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 fragrance of crates of live baby chicks
Wednesday, April 24 2024
Early this afternoon I managed to get the dogs to come with me when I drove down to Old Hurley to finish off the installation of the minisplit in Ray's studio. When I arrived, Ray had a couple friends over for lunch (as he'd said he would), though they were just sitting down to lunch, which was a little awkward (especially since they appeared to be about to eat a roast chicken). But I didn't need any help to do what I needed to do, which was just to look to see if the new system was holding its vacuum, and, if so, to release the refrigerant from its prison within the outdoor unit. Happily, the vacuum was exactly what it had been about 22 hours earlier, so I ran vacuum pump for another few minutes and then released the refrigerant (using a set of bicycle allen wrenches Ray happened to have).
The weather was a little warm for testing the heating function of the minisplit, so I tested its cooling capabilities instead, and when I set it low enough, the fan on the outdoor condenser kicked on, which was enough functionality for me. After tidying up some of the sprawling chaos near the outdoor unit (which included a couple loops of the too-long refrigerant lines), I went into the house to proclaim the good news. Ray quickly put away the remains of the dead bird and Nancy gave me a bowl of leftover cauliflower curry with rice that she unnecessarily insisted was vegan, and I happily accepted it.
Ray's friends were two gentlemen about our age, one of whom was his gastroenterologist and other was his friend who had only been living in the Kingston area for about three months. He spoke with a British accent. I initially assumed they were a gay couple, since the British guy at least had a bit of flair to him. (The gastoenterologist seemed a bit more like a bro.) But then they each mentioned their wives, proving my assumption either wrong or a gross a oversimplification. Ray mentioned right away that I am a vegan, and the British guy quipped that he hadn't been able to tell because I hadn't immediately brought it up. "I worked with some guys for a whole year and they never knew," I said, referring to my most recent job (at
We chatted for a good while there at the dinner table while Charlotte and Neville gently mouth-wrestled at our feet. Subjects of discussion that came up included thrift store shopping, discovering that vehicles are legally required to receive annual inspections, and biking on local hills (including Dug Hill Road, where I told the story of how Eleanor the Dog used sprint after cyclists just as their ordeal of pedaling uphill was coming to an end). The gastrolenterologist also had a story about the time he spent nine hours in jail after a cop pulled him over and found an unpaid parking ticket attached to his name. The gastroenterologist did most of the talking, with my contributions being brief observations being brief: that Philadelphia is a cheap place to visit but that it has a high crime rate, or that the Town of Ulster looks like what was leftover after all the other townships of Ulster county were created.
Ray's two friends were there mostly to see Ray's art, so as we were all getting up to go out to the studio, I decided it was my opportunity to excuse myself, so I gathered up the dogs and continued with my day. I drove Uptown to get some groceries at the "Ghettoford" Hannaford (soy and oat milk, a bunch of asparagus — since it is in season, three different flavors of Ben & Jerry's vegan icecream, and a twelve pack of a Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA that was only $18). Then I went to JK's Liquor store and bought two half-gallon plastic jugs of cheap gin (Gary's Good is now my go-to gin). Normally these days I buy a bottle of gin and a bottle of scotch when I am reupping the bottom-shelf liquor in the laboratory or the cabin, but this time I needed to re-up both, so I didn't buy any scotch at all.

Back at the house, I eventually took the dogs for another walk west of the Farm Road. Then we I got home, I started cooking a pot of rice (we needed a break from matzah) and looked up a recipe for asparagus. Roasting it in the toaster oven seemed like an easy way to cook it, so I went with that. When Gretchen came home, she'd also been shopping (and she had some matzah she'd gotten from Lisa P). One of the things Gretchen had bought was Abbot's Ground "Beef," a mushroom-based ground-beef substitute that seemed intriguing, so I started frying it up on the stovetop. But when I tasted it, I knew Gretchen wouldn't like it. It had the somewhat-unpleasant smell I remember crates of live baby chicks having back when my parents would buy them from the Augusta County Farm Bureau. But combined with other things (including an oily garlic-based hot sauce our friend Washington-DC Andrea had mailed to us and some tofu I fried up), it was pretty good.

This evening after dinner I did yet more work on my local remote system. I needed to deal with a problem I foresee resulting from hardcoding the IP address of the device that the remote control controls in its configuration file: what if the IP address changes? It seemed smarter to instead hardcode the device_id, which is a database key that is much less likely to change. To do this, I had to change the code so that after the device boots up, it goes to an endpoint on to look up the local IP address given the device_id. This, naturally, introduces new issues, such as what if the internet goes down? One of the biggest features of the local remote is that it doesn't require access to the greater internet to work. So after building out this functionality, I decided I needed some non-volatile way to cache the looked-up information. There is a way on an ESP8266 to simulate an EEPROM (which, unlike, say, an Atmega328, it doesn't have) using some of its flash storage (which it has megabyes of).
I'm also thinking of using the local remote to display additional dashboard-type information, such as live outdoor temperatures, possibly the time (since there are no actual clocks in the cabin aside from laptops and smartphones), and, hopefully, the percentage of charge that the cabin's battery contains. (That last one is going to require me to figure out how to get data from the Solark inverter.)
I'd considered the completion of Ray's minisplit installation a success that earned me the right to drink booze, which I did intermittently today. I'd also taken pseudoephedrine, so I knew I had to be careful not to get to carried away with the drinking. With that in mind, I took 150mg of diphenhydramine at about 8:00pm, which made me fall asleep on the beanbag before I could drink too much. Nevertheless, at some point this evening Gretchen asked me "What are you on?" in that disappointed-but-trying-not-to-be-too-judgy tone she uses. This time I confessed that I'd been drinking.

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