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:
   ticket in Esopus
Sunday, September 19 2004

setting: Martha Jefferson Neighborhood, Charlottesville, Virginia

This morning Nathan and Janine took me out for breakfast to the Tip Top Diner out on US 250 on Pantops "Mountain." Normally we would have gone to a more central place like the much dirtier Blue Moon Diner, but I happened to have timed my visit during one of the periods of Charlottesville's unfolding history when the Blue Moon Diner happened to be closed. (People say "closed" as if it's forever, but I know better.)
Being in a rather blue collar part of town, the Tip Top Diner's customers had a strong red state feel to them. Our waitress seemed very authentic, referring to us individually as "honey" and delivering a profuse apology for not bringing the coffee when she first came to our table, a crime we hadn't even noted. I'm not much of a breakfast person, but Tip Top is hardcore about breakfast and it didn't look like it would have been possible to order a sandwich at this hour. So I ordered "biscuits and gravy" (an option I'd never pick in a diner of suspect cleanliness). Nathan kept suggesting I get other things as well, and I as long as they didn't contain eggs I said sure, bring me that too. One of these additional dishes was beef hash, something I sort of had to struggle through.
As I was getting in my car to head back to Staunton, Nathan exchanged a little smalltalk with the neighbor across the road who was mowing his grass with an electric mower. He's Indian (dot not feather) and he's married to a Mexican woman. He claims he's had to fix his mower's cord multiple times after accidentally mowing it.

Back at my parents' place south of Staunton, I found my old buddy Josh Furr diligently working at the task of mixing concrete for the installation of a fencepost. My mother was standing nearby, supervising. I hadn't seen Josh since 1998, and he'd gained a lot of weight. In those missing years Josh had gotten into a disagreement with some rednecks that ended with him firing a shotgun at them while they sat in their pickup truck, a crime that put Josh first in jail and then in a mental institution. Now he's on supervised parole, working as a sanitation engineer (trashman) for the City of Staunton. He takes medicine to combat supposed mental issues, and a side effect of this has been the weight gain. Another side effect is Josh's quiet, focused personality. I'd expected him to greet me with enthusiasm after so many years, but he said almost nothing to me at all, choosing instead to continue his fencepost assignment without interruption. My mother says she pays him ten dollars an hour; perhaps he feared that she'd feel ripped off if he stopped working for even a minute. After all, my mother is nutty about money issues.
I didn't know what to think of Josh's new quietness. I didn't blame him or feel insulted, since he also expressed an interest (through my mother but not to me directly) of maybe coming to visit me in Hurley sometime and bringing Don along.
I'd been getting along so well with Don on this visit that I would have happily taken him back to Hurley with me for extended stay, and he was very eager to go. But my parents, who are extremely resistant to change, nixed the idea, expressing fears that he'd get lost on the train ride home. It didn't matter that I could arrange to have friends meet him at all the train stations where he'd have to transfer because what was being suggested was at variance with, you know, unbreakable routine. The more of Gretchen I absorb into my personality, the more maddeningly inflexible my parents seem to be.

My drive back to Hurley was mostly uneventful until the stretch of Thruway between New Paltz and Kingston. I was in the left lane doing more than eighty miles an hour when the guy in front of me suddenly dove into the right lane. Stupid me, I didn't see the cop in the median strip until it was too late. I pulled into the right lane and drove a modest 70 mph, but that bastard was on his way. He wrote me my ticket with a minimum of delay and I was soon back on the road, now going about 75 mph. Now, had I known that there were two hits of wedding present ecstasy in the backseat (there were!) I would have been a lot more nervous, but apparently I didn't fit the profile of someone who needs to have his car strip searched.
I'd been driving fast the whole way, mostly listening to the CB radio for warnings about "bears." But somewhere in western Pennsylvania this one trucker really got on my nerves and I ended up switching it off, and I'm sure that had something to do with my getting pulled over. I'd also been hurrying towards the end so I could be sure to see the season premier of the Wire at 10pm, but I ended up seeing the rerun at midnight after Gretchen came home from whatever it was she'd been doing over in Dutchess County.

Here, see some pictures from my Virginia trip.

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