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:
   success rate at shipping
Monday, July 30 2001

setting: Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York

One of my unknown colleagues, perhaps an employee whose babysitting options had unexpectedly evaporated, brought a kid to work today. I can hear it off in the distance, running around and squealing preposterously at all the things that seem wondrous and new to a recently-minted two-year old. I have my headphones cranked loudly and I can only hear the precious bundle of joy during the quiet parts in the music, but still I am being distracted. I doubt I'll ever make for a good parent, because every time I hear infantile squealing I find myself wishing physical punishment upon the child making the disturbance. I become very pro-spanking at such times. (There's something particularly creepy about that link, what with its advocacy of dispassionate spanking and folksy faux-quilted background.)

I came home from work this evening to find an unpleasant bit of mail from the United States Postal Service. It seems they'd found a bit of tape containing my address from one of the dozen or so boxes I'd shipped via the USPS and they wanted me to describe my stuff if I wanted to stand a chance of having it tracked down and delivered. Now, I have no idea what sort of experience a box would have to have in order to be flayed free of its packing tape, but again, it didn't give me a very good feeling about the quality of service I'd been provided. Adding to the confusion, I'd shipped some of my less-needed parcels to Gretchen's parents' house, and I had a poor sense of what exactly I was missing. So Gretchen called her folks and in short order I'd figured out that at least two of my packages were still out there somewhere. The package that had shed the label which the postal service had sent was a small one in which I'd put small expensive items: a $400 film scanner and some guitar effects pedals, among other things. The other missing package contains my 450 MHz AMD K6 III computer. To say the loss of this stuff sucks would be something of an understatement. What does it say about a postal service that, in the process of delivering a dozen packages, severely damaged two and completely lost two? My success rate at shipping things safely to myself across the country stands at 8/12. Who knew they had a 25% failure rate?

Gretchen and I went upstairs to the fourth floor to hang out with one of her wacky friends who is something of an investment banker. I'll call him Ernie. [REDACTED]
When Ernie put on some environmental mood music and broke out some "Animal Spirit Cards" which purport to divine the future as represented in the spiritual essence of animals depicted on cards, sort of like tarot but with a bit more hoy-ya-ya-ya hoy-ya-ya-ya Native American shaman mojo. Anyway, as you can imagine Gretchen thought the whole thing was a big ridiculous waste of time. She doesn't believe in astrology, tarot, numerology, or any other hocus pocus. Still, she was a good sport and played along. But when it came time for us to each read each others' descriptions from the interpretive book, Gretchen's politeness broke down. She took one look at the horrible little Earth-centered intro poem beneath the symbol for lizard (me) and pleaded, "I can't read bad poetry!" When it was my turn to read the eagle interpretation, I started cycling through a wide range of different reading voices and accents like some kid using every color of his Pentel set to write an entry in his diary. I didn't know Gretchen, who had drawn a spider card, was embarrassed so easily; she couldn't take the many wacky voices I was using and had to flee.
Gretchen also noted the weird sexual dynamics present in the room. Not only did Ernie seem to bring out machismo to an extent she had hitherto never witnessed, but he kept making little sexually-charged statements that were only a little this side of disturbing. When he got off the phone with his wife, for example, he claimed his wife had said, "Don't have sex with them!"
Somewhere along the line Ernie told us about a new drug he read about that is now sweeping the South. It's called Oxycontin and it's some sort of narcotic. Normally it comes in pill form and is prescribed to the elderly for any and all complaints. Since the pill has a special time-release structure, it is generally non-addictive and highly effective for certain kinds of pain. But recently some people have discovered that if you grind up the pills with a mortar and pestle, you end up with a fine white power that, as a snortable drug, is perhaps one of the most addictive narcotics ever synthesized by man. Since Oxycontin is heavily overprescribed to senior citizens who frequently have more than they know what to do with, there are plenty of pills in circulation. Since these little old ladies can sell their pills on the street for as much as $15 each, many of them have been selling them to supplement their fixed incomes. They are, in effect, the coca fields of an endemic drug manufacturing and distribution network. The hypocrisy of people rotting in jails for selling some drugs while mega-corporations get rich selling others had me eager for a story like this, where the excessive marketing and distribution of drug companies leads directly to a new street drug epidemic.
AT some point we watched Six Feet Under on cable teevee (since Ernie has cable) and we absolutely loved it. There was this one sequence of dialogue in a gay bar that was so full of levels of meaning that we were just sitting there with mouths agape. With the exception of the Simpsons, we had no idea television could be this good!

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next