Tuesday, April 30, 2013

notes from the glitch diaspora: settlers online

for some weeks i have been playing the settlers online.

basically it's about resource management. if you like systems and production chains, you will like this game very much.

it has cute little animations of your guys working and sometimes i just zoom all the way in and watch my little guys work.

i do note, however, that while some of the player avatars are female, NONE of the little onscreen inhabitants of your world are female, although there is one NPC challenge giver that is of ambiguous gender.

you have choice of where you put your buildings on your island, but everybody's island is the same shape and has the same resources in the same places. the game is limited in its multiplayer capabilities, which suits me just fine.

mostly it's you alone on your island and while other players may "visit" your island and interact with your buildings in a limited way, you never encounter other players as other characters, but instead through guilds and chat.

starting to play the game is frustrating, because the instructions and tutorials seem to be geared toward people who already know how to play the game, which is maybe not the best target audience for a starting tutorial.

all that said, i like it pretty much and stay more or less permanently logged in.

here's a little tour of my game running.

Monday, April 29, 2013

hill o' potatoes

you can grow potatoes in a container, or at least that's what they tell me. i came across soem fantastic sounding blog post about growing things from your kitchen vegetables and i had a couple of potatoes that were going to go bad before i used them, so i cut them up and planted them.

but that post doesn't really give you a lot in the way of instructions, so i found that i had to look up potato growing in containers but most of the sites are geared toward someone who is really in it for the gardening rather than someone who just wants to grow a couple of houseplants.

and eat them.

still, it's more information than i had.

what i learned (too late) is that you have to "hill" the potatoes, which apparently means that when the vines start to grow you add on more dirt around the stems which i guess does something important like give you more actual potatoes instead of just vines.

and then inexplicably my
potato vines died, so now i have started over.

i like the idea because when i buy potatoes sometimes it's a challenge to use every last one before they go mushy, but i use enough of them to warrant buying a whole bag at once, so this at least gives me some value either in food (yet to manifest) or entertainment for those one or two potatoes at the bottom of the bag.

i'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

thanks for the warning

do you ever think that your life would be just a whole lot easier if really unpleasant people would just carry around some kind of sign that warns you to stay away because talking with them would just be a waste of oxygen?

sometimes they do.

i was at the mall last week -i know, right? - the mall?

"flask", you are undoubtedly saying, "have you taken leave of your senses? what were you doing at the mall?"

i was at the mall because i needed new eyeglasses. ok? every couple of years i actually need something for which i have to visit a store in the mall. sometimes it just can't be avoided.

anyway, i was at the mall an in the parking lot there was a truck with this handy sticker on it:

...which conveniently notifies the rest of us that the driver of the vehicle is about five different kinds of hatwipe.

in l'ésprit d'escalier, i would like to leave a note on the truck that says a lot of fat chicks are better shots 'n him, and now they know who to aim at.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

a nice way of putting it

recently i have begun to do most of my regular grocery shopping at the tiny grocery.  there's enough diagonal parking along the store side of the street to accomodate whatever number of people might be in the store, but apparently the neighbors have been having some trouble getting people to not park in front of their houses.

it's a narrow street and there just isn't room for that kind of nonsense.

yesterday i noticed that one of the neighbors had put up a sign meant to discourage parking in front of their house. i wonder how effective it will be, but it gave me a chuckle.

Friday, April 26, 2013

snapshot by progressive

i keep seeing the commercials about the plugin device progressive insurance will send you to analyze your driving habits so you maybe can get better insurance rates because you're a good driver, right?

it sounds like a great idea when they tell you about it but i have some concerns about privacy and even what you really are saving, if anything.

it turns out that i am not the only one with concerns, which makes me feel a little bit better about it, because when i don't see anybody else around me worried about things that worry me i start to lose hope for the future of this country and civilization in general.

here's the link to the progressive website's explanation of the thing, and to a pair of articles that seem to be pretty fair assessments of the device and the potential concerns and a slightly more alarmist article.

just for starters, i am concerned about the general trend these days in which people are only assumed innocent if they voluntarily surrender all their privacy because of course only guilty people need privacy. it is an idea that drives security theater and it's an idea that's dangerous in general to the idea of having a private life and privacy from government and corporate surveillance.

yes, i know i keep some blogs and i say some personal things in a public venue, but it is an informed choice and it is about wanting to tell my story or parts of my story and on the other side of that same coin i insist on only showing those things i want shared.

i reserve the right not to have to have my picture taken just in case i might be doing something bad later on.

