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 thousand dollars for the Ulster economy
Thursday, October 23 2003
After Frank and Lisa finished a morning outing involving horseback riding in Ellenville, I rode with them to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary so we could meet up with Gretchen, who was doing volunteer work today. It was a miserable day, with temperatures never rising out of the 30s. It was a distressingly premature start of winter, and an unflattering climatic snapshot for our visiting guests.
Gretchen's task today had included plucking ticks off the farm animals. Strangely, in this area the height of tick season seems to coincide with the first frosts of autumn.
As usual, Gretchen had brought Sally with her to the sanctuary, but this was to be Sally's last visit. Some other volunteer's dog had unexpectedly killed a defenseless blind turkey, and now the sanctuary enforces a no-dog policy, no exceptions, not even for the angelic likes of Sally. Actually, not wanting to leave her alone at the house, I'd brought Eleanor with me too, but I already had a plan to keep her in the car, since she is entirely too prone to misbehavior to be allowed to run wild at the sanctuary.
While Frank and Lisa were meeting Rambo, Mr. Peepers, Phil, and the various cows and horses, I was digging around through some old computer equipment, seeing what if anything I wanted. It was all Pentium I-era stuff, but there was an ATX-style case to be had, along with other useful odds and ends, so I loaded up. It was better than dumpster diving, because the computers came complete with hard drives and CD-ROM drives. A working CD ROM is always useful, no matter how slow.
I rode with Gretchen back home and she took me to the Ulster County SPCA so I could see some puppies that had just arrived. They were Pit Bull mixes, all rubbery and loaded with wrinkles of "extra skin." I took pictures, but of course posting them is unnecessary for anyone who has seen the posters that hang in the bedrooms of twelve year old girls.

When Frank and Lisa finally rendezvoused with us at our house, Frank had a small cardboard box in his hands and he announced "I did a bad thing." The bad thing he'd done was buy a $1000 camera from Best Buy at the Hudson Valley Mall. The thing that was so great about this particular camera was that it accepted all the lenses and attachments from his conventional Canon film camera, but it captured its images in digital form on Compact Flash media. It was a model he'd been salvitating over for days, researching it online and bringing up its existence in even somewhat un-nerdly conversations. He figured he should get it while in the States, since it is still unavailable in the United Kingdom. In so doing he managed to pump four digits worth of his redundancy severance package into the Ulster Township economy.
For the rest of the evening, Frank pored over his newest toy, trying different new tricks he'd never been able to do with regular film. I was enjoying a mix of vicarious excitement, envy, and anti-consumerist disgust. I kept quizzing Frank about his new camera's capabilities and ribbing him about its soon-to-be tarnished newness. "You'll probably be able to burnish out that first scratch that's gonna happen, but who knows about the second."
Meanwhile Lisa was in the process of inheriting Frank's old film camera, an expensive device in its own right.

While Frank played with his camera and Lisa read a book, Gretchen and I prepared an elaborate dinner of chili and pasta, yam cakes, and zuccini bread. In the end the zucchini bread stuck horribly to its pan and came to resemble a beached octopus, but it was good anyway.

Later on Gretchen had us all watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the rock opera about finding one's other half. I wondered how Frank and Lisa would respond to it, since the music lies far outside their electronica-only British æsthetic. Well, I knew this was Frank's æsthetic, but Lisa had already admitted to owning a Joni Mitchell CD, so it seemed she was a little less doctrinaire about her music.
(Being doctrinaire about music is one of Frank's many characteristics that remind me of Matt Rogers, although this also makes me wonder if perhaps Frank is correct about electronica being the only worthwhile music. You see, most of Matt Roger's doctrinaire views on music, which he promulgated throughout the latter half of the 1980s, later became my own, though with most of the doctrinaireness removed.)

It seemed Lisa loved the movie, but I wasn't sure about Frank. I think he'd seen the whole exercise of watching it a distraction from the more urgent task of fondling his new camera.

Tomorrow Frank and Lisa would be leaving for New York City. So Gretchen orchestrated a mighty effort tonight to secure them a place to stay in the city - at one point deploying what she called "the network" (her friends and their friends). In the end she managed to reserve an apartment in Park Slope (Brooklyn) for the weekend - this one belonging to Anna, David the Rabbi's sister. It is less than a block from where Gretchen and I used to live. Once that was arranged, Gretchen had to make more calls to "shut the network down." A discussion of the consequences of her failing to do this immediately blossomed into a hilarious comedic sketch in which all of New York ended up evacuated.

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