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:
   multi-person birthday celebration
Friday, January 19 2024
Today was Gretchen's birthday, so we treated it a little like a weekend day with the usual sitting in the living room in front of a blazing fire while drinking coffee and collaboratively finding words in the New York Times Spelling Bee. After that, I drove out to Morton Blvd. to see if the professional plumbing supply store WinSupply had tools capable of bending the copper pipe that I need to bend for the split installation project. They did not. I was starting to get the impression that the only fix for my problem was going to require that I not bend the pipe the way I wanted to. Perhaps I was going to have to build some sort of adapter with the bend I needed built into it.
Early this afternoon, Gretchen and I met our falafel-making friends Cathy and Roy at the Garden Café. It was a bitterly cold day, so the restaurant wasn't especially busy and it was good day for having the dogs with us in a corner table. This worked great for awhile, but at some point a group of people came in with their own dogs and Charlotte started barking and thrashing around at the end of her leash so much that I was forced to take her and Neville back to the car for the rest of the meal, interrupting my eating of the messy-but-delicious mushroom-and-faux-cheese-festooned Beyond Burger I'd ordered. Our lunch conversation lingered for a long time on the topic of how we might end our lives when living (due to advancing age or apocalyptic conditions) becomes too difficult or unpleasant to continue. Later we also had a frank and interesting conversation about our respective net worths and why they were what they were. (Part of the reason Gretchen and I are doing so well despite my not having a job is that we have almost no expenses aside from foodm, property taxes, and utilities.)
At the end of our meal, I went across the street to Houst to see if they had any pipe-bending tools. They actually did, but it was those springs that you slip over a pipe, something I couldn't do because the pipe was now flared.

This afternoon Gretchen treated herself to a birthday massage somewhere in Kingston while I relaxed with the dogs and cats on the laboratory beanbag watching YouTube videos.

For this evening, one of Gretchen's friends named Kaycee (the one who shares her birthday) had arranged with Blue Heron, a tiny bookstore in High Falls, to host an event celebrating people with a January 19th birthday. This included Dolly Parton, Janis Joplin, and Edgar Allan Poe. (Not deemed worthy of celebration was Robert E. Lee.) Local writer Holly George-Warren had written a biography of Janis Joplin and co-wrote Parton's recent outfit-themed autobiography Dolly Parton: Behind the Seams, so the arrangement was for both Gretchen and Holly to each read from their works. We arrived at the bookstore at around 5:30pm, and it was already crowded. Admittedly, it was a tiny venue, with only two shelves not attached to the outside walls. These were on casters and could be rolled aside to make room for events such as the one tonight. The crowd tonight was old even by the standards of old crowds. When our friend Fern (age approximately 36) arrived, she was the youngest person there by decades.
Gretchen read first, focused mainly on her book Visiting Days, her collection of persona poems set in an imaginary Upstate prison. Then she read a few from her book Kind, which were a bit more morally challenging for this liberal but decided non-vegan crowd. Even so, Gretchen only read the poem about a chicken, not any of the ones challenging the dairy or beef industry, since she didn't want people to completely shut down from their cognititive dissonance. As always, it was a powerful presentation.
Then Holly read her pieces, one about how Janis Joplin had blown the minds and forever changed the world of rock 'n' roll, and the other the forward in Dolly Parton's voice to Behind the Threads. Judging by which books sold afterwards, most of the audience was there for this more comfortable (and comforting) material. But Gretchen still managed to sell four books. There was also a brief, though somewhat lively Q&A session.
Kaycee's idea for the rest of the event was that it take place nearby at restaurant Northern Spy, where food and drinks would be consumed and the works of Edgar Allan Poe presented. Gretchen wanted to skip this part of the evening, because (as she would later put it) she didn't want to attend a birthday party ostensibly for herself where she couldn't eat the cake (since it would certainly not be vegan). So a subset of us (including Fern, Gretchen's friend Lisa P., and Maya from Beacon and her husband Dietrich) instead crossed the street and went to Ollie's, a pizza restaurant with great (if somewhat overpriced) vegan options. We hadn't made a reservation, which was absurd given that we were six people arriving at peak dinner time. But a nice corner table suddenly opened up, and we were able to take it. All of us ordered alcoholic drinks, including Gretchen, who ordered an orange wine. (My Greenport IPA wasn't very good and tasted like perfume.) We ordered salad, broccolini, and three large vegan pies, all of which we managed to eat. One of them featured olives and chilis and was challenging for half of those present, though Fern, Dietrich and I love it.
Dinner conversation lingered a long time on the subject of living in the South and whether any of us could actually do it and be happy there. Dietrich and Maya said they'd considered living in Savannah even though it's so racist there that an interracial couple had to hire special security for their wedding. Lisa is a journalism professor and Fern is an anthropology doctoral student, so they seemed to think they could find a home anywhere, and I was more or less in agreement so long as conditions were a bit better than Staunton, Virginia. But Gretchen said she couldn't live in any place that, among other things, denied women bodily autonomy. And then Lisa went on a long pinot-noir-influenced tear that I had trouble following over the loud music (which included "Leave Them All Behind" by the Shoegaze band Ride).
At the end of the meal, Gretchen pulled aside one of the fresh-faced waiters who looked like she might be way into Brandi Carlile and told her that she should send word up Ollie's chain of command that, though the vegan options are great, it sends an insulting message to the local vegan population that vegan cheese carries such a large upcharge. We vegans (well, the ones motivated by ethics) are trying to make the world a better place, and we're being penalized for it. In a just world, the people eating animal products (and taking advantage of the many evil-though-socialized externalities) should be paying a premium for their dietary choices.

Charlotte with Gretchen and Neville at the Garden Café this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

This was well before I had to take the dogs back to the car. Click to enlarge.

Gretchen and Holly fielding questions at Blue Heron Books in High Falls this evening. Either that or Gretchen is trying to get people to join her pyramid scheme. Click to enlarge.

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