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:
   cabin encased in snow
Saturday, March 11 2023
This morning my only companions were the cats and dogs, most of whom required some sort of medication. (Our only critter who doesn't require any medical intervention at all is Diane the Cat; even Lester has to regularly get drops for whatever is going on in his crusty, rattly ears.) It was a cloudy day, so I started a fire in the woodstove, which made things more pleasant for me as I drank a partial french press of coffee. But my intention was not to have a leisurely Saturday morning with the cats and dogs in the living room. I had decided to drive up to the Adirondack cabin to see what was going on up there. The last data transmitted from it had happened back in January, so I had some concerns.
So I gathered up a tray full of things for the cabin that had accumulated since the last time either of us had been there (back in early December) as well as a number of road beers. I had no trouble convincing the dogs to join me.
It wasn't yet noon when I set out, so initially I was drinking kratom tea. I find that when I drink that after drinking a french press of coffee, I often experience some of its best effects. The effects I was feeling on the drive today were nearly ideal: I had a mild buzz of euphoria tempered with serenity. An inch or so of wet snow had fallen last night in Hurley, and light snow fell for much of my drive to the cabin, though it never was enough to cause me any concern, at least in a Subaru Forester. But it was difficult to tell whether or not the landscape I was driving through a thick layer of snow blanketing it or, as was the case in the Hudson Valley, the snow was mostly a thin skin that would quickly melt away.
As I approached Amsterdam, I pulled into the Pattersonville rest area to give the me and the dogs an opportunity to relieve ourselves. While there, I happened to look inside a dumpster and saw that it contained several front pieces for gas pumps. Those were kind of big, but there were also some pieces of sheet metal designed to label the buttons where people select a grade of gasoline. I took one of them just because I don't think I've ever seen one that wasn't part of a working gas station pump.
Once I made it to Johnstown, I decided to stop at the Spirits of the Adirondacks liquor store to buy a half gallon of gin and a 1.5 litre bottle of Casa de Campo Argentinian Malbec red wine (since I like red wine but rarely remember to buy any for myself). Both bottles cost about $15 each.
As is the usual pattern, I also bought myself an Impossible Whopper (hold the mayo!) with two large orders of fries. That order used to cost about $11, but now it's more than $15 here in Joe Biden's America (at least the part of it represented by political chameleon and consummate phony Elise Stefanik).
As I climbed the Adirondack escarpment on Route 309, it was clear that the snow on the landscape was not just something that had fallen last night; the piles of snow on either side of the highway suggested a thick accumulation that had been accruing all winter.
Initially Woodworth Lake Road was freshly-plowed, but beyond Mountain Lake North Shore Road, last night's snow hadn't been plowed. Plenty of previous snows had been plowed, though, and the road traveled in something of a canyon, with walls of plowed snow on either side. I drove all the way to where our driveway would've been had it not been buried in snow (since we'd opted not to have any plowing done this winter). At that point I just parked tight against the snow wall hoping that if any vehicles needed to get through they'd be able to squeak past me. And then I told the dogs it was time to get out and start walking.
After climbing over the snow wall, I found that the land was covered by somewhere between 12 and 18 inches of accumulated snow. It was hard to know for sure, though, because some of the deeper levels had compressed enough to form a surface solid enough to walk on. I broke through that later once and found myself standing in a hole that was as deep as my knee (that would be a depth of 20 inches). I'd anticipated snow, but not quite this much. So the tops of my galoshes were below the level of the top of the snow with every step. I just had to reconcile myself to the fact that there would be snow in my sifting in around my socks. Fortunately, it wasn't all that cold (temperatures were a little above freezing).
I felt bad for the dogs, who are too old and arthritic to be trudging through such deep snow. At least I was partially clearing a path for them as I led the way.
The cabin looked exactly like it had when I'd been there last, except now it was covered in much more snow. The solar panels were hopelessly buried, with a strip only about six inches wide along the top that was bare (the snow having slowly slumped down from there). I shoveled a large pile of snow from in front of the door and then went inside, where the thermostat had the temperature at 36 degrees. When I got the dogs inside, I covered them both with blankets and started a fire in the woodstove even though it quickly became clear that I wouldn't be staying long enough to enjoy any of the heat. The solar stuff was all dormant for lack of exposed solar panels, and I couldn't get the generator going either because its 12 volt battery starter battery had been exhausted (and I couldn't drive the Forester close enough to give it a jump start). So the one thing I could do was eat that Impossible Whopper and split one of the orders of fries between the dogs. With the Moxee hotspot down, the only internet I could use for reading-while-eating material was via my cellphone, which gets terrible reception on the first floor of the cabin.
