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:
   already over-gentrified
Saturday, May 25 2019
This morning while Gretchen and I were out in the yard west of the house drinking our Saturday morning coffee, some idiot was down at the bus turnaround monotonously filling the air with noise. It's a common sound in warm weather, but it's not something we've ever gotten used to (interestingly, one never hears this sound anywhere but in the United States). Recently the Town of Hurley passed a sound ordinance that, among other things, can result in fines if dogs bark for more than 15 minutes. So Gretchen called the State Police (even though, jurisdictionally, a sound ordinance should really be handled by a local sheriff's department). A very nice trooper showed up at the house in his cruiser, and our dogs were friendly to him and he seemed like a real animal lover, though he was from a rather different (and more common) culture. In a long-ranging chat with Gretchen (which I overheard from a distance), he talked about his dogs and his kids and his love of the outdoors (which includes hunting). Gretchen of course brought up her dietary choices, which the trooper seemed respectful of. As for the guy at the bus turnaround, there probably wasn't anything he could do to enforce anything, since he couldn't enforce town sound ordinances and the shooter was operating more than 500 feet from a dwelling. But he did say he'd leave a note on the shooter's window if he was still down there when he went to check. For some reason policeman always leave their cars idling, and because of this, neither Gretchen nor the trooper could hear that the shooting was continuing. By the end of their conversation, they'd both assumed he must've left. I suppose if you can't hear shooting over the idling of a nearby car, perhaps it's not as annoying as we thought.
My big project today was to install the dark grey-green tile Gretchen had bought for the front entryway. As you'll recall, I'd torn out the old tile last weekend and buried most of it in the yard. I did some last-minute removal of high spots of old thinset from the plywood subfloor (to which I'd be directly attaching the tile) and then more vacuuming. Next I set up the wet saw a couple dozen feet north of the woodshed, where it would be convenient for cutting tiles as needed. I mixed up thinset in a five gallon bucket using rainwater collected from the roof of the woodshed. That would be the only water I'd be using for this entire project (including most of the cleanup).
The tile went in fairly easily, though I noticed these tiles were a little less consistently-sized and a little more brittle than the tiles I'd used for the kitchen backsplash (though they were both from the same company, Fireclay Tile in Aromas, California). The corners of the tiles were sometimes noticeably askew from 90 degrees, meaning in some places I couldn't use the rubber crosses I was using to space them. This was okay, though, as the result would look a less cold and industrial with such idiosyncrasies.
Another issue was the uneven terrain of the subfloor, which had a few remaining high spots that occasionally prevented the tiles from seating perfectly. One tile I'd already set actually cracked in half when I stepped on it, suggesting a high spot was located near its middle. Fortunately, we'd bought plenty of extra tiles (and I would even be able to use parts of that broken tile).
At some point I had to make a run out to 9W to get more thinset. I first went to Lowes, but they didn't have the brand of thinset I was using, so I went to Home Depot next. I figured I should keep the brand of thinset the same for the whole install. Also, there are more things for Neville and Ramona to do in the Home Depot parking lot than in the Lowes parking lot. It's never a full Home Depot parking lot experience for them unless some concerned citizen asks nervously if those dogs belong to me, and that happened today.
The plan was for Gretchen and I to have dinner out tonight as we always do on Saturday nights, but my tiling was running late. Eventually I decided to wind down the operation without completion. But winding down a tiling operation has its own overhead; one has to clean all the tools carefully and scrape up any excess thinset, or else it turns to stone. I wasn't done with all this until after 8:00pm.

There's a space on the southeast corner of John and Wall Streets in Uptown Kingston where a series of restaurants have been. Back when we first moved to Hurley, the space was occupied by a Chinese restaurant whose biggest sign read simply "CHOP SUEY." That is some old-school original gangsta shit right there. Gretchen and I took our small wedding party to that restaurant immediately after we were married on May 9th, 2003. In the mid 2000s, the Chop Suey was replaced with an Indian restaurant were it was common for the staff to spray down a table with Windex nearby as you were trying to eat. That wasn't pleasant. In recent years, a nice Mexican family operated a Mexican restaurant specializing in somewhat unfamiliar dishes from the southern Mexican state they'd come from. The food was good, but for some reason we stopped going. Last we'd heard, that Mexican family had bought Skytop Steakhouse.
