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:
   Death Star customs
Monday, May 16 2011

location: Clover satellite facility, The Beehive Hostel, Rome, Italy

I'd set alarms on both the iPhone and our room's clock radio, but these proved unnecessary because we awoke before they would have gone off (6:45am). We'd timed things and knew that even with my gimpy calf muscles we could walk from our room to out train platform in only two minutes. But my calves were almost completely functional now.
We didn't think we should take the time to get me coffee on the walk to our platform, but then it turned out that there is a coffee bar right there on the platform. Some things about Italy are just so fucking civilized!
Gretchen had done a little grocery shopping yesterday in Rome, and we'd gotten extra injera at the restaurant, so we had the makings for good train food on the ride to the airport.
The flight back to the Newark was remarkable for two reasons: there were no babies on board, and the flight wasn't full. There were actually enough seats near us for Gretchen to the pair of seats behind the two that had been allotted to us, giving us a little more room for attempting to get comfortable. As I get older, I'm finding airline comfort increasingly elusive. This could be because of changes in my body, but it might also be caused by the increased compression of coach class, whose seat pitch increases with every new airplane. Fortunately, Gretchen had a little tin of pills. Some were ambien and others were muscle relaxers. I tried one of the latter and it helped a little. So did watching a couple episodes of Nova: Science Now that I'd loaded on my laptop. As with the flight to Rome, our in-flight "strict vegetarian" meal was Indian in nature. It went well with injera.
Perhaps because of the nature of the prevailing westerlies, our airplane flew a little south of the great circle route the plane to Rome had taken. The flight to Newark took nearly nine hours.
Once we got off our plane, we were subjected to the Kafkaesque torment that American Immigration has become. Question: How do you know when your country has become a worldwide bully? Answer: It has to implement border checks as onerous as those used by the Death Star. We moved as a herd from our plane into a series of back-and-forth barricades similar to the ones used to funnel cattle into a slaughterhouse. Signage told us we were forbidden from using cellphones or other electronic equipment in this "secure area." Propagandistic video clips ran on various monitors welcoming us to America and its crowds of smiling faces and fields of waving grain. It took us a good 45 minutes to get through that line, partly because the airport seemed to be operating with half of its full staff of immigration officers. Another problem was that some of the immigration officers weren't working very hard; the one in whose subline we ended up in kept pausing between passport examinations to resume a texting conversation she was having on her cellphone. She asked if we really weren't bringing any food back from Italy (as I'd said on my immigration form), and I conceded that yes, I was bringing a little pasta. So she wrote pasta on the form and we ended up having to get our bags xrayed by the meatheads at customs. But they weren't looking for pasta, they were looking for bologna.
At some point we'd caught our EZWay shuttle, picked up our Subaru, and driven back to Hurley, where Sarah the Vegan had filled our refrigerator with prepared food so we wouldn't have to cook. The only bad thing that had happened while we were away was that Eleanor had broken off one of her toenails, which now stuck off at a weird angle and seemed to be causing her pain. Evidently there had been a lot of rain while we were away; in comparison to Tuscany, the Hudson Valley looked like a lush green jungle.

The coast of Italy along the Tyrrhenian Sea near Rome.

Coastal Italy.

Coastal Italy.

Coastal Italy.

Pianosa Island between Italy and Corsica.

Corsica. Note the snow on the mountains.

Beautiful clouds over the North Atlantic near Newfoundland.

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