no, it is NOT the cost of doing business.

but let's just put those concerns aside for a second, because even though the data that gets collected for your cheap car insurance could be as part of a larger trend to document and surveil you later, right now it's harmless.


because progressive is a company that really cares about you.

if you're a progressive customer, they take care of you, good driver! nothing could possibly go wrong.

i'm sorry; i do not know how to proceed with this train of thought in heavy sarcasm mode.

but i do not want you to lose sight of the fact that progressive is the same company that lawyered up the man who killed one of their clients so that they wouldn't have to pay out a claim to her estate.

you might think twice before giving them the tools to do the same to you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


i've just finished organizing the photos from the chimney construction.

the new chimney looks beautiful and the nice young men who built it were very pleasant and very much seemed to know what they were doing.

since i am not a mason nor have i ever had much experience of masons i can only base my evaluation of their work on the appearance of their work day.

they showed up, worked hard, cleaned up nicely, and were very polite and tolerant of all my picture taking and such.

only time and some good rainstorms will tell if the problem of the leaking chimney is all solved but i am encouraged by the work and expect things to be tight and dry later on when we get the first good heavy rain.

here is my slideshow of the masons and their work.

here's a short video of wes cutting one of the flues. i'm watching the work from my sofa.
and here's a short video of one of the guys going up in the lifter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

how to make awesome pudding

i know that you want pudding like mine.

because my pudding is so awesome that by the time you finish your little cup of it you want to eat all the little cups of it and you will not care if you are sick.

so i am going to share with you.

put a couple of tablespoons of flour in a pot along with about six tablespoons of cocoa powder. toss in a quarter teaspoon of salt or so and about a half cup of sugar. you will probably want to use a rounded half cup.

toss a little bit of instant coffee in there to intensify the chocolate flavor, or a couple of tablespoons if you want it full on mocha. whisk all that stuff together.

then gradually whisk in three cups of milk with the pot on low heat. you are making a nice smooth paste here.when the paste is nice and smooth go ahead and add any milk that isn't in there yet.

when all the milk is added and everything is all nice and smooth, turn the heat up a little. if you let the milk warm slowly you don't have to watch it very carefully.

once it's all warm and stuff you can turn the heat up a little to about medium. at this point you're going to have to stir it.

a lot.

but not too much, because the more you stir the longer it takes to thicken. and the quicker you let it thicken, the more you have to stir it so you don't get lumpy bits.

when it's thick enough that that it won't run too far off the spoon if you lift it, take it off the heat and toss in a tablespoon of butter, a half cup of bittersweet chocolate, and either a whole bunch of vanilla or just a tablespoon. you might like to add some almond extract. i do.

then put it in little dishes. if you are me, you will not cover them because the best part about pudding is the skin and you want pudding so thick you can chew it and a pudding skin so thick and beautiful that when you answer the phone and the dish goes flying, none of the pudding spills onto the sofa, which is tan.

i know i have helped you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

taking it seriously

one thing about a good joke is you take it seriously.

i have been thinking hard about the Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging challenge™  and how i might complete some of the challenge items because they're not really funny unless you do them or at least think about doing them and i was thinking about how on the first of may it will be convenient for me to visit two houses of the same street address in separate states, only because i am traveling on the first, the two houses would have to be 1 something street and there aren't a lot of 1 something streets.

and for every town, city, or hamlet on my route or near my route or my alternate route or within a half hour drive of my route there's a 1 maple street and a 1 college street and a 1 main street and a 1 water street and a couple other 1 something streets but NO MATCHING addresses. i am not kidding about this.

i have spent four honking days on this task.

i have been spending a LOT of time in google maps and in zillow.com and in trulia.com and a very handy tool called spokeo that gives a lot of information you may consider either handy or scary, but there are just no matches for me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

bolton valley wind turbine

it is super good that neither of you reads this blog for current events; i am still digging out and processing photos and videos i have had piling up here on my desk.

one of the problems, i guess, with doing stuff is that you have less time to TELL about doing stuff.

i have some backlog, but hey, i do stuff.

