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

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2011-01-30-0710Z

When I first watched Rambo First Blood back in the 80's, right after he jumped off the cliff into the trees, he shows up next with a sling on his arm. The sling is gone by the time he kills the boar, but he almost definitely had a sling. I saw part of the movie a while ago, and the expected sling wasn't there. I've been thinking about it lately, and am re-watching the movie again at 220.ro, search for "rambo first blood rosub" at video.google.com. The sling is just not there. I'm already at the part where he's in the mine.

I don't believe there were two different versions of the movie made, one with a sling and one without. So what's the explanation? It's easy to say I just forgot, I'm mistaken, there never was a sling. But what if there was? What if something changed in the space-time continuum, and I'm now in a universe where Stallone made the movie a different way from how I first saw it? Does anybody else remember it the way I did? [comment]

2011-01-30-0426Z

Did my 5-mile jog through Helen Putnam park yesterday. It hurt; my legs had gotten flabby in just two weeks in La Paz. My right foot is still a bit sensitive too. But I didn't get winded, and I'm sure it was good for me.

Finally finishing up the kraut I made months ago. I'd left it uncovered in the fridge, and the top of the remaining kraut in both jars was bluish with white or pink moldy or yeasty buildup. But I just scraped off the goop and underneath was still tasty and even a little crisp. So cooked it up with some sausage, ate some last night, made a sandwich with some more earlier tonight, and hope to kill it by tomorrow.

Also tried making sushi for the first time. Bought some yellowtail, wild-caught from Vietnam, at Petaluma Market yesterday, sliced it up, cooked up some sushi rice, added some rice vinegar, and tried to roll it with a teflon pastry mat, lacking a bamboo roller. Didn't work worth a damn. About 8 pieces out of 20 were even presentable, and even those had too much rice for the meat. Only had those 8 pieces as sushi, the rest will go into a stir-fry someday soon. But I didn't get sick from salmonella, one of my long-held fears about using supermarket fish for sushi.

Found an interesting video on YouTube about removing a mole using black salve (link to the author's website), something I've been meaning to do. Irritatingly, he (Paul Nison) doesn't give a source for the salve he used. Anybody know of a good one? [comment]

2011-01-27-2250Z

For the first time ever, I'm able to use the SonicNet hotspot in downtown Petaluma. I had to wait for a significant fraction of eternity before getting DHCP address, though. This is on the park bench nearest the footbridge, in front of River Street Bistro. [comment]

2011-01-27-0405Z

Installed CeGCC on my laptop, in order to attempt making my new Sylvania netbook useful. Had to apt-get install flex, libmpfr-dev, and libgmp3-dev as well before it would compile. And the instructions are wrong: you don't cd into src/, you cd into src/scripts/, mkdir build-cegcc and /opt/cegcc, cd build-gcc, and ../build-cegcc.sh. I also installed pocketpc-cab, since that's the only compressed file format supported by WinCE (of which I'm aware). I found some precompiled programs for WinCE that only come in zip format; what were the developers thinking? [comment]

2011-01-27-0357Z

Turns out I could have taken Amtrak all the way into Petaluma by a different route. Most of the time, it doesn't save you any money, though.

I gave Golden Gate Transit a $10 bill for my $8.80 fare, and the bus driver printed me out a change card for $1.20. Nice! Now, what about all the other times I overpaid and never got one? [comment]

2011-01-25-0526Z

From the downtown train depot in San Diego, the strongest AP signal comes from an SSID of TRAINDEPOT. And it actually dishes out IP addresses, via DHCP, on the 192.168.1.0/8 network; but it doesn't actually route you anywhere. Nor does it, as many apparently "open" hotspots do, take over DNS and redirect you to a login screen. It simply hangs. I asked one of the ticket clerks who is in charge of the Internet. She didn't know what I was talking about, so I showed her. "We don't provide Internet. I don't know why that's there". Hard to argue with that. [comment]

2011-01-24-2221Z

Damned difficult to find the INMI office to turn in one's tourist visa. Around Mickey D's, down the dead-end street, right at the sign Importación Temporal de vehículos, left into the gate, keep following as the aisle goes left then curves right, around a corner on your right. If you used a passport book, he stamps it, otherwise off you go. [comment]

2011-01-24-2105Z

Stopped in Rosarito Beach for one last caldo de mariscos at Mariscos Sonora, then caught a colectivo for MX$16 to Tijuana Centro. I could maybe have saved a few pesos waiting for the Suburbaja, but I want to get back to California Norte. The colectivos are now all minivans, no more of the old beat-up station wagons. But still very affordable. [comment]

