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

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Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

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(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   emptiness in Uptown
Saturday, July 3 2010
Ray was up with me early because he was about to set out for a destination further upstate for the celebration of July 4th. He and his wife Nancy would be going to barbecues, but, being the only one capable of running barbecue hardware, he'd be sure to keep things sufficiently vegan. (Ray has maintained a more or less vegan diet for as long as I have.)
Meanwhile my plans were to go yardsaling with Penny, David, and Milo. But only David was in any shape to yardsale, so it was just him and me. In the end we didn't find a whole lot of stuff: a massive shopvac and a plastic beach bucket with matching shovel for David (and Milo) and a cheap clock radio ($0.50) and a Palm Zire 31 ($5) for me. I'm a sucker for any thin programmable device with an LCD screen; a Palm Zire 31 could be practically anything depending on what I decide to solder to it. And, though small and costing only $5, it's about as powerful as the first full-sized computer I bought in the 1990s.
The end of our yardsaling took us down Wittenberg Road and dumped us out on Route 28. We were both hungry by this point and would have preferred to be in Woodstock so we could get a bagel at Bread Alone. But then I remembered that there was a Bread Alone outlet in Boiceville (on the way back towards civilization). Unfortunately, the Boiceville Bread Alone doesn't have vegan cream cheese (which shouldn't be surprising, since the employees look to be decidedly more Boiceville than Woodstock). But I was so hungry I said fuck it and ordered a bagel with regular cream cheese, because, though I think of myself as functionally vegan, I don't consider myself actually vegan. Still, I felt kind of guilty about doing my part to help out the dairy industry. It was the first dairy of any substance I'd deliberately bought since mid-January. (Not being a vegan extremist, I do occasionally buy junk foods having trace amounts of whey.)
Back at my place, Gretchen and Sarah the Korean were off somewhere in the forest, but eventually they returned and we had a brunch of leftovers out on the deck. It was the first time in the past few days where it was uncomfortably hot in the sun, but we managed to get a brief brunch in before retreating indoors.

This afternoon Gretchen and I drove to Uptown Kingston to meet our friends from Zena Road (Chris and Kirsty, referred to occasionally herein as "photogenic vegan Buddhists"). The idea was to participate in Kingston's First Saturday art walk, when galleries throw open their doors and offer free wine and finger foods (such events used to contribute a big part of my alcohol diet back when I was young and poor). Sadly, though, Uptown was looking more run-down and vacant than we'd ever seen it. Galleries we'd once visited were now shuttered, and even those still in operation had chosen not to participate this weekend. Perhaps Uptown Kingston should be leveled and turned into a corn field (well, all of it except for our favorite Indian restaurant).
Down on the Rondout we encountered more activity, and more galleries were open. None of the art was particularly striking, although Gretchen seemed to like one painter who specialized in dreamy photorealistic depictions of cloudy skies.
Eventually we found our way down to KMOCA, partially run by our friend Deborah and also a guy named Michæl I've talked with before. Today we had a long rambling conversation that started out being about hydronic hot water but ended up being about IPAs and how great Oregon is. I did eventually get to break away and look at some art, but it was a bit of a downer, a something of a graphic novel spread out in panels on the walls telling the dreary tale of what happens when you're a legal alien and are caught doing some minor crime, such as selling drugs. (You end up being deported to your home country and there isn't much that anyone can do, thanks to Newt Gingrich's Contract With Future Teabaggers; there was a This American Life about it.)
By this point Chris and Kirsty had left and the show was winding down, so Deborah and Michæl joined Gretchen and me at the Armadillo (a few doors down Abeel) and we had dinner together. Later we were joined by Bob, Deborah's latest boyfriend (another triumph of internet dating). He looked like someone one might find hanging out in a New Jersey laundromat, but Deborah says he's great.

I came home to find my main computer, which had been put into standby, was engaged in a weird cyclic behavior where it would kick on, make some fan noises, and then kick off. It would do this every few seconds. No problem; computers are only somewhat predictable and even demonstrate emergent behavior at times. So I restarted the thing. But still it was messed up. Unplugging the power supply and waiting ten seconds is a fix for almost every sort of basic computer problem, but even this failed to get it working. So I replaced the power supply. This is an unpleasant job within the confining space where the computer lives (and I didn't want to go through the chore of unplugging everything and dragging it to a more convenient place). But even with a new power supply it failed to start up. By this point I was feeling sort of desperate and sweat was dripping everywhere (the night had taken a turn for the hot). I tried reseating the memory, reseating the CPU, and removing a PCI ethernet card that isn't presently in use. None of this helped. Now I was thinking about all the work I have to do on my computer and the hell I was going to have to go through to migrate to a different machine. Then, as a last-ditch attempt to get the computer working, I tried resetting its BIOS CMOS memory, that tiny piece of battery-backed storage where the real time clock and basic hardware settings are kept. Amazingly, this was all it took and the computer booted up perfectly.
This begs the question: how did the BIOS CMOS settings get screwed up? The computer had been working fine earlier today and I hadn't made any changes. To get to the BIOS CMOS, you have to access a special set of screens when the computer is booting up. Perhaps a cosmic particle from a distant supernova passed through one of the cells of the BIOS CMOS and changed a zero to a one, making the computer's clock run twice as fast as it had. I don't know. But I'm glad the fix was as easy as it was. Next time I'm going to try resetting the BIOS CMOS before trying to swap out or reseat the hardware.

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