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:
   a yellow jacket protests a trail
Friday, October 17 2003
I was in the woods, trying to better demarcate the path through uncharted wilderness Gretchen and I took yesterday. I picked up a stick to move it aside, and, a few seconds later, I noticed a sudden burning pain on my right thigh. Looking down I saw a couple yellow jackets clinging to my leg. I swatted them off and ran away, and then carefully came back for my bow saw, which I'd dropped. To tell you the truth, I wonder why I haven't been stung until now, considering all the logs I've moved in the demarcation of my trails.

I finished working on my menorah today, spending lots of time resoldering a bad joint, shortening the longest of the prongs, sanding away excess solder, and buffing it with an abrasive pad. I noticed that the heat of the blow torch had made all sorts of crazy colors appear on the surface of the copper, so I went wild with the heat and made splotches of purple and green, the kind you see on the side of your vision when you poke one of your eyes with your finger.

Gretchen called today from New York City with some disturbing news she'd just learned from the Ulster County SPCA. The previous owner of Mavis the Elderly Cat, a woman named Jody, had been on trial for animal cruelty. Among other things, she'd kept Mavis locked in a linen closet and had put electrical tape around the muzzles of puppies to keep them from barking. Today the jury handed down their decision, and somehow they found her innocent. This meant that Mavis (whom Jody calls "Raisin") would have to be returned, perhaps to live out the rest of her days in another linen closet. It was a horrible miscarriage of justice, but there was nothing much we could do about it, except perhaps claiming that Mavis had died. But if we did that then we'd have to contend with a crazy animal abuser on the loose with knowledge of where we live. The thing is, this particular woman, who claims to be an animal rescuer, is such a marginal character that she's been evicted from her home and now resides with her sister. Her story, and the story of how she won her court case, is typical of the Town of Rochester from which she hails. It has a reputation for being an Appalachian backwater, mostly unaffected by the enlightening influences of displaced former New York City residents (and the fine picante sauce for which they're renown).

It dawned on me for the first time how incredibly lucky I was to have gone out to California when I did - at the beginning of the dotcom boom. When I got there, I immediately got a job at a firm with forty people, and a year and some months later it had nearly four hundred. In looking at the arrangement of things in my life leading to the present, one can't help but marvel at my luck. It's not quite like winning the lottery, but it's doubtful I'd be further ahead had I won the lottery in 1986 and had ordinary luck from then on.

  • 1986 - I decide to go to Oberlin College, partly because it is among the first to send me information.
  • I meet Heather B!ssel, who is living in my dorm.
  • 1988 - I meet Gretchen in a dorm called Harkness at Oberlin.
  • 1989 - Gretchen and I have a massive falling out. I drop out (and am kicked out) of Oberlin.
  • 1990 - I "obtain" a modular Macintosh and use it to do my father's word processing, thereby finding a way to pay for my frugal lifestyle. I also learn a lot about the way Macintoshes work.
  • 1992 - I "obtain" a more advanced Macintosh and begin learning how to patch software to make it work without registering it.
  • 1994 - Heather B!ssel calls from Blacksburg, Virginia and tells me she's living there. I visit her around the time she breaks up with her boyfriend Jeff. Jeff and I visit Charlottesville and I meet a bunch of his friends. A friend of one of his friends is Phil "the Rogue" Ginini.
  • 1995 - After being introduced to them by Phil, I start hanging out with the Malvern Girls in Charlottesville and begin documenting their weird little world.
  • 1996 - I write the Big Fun Glossary, which becomes a sort of cult zine in Charlottesville, eventually finding its way on the web. Partly through the connections made through that, (and partly through the insistence of Jessika, one of the Malvern Girls) I land a job at and learn a bunch of Windows, web, and networking technologies.
  • 1998 - I meet Kim randomly in Ann Arbor, Michigan while there on an impulsive trip to partake in a Fourth of July parade. She and I move to San Diego, where I get a dotcom job based on the web knowledge I learned at
  • 2000 - the dotcom grows huge, and I am fired after my web personality becomes too problematic. Kim and I move to Los Angeles, I get a job at, and breakup with Kim. By now she has a web personality of her own, Bathtubgirl.
  • 2001 - I reconnect with Gretchen. I am allowed to move my job to New York City. September 11th happens, and for unrelated reasons I am laid off.
  • 2002 - I start doing ad hoc computer repair gigs. Gretchen sells her brownstone apartment for a huge profit and we buy a place in the Catskills.
  • 2003 - Gretchen and I get married.

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