Wednesday, October 6 2010
I'd known for months now that the Town of Hurley was planning to install guard rails on the outside curves of Dug Hill Road, including in the curve just downhill from our driveway, a place subject to frequent winter accidents. I'd been concerned that the Town of Hurley would block access to our lower property, which includes the greenhouse, the brownhouse composting operation, and the septic field (there's a ramp down to our lower property from Dug Hill Road at the apex of that curve). So I'd put a little sign at the top of the ramp telling the Town to please not block the ramp. And there it had sat for months. Guys from Central Hudson, which maintains a utility pole at bottom of this ramp, had seen that little sign and actually come into the yard and asked if it would be okay for them to be parked on the ramp for a couple hours so they could do some work. I'd told them it was fine, and they'd ended up installing a brand new transformer (one to turn the current into whatever form it needs to be in for residences after climbing the hill from Hurley Mountain Road).
Today the Town finally got around to installing the guard rail (as well as another one further down the hill to keep cyclists out of a drainage grate). At some point I needed to go to my brownhouse, an excursion that usually takes me to the drum composter (currently composting humanure accumulated between late February and late August, 2010), which I like to spin at least once each day. In the aftermath of recent rainy weather, I also like to venture out to the end of the greenhouse drainage pipe. The greenhouse drains to daylight, and when the water table is high the end of that pipe can be the headwaters for substantial brook, one large enough to clear its channel of leaves and other debris. While I was walking out to look at that pipe, I happened to notice that the guard rail crew appeared to be prepared to close off the entrance ramp that I'd specifically told them to leave open. So I walked up there and said, "You know, I need this ramp to stay open." One of Hurley's main guys in the the department of highways was there, and he explained that this "cut out" was actually an illegal cut-out, that he'd had the building inspector out to look at it, and that there was no way access could be provided here because of the sharpness of the turn and the lack of visibility (and, generally, because of the nanny-nature of the state; I'm no libertarian, but I have a good sense of when liability freakouts exceed the bounds of rationality). The Town of Hurley guy explained that this cutout had probably been overlooked because it had been installed by our downhill neighbors, who are a big name in this town, and they tend to get what they want. Still, he said, he'd paid attention to my sign enough to space the posts extra far-apart at the mouth of the ramp and to include a single removable piece of rail for that 12 foot section. "Will I be able to remove it?" I asked. "No," he said, "you'll have to call us." I hate having to involve a governmental bureaucracy just to gain wheeled access to a part of my property, but there didn't seem to be any immediate alternative. As if in consolation for this defeat, the highway guy offered me the wood from two dead trees that would have to be cut down nearby (he'd seen me scavenging wood in past years and knew this would please me). One of these trees is a large dead mulberry on our property that I've been wondering about for two years. Situated above the power line, it was a project I didn't feel capable of tackling. This is understandable considering that the Town of Hurley will be using a bucket truck.
I spent much of the day fleshing out a homemade ecommerce system using Paypal as a card processor. I'd been warned that I should use a pre-built ecommerce "solution" for this thing, but in the end I'm really glad I built this payment system from scratch. For the small scope of this project, it was far easier to build what was needed from scratch than to try to integrate someone's pre-built system. There is nothing I like doing less than learning someone's homemade templating system.
This evening I watched a horror movie from 1979 called The Brood. I'd watched most of Altered States during my recent visit to Virginia, and The Brood was generally similar: over the course of long-winded scenes rich in pseudo-therapeutic dialog, psychological entities escape from the mind and manifest as physical monsters. None of that stuff was particularly interesting (perhaps because the late-70s milieu that made it compelling has dissipated). What I found most interesting was the use of hair style as an age signifier, and how badly it failed when viewed in 2010. A woman named Nola Carveth is depicted as young and voluptuous partly because of her big Farrah Fawcett hair, whereas her mother is supposed to look dowdy with her tightly-compressed hair and braids. But to the modern sensibility, it's actually the mother who looks more fashionable and thus, in a way, sexier and modern.
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