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:
   lucky jab
Thursday, March 18 2021
I spent an alarming amount of my workday today trying to get my tax importing software to compile on my work-issued laptop. I'd developed the code from late 2018 until well into 2019, with a number of sprints since then. The code is written in Typescript, Javascript, and Microsoft SQL and it lives completely in the world of node package manager (npm), with Angular 7 in the frontend and NodeJS in the backend. Like probably everyone, I don't really understand how npm works. Encantations normally cause various predictable things to happen, but under the hood there is a gigabyte of files that track remote repositories, all of it configured by various files. From experience, I know npm setups are brittle, and it doesn't take much to bring the whole thing crashing down, especially if you update the wrong library. Today I needed my tax importer development environment working but I found it in a state of ruin. Mysterious errors appeared when I issued an npm run, and StackOverflow suggestions when I Googled these errors didn't magically work. And the whole thing is essentially magic, since there is no way any one person can understand what all of this stuff means.
I battled my npm installation for several hours, trying different things and rolling back different libraries. Sometimes the errors would change, but then sometimes errors that I'd thought I'd fix would reassert themselves. Eventually, in desperation I decided to pay more attention to what was happening in my npm setup. There's a file called package.json which lists all the module dependencies, along with their versions. I decided to see what versions of a couple packages were mentioned in the version of package.json in the Bitbucket repository, particularly the package @types/node and electron. It turned out that the last working version of @types/node was 8.9.4, though the latest available version is beyond version 15. And the last working version of electron was 3.0.8, though the latest version is 13. That's how much change has happened in just the last two years. When I reverted to the older versions of @types/node and electron, my compiles of the tax importer once more worked. The fix was actually fairly easy, but it required me stepping slightly out the magical thinking I'd been using.

While continuing to clean the laboratory, I managed to find a slide-out keyboard tray. It was the kind that screws to the bottom surface of a table, and I had no memory of buying it (though the price tag suggested I'd bought it from a thrift store). There's been a small provisional table just north of my main workstation that has been there since 2006, and I decided to add the slide-out tray to that, where it would be handy to have a storable extra surface for microcontroller projects or keyboards for other computers.

Late in the afternoon came word from Paula, one of Gretchen's poetry class students who happens to be a registered nurse, about a coronavirus vaccination opportunity. Evidently Paula has been working as part of the vaccination rollout and two of her assigned shots hadn't been given due to no-shows. Hell yeah we wanted those shots, so we jumped into the car with the dogs and drove through the rain to the Hudson Valley Mall. I hadn't known this, but the Best Buy had moved out, and the space they'd once occupied had been converted into a coronavirus vaccination facility. With all the stuff gone, it's a surprisingly big space. A little over two years ago we'd bought our first 4K television there, though its biggest claim to fame was as the site of a fatality-free shooting back in 2005. When we arrived, there was a lot of activity at the former Best Buy, and cones had been placed in the roadway in front of it so pedestrians wouldn't have to compete with vehicles on their way to and from the parking lot. Most of the people we saw were older, as in New York State the minimum age for healthy people seeking the vaccine is sixty. But we were a special case, people who could drop everything to get a vaccine at a moment's notice. After we'd been found on the list at the door, we were escorted around all the people with appointments standing in a long snaking queue as if we were VIPs at the airport. Once it was worked out whose doses we were to recieve, a couple staffers entered our data into a series of web forms. The guy entering my data turned out to have the same birthday as me, which is always fun. He told me to hold onto my paperwork, which he insinuated would act as something of a passport in the future, allowing me to do things unavailable to the unvaccinated. And then he offered me a fist bump. (I'd noticed the staff at the facility didn't seem particularly observant of social distancing, and would often reach out to touch each other as they passed; that's probably one of the perks of your coworkers all being vaccinated.) The jab itself (in my upper right arm) was completely painless. There are three vaccines approved for use in the United States, and the one we'd recieved was the one made by Pfiser. We were told to wait for fifteen minutes in a special seating area, but we instead took the opportunity to book an appointment for the second (and final) Pfiser shot, which would be the afternoon of April 8th.
None of this cost us any money at all; it was presumably all paid for by the federal government, and it's the closest thing we'll ever see to socialized medicine in the United States.
Both Gretchen and were a little surprised by how elated we felt after getting out vaccine. For me it felt like a rite of passage, "like graduating from college." When I told Gretchen this, she reminded me that I don't know what graduating from college actually feels like. The way I see things, a couple weeks after we get our second shot, I'll be comfortable going into restaurants, being in other people's house, or getting on airplanes again. The pandemic hasn't been hard on us at all, and now we were on our way out of it.

The entrance of the vaccination center in the former site of the Hudson Valley Mall Best Buy. Click to enlarge.

Gretchen bypassing the queue.

Gretchen with the vaccination staffers.

Gretchen gets her shot.

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