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:
   a good day in July
Friday, July 6 2018
I awoke early this morning, when it was still so cool that I could take a hot bath. This allowed me to shave the week-and-a-half of growth off my face, the longest I'd let it get since the summer of 2008.
My keywording client Alex recently got himself some sort of manager job at a software shop on the east side of the Hudson, and when he heard I'd been fired from Mercy For Animals, he had me send him my resume. Evidently he'd said good things about me, because the software shop called me (during the peak of my recent illness) and convinced me to come in for an interview this afternoon. I hadn't had a real-world interview since something like 2002. While a video interview can be done in boxer shorts, for this one I needed not only a clean pair of trousers but also a nice pair of shoes. A quick inventory of my clothing revealed to Gretchen and me that I really don't have a pair of nice pants that are not also dress pants. The closest thing I had was a pair of grey pants I pretty much wear for all occasions, though they had a mystery stain and needed to be ironed. Fortunately, I managed to get rid of most of the stain using acetone (I suspect it was either spray foam or Gorilla Glue). As for the iron, its effect was miraculous. This was maybe the third or fourth time I'd ever used an iron in my life. I meant to pop a Mexican ritalin before setting out, but that got lost in just giving myself a whore's bath and getting dressed.
The software shop was one of many suites set up in an old factory (or perhaps train station) on the outskirts of the village. It was a beautiful building in a peaceful, almost rural setting.
I walked into the main space, which had an open floor plan with old shutters and windows suspended from the ceiling with cables to divide the floor into various areas. It looked like a great place to work. My vision for my next job had been for it to be remote, but I could see myself getting used to going to a place like this every day. Alex had told me that I could probably eventually work semi-remotely for this shop, but that I would have to go in initially.
We had the interview upstairs in a conference room, with my contact Mxs (the man who would be my boss were I to be hired) and two developers. It was already a good sign that one of the developers, Victoria, was a woman. That indicated that brogrammer energy, even if present, was going to be dilute. But the other programmer, Jxs, was not a brogrammer either. They actually looked like they came from the same demographic as my software developer colleagues at Mercy For Animals had been; hell, they looked like they might already be vegan.
I was a little nervous going into this interview, but I shouldn't've been. It turns out that I'm a knowledgeable, personable person, and I answered the questions with confidence, occasionally anticipating the next question with my answers. If anything, I feel like I talked too much, allowing myself to tell stories that demonstrated the ideas that inform my work. If anything, it was the interviewers who struggled to find things to ask. The two developers were mostly quiet, and the only time that Victoria said anything was the second time I mentioned WordPress, which they all hated, though not as much as she did. I'd gone into the interview admitting I didn't know C#, the language they use for writing backend endpoints, so most of the programming issues had to be discussed in a language-agnostic way.
The developers were dismissed, and Mxs told me the interview had gone well and then proceeded to talk about what was next. He told me the shop was dog friendly and asked if I had allergies. "I have two dogs!" I said with delight. Then I was asked such mundane matters as how I like my workstation set up. Like most people there, I like my back to the wall. I was told that my initial offer would come as early as Monday and be a little on the low side, though I should ask for a raise in six months or so, that productive people get raises, but they have to ask for them.
I should mention that the day as gorgeous sunny one, a bit hot in a car without airconditioning, but not as hot as it had been. But even if it had been a horrible rainy day, it would've found a reason to love it. As I drove homeward, I felt like I'd turned a corner in the crisis that had begun with the premonition of my being fired. indeed, this was perhaps the happiest day I'd had since my 50th birthday, and that might've been the happiest day of my life. Just knowing I can give a good interview did much to lift the fog that had been hanging over me for the better part of a month. I stopped at a convenience store to buy a six pack of Sierra Nevada Torpedo, one of which I drank on the 25 minute drive back home.
Back at the house, I told Gretchen how it had gone, what the place was like, and what my prospects for advancement were, and she seemed genuinely excited. I'd have at least a week to make up my mind after the offer, but, as Gretchen put it, if this was my "safe school," it looked like I wasn't going to be jobless for long.

