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:
   devil sticks
Wednesday, December 22 1999
Rory usually travels with very little money. In his way of thinking, carrying money is completely unnecessary since whenever it is needed it can simply be "manifested." When something is manifested, it is simply willed into existence. As he looks back on his life Rory claims that everything that came to him, both good and bad, was manifested in this way. More recently, armed with knowledge of this phenomenon, Rory has willfully applied it by manifesting things on an as-needed basis. When, for example, some hippie chicks with whom he was staying in New Mexico suggested that it might be nice if he forked over a little rent, he decided to manifest the necessary cash. He went hitch hiking to Santa Fe that day and two complete strangers gave him a total of 90 dollars, completely unsolicited. Then it turned out that what the hippie chicks wanted wasn't really about money after all, and not a moment too soon, because someone had stolen Rory's shoes and the money needed to manifest as a new pair.
Still, Rory is heading into Mexico soon, and it might be nice to have a few stretchable gringo bills to take along. I had an idea that perhaps Rory should head down to Newport Avenue, put his hat down on the sidewalk, and do that thing with the juggling sticks that he does so well. It turns out that those "juggling sticks" are actually called "devil sticks" and though Rory had lost his last set he actually knows how to make them from scratch. If we could just get some half inch wooden dowels, he could build himself a new set.
At the Ocean Beach Hardware, Rory wasn't impressed by the selection or the prices, but it was the only place to buy dowel within walking distance. I sent Rory into the bike shop on Cable Street armed with some money with which to buy me some shifter cable as an excuse to ask for old inner tube. When he emerged Rory had a few gingerbread cookies as well.
Back at the apartment, Rory broke out his various tools and set to work. A set of devil sticks consist of three individual pieces: a twirling baton and two simple sticks used to manipulate it as it twirls and bounces through its moves. All three sticks are covered with rubber, and this is where the bicycle inner tube comes it. After sealing each stick's ends with simple bicolour designs electrical tape, Rory carefully wrapped their lengths with inner tube rubber. The twirling baton is too fast and unpredictable if left as a simple stick, so to make it more manageable, its ends are wrapped with long strips of fringes cut into a large-diameter bicycle inner tube. When the devil sticks were done, they looked like something you'd buy down at the Black; they didn't look homemade at all. One of the things I learned as a kid was that electrical tape puts a professional finish on whatever it covers. As Rory said later, it was "handcrafted by a European craftsman using recycled materials, and it's Y2K compliant."
I didn't have any clue about the way devil sticks are played until Rory gave me a quick lesson. You start by standing the central baton on one end on the ground and knocking it back and forth tick-tock tick- tock style until it gently comes off the ground and gradually starts describing an hourglass via precession. Once it's lying more or less on its side in midair it's open to all sorts of tricks, many them associated with blows on or near the "sweet spot," the center of gravity.
As Rory read from one of Kim's yogi books, I quickly became addicted to the devil sticks. I was so fond of them in fact that Rory said I could have them, and he set out once more to procure the supplies necessary to build another set.
When I saw the neighbor girl Lisa, I ran out to show her my new devil stick skills, but all she wasn't impressed saying later that all she'd seen me doing was "dropping sticks."

In the evening Kim, Rory, Lisa and I all went up to Galoka in La Jolla for dinner. As we were walking to the car, we looked up through the clear San Diego night at the moon, supposedly the biggest and brightest in years. Tonight the patterns on the lunar surface looked like a reflection of those here on Earth. The central dark patch looked like the North and South Atlantic oceans, with the brighter patches looking like North and South America, Africa and Europe. I wondered for a moment whether or not the "continents" and "seas" were built by the same forces as their terrestrial analogues. What caused all the granitic rock on Earth to move to one side of the planet and form the Pangea of 200 million years ago? What caused it to then split into several pieces and drift as several continents? What keeps it all from eroding completely into the ocean and covering up all the dark basaltic rocks of the ocean floor? Perhaps, I thought, it has something to do with tidal forces exerted by the sun and the moon or other celestial bodies, in concert with the forces of the mantel churning below.
At the last minute as we were driving out of the community limits of Ocean Beach, Kim realized she'd neglected to bring her camera. So of course, when she pulled up in front of the compound, engine idling, she sent me running back inside to get it. But once I was in our apartment I realized I had no idea where it was. I've never been the slightest bit interested in the contents of her drawers and have no idea where her personal effects are stored. In contrast, as a kid I knew where absolutely everything was in my parents' drawers. I had them completely mapped out in mind. I knew which one held the greatest concentration of quarters, where the envelopes bearing foreign stamps could be found, and which had layers containing what era's documents, diaries and photographs. Looking through my parents' drawers was a way to find out what events led to my existence. It was all there to be explored. I usually went exploring every time I was left alone for an extended period.

The whole time I was at Galoka I found myself doing an act as the stereotypical "Ugly American." While the others picked at their food, I scarfed it down like an animal, making crude ethnically- insensitive remarks. It was the only way to deal with Rory's endless sanctimoniousness. When, for example, Rory spent a good three minutes with his hands over his German chocolate cake "absorbing its energy," I started mocking him, holding my hands over an imaginary German Chocolate cake and beatifically closing my sardonically rolled-up eyes. In a fit of irritation with how Rory described any and everything as either "beautiful" or "wonderful," I eventually asked him, "So Rory, what's it like to be an evolved human?" He never did answer, he just chuckled like a self-proclaimed messiah over his infuriatingly innocent glass of water.

Rory builds me a set of "devil sticks" out of dowel, electrical tape, and bicycle inner-tubes.

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