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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   moneyless on Valentine's Day
Friday, February 14 2020
The weather had turned sunny but unseasonably cold, even for late winter. Every time I go to the bathroom (and my tea drinking makes this happen a lot) I usually go outside to get there, and occasionally the brutality of a gust of wind was enough to make me walk backwards.
At noon today I drove to the Red Hook Hannaford with the idea of maybe buying myself road beer for the beginning of a long Presidents' Day (and birthday!) weekend. But after parking the car and beginning my walk across the cold, sunny parking lot, I realized I hadn't brought my wallet (something I only rarely forget). Without my wallet, I had no access to money, not even from the branch of my credit union located in the center of Red Hook. Unlike Gretchen at the Hurley Avenue branch, I am not well-known to the tellers there, so there would be no getting money without an ID. This reminded me of the need to stash money in both cars, perhaps under the floor mat. So I would not be drinking on a road beer on the drive home tonight.
In the mid afternoon, my team had a fairly long meeting during which Eeyore John presented the latest features of a program he's been perfecting for well over a year. It's written in Delphi, a form of Pascal that is largely considered a dinosaur among programming languages. Everyone on that team except me would be going to some sort of convention next week. They would be staying in a hotel, expensing their dinners, and all that sort of thing. They seemed a little excited about it, but I was happy not to be going.
As is our custom on Valentine's Day, tonight Gretchen and I went out for pizza. A part of that tradition that is nearly as strong as going out for the pizza is going to Woodstock and dining at Catskill Mountain Pizza, but tonight we'd be going to DiBella's on Lucas Avenue. I tend to prefer close restaurants over better restaurants (that is, I give weight proximity over quality), and DiBella's definitely had that going for it. They have vegan cheese as an option and we'd had really good takeaway pizza from there several years ago, so why not?
DiBella's seemed to be popular as a Valentine's Day destination, where it attracted a mostly-white working-class demographic there to celebrate a special occasion. I had the sense that if one is living paycheck-to-paycheck, DiBella's is where you go after you come into a small inheritance or have won a modest sum from a scratch-off lottery ticket. It turns out that its restaurant is separate from its pizza operation, though one can order pizza in the restaurant (this somehow caused some confusion and a delay, however). Also: vegans pay a penalty of $6 for their special cruelty-free cheese, at least on the extra-large pizzas (which seem more like a large). Unexpectedly, Gretchen thought we should split a bottle of wine, something we hadn't done in years. But the pinot noir wasn't to her liking, and neither was the riesling. ("No te gustan?" I asked, causing the waitress, who was white, to chuckle.) We ended up getting an expensive ($36) bottle of red we weren't allowed to taste, and Gretchen didn't like it either, though, since we were stuck with it, she drank it like a champ and even came to grudgingly appreciate it. As for the pizza, we had different toppings on the two different halves: artichoke and split cherry tomatoes for Gretchen and porcini and jalapeños for me. I explained to Gretchen why I am such a fan of jalapeño (and poblano) peppers: their mild heat can add up to a fairly zingy amount while simultaneously contributing the bell pepper flavor that I also like.
Other topics of conversation concerned how I came to be a fairly good writer. I said that the practice of journaling between 1983 and 1991 and then again from 1996 to the present have given me a lot of practice (and had already done so by 1989, when a biology professor wrote on one of my papers that I "write well"). Gretchen thought that reading must've also been important, reminding me that I used to read novels as a teenager.
After dinner, we drove to the Uptown Hannaford ("Ghettoford") and somehow managed to buy over $200 worth of groceries that occupied only about half a cart. This was because of the many expensive items we got: pupusas for my workplace lunch needs, organic vegetables, vegan ice cream, a twelve pack of IPA in cans, and a good number of impulse purchases. While near the liquor store, I also bought a half gallon of gin to resupply the laboratory.
Back at the house, Gretchen and I watched an episode of Shark Tank and then went into the bedroom to celebrate Valentine's Day in a manner pleasing to St. Valentine.

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