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

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Like my brownhouse:
   gravel trucker shop talk
Tuesday, August 10 2010

location: five miles south of Staunton, rural Augusta County, Virginia

Josh Furr came out again today and though I love him to death, the prospect of another day spent with him sitting around asking me about whether or not I remember various dumpy women from our high school was more than I could take. At some point I climbed Pileated Peak (it's highest point is at 38.097923N, 79.125552W) with a cellphone so I could catch up with Gretchen. On the way up the hill, I passed the old "temple" burial ground where I'd laid many chickens and even the bones of my old dog Wilbur to rest. Someone had dug through the weeds and unearthed the old Betströ and Forager headstones I'd carved from some sort of fiberboard back in the early 1980s. Amazingly, they were as intact as they day I'd carved them, though moss had taken refuge in the incising of the letters.
Over on "Horizon Field," which is now a dense grove of White Pine that I'd planted in the mid-1980s, I lost cellphone reception. It didn't come back even after I emerged on the south end of the field, on a seven acre property that I hadn't known had been subdivided in two. The additional house was the standard doublewide (or perhaps glorified doublewide) that ends up on all small Stingy Hollow parcels. Such doublewides and "houses" typically have at leasst one whole wall (often the south-facing one!) that is completely devoid of windows. Recently someone had decided to clear the brush and some of the trees from the forest near the boundary with Horizon Field, producing an enormous pile of downed pines onto which they'd thrown a large number of lumber scraps. If I were still a preteen playing in these woods, I would see this as an incredible resource, a veritable Lowe's lumber yard, but conveniently-placed and completely free.
I also went to the north along this same general contour of Pileated Peak, ending up at basin-like structure that my father used to think was a collapsed cave (a sink hole). The depth and width of this basin has never changed in the 30 years we've known about it, so perhaps it has other origins. Near it was an enormous Northern Red Oak I had forgotten existed. Even big trees can experience noticeable growth over the course of 30 years.
Down at the doublewide, Josh was still hanging out. He said that if he were home, he'd just be staring at a wall with nothing to do. At least here it was a different wall. Or Stingy Hollow Road, which displays animated sprites of moving vehicles once every ten minutes or so. Actually, today Stingy Hollow was busier because VDOT was fixing asphalt further up the road. It didn't take long before Josh had determined that there were three different trucks delivering gravel, and that two of the drivers were cautious and one was more of a hotdog. Coming from a truck driving background and having years of experience driving garbage trucks and even snow plows, for him watching these gravel deliveries provided a delicious opening for shop talk.
Eventually I broke away from this somewhat dreary scene and drove into Staunton to get a little more coffee-shop based web development done. This time I went to Coffee on the Corner, which is on the corner of Beverley and New Streets. As you might expect for a coffee shop that shares a block with a Shakespearean Theatre and has views of both a synagogue and a non-Bible college, this place was actually kind of hip. There were a surprising number of hip young adults hanging out with their laptops. By comparison, it made Blue Mountain Coffee look like a Denny's. Sadly, Coffee on the Corner seemed to suffer from the same problem as Blue Mountain when it came to closing time, which for them was six pm. Evidently a coffee shop will go bankrupt in Staunton if it tries to stay open into the evening. [REDACTED]
I needed to do some more work, so I went down to the Wharf (where Blue Mountain Coffee is). It was closed, of course, but perhaps I could sit outside at the nearby Byers Street Bistro and drink a beer and have some fries. I'd been having a good almost Portland-grade experience in downtown Staunton this trip, but I pushed my luck when I asked the blond waitress at the Bistro whether she had any IPAs. Sadly, no, so I ended up with a Magic Hat. I don't normally drink on Tuesdays, but under my personal system of self control (PSSC), I can make no-penalty exceptions while traveling out of state. Sadly, though, the whole reason for drinking that beer was so I could have a pleasant experience while continuing to work. But I could only barely get Blue Mountain's wifi signal from the Bistro's outside patio area. It wasn't a good enough signal to do any work. In the end I had to finish up my internet work from that goddamn fire escape again.

My childhood home, how it looks these days from the road.

The stream just south of the house. Compare with the following picture from 1998:

The roadway shoulder where the road crosses the floodplain, south of the house.

Power line across the base of Pileated Peak. Supposedly the power company uses chainsaws suspended from helicopters to keep trees away from the lines these days. That's preferable to herbicide.

Headstones in the "temple."

Betström's headstone.

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