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
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Schroedinger's dog
Tuesday, August 7 2018

location: Twenty Ninth Pond, Essex County, New York

I may have awoke other times in the night, but the first time I awoke and saw daylight through the windows, I sprung out of bed, put on my shorts, grabbed my phone, sprayed insect repellant into my hair and on the back of my neck (it smells so bad that normally I'd rather be attacked by flies!) and got my crocs out of the Subaru. I then headed out the access road up to the cellphone spot and then into the forest in the direction Gretchen had said that the dogs had run the last time she'd seen Ramona (more than 12 hours before). The forest soon gave way to large open areas of meadow (probably places that had been clear cut for lumber in the not-so-distant past). These meadows weren't grassy; instead they were full of raspberry bushes. These weren't especially thorny, or else my bare legs would've been quickly ripped apart. Ominously, this suggested that the dogs really had been chasing a bear last night, as this was prime bear habitat. My idea had been to look for some sort of trail of crushed or disturbed vegetation I could follow to wherever Ramona might've ended up (supposing she'd been injured or killed), but the vegetation was so disturbed from constant bear foraging that this was impossible. At some point I came upon a bear shit the size and shape of a large bagel (one without a hole), and it was purplish red from raspberries and studded with hundreds of visible raspberrry seeds.
Past a few tiny brooks and small wetlands, I eventually ended up on Route 28N, and again I headed east, this time as far as a pair of driveways. Aside from a pair of buteo hawks whistling at each other near a powerline, the forest was quiet. I could hear no dogs, not even in the distance. So I turned around and headed back to the cabin, where I slept for a number of hours.
At some point later in the morning I startled awake, thinking I heard Ramona trying to get in through the screen door, but I was mistaken. Ramona was still very much absent, and it was looking less likely she would return with every passing hour.
We did our usual morning routine despite the Ramona's continued gnawing funereal absence. I made coffee and a big fat bagel for myself, which I ate at the dock. I also continued with the pond weed cleanup from yesterday, hauling out a good mass of the stuff that had drifted up to the dock over night. At some point Gretchen went up to the access road cellphone spot to check her messages in hopes that someone had found Ramona. But nobody had.
Eventually we decided to drive out to the road and knock on doors to see if anyone had seen or heard Ramona. Given the nature of the access road and the fragility of the exhaust system, I did all the driving. Even so, I managed to tear a piece of metal off the bottom of the car just backing out of where I'd parked it.
The first place we went to had a driveway blocked by a fancy iron gate, the kind where an ibeam can be retracted horizontally into the forest on the side of the road via a motorized track. We parked the car and walked in via the long driveway, eventually coming upon an enormous house on its own private pond (Bullhead pond). The house was made of top-end stone and featured a glorious octagonal screened-in porch (framed in rough cedar) on its own turret. It put our humble little cabin on Twenty Ninth Pond to shame. As Gretchen pointed out, it was all very top-end and fancy, though it was also somehow æsthetically tasteful. Nobody was there, but we called out anyway, starting with "Hello!" and moving quickly on to "Ramona!"
After marveling for a bit and then giving up on Ramona being there, we continued to the next place (across 28N), which was smaller, very tasteful, but lacking a lake. Nobody was there either and Ramona didn't come out of the bush when called. The last house we visited belonged to a family called the Magees, and it looked a little more like the sort of place one would expect to find in the hardscrabble backwoods of the Adirondacks. For starters, the access road was made entirely of orange dirt (no gravel) and there was a truck equipped with a snowplow and at least one very flat tire. The house itself was decorated with a seasonal flag sporting shamrock, and the trees had been cleared away from the house in way that suggested they were completely unwanted. Nobody was there and calling for Ramona proved as fruitless as we expected.
Next we drove into "downtown" Minerva to tell the staff at the General Store about Ramona the missing dog. (Aside from that store, there didn't really seem to be anything else remotely like a public-facing service to report her absence to.) We didn't have access to printing equipment, so we didn't proceed to flyer the hamlet. It also turned out that we hadn't brought our wallets, so we couldn't even buy a cylinder of Morton's salt. It only cost $1.59, an amount we nearly had in the loose change in various places in the Subaru.
Back at the cabin, we sat on the south end of the front porch and tried to go on with our vacation, but it was impossible. "We're in hell," Gretchen observed at some point. Of the three of us, the one who seemed to be taking things best was Neville. Either the last he'd seen of Ramona, she wasn't in a situation that traumatized him. Or he is impervious to trauma.