6 april was a lovely day skiing on the mountain and i have gone on a bit about that, but while i was up there that day i also shot some video of the wind turbine working.

i have a general interest in machine-y things and an interest in renewable energy and wind turbines in particular and not just their practical application but also how pleasing they are to my eye and ear.

the wind turbine at the top of bolton valley ski area supplies some of the power to run the resort and it looks cool.

you can read about it on the resort's page about it here, and you can also monitor its current status here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

first one of the spring

here is the first crocus in my yard this spring.

it appeared last monday.

it's still pretty lonely.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

creepy little freakazoids part one

 i think i mentioned that i have been growing mushrooms in my kitchen.

they don't count as houseplants because they are fungi and fungi are not plants, but their own thing.

they don't count as housepets, either, because i think a pet has to be some kind of animal.

they are totally weird to have growing in your house because nothing happens and then nothing happens and nothing happens and then all of a sudden -BOOM- or maybe splook or fwit - those guys are growing and moving in ways that seem very, very alien.

i take pictures of mine three or four times a day and sometimes it seems like if i turn my back on them for just a few minutes they do all kinds of growing that sort of defies explaining.

i'm still learning how to use the video editing software and it is slow going but here are some images of the creepy little freakzoids, which is what i'm calling them.

it's sort of a term of endearment.

...for a thing i'm going to eat later.

Friday, April 19, 2013

of a certain age

i have reached that certain age at which i think of perfectly competent professionals as "nice young people".

fully certified mason? "nice young man".

police officer? "lovely young woman".

doctor? "earnest young man".

i have a group of "nice young men" on my roof laying bricks and heaving huge buckets of cement around and i say stuff like "i made you boys some carrot bread and it's all cooled off and ready to be packed and if you give me a moment there's some for each of you".

i am not yet 50 years old and already i have turned into THAT old lady.

i do not expect this will improve as i age.

when i see road crews and carpenters and workers and such i think "what nice young people".

and i want to make them cookies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


if you're following the story (closely) you may remember that i have had a leak in my roof.

i know, it's been a whole honkin' YEAR working to fix this, but sometime near the end of last summer it was determined that the problem is that the chimney never was capped correctly and it needs to be torn down to about 15 inches below the roof line and rebuilt.

this is a $10,000 repair, give or take a few bucks.

and while *i* might be in a hurry to get it fixed, the cost for fixing that falls on the homeowners' association, so there had to be meetings and estimates and more meetings and then the hiring of actual masons and the short version of the story is that it's a year later and the masons are currently up on my roof laying bricks.

i do not know how normal people respond to the appearance of workmen in their environment, but my general response to carpenters, road crews, plowmen and all manner of skilled and unskilled laborers is to think that this is the coolest thing i will see all day and ask if i can take pictures.

usually the workers are generally agreeable if not downright amused and sometimes they tell me a little about their work.

as i said to the guy who delivered the bricks last week "i know this is just your regular work truck, but it is the coolest thing i will see today."

and he laughed and stepped back from it a moment and said "yeah, it is kinda cool."

do you remember when they used to just toss a tarp over stuff?

well, the newfangled trucks have this accordion-foldy compartment that just rolls on over the bricks or what have you.

and they have a cute little forklift that rides on the back of the truck and just the one guy can drive it on and off the truck and zip around with the pallets just as sweet as can be.

and i'm all, like WOW, because i am WAY TOO IMPRESSED by just about everything.

so anyway, the nice young masons whom i address variously as "chimney guys" and "you boys" (because i am old enough to be their mothers) are up on my roof.

they tell me that they can lay 250 bricks in a day if things go smoothly, and there are 750 bricks in my job.

part of it is slow going, because it's close quarters on my roof with the dormers and the scaffolding and such.

we're a nice fit, me and the masons. i think their work is beautiful, and they are proud to show it to me.  they apologized on account of the new brick doesn't look exactly like the old, and i said i didn't care because the new chimney looks cleaner and more skillfully constructed.

and i had to use up carrots, so i made carrot bread, which they were only too happy to eat. i like to make bread, but let's face it: i am only going to eat a half a loaf and maybe freeze a half a loaf, and that leaves me some to give away.

later on i will have more pictures for you, but here's the little forklift.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging challenge™

we are very proud to announce the flagship product of this year's Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™: the Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging challenge™!

if you have chosen this particular challenge for the Month of MAYhem™,  congratulations!

here's how it works:

on each day of the month of may you will find a residential property whose street number matches the day of the month. then you will choose and perform any activity from the list for that home. you may not use the same activity more than once, nor may you use more than one house from any given street.

any residential building is acceptable for use.

the list has 40 choices, so you should pick the 31 that best suit you.

it's sort of like a bingo card.

if you are arrested in the process of executing the challenge, you may show your "it's ok, i'm a blogger" credential as if that will explain everything. on any day you are arrested, your account of that story may replace the day's activities for the purposes of the challenge.

if you are en route to perform today's blogging challenge and an opportunity arises for something even MORE bizarre, you may substitute the more bizarre thing, but only if it is really more bizarre. if your cousin from out of town calls and you go out for coffee, that is not more bizarre.

you may report your results to your blog in any form you like, but you should report all of your results.

