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


in my dream just before awakening, I was a cop. all cops were normal-sized people. we policed the Lilliputian-sized folks in the world. our 9mm handguns were like cannons to them, and we used them indiscriminately. I just shot out a guy's car window because he didn't immediately get out of the car, and I didn't care where the shrapnel went. I think it probably killed him, but then I woke up. god, I hate cops. even when they're me.

last night I ran out of that ethyl rubbing alcohol for my penny stove. it sure didn't last long; it doesn't burn nearly as hot as that toxic stuff sold as paint stripper. but anyway, I tried making cold-brew camp coffee so I'd have some go-juice this morning. I didn't think it would work; grounds never seem to settle out of cold coffee; but they did! at some point during the 12 hours or so it was sitting out there, the grounds went to the bottom, leaving a nice but cold cup of pleasant-tasting coffee behind. [comment]


I think it's safe to say my summer cold never really hit me. I only experienced symptoms for a few hours. enough to know I "got" a bug, but proof that a quick correction in diet can reverse it. [comment]


bought some ethyl rubbing alcohol to use as stove fuel. works just great in these mid-70s temps. not sure at what temp it would fail due to the flash point of 70% alcohol. at least this is a lot less toxic than the stuff sold as paint stripper. too bad I can't buy just one alcohol to use as fuel, mouthwash, and mixed drinks without paying a hefty overcharge. it's funny, the excise tax is "only" $13.50 per gallon, but you can buy a gallon of denatured (poisoned by law to avoid the excise tax) pure ethanol for $32, but I haven't found any non-denatured for less than $90 a gallon. truly there's no government like no government. in a free market one could probably buy pure ethanol for $5 or $10 a gallon, even with today's highly inflated FRNs.

got another replacement headlamp in the mail today. Rayovac sure is good about their lifetime warranty.

cold hasn't gotten any worse. coughed a few times on my morning jog, that's about it. very minor throat discomfort, no clogged nasal passages. had one somewhat sugary yogurt this morning at the food giveaway at the senior center. and I noticed 5 or 6 loaves of yesterday's Full Circle bread in the trash, so feel fully justified in that 2nd loaf I took yesterday. not going to feel guilty about it next time. I hope.

got a placeholder app pushed to RDS and Elastic Beanstalk, using only Python3 with boto3, nothing done with the online console at all. documentation is spotty and often wrong, with most examples on StackOverflow using the original boto version 2 libraries, so every little gain was hard-won. the last hurdle was authentication: my deploy code got its auth data from $HOME/.aws but what was the EC2 instance created by ElectricBeanstalk going to do? I considered using the IAM services, but it looked like an awful lot more work for only a slight gain in security. so I just appended the ~/.aws folder onto the deployment .zip file, added some container_commands to the .ebextensions/*.config file to move them to the correct location and chown them, and that was that. I still have lots more code to write before I get paid, but it should be downhill from here on out. [comment]


Just based on my own experience, a high rep on StackOverflow might only mean that you were the first to ask newbie questions, and/or you made the first good answers to newbie questions. you could have some excellent questions and answers on topics out of the mainstream, or on problems that only experts ever run into, and they won't score highly simply because nobody is looking for them. I'm certainly not proud of my highest rep answers. [comment]


spoke too soon. the summer cold has latched on again, first to the nasal passages and now back on to the throat. first sickness this year, and hopefully the last. now let's see if I can minimize the symptoms. [comment]


kept getting warnings from Facebook, so I finally updated the script that generates The Moon's phase updates to Graph API version 2.1 from the default 2.0. I could probably have gone all the way to 2.7, but I have a client waiting for me to finish coding his webapp, and his patience may be wearing thin. [comment]


think I avoided that summer cold. my throat feels back to normal again.

took an extra Full Circle bakery baguette at the senior center today, after observing a volunteer throwing away bagels that hadn't been taken a few days ago without even asking anybody if they wanted them. I can't otherwise afford organic bread on my limited budget, it's really not much good after two days anyway, and I hate to see it go to waste.

tweeted to both @GovBillWeld and @GovGaryJohnson today to answer @dcodrea's 10-point questionnaire, after seeing Bill backpedaling after his May 22 CNN interview in which he said he didn't think his 1993 proposals were "out of the mainstream at all", and that he still distinguishes between "hunting guns and guns that don't seem to have any hunting purpose". your 5-minute activism task for today, if you choose to accept it, is to ask your preferred candidate, or any candidate if you despise them all, to do the same. [comment]


the summer cold hasn't gotten me yet, but I can sense it's still there watching for an opportunity. if I can stay away from sugars a couple more days, and eat healthily including probiotics, I might beat it yet. [comment]


weird. one of my servers rebooted around midnight, and when it came back up the exim4 configuration was missing something. [comment]


so you can't ssh to the CNAME elasticbeanstalk provides, you have to use the EndpointURL Public IP from the EC2 dashboard. took me a while to figure out what was wrong.

still haven't been able to get my app up and running on the beanstalk. but hopefully with access to the log files, I can solve it. I still have to code the app itself; all I have now is a placeholder. but I wanted to get the hard stuff done first.

