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:
   fiefdom on Brewster
Wednesday, March 6 2024
I took the dogs on a walk up the Chamomile Headwaters Trail and then over, at some point, to the Stick Trail. As has been the case of late, my progress was slowed by my obsessive destruction of gypsy moth (aka spongy moth) egg masses. In the past, I'd mostly just scrape them off and hope the insects and fungi of the forest floor would do the rest. But more recently, I've been taking more effort to put the eggmass pieces in a place of maximum disadvantage. If there's a puddle or temporary stream, I'll throw them into that. Or sometimes I'll dig a little hole and bury them. If it's near the end of my walk, I'll carry them home and put them in our composter or, for maximum death, I'll put them in the woodstove. If I put them into a fire, the sound of popping moth eggs is a little like that of making popcorn. Today I brought home a huge handful of eggmass material and put it directly into the woodstove, though I didn't have a fire going at the time. (The weather was a bit warm for that.)
Meanwhile, both Charlotte and Neville accompanied me on the walk. At some point along the Stick Trail, Charlotte found one of Crazy Dave's dog's sawed-off beef bones and joyfully took possession. Neville knew she had it, though at some point he saw that she was no longer carrying it and immediately circled back to look for it on the ground, and soon he had it. (This combination of visual analysis and the application of the concept of object permanence was an impressive mental feat for a dog of Neville's usually-unimpressive cognitive skills.)
I also came upon a single red eft near the stone wall. This is the earliest in a "spring" that I've ever seen one.

Before Gretchen returned home from the bookstore, I made pierogies, which was a bit of a stretch outside the three or four dinners I can reliably make. I also fried up a pan of mushrooms and onions, since that goes with just about everything I want to eat.
When she got home, Gretchen told me about yet more drama at the Brewster Street rental. We're only leasing the place to one person, her name is Lena, and we assumed the other people living there are her friends. But today Gretchen got an email from a former resident there telling her that Lena is living in the attic space (which, according to fire regulations, cannot be a bedroom) and only paying $200/month while forcing the three other people (in smaller, though officially habitable, bedrooms) to pay the rest, which is significantly more than $200 each. This dynamic isn't all that different from the one Eileen had presided over when she rented the house; she was living in the attic illegally and running the rest of the house like a flophouse. Things were much nastier back then, but ultimately the arrangement was a similar one. I told Gretchen that it's the house itself that seems to create this dynamic, since it has a beautiful attic that could be used as a bedroom by someone willing to break the rules. And if that person is the only one on the lease, then they can run the house like a fiefdom. The solution is to make sure the only people living there are people on the lease. It's something we won't be able to fix until next summer when the lease is up, but in the meantime Gretchen emailed with Lena to ask what was up with her living in the attic.

I'd taken a recreational dose of pseudoephedrine this afternoon but didn't do anything to give myself the license to drink alcohol. But I took diphenhydramine at about 7:20pm in hopes that it would overcome the stimulant and help me get to sleep. This was the chemical situation I was in when I decided to make a very simple Arduino-based device that did only one thing: every hour it would make a wire go to a high digital state for six seconds. That was all. The idea is that I can use this as a very primitive system for forcing a reboot every couple hours of the Moxee cellular hotspot at the cabin. Such a system will work no matter what, just so long as the Arduino has power. The downside is that, because of the way the Moxee hotspot works, this system will force the hotspot to be uncommunicative for an hour, followed by an hour will it will work, repeating endlessly. Such connectivity is sufficient for remote monitoring of temperatures and the solar electric system, since updates every 120 minutes would give me all the information I need. As you know, I've had a more complicated watchdog system at the cabin that paid attention to whether or not the internet was reachable and then did things based on that. But it's been unreliable, somehow losing its program and then not doing its job. The Moxee can still be rebooted automatically even when that happens, but it requires two power cycles, which, since it's running on batteries, requires the solar system to fail for many days at a time twice, something that requires a heavy snow followed by a thaw followed by a heavy snow. My stupid little Arduino resetting system is designed to make such resets happen at least once every two hours, thereby restoring updates from the cabin much more quickly. Of course, as I've learned with the Arduino-based solar controller, even simple Atmega328-based microntrollers occasionally forget what the hell they're supposed to be doing and need to be reflashed. Perhaps I should make my failsafe watchdog out of a 555 timer. 555s aren't even really digital electronics.
To add some pins to a Arduino Mini board, I had to do some soldering. But my tiny soldering iron hasn't been working very well since I accidentally left it running for days down in the boiler room. And my big soldering iron was just too big, and in the process of adding the pins (while, remember, I was on both pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine), I somehow dislodged a couple tiny surface-mount devices (capacitors, I think, since they didn't have a measurable resistance). That rendered the Arduino mini useless, forcing me to dig another out of my box of electronic marvels.

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