  1. find the house on google earth and take screenshots of it.
  2. go to the house and take a picture clearly showing the house number.
  3. go to the house at dawn and dusk on the same day and take lovely bookend pictures of the day.
  4. sit and make a detailed sketch of the house in pencil, charcoal, or pen and ink.
  5. make a painting of the house.
  6. stand quietly in the street outside the house until someone asks you what you are doing. record how much time passes. explain that you are standing there to see how long it will take before someone asks why you are there.
  7. if it is trash day, go through their garbage can and make a list of everything in there. take pictures.
  8. record five uninterrupted minutes of video of the house. if you are interrupted, start over.
  9. find two houses with the same street address, but in different states. drive from one to the other.
  10. find a house in every state with the same street address. put them on a map.
  11. find out where the closest pizza place that will deliver is to the house. if it is not close enough to any pizza place for delivery, measure the distance between the house and the pizza place.
  12. sit outside the house all day and take notes of everything that happens.
  13. call the people in the house at or just before dinner time and ask if you can buy them a pizza. if they say yes, buy them a pizza.
  14. make a time-lapse video of the house every five minutes for twelve hours.
  15. have a picnic in their front yard. 
  16. ask if they will take a picture of you standing in front of their house.
  17. knock on their door. explain what you are doing and ask if you can conduct a short interview with them about their house. you should have a few questions prepared.
  18. make a sketchup model or any other computer assisted model of the house.
  19. make a small sculpture out of items you find in the street outside the house. 
  20. lie down at the end of the driveway until someone asks you to move.
  21. tape a $20 bill to their front door. do not leave a note explaining why.
  22. ask if they have any yard chores you can do for them. if they say yes, do them. do a good job. you are a classy person.
  23. if the house is for sale, ask a realtor to show it to you.
  24. look up all the public records associated with the house. report its tax assessment and any other information you can find.
  25. search the archives of a local newspaper to see if the house has ever been mentioned in a news story.
  26. if you can see anything edible growing in the yard, ask if you can have some. bonus points if the thing is mushrooms.
  27. make a sound recording of a day at the house.
  28. bake something nice and bring it to the people at the house. bonus points if you drive over a half hour to get there.
  29. make a sculpture of the house in any medium you please. bonus points if that medium is marble or bronze.
  30. write and perform a short opera about the house. bonus points if you can get the homeowners and neighbors involved.
  31. describe the house by way of interpretive dance.
  32. identify five aspects of the house that can be expressed properly by some kind of graph. bring this to a logical conclusion by making the graph.
  33. make a hand drawn map of the neighborhood that includes local landmarks such as the nearest bodega, elementary school, golf course, and public park.
  34. arrange to be dropped off at an unknown location approximately two miles from the house. have an accomplice give you directions to get there without using any street names.
  35. figure out how long it would take you to get to the house by foot travel from the nearest public transit stop.
  36. find out the distance from the house to the nearest commemorated battle site. briefly explain the battle.
  37. list and explain the ten closest historical sites to the house.
  38. find out who built the house. find out as much as you can about the builder and report back.
  39. take a soil sample from the yard and have it analyzed. it's up to you whether you wish for this analysis to be geared toward gardening or public safety or just geological curiosity.
  40. plant a flower in the yard.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

about those campsites...

rather than let a somewhat long-winded response to this comment get lost, i'm making this a whole post instead of telling you about the masons or the potatoes or posting the first attempts at video of the creepy little freakzoids.

cookie said:

Somehow, camping at a place called "Hope Falls," "Mud Lake," Slush Pond," or "Misery" is less appealing than "Pleasant River." I wonder if they were trying to discourage campers...? LoL. Thank you for sharing this map! :)

and i just need to be clear about how the campsites are named in my database and therefore my map.

certainly, some of the campsites have actual names (pushineer east leaps immediately to mind) but for the most part these are not so much campsites as they are places where it's legal to park your car and pitch a tent overnight if you want. usually there is some kind of fire ring because one of the things land managers REALLY want to control is the number of places where people might be building fires and actually if you aren't going to build a fire the number of spots where it's legal to camp increases somewhat, but i pretty much mark sites with full permissions just because i don't fancy the idea of being rousted in the night by a ranger.

