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:
   like gathering roadkill
Sunday, August 13 2006
My drywall shipment came this morning and by late afternoon I completed the sheathing of the last of the shop area walls. (Only a tiny amount of wall remains; nearly all the drywall that arrived today will become ceiling.)

Late this afternoon there was to be a free (or, actually, "pay what you can") performance of Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona in Woodstock. The production was being performed by an obscure group calling itself "Bird on a Cliff Theatre." Gretchen wanted to go and, though I'm not much of a Shakespeare enthusiast and would have been happy to continue my drywalling, sometimes one has to do what the wife has scheduled.
There's this whole network of friends starting with Susan, the woman who has been doing translations in the tranquil of our basement, and this network reticulates through another friend named Val back to our neighbors, the weekenders who own the farm at the end of the farm road adjacent to our property. When your favorite weekend pastime doesn't involve firearms or racecar drivers, the world is a small, depopulated place. While Susan was temporarily back at her place in Boiceville, Gretchen knew that our farm neighbors would be going to this Shakespeare production, and she arranged with them to take us too. They're good people with good politics, but the only thing they ever want to talk to us about is the fate of the 15 acre strip of land behind our house, which (like us) they'd very much like to remain forever wild. Personally, the subject of that property makes me uncomfortable and I'd rather not have to talk about it unless there is any substantial news.
In Woodstock there is a piece of parkland somewhat to the southwest of the center of the village called the Comeau Property. People walk their dogs there and ramble through the forests, which, despite the ongoing non-comedy of commons everywhere, aren't as littered as urban parks in places such as Brooklyn. There's also a little playground-equipment-style stage setup (complete with balcony) suitable for the production of Shakespeare plays. When we sat down in the audience part of the clearing, the Beatles were blaring from the PA system and large tie-dyed tapestries hung on the set. It seemed this production would have something of a 1960s vibe.
All of us brought food, which we shared. Gretchen had made a corn upside-down cake with black beans. Peoples' reaction to it reminded me of ubiquity of food allergies, either real or imagined. (I suspect these are yet another luxury of the fossil fuel age; people who are starving quickly discover they can eat just about anything.)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a comedy, a point made in its favor several days ago when Gretchen informed me I'd be coming. I don't know that I necessarily prefer comedies; in the original sense of the word it just means that the play has a guaranteed Hollywood ending, as opposed to the indie film ending of a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet.
Movies and books and other forms of fiction don't soak into my brain at first. I find myself having to corral my attention during the early part of such media adventures. At a certain point, though, I can be hooked enough that paying attention is no longer a chore. By the end, if the media is good, paying attention has become a pleasure and I'm disappointed when it finally ends. With Shakespeare, the archaic nature of the language is a further impediment. In the early part of a Shakespeare play I'm not invested enough to go through the mental effort of parsing apart the sentences, with their often weird placements of nouns and verbs. I know the words, it's recognizably English after all, but they fly past somehow without conveying meaning. Later though, once I'm introduced to some aspect of intrigue or suspense and have a trace on interest, then something in my brain takes over and automatically does the heavy lifting of untangling English garbled by 400 years of subsequent evolution. New forms of short term memory materialize from nowhere to remember verbs so that later when the noun that the verb is supposed to be the action of is mentioned, the meaning of the sentence can be shoved like a prepared sandwich at the hungry diner in the story-following part of my neurology. For me this began about ten minutes before the end of the first half. Up until that point I'd be staring up at the sky thinking forlornly about my drywalling project.
This version of The Two Gentlemen of Verona maintained the 60s vibe whose foreshadowing we'd had at the start. The characters were dressed in flamboyant hippie clothes, brief blasts of Beatles songs were played between scenes, and at one point the characters pass around a joint as they recite their lines.
Beyond the hippie details, one charming touch was the inclusion of a real dog actor (a large brown guy with ears like airplane wings) for a few of the scenes. In one instance in the dialog where a soliloquy specifically mentions the dog's not speaking, the dog half-heartedly barked a couple times. On other occasions he acted as if the leash he was on had been provided for the purpose of playing tug-o-war. Something about all this playfulness made it a hard production to hate, despite how determined my attitude was to do so.
At the half-time intermission, the cast came through the audience with baskets hoping for donations, and the wealthy, lefty crowd dug deep and was generous. Prior to the second half the cast distributed "enthusiasm noodles" (or whatever those foam things are that are waved back and forth to screw up a visiting basketball team's foul shots) to the audience. These were outfitted with green fronds made of cloth and the idea was that we would hold them up (briefly, as it turned out) at some point in the second half to simulate the deep dark forest. That was to be the only major penetration of the fourth wall.
When the show ended, the cast came out into the audience and chose people at random to dance while "All You Need is Love" blared from the PA.
We had an additional passenger for the ride back to Dug Hill Road, a young woman who would be riding with our neighbors back to the City.

This evening, for the first time ever, I fell prey to a phishing attempt, and since I'm normally pretty savvy about such things I thought I'd share what happened as a cautionary tale for the incautious. I was on Ebay, browsing solar equipment, and, unsatisfied with the description of a solar panel, I followed a link that said "Click Here For All Details." This link led to a page that looked like an Ebay page, and it was asking me to log in. I assumed my cookie had expired or something, so I typed in my username and password and submitted the form. This had no effect at all, depositing me back at a top-level Ebay page. Was my computer on the fritz? What was going on? Then I hit back a few times and looked at the URL and realized I'd been phished. That "Click Here For All Details" link had taken me off the Ebay site to a phishing site set up to look like an Ebay login page, but my login information had gone to a Russian crime syndicate, the Nigerians, or a couple of pimply kids in ranch house basement. Since, as with many people, my Ebay login information is the same as my Paypal information, it was a good thing I figured out what had happened immediately. That particular password is the mid-security-level one I use for all my financial-related accounts. I'd been using it in one form or another for the past ten years, but it was no good to me now. Logging onto all the sites where I use it and changing the password to something else was an unpleasant ordeal but absolutely necessary.
Using their various online forms, I complained to Ebay about the phishing attempt by reece7612. The puzzling thing was that this Ebay account turned out to have 100% positive feedback from 21 happy customers. Why would someone go phishing from an Ebay account with such a positive reputation? That's like gathering roadkill in the backseat of a brand new car.

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