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:
   learning a card game
Saturday, May 4 2024

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Eventually Gretchen took our guests to the Kingston Farmers' Market, and they all returned late this morning with fancy baked goods from the Little Loaf Bakery, which we ate out on the east deck while chatting about various topics, some of which were too grounded in knowledge of theatre or literature for me to participate in.
Eventually all four humans and both dogs, along with all our food and supplies, somehow crammed into our little Chevy Bolt and I drove us up to the Adirondack cabin via the scenic route (that is, through Middleburgh). It made things comfier for our two guests in the backseat that Neville was in Gretchen's lap the whole time in the front passenger seat and Charlotte spent most of the drive on the floor between the front and backseat (which, in a Bolt, has no hump, since there is no driveshaft). Along the way there was a constant prattle, mostly between Kelly and Gretchen. Periodically I'd interrupt them to point things out: all the Irish symbology in East Durham, the Broome Animal Sanctuary, and the crazy cluttered yard with a flag pole flying the Soviet flag in Sloansville. When Kelly saw her first "FUCK Biden" banner flying from someone's porch, it blew her mind. She couldn't imagine anyone wanting such a loud obscenity marring the entrance to their homes.
Temperatures in the cabin were in the 60s when we arrived, so I didn't put all that much effort into getting the fire going. Gretchen immediately started making us a late lunch, making a vegan form of crab cakes, and a salad. Meanwhile I was down in the basement opening up the Bilco doors and windows to get the warmer outdoor air flowing into the cold basement space, whose temperature was still in the low 50s.
After eating our lunch in the screened-in porch, all of us walked down to the lake and sat for a few minutes on the dock and watched the choppy wind-blown water. It wasn't great conditions for being on the dock, but at least it wasn't raining. We then walked along the shoreline to the beaver dams at the outflow. Along the way, we scared up some mallard ducks, and when Charlotte saw them fly up, she ran after them even though they were way out in the outflow bay. When we saw her again, she was soaking wet. She then charged into the lake a few more times as ducks flew high overhead, many dozens of feet out of reach. At the outflow creek, and Neville crossed the stone walkway to the other side, eager to continue their hike, but Gretchen could tell that our guests were (like many of our other guests) not too great at the whole outdoor thing, and opted to have us return to the cabin via the gentlest grade possible.
Later this evening, Gretchen heated up two different kinds of noodle dishes (one Asian and the other Italian) and again we ate out in the screened-in porch. As we did so, Charlotte was running around all over in the woods, sometimes visible, and sometimes not. While discussing this, it came up that Kelly and Brian would never give their dog such freedom, as doing so would worry them sick. They also admitted that they could never come up to this cabin alone the way I and sometimes Gretchen have done, since they would be too afraid. (I wasn't sure if it was of animals or of dangerous humans.) For the same reason, they admitted they could never walk alone in the woods. It occurred to me at this point that Gretchen and I are very unusual with our comfort at being alone in nature; we know lots of other people who (for whatever reasons) cannot do it.
We talked about many things, and for the most part it was clear that despite the fact that we live in separate countries, we share a lot of culture. Kelly and Brian, for example, were big Game of Thrones fans, so I could talk with them on that topic in a way that I couldn't with, say, Gretchen (who didn't watch it). The only serious impediment to communication, it turned out, was our use of different temperature scales. (Unlike, say, Canadians, they were conversant in miles.) Whenever I tried to talk about the weather, I quickly ran into a wall of unintelligibility. Trying to describe, say, a temperature in the 70s Fahrenheit was impossible, forcing me to grab a Chromebook to do the conversion.
One of the topics that came up was how all of us became vegetarian and then vegan. I seemed to be the last person among us to become vegetarian (something I did maybe as late as 2008), though I've been vegan longer than both Kelly and Brian (I became vegan in January 2010, and they didn't until 2016). Kelly had told us on the drive up to the cabin about her various health problems, one of which had included acid reflux and gall stones, and much of her dietary decisionmaking was initially based on health. Now, though, we would all be considered "ethical vegans," which is very different from the selfish "vegans" whose only care is what they are doing to their own bodies. As I often do when discussing this topic, I owned up to my behavior early in my marriage to Gretchen, when I would occasionally buy a bucket of KFC and then drive around in the car, eating pieces and handing off others to the dogs.

Kelly and Brian are really into card games, and Gretchen wanted to learn new card games so she could extend the possibilities of what can be done while socializing. So Kelly and Brian proceeded to teach us a variant of the game Asshole, one where some cards are played visible and others are concealed (either from the other players or from everyone). Certain cards had "magic" roles, for example 8 would cause the next player to be skipped and 7 would reverse the order of acceptable cards, and 10 would "retire" an accumulating pile of cards. If the player had no card they could play, they had to add the accumulated pile to their hand, setting them back, since the goal of the game is to be the first person to get rid of all of his or her cards. These rules sounded mind-bendingly complicated at first, but after a few gentle rounds of play, Gretchen and I had internalized them all. We played something like four rounds, and everyone won once except me. It's a fun game, with lots of laughing and mock outrage.

Later this evening, Brian wanted me to watch a comedy short called "Tables" on my Chromebook, so I started it up and began to watch. There were a few technical glitches that got in my way and heightened my frustration, and it probably didn't help my enjoyment of the short that Brian was over my shoulder expecting me to find what I was watching hilarious. But I didn't find it hilarious at all, making me wonder if perhaps it was too subtle for the unevolved likes of me.

From left: Gretchen, Neville the Dog, and Brian on the dock this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

Kelly sitting on the dock. She'd just got some splinters in her hand from the dock planks and was concerned they'd get infected. Later she would managed to extract the splinters using a magnifying glass and a pair of cuticle nippers. Click to enlarge.

Neville over by the tree dock. Click to enlarge.

An invasive European Daphne mezereum growing along the outflow creek. Click to enlarge.

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