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:
   company party
Friday, October 30 1998
Among the advantages of working at a young, growing (yet struggling) internet startup, especially one founded with careful consideration of what it takes to attract and keep good employees, is the attention paid to making the workplace culture attractive and comfortable. Halloween is one of those holidays that all companies should celebrate in the workplace, but a company like mine, which is all about youth and humour, can be expected to take celebration to the next level. Thus it was no surprise that we were informally encouraged to come to work in Halloween costumes.
Last night I'd suddenly hit upon the idea of being a "stock market crash" for Halloween, and I'd immediately run out to buy the latest copy of GQ magazine and some glue. I'd then sat down and decorated a blue button up shirt with a steeply declining red graph line and the upside-down faces of grim GQ models (the way the faces of stock holders look as they suicidally leap from buildings).
This morning I got up extra early to prepare my costume further. I spiked my hair randomly and badly with white glue and a hair dryer, just as Morgan Anarchy used to do regularly back in the days of Big Fun. Then I made my face greenish white with some Queen Helene mint julep face masque that Kim stole from her minimum wage job at a Point Loma spa. Then I used some blood-coloured lipstick to draw a steeply declining Dow Jones average across my face. Kim drove me to work so I wouldn't come apart on the bike coming down Texas Street into Mission Valley.
Most of the co-workers were dressed up: there was a monk, a priest, a pumpkin farmer, and a couple pocket-protector-equipped computer nerds. This new girl Barbie was dressed up as a Barbie Doll. After a few hours the masque was falling off my face in patches. It was uncomfortable so I went to the bathroom to get it the fuck off my face. To tell you the truth, I don't really like making myself stick out with my appearance. I like it best when people look at me and think nothing at all. My hope is that I can affect people in more meaningful ways.
This afternoon I had to put off work on my robots to focus on the more mundane tasks for which I was hired. But I knocked them all off in amazingly rapid succession and went back to robot fabrication.
It's almost as if I'm new to programming, since I haven't done this amount of coding since I first discovered computers back in the early 80s. I'm a complete hack, never having absorbed any of the principles from any of the several programming classes I took in college. My deep dark secret is that I used to wantonly violate the honour system, copying other students' assignments from their accounts on the Oberlin Computer Science Unix system and then modifying the source until the code looked completely unique. These days, my code is badly commented, structurally nightmarish, and (at least in some cases) ponderously inefficient. But it works, it's reliable, and I develop it extremely rapidly. One of the cool things about programming is that it's not always easy for others to anticipate how long a project will take to complete. Since it's rare that I'm ever hung up for long on a bug, my projects mature rapidly. There's lots of potential here for inserting "free time" into my schedule if I so desire. But all I really want to do with my "free time" is build robots, more employees, the kind no one has to pay.
In a move to better bond with my co-workers, in the evening Kim and I went to a company Halloween party at the residence of the CEO of my company, Mike, and Jen the graphic designer. The place was in a fancy residential community in a spooky recently-developed region east of La Jolla, a land marked on I-5 by one of those creepy Mormon Disneyland temples. Dense apartment complexes rise here and there from the barren landscape, but it's still just a desert. We discovered at the last moment we'd forgotten a bottle of wine Kim had intended to bring, but it was readily apparent that there were no commercial zones anywhere where we might buy another. You either have a car or you starve and die in this desolate land.
Kim was dressed up as a "spa accident victim," covered with mint julep masque and outfitted with nothing but a white terry cloth spa body tube. When we made it down the faux adobe hallways up into the correct apartment, we found a collection of familiar people from my workplace, gathered around in small relaxed groups soberly sipping beers and vino. The music was some sort of late-70s disco compilation. A sizable fraction of my colleagues had brought their lovers, which constituted an unexpectedly attractive auxiliary. Kim and I chatted with a few people one on one about nothing in particular to break the ice. We were by far the most outlandishly outfitted and probably the most intoxicated of anyone there, so I had the creepy feeling that were were being overly-wild for this group (I mean, believe me, Kim and I know how to be crazy at a party). Beyond that, though, I could sense a trace of shock from my co-workers that I, who in the workplace had been the calm and unassuming programmer dork, was (along with my girlfriend) being the craziest thing at the party (not that we really were being especially crazy).
When I tired of the diplomatic chit chat, I took Kim over to the table where Jay and Lydia were hanging out. Jay had heard me mention Kim's massage talents, and he jokingly began to refer to stiffness in his back. Without missing a beat, Kim started working on him right there on the bar stool. She did a thorough job too, even using her elbow at one point to get into those deep tissue layers where Qi can get into all manner of conflict with the yin-yang polarities (no, I don't know what I'm talking about). Then Kim bonded with Lydia (a somewhat intimidating Asian high-heel-wearing Information Systems specialist) with a discussion of their mutual love for sushi. I joked that Kim was so into sushi that she'd eat it for breakfast. Lydia said she wasn't quite that hard core. The socializing all went well; Kim was a perfect for interacting with these people and she drew me into conversations with people I'd only barely been acknowledging in the workplace.
I think Kim and I should at least find happiness in the fact that my colleagues are not all a bunch of dorks; dwelling on the fact that these people are not exactly Big Funsters or Ann Arbor party people will get us nowhere.

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