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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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   Red Hook birthday burrito
Sunday, February 16 2020
It being my 52nd birthday, we treated the day something like an additional Saturday. Gretchen made me coffee, but she also made me a pizza, since I would much rather eat a slice of pizza than a slice of cake (it's a tradition that goes all the way back to 2005). Vegan cheese technology has made significant advances since the last time she'd made me birthday pizza, so she could just make a simple four-topping New-York-style pie. Those toppings were sauteed mushrooms & onions, jalapeno peppers, and thin slices of large tomatoes (as opposed to unsliced cherry tomatoes, the mouth-scalding option that I never want). Yesterday I'd mentioned a delicious food item my father used to cook that I've never seen before or since. He called them "cheese in a blanket" and they consisted of thin-rolled bread dough (my father always used whole wheat) wrapped around cheese (either cheddar or whatever goat cheese my mother had made) to form individual pieces maybe two inches wide and eight inches long. Often there would be onions and oregano cooked into that cheese. Just from that description, Gretchen had also made a few pieces of cheese in a blanket using some sort of dill-flavored cheese that wasn't getting any fresher. The results were amazing, though when I later went to eat them cold, I learned that (unlike pizza) cheese in a blanket must be eaten hot.
Neither I nor Gretchen did much gift purchasing this year, partly because we both have pretty much everything anyone could reasonably want, though Gretchen did get me a half gallon of kombucha. And I'd fronted half the money for Gretchen's fancy Earl-Grey-flavored birthday cake.
Gretchen worked her normal Sunday shift at the bookstore (without Neville) and, since it was a nice day, I salvaged a heavy backpack load of skeletonized oak from west of the Farm Road.
I then did my usual birthday tinkering, in this case soldering together a little circuit board with a phono jack to accept inputs from a Sparkfun wind-measuring kit (it includes an anemometer and a resistor-array windvane). I wanted all these sensors to be read by an Adafruit ItsyBitsy (based on an ARM Cortex M0), which I wired to a Raspberry Pi Zero W using both a USB cable and jumpers connecting their I2C signals. A feature of this sort of setup was that the ItsyBity's little two megabyte volume ended up mounted on the Raspberry Pi at /media/pi/CIRCUITPY, meaning I could change its main.py file directly in an ssh console window or via SFTP upload, causing the ItsyBity's behavior to change immediately. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any Python-based code to make the ItsyBitsy into an I2C slave, my prefered way to control one microcontroller from another, so I might have to abandon this setup even though I love being able to have direct file-level-access to two different microcontrollers through just one of them. I know I can get I2C slave behavior out of a conventional Arduino, which would be a cheaper, lower-power way to implement what I want.

My vision for my birthday dinner tonight was to have a trashy Mexican experience of the sort one can reliably get at Cancun's in Red Hook. (The apostrophe isn't always present in its various spellings.) My initial plan was to just have a birthday dinner with Gretchen. Yesterday she'd asked if I was sure I didn't want any of our friends to come, and I had a change of heart. But then it turned out that I didn't give anyone enough notice and they all had other plans. So it was just me and Gretchen driving to Red Hook tonight.
Gretchen and I had been to Cancun's together only once before, and we'd forgotten how much we love that place. For starters, it's entirely staffed by either Mexicans or Hispanics, and tonight nearly all the customers were also Hispanic. Gretchen had brought both vegan sour cream and vegan cheese, so we could have a complete trashy-Mexican-cuisine experience. Everything about that place reminds me of Rosa's Cantina, the old-school Mexican restaurant in Staunton that my parents used to take us to when we'd go out to eat. It's got the shredded iceberg lettuce, the burritos that can only be eaten with a knife and a fork, the generous cocktails, the option of "fried ice cream" for dessert, and the chips you don't have to ask for that arrive seconds after you've been seated. What Cancun's also has is a patina of authenticity; it also reminds me of the kind of restaurant one would find in a touristy part of Mexico.
Gretchen and I both got alcholic drinks, and they came in big generous thick-walled maragarita glasses. Hers was more a strawberry daiquiri, whereas mine was a "presidente margarita."


Me with a snuggling Neville the Dog this morning. Photo by Gretchen.


Me cutting my birthday pizza this morning. Photo by Gretchen.


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