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:
   back east
Thursday, December 23 1999
It doesn't take long for Rory's nonstop act of spiritual one-upsmanship to get old. I'd had a healthy dose of it yesterday and had not the slightest interest in any more today. Consequently, it was a very good thing that at 10am Kim and I would be taking an airplane trip back to Detroit. We decided to let Rory stay at our place in our absence, though I definitely had my reservations. Familiar as I am with Rory's checkered past, I don't really trust the guy. I'm mostly concerned that he'll flake out and lose the keys ("they're just material things"). Still, when he asked to use Kim's car in our absence, he was asking for too much. Just imagine what kind of a vacation we'd have knowing Rory would be driving Kim's Volvo up and down the freeways of San Diego and doing the tricky driving necessary to park it in our cramped garage. Remember, Rory is the same guy who ran into a telephone pole within an hour of buying a mint condition 1972 Ford LTD. He's also the one who "borrowed" Deya's car and left it damaged and abandoned in the Barrack's Road median strip.
The skies were fairly clear for most of our flight eastward, so I had a good view of the landforms below. I was particularly interested in the erosional structures I saw as we crossed over Arizona. From 36,000 feet I could see a basin or large branch of a drainage system in all its entirety, like a Mandlebrot screen saver. The hills and mountains looked like they were being eaten from the edges by a strong acid. Now and then patches of the landscape, particularly mountainous areas, were dusted thinly with snow.

The southeastern California Desert from 36,000 ft.

There was a sharp line after which there were no more interesting landforms, but instead a simple patchwork quilt of farms. Most of them consisted of square fields separated by a gridwork of roads. But on many of these squares the fields were actually circular; evidently these were being irrigated. Up until this point I'd never really beheld the sheer vastness of plains and had a sense of the number of individual fields upon it. Off on the horizon they were as plentiful as the the flecks on a Georges Seurat painting.
There was a light snow falling and the temperature was ten degrees Fahrenheit when we landed in Chicago. Though we weren't dressed for such conditions, modern airlines do a fairly good job of isolating travelers from the environments through which they travel.
One doesn't have much choice when it comes to airport restaurants, but at least, unlike with airplane food (a bad example upon which we had just dined), there is some choice. So we ate at the Chili's. Sophie kept poking her nose out of her small pet bag because I was slipping her french fries.
We thought we were in the proper part of O'Hare airport to catch the plane for the final leg of our flight. But it turned out that we were actually a half mile away. We didn't realize this until it was nearly too late. So there we were, running through the airport, down and up the escalators and on the moving walkway. What with all the strange exercise I'd had yesterday playing with my devil sticks, my legs were in terrible pain. I was carrying Sophie in her bag and another bag as well, and the weight bouncing up and down rapidly drained my energy away. I kept stopping to walk and catch my breath and Kim, who was well ahead of me, kept turning around to tell me to hurry. But we made it; we were amongst the very last to board.
As bad as my legs felt, they quickly recovered. Kim, on the other hand wasn't doing too well. She'd been suffering from occasional bouts of asthma for the last several weeks, and our stressful trans- airport run had brought on another attack. She was having some difficulty breathing and was concerned that she wasn't recovering. She eventually reached a stage where she could maintain her breathing, though it was a deliberate, tiring process.
Kim's mother and her husband Chuck met us as we were getting off the plane in Detroit. She'd brought a whole BMW backseat full of expensive clothes for Kim to pick from as an early manifestation Christmas. Our plans, though, were to be going home with Kim's father (he and Kim's mother have been divorced for many years). I've never had the experience of being pulled in two different directions by a pair of divorced parents, so I have no idea how stressful it can be. It must have sheer torture to be juggling two parents while fighting to breathe.
But now we had warm winter clothes suitable for the Michigan climate. I had a fancy ski jacket and Kim had a preposterous coat which had required the deaths of at least one cow as well as countless mink and possibly some buck-toothed beavers. "I can't wear this in Ann Arbor," Kim observed astutely.
In the bitter blowing cold in front of the airport, Kim's mother handed us off to Bud, Kim's father. The social situation suddenly became simplified.
For the balance of the evening (and not much remained), Kim and I chatted with Bud and his wife Linda at their pleasant home in Trenton, downriver from Detroit. I was sipping brandy and talking mostly about the stresses and unexpected surprises (both good and bad) of working for an up and coming internet community in the very late 90s. Bud and Linda have never really lived outside of downriver Detroit and haven't worked much outside the public educational system, so most of what I was saying lay decidedly outside of their experience.
Linda must be something of a prude because she'd stipulated that Kim and I could stay in her house only if we slept apart. But Kim's breathing had become so laboured and exhausting that she demanded that I cuddle with her. So we both ended up in little grandson Alexander's Sesame Street-themed room on his tiny little single bed. My feet were actually hanging off the end of it.
At some point in the night Kim, who was sleeping poorly at best, tried relocating to the couch in the living room. But by 7am she couldn't fight her asthma any more and had her father take her to the hospital.

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