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:
   ladder on ladder
Saturday, February 10 2024
Andrea got up kind of late, giving Gretchen and me time to get to the status of "genius" in the collaborative game of Spelling Bee we play on Saturdays and Sundays. I didn't have any caffeinated coffee, so instead I drank kratom tea (and didn't end up having any caffeine at all today). Later Nancy and Jack came over and everyone except me went for a long walk in the forest.

This afternoon, while Gretchen was driving Andrea to the train station in Rhinecliff, I decided to take advantage of the balmy May-like weather t tackle one of our house's several roof issues. There's been evidence of a leak from a drainage ventilation roof penetration above the southwest valley for years, and the leak continued even after we had roofers do some temporary fixes something like two years ago. The roof runs at a steep 45 degrees, and I wanted to see if I could get up to the roof penetration from below using the ladders I have. I have a big 36 foot ladder, but that thing is a monster to move around, particularly when it's not close to vertical. And any ladder reaacing this roof from the west would never be anywhere near vertical, given the landscape. So I wrestled the 20 foot ladder right up the bottom of the valley, with its feet firmly in the ground. Then I unfolded a folded-up articulated ladder that I have not unfolded in about 18 years (that itself was kind of an ordeal due to its fingernail-destroying locking mechanism, which was not rusted or otherwise seized). I carried that ladder up the ladder I already had in place as far as I could and then slid it nearly up to the roof ridge. Because it was secured on both sides by the sides of the valley, I could just tie it to the ladder it was lying on, since the only thing I had to worry about was it sliding down. This arrangement gave me easy access to the parts of the roof I needed to inspect and possibly waterproof. I took a spray can of a rubberized leak-stopper up there and then blasted around the base of the drain vent, where I saw a tiny gap that could easily be the cause of the leak. I then blasted the heads of a few exposed roofing nails, some of which had been exposed by a missing layer of shingle. The roof is 29 years old and definitely in need of replacement, but I'm trying to kick that can down the road as long as I can.

This evening, Gretchen and I drove out to Woodstock to visit Fern at a 1.7 million dollar house she is dogsitting at. Gretchen knows the people who own the house and had set Fern up with this particular gig, which actually pays money. The house is off Chestnut Hill Road in a neighborhood full of people we used to hang out with. Once we got there, I immediately drove to Woodstock to buy coffee (as well as strong imperial stout beer and grapefruit juice) at Sunflower, the upscale market that's a bit smaller than a "super" market.
Back at the house Fern was dogsitting at, I was greeted by the dogs, who all seemed surprised to see me but then immediately happy I was there. The dogs were Vera, a mostly-black mutt about Charlotte's size with finer features than, say, a pit bull mix; Freckles, a somewhat larger white mutt with small light-brown dots, and Pablo, some sort of small grey and black curly-haired breed that (to me) doesn't look like a real dog. Pablo wouldn't strike anyone as Gretchen's sort of dog, but she and Pablo bonded closely while we were there and Gretchen was in love by the time we left. Vera had a similar effect on me. She kept snuggling with me and looking into my eyes as if to read my soul. And then she'd gently give my nose a single light lick.
The house was a sprawling series of hangout rooms with cozy couches. It was big, though it didn't really read as 1.7 million dollars worth. Gretchen and I could have such a place if we sold nearly all of our real estate empire. But then we would have no rental income, so it wouldn't make any sense at all (given that we already live in two houses that are too big for us).
Fern had made a rigatoni pasta with red sauce and chunks of vegan sausage. While sitting on the comfy couches and eating it (and drinking some wine we'd brought), we mostly talked about our interactions with famous people and famous-adjacent people. One amusing story was about the people whose house we were in. Gretchen knows the people through the bookstore, and she recounted a story where the woman had said to Gretchen that she was looking to make friends in the area. By this, though, it seemed clear that she didn't consider Gretchen worthy of such a friendship. Instead, it seemed like the woman wanted to befriend famous people in Woodstock. This led into a conversation about our new friendship with our actress neighbor A and her boyfriend Jamie. Gretchen had asked A how she and Jamie had met, and it turned out they'd used a dating app specifically for famous people called Raya. It's invite-only and very exclusive (making us wonder how Jamie had gotten a membership). Andrea had actually talked about Raya yesterday, and that was the first we'd heard of it. This led into a broad conversation about famous people and what exactly we want out of a relationship with them. I don't really think of such relationships as fraught in the way that Gretchen and Fern do, but it was interesting to hear their perspective. Gretchen mentioned a "filmy-ness" that lies between the famous and the unfamous, a barrier that can be hard to eliminate that is the result of an asymmetry of knowledge. The famous are better known than the unfamous, and the unfamous are always processing the things they know, something the famous are not having to do. This would be especially true if the famous person were also something of a hero. I mentioned how, early in the run of HBO's series The Wire (over 20 years ago), we randomly ran across Pablo Schreiber at a Woodstock Film Festival party. We were very into that show at the time, though it had yet to become the classic it is now widely regarded to be. So Pablo Schreiber was still something of a nobody, and yet he was a hero to us. This combination made him seem very humble and human while probably making us seem like deranged fans.
Fern had her own observations about the umbrella effects of fame from knowing the late Christopher Hitchen's daughter, though these were mostly about the intersection of familial trauma and fame.

On the couch in the living room this morning with Charlotte stacked on top of Neville. Click to enlarge.

Charlotte in the wood-processing area of the yard. Note the pile of pinecones atop Ramona's grave on the right. Click to enlarge.

The ladder setup today that gave me access to the problem areas above the southwest roof valley. Click to enlarge.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next