scratchy throat, got a bug trying to take over. I'm betting it was all that sugary yogurt I salvaged out of the Grocery Outlet dumpster yesterday. I was hungry and ate 6 of them at a sitting. drinking lemon juice and water, hoping to stave off whatever is trying to get me. [comment]


so I hadn't built the penny stove correctly after all... duh... I left out the 6 jets on the edge. once I found the pushpin again and put those where they belonged, it worked much better. I could fill the stove more because the alcohol flowed into the chamber better, and the jets meant the fuel could burn easily without the penny buzzing around in the middle. it's quieter, hotter, and burns longer. and I found a short pipe nipple, maybe 1-1/4" or so, that works perfectly to raise it to within about an inch of the pot it's heating. I'm in business! I may not be buying those butane canisters ever again, but even if I do, I'll be using them a lot less. [comment]


crisis averted. I'm able to tolerate the Yuban coffee, I don't have to toss it and buy the Peruvian stuff just yet. took 2 fillings of my alcohol stove this morning to get the 16 ounces of water boiling; possibly only one would have been necessary if I got the flame closer to the pot. I'll have to make a stand for it. [comment]


the Guayaki cans I used for the penny stove are apparently too dimpled on the bottom. the stove doesn't hold enough fuel, I had to refill it several times to cook the 1.8 pounds of frozen organic drumsticks I'd bought for $2 at Grocery Outlet. and I probably didn't "drill" (I used a pushpin) it properly either. the flame isn't shaped the way it's supposed to be. and it makes a lot of noise. but anyway, it worked well enough and I eventually had the chicken well done. I'll try again another day. [comment]


made a penny stove to put inside my bushbuddy ultra, giving me another alternative fuel. hopefully this means now I can stop buying those expensive butane canisters for my Iwatani stove. [comment]


caching proxies are one of many banes of the World Wide Web, especially when sites don't configure them properly. a scraper I wrote for a client stopped working reliably some weeks ago. testing showed the problem was intermittent, so I suspected a cache, added a cachebreaker parameter to the URL, and problem solved. the trick is to give cachebreaker a unique value each call (I'm using an up-to-the-second timestamp) and to use a parameter name that's meaningless to the server itself. [comment]


had Yuban coffee for the first time since maybe 2007 or so. it tasted horrible. either it has gone downhill in quality or I've just been spoiled with much better coffee. [comment]


counting down the months until I can collect Social Security. 21 to go. [comment]


finally converted my video for youtube!

what finally worked was avconv -i /tmp/VID_20160423_152737.mp4 -filter:v "setpts=0.1*PTS,transpose=1" -an /tmp/via_de_la_juventud_ote_rotated.mp4 on a DigitalOcean droplet running Debian, after apt-get install libav-tools. my netbook was just too slow and unreliable.

it's so shaky because I was jogging with my Android tablet in a lanyard around my neck, and it was swinging back and forth. and on the stretch from the airport to the dirt part of the road, I kept turning around to make sure no motorist was driving in the breakdown lane at full speed, as I've seen happen. [comment]


news from Turkey is contradictory. I heard as early as last night the coup was successful. googled just a few minutes ago and read that it wasn't.

here's my take, at the risk of sounding like Brian Williams, becase I was there, in Istanbul, in late 1996 or early 1997, whenever it was that the military deposed Erbakan. at the time I was working for List 2000, a Turkish search engine, as one of the two lead programmers. it was to be the "grand opening" of the company, as I recall the first multilingual Turkish search engine, and there were lots of dignitaries, celebrities, and assorted businesspeople gathered to witness the deployment. I was working (illegally, I guess, but my bosses had paid all necessary bribes) with the Turkish employees in their building in Istanbul; myself and the other two Americans who came with me were hired at their office in Boca Raton, FL.

when the other programmer, Carl, had to go home early due to a family emergency, it fell on me to finish the automated translation process and get the site ready. I worked for something like 40 hours straight, but had it done on time for the celebration.

I can't remember if the coup happened before or after the grand opening. nobody seemed too concerned about it, in fact everyone seemed upbeat. my boss, Sam (Semih) explained that Turks were primarily secular, though many called themselves Muslim the same as many Americans say they're Christian though they don't read the bible or go to church; and when a president starts getting cozy with Muslim clerics they want the military to step in and force new elections.

later that night, or not long after in any case, they called in pizza from the local Pizza Hut and I got violently ill from it. Sam's mom made me some chicken soup and I was on the mend after a day or three.

I don't remember a whole lot more: vignettes of going to a local burger joint on my own; walking in the cold twilight between the office building and the hotel; drinking Turkish coffee down to the mud at the bottom of the cup. fun times. [comment]


vindicated! fuck yeah!

Our apologies for the inconvenience cause [sic] in this matter. There appears to be a miscommunication as we found that you did not solicit payment outside Upwork.

