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:
   community of Aquarius
Saturday, March 17 2001
I had an extremely vivid dream last night in which I was fired from my present job. No explanation was given, but the implication was that I had done something wrong. It was sort of like being arrested and imprisoned without being told why. I have memories from when I was a kid of the vice principal finding me in the hall and telling me to go to the office, where I would sit for an hour without ever being told what the issue was about, only to be released. One of those times was related to my senior high school year alterations of the photographs in my 2nd year Spanish book. I was a 2nd year student driftless in a 3rd year class and bored out of my mind so I'd erase the dark clothes away from the Spanish dancers, shop keepers and young mothers, revealing distended bellies, rotund thighs, and of course lots of pendulous breasts. That was back before there was such a thing as Adobe Photoshop.

From the "How Stupid is That?" department: Computer tower cases with rounded or otherwise-sloped roofs, seemingly designed to prevent people from putting things on top of them. It might look cool to design a computer case this way, but what about the practical needs of the office, where every square inch of surface space is at a premium? Why deliberately make a place where nothing can be reliably set down? You should see the piles of floppy disks balanced precariously by my housemate John on the roof of the downstairs Gateway 2000 machine. Come on guys, we're not trying to keep the rainwater out of these things!

Is it just me, or is Yo Yo Ma sort of like the annoying Robin Williams figure of classical music? Or perhaps he's just the Tom Hanks of classical music?

Here I am, totally rocking out on my guitar, with the fast, dark, metallic distorted sound that will forever mark me as someone who developed his style circa 1991. And just outside my window are a pair of doves, as if airbrushed onto their perches on the bottlebrush tree, calmly preening and making dove eyes at one another, expressing the very opposite force in nature from that represented by the sound of my ax. Yet they don't seem even the slightest bit disturbed. It's like seeing two happy grandmothers sipping tea at the edge of the mosh pit at a Slayer concert.

