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:
   3% raise in 8% inflation
Friday, October 21 2022
I had a good day in the remote workplace, working pretty much all day on a couple tasks related to the programmatic generation of Excel spreadsheet templates and then importing data entered into those templates. But then in the late morning, my absentee boss (who last communicated with me back in early July) reached out to me on Teams, asking if I he could talk to me in fifteen minutes. Sure, I said, that was fine with me. But then, of course, I immediately assumed I was being fired. Perhaps the numbers had finally been run on my self-entered Harvest timesheets, revealing that its very likely I'm not spending much of my workday working on company tasks. Within a minute, I'd jumped through three or four Kübler-Rossian stages of grief and was already at acceptance. If I was being fired today, it was a good run. I'd made it more than four years, which is nearly two years longer than the job I'd had the next-longest amount of time. I figured I'd use the freedom of being jobless to go up to the cabin and install more styrofoam panels around the foundation wall. Then maybe I'd drive down to Virginia and check in my mother and brother.
But then my Teams "phone" was ringing, so I answered. My boss seemed awkward, like he had something uncomfortable he needed to tell me. But that uncomfortable thing turned out to be that, though I was getting a raise, it was only 3%. Obviously, this would be like getting a 5% pay cut at the current rate of inflation (8%), something I noted. He said yes, this was true, but that inflation was causing the company to experience other rising expenses too and that 3% was all they could do this year. Perhaps, though, there'd be more money next year. (Which is something that a boss can always truthfully say.) I understood why this was uncomfortable; he'd probably had conversations with people for whom the small raise was much more of a problem than it was for me. I pointed out that, on the bright side, now I finally have a six-figure income. My boss agreed that such milestones do have their own significance. He then asked how it was in the team I was on, and I said we all had great rapport. Was there anything we needed? I said perhaps a full-time QA person would be helpful, which is kind of the party line in our team. My boss also asked about how much work it was to add customers to our products. Did this require much custom code? I said that it didn't really; much of the differences between customers lay in configuration changes, and features that specific customers request are usually welcomed by others.
So I didn't end the week without a job.

While I was working in the laboratory, a couple guys from a roofing contractor were up on our roof fixing various problems I'd identified back in April. We'd given that company a $400 deposit months ago, but only after Gretchen called (and, importantly, was nice, something others who have given them $400 months ago might not have been) did they finally send people out to do work. One of guys was very chatty in a way that Gretchen found annoying. But he told us some useful things. He said our roof was nearing the end of its life (which makes sense; it was installed 28 years ago). He found the exisitng shingles too brittle (due to accumulated sun exposure) to do some fixes, so he'd been forced to fix things mostly using gunk from a caulking gun. After working on our roof, these guys then drove into Kingston to do some work at the Downs Street brick manison. That house hails from the Victorian age and has slate shingles and box gutters, a decidedly-antique technology. It's the box gutters needing the most attention, and our roofers seemed to be dreading dealing with them.

This evening after work, Gretchen and I drove out to Bearsville to have dinner at the Bearsville Cantina, our favorite upscale Mexican restaurant. I ordered the vegan tacos and a margarita and Gretchen got a burrito. Both our dishes contained Impossible Burger "meat," and guacamole (which Gretchen hates; she'd forgotten to tell our waitress to put it on the side for me; fortunately she was able to remove enough of it to enjoy her food). I'd told Gretchen about my small less-than-inflation raise, and she was, not unexpectedly indignant. She thinks that I don't advocate for myself enough, which is true. But I don't like to draw attention to myself in my workplace, particularly when I feel like I'm on the verge of being noticed for my low productivity. But, I pointed out, I'm feeling better in my job of late. I feel like I'm mastering the code base and developing my own efficiencies. Slacking at work never feels sustainable, particularly when the limitations to my productivity come from having to fight my way up a learning curve. But once I've mastered the code and have ways I've developed of quickly getting things done, then carving out time in my workday to do non-work things doesn't stress me out at all.
In the Cantina, we were seated in the back room near a raging fire in the fireplace, and the heat on the side of my face and neck felt amazing. Near the end of our meal, the guy sitting with his wife at the table to my right tapped me on the elbow and said that he couldn't help but notice how quickly I'd devoured my food. I chuckled and said that it comes from being in competition with my brother back when I was a kid. Gretchen chimed in to say that maybe I didn't have to keep being that way at 54 years of age. After that strange method of breaking that ice, we chatted for a bit. The couple were in Bearsville to attend a convention of luthiers (people who build or play guitars). They mentioned a custom-built guitar being signed by numerous celebrities (including Joni Mitchell) that is packaged in a blue and yellow case and will eventually be delivered to the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy (who, among other things, is a guitarist). When they said they were staying at the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, I said that I'd once set up their WiFi "many years ago."
Back at the house, I ate some cannabis and stayed up late doing my own thing in the laboratory. I've been watching videos on a YouTube channel called Shed Happens, about a guy who does she repossessions in Ohio. In an episode I watched today, though, it was just the shed guy and his wife answering viewer questions about something very interesting: the Amish community. They're both from that community and even have a tell-tale accent, though they're clearly no longer Amish (he drives a truck and she wears pants). It would be interesting to hear how they came to be where they are today. But they never talked about that; instead they answered questions such as "do the Amish use birth control?" (they're not supposed to, though many do).

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