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:
   Kitchenette and a movie
Saturday, November 28 2015
After Saturday morning coffee, my mentee was delivered by his mother, and I led up to my laboratory for what ended up being a four hour mentorship session. He's a shy seventeen year old, and I tried to do what I could to make him feel comfortable being here. I asked him about his interests outside software development, and he said track & field. Initially it had seemed he was interested in game development, and that still seemed to be the case. So for now, as a provisional project for our mentorship, we decided to work on a multiplayer race game. At first he thought the game would be racing virtual machines, but I heard "race" and thought "animals," an idea my mentee seemed to like. From there, I gave him a rudimentary course on relational databases using my ever-useful Tableform database tool.
My mentor needed a server home for the code he'd be writing, so I created an account for him on my virtual private server. This automatically gave him FTP access to his own directory, and to get Apache to serve web pages from it wasn't too difficult once my web research told me about a2enmod, which I needed to turn on something called userdir. This allowed my mentor to view his web pages at by including a slash, a tilde, and his username. I'd never created a Linux "tilde account" before, though I've used several since I began my life on the web back in 1996.
My last lesson of the day was to create a simple PHP page to demonstrate dynamic generation of HTML markup and a for loop. I then ported the code to javascript to show how the same code worked running entirely client-side. There was perhaps a lot to learn (and I had to keep defining unfamiliar terms such as "open source," "LAMP stack," "view source," and "object-oriented." But my mentor is smart and seemed to absord information quickly.
Four hours later, after my mentor's mother picked him up again, my layrnx felt exhausted from all the talking I'd done. But I also felt like I'd done a good job. Gretchen admitted to eavesdropping on me and being impressed by the questions I'd been asking and the way I'd been handling things.

This evening Gretchen and I drove to the Rosendale Theater to see The Walk, a dramatization of the wire-walking career of Philippe Petit, who famously performed a guerilla high-wire walk between the twin towers of the old World Trade Center in 1974. We stopped along the way in High Falls for dinner at a newish restaurant called Kitchenette (in the building formerly occupied by the High Falls Café). I'd done some research and found several surprising vegan options on their menu, so we were excited to check it out. Gretchen ordered an entrée salad and a vegan chickpea burger and I ordered the vegan faux fish & chips. We also got a vase full of onion rings (called "onion donuts" on the menu) to share. Practically everything I ate was deep fried and it was great, though I could barely make a dent in the chips part of the fish & chips, so I got a to-go container for Ramona and Eleanor. The "fish" looked like a rectangular block of tofu that had been battered and fried, but it actually tasted really good even apart from its oily golden shell. The only complaint about our meal was that our waiter used manipulative language to upsell Gretchen on Titos vodka in her bloody mary.
Our big conversational insight during our meal at Kitchenette was that a person's verbal tics give a clue to that person's essential character. For Nancy, the tic is "It's weird..." This reflects her fascination with the odd; indeed, she's a good curator of oddness, even though she rarely applies her conversational tic to the sorts of odd things she likes to mentally collect. Then there's Sarah the Vegan, whose tic is "I don't know..." which points to a lack of self confidence that is one of the largest forces in her life. Then there is Gretchen's father, whose tic is "My point is..." This reflects a conversational style in which he does the talking and others gather to do the listening.
The Rosendale Theater was unusually crowded tonight because Philippe Petit, the main character in The Walk, would be appearing in person for a Q&A after the movie (supposedly these days he lives in Woodstock). Gretchen knows the secret of the Rosendale Theater: the seats in the front rows are perfectly good places to sit because the entire auditorium is pushed back from the screen by a stage. Still, tonight even these front seats were taken. We found ourselves surrounded by children who looked to be between the ages of 8 and 12. They were excited to be allowed to see a movie with a PG rating, though later I could hear them tittering at the mild obscenities (such as "bullshit") and being grossed out by the one passionate kiss. As for the movie, it was really very entertaining. But I have a healthy respect for the dangers of heights and when scenes moved the top of the World Trade Center, the palms of my hands became drenched with sweat. Despite the fact that I knew the outcome, it was suspenseful in perhaps the original sense of the word. In The Walk, Philippe Petit is portayed as obsessive and selfish, but later when the real Philippe Petit came out on stage, he seemed charming and generous, taking lots of questions. These tended to arrange themselves in the shape of a bell curve on the scale from terrible question to good. One kid in front of us asked, "How did it feel to walk between the towers?" to which he responded, "Did you watch the movie?" And a youngish hippie woman somehow made her question be all about herself while simultaneously being an invitation for Philippe Petit to join her in bed.

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