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

MrCreditRepair.biz will fix your credit rating!


The thought just occurred to me that Black Rock City might have a zipcode. I wonder if I could use a BRC address for any purpose for which receiving mail is unimportant. The thought came when I was imagining trying to explain my clothing decisions: I live in BRC, where a coffee cup hanging off a carabiner on one's belt is commonplace. Everywhere else: I'm just visiting.

Glad Starbucks is finally over their Christmas music kick. Goddamn, that shit is irritating. Sent a couple of nastygrams to the Sirius Chill channel, too.

What is it with otherwise decent singers trying to put a new spin on these tired old songs by changing a few notes here and there? It just sounds lame. If you're not really roasting chestnuts over an open fire, don't think you can sing about it. And when was the last time you rode in a one-horse open sleigh?

OK, done ranting. Got to build another house of cards to get me through this genome data. I can't seem to come up with the right data model, so each time I reach a certain point, the code I have is too brittle to handle the requirements, and it all comes crashing down. "Build one to throw away" is a sound strategy. I've built several already, and it's getting old. [comment]


Had conchigliette with ham and peas in Alfredo sauce for dinner. We noticed that almost every pea was enclosed in one of the pasta shells: makes me wonder if there's some application for a shell-shaped molecule to trap and sequester pathogens or toxins. [comment]


There are two inscrutable Python errors that are driving me fucking nuts. [comment]


Yesterday was the kind of day that makes me want to give up programming and revert to hunting and gathering for my existence. It was abysmal. Today is going to be better.

Need some hot water to wash your hands, and don't want to run 5 gallons until some reaches the tap? Use a little hydrogen peroxide. The dirtier your hands are, the hotter it gets. Makes a nice lather too, for shaving. I understand it can be made by bubbling ozone through water, but haven't yet tried it. Not sure how to actually accomplish that; you can't very well use a voltage multiplier under water. Oh, yeah, maybe pump ozone-rich air through a tube down to the bottom of a cylinder of water. Hmm, will have to try that.

Some engineer please explain to me why this doesn't work: single-piston pump, two check valves. Bottom of cylinder under water. Upstroke pulls a foot or two of water into the cylinder through one check valve, while the second check valve keeps the output column from coming back down. Down stroke pushes the foot of water around a 180-degree turn into the output column. 500 strokes and you've lifted the water 500 feet. Make the output side half the diameter and it only takes 125 strokes. Using my water displacement calculator, 500 feet of water in a 1 inch ID pipe only weighs 170 pounds. I need to fix the link from that page, grrr...

Riffing on the above: if the water table is dropping, mount a sawtoothed piece of metal to the bottom of the pump assembly, and rotate it while pumping. It should suck up the dirt and dump it out on the ground above. Once you've got it to the right depth, you'll have to wait for it to settle again before you get clean water.

I need a little sketch app for my old, jailbroken iPod Touch. Anybody know of one? Yeah, yeah, I can google it later. What I want to be able to do is to sketch out my ideas for inventions and post them to my Facebook page for comments. [comment]


There was a double-rainbow today, so close that I could actually see the end of it right across the street. Instead of a pot of gold, though, there was just a klunky-looking black vehicle. [comment]


The prickly pear fruit has almost finished fermenting. It's a pretty pleasant-tasting brew, but nothing really "wow" about it. Next time, I should make it in crocks, inside a muslin bag so I can just squeeze out the pulp and put into bottles for continued fermentation. [comment]


On my D street to San Antonio to I street loop yesterday morning, while seeing off Couchsurfer and cyclist Pascal, I passed some prickly pear plants with ripe fruits. I asked the lady giving riding lessons if I could take some, and she said yes. So tonight I sliced them 4 ways, scooped out the pulp with a spoon, mashed it good, then thought of a slick way to get it into the 1/2 gallon fermenting bottle I've been using: the pastry bag that I've been making sausage with. So easy! Scoop it in, poop it out. So to speak.

I found that by tightening the threads of the tip fitting over the narrow end of the bag, it holds the bag better when you're squeezing it. That may be common knowledge among chefs, but I didn't see that in any of the how-tos I found on the web.

Seems that on most programming jobs, I start out with good intentions and clean code, and as crunch time approaches, I start cutting-and-pasting and adding all kinds of nasty hacks, and in the end have some remaining bugs and can't track them down. Before even getting to that point, it's better to toss it and start over. But it's so hard to do sometimes. [comment]


Michael Moore has weighs in with Wikileaks, and he does carry a lot of weight. Regardless of what you think about the pompous windbag, his support brings on board a lot of liberals and women (and women liberals) who would never otherwise have supported pompous asshole Julian Assange. It's my opinion, dimly supported by a comment or two on various Internet forums, that women latch quickly on the "rapist" label applied to Assange and don't bother investigating any further. Whether or not this is true, it's for certain the USG and other targets of Wikileaks are hoping for this reaction.

Men, being polyamorous by belief if not in practice, are more likely to read into the matter a little more, find out it was apparently consensual sex with some later misgivings over lack of a condom or a broken condom, and sympathize with Assange on that point; and/or, being panarchic in practice if not by belief, empathize with his fight against ignorance and apathy.

But many women seem to listen to Michael Moore, and so are a little more willing to give Assange the benefit of the doubt on the sex matter. And that's a good thing, because he and Wikileaks are doing far more good than he could possibly have done wrong. [comment]


Trying an experiment, holding in my bridge with Xanthan gum. Just wet it, dusted it with Xanthan powder, and put it back in. We shall see.

Didn't mention one really good thing about the Schick: it has a plastic cover that snaps over the cartridge. This lets me carry it cartridge-down in my pocket, meaning I won't lose it as easily. [comment]


Gillette Fusion vs. Schick Hydro

Both have 5 blades. Both have a strip of toxic goop running across the top. Both have been on sale at one point at the local Grocery Outlet.

But, the Gillette is far superior. One, it has a 6th blade across the top back that can be used as a sideburn or nosehair trimmer. And, it's built better. You can tap it hard against the edge of the sink to loosen the hairs and clean it out. Tapping the Schick just releases the blade. As a result, the hairs and dead skin cells stay stuck in the blades, and after a few days starts stinking like a decaying animal.

I wish I hadn't lost my goddamned Gillette on a paddle a few weeks ago at Drake's Estero. But I did, and now I've got to get another one, especially since I have a bunch of replacement cartridges. But the razors aren't on sale any more. [comment]


Lunch at Water Street Bistro with the Petaluma Paddlers, after taking advantage of the unusually high tide to paddle up the creek. [comment]


Just installed Jython, and learned something new from the manpage:

To make a jython script executable on your system you can add the following line to the top of the file:

#!/usr/bin/env jython

You will also need to add execute permissions to the script using chmod(1). Note that #!/usr/bin/jython will not work; you must use #!/usr/bin/env jython. This is because /usr/bin/jython is a script itself, not a compiled binary.

I'd seen /usr/bin/env used on many occasions (notably on one system that had the env binary in /bin, not /usr/bin), but never understood that it could be used for using a script to run a script. [comment]

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