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:
   from Washington to the Adirondacks
Sunday, December 19 2021

location: upper floor, Apartment [REDACTED], East Watergate Building, Washington, DC

Our main reason for driving down to Washington this weekend was to get some furniture from Gretchen's parents. Yesterday, Gretchen's father had been stressing out about the logistics of getting that furniture loaded into our Subaru. He kept acting like the furniture was prohibitively heavy, but loading a bureau into the back had been easy for me even after one of struts that holds up the hatch broke off due to metal fatigue. We'd then staged the other piece of furniture, a six-foot-tall set of thirteen drawers, in a room that actually has private access to an elevator (a perk available to a small minority of Watergate apartments). This morning before driving back to Hurley, I wrestled another set of drawers into Gretchen's parents' room. Had I not been there to do this, they would've had to hire someone to do it. It's easy for me to assume that there is nothing special about my strength, but it turns out that I'm much stronger than anyone in Gretchen's family. And at this point Gretchen's father is actually shorter than Gretchen's 64 inches.
Before leaving, I used a borrowed handtruck to take the six-foot set of thirteen drawers down out of the apartment and out to a pick-up & drop-off area out front, a fire-only parking zone that is normally strictly policed. In this case, though, an exception was made. After we had the main chassis of the drawers as well as all thirteen individual drawers (which had been removed), Gretchen fetched the Subaru, and it wasn't hard for the two of us to lift it up and set it on the roof rack. Then, with some help from Gretchen's mother (who was handing me the drawers), I reinstalled them all, covered the whole thing with a tarp, and then lashed it down with three straps, some rope, and then some bunjee cords to limit the amount of flapping that would happen. And then it was time to go. We hugged Gretchens' parents goodbye and started driving, Gretchen at the wheel.
There was some sort of humming coming from one of the straps, but I was able to fix that as we were driving by opening the sun roof and, while reaching up from below, wrapping a rope around the humming strap.
Traffic was such that Google again sent us directly through Washington, this time going west to east. After we crossed the Beltway, I happened to see a set of apartment buildings that looked exactly like the ones I'd seen in photos from when I was a baby. I pointed these out to Gretchen, and then she saw the exit for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, indicating that these likely were the apartments I'd lived in when I was a little baby.
Gretchen was feeling sleepy and wished she had some coffee, real coffee, that is. So we stopped at the Maryland House rest area and Gretchen got us coffee from Dunkin Donuts, which is her absolute favorite chain purveyor of coffee. I took over the driving after that.
It had been years since Gretchen and I had been to Philadelphia, and Gretchen wanted to make a pilgramage there to sample some of the new vegan establishments. Our first stop was Crust Vegan Bakery northwest of downtown in the bustling Manayunk neighborhood, where I was forced to park in front of a fire hydrant. Due to the coronavirus, only three customers are allowed in Crust at a time, so we had to wait for awhile in front of the door. I came in with Gretchen to pick out things that I might want (which wasn't much, given that most of what it makes is not savory). Gretchen was eager to tell the cashier how excited she was to be there and that we'd made a pilgramage, but she just worked there and couldn't care less, something Gretchen immediately picked up on, dropping everything she'd been meaning to say, which was surely going to contain a few "oh my God!"s. After I picked out a few things, I went out to the car. A legal parking space opened up nearby, so I backed into it, but that was just as Gretchen was returning with a box full of goodies. She suggested maybe walking around the neighborhood. But there was nothing I wanted to do less, so Gretchen drove us to our next destination: a vegan grocery store in South Philadelphia.
The guy working the counter at the vegan grocery store was one of the owners, and he was happy to talk about vegan stuff with Gretchen. He was familiar with our vegan baker friends from the Hudson Valley as well as our local animal sanctuaries. None of this was particularly interesting for me, so I wandered off and found a few things I wanted to try and added them to Gretchen's bag.
