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

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(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   two adjacent households
Sunday, April 10 2005
Gretchen returned home today from New York City while I was in the midst of continued ditch digging combined with the ever-present possibilty of an incident of Eleanor training. At this point all my digging is concentrated just west of the front door slab, where water had a tendency to pond in the past. In case you've forgotten, that slab itself used to actually slope towards the house, and one of my first outdoor landscaping tasks was to veneer it with a wedge of mortared bluestone so it would shed water away from the house. Now, finally with this ditch project, that water has a place to go.
This afternoon Gretchen and I went to Tillson to attend a purported "croquet" party at the residence of the people I refer to as "Mr. and Ms. Tillson." But we never actually got around to playing croquet and the only other person who showed up was this new guy named Brad. We stood around in the back yard talking with beers in hand while the sun shone down without any sort of mitigation; the Tillsons don't have a single tree in their backyard. This is sort of an overcompensation for when they were our neighbors on Dug Hill Road and lived in a converted meat locker on the edge of a dark evergreen forest, a place where their gardening efforts yielded only spinach. Now they have plenty of sunny yard yearning to be tilled but there are few places to escape from the sun. One of their neighbors has a number of nice Red Oaks, but the most expensive architecture on his lot is the garage beneath his trailer and he wouldn't even have any trees if only he could afford the expense of having them cut down.

In the evening Gretchen and I took the secret ninja path across the ravine to our downhill neighbors's house because we'd been invited over for dinner. Mr. S, the old man of the house, immediately fixed us all a round of martinis, saying he always makes them with vodka and never gin because fights tend to break out when members of the family drink gin. This was the first hard liquor I'd drunk in a month.
Then Mr. S proceeded to get something off his chest, taking us back to the incident in December when he'd slipped and fallen on our iced-over walkway while attempting to deliver bacon (he's delighted by the fact that I eat meat on occasion and willfully ignorant of our house's no-meat policy). It turned out he'd broken a few ribs in the fall, but had managed to recover without incurring any medical expenses (or so he said). We expressed our apologies and Gretchen added that the incident was the reason I was now in the midst of a major drainage project, one big enough to require a jackhammer.
Tonight's dinner featured spätzle and a traditional Austrian lentil dish suitable for a vegetarian like Gretchen. Otherwise the only meat came in the form of sausages, two of which I politely ate.
As always, conversation was full of interesting little stories, like the time the Mr. S was cutting meat as a young butcher back in 1949 and nearly severed his left index finger. Amazingly, a doctor was able to reattach all his tendons in an entertaining operation done under local anæsthetic. Unfortunately, though, that operation had to be done a second time because the first was followed by a crazy night of drinking and partying in which Mr. S ruined all the stitches. I looked at the Mr. S's hand and that was the only obvious scar, which is surprising given how many decades he worked as a butcher.
Another story concerned a former son-in-law who managed to quit drinking and cleaned up his life after his marriage with the Mr. and Ms S's daughter disintegrated. The Ss stayed in contact and Mr. S and he even went skiing together, whereupon the former son-in-law had a freak accident and broke his neck. To this day you can see him occasionally in downtown Kingston going about his business in an electric wheelchair. "What does this mean?" was the question, possibly asked only by implication. "I'll tell you what it means," Gretchen volunteered. "There is no God!" Hearing this, Mr. S grabbed her hand and shook it enthusiastically. What were the chances that two adjacent households in rural Hurley would be occupied by atheists (even if one houses a lifelong butcher and the other an animal rights activist)?
Later Gretchen and the Ss had a long, detailed conversation about opera, concluding with the Ss loaning us a vinyl record and a CD. What were the chances that two adjacent households in rural Hurley would be occupied by opera lovers?

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