jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


I'm walking through a field resembling an African savannah, and suddenly in front of me I see a young male lion with full mane. He already has a fresh kill of some sort and is eating it, but he looks at me and starts moving, somewhat cautiously but still quickly, towards me. There's a cart off behind me and to my left, and I run around to it and scoot under it where he cannot reach me. This is the second or third time I've had this dream (I remember this, as usual, in the dream itself or while waking, not while fully awake), but I think one was with a lioness and another with a tiger.

We got caught in a snowstorm on the way back to Chico and I'm holing up in a hotel somewhere in northern California. Chains got put on wrong and fell off, and I jogwalked back about 4 miles along I-5 without finding the one that fell off first, and it was lucky we all got back together alive and well.

There's this song running through my head, I think it's original, called Drugs Are Good For You, making fun of our society's tendency to overmedicate for everything, sung in an advertising-jingle-sounding melody. I keep forgetting it and remembering it again... I've really got to get one of those solid-state voice recorders to carry with me. The iPAQ would work but the damned thing keeps losing its charge. [comment]


Fucking losers at wanadoo.es (latinmail.com). You can't report spam to abuse@wanadoo.es, their server bitches about the message length no matter how short it is. Forget forwarding the offending message, you can't even complain about not being able to do so. Maybe I could send them a "fuck you" in the message header, but that doesn't do anything for me. [comment]


Let me take back what I said about Portland's transit system. The #75 to Milwaukie stops running south of 45th and Harney after about 7PM on Sundays, and after 9-something on weekdays. Bleah. Keep those goddamned cars a-rolling. [comment]


Back in Milwaukie checking my email after my voyage through Portland today. Among the places I stopped were a free-wifi coffeeshop called Wired; Powell's bookstore downtown, supposedly the largest privately-owned bookstore in the world; and Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, where I had a warming shot of Laphroaig 10-year single-malt Scotch and a mediocre plate of fish and chips.

I'm favorably impressed with Portland's transit system. The #75 bus from Milwaukie, and the #14 to downtown, run till 1AM, every 15 minutes till 10PM or so. And it stops for only 4 hours, till about 5AM. There's a cross-town trolley, too, and a $3.75 day pass is good for all buses and trolleys till midnight (not till the end of the working day, as in San Diego). [comment]


I'm quite disgusted with the nomad-hostile street layout of the Portland area. There are lots of dead-ends; a sidewalk along the freeway which suddenly ends, forcing you to reroute; long stretches of east-west streets which have no north-south connections. You would have to walk as many as 8 blocks to visit someone who lived right behind you. The Box People really have this area locked up tight, worse than San Diego in some ways. If they wanted to block vehicular traffic in the residential areas, at least they could have put some footpaths in every block or two.

After walking for hours, I've finally found a cash machine and am holing up in Tom's Restaurant on 39th street, drinking a Drop Top somethingorother ale and waiting for my order of fresh fried Pacific oysters. Yummy. I'll probably let you know if they turn out to be bad, otherwise you can assume they're the real deal. [comment]


Still road trippin', now in Milwaukie. No, that's not a misspelling, it's a little town just outside Portland, Oregon, where one of my friend's brothers lives. More later, got one month left before the 2006-2007 release of the Decisions on the Rules of Golf and still some bugs to get out before beta testing... [comment]


Sitting here in Chico, CA outside my friend's Mom's house... basically an uneventful 40-hour trip which ended about 2AM this morning, during which we stopped in Coachella, CA to pick some dates by the roadside. Not those scrawny things from the decorative palms found halfway up the left coast, either; these were the real deal, nice meaty California dates like those you pay big bucks for in the stores. They just let thousands of them fall for the birds and insects before they harvest. No complaints from me... I even knocked a few out of the tree onto my jacket, using a fallen frond. It's doubtful they'll harvest those growing on the side of the road where they get covered with diesel goop. [comment]


All is not well with my tribe... it's hard to remember to tell everybody everything that's going on, and when you don't, someone is going to feel left out. And so it goes.

