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:
   New Paltz Mobil
Saturday, July 19 2003
I had a housecall south of New Paltz today. I had a desperate need to get out of the house, so I left a couple hours beforehand and made a leisurely detour to the Hudson Valley Mall for nasty foodcourt egg rolls and then P&T Surplus on the Rondout. I still had nearly an hour to kill by the time I got to New Paltz, so I wandered around the village posting flyers for my computer housecall business on telephone poles. I then sat in my truck for awhile listening to another fascinating installment of This American Life, whose broadcast time on the local public radio station has remained a constant mystery. This particular show was called "Enemy Camp" and concerned the travails of people living with people and things who were not quite as they seemed. The most amusing segment was a piece of magical comedy about a guy whose girlfriend turned into an affable, but fat & hairy guy under the light of the moon.
I was at the side of Route 32 just north of the main New Paltz crossroads when a guy drove by on his motorcycle yelling and giving the finger to a large pickup truck in front of him. Evidently the truck had slighted the motorcyclist in some way, and he wasn't the sort who just going to let the matter pass. The thing about motorcycles is that, though small, if they decide to follow you, you're fucked. The offending truck pulled into the Mobil station and the motorcylist had him. He stood there in the Mobil parking lot shouting and cursing at him for a good half a minute. But the rules suddenly change when people leave the isolating, anonymizing contexts of their vehicles. The only possible escalation at this point would have been violence, yet it seemed the motorcyclist was now satisfied that he'd made his point, so I saddled back up and rode away.
As I waited in line in the Mobil station for a $2 bottle of a nasty lemon-rind beverage (the closest thing to real juice they offered for sale), an outgoing Mexican gentleman standing in line behind me drew my attention to the Lottery machine with its alphanumeric promise of 7 Million Dollars. "That's a lot of mohney, no?" I grumbled something pleasantly incomprehensible as an unkind thought flashed through my mind about how lotteries were taxes paid by the mathematically illiterate. But then I noticed that the Mexican was buying a beverage equal in size to mine that cost only $1.
The cashier in the downtown New Paltz Mobil station is a swarthy gentleman with an Arabic name on his plastic Mobil nametag. Last time I saw her, Kristen told me that there was another Arab who had been working at this Mobil station for years who was recently deported because some of the is and ts on his paperwork weren't sufficiently dotted and crossed. One can't be too careful with well-known gas station attendants in tiny Upstate villages.

The New Paltz housecall was in one of those big ugly developments where McMansions sit equally-spaced on large treeless lots along artificially-curving streets. Interestingly, though, none of the houses looked like any of their neighbors.
A little old lady was having trouble with her 133 MHz Pentium computer. I quickly diagnosed her problem as being a blown motherboard, a not-terribly serious issue in today's world of computer woes. I try to be up-front and honest with my customers, but it's really difficult when they're still wrapping their calcifying minds around the absurd notion of a cordless phone.
It's the motherboard. A new one is going to cost you about $200 [I was factoring in my labor charges]. But it will be much faster. It will have the latest tech-er-stuff. It will run much faster than your old computer.
$200! Shoo! That's a lot. Do you think I should just get a new computer?
Well, that would be at least $600 and you'd lose all your old stuff. It's probably better to just get a new motherboard.
A new what?
Yeah, the motherboard, it's the biggest board in the computer.
Where? Oh there? And all this too?
No, those aren't part of the motherboard. They're plugged into the motherboard. Of course, it might just be the processor.
So you're not sure it's the mother- you're not sure what the problem is?
Well, I'll be able to tell back at the shop. [REDACTED]

Today I received an email that constitutes, I think, my first ever solicitation by a spam panhandler:

Dear sir, madam,

I am really desperate right now and I need your help. If you would please read these few lines, I would be very grateful.

Three years ago, at the age of 27, I had "the American dream" and decided to start my own web design company. Everything was going well for some time, but after September 11th and the recession of the last years, business slowly started to break down. Now my company has gone bankrupt and in a couple of weeks, I will be thrown out of my house. That's - in short - what I am facing.


"How can I help" you might ask. Well, billions of people all around the world are connected to the internet. If 30.000 people would donate me just one dollar ($ 1), save and simple, using PayPal, I would be rescued.

I know...
I know there are a lot of people out there with even more problems than I. Nevertheless, I am getting really depressed and I thought it was worth the try.

I hope you will give me the opportunity to start over again and make something of my life…

Please click here to make a donation. I highly appreciate it!

Visit to read my diary and see the progression.

Thank you very much for your time,

God bless you,

Onno Karman,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

If you have any question, please don't hesitate to contact me.

This is a one time only message. I hope this message hasn't caused you any inconvenience. If so, I am sorry (but as I said: I am really, really desperate!)

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next