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").

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October 2014


decay & ruin
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Irving housing

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Peak Oil

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Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
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people I know
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(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   in the site of Lucy's Tacos
Tuesday, October 21 2014
This morning I finished up the latch rod for the Wall Street house's attic hatch by cutting a slot down the length of its threads using first a grinding chop saw and then an angle grinder. This slot would keep a specially-fabricated latch catch from drifting around the rod as it was manually turned, keeping it in a consistent position for latching the hatch shut. To "specially" fabricate that hatch catch, I started with two washers, which I lay so that they were touching in a single plane and then welded them together where they touched. Then I added a blob of weld steel to the inside of the washer intended to go over the rod, filed it all flat in the grinder, and then trimmed off the smaller of the two washers until it was little more than a tab. Once on the rod, the blob of metal inside the circle of the hatch tab would fit inside the groove I'd cut down the length of the rod and the remains of the smaller washer would serve as the catch on the side of the hatch opening. Here's a diagram of a cut-away view of this system as it penetrates the hatch door.

Over at the Wall Street house, I installed this hatch latch, although it was raining and very humid, and I had to sand the hatch on one side to keep it from catching on the side of the opening. About the only thing else I managed to accomplish while I was there was straightening up the place and disposing of the trash and recycling that Gretchen had suggested I take over there (and thus benefit from Kingston's trash pickup service). That might have seemed like a good idea in theory, but in reality it was pain in the ass.
Our friend Mark (formerly of Mark & Maresa) came over at around 4:30 to check out the place. He is selling his house in New Paltz and will need a place to live at some point in the future, and Gretchen was holding out the hope that we could perhaps be his landlord whenever his upcoming nomadic sabbatical draws to a close. I showed Mark the place, and he seemed to like it. Eventually we were joined by Gretchen and we chatted well past the time Mark said he needed to be meeting another pair of friends over at an Uptown coffee shop.
After Mark left, Gretchen and I went over to the Stockade Tavern and met up with our newish friends Jullienne & Lee. We had some drinks and, after I'd told them about our new house, we mostly talked about real estate investments aimed at capitalizing on gentrification trends. Such conversations always dwell for a time on the subject of Poughkeepsie & Newburgh, and their inability to thrive, and the counterexample of Hudson, where the gay & bohemian catalyzers of its renaissance are currently being priced out by a dramatic increase in real estate prices. I was curious what it was that had made Hudson's market so depressed and what had caused it to turn around so dramatically. Lee & Julienne said that its waterfront had been "destroyed" (and remains so) by huge Section 8 projects, and that the conservative good ole boy network running the town (and owning the property) had opposed any and all plans to improve the city, as they preferred the existing system where they collected government assistance for the housing that they rented to poor tenants. As for why it is doing so well, it has something to do with rail access and all the groundwork laid by those gays and bohemians, though it still would make more sense for Poughkeepsie to prosper, since it has that same rail line, is closer to New York City, and has at least two colleges. Perhaps it's the fancy architecture dating to when Hudson was a large and extremely wealthy city due to its specialty as a whale processing port (according to the US Census, in 1790 it was the 24th largest city in the United States).
Meanwhile Mark and his two friends had come and taken another table in the Stockade, so Gretchen buzzed back and forth between the two because there is nothing she likes more than maximizing her social output. It's hard enough for me to maintain a coherent model of the conversational threads at one table let alone two, so I stuck with Jullienne & Lee. Later the four of us went to a new restaurant called Diego's Taqueria, which is in the site of the former (and widely-reviled, though strangely-persistent) Lucy's Tacos. People have been saying good things about Diego's, though Lee said "It's not authentic Mexican." Inside, it was a bit more of a restaurant that Lucy's Tacos had been, with sit-down service, a genuine alcohol-serving bar, and no-nonsense modern furniture (there was none of that funky thing that Lucy's had been doing to make the place seem fun and perhaps distract you from the presence of an icy core in the center of your mushy, flavorless burrito). The menu at Diego's was a little strange in that the food was all either served in soft corn-flour tortillas or as tortas (described as a "sort of sandwich" by our gringo waitress). There were no burritos, which was a bit of a disappointment. In fact, I didn't see anything I really wanted in the menu choices that were "vegetarian" (there was no mention of "vegan," though cheese and sour cream could be held). But I did okay by having them make me two of a custom taco that Gretchen and the waitress brainstormed together. I liked them; they had pickled vegetables inside and I added a lot of zesty habañero sauce. (Gretchen found hers kind of blah, though she loved the "beet taco." Beets are one of the few vegetables that I do not eat.)

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