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").


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Like my brownhouse:
   fallen this far
Wednesday, September 14 2005
I was listening to the KCRW World News stream this morning when they were playing a block of programming from the Voice of America. The last time I did much listening to VOA was over a shortwave radio, perhaps in the late 1970s or early 1980s, back when I was a preteen or young teenager. Back then it had seemed like a sensible news source designed so people in oppressed nations throughout the world could tune in and get the real deal on what was going on. It was like public radio, and contrasted well with the transparent propaganda coming from Radio Moscow (which I also tuned in on occasion). What a change a couple decades make! I don't know what happened to Radio Moscow, but the its propaganda lives on in its former rival, the VOA. For example, in a discussion about what went wrong during Hurricane Katrina, the only people interviewed were from ultraconservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, the sorts of people who want a government small enough to drown in a bathtub. And all of VOA's "editorials" come with statements that they reflect the views of the United States Government, which immediately makes them suspect. It seems the reality-manufacturers of the Bush administration have kicked in the doors and taken over. It's sad to live in a country that has fallen this far.

Today the building inspector would be visiting, so while Gretchen was off quitting her volunteer job at the Ulster County SPCA (it's a long story, but suffice it to say, it's run by morons), I continued doing little things to give everything in the house the appearance of safety and sturdiness. After awhile I reached a point where there was nothing left that could be done, so I just sat around being anxious. It's not a pleasant feeling to have the trajectory of your future in the hands of someone you don't know. This doesn't happen to me very often, and I'll be very careful to avoid having to deal with the proctology of building inspection ever again.
The inspector showed up a little late and we exchanged quite a bit of initial small talk. The best plan of action when interacting with a building inspector is to make the guy happy. He has absolute power and every house is full of things he can use to fuck you with if you are foolish enough to piss him off. A building inspector is a certain kind of person, one who scrutinizes the inner-workings of people's homes and then orders them to take certain actions. For this, he can expect nothing by obsequiousness and feigned warmth, because no one ever wants to piss him off. "I have the best job in Ulster County!" he declared at one point. This signaled to me that he must be a sadist.
So then we went out on the laboratory deck to look at the solar deck. Immediately the inspector grimaced and said, "I hope you don't take this as an insult, but I doubt that deck would survive the winter." Then he pointed at where my north support columns came down to a footing on the planks of the laboratory deck and said something about how it was only being held by five quarters of an inch of wood. He must have really thought I was a hack. "No," I explained, "that plank is reinforced underneath by a crossmember supported by joist hangers." This immediately caused him to find another problem, one not nearly as egregious. Ultimately, we'll have to have a structural engineer look at it and, the closest thing to hopeful this inspector would be, "he might be able to find a way to fix it."
Next attention turned to the laboratory deck and the laboratory itself, which somehow got wrapped up into the bureaucratic "blessing" process. I don't know how a building inspector's mind works, but part of the price of appeasing this one was to let him expand the scope of his inquiry to include the laboratory and its deck. The guy was a real stickler for infant-protecting deck features, and apparently we're in a district that demands rail baluster gaps of not more than four inches, though I'd been working from the six inch standard I'd seen in a book I'd used as a guide. Well, for this inspector, six inches was too wide and I was going to have to redo it. It was a bitch load of work, and he assigned it with glee and I couldn't even punch him in the face. Furthermore, the rail is two inches too low, but that's a relatively easy fix.
Almost as annoying was his requirement that I put handrails on either side of the steps that lead down to the laboratory from the teevee room and then back up to the laboratory deck. This all would make sense if I had a plan to routinely taking old ladies and newborns out onto the laboratory deck, but I'm the only one who actually goes out there (unless I'm giving a tour or someone wants to smoke pot). Furthermore, it seems absurd to fully outfit a set of steps that lead up to a window. I guess I should count myself lucky that he's not demanding that I replace the window with a door, which would be a geometric impossibility.

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