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


colorForth boots on my modified Bochs! Still not on VMWare, however; seems the latter has the same problem as the out-of-the-bochs Bochs, i.e., no non-DMA floppy support.

Next on the agenda is to finish patching Bochs with non-DMA format and write commands too. Then maybe I can figure out what colorForth is really all about; hard to tell until you've been able to play with it some. The Windows version may be a nice toy but it's not the same thing. [comment]


Things are moving... getting back in to hack mode big-time... but no real progress to report just yet. All right, just one little bit of news, then... SourceForge approved my colorForth project. Nothing to see yet though.

Meanwhile, here are some little snippets of doggerel that came to me at the Pink Store today...

la même chose
la misma cosa
the same thing.

and another one...

Old Marseilles is quite OK,
But frankly, Nice is nicer.

Pronounce that last as "nais iz niisur". Poet's privilege. [comment]


Tried colorForth again, this time with VMWare Player. Still no dice. The error message:

VMware Player unrecoverable error: (vcpu-0) NOT_IMPLEMