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


Saved the two voice repeaters at BRARA into the VX7R, memory channels 53 and 54, respectively. Just in case I don't get a Burning Man ticket and decide to primitive-camp elsewhere in the Black Rock desert this burn. [comment]


It seems I have to be away from the Internet to make progress on systems programming. Analyzing and improving some bootstrap code. So different from applications programming! This bare-metal stuff is really addictive once you get into the mindset. [comment]


Woke up about 0300 with the answer: the text console is wired in with the video framebuffer, so in the process of int10's clearing the screen it erased the stack. I'd have to switch stacks right before the BIOS call.

Thinking about it, I'm not sure GDB is buggy. The failure to show the correct code during BIOS calls could be the fault of QEMU's code that hooks to GDB. One of the NASM bugs is that the o32 override instruction doesn't get counted by the assembler, so its $ pointer is off. That may have been fixed, but I haven't updated lately, and Debian always lags anyway. [comment]


So it turns out my trick of placing the stack in "visible" memory, with the SS at 0xb800 and the SP at 80 * 25 * 2, is what was causing my BIOS call to set the video mode to screw up and not return. I don't know if I have the patience to find out exactly why. GDB is buggy, QEMU is buggy, NASM is buggy, and all of the above makes it harder to debug my own code. [comment]


How in the world did the screen door design, with the little crappy nylon wheels on the W-shaped spring manage to dominate the market for so long? As far as I know, they're still made this way. The tracks get clogged with insects, dirt, wasp's nest, and other detritus, the wheels jam and break, the springs rust and are hard to remove and replace (despite the glib instructions on the replacement package), and to put it bluntly, the design sucks. I can't come up with a better one myself without more thought than I want to put into it, but annoying design problems like this ought to be put as challenges to engineering students, and the winning designs open-sourced to the world. [comment]


Just finished reading George Mardikian's Song of America. It brought me to tears several times. But the paragraph on p. 300 that ends with this about the Armenian DPs (displaced persons):

... what they loved the most was this: they left New York and went all the way to California, or they left New Orleans and traveled days to reach the State of Washington, and not once did men with helmets and bayonets and guns step across their path and say, "Where is your passport? Where are you going?".

was one of the saddest. That America is gone. They may not have helmets or bayonets, but the TSA, BP, and other minions of the fascist state that is now America are always stopping us and asking for ID, asking where we're going, and confiscating anything that could conceivably be used as a weapon, even sewing needles, from us at every opportunity. The America that Mardikian fell in love with has died.

Bought two 1.5L containers of wine from Grocery Outlet before we came up to the foothills: one was a Gallo "Blush Noir", and the other a plastic bag of Bluebird Pino Noir. The former tastes something like Kool-aid with alcohol added, and the latter is actually pretty good, if a bit sour. But at $3.99 and $5.99, respectively, both are OK for the price.

I've got about 4 or 5 days without Internet ahead of me, let's see if I can get some of my personal programming projects underway. [comment]


Got my coffee porter started: 500 turns on the old GSI Outdoors grinder, half a jar (10 ounces) of Eden barley malt syrup, and some yeast left over from the last batch, topping off the Carlo Rossi gallon bottle with water. Leaving it in the sink, expecting it to get messy as fermentation heats up.

First try of my "pipe stove" with tobacco wasn't promising. I can't breathe in that nasty stuff long enough for the charcoal to catch. Maybe it would work for a smoker. [comment]


Gave up on the bacon with still 4 pounds to go. It can wait till we get back.

Got my two pairs of glasses from Zenni Optical. They look and work great, and cost less than $10/pair including shipping. They actually went down in price since I ordered last year; presumably, such inconceivable economic miracles won't be as likely once the USD loses its reserve currency status. [comment]


Bought one of those charcoal chimneys at Grocery Outlet this morning, believing it might function as a stove. It doesn't, but then I finally poured the hot charcoal into an old freecycled aluminum pan, and put my cooking pan on top of that. It worked out great. By about midnight, I will hopefully have cooked about 10 pounds of bacon and two pounds of chicharrones.

Out of debt again, but probably not for long, as I want to buy a Burning Man ticket in the next 4 weeks.

A quote by Asimov is bothering me: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." I'd say it's the last refuge of the competent, and that less competent people resort to violence rather easily, as it's one of the top tools in their toolbox.

Bottled up my spicy rice ale. Hope to have started my coffee porter before we leave for Lassen area tomorrow. [comment]


I woke up with the thought that by sending water to the moon, using steam-propelled solar-powered unmanned craft, I can set up an advance base for my own visit. When I get there, I'll already have the PV panels, fresnel lenses, and of course, water to sustain myself until I can start growing something. And by the time I get around to launching myself, I'll already have worked out any kinks in my propulsion system.

There was a young buck eating apples just beyond the driveway at about 0910 yesterday when I started jogging. Got some grass-fed Estancia beef a G&G later that day, along with fresh kaiser rolls, and gathered some fennel "broccoli" along Sunrise Parkway to add to the brown rice. Dinner was delicious. [comment]


Drinking my last bottle of fennel-seed ale. Drinkable but far from good. My rice ale with cinnamon and nutmeg is about ready to bottle, then I'm going to try a coffee porter. Meanwhile drank a 22-ounce bottle of Mission Street brown ale from Trader Joe's. Quite tasty.

