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:
   eight minute Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 22 2007

setting: Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland

It was an unusually warm day for a Thanksgiving, the outdoors demanding only a teeshirt and a pair of trousers, and those more for modesty than the retention of the body's hundred-watt output of heat.
When not walking the dogs with me in Sligo Creek Park, Gretchen spent most of her time in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on various components of today's vegan feast. I felt a little like a lazy no good husband as I kicked back in the living room with my laptop But Gretchen's parents' kitchen, though it is large and outfitted well, is configured in such a way that it's hard for more than one industrious cook to operate in it at one time. (Two non-industrious cooks could work in it just fine, but that describes neither me nor Gretchen. I tend to move quickly when I'm working in a kitchen, though I admit most of this is wasted motion.)
At some point in the afternoon, Gretchen's brother and his wife arrived from Pittsburgh with their dual contributions to the Post-Peak-Oil generation. Someday they'll be scrounging for food and energy in a smoldering, irradiated, ruined world, but that's all in their future; for now their most serious complaints are about Mommy, Daddy, Bubbie, and/or Zadie not having given them attention over a swath of time most usefully measured in seconds.
The people who would be coming to dinner started arriving in the late afternoon, after a spread of vegan finger foods and crackers had been arranged in the living room. Among those arriving was U.S. Representative Brian Ba!rd (who represents the 3rd District of Washington State in its southwest). Ba!rd's wife works at the National Institutes of Health and that is how they know Gretchen's father. Ba!rd, a Democrat, is also a vegetarian (and possibly a vegan), something he probably doesn't emphasize in the political campaigns he wages in his relatively conservative House district.
I'd been surprised when I'd heard he was going to be at today's meal. I'd thought that the reality of modern political life necessitates the "constant campaign" and that no House member would ever engage in a social call that wasn't somehow tied to fundraising, constituent interests, or campaigning. Attending a vegan feast in Silver Spring was related to none of those activities.
Those of you who have been following the Iraq debacle closely know Brian Ba!rd as the Democratic congressman who went to Iraq, was convinced that the surge was working, and returned home a convert (to the widespread derision of the lefy blogosphere). He's an intelligent, curious guy, one who views the war itself as a mistake, and his views are more nuanced than they've been portrayed, but it's also possible some fraction of his surge happy talk is what any swing-district Democrat would be expected to say to placate the conservatives in his constituency.
Together Ba!rd and his wife have twins who are nearly three years old and who accompanied them to today's Thanksgiving meal. Before long they'd joined the others in sampling the vegan goodies.
At this juncture in the story I'll note that I've not yet grown accustomed to the sight of young children fondling bowls full of food with no intention of eating any or of taking things from their mouths and placing them back into the bowls. Having witnessed such things, the affected bowls immediately get flagged with a mental indication of contamination and I lose all interest in eating any more food from them.
After awhile everyone was relocated to the dining room and the vegan food was passed around. The centerpiece was nutloaf wrapped in puffed pastry, though there was also green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, a rice artichoke salad, potatoes slathered in asparagus pesto, and other things I've forgotten. It was all surprisingly filling, particularly the nut roast, whose core consists of a powder made from the most fattening types of nuts on the planet: Macadamia and Brazil.
The children couldn't be expected to appreciate the finer points of vegan gourmet cuisine, so Gretchen and her parents had cooked up pasta and veggie dogs. Kids that age (three and less) prefer the blandest, whitest food possible, so the pasta with butter on it was a real hit with them. They didn't want any lousy veggie dogs.
After about eight minutes of feasting, the children were done with the meal and fled the table on their own, forcing their parents to run after them. Soon they could be heard off in the living room playing with primary-colored toys. Before long they'd graduated to more fragile, more subtly-colored toys. Repeatedly one of the kids ran past swinging a clay bell (one of the house's thousands of artifacts from overseas travel). The bell had a beautiful, mellow ring. When it inevitably smashed, Gretchen matter-of-factly observed, "We all knew that was coming, right?"
The meal unraveled quickly after that, although somehow there was a secondary rally for dessert. At some point off in the distance we could hear Gretchen's brother strumming on a guitar and singing such classics as "The Wheels on the Bus" and "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ (Now I've Said My ABCs)."
By this point it was clear that children had completely hijacked Thanksgiving, and now everyone was expected to behave at a level entertaining to three year olds. Gretchen and I retreated to the kitchen to clean up the mess and maintain a final refugium of irreverent adultness (the kind that many would criticize as juvenile). As I rinsed plates, I took occasional sips from my wine and mocked the songs with my own versions.

The butthole on the bus goes fart poop fart, fart drip fart, fart poop fart
The butthole on the bus goes fart poop fart, fart drip fart, fart poop fart
And smells really bad.

The penis on the bus goes squirt squirt squirt, squirt squirt squirt, squirt squirt squirt
The penis on the bus goes squirt squirt squirt, squirt squirt squirt, squirt squirt squirt
And is encrusted with smegma.

The heroin dealer on the bus says 'I got good stuff! I got good stuff! I got good stuff!'
The heroin dealer on the bus says 'I got good stuff! I got good stuff! I got good stuff!'
All through the town.

The prostitute on the bus says, 'Hey baby! Hey baby, Hey baby!"
The prostitute on the bus says, 'Hey baby! Hey baby, Hey baby!"
All through the town.

The pedophile on the bus says...

(You get the idea.)

We were cracking each other up and laughing beyond the point at which our bellies had begun to hurt. This reminded me of the first time I'd met Gretchen, at a "meet the others in your co-op" event back in Oberlin in August of 1988. The "Loose Ends Co-ordinator" had been getting us all to play goofy games to get to know each other, and I'd found myself standing next to Gretchen. When I saw her rolling her eyes contemptuously at the indignity of it all, my first thought about her was, "Now that's my kind of girl."

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