Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Not living as large as I'd hoped...

Well, I know, I know. I promised content. And, as it says in the Scripture: "They cry "Content! Content!" and there is no content."
I can't plead anything but sloth.

Turns out that my easy pile-nanny days are turning into 12- and 14-hour pile nanny days. AND I have no internet at the place where I'm staying, so I have to work from the job trailer and, not surprisingly, I REALLY don't want to hang around the job trailer.

This has sucked in a lot of ways. It's sucked because I've had to miss my beloved Timbers and Thorns. It sucked because I can't chat with my loves back in Portland, or send and receive pictures other than through my tiny phone.
I've got an early afternoon off today - we had some trouble here at the jobsite - but, again, I don't want to hang around the job trailer. So I'm slamming this out and heading off to the Price Chopper for half-and-half and bagels. Here's some pretty waterfall pictures, though.

Oh, and these.
These are Devonian fossils from the outcrop described in this post; it's right outside the little town of Schoharie, the seat of Schoharie County, and I've since spent a couple of pleasant afternoons picking through the gray sandstone and shaley "grit" to find the valves of Gypidula and Spirifer and Atrypa and an occasional gastropod, long-vanished denizens of the Devonian seas.
I really will try and post something more substantive if I can get the damn internet back this weekend.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Living large in Methburgh

It's sad, but I looked at the masthead and realized that an entire month had gone by without new content here. I won't apologize. I've been busy in real life and, frankly, I don't have much more to say aside from incendiary rants on the rank idiocy of electing a transparent con-man, grifter, and narcissistic asshole as the chief executive of a popular democracy.

So, instead, I'm sitting at the wobbly table in the apartment over the garage of a rental house in a small town in upstate New York where I'm on loan to a pile driving outfit working on a big water-supply dam reconstruction project, eating cold General's Chicken out of the plastic container and waiting for the Portland Thorns match to start on go90.com.
The work is...work. It's just your basic pile-nannying, complicated only by the ridiculous demands the New York Department of Environmental Protection had put on the contractor and the crappy weather.

(Speaking of which; did you know that the New York State Department of Environmental Protection has its own coppers? Seriously. I shit you not. And here's the best part; they're just as fucking idiotic about dressing up like soldiers and looking all billy-badass as regular coppers. Seriously. Tree-hugger-billy-badass-coppers. Here they are, the DEP Gestapo, in all their billy-badass glory.)

Is that fucking ridiculous, or what? Sometimes I think our goddamn nation went utterly batshit crazy on 9/11/2001.

The locale is perhaps the most left-behind, shit-kicking rural, economically depressed part of the state, a place that isn't so much a has-been as a never-was. I suspect that the Schoharie Valley was always the butt-ass end of beyond, a place for people to go who had no place anywhere else. It's surely that now, and it's even money which is more irking; the lack of good beer or the lack of good coffee.

Luckily I was able to remedy that today; I went into Cobleskill to the Price Chopper (and you have to say that in the Ahnuld voice: "Geht to the Price Choppah!") and picked up a bag of Starbucks French Roast and a six pack of assorted local brews, heavy on the IPAs. The folks here in rural NY seem to slowly be catching onto the microbrew notion, but, sadly, the coffee...dear God, what a shitshow.

I managed about a work-week with the "best" this area has to offer - Dunkin' Donuts - but finally I needed caffeine, REAL caffeine. I dropped into a "Stewart's Store", the local stop-n-rob franchise, to find something stronger than the weak-ass donkey piss on offer at Dunkin'. I browsed the coffee counter glumly before spotting a green-plastic-trimmed silex labeled "Dark Roast".

"Is this really "dark"?" I asked the plump woman behind the counter. "That's the darkest we have." she grumbled, and I held the thing up to the light; the flourescent tube was dimmed, barely, but the thing looked like nothing so much as the contents of a kidney-replacement patient's catheter bag.

I sighed and poured myself a cup.
But that coffee issue is solved, Price Choppah, you ah the best in life!

I did spend an enjoyable hour or so browsing Catnap Books, the utterly wonderful little used bookstore in frenetic downtown Cobleskill. Prize of the day was a 1944 New York State Museum Bulletin #336, "Geology of the Catskill and Kaaterskill Quadrangles" complete with gorgeous colored geologic map of the Catskill region directly southeast of me.
The geology here is orders of magnitude older and more complex than our juvenile and simple brute-force geology of the Pacific Northwest. These are old rocks; Devonian, Ordovician, Silurian...the tribal names from Britain where they were first described and classified. Sediments from long-vanished seas; red shales, black siltstones, many different colors of "grits" (the archaic name for a silty sandstone or sandy siltstone), and many, many layers of gray sandstones.

The valley of the Schoharie Creek was once on the eastern edge of a great vanished ocean, a narrow sea between the continent and a volcanic arc that had rifted away from the landmass to the west. This was a torrid wet forest, the earliest known on Earth, dominated by the bizarre fern-like tree once known as Eospermatopteris and now as Wattieza. The conical bases of these peculiar trees (they aren't really "roots"; the description I read said that so far as the paleontologists can tell these fern-like trees had teensy rhizomeish suckers at the base. Windstorms in the Devonian must have been a panic...) were preserved when sandy sediment buried the forests and casted-up the stumps as they disintegrated.
This ghost forest was unearthed in the 19th Century, but the real excavations came with the building of the dam in the 20th. Several of the treestumps have been tumbled into a small rectangular gravel bed outside the Gilboa post office. There's a bunch more outside the general contractor's trailer at the jobsite.

Outside the geology the work is just the usual pile-nannying, and the weather has been cold and rainy, and, as I mentioned, the coffee is awful.

And the Thorns struggled to an unconvincing home draw.
It's midnight here, and I have to get up to go see my kid sister in the morning. But I've got some time on my hands this month, and I'll be back around this joint in just a bit.