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:
   Gretchen's 51st birthday
Wednesday, January 19 2022
Today was Gretchen's 51st birthday, and normally I try to step out of my comfort zone on her birthday to do things like prepare food. She wanted pancakes, but then proceeded to make her own by squirting blobs out of a pre-mixed bottle of vegan pancake batter. They weren't very good, so the dogs and I ended up eating them. But then Gretchen started to make a VitaMix full of smoothie, and I decided to take over and do it instead. I used too much fruit and not enough spinach, but it turned out okay; evidently those are hard to screw up. I made a fire in the woodstove and Gretchen and I hung out for a little while on the couch in the living room playing the New York Times Spelling Bee, but not for long; I learned that I'd been scheduled for a meeting at the company I'd just been reassigned to.

A quick synopsis is in order of what my day job was and what it has come to be. I was hired in the late summer of 2018 to work at a software firm providing services to mid-sized municipalities, a job I didn't expect to like or stay at for long. Gradually I was absorbed into its tax department, wrote a now-essential application to import New York State property taxes, and then was assigned for two years to an ultimately-doomed rewrite of an old and clunky (but widely-used) program also related to taxes. My boss recently left the company, though I stayed through a transition in which the components (including human resources) of my company were divided up and assigned to other companies controlled by the private equity conglomerate we'd been sold to back in late 2018. While awaiting various decisions, I hadn't had much to actually do in the last week or two.
But today that all changed. At 9:30pm, I joined a virtual "scrum" at the Boston-based company that I'd been reassigned to. There were about ten people in the meeting, though only three or four of them were software developers. Interestingly, nearly everyone in the company has Italian surnames, though one member of the team is from Cameroon. I felt the usual first-day-at-work confusion as the undefined jargon and logistics-heavy dialog bounced around me. It didn't seem like I'd ever be able to understand what they were talking about, but I know from experience that this is not something that needs to be feared.
At the end of the meeting, I stayed after with a handful of others so we could discuss what I might be doing as an initial project. I was asked if I knew anything about something that sounded like "Zor DevOps." I said that I'd never heard of such a thing. I went to write it down and asked for it to be spelled. It turned out the thing being referred to was "Azure DevOps," which I actually have heard of, not that I've ever worked with it. I chuckled and said that I'd always pronounced that "azher" (with an accent on the first syllable). Being that this was my first meeting with these people, I went out of my way to be humble and deferential, saying that I could well be wrong, though in this case I was pretty sure I was right. All that aside, it looks like I'll probably start out building in-house tools for code deployment and other things, which will be a huge improvement from the doomed & dreary task I'd been working on for the last two years. As I told my new colleagues today, "I love making tools to allow others to work more efficiently."
At one point when we were talking about the tools I am familiar with, I mentioned that I mostly operate git (the industry-standard code versioning system) from the command line. "Oh, you're one of those," the guy who had mispronounced "Azure" said. "Well, I come from the world of Linux, so..." At that point one of the women on the team mentioned that her fiancé is into Linux, and even uses it as his preferred operating system. I said that it's not my favorite desktop environment, but it's a great server. I asked, somewhat jokingly, if her fiancé is running everything off of a Raspberry Pi. And from there the discussion became super nerdy, with the "Zor DevOps" guy saying that he has a number of Raspberry Pis and has been working on an Arduino project. Of course, then I had to talk about my solar controller and the remote data I've been monitoring from an "off-grid Adirondack cabin." I was left with a really good feeling about my new colleagues. My only real concern is that they don't seem to use any obscenities, but I might've caught them in a statistical drought of them.
This afternoon I used the oscillating tool to cut off all eight of the coat-hanging pegs in the entranceway closet so that I could install proper hooks in their place, thus completing all the things Gretchen had wanted done to the closet for her birthday. While I was working on that, a nurse came to visit Powerful, and I directed her to the basement, since his feet were still too painful for him to climb stairs.
Because Gretchen's friend Blond Marisa would be arriving later this evening, I then launched on a small cleaning jihad. This time, in addition to all the vacuuming and cleaning of the master guestroom's bathroom, I also felt the need to mop up the salt residue tracked into the house from the outdoor walkway, where (for what seems like the first time but probably isn't) Gretchen has been liberally spreading ice-melt crystals.

This evening after Gretchen came home from work, Marisa arrived after a two hour drive from Manhattan bearing four types of Thai noodles (from a restaurant called Spice) and a huge strawberry-peach pie she'd baked herself. We (including Powerful, who managed to stagger up the stairs) proceeded to feast on these things as a proper sit-down meal at the dining room table (even though the west end of it remains cluttered with Powerful's medical equipment and drugs and various things I'm staging prior to taking them to the cabin). The Thai food was really good, and I ate a bit too much as usual. But I also had a little pie. After that we all sat in the living room talking about various things. At some point Oscar climbed into my lap, which is an unusual thing for him to do in the living room, especially with a stranger present. He fled, though, when Marisa got to her feet and was soon replaced by Diane, who did that aggressive snuggling thing she likes to do by forcing her head into one of my armpits like a little uncompromising fist. (I don't know if she likes my natural armpit smell — I do not use deodorant — or it's that she likes the moist bacteria-friendly warmth.)

Me with Gretchen and the pie Marisa made.

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