Nevertheless, I'm pleased to inform you that I will be reinstating your account immediately. You can now resume using all Upwork features, including bidding on new jobs.

glad I stuck to my guns. if I had apologized right away, taking the blame for something I didn't do, I'd always have had that hanging over my head. [comment]


I bitched to Upwork on their Facebook page and got results! my account is reinstated. [comment]


Upwork suspended my account a little while ago, falsely accusing me of asking for offsite payment, which they say is against the rules because it's "for our [the workers] protection", but we all know it's because they won't get their 20% fee. I wish it had continued at 10%, but it's their site, their rules, and as far as I know, I've followed them. I'm pissed.

on a more positive note, there were Full Circle organic baguettes at the senior center again today, so I took one. and found some good fruit/vegetable smoothies and a half gallon of lemon juice in my favorite grocery store dumpster.

and two nights ago, we saw a jackrabbit and two deer on our evening walk. first rabbit of any kind I've seen in this neighborhood of Petaluma. and last night we passed within a few feet of an owl, after he'd flown off the first bush as we had approached, to another just down the trail. I was spooked, remembering the old Indian superstition that they warned of impending death. but nobody I know died today, that I know of. [comment]


had to get out of the house. Upwork's messaging is broken again, now it won't even send the error report, and I was cursing like a motherfucker. how can I get work if I can't communicate with clients? I might have lost 3 jobs. and these bastards now want 20% of my income in exchange for constantly breaking their functionality. not a very good deal. but they're better than all the rest.

they had the Full Circle baguettes at the senior center today. the sign says to take only one, which I did, but others came and carted off all they wanted. I guess it's just a suggestion. [comment]


spent the better part of the past 48 hours reverse-engineering a broken audio recording, by studying the sox sources and various Google results on IMA ADPCM WAV files. the client may not even hire me because my bid is way over his budget, but it was fun anyway.

two nights ago I made a tasty dish with .8 pounds of organic chicken tenders (pre-sliced, boned, skinned breast meat), a pound (uncooked) of penne pasta, and a half pound of shredded cheese (mix of 4 Italian cheeses). it cost me $6 at Grocery Outlet and lasted me 4 meals. I've been having good luck cooking pasta with minimal water; just enough to cover, then boil for 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly, then haybox for a while after stirring in the other ingredients. also uses minimal fuel that way; water is expensive to bring to a boil.

tested denatured alcohol in my Bushbuddy Ultra stick stove. it works, but it's a bit scary with the boiling fuel and large flame. I can easily see how it could set off a forest fire if I didn't notice overhanging branches of some volatile tree above, like that of an evergreen or Eucalyptus. want to try kerosene one of these days too, but it's been too windy lately.

still living within my means, paying down my credit lines, albeit a bit more slowly than when I started. not very motivated, and Facebook is taking a lot of my time, particularly with the social unrest beginning. this is shaping up to be a really "interesting" year for sure. [comment]


so a few days ago, I was jogging along Lynch creek trail, and a gaggle of schoolchildren led by adult chaperones came from the opposite direction -- right in my way. the leader, a short but heavy-set man in his 30s by my reckoning, motioned me to go around them to the left, but I shook my head and said in the most authoritative tone I could muster, "right of way is to the right!".

he immediately moved to his right, ushering his young charges along with him, and as I progressed, repeating the mantra, the other teachers started exhorting their youngsters, "move to the right! move to the right!"

I came across the group again either yesterday or today, and they were in their correct lane. I waved to the group leader and he ignored me. but the teachers learned their lesson, and so, apparently, did the kids. there's one group who won't likely unwittingly initiate conflict on the roads, trails, and open seas in the future. [comment]


as Charles Nichols recently pointed out in a news release, California actually has a legal process to recall tyrannical politicians.

the fact that the top Google results for recalling Gavin Newsom and Kevin de Leon are a change.org petition and a Facebook page, respectively, neither of which have followed the proper process, indicates either lack of will, ignorance, or worse, false flag operations designed to lull Californians into feel-good measures which won't actually accomplish anything.

why isn't CRPA or another California gun group taking the initiative on this? or if they are, why aren't their petitions coming up on top of Google searches? get with it, guys! what are you waiting for, civil war III? because there isn't much time left to solve these problems in a "civil" manner. [comment]


I went and visited my hillside hideout recently. someone had opened the suitcase and left the jacket to get full of spiders, rain, and possibly mold, so I stuck it in the fork of the tree to dry out and see if it's salvageable some later date. also, the jar of homemade sauerkraut had been left on the ground and it still looks good, but I didn't open it up. the chair was still there and in reasonably good condition, but the ink had faded so I wrote over it with my Sharpie. some lazy scumbag left a paper cup there and I just left it for now. I'll hopefully go back soon and pick it up.

there are a few plum trees just down the hill from there that are still bearing fruit, including one of the luscious yellow plums. I should really try and do some trading on the local black market but I'm afraid I'm too damned lazy to bother, especially when there are so many other options for cheap and free food.

we picked some blackberries near the top of the hill last night. got two quarts in about 15 minutes. [comment]


Andrian Tu at the Facebook Plant Identification page identified that coastal mustard I've been seeing the last couple of years at least: Cakile Maritima, a native of Europe. [comment]

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