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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").



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   leaping maggots
Monday, July 22 2013
After walking the dogs in the forest, I had the day to dick around doing whatever I wanted to. I was in a good mood because I got a good lead after updating my resume on Dice.com. So I took some pseudoephedrine and mowed the lawn. Temperatures had cooled off a bit over the weekend and now highs were in the low 80s, a good 15 degrees below where they'd been a few days ago.
Later clouds piled up and several rainstorms, each a bit stronger than the previous, came through. It gave me the opportunity to drain the rain barrel at the northwest corner of the house. It had collected leaves over the years before I installed the screen and the water had turned a bit funky. This wouldn't be a problem if all we used the water for was watering the garden or mixing concrete (the two main uses of that water), but recently Gretchen and I have been using it for taking outdoor showers.
Before the rains came, it hadn't been clear that there would be any, so I'd gone around the house watering all the plants that live in pots (since they tend to dry out faster than plants in the ground). But after watering the spider plant, I saw a most unusual thing. Tiny white maggots were climbing out of the soil and then somehow flinging themselves into the air. For a while there were so many of them doing this that it resembled popcorn popping. After some research, I learned that the maggots were larval cheese flies. Such flies feed on dead animals, excerement, and fungus. I suspect that they'd been living in the urine-damped wads of World's Best Cat Litter that I've taken to burying in the potting soil; what with its ample supply of cellulose and nitrogen, it really seems to boost the growth of any plants nearby. You can watch the cheese fly maggots leaping here:


For the rest of the day I tried meter out my intoxicants in a way that would keep me alert, happy, creative, and not sleepy. So I went back and forth between alcohol and tea while eating nothing except pre-packaged soup. As always, some of what I did was troll Facebook, where the my goal is always the pithy statement thst encapsulates within itself the distilled logical reason for why some widely-believed bit of nonsense must never again appear in discussions. How relevant was it that Trayvon smoked marijuana or has been photographed giving the finger? These things certainly don't provide definitive proof that he is a dangerous criminal who must be confronted amd, if necessary, fatally shot. But they are pretty much all the George Zimmerman supporters have to work with, and so you keep seeing it mentioned in the threads, along with increased casual slinging of words like nigger, a shorthand for the illogical unease white self-declared "non-racists" feel when society demographically shifts in a direction for which their parents and educations did not prepare them.
My other project was my continued effort to make XBMC box into a usable method of watching movies acquired from the grey market (if you will). In the past I've had problems with SAMBA, the Linux technology that permits a Linux box to access Windows shared directories. SAMBA used to have reliability issues that would reliably crop up whenever I was in process of copying, say, 20 gigabytes of data. The copy would fail half way through and I'd be left to clean up the mess that an aborted copy always causes. Happily, though, SAMBA in XBMC is solid enough that there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to host the movie files in the media computer at all. I can just stream them from the computers they are hosted on.
In playing around with XBMC, I've found that it actually remembers where you were in a movie when you interrupt the playback. In this way, it behaves like a DVR. I wish my podcasting devices had this feature.

As part of my "proof of concept" for the XBMC box, this evening I found myself watching a movie from 1992 called Sneakers, which I probably downloaded after seeing it in a list of "best techy movies." 20 years later, it seems embarrassingly dated, and not just because of the technology portrayed. Actually, the technology was great; I love seeing old depictions of the "cutting edge." Computer screens in Sneakers tended to show mostly DOS-style prompts or windowless graphic displays, even though what we know became the future of computer displays (the Macintosh) was already eight years old. (Indeed, in 1992 I'd already been using a Macintosh for three years.) There was, though, a brief glimpse of what was clearly a Macintosh display. It looked to be displaying System 6 in the form of several windows crowded into 640 by 400 pixels.
More than anything else, what made Sneakers seem dated was the clear dichotomy between the cool & sexy (if somewhat craggily long-in-the-tooth, as Robert Redford was in 1992) leading man, who was shown to be mostly a technological illiterate, and the non-photogenic (and, in one case, gatuitously paranoid) dregs of humanity, who were nevertheless experts in all matters technological. In movies, that once reliably-unbreakable character dichotomy hasn't been in evidence since the Matrix.
Another thing that made the movie seem dated was the frumpy sexlessness of the leading ladies. Recently I've been noticing this in movies from the early 90s: women in that period are dressed in formless body-concealing outfits that might as well be potato sacks, and often their hairdos look to have been specifically constructed to make them look plain. It's all a lot more subtle than the repulsive plastic exhuberance of 80s fashion, but it's still a long way from the demure naturalness of the early 70s, a style that has more-or-less returned, albeit now plucked hairless and slathered in tattoos.
Sneakers was an impossible movie to watch all in one go, and I found it more enjoyable once I started smoking pot.


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