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:
   eye exam, 2023
Thursday, January 5 2023
I procrastinated my way through the day, continuing to aggressively follow the continuing debacle of Kevin McCarthy's failing bid to become Speaker of the House.
At noon, I took my chainsaw into the forest to salvage firewood. But instead of heading down the Stick Trail, I followed the Chamomile several hundred feet down the ravine to a trail across the Chamomile mostly by Crazy Dave and his equally-crazy dogs to get from his rental hovel to the forest to the south (he mostly uses the Gullies Trail, though sometimes he uses the Stick Trail as well). The other day I'd noticed that a fallen red oak had blocked this path at a stone wall Crazy Dave had built just south of the Chamomile. Crazy Dave was still using the trail, though he apparently lacked the tools to clear the branches, and the best he'd been able to do was break off the smaller ones with his bare hands (which wasn't easy to do, as the red oak is still green and springy). I thought I'd make Crazy Dave's life (and the life of his crazy dog-toy-littering dogs) just a little easier by clearing this trail, which took no time at all using my chainsaw. Say what you want to about Crazy Dave, but he's a benign presence in the forest and he's been walking back there since before we arrived over twenty years ago. While I was down in that area, I thought I'd try to salvage some wood. That area is considerably lower in elevation than places I normally salvage wood from, meaning it would take extra effort to lug it home. But I figured if I made my load small enough it wouldn't be too bad. I found a large skeletonized sugar maple and cut four or five pieces from its thick trunk and piled them into a staging area. The pieces were so thick that I decided to only load one of them into my backpack. With that, I had something of a load, though it was an unusually small one.

A week or so ago Gretchen somehow figured out that I haven't been to an eye doctor in seven years, and she figured I probably needed an update for my eyeglass prescription. I'm happy with my existing one, which I've augmented by adding an improvised reading prescription to get wear-all-the-time progressives. But Gretchen insisted on setting me up with an appointment with Dr. Cohen, the Uptown Optometrist whose old-school brick & mortar operation she wants to support. I had the appointment for this afternoon, but for some reason I thought it was at 2:30, not 2:15. But Gretchen was keeping track, and when I wasn't preparing to leave, she asked me about it. And then as I was leaving, she called Dr. Cohen's office to tell them I'd be late.
When I got to Kingston, I realized I didn't have any coins to a pay a meter at any of the street parking near Dr. Cohen's office. So I ended up driving over to the lot behind the courthouse, where I knew I could park for free at the electric car charging area. There was even a spot open for me to charge the car.
In Dr. Cohen's waiting room, I thumbed through a copy of Atlas Obscura, where the most interesting thing I learned about was a Quran that had been commissioned by Saddam Hussein and written entirely with his blood. This places that copy of the Quran in a weird limbo, since bloody things are haraam and must be destroyed, but a Quran must never be destroyed. So it remains locked away in a vault.
The eye exam went how these things always do, with Dr. Cohen using a process of successive approximation (similar to a binary search) to zero in on the various parameters in my personal prescription. He'd give me two options and ask which I thought was best. And then he'd give me two others, and so forth. Then he put some drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils so he could check for some problem that it would turn out that I don't have. It takes fifteen minutes for the eyedrops to work their magic, and normally during that time the woman at the front desk tries to sell you frames. But I've only ever bought one set of glasses there and switched to having my prescriptions handled by more than a dozen years ago. The woman at the desk knew my pattern and asked if all I wanted was the prescription in written form, and I said yes. It was nice not to have to feel guilty about it, though I sort of did anyway. Online eyeglasses have seriously disrupted the mom & pop optometrist.
After I was done with my eye exam, I drove to Hannaford and bought some groceries, mostly because Gretchen needed soy milk and vegetables. Of course, I also bought things like Ben & Jerrys, beans, and tostadas.
I then drove out to the Tibetan Center thrift store. In one of the back sheds (where I find all the best stuff) I found a reflecting telescope, which (for me) is always a great score. Usually the telescopes you find in thrift stores are cheap refracting models. True, this was a cheap reflecting telescope, but it had a bigger mirror than my other reflecting telescope. Rob was working there today, and he sold me that telescope for a very affordable $5. I actually gave him $6, since I'd only had $20 bills the last time I'd been there (and bought a set of ice trays for $1), and he knows I'm good for the money. [I would later learn I have a credit score of 822.]
Back on Hurley Mountain, it was almost 5:00pm and I felt shitty because I'd gotten nothing done today in the remote workplace. But instead of doing any actual workplace work, I went to and entered my prescription. Except (perhaps) for the frame, I pulled out all the stops, getting premium lenses that auto-adjust in the sun and block blue light. Even the "progressive" part of the prescription was premium, designed to maximize the utility of the lens surface. Since seeing with my eyeballs is a huge aspect of my day-to-day experience, I felt I shouldn't scrimp on any of this stuff. The total came to $200, but then I found a discount code online that lowered it to $150. Back when I first started using EyeBuyDirect, it was almost certainly awash in investor money and trying to build their brand, so they sold eyeglasses at a loss to get people like me into their database. But that hasn't been the case for years; the last time I bought glasses there (November 13th, 2020), they cost $250. So I was surprised to get them so cheap in these times of zero millennial lifestyle subsidy.
Then, just like that, it was dinner time, and we'd have to watch Jeopardy! and Letterkenny, and soon after that the evening would pretty much be over. Gretchen made us a salad, though she suggested I have mine in the form of a wrap made a little more fun by adding a bean-based spread and a tahini sauce. That ended up being pretty good.
By the end of Letterkenny, I was feeling so sleepy I could've crawled into bed right then and there. But then my brother Don called, and I always try to take those just something status-quo-changing has happened to our mother. But no, all Don wanted to talk about was protons and neutrons. Specifically, he wanted to tell me that, while he grew up learning that neutrons were slightly heavier than protons (and thus like a neutered cat compared to an intact one), the most recent thinking is that they are actually the same weight. Once I knew our mother was okay and that there was no news, I did what I could to wind up the call.
I then spent five hours working in the remote workplace, finally figuring out how DevExpress passes Javascript functionality from Razor web templates to Javascript functions. It does so by hiding them all coiled up in insanely complicated objects, something I would later compare to a ship in a bottle. Once I'd cracked these mysteries, I could put my damn ticket in QA and delete a profusion of Chrome tabs open on my computer. It was midnight by the time I climbed into bed, but I'd be able to truly rest, since I wouldn't be wondering any more if perhaps I was working in the wrong industry.

Seen on the wall in Dr. Cohen's examination room.

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