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
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Like my brownhouse:
   dock winterization, day 4
Sunday, November 20 2022

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

Gretchen, the dogs, and I had our typical leisurely Sunday morning at the cabin, this time with the New York Times Spelling Bee written out on a piece of cardboard (one of the panagrams was "ebullient"). At some point braved the cold and howling winds to go outside, where I saw another accumulation of lake-effect snow on the solar panels. Eventually I found it in me to climb up on that roof to push the snow off the panels. Now that's an unpleasant task. Temperatures were still in the teens and the wind was blowing at something like 20 miles per hour, loud enough to make whistling sounds and instantly form drifts of blowing snow.
I had another unpleasant task left to do today, which I left to do after recovering from being on the roof. That involved returning to the lake with a jack and that 30 feet of chain I'd bought yesterday and trying to secure the fully-floating section of dock while also jacking it up so none of it dipped into the lake. Fortunately, the wind was much more subdued down at the lake, sheltered as it is by the steep slope leading down to its western shore. I actually found working down there somewhat pleasant, at least until another lake-effect snow squall commenced. I was easily able to reassert the come-along, which I just left in place after I pulled the dock uphill about a half inch. I then set concrete blocks in various places, jacked up the dock with the Forester's "pantograph" jack, and then placed other concrete blocks and pieces of dimensional wood in place to secure the dock at the jacked-to height. At one point I cranked the jack all the way to its vertical limit, which proved a bit unstable and the dock slipped off. But I'd already put blocks in place, so it couldn't fall more than about a half inch. Then I used the small electric chainsaw to cut pieces of hemlock trunk to various lengths and then used them to support the dock's wooden frame in various places. I'd been dealing with a paucity of dimensional lumber for use as supporting blocks, but, the lakeshore being completely wooded, there was an endless supply of lumber for making any sort of block I needed so long as I had a saw.
As I worked, I saw several groups of ducks on the lake. Initially some had been near our dock and flown to the lake's east side and landed there. Later I saw a larger group of ducks to the southeast. Based on their size and coloration, I think they were buffleheads, which I'd seen last year on the lake beginning in October (though they probably leave once the lake freezes over).
After I'd gotten the lowest part of the dock a couple inches above the lake's surface, I celebrated my victory by cracking open a Sam Adams Wicked Hazy IPA, which wasn't as bad as I remembered them being after I'd drunk my first one. (I've found that I usually don't enjoy the second road beer of a long drive anywhere near as much as the first.)
Back at the cabin, I gradually ramped up my end-of-the-weekend routine of cleaning and straightening things out. Usually this involves making all the beds, but I left the downstairs bed I'd been sleeping on (Gretchen mostly sleeps upstairs) stripped so the wet spots from my attempts to clean up Neville's urine could dry.
I baked another frozen pizza and slowly ate most of it, though it was an Amy's pizza, and there's just something wrong with all Amy's products, and I couldn't eat the last two pieces, so these lingered on the counter while I washed the dishes and Gretchen decided what needed to go back to Hurley so we could begin downsizing the cabin's perishable food stockpile before winter. "We have five kinds of mustard!" Gretchen announced with dismay. This is a lot considering, as Gretchen pointed out, that I only really eat Grey Poupon. "I think Grey Poupon may be my only brand loyalty," I mused. Then that pop song "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz popped into my head. It's the song where Taio sings about putting his hands up in the air sometimes and wearing his favorite brands. He doesn't say what the brands are, but he says the word "brands" four times in a row. This has always struck me as an admission of materialism for materialism's sake alone. The fact that Grey Poupon is my only brand loyalty says everything you need to know about what I think of this lyric. But it is a catchy tune, even if I mostly just sing the "brands brands brands brands" part, and then only ironically.
One last unpleasant chore was to bring in six of those glazed door-sized panels I'd salvaged from the old office in Red Hook, which I'd been storing in the garage back in Hurley and strapped to the roof of the Forester before driving to the cabin. The wind, the snow, and the cold were all working in synergy to make the outdoors miserable, but it all went faster because Gretchen helped.
Gretchen actually left before I did, heading out on foot with the dogs to the Bolt parked at the start of our driveway. I continued puttering around in the cabin and was about to test the SolArk inverter's generator-control signal (which I'd disabled earlier today) when Gretchen unexpectedly returned. She said the car was stuck exactly where she'd parked it. So I decided to close up the cabin then and there and begin my journey home. Normally I leave my tall rubber boots and gloves at the cabin, but I would need these to help extricate the Bolt. I'd also need the cabin's snow shovel.
We drove out to the end of the driveway in the Forester. The car's stereo was still tuned to the right-wing Town Hall Media radio station I'd been hate-listening-to for days (its format switches between religious music and straightforward fascism of the sort that really only started being expressed publicly with the presidency of Donald Trump). The dogs were in the Bolt, a little confused why it wasn't going anywhere. The car was sitting on perfectly flat terrain and there wasn't much snow around the car's tires. What little there was, we scraped away. But when we tried to drive either forwards or backwards, the front wheels (the only ones that are powered)) just spun, like they happened to be sitting atop perfectly frictionless disks. I quickly decided to try something a little risky: to nudge the Bolt off its frictionless disks with the Forester. The two vehicles live next to each other in the driveway back in Hurley, but they had never once come into physical contact with each other. That was all about to change. To protect both vehicles, I found a jacket in the back of the Forester and draped it over the front of the Bolt, using its hood to hold it in place. And then I very carefully and slowly drove the Forester directly into the front of the Bolt. This pushed it off its frictionless disks and it suddenly became reasonably driveable despite the inch or more of fresh and fluffy lake-effect snow on the roadway. Not wanting to risk turning it around, I backed it up the driveway that goes to the nearby antenna installation and then, with Gretchen leading the way in the Forester, I followed her all the way out past the Woodworth Lake gate to a little shed there to receive our trash and recycling. But I couldn't get the Bolt's windshield wipers moving, and it was freaking me out. Snow was still falling, and I didn't think the car was driveable without a way to clear the windshield. But then it turned out that Gretchen had had the Bolt's key in her pocket while she was driving the Forester. Evidently you can drive a Bolt without the key in your possession if someone starts the car for you. But certain functions, such as windshield wipers, cannot be started in that state.
We switched vehicles at the recycling shed, and now I drove the Forester and Gretchen drove the Bolt. Conditions remained sketchy until we got out to Route 309, where salt had been applied and there was no longer snow on the roadway. There was a little snow on West Bush Road (evidently salt hadn't been applied there) but Gretchen was able to climb the fairly steep hill to the intersection with Burdick Road despite this.
Gretchen and I convoyed all the way out to the Thruway and then as far as Exit 24, where Gretchen had to get off and visit a fast charger in Albany, since she hadn't been able to charge at the cabin. Because the Electrify America chargers were all down at the Albany Walmart, Gretchen had to try a new fast charging network somewhere along Central Avenue. She would end up getting spaghetti with marinara sauce at a diner, deciding it was terrible, and then, when she got home, I would end up eating it and not find it too bad.

The floating part of the dock, fully beached in the middle of a snow squall.

The lake, with the part of our dock winterized-in-place, in the snow. Click to enlarge.

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