2011-01-24-1415Z

First sight of the Pacific, again, in the morning twilight. Still many miles to Ensenada; about 40km to San Quentin, BCN. [comment]

2011-01-24-1254Z

Something about the seat design in the Aguila bus pinches my balls. I'd better ride ABC both ways next time. [comment]

2011-01-24-0357Z

At Restaurant Profe. Angelina the burritos are forgettable but the Pacifico is cold and the restroom is clean and lockable. Only about 1/4 of the Baja peninsula covered; gonna be a long night. [comment]

2011-01-24-0228Z

Passed through a military checkpoint, purportedly for checking for drugs. They were awfully goddamned interested in my silver. I won't check till I'm somewhere safe, to see if I'm missing anything. [comment]

2011-01-24-0142Z

Got a signal from unsecured router WDELI in Loreto, enroute to Tijuana. Just enough time to check my email. Never did find the second-class terminal in La Paz, but we picked up some passengers at a small terminal on Serdan that may have been it, near the Santander hotel. It would be strange if there were two different rates on the same bus, but who knows? [comment]

2011-01-22-1926Z

Jogged a few miles (three, perhaps 4) along the malecon today, first long-distance run since the day I left Petaluma. Looks like I'm going to get some nice blisters as a result. [comment]

2011-01-22-1353Z

It's been amazingly difficult to find out what happened in the Tucson shooting. Besides the fact that Mobile Safari crashes with the slightest provocation, most coverage of the event is political and has few to no details on the event itself. Now I've finally read about the 3 or 4 people who actually attacked and held down the gunman. The question now is: where the fuck were the responsible gun owners in all this? Arizona is a constitutional carry state, for chrissakes! Someone should have brought the giggling idiot down before he got a second shot off. [comment]

2011-01-22-0650Z

Went to Moyeyo's the other day for a campechana and Pacifico. Good choice, mostly locals. Today I got pissed off at the stupid rent-a-cops at Soriana who wanted me to check my coffee cup and shoulder bag (purse) at the paqueteria. Fucking paranoid idiots. I said "Olvidalo" and left my shopping cart blocking the aisle. Won't be going back to that one, if I can remember.

Read two good books while at the apartment at Casa Republica: Dead Reckoning, a mystery, and Survive the Savage Sea, a true story about a family who survived for a month at sea after their boat was sunk by killer whales. Very informative and thought-provoking. [comment]

2011-01-14-0434Z

Guess I shouldn't complain; if it weren't for that touch of iron, the beer would have no character at all. Tastes like ginger ale otherwise.

Hanging out at Papas and Beer hoping to find out what's the big deal about this place. Absolutely nothing happening so far. [comment]

2011-01-14-0422Z

Why does Dos Equis almost always taste rusty? Do they age it in old 55-gallon steel drums? Sometimes it bothers me more, other times less. [comment]

2011-01-14-0039Z

Traveled out to the Soriana store today, searching, again in vain, for the youth hostel at the corner of Februario and Forjadores. Realized for the first time that I lost my knife somewhere along the trip. Always something.

Having my first beer of the day with some ceviche at La Perla. Let's see if I can pace myself better tonight. [comment]

2011-01-13-1428Z

Overdid the beer yesterday, and this morning had an urgent need to take a dump. Naturally, nothing was open. Finally, the umpteenth time I passed the Exquisito coffeeshop, it had opened. Whew. 7:20AM local time, and I was a human again. [comment]

2011-01-13-0219Z

Met Mary Lou from Vancouver Island, and an American expatriate named Ed, today in various bars around La Paz. Buena gente, buen lugar. [comment]

2011-01-12-1517Z

Got to remember that sand under Tiva straps eats away the skin very quickly. My right little toe especially hurts. I'm guessing that the Rocky Gore-tex oversocks would work. Or take off the sandals before getting onto the beach. [comment]

2011-01-12-0615Z

As much as I hate spending money on hotels, the way I spend on coffee and beer every time I need to use a bathroom makes me think I'll save money. This hotel, Hosteria del Convento, is MX$210 a night, and tomorrow I can hopefully find the youth hostel. Here, for showers you have a choice of cold or colder, but there's internet, and private rooms for discreet wanking. [comment]

2011-01-11-2350Z

Fuck web2.0. Can't view a goddamned map any more, fucking javascript slows everything down to a crawl. Mapquest isn't so bad, but their mobile maps don't include Mexico. [comment]

2011-01-11-1923Z

Just arrived in La Paz, 11-something local time. Ready for a tacos-and-beer breakfast. Or maybe a caldo de mariscos, but definitely a beer. [comment]

2011-01-10-1621Z

To get to La Paz, first I had to get to the central camionera; the bus station just past the TJ river footbridge was only for the Suburbaja and Mexicoach buses. Asked around, and it's in Cinco y Diez. So I caught one of the green 5Y10 buses for MX$6.50, which headed south on Madero, then east into a glorious sunrise, then north again on Cardenas. My ticket to La Paz was pricey, over UZ$120. But I don't know a cheaper way, except to fly. Got my tourist visa, using my passport card so my passport book doesn't get stamped. That way, if I forget to return the visa on my way back, there's less chance they'll catch me and fine me. [comment]

2011-01-10-0914Z

Gaslamp district is practically shut down at 1 AM on a Sunday night. The Local had a private party going on. Luckily Patrick's is still serving. Guinness is $5.50 a pint. [comment]

2011-01-10-0242Z

Hotspot at Santa Barbara Amtrack is sending spanning-tree packets at millisecond intervals. This can't be right. [comment]

2011-01-09-2355Z

The Pacific! So beautiful in today's sunshine. Wouldn't have been much of a sight in yesterday's constant fog. [comment]

2011-01-09-2342Z

Got some sleep, feeling better. Just changed buses in San Luis Obispo. These goddamned Amtrak hotspots are incompatible with iPods. "Unable to join the network Amtrak_57911", no reason given. Irritating. [comment]

2011-01-09-1823Z

Got a late start yesterday, somewhere around 1400, but hit the road a-runnin' and didn't stop to walk until I was well down D street extension, maybe a mile or two short of San Antonio Road. And when I got to within about 3 miles of Novato Road, a guy offered me a ride, which I accepted, considering the crazy traffic. Got another ride from a lady named Judy right into Novato after walking only a couple miles or so.

So, I found myself warming up at the bar at Rickey's around 2000, drinking an overly-hopped Moylan's ale (should have had the Blue Moon), and had a huge plate of garlic fries for $4.

This time, at Northgate, I tried out the left onto Merrydale and bore right to the part labeled "not a through street". Big win. When it dead-ended at the tracks, I found the way around to the left just where Google satellite imagery indicated it would be. And followed it south, parallelling 101, to the end. Then it was all well-lit bike path, all to myself, till I reached downtown San Rafael at Hetherton and, I think, Sixth Street. Stopped at a crowded little Puerto Rican restaurant, Sol Food, on 4th Street. They served the coffee creamy and sweet. Though I'd never have ordered it that way, it was a treat and I enjoyed it. The ham, Swiss, and egg sandwich was good too. And my feet appreciated the break. Those few pounds of food and extra clothes were taking a heavy toll. Not only my feet and ankles, but my lower back as well, were getting punished. From here on, I would take more frequent breaks; and I'd already made up my mind to curtail the ultramarathon in favor of taking a bus.

I missed the last bus to the city, it had left the San Rafael terminal at 1 AM according to Officer Friendly. So I walked on, down West Francisco, bearing right to Andresen before the freeway on-ramp, and crossing at the hard-packed dirt with a low gate. Took my usual Auburn-Albion-Altena- Tiburon path to Via la Cumbre at the top of the hill. Not having my bike this time, I took the less steep option at every point where a sign said "keep right". Made it to the bus stop on the highway in Corte Madera well in advance of the first morning bus, which picked me up around 0540 and charged me $5.05 into the city. Later got on the 1040 Amtrak bus to Santa Barbara. It's a bumpy ride, but I'm going to try and sleep. I need it. [comment]

2011-01-08-0914Z

Got it connected, but having problems getting some useful software on it. Tried Linux, and it loaded OK but then on reboot was blank, so reinstalled CE6 and will try again on the road. At least I can check my email, and worse comes to worst, can program on my iTouch. [comment]

2011-01-08-0742Z

Bought a Sylvania netbook at CVS pharmacy for $99 plus tax. It wouldn't even boot; hung there saying "Loading OS Image...". Went to DigitalGadgets website, and on the Downloads tab got the software update. Unzipped it onto the root of an SD card, inserted it the right way into the slot, power-cycled, nothing happened. Tried putting the SD card in upside down (gold tabs up) on a whim. It worked! The software installed. Now to see if I can actually get online with the goddamned piece of shit. [comment]

2011-01-06-0249Z

Went to McNear Park today with a 3-lb bag of bacon, a pound of factory-farm ground beef (yeah, yuck... but might as well use it), and some mesquite charcoal. Took a while to get a good hot fire going, but cooked all the bacon, then the beef, and bagged it all up for my Baja trip.

