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:
   birthday pizza in New Paltz
Thursday, January 19 2023
Today was Gretchen's birthday, so I tried to make things nice for her. Before she was up, I got a good fire going in the woodstove. And when she came down the stairs, I asked her to remind me what goes into a smoothie so I could make them (that's something she normally does, and I don't know anything about running a Vitamix). At that point she opened up the present I'd wrapped for her. She's an effusive person whose reactions sometimes seem a little too extreme to be real, but even from that baseline, she really seemed to be overwhelmed by the Neville the Dog cutout I'd painted for her. When she calmed down, she said she could tell I'd put a lot of work into it. Later she posed it in front of Neville himself to upload to Instagram and Facebook, and that's the photo I posted with yesterday's entry. In addition to the smoothie, Gretchen also requested (and I made) a cup of decaf black tea and a cup of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (using the expensive juicer that I'd bought back during a temporary wealth blip in 2012).
I had another procrastination-filled day in the remote workplace, I didn't even take a break to gather firewood at noon because it was raining.
In the late afternoon, Manhattan Marissa (who had been emailing back and forth with me about ideas for a birthday present for Gretchen) told me that a crumb cake she'd bought for Gretchen was ready for pickup at Sweet Maresa's (not to be confused with Manahattan Marissa), the vegan bakery on Wall Street in Kingston. So I immediately drove into town to pick it up. By this point the rain had turned to sleet and there was a little accumulation on the ground, so I took the Forester. I took advantage of the unexpected trip to also pick up some pseudoephedrie from CVS. They didn't have the 96 count boxes so I got a 48 count instead. Over at Sweet Maresa's, I felt a bit like Rain Man as I was asking for the crumb cake, but the important thing was that I got it.
Back at the house, Gretchen hadn't known where I'd gone until I presented her with the crumb cake and gave her the details of the conspiracy that had produced it. Meanwhile, my brother Don had been repeatedly calling, so when he called again, I answered.
I knew something serious was afoot when Don didn't immediately launch into a discourse on Neanderthal bone structure or Australian spiders. He told me that our mother Hoagie and fallen behind the house (that is, the building I slept in as a child, not the double-wide trailer — aka "Creekside" &mdash where Hoagie now normally sleeps). She'd then refused to get up, insisting on talking about a non-existent baby that she was hallucinating. Eventually she sat up, but she refused to get to her feet. Don eventually began to worry she might stay there into the darkness, at which point it would be hard to get her home (because she doesn't see well in the dark). So he called the rescue squad, which had arrived by the time I answered Don's call. I wondered if the falling and hallucinations might be related to low blood sugar levels, so I asked Don when she'd last eaten. He told me he'd "fed" her at 10:00 am, which was a long time ago but not that bad. Don asked if I wanted to talk to the rescue squad people, so I said sure. He then walked his phone across the street (he was calling me from Creekside) and handed me to some woman. I talked to the woman and told her about my mother's history of hallucinating. She told me that at this point my mother was standing up and didn't appear to be in any pain (her bones must be unusually good for an 86 year old woman). Things seemed to be so normal that she asked me why the rescue squad was even called. I said that my brother had been worried he might not be able to get her home and he didn't want to leave her outside after dark. Maybe she had low blood sugar or something? In any case, I said, she should probably be checked out. But the woman I was talking to told me that they were having trouble convinving Hoagie to let them take her to the hospital. The rescue squad lady asked for my phone number, so I gave it to her.
About an hour later, a doctor from the Augusta County Medical Center called to give me an update on my mother. He told me that her blood sugar was normal and thought she could be released soon. Did I, he wanted to know, think he should do anything else? I said that my mother also has mostly-untreated diabetes and that perhaps her kidneys weren't doing a good job filtering her blood and some further tests should be done with that in mind. The doctor said he could do that, and would I be able to pick her up in an hour? "No, I'm far away, that's not possible," I said. I then brought up the fact that her power-of-attorney is someone named Joy Tarder and perhaps she could pick my mother up. "[My mother] has basically disowned me," I explained. At this point the doctor likely realized he was committing a HIPAA infraction by having told me anything about my own mother's condition. When he found Joy Tarder's phone number in Hoagie's paperwork, he said that was all and the call ended.
Meanwhile, I'd experienced a joyous breakthrough after doing only about a half hour's worth of work at the end of the day in the remote workplace. After some targeted use of the VisualStudio debugger (which had me stepping through the code, checking values in a SQL database after every step to determine where something happened), I'd figured out exactly where the Entity database framework (which is something of a black box) updates (or fails to update) values. I then experimentally tried changing base.Configuration.AutoDetectChangesEnabled = false; to base.Configuration.AutoDetectChangesEnabled = true;, and, like a miracle, I solved a problem I'd been working on for days. This gave me good reinforcement for the debugging technique I'd used. The problem with these frameworks is that they hide away lots of details. This often works great, but when the framework is doing the wrong thing, it can be hard to understand why. In this case, the problem was one of misconfiguration (which is often the case with failing frameworks). But there was no way I was going to figure out how to fix the configuration without doing debugging similar to what I'd done.

This evening, I drove with Gretchen down to New Paltz for dinner. (It was now warm enough to safely drive the Bolt.) We went the way Gretchen thinks is best, which is through Hurley to DeWitt Mills Road and then south on Route 32. On the way Gretchen played a song she'd discovered sometime within the past year called "Love Letter From a Red Roof Inn" by St. Paul & the Broken Bones. It's a beautiful song, and has everything Gretchen likes in music: it's sung in a falsetto, is highly melodic, and has heavy R&B elements. I particularly like a certain change that happens twice in the song just before what sounds like the chorus (for example here).
We had our dinner at a gourmet brick oven pizza place called Apizza. We'd been there once before and I'd been a bit meh about the place, but it definitely deserved another try. I'd reserved us a table, which ended up being a good idea, as there was only one cleared table when we arrived.
Gretchen hasn't been drinking much (or any, really) alcohol for years now owing to how celexa (citalopram) makes it feel like poison. But several months ago Gretchen changed her antidepressant regime, decreasing the celexa and adding Wellbutrin. It's made her want to try drinking more alcohol, and tonight she was feeling really frisky and actually wanted to split a bottle of wine. After tasting (and rejecting) a normal red wine, she said yes to a lambrusco (a somewhat fizzy chilled red wine that is slightly sweet), taking the whole bottle. She ended up drinking about a third of it, which is a lot for her.
Gretchen and I both ate from a plate of vegan cæsar salad which was, Gretchen said, one of the best salads she's ever eaten. While we were working on that, somebody came around giving people fresh bread straight out of the oven, and it was incredible. For a main course, Gretchen and I split a big 20 inch pizza, with spinach on the whole thing, mushrooms on my half, and sun-dried tomatoes and something else on Gretchen's half. It turns out, though, that spinach is a poor choice for a topping when there aren't many other things. Otherwise the pizza was excellent, though the crust was a significantly thinner than we prefer (our tastes in pizza are decidedly Mid Western). Along with the pizza, we ordered a plate of orecchietta with red sauce, which looked like a plate of ears freshly snipped from a hundred or more cat-sized Vincent Van Goghs. (It wasn't spectacular.) Meanwhile, a group of 20-somethings at the next table over were taking pictures of the meat-heavy food they'd ordered.


Me in the Apizza bathroom this evening. It's nice in there.

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