mostly the sites have names like "designated camp site", or "site #2"

they are often referred to (when referred to at all) by a nearby road or landmark, so although there's no smith road campground, there are eight or so designated campsites along smith road. sometimes the state agency that maintains the site assigns it a number, and sometimes i assign it a number just to keep it labeled in my database.

the sites along pleasant river road aren't any nicer than slush pond road.

and although i have been very generous with my list, i am NOT telling you (unless you ask) which of the sites are really excellent; lakeside and with a real outhouse.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Month of MAYhem NOvel BLOg Writing MEme™

did you miss NaNoWriMo?

were you sad because all your friends were writing crappy novels even they wouldn't want to read just because it was november and you couldn't grow a moustache so you felt you had to do SOMETHING?

well, now is your second chance.

for the MoMa No BloW Me™, starting at midnight on may first begin writing your fictional work. every day write 1670 words that more or less string together to make your narrative.

don't be very fussy about character development or cohesive storytelling, because all that matters, really, is that you write those 1670 words.

every day.

because you are a writer. and writers write.

what counts is how many words you write.

here is a handy tool you can use.

i have written 132 words. now get to work.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


if you have been following my story at all, you know that periodically i take off on the road and live in my car. i camp nights on free legal campsites, many of which are maintained by the states in which they are located.

once you learn what a free legal campsite looks like in any particular state, it becomes easier to find them.

since states typically maintain paid campgrounds, they do not typically go out of their way to advertise the places where you can camp for free.

in national forests, you are permitted to camp anywhere provided you follow a few basic rules.  in many states camping is allowed on state lands as long as you are a certain distance from roads, water sources, trails, or paid campgrounds. in some places a state agency (for instance the new york department of conservation) will maintain free designated campsites in areas where they wish to limit the amount of impact camping will have on the land.

in maine the state has parcels of land called Public Reserve Lands that are open to wilderness recreation. some contain paid campgrounds, and some contain free campsites. if you have a particular PRL parcel in mind, you can go to the state of maine's website for the division of parks and public lands and it will tell you directly what is available and how much if anything it will cost you.

be aware that in the state of maine in season, anything in the north maine woods is subject to fees for use of that land, but out of season it's free. "in season" is usually defined as mid-may through mid december, so if you wish to use that land for free, you'd better be a hardy soul.

mostly, though, since these campsites are not advertised you sort of have to know how to recognize the signs that there may be a free site nearby, and you have to be willing to spend a lot of time driving up and down roads that maybe are going to have campsites.

but the thing about it is that each time you find a new site farther out from your home, you have a toehold on the land from which you may search for other sites.

over a period of years, starting with that first blizzardy november night when i accidentally stumbled into a campsite in the green mountain national forest, i have been keeping a database of all the campgrounds i use.

you are welcome to look at and use my map, but you have to use the link, because i am not making this list public enough to be found through searches.


on the map the little green tents represent free campsites. some have outhouses and some do not. the green cabins represent regular campgrounds. bear in mind that because i use the north maine woods lands off season, i have marked all those sites as free. your mileage will vary.

the picnic table icon marks walmarts where one may still camp. it's sort of common knowledge that walmart permits camping in their parking lots which is handy in a pinch, but many towns do not permit this, so you have to go there and check out the signage for yourself.

i try to keep my data up-to date, but i'm taking no responsibility for the listing. campsites open and close all the time for a variety of reasons.

but you, dear reader, are welcome to use my lovingly collected and curated data.

i also have a database of public water sources, open wifi networks, and acceptable pizza places which i may or may not add to this map or maybe place in a second map.

we'll see.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Month of MAYhem Alphabetic Blogging Challenge for the Symbol-Minded™

don't you LOVE it when suddenly dozens of blogs you read start doing an alphabetic challenge? there is just nothing more interesting to read than a series of posts that have no purpose besides being about something starting with a particular letter of the alphabet! it is super exciting to see how two dozen people will all write about the letter "D" all on the same day.

so if you are going to be doing the Month of MAYhem Alphabetic Blogging Challenge for the Symbol-Minded™ this year, i am going to ask you please, please, please to commit to it fully and only THEN read the list of letters on which you will be blogging this year.


don't mind me. i'm just going to go throw in a load of laundry while you make up your mind.

