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:
   DC Dogpark Tour 2009
Saturday, November 28 2009

setting: near Sligo Creek Park, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland

The plan today was to drive into Washington to maybe stumble around in a museum (always Gretchen's prefered way to spend and afternoon) and eat food (something we both like doing). Before we set out, Gretchen did some research and located a number of dog parks where we could take Sally and Eleanor along the way. We decided to go to the first of these first thing. It was the Shaw Dog Park near the corner of R Street NW and 11th Street NW. Gretchen's father warned us about the nature of the neighborhood, but on the ground it seemed like it had gentrified at least ten years ago and perhaps gone on to decline slightly. Most of the people in the dog park were hipsters, and most of their dogs were mutts. Gretchen, as you might imagine, was very pleased.
As we arrived, a welcoming committee comprised entirely of dogs (an extroverted subset of those recreating) greeted us enthusiastically. Eleanor seemed to get into things right away, but Sally was strangely reticent, as if to say, "though you might think I would like such a place, I actually find them a terrible bore." She was also walking strangely, as if the pea gravel covering the entire dog-park surface was uncomfortable beneath her feet. Eventually Gretchen had to drag and carry her from the entrance gate and this seemed to begin the process by which Sally came out of her shell. But neither dog really got into the dog park experience like some of the other dogs, pairs of which could be seen playing incessantly. There was also a speckled bird dog who was completely obsessed by a flock of English Sparrows just outside the dog park fence. He kept running up and down the fence, stopping to bark at them or, at times, to silently point the way bird dogs are supposed to.
Not far away was the neighborhood of Adams Morgan, the place we always do lunch if it happens to be nearby. And when we do lunch in Adams Morgan, it's always at Meskerem, Gretchen's favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the entire world. And she always order the same thing. As always, the meal was delicious.
On the way to Adams Morgan, we'd randomly come across another dog park at the intersections of S, 17th Street, and New Hampshire Avenue. So we decided to abandon the idea of developing our thrombosis in a museum and instead too Sally and Eleanor to this random unexpected dog park. This park was triangular in shape, occupying one of those weird blocks where three DC streets meet at weird angles. Its chief feature was a low ridgelike artificial knoll upholstered entirely with astroturf. Though much smaller than the other dog park we'd visited earlier, it had more dogs, but they tended to be smaller and, as a group, more purebred. The people with them were less hip and perhaps a little older and significantly less hip, reflecting a neighborhood that has been desirable for a long time.
By now, though, the only creatures in our four-mammal party enjoying ourselves were the hairless apes. The two carnivores stood around looking bored and (at least in Eleanor's case) a little confused. Eleanor's attempts to socialize often seem to come with reservations, and by now she was abandoning such attempts after only seconds of effort, quickly coming back to hang out with us, actually sitting in Gretchen's lap several times. Gretchen eventually struck up a conversation with a nice couple who had brought a pair of odd looking mutts. Soon thereafter I recognized an odd patchwork mutt that I'd seen at the Shaw Dog Park, and sure enough it was the same dog, brought by the same Asian woman with long grey hair. It seemed we weren't the only vertebrates on DC Dogpark Tour 2009.
Back at the house, we chatted with our sister-in-law, who had just been at a large thrift shop (a "thriftportunity") getting cloth for the patchwork clothes she likes to sew together as the kind of industry possible while otherwise employed as a full-time mother of two. As a maker of clothes for little kids, she is privy to an aspect of gender identity enforcement that I'd never before heard described. She told us that for infants and toddlers, there is absolutely no market whatsoever for girls clothes that are not pink. You can make a cute blue dress and try to sell it, but nobody will buy it. Evidently parents are so insistent about providing gender cues for their otherwise sexless babies (and, let's face it, unless you can see the genitals, all babies are sexless), that girls are uniformly swaddled in pink. Their hair is also encouraged to grow out as far as possible. Out sister-in-law told us that her daughter, even when dressed head-to-toe in pink (as she was today) is often mistaken for a boy because her hair has been cropped at about chin-length (which was last an acceptable hair length for little boys back in the 1970s).
While at the thrift shop, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law had bought their son a pair of controller-less remote control race cars. These looked a little like NASCAR cars, and thus similar to the little cars that form a huge part of my nephew's play life. Before we'd returned from DC, Gretchen's brother had successfully corralled his son's play into an ongoing experiment. The little guy was encourages to shove his car and send it coasting across the kitchen tiles the way he always does, but when it came to a stop, he was told to count the tiles to where it had ended up. This data was collected and plotted on a graph. Eventually terms like average, median, mode, and even "standard deviation" were used. I don't know how much of this my nephew was grasping, but kids that age are able to absorb an enormous amount, particularly if it is dispensed in tiny incremental nuggets mixed in with play.
For a time Gretchen planted her ass in front of the enormous widescreen teevee to watch that movie Waiting. I don't like it as much as she does, so I went off to surf the web on my iPhone and, eventually, to take a nap. This trip has provided a good incentive to start using my iPhone, customizing it to my needs, and becoming familiar with its interface. It doesn't have a cellular plan, but I use it with WiFi like a tiny laptop. After a few battles with the interface, I was even able to configure it to check my email (the key difference from a conventional computer interface is that all the settings for all the programs are handled through a central control panel and not through those programs themselves).

In the evening, Gretchen and I went to a coffee shop in downtown Silver Spring to meet up with her old friend Samantha. There was a live band at the coffee shop, so I couldn't really participate in the conversation Gretchen and Samantha were having. Luckily, though, the coffee shop also had free WiFi and I'd brought the iPhone.
Later the three of us went to a nearby Burmese restaurant called Mandalay. Neither Gretchen nor I had ever eaten there before, but I can't think why. The food was incredible and just different enough from Thai, Chinese, and Indian to be its own thing entirely.

Two dogs in motion at the Shaw dog park.

Sally (in an orange collar) at the Shaw dog park.

Dogs at the Shaw dog park (Sally has the orange collar).

Long shadows at the Astroturf dog park (at S, 17th Street, and New Hampshire Avenue).

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