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 view from the end of San Vicente
Sunday, February 4 2001
Last night I was thinking about the little swirling storms of community through which I've passed during my life. Allow me to expand on this:

1. As a kid in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, I befriended a number of children my age, including Christin Denny and Courtney Pearson (my one close male friend - I never looked him up though he supposedly now lives in San Diego). But most important of all was Jenny Mothershead, a little girl with whom I exchanged solemn vows of promised marriage. I didn't know what marriage was, mind you, but at the time it seemed natural that our partnership should be lifelong. After my family moved away to Staunton, Virginia on a tearful Good Friday in 1976, Jenny and I managed to stay in touch until 1980.

2. I was sort of a weirdo in elementary school, unaccustomed to the styles and manners of Redneckistani youth. I didn't bathe often, I changed my clothes infrequently and I let my hair grow long. Some of the kids teased me and I often felt like a pariah, but this feeling had a righteous martyr quality about it; my parents consistently gave me the impression that to be rejected by the majority was a noble thing in the long run. On my first day of fourth grade math (fall, 1977), I took note of some unusually intelligent & amusing banter between a student I'd never met before and the teacher, Mr. Desper. Later I was delighted to discover that this kid rode my bus. His name was Nathan VanHooser. We became fast friends, sitting together every bus ride and talking endlessly about things most kids don't consider. Later, being the "smart kids," we started hanging out with other smart kids, particularly a certain David Hanger. We weren't exactly goody-two-shoes, but we always managed to get away with out antics.

3. When everyone went off to college, I did the oddball thing and went to Oberlin in Ohio while Nathan, David and my other high school chums all went to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. I visited them a few times but never much liked the part of the town that they showed me.

4. In the fall of 1986 I entered Oberlin College and met a large number of new people. I didn't know it at the time, but the most important of these people was an under-achieving student named Matt Rogers, followed by a non-student named Rippy and another student named Katie Allen.

5. 1987's crop of residents in my Oberlin dorm brought a whole new group of people, including Joy Powley, my first real girlfriend. But the most important of these new people over the long term was Heather Bissel. Part of the reason for the rapid development of our friendship was our mutual friendship with Rippy, though it was mostly due to Heather's extremely outgoing, self-confident nature.

6. In the Spring of 1990 I was no longer a student at Oberlin College, but I was still in the habit of going there occasionally. On a visit near the end of the school year in Spring 1990, I met Heather Bissel's new boyfriend, Jeff Brecko. He was alcoholic and occasionally obnoxious, but he turned out to be good connection over the long term.

7. In Fall of 1994 Jeff Brecko and Heather Bissel were both living 80 miles south of Staunton in Blacksburg, Virginia. They broke up after a four year relationship just before I began a series of visits. I met lots of interesting people in Blacksburg, but none of them ended up making a big impact on my life. What did make an impact was when Jeff Brecko, on the run in the aftermath of a massive beer heist at a Blacksburg 7-11, joined me on a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he introduced me to his friends Shanti and Savitri Durkee, two sisters he'd met at Millers on an earlier trip. We also ran across a nineteen year old homeless street musician named Phil Ginini, with whom Jeff and I played a few games of pool.

8. Now that I knew a number of people in Charlottesville, I started going there occasionally to hang out. Among my early acquaintances was Wacky Jen, but this wasn't to have much of an effect immediately. The big change came in April of 1995 when Phil Ginini semi-reluctantly introduced me and my childhood friend Nathan VanHooser to a group of friends later known as the Malvern Girls, particularly Jessika, Peggy and Sara Poiron.

9. In January of 1996 I started trying to branch out from the socializing I was doing at Big Fun and began hanging out at the Rising Sun Bakery (then also known as "Jerusalem") on the Corner in Charlottesville, partly because of an endorsement of Sara Poiron. This led to a number of important spontaneous friendships, particularly with Elizabeth Stark and Jen Fariello. Ultimately,in June of 1996, Elizabeth Stark hooked me up with a place to live, which provided further social connections to her cadre of intelligent & artistic non-mainstream UVA student friends. Later I was part of an ongoing "artistic salon" focused around Jen Fariello's Downtown Artspace. Both of these led to friendships with Nikolai (my only Charlottesville friend now in Los Angeles) and solidified my friendship with Wacky Jen.

10. In June of 1996, Jessika persuaded me to accept a job at (now defunct). My starting salary was only $6/hr, and my work shifts took place largely at night, yet this was to be the beginning of my technical web knowledge.

11. In July of 1998, Wacky Jen invited me to join her (and some of Elizabeth Stark's friends) on a trip to Ann Arbor to participate in a July 4th parade. Having nothing else to do, I came along. Once there I decided I rather liked the place. So I looked up my old friend Matt Rogers (see item #4). I was living on his couch when he suggested that we go to a WCBN benefit concert. This was the place where I met Kim (now known as Bathtubgirl). It marked the beginning of a complex and fundamental change in my life.

12. In September of 1998, Kim and I set off across the country to begin a new life in San Diego, California. Kim was hoping to take classes to further her massage therapy into a more academic study of somatics, "the study of the mind's relationship to the body." I had no idea what I'd be doing, but it turned out that my web skills were sufficient by this time to land a starting developer job at a dotcom then known as College Club. None of the connections I made during the San Diego period made much of a directional impact on my life, with the exception of my meeting of one Los Angeles couple.

