one last heist
Wednesday, December 8 2021
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
I got up at around 6:00am and checked the temperature at the cabin (which is graphed on a page at MySpool.com). The temperature there was continuing to drop, now a bit more slowly than it had been. Now the temperature was less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Clearly something was wrong with the generator and it would not be starting without human interaction. That human was going to have to be me, since I'm the only one who understands the setup I am using. Fortunately, temperatures in the cabin were now dropping so slowly that I felt comfortable working a whole eight hour day before setting out.
I didn't actually spend all that time working; at some point I drove the Prius to the large abandoned bluestone mine off Lorenz Road and gathered up some flat pieces of bluestone for use near the cabin.
It was supposedly snowing at the cabin, so there was no way any vehicle that didn't have four wheel drive would be suitable for going there. We still had our 2004 Legacy Outback and we didn't yet have the 2015 Subaru Forester, so I would be taking our trusty old Subaru for "one last mission" (or "heist" as I jokingly called it). Since the visit to the cabin would be so short, I decided to go on my own and not take the dogs, which greatly increased the available payload. For weeks Gretchen had been wanting to take to the cabin an antique dresser that had been in Powerful's room, and today I managed to load it into the back of the Subaru on top of all the pieces of bluestone. I then packed in a large comforter, a whole bunch of organic cotton towels, and all the framed prints by Eli Halpin. As soon as the weekly tax department meeting in my remote workplace concluded, I began the drive to the cabin.
Darkness descended quickly and I kept having trouble seeing the road in front of me. I didn't realize until the Amsterdam exit that I'd been driving with just my running lights on. But that wasn't the only problem; I kept feeling sleepy, perhaps because of how early I'd gotten up this morning, though I also wondered if the car's rotten exhaust system was somehow directing carbon monoxide into the cab. So for much of the drive I had a window slightly down.
And then there was the weather. By the time I reached Albany, there were snow flurries coming down, and by the time I got off I-90 in Amsterdam, they were coming down enough to make it look like I had engaged warp drive every time I put my high beams up. The snowfall increased as I approached my destination, and when I turned off West Bush to get on Route 309, I found myself joining a line of cars following a slow-moving snow plow on a surface visibly-speckled with salt crystals.
There were a couple inches of snow on Woodworth Lake Road, but there were also tracks, and the Subaru didn't seem to have any trouble finding purchase, even when I was going uphill. I was able to drive all the way to the cabin, where there were between two and three inches of fluffy new snow on the ground. I've driven the Subaru a lot, but I have no memories of actually driving it in a situation where driving a two-wheel-drive car would've been impossible. But this was such an occasion.
My first order of business was to clean the ashes (from a lot of cardboard burning) out of the woodstove. Then I could start a fire. As the MySpool graph had said, the temperature in the cabin was 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
I went around back to the generator and tried to unlock it, but the key wouldn't go in the keyhole. Evidently water had gotten in there and frozen. So first I had to carefully thaw out the keyhole with a MAPP gas torch. Then I could get inside, where I saw that, as expected, the generator was freaking out about a wiring problem (error number 2098) and instead of just working anyway, thought it best that the cabin's pipes freeze until a human arrived to enter the button sequence to clear the error. With the error cleared, I got the generator running, and could then focus on unloading the car while the woodstove and boiler slowly heated the cabin.
I wanted the snow to stop before doing the next task, which was to redo the connections of the wires that tell the generator when to turn on. I hadn't had a perfect set of supplies when I'd done this wiring, and had been forced to stuff the ends of wires from an ethernet cable into wiring harnesses from the side, which made it so those harnesses weren't perfectly seated against the connectors they mate with. This had triggered a few wiring errors when I'd initially set things up, but those had gone away and the system seemed to be working. Only recently did those errors come back, perhaps due to connector movements related to the constant cycle of heating and cooling.
To address these connector issues, I'd brought some random wiring harnesses from old computer equipment. I was able to extricate connector ends and wires from a diversity of connectors (some big, some small), so I had those ready to try when I eventually returned to the generator with the goal of fixing the wiring once and for all. To my surprise and delight, I found that the wires from the small connectors that provide power to disk drives were the right size for the Generac wiring harnesses. They even seemed to lock in place when pushed in. There were a couple setbacks along the way involving wires coming loose and and a wirenut eating a wire, but eventually I had the connectors back in place and tested and could close the generator up and go back into the cabin.
I'd eaten some cannabis before doing all that, and it had started to kick in as I was in the thick of things with the wiring harnesses, which made me wonder if perhaps I'd taken it too soon. But apparently I hadn't, and once the generator was working, I could sit back and enjoy the effects. I decided to take a bath, my first ever bath at the cabin. I brought my work-issued laptop into the tub with me and mostly read about bird evolution in Wikipedia, with a concentration on palæognaths, penguins, parrots, and pelagornithids. I also shaved using a disposable razor Gretchen had apparently bought for me. Normally I shave with five-bladed Gillette Fushion blade heads, using one for four or more years before replacing it. So I'm used to mediocre shaves. But this shaver was far in the other direction, giving me the closest, quickest shave I've ever had. And its blade head only had three blades, suggesting that, as with core counts in CPUs, blade quantity isn't the only metric contributing to effectiveness.
I'd been considering driving back to Hurley tonight, but it was so cozy near the fire and I wanted to drink another beer, so I decided to spend the night on the couch in the great room and leave in the morning. For dinner I had the cabin's one can of Campbell's vegetarian chick'n noodle soup (which is not, as it happens, vegan, as the noodles are egg noodles). It was decidedly fancier than the Campbell's soup I remember as a child, featuring big chunks of carrot and some sort of spiral pasta shape. But it might be a situation of too little too late for Campbell's; by not making it vegan when they could've easily done so, they've cut themselves off from a lot of good influencer coverage. And why couldn't they have made this soup ten years ago, back before all these other soup companies sprang into existence to serve the many people who don't have particularly fond memories of Campbell's soup.
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