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:
   series of luxuries
Friday, November 10 2006
It's seeming likely now that the scheming real estate speculator who purchased the long, narrow strip of land behind our property is going to be flipping it for far less than the original $130,000 asking price. The price is now $55,000, which is still considerably greater than the $25,000 he paid for it a year ago. But he'd managed to throw a scare into our uphill neighbors by threatening to take them to court to get a ruling on the right of way crossing their property. This, and the fact that a survey uncovered all sorts of unpleasant irregularities on the ground. One of these is that our uphill neighbors' swimming pool and garden actually intrude into the property in question. So now our uphill neighbors' son is scraping together more than half of the asking price. Since the property's fate also impacts us, we've offered to come up with $20,000 for the part that extends from behind our property for well over half mile southeastward, mostly along either side of the Stick Trail. We'd actually be ending up with the vast bulk of the 14 acre property, though our part is considered inaccessible and "of limited value." (Value is in the eye of the beholder; the property has much rock and little soil, but its forest is old growth and home to many enormous White Pines. It also shares a narrow border with "forever wild" state forest land.)
This morning when I took the dogs for a walk in the forest, I brought along the GPS hoping to find the southeasternmost tip of this property. Soon after I entered the woods, though, I realized I should have transferred coordinates to the GPS before setting out. (I could have done that using a combination of maps which I have available.)
Based on the locations of flags from old surveys, I've determined that the Stick Trail veers out of the property about a half mile from our house. Today I wanted to see if the property followed the "Mountain Goat Path" along the slope beneath the Stick Trail, but based on the trajectory of the flagging it seemed unlikely. The numbers I need to pre-load into my GPS, by the way, are 41.92260N, 74.099736W - that appears to be the rough location of property's southeasternmost tip. I actually was in that region today, and while there I began work on a new trail, one bypassing the steepest climb in the Stick Trail System. Meanwhile Sally managed to kill a fat chipmunk, the mangled body of which she proudly carried with her for most of the rest of the walk.

Speaking of mangled bodies, I saw Julius the Cat (aka "Stripey") narrowly avoid becoming one himself today. From the laboratory deck, I saw him just across Dug Hill Road, hunkered down in the ditch, having stalked to within a dozen feet of a small group of playful Grey Squirrels out gathering acorns (this year there's a bumper crop). I heard a car coming up the road and I was wondering how Julius would react. For some reason I assumed he'd flee away from the car as it approached. But evidently his attention was so focused that he didn't notice the car until it was upon him. Had he stayed put it would have been fine, but the sound made him want to flee, and since he was on the very edge of his known territory (he's considerably less adventurous than Clarence the Cat), fleeing meant returning to the center of his range. But that meant running back across the street, in front of the oncoming car. Having seen it today, I'm sure it accounts for a lot of the sudden darting of animals in front of cars that we find so bewildering.
In this case with Julius today there was no way for him to actually dart in front the car. It was already there when his darting instinct kicked in. From the laboratory deck I actually thought he'd been hit - I saw him begin his dart, and then the car blocked him from view. There was nothing I could do but flail my arms in anguish. Evidently, though, something made him stop just short of being hit. Perhaps he bounced off a door. In any case, once he came into view again I could see that he was fine.
Eleanor was once hit by a New Beetle while standing at the end of our driveway but walked away uninjured. On rare occasions I have also seen flattened squirrels in this stretch of road, but never anything larger. It features two characteristics that tend to work to the advantage of street-unsavvy animals (and against motorists, particularly of the drunk teenage variety): the beginning (or end) of a steep grade, and one of the sharpest curves on all of Dug Hill Road. Cars can't go more than about 35 miles per hour here without losing control, and they tend to be going much slower when climbing the hill (as Julius's eluded Grim Reapermobile was).

This evening Gretchen and I dined at the Armadillo on the Rondout. We actually had a gift certificate from a Catskill Animal Sanctuary silent auction, but Gretchen couldn't find it anywhere. She pleaded with the guy running the place to accept our word that we'd had it and lost it, but the only slack he was offering was to extend its expiration date. I ate my usual shrimp burrito with my usual margarita, but the latter had been made with lighter fluid instead of tequila, and so for my second round I ordered a Corona.
After dinner we went a few doors down on Abeel to attend a reading by various Bard students who had arrived in all their hip youthful. When we heard how long it would be, Gretchen told me it would be okay if I snuck out, so I did.
Back at home I cheated a little on my ongoing alcohol fast and poured myself a shot of expensive Patron tequila into my tall, narrow Guatamalan shot glass. In the course of drinking it, I was delighted to discover that my drinking habits had completely changed since the recent bad old days of just this past summer. The shot glass sat full and undrunk for a good 20 minutes before I consciously made the decision to take a sip. Every sip after that was the same: a conscious effort undertaken modestly and enjoyed completely. It was a series of luxuries strung together like pearls on a necklace. Two months ago I would have taken that first sip (and all those that followed) by reflex alone, and the shot glass would have been drained without me really noticing, taking the edge off my mood without really being anything special at all.

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