Today Bathtubgirl was having a big St. Patrick's Day party at her apartment. Unfortunately, though, the event would not be webcasted; Bathtubgirl had mistakenly changed her phone number in an attempt to thwart a stalker and had inadvertently re-waitlisted herself in the Kafkaesque Earthlink DSL queue. This is not, let me emphasize, a good place for a would-be webcast personality to find herself. Still, everybody who was anybody in our little world was going to be at Bathtubgirl's party, even such unexpected characters as the UK CTO. The CTO and I showed up a little early because we had some pre-party business to attend to. But after that, we just sat around talking and drinking beers. I don't really know what the CTO thought of Bathtubgirl's mix of zany exhibitionism and loopy capitalism; it was probably just a little too Los Angeles for her British sensibility. But it's difficult not to be impressed with the operation and the many odd characters drifting in and out. In terms of personalities, Bathtubgirl has it all: hot chicks, chicks with neon pink hair, unexpectedly-cleaned-up hippie dudes sitting on the floor labeling bath products, hippie tantric goddesses, clean-cut tantric goddesses, possibly sleazy videographers, serial-killer computer geeks, stoned-out-of-their-minds rap/metal surfer dudes, you name it.
Also Bathtubgirl had some genuine web cred in the form of a recent article in CGI Magazine. Amusingly, the article felt the need to apologize for the jerkiness of the intro Flash animation (the first Flash animation I ever made; it's since been replaced). I joked to the CTO that some day CGI Magazine will do an article on the UK site and say, "Though the Flash animation is smooth, the database is somewhat clunky." (I didn't do the UK's Flash but I did their database work, get it?). I was a little embarrassed to remember that article actually mentions me at the end and even gives the Randomly Ever After URL. Remember, the UK CTO is not supposed to know about this!
I noticed at some point that Bathtubgirl had given herself bangs. Yes, she'd gone ahead and cut the hair short in front of her eyes. I've never been much of a fan of bangs so I asked her (right in front of the CTO), "Was that really such a good idea?" To this Bathtubgirl responded that all her girlfriends, including Dirtygirl, now had bangs and she thought they were a lot more convenient and made her hair look less "80s." I don't know, if anything it seems bangs make hair look even more 80s. And, to my way of thinking, it certainly isn't the classiest style for hair. The CTO, of course, was much more diplomatic. "I think it looks great!" she declared. Then of course they both raked me over the coals for my unchivalrous bluntness.
Eventually Linda and Julian turned up, and the UK CTO went off to have her eyebrows professionally plucked for the very first time. Some are more resistant to the LA thing than others. I've heard of people who need a full body wax before they even come here.
A bunch of Bathtubgirl's internet friends came, especially people connected to a local Venice Beach band called 40wattdomain. It was an unexpectedly proletarian crowd of mostly-male suntanned surfers with a penchant for pot, rather different from (say) the tantra scene or Gretchen's kabalist friends.
For a period of time I was sitting with Linda and Julian on the couch. Almost surprisingly (and completely unexpectedly given her normal androgynous proclivities), Linda now usually dresses femme-erotic whenever she hangs out at Bathtubgirl Productions, and tonight was no exception.
I'd smoked a bunch of pot so of course my mind was off exploring new ideas with unusual intensity. My big revelation for the night, a revelation that would later fuel conversations with complete strangers, was something about life on Earth. Life isn't just on Earth, I realized. It is also inside Earth. I'd read somewhere that scientists had drilled down two miles into the Earth's surface and low and behold there are bacteria down there, living in microscopic pores in the rock, somehow surviving under high pressure and even fairly high temperature. But when you drill down a little further, there are no more bacteria. Suddenly it dawned on me what has been happening here. There was, you see, a time when bacteria had only penetrated a half mile into the crust, and a time before that when they had penetrated only a quarter mile into the crust. Obviously, life is gradually figuring out how to live at greater and greater depth and at hotter and hotter temperatures, with the goal (unrealistic though it might be) of completely penetrating the Earth to the core. Obviously, to achieve this goal life is going to have to undergo some major changes. Once the bacteria penetrate below the layers rich in available carbon, they'll have to start building their bodies out of other elements, ultimately figuring out how to render protein analogs from iron. But who knows? The chemistry of molten iron might allow for all sorts of interesting metabolisms. And there may well be evolutionary pathways that allow for the gradual replacement of one elemental basis with an entirely different one.
But now imagine what happens when a planet whose entire core has been settled by life is ultimately separated from its parental star. Perhaps the surface goes barren and lifeless while the creatures in the core live on, sustained by the energy of radioactive decay. Then some great calamity happens and the planet is smashed into pieces and these scatter through the universe, impacting other worlds and seeding them with "life." Perhaps this has already happened to Earth. Perhaps the bacteria living two miles down have been sent as seeds to other planets after having been scattered by rare asteroid collisions (such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs). When I got to this part of my thoughts (which I was now sharing excitedly with Linda and Julian), Julian said these catastrophic endogeobiotic scatterings sounded a lot like the ejaculation of planetary "sperm."

After Bathtubgirl's party started winding down, I rode with Linda and Julian down to an ongoing art opening on Abbott Kinney. By now the opening was more of a party than an opening, and I was a little surprised to see that many of those in attendance were the same sort of suntanned surfers I'd seen at Bathtubgirl's party. Anyway, I wandered away from Linda and Julian and decided to take a chance by striking up a conversation with a random cute blond chick who was sitting by herself looking bored. At first she was cold and somewhat condescending, as if she was thinking, "Oh brother, here we go again, a guy wants my number." One of her friends, a big hunky guy who looked like a hipper version of Fabio, came over to chat with her shortly into our conversation and she started talking about me in third person plural in the way that you just know means you're being dissed. But after he left, she warmed up considerably when it turned out that all I really wanted to talk about was how far down the bacteria have managed to go into the Earth's crust. She asked if I was an Aries and I said "I know what you're thinking, but no." She explained that I reminded her a lot of her friend who is an Aries and an engineer. "I'm an engineer!" I declared, adding the qualification, "A software engineer, if that counts." When I finally revealed that I am Aquarius, she hid her face in her hands and squirmed. It turned out that she too was an Aquarius, and she characterized this revelation as me shooting her down, a characterization that I'm still trying to interpret. Later into the conversation we touched on the subject of how difficult it is to build community in Los Angeles. By the time Linda and Julian showed up we were chatting nicely. When she got up she even said she'd "be coming right back."