Forgot to mention, I saw 3 does today in the ravine. A lot of meat if I could bag it undetected. [comment]


Went through La Cresta ravine again today to harvest the yellow plums: and they were all gone! Every goddamned one. Nothing in the tree, nothing on the ground. It would be hard to convince a reasonable person that that tree is even a plum tree. How did this happen in one week? Amazing. But I got a few blackberries. And the purple plums aren't ripe yet. Followed the path at the base of the ravine out to the street this time; I was afraid of poison oak before, but I'd already stepped in some up higher on the ridge so figured it couldn't be any worse, I already had to wash up when I got home. And I didn't see any along the path.

The X prizes are great, but what about a prize for something more down-to-earth, like a natural cure for urushiol-induced dermatitis? Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are the cause of one of mankind's most universal annoyances. If someone could find a dietary or herbal cure, I'd be willing to reward em with some of my silver or gold. Call it the H prize, for Humanity. That should be one of my Unternet sites. [comment]


Had a dream last night in which children were being manipulated by programs embedded in play structures: patterns carved in horizontally-mounted poles a few feet above the ground. Someone had found a way to use complementary colors to reprogram the children, putting up blue poles which somehow had priority over the off-white poles put up by the government. Seeing Doc Severinsen's magenta and green outfit yesterday must have triggered the dream. [comment]


Got off shift just in time to catch the Doc's last two numbers. Resplendent in fluorescent pink shirt and fluorescent green pants, with a sequined jacket, the old man still blows a mean trumpet. [comment]


Got the security frequency saved in memory slot 46 on the VX7R. Turns out I can't actually transmit on it, though, only receive.

For some reason, the SSL connection to the Full Spectrum Fairgrounds AP is failing as of yesterday evening, on my iPod. Still works on the laptop, though. [comment]


The cattails turned out really good. Boiled them for about 10 minutes along with some rice, and it added some nice flavor to the rice too. The flower heads were the best part, you can just pull and the good stuff stays in your mouth while the thin stalk comes out in your hand. The rest of the head is edible too, but you have to work harder for less food.

In last night's dream, I met a strange young white girl named Lumex who had the voice and mannerisms of an elderly black lady from the south. It was another of the low-G dreamworlds, and a young kid was kicking a surfboard and sailing through the air for maybe 50 yards at a time, a foot or 3 above ground. I was asking him about going off a mountain, and he was explaining how easy it was, going about 100 feet forward for every foot dropped.

It strikes me that I could train myself to recognize when I'm in a dream when I see impossibly steep steps and other signs of a low-G universe. Then I could play with lucid dreaming.

Here at California Worldfest the security (Safety and Assistance group, for which I'm volunteering) is using Motorola EX500 radios, channel 3. I scanned the frequencies of which these units are capable, 136-174 MHz, 403-470 MHz, and 450-512 MHz, and just by lucky chance intercepted a security transmission. Awesome! Now I can use my VX7R for the next shift. [comment]


From Zinfandel Drive, I took the path along Abercrombie Way, to Southpoint Blvd., and made my way carefully along the steep embankment on the north side of Redwood Highway, harvesting a few green cattail heads. Then at the end of Transport Way, cut behind the buildings to follow the fence back to the Lynch Creek trail. It was a long haul just to get my netbook charger back from the Starbucks where I'd left it yesterday. My feet are doubly tired from doing about the same distance two days in a row. But at least I'm discovering more about the commons here in Petaluma.

Someone finally bent apart the new fence from the trail to Lakeville, so I didn't have to climb up onto the railroad bridge. Checked in at Maguire's, but the place was packed so I continued on home, saving the $3.50 I would have spent on a pint. After all, I still have most of the 3 quarts of pissbeer I bought yesterday: Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Coors Banquet. The latter is what I'm drinking right now. Just finished cooking the cattails, and making a batch of brown rice for dinner. I've been offered some tri-tip as well, and I'm not going to refuse.

On my way with the lady to Worldfest tomorrow, might be offline for a few days. Then again, might not, you never know. [comment]


Added about 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg and cinnamon to the rice brew, but it seems to be just sitting on top, not circulating as the whole caraway and fennel seeds did. So it might not work out.

Foggy mornings, more pleasant days yesterday and today. Making some biscuits with all the bacon grease I've been saving. Hope they turn out good; had to cook them 17 minutes already and they're still not brown on top. [comment]


The other day I did a little exploring around La Cresta ravine; downstream of where I had planted garlic, of which none was still found, there were what I think are called foxtail grasses. Beyond that, yellow plums, almost ripe. Beyond that, blackberries, wild turkeys, purple Japanese plums. Couldn't find an easy way out to the street, but stepped over a short barbed-wire fence at the top of the hill, went down a private road, and found myself on Western.

Making another batch of rice beer. Will probably try some different herbs this time.

Idea for portable generator: flywheel with embedded magnets driven by cord, separate from a waterproof enclosure with the coils. [comment]


Bottled up my fennel-seed ale, this time adding almost a teaspoon of sugar to each, hoping for a goodly amount of carbonation. I have high hopes for this batch.

The rice ale finally did carbonate, but it's a little too acidic this time to be considered a success.

Bought some local (Sebastopol) grass-fed ground beef yesterday at Andy's. It was about $6.50 a pound, pricey compared to the Uruguayan beef I've been getting at G & G's, but I haven't felt like schlepping out there in this heat. My feet are already pretty well adjusted to the Chacos, though. Jogged over 2 miles this morning with no blisters. [comment]


My guerrilla-gardened amaranth is starting to pop up downtown, after the recent unseasonal rain. I added some to my stir-fry; the earthy taste didn't go well with it, but I do like the price.

I decided on fennel seed for my recent batch of malt. Let's see how that goes. [comment]

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