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:
   live thumbprint embossed in sheetrock
Friday, November 15 2002

A guy from Lowes came this morning to drop off a load of forty pieces of four by eight foot sheetrock. He first used a forklift to move it into position in the garage and then, with a block of wood held in front of the forklift tines, the plan was for him to snowplow the drywall into the garage (since the forklift was too tall to actually fit inside). I'd just rolled out of bed and was still sort of groggy, and it was my job to hold the block in front of the tines. I don't know what I was thinking, because when I told homeslice it was okay to proceed, I still had my left thumb between the block of wood and the sheetrock. When homeslice inched forward, the end of my thumb was pressed hard between wood and gypsum, so hard I couldn't pull away. I had to yell and have homeslice back away so I could hold the block the right way, with my fingers out of the way. When he was done, homeslice asked if my thumb was okay and I lied and said sure as I nonchalantly (but hurriedly) signed the delivery forms. I then ran inside and stuck my thumb on an icecube. Goddamn, it hurt so fucking much! I was wondering if I should maybe go to a doctor, though there was (as yet) nothing visibly wrong with it. The pain was so great I felt myself getting woozy and nauseated, so I had to go stretch out on the floor until I recovered. As I lay there, Sally and Edna dashed up to me to show their concern, Sally doing the best she could by lapping up melting icewater as it dripped from my hand.
That poor thumb has been through hell in the 30 years since it quit serving as an artificial nipple. (I only sucked my left thumb.) It's the thumb whose tip I notched with a skilsaw in 1998, the one whose thumbnail is still cleaved from an incident in October involving a handsaw.
In a remarkably short time the pain ebbed away to a dull tenderness, while a tract of temporary numbness quickly thawed. The thumb has darkened a little but not swollen noticeably. I went back and looked at the spot on the sheetrock where my thumb had been and I could discern a clear thumb-shaped depression in the side of two of the pieces. What kind of force must it have taken to do that?

Now that I'm dependent on dialup for my internet connection, spam is a much bigger deal than it used to be. My main email account, which I've had now for nearly five years, is on everybody's spamlist, and surely takes up a few bytes on every single "Millions of email addresses to Turbo Charge your net marketing campaign!" CD ever sold. I can't figure out how to filter my email on the server side (it's a Linux box running some standard Unix POP server software and I'm sure there are options available; perhaps someone can tell me how), so I'm forced to download every piece of crap any person or robot gets a notion to mail me. This means I have to sit here waiting while several copies of the Klez "special excite game," news of a foolproof hairloss abatement system, a method for extending my prick a quarter inch, and god knows what download slowly to my computer. I would like to take a crowbar and just beat these spammers until I'm speckled like a Dalmatian with their blood and brains, but lacking that option, I'd settle for some server-side solution, some way to keep my address more useful than its present state: a dumpster I'm forced to wade through for a few pieces of meaningful correspondence.
I've actually been using a different machine since moving to Hurley (I haven't yet set up Woodchuck, my Windows 2000 main machine). Badger, the one I've been using, is running Windows XP, and, since I only used it occasionally in the past, I keep finding it set with hyperannoying Windows defaults. One of these took a little research to track down. The trouble began when I started receiving mysterious spam popups with "Messenger Service" in the title bar. These spams weren't connected with IE or AOL (both of which I have to use to do internet things on this machine) but claimed they were a feature of something called WonderPopUp. I scanned through my list of installed software, thinking perhaps it had been installed as stealth slimeware, but there was no record of it at all. It took some research on the web to track down the source of these popups. Evidently WonderPopUp is extremely new, because I only found two mentions of it in a Google search. It turns out that WonderPopUp is exploiting a Windows Messenger default, and my computer is robotically accepting messages from anyone on the internet who knows (or has guessed) my IP address. My guess is that spammers running the WonderPopUp software are war dialing through IP addresses consecutively and showering popups on unsuspecting people net-wide, completely without consequence. At least in Windows XP and 2000, the useless messenger service can be turned off. Suckers running Windows 98 and Windows ME are forced to just bend over and take it.