There was a big rave happening tonight in downtown Los Angeles and this was where Linda and Julian were ultimately headed. At first I hadn't wanted to go because of the cost ($30), but by now it seemed like one of those everybody who is anybody sort of events, so I said what the hell.
But when we got to the general vicinity of the rave (in the downtown Los Angeles warehouse district), we found our progress blocked by police. We could see masses of people further on, all of them clustered into groups blocked by cops. All the ravers were dressed up in crazy flamboyant outfits, including many wearing face paint and many others perched upon elaborate stilts. It was like Burning Man, but set against an urban backdrop. The temporary autonomous zone, though, was experiencing trouble at the hands of the authorities. A helicopter circled overhead shining a spotlight down and the cops wouldn't even allow us to cross the street to meet up with an isolated island of fellow travelers.
(Part of the problem here was that the flyers for the rave had been printed giving the actual location of the event. That's a definite rave-organizing no-no.)
We managed to get directly outside the rave by sneaking around the block and up through an alley, timing our emergence from the other end with the arrival of a big distracting fire engine. And suddenly there we were, in amongst a crowd of hundreds of disappointed ravers, all decked out with nowhere to rave. The rave, it turned out, had never even begun. The equipment had been all set up this afternoon without difficulty, but authorities had swooped in and killed it off before the first soundcheck. Since thousands of people were intent on coming to this event, authorities immediately had a crowd control problem on their hands, and here we were being part of it. I had some ecstasy on my person, so I unilaterally decided what the fuck and just took it.
The helicopter continued to circle over head, illuminating us in patches as we danced and chanted. People were banging on drums, one chick was playing an accordion. Perry Farrell was there playing a slide trombone. The police kept trying to get the crowd to disperse or move on, but no one was paying any attention. Occasionally the helicopter issued orders over a tinny bullhorn that sounded more comic than threatening, all the more so because it represented the terrible force of the only remaining world superpower. While it's awfully hard to frighten people who are ecstasy, people so medicated are unlikely to start rioting. If this had been a canceled Slayer concert, you can be sure that the cars we were merely sitting on would have been overturned and on fire.
Still, what a terrible debacle! What a financial boondoggle! Apparently this festival, this Mystic Family Circus (as it was being called) had been organized and planned for months by a contingent of Burning Man people up in San Francisco. They'd driven down here in two vintage tour buses with all their gear, set up an elaborate temporary autonomous dance zone, only to see it shut down before the organizers could collect a single $30 cover charge. The message from the City of Los Angeles was clear: "We don't tolerate any of your so-called temporary autonomous zones down in these parts. Get some new shoes and a real job, hippie!"
The cops somehow did manage to get us to all to start moving en masse away from the gates outside the rave, but when we got to the other end of street, one very vocal guy circulated amongst us crying "Why are you all going this way? The party is that way!" So we all turned around like a sloshing fluid and went back to the gates outside the rave, resuming our dancing and drumming to the complete consternation of the cops. If we weren't being so damn touchy-feely with the cops, they probably would have started cracking some heads.
Eventually some chaos was dispelled fromt the throng when it was addressed by its own respected leaders. They quieted everyone down and told them that the show wasn't happening and it was time to disperse, but that we should reconvene again on "April 8th" for a "right to dance" event. The respected leaders kept telling us to sit down, whereupon they would lead us through chants. I've always been something of a rebel, even in a crowd of rebels, so of course I wouldn't sit down and I wouldn't chant. But then some girl in a white boa and a black cowboy hat sitting next to me tugged on my pantleg, so I did sit down. Then she looked me in the eye and somehow got me to chant as well. "This is peer pressure!" I protested. She seemed to like the topic of peer pressure; it became a little point of connection between us for a few minutes. But then Linda and Julian led me away.
