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:
   city job interview
Monday, December 19 2011
I got out of bed at a little before 6:00am this morning, meaning I could turn off the alarms that otherwise would have awaken me. After doing all the morning chores and stoking up a big fire in the stove, I drove to the Kingston bus station and caught the 7:30 to Port Authority. The sun was rising on the road to Rosendale, and its disk was so dimmed by atmosphere that I could stare at it and contemplate its vastness. "How big is the disk of the sun?" I wondered, but I didn't have to wonder long; I'd brought Gretchen's Android phone and could immediately do a Google search. It turns out the sun is roughly a million miles across, roughly ten times the diameter of Jupiter (this made it easy to visualize the size difference between them). But then I learned the most interesting thing of all: the orbit of the moon around the Earth is roughly half the diameter of the sun; somehow I had expected its relative size to be smaller.
The bus was packed nearly to capacity after New Paltz, and I found myself seated next to a woman who spent much of the ride writing in her journal (the old kind that one edits with a pen). She was writing paragraphs and making lists, all of them seemingly an effort of self-improvement. One of this was her "Definitely No List" and included such items as procrastinating the purchase of drugs and makeup. Somewhere I saw a single mention of God, though for the most part her writings were too self-centered to be religious. Interestingly, though, I kept also seeing the word "biodiversity" tossed around as something of a non sequitur, in contexts where it didn't appear to make any sense. I took its use in these places to be the jargon of an obscure self-actualization cult, far removed from its meaning in ecological science. Later, though, she whipped out a laptop and started updating her resume, and I could see that her career had mostly been in the field of environmental advocacy.
Buses have no trouble getting into Manhattan even during rush hour; during such times they get their own lane in the Lincoln Tunnel. From Port Authority, I took a Blue-Line subway to 4th Street in the West Village, walking from there to today's job interview, which would be near the corner of Houston and Broadway. Gretchen's Android made it easy to reassure myself that I was heading in the right direction (it turns out that navigation software works well for a pedestrian in the City, particularly in a part of it having an irregular grid).
I was at least a half hour early, so I stood out on Broadway in a sunny spot (it was a cold morning in the shade) and surfed the web on the Android in a manner not dissimilar from the way I surf it when I'm sitting at my computer at home.
Eventually I went into the building and rode the elevator to the 7th floor and, after first making use of the lavatory (it was locked, but a guy with a key let me in), I went to the correct suite. Along the way, there were all sorts of different offices with people engaged in creative endeavors. In one open door I saw people making what appeared to be stage sets.
There were not one but two receptionists at the door of the suite I wherein my job interview was to be. The guy who would be interviewing me was visible in a glass-enclosed office, and I found the electronic process by which the receptionist (the one I ended up using) communicated my arrival somewhat comical.
The interview went very well, focusing almost entirely on the first project I'd be undertaking. It never got especially technical, though it wasn't completely untechnical either. Occasionally other matters would come up; it being a typography firm, I mentioned that I'd made a number of bitmap fonts for the Macintosh back in the early 1990s, and that before that, my first major computer program was a character editor for the VIC-20 (written in 1984). It had only been two or three kilobytes in size, but it could rotate, flip, invert, and move images (like a primitive eight-by-eight pixel version of Adobe Photoshop).
Eventually the guy who co-owns the company was called in and I got to chat with him briefly about my VIC-20 character editor. It turns out he's a legend in the typography world, and supposedly he even pops up in the documentary Helvetica.

After the interview, I felt so good that I needed to walk. I walked down the seven flights of stairs and then out onto the street, where I headed south down Broadway all the way to the Financial District. Being somewhat interested in the progress being made at the site of the World Trade Center, I headed west and ended up composing an email to the recruiter about the interview in the St. Paul's churchyard, which has an easy view of the new spire being built to replace the twin towers. Still, it's amazing how messed-up this piece of real estate remains ten years later. Never have box cutters been so well-leveraged, and this is just a masonry crack compared to the trillion dollar Iraqi rat hole.
On my way back towards Broadway, I passed a fully-paved park that had been completely barricaded by police fencing. I guessed this was Zuccotti Park [I was right], the hub of recent Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. The occupation of the park had been broken up in a brutal early-morning raid five weeks ago, and now it had been fenced off and made into a free-speech-free zone. Should anyone decide to scale the fence and re-occupy it, there were plenty of uniformed police officers standing around without a whole lot to do. Despite all this, there was nevertheless a small demonstration happening on the eastern edge of the park just outside the barricade (technically, they were sandwiched between the park's easternmost barricade and an additional barricade isolating the protest from the sidewalk along Broadway). There were actually a number of breaks in the park's barricade and it was still possible to enter it, but presumably the police weren't letting in anyone who looked like a protester. One person I saw inside the park was a bored kid who was jumping aimlessly from bench to bench (there are a lot of such benches in Zuccotti Park, and they're all bolted down to the shiny granite flagstones).
At one point I felt like I was getting a bout of heart palpitations, but it turned out to be the Android vibrating in my shirt pocket instead. It was the job recruiter wanting to know how the interview had gone. I said it had gone great and that I wanted the job. She (the recruiter) hadn't yet heard anything from the potential employer, which was a little odd. But I then again, nothing happens very quickly in the typography industry.
Eventually I caught a Blue Line subway north to 23rd Street, and then walked several long blocks east to Burritoville, an authentic California-style burrito restaurant that Gretchen and I used to love. The place seemed a little different today than I remembered it. Where was the salsa bar (an essential part of any authentic burrito joint)? The woman who served me had such an impenetrable accent that I'm unsure my specification of "vegetarian" was heeded. She threw something that looked suspiciously like a meat product into my burrito, and I had to wave her away from the cheese. To top it off, the corn chips she gave me looked like they'd come out of the bottom of a bag of Tostitos; they were definitely not restaurant-style. I managed to find free WiFi (Thanks, Netgear!) and read an article about Callista Gingrich's appallingly fake-looking helmet of hair. As for the burrito, I tried not to look at it too carefully in case it contained meat. Whatever it contained, it wasn't very good. [I later learned that Burritoville was bought up by a guy from the Blimpie chain and completely restructured. Evidently the California authenticity of its product was lost in the shuffle. If you don't understand why a salsa bar is necessary in a burrito restaurant, your probably don't understand much about the business.]
I walked north up to and beyond Port Authority, looking vaguely for a Rudy's Bar & Grill (a plywood-floored dive bar whose name I couldn't remember). It would have been fun to celebrate my good job interview with a Jack on the rocks in a nasty place like that. But instead I walked north some number of blocks, then went west to 10th Avenue, and back south again. Without any idea of what else to do, and concerned about taking a rush hour bus, I caught the 4:00 bus to Kingston.

I don't spend much of my life out in society, particularly in a cooped-up capsule with strangers for two hours. There was some guy back behind me, maybe as much as ten seats away, and I kept hearing him making a dreadful noise from his nose as he tried to pull back whatever snot was trying to escape. He'd make this sound every seven seconds or so. I'd taken my headphones off because they had begun to hurt my ear cartilage, but I couldn't take that horrible noise.

The gleaming tower of 1 World Trade Center rising through the trees of St. Paul's Churchyard.

A ghost image of a vanished building in Lower Manhattan.

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