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:
   Spicy Mint
Friday, December 10 2021

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

The first thing I did today was to remove everything from the back of the old Subaru, particularly from the styrofoam tool tray that covers its spare tire. This included a full metric socket set and ratchet wrenches for most of the metric sizes that come up in the repair of Japanese vehicles. It also included things like tie down straps (a set I have never used), a rusty old hacksaw, a human-powered drill (since batteries tend to go dead in deep storage), and various screwdrivers and such. There were also boxes of nails and screws that had been squished flat, mixing their contents together in among all the other stuff (which included a rodent nest made from unidentifiable fibers). Getting all those loose nails and screws back together in their separate categories was something best done with the assistance of a magnet.
Early this afternoon, Gretchen (with Powerful, who was feeling energetic and bored enough to tag along) drove in the old Subaru to Tillson to trade it in for the new car. This was the first time Gretchen had driven the old Subaru since its power steering failed, and she had to fight the car at the end of the driveway to point it in the right direction. Hopefully we'll never have that problem again!
When the new Subaru arrived, I immediately loaded it with a curated subset of the things that had been in the old Subaru. In so doing, I discovered our new car had a number of features that ranged from the useless (a powered rear hatch) to the unexpectedly delightful (an openable sun roof, the closest we'll probably ever get to having a convertible). It also has a built-in navigation system, keeping its map on an SD card. I don't know how useful that is given that the technology is much more capable on now-ubiquitous networked devices that it can show fast-changing information like traffic congestion. But not many years ago it would've been considered amazing.
At 5:00pm, Gretchen and Powerful returned from a second outing (this time in the Bolt). By then I'd already loaded the new Subaru for the weekend at the cabin, so off we we went. At highway speed there was a new whistling sound Gretchen hadn't remembered, probably from the new crossbars on the roof rack.
Our first destination was The Tile Shop on Wolf Road near Albany, the place where we'd gotten the wall tile for the downstairs bathroom. Today we were just there to pick out square tiles for the walls of the upstairs bathroom. The tiles would be similar to those for the downstairs bathroom, but Gretchen had the idea that we should get them in multiple colors and produce a zany pattern. We ended up picking four colors, and when I install them, I will have to figure out some arrangement that we can live with for the rest of our lives.
In the same strip mall as The Tile Shop, over near an actual strip-mall college (Bryant and Stratton College), is an Indian restaurant called Spicy Mint, and tonight we decided to actually go in there and have a sit-down dinner. The other diners at the time included a grotesquely fat white man wearing shorts who was eating by himself, a morbidly-obese white couple, a table of what looked to be muslim women, and a muslim couple. The restaurant offered south-Indian dishes like dosas in addition to the conventional north-Indian curries one can get at any Indian restaurant, so Gretchen got a dosa and a mulligatawny soup. I ordered a mushroom aaloo with a mulligatawny soup and told the waiter to go ahead and make it super spicy, something he seemed a little reluctant to do. It took awhile, but when the food finally came out, it was amazing. I particularly liked the soup, which was so spicy by default that it was a bit too spicy for Gretchen. As for my curry, it was spicy enough to make me sweat, though there were a lot of bold spices in there such as cinnamon in an exotic mix that I've never experienced in an Indian restaurant before. This seemed to be Indian food for Indians, not for gringos. And it's hard to avoid "Indian food for gringos" when you're a white guy, no matter where you go. The observer can't avoid affecting the observed. I was so full from the soup and all the papadam (which are brought automatically to the table like nacho chips) that I ended up taking most of my curry to go, which lead the waiter to think it was too spicy for me.
Heading west on I-90, I remembered that our Forester was running out of gas and that the gas light had been on since before Selkirk. We managed to make it all the way to the Patterson rest area, where filling the gas tank cost more than $50. This initiated a recurring grumbling from Gretchen about how much gas our new car was burning. We're used to cars that are more economical, but the Forester is more like an SUV than a conventional sedan or hatchback.
On the motor mile in Amsterdam, we stopped at the Home Depot mostly so I could get three sheets of plywood for completing a wall in the cabin's basement. I also needed a different floor flange for the upstairs toilet. The layout of the store was confusing and it took me awhile to get what I needed, giving Gretchen enough time to both walk the dogs and walk over to the nearby Hannaford to buy decaf coffee.
Unfortunately, the straps I used to secure the plywood made a terrible racket for most of the rest of the drive any time I exceeded 35 miles per hour.
As we approached our cabin, we found that Nate had plowed away all the snow in our driveway that I'd seen on Wednesday. Indeed, our driveway was so clear that we couldn't come in the Chevy Bolt. But that would've been a risk; just two days before a Chevy Bolt probably would've run into trouble on Woodworth Lake Road more than a mile away.
We'd brought a lot of stuff, and after bringing it all into the cabin, we could at last relax. Well, that was what I did, though Gretchen busied herself figuring out where all the art she'd bought (which now included a bunch of Maurice Sendak posters) should go. At some point I was hungry again and ended up eating the rest of my Indian food. Interestingly, the few hours since it had been prepared had been enough to greatly temper its chemical heat.

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