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:
   Julian, California
Sunday, January 3 1999
Having slept on our couch, Eric came with Kim and me this morning when we walked up to the Zen Bakery for a breakfast of coffee and bagels. All the usual actors were there: the sun, the blue sky, the beggar birds with missing toes, the brain-injured Linda Trippesque sheepdog, the vagrant philosophers and the hippie employees (some vibrant, naïve and nubile, others aging and increasingly pragmatic). One of the vagrant philosophers, an extremely hippieaceously-attired man who claimed to have no name, told us that he was in search of "clown pirates" for some kind of theatrical pursuit. He went on to say that he refused to work for money (or anything taxable) because he didn't believe in supporting a nation that builds nuclear weapons. Eric tried to argue with him, bringing up the existence of Saddam Hussein, but I knew better. Homeless hippie philosophers have had a lot of spare time to formulate their ideologies and there's no hope for us, the employed, who spend all our mental energy worrying about bills, bosses and babes, to win a debate.
About the time Eric was heading home, Ludmilla & Andrea (the Brazilian girls) were heading over to join Kim and me on a daytrip to the mountains. (By the way, the old Brazilian Girls were also rather fond of impromptu trips to the mountains.) Originally the plan had been to drive all the way to the Anza-Borrego Desert, but the morning was fast coming to an end and Kim was feeling somewhat ill, so we set our sights on lesser goal: the quaint tourist town of Julian high in the Laguna Mountains.
A trip such as this one wasn't the sort that could simply happen. Not with this number of people gathered together. First the Brazilian girls needed to stop at Jack in the Box for refueling. Then Kim had to wash her car. To hear her talk about it, one would have thought the car's dirty condition was an emergency situation. Picture in your mind a scene with us driving down the highway and Kim panicking about whether or not we'd be able to make it to the next town without a carwash. It was almost like that. While it's true that Kim's car had become fairly dirty (it's white and dirt has a way of showing), I'm of the opinion that car washes are a just yet another vain, needless American institution. Think about it: the more a car is washed, the less paint it has. Clean windows make sense, of course, but I kind of like the look of grunge on a car. As much as Kim tries to join me in my paradigm, there are certain places, such as this one, where the necessary neural rewiring stands as an unsurmountable challenge.
I noticed after the carwash that a flap of the interior vinyl had just been torn free near the driver's door window. We knew immediately what had happened; Sophie had been in the car during its washing, barking and clawing at the brush and sprayer as she always does (she also attacks the vacuum cleaner when Kim runs it).
West on I-8 from El Cajon, the rocky hills gathered together into a general rising of the land. First 1000, then 2000 then 3000 feet above sea level. Suddenly there were no more houses, just lushly brush-covered hills.
State Route 79 winds north towards Julian at about 4000 feet above sea level. Tracts of pine are protected here and there by a park called Cuyamaca. Our gas was running very low, but there were absolutely no gas stations. The one place that had been selling gas (for $1.65/gallon) had none left to sell. The woman there told us that Julian didn't have a gas station and that the nearest functional gas station was in San Ysabel.
There's a short length of highway just south of Julian from which we could look out across a wide valley to the east and behold a vast empty desert running along its bottom and rising halfway up the slopes of the distant mountains on its eastern edge.
After spending a rather long time searching for an empty parking space in Julian, we waded out into the windy tourist-crowded streets. I found myself thinking that this was the single most miserable day trip of my entire life. I had no interest in the trinket stores or the quaint cheesiness of the things termed "historic," such as the horse-drawn tourist wagons equipped with know-it-all narrators. I just wanted to go back to San Diego, where at least the Santa Ana winds blew warmly (temperatures in Julian were no higher than about 50 degrees Farenheit during the day, about 20 degrees colder than those in Ocean Beach).
Interestingly, a large fraction of the tourists in Julian were Spanish speakers.
The Brazilian girls seemed to be chiefly interested in taking photographs. We all posed with a plastic Indian in front of a trinket store as well as in front of the American flag high on a cemetary knob overlooking the village. The girls evidently get quite a kick out of American patriotism. They asked us to sing our national anthem on New Year's Eve, and of course Kim and I did our best.
After we'd been in Julian for awhile, my cynicism began to wane, especially after Kim almost succeeded in getting some random guy to take us on an illicit tour of an abandoned gold mine (he had to go to the liquor store first, though, and we lost him).
As the sun went down and temperatures began to drop dramatically, we dined at a restaurant named after Buffalo Bill. It featured a large bison head on the wall. Kim complained about the place smelling like a nursing home, and she desperately wanted to eat outside, but the waitress managed to convince her that to do so was foolishness.
On the ride home, we beheld a particularly spectacular sunset. The humid western sky, full of dust and grime carried by the Santa Ana winds, was ablaze with orange, purple and red, some of it describing intricate patterns.
Despite San Ysabel's remote location, its gasoline was cheaper than any I've seen in San Diego.

pictures taken today

From left: Andrea the Brazilian girl, a plastic Native American, me, and Kim. In front is Sophie the Miniature Schnauzer. The backdrop is an indian trinket store.

From left: Kim and Ludmilla the Brazilian girl.

The village of Julian viewed from a cemetary atop a small steep hill just to the northwest.

Sunset over the rough hills west of Julian.

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