I almost never come up with ideas of cultural things for Gretchen and me to do together, but yesterday I'd seen something about the Screaming Females performing tonight at the Colony Café, and I'd told Gretchen we should definitely go see them. Gretchen was amazed and delighted that it was actually me coming up with something to do. She reached out to our friends and Sarah the Vegan and Nancy said they'd be going too. Mind you, the Screaming Females are a loud band that falls somewhere in the alternative rock spectrum between metal and punk. Its lead singer (and only actual female), Marissa Paternoster, is something of a guitar virtuoso, which isn't very punk. But the attitude is definitely in that direction. I've watched just about everything Screaming-Females-rleated on YouTube. I'm actually somewhat ambivalent about Marissa's bleat of a singing voice, though its infinite pliability is like nothing else I've heard. Like Stevie Nicks', her voice mixes great with other vocals, such as Shirley Manson from Garbage.
Gretchen and I met Nancy and Sarah at the Colony, where we bought our tickets and them walked to the Garden Café (mostly because that was where Gretchen wanted to go; I gave up on trying to get us to go to Catskill Mountain Pizza instead). At the Garden, we sat outside in the "garden of the garden." I ordered the house burrito, which I disparaged as "the boring burrito," as I ordered it. The waitress asked if I wanted jalapeños in it, and I said that indeed I did! I had that with a side of roasted potatoes and two glasses of the Montepulciano. Nancy and I ate our food fast, Gretchen less so, but the slowest of all was (as always) Sarah. She actually had to be told a couple times to stop talking and to start eating, or we were never going to make it to the Screaming Females show.
The show tonight was set up for younger people, the kind who like to stand or dance in front of their band. All the chairs on the main floor had been cleared out, though a row of tables were available in the balcony with a great view of the stage. We'd been careful to staked out prime real estate before dinner, and the nice punk rock kids who had filled out the place while we'd been eating had not been the sort to encroach on our territory (unlike, say, the other guests at that Mexican resort where we recently stayed; our poolside claims there hadn't counted for much).
There were two opening acts before the Screaming Females. The first of these was Kyle and the Pity Party, four white guys with a straight-forward alternative rock sound. Then came Spowder, which had a butchy female drummer, a femmier female bassist, a dude on guitars, and a spastic singer dude who marched in place and came across as someone with developmental challenges (we, of course, used a different word). They were plenty fun, though it's a little hard to watch someone channeling such a character for more than about fifteen minutes (which is all they played for).
It's common for bands to put their name on their bass drum or whatever, but the only visible lettering on the Screaming Females' equipment was the in large letters on an amplifier: "GET OFF THE INTERNET." Marissa opened one case to reveal all her various pedals, all pre-wired to one another in the arrangement she expects. All she had to do was plug in her guitar and plug the final pedal into whatever it sends its sound to.
The Screaming Females have a somewhat anachronistic sound, one full of solos and chunky guitar rhythms seemingly unaffected by grunge (or, for that matter, the blues). The sound is perhaps closest to, say Dinosaur Jr., though the vocals are coming from a much more powerful spirit. Sadly, the acoustics in the Colony tended to stir all the audio complexity into a muddy brown. I could barely hear anything Marissa was singing, and the subtleties of her guitar were lost as well. But just watching her was fun. She's very industrious onstage, and to pull some things off she has to put all her weight on two disparate pedals at once. She's just little, making the bass player ("King Mike") look like trembling shaggy mountain. He and the drummer can't exactly be slouches, setting up the tight orthogonal foundation for all that Marissa builds on top. I left the balcony to be in front of the stage to see some of this stuff up close. It zwesome to be so connected to something so great on a day that had already been going so well.
After the show, Gretchen forced me to go up to Marissa for a selfie. I'm too shy for that sort of thing; I don't want to impose on busy people who clearly have other things they need to be doing. But Marissa was super sweet about the whole thing, and when Gretchen had trouble getting a good picture with her phone, Marissa took it from her and made whatever adjustments were necessary. Perhaps it was a refreshing having somewhat older fans making a fuss over her. Of course, dealing with older people has its pitfalls; in her fooling around with her phone, Gretchen casually referred to herself as a "retard," a term widely regarded as an obscenity among Millennials. "Oh, you dropped the R-bomb," Marissa declared.

My view of Marissa from the floor.

Gretchen took this photo with her phone.

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