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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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   preparing for bifocality
Sunday, December 1 2013
Today, [REDACTED] I went on a rare solo expedition into town to run numerous errands. At Home Depot, I finally got around to buying myself a proper container for carrying potentially-hot wood ashes from the woodstove. In the past I've used plastic buckets (which is always a bad idea; when I was down in Virginia two years ago, Gretchen left a plastic bucket full of ashes beside the stove and it almost burned a hole through the floor), but mostly I've used stainless steel mixing bowls, which don't hold much and have no handles (and are thus difficult to carry when their surfaces are covered with blistering hot spots). The container I selected was a six gallon trashcan made of galvanized steel.
Once I start jackhammering the basement of the greenhouse, I'm going to be producing broken rock at an accelerated rate in an ever-deepening hole. Anticipating this, in my mind I've been developing a simple crane to help lift buckets of rock and deliver them to the deck surface that forms the east half of the greenhouse first floor. I imagine running a fourteen foot two by six east to west as a girder a couple inches beneath the ceiling near the center of the greenhouse, and onto this I imagine putting a small "cursor" with wheels allowing it to roll up and down the girder (which will, of course, be oriented so that it will tend not to flex in the vertical dimension). From this cursor, I will hang a pulley-based tackle system allowing me to easily raise and lower a bucket at arbitrary depths in the greenhouse basement. Once raised up, I'll be able to disengage a brake and roll the cursor along the two by six, delivering the bucket to the deck of the first floor's eastern half. From there I will be able to dispose of the bucket's contents in the usual way (by dumping it above the retaining wall west of the greenhouse). I'd built such a crane system once before for a single use: to lift a heavy solar panel up onto the solar deck. That time I'd made the mistake of only putting wheels on the load-bearing surface of the cursor that runs along the two-by-six girder. This time, I'll add wheels to run along the north and south sides of the girder as well, keeping the cursor centered and not allowing it to rub on any surface. This is all a long way of saying that while at Home Depot, I also got six caster wheels (in two different sizes).
Gretchen had requested "canned vegetable soup," and so I bought four different kinds, which wasn't easy at ShopRite (where vegetable soup often contains milk and/or eggs). While there, I happened to pass a dumpy woman hollering at her dumpy son about what to get when selecting cans of something from somewhere. "Meat, only meat!" she exclaimed.
At the Hudson Valley Mall, I made some returns for Gretchen at H & M (a store I'd never heard of) and then did some shopping at Old Navy to replenish my depleted wardrobe. I needed long-sleeve shirts and casual trousers. These days I'm happy wearing pajama bottoms all day, so I got a plaid pair of those as well as two "broken in" khaki trousers in different colors for those few occasions when pajamas are inappropriate. Gretchen had also ordered two pairs of socks and pajama bottoms, so I got those two.
My final errand was to go to the new CVS on 9W to try on reading glasses. For several years now I've been wearing glasses to correct an astigmatism and very mild near-sightedness, but lately I've also been having trouble focusing on close-up objects such as medicine bottles and soldering projects. After finding out that I can get bifocals and even progressive lenses for cheap on EyeBuyDirect.com (using a modification of a prescription I keep on file there), I realized that all I needed to know to complete the order was what power I needed for the "reading glasses" part of the lens. At CVS, the granularity of available lenses was not great, but the weakest power they had available (1.5) seemed sufficient (or perhaps even a little too big).


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