(long pause)

ok, ready to start?

since there are thirty-one days in may and not twenty-six, we will need thirty one symbols for you to slavishly dedicate your blog to for the month. and why stop at letters, really?

get out of our way. we are creating some MAYhem™ here.  the rule is that when you start writing your blog posts for the challenge, you are NOT to mention where this is going. you are to allow your reader to assume that this will be a standard twenty-six letter cookie-cutter straightjacket of literary despair.

so for your thirty-one days, here's your list:

A, B, C

(so far so good- the pattern is established)

Д , E, F, , (huh? only look at the links if you need help.)

I, ل ,  , L,  , И, ©, þ

Q, , 5, τ , U, v

 , X , ץ ,

 ,  ,  ,  ,

have a good time with that.

Friday, April 12, 2013

farewell to number one

i am still figuring out how to use the new editing software, one project at a time.

this little video is my farewell to the number one chair. there are no radical shots, no amazingness, no attention grabbing events; there's just a ride up on the chair and one run down on the last saturday they ran the number one chair this season.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™

hey, everyone!

it's time for the runup to the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™!

of course if you like that sort of thing, you can use the original Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™  template, but for your "enjoyment" i will be presenting you with some fresh new options:

the Month of MAYhem Alphabetic Blogging Challenge for the Symbol-Minded™, the Month of MAYhem Novel Blog Writing Meme™ (MoMa No BloW Me), and the flagship blog challenge template of the month: the Month of MAYhem Residential Neighborhood Blogging Challenge™.

of course, one "benefit" of mass blogging challenges is that you and everybody you know essentially gets down to writing the same damn boring cutout things on your blogs for an entire month, and the rest of us get to pare down our reading lists considerably.

so assuming that you will be committing to participation in this year's Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™, you should start making your announcements NOW. talk about it a LOT. 

these are all going to take some advance planning, so get ready NOW.

you will be receiving instructions later.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

tastes like shit

in my family, "tastes like shit" is code for "thickened with flour", particularly in reference to gravy.

the reason this is so enduring a joke in my family is of course that marvelous time when we sampled a neighbor's delicious gravy and my mother declared in hearing of the neighbor that obviously the neighbor made gravy the proper way (i.e., thickened with cornstarch) because gravy made with flour tastes like shit.

of course the neighbor habitually made her gravies with flour and probably would not have said the word "shit" if she'd had a mouth full of it.

so anyway, in the past couple of months i have found myself craving chocolate pudding.

not the kind of craving where you think you might like some and then are done with it; the kind of craving where you decide you CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT only it's too late at night to start making pudding but then you feel fine in the morning but then sometime before bedtime you NEED NEED NEEEEEED IT and this goes on for the better part of two weeks and finally at a decent hour in the afternoon you just decide to make the damn pudding already.

so because i had not actually made any pudding (unless we count crème patisserie, and who does, really?) in all the time since graduating from high school, i thought i would just hop on the internet and look at some recipes.

there are no shortage of pudding recipes on the internet.

i used this one. it was not difficult and did not have any weird ingredients. the only change i made to it was that i added a little bit of almond extract because i like that.

it was very good. maybe a little too sweet. and it had a little bit of a cornstarchy aftertaste which although not terribly unpleasant, i wondered if i might not enjoy a flour thickened pudding.

so the next time the pudding craving hit, i recognized the inexorable signs and just went ahead and made the pudding only three days in to the craving, which saves a lot of moaning to nobody in particular late at night.

i sorta used this recipe, but since most of the comments tell you to double the cocoa, i went right ahead and almost tripled it. and i added a little instant coffee and some almond extract. oh. and i tossed in a handful of baking chocolate to melt in the finish.

in my house the only coffee i keep on hand is instant coffee, and the only reason i keep coffee at all is for the addition into chocolate recipes. a tiny bit of coffee nicely intensifies chocolate flavors without even being perceptibly mocha.

and i like my chocolate to be intense. i habitually eat chocolate that is 70% dark or darker as my preferred bar chocolate. i find that while it is possible to eat enough cheap milk chocolate to settle a chocolate craving, it's just better all around to eat a little bit of an 80% bar rather than to scarf down a half dozen milky ways.

uh, anyway.

the second pudding was also very good, if maybe still too sweet.

in the future i think i will experiment with reducing the amount of sugar used, which will make it at least marginally healthier as well.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

last day on the mountain

my last day on the winter mountain this year was not THE last day.

saturday was beautiful and perfect and i made my farewell to it then.

i have both stills and some video, as well as my video farewell to the number one chair, but today only the stills are ready to show you.

and later on there will be a little and well, let's face it: some more glitchvid and i may even get around to showing you the video i promised you from two years ago october or something like that.

and exciting shots of my houseplants, the creepy little freakazoids.

uh, anyway.

here are some pretty pictures from last saturday on the mountain. some years by closing day there's thin cover on the trails and little snow left in the woods. this year even though it's all grass down here where i live there are still a couple of feet of snow up on the mountain, conditions that do not scream for closing.

today, for instance, it would have been very fine skiing, but most people have turned their minds to biking or whatever and it doesn't pay the mountain to keep the lifts running for the last of the spring diehard passholders.

the whole flickr set is here.

