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 little slower in changing the channel
Saturday, May 20 2006
Today it began seeming likely that I would be traveling soon to Los Angeles to do a web development job for a large multinational company that doesn't permit off-site work. It would only be for several weeks and probably wouldn't make for much actual excitement. The excitement is what it does to the hum-drum of my schedule here in Hurley, NY. Mind you, I like that hum drum for the freedom it gives me and it's uncomfortable for me to let it go, even for a relatively brief period of time.
(It's good, by the way, to have my most interesting skills back in demand again after that long draught of the early 00's. Companies are back to building web sites again, but they're demanding more from their developers. Having basic HTML and graphic skills isn't the ticket to the high five figures like it was in 1999. Now you need to have the skills for Web 2.0, the dated-before-anyone-ever-said-it buzzword for the new dotcom boom. Consequently, if you know something about databases, XML, Javascript, or DHTML, you can find yourself very much in demand.)
Before I can go, I have a lot of day-to-day loose ends to wrap up. One of these is months old, a Google Maps integration between a dynamic Google Map of the Central Appalachians and dozens of Central Appalachians botanical surveys written up by my father. Even before there was a Google Maps I'd intended on eventually doing such an integration using a XML & Flash-based generic mapping system I'd built for a client (but never actually deployed). Google Maps makes the whole thing absurdly easy and incredibly flexible, but the one thing holding me back had been a tiny sliver of information about plotting multiple points with multiple popup captions. I solved this problem by consulting a recently-purchased book called Google Maps Hacks, which sent me to a website where I learned how to do a MySQL integration. Not having an account for a MySQL database on, I used an older (and stable) version of txtSQL instead. It only required a modest amount of hacking and left me with a completely transportable mapping system as well as a modestly-powerful database. The results can be seen here.

In the evening Gretchen and I went out to the hinterlands of Olive to attend an after-reading-party held at the funky house of Susan, one of Gretchen's newest friends. (They tutor together at a local community college.) Susan's first book, a memoir called Chosen by a Horse, has experienced a meteoric rise to something as close as fame as a written work can have in a nation of American Idol watchers. Because we'll be going to a reading tomorrow at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Gretchen and I hadn't actually been to this afternoon's reading, which (unlike the famous 1969 rock festival featuring brown acid) happened in Woodstock. Susan is new to the world of book promotion and it had been her first reading ever.
I ended up spending most of the party talking to a woman who is convinced that the Bilderberger Group is pulling all the strings of international policy and lies at the root of all the world's troubles. I find such arguments wearisome since they can never be proved or disproved. For me, it's much easier to focus on the people whose shenanigans are well documented: Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Rove, and two Texans: one a former arthropod exterminator and the other a guy with a purported brush clearing hobby. But when you talk to someone who is convinced that unknowable conspiracies are crucial to an understanding of the world, the only thing you can do is grunt along in agreement. I find such social effort exhausting.
Somewhere in there, though, I found myself making a point whose realization provided a brief instant of social recreation. The point I made began with the premise that most Americans have been lulled into complacency by reality teevee, NASCAR, and the faux politics of the aforementioned American Idol. And unless they happened to be Arab, New Yorkers, living in New Orleans, or serving in the armed forces, none of them had experienced the unspeakable atrocities and/or neglect of the present administration: 9/11, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Iraq generally, the PATRIOT Act, NSA wiretaps, and so forth. But all of that changed recently when gasoline hit $3 gallon. I don't care how complacent you are, that's like having a bucket of ice water dumped on your head. I know it woke me up, sending me to see the terrifying things being posted on Peak Oil websites. For many people, though, it might have simply caused them to be a little slower in changing the channel the next time the news came on.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next