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:
   schteves of Pasadena
Friday, March 16 2001
I think this is the first time I've ever made the actual transition from working on one architecture to working on another. Admittedly, though, in this recent case my transition has been minor. I'm still doing things the way I used to, orchestrating functions from my accumulation of personal libraries. Now though, instead of designing my databases and writing all the code from front end to backend, I've been applied entirely to the front end of the publishing tools, and all my connections to the database take place through objects written by the shaky hand of another developer (one who doesn't even pretend to know what he's doing). He's a good developer, but his objects never work until we've exchanged at least five emails about what is wrong with them. For some things that don't involve the database, I avoid objects entirely, relying instead on my own parsing functions.
It's interesting that I'm once again focused on the front end, after two years of progress further and further back into the backend. (For two months my job title was even "Data Architect.") This odd career regression is a direct consequence of the strange architectural journey of my present employer. They have always been a company focused largely on data and media, and the particular technologies of the actual web pages has gone through several distinct phases. It started with an ASP phase, passed through a Vignette/Story-Sever phase, and now it's going back to its ASP roots, though now it's using the latest whiz-bang Microsoft Technology. In the aftermath of the layoff of all the Vignette developers, I'm one of the few remaining on staff qualified to do front end development on the Microsoft platform. Oddly enough, there are actually more people capable of database development than there are those who know how to loop through a recordset in VBScript. The fact that my work at the company has largely taken place outside the center of the mælström has meant that I've usually been in the middle of major side projects during all the restructurings. This is how I made it to the position of Data Architect only to see it snatched away when I was needed in more critically-understaffed front end development.
Don't get me wrong, I have a special fondness for making front end tools, especially those that take advantage of the considerable power of the Internet Explorer Javascript environment. But fighting my way through the complex process of debugging buggy objects written by someone else is pure torture. There is no way I can go on like this for long. I'm extremely independent; I like complete control of the entire development process. This is the first time I've ever known how to do development on all levels but was prevented from doing so by my job description.

In the evening Fernando was having a "party" in Pasadena (20 miles northeast of my part of Los Angeles) and John, Farley and I were invited. We didn't know much about it and had received conflicting information. By now Farley was over from his place near Long Beach and he'd heard that the party was a sit down sort of affair at a restaurant and that both Fernando's parents would be there. John had heard that it was taking place at a "bar" and that there would be dancing. He'd also heard that only Fernando's mother would be there (among Fernando's parents).
So the trip to Pasadena was a big adventure with a pot of uncertain substance awaiting us at the end. John did the driving in his modified VW Golf, hurtling northward on the 110 at insane speeds, making tight changes in direction around much slower vehicles. "I think it's safest to drive offensively, to be the one the other drivers are looking out for," John declared. "You know you're doing alright when people are turning off their change signals on your approach," I agreed. But secretly I was terrified.
I had no idea there was so much going on in Pasadena. The downtown was alive with all sort of activity. All the chicks were hot, too hot, John thought, to be seen hanging out with Fernando, and all the guys were suave Middle Eastern dudes with black leather jackets; they looked like the sort of people Fernando would bring to one of our sausage parties.
We parked as close as we could to 101 Green Street and then set out on foot, eventually finding a fancy little restaurant at the appointed address. It was a sleepy romantic place set back far from the street, with a smattering of couples sharing wine over candlelight. Fernando's contingent was nowhere to be found and the staff told us to check another part of the restaurant that fronted a cross street. But they weren't there either. Though it seemed natural somehow that Fernando would give us directions to the wrong part of a restaurant and then show up late, this thinking did nothing for our discontentment. I started wishing that I had gone and done what Linda had invited me to do, hang out with Julian and one of Julian's male friends and probably smoke a bunch of pot.
It turned out that Green Street had another direction with another set of numbers, and after a little more driving around we managed to find Fernando and his contingent. They were sitting around quietly drinking wine in the dining-room part of large establishment called Twin Palms. The front part was a busier place, full of well-dressed youngish people dancing to your typical schteveish dance favorites played by a technically flawless cover band. I guess it said something about the place that the coolest-looking chick in the place (the one with the most concealed tattoos?) was collecting cover at the door.
In the back, we joined the long table with all of Fernando's many friends and, yes, his mother, but not his father. "[Fernando's mother] is looking good tonight!" John whispered to me. He then made sure to get the seat directly across from her so he could flirt with the 50-something all night. I don't know how serious John is about his oft-declared interest in much older women, but he seemed sincere tonight, even if most of the flirting that went reciprocated was with a loud, dumpy chick named April. For her part, April seemed to be most interested in an fat man some seats down, a guy with a surprisingly lean face considering the distention in his abdomen. I had the feeling he had once broken April's heart, perhaps back in high school.
I mostly had a miserable time, partly because I was sleepy, partly because there were absolutely no interesting-looking chicks with which to flirt, and partly because the meal I ordered was the third dinner for me tonight and I hate having to go through the motions when it comes to food. This was the first time in my life I've ever ordered more deep-fried calamari than I can eat. Farley, who was having a similarly miserable time (nothing odd about that!), seemed to prefer my calamari to the pizza he'd ordered, of which he managed to eat only fifteen percent. He'd been famished when we arrived and wolfed down far too much bread and butter.

It's got the quaintly off-putting Americana, the middle class banality, and even the daft liberating brilliance of senility. Yes, this just seems like something Dave Lynch should make a movie about:

...Police found Burner on Wednesday after a couple spotted his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot and recognized it from a description on missing-person fliers. In his car were some empty chocolate milk cartons, a couple packs of cigarettes, a can of Spam and a sleeping bag.

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