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:
   priorities for guests
Saturday, November 2 2002

This morning Gretchen and I drove out to 9W to bitch at the people at Staples about the desk they'd sent us, the one that came in a million pieces but which lacked directions on how to put it together. What, is that the scheme they've arrived upon to twist our arms into paying them to put their shit together? They were no help. They had no directions for this particular desk in their stockroom. And they had no replacement for a part that had come damaged. Looking at the assembled copy of this desk in the Staples showroom, we finally figured out what to do with a couple mystery pieces whose function had eluded us. We had been most perplexed by a piece of back panel that had been too short for the place it was supposed to go. But on the floor model, we saw that it was supposed to go back there anyway, leaving a big inexplicable gap at the top. "What, they couldn't spring for another couple inches of fake wood?" Gretchen asked rhetorically.
Back at the house, Gretchen continued working on her desk while I put together yet another desk that we'd just bought. This second desk was also a Staples desk, but it was made out of actual wood and it was much more of a joy to assemble, since it didn't feel as much like an origami project as that first desk.
The second desk was for the guest bedroom, which is actually our bedroom until the attic master bedroom is finished. Gretchen has it in her mind that we'll be entertaining lots of guests at our house, that they'll come and use it as an artist's retreat and sit at a desk and write works of great significance to human culture. Her vision is so comprehensive that she wants to have the guest room set up immediately, even while funds are still tight as we await the closing on the Brooklyn brownstone. To me the furnishing of a guest office is a foolish misplacement of priorities, but I'm excited by and supportive of Gretchen's vision, enough to shelve my objections. Her friends are extremely important to her, and it does her heart good to be taking them into account even while our master bedroom is skeleton of two by fours and my 800 square foot loft is an icy, uninsulated wasteland.
Our first guest at our new house was Mary Purdy, who had driven upstate in a car she borrowed from her parents. One of the reasons she'd come to this part of the world was to attend a housewarming at the new house bought by Katie and Louis in Saugerties (they'd moved in a few weeks before we moved into our place). Mary and Gretchen both know Katie because they all went to Oberlin at about the same time.
Mary is, among other things, a stand-up comic, and so her stories usually have a reliably hilarious self-effacing quality, sometimes in the Latin-roots literal sense. She was telling us about a miserable day recently in which her borrowed car's battery died, she could find no one with jumper cables, and then, once she had it going, she had to spend forty five minutes finding a place to park it. She had such a horrible time that she was driven to tears several times. Then, once it was all over and she was going back to her apartment, she smiled at some guy in the elevator and he gave her an extremely weird look. When she looked at herself in the mirror, she saw that her eye makeup had run all down her face in a frightening wash of blackness.
Mary also told us a few stories from the online dating scene (she's been using The guys she's met this way all have fundamental problems, whether it be a general hard-to-define lack of coolness or perhaps just an unattractive addiction to online dating services.
Driving down the Thruway to Katie and Louis' housewarming party, we suddenly realized that we'd forgotten the cake, which was to be Gretchen's big housewarming gift. It was some sort of chocolate confection crowned with a heart of chocolate-covered mocha balls. So we had to turn around and go all the way home. Gretchen made a U-turn on the Thruway in the place where only cops are supposed to go, and when she returned to the toll plaza, the EZ-pass sign gave her the yellow signal and flashed the message "Call EZ-pass." That's the thing about EZ-pass, there's a real potential for robotic law enforcement inherent in the system. It was smart enough to figure out that Gretchen had made an illegal U-turn, what's to stop it from figuring out that she must have been speeding in order to cover the distance from Kingston to Saugerties in nine minutes?
Aside from a few people Gretchen introduced me to, I didn't interact much with people at the housewarming, at least not at first. I remember looking around the room at all the people present, most of them about the same age (early to mid 30s) and thinking, "Wow, my scene is getting older." They certainly didn't look like college kids anymore. Everyone was all paired off and at least two of them had kids, one of whom Gretchen had to yell at for pulling on Sally's tail. Yes, we'd brought our kid too.
Sally seemed to be experiencing nonstop excitement, what with all the people fussing over her and the little scraps of food that parties always generate. Like Noah, Edna, and me, Sally is a fellow carnivore suffering under a vegetarian regime, but since there was plenty of meat at this particular housewarming, I snuck some for Sally.
Later on I found myself talking to couple of older people: Katie's mother and a gentleman who seemed not to be Katie's father. I was telling them about life in the dotcom meat grinder, always a reliably-interesting subject. Another sure-fire topic is my old redneckistani friend Josh Furr. I found myself telling Mary Purdy all about him shortly before we left the party.
Mary got to sleep in the fully-apportioned guest room tonight while Gretch and I camped out on a huge king-sized mattress placed temporarily in the living room.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next