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:
   offensive in its absence
Wednesday, August 27 2008
I had a dental appointment this morning, so (for the first time since fixing its brakes), I took the hatchback. I should have taken it for a test drive before deciding to drive it to an appointment, because it was soon clear that the car was not ready for a drive of several miles. I heard a clunking sound coming from one of the wheels, almost certainly the front passenger side one where I'd replace the disc brake calipers. The clunking happened without me applying any brake pressure, though the brakes themselves seemed to work just fine. I stopped a half mile down Dug Hill Road at the bus turnaround and went out to look at the wheels. While I was doing this, the idling car died and then (because the battery was weak) I couldn't start it. So I had to walk back home up the hill and use the other car to drive to my appointment.
Regarding the problematic crown on my troubled upper leftmost incisor, my dentist gave me several options. We could make a new crown for it or we could just glue the old one back on, perhaps with super-dooper glue imported from Japan (and lacking instructions in a Latin character set). He said the crown actually didn't fit my stump terribly, though it was a little loose. But the glue should be able to fill any spaces between the stump and the crown, and if I'm lucky and the Japanese manufacturers knew what they were doing, then perhaps this time it won't be undermined.
While I was sitting there in the dentist's chair waiting for some stage of the process, I overheard a political conversation between two poorly-informed citizens. One of these was the receptionist, a Polish woman with a strong accent (she frequently speaks Polish with some of the members of the dental staff who are also Polish). The other citizen was a prototypical ugly American, the kind foreigners are spared because they never actually make it out of America. He spoke with a loud bazoo voice and seemed intent on taking up absolutely all of the receptionist's time when he should have been quietly thumbing through Guns & Ammo Magazine. Early in the conversation, I learned that this gentleman had a job that involved stocking and equipping a corn maze in the Esopus Valley near the intersection of Route 28 and Hurley Mountain Road. He'd actually come to today's appointment in a "haunted van," which he admitted to being a little embarrassed to drive. From the way he was talking, he seemed like such an ugly, dopey American that I was actually a little impressed that he was being so friendly with someone of slightly exotic origin. But all that faded when their conversation turned to politics. At this point it became clear that both Ugly American and the Polish receptionist hadn't been paying much attention to political developments. And it also became clear that Ugly American was expressing opinions he thought a female Polish receptionist might agree with. I head him say that he'd vote for Hillary, but not for "what's his name." "Yeah, he's too old," said the receptionist, not having pegged Ugly American as well as I had. "No, not McCain," said Ugly American. "Obama. I just don't think we're ready. We're ready for a woman, but not for..." He couldn't bring himself to say it, but I could read his mind through the cheap office door, and the word he didn't say was just as offensive in its absence. The most pathetic thing about this exchange was that Ugly American thought he was concealing his racism. He'd said he didn't think "we're ready" when what he was signifying was that he didn't think he was ready. And he wasn't the kind who would be ready for a woman president either, but he was trying to ingratiate himself with a woman receptionist. If she'd been black, he wouldn't have talked about the readiness of people for a black president, but he might have found something nice to say about Condoleeza Rice and Tiger Woods. Their conversation trailed off from there, but by this point the Polish receptionist had figured out the Ugly American and was trying to reciprocate with the ingratiation. When I heard her proposing a nonsensical John McCain-Hillary Clinton ticket, I rolled my eyes up and took in the stained drop ceiling above me.

I got home just in time for Gretchen to make a haircut appointment in Tivoli. On the way, she dropped me off with a salvaged Honda Civic battery at the bus turn around, and I drove the hatchback home. A little research convinced me that the clunking I was hearing was a temporary condition that inevitably happens when a set of calipers is mated with an unfamiliar disc. I drove the car up Dug Hill Road to see if the clunking was going away and, little by little, it seemed to be. While I was up that way, I spied a motherload of cut pieces of a large oak tree and loaded it into my car. Parts of it were a little rotten (one piece had Chicken of the Woods growing on it), but it was a real find nevertheless.

As I have been for the past several days, today I alternated between web development and hole digging. The former can be frustrating, and some of the best web development ideas come to me when I'm swinging a mattock. To help me with my hole digging, today I built a little wooden set of steps to help me climg into and out of the hole. For awhile I'd left a step made of earth, but a couple days ago I stopped carrying dirt out of that side of the hole. A set of wooden steps means I can emerge from the hole anywhere I want. There are only two steps on the contraption, and it's only 22 inches high, but the average depth of the hole will probably end up being less than 24 inches anyway.

Gretchen made a dinner of fake chicken breasts laid on a bed of cous cous. The fake chicken was a new European import and surprisingly convincing. With our meal, Gretchen cracked open a bottle of red wine, something she almost never does. (Unlike me, Gretchen usually needs to be reminded to drink alcoholic beverages.) Gretchen had thought the women's basketball season was restarting today following a recess for the Olympics. But she was off by a day, so we ended up watching A to Zeppelin, an unofficial Led Zeppelin documentary on Roku. It was a super low-budget production, with absolutely no Led Zeppelin music in the soundtrack. For interviews, the filmmakers used some very low-quality audio clips of Led Zeppelin band members that sounded as if they were standing next to a whitewater rapids. There were also video interviews, but they were mostly of Zeppelin groupies and long faded rock stars (including guys from Bad Company and -eek!- Foreigner). But the filmmakers also somehow landed Marky Ramone of the Ramones.

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