13. In the Fall of 1999, Kim's interests in somatics expanded into the field of tantra, and she sought out various tantricas she'd read about in such places as LA Magazine. This is how she came to befriend Dr. Corynna Clarke and her then-boyfriend Evan.

14. In February of 2000, I was fired from (note the name change) and Kim and I decided to move to Los Angeles. By this time my Microsoft-platform development skills were on the order of a mid-level developer and Evan managed to arrange me a job at the dotcom where he was working. My new boss was named Linda, and at my workplace I interacted with practically no one except her.

15. In July of 2000, Kim and I were fighting all the time and I couldn't take it anymore so I broke up with her. We'd bought a condo together and everything was suddenly very complicated but at least it was peaceful. Through Westside Rentals I managed to find a very compatible housemate named John.

16. Now I'm sitting here wondering, what's next? What lost thread of friendship from the past will suddenly tie back in and introduce me to a whole new refurbished attic in my life? Will it be Nikolai? (It could easily be.) Will it be Wacky Jen? (She occasionally tells me she's planning on coming out.) Will it be someone else who seems insignificant at this time (such as Chris from the Venice camera store or Snow, Bathtubgirl's new boyfriend)? Or will I just stumble into a new scene spontaneously?

I do know this much: I'm eager for some excitement and change to blow through my life. I'm sick of lots of things, many of them tiny:
  • Discussions about Jennifer Lopez, including whether or not she's cute. I'd do her, but she'd have to promise not to say anything before or afterwards, particularly the word "moun'ain."
  • Light blue jeans (aren't they out of fashion yet?)
  • Lite beer. 'Nuff said.
  • The way people are in West LA. What's the point in a porch if you don't use it? And there should be a car-free day once a week in West LA. The Orthodox Jews are definitely on to something.

For much of today I found myself unsuccessfully grappling with the installation of operating systems. I have a 233 MHz K6 machine with Redhat Linux on it and I've never successfully gotten it to function on the network. So today I tried installing Turbo Linux in its place (I got a free CD with my DSL router). But the fucker just didn't work. Trying to configure the thing was a lost cause; I mean to tell you, Linux is lagging a long way behind Windows when it comes to user interface.
But before you Microsoft fans start cheering, I need to say that next I installed Windows 2000 on one of my main machine's hard drives, and its "net" didn't "work" either.
All of this OS struggling was precipitated by the gross unreliability of the installation of Windows ME on main machine. It really started acting up this morning after several different attempts at installing free CD ripping software. One of the ripping programs actually had the gall to install tiny ads in the borders around my Internet Explorer windows. I mean to tell you, I was pissed when I saw that shit. There's no way in hell I could ever stand such a thing and just the fact that they're even possible totally freaked me out. I found myself thinking: perhaps they're inevitable at some point in time. If this is the case then the future a very scary place. When you really think about it, software has only gone down hill since the release of Macintosh OS 7.0. Anyone who remembers Word 5.1 for Macintosh will surely agree with me on this.

The day was so impossibly beautiful I eventually had to go on a bicycle ride this afternoon. It was so warm outside that it was actually starting to get hot in the upstairs of my condo. When I went outside, the air was about 80 degrees Farenheit and somewhat humid.
I rode my bike east to Barrington, then north to San Vicente, which I took west all the way to the high cliff above the Pacific. San Vicente has relatively few cross streets and interruptions, so it's a joy to bike. Getting to the coast from Brentwood was almost effortless.
Once I'd reached the western end of San Vicente and made it to the ledge-top park above the wide sandy beaches, I really wished I'd brought my camera. I had no idea that the view from here would be so spectacular. Through the clear air I could see all the way out to Santa Barbara Island, and all of Santa Monica Bay was dotted with boats of various shapes and sizes. The beaches themselves were fairly well peopled with sunbathers and other beach types. It looked as if a thriving city was simply spilling out into the water with its sheer vitality: economic, spiritual and otherwise.
I biked leisurely all the way south down the coast to Broadway, and then made a pass north through the 3rd Street promenade for yet more spectacle. These solo errands through my immediate geographical surroundings are important for my sense of place; I only wished I'd started doing them sooner.

But there's something incredibly depressing about experiencing springlike weather when you're stuck in a city where you don't have any friends or options. Though I loved the weather, the spectacular views and the bikeride, I found myself loathing Los Angeles. Everyone seems so impossibly superficial in their ubiquitous Porsches and BMWs, sunning themselves and being vacantly, (in some cases painfully) sexy, lounging around on this expensive, irrigated land. I go home to my condo along the deserted streets of West Los Angeles, deserted even on this beautiful day. The mockingbirds are singing complicated songs and palm fronds are fondling the warm ocean breeze. They've somehow learned to enjoy this place. But what the hell am I doing here? I'm just a reluctant mother hen incubating a mortgage until it can hatch in such a way that I pay reasonable capital gains taxes. That's the mission assigned to me by circumstances. No one involved in the process of putting me here considered (even for a moment) making this ordeal fun. And that's just when I'm not blaming myself.

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