New Paltz the day after
Saturday, June 25 2011
I was up on the solar deck today and noted that the metal funnel I keep up there had begun corroding. The funnel is actually a galvanized steel oil funnel I found under the bushes at my parents' "Creekside" addition (the white trash doublewide trailer they bought across the road from my childhood home five miles south of Staunton, Virginia). I'd soldered a three quarter inch copper fitting to the neck the funnel to make it more usable for doing panel maintenance tasks (mostly filling it from the top, something I haven't had to do since fixing the leak and resolving boiler expansion issues), and it seems that heating it to a temperature where it could be soldered had ruined the galvanation enough that the funnel had begun rusting. So I sanded off the corrosion and proceeded to set up a bucket for electroplating new zinc onto the funnel (using post-1982 American pennies as a source; their monetary value is occasionally less than their metallurgical value in zinc). Foolishly, I decided to melt a stack of pennies on a piece of sandstone, which proceeded to exfoliate explosively from the heat. At first I could dodge the flakes of stone (and I was wearing glasses, which protected my eyes), but then a flake came off with such power than it threw the molten zinc into the air. It would have been bad had it hit my face; instead it landed on the top of my right ring finger a half inch from where it joins my hand. So, until I flung it free, I had a pool of molten zinc on my finger. It left a discolored patch about the size of a nickel (and looking like a map of Connecticut). Here and there througout the patch were spots of skin that had been carmelized. It hurt surprisingly little. Knowing that it's always good to put ice on burns and hold that ice on them for at least a minute, I did just that.
This evening Gretchen and I drove down to New Paltz with the dogs to attend an event in the Peace Park to commemorate the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State. Back in 2004, riding on the wave of rebellious euphoria following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Boston, the mayor of San Francisco and then also Jason West, the mayor of New Paltz, began solemnizing same sex marriages. This led to all manner of political and legal handwringing and the spectacle was quickly shut down. But with last night's historic turning of the worm, it stood to reason that New Paltz should be the place to celebrate. We expected to see people we knew there, but it didn't turn out that way; indeed, only about a 80 or 100 people turned out, which was less than I expected. Jason West was there, looking older and more conventionally mayoral than back in 2004. He was wearing a coat and a tie, but he still had more of a potty mouth than one expects from an American politician. (It turns out he'd been ousted from office several years ago, but in a recent election he became Mayor of New Paltz once more.) After JW spoke a few words, there was a short parade of other speakers, one of them a gay rights activist dating from before there were gay people. The mood was a appropriately gleeful, though of course we're still embedded in a country where people speak of Michelle Bachmann as a plausible Republican candidate. I'll take the state-by-state approach for now. Maybe in seven more years we can get some of that sweet sweet single-payer healthcare that Vermont is leading the way on.
After we left the park, Gretchen and I walked our dogs on leashes through the center of downtown New Paltz hoping to find a place where we could dine outside with the dogs. There didn't seem to be any suitable place, so we put the dogs back in the car and went to Lemongrass, New Paltz's Thai restaurant, a place Gretchen had been meaning to try for years. Though our order was a little screwed up and Gretchen was pretty sure one of our dishes contained fish sauce, the food was very good. And if you ask for some hot sauce, they bring you a tray that contains a container of a sauce similar to Sriracha, a container of ground-up peanuts, and a container of dried chili peppers. The food wasn't terribly sweet (which can be a problem with Thai food), though it managed to make my hands sticky as I ate it. As always when I'm eating a food I really like, Gretchen had to tell me to slow down as if I were a greedy eight year old.
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