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:
   term they prefer
Friday, August 20 2010
I got up early this morning to continue work on the web development project that dogged me before I left for Virginia and then devoured hours of my vacation in various coffee shops. I knew there were some additional fields of information that the ultimate client wanted to collect from those registering on the site, but I didn't bother to investigate what those were until this morning; I'd been focusing on other aspects of the site. And that's when I discovered that what was wanted was a whole big complicated survey. It was a web developer's worst nightmare, except in a way it really wasn't because, unlike everything else related to the site and the company itself, the work was extremely straightforward. So I banged out some HTML to make the survey form and then banged out a form processor to capture the data. It was so last minute I didn't worry much about data integrity. When, for example, a survey item could be answered with several checkboxes and a freeform answer, I just concatenated all of them together and stuffed them into a long varchar. I also hacked my way around all of Drupal's limitations and esoteric, weakly-documented data methods, making it all behave like traditional spaghetti-code PHP. Frameworks are all well and good until you actually need to get shit done. In the end I was able to create the survey in under two hours. The rest of the day was spent mopping up extraneous details.

This evening Ray and Nancy had us come over to their new house in Old Hurley for drinks. Adam and Linda (Nancy's sister) were visiting, as was Sarah the Vegan. We brought our dogs, and this might have been the first time Adam and Linda's dog Buzzy met our dogs. Buzzy is a young black Labrador, a replacement for Libby (who quickly succumbed to disease over a year ago). Unlike Libby, Buzzy is wild and aggressive, and it didn't take long for Eleanor and him to get in a fight. He had to be kept on a leash for the rest of the evening (and even so, he managed to piss Sally off at one point and she made a show of her fangs, something she rarely does).
Much of the clutter from earlier in the week had been organized away, and the house was looking nice. Unlike their cluttered Park Slope walkup with its dingy paint, non-Euclidean floors, and sinkless bathroom, this house gives their stuff room to breath and finally one can see that the things they've accumulated through the years are tasteful and coherent. Ray gave also gave us a tour of his studio out beside the garage, a place he spends a lot of his time. The only thing that space needs is more comfortable furniture. And perhaps a way to heat it once the cold weather comes.
At some point all of us were sitting around the dining room table drinking various alcoholic beverages and eating finger foods (pistachios, crackers, chips, hummus, grape leaves, and cashews that tasted like a burning hatred of America). This particular group of people always makes for fun free-range conversation. Nothing is beyond the pale. Linda likes to bring up the story I once told about the time a mentally-challenged neighbor girl wandered into my house and started playing piano while I snuck out and fled into the forest to avoid interacting with her.
We got to talking about whether or not "retarded" is an offensive term, which many now believe it to be. But I reminded the assembled that "retarded" is itself a euphemism, a Latinized (and thus sanitized) version of "slow." I said that when I was a kid it was common for my peers to throw around words like "idiot" and "stupid" when talking about children with mental handicaps, and when I would use such words, my mother, who was then studying to become a special education teacher, would chastise me and say that the correct word was "retarded." (That said, the noun "retard" has always been offensive.) This led into a general discussion of socially-appropriate terms, which inevitably led to some fairly racially-insensitive gestures: finger-feathers representing Indians, touching the middle of the forehead to represent other Indians, and finger-aided distortion of eye shapes to simulate the stereotypical features of East Asians. I wondered aloud, "What if the only way we could mention someone's race was by pantomime?" And then, out of nowhere, I said, "The term they prefer is 'fudge-packers'!" Having gone there, I backtracked, saying that every time I hear the word "fudge-packer" I imagine someone seated before a cardboard box wrapping pieces of fudge in wax paper and lovingly placing them therein. This reminded Ray of an occasion at his workplace where a customer actually decided to get his fudge "to go," resulting in much kitchen-side mirth.
Sarah the Vegan told us about how Wilma has thrived in her small apartment since being rehomed from our place. Even Wilma's seemingly-unmendable stinky ear condition is better. A veterinarian was able to remove a polyp and prescribe an antibiotic and now the production of stank is much reduced. Gretchen always claimed to like the smell of Wilma's stinky ear. Infection smells good to her. This provoked an absurd riff that had me developing a gangrenous foot which I had to fight to keep Gretchen away from: "You only love me for my gangrenous foot!" and "Stop humping my gangrenous foot!"

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next