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:
   bumblebees on plantago
Monday, August 9 2010

location: five miles south of Staunton, rural Augusta County, Virginia

Last night I'd loaded up my father's new little MP3 player with 700 megabytes of familiar classical music MP3s as well as several gigabytes of old Kunstlercast podcasts. He'd said he wasn't interested in listening to talk anymore, but he's such a stick in the mud at this point I don't think he knows what he likes. That sort of thing used to be right up his alley (for example, until his recent problems, he'd been a big fan of Rachel Maddow, reason enough for my mother to have installed DirecTV).
Josh Furr, my perennial Stauton friend (and career garbageman), came by to visit this morning. As with most people his age, nothing much is new in his life. He is seeing a woman he met via posts in a print publication, which made me immediately dubious of her quality as a mate. At this point in history, anyone met through an offline matchmaking service is probably a troglodyte. Then again, Josh is sort of a troglodyte himself. He offered to pay me some absurd amount of money to enter his profile into an online dating site even though he actually owns (but doesn't know how to use) a laptop. He also was interested in me finding him an online source of ephedrine (or "white crosses," as he calls them). That was easy; I reached into my pocket and produced a blisterpack of pseudoephedrine. He was amazed, claiming that stuff is almost impossible to get in Virginia. (I think it's probably as easy to get here as it is there; he's just too paranoid to give the pharmacist his photo ID when he buys it.)
Eventually I drove into town and visited my father, setting him up with his new MP3 player and doing my best to show him how to work it. It had five buttons: volume up, volume down, advance track, back track, and play/pause button. Still, my father shrugged his shoulders and bemoaned how "complicated" it was. I asked how he could stand just sitting in a bed staring at a wall all day, and he said that he's not interested in intellectual pursuits any more (and that includes television as well as reading). All he cares about are, as he put them, "animal comforts." I told him that it might help him psychologically if he managed to get his mind onto something other than his troubles and anxieties. He agreed "intellectually," but that didn't really do him much good because he seemed unwilling to actually follow my advice.
Meanwhile his roommate Ralph had gotten into some sort of scuffle with a staffer and threatened someone with a walker. When a social worker came by to talk to him about it, he accused all involved of "telling lies." I was getting the feeling that his wife probably had justification for dumping him off in a nursing home.
I returned to Blue Mountain Coffee and spent a couple more hours doing work. I left well before their ridiculous five o'clock closing time.
Back at the doublewide, Josh had been hanging out all afternoon doing little more than waving at the occasional cars on Stingy Hollow Road (and now it seems there are far fewer cars than I remember from my young adulthood).
At Kroger, where Italian food is in the ethnic aisle, I'd bought a sixpack of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, and at around five PM (when I allow myself to start drinking), I decided it was time to crackabrew. At the time Josh, Hoagie, and I were all standing around in the circular above-ground pool in back of the doublewide. It's a little slice of Redneck Heaven, hidden away from the world with a treated-timber-deck view of nothing but abandoned body shop and nature. For the past two summers Hoagie has managed to get it operating, complete with chlorine and filtration. When I was going off to get the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, Hoagie expressed an interest in having one herself. She's not exactly a drinker, and her interest in beers seems frozen in that well-known catalog of pre-microbrew-revolution good beers (Becks Dark and Dos Equis). So I said sure she could try one, but she should take a sip to see if she liked it, that it was a special beer and not to everyone's taste. I didn't expect her to like it (Gretchen, for example, finds IPAs undrinkably bitter). But surprisingly she liked it, drinking the whole thing nearly as fast I drank mine. It tasted like Hurricane Kitty (perhaps the best East Coast IPA), but it's 7.2 % alcohol. She went on to have another one, becoming as drunk as I've seen her in at least 20 years. Hey, her husband is in a nursing home, so she has her excuse.
For the past few months Hoagie has been good friends with the woman Sar&schwa; living in a small doublewide trailer on the same side of the street as the doublewide Hoagie had bought (and where I stay). This is on a small parcel of land that is completely surrounded by my parents' property. Sar&schwa; is in her 50s and renting from the guy who used to live there. She's one of these marginal down-on-her luck types, the kind with an abusive son-in-law, a job at Target, and numerous health problems including breast cancer and leukemia. But somehow she's become my mother's best friend. Hoagie goes over there frequently for coffee and has even unofficially adopted one of Sar&schwa;'s granddaughters as her own granddaughter (this was the one for whom she was considering buying a laptop). Tonight load up mp3s josh 1 dad 2 mp3 noodle surprise neighbor visit

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