The space on that corner is now home to a fourth restaurant, Palizzata. Nancy and Sarah the Vegan had been there and reported bad things about the food, but then today Gretchen looked them up and online and saw that they had a whole vegan menu. That sort of thing needed support, so that was where we would be dining tonight.
Gretchen parked near Columbia Beauty Supply, meaning we had to walk most of the "downtown" Uptown to get to the restaurant. On this warm evening, things were jumping. Happy people were walking in small groups all along Front Street, and there was a large mass of teenagers gathered outside BSP, where a Tom Petty tribute band would be playing. Tom Petty is Gretchen's least favorite rock and roll artist, but, as I pointed out, perhaps his songs would sound better sung by someone else. She had to agree with me there. There were also a lot of young people milling around outside the Kingston Candy Bar (an actual candy store). Gretchen ducked in there for a surprisingly long time, leaving me feeling out of place among all the youth. I hadn't even brought a cellphone as a prop for my attention. Eventually Gretchen emerged with a vegan doughnut, something one used to not even be able to get in Portland, Oregon.
While all the other restaurants in the space now occupied by Palizzata had been affordable and a bit divey (and usually without a liquor license), Palizzata itself looked to be high-end. It was decked-out in expensive materials with an understated palette, and the employees were all attractive young Caucasian adults. In keeping with those high-end signifiers, the diners all looked like people one would expect to see in a fancy restaurant in Manhattan. There wasn't a single plaid shirt in sight. I was wearing flip flops and felt a bit underdressed.
Gretchen was immediately disappointed to find that the vegan items were mostly on a separate menu that was not given to us when we entered. Being a vegan evangelist, Gretchen prefers that all people be offered the vegan options from the start. But in any case, I soon knew what I wanted: the minestrone soup and the pasta with a ragu sauce made with torn-up Impossible Burger. Gretchen went for the pesto pasta. I ordered a blood orange martini and Gretchen went for a bellini as a reluctant alcohol choice. Whispering, we kept asking each other what had happened to Kingston. Had it already over-gentrified? Why hadn't it managed to linger longer as a cool place for artists to do their thing?
At some point something clued Gretchen in that that attractive younger couple at the next table over were vegan too, and vegans always have to do the vegan bonding thing when they discover one another in the wild. The woman's name was Nicole and she ran some sort of pilates studio over in Rhinebeck. Her husband's name was Michæl and he owned a small graphics design firm. They'd taken an Uber from Rhinebeck so they wouldn't have to worry about getting a DUI on the drive home. There was lot of talk about local vegan restaurant options, with a lingering commiseration about the loss of Plantæ in Tivoli. Nicole kept talking about her kids, so Gretchen decided she needed to meet Marissa, who is (I think) writing a book about raising vegan kids. (Maybe that's not public knowledge!)
Eventually we got to meet the owner of Palizzata, who is actually vegan himself. He's also a fan of IPAs, and when he heard that I liked them, he got a special one from the back, which he spit three ways between himself, Michæl, and me. His tastes in IPAs was rather different from mine, but I will drink any IPA offered.
Gretchen had quickly determined that the faux meat in my ragu sauce was Beyond Burger, not Impossible Burger. She could tell because she is a supertaster, and there is a note in Beyond Burgers that she doesn't like. That the burgers had been swapped without telling us seemed wrong, and she was sure to tell the owner that diners needed to know this sort of thing. The owner's excuses was that there was some big event being catered today, and the staff in the restaurant had all be trucked in from another restaurant in Ellenville, and they didn't have the protocol down.
I actually like Beyond Burgers and was very happy with the ragu. Gretchen and I were particularly impressed by the minestrone, which contained lots of fresh spring vegetables like asparagus and nearly-raw peas. Gretchen was amazed that it contained so many different vegetables, all with different required cooking times, and yet they all had somehow been cooked for precisely the right amount of time.

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