From the Scary Things Coming From Our Democratically-Elected Totalitarian Government Department:

(Out of an infantile head-in-the-sand attitude, I haven't been following the news since the election, but Matt Rogers has been and continues to keep me posted on the most spectacular storm systems approaching in the terrorist-powered totalitarian weather system.)
The Department of Information Awareness - from John Poindexter, the sleazeball who brought us Iran-Contra, our "oh this is what it's like when the Republicans have power" administration presents yet another authentically Orwellian idea. If you think your private thoughts are still safe in the heavily-surveiled world Poindexter envisions, think again. The total sum of our detectable actions in the world, as collectable and searchable in Poindexter's databases, is a thumbprint embossed in drywall by our true personalities. Also read John Markoff's article and William Safire's opinion piece in the New York Times. The depressing thing is that if it ever gets to the point where this shit won't fly with the American people, all Karl Rove has to do is engineer a spectacular terrorist incident. It's really just that easy.

After a month-long hiatus, I'm back up on my main computer, Woodchuck, listening to Sebadoh's Harmacy, downloaded using KaZaA a few months ago. I realize now that it was one of the CDs stolen during the Space Party of May, 1997 (see, RIAA, I have the license to confuse), the party whose consequences ultimately got me kicked out of the Dynashack. The thing about this CD that is remarkable is that I'm only somewhat familiar with the tunes. I'd obviously bought it only a few days or weeks before it was stolen, and, sort of like Gretchen Pr!m@ck in 1989, I hadn't yet had a chance to get sick of it when it disappeared from my life. All these years later it has the perfect combination of vague familiarity and haunting obscurity, all of which will be ruined if I keep playing it over and over like I always do. Ah, that's the thing about me that keeps me looking for more good stuff (instead of wallowing in the classic rock past with the other white males my age).

My thumb, the one I crushed in the drywall, looks almost perfectly normal. But it sure feels fucked up. When I have to manipulate objects with my left hand, I've been using its forefinger and middle finger, if you know what I mean. For the most part I've been avoiding contractor-style efforts today, letting my lungs and fingers recover. On top of everything else, I have a little head cold, and have no business inhaling gypsum dust.

recent Hurley house pictures

Gretchen deals with a doorknob in her office, Oct. 29, 2002.

Two different carpet colors on either side of the place where I removed the wall bisecting Gretchen's office. Oct. 29, 2002.

Gretchen's office after the carpet was removed (but before the new carpet was put in), Oct. 29, 2002. Note the two strips of carpet tacks defining the position of the wall I demolished.

Gretchen and Sally the morning after we camped out in the living room, Oct. 30, 2002.

View out the windows to the east, Oct. 30, 2002.

Another view out windows to the east, Oct. 30, 2002.

Studs around stairway to basement, Oct. 29, 2002.

Native oak pillars around stairway to the basement, Nov. 15, 2002.

View up stairs toward the attic, Nov. 5, 2002.

View up stairs toward the attic, Nov. 15, 2002.

Edna enjoying the new hardwood floors, Nov. 15, 2002.

Early stage in the wall demolition adjacent to the stairs to the basement, Oct. 29, 2002. Note the wallpaper stripes on the condemned wall.

Native oak pillars around the basement stairway, Nov. 15, 2002.

I went to Home Depot today mostly to research the backends of shower faucets, assuming that the in-wall unit was some sort of standard generic design and that expensive silvery things happened only on the outside of the wall. As I was walking in, I noticed a sign saying that Home Depot was hiring, but it also warned that the company performs drug tests and that if I happen to take drugs, then I shouldn't even bother applying. I've always thought that, of the two hardware superstores of Ulster (suburban Kingston), Home Depot has the more photogenic staff, and now I was wondering if this has anything to do with the drug testing, not that crack whores can't be beautiful. Of course, it's possible that Lowes also performs drug tests, but based on the spacey way with which that fork lift operator drove his machine into my thumb this morning, I can't believe they do so very often.
I didn't learn much from my Home Depot experience, other than that they don't appear to sell any sort of generic faucet backend. So I continued my search at the less-photogenically staffed (but hopefully more employee-privacy-conscious) Lowes. What a difference! Lowes has lots of big informative charts, some featuring exploded diagrams of system backends. While I searched again in vain for a shower faucet backend, some guy in a red Lowes vest asked me what I needed, and I explained that I was looking for the winged thingie that one screws a shower head into. He didn't know what I was talking about, so I waved my arms a little and we gradually spiraled in on the matter at hand. Perhaps it would have helped had we taken a 4:20-style break back behind the dumpsters. It turned out that shower faucets are sold as one complete unit, frontend and backend. They usually cost well over a hundred dollars too. I decided to postpone the faucet purchase until I had Gretchen with me to give her approval and instead I bought a sixty foot coil of half inch soft copper pipe and a bunch of copper fittings.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next