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

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Like my brownhouse:
   Swedish bus-ride
Sunday, April 26 1998

eya needed to visit her dad for some reason, and she asked if Jessika and I wanted to tag along. Of course we did, so off we went, south down VA 20 to Scottsville. First stop was the Pig and Steak Too, home of the huge $2 basket of fries. The baskets aren't as big as they used to be. My Dad once observed that "decline in portion size is the first sign of the decline of a restaurant."

At Deya's parents house, Deya's mother is still absent, off in Sweden. Meanwhile, "the Swedish bus" is back in action after years of immobility. Deya's father has tuned up the engines and fixed the brake systems and even successfully driven the thing around the nearby fields.

    Back in July of 1996, after Big Fun's demise but before I'd begun these musings, there had been a plan to fix up an old school bus that had been left behind by some Swedish friends of Deya's parents. The bus had a finished customized interior, complete with closets, beds, tables and chairs, and Jessika wanted it to be the new home of Big Fun, or "Big Fun sprouts wheels," as I put it. I tried several times to get it working, but it needed more spare parts than I could afford at the time.

We helped Deya's father bleed the brakes and then he took us on a series of drives. The first was down to the railroad tracks along the James River. We walked from the tracks through a ribbon of woods down to the river itself, and on the way Deya & father pointed out the old farmhouse where they used to live. It's a ruined vine-covered foundation now, but once it was a 14 room house. It flooded badly at one point and Deya's parents sold it to Godfrey (the Kappa Mutha Fucka landlord), who rented it to a big extended family of rednecks. The rednecks let it go to ruin and then "it mysteriously burned down" shortly after Godfrey doubled its fire insurance coverage. Insurance fires are one of the big dirty secrets of successful real estate investment.

The James was unusually swollen today with recent rains on its extensive watershed. Recent erosion had exposed the wood and iron remains of the old Warren Ferry, wiped out in 1969 by Hurricane Camile.

We went for another drive in the Swedish Bus, this time down back roads through the rural countryside. It's the sort of thing you can do with a non-street-legal school bus on a warm April day. The wind blowing through the windows drove out a small brown spider with a little design on his abdomen. I don't know if it was Brown Recluse or not, but it seems the bus would have made ideal Brown Recluse habitat during its years of retirement.

Back at Deya's house, Jessika, Deya and I went down to sit on a dock at the nearby Ballinger Creek while the dogs romped around and nibbled on grass. Jessika saw a little caterpillar crawling along the dock, so she picked up a little catkin that had fallen from one of the trees overhead and played with it as though it was a caterpillar too. It looked sort of like a meal worm. In a high pitch voice, she said, "Hey, can I be a caterpillar too?" and she wiggled the catkin up to the caterpillar. The caterpillar hardly paid any attention.


e returned to Scottsville, and this time went to Skippy's, the friendly little convenience store down on the James River Floodplain. Surveying the fortified vino selection, we were sad to see no Mad Dog. But there was a booze we'd never seen before, something called "Red Lady 21." Jessika was especially taken with the design on the label, which featured a graphic of a woman that looked as if it had been drawn in the 1920s. We bought a bottle; it couldn't be too bad - it claimed to be 20.1 percent alcohol.

On the drive back to Charlottesville, Jessika and I passed the Red Lady back and forth, and occasionally Deya had a sip. It was surprisingly good, a little like Red Grape Mad Dog, but with a different series of aftertastes. We were pretty drunk by the end of the drive. We ended up at the dumpsters of a produce wholesaler in Belmont, but there was almost nothing there that wasn't completely rotten.


ack at Kappa Mutha Fucka, Jessika was kind of drunk and, incidentally, restless, wanting to go for a walk. So I joined her. We ended up at Ray Snabley's house, where he and Morgan sat around watching television.

Jessika told them about the new wine we'd discovered, Red Lady 21, and Ray said he'd discovered it a week and a half ago at the JPA Fastmart. Not only that, he set out to get a bottle immediately.

Jessika, Morgan and I went out to sit on the deep front porch or Ray's house, a place that serves as Morgan's bedroom. Morgan, you see, sleeps on a bed there. He used to have a room all to himself, but when he returned from his latest extended trip to Richmond, he found that self-proclaimed spokesperson of Charlottesville's old school skinheads, Wingnut, had replaced him. Providing Wingnut with a room was a gesture Ray had felt obligated to extend; not only does Ray play in Wingnut's band; Wingnut married Ray's sister a few months ago and she's pregnant with Wingnut's child.

Ray returned with the Red Lady and I opened up a bottle of white wine I'd been carrying concealed in my clothes. As we passed these around, a number of the residents showed up, including Ray's girlfriend Melissa and Ray's sister (and housemate) Shawn (sp?). I passed a bottle to Shawn and she turned it down, saying she was expecting a child. I laughed and said that if I was "expecting a child," I'd drink just as much as I do now in hopes of spawning a circus freak. Later I noticed that Shawn was smoking a cigarette; some things are just not worth sacrificing for.

I talked a little with Shawn about my uncomfortable relationship with her husband Wingnut, saying it might have something to do with my dislike of Chaz. But she said that he doesn't much like Chaz either and went on to give the familiar old schpiel about the difference between Nazi skinheads (such as Eric "the Huffanator" Huffman) and "traditional" skinheads, which the story goes, started out as a black movement in Jamaica. Wingnut is proudly one the latter, not the former. Nazi skinheads, Shawn pointed out, constitute only 40% of the skinhead population. My problem with all skinheads is that they rely on violence as a solution to their every problem. "Fists are better than guns," responded Shawn. How can you argue with that?

Later Wingnut came home and chatted for a moment with Morgan on the steps. I was sitting a few feet away and either he didn't acknowledge me.

Jessika, Morgan and I walked back to Kappa Mutha Fucka. The other two had plans to go to the Escafé to see the Hogwaller Ramblers, but really, I'd already seen them enough for this month. Besides, I was in sort of a bad mood. So I went to bed kind of early.

one year ago

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