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:
   French fry brunch
Saturday, December 19 2009
I had a mild-to-medium hangover today as a result of drinking a few too many Hurricane Kitties (those hoppy beers produce the worst hangovers, though it's almost worth it).
Meanwhile, Gretchen had been craving French fries since before we'd had Indian food last night. This morning she had the idea that we should get two orders of fries (one curly, the other French) from the Hurley Mountain Inn, the closest restaurant to our house. We don't usually patronize the place because of its cheesy hunting lodge decor and the reactionary affiliations of its management, but HMI makes great French fries (they actually called them "freedom fries" during the darkest days of the early 21st Century).
So Gretchen ordered fries and I drove down to pick them up. Her order was the last one on the cash register, $8.55 total. It was late morning and only one of the many Hurley Mountain Inn tables was occupied by a complete nuclear family. As I was walking out the door, I found myself thinking, "that wasn't too distateful." But then I happened to glance up to see a red white and blue folk-art placard above the door. It read, "God bless America." There aren't many sentiments quite that narrow in widespread currency. "In God we trust," for example, is an order of magnitude less boneheaded.
We watched the first full-length Star Trek movie as we tucked into our fries. The opening scene of the warrior Klingons hurling thunderbolts from their space ship wasn't even over before Gretchen began to complain about the slow pacing of the movie. Some minutes later when we were treated to the first view of the Enterprise, I commented that the lingering, leering camera angles were akin to porn. About a half hour in we had to give up. The movie was completely unwatchable.

During a hangover it's easiest to just be a passive consumer of media, but short of that there are plenty of semi-passive web experiences that work nearly as well. If you can just find a website with lots of engaging video clips (such as the Onion News Network), the clicking around isn't that much of an ordeal. Today, for example, I started at and soon wandered off into the site of one Richard Wiseman, psychologist and magician. The video that lured me in featured ten science tricks, including extinguishing a lit candle with carbon dioxide poured from a cup. There were several other great videos on the site, mostly related to magic tricks, and I soon found myself searching around on Google to find out how various magic tricks are done. Back when I was a kid (and last interested in this subject), it was an impossible subject to research. No longer.
At some other post in Wiseman's blog, he poses the following question: What is your first memory? It's a good question, and it comes up occasionally when I'm hanging out with friends. I have several that I know are early, though I can't be sure how early. It all depends on when I was completely toilet trained. More on that in a bit. Here they are:

  • Standing in a crib in nursery school, wanting to get out.
  • Standing in front of the passenger-side headlight of my father's 1957 Chevrolet, crapping my pants. I remember liking to go there to crap my pants. It must have been just before I realized that I could just go to the bathroom and not have to deal with a messy aftermath.
  • Being in a bathtub with my brother and when a poo bobbed to the surface. Being three years younger than him, the poo was almost certainly mine.

It bears mentioning that I wore full-leg casts on both legs for something like a year of my early life (this was an unsuccessful attempt to correct my congenital pigeon-toed condition), but I have no memory of those casts, which probably a good piece of my early bipedalism.

In an effort to better determine when these early memories could have formed, I did some online research to determine when toilet training typically happens. Developmentally, I was a pretty normal kid, so if I remember deliberately crapping my pants because I couldn't imagine an alternative, then I must not have been toilet trained yet. And if I wasn't toilet trained, it probably means I was younger than the time at which most kids were toilet trained in those days.
My research revealed a startling thing: in the 1950s children were typically toilet trained by 18 months. These days, however, toilet training doesn't happen until 36 months. This massive change is a result of the rise of disposable diapers, which has taken much of the hassle out of taking care of a diaper baby. This, coupled with a propaganda effort by the disposable diaper industry to keep us in diapers as long as possible (ideally, for an entire human lifespan), has made three the new normal for the beginning of toilet training. As for the waste and expense of all those extra disposable diapers, well, it's not even in the top five of the most absurd aspects of American culture. As for my toilet training, I'll still have to ask my parents. But I do know that they were philosophically opposed to the waste and expense of disposable diapers (which we referred to with the generified trademark "pampers").

This was the first day in some time that I undertook no firewood gathering. I did, however, take a long luxurious hangover nap in the late afternoon.

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