The End Times Show," where callers call up to ask about specific recent events to wonder if they harmonize with the crazy shit prophesied in the Book of Revelation. Apparently Revelation has some ravings that sound a bit like what climate scientists are saying will soon be happening to Earth's climates due to the excess human production of carbon dioxide, and one caller wanted to know what the host thought. The host, though, is a far right Christianist who still believes climate scientists are somehow running a lucractive scam by sounding the alarm about climate change, and it's actually Exxon-Mobil and other oil companies who are telling the truth, that is, that nobody has to worry. "God" supposdly said in the Bible in a few places that climate would always be stable, and that's all the reassurance we're supposed to need (and it's certainly worth more than the proclamations of scientists, whow reveal their ignorance by constantly changing the specifics of what they're worried about). The idea that science is a constantly-self-examining pursuit where all theories are provisional (while being the best model of reality available at the time) demonstrates its weakness, not its strength. The host would much rather accept the unaltered ravings of goat herders from 2000 years ago as the best possible framework for understanding how the world operates today. This all left me wondering if there was money to be made by exploiting such deep and widespread ignorance.
After I turned onto Woodworth Lake Road, I kept a lookout for more stones I could use for my various projects near the cabin, particularly the one to cover up the drainage pipe. I also had a vague plan to use smaller boulders to "finish" the crude wall made of massive boulders along the north edge of our building site. These boulders were placed by large earthmoving equipment in an effort to create a terrace large enough for our septic field. The boulders form the base of the slope they needed, but most of that slope ended up being just in sandy soil, which suffered terrible erosion until I took measures to combat it in the spring of 2022. (Since then, the slope has developed such vigorous vegetation that erosion is no longer an ongoing concern.) I don't necessarily want to produce a complete stone wall to the top of the slope, but I think the existing stone wall would look a lot better if it was finished with smaller stones running in a more-or-less horiztonal line. It would be fine if the top of this wall was free-standing (that is, it wouldn't be a retaining wall).
After a little renewed digging for the sixth styrofoam sheet along the south foundation wall, it became clear that there wasn't enough space to deal with all the topsoil being removed from the top of the eastwardly advancing trench. Ideally, I needed to finish some of the styrofoam with Durock so I could begin piling dirt up against it (dirt that I otherwise have to pile in "borrow" piles) to produce the final landscape elevation.
When the dogs had their cricket-based dinner tonight, they ate it with considerably more enthusiasm than they have for their normal vegan dog food. I'd expected Gretchen to be more negative about the cricket-based dog food than she ended up being. The dogs' behavior towards it had her contemplating the idea of perhaps buying it regularly and mixing it in with the vegan stuff they only eat grudgingly.

Ramona on our dock.

Ramona at the public dock today. Click to enlarge.

My canoe and Ramona at the public dock. Click to enlarge.

Mushrooms growing out of a log in the pathway connecting the northwest end of Woodworth Lake to the vicinity of the cabin. The log had water-filled woodpecker holes in it, which is probably great for the mushrooms. Click to enlarge.

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