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
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Irving housing

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Like my brownhouse:
   dollar store Christmas shoppers
Thursday, December 15 2005
Another unseasonably cold morning, another struggle with my hydronics thawing machinery, which again didn't get the water flowing until the sun had begun to disappear behind the altostratus.
Early this afternoon I dropped off the Honda Civic at the little general garage near the Kingston traffic circle so it could have snow tires installed and pass its yearly state-mandated inspection (two bald tires had made it fail yesterday). Hoping to burn time while that was happening, I set off on foot through the cold towards Kingston's Uptown plaza area, which includes an auto supply store, a drug store, Herzog's Hardware, a Hannaford Supermarket, a Radio Shack, a computer & appliance outlet (I've never been in there), a pizza joint, an off-track betting establishment, a liquor store, a muncipal bus stop, and a dollar store.
Beneath the blanket of thickening clouds, the air had warmed substantially from the way it had been this morning, but even so I began to worry about my ears being frostbitten, so I reached up and cupped them in my hands as I walked. I've written in the past about how jarringly unfamiliar Kingston and its environs can seem when navigated on foot, even in the places that I regularly drive through. For example, Esopus Creek is not usually noticeable when you drive across it on the way from the traffic circle to Uptown, so you have no sense that this particular region is low-lying and flood-prone (last April several cars were lost to flooding in a parking at the west end of Chandler Drive). But when you walk across the Esopus on the edge of the roadway, its broad expanse of strongly-flowing water commands your near-exlcusive attention for a good 20 seconds or more.
I warmed myself in the Wallgreen's drug store before proceeding to the place where I aimed to burn much of my time if only seven dollars of my money: the dollar store. I don't often go into dollar stores, because there's nothing really of any, er, value in them. But occasionally they'll have something worth buying: ethernet cables, multi-outlet adapters, phone Y-adapters, and sets of cheap, disposable utility knives. I never know what I'm going to find, though I always expect to be disappointed by the selection and depressed by the atmosphere. That atmosphere is a consequence of the underlying poverty of the enterprise: the employees are usually a freakshow of rejects from more upscale retail outlets (a class including all other kinds of retail outlets), and the retail space usually suffers from poor lighting (better lighting costs more) and a general funk that you can smell, usually resulting from both a failing roof above and decrepit drainage below. Finally, there are the customers, people for whom quality is of little importance and who are too practical to consider the social cost of being seen shopping in such a place. Most of the people I saw in the store today appeared to be doing their Christmas shopping. It was a kind of shopping for which the store was amply prepared; one of the things being sold was a coffee cup bearing the words "To the World's Best Teacher," written as if in chalk on a blackboard beside a graduation cap. I'd forgotten that students deluge their teachers with inexpensive presents at this time of year. But it would have been a better gift had it been a liquor flask.

This evening Gretchen and I went to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary to attend an annual party thrown in honor of the volunteers. In the past such parties have been held at local restaurants, but this year it went down in the barn, probably in violation of a long list of health and fire codes (to cut the chill, two outdoor gas-powered radiant heaters had been set up). The food, all of which was vegan, came from New World Home Cooking and was delicious, though it probably would have tasted much better had we not been smelling so much pig and horse shit while we were eating it.

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