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:
   Thursday shakeup
Thursday, January 13 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

There was an important meeting today about the app I've been working on for the past two years, and I'd forgotten that it had been rescheduled for 8:30am this morning. So when I didn't show up for the meeting, Alex called me. I joined the meeting about five minutes late, but even then they were still waiting on someone else important to join. These were all among the highest positions in the corporate conglomerate running the company, though I don't think the CEO was there. [REDACTED]
After the call was over, I felt like a huge burden had been lifted. What would I be doing going forward? I didn't know, but no longer would I be twisting in the wind working on a doomed project. Anything else would be better at this point, particularly if its scope and timeline were limited.
A CTO named Joe from one of the other companies in the conglomerate called me via Teams and we had a pleasant videochat. Apparently I was to be added to his Boston-based team as a remote web developer. He'd be giving me the details in coming days, and I said great, that I was happy to join one of his scrum teams. [REDACTED]
When I got off the phone with Alex, I went to find Gretchen to tell her the news. I found her out in the Chevy Bolt neurotically cleaning it up. I happened to catch her in the middle of a meltdown about Powerful. Originally this morning he was supposed to drive himself into Kingston for his usual pre-biopsy covid test. But he'd awaken with a mysteriously swollen and painful foot and couldn't drive. So Gretchen had had to take him. Powerful had asked for Bengay to help with his foot issue, and she'd gotten him the generic CVS-brand stuff, which he initially had doubts about. But when he saw Gretchen was about to lose it, he said that it would be fine. And now our house smelled like Bengay, something Gretchen doesn't want to smell. She also didn't want to hear him moaning, even if he was in pain. Her plans for the day, to record a video of herself reading a poem or something, were now completely out the window. This was the reason she was out in the car cleaning it up. Apparently having Powerful continuing to live in our house is taking a cumulative toll on her, and she just wants our back. She also wonders if perhaps we're enabling his post-surgery lifestyle, which isn't all that different from a teenage burnout living in his parents' basement. He spends most of his waking time playing stupid videogames and hasn't been taking on any responsibilities. She has to ask him to do the fucking dishes and he hasn't exactly been looking for work. Gretchen and I also discussed the drama in my remote workplace as well as the secret Alex had confided to me about the fixer-upper on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Well into the afternoon, my colleague Marcus was still apparently asking various people in the company if they were at the office into the afternoon, so at some point I started a videoconference with the members of the tax department to tell them the news (the stuff in the censored content above). We ended up talking for about an hour, unpacking the thinking of the corporate higher-ups, wondering about the permanency of our jobs, and reminiscing about Alex. Jason seemed to think the corporate masters would gradually destroy all the products that we maintain and then fire us, but Dennis pointed out that it will take years for our products to no longer need our support, and during that time we will take on new roles, meaning our job security will have new support as what we do in the company gradually changes. This seemed like a wise and cheerful thing to say, and I agreed with him. As for remembrances of things Alex, Jason remembered being upset when Alex was initially hired back in the early 2000s (due, apparently, to a squash-court friendship with Dodd, one of the founders). Jason said that Alex "only had an art degree" and yet his salary was 25% more than his (Jason's). Jon and Jason then talked about the sketchy nature of the code that Alex had proceeded to write (I hadn't known he'd written any code), which featured a lot of obscene comments and variables with names like "sowsEarToSilkPurse." I also mentioned something Alex had told me once, that he didn't know what a for loop was for. That's how I remember it, but maybe it was some other basic programming concept that he didn't understand (perhaps as a joke).

Since nothing much would be happening in the remote workplace for the rest of the week, I'd suggested we go up to the cabin tonight or even this afternoon. Gretchen was eager to get away from Powerful and his many demands, so she was on board. We might've left earlier, but Gretchen desperately needed to watch some teevee first. (She's been re-watching the first season of The Orville and various seasons of Brooklyn 99 — which I identify from a distance by its use of bursts of walkie-talkie static to audibly mark the transition from one scene to the next.)
Before leaving, I gave Powerful a jar of diphenhydramine to take in case his foot kept acting up. Maybe his problem was histamines, and if it wasn't at least diphenhydramine would make him fall asleep.
Gretchen suggested we get dinner somewhere in Albany on our way to the cabin tonight, so we navigated into its downtown and parked near The Hollow, a bar that offers lots of vegan options. Only when we were getting ready to go inside did we remember, right, there's a pandemic going on and the fast-spreading Omicron variant is near its peak. But then we were like, fuck it, we have to enjoy our lives, we're well-vaccinated, and, though there's an immunocompromised person living with us, he'd ruined Gretchen's day. So we went in.
There were a fair number of diners in The Hollow at the time, but we took a table that wasn't close to anyone. But most of the people there looked to be in their 20s or 30s, precisely the demographic that has given up on avoiding the coronavirus. Gretchen pointed out the Chicken Reggies, the thing on the menu that had me written all over it: a rigatoni pasta dish with jalapeño red sauce and chunks of breaded fried faux chicken (in the vegan version, that is). It was everything I'd hoped for. As for Gretchen, she got the Vegan Cottage Pie, which was comparatively bland. I also asked for a "hazy IPA" and the waitress immediately came up with a suggestion that was perfect. (It's good to now have the language to describe the kind of beer I prefer, given that it's a subset of a subset of a kind of beer.)
We got gas at a station nearby in Downtown Albany and this time Gretchen filled the tank of the Forester with a grade two notches from the bottom just to see how much better it might be. While that was happening, a guy with a mask and a reflective jacket came up to my side of the car holding a cardboard sign asking if I had dollars. I nodded that I didn't. Neville regarded him with skepticism but didn't get as comabtive as I would've expected.
Our next stop was at the Home Depot in Amsterdam, where we were picking up a enamel-covered steel bathtub for the upstairs bathroom. (It was a Bootz Maui with a 15-inch soaking depth, which is supposedly a lot for a standard sixty by thirty inch alcove tub.) While there, I also got some tub drainage hardware.
I'd thought we might have to carry the new tub on the roof of the Forester, which would've been tricky (it weighs 75 pounds). But it managed to fit inside in the back with the seats down. Gretchen rode in the coffin-shaped space beside it while Neville and Ramona crammed together in the front passenger seat, Neville occasionally shifting the car into low with a paw or changing radio settings with his big smushy face. Uncomfortable though everyone but me was, we managed to make it to the cabin.
It was 48 degrees in the cabin when we arrived, but everything seemed to be functioning correctly. I started a fire and greadually the temperature climbed up to something reasonable. I did a little tinkering in the upstairs bathroom (applying another layer of drywall compound in the area of the wall where the pedestal sink will be attached, for example).

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