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:
   distinctly male jewelery
Saturday, June 3 2006

setting: Woodland Hills, California

The shoes I've been wearing since arriving in Los Angeles have been a stylish-though-businessy Italian pair I'd bought at a Goodwill last Halloween. I chose to bring these shoes with me on this trip because the company I'm working for maintains one of those worst-of-both-worlds "business casual" work environments. But I've been walking enough at this point to crave a different kind of shoe, something more like a sandal or perhaps a Croc. This morning I walked to the huge escalator-equipped shoe warehouse at Fallbrook Place (DSW Shoes) to see what they had. I'd been there the other day hoping to find Crocs, but there weren't any so today I settled on an ugly pair of flip flops from Addidas. It's hard to find a good pair of light summer footwear, even at a store the size of the Pentagon.
After that I spent a long time in the Starbucks back by the bathrooms drinking an iced coffee and writing with my Sony Vaio laptop. I wasn't using the WiFi because it wasn't free, and the atmosphere near the bathrooms often reeked of disinfectant, but there was a 120VAC plug for my laptop, and, unlike the place where I've been staying, there wasn't any secondhand cigarette smoke.
Finding perfect work environment became the great cause of the day. Eventually I climbed into the Prelude and drove over the Santa Monica Mountains away from the dry swelter of the San Fernando Valley to the coastal cool of my old West LA neighborhood. I took some pictures of my old condo, 12121 Rochester Avenue, which seemed to be doing well. My old perennial tomato vine was gone, but there were a bunch of new potted plants on the landing and porch rail. Otherwise nothing about the neighborhood had changed in the five years since I'd left.
At the place where Rochester merges with Santa Monica Blvd. before crossing Centinela into the City of Santa Monica there used to be a funky little coffee shop where my housemate John and I used to go in the vain hope of meeting interesting young women. (Young women we assumed to be interesting were there, but they never seemed especially interested in finding out how interesting we were.) Even back then before the widespread adoption of WiFi, the local nerd patrol used the place as a hangout, marching in, unsheathing their laptops and doing what we imagined must have been the most god-awfully geeky of things, possibly involving animated chess pieces, princess-lizard hybrids, and dice with 50 sides.
The major change to the coffee shop since the last time I'd had a cup of coffee there is the emergence of WiFi. When arrived there were already a couple of guys there pecking away at their laptops but also nerding out a little to one other using extremely low-bandwidth vocal communications. I ordered some kind of expensive iced coffee drink, hopped onto the network like everyone else By the time my battery had burned down it was time for another drink, so I relocated to a table near a plug and ordered a simple cup of hot coffee. The bartender (the same guy working there in 2001) isn't just a coffee purist, he's also something of a mad scientiest. He's philisophically opposed to the idea of iced coffee and when he made my cup he used a complex proprietary system of beakers, flasks, and other equipment more appropriate to a meth lab than a coffee shop. It had that uniquely (and not entirely pleasant) back-of-the-throat richness I remember from the last time I'd had coffee here.
A steady stream of guys kept showing up with their laptops, getting a drink, and then getting on the network. They'd soon be lost in some part of cyberspace, in the coffee shop physically but really just jacked into the Matrix. It reminded me of something I'd once read about how free WiFi was destroying public coffee culture.
I was definitely there myself, actually doing some drywall and plumbing work to the Matrix's structure. Mike needed me to build an HTML email tool, but I ended up building a flexible pseudotag-based templating system that we'll probably end up using for all sorts of content creation tools.
I was actually working on the beach of the cybersea, if that makes sense. I'd wade into it for a moment to make some little change, but then I'd look around me at the other guys with laptops and wonder how the place was making a go of it. I'd also think to myself, "there aren't a whole lot of ladies here."
At about that time a herd of young Iranian women showed up. They were there for the poofy caffeine drinks, not the WiFi; not a single one of them had a laptop. Later a similar herd of young women with ethnicities from much farther to the East in Asia arrived, and only one of them had a laptop. Are laptops really such distinctly male jewelery?

Later I drove down to the Santa Monica Promenade to wade through the crowds, check out the street magicians and musicians, and admire the massive dinosaur chia sculptures. At some point I fixed myself a boozy drink using an overpriced smoothy as a base fortified with that fecal-flavored rum I've been drinking. Since I had to drive back to the Valley, though, I soon became paranoid about how much I'd been drinking. So I walked to a Panera franchise on Wilshire and sobered up around a cup of coffee and a sandwich while partaking of Panera's free WiFi.
I'd consumed so much caffeine over the course of the day that by the time I started climbing towards the Sepulveda Pass on the 405 my heart was racing and I feeling woozy in my head, familiar feelings from whenever I've taken too much pseudoephedrine. By the time I got down to the 101 I was wondering if I should pull over to give the feeling a chance to pass. Certainly the aggressiveness of the Saturday night drivers around me were only giving me more anxiety.
Somehow, though, I made it home okay and retreated to my room, where a belt of fecal rum leveled out my jitters.

The front door of 12121 Rochester Avenue, the only real estate on the planet that has spent time owned entirely by me. That's the same door the FBI knocked upon on the morning of April 19th, 2001 even as Mohamed Atta and the boys were learning how to fly (but not land) airplanes.

That strange southern californian grass that grows up the hollow centers of perforated iron signposts.

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