Got a script working to symlink files copied from an iPod to the song names, in folders by album artist and album name if those fields are nonblank. It's really crappy, a cut-and-paste job from stuff found on the net, but it worked well enough for now. I want to clean it up someday to make a command-line tool I can use for updating the songs and playlists on the iPod itself, but that doesn't look like it's going to get done anytime soon. Too much other stuff going on. [comment]

2011-01-04-2050Z

Yesterday jogged all around town, out past Lagunitas and over to the OSH shopping center, where in the Asian market I bought a nice pair of cooking chopsticks, and a smaller pair which I cut down to fit my pocket. Saw an ultralight aircraft, basically a hang glider with wheels and a gas-powered fan, pass over while walking home along Petaluma Blvd. North. Then not too long after that, a large V of Canadian geese passed overhead. All in all, a lovely sunny day, after almost a week of rain. Want to go out today too, but have some ideas on the cooker and want to share them.

Here's an idea for a faucet that doesn't require any tools to fix, and only has one replaceable part which should last for tens of years. The sketch is pretty rough, and has at least one mistake, that being the outer collar of the insert should only stick out in one place, not all the way around as shown. An improvement would be to have a button in the middle of the handle to retract some type of clamping mechanism that otherwise holds it in place.

E-ink is a very neat idea, and I'm envisioning devices that use it to provide very low-energy devices that can be used with a stylus as a sketchpad; charged via solar or a magnetic ball that charges by the owner's movement, sliding back and forth within a built-in coil. Things can be drawn or written down any time, then uploaded to a computer later.

I want to make a sketchblog, where I can post my crude drawings for inventions and get feedback from people. But got to get off my duff and get OpenID implemented at unternet.net first.

A good harness with D-rings all around can be used for many purposes: climbing trees, riding ziplines, flying hang gliders or paragliders, carrying water and tools... but the really good ones cost from $300 to over $1000. I'm thinking about getting some strong webbing and Velcro, prototyping using strips of Velcro'd webbing until I get a good design, then sewing or otherwise fastening permanently the overlaps. Should cost a lot less, and be just as strong.

Petaluma has a very low rate for permanent mooring, $5.20 or so per foot per month. So someone could live in a 20-foot boat at the turning basin for a little over $100 a month. You don't get electricity at that rate, but you could use solar. Two people are already taking advantage of this, and it's a wonder more don't; old boats can be had pretty cheaply.

Speaking of the turning basin, it seems to be well known among the yachting class that they have it to themselves on holidays, as the harbormaster is off duty and doesn't unlock the gate to the dock, which is normally open daytime for public access. Another example of usurpation of the commons by the rich. The gate code is currently 8462, so until they change it you can let yourself in.

Downtown Petaluma has small trees that drop numerous sweet-smelling pink berries during the winter storms. Anybody know what they are? They might make a nice fruit wine.

Just bought some Herb Alpert and TJB at iomoio.com. Been missing those guys, it's been close to 40 years since I listened to them regularly. access. [comment]

2011-01-03-0224Z

A black guy all dressed in white meets a white guy all dressed in black, with carabiners and a coffee cup hanging off his pants, on the Petaluma footbridge. The black guy smiles and says something like "Man... you're equipped for anything!" The white guy says something like "Just about!", and they go their separate ways.

Outside of Burning Man, I rarely meet anybody who seems to think my way of dressing is anything worth commenting on, at least in a positive manner. I've had so many warm experiences with black people; their culture, in the US at least, values things differently than the whites. Black Rock City is a place where white people can, for one brief week, be as cool as most black people are all year long.

I found a way to carry both my down vest and leather jacket around my waist: unclipping the belt to which my pants are carabinered (while the pants hold the belt in place, and sliding the sleeveholes of the vest onto it, then clipping the belt back together, having the vest like an apron in front of me. Then, using another carabiner on the right, clip the top buttonhole of the jacket; bringing the other side around to my left, and looping the sleeve around my belt. So now it's like a kilt, the vest in front and the jacket in back. The next step should be to have a bag which I can pee into, unobtrusively, while in a city with no free restrooms, emptying it out when nobody is looking. [comment]

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