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:
   odd mental tics
Friday, October 4 2002

The Staten Island cop who has unwittingly chosen to support terrorism by selling Gretchen and me his used Honda Civic had evidently grown weary of keeping the car parked in his yard. So today he delivered it to President Street and told me to send him the old plates whenever we get the new ones. I wrote him a big fat check for $7600, a feat he hadn't even expected me to be able to pull off. While I was writing it, he asked me what I do for a living. I told him that I am an unemployed web developer. As for Gretchen, "She's a copyeditor," I said (it's our pat answer to that particular question). "She's a what?" he asked. So then I had to explain what a copyeditor does, precipitously slowing the progress I was making with the writing of the check. I got the feeling that not many copyeditors live in his particular Staten Island neighborhood.
So now we have a car, painted a cheerful shade of "I'm probably hauling drugs" red. I sat in its cockpit for awhile to familiarize myself with its capabilities. CD player. Check. Radio. Check. Backseats that fold down to extend trunk space as needed. Check. Air conditioning. Check. Grenade launcher. I didn't even think to check.
Back at my front door, I realized that I hadn't taken my house key with me. Ringing the upstairs neighbor, the guy who never pays me for his broadband internet access, had no effect whatsoever. So I was forced to climb over a high chain link fence just to the west of the old folks' home. Had I been anyone but myself or Gretchen, Sally would have lodged a series of ferocious protests. Instead she just stood there watching me climb, silently wagging her tail in anticipation of celebrating my eventual success. Neither she nor I had expected the climb to be as easy as it proved to be.

Throughout my life, I've been aware of weird obsessional tics that boil up periodically into either my conscious mind or my system of emotions. Back in early 1999, the tic consisted of a wave of joyful sadness that would wash over me whenever I'd be impressed by someone else's accomplishment, no matter how trivial. I remember one of my colleagues at College Club would tell me about some new user interface idea or a remarkable programming feat he'd performed and I'd stand there with pangs of teardrops in the corners of my eyes. I remember thinking that this was probably a psychologically unhealthy response, but, so long as no one could notice, certainly harmless enough. It was, after all, a life-affirming emotion, one of respect and empathy for my fellow man, and its existence in someone as cold and selfish as myself seemed like a positive development.
More recently, starting in the summer of 2001, a suffered from a totally different sort of tic, one in which I feared sudden blunt trauma to my head. It probably had something to do with the novel experience of daily pedestrian commutes between the subway station and my Manhattan workplace. All those anonymous people and all those high buildings seemed to hold the potential for random, terrible death.
I don't get into Manhattan much anymore, but now I find I'm having a form of this same tic right here on the streets of Brooklyn, particularly as I walk with Sally past the Grand Army Plaza arch on my way to the Vale of Cashmere in the mornings and afternoons. I imagine my head suddenly dissolving into a pinkish spray of blood and brains, a death so immediate that I never have the chance to contemplate my own demise. From my vantage point, I'm instantly trapped for all eternity in some mundane day-to-day thought. The news about ice meteorites and random sniper killings have come along since the Brooklyn variant of my sudden-death tic began, and they probably will ensure that it continues for awhile longer.

I thought up a new line for a stand-up comedian to use while giving a self-effacing account of his childhood:

My folks were so poor,
we didn't have anything
for sweetening our oat meal
except paints chips.

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