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:
   worst burrito ever
Sunday, June 4 2023

location: somewhere on Ridge Street, Charlotteville, Virginia

Despite the craziness of last night, I awoke this morning in Jessika & Aaron's guestroom feeling reasonably good. It was about 8:30am and nobody was up yet, and they didn't seem likely to be getting up soon. I walked to the end of the street to see what it would take to make it less pedestrian-hostile for people trying to walk down to Moores Creek. But bushes concealed the two sets of high terraces that made the recent development of vinyl-sided houses possible.
I then wrote a note (illustrated with a goat, a reference to a birthday card the daughter had been making yesterday) and then started my drive northward.
I'd decided to maximize my travel distance and get to Fairfax with the battery that I'd last charged at the Staunton Walmart. To achieve this, I would have to drive a little slower than normal highway speeds. But since most of my route was on US 29 (which has lower posted speed limits) this didn't turn out to be all that difficult. I was on the road a little before 9:00am and I arrived in Fairfax a little before 11:00am. Unlike all the other ElectrifyAmerica charging stations, this one was in parking lot of a Home Depot. For the casual traveler, there's even less reason to stop at a Home Depot than at a Walmart, but fortunately the neighborhood nearby was heavily commercial, and there were lots of options for someone wanting to spend money. Unfortunately, before 11:00am most stores were still closed, but not the Popeye's Chicken, the Home Depot, or the Wawa (I don't think I'd ever seen a Wawa so far south before; it's more of a Philadelphia-area institution). I walked over to the Wawa and looked for coffee and something I might be able to eat. There was a sad Sabra product I almost bought called "avocado toast" which featured tiny crackers and a tub of "avocado." But instead I managed to assemble a vegan burrito on the screen-based ordering system. Ultimately, though, I got to add to also talk to the woman assembling it so it could contain jalapeño peppers, onions, lettuce, and the like. But then I saw the woman reach her hands into the trash with the same gloves she was wearing to assemble my sandwich. She didn't reach far, so I tried to just block out that thought. Even without having seen that, though the burrito ended up being perhaps the worst one I'd ever eaten. The white flour tortilla tasted like glue and none of the constituents of the burrito contained any salt. It was a flavorless nothing. Perhaps their "rice and beans" burrito is designed this was on the assumption that people who don't eat meat don't want to taste their food.
Back at the Bolt, I saw its charging had stopped. This is a common thing, and there's never an error to tell you why. So I think I moved to another charger and started charging again. But then the charging died again. When this happened a third time, I began investigating and soon discovered that my "pre-payment" amount (why is that necessary? I have a card on file!) had dropped to a little over $1. And this turned out to be because my card was no longer being accepted. So then I tried to add other cards, but ElectrifyAmerica refused to accept any of my other cards either via the app or via the card reader on the charger. In desperation, I called Gretchen and had her tell me the numbers of one of our other cards. But that didn't work either! I'd run out of ways to power my car, and I had only made it to Fairfax!
This forced me to call ElectrifyAmerica, and after several periods of being on hold, the tech support guy was about to give me complimentary electricity discovered my app would accept another card if I used my own name instead of Gretchen's. Only then could I go into the Home Depot to take a massive crap, confident my car was charging. Mind you, the card I'd entered in the app originally was still perfectly good and I would go on to use it to buy both Indian food and stout beer later on this same trip.
The next stop on my homeward drive would be in Magnolia, NJ, at that Walmart near Mama's Indian Kitchen, where Gretchen and I had an unexpectedly good meal a little over a year ago. Unfortunately, there was a lot of slow traffic both on the Beltway and throughout Maryland, so it was late afternoon by the time I got there. But I probably couldn't've driven quite that far had I been driving much faster. Once I figured out that this was the same Walmart as the one near Mama's, I used my phone to point myself in the right direction for reliably-good Indian food. I ended up ordering a rajma (that's the kidney bean curry) with rice and two orders of roti. I also got a Red Bull to help keep me in the proper mental condition to drive. Back at the car, I devoured my food with careful gusto (so as not to make a mess in the car; I didn't have a plate) while listening to various nearby radio stations. One of the songs I heard was "Heaven is a Place on Earth," which will always remind me of that one episode of Black Mirror. I should mention that the rajma was surprisingly hot given that I hadn't said to make it that way. My only complaint was that it could've used a little more salt.
As close as I was to home in Magnolia (which is just a little southeast of Philadelphia) I could almost drive all the way home with a battery charged to 83%. But to be on the safe side, I navigated to the closest ElectrifyAmerica station to home, the one in Newburgh (about 30 miles south of Kingston). Still, I was careful to drive slowly, putting the Bolt on cruise control several times at 59 miles per hour. I found that at about 62 miles per hour, I tended to drain miles from the most pessimistic estimate of the car's range at the same rate as I was traveling. (This makes me wonder how slow I'd have to go to drain miles at the medium and most optimistic ranges, which are also posted on the dashboard.)
Once I got to Newburgh, I went into the Walmart to buy a six pack of Guinness Extra Stout just so I'd have a road beer for the final 30 mile leg of my road trip.
When I got home, I had to repark the damn Forester, an unnecessary annoyance Gretchen always sets up for me when I've been away for a few days, the Bolt desperately needs a charge, and she's parked the Forester in the only place where the charge cord can reach. I immediately began unpacking the Bolt, partly so Gretchen wouldn't be driving around with my father's old hunting rifle (which would probably be a crime in this second-amendment-hating nanny state). Gretchen came out and could tell I was in a foul mood. She said her friend Jenny K from Santa Cruz was visiting, so I eventually put on my game face and went inside.
Jenny and Gretchen were eating pasta with white sauce and big patties of tempeh. I sat down and did a pretty good job of playing the role of charming husband, though I admitted I was exhausted from driving for 12 hours (it was 9:00pm by then). Jenny, who had never visited us before, gushed about how beautiful our house and forest are and how amazing my laboratory is. She also said that the full day Gretchen had arranged for her had eventually required her to take a two hour nap. She also said Ramona almost attacked another dog while they were visiting the bookstore in Woodstock.
After chatting for the appropriate amount of time, I said that I needed to go off and "chillax." I made myself a cocktail of gin and cherry juice, ate a xanax, and joined the dogs in bed. They were so tired from the day that they didn't bother celebrating my return after nearly ten days of absence.

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