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
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   watching HGTV in 2007
Monday, May 28 2007
Because the recovery of Eleanor's knee requires weeks of confinement from the sorts of activities she'd prefer to engaged herself in, and since I'm the only human at the house right now, I've found myself spending a lot of time in the little "studio apartment" we'd set up for her (and ourselves) in the first floor office. And, since now there's a teevee there as well, I've found myself watching a lot of live teevee, usually of the low-investment variety. By low investment, I mean programming that I can take or leave and don't have to pay much attention to for them to provide a marginal entertainment benefit. As I move into middle age, I've found that HGTV is the ideal network having this sort of programming. One moment someone is coming up with a creative way to make a wall "pop," and in the next someone is telling me about the psychology of making my house appealing to potential buyers. If I miss a chunk of it because I've tuned out and begun surfing the web on my iBook, it doesn't really matter because if something interesting is happening, HGTV programs are repetitive enough that attention will probably be drawn to it several times. It's also good to get a little caught up on television advertising, something I blast through and never see when the Tivo has pre-recorded my programs.
One thing that is amusing, in a sort of world-weary ironic way, is how completely non-edgy most HGTV programming is. Someone completely redecorates a dumpy couple's dreary suburban ranch to make it look like an ultra-hip SoHo loft, and you can be sure that when the reveal happens at the end, the overwhelmed housewife will exclaim "Gosh!" instead of the three letter name of the creator of the Universe.
Lately, though, there appears to be a move afoot at HGTV to bring in edgier hosts, if not content. Now there's at least one design show, Creative Juice, with a hostess sporting weird piercings (well, by the standards of 1987) and obviously dyed hair. And there's a new show featuring an obviously gay gentleman proudly displaying his tribal tattoo in his promo. Perhaps due to the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, there's a fair amount of gay content on HGTV these days, though no special attention is drawn to it. It seems that as many as a quarter of the houses featured in the programs are occupied by same-sex couples, and a good fraction of the designers and infra-hosts brought in to set houses straight are themselves anything but.
It's been awhile since I went through my last HGTV watching binge, and since then the housing market has gone on the skids. So it comes as no suprise to find that there's a crop of new shows about the magic and psychology of selling houses. HGTV is there to help people with the housing problems they are actually having; back when it was a seller's market, all the shows were about buying houses.
In the course of watching all the design and room makeover shows on HGTV, I find the most annoying quality is the repetitiveness of the language. The word "home" is always substituted for "house," even in cases where it makes no sense. Post-makeover rooms always end up being "sanctuaries," "oases," or "retreats." Features in a room, even blandly functional ones like walls, can be made to "pop." "Dated" is always used as a term of disparagement, though it never is applied to things that are truly old. Has no one figured out yet that stainless steel refrigerators will someday enter the realm of "dated" too? (I'm reminded of what Kirk Hammett said in Some Kind of Monster about the absence of guitar solos in today's music, how it will date those songs to today.)

I mowed the grass today with the spool mower, a job that Gretchen normally does. We haven't used the gasoline mower in over a year now; perhaps I can make something more interesting out of its single-stroke engine. Unfortunately, though, the spool mower does a pretty bad job of cutting the grass. It seems to knock it down flat in preference to actually cutting it, and even when it does cut it, it's more like it gums the the grass into submission, leaving grass leaves only semi-detached from their stalks. Still, my new rule of environmentally-sound lawn management remains as follows: if you can't physically cut your lawn with a spool mower, your lawn is too big. Our lawn is somewhat smaller this year than it was last year due to gradual forest encroachment along its western edge and the new 100 square foot surrender garden with its nascent vegetables. (We surrendered lawn to this more practical land use.)

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