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:
   without transportation
Wednesday, July 12 2000

Since my bike was still lacking a functional rear wheel, I was forced to walk to work today. It's a actually a very pleasant stroll, even when, as was the case this morning, there is a grey ceiling of coastal cloudiness.
I had a terrible hangover, completely out of all proportion to the amount of alcohol I'd consumed. There must be something positively lethal about the combination of paté and red wine. The French never had a chance.
Throughout the day it seemed at times that my hangover was actually getting worse. The only real antidote to a hangover (besides smoking pot) is to get your mind on something else. Consequently, I worked hard at putting the finishing touches on a community tool I've been building since April. It's scheduled to launch sometime later this month and will be my first real achievement at my present workplace.
I ended up doing a lot of walking today. At lunch I decided to go on a mission in search of that elusive animal known as the standard 26 inch bicycle tire. I thought maybe if I went down to Pico (which has a seedy low-rent commercial feel to most of it) I might chance upon a K-Mart or some other store similarly comprehensive and unpretentious. Yet, though Pico is home to a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a 99 cents store, the vast Woodlawn Cemetary and at least one Japanese Beef Bowl franchise, I could find no vendors of cheap bicycle parts. So I headed back north towards Olympic, which is almost like a freeway in comparison to Pico.
There was a quaint taco stand on the side of Olympic. I hadn't eaten anything all day, so I stood in line and waited my turn. When it seemed like I was cleared to order my food, I marched up to one of two windows while the woman behind me marched up to the other. Believe it or not, she got the service, not me. And the transaction was conducted entirely in Spanish. Puzzled, angered, and ethnically alienated, I heaved a heavy sigh and just kept walking. Fuck them if they think this is customer service. Next time I'm calling the INS.
When I got out of work at the end of the day, I decided to head over to nearby Helen's Bicycles again to see if maybe there were any bikes with which I might want to treat myself. I've put thousands of miles on my old Huffy and perhaps it was time to say goodbye. I'd noticed yesterday that it had two broken spokes on the back wheel. That's a clear indication of accumulated wear and tear.
It's been years and years, at least a return of Saturn, since I last walked into a bike shop with any intent of actually buying a bike. And you know, bicycles really have changed a lot in that time. Not only has that whole unnecessary mountain bike revolution come during this time, but the traditional sensible bike: the three speed, the one speed with fenders, the clunky ten speed with Ashtabuela cranks, has virtually gone extinct. Those were useful bikes. The bikes of today are all about the demonstration of manhood. It's disgusting.
If I'm going to buy a bike, there are several important factors in my decision:

  • Must have fenders. - Rainy days are much worse than Mondays when you have to ride around through puddles on a fenderless bike.
  • Must have non-removable wheels, seats, etc. - Whoever invented the bicycle quick release definitely had his thinking cap on: he provided a simple and effective way for the rich to subsidize the transportational needs of the poor. The poor get a free source of replacement parts at the expense of the hapless expensive-bike-buying elite, and the quick-release part manufacturers get their handsome cut along the way. It's great de facto socialism, but I just don't want to play.
  • Must be cheap. Preferably has scratches pre-installed. - Bikes get stolen. Let me qualify that: expensive bikes get stolen. Cheap bikes, as long as they look cheap and seem like they might be locked to something larger than a plate of nachos, do not get stolen. I like not having to wonder how I will be getting home at the end of a day at work. What's more, I prefer to buy my bike after it's already been nicely scratched up. That way the week of depression and suicidal thoughts following the dreaded first scratch is not mine to bear.

Suffice it to say, Helen's Bicycles doesn't sell any bikes that I would want to buy. Their cheapest adult bike was something like $250, and they didn't have any bikes in stock with both fenders and shiftable gears. My heart was lifted when I went out back and saw a motley assortment of used bikes all chained together, but it turned out that these were in the shop waiting to be fixed. "I don't sell used bikes" on of the employees told me when I asked.
So I found myself walking aimlessly downtown, all the way to 6th Street near the Promenade. As I rounded a corner on Broadway, the one big bike shop in that area was in the process of locking its door for the night. It was a long 30 block walk back home.
Periodically I put myself in these situations where I'm compelled by circumstances to walk and walk and walk for miles. I don't especially enjoy walking and I find myself spending most of the walk ticking off the blocks like a prisoner counting sunsets in his cell. But after a walk, I feel a greater connection to the land and the people living in it. It has an important psychological function. The opposite of walking is flying around in planes, which isn't really very different from faxing yourself to another city. You don't give a shit about the land you fly over or the people driving around down there like ants. Their problems are most certainly not yours.


For some reason, perhaps related to some buggy freeware Proxy Server software I've been running on it, Kim's laptop has been having increasing difficulty negotiating a connection with Earthlink, our DSL provider. For the last two days Kim has been forced to check her mail and surf the web on my computer, a situation that isn't exactly ideal. So today I attempted to fix her machine. For some reason the nimrods at Earthlink managed to package the latest copy of their DSL software on a CD that cannot be correctly read by Kim's laptop. This forced me to improvise an installation across the network, but it crashed every time about halfway through. I hate it when normal computer maintenance starts going like this; it quickly dissolves into a sort of alchemy where the expected effects of my actions are completely unpredictable. It's not too different from the process of making a witch's brew. And since it is so chaotic and unscientific, it takes a long time to actually stumble into a solution. But usually I do. Kim's DSL started working again when I took the bold step of using only part of the new 5.0 DSL installation mixed with older components from the 2.4 DSL installation.
With my twitchingly walk-weary legs and my stunning success with Kim's laptop, I thought I'd earned a bath. So I hopped in the tub with the only reading material I can ever find in this place, a couple of Kim's fashion magazines. [REDACTED]

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