void beneath the big stone
Monday, October 11 2004
I went down to New Paltz today to make a computer repair housecall. I'd worked on this particular computer before and the problem is always the same: a severe spyware/adware/malware infestation. You'd think a normal person would suspect something was up when mysterious new icons appeared on the desktop advertising casinos, hot dates, and, you know, "incredible" deals. At the very least, you'd think someone would delete said icons. But no, sadly, as long as the computer can boot up and AOL is working, people soldier on, their computers gradually becoming slower and more cluttered with the passage of time. The process usually doesn't take more than about a week; once a few tendrils make it through the defences of your computer, it's soon wrecked and replaced with a dystopian virtual world so badly clogged with advertisements that useful information can no longer flow. I consider the works of spyware and their authors to be hostile, selfish acts, and yet it's all perfectly legal. It really shouldn't be. Imagine that, while you're driving past some business along the highway, some businessman pushes a button and suddenly replaces your car with a cardboard box (sans wheels) whose inside walls are lined with posters advertising products, many of which are cars, the kind that are made of metal and have wheels. Perhaps this metaphor is a little extreme, but not for Granny Six Pack who takes her computer to the computer repair shop and is charged Benjamins for the shit work of setting things right again. I'm reading news stories about efforts by the FTC and Congress to crack down on spyware, but I'm certain any laws actually passed (particularly by this collection of idiots) will contain loopholes allowing the madness to continue more or less unchecked.
There's a walkway that runs from the main house entrance slab to the south deck, running parallel to the retaining wall along which I just installed the new subterranean drainage system. The slab and walkway used to be entirely concrete, but over the last two years I've resurfaced them with mortared native stone. The path actually extends beyond the south deck entrance to a set of stone steps that lead down to the head of the Stick Trail, but I've never really been happy with the way the steps connected to the stone-paved path. So today I used a massive piece of flat bluestone to extend the path properly to the beginning of the steps. Here's the history of that particular piece of bluestone: I'd taken it from a pile of random stone pieces along Dike Road near the east end of the Ashokan Reservoir. It had weighed about 200 pounds and had been very difficult to load into my truck. Its irregularities had made it unsuitable as a surfacing rock for an existing concrete slab, so I'd decided to use it for some application where it would sit on the soil.
First, though, I had to dig out the soil to accommodate the massive stone. As it happened, I excavated far too much and was forced to raise the stone back up to the proper level by positioning rocks beneath it. There ended up being such a big void beneath it that Julius the Cat was able to dive beneath it and vanish. He loved it under there so much that I had to be sure he was evacuated before I positioned additional rocks around the big stone and added mortar.
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