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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   welcoming new neighbors
Monday, August 2 2004

If you're going to be a really moronic government and put us through a time machine with your terror alerts, a good political use can be made of your idiocy if you do it immediately following the opposition party's convention. Just don't let it immediately be discovered that the news you're reporting is three years old. Remember three years ago? That was back when Ashcroft thought his job description was mostly about cracking down on drugs and people who prescribe pain killers to dying patients. Ah, those were the days! N'Sync was fading fast, but who knew Justin Timberlake would experience a second life as a solo performer & FCC inspiration?

The house directly across Dug Hill Road was on the market this spring, and I'd thought about putting up political signs in our yard to discourage Bush supporters from moving into the place where their presence could annoy us most. But I'd never actually gotten around to putting up any signs before the house was sold for something close to $375,000. That seemed like a lot of money considering the house's attributes, but then again, the House of Stank sold for $275,000, so go figure. Anyway, Gretchen and I have been meaning to go over there and say hello and present a bottle of wine, but the new residents were never there when we'd think to stop by. This evening, though, they definitely were there, so we went over with a bottle of champagne, partly because neither of us ever have much reason or desire to actually drink champagne. Our dogs both tagged along of course, as did Clarence the cat. We were quite the multi-special welcome wagon.
When we arrived the new occupants were just closing the deal with a landskeeper who would be tending their lawn. We didn't know much about the previous occupants except that they were obsessed with this particular lawn. Our new neighbors are apparently wealthy enough to outsource that obsession, a natural consequence of being able to pay so much money for a house in rural Hurley. They were a fit couple of indeterminate age, somewhere between their late 30s and early 50s. Neither seemed especially interested in our menagerie of animals; most people would have given them more attention just to be polite.
But they were plenty friendly to us and invited us in to look at their house, which is currently in the process of a taste transplant. Ugly carpet is being ripped out of the main room, revealing hardwood flooring that needed only to be sanded. In terms of layout, the house wasn't too different from a typical ranch-style home, except it had high ceilings in the main room and a small section with a second floor, accessible by a narrow steel spiral staircase. I love this kind of stairway, but our new neighbors weren't too happy about the fact that it would be prohibitively expensive to replace with, you know, a proper stairway.
Politically, it came as some relief to discover that our new neighbors are your typical lefty New Yorker types, the kind who are embarassed by George W. Bush and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 weeks ago in some non-multiplex. But this doesn't mean that we completely got them either. One of their first projects, for example, will be the installation of a security system. Such a system was installed in our house by the previous owner, but it seems an absurdity in rural Hurley. Our neighbors' bizarre preoccupation with safety had other dimensions as well. For example, when Gretchen talked about hiking in the woods, they asked if she did this alone and, if so, did she feel safe? Unlike others who have asked this question, they weren't concerned about bears, bobcats, and coyotes. For some reason they imagined the woods might be full of psychokiller humans who lie in wait for vulnerable hikers, having presumably applied enormous quantities of bug repellant first.
We did our best to introduce our new neighbors to the area by suggesting various restaurants and movie theatres and telling them about the many local trails that can be hiked. We also spoke warmly of life in centrally-located Hurley, particularly our section of Dug Hill Road.

This wasn't our only drop-in visit this evening. We also dropped in on the Stone House People to deliver a coffee cake that Gretchen had baked. Ms. Stone House's father died unexpectedly in the past week and this was our way of expressing our condolences.

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