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:
   a dash of Portlandification
Monday, May 27 2019
It being Memorial Day, Gretchen decided to have another "Saturday morning" coffee. Gretchen had recently broken one of the french presses, but no problem. I could make a french press of decaf for her with the existing french press and make myself espresso with the $5 espresso machine from the Tibetan Center thrift store. Normally one uses a dark espresso roast with an espresso maker, but I used those light-roast beans we'd gotten from that plantation in central Costa Rica. The result wasn't exactly espresso, but it was still good, or, as I put it to Gretchen "its own thing."
Mercifully, the idiots who like to monotonously shoot their guns at the bus turnaround didn't destroying the pleasant natural soundscape until late morning, which was a little surprising given how beautiful the day was (and the fact that most gun nuts had the day off).
While I was getting ready to grout the tile in the front entryway, Gretchen returned from walking the dogs. She was visibly disturbed. She'd just been talking to Georges, the guy with the house at the end of the Farm Road, and he'd just told her that one of the Gill daughters owns an 80 acre forest parcel adjacent to his land and is in the process of subdividing it into three pieces to be sold for possible development. Gretchen wasn't clear on what part of the forest this represents, but, based on my knowledge of land ownership, it sounded like it was the parcel veering off to the east from the very end of the Farm Road, just before Georges' farm. In order to subdivide it, there had apparently had to be negotiations for access via the Farm Road with our uphill neighbors ("the Greenhouses") and the guy who owns most of the rest of the forest. Originally this Gill daughter had offered to sell the parcel to Georges for $40,000, but he'd declined it because of all the expenses resulting from his two new children. Another land-related story with that Gill daughter is that she hadn't been part of the transaction that sold the nearby fertile cornfields of the Esopus Valley to Farm Hub. Apparently one of the Gill sons had bought all that land (hundreds of acres) from his father for a half million dollars and then turned around and sold it all to Peter Buffet (scion of the famous billionaire Warren Buffet) for $1.5 million. This little 80 acre track was just the Gill daughter trying to raise some money. As you can tell from its $40,000 asking price, the land in question is not worth very much. It's rocky, forested (mostly with unmarketable, stunted timber), and fairly inaccessible. Any plans to develop it are probably doomed, at least for the time being. I told Gretchen not to worry too much about it. And there's always a chance that we could buy it; at $40,000, we wouldn't even need a loan. Still, it's never pleasant to hear about developers making designs on familiar forest that we occasionally hike through, and this news left me somewhat unsettled for the rest of the day.
The grouting of the tile went about as quickly as such things can go. Then I invented a new technique for the process of cleaning up the excess grout. Since that tended to be dry or semi-dry, I could just sweep it up with a broom. Getting rid of as much of the excess as I could without getting it all wet and making it into mud definitely reduced the amount of water needed to remote the excess and clean the grout lines. When I was confident the ground lines were mostly done, I put a big long piece of plywood over the tile to make a walkway for people and dogs, thus keeping their toenails from removing divots from the still-wet grout.

I considered the tiling enough of a task for a Memorial Day weekend, but Gretchen always wants me to cram more chores into my weekends even though I also work all week and, not unlike many people, need a certain amount of time to work on my own projects. Initially I said that no, I didn't think I'd be replacing the failing tankless hot water heater with the new EcoSmart model from Home Depot. But then I ended up installing it anyway. It was a nearly ideal installation: all the wiring and plumbing was compatible with the new device and all I had to do was unhook the old one and hook up the new one, no soldering required. The only glitch was when I pressurized the new unit. I'd left a tap on, and it immediately drenched one of my armpits with hot solar-heated water.
This evening, Gretchen and I went out to the newly-renovated cineplex at the Hudson Valley Mall to see the movie Booksmart, which has been touted as Superbad from the nerdy-girl perspective. We hadn't been in the mall cineplex since the renovation, and we found the protocol had changed. Now when you pay for your ticket, you have to choose an assigned seat, which can be from one of two different classes: either a crappy old conventional seat or a motorized recliner with a built-in heater. Since we're never really on a budget any more, we opted for the expensive seats. I then expected ushers to show us to our chairs, but things didn't work that way. We were expected to find and take our own seats. And when we found our assigned-seats already occupied, we just took some other ones nearby. The lesson seemed clear: pay for cheap seats and then take the fancy ones. The worst that can happen is that someone will yell at you that you're in their seat, which is unlikely to happen when the theatre isn't full. We soon realized the value of the seat's being heated; it seems the theatre is run in an overly-airconditioned state, meaning anyone dressed for a warm summer evening is going to want his or her seat to be warm.
As for Booksmart, it was an amazing film. For starters, it chock full of hilarious humor delivered too quickly to be processed in real time. On top of that, there was a consistent subversion of tropes and norms, all punctuated by fantastic interludes such as a hilarious stop-action sequence representing out two heroines after taking "Asian Huasca," and a complex choreographed fantasy dance scene. All this, combined with the hypersaturated color pallet had me thinking, "wow, this is a movie from the future." It made such movies as Superbad look like a mediocre product of the 1980s by comparison.
One scene in Booksmart involved pizza, and this immediately put the idea of getting pizza afterwards into our minds. When we got out of the theatre, Gretchen was Googling Di Bella's, that pizza place on Lucas Avenue. But then she discovered another place on Washington Avenue (very near our Wall Street rental property) called Pie For The People, and it had lots of vegan options on the menu. So we went there instead.
Pie For The People had the hallmarks of a wacky pizza place from Portland, Oregon, or some other pizza place that just gets it. They not only offered vegan cheese, they also had things like bourbon-&-IPA-fried onions and a pie featuing chunks of potato. Gretchen did some further research and discovered it was a franchise operating in three small cities spread widely across the United States: Joshua Tree, California; Snoqualmie Pass, Washington; and now Kingston, New York. That's the kind of random that one expects from the getters of it in Cascadia. Gretchen was so excited by the options that she got two pizzas, one a big 20 incher and the othe a bit smaller (with potatoes and spinach). (It all came to just less than $50, half what we'd paid the other night at Palizzata.) All these recommendations came from our extremely helpful cashier, who had hair the color of diluted beet juice. The restuarant was about to close, so we waited for the pizza outside at a picnic table, drinking hibiscus tea that was easily as thick as Welches grape juice. When the pizza arrived, we ate a few slices then and there, and it was amazing. This was perhaps the best vegan pizza we'd ever had from a restaurant. On Saturday night, gentrification had seemed like an ominous force, but here on the south edge of Kingston, Pie For The People was showing that good food without the pretence is starting to show up as well, and we had no objection. The fact that we can go get excellent vegan pizza only seven miles from home is going to change our lives for the better, though we might also start becoming Portland vegans in the process. (In Portland, vegans have so many excellent food options that many of them are fat.)

A dragonfly I saw perched atop a tomato pole in the garden today. Phoebes hunt from these same high spots in the same way as dragonflies, sallying out to catch nearby insects and then returning.

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