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:
   sleep after more than 30 hours of awake
Friday, June 15 2018

location: some sort of semi-basement room, Lexington Hotel, Queens, New York, United States of America

At some point Gretchen got up and took a shower, and (because I knew it would feel good) so did I. Both of us were well on our way to packing up the room when the alarm went off on Gretchen's phone. It was early, a little after 6:00am, but we had an early flight to Cancun to catch.
As we had for the Danube trip, we dropped our car off with Charles, the car parking guy who lives five minutes from the airport. And then he drove us to the JetBlue terminal. Though the line leading to security forced us to walk through nearly every square yard in a half-acre indoor space, security itself was relatively painless. They didn't make us take off our shoes or take anything out of our bags.
Any distaction from thoughts of betrayal would've been welcomed, though they were a bit hard to come by as we waited to board our plane. And then it turned out we'd been waiting at the wrong gate and we had run a couple hundred feet to another gate not long before the gate was closed. Our seats in the plane was near the back. We both had aisle seats; mine blocked access to two tablet-obsessed young Asian women with American passports, though they never needed to get up for the entire three and half hour flight. There were few actual Mexicans on the plane; most of the people going to Cancun with us appeared to be white Americans. I would've liked to have slept for most of the flight (and, since I'd been up for over 24 hours, I should've), but only managed to doze off for about 20 minutes as we taxied in preparation for takeoff. JetBlue's seats are bigger and softer than economy seats in other planes, but they were mostly wasted on me during this trip. More useful was the free WiFi, which lasted until just past Cuba. This helped me feel connected to my former colleagues on the first full workday after the events of yesterday. Supposedly there was all sorts of chaos in the remote workplace as things that should've been thought of suddenly became real problems in the absence of anyone who knew anything about how to deal with them. Supposedly Meerkat would be coming to save the day, but he was in England in an unhelpful timezone.
We landed in Cancun in the rain and fairly quickly through immigration and customs (all of which are real in Mexico, even for planes from the United States; somehow I'd forgotten that). The guy who stamped our passports was so practiced at his craft that he actually added small decorative movements, like a drummer twirling his sticks between each beat.
Out in front of airport, past the dozens of people trying to sell us things, we found the family, all of whom had arrived less than an hour before us. Gretchen had already told everyone about what had become of my job, and so everyone was sympathetic. I gave a brief run-down of the Game-of-Thrones-style intrigue that had befallen me and the rest of the backend team. Before too long a van was found for us, and we loaded up for the one-hour drive to the resort where we'd be spending the week, a placed called The Reef Coco Beach in Playa del Carmen (an hour south of Cancun). It's fairly conventional place, reminding me of that resort in the Dominican Republic where Gretchen and I went in February of 2013. It's tutto-incluso (that is, there are bars where the drinks are free, and there are free drinks with dinner), it's a series of multi-story hotel buildings connected by outdoor walkways surrounding a central pool, and there is a stretch of Caribbean beach. It took awhile at the desk to get set up with all the things we needed, and when we arrived only one of our rooms was ready. One big disappointment was that accessing WiFi required an extra expense (which was per-device). There was a bulk rate available, and Gretchen's father paid for it all, but I'm against the entire principle. WiFi is a basic need when traveling, and to nickel and dime over it (especially when drinks are free) just feels like bad faith.
As soon as we had a room, we all went to lunch in the biggest restaurant, which serves food buffet-style. Unfortunately, though, this was a buffet that time had forgotten. Nearly everything had either meat or cheese on it or in it, and that was if it was it wasn't entirely meat or cheese to begin with. I managed to assemble a reasonably good-tasting meal using tortillas, french fries, pasta, cabbage, and pickled jalapeños, though of course what this really needed was some sort of wet protein to hold it all together. Here we were in Mexico, but there was no vat of refried beans like you would've expected. Though plenty of the people around us at this resort appeared to be Mexicans (or at least Latinos), perhaps for many such people the joy of being at a resort is not having to see poverty food like beans. I also drank a Negra Modelo with lunch in hopes of making myself sleepy. As soon as I finished my meal, I excused myself, went back to the room, and after checking the latest from my diaspora of colleagues, I lay down and tried to sleep.
It's important to remember that since waking up after taking ambien on Thursday morning (about 30 hours before), so far I'd only slept for ten or twenty minutes. This was clearly taking a toll on my brain's ability to process information. At JFK airport, everyone had looked physically deformed. Those subtle hallucinations had subsided somewhat, but that might've only been because I'd begun to mentally account for this distorted input.
Fortunately, I did manage to fall asleep and stay asleep for three hours.
Later we all did dinner down in that same buffet restaurant, and the dinner options were even crappier (from a vegan perspective) than the lunch ones had been. Gretchen's parents were forced to order something special from the kitchen. First they produced a ho-hum salad and then a big mound of bow tie noodles mixed with beans. That latter dish isn't too dissimilar from the sorts of food I occasionally concoct, though it was surprisingly flavorless and thus unexpectedly horrid. Still, we all took our uneaten portions back to our rooms for use in adding substance to future meals. I had some white wine with dinner, because why the fuck not?
After dinner, the family all hung out for awhile in Gretchen's parents room. My nephew, whose voice had changed since I'd last seen him and is now 14, is now obsessed with music theory and music composition. He uses some open-source music composition program (probably musescore) to do all the stuff Beethoven and Bach used to do, though with modern editing and versioning and an orchestra of robots. I might've ended up a very different person had I had access to such software when I was a kid. (Instead, I did the best I could with the then-advanced music description technology of Commodore 128 BASIC, which produced a good enough sound from the SID chip for me to compose a tune called "The Tadpole." I have a recording of that, but long ago lost the BASIC program that produced it.)
My nephew's interest in composition isn't surprising, but my eleven year old niece had an interest that took some acclimation. She loves the old newspaper comic called The Family Circus as drawn by Bill Keane. In fact, she loves it so much that her mother buys her old out-of-print collections of it, which she then reads to amuse herself. For those who don't know, The Family Circus is the most milquetoast, vapid, lowest-common-denominator family-friendly humor in existence. My reaction to reading any of its single-pane productions is almost invariably a groan. And I'm not the only one; a whole culture sprung up on the early internet to produce alternative captions for The Family Circus to make it edgier, darker, and dirtier. "Wait," I asked as clarification, "you like The Family Circus, but not ironically?" She might not've known what "ironically" meant, since that is a concept that is difficult for the pre-teen mind to process (or even see the point of). In any case, I assumed her sense of humor was more sophisticated than The Family Circus, since she's routinely funnier than anything one can find in that strip. But yeah, her love of The Family Circus turned out to be sincere. To amuse myself and the others, I read a few of the comics allowed, painstaking describing the picture as well as reading the words. It was actually a fun activity, and by that I mean it was fun both for people who genuinely like The Family Circus and for those who find it soul-crushing. As Gretchen pointed out, The Family Circus rose to prominence in the 1960s as a safe harbor for conventional Americans who were tired of all the conflict and change happening in society. Such people wanted gender roles conformed to and the wisdom of children to be of the least threatening sort.

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