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


Did the tour at Lagunitas on an empty stomach yesterday afternoon. Abysmally bad idea. The world started spinning; I started puking; soon the bouncers were carrying me out. I won't be welcome back there any time soon.

Checked my guerrilla garden yesterday. The garlic was still alive, and I planted the cactus I'd gotten on the Sausalito trip. [comment]


A search for "Ellipticyle" led me to the StreetStrider, an existing implementation of the idea I've been talking about for the last umpteen years. On the upside, it uses existing bicycle technology, and it solves the steering problem by leaning to steer. On the downside, it uses bicycle technology, and it uses leaning to steer. [comment]


Saturday the 25th, 3 days after the first symptoms of viral infection, the worst was over; and Friday, the worst day, was still only discomfort in the throat. Sunday I was all but cured; this morning, Monday, there was just a slight reminder of the infection. I got off easy; if this was this year's H1N1 I've got nothing to worry about.

Kayaked up the Noyo river on Sunday as far as the Skunk Train trestle. An ebb tide was in progress, and on our way back the shallow water for the first half mile was too low to navigate; had to reach out and "crawl" our way along.

A river like that would be a good place to test living as a group in preparation for a Marshall Savage-esque floating island. Live on the water, but in easy reach of land; nobody around to hassle you for fishing licenses, and so quiet you'd hear a motorboat from a mile away; civilization is just 3 or 4 miles away.

Walking with friends along the Mendocino headlands this morning, we noticed a succulent-leaved plant that looked a lot like kale. Indeed it was; this Google books result indicates it was planted there by Chinese settlers over 100 years ago. It looks as though the sandstone could be carved easily into shelters, but wouldn't be very strong. One person walking overhead could cave in your dwelling. [comment]


For a few days now, I've noticed a viscous, cloudy, slippery liquid dripping from California live oaks in the neighborhood, primarily from the caps whose acorns had fallen out of the tree. I tasted a drop, and it had no noticeable odor nor flavor. And it didn't sudse in water. I ought to collect a quart or so and experiment with it.

I was right about what side of the road to walk on, at least. Section 21956 of the CVC (California Vehicle Code) vindicates me. And nothing in chapter 5 of the CVC, "Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities", mentions lights, reflectors, or even light-colored clothing, that I could see.

I sent an email to Assemblyman Jared Huffman about the incident, and CC'd Mayor Pam Torliatt, but haven't heard from either.

Exposed myself to a flu virus the other day. Cheaper than inoculating. Got the first symptom this morning, a dry, scratchy throat. Let's see how this plays out.

Jogged this morning, my 2+ mile route. The pain is gone from the knee, but the ankle still bothered me the whole way. [comment]


OK, I remember I left out: "Ride with the traffic". "You should have lights". And "We've caught you on this road before. Why do you keep doing this?"

Some background. I decided to bike to Sausalito to improve upon the route I've been using; stopped at the Novato Starbucks and the Panera in San Rafael to check the Google maps and do some work. Instead of taking Andersen all the way east to where it meets with Sir Francis Drake, I took a (very steep) shortcut by cutting over to Woodland from Andersen; taking Auburn, Albion, Altena, Tiburon, Via La Cumbre, Eliseo closely following the highway to where Eliseo crosses Sir Francis Drake; then took the bike path over the bridge. Due to having to walk up the steep hills, I probably didn't save that much time, but the views were spectacular from the crest of the hill.

South of the bridge I took a cutting from one of the prickly pear plants that are planted along the path, using a padded laptop case I'd bought at Goodwill particularly for that purpose; one of my other reasons for the trip.

When I jogged at Lake Britton on Wednesday morning, apparently I'd done something bad to my left heel; there's pain in or around my Achilles tendon. And after jogging again the morning of this trip (yesterday, Friday) I had matching pain at the back of my left knee. Both of which persist now, and presumably for a good while hence.

The next improvement to the path is very slight; after passing the Corte Madera shopping center, I took Casa Buena drive instead of Meadowsweet.

Finally made it into Sausalito 5-ish, too tired and in too much pain to do anything else; and besides, I was supposed to be at home at 7 for dinner. Though I'd already figured I wouldn't make it, and had sent an email warning of that possibility, I waited at the bus stop by the Visitor's Center downtown.

And waited. And waited. Eventually I went across the street to the No Name Bar, a local dive right smack in the middle of the tourist area. Tourist prices, too; $5 was the happy hour price for a pint of Boont Amber. Normally $6, which was what the bartender charged me first, before he looked at his watch and saw it was before 6. At least, that's the reason he gave. I think it's more that they just don't want any outsiders coming in. Especially long-haired guys.

