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


Continuing with my musings... people, over time, get used to the "fact" that they cannot change things, that they must suffer in an imperfect world, that they must compromise their ideals to fit "the way things are". By the age of 50 or 60 (sometimes even 30 or 40), this pattern is so ingrained that, even if one were made Almighty God for a day, ey wouldn't dare change the status quo. Well, guess what? We Boomers are reaching our peak power for changing that status quo, and I for one have high hopes that enough of us have kept our ideals alive. We are in a position to reinvent the world as we see fit: the gift economy, zero waste, negative population growth (of humans!), organic gardening, sovereignty of the individual, minimal if any government, self-reliance, participants not spectators, human powered vehicles, the end of the high-stress, high-speed ratrace madness created by a power-addicted ruling class.

We have people in California organizing voters to make plastic bags illegal. Why do we need to bludgeon people with laws to make them do the right thing? Why can't we as individuals just take our own bags to the grocery store without being forced to do so? Is there anyone who still believes that we can produce endless volumes of trash every day and it will magically disappear? Jesus Fucking Christ. Let's fucking wake up, all right? [comment]


Some reflections on The Fourth Turning... my generation, the Prophet archetype, is coming into its peak power as we enter a crisis, the darkest part of the saecular winter. The young Heros are being prepared for apocalyptic war, by video games (for years now), and by books and movies. I'm reading Meyer's Twilight series books to get a better understanding of the type of programming being done to these kids.

Anyway, back to my generation. If we stay on auto pilot, we'll likely end up in a very ugly war, perhaps a civil war. But if enough of us have kept the vision of the 60s and 70s in our hearts, we could steer the whole world into a bloodless Glorious Revolution of sorts, a new expression of libertarianism never before seen on Earth. I don't have the stomach for government service myself, but those of us who do should use whatever power we have to stop the abuses of government and guarantee the sovereignty of the individual. My contribution, my talent, is to enable freedom of travel. By testing out different types of human powered vehicles, and improving on them, I can make it possible for even the poorest person to travel the world. Just one step in the ultimate goal of dissolving government and enabling people to govern themselves.

I realize this is all too vague and insanely idealistic. I'm working on it. [comment]


Had a hell of a time getting Bramus's progress bar code working on my customer's website, which uses AJAX. Then I saw in the comments that a guy Eric had a similar problem not using AJAX but using javascript to create that part of the page. I tried to answer his post with:

@Eric: make sure to set autoHook to false, and run this code after you're done tinkering with the DOM:

myJsProgressBarHandler = new JS_BRAMUS.jsProgressBarHandler();

Anyone using AJAX to create the page must put this into the xmlhttp.onreadystatechange() function, and possibly use a variable to indicate when loading is complete, or use some other method to avoid running the progressbar initialization until all the progressBar spans are in place.

But when I submitted the post I got:

Error: please enter the security code.

Fucking Wordpress. There was no goddamned captcha.



Played some more with my solar oven today, after getting a stir-fry pan at K-Mart yesterday. Poured some water into the pan, placed the pan at the focal point, and in about 3 minutes there was steam rising off the surface. However, it took over 1.5 hours before it would boil, and by then the water was only about 3 or 4 mm deep. And the boiling was localized to the focal point itself, not the whole pan.

Switched to an egg. Took about 10 minutes to fry it, but there was still some watery liquid in the pan. Should have used some oil.

Also practiced with my new oxy-acetylene kit. Able to get a good neutral flame, and starting to get what looks to me like a decent weld with 1/8 inch steel. I get too close sometimes and it pops, and I sometimes forget to watch where my hose is going, which could be disastrous. But so far all is well.

Also got a serrated peeler at K-Mart, bought some red bell peppers, peeled and brine-pickled them with 1 tsp of kosher salt. It's starting to bubble today. Want to try it in my next batch of chorizo. [comment]


Ran across the Bognor Birdman competition the other day, which got me re-interested in ornithopter flight. I'm thinking a two-stroke design, where you use the legs once to lift the wings against spring pressure (the wings partially collapsing on the way up), then with spring assist, using the legs a second time to drive the wings downwards, might be a workable plan. For long distances, say to England for the event, one might use enough helium-filled weather balloons to reduce eir weight to some manageable amount, say 5 to 10 pounds, but of course such an aid won't be allowed in the competition itself. The £30K prize for the longest flight over 100 meters is quite alluring. [comment]


Got an oxyacetylene kit today, complete, today for free. A neighbor was cleaning out his garage. Living in a city has advantages.

At Maguire's again for their half-off food and drink. What a deal! McNear's is better Wed-Fri, however, as Maguire's normal happy-hour beers are $4, and McNear's are $3. [comment]


Last night I jumped from 3358 in the top coder rating to 2701, moving up into the 99th percentile, thanks to finishing that geopositioning job.