Monday, April 08, 2013


i have just spent a pleasing forty minutes watching a documentary about agafia lykov. a while ago her story made the rounds of a bunch of blogs.

short version: her father and mother fled to the siberian wilderness in the '30s to escape persecution and stayed there.

you can see more about this and the documentary here.

and to save you googling "old believers", the wiki page is here.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

pond skimming

as promised, here are some images of the bolton valley 2013 pond skimming.

i know, i know, by the time this thing posts it will be closing day already, but it was an awesome season, wasn't it?

if you weren't there, you should just take my word for it. beauty was seen. adventures were had.

but pond skimming!

it is a spring ritual on the ski hills just as sugar on snow is at the sugarshacks.

and it's kind of amazing.

first the trail guys have to dig a really big hole with their giant snow machines, and then they line the big hole with a tarp and fill it with water. the pond's about three feet deep and it takes a number of hours to fill.

and it may be all festive and wacky, but skiing is a risk-assumed sport with some inherent dangers and pond skimming doubly so.

for starters, there's the general risk of falling while skiing and the general risk of falling while water skiing and the fact that those two activities are combined in this one event. if you have ever had you legs uncomfortably splayed out in a fall while water skiing, you know what i'm talking about here. additionally, that water is about thirty-five degrees so the unpleasantness factor can rise dramatically.

past that, though, there's the body's involuntary response to sudden cold water immersion: cold water shock. this is related to but not the same as the mammalian diving reflex.

the tricky bit is that when your face hits the water you WILL take an involuntary gasp and if you are unlucky, you will suck in a lungful of water and it will be possible for you to die in under a minute.

add to this the fact that you are wearing heavy ski boots and that your feet are probably still stuck in your bindings, making it unlikely for you to maneuver and difficult not to panic.

but skiers have been performing this ritual for years, and ski patrol has an answer to a lot of this. first of all, they keep a lot of EMTs on hand. and second, they have these two guys who stand IN THE POND and they work lightning quick. if you fall in, one guy grabs you immediately under your arms to elevate your head and chest above the water and the second guy dives for your feet to release your bindings and fish you out of there right quick.

those guys wear neoprene cold water immersion suits, but it's probably pretty uncomfortable standing in the pond for the whole afternoon. it is wroth seeing the pond skimming if only to see those guys work.

but technical aspects aside, it is an awesome spectacle and the crowd hoots and hollers and winces and cheers and laughs and we'll all go ride bicycles or paddle kayaks or whatever it is we do when it's summer but for now we are holding on to the last bright days of ski season and when winter comes again, we will be ready.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

adventures in video editing

ow. flask brain hurty-hurt.

ok, so i have been making some little videos on and off, and i have for most of that time been perfectly happy with imovie, which comes installed on any mac you buy. for a thing that just comes with your machine, it actually does a lot of stuff and most people don't need more than that.

every once in a while i thought it would be really nice if i could do some more advanced things, but i was pretty much resigned to the idea that more advanced editors are going to cost some advanced cash.

to nobody's surprise, if you want to spend upwards of $500, you can get a video editor that will teach you to tapdance.

what i wanted was just something a little more advanced than imovie that would let me layer my clips.

a lot of editors have a cheap r free version that purport to allow you to do this, but then it turns out you can only have two layers. - heck, i can squeeze two (not very modifiable) layers out of imovie!

i found a promising looking free editor that worked great (ok, reasonably well) except that it crashed every five seconds or so.

bear in mind that i figured on spending something like $50 to get what i wanted, but there's no point NOT looking at the free editors.

videopad looked really good on the surface, but there was a lot of functionality you could only buy and even though i would have paid for a full version, it was interesting for the company to offer a bunch of different sound editors and upgrades and i started to think that with all the frequent crashing and the price of add-ons i might just use something more hassle-free.

and then i found wondershare, which on the face of it was just what i wanted with tons of features besides the one feature i really need, which is the ability to multilayer video.

