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:
   a methy evening in Saugerties
Saturday, November 2 2019
Conditions were frosty this morning, and there was even a thin glaze of ice on outdoor containers of water that had had a view of the sky. The growing season was officially over, but (in Kingston at least) it had actually ended last night. Here on Hurley Mountain, the power was still out, and had been out for something like 30 hours (the longest it had been out since Hurrican Irene in 2011). We were starting to wonder if were going to have to do something about the food in the freezer and refrigerator. The thermal mass in the refrigerator happened to be unusually large, as it was pretty-well packed with food. But at some point things were going to start thawing in there. I knew it would be impossible to buy a generator, but I could probably still get an automotive inverter, hopefully one powerful enough to run a freezer. In the meantime, it was looking like it would be easier to have Saturday morning tea instead of coffee, unless I wanted to break out the mortar and pestle. But even before we could sit down to drink that tea, the power came back on. It's always a little disappointing to be pulled so jarringly from a world of primitive improvisation back into the creature comforts of the present, but in this case that was well outweighed by the not having to wonder if we were going to have to throw out all of our frozen food.
After a fairly conventional Saturday morning coffee, I turned my attention to several projects that needed to be done near or in the brownhouse or greenhouse. For starters, Gretchen had washed one of our two bean bags, which mostly serve as doggie beds. While drying outside, the bean bag had been exposed to several rains, and some sort of stinky mold had taken up residence. This mold had even survived an experience in the dryer. So today I threw the bean bag into the well in the greenhouse basement (which is now completely full of water) and flipped it over multiple times in hopes of washing away whatever mold it contained. Within a short amount of time, the smell seemed to have vanished, which seemed like a promising start.
While down at the greenhouse, I used some penetrating oil to make the basement door hinge less stiff. I also removed all the de-laminating portland cement (with fibreglass mesh) from the outside of the door. The experience with the materials used there taught me an important lesson: never use Hardibacker (or similar fibreboards) in conditions that may freeze, as the freezing will promote delamination. The basement door still has some problems and probably will need to be rehung at some point.
The other chore I finally undertook today was installing a new gravity-fed cistern on the special cistern shelf in the brownhouse. I used my tap-and-die kit to thread brass fittings into borh the PVC pipe coming from the gutters and the plastic container acting as the new cistern. Then I sealed everything with marine sealant. To make maintenance easier, all the plumbing is now easily reachable and inspectable, and the connection between the PVC roof plumbing and the reservoir is a small vinyl hose whose ends fit snug over those brass fittings I mentioned. I also built a better floor for the reservoir to sit on, replacing the thin OSB board (that had been supported by metal straps) with nine or more 18.25 inch-long two by fours that now forms a solid deck.

This evening for date night, Gretchen and I drove up to Saugerties with the intention of having dinner and a movie there. For dinner, we went to Rock Da Casbah and had our usual favorite, the Hey Jude pasta dish. Gretchen also got a kale salad and helped me eat a plate of "disco fries," which contained chili having a flavor Gretchen didn't particularly like. The biggest disappointment, though, was the Hey Jude, which had once been amazing. The worst problem was that it had been sprinkled with parsely, whose flavor profile clashed with the wine-and-mushrooms flavor of the pasta. Gretchen also thought the pasta hadn't been prepared in water of sufficient salinity. She agreed with me that the Hey Jude tasted like the results of a "game of telephone" with its earlier, better incarnation. (It's actually surprising there isn't more of what I would call "recipe drift" over time. How can today's Seven Layer Burrito taste exactly like one made in 1989?)
In the past, Rock Da Casbah seemed to have the sort of clientele one would expect for a somewhat-pricey restaurant in the middle of Saugerties: mostly educated white east-coast types, with the occasional tourists up from New Jersey, most of them (like us) out on a date, often before catching a movie. There would be occasional gay couples, but most of what you would see would be a man dining with a woman. Today, though, it was hard not to note that at two tables there were just two men dining together, something that two straight men almost never do. They could've been father-son pairs (especially at one table where one man looked like a somewhat-aged version of the other), but the ages weren't quite different enough to be explained that way. Meanwhile, at the bar, all the people seen sitting there were men.
At some point tonight, a guy with a guitar got up and started playing familiar covers, mostly of light-rock standards such as "Ventura Highway." He was a good guitarist, and as long as he didn't sing, things were perfectly pleasant. But then he started singing. Gretchen was happy we'd settled our bill by the time he launched into a cover of a Marvin Gaye song, as she couldn't bear to hear him tunelessly mumble its lyrics.
We still had some time to kill before the movie, so we wandered to cold downtown of Saugerties, mostly checking out stores along Partition Street. We started with Inquiring Minds bookstore, but it was then nearly 9:00pm and they were about to close. So we walked south of there, marveling at the absurd things we saw in the shop windows. One shop had been entirely given over to the cause of invasive water chestnut eradication, though it also showcased art that had been made from the devilishly-horned seed pods, each the size of a bottle cap. Further down, we found a store window display featuring a mannequin in a straight jacket wearing a rubber Donald Trump mask and holding the Mueller Report in his restrained arms. Further down, we saw a number of ugly sweat shirts that deeply offended Gretchen's æsthetics. Since arriving in Saugerties, we'd been noticing squirrely pedestrians (some dressed in completely seasonally-inappropriate clothes or sweatshirts branded by obscure vaping companies) and the only word I'd been able to come up with to describe it was "methy" (a term I'd first heard the True Crime Loser use to describe Allentown, Pennsylvania). Given all that and the weird storefronts, Gretchen was starting to find Saugerties a disturbing place to be. She kept asking the question that has no answer, "What is happening?" Ultimately we decided to see tonight's movie not in Saugerties but at the Hudson Valley Mall. This meant we'd be able to "upgrade" to the fancy reclining chairs they have there, which even contain built-in heaters.
At the Hudson Valley Mall, movie showtimes were a little later than they would've been in Saugerties (even allowing for the drive), so Gretchen and I had time to kill. We wandered from theatre to theatre in the multiplex until we found an actual movie that was playing. (The kind of vaguely-illegal activity a middle-aged white couple can do without raising any suspicion.) This was how we managed to see the beginning of a new take on The Addams Family, this time done with modern digitial animation.
The movie we'd come for was Zombieland: Double Tap, the sequel to a movie I apparently had never seen. Neither Gretchen nor I have much interest in zombie-based plots except as a platform for humor, and here, that's all that's being done. Though there are definitely problems with Zombieland: Double Tap (it seemed overly-long, and I quickly grew weary of Woody Harrelson's overacting). But there was definitely some gut-busting humor. The hightlight of the movie was probably the character of Madison (played by Zoey Deutch), a ditzy blond who proclaims early in the movie that she is vegan (this elicited an audible hoot from Gretchen, though it's doubtful that this helped veganism). Watching her stupidly banter with the other characters, oblivious to their constant sarcastic insults, was a real treat. And then there's the part where she randomly comes up with with the idea that is what we know of as Uber, where "you get five points for not murdering me." The other characters nod along condescendingly as she lays it all out, more convinced now even than that she is a complete fucking moron.

Trump in a straight jacket in a store window in Saugerties.

Creepy sweatshirt in a store window in Saugerties.

Other things one can buy along Partition Street in Saugerties.

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