By now we'd been joined by Bathtubgirl's housemate Greg, whom we'd found bobbing like a smiling bowling pin in the crowd. We were thinking of splitting, but when we made it back to the car Greg posed a question, "What if telling us all to leave was just a ploy to appease the cops and now they're all back in there raging?" The possibility was too much to not explore, so we went back.
The helicopter in the skies, most of the crowd on the ground and many of the men in blue had left, and there were only a hundred or so people milling around on the sidewalk, including Perry Farrell the trombone man and the blue-faced accordion girl, who was now playing a somber little waltz. I chanted along to their tune for awhile and then asked the accordion girl to do something with a 4/4 beat, and she finally broke out of her 3/3 rut.
Somehow I found the girl with the white feather boa and black cowboy hat. She ignored me until I reminded her who I was. "Peer pressure!" I said. Oh yes, you're that guy. "You left me!" she cried amid social obligations. (She wasn't especially beautiful but she stank with intelligence and charisma and I loved it.) Somehow we got to talking about bacteria digging their way to the center of the Earth. "What sign are you?" she demanded to know. It turned out she was an Aquarius too, born Feb. 3, 1971. Her name was Heidi. I really have a way with the chicks with Teutonic names.
Meanwhile Linda and Julian had found one of their friends, a girl named Erin wearing a blond wig and nothing but elaborate pasties over her nipples. It turned out that this girl was actually good friends with Heidi. So when Heidi finally got around to asking for my number but couldn't find a pen, Linda tried to convince me that it didn't matter, that we had connections through Erin, whom Linda actually did know. But Julian, who is (among other things) a master politician, knew it would be a "good political move" to wait around until the numbers were exchanged. I eventually gave Heidi a business card with a ripped-off corner where a bank card number had been.
Linda and Julian took Greg and me back to their dismal Park La Brea apartment, with Julian warning Greg on the way up "don't be underwhelmed." Linda really likes Greg, partly because he is something of a tarot expert. While those two were doing a reading, Julian broke out some little nitrous oxide canisters, the kind used for preparing whipped cream. The canisters come in a box whose labeling has evidently gone unchanged since the 1950s, though the only place to buy these boxes are Hollywood headshops. Tonight was to be the first time in my life I ever recreationally took nitrous oxide.
Here's how it works: You load a N2O canister into a little container that contains a pin and two holes, you put a balloon over the end of the container with the holes, you tighten the lid of the container until the pin penetrates the canister and WHOOSH! The balloon fills with nitrous oxide. The container is cooled powerfully by this process, so much so in fact that I actually burned my left hand operating the paraphernalia. When I inhaled the gas, it was completely odorless but tasted slightly sweet on my tongue. I was amused to find that talking with lungs full of N2O results in a substantially deeper voice.
The nitrous high was definitely a good one for me. I felt a tingly sensation sweep over my body all the way out to my finger tips, but my alertness and thoughts weren't really affected. In fact, I had no difficulty carrying on conversations right through the experience. The effect lasted a few minutes and gradually faded, but there was a certain amount of the N2O that evidently remained in my body because every time I did another canister, I felt a little more fucked up than the time before. Finally I kicked back and reclined on my back, watching colors swirl in delicate patterns at the center of my vision. I'm actually glad the high didn't last much longer than it did.

When the evening was done, Linda and Julian took Greg and me back to Bathtubgirl's apartment in Venice and I crashed out on the couch. That girl Rebecca, Greg's firecracker-hot roommate, had a boy over and our coming home meant they had to find another place to snuggle and kiss one another. They ended up on the floor near where I was sleeping. I could hear the watery clicks of their kissing and I kind of liked it.

(For whatever reason, my housemate John never made it to Bathtubgirl's house tonight, at least not while I was there.)

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