settling for Fording Place
Tuesday, July 16 2013
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
Our new cat Keira (whose name I originally spelled "Kira") was last seen by Gretchen on Friday. Unlike Nigel, her habits were not well known to us and she'd already shown herself to be something of a hider. But by late today it was seeming clear that she was gone and unlikely to return. Had she slipped into the woods and been eaten by the same creature that had grabbed Nigel? Who knows, but it might make for awkward conversations at the animal shelter. In any case, we won't be getting a replacement right away. By the time we get another cat, we're hoping the predator stalking creatures of that size in our area will have moved on.
An oppressive heat wave had followed me back from Dixie, and was apparent from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and all points north. So this afternoon Gretchen and I took the dogs to the Secret Spot on the Esopus. It's been posted as being for sale, and today we found the entrance to it blocked by a sign on a small step ladder. We moved the ladder aside and parked anyway, but when we went down to the water, we saw a truck parked nearby with workers doing something. What the hell? Feeling skeeved out, we skedaddled. Later Gretchen learned from our friend Tara (who was married to her husband Brian at the Secret Spot) that the four acre floodplain parcel, though seemingly undevelopable and on the market for only $15,000, had sold for $30,000. Thus, sadly, it seems unlikely that we will be able to swim there any more.
But we still needed to swim, so we drove to the end of Fording Place, which, being a right of way, can never be sold to anyone. In the past Fording Place has seemed like an inferior swimming hole, but without other nearby options, we decided to give it another try. Just upstream from the actual ford is a large lakelike expanse. Its shoreline is a little on the funky side and there isn't a useful beach, but the water is deep (and, on this day, cold), and Gretchen managed to get a good swim in. Maybe it isn't so bad after all. While we were there, a truck containing a half dozen Hispanic lawn care laborers arrived. They scouted out the scene and, seeing us, stopped stripping at their underwear layer. I can't imagine mowing grass all day in weather like this, but if I did you can be damn sure I'd be taking a swimming break between jobs.
Back in 2010 after we got an HDTV, I put together a Linux-based box allowing Gretchen and me to watch movies downloaded via Bittorrent to supplement movies coming via satellite, Netflix, and Roku. But that box has always been awkward to use. It boots to a normal workstation GUI, and from there one has to use the remote as a mouse to open a directory, find a movie file, launch it, and then make the file play full-screen. It's just awkward enough that Gretchen doesn't do it. So today I put together a second attempt at a Linux-based movie box. On this one I installed XBMCBuntu, a Ubuntu distribution with a couch-potato-friendly interface having the unpronounceable name of XBMC. It basically makes a file system full of movies look like a DVR's movie queue. The installation automatically recognized all the hardware on my C60M1-I motherboard and it was a fairly simple matter to adapt our Harmony remote to manipulate its menus. I didn't have a large hard drive available for this build, but it's easy to configure XBMC to look at remote Windows shares across the network and play movies found within them.
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