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").


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Like my brownhouse:
   but I was going 85
Sunday, September 8 2002

setting: Brewster Inn, Cazenovia, New York

After checking out of our respective rooms at the Brewster Inn, those remaining in Ray and Nancy's wedding party were to regroup for a picnic at Chittenango Falls State Park, four miles north of Cazenovia.
For some reason Gretchen had the idea that we should walk all the way from Cazenovia to the park, so we set off from the Brewster Inn on foot, making it most of the way out of town before Lin and Mark passed us in their car and stopped to drive us the rest of the way.
It cost $5/car to get into the park, and once there, it seemed considerably less interesting than, say, Prospect Park. It seemed to be dominated by a big clunky picnic house and a few swingsets, like a municipal park set in the middle of nowhere. It was only once I'd seen the falls that I knew what the fuss was all about. Even with the river running at a fraction of normal capacity, the 170 foot drop into the gorge is an impressive spectacle by East Coast standards. Still, the park is only forty acres in size.
I was pretty socialized-out by the time the catered food arrived, and I ate the bulk of my lunch by myself under a tree. It wasn't the most kosher lunch you've ever seen. The pork and beans contained about as much of the former as it did the latter. Then there were the huge tubs of mayonnaise-pasta concoctions, which violated the spirit of an important unwritten law of kashrut.
After lunch I was sitting under a different tree, one I termed "the overeater's tree." Gretchen and a few others joined me there and for the first time ever I witnessed her having a conversation with another woman who seemed nearly as adamant about not having children as Gretchen herself. This other woman was talking about how she was tempted to hand out condoms whenever she was stuck in traffic congestion (since increased use of the former should theoretically lead to a decrease of the latter). Gretchen's big contraceptive interest these days is in the IUD - a rarely discussed but extremely safe and effective method (with the one exception being the Dalkon Shield back in the 1970s). Originally Gretchen had been all about getting her tubes tied, but then her gynecologist turned her on to the fabulous, undersold IUD. By the way, I get a kick out of the IUD literature, which claims that the device probably works by keeping sperm from fertilizing eggs. I'm sure this theory is being advanced to keep nutty pro-lifers from flying airplanes into IUD factories, but it seems more biologically probable that an IUD prevents implantation of the blastocyst (a potential Albert Einstein or Idi Amin) in the uterine lining.

[pro-life anti-IUD site]
[pro-IUD site]

After playing a little volleyball with a gradually-deflating rubber ball, it was time to head back towards New York City. For Gretchen and me, the plan was to have Lin and Mark drop us off in Kingston so we could spend an additional day shopping for a house in the greater Woodstock area. By the way, for those of you who know nothing about New York City and its relationship to the rest of New York State, the term "Woodstock" is often used to describe a swath of upstate New York stretching from the Bronx all the way to Albany along both sides of the Hudson River. People who are not aware of this often feel the need to point out that "Woodstock" didn't actually take place in the town of Woodstock, New York.
Mark did all of the driving from Cazenovia to Kingston, using the New York Thruway, a less-direct "northern route" to New York City. For some reason, Mark kept pointing out every time he was going 85 miles per hour. The speedometer of the Skylark only goes up that high, and after that it's impossible to tell how fast you're really going. Somewhere along the way, we encountered a cop facing our way in the median strip, and sure enough the bastard pulled us over. The cop told Mark he'd been going 83 miles per hour, and the moment the cop walked away Mark quietly corrected him by saying, "but I was going 85." It didn't take very long for the cop to write our ticket, and he didn't bother with searching our car for flight manuals and dirty nuke components, but it always sucks to get pulled over. According to the ticket, this one offense would contribute four whole points to Mark's driving record. I don't know exactly what that means, but Lin seemed to think it was a very bad thing.
Mark and Lin dropped us off at a gas station on the strictly-utilitarian (entirely non-decorative) Kingston traffic circle. From there, Gretchen's friend Katie (and Katie's boyfriend Louis) picked us up and drove us to there place near Woodstock.
Louis and Katie are only going to be staying at their present apartment (a converted quarryman dormitory) for a few more days and then they'll be moving to a house they've just bought.
This evening we sat around the kitchen table eating a dinner of homemade burritos and, in the case of Louis and me, drinking tiny eight ounce Heinekens while the ladies drank red wine. Heineken is probably my least favorite beer (it seems unpleasantly acrid), but I hadn't wanted to argue with Louis in the convenience store when Katie said he was exclusively a "Heineken man." For my part, I can't imagine only drinking one species of beer for the rest of my life. What kind of life can that be? Particularly when sometimes the only Heinekens available come in tiny eight ounce bottles. But for some reason I found tonight's eight ounce Heinekens unexpectedly delicious. With beer, it's a lot more about packaging than you might think.
Later we all went into the living room and watched yet another dismal installment of this season's Sex and the City. The only thing good about it was that it was the season finale. That and the "thrown melon scene," another example of why I think Sex and the City is really about Los Angeles, not New York.
While I'm on the subject of Sex and the City, I'd just like to take a moment to bust on last week's episode, the one where the fussy übermainstream heroines take Amtrak cross country, enduring all manner of train horrors along the way. It was like watching princesses encountering their first horrifying peas. If the goal of that episode was to diss trains and indirectly promote airlines (and I'm pretty sure it was - it would be interesting to know the cash flows taking place in HBO's product placement/displacement office), I for one wasn't impressed.

A deciduous Tamarack in front of the Brewster Inn.
(Click to enlarge.)

The front of the Brewster Inn.

A small metal toy van I found, off-roading in a sandbox
at Chittenango Falls State Park in central New York State.

Chittenango Falls.

Roadcut on I-90 heading along the southern edge of the Adirondacks.

Roadcut on I-90 heading along the southern edge of the Adirondacks.

Me (foreground) and Mark (driving). Note his Armed & Hammered tattoo.

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