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:
   tree work in a lake
Friday, August 26 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

The one guy I report to (Joe, the lead developer) was on vacation and I was kind of stuck in the work I was doing without him around to answer questions. So when Gretchen suggested leaving for the cabin early enough to have a late lunch at Maharaja (the Indian restaurant in Colonie, near Albany), I decided that was a good idea. So I loaded up the car with all the things I wanted to take, which included several hundred pounds of bluestone (mostly in hand or book-sized pieces and mostly triangular in shape). I'd bought a heavy-duty (1000 pound) handtruck for the cabin at the Home Depot earlier in the week, and I somehow managed to fit that in the Bolt as well, with its handles reaching out over the passenger seat along the car's ceiling, with plenty of room beneath for the dogs.
On the drive up, we were entertained by Weezer's second self-titled ("Teal") album, which, slyly, consists entirely of covers. One of my favorites was of Metallica's "Enter Sandman"; I'd never much liked the original, but with Weezer's faithful reproduction of the arrangement (which, if anything, sounds heavier than Metallica) and Rivers Cuomo's far superior (and ever-flexible) singing voice, it was much improved.
A dozen or more miles south of Albany, the clouds to the north were so thick and dark it was as if we were driving into night. And then the lightning started slashing to the west and, when it came, the rain poured down with such a fury that it was difficult to see the rear lights on the big rig I was following. Traffic slowed into the mid-40s (miles per hour) and many people decided to pull over to wait out the storm. But then it was over and the sky was clear and blue as if the storm had been but a daydream.
We got to Maharaja a little before 2:00pm, late enough that our waitress told us they'd be closing the restaurant at 2:30pm. Our waitress had terrible English skills, and Gretchen compounded the problem by being overly chatty. Maybe some waitresses like to hear that you're struggling to decide between a vegetable curry and a chana masala, but evidently all our waitress heard was the names of dishes and added them to the list of things we were ordering. She also garbled my desire to have my mushroom kadai be made "spicy," and it ended up being as bland as Campbell's soup. As for the actual mulligatawny soup I ordered, it wasn't as hot (temperature wise) as I would've prefered, and the flavor was not as good as I'd remembered it being. Perhaps lunch is not a good time to be dining at Maharaja. But at least they didn't charge us for the chana masala our waitress had thought Gretchen had ordered.
Over lunch, I described what it's like to work these days in my workplace. There's lots of time when I cannot figure out what to do at all so I procrastinate. Other times I have a very difficult task and that also causes me to procrastinate. But I'm also unusually good at getting results in the face of tough circumstances, as happened recently when I sped up a sprawling stored procedure so that it runs in about 5% of the time it used to take to run (thanks, indexes!). I'm also especially good at quickly learning new technology or figuring out undocumented code, both talents I have demonstrated several times since being relocated to this other company in the sprawling corporate behemoth back in January. So I'm a valuable resource in my own way even if I'm not exactly working very hard. But the not working very hard causes me anxiety, because it doesn't feel sustainable. At some point somebody is going to figure it out.
After lunch, we went to the nearby Trader Joe's to get various things that can only be gotten there, especially multiple bottles of their tart cherry juice. The customer base for Trader Joe's is one of the most covid-precautionary in this part of the country, and it was a good indication of how over the pandemic we now are than only a smattering of customers were masked. But at least one woman was actually double-masked, and she's probably going to keep wearing masks for the rest of her life.


From Hurley, I'd brought my big 19 inch battery-powered chainsaw and a rope-powered chain-blade. The plan was to use these to cut down a dead hemlock that was junking up the view of our otherwise-quite-pleasant shoreline patch (or merkin) of lawn just above the dock. The tree was leaning in such a way that it would have to fall in the direction of the dock, and I wasn't sure if it was tall enough to actually hit it when it fell. So my initial plan was to use the rope saw to cut off the top ten or twelve feet and then deal with the rest from the ground. But once I had the rope saw in position (it wasn't easy to get there) I found that I didn't have the strength to pull it in either direction. It was just binding into the wood and sticking, probably because I was attempting to cut through the trunk in a fairly thick place (12 inch or more in diameter). So I gave up on that and realized I could cut pretty high up on the dead tree if I just stood atop the massive tooth-shaped boulder you've seen in the photos I've taken of the dock from out in the water. So I told Gretchen to vacate the dock (just in case) and I quickly cut the tree down. When it splashed into the lake, it fell short of the dock by at least four feet. I tghen proceeded to prune all the limbs off the fallen tree and throw most of it onto an existing pile of woody debris (perhaps put there by beavers) on the lake side of the massive tooth-shaped boulder. Distressingly, as I stood in the lake cutting things, I saw a film of oil forming on the water around me. Evidently a chainsaw constantly spits chain oil as it is used. There wasn't much I could do about this after I noticed it, and the splotches of oil lingered for at least a half hour afterwards, slowly spreading out from the area of the dock along with woody debris from the fallen tree (there was no wind at the time and no evident currents in the lake). Before leaving the dock for the evening, I climbed into a kayak and went around scooping up all the woody debris floating on the surface. At least I could do something about that.
Not long after I got back to the cabin, it started to rain, something that has rarely happened during weekends at the cabin this summer (though, as I've said, the southern Adirondacks are not in a drought). Meanwhile Gretchen was preparing Trader Joe's vegan ravioli with roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts. But I was still digesting that bland mushroom kadai I'd had for lupper and couldn't eat much at all.

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