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:
   had to bleed
Tuesday, August 5 2014
My screwy sleep pattern forced me to take a nap this afternoon. I was awaken from my slumber by the ringing of the phone; Gretchen was calling to say that she'd set up an appointment at muffler shop on Albany Avenue so I could get the Subaru inspected now that I'd fixed the brakes. The muffler shop in question is run by a guy we know who has been to both of our recent house parties, so if it was going to pass anywhere it would pass there. But there was still some unfinished business with the Subaru. I needed to clear a 0420 error off the computer (despite what you might be thinking, it's not from smoking pot; it's an intermittent error related to the catalytic converter or oxygen sensors and it plagues Ray's & Nancy's Subaru as well). And I also needed to see how the newly-fixed brakes behaved when driving the car. So I threw six five gallon buckets and a shovel into the back of the car, loaded up the dogs, and headed down Dug Hill Road towards Fording Place off Hurley Mountain Road. Immediately I could tell that the brakes were barely functioning. They'd work if you pumped them a few times, but the brake pedal could easily be pushed all the way to the floor while the car continued to roll, which is not the way brakes should behave. Still, my driving style makes little use of the brakes and they were working well enough for a soil gathering run to Fording Place and back. Also, I needed to run up some miles between clearing that 0420 error code and the inspection; I'm not sure why, but Ray tells me you can't just clear the error codes and immediately go to an inspection.
When I got to Fording Place, it had just finished raining there and everything was drenched. A guy with a motorcycle and a fishing rod were huddling under a tree nearby as I quickly gathered my soil as another downpour slowly began. The Espopus was low at Fording Place, permitting a pickup truck to easily ford from the east in the short time I was there. With the bridge still out on Wynkoop, I imagine Fording Place gets more traffic these days (even though there are signs on either side of it reading "ROAD CLOSED").
Back at the house, I discovered that I couldn't get the hatch of the Subaru open no matter what I did. That damn car is a constellation of failing components, but a working hatch is at least as important to me as working brakes. After getting my buckets of soil out through the back doors, I turned my attention to the brakes. Clearly they needed to be bled; yesterday I'd made sure there was no air in the lines to the brakes, but I'd neglected the cylinder inside the calipers themselves. Happily, the bleeding operation wasn't difficult; even the bleeder nut didn't fight me. Since I was doing the bleed all by myself, I attached a piece of long narrow transparent plastic hose to the bleeder nipple and watched it as I tapped the brake. With the brakes bled, they worked so well that I was willing to try the antilock braking system (this involved putting a fuse back into the car's fuse box). Unfortunately, though, with the ABS system engaged, the brakes felt like shit, indicating the "fixed" brake might still have some issues. But I didn't have time to think about that now; I had an inspection to go to.
At the muffler shop, our friend Joe presides over the place like a benevolent dictator. He gave me the VIP treatment, instructing one of his underlings to pull some random car off the lift to make room for mine. Despite this, the inspection took a while, allowing me to read most of an article in Rolling Stone about Barry Gibb (sole surviving member of the epitomic disco group The Bee Gees). This particular muffler shop is a little classier than the usual muffler shop; for example, there is a poster of a Gustav Klimpt painting on the wall behind the cashier. There is WiFi but no television.
Joe walked by at one point carrying a Subaru shifter and jokingly said to me, "Look, your shifter fell off your car." Anything is possible with that Subaru, so for an instant I thought he might be serious. The shifter actually belonged to an old woman waiting on her car in another part of the waiting room.
Somehow by some miracle the Subaru passed inspection, though while the car was still on the lift, Joe showed me the film of oil covering various components beneath the engine. Oil was slowly leaking from at least one place, though it was hard to figure out where. One of the underlings told me that had the liquid been steering fluid, the car would have failed inspection, but the State of New York doesn't worry as much about oil leaks. My first car was a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle, and it was so plagued by oil leaks that I assumed they were just something that went with car ownership. Since that time, though, none of the cars I've driven have leaked appreciable amounts of oil. Even this Subaru, despite the visible signs of leaking, does not require me to constantly add oil (as that first Volkswagen had).
With its brand new inspection sticker, I could drive the streets of Kingston without the usual sense of dread and paranoia. Hell, if I wanted to draw some attention to myself by pulling over on the side of the road and salvaging the wood from a fallen tree, I could have done that too. I always feel great after my car passes inspection. With the cars I drive, it's a real achievement. And if you've been reading this blaag for a few weeks, you know it takes real work, the kind that results in sweat, dirt, frustration, and mosquito bites.
I met Gretchen at her literacy center workplace near Hannaford and we walked over to the Stockade Tavern for a drink. On the way, Gretchen suggested we duck into a new place called Vincenzo's Pizzeria for french fries. That place is awesome; a generous order of delicious fries and a small vegetable empanada cost only $4. If I were a pimply-faced teenager with an allowance, that would be the place I'd take my high school sweetheart for a date.
The Stockade only had a few patrons in it when we arrived. I ordered a Stone IPA and Gretchen had some sort of light beer prepared as a shandy. Gretchen asked if I knew what the music was playing on the Stockade stereo and I said that it sounded like Hank Williams. She suddenly remembered that she'd recently installed Shazam on her smart phone, and so she tried it out. It only had to listen to a few bars of the music before confirming that I had been right.

I did a little grocery shopping at the Hannaford before driving home. There aren't a lot of cloth bag options in the Subaru, so I often have to resort to using a bag whose straps where chewed loose from the bag by Ramona back during her puppy chewing phase. The baggers at Hannaford don't seem to understand cloth bags at all and certainly don't understand cloth bags with "issues" such as this one, which has been unsuccessfully stapled and glued back together twice now. Hannaford baggers always seem to think they're doing me a favor by underpacking my huge cloth bags and then putting stuff in the plastic bags I'm trying to avoid. As I pulled the two loaves of bread out of the plastic I didn't want, I muttered, "The thing is, I don't want any plastic bags." At this point the bagger had his head down on the bagging surface. I can't fault him for that; if I was a Hannaford bagger, I'd be hungover and stoned every day and my head would be there a lot.

Back at the house, Gretchen had just gathered a bunch of kale and green beans from the garden. She announced that we'd be having an impromptu dinner party tonight and that Susan (of Susan and David) and Maresa (or Mark and Maresa) would be coming over. Their significant others were both elsewhere, but each would be bringing a dog. The heart of the dinner would be pasta with that artichoke-pesto sauce, but there would also be kale, beans, and a salad.

A strong rain fell tonight, enough to refill the rain barrel at the northwest corner of the house, though it filled the one collecting water from the woodshed roof to less than a quarter of its 55 gallon capacity.

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