After I'd fed the dogs french fries, I realized they hadn't had any water since we'd left Hurley two hours before, and now they'd feasted on a salty snack. Three months ago when I'd winterized the cabin, I'd drained everything containing any water. So where was I going to get water for the dogs? Lacking a better idea, I went out into the snow and got a pan of snow to melt. But when I set it down on the stove, I realized there was still water in the tea pot. It had likely frozen and thawed several times, but hadn't apparently damaged the pot. So I filled the dog water dish with that. But Neville was the only one to take advantage of this.
Then I announced to the dogs that it was time to leave. Ramona, still snuggled beneath her blanket, looked at me like I was crazy. Neville, who knows less about how the world should work, immediately jumped up and was ready to go.
The trudge back out to the road wasn't as bad because now we all had a trail to follow, and since I was again leading the way, the dogs had a less arduous walk than the one to the cabin. As I neared the road, I saw that there was a vehicle at Ibrahim's A frame, something I hadn't noticed when I'd arrived. I could also hear the squealing of children. When I got to the road, I saw a set of fresh tracks had had to swerve to the right to avoid my car, though there had been enough room to get by. Ibrahim's A frame is still unfinished; the outside lacks siding in places that should have it. But evidently it's functional enough now that Ibrahim has been coming up with the family all winter. Unlike us, he contracted with Nate the snowplow guy to plow out his much shorter driveway. I used that driveway to turn around in, and as I was doing that, I saw Nate come through with his snowplow. It looked like he had two or three large dogs in the cab with him helping him out.
As I drove out on Woodward Lake Road, I stopped near the Hines Pond outflow and filled a dog travel dish (it's made of canvas) with that. But when I presented it to Ramona, she refused to drink any. So I stuck it down amongst the clutter on the floor hoping not too much would spill out on the drive back to Hurley.
This visit to the cabin, brief as it was, helped me better understand the problems with the solar equipment in the winter. Evidently there comes a point in the winter (indications are that it was some time in early January) when snow is accumulating on the panels faster than it melting can shed it. After that, things run for awhile on battery power. But then the whole thing goes dark and likely stays that way the weather warms up enough to melt away the snow. Based on what I saw today, that happens in late March at the earliest. If I want a system that can survive the winter, I need a tranche of solar panels that are arrayed vertically so that no snow can accumulate on them. (They would also perform better in this orientation due to the low angle of winter sunlight.)
On the drive back through Amsterdam, I noticed some lumps on the Volkswagen Beetle that sits atop one of the city's abandoned smokestacks. I thought they might be vultures, but some photos taken with my ultra-zoom camera revealed them to be pigeons.

Back home in Hurley, I thought it might be nice for Gretchen if my hair was cut when she got back from the writers' conference she's still at in Seattle. She'd been complaining about how long it was since before we left for Costa Rica (and I'd had plans of maybe cutting it while there, but the only scissors I came across while there were terrible). So I took off my shirt and played some audio from the garage boom box (I'm still obsessed with catfishing scams) while I took fistfuls of hair and cut it off with the blue-handled laboratory scissors. I didn't use a mirror; all I did to gauge what I needed to do was to feel for places where the hair was still long. Just doing that, I produced a haircut that looked perfectly fine from the front with only a couple additional snips. As for the back, it's probably terrible. But I'll let Gretchen be the judge of that.
To wash away the unpleasant little needles of loose hairs, I took my third bath in three days.

Ramona in the snow outside the cabin today. Click to enlarge.

That snow is deep. Click to enlarge.

Neville and Ramona in the snow as we leave the cabin. Click to enlarge.

An Amsterdam landmark is a car at the top of an decomissioned smokestack. Click to enlarge.

The Volkswagen has supposedly been up there for forty years. Click to enlarge.

Dudka's used to be a "garage and junkyard". Click to enlarge.

Oh, it's pigeons. Click to enlarge.

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