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:
   unexpected Crazy Johnny visit
Wednesday, August 30 2023
I really felt like I was winning today in the self-gamified job hunt today. A recruiter called wanting to place me as a LAMP stack developer in a team at an insurance company based in North Carolina, and the salary was in the new higher range I'm hoping to get. She made it sound like the interview process would be a breeze. Best of all, the recruiter was a native-born American, which suggested a lot of effort was being put into the recruitment of me specifically. (When, by contrast, the recruiter barely speaks English and is calling from a crowded call center in Mumbai, it's clear that the recruitment effort hasn't ramped up much beyond spammy emails.) This recruiter was so hot to recruit me that she actually asked for my references, so I reached out to the lead developer Joe at the place that laid me off an Alex, my boss from 2019-2022 who moved to eastern-shore Virginia to restore an old mansion.
Then Gretchen sent me a message saying the new tenant in the 1R apartment at Downs Street was experiencing a clogged drain in her bathtub. So I dropped everything and drove over there with some Liquid Plumr, a plunger, a variety of wrenches, and a piece of wire for poking. The tenant wasn't home, but her cute little collie dog was. That dog didn't bark at all but seemed terrified when I came through the door. It turned out there was a cleanout plug on the drain down in the basement, but I didn't end up needing to use it. After two doses of Liquid Plumr interspersed with truly violent plunging, the drain seemed to drain pretty well.
I kept trying to brush up on my Node.JS skills while constantly being distracted by such things. This evening I felt obligated to cook dinner, since it's something I should be able to do once a week. Using a recipe Gretchen sent me, I made a pretty good pizza dough (even if I added the ingredients in the wrong order). I also cooked up a pan of onions, mushrooms, and extremely firm tofu for use as pizza toppings (while having Gretchen get cheese and pizza sauce when she stopped at the store). But when Gretchen came home, there was an immediate change of plans. Her long-time friend "Crazy Johnny," whom she'd met an Oberlin, was driving up from Maryland through the Hudson Valley en route to drop Orion, one of his sons, off at Williams College (were he would be beginning his freshman year). The original plan had been to visit Gretchen at the Golden Notebook so Johnny could drop off ten "Halloween Advent Calendars" he'd produced could to sold there. (The owners of the bookstore had been skeptical of stocking these until a test one they'd put out sold almost immediately.) But Crazy Johnny is an artist, and artists operate on artist time, so of course he was running late. Now the plan was that Crazy Johnny and Orion would be coming directly to our house. And not only would it be Crazy Johnny and Orion, it would also be Crazy Johnny's wife and another of their teenage kids (they also have a kid who is now in her twenties who had actually attended our wedding as a newborn more than twenty years ago; she wouldn't be coming). Since it was dinner time, Gretchen felt obligated to feed everybody, and clearly my one pizza was not going to be enough. I put the crust in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and Gretchen proceeded to make a huge vat of Thai peanut noodles, which she augmented with kale and my pan of tofu, onions, and mushrooms. I was concerned that there was no way we'd have enough to feed a group of people that included two teenagers (this was based on our recent experience feeding Gretchen's brother's family at the cabin).
Then Crazy Johnny and family arrived, and we all went out on the east deck to have our dinner, which also featured slices of cucumber and hummus with crackers (though, comically, the only crackers we had on hand were saltines, which I referred to as "ghetto"). It turned out that nobody was really all that hungry, as the kids had had a later lunch from Subway not all that long ago. This meant we'd be eating a lot of peanut noodles (and that homemade pizza) in the coming days.
My recent experience with teenagers has led me not to expect them to be particularly engaged or interesting, but Orion definitely was engaged and also very funny. His younger brother, on the other hand, seemed to have some sort anxiety disorder. He wore a covid-era cloth mask the whole time he was with us, something Gretchen says he started doing during covid and then didn't ever want to stop. Crazy Johnny and his family didn't stay long (they were in a hurry to get to Williams College), but it was enough time for a course of icecream & cookies. And I also showed the two teenagers my greenhouse, with its crazy sub-basement (currently full of nine feet of water) and its relaxing upstairs (where I'd actually spent much of last night). Later, Orion said that he really loved our house, but his only objection was the tree of heaven. At the time he was pointing at a staghorn sumac just north of the east deck, so I said, "Actually, that's not a tree of heaven." I then admitted that there was a tree of heaven, though, just south of the east deck, and that it was something that wouldn't be there if it weren't for Gretchen saying she liked it.

Cannabis and tomatoes in or near our garden today. I took this picture to show my old colleague Joe the Lead Developer before asking him for a reference. Click to enlarge.

Ramona the dog and Oscar the cat on the blanket-covered laboratory beanbag this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

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