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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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   ghetto palm jihad
Thursday, August 18 2022
There was a trace of rain today and even some thunder, but it didn't add up to much. I've been watering the garden a little here and there but I probably should be watering it more. At this point in the season it is producing more tomatoes than I ever remember seeing. As for the other plants, it's been hit or miss. I'm getting some good peppers of various kinds and the lettuce mostly turned out okay, but a celery-based root vegetable (celeriac) was a total bust and the leeks weren't much better. At some point today Gretchen pulled all the raggedy bolting broccoli and kale out of the ground because it was causing her mental stress, but the kale this year had been pretty good.

At lunch today I took a pair of long-reach needle-nosed pliers and some clippers down to the greenhouse area and first attacked a series of thorny canes (from multiflora rose and various berries) that were making the walkway to the greenhouse basement door treacherous. After I'd cleared all that I could of that, I then used the pliers to eradicate (the literal use of that word) what I could of encroaching poison ivy vines, which have now reached into the well of the greenhouse basement doorway. Last I'd checked, poison ivy had been twenty or thirty feet to the southeast, but evidently conditions are encouraging its spread. I'd brought the long-reach pliers to avoid contact with the poison ivy, but of course I accidentally came into contact with it several times. So I had to thoroughly lather up and scrub my lower arms afterwards. (If you remember to do this, you can avoid trouble from even fairly extensive poison ivy exposure.)
I then returned to the stone wall south of the Chamomile and made yet another cairn-buttress somewhere along its north-facing side.

In the remote workplace today, I spent the day adding a "deploy to production" feature to the Azure DevOps pipeline I've been working on since January. Part of what I needed to make happen was the alteration of an XML configuration file, something I managed to accomplish using Python and the ElementTree library. The new code doesn't actually deploy to true production, since the only code in production is on servers controlled by specific municipalities. But my new code is triggered by pushes to the master branch, so one could say it simulates "production." The task paired nicely with a hangover I had from yesterday's excess of pseudoephedrine and booze.

After work today, I drove out to Home Depot to get a hydronic feeder valve, the plumbing device that takes a 40 psi input and uses it to maintain a 15 psi output of fluid in a hydronic heating system. The existing valve at the Downs Street brick mansion didn't seem to be doing its job, and I wanted to replace it. I got a standard Watts feeder valve, which, at about $60, was surprisingly expensive. I wasn't sure what plumbing it would need to attach to, so I also got a few fittings, including a sweat to 1/2 inch male NPT fitting and a half inch sweat coupling. Then I was worried I didn't have the tools to install an NPT fitting, so I bought some teflon plumber's tape and a pair of channel-locking pliers. All of this stuff came to about $100.
In the basement at Downs Street, I managed to close all the valves to pipes leading to and from the boiler, meaning I only had to contend with water in the boiler itself. Still, this came to about five gallons, and I had to drain and collect most of that before I could install the new valve. Ideally the new feeder valve would've just slotted into the existing plumbing as a direct replacement. But the plumbers who had installed the Downs Street boiler had used an obscure brand of feeder valve whose union fitting didn't match that of the Watts feeder valve. So I had to solder the half inch NPT fitting onto the new feeder valve's union fitting (using my backup soldering supplies; my main supplies are still up at the cabin). After that, though, it was all just a matter of taping threads and turning male NPT fittings into female ones. I was glad I had a crescent wrench (from the tool kit I keep in the Bolt) and the channel-locking pliers I'd just bought. This whole procedure took only about twenty minutes.
While at the Downs Street rental, I thought I'd do something about all the seedlings and saplings trying to turn the grounds into a ghetto palm forest (something the tenants had recently alerted us to). In addition to the many trees of heaven (the "ghetto palms"), there were also saplings of catalpa and both sugar and silver maple. Since I'd only brought a handsaw, cutting down the saplings was a surprisingly hard task, as some of the trunks were as much as two inches thick. I also used the battery-powered hedge clippers to prune the "butterfly bushes" in the back. When I was done doing all that, I stuffed much of the cut-down foliage into the back of the Bolt, to be disposed of in the front meadow back in Hurley.
As I climbed into the Bolt, the radio, which was tuned to the somewhat more hip-hop-friendly pop music station at 104.7, was playing an ad for Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for the upcoming special election to fill NY's 19th US House District seat. The ad focused entirely on the fact that Molinaro's Democratic opponent, Pat Ryan, had supported the recent Inflation Reduction Act and that it had included funding to hire thousands more IRS agents. A young woman and her vocal fry narrate, saying that "Let's hire more IRS agents.... said no one ever!" Clearly this ad was targeted a low-information Fox News viewers (the kind, evidently, who like some hippity hop in their pop music). Such people would never ask themselves why it might be that a country dependent on tax revenue might actually have to invest some money in the people who collect taxes.
Meanwhile back at the house, Gretchen had been on a jihad of her own. She'd been cooking or otherwise preparing numerous dishes for an upcoming party. This included homemade mayonnaise that didn't turn out so well. ("It tastes like ass!" Gretchen proclaimed with dismay.)


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