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:
   a moderately expensive toilet
Tuesday, March 5 2024
Unbeknownst to me, there was some sort of Facebook authentication outage this morning. To me, it looked as if someone had guessed or surmised my password, taken over my account, and changed my password, locking me out. I had a password recovery phone number and email, so I tried to reset the password but kept getting errors when doing this on a desktop computer. Eventually, though, I attempted from a stupid phone and managed to regain access. Since this had been an authentication outage and not a hack, nothing bad had been done to my account. But I didn't know that at the time and so looked to see if I'd been trying to ensnare my friends in various scams. If Facebook were a less slimy company, they would've posted notice of this issue on their login page, but they didn't do any such thing, so I ended up learning about it from a post of another Facebook friend. During the half hour or so when I wasn't completely sure I'd be able to regain control of my account, I contemplated (as I have in the past) what I'd do without Facebook. It's not crucial to my life, though it's largely how I keep track of what all the people I've known are up to these days. Its Messenger system is also my main form of communication with nearly all my friends (including Gretchen), but that's the only thing I really depend on. Ideally I'd be using something else, but it's something nearly everyone has and already knows how to use.

A light rain fell most of the day, which kept me from ever going for a walk in the forest. This meant that only Charlotte and Gretchen went for any sort of real walk today. When they returned, Gretchen thought it was a good time to bathe Charlotte with her anti-itch shampoo, which we'd been remiss on using (the last time we'd bathed her was before going to Mexico). As always, Charlotte wasn't too into it, but she was a trooper and indulged us.

Our upstairs toilet has never worked well since I installed it over 21 years ago. This might be because I didn't know what I was doing (not that much can go wrong in such an installation) or the toilet itself isn't much better than the material it purports to dispose of. Chances are good that I'd bought the cheapest toilet in the store, since that's my default shopping behavior (and how different can toilets really be?). This afternoon, I drove out to Home Depot with the dogs to buy a new one. This time the plan was to not buy the cheapest toilet but to instead read the boxes and try to find one that claimed to provide the most capable flushes. (Though it turns out I hadn't bought the cheapest toilet 21 years ago either.) Before looking at toilets, though, I got a dimmer switch and some spotlight LEDs that could be dimmed so I could further refine my living room lighting improvements. Since they were so cheap, I also bought a couple smart bulbs, partly because they claimed to be voice-controlled. (Unfortunately, though, "voice control" was not something they themselves could do, which was what I thought based on the verbiage packaging. They required some system like a Google Home or Alexa that Gretchen would never agree to have running in our living room.)
Over in the aisle with the toilets, I found that they ranged in price from about $50 to about $350. Above about $200, the box verbiage stopped trying to impress me with how well the toilets flushed, so I eventually settled on a $200 Kohler. It was a heavy motherfucker, but I managed to get it into a conventional Home Depot shopping cart.
As I was loading the car (which was under roof in the "pro" loading area), I turned the dogs loose to run around nearby. In the past I would've never let Charlotte loose offleash, as I couldn't be certain she'd get back in the car. But she's so well bonded with Neville that she will do anything he does. And she no longer regards me as a threat. The only problem with turning her loose in front of a Home Depot is how insanely mobile she is. With Neville, I can track what he's up to out of the corner of my eye. He plods slowly from one place to the next, snorting around at each place for as along as a minute. Charlotte, though, darts in an instant from one location to the next like an electron changing quantum state. She kept opening the motion-activated doors and then running into the Home Depot. Then she'd usually hesitate in the bask of adoring stares that people inevitably have for her. But then she'd immediately come for me when I'd call for her (which is very different from what Neville does). On one occasion, though, she'd made it half way down the lumber aisle before I had a chance to call her back. When I finally needed the dogs back in the car, she and Neville climbed in like they'd been doing this for years.

Back at the house, I experimented with one of the smart light bulbs, hoping it would be less of a headache than earlier smart lightbulbs from the Australopithecus phase of their evolution. But no, the damn things required a working WiFi connection, one that had WPA2 encryption. I prefer to leave my WiFi hotspots open, which meant I'd have to modify a WiFi configuration just to use a stupid smart lightbulb. Then I had to set it up in Gretchen's first floor office to be within range of the bulb. In so doing, I got the bulb so I could control it from a phone app. But for someone like me who doesn't like using a smartphone (I'd prefer a generic web-based app if it is to be controlled that way), that's a very clunky way to control a lightbulb. Ideally there would be some switch I could put on a wall to turn it on and off, like in the good old days of X10 (which I have resorted to at times here in Hurley; I have a fair amount of X10 equipment. But it can't do things like change the color of a lightbulb).
Taking advantage of the much more straightforward technology of a dimmer switch, this evening while Gretchen was up in Coxwsackie teaching poetry to prisoners, I used one to replace the conventional lightswitch that had been controlling power to the two 12v halogens over the couch. A 12v halogen (or its LED replacement) cannot be put on a dimmer, but since I'd recently replaced all of that with conventional 120v LED bulbs, I could now control them with a dimmer. No fumbling for a smartphone required!

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next