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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(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   the delivery of an ATV
Friday, February 10 2023

high up a hill just northwest of the center of Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

This morning Gretchen also saw the results of the destructive effects of freezing water. She'd made the mistake of completely filling her VegNews-branded water bottle (which she'd gotten as a bit of schwag three years ago on our trip to India) with water and then putting it in the freezer over night. Not surprisingly, it split down part of its length and also blew out its bottom, rendering it nothing more than scrap metal.

As the heat of the early afternoon ramped up, I eventually relocated from the open-air kitchen (where the sun gradually begins to intrude as it goes down in the west) into the bedroom, where Gretchen (who has the day off from school on Fridays) was basking in the cool that a working air conditioner can produce. I then hooked up the HDMI cable to the casita's television. Ideally that teevee would've been a 4K unit, giving me a vast screen on which to work. Alas, it wasn't even a 2K monitor; its resolution was 1280 X 720. Fortunately, it was willing to display a 2K signal, and while the upscaling was ugly, it was readable (although the difference between a minus sign and an equal sign was a suble grey band beneath the latter).
Meanwhile Gretchen had had enough of walking to school in the hot sun of late morning and had rented us a quad ATV for the next six days that we'll be in Santa Teresa. The ATV was delivered to our casita at 4:00pm today, and Gretchen went down to receive it while I was winding up my work for the day.
After awhile, I went down to see how things were going. There were two skinny young men with excellent English giving Gretchen a crash course on how to operate a big shiny red ATV. To make sure Gretchen perfectly understood everything, the tutorial was conducted entirely in English. There were a few little details about driving the ATV that weren't obvious. It had, for example, three different brakes, none of which Gretchen had the reflexes to use when she tried driving the ATV for the first time. But the guys where right there to stop it before it crashed. Everything was a little trickier than it otherwise would've been because the tutorial was being given on a fairly steep slope. But the guys dropping off the ATV didn't want to go up into April's compound because they'd had bad experiences with her in the past (no surprise there!). After a few minutes, Gretchen thought she had it down and took it for a drive up through April's gate and then back down again. After that, we decided to drive it down into town to go get lupper at Soda Tiquicia. Gretchen was pretty good at easing it down the hill, with one exception. There was a place where we had to take a sharp left onto an extremely steep run of concrete-covered roadway, and I thought we should avoid the inner part of the intersection, which seemed steep enough to cause us to tip over if we entered it sideways. But this caused Gretchen to overshoot the turn a little and nearly into a deep ditch on the far side of the intersection, something that would've been disastrous. But the ATV's steering was responsive enough for us to avoid that fate, though nearly suffering it was momentarilly terrifying.
Soda Tiquicia is a soda we'd dined at four years ago and we'd had a great experience there. It being luppertime, there was only one other person dining there when we arrived. We both ordered vegetable casados, and Gretchen also ordered a huge salad. The latter came with plent of mushrooms, avocados, and cucumbers, all things I like and that Gretchen either tolerates (mushrooms) or will not eat under any circumstances. This was great for me, because the avocados was something my casado really could've used. Soda Tiquicia also had what seemed to be a homemade habañero salsa in an unlabeled bottle that I made ample use of. It actually made for a superior ketchup that I used for the papas fritas (french fries) that were a delightful (if not especially healthy) component of our casados. But the star of the Soda Tiquicia casado is the beans, a medium-sized red bean in some sort of sauce. My only complaint was that the casado should've had more beans and fewer overcooked vegetables (broccoli, squash, and cauliflower). Unsurprisingly, I also had a beer. As we dined, there was a tiny dog sniffing around nearby and later a cat made an appearance.
After lupper, Gretchen drove us northwestward on the extemely dusty main drag out of town all the way to her language school, a place that is far from any store or restaurant. It seemed far away, but remember: Gretchen has been walking there every morning all week (and even walking back home at least once). Along the way, we passed a number of fancy resorts. The fanciest places had sprayed mollases on the roadway to control the dust. Mollases, as you may know, is the thick gummy leftover material leftover after the refinining of sugar. In Costa Rica it's largely considered a useless byproduct, and so using it to control dust means not having to find some other way to dispose of it. (In this way it's rather similar to asphalt, which is also another sludgy byproduct leftover after the refinement of more valuable products.)
The language school is hemmed in between steep rocky cliffs and the ocean, forcing the road to narrow slot in the landscape only a little above high tide. In some places there are dramatic steep-sided humps of rock (some of which are small islands) remaining after vicious erosion. We parked in front of the language school and crossed the road to a narrow beach whose sand was unusually course and full of interesting shells. The sun was just about to set, and we found our own little stretch of beach away from the others who had gathered for sunset and watched it go down as the lines of frothy waves reminded Gretchen of layers of petticoats. After the sun fell below the horizon, I found a small hermit crab. When I picked him up, he initially retreated to within his shell. But then out came his legs and he quickly pried my fingers loose somehow.
On the way back, I was the one driving the ATV. Initially I had trouble getting it into neutral so I could start it, but somehow turning the steering fixed the problem. I kind of hate driving an ATV (something Gretchen and I first did in the Adirondacks when Ibramhim loaned us his), but it certainly speeds up the process of getting around on the Nicoya peninsula. And, at $80/day, it's a lot cheaper than renting an enclosed vehicle.


April's dogs with a visitor, perhaps someone they met down on the beach (where they are free to go at their own discretion). From left: Dakota, the mystery dog, Allia, and Cosmo. Click to enlarge.

This magpie jay accept pieces of bread directly from my hand. I named "him" Michæl Jackson. Click to enlarge.

A not-great photo of a pale-billed woodpecker. It looks like a pileated woodpecker but it smaller.

Some sort of hawk. Initially he was flying around, and after landing, he kept jumping down to lower and lower branches, often while barely opening his wings.

April's dog Dakota visited us for awhile today.

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