Went back to waiting for the #80 bus to Petaluma. By 7:15 or so I gave up. Guess it just doesn't stop there except for a few of the runs. Went to Taste of Rome and had the lamb burger and a pint of Anchor Steam. Took the reverse of the way I came, except entering San Rafael from the south, I tried out a new stretch of bike path along the highway, and ended up on Merrydale. Followed it for a mile or so, then came to a dead end, or what looked like one. Las Gallinas had a "No Outlet" sign; Merrydale had a similar sign, can't remember the wording; and following Gallinas toward the highway and looping north came to a dead end also. Went back to San Pedro and cut over to Ranchitos and back up past Northgate. Stopped at BJ's for a pint of their Nutty Brewnette (very nice) and a Blond (didn't like it very much).

Checking Google maps when I got home, I see that Las Gallinas actually does go through; so why the "No Outlet" sign? And Merrydale might be crossable, on foot, at the tracks. A possible improvement for next time.

It was about half past midnight when I continued north. When I got to the north end of Novato I got on the highway in the southbound shoulder, walking against the traffic. I wanted a good chance at avoiding getting squashed. A couple of cars swerved partway into the shoulder, their attention probably diverted looking at the unexpected pedestrian, but otherwise it was uneventful. That is, until maybe 200 yards past the landfill exit. Cops had backed up behind me, and one was shining a flashlight on me, ordering me to stop. I did. That's when the little prick got in my face and started hollering at me all those things previously mentioned, repeating each lie over and over. I couldn't understand at the time why he bothered; obviously I wasn't going to believe it, and he probably didn't either. I guess the point was, if he caught me again, he was going to trump up charges to match the lies.

"Stay off the freeway": Well, it's not freeway there. Between the last Petaluma exit and the first Novato exit, it's just highway. People have a right to walk and ride bicycles there, obeying the appropriate laws for each activity. I knew I wasn't in compliance for riding a bike, but I don't believe lights are required for pedestrians. I wonder what California law regarding equestrians is; they don't mention horses being allowed, where New Mexico makes it clear that they are.

"I know you're on drugs": He gave me the follow-the-finger test and I obviously passed (it had been at least 3 hours since my last pint), but he had to throw that in several times. I had plenty of adrenalin in me, and told him as much.

"Blocking traffic": Not even remotely, unless the traffic wanted to use the shoulder, and I stayed as far to the left as I could, despite being constantly blinded by the lights of oncoming traffic.

"Next time we'll arrest you": No doubt. And they'll make all these false allegations and make me spend my time and money to prove my innocence.

"Ride with the traffic": blithely ignoring that I wasn't riding, I was walking. I know enough to ride with the traffic, when I'm riding. For sure, they'll just make out the papers to say I was riding. If I ever do this again. Which is likely, considering the dismal state of public transportation, and the lack of any alternate route that doesn't add miles to an already arduous walk.

"You should have lights": Yes, I probably should. But AFAIK, it's not required for pedestrians. And I didn't have mine with me.

"We've caught you on this road before. Why do you keep doing this?": If they had caught me before, they would have arrested me this time. This was another lie. It was the first time I walked this way, and I never rode it in the dark; Last time I waited till daylight before riding north in the north-side breakdown lane. So this was another lie, going to be added to their report to show how enormously lenient they'd been with me.

This guy's anger, whether acted or real, was way out of proportion to having his sergeant interrupt his all-night donut break. I wonder what kind of racket these cops are in that could trigger such meanness. Maybe late-night is when they go collecting "protection" money from the shebeens, whorehouses, and illegal gambling places? The other two officers, his partner and a motorcycle cop who showed up partway through, were mostly silent, letting him do the talking.

I wish I'd gotten his name and badge number. I really wish I'd had a hidden camera and gotten the whole exchange to post on YouTube. He had a tan shirt, which indicates what, CHP? I don't even know what department I'm dealing with.

After I took San Antonio and was headed west, a white pickup truck came barreling down off the highway and passed me. I had a distinct feeling that this was an off-duty cop sent to run me down if I were riding in the dark. But I was walking on the opposite side, and he'd have risked getting his truck all smashed up if he'd tried to hit me there. That got me to wondering if Jeff B's misfortune on July 23rd had really been an accident. He took that route every workday; for sure all the "concerned citizens" with their goddamned cell phones called 911 several times a minute every time he did his commute. Maybe Pokornyy has a record and has to do the cops favors now and then to stay out of prison, who knows? Last I knew he wasn't charged, and I still don't know whether Jeff is alive or dead. After that first news article, no mention (that I know of) was ever made in the local papers about the incident and its aftermath.

