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:
   Prius in the snow
Saturday, February 21 2015
As you know, for some reason I've put hours of work into trying to prepare a worthless old laptop so that one of Gretchen's former prisoner-students will have something better than a smartphone to write papers on. I've had no luck getting WindowsXP to recognize any of the devices in the latop, and none of the drivers from have worked either. So today I tried a totally different approach. I did some research and found a promising (and fairly old) distribution of Linux called VectorLinux, which will supposedly work nicely even on an old computer with 256 megabytes of RAM. I've been looking for a distribution like this for a long time. Hoping for the best, I proceeded to blow away the crappy Windows XP installation and install VectorLinux. It went fairly well, though the installation is a bit more hands-on than other contemporary installations such as Debian or Ubuntu. VectorLinux clearly derives from Slackware, the first Linux I ever worked with, and the installation process looked exactly like something I did back in 1999. Once the installation concluded, I was delighted to find that the VL installation was actually more responsive that WindowsXP hd been. Better still, all the internal devices (such as sound and ethernet) worked without any effort on my part. Up until today, WindowsXP has always been the best solution for getting old Intel-based hardware to transform into a usable generic computer. But now it's looking like VectorLinux is a much better choice. The UI that gets installed is a bit garish, but then so too is the default WindowsXP UI, which apprarently hails from the design philosophy of, "if we make computers look more like clowns, people will be less intimidated by them."

Though it had been snowing on and off for most of the day, by this evening the snow seemed to have tapered off, so Gretchen and I kept a pre-arranged date with Eva & Sandor at Rick's Woodfired Pizza in Woodstock. On the drive there, though, the roads proved surprisingly bad. I fishtailed noticeably as I turned off 28A onto Dike Road and took it slow from there.
At Rick's, we all sat at the bar in hopes of improving the experience and making it a bit less formal (I prefer the more relaxed dining atmosphere at Catskill Mountain Pizza). Unfortunately, though, this proved to be a mistake. The bartender, a young woman with nothing much to do but compulsively flip glasses in her hand and polish them free of smudges, was trapped in a tiny area no more than five feet away. She'd evidently watched a lot of bar scenes in movies and felt the need to act like she was part of our four-way conversation, laughing at our jokes and sometimes even offering her own insights. It was awkward and unpleasant; clearly she was too much of a dorkus to be in this line of work, though according to Eva, earlier she'd told them that working as a bartender had always been her dream. But at least the pizza was good, though the beer choices tonight weren't too great. Sam Adam's Rebel IPA from the tap is not as good as the same beer from a bottle, and the Belgian-style Ommegang Game of Thrones didn't really tickle my fancy like most beers from Ommegang do. Eva and Sandor paid for our meal as a combo belated birthday present, though they also gave us a large number of dehydrated mushrooms (not the psychedelic kind, unfortunately).
After dinner, we went back to Eva & Sandor's place on Maverick Road in West Hurley and spent a lot of time talking about the weirdos in Eva's family. Their problems ranging from manic depression to hemophilia (the genetic disease that famously ran in European royal families). All the talk of bleeding led me to tell an amusing story from back in high school, in either 8th or 12th grade (both years when I had a Mr. Bill Dillon as an English teacher at Riverheads High School). I was always a smart aleck in school, and at some point Mr. Dillon had had enough of my lip and threw one of those fat little English text books at me. Freakishly it hit me in the nose and instigated an enormous nose bleed (something I used to get fairly regularly in those days; it's a something I inherited from my mother). It made the assault look much worse than it actually was, and my classmates were all horrified. They probably assumed that Mr. Dillon's days as a teacher were numbered, but I just went to the bathroom, cleaned up the blood, and never lodged a complaint. I knew that the blood in my nose was on a hair trigger and I'd also realized that I'd had it coming. Still, the fact that I took no action must have had some effect on the way Mr. Dillon and my classmates regarded me from then on.
Gretchen misjudged how far she needed to back up as she backed out of Eva & Sandor's driveway, ultimately backing into something on the other side of the street. [REDACTED]the Prius was completely undamaged, suggesting that it is made of stronger material than the Honda Civic Hybrid had been. (Gretchen backed into two different things with that car and tore huge holes in the back bumper both times.) Leaning against the Prius and pushing with my feet against a fence, I was able to dislodge our car from a snowbank, and we were out of there unlike Vladimir.
Snow was coming down rapidly now, and Gretchen drove most of the way home at about 18 miles per hour. She was upset with me for failing to completely fix the Subaru, which seems to be in need of a new battery. I'd been hoping warm (or at least warmer) weather would arrive and the old one would start functioning again. But I suppose that's foolish when it has us taking our life in our hands by driving through snowstorms in a Prius, which is about the worst car for such conditions. It has thin tires providing poor traction, though it has increased inertia when braking, accelerating, or going around turns due to the heavy mass from its large battery pack.
There was one good thing that happened during our long drive home. We were listening to the Heavy Light Show on WKZE and heard a song we'd never heard before by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It entitled "Effigy," and it was gorgeous. It's always great to hear unknown songs from familiar bands. Up until hearing this song tonight, I didn't really know how to feel about CCR. I'd heard all their famous songs so often that I couldn't really judge the band; all I knew was that there was no reason to hear "Down On the Corner" ever again. Another band whose unfamiliar songs are always a delight is the Kinks. It makes me wonder if perhaps there is a streaming station that only plays obscure songs from famous bands. I would love that station.
Back at the house, I continued drinking and smoking pot by myself into the wee hours. At some point I started watching PJ Harvey videos on Youtube. I don't know why I'd never done that before.

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