By this point the sun was going down and it was getting cold fast. Washington had been balmy, but here in Philadephia it seemed much more wintery. Unfortunately for Gretchen, the restaurant she wanted to go to turned out to be closed, so we drove northward towards downtown and then east on South Street, and into its famous broken-mirror-encrusted neighborhood. We parked behind another black Subaru Forester, and as we were trying to figure out whether or not one needs to pay for parking on a Sunday (you do!), some guy about our age walked up to his car (the black Forester we were parked behind) and said, "Nice car!" Gretchen and he proceeded to have a long conversation and it turned out that he was both a prison educator and a poet. "You're basically me!" Gretchen exclaimed at least twice. It was a little cold for having such conversations on the street, but eventually he (his name was Sidney) exchanged information with Gretchen and we could go on our way.
Gretchen had noticed an anarchist bookstore called "Wooden Shoe Books," so of course we had to go in there. It was actually better than most bookstores, as it had a whole rack of zines, those do-it-yourself stapled-together low-circulation magazines from the early 1990s. Technology has improved considerably since those days, and some of the zines were full-color. There was one that was all about how to use herbs to induce abortion, and there were others written by prisoners (or people who had recently been prisoners). In another section of the store were some zines that were actually free (because, as the cashier explained, they'd been given to the bookstore for free). These were about such topics as using a Raspberry Pi Pico as an audio synthesizer for a performance of "noise music," which, as the book explained, allows people with no music skills to participate in music culture. I had to get that, along with a couple other similar techy zines.
For dinner, we ended up at a restaurant/bar called Tattoed Mom. Just to get in, one had to provide proof of coronavirus vaccination, which was the first time I'd ever experienced that when trying to get into a restaurant. Fortunately, I keep a copy of my Excelsior Pass in my wallet. The scary-looking bouncer was super nice about this, which was in keeping with a pattern we were noticing in Philadelphia: hard-ass-looking people being nothing but sweet.
Tattooed Mom has a punk rock dive bar vibe to it. Its walls are covered with layers of graffiti, poster art, and God knows what, making the whole place sort of resemble CBGB men's room back before it was all torn down. We went upstairs and ordered our food (and a mediocre hazy IPA for me) from the scary-looking teddybear of a bartender. Tattooed Mom is not exclusively vegan, but they had some intriguing vegan items on their menu. We both ordered the pickled faux-chicken sandwich, which comes with deep-fried pickles in it. That proved to be a really good sandwich, though somehow our order got fucked up and one of our sandwiches appeared much sooner than the other, forcing us to eat tater tots (which we hadn't ordered but came in place of our cheese fries) while we waited. Meanwhile, a young couple was playing a game at the nearby pool table. I took a few pictures of the walls because they were so fucking crazy.
Though the sandwiches (and only those) had been great, Gretchen was a little disappointed by that meal, so next she drove us to Blackbird, the famous vegan pizza joint, in hopes of getting some delicious seitan-based decadence to go. But when we got there, there was a sign on the door saying they'd decided to "close early." So that dream deferred was definitely a dream denied.
The drive back from there to Hurley was mostly uneventful. Back at the house, we unloaded the stuff from Costco so it could be broken into portions, some of which would be going to the cabin and the rest of which would be staying in Ulster County. At the time Powerful was down in the basement and the dogs were in his spot on the couch, and they were very happy to see us.
Tomorrow the solar installation guys would begin installing solar panels and related infrastructure at the cabin, and I wanted to be there for at least some of that. The question was whether I should go up tonight or wait until early tomorrow and drive up before work. After fixing Gretchen's laser printer by replacing its smudgy drum, I decided, fuck it, I might as well drive up to the cabin. So I packed all the additional things that needed to go there (in addition to the furniture already in the back and strapped to the roof) and drove up there. On the way, I listened to anti-MLM content (the channel was "Kiki Chanel") streaming from YouTube directly to my phone and broadcasted via bluetooth to the car stereo. It was the sort of content for which seeing the video component was unimportant.
At the cabin, I started a fire, switched on the generator, and brought a few little things in from the car. I also ate a little cannabis to make the rest of my time awake just a little more recreational. By then it was nearly 1:00am, and I would stay up for at least another hour to take a bath.

Me in Wooden Shoe bookstore. Note the ANTIFA sticker. Maybe there is an ANTIFA after all! Click to enlarge.

The walls in Tattooed Mom. Click to enlarge.

Another wall in Tattooed Mom. Click to enlarge.

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