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").


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Like my brownhouse:
   farmers' market falafel
Wednesday, July 31 2013
Bad days are bad, but inevitably (at least in my life) they're followed by good ones. Today one of my clients called me out of the blue and said he was sending me a multi-thousand-dollar check, mostly to help him with his tax situation. He'd just won a court settlement against a dickish former partner and was feeling flush and potentially over-taxed. Of course, I would have to be doing something for this money, and in this case that something would mostly be the creating of a Lightroom plugin in an unfamilar Pascal-like language known as Lua. But I love this sort of thing: being thrown randomly into some unfamiliar task and then depending on my wits to avoid the reputational equivalent of drowning.
Yesterday when I'd gone outside to look at the beans climbing up the poles, it was to cheer myself up. How tall would they grow? Even if I never made an honest dollar again, damn, they were doing well! Today when I went out to look at them, I was feeling like I had my shit together and the beans, well, they would have to take care of themselves (but so far so good).

I drove into town early this afternoon to pick up a "screen tent" I'd ordered from Sears, something I'd done before reading about their horrible Ayn-Rand-loving CEO.
I'd had a recreational dose of pseudoephedrine which, when combined with a warm Mountain Brew Beer Ice (reformulated 5.9% alcohol version), had me feeling semi-euphoric in a way that doesn't always happen. I should mention, by the way, that when I went to park the car and chugged down the last of my warm Mountain Brew Beer Ice, it tasted exactly like grape soda for some reason. And I mean that in a good way.
Today as I was driving around I found myself listening to the local pop radio station 98.5 "the Cat" (which for some reason never gives out its WXXX call letters). I actually like the sound of modern electronic pop (mostly what they play) and, because I don't follow such music closely, it's all refreshing and new. The last time I listened to such music intensely, it was a year ago in the Pacific Northwest when driving around with Gretchen in a rental car, and, pop music being what it is, it's all different now. 98.5 actually plays a substantially deeper selection than the ten or eleven songs played by the stations in Washington and Oregon; they claim to play music from the 90s onward, though this includes almost no rock (except, for some reason, "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon). The music is almost identical to the selection played by the DJ at Michelle V's wedding. Being pop music, the lyrics are often vapid and even cringe-inducing, but not uniformly. There is, for example, the song "I Love It" by Icona Pop with the lyrics, "I crashed my car into the bridge, I watched, I let it burn. I threw your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs." (Later this evening when Gretchen and I drove to Woodstock, I found that she was also listening to 98.5, having discovered it on the Subaru's presets.)
At the dreary order pickup counter at the Hudson Valley Mall Sears (one of whose cost-cutting measures must be the defferal of the replacement of their nasty carpet), the vaguely mentally-challenged-by-way-of-gay order pickup guy (think Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Boogie Nights) went off to find my screen ten. There was a black board touting the percentage of customers who had gotten their pickups within 5 minutes of arrival. Last month that percentage had been 100% but this month the percentage had dropped into the high 90s. Based on this evidence, I assumed my screen tent would be found soon.
But minutes passed and I got bored, so I went out to the car and got the dogs, bringing them into the Sears waiting area with me. At around this time, the vaguely mentally-challenged-by-way-of-gay order pickup guy came flying out of the warehouse, clunking Eleanor on her thick chassis-like skull with the swinging spring-loaded door. He apologized for that and then handed me a coupon for five dollars off my next purchase from Sears. Evidently this is what they do when you are forced to wait more than five minutes. [Days later I would look at that coupon and see that it had expired on June 30th, 2013. I guess that's just the invisible hand of the market!]
While in town, I also bought some incidental hardware and groceries. For some reason our house contained absolutely no bread, at least none of the sort that comes in loaves and requires slicing. Such bread isn't all that important for Gretchen, but it's an essential staple for me. Other than the dinners that Gretchen cooks, I keep to a mostly sandwich-based diet.

Our friend Susan the German translator would be spending the night with us, and we'd be meeting her this evening at the Wooodstock Farmer's Market (held in a public field off Maple Lane behind Bread Alone). For Gretchen, the main attraction at the Farmer's Market is the falafel made by Aba's Falafel, a genuinely Isræli family business. Supposedly their pita falafel sandwiches are like real Isræli sandwiches and are made with homemade pita. Gretchen loves them, and she doesn't normally even like falafel.
The Woodstock Farmer's Market didn't have all that many businesses selling things and only about half looked to be selling produce. One could also buy shirts with pre-installed holes and various Woodstockian trinkets. Most of the people looked to be there for the falafel. There was also a good mix of kids and dogs, both of which were mostly freerange. Boxes of loaner toys had been set about the field, providing the kids with balls, frisbees, and, in great numbers, hula-hoops.
Not only did Susan show up, but so did Deborah. [REDACTED] We ordered our falafel (Gretchen got hers without cucumbers, even managing to remember how to say "no cucumbers" in Hebrew) and then devoured them on a picnic blanket near the hula hoops.
Later while Gretchen and Deborah were off buying veggies at the farmers' market, Susan and I tried to do the hula hoop thing. But we were terrible at it. I was able to sort of do it for a few seconds, but for some reason it was exhausting. Later, though, a small herd of young women showed up and it turned out that they could drive the hula hoops effortlessly. One of the women could even do it while balancing a large baby on her shoulders.
The plan was to get drinks at Joshua's after the Farmer's Market, but Joshua's is closed on Wednesdays, so ended up at the Woodstock Lodge instead, an option we often forget about. Tonight there was a hot bartender babe making the drinks, and she made Deborah an awesome lemonade & vodka drink that I wished I'd ordered instead of my Stella Artois (their beer selection is terrible). So later, after a long conversation with Susan about her co-op apartment in Morningside Heights, I went in and ordered the Deborah's drink. It ended up being smaller, less alcoholic, and not anywhere near as good. There's a lesson here and I think it has something to do with sticking to beer unless you are a woman.
We ended up staying at the Woodstock Lodge for hours, much longer than expected. We were eating outside while the other customers (mostly attractive 20-somethings) stood and around and smoked their "we're never going to die" cigarettes.
By this point the conversation had switched to Susan's latest translation project. She's in the process of doing a complete re-write of the opera the Magic Flute in English, and she's been given an absurd amount of freedom in doing so. Part of what she will accomplish is the elimination of its worst examples of sexism and racism, while hopefully preserving Mozart's vision. What could possibly go wrong?
Deborah also had some news to break: she and Michæl are offloading responsibilities for KMOCA to someone else. They'll retain an advisory role but not have to deal with the hassle of all the day to day operations. In other words: all the fun, none of the crap.
Back at our house, Susan, Gretchen, the dogs, and I all walked to the salt water pool at the end of the Farm Road so we could put the bubble wrap cover back on, locking in the solar heat it had collected during the day. Temperatures have remained a bit cool for this time of year, and we didn't want the guy who actually owns the pool to be uncomfortable with his pool's water temperature when he next used it.

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