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:
   tentative trail to Lake Edward
Monday, September 6 2021

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

We slept better last night because we'd both taken a xanax and dragged the futon and dog bed out of the dusty loft (with is bits of fibreglass hanging in the air) to the somewhat more pleasant loft area. I got up well before Gretchen and decided to walk down to the lake to look for my glasses. So I left her a little paper note telling her where I was on top of her cellphone (though the only writing implement I could find was a pencil, which was very faint on brown paper).
At the lake, the surface was a mirror of calm, disturbed only by the ripples of my kayak as I paddled to the bay north of the rocky islands. I then hovered over the spot where I'd lost my glasses, looking for any shapes that could plausibly be them. There was nothing, though at one point I saw some weeds in the shape of comic-book glasses rims, and I poked at it with my paddle, filling the transparent water with turbidity. I also saw something suggestive lodged under a place where two sticks crossed. Since the glasses had to be somewhere, perhaps they had skittered there. So I parked my kayak near the shore, took off all my clothes (in case I sank to my neck in the mire) and then waded out to where those sticks crossed. I reached down into the pocket beneath them, and damn it if I didn't immediately feel the distinctive shape of my glasses. I was almost disappointed, it was so easy. Delighted, I paddled back towards the place where we keep our kayaks. But before getting out, I sat for a time on the lake just watching the mama beaver swimming back and forth about 100 feet away, watching me with concern and then slapping the water with her tail before briefly submerging and then doing it all over again.
Back at the cabin, Gretchen saw me with my glasses and asked if I'd found them. "It was too easy!" I said, telling her how I'd found them. At around that time, the flooring installers (a slightly aspergery man and his son) arrived to continue their job. We retreated out to the screened-in porch to get out of their way as we ate our breakfast. We also worked for a time on the day's New York Times Spelling Bee.
Despite a forecast for showers in the late morning, we decided to give our flooring installers more space by attempting to lay out a trail to Lake Edward going west from the cabin in a straight line using a GPS. I'd made a My Map with the straight line, and I wanted to use Gretchen's old cellphone, which has a built-in compass (unlike the cheaper Samsung phones we are now both using). But of course Gretchen's old phone has no cellphone plan. I'd loaded offline maps of the area, but it turns out that a My Map isn't stored locally on the phone, and if you accidentally navigate away from it and you have no connectivity (I haven't figured out how to make either of our phones serve a WiFi signal) you can't get it back. But between all three of our cellphones, I was able to cobble together reasonable navigation for our project. Gretchen had the My Map with the proposed direct route drawn on it, Gretchen's old phone supplied directional information on a cached map, and my phone served as a navigational backup (though without the My Map, since I'd created it on Gretchen's Google account). Along with all of this technology, I carried the small GreenWorks battery-powered chainsaw and Gretchen had a bunch of pink and white ribbons from unpacking the furniture yesterday, which she would use for marking the trail.
We went into the forest and tried to stay as true to the line I'd drawn as possible, cutting vegetation out of the way as we went and occasionally marking trees with ribbon. We were moving quickly, so I didn't cut big logs out of the way, but I did cut down tiny saplings that were in the way, the majority of which were American beech. On some logs in the path, I'd cut three equally-spaced cuts, a clear indication that they were manmade. There was one narrow swamp in the way that was uncrossable without some sort of bridge, so I felled a dead tree across it and Gretchen and I dragged a couple logs over to put parallel to it. In the Adirondacks, there are few species of trees that don't rot quickly after they die, so all of these logs were fairly punky and even slimy.
In a couple places (near places the Google topography layer showed as steep) there were enormous in-situ granite boulders lining the sides of hills, and in some places we had to depart from our straight trajectory to accommodate such landforms.