Did my 5-mile run this morning. Seems my regular 2-mile jogs are enough to keep me in pretty good shape; I didn't get short of breath on the hills. [comment]


Post-mortemed my kombucha plastic-eating experiment today. Seems to have been a total failure; the bag had no noticeable degradation.

Working on a job analyzing maps and making "world files" for them. The math is driving me nuts. Although the distances are small enough that I can use Euclidean rather than spherical geometry, the differences in latitude mean the virtual pixels are different in size from the map pixels, since the map is distance-based and the customer wants the world files using degrees. Also, the maps don't all have north pointing up. And to top it off, I'm only given two points of geopositioning data per map, often in line with one of the axes which means I have to calculate the other 3 values using the haversine formula and the known relationships between the 4 numbers. Which aren't all that clear to me yet.

The upside is, I'll have a new skill once I figure this out. [comment]


McGuire's in Petaluma is the place to be Mondays and Tuesdays. Half off everything.

Mystery: for years, Europe has been taxing gasoline users up the yinyang. As a result, Europeans drive less, drive slower, drive more fuel-efficient vehicles. And they walk and bike a lot. Here in the US, bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as lowlife scum. People drive like raging maniacs. Gasoline is lightly taxed, relatively, and car drivers are coddled in most states compared to those who prefer human power. And the government is broke! Uncle Scam and several states including California. Why the fuck don't we start taxing gas at rates increasing 10 percent annually? We'd win all ways: environmentally, fiscally, healthwise... and chances are us bicyclists will live another day. [comment]


Got a new used pair of Tevas today that I bought on eBay. Those I bought in March of last year have had it, the soles are shredded. 16 months for $20 isn't bad though. I got these for under $12. [comment]


My kombucha plastic-eating experiment dried out while we were gone; I added water to it, but it seems to be dead. I'll maybe give it a few days to resuscitate, and if it fails, do a post-mortem.

I finished my solar "oven" with the giant Fresnel lens a couple of days ago, and have been testing it, but it cooks stuff really slowly. It does, however, get leaves smoking almost instantly when placed in its focal point. I'm going to try and find some cast iron pan at a thrift store, blackened nicely, that can absorb and hold the heat, and see if that helps.

Rode out to G&G marketplace today for the first time. Nice part of town I hadn't seen before. Took Washington to Vallejo, tried to get to the bike path and found I was in a private yard. Went out through the gate, crossed Payran, and then I was on the path. At McDowell I took Professional to Maria to Madison and came out on Sonoma Mountain Parkway. Didn't know which way G&G was from there; headed southeast till I got to Washington, nope. Went back and found it, did my shopping and went back a different route I found on MapQuest at the Starbucks in that same shopping center: down Riesling, to Inverness, to Lancaster, to Maria; Sunrise Parkway to McDowell; then back down the bike path to Payran, southeast to D street, and back through downtown.

A lot of people like my recumbent; I get lots of friendly comments. I like it too. Found out the other day I can just stand it on the seat end for minor maintenance. It balances very well on the triangular base formed by the seat back and rear of the frame.

Recharged my Cateye 5-cell pack today, using my folding solar panel. It jumped from 4.8 volts to well over 6 in such a short time, I thought something was wrong with the NiMH batteries, but they're working OK. For now. [comment]


William Tyndale was quite a guy. I can see why he wanted me to look him up. That same penchant for wanting to free people will someday, very likely, get me publicly executed. Amazing turnaround time on his prayer for the King's eyes to be opened, about 4 years. Even an asshole god like he (and I, once) believed in can't ignore the request of someone with such convictions, willing to die for them. [comment]


In a dream about a week ago, someone was insisting I remember something like Tindale Farms, but I googled it on awakening and found nothing interesting. But then the other day, reading The Fourth Turning, I ran across the spelling Tyndale. Got to check that out.

At Juplaya, walking back from Trego with my cracked right heel freshly reopened, Dave Cooper gave me ride back to Lunarville. He said he's the recently retired BLM official who signed this year's Burning Man permit. He said "numbers don't matter" in response to the rumor that camps on the playa had to be below a certain number of people. I'd heard numbers ranging between 20 and 50.

He also told me where Coyote Spring was, in fenced-off dunes on the playa, but said it's just a small spring not a hot spring.

Getting better with my Swedish firesteel. It helps to hold the scraper almost flat against the rod; you get a much better shower of sparks.

Cops ordered us out of our camping space on Lake Tahoe night before last. No signs we saw indicated overnight parking prohibited, but we decided not to tangle with the Sheriff's office. I had had a run-in with an old lady, presumably the owner of the house and wharf next door, over gathering dead branches to cook my steaks, and she's probably the one who complained. Just reinforces my belief that cops are nothing more than the hired guns of the ruling class. [comment]

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