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:
   hot day in early May
Monday, May 4 2015
Gretchen and I have crowns on the same tooth in our respective mouths. It's the top right molar nearest the wisdom tooth. I got mine fairly recent, while Gretchen got a root canal and a crown on hers several years ago. In Gretchen's mouth, that particular tooth is problematic; on the tongue side, the tooth is a normal height, but on the cheek side the tooth barely protrudes above the gumline. This has made fitting a crown a very difficult task, and it's become something of a money pit for our mutual dentist. The original crown took many attempts and adjustments before Gretchen was happy with it, but then several months ago it popped off while she was flossing. Today, finally, she had a second crown installed and it seemed to fit okay, at least for now.
When Gretchen returned from that dental appointment, she suddenly had the idea that we should make a run to the dump, something we hadn't done since September 29th of last year. It was a hot day, with temperatures peaking in the high-80s, and it had sapped my motivation (and I had other things I needed to be doing), so initially I talked Gretchen into waiting to do it tomorrow morning. But then I decided, what the hell, let's get it over with. And so began the process of loading seven months' worth of crap into both of our cars, a task that ended up taking us an hour. This was our first dump run involving the Prius, and we found that having two hatchbacks gave us surplus capacity despite the unusually-long time since our last run to the dump.
As we were loading our cars, our downhill neighbor caught sight of us and pulled into our driveway. He was having a bit of an emergency. His elderly wife had gone outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and now couldn't get up from where she was seated on the stoop. He needed my help to get her back into the house, and none of the people he would normally ask for help were available. I jumped into his truck and away we went.
Some months ago, Gretchen had talked to our downhill neighbor and he'd given her the impression that his wife was now disabled by senility. But when I came upon her sitting on the stoop, she was alert and conversant and, with a little reminder, was clear on who I was. Though he still drives and may even smoke cigars on occasion, her husband is nearing 90 himself and is morbidly obese. Indeed, it's a wonder he's as mobile as he is. Nevertheless, he was able to help me get his wife to her feet, where she could then use a walker to climb a few low steps to get into the house. But she was so weak that her strength quickly gave out and she slowly wilted to the floor, wailing in despair as she did so. Her husband had surprisingly little patience for her protests and discomfort, and they bickered openly in front of me like the old married couple they have been since well before I was born. She kept apologizing to me, saying she was so sorry to involve me, and hoping that I never end up as bad off as she now finds herself.
It turned out that, though she was fairly overweight, I was able to lift the poor woman to her feet all by myself using brute strength. From there, she was able to use the walker to navigate to a chair inside and sit down. [REDACTED] The old woman thanked me and added, "I always thought you were a good kid."
The old man explained that his wife had been in a nursing home, but several weeks ago they'd released her. Now, it was clear to both of them, she was going to have to go back. The whole thing, complete with the back-and-forth to the nursing home, reminded me of course of my father's final pathetic year or two of life. Outliving one's ability to move around one's home is a terrible fate.
My downhill neighbor insisted on driving me back home, though I could have easily walked. By nature, he's an upbeat kind of guy, and he was surprisingly matter-of-fact about his present circumstances. He did say that caring for his wife had become a full-time job, and he probably couldn't do it any more. I tried to make him feel better by telling him that my mother had recently had a similar situation regarding my father, though, I added, she'd also had my brother living with her, and that was helpful. "He's big & strong, though he's crazy as all hell," I added.
Back at the house, Gretchen and I finished loading the cars and then convoyed to the Hurley transfer station. As always, our dogs ran around free and pushed right up against the limits of tolerable behavior. But the guys at the transfer station love dogs almost as much as they love talking about the economics of running a dumpster rental business.

This evening Michæl (of Carrie & Michæl) came over for a dinner of hearty shell pasta & salad (his contribution was both beer and wine). We ate out on the east deck, talking mostly about Michæl's recent work as a NYFA judge. He said about 10% of grant proposals are performance art pieces involving writhing naked people, and they never get funded. Having applied (and been rejected) for NYFA grants in the past, seeing the process from the inside would, he said, help him in the future to avoid a lot of obvious mistakes that grant applicants routinely make. Most important of all: keep things concise and make every word count; the judges are too overworked to linger for long on pretentious bullshit or videos that don't immediately get to the point they are trying to make.
Having recently been to the Mana Contemporary show in Jersey City, I expressed dismay at how little original or meaningful art is being done and exhibited, and Michæl was largely in agreement. He did, however, describe a project he'd seen pitched to NYFA that was clever and new. Someone had found all the people having profiles with names identical to his and restaged some of their profile pictures, substituting himself in place of his doppelnamer. While it's possible for artists to just keep reliving abstract expressionism, color field painting, or writhing naked peopleism, new technologies such as social media open up whole new avenues for artistic expression.
The main reason Michæl had come over tonight was to begin watching the first season of Justified with Gretchen. I didn't want any part of that, so I retreated into the laboratory.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next