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:
   kicked across the Atlantic
Saturday, April 12 2003

setting: between Johannesburg, South Africa and London, UK

We landed at Heathrow in London in the early morning, right around sunrise. Evidently Heathrow doesn't trust security protocols in other airports, because they ran us through a layer of security before letting us onto our connecting flight. Aside from Dina and her friends, we hadn't seen many Americans in South Africa, but in London they were back in full effect with all their embarrassing ugliness. There was one right behind us in line as we waited to pass through security. Gretchen overheard him loudly talking to somebody about an Indian guy who had put down a piece of luggage further ahead of him in line while he dealt with the needs of his wife and kid. "I thought you weren't allowed to do that," said the ugly American, "that could be a bomb!"
The flight to New York took us over southwestern England and Wales and the weather was clear enough for me to see the ground below. England is such a thoroughly flat, lived-in, but geo-politically unplanned country that its farms made for an interesting puzzle of interlocking quadrilaterals. There were only occasional patches of woods, all of them smaller than the fields. In Wales, though, there were genuine landforms and bits of rough topography that seemed as if they'd never been successfully integrated into civilization. But there were almost no woods. As for Ireland, it was completely invisible beneath a dense blanket of clouds.
The guy sitting to Gretchen's right was an Indian Sikh outfitted in a black turban. This caused some confusion for the airline employees who brought out the food, since Gretchen had ordered us special Indian vegetarian meals and the Sikh had placed no special order. The food was unexpectedly delicious.
Early in the flight I observed the Sikh violating one of the more poorly-enforced rules of his religion as he enjoyed a Baccardi and soda. According to my references, Sihks are supposed to "refrain from any sexual relationships outside of marriage, and to refrain from taking meat, tobacco, alcohol, and all other intoxicants." As for his enjoyment of the standard airline entree, that was in gross violation of the ban on the eating of meat.
A couple of annoying little British kids sat behind me chattering away seemingly constantly during most of the flight. They quizzed their mother about the airplane wing and how it worked. Their mother wasn't exactly an expert on such matters, but she mostly satisfied them with her answers. That was bad enough, but then one of them began kicking the seat in front of him, my seat. I complained to Gretchen about it but tried to be non-confrontational, something she absolutely couldn't understand. I didn't throw a fit until much later, when the kicking woke me up from such much-needed sleep. I thrashed back and forth violently and made a loud proclamation about "bastards." Gretchen couldn't understand why I didn't just turn around and ask the little creeps to stop. But my brain isn't wired the way hers is when it comes to socializing with strangers. Sometimes I prefer to make my point without having to expend the additional effort necessary to be polite and initiate a civil conversation. "See, now you've made it into a big deal," she said. Indeed, it did seem that now the kids were kicking my chair even harder.
There was still snow in Maine as we passed over. I could clearly see the four lanes of I-95, but I couldn't detect a single moving vehicle down there.
As we flew in beneath the low cloud bank hugging New York City, I started feeling a little compassion for the bastard who had been kicking me all the way across the Atlantic. He was experiencing the joy and wonder of a little kid flying into New York for the first time. "America, here we come!" he declared. Then I heard him making observations. "It's not such a busy city," he said, somewhat disappointed. At the time we were flying over the narrow spit of land separating Jamaica Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

Sarah the Korean had been in possession of our car during our vacation, and she came to pick us up at the airport when we arrived. Then she drove us back to her place in Windsor Terrace. Her driving style was a little unsettling, full of jerky overcompensations and counter-compensations, although at least she didn't tailgate. Somehow we took a wrong turn and crossed the Verrazano Bridge and had to pay the $7 toll. Just before bidding us adieu, Sarah told Gretchen the sad news that Mabel, one of the cats Gretchen had shared with her former girlfriend Barbara (along with Noah, Sally, and another cat), had died of cancer. This made Gretchen very sad and she didn't recover her composure until half way up Manhattan. Gretchen spends an unusual amount of time fretting about animals and friends who will die before she does, and any reminder of their intrinsic mortality is something she finds deeply depressing.
I drove us all the way back to Hurley. It was a beautiful, warm day conducive to driving well over the speed limit. North-bound traffic on the Thruway was heavy but not slow.
Sally was beside herself with joy when we arrived. The house smelled a little different, but not in a bad way. Being temporarily the creature of a different time zone, I took a shower and went to bed at 4pm.

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