I have a suggestion for reducing the quantity of these calls: make 911, when called from a cell-phone, the equivalent of a 1-900 call with a $10 charge automatically added to the caller's phone bill. That will cut down on the bullshit calls of "concerned citizens" who hate seeing bicyclists and pedestrians on "their" highway. If something is really an emergency, people would be willing to fork over $10, and in fact the real emergencies should have the charges reverted. Land-line calls to 911 would still be free.

Well, anyway, in my state of mind now, I couldn't care less about taking the reins of government and softening the public's inevitable backlash against the cops' atrocities. Let them suffer the wrath of the American people in full force, as far as I'm concerned. Fuck 'em all. [comment]


Lying sleazebag sack-of-shit cops. Wish I'd gotten the little buzzcut prick's name. "Stay off the freeway." "I know you're on drugs." "Blocking traffic". "Next time we'll arrest you." "People have been calling constantly for hours."

I'll answer each of these, point by point, later. For now, I need some sleep after almost 24 hours, mostly on the road. [comment]


A camp at Burning Man offering free texting prompted the idea: why not free local cell phone service? It would be a logical extension of my Unternet plans. I'll need to learn a lot of stuff first, though.

Finished Desert Solitaire last week. What an amazing book. What a beautiful soul was Edward Abbey.

Awoke from a strange dream this morning in which I got a postcard in the mail advertising an overcoat by a designer named Gresham Lamb. The postcard was about 2x3 feet in size, and overlaid on the top half was a shimmering green design including a row of icons of some sort. When I went over to an outdoor computer desk to find out more about the coat, I noticed several similar "postcards" scattered around it. Apparently, Windows reads the shimmering part and automatically loads the advertiser's website. [comment]


At Camp Britton near Burney Falls. Every morning and at dusk one can see hundreds of good-sized squawfish rising for insects. My friend Bill was catching them on a lure that looks something like a bee, but he said he heard they weren't good eating.

Went jogging up the road this morning, then back down the trail past the falls. I didn't know which was the right path, and ended up going through an area where the dolomite cliffs had eroded. Not too difficult getting past it, but was breathing in that chalk dust for a while.

A new innovation in breadmaking: knead the dough right in the mixing bowl. Good for when there's limited space. It took a while to get the hang of adding just the right amount of flour that my hands didn't get all doughey, but it worked well and made a minimal mess compared to using a countertop. [comment]


Yesterday I forced myself to jog downtown, and after the first few blocks the pain was numbed to the point where the rest of the jog was easy. Didn't try it again today, though.

The bridge over my lower right rear molars came out today, for the first time, after eating some pork ribs. I'd thought I still had an amalgam filling beneath the bridge, but it doesn't look like one. So my mouth is finally metal-free, and I ought to be able to do a kidney cleanse with peroxide, which is dangerous with amalgam in the mouth.

Got my Nu-teck 16-inch airfree tire for the front of my BikeE recumbent today. Installed it, but the 20-inch Amerityre doesn't fit so I'm stuck with a pneumatic on the rear for now. Doesn't matter, because I'm headed to Lake Britton for about a week for some kayaking and camping.

Bought a 20-foot length of 1x1x1/8" angle iron at Maselli hardware yesterday, and carried it over two miles back to where I'm staying, where I'll be using it to build a new bicycle trailer. It was difficult carrying such an unwieldy piece of hardware, especially with members of the high school track or cross country team passing by every few blocks, but as they were mostly female it wasn't all that bad.



One of the most fascinating works of art at Burning Man this year was Bliss Dance, a 40-foot tall statue of a nude dancing woman. I also was amazed at the tent of Skinny Kitty Teahouse, featured as one of the 5 places to sleep at Burning Man, which according to one of the organizers, Michael Kessler, was made by Tentnology in Canada.

On the way back we stopped at Taqueria La Michoacana at 4950 South Virginia. I had the Birria (de Chivo) for $6.49, and it was pretty damned good, and a nice sized portion too. Chips cost extra and were ho-hum; I don't recommend them. Get yourself some tacos or the birria, load up on the various condiments, and you'll be happy. [comment]


Did my obligatory naked jog through Burning Man this morning, probably about 3 miles in 30 minutes: from 8:15 and E to 10th, to the Man, up through center camp and back to 8:15 and E. My "playa foot" isn't going to get any better, and I figured if I didn't do it today I wouldn't be up to it tomorrow. Got to remember next year that my feet need to be smooth and callous-free or they're going to crack and bleed. [comment]

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