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 page generally sucks less using Mozilla Firefox. RSS Feed


CVS, which bought out Long's chain of drugstores in northern Cali some months ago, at first didn't stock the good selection of camping gear, mostly Coghlan's brand, that Long's used to have. But today I looked in the one on Washington street in Petaluma, and it's all back and more. Got some of the "Tarp Holder" instant grommets for testing, looks like a pretty good design.

The banana ale turned out pretty good, if a little bland. Going to use twice as much banana next time, and add some cinnamon and/or other spices. [comment]


I'm able to program again after about a week of extreme difficulty. My brain cleared up a day or two ago, and I've been making progress at CodeChef and my paying jobs.

Still jogging and working out at the gym. The feeling in my fingers seems to be coming back, but if so, damned slowly.

Boiled one and a half mashed bananas yesterday evening and am in the process of brewing the resulting liquid (passed through a strainer). Those good juices at Safeway are still $1 each, but that won't last forever... got to find some affordable fermentables. [comment]


For 5 years now I've been looking for 2.1mm barrel connectors with a moisture-resistant housing like those used by the old PowerFlex 5W solar panels (since reborn as the Coleman eXponent), the only good thing about that otherwise useless piece of crap. Googling year after year never turns up anything. How the fuck did the manufacturer ever find them? Maybe if I knew the terminology better I could get better search results...

Getting some brain cells back into action, and improved my CodeChef score on the tiebreaker problem by 0.002 points, whoopee. At least I'm programming again, after about a week of mental stupor. [comment]


What a beautiful winter day here in Petaluma! Highs in the mid-50s but felt even warmer due to the sunshine. Met Darrel, a home-free dude who lives near the bike path. He rides a high-handlebar bike with a garden trailer, and goes all over town with it. He's done some long-distance traveling too, mostly in the West and Southwest from what I understand.

I walked the bike path today, going straight across the green area where the paved path makes a right past the creek. I came out in the parking lot behind 971 Transport Way and made my way to McDowell Boulevard; had I stayed along the train tracks, I would have gone right past the Lagunitas Brewery. Another day, perhaps. Picked some wild mustard greens along the way and put some on my Burger King double cheeseburger. [comment]


It must be at least a month now since I've had a problem connecting to attwifi at Starbucks. Whatever the bug was, it seems to have been squashed.

Finished reading Variable Star about 0430 localtime this morning. Very impressive collaboration between the dead and the living.

Somehow got burned out on CodeChef competitions. Or could just be that I can't get my brain in programming gear. [comment]


In a dream sometime last night, I was talking to my Ma (who passed away a few years ago, but I didn't realize this during the dream), and as I was relating some of my experiences to her, I remembered the time I went to retrieve my motorcycle... this was another dream, apparently, that I'd had not long ago. In it, I remember having to go close to the moon, and that somehow I nudged the motorcycle so that it came close to getting sucked into the moon's gravity well. But somehow it stopped, and, relieved, I went to get it. The tire was very hot to the touch, and I didn't understand why, but when I got home (still in the dream), I googled it and found out that the moon reflects a lot more heat than most of us imagine. I was explaining to Ma how lucky it was that I didn't have to go down to the moon's surface to get it, because I couldn't jump high enough, and would have to take a large rock with me to throw downwards right at the highest point of my jump, in order to keep propelling me away. But she didn't seem to understand that, and just as I was remembering that there was also the possibility that I'd overshoot and drift off eternally into space, I woke up.

Now, the book I'd just started at the library two days ago, Variable Star by Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson, may have influenced that dream, because it talks about swimming in air, something I had to do in order to get at the motorcycle. But the original motorcycle dream came before I read that. Or did it? The moon (in the dream) was close to full, so it could have been the 1st or 2nd, assuming the moon is the same in both worlds.

Never did figure out how I got into space in the first place, or back down to earth with the motorcycle intact. Things that make perfect sense in dreams, so much so that they're done without thinking, are incomprehensible in this other reality. [comment]


Adding a few whole cloves to a batch of this homebrew I've been making from fruit juice really improves it. I got the idea from the pumpkin ale bought at Costco last November, the last bottle of which was finished off a night or two ago.

Really green bananas -- so green they cannot be peeled without slicing them down the middle and gently coaxing the peel off a little at a time -- have a type of adhesive very similar to what's used to stick labels on bottles... and nothing seems to remove it except for the oil from orange peels. Hot water and soap doesn't do anything but spread it around. [comment]


Went dumpster diving for food today, first time in my life that I'm aware of. The Grocery Outlet's free food repository was unlocked and open on one side, and there were a couple of good-looking oranges in easy reach, plus a bag of kiwis of which 3 were still intact. Mornings are probably the best time for more substantial fare, like meat and dairy products. But this was a start in urban foraging/scavenging for me. With my gym membership, I can just walk into the locker room and wash off my plunder. It's inconspicuous in a Chico bag, of which I always carry a few. [comment]


It takes very little d-Limonene to clean up the sticky residue from labels. Just the oil squeezed out of part of one orange peel was enough to salvage a liter bottle that had two large labels on it. Make sure you're getting a greenish-yellow liquid and you've got the real deal.

Went to Safeway the other day and got some great deals. A new frozen concentrate was on sale for $1 a can, and I'm drinking the first batch of brew from it. Also, chicken leg quarters for 58 cents a pound. Nice to know broke people still have options. It puts a hold on my projects, but my survival isn't yet an issue. [comment]


For one fleeting moment, I'm tied for 3rd place with 4 other people in the CodeChef.com January challenge. I cheated, submitting a trivial but valid entry to the tiebreaker question before anyone else did, thus giving me full score for it. As soon as someone submits a better solution, my point for that will dwindle to a small fraction of a point, and I'll move down in the rankings.

The other point was for the Lost Primes problem, for which my Python solution was slow but acceptable. Speed doesn't count in the competitions as long as it's within the stated boundaries. [comment]

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