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:
   big hole through a brick wall
Thursday, April 18 2024
As I lay sleeping on the laboratory beanbag behind a closed door with Oscar this morning, I had a dream that I've had before about having a car in some college town where I am a student. I'm moving out of my dorm (or perhaps off-campus house) and I'm getting the last of my stuff out of my housing. In the dream this morning, I've somehow swapped vehicles with someone else, and now I need the key for their vehicle. But I can't find it.
For awhile this morning, I worked more on my local remote control device for my remote control system. I'm still using the MagTag as the platform for this, though I've transitioned to using the board.Display library instead of the crappy MagTag-specific library I'd started out trying to use. The advantage of board.Display is that it gives me an option to make numerous changes to what is dispalyed and only then update the screeen, which is the process that typically takes a little over a second. It's easy to understand how unbearable screen changes are if numerous separate text areas each result in a more-than-one-second-long screen update. But even doing things this way is resulting in a UI that is too ponderous to use. This is because moving a cursor up or down to select an item in a list necessarily involves one screen update per movement. It's looking like I might end up using a 20 character by 4 line LCD after all (probably controlled by an ESP8266 programmed in the Arduino IDE).

Late this morning, Gretchen was walking Charlotte in the forest when it was time for me to take Neville to Pretty Pet Parlor to have his nails ground. This meant I didn't have to bring Charlotte, who would've made the outing much more difficult (what with her insistence on being with Neville at all times). I couldn't find a leash in the Bolt so I ended improvising with a USB C cable. When I got back home, Gretchen and Charlotte were back from their walk, and Charlotte was sad once more because she couldn't find Neville. But then there he was, so she was jolted back into joy.

Later this afternoon when I was planning to drive down to Old Hurley to resume work on Ray's minisplit, Charlotte was off somewhere, so I couldn't take the dogs. If I'd taken just Neville, Charlotte would've been left with just the cats, something she's never yet experienced and I don't know if there's enough doggy xanax in the world to recover from such trauma.

Down at Ray's place, the weather was cool and clammy, and I started out just drinking a cup of tea with Ray and Nancy. Then Ray and I launched into it, starting with the gluing together some of the PVC conduit, using brackets to attach it to the brick wall, and installing and wiring up the quick disconnect. We were using the big anchor screws I'd bought for attaching the outdoor unit's mounting bracket, which was a bit of overkill. But then it turned out that that bracket had come with big expando-bolts of its own. Unfortunately, I destroyed two of them trying to install one of them, but bolts that strong were only needed for the top parts of each brackets, so we still had enough. I was finding the brick much easier to drill than, say, the concrete foundation wall of the cabin.
After figuring out where the indoor mounting bracket was supposed to go and installing it, it was time to create a hole through the wall for the refrigerant pipes, condensate drainage, and electrical interconnection cable. I'd brought two of my Ryobi tools as well as the permanent small toolkit that travels around in the Subaru Forester, but otherwise I was depending on Ray's tools. He's more of a Dewalt fanboy, though he seemed happy to let me use my ghetto Ryobi tools do the hard work of drilling holes in the brick. When it came time to make 6.5cm-wide hole in his masonite wall for the refrigerant pipes, I asked if he had a hole saw. He didn't, but he had a battery-powered Dewalt oscillating tool, and with that I was able to quickly cut a hexagonal hole. Then I used masonry bit with a 3/4 inch blade to drill through the backside of that hole and out through the brick wall. That was pretty easy, but that was just a pilot hole for the the kind of hole that refrigerant pipes need. I have a big 1.5 inch masonry bit which might make a big enough hole, and that was what I used next, working atop a ladder from the outside. I have an old faded-orange Harbor Freight 120v hammer drill capable of turning it, but it was so old that it only worked for a time before its trigger switch decided to give out on me. Fortunately, my trusty Ryobi 18v hammer driver had a big enough chuck to turn it, and amazingly, it seemed more effective and grinding through the brick wall than the 120v hammer drill had been (when it was briefly working). It took awhile, but eventually we had the hole we needed. By that point I was weary from working and my right elbow (the one that is now afflicted with tennis elbow) was unhappy, so I decided to wrap things up for the day. I installed the circuit breaker for the new minisplit and then drank another cup of tea Ray made (he told me recently that he no longer drinks coffee).
Back home on Hurley Mountain, I was feeling cold from working outside in the cold and damp (it had even been drizzling a little) so I took a nice hot bath. This occupied nearly all the time between working on Ray's minisplit and returning to Ray & Nancy's place for a dinner Ray had made. Also in attendance was Sarah the Vegan, who brought her little dog Buddy, a mostly-toothless miniature poodle. We also brought our dogs of course, and Charlotte was so happy to see Jack that she was losing her mind like she had when Neville returned after working a shift at the bookstore. All the dogs got along fine, although Buddy felt the need to assert his dignity initially. Ray had made some sort of Chinese-inspired dish involving little mushrooms, tofu, vegetables, and some sort of brown sauce. It was amazing. Gretchen made perhaps the largest contribution to the dinner conversation, talking about her work as a volunteer for the New York Abortion Access Fund. There was also some talk about our various dental issues, including a retelling by Gretchen of how, some months after being sideswiped by tractor trailer on a Milwaukee insterstate, she suddenly required a number of root canals. Nancy always wants me to talk about how my implant is doing, and I always say that it's great, but that it feels more like a dead extension of my skull than it does a tooth.
Later, after Sarah and Buddy left, Ray and Gretchen talked at some length about contemporary literature, especially the works of Cormac McCarthy. I didn't have much to contribute aside from having seen the movie adaptations of the Road and No Country for Old Men.

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