I'm processing (composting) most of my own sewage now, so it's very easy to see when I'm going too far off my diet because my Neandershit doesn't come out clean and stink-free as it does when I'm avoiding carbs. Last night at the bar someone offered me pizza, and twice someone bought me a beer... and I was buying plenty myself. The results this morning were predictably bad. This experiment is very reproducible. However, sometimes I can indulge to a certain extent and still have a clean BM. I wish I could always know where the limit is and have the presence of mind to avoid it.

The only centralized services I haven't yet been able to avoid are water and Internet. Until it rains again and I get to see how my cistern works I'll be dependent on Columbus city water, which is free (5 gallons per day) for all residents. And until the Unternet is built out sufficiently, which will take years, I'll still have to beg, borrow, or steal Internet access. As long as I stay here in Columbus, NM, though, I have use of the two free wifi APs I installed at the Patio restaurant and the library.

I've seen webpages, I think on Trevor Marshall's site, dealing with making an amplifying antenna for cellular phones (not on the net as I write this, or I'd provide a link -- google it) and I want to make one and point it to the tower in Palomas so I can use my Mexico cell from my house. Wouldn't that be cool? Eventually I'd like to capture the signaling data and figure out how the damned things work on the bits-and-bytes level so I can provide free cellphone service to City of the Sun. One 80-watt panel is plenty to keep a laptop and cellphone charged, though my battery cannot keep the laptop running all night -- it's not a real storage battery, but still I can't figure out why it drops to 10.5 VDC as soon as the sun goes down. Major suckage.

Well, I quit my regular volunteer stint at the Columbus Village Library, but am still available for emergencies. I haven't been able to quit my programming gig but maybe it's just as well. It keeps me in Guinness after all.

Pet peeve: people who don't set their Reply-To address to a working email account. Customers have been raking us over the coals because they say we don't reply to their emails. I call this the "write-only email" syndrome. Or maybe with all the fucked-up anti-spam "solutions" out there, my replies are going to their spambox. And Luna County government has mostly bogus emails on their website and for their reply-to addresses. Cluestick seriously needed there... [comment]


Starting sometime in the past few months, bottles of Tecate now bear the name of Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery, whereas before I'm pretty sure they were still independent. So now, AFAIK, there are only two beer companies in Mexico, the aforementioned plus Modelo. All the local brands are just names now. Bleah.

I can't seem to make any real progress in any of my projects, except for this house which was handed to me on a silver platter. I'm leaning too much on my friends and neighbors for emotional support, and drinking away my paychecks. I think the key is to stop the paychecks altogether, but I really can't back out of this job now. Got to finish it up and kiss it goodbye. [comment]


In the last few days, I've killed and eaten another rattlesnake that decided to take over my place, this time an older (10 years, judging by the rattle) and smaller (between two and three feet long, I managed to skin this one by myself, and put it on my walking stick) one; decided to keep my LandRollers and try to use them despite the pain; successfully finished the Universal Edibility Test on a small lettuce-like plant with holly-shaped leaves that grows in the shade of the creosote bushes next to the arroyos; sunk a 55-gallon plastic barrel to catch and store the runoff from my roof; and gotten laid often enough to keep from going totally bonkers. Life is good. I've got a feeling, though, that if and when Luna County grants me a street address, they're going to tax me extra for this dwelling. Don't know how I'm going to fight it if it happens, but I ought to try. [comment]


Back in Palomas after my little adventure yesterday. All night long I attempted to walk through the streets of Juarez towards Central Camionera but got lost several times. I probably ended up walking 40 miles or more in that 24-hour period. My feet sure hurt as though I did.

Ciudad Juarez is another piece of shit. There's no wild night-life there, all the bars shut down tight at 2 in the morning. Sure, the prostitutes' legs are open all night but I'd rather just drink beer, watch a stripper, and jerk myself off. The only truly safe sex. A taxista told me he'd take me to where the girls were, and I thought he meant a strip bar, but after two blocks I found out my assumption was wrong and told him to let me out. The fucker charged me $2. Then he had the balls to tell me to watch out for the bandidos. I've said it before and I'll say it again: la policia are the worst crooks, followed closely by the taxi drivers. Oh, and the restaurants that tell you they're giving you fresh-squeezed orange juice and I can tell about half of it is orange soda.

