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:
   escape to the James
Thursday, August 12 2010

location: Little High Street, Charlottesville, Virginia

I've said it before and I'll probably say it many more times: there is no hangover quite like the sort one gets after a night of overindulgence in India Pale Ales. Poor Nathan had to struggle into work; all I had to do was struggle to my feet. I eventually went into the kitchen, where I drank coffee and chatted with Janine for a bit. The kid was off at "day camp," a childcare option I'd forgotten existed. Eventually Janine gave me a tour of the upstairs, which has been occupied living space now for years. Still, there are bits of trim that have yet to be tacked in place and the entire bathroom is still awaiting a tile job. Obessive-compulsives they are not.
Eventually I drove out to Barrack's Road Shopping Centre in hopes of drinking coffee in a place where I could be sure I wouldn't see anyone I knew. The day oppressively hot, though it probably wasn't actually as bad as my wounded comfort sensors were indicating. I wasn't too excited about the coffee shop choices, so I ended up in the Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble. All I did was freeload; I sat at a table and ordered nothing, taking advantage of the air conditioning and the free wifi. (Starbucks has only had a policy of providing free wifi for a few months.) [REDACTED]
Via email, I soon discovered that there was some disappointment with the work I'd been doing remotely for a client who really should have been letting me have my vacation in peace. At first I felt like fuck it, I should just quit this job. It's been a stick in my eye for too long and for too little money, and here they were being ungrateful at me while I was on vacation. But gradually I realized most of the problem was related to communication. I'd been unable to check new work into a repository from the road. On top of that, testing that should have happened hadn't, so to the extent that things were broken or developed wrong, it wasn't completely my fault. Still, this isn't the sort of feedback one wants to have on a sweltering hangover day in August.
Eventually I relocated to the Downtown Mall and did some more work at the Mudhouse, whose coffee (I've decided) isn't actually much to my liking. It used to be a really cool place but these days there's something just a little bit depressing about it. It might just be that reminds me of younger, hungrier days, and when I look around I realize the people are mostly younger and hungrier and have a lot of shit they don't know yet.
At some point I started feeling kind of down in the dumps, and it wasn't just my hangover that was my problem. I was a long way from home. I tried calling Jessika but couldn't reach her. My repairs to the Subaru's leaking fuel filler tube were still failing. My remote employers were unhappy with my work. My father was in a nursing home. I had a peristent infection of some kind under my chin that was refusing to heal. So I decided to get away from the cluttered viewsheds of Charlottesville and be by myself for awhile. Once I realized how much my fuel system was still leaking, I thought it good to get moving so as not to develop a large puddle of gasoline beneath my car.
I drove down Route 20 to Scottsville, past the yellow house that once was Big Fun (there's a brand new wooden fence out in front). I stopped for supplies at the Food Lion that we used to shop at in the days of Big Fun. [REDACTED]
The countryside around Scottsville is about as beautiful as one could hope to drive through in the Middle Atlantic. Tall thunderheads were creating interesting patterns of reflected light, making fields and forest a supernatural green. At one point I came upon a group of Black Vultures along a fence row. One of them had his wings outstretched to dry; evidently he and his compadres had been drenched in a downpour.
I ended up at Warren Ferry, the site from which my friends and I have traditionally launched our tubes when tubing down the James. There was a single car in the parking lot but no people at all. It was just me and that big gorgeous river.
My clothes needed a wash, so I emptied my pockets and walked out into the river fully-clothed. The water was warm, perhaps just a little too warm. Beyond the middle of the river, the water was deeper than my neck, and because I'm not a confident swimmer, I decided not to cross. So I ended up parking myself against a large submerged boulder. From there I could see a Bald Eagle high in a dead tree to the east. Occasionally I'd hear a splash and see that eagle laboring to fly up off the river, perhaps with something he had caught. [REDACTED]
When I got out of the water, I decided to try making further repairs to my Subaru's gas filler tube. As before, I jacked it up, removed the right rear wheel, and went to work. Unfortunately, I couldn't dissolve away enough of the leaking gasoline to make the new epoxy stick in the places it needed to go, so the repair ended up being a failure. A truck showed up while I was doing these things and I saw that it was a pair of African American gentlemen drinking beers. They looked around, saw that nothing much was happening, and drove away.
I also made a stop at Hatton Ferry, which is closer to Scottsville and traditionally the place where our tubing adventures end.
In the end I decided that I was in no shape for further socializing, so I drove back to Staunton and went to bed early in the doublewide. My brother Don was there watching a DVD he'd just bought and he came into my bedroom to tell me his lastest theory about interactions between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. But I was having none of it; he'd just told me that theory not ten minutes before, and it wasn't very compelling.

Black vultures west of Scottsville.

A meadow near Hatton Ferry.

Hatton Ferry. It's semi-operational and continues to run as a preserved cultural artifact.

The mighty James River at a set of rapids above Hatton Ferry.

Clouds lit by the sun west of Afton Mountain on the drive to my parents' place tonight.

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