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:
   passive aggression in Tillson
Saturday, December 15 2012
For lunch the plan was for us to go to Tara and Brian's off grid homestead near the north end of the Shawangunk range in rural Tillson. We stopped on the way at Davenport's (the produce market) to pick up Deborah, who was coming from her place in Olive Bridge. Deborah had been wanting to see Tara and Brian's place for some time. Carpooling made it so Tara didn't have to give driving instructions, which tend to be complicated for places whose addresses cannot be entered into Google Maps.
On the surface, what happened today was all very straightforward. We arrived with Deborah and our dogs at Tara and Brian's place (though the first words out of Tara's mouth were passively-aggressively about Ramona, "Does she still bite?" — in other words, did she still have the mouthy habits common to puppies? Indeed she still did!) Lunch was a nutloaf and at least two kinds of salads, both of which contained seaweed, followed at some point by yet another apple crisp. Conversation was mostly shop talk, mostly between Deborah and Tara about their nascent educational career paths. Only slightly more interesting, from my perspective, were updates from Brian's career as a certifier of agricultural operations. It would have been more interesting to hear about everyone's side projects: their art and their music. Nobody asked me about my career life of late, which, though lucrative, is difficult to spin into an interesting story.
Meanwhile the dogs were carrying out their doggy business, first freaking out Tara by cleaning all the flavor packets from the cat litter box upstairs, then roughhousing in the living room, and finally curling up on the furniture. A passively-aggressive question from Tara about that final one concerned their potential for shedding. "When I sweep the floor at our house," I assured her, "I mostly see cat hair, followed by some human hair and then barely any dog hair at all."
But the dogs were being crazy enough that it was best that they do their craziness out in the yard, where it was sunny and (at least for this time of year) somewhat warm. It didn't take long for the dogs to find a large amount of cooked turkey dumped in the woods, an indication of the secret carnivorous habits Tara and Brian are so bad at concealing from Gretchen. It took Ramona more than five minutes to eat her way through a plump turkey drumstick, though she ate the whole thing (including all the bones). Meanwhile Eleanor was off eating some other part. For something so delicious, she likes to go off to an undisclosed location so as to lessen the chance that her little piece of edible heaven will be snatched away. The only thing that could distract them from their carnivorous revelry was the sound of strangers talking as they walked the nearby Rail Trail (several hundred feet away just inside the forest on the other side of a lowland field). Brian says he often overhears very personal conversations being had on the Rail Trail, since people assume they are alone in the wilderness. Ramona and Eleanor abandoned whatever tiny shards of turkey bone they were working on to run across the field, barking all the way (Ho! Ho! Ho!). I ran out and yelled for them to come back, but their instinct was too strong. A fence along the edge of the field slowed the dogs long enough for the pedestrians to walk away, but eventually the dogs found a way through. Gretchen thought it was absurd that I was so concerned, but I thought it made sense to at least give the appearance that it was important for me that our dogs not bother people.

Davenport's was closing down for the season so all their produce was half off. Gretchen and I bought a whole basket of things and Deborah bought a lot too, including some sort of Brassica with a broccoli-like head that looked like a computer-generated fractal. While we were being rung up but the cashier, Gretchen suspected for a moment that she might be being ripped-off, and this led to a tensely passive-aggressive exchange. I'm never comfortable when rage boils beneath the surface despite a façade of civility. If we were all packing guns to keep safe from the psychos, the fake façade of civility would be that much thicker.

This evening I drove out to 9W mostly to get a resupply of booze, though I was also in the market for some sort of filing solution sized to accommodate Hudson Valley Seed Library seed packets. I have an existing filing solution, but its headroom is insufficient and so the packets must be folded over. Lowes had a perfectly-sized filing solution, but it was covered with fake leather and couldn't be closed. Lowes did, however, have beautiful dimmable LED candelabra bulbs, the first of these I've ever seen in a big box store.
While in Lowes' lighting section, I noticed they were selling children's nightlights designed to protect a static image onto a wall or ceiling. Here was a real opportunity to provide children something educational to stare at as they drift off to sleep. But what does Lowes actually sell? Here's the list from their website:

  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  • Princess (some sort of Disneyesque action figure; ask your niece)
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Cars (the animated movie)
  • The Solar System
There you have it. Only one of the five is the least bit educational (and then only marginally so; the planets don't even look to be labeled). The rest are all corporate brands connected to solar systems of products. What does it even mean for a kid to be staring at a beloved trademark every night as he drifts off to sleep? And why would a parent inflict that on a child (even one who sobbingly demands it)? I was an unusual kid I know, but what I would have liked instead would have been a diorama of dinosaurs or perhaps a labeled map of the world. While dinosaurs might not be popular with the many creationists shopping at Lowes, who would argue with developing an intuitive sense of world geography?
My hunt for a seed packet filing system took me to the mall, where I waded through the Saturday Night mall scene in the way I always do: partly ironically, and partly as a space alien driving a humanoid surface probe. The brands, the products, the shopping, it made the individuals in the crowd seem as if they had given up conscious control and were being manipulated by parasites of their own.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next