Further along, Gretchen started thinking the trajectory I had us on was too far north and would put us on that swampy bay we'd walked to last time, though the line I'd drawn was to the coast just southwest of that bay. We ended up having quite a diagreement about this, with Gretchen getting frustrated at my know-it-all attitude about all things outdoors and my casual dismissal of her ideas. As for her, I was finding her push-back irritating. As we neared Lake Edward, Gretchen gave up on flagging the trail, since she was nearly out of ribbon and didn't think the trail should be there anyway, and she charged ahead, ending up pretty much to the spot on the coast I'd drawn the line to. I continued at my original pace, cutting saplings out of my way even as Gretchen hollered at me that I was wasting my time.
At the lakeshore, Gretchen didn't like that we were directly across the lake from the most suburban stretch of Lake Edward's shoreline. She wanted our trail to end at a more private place further to the southwest. I didn't really want to throw away all the work we'd put in, but ultimately the trail needs to make Gretchen happy. First, though, I wanted to just sit down and rest. It was sunny and there was a strong wind keeping the mosquitoes away. But then there came a loud rumble of thunder from across the lake and we looked over to see a dark cloud had appeared out of nowhere. We immediately shelved our plans to explore further down the coast and started hurrying back towards our cabin, not worrying too much about whether or not we were following the trail we'd just marked or whether the dogs were following (they were, but at some distance). Eventually it began to rain. We were shielded from the initial downpour by the canopy, and thankfully there was only one additional thunderclap, and it was far away. The rain didn't last long, though it continued to fall from the foliage well after the sun came out again.
Now that the pressure of the storm was off us, we could put more effort into navigation. I left this all to Gretchen, who would periodically consult her phone to determine whether we were north or south of the line I'd drawn on My Maps, and then we'd correct our trajectory accordingly. As we crossed the steep-walled valley about midway between Lake Edward and our cabin, we were a bit south of the line I'd drawn for our path, and the in-situ granite boulders here formed a line of dramatic west-facing cliffs thirty or forty feet high, more like something you'd see in Wyoming than in the East. Better still, at the bottom of the cliffs was a small shallow cave. It wasn't much, but it was dry inside and would've made good shelter from the storm we'd just been through. It's probably sufficiently sheltered to have been used by bears as a place to hibernate (or whatever it is they do that's just short of hibernation). I love cliffs and caves, so this was a delightful find. You can be sure that any trail to Lake Edward will have to pass by these cliffs.
Early in our dash back from the lake, we countered one log where I'd put the three cuts, but that was it; we didn't see evidence of the new trail until after climbing a steep hill near our cabin. Then we saw one of Gretchen's ribbons, but by then we could actually see our cabin through the trees.
We had our lunch up on the second floor deck while the flooring installers continued their work. The weather was perfect, with a sun shining out of clear blue skies and a fairly strong breeze keeping most insects down near the ground, though there were a few small tame dragonflies looking for any mosquitoes who showed up.
And then Claudia (Joel's wife) showed up on a four wheel drive ATV to return our cake tin. Gretchen asked her where she'd gotten the plastic Adirondack chairs for her fire pit, and she said Wayfair, which she says is better than
The flooring installers quit for the day shortly thereafter. At that point I realized they'd put flooring all the way around the woodstove, which hadn't yet been moved to exactly where Gretchen wanted it, so that had to be addressed via some phone calls. Then, while Gretchen did some reading on the upper deck, I took the chainsaw and further cleared the beginning of the Lake Edward trail, making it more pleasant to enter. Over time, such forays will go further and further down the trail until it is fully established.
After that, we packed up the cabin, loaded up the dogs, and began our drive back to Hurley.
We stopped on the way at Rubi & Quiri, the big furniture/flooring store in Johnstown (it's just north of my Monro Muffler landmark on Comrie Avenue). Gretchen wanted to check out tile options and carpet squares (the latter for the big unfinished bedroom). This metasticized into Gretchen trying out various chairs, but at least at the end there Neville got to meet Thor, the somewhat-overweight pit bull of one of the store's owners (and of course Neville pissed on a wicker chaise lounge not long after getting out of our car).
