years of erased blackboards
Saturday, May 28 2005
Today Gretchen and I were going to the big craft festival at the Ulster County Fairgrounds just west of New Paltz, and since we were down at that balmy latitude anyway, we thought we'd also visit a bakery in Highland run by Gretchen's new friend, a woman with whom she car pooled to a recent NARAL rally in Albany. Highland is a good ten miles east of New Paltz and its human-scale downtown is invisible from the big roads such as 9W. Since my exposure to Highland has been mostly from 9W, my impression of the place had largely consisted of mental snapshots of Burger Kings, vehicle lubrication establishments, and a large strip mall containing a Hannaford.
But Highland does have a charming little downtown with easy parking and the occasional pedestrian or bored kid riding a bicycle to no particular destination.
As for the craft fair at the fair grounds some 12 miles back to the west, somehow we'd expected the stuff to be a little more artsy than it turned out being. I say this having seen several depressing booths full of things like denim painted with the images of bald eagles or mirrors etched with the images of billowing American flags. Some day trendy ironic hipsters will be collecting kitschy patriotica from the early millennium, so perhaps it's actually a good idea to stock up on it while its still unavoidable.
Later our friends from Tillson came to vist with their supposedly psycho dog Sadie for another experiment of muzzling her and then walking her in the woods with our dogs. It's good that she was muzzled early in the walk, because one of the first things she did was tree poor Clarence the cat (who often makes a show of being fearless). Later though, back in the forested flats to the west where large bluestone boulders were abandoned by the glaciers, Ms. Tillson tried unmuzzling Sadie and her behavior was perfectly acceptable throughout the rest of the walk, even when we encountered a neighbor randomly walking a purebred standard poodle.
I noticed the other day that the latest gallon of white primer I've been using to create wacky patterns on my laboratory's ceiling doesn't have the same finish as the paint beneath it. The new paint is significantly glossier, making it stand out sharply when one stands in a place where light glances at an angle off its surface. This gave me an idea. Why not cover the ceiling in cryptic patterns that are only visible when one looks at them from strange angles? So I started scratching out various phrases in English using the phonetic Greek alphabet I used to use back when I would write super-private stuff in my handwritten diaries. So "You really have nothing" becomes "-eu relh 'a. nuqing." Later I added a few meaningless electronic circuit diagrams, which are similarly symbol-rich but don't really say anything distracting. Other things I could add include musical notations, logic diagrams, mathematical formulæ, and structures from organic chemistry. The long-term plan is to cover the surface of the walls with interesting symbols without writing anything in readable English. I don't want to be distracted or have to explain too much to visitors. As I add more and more, the symbols and formulæ can overlap and overlay, looking like the ghosts of years of erased blackboards. Could there be a more appropriate decoration for a laboratory?
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