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:
   just as easily guide fermenting yeast
Sunday, December 14 2003
The sky was clouding up with the sort of thick featureless greyness that typically precedes a winter snowstorm. I hurried into town to get another bag of grout for the tiles as snow began falling from the sky. There's a period at the beginning of every snowstorm when an otherwise invisible dusting of snow swirls about on the road surface in continually shifting Art Noveau patterns reflecting the air vortexes of each passing car. At that point the road is still perfectly safe, but it's still an ominous portent of what is to come.

I was listening to public radio as drove down Dug Hill Road, not even yet a mile from home, and I heard the news that Saddam Hussein had been captured by American forces from a hidey hole outside of Tikrit, Iraq. Perhaps it had been the sort of hole from which our president had promised to "smoke" the likes of Osama bin Laden, back before the war on terrorism underwent the mission creep that has allowed it to target secular Middle Eastern regimes. I'm sure it will provide comfort to the architects of American fascism that my reaction to the news of Saddam's capture was one of disappointment. It serves no purpose to qualify this thought with a mention of Saddam's well-documented history as a brutal strongman. The truth of the matter is that he'd been reduced to a broken, unshaven man living in a hole in the ground. His capture is nothing more than a symbolic victory for President George W. Bush and his mission to destroy all the gains of humanity made since the Enlightenment.
Any good news for Bush is bad news for the world; indeed, it's also bad news for intelligent life in the Universe. I say this because the only known intelligent life in the Universe exists here on Earth, and if its greatest, richest democracy can't (through either luck or enlightenment) avoid the slide into a grossly future-robbing breed of fascism, it's just that much more likely that the same is true of intelligent life everywhere. The Christianity that guides Bush's politics, for all its basis in written texts and sanctimonious moralizing, could just as easily guide fermenting yeast in a keg of wine - with the result being the same: the poisoning of our environment and the demise of our descendants.
The only way the news of Saddam Hussein's capture could have been worse would have been if it had been delayed until October, something I half-suspected was in the works. Perhaps the news Karl Rove is sitting on until then is Osama bin Laden's capture.
As usual, my reaction to the bad news was to stop listening to it. Instead I listened to music, both in the car and at home. Later when I continued work on the tile, I listened to a tight loop of Calexico on WGUS, Hurley New York's most eclectic ad-free radio station.

Before that, though, I would have to get back from my outing. The first place I went was the Hannaford supermarket for provisions in case I ended up being snowed-in. It was only about 9:30 on a Sunday morning, but already there was a rush underway of people doing what I was doing, stocking up before the storm. Among the items I tried to buy was a 12 pack of beer, but apparently Hannaford doesn't sell beer on Sundays. This must be some sort of folksy Hannaford-only policy (much like their "pregnant women only" parking spaces that Gretchen routinely uses as a form of civil disobedience). I find it impossible to believe that this was the first time I ever tried buying beer in New York State on a Sunday.
When I got out of the store, there was already a slight accumulation of snow developing on the road. I quickly hurried to Lowes for the grout, and then drove home southward down 209. There was enough snow on the road that I couldn't make the turn onto Wynkoop as I normally do (mostly because it is so light, my four wheel drive Toyota has terrible traction in snow). I overshot the turn and had to back up, causing mass confusion in the intersection. Climbing Dug Hill Road proved impossible in two-wheel drive mode, so I had to stop, get out and lock the hubs, and then continue. But even in four-wheel-drive mode I had some difficulty. This was in the steepest part of Dug Hill Road, a quarter mile or so downhill from our driveway.
After putting in the rest of grout on the kitchen floor, I spent much of the rest of day scrubbing hardened grout out of the tiles' surface details. Unlike the tiles used in the upstairs bathroom, these tiles resemble scale models of desert landscapes, each covered with a unique pattern of canyons, pits, and dry lakebeds. Twelve of the tiles were special fancy ones featuring decorative patterns such as flowers or suns embossed into the surface. The grout ended up in all these depressions, and getting it out required systematic stoop work. Over the course of several hours of scrubbing, I managed to tear painful holes in the tips of my right index and middle fingers.

The back of a tile. I don't know why it says "Made in Italy" in English.

A typical undecorated tile.

In the middle of grouting this morning.

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