I'm eating my usual #22 at the Pink Store, steak with garlic, substituting the fries and salad for extra guacamole. And drinking Corona, not that nasty Moctezuma Cuauhtemoc beer. I had to hold back my BM for hours this morning before I finally got to the bus station, and when it came out it was positively disgusting. I can't blame it fully on the Dos Equis, I'm sure the 3 22-ounce Newkie Browns at Olive Garden (only $4.50 during happy hour, and $4.95 other times), the coffee and espresso brownie at Starbucks, and the fake orange juice had something to do with it too.

A friend told me a cheaper way to carve out a little Monaco-style country out of the U.S.-Mexico border: do it on the Mexican side. It should have been obvious, in retrospect, as the bribes will only have to be about 1/10th the amount, but I'm still stuck on the sentimental value of creating Luna Free State out of Luna County. [comment]


Came out to El Paso to meet an internet connection (female, of course) but it didn't work out. I couldn't expect her to stay home waiting for my email, and free access points are rare in this town. It was a long walk from the Ciudad Juarez bus terminal (Central Camionera) to the Olive Garden where she wanted to meet, and it's going to be a long, cold night unless I find a 24-hour Kinko's and/or a Denny's. Holed up now in the Starbuck's charging my laptop and Clié batteries. If the buses run tomorrow I might be able to avoid walking as much as I did today, somewhere between 20 and 25 miles I'm guessing. [comment]


Early this afternoon I shaved using a single-edge razor from the hardware department at Wal-Mart. I cut myself up horribly but avoided lacerating the old jugular, so it wasn't too bad... and it works quickly, only about a half-hour with two blades, which I can re-sharpen and/or strop. It's hard getting the angle right so you cut without too much pulling and avoid nicking yourself, but it's worth the effort to avoid all those plastic throwaway shavers. Problem is, if I only shave every new moon as I'm doing now, I'll have forgotten the technique by the next time I shave. Maybe I should do a little every moon phase just to keep in practice.

One of my friends was describing someone as a "pothead" today, and while I've heard the term many times I never knew quite what it meant. After all, almost everyone I know, including this friend, uses pot on a regular basis. So, I asked, what was it that made someone a "pothead"? Did they use it all the time? My friend replied, they either use it, or think about it, all the time. I thought for a moment, and then asked: "Does that make me a fuckhead?"

I'm having a helluva time soldering the feedcone to the N-connector for my new waveguide. I have a Ronson tech-torch with the soldering attachment on, and can't get enough heat to get that big hunk of copper to melt my silver-bearing solder. I'll probably end up ruining both the connector and feedcone, and have to buy more. Damn. Always something. Plus, the pigtail that Jeff LaPlante sent me at no extra charge doesn't fit my WRT54G, so I'll either have to cut the end off and solder it to the board, or buy the right pigtail from Zoovy.com. Maybe I should have gotten the lower-melting-point lead solder, but I figure I have enough heavy metal poisoning already between my fillings and the local water supply. [comment]


Had breakfast this morning with Tim Grady's friend Mike DiLorenzo, who is finishing up his Continental Divide trek (actually, he's probably done as of a half hour ago). I told him about my windskating plans and we shot the shit about programming for a while.

I've been wondering about the recurring dreams and dreamscapes that you've noticed me blogging. Few of the same dreamscapes have actually recurred while I've been chronicling them, which leads me to believe that they may not be repeating in this lifetime after all... that Vonnegut's idea of life may indeed have some basis in fact, and that this life is just a recurring dream from one of my other simultaneous lives in other universes, as those are to this. I know that's not clear but I'm just trying to make sense of it myself. All I know is that on awakening, I'm "sure" that I've had a similar dream before, even recently, but then I can't find any references to the same in my blog.

Got my slotted waveguide antenna yesterday, caught the FedEx lady just as she was about to drive away from my neighbor's (temporarily) abandoned place where I'm having things delivered until I get my own street address. It looks great, I've just got to solder on the feedcone and screw in the end plates, and I should be in business. [comment]

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