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:
   stray bullets at the Secret Spot
Sunday, August 16 2009
We returned to the Secret Spot on the Esopus again today because it was another "scorcher." (Being part of the coastal elite, this is a word we like to pronounce with faux folksiness.) As it had been yesterday, it was all ours again today. The four of us immediately broke up to do the things we like doing there: Sally swam to the other bank and began digging at the mouth of a woodchuck hole under a partially-undermined tree. Gretchen started swimming laps up and down the deeper part of the channel, Eleanor swam across and stood on the other shore, not quite knowing what to do and then deciding to swim back, and I waded in neck-deep waters, using my toes to gather any interesting pebbles from the bottom (I've been using them as decorations around the greenhouse.)
Meanwhile, off in the distance maybe a half mile to the northeast, I could hear someone monotonously firing a semiautomatic firearm. Pop! Pop! PopPopPop! Pop! Pop! That sort of thing. it was as annoying as a ceaselessly barking dog, but with one real difference, one I only thought about subconsciously until I heard a stray round hit the foliage of the tree directly above my head. I knew it was a bullet because it came in with a unique doppler-shifted buzzing sound. Bzzzzzzrrrrrrrrllll! Completely detached from the gunfire that had launched it, it had an ominously random, inhuman quality, like a lightning bolt or a fallen alien spacecraft crawling with confused tentacled occupants.
It was a reminder of the absurd price the gunless majority in this country pays so that a minority can stretch out an insecure adolescent phase for an entire lifetime. I've shot guns and I've even killed wild animals with them, but I grew up in a hunting tradition and I matured out of it when I was thirteen. These days I find guns uninteresting, juvenile, and disruptive even when they're not being used to kill. How many times can one shoot at a tree before one decides that one has better things to do with ones time? For some people, evidently, the answer to that question is a very very large number. These people, there is a sickness with them, a sickness that seems rooted in a pathological feeling of inadequacy. They do not feel complete unless they can kill from a distance like a petty Teutonic God. With any talk of a restriction in their ability to carry and wield their prosthetic penises, they cry like little urine-scented girls. Unchecked by our dysfunctional political system, this absurdity has reached the point where armed men are now appearing amongst the right wing screamers at events attended by the President of the United States, and nothing can be done to disarm them.
But it wasn't the stray bullets that ultimately caused us to flee the Secret Spot, it was the mosquitoes, which were even worse than they had been yesterday. Complicating matters was Sally's reluctance to leave. We sat waiting for her in the mosquito-filled car, screaming for her to come, and when she did she was taking her sweet time. Mosquitoes don't really bother her much.
Back at the house, Gretchen went to get her wedding ring out of the cloth bag we'd used to carry our books and blankets to the Esopus beach, a bag I'd later used to carry all the standout pebbles I'd found. But the ring wasn't there. We dumped out the bag and shook it but no ring. Oh shit! That was Gretchen's maternal grandmother's gold wedding ring from 1941. It had engraved initials on it from that period as well as from our wedding in 2003.
So I drove back to the Secret Spot with my metal detector and did a thorough scan of both the trail and the beach where we'd been. But my metal detector is a piece of shit, refusing to stay in tune and having to be constantly reset. Furthermore, it didn't seem sensitive enough to detect a metal object the size of a wedding ring. As I scanned the ground for any glint of gold, I saw something promising, but it was just a bit of gold-colored string. Lacking anything else to show for my search, I reached down and picked it up to take home with me. Via cellphone, I told Gretchen that I'd given up, though she said she'd be coming out herself to look later.
So after a women's basketball game or two (which Gretchen was forced to watch on her computer, as few are televised), we returned to the Secret Spot. There were two groups of rednecks there when we arrived. One had come on bicycles and included a baby and chain smoking grandmother who liked to cradle it. The other was a middle age couple with a pair of rescue dogs that supposedly didn't get along with other dogs, so they left the moment we arrived because we had our dogs with us.
Gretchen and I fanned out, picking through the grass of the beach while the rednecks fussed over our dogs and offered helpful suggestions such as "maybe somebody came and took it" and "why don't you use the metal detector?" And then, just like that, Gretchen saw her ring, scooped it up and put it on. Crisis over! It was such a happy ending and brought such joy to the rest of my day that it made me feel good that she'd lost it in the first place.

Later we watched I Love You Man, a bromantic inversion of the usual cinematic love story. Our hero has a female love interest, and that's never at stake, but he realizes suddenly that he needs guy friends. So he woos several until he finds his favorite, a quirky dude with a love of Rush, an awesome mancave and a little dog whom he refuses to curb. I've noticed a trend in recent movies of Apatow School (under whose umbrella this movie falls) of characters affecting really bad accents and impersonations as part of what looks to be ad lib performances. Though often embarrassing, these have the effect of heightening the realism, since such accents and impersonations are the stuff of real human interaction, at least in the college-educated non-gun-toting crowd I run with.

some stuff on those various internets

Who Would Jesus Insure? Tea Party Dispatch From San Francisco - an account of willful ignorance and unfocused rage from someone who saw it first hand.

In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition - right wing campaigns using "the big lie" have a long tradition in America. Right wing crazies filibustering town halls is nothing new.

Gone Forever: What Does It Take to Really Disappear? - in this age of interconnected databases, it's become much more difficult to shed an identity to escape a past. With a special focus on one man who unsuccessfully tried to do just that by jumping into a river.

True Christian Church of Christ - a Web 0.5 parody of fundamentalist Christianity. It's such a good parody that I took it for the real thing until I dug a little deeper and saw how prominently it featured a film promoting both skepticism in Jesus and 9/11 trutherism.

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