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:
   sunken place
Wednesday, March 15 2017
This morning I checked my computer and shit was blowing up on the Organization's email server. It turned out that the problem was in some code I'd written and deployed back on Friday. And of course it had worked fine then. But with code that gets hammered as hard as this does, the real test doesn't come until it has to handle a big mailing. Fortunately, this particular mailing was not a super-important one, and it provided the data I needed to find and fix a couple of bugs.
The day would continue with such stress-inducers for the rest of the day for us in the backend team. Later in the day, Ca drew our attention to a failure of a CSV import, and it proved to be the unforseen consequence of some architectural changes made to the way contacts are added to contact lists.
Meanwhile, the guy Gretchen had called to plow our driveway showed up early this afternoon and quickly plowed out most of our driveway (though he somehow managed to get his plow-pushing truck stuck at one point in the process). He was the same guy we'd had plow out our driveway on two other occasions during the long 14+ years we've lived here, though it had been many years since he'd last done the job (and that time had been years since he'd done it the time before). The last time he'd come (as I recall; I can't find an account of it), Gretchen and I had both been sick and over 20 inches of snow had fallen in a late-season nor'easter similar to yesterday's. This time, the problem was the weight of the snow and the deep drifts, coupled with the fact that I have a full-time job. The snowplow guy could only do so much, and then he left it to us to dig our cars out. He'd be back after we got them out of the way to finish the job. Gretchen was initially overwhelmed just by the task of digging out the cars, particularly given the ridge of plowed snow partly blocking them in. But it didn't take long for me to dig out a path for them to back straight out. For the Prius, I dug the driver's side and rear totally clear, but for the Subaru I only dug the rear clear. When it came time to get it out, I climbed inside via the hatchback and clambered over the seats to get behind the wheel, thereby avoiding the deep snow blocking access from any other direction. I was able to back it out and get it to the road despite over a foot of snow blocking the windshield. Gretchen did something similar with the Prius. We were both able to get most of the snow off the front of the cars by driving forward and braking suddenly, though this put so much snow in Dug Hill Road that I had to shovel it off. Meanwhile, snowplow dude finished the job.
This evening near the end of my workday, Gretchen and I drove to the Hudson Valley Mall to see the new Jordan Peele film Get Out, which everyone from the New Yorker to Ray have been raving about. Perhaps because of the recent blizzard, there were only a smattering of people with us in the theatre. We'd been running a little late, but we nevertheless showed up in time to see a number of previews, most of them dreadful movies engineered to appeal to teenagers (and perhaps others who can be tempted to leave the ample cinematic capabilities of the modern household). The imminent Baywatch movie stands out as a poignant milepost in the ongoing decline of cinema even as the Golden Age of Television shows no sign of ending.
Perhaps only because Jordan Peele got his fame in the world of comedy, people had been describing Get Out as comedic horror, and so that was the way I initially approached the film. It opened with a fairly campy horror scene filmed on an ominous suburban street at night, and it was hard to see that as anything but comedic hat-tip to a genre about to be spoofed. From there, the film built as a fairly straightforward horror flick, complete with unexpected terrifying moments of trauma. Still, though, approached it all with my familiarity with dozens of Key & Peele sketches, which famously rooted-out possibly-sublimated racism in basic terminology such as "black ice." So when the white girlfriend's father indicates (to the very black boyfriend) that the door to the basement is closed because of "black mold," I found it instantly funny in a way that few others in the theatre seemed to.
Still, in keeping with a Jordan Peele production, all of the horror in Get Out is driven by the American weirdness with race. In this film, Obama-voting liberals might try their hardest to conceal their racism (and make fools of themselves in the process), but what are they hiding? I don't want to spoil anything, but in Get Out, superficially-enlightened white people have found yet another way to exploit and enslave black people. It's a genuine horror flick, though it has a lot in it that reminded me of one of my favorite films, Being John Malkovich, which is more in the genre of magical realism. It's not just the fact that Catherine Keener is in both (although that draws my attention to the similarity). It's that the horror in Get Out, much like in Being John Malkovich, comes from identify, the loss of identity, and the possibility that people can escape their bodies, invade those of others, stomping any that happen to already be there into a "sunken place." As with Being John Malkovich, there's even a not-entirely-convincing visual effect (one that soon works as a visual idiom) introduced to give the perspective of a character. In Being John Malkovich, it's when the character inhabits John Malkovich, whereas in Get Out, it's when the character is in the process of being inhabited.

After that experience, Gretchen expressed sadness that Rolling Rock (the in-mall bar & grill that's been dead for years) was no longer there, otherwise we could go there for veggie burgers. So I suggested we use Google maps to find us the nearest diner and try it out, even if it happened to be some place we'd never gone to before. This was how we found ourselves at the Olympic Diner on Washington Avenue, a place I'd never noticed before tucked behind the QuickChek near the bridge across the Esopus. It's a traditional 50s-style diner, and seemingly completely Greek-run as well (thus the name). Inside, it looked so much like Plaza Diner in New Paltz that I wanted to take the booth we would've taken had we been there. We both ordered the veggie burger deluxe, which comes with fries, and while waiting for that we delighted in the news that Donald Trump's second attempt at an inane Muslim ban had run afoul of the courts, this time in Hawaii. We looked up the judge in that case, Derrick K. Watson, and he looked to be Japanese American. The only lesson Trump would be getting from this ruling was that "we closed the Japanese internment camps down too soon."
The burgers and fries were great, though the side of spaghetti was a huge disappointment: a wad of overcooked pasta drowning in far too much red sauce. That sauce had languished in a can so long that it would've been useless in combatting the ravages of scurvy.

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