Then the cabin's telephone rang. It's an old rotary-dial phone with a proper bell-based ringer. Gretchen assumed it was the dog catcher from the next hamlet over (Minerva doesn't have one) calling to tell her that Minverva wasn't in his jurisdiction. But no, it was a very different call. Some woman from over in Olmstedville was calling to tell us that she'd found Ramona! I could tell immediately what the good news was from the relieved in delight in Gretchen's voice. I'd been fearing (and expecting) the worst, that we would never see Ramona again, that she'd been mauled by a bear and had died alone in the vastness of the Adirondack wilderness. But suddenly she'd snapped back fully into existence, like opening Schroedinger's box and finding a healthy cat inside.
We immediately piled into the Subaru and drove back out to the road, stopping at the cellphone spot briefly to load maps and messages. Messages had also been sent to Gretchen's cellphone telling her that our dog had "been secured." (There was apparently a park ranger involved in her finding as well.)
On the way to get Ramona, we had to again drive through the middle of Minerva, so again we stopped at the General Store to thank the people there for their role in getting the message to us about Ramona's being found (that was how it was known to call the cabin in addition to Gretchen's cellphone). This time we had money, so we bought salt, some jam for our toast (since they didn't exactly stock a vegan butter replacement), and two six packs of beer: one a Leinenkugel's shandy for Gretchen (since she didn't like the beer we'd gotten for her at Trader Joe's) and a mix of Saranac beers as a reward for the woman who had found Ramona.
A couple lefts off 28N led up to a beautiful wide basin-shaped depression in the land about three miles east-south-east of Twenty Ninth Pond. For the final leg of her journey, Ramona had been following a trail heading east from Stony Pond and Big Sherman Pond (a place we'd actually hiked to in earlier years from Twenty Ninth Pond), and when she finally arrived at a driveable road, it was John Brannan Road, fortunately a low-traffic dead-end. That was where she was found by Pat, the woman who had called us. When we arrived, Pat was at her house with the park ranger who had participated in Ramona's finding. Amusingly, Pat was very much not part of our demographic. Not only was she flying an American flag and had a prominent "Repeal the SAFE Act" sign in her yard (the SAFE Act is a modest gun control measure passed in New York State after the Sandy Hook mass shooting; I think it limits magazine sizes, among other things), but all three of her dogs appeared to be purebreds. As for Ramona, Pat had put her in a crate. Somehow we expected Ramona to be a lot happier to see us when she emerged from that crate, but then again, the poor dog was tired, hungry, and sore from what we can only imagine. Among other things, she'd spent last night somewhere in the forest, something she'd never done before. We tried to give Pat the beer for her trouble, but ultimately she accepted $20 instead, which she said she would be giving as a donation to St. Jude's Hospital. For a woman like Pat, that seemed like about as acceptable of a charity as one could hope for.
Back at the cabin, Ramona and Neville cuddled for hours on the dog bed at the south end of the porch. Eventually it started raining. As for Gretchen and me, we couldn't've been happier. Now we could go back to having our vacation again, enjoying it much more just for knowing how badly it could've gone. Be both cracked open beers to celebrate.
I'd been watching pirated videos about the arcania of PHP object-oriented programming, but once I started drinking beer, I had less interest in that. This evening Gretchen cooked up a pot of Trader Joe's deceptively-named "Harvest Grains blend" (couscous, orzo, quinoa, and garbanzo beans, none of which are considered grains). To that, we added peanut sauce and green beans and it was amazing.

This evening, Gretchen and I watched three back-to-back episodes of season three of Better Call Saul (which we'd stopped watching for some reason last year). We started with episode four, which we had seen (it's the one where Gus Fring makes his epic speech to his Los Pollos Hermanos employees), and made it all the way through episode six, the one where the name "Saul Goodman" makes its first appearance.
I should mention that on this trip I'd failed to bring my travel speakers, meaning that I was forced to use either headphones (which is fine for individual use) or the laptop's built-in speakers if I wanted to listen to audio content. I don't know why the speakers on old laptops (even high-end ones like the Elitebook 2740p I use) had such terrible speakers, especially given that today's smartphones somehow contain great speakers inside a much smaller available volume. But I had to work with the equipment I had, and there were no electronic audio devices in the cabin that I could hack into (something I've been able to do in the past). That being said, I managed to get usable (not great) sound for watching Better Call Saul from the laptop's speakers by attaching an Old El Paso Stand & Stuff taco shell box to one speaker and a QuikCheck paper coffee cup to the other

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