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
The 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.


Ael said...

Wow, those coppers must be packing 10-15 kilos worth of crap. Including assault weapons and armour. They must suffer horribly when the sun comes out.

Of course, that means that they will tend to hang out near motorized vehicles. No protecting the environment if it means hiking up a steep hill or wading through a swamp for them.

Have you danced a jig on the dance floor on top of Vroman's nose yet?

Big Daddy said...

Flashbacks to my college days in the Southern Tier (for non New Yorkers this is the part of the state just above the Pennsylvania border, and is the northern limit of the Appalachian Hillbilly). The North Country up around Plattsburgh etc. has always been a poor hardscrabble place compared to the more prosperous down state and deindustrialization hasn't helped.
Of course this also means I've heard of Price Chopper although I've never shopped in one.

mike said...

My bride is from the 'Finger Lakes' area. That entire region looks like it is God's country. I never studied or understood geology. But seeing Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Skinny-Alice lakes from the window of a Rochester bound aircraft opened my eyes to our planet's history.

Lots of shale up there. God bless those billy badass environmental cops I say. They were the ones that shut down fracking in that region. They probably needed that tactical gear for protection when confronting frackers and some outraged landowners that saw their promised millions disappear. Better the NYDEP than Big Oil IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Each time I head east on I-70, I get a bit of view of geologic history, IYI


FDChief said...

I've got a post on the geology of the area I'm staying - Schoharie Valley region - but the internet access at the rental joint the contractor is putting me up in just got turned it may be a while. Probably just as well; the transparently kleptocratic firing of The Bastard Comey makes me incandescent with fury that our so-called "Arsenal of Democracy" is now such an obvious banana republic run by Banana Republicans.

Somewhere in Hell, Richard Nixon looks up at the FOX "News" feed that is a Hell-standard (natch...) and curses ruefully.

"Where the Gingrich was this GOP when I needed them?" he whines.

"You were just ahead of your time, Dicky..." the torturer-demon replies, setting down the file with which he's been sharpening the spines of his barbed penis. "Okay, break-time's over. Bend over and assume the position. For what you are about to receive..."

"...I have goddamn John Dean to thank. Fucker!" snarls the former Chief Executive as he grabs his ankles.

mike said...

Relax Chief, before your fury turns into a mini-stroke! Forget about the Qin Shi Huang wannabee in the White House.

You are in the perfect place to give us the real lowdown on the Cobleskill Massacre instead of the bland pap on Wikipedia. And you are not that far from Cooperstown. Did old James Fenimore C himself write of the Schoharie Valley? I bet he did. Not in his leatherstocking tales or his sea stories, but I believe he wrote quite a few non-fiction historical accounts of the tribulations of Euro-Americans migrating into that part of New York State.