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:
   the problem was not a water heater
Friday, December 29 2023
I ended up having something of a mid-grade hangover today, one that manifested mostly as a headache and disturbances in my gut. Early this afternoon, one of Gretchen's three friends named Kaycee, the one she refers to as "Grad School Kaycee," came over for a visit with her dog Athena, a little 30 pound beagle mutt. Charlotte and Neville were delighted to have a new friend to play with, and Athena had never met a cat before. Oscar is still solidly in his "nothing disturbs me" phase of life, so initially he didn't seem to mind all the eager sniffing and even some of the pile-drives Charlotte made into the fray. But even Oscar has his limits, and within a few minutes all the cats had retreated into various hidey holes in the laboratory.
Gretchen and Kaycee were mostly talking about things of no interest to me, so the extent of my socializing was to get a fire going in the woodstove and to scratch Athena on the back. She was shedding some fur that I managed to make into a tiny hair ball, which then led me to fetch one of Oscar's big hair balls to show Kaycee.
At some point a tenant at Brewster Street sent a text saying the hot water heater was leaking. Since that hot water heater is only about six years old, it seemed early for it to be springing a leak, which (in water heaters) is unfixable. But if it was leaking, it meant I would be replacing it, and I'd probably be doing it today. So I proceeded to load up the Chevy Bolt (the Forester still had a 36 foot ladder strapped to it) with plumbing tools, soldering tools, a bucket of fittings, a hand truck (to help me move water heaters), and a hose (to drain the old hot water heater). I then drove out to Brewster Street thinking most of the way if it was possible for the tenant to somehow gotten things wrong and that the situation wasn't anywhere near as bad as it initially seemed. This has happened at Brewster Street before, where the tenants are unusually ignorant of how basic household systems work. When I entered the basement, I could immediately tell that the problem was not as the tenant had described it. The leak was not from the hot water heater at all, immediately suggesting that if there was a problem, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as initially feared. There was a wet spot on the basement floor, but it was was from a small sump pump designed to pump condensate out from the gas-fired furnace up into the plumbing system. Evidently it wasn't working and had overflowed. I gave the little box containing the pump and the condensate pan a thump and the pump kicked on briefly and then turned off. So I took the whole apparatus outside to drain and clean it. For some reason, the top of the device had a bunch of marble-sized white balls in the top for the condensate to percolate through before ending up in the sump. Was this because otherwise the water is corrosive? In any case, the pump on this system was reliable when tested, so perhaps the floater that switches on the pump was stuck. I cleaned everything out (while retaining the white balls) and put it all back together. I'd expected to be spending about $500, but now it was looking like I would be spending nothing.
It was about 3:00pm when I was driving home, and the flustered clouds in the winter sky had the luminance of dusk about them. As I drove westward on Wynkoop, I passed a flock of many hundreds of Canada geese that had landed in the cornfield to the north. I noticed that there was a fifty-foot-wide strip of cornfield near the road that they didn't stray into.
Back home in Hurley, Gretchen, Kaycee, and the dogs were only just starting their walk on the Farm Road. Kaycee is one of those people who will not let her dog offleash, even in a safe outdoor space like the Farm Road. I should mention that Neville's infected finger claw was still bothering him and he didn't go for the walk.
This evening Gretchen made an Asian noodle dish that I expected to be disappointed by (as I've noticed that her taste in Chinese food has diverged over the years from mine). But it was actually very good. We watched two episodes of Jeopardy!, the final two of the so-called "Wildcard Tournament." You can imagine who Gretchen was rooting for when the choices were an older white Chemistry professor from Roanoke, Virginia, a young Marine, and a middle-aged gay Asian public defender. (Obviously that last one, who was the victor even though he'd bet zero on, and gotten right, a Final Jeopardy question about gay geography: "What is Stonewall?") Later for some reason Gretchen watched the original movie in the Matrix trilogy, which she says she had seen before. On rewatching, she found it completely nonsensical and "a little boring." She also couldn't believe anyone could take Keanu Reeve's acting seriously.

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