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:
   indoor golf green birthday party
Saturday, October 1 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Tonight in Brooklyn there would be a surprise 40th birthday party for our friend Justin, a veterinarian in the New York City vegan/animal rights scene. His wife Erika had organized the whole thing and we were invited. So this afternoon, after dropping off our dogs at Ray & Nancy's place, we drove down into the City. We stopped along the way at a new Electrify America charging station we discovered to top off our battery. It's in a small shopping center right off Exit 6E on the Palisades Parkway just north of the state line with New Jersey, and there's a Dunkin Donuts, an Indian restaurant, and Indian grocery store all within walking distance while waiting to charge, which are all better places to pass time while waiting for a charge than a Walmart (the most likely buisiness to be near an Electrify America charging station). We both got oatmilk-containing beverages at Dunkin and then waited a surprisingly long time for our hashbrowns to be produced. Then we walked over to the Indian grocery store and looked around to see what they had on hand. It had lots of good stuff, though it would've been better had it been an Ethiopian grocery store selling free injera.
After another hour of driving, we were approaching our hotel in Brooklyn, and Gretchen wondered if we should get a slice of pizza from Screamer's Pizza, which was in the same general area. Screamer's is an all-vegan pizzeria run by the folks behind Blackbird Pizza in Philadelphia. Whenever pizza is floated as an idea, I'm likely to be agreeable. So there we were, getting three slices: a pepper & "sausage" slice, a pasta pizza, and a plain cheese slice (which, for whatever reason, was what Gretchen wanted). As we waited, we noted the decor, which featured numerous stickers applied atop the tiles on the wall. There was also an amusing poster depicting Satan holding an open box of pizza in his lap. And the pizza in that box was cut into slices in an arrangement forming a pentagram. I posed next to this poster while Gretchen snapped a photograph. While joking about my missing tooth, the cashier noted that it looked cool, like I might've played ice hockey. By now it was raining, and there was no open table in Screamer's, so we sat beneath a too-small-awning in front of business next door, eating our slices in the rain. They were delicious.
Out hotel was the Holiday Inn Express near the corner of Broadway and Van Buren St. For a musty old brand like Holiday Inn, the place seemed refreshingly minimalist in European sort of way. And our fifth floor room looked almost fancy, though that might only have been in comparison to the Milford Motel Six we'd stayed at last weekend. We weren't in our room for more than a few minutes before it was time to head to the party, and that required more driving and then parking. As we were looking for the place where the party would be, we were joined by a number of people we know, such as the ubiquitous Amy (who I hadn't seen since before the pandemic) and our near-neighbors Ed & Elizabeth (who I only ever see on Facebook or, on one occasion, while driving into Kingston). The first building we went into had a raging party going on, but it was the wrong party. The place we needed to be was Brooklyn Greens, a weird indoor golfing venue that uses real golf clubs and balls but has you hit the balls into a sheet illuminated by a video projector. Computers apparently analyze your stroke to algorithmically determine where your ball would've gone onto a virtual green. None of us attending the surprise party were much interested in golf, but apparently Erika had payed to take over the place for the evening. Food had been catered and there was an open bar.
We weren't there long before we were all told to "hide" in a corner of the golfing area. Amy had just been telling me about her battle with cancer this summer. She said she thinks it's in remission. She looked healthy to me, and she still had her thick silver mane. When Justin walked in, everyone shouted "Surprise!" and he was surprised. He'd been told he was going to some sort of comedy show.
I mostly acted as a wallflower for the duration of the party, never striking up a conversation with anyone else after I'd talked to Amy. I joined Gretchen in a few of her conversations, often just to tell the story of how I came to be missing a tooth. I did, however, get to hear about an ammusing coincidence. Our near-neighbor Ed (who lives somewhere off Johnson Hill Road) is a school teacher, and when meeting with a parent hit it off so well that she invited him to use her Upstate place "in the Catskills." (Presumably to avoid triggering jealousy, Ed usually doesn't lead with the fact that he has his own Upstate place.) "Where abouts in the Catskills?" he'd wanted to know. "In a place called Hurley." Surprising the parent, Ed was familiar with Hurley. "Where abouts in Hurley?" he'd asked. "A place called Dug Hill Road." "Oh I know Dug Hill Road. Dug Hill Road is long, I know, but by any chance do you know Gus & Gretchen?" It turned out the parent was the one who'd bought the Schneller's old place, the one adjacent to our place but downhill, our "downhill neighbor." Other than those few moments of social engagement, I spent a lot of time off by myself with a drink as I sat on something comfortable and poked at my phone.
I should mention that the food was disappointing; it mostly took the form of various vegan cheeses, thin slices of faux prosciutto, and large chunks of grilled vegetables, and it was little hard to assemble any of it into something one would consider dinner. So it was good we'd eaten some pizza. Eventually there was a birthday cake, and, unusually, I was hungry enough when it appeared that I ate a slice of it.
In terms of gifts, which we weren't supposed to bring, Gretchen had brought a book signed by Neil Gaiman (and it said "Happy birthday, Justin" in Gaiman's hand, just one of many things Gretchen can obtain as a consequence of being a highly-effective bookseller working in the town Neil Gaiman lives in). I'd also come up with a gift, a small painting of a rooster I'd done some years ago.


The Kosciuszko Bridge connecting Queens to Brooklyn. This bridge is only three years old.

Me with that pizza-Satan poster at Screamer's Pizza. I'm trying to hide the missing tooth in my mouth.

The "putting green" inside Brooklyn Greens.

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