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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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   ziplock bag at Kingston Point
Saturday, August 1 2020
Powerful figured out the panagram for this morning's New York Times Spelling Bee right away: "uncloak." K had to be used in every word, which was less of a problem than I thought it would be.
After drinking my usual amount of coffee out on the east deck, I resumed work on the upstairs bathtub replacement project. There was a need for new two-by-four "joists" to support the platform between the wall and the edge of the tub, and I installed three of these. Since the edge of the platform curves, the "joists" made no sense in the usual parallel arrangement, so I installed two of then splaying outward from the center towards either end of the tub and used a third to interconnect them along the tub's widest part.
Next I cut and prepared additional pieces of half-inch plywood to increase the height of the platform on the drain end, which would otherwise be low enough to form a water-trapping depression. In order to feather out the edges of these pieces so as not to create abrupt (rastery) changes in elevation, I used a chainsaw, which I'm finding to be a remarkably versatile saw for quickly accomplishing otherwise difficult-to-achieve cuts. It's not all that precise, but the rough edges can then be sanded if necessary (though in this case, the feathered edges were mostly going to be buried beneath other plywood layers).
Somewhere in the middle of those tasks, I decided to run some errands with Powerful. He actually needed to run errands more than I did, since he will be alone in the house for the next five to ten days while Gretchen and I are at Twenty Ninth Pond in the Adirondacks, and would need to stock up on groceries. So we used this as an opportunity for more behind-the-wheel driver instruction. Powerful's driving skills are definitely improving, and at this point most of what needs to be said is that he needs to drive faster or punch it harder when accelerating into an intersection. At the big Hannaford on 9W, Powerful grabbed some shopping bags, while I went off to run my errands. I wanted to find better-looking washing machine valves, epoxy to help with detail work in the tub platform, and, most importantly, stove knob covers (since the ones I'd ordered online had yet to arrive, and I was worried about Celeste the Cat burning down the house). My first stop was at the Bed, Bath & Beyond, but they had no oven knob covers. They did, however, have a steel-mesh spice rack with separable mesh trays that looked like they might be big enough to cover the knobs when turned upside-down. At Lowes, the only thing on my mental list that they had was epoxy. So then it occurred to me that maybe knob covers might be sold at a store catering to new parents. There used to be a Baby Depot at the little shopping area across Route 9W from Lowes and Walmart, the one with the Staples, a dollar store, and that pizza restaurant that I used to patronize back before I became vegan over a decade ago. But when I drove to the place where the Baby Depot had once been, I saw that it was now just a Men's Warehouse, though one also offering baby supplies and housewares. So it was still promising. But then I saw that the doors were all being guarded by staff for some reason, and all the doors appeared to be exits. What's more, the only customers were in wheelchairs and were arriving in taxis or buses from nursing homes. Was this place no longer even a Men's Warehouse and people had just forgotten to take down the sign? When I saw a dead bat lying on the sidewalk, I decided I didn't need to know any more. Powerful was just ringing up his stuff when I returned to the Hannaford. Everything he'd bought had been vegan, but, because the food was all for him, he'd gotten some things Gretchen and I never would, such as Honey Nut Cheerios, whose box art is designed to convince potential customers that every individual Cheerio is actually a tiny doughnut.