Our first stop in Albany was at the Walmart near the Crossgates Mall, where we could fast-charge our Bolt. When I held my phone against the near-field receiver on the charging station, I had inconclusive feedback, but the car was charging. So Gretchen and I headed off to the TJ Maxx nearby to spend our charging time. We hadn't expected it to be a great store, but it was like a Marshalls, with quite a few things we need for the cabin. The french press was ugly, but we got things like spatulas, tongs, chip clips, and storage containers. We also succombed to at least one impulse buy in the pre-cashier labyrinth.
Back at our car, the charging had stopped after only delivering two kilowatt hours (which isn't much). As I was trying to figure that out, an identical black Chevy Bolt pulled into the charging spot next to ours. A youngish man got out and began charging his car while his witchy girlfriend sat in the passenger seat doing things to her phone. When he saw how frustrated I was, he suggested holding the charging cable up after plugging it in, a bit of ElectrifyAmerica lore I didn't know. It turned out that ElectrifyAmerica was giving away free electricity today because it was Labor Day, and the app on my phone had lost my login credentials even though I'd entered them in just yesterday. The guy with the other Bolt knew other things about ElectrifyAmerica chargers that I did not, such as the fact that they have coolant circulating in their fat charging cables. Gretchen took a shine to this guy right away and asked where he was from. It turned out he was from Charlottesville, Virginia. So then she mentioned the people we know there. It turned out that the witchy woman is a musician and her video was produced by Jessika's husband Aaron. It makes sense that one would randomly find members of one's tribe at electric car charging stations.
Now our car was actually charging, so we walked dogs across the parking lot to, again, pass the charging time.
By this point, Gretchen and I had decided to have a dinner of Thai food in Albany. But our first-choice restaurant was closed, and the second didn't seem to understand vegetarians (let alone vegans). As we were driving to our third choice, we suddenly decided to get Italian food at Little Anthony's instead. But on the way there, when Gretchen went to call them, she found that they too were closed for Labor Day. So we ended up at TapAsia on Lark Street. The place looked empty, but Gretchen was told there would be a forty minute wait just from all the to-go orders coming in. We thought about going somewhere else, but what other place would be open? And why wouldn't they have the same problem? As we sat at a table on the sidewalk trying to figure out what to do, the waiter amended his prognosis and said our wait would be more like a half hour. That seemed doable, especially if I had a beer to sip. I'd drunk a lot of IPA at the cabin and was now in the mood for something big and watery, so I ordered a 22 ounce Sapporo. Lark Street is a nice neighborhood in Albany, but sketchy people kept coming by. Three people asked us if we had any spare change, one guy came by and opened a trash can just to look inside, and a pimpster kept going back and forth on the street in a hot-rod car with only three wheels. We also saw someone whiz by on a bicycle; he was standing erect on his seat.
Our waiter was awesome and got us our food much faster than expected. It wasn't the best Thai food we'd ever had, but they'd made my curry nice and spicy. As we ate these things, Gretchen and I discussed a couple things, such as the possibility of her being interviewed by a famous guy (Chris Hedges) on a program in the RT network. "But RT is a propaganda arm of Vladimir Putin," I said. Gretchen looked it up and saw I was right. I suggested she ask her other writer friends what they would do in such a situation. There was also the question of how Gretchen should make her decisions when serving on a jury responsible for deciding who gets grants (something else she will soon be doing). Is it ethical to allow one's personal morals to creep in? Is this unavoidable? In any case, I wouldn't want to try to get funding for my dog tormenting charity if Gretchen is the one deciding who gets grants!

Gretchen drove us back from Albany to Hurley, where we found our house smelling especially moldy. The cats, however, had not eaten all the kibble we'd put out for them in additional containers.
I'm always filthy after spending a few days at the non-electrified cabin, so I took myself a nice hot shower before going to bed.

The view across Lake Edward from where our tentative trail put us. Click for a wider view.

Gretchen in front of the granite cliffs and cave on the way back from Lake Edward today. Click for a wider view.

A lower-angle view of the cave entrance.

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