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:
   canine travel constipation
Sunday, August 23 2015

location: Catoctin Mountain, Frederick County, Maryland

One last craft project today was the decorating of small canvas bags by using leaves as stencils and spraying them with spray paint. I made mine on a pink bag that I spray-painted blue, using a Tuliptree leaf and a three-lobed Sassafras leaf as stencils. It didn't turn out as nice as Gretchen's, where she sprayed coppery paint at a fern laying on a blue bag.
In the mid-afternoon, Gretchen and I loaded up the dogs, our luggage, and our crafts, said goodbye, and began our journey back northward. I was driving and we hadn't even gone a mile before I had to pull over and deal with some part of the undercarriage that was dragging on the road. There's little clearance under a Prius, so the only thing I could do was cut off the offending part: a square foot of rubbery plastic. Good thing the glove compartment contained one of those faux Swiss Army knives I'd bought at Radio Shack earlier in the year.
We'd be spending the next couple days in Philadelphia, and we'd decided to take the northern route, as we've had less trouble with congestion on the interstates that are not I-95. To get up to I-76, we took US 15 past Gettysburg. This was the first time I'd been any closer to that famous battlefield than I-81. I also noticed distant cooling towers producing low-level clouds as we crossed the wide Susquehanna River on I-76, and these probably, I said to Gretchen, belonged to the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. [I was correct.]
Gretchen took over driving after we refueled and drove us all the way to our destination in downtown Philadelphia over the course of several long Fresh Air podcasts.
We leashed our dogs, grabbed what we thought we'd need, left our Prius with the valet, and checked into our room at the Palomar Hotel (in a building that is something of an Art Deco brick skyscaper). The Palomar is part of the Kimpton chain, which has a policy of being dog-friendly, at least in hotels named Palomar. We'd stayed at their West Los Angeles Palomar back in 2013 and hadn't been too impressed, but Gretchen had gotten a good deal on our room here in Philadelphia and the location was great for vegan tourism (which, let's face it, was primarily why we were there).
Our room was on the 22nd floor, necessitating what might have been Ramona and Eleanor's first elevator ride. It kind of blew their minds, though as much for the automatic doors as for the sudden changes in the force of gravity.
After putting our stuff in our room, we took our dogs (still leashed, of course) for a walk around the neighborhood in hopes that they'd take care of any urgent biological business. But they didn't seem in any hurry to do anything. Perhaps the problem was a lack of vegetation. Strangely, though, we could find none. The urban environment near the Palomar was all concrete, asphalt, and, at best, small square dirt patches around small unhealthy-looking trees. Eventually we found a building that was set back from the street with a pair of large, lush monocot plantings in the front. Just as we arrived, another dog walker had just turned her dog loose into them, suggesting that this was a popular place for local dogs to take care of business. But even here, our dogs wouldn't do much of anything. Maybe Eleanor urinated, but that was it.
Gretchen searched her phone for local dog parks, but then it turned out that Rittenhouse Square was really close. It's a fairly big grid-conforming park, about the size of Manhattan's Union Square (but, unlike Union Square, actually square). When we arrived, another dog walker was playing with her dog off-leash, suggesting that sort of thing isn't swiftly punished. So we turned our dogs loose and hoped the relative freedom would also free their bowels. It should be mentioned that, though Rittenhouse Square isn't fully fenced, there are iron fences and bushes along its periphery restricting egress and exit to the walkways, and this reassured us that our dogs would not dart out into the streets around the square. We walked the dogs completely around the park, and though Eleanor managed to take care of all her business, Ramona acted as though she didn't have either a digestive or a urinary system. All she did was smell the ground and occasionally look up at us as if to ask what the big deal was.

We had a dinner reservation at V-Street, so we put the dogs back in our hotel room, got changed, and went out without the dogs. V-Street has a hip industrial decor with closely-spaced tables such that one tends to be just a bit too close to other diners. We ordered a bunch of stuff, and at first I was concerned that the portions would be ludicrously tiny when the "jerk trumpet mushrooms" were presented. Their total volume was no greater than a matchbook car. It was delicious and I could have eaten, as I said to our waitress, "a KFC bucket of it," but alas. Fortunately, the other items were more substantial. The Korean Fired Tempeh Reuben was incredible, as were the Peruvian fries, and the Langos. It was one of the best restaurant meals I'd had in a long time, which is not something I normally say about meals had at fancy restaurants. The only disappointment was a lack of IPAs on the drink menu; I had to settle for a Pizza Boy American Pale Ale, which was fairly similar to the kind of IPAs I like.
After taking the dogs for another mostly-fruitless evening walk in Rittenhouse Square, some homeless guy started making a loud pitch towards us and other smartly-dressed pedestrians, and something about the way he acted, the way he defied the conventions of interaction in the city, raised a flag in Ramona's brain and she switched into a totally different dog. Her eyes became alert and her ears went up and she started barking that vicious bark she does when she's not fooling around. All the pedestrians stopped in their tracks and some ducked behind objects, wondering whose face she was about to rip off and whether or not the woman in the purple dress (Gretchen) was going to be able to hold onto that leash. The homeless guy assured everyone, particularly Ramona, that he meant no harm as he stepped behind a pedestrian barricade.

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