The plan for dinner was to order a bunch of Chinese food and for us three humans to go with the two dogs to a place Gretchen had recently discovered: Kingston Point. It's a park on the west bank of the Hudson River a bit removed from all the familiar parts of Kingston, and for some reason we've never (or perhaps only once) been there. We used it as an opportunity for Powerful to get more driving experience, but because of the complexity of the navigation, he only did the driving from our house to the Chinese restaurant, that weird placed with the high ceilings and excessive Chinese-themed decor called C Gourmet on Albany Avenue. There, Gretchen picked up an enormous bag of food she'd ordered that, when I later carried it, felt like it weighed at least 30 pounds. Gretchen drove us from there to Kingston Point, which is reachable by a series of non-direct streets through at least one semi-isolated Kingston neighborhood. Once at the parking lot, we could either go north for actual sandy beach (we were there a long time ago with Sally and Eleanor) or south, where rocky forested park land are surrounded by an estuary nearly completely choked with vegetation, the estuary separated from the Hudson itself by an abandoned railroad causeway. Near the estuary was a series of small mown meadows with picnic tables, and it was at one of these where we sat down to eat our Chinese food (though the benches on the picnic table were ergonomically impossible to sit on on one side).
I concentrated on the garlic vegetables with tofu Gretchen had gotten for me. This whole experience had grown out of Powerful's hankering for Chinese fried rice, so that was what commanded his attention. Gretchen had gotten many other things, including peanut noodles that were so cloyingly sweet that we would end up giving them to the dogs. Speaking of dogs, we hadn't been dining long before Ramona emerged from the bushes carrying a ziplock back containg some sort of foul beige fluid, likely the decomposed remains of someone's lunch. It was so gross that Ramona didn't actually intended on eating it. Instead, she tossed it onto the grass and proceeded to roll on it enthusiastically. I used a stick to get rid of that bag as soon as I could, but Ramona was already smelled so terrible that we tried to keep her away from us as we ate the rest of our Chinese food.
Meanwhile, a couple in a nearby meadow were making what didn't smell like disgusting beige fluid smell like dank nugs of Canabis indica instead. At some point a group of five or six young people came through and settled at a nearby picnic table, fussing over Neville when he wandered close. These youths weren't really socially distancing, though one young woman was sitting some distance away from them on the grass. Perhaps that was her trying to maintain some coronavirus-arresting space. There were a number of groups that passed nearby as well, including one with dogs, which of course forced us to leash up Ramona.
After we were done eating, we bagged up our substantial remaining Chinese food and strolled down a trail through the woods. This led past craggy rocks jutting (like in Central Park or a Star Trek set) out of the ground to a pair of fenced-in dog parks. There was running water available here, allowing us to finally clean Ramona as best we could (without soap). Lacking any sort of scrubbing implements, I used a flat rock. There were a few people at both of the parks with their dogs, and we allowed Neville to socialize with them. We even turned Neville loose inside one of the fenced-in areas so she could have some quality time with Hoover, a smallish black & white curly-haired terrier named after the brand of vaccuum cleaner (he likes to eat). I joked that Neville and he had something in common: being named after discredited 20th Century politicians. A couple smallish black Sally-style dogs showed up after that, but for some reason one of these couldn't be allowed into the dog park unless it had first been cleared of all balls.
Gretchen tried to lead us to the rail trail on the train causeway, but we were out on a peninsula, and that would've required much walking. Meawnhile, the dogs had found their way down to the low-tide mud flats and were splashing in the water. When next we saw them, they were so filthy that we had to take both of them back to the dog park and rinse them off again. On our way back to the car, a big fluffy orange dog tried to get Ramona to play with him or her through the fence, and Ramona's response was to bite the fence. She really doesn't play well with others.
Someone had apparently had some sort of medical emergency and called 911 while we'd been doing these things, because there was now a fire engine, a police car, and perhaps two or three medical first-responders in the parking lot as we were leaving. Gretchen did all the driving, and it was dusk by the time we returned home.
Earlier today I'd done some daydrinking while working on the bathroom project. But at some point I switched to kava tea, which I'd just gotten for the first time (using my usual grey-market herbal supplier, Kraken Kratom). I'd never deliberately had kava tea, and certainly not in its pure form. Initially I kind of liked the slight numbness it gave to my mouth and the vague feeling of contentment. But just before we'd started eating that Chinese food at Kingston Point, I'd felt a mild wave of anxiety, as if perhaps I'd drunk too much (I'd only had a teaspoon). That feeling eventually passed, but by the time we got home this evening, my gut was feeling unsettled. It being a drinking day, normally I would've had a little booze before climbing in bed. But not tonight.
While driving to Kingston Point earlier today, we'd heard part of an episode of Snap Judgment about a song entitled "Easy Street." This formerly-unknown song by a flipper of real estate had found its way first into a torture scene in the Walking Dead and then into psy-ops against people protesting the caging of children at the border (one of many dystopic things in our Againly Great America). This evening I tracked down "Easy Street" and immediately understood why it has been deployed as a torture device. It features a number of widely-reviled music characteristics, including a banjo, what sounds like a chorus of children, and disgusting, unrelenting cheerfulness. Nobody is ever happy enough to listen to music made for happy people.


At our Kingston Point picnic table. From left: Ramona, Neville, Powerful, Gretchen, and lots of Chinese food.


Ramona with a licked-clean plastic lid and some non-socially-distanced youth behind her.


Neville being sniffed by Hoover at the dog park.


For linking purposes this article's URL is:
http://asecular.com/blog.php?200801

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