and it's kind of tricky, because they make it for PC and for mac and the pc page is the default and lists all the features and even looking closely on the "download for mac" page it's nto really clear if it has the same features.

so i got on the live help chat and asked the nice young man if the mac version of the software includes PiP (picture-in-picture) capability and ater a few minutes he tells me that not just yet, but if i buy the software today the engineers are working really hard on that and soon, maybe there will be a free upgrade.



then i found a very robust full featured FREE editor but when i looked into it, it involved some kind of complicated steps  to install and run it in terminal.

i'm an artist, not a computer engineer, ao although if you give me a list of complex instructions regarding HOW to make things happen in my computer i can usually pull that off without too much difficulty, but this baby had a complex list of instructions to GOT to the complex instructions and as far as i'm concerned, one layer i don't really understand of mucking about with my computer is probably ok, but two (or more- i couldn't be bure) layers of instructions i don't understand is probably just asking for trouble and maybe a new computer.

and then i found what looked like a DREAM EDITOR and it was only FIVE DOLLARS and i went to download it, but it turns out i needed to upgrade my OS for that one.

but that's ok, since i've been toying with upgrading my OS for a while now, so i did that.

and now i have to relearn how to do a lot of things i used to take for granted, because new OS. it's mostly all improvements as far as i can tell, but there's still a learning curve.

and the new editor seems to do just what i want it to do, except it does a LOT of things and even though the documentation is pretty good, it hurts my brain a little to be learning it.

i had hoped at this point to be posting some cute little videos i made with it, but i am still figuring out how to work it.

i'll talk with you later.

Friday, April 05, 2013

open letter to the kid in the driver ed car

dear kid in the driver education car,

i hope you weren't freaked out to have me behind you on the road all the way from richmond today. i wasn't in any hurry to pass you,  and the guy in the audi behind me also didn't seem to be in any hurry.

from the look of it, today was your first or second time ever behind the wheel, a thing i guessed because  you were very, very careful anytime there was another car present, or if the road narrowed or turned, or if there were trees or guardrails nearby.

also you were driving on average ten miles an hour below the posted speed limit if none of these hazards were present, so i figured that you maybe had not driven a car before.

here is the thing i want to tell you: you were doing just fine. you were careful and paying attention. you seemed to be aware that you were operating a machine with enormous potential to do damage.

later on you will become more skilled and you won't think twice about that sharp turn onto governor peck road but it will serve you well to look both ways just as carefully every time as you did today when turning onto brown's trace.

today while you were driving you seemed to have at the back of your mind: holy crap! i am driving a car! i could make a mistake and people could get hurt!

and you know, kid? that is a pretty good thing for you to have at the back of your mind anytime you get behind the wheel.

good job today.

and good luck out there.

love, flask.

Thursday, April 04, 2013


i JUST learned about the coming emergence of brood II of the 17 year cicadas.

that is so much awesome i don't even know where to start. maybe i have the luxury of thinking that's awesome because i don't live near any of the major emergence areas.

brood VII emerges in central new york where i went to college, but in 1984 when they came out i was already home for the year.

apparently brood II has some emergent areas near where i might typically camp in early may, so maybe i will get a chance to hear them if the month of april is not too warm.

and radiolab is tracking them!

citizen-science!!! i may pass OUT from the delight of it! i was thinking of buying a kit to build so i could monitor soil temperatures and report, but i don't live close enough to anyplace where the cicadas will come up to be worth the expense.

but there will be maps. and charts.


hose me down!!!!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

lovely day on the mountain

here are my pretty mountain pictures from last saturday.

later on i will show you my farewell to the number one chair and the images from the pond skimming.

top of alta vista

camel's hump from cobrass

bolton mountain and mount mansfield

tilt shit of top of vista

if you'd like to look at the whole set today at bolton valley, you can find it here.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

annotated view

so there's my annotated view from the tower at bolton valley.

i'm not completely happy with it, but the dermandar website gives some suggestions on how to make my pictures line up better.

still, pretty cool.

Monday, April 01, 2013

all around

this morning i was stitching together some photos for a panoramic view from the bolton fire tower and i thought: wouldn't it be really spiffy if i could find a little online application that could post these as a 360° panorama to embed here?

so i found right off this little online app that not only DOES that, but it does all the heavy lifting of image processing and so therefore it is my new favorite thing.


is that super cool or what?

now i'm going to go play in google earth and see if i can't make a version that identifies the landmarks.


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