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:
   the Baby lives on
Friday, December 21 2012
Last night Marie (aka "the Baby") kept us up with her incessant pacing about, inconclusive visits to the litter box, and inability to clean her ass after finally having success (probably on the floor somewhere). She's been mostly shitting on the floor for years now, and it's something we've grown accustomed to. But this pacing about and complete lack of grooming is a new thing and suggested to us that she is no longer happy. We love animals, particularly our animals, but we're not the kind of people who believe in keeping a creature alive until it is a puddle of goo. Life is for the living and there's no sense in wasting it on the dying. To our view, the Baby had begun to die. So today Gretchen called our housecall vet to set up a euthanasia appointment for the Baby, and in another call I got it set to 3:00pm. Though I believe in euthanasia and thought it best for the Baby at this juncture, noting the time ticking down to when the vet would arrive was an especially dreary way to spend an afternoon. To distract myself, I moved Gretchen's workstation (Badger) into her newly-renovated first floor office and hooked up all the necessary wires. As part of the clearing out of that space, I'd removed a palimpsest of old wires from beneath Gretchen's desk. They'd been accumulating there for ten years and some wires harkened back to earlier technology, when printers were still connected to computers via parallel cables. Or when sending chirpy noises over a phone line was a way to be on the internet.
Our housecall vet arrived about 20 minutes late, and I showed her upstairs to the bedroom, where Gretchen and the Baby were lying. Instead of just giving the Baby her euthanasia (as the Hurley vet had done with Sally), the housecall vet gave her an exam and declared that she was actually reasonably healthy. Not that we wanted to argue, but we said we were familiar with the Baby's situation and had decided she should be euthanized. What followed was a back and forth, with the vet saying things like, "old age is not a disease," "believe me, when she's ready, you'll know," and, when the Baby went off to get a drink of water, "You should never euthanize an animal that tries to flee from the euthanasia." It was pretty clear that our visiting vet did not want to euthanize the Baby, and neither Gretchen and I wanted to argue about it. It's hard enough reaching a decision like this without then having to argue about it. We know from her other cases that our visiting vet is the sort who tries to keep animals alive well after they should have been put to sleep. In her care are cats with blood in the stool and tumors bursting from their foreheads. So we shouldn't have even called her; she's shown herself to be terrible for the really tough decisions that one must ultimately make with companion animals. I'm just happy that she never returned our call the day we had Sally euthanized.
Not wanting to get out of bed after such a unpleasant, emotionally-taxing experience, we told the vet to show herself the way out and to send us the bill. And the Baby kept on being alive. By this point I was feeling somewhat nauseated, but within an hour the nausea had passed.

This evening Gretchen and I found ourselves watching The Hunger Games, a depiction of a dystopian future America wherein the oppressed people in the hinterland periodically are made to offer up child combatants for an annual fight to the death. The purpose of the fight is to give the people of the hinterland hope and the people of the capital city the entertainment that simply being in the top 1% fails to provide. The dynamic between the capital city and the hinterland is depicted as broadly similar to the relationship between ancient Rome and its provinces. While the people of the City wear 19th Century finery, heavy makeup, and dye their hair bright unnatural colors, the people of the hinterland look like black and white Dickensian paupers. As for the fight to the death, the Hunger Games of the title, most of the way it was depicted came across as something of a hybrid between Survivor and American Idol, conducted in a fenced-in a wilderness full of cameras, fireball hurlers, and hidden cages full of Pit-Bull-Lions. Before all that, though, the contestants are treated like royalty, dressed in fancy high-tech clothing, given vapid nationally-televised interviews, and only then set against one another to compete. The only real difference from contemporary reality shows is the stakes. All the rest is there, including the arbitrary changing of the rules to suit emergent needs. Our focus is a contestant named Katniss, who is given all the common traits of a heroine. By contrast, some of the other contestants are portrayed as comic book evil, and (in keeping with convention) the horribleness of their deaths is in direct proportion to the horribleness of their personalities. Gretchen enjoyed the movie a lot more than I did; I found its story arc unsatisfyingly simple and predictable, and the inevitable love story, with its chastity and Katniss' well-scrubbed circa-2000 N'Syncesque love interest, while pitch-perfect for an eleven year old white girl just graduating from unicorns and rainbows, was a subtle (if completely survivable) form of discomfort for an old fart like me. Also, the movie would have been about 10% more watchable had the scene with those CGI Pit-Bull-Lions been completely edited out. That said, though, the The Hunger Games has one impressive virtue I've never before seen in a movie aimed at tweens: a surprisingly-convincing cinematic depiction of what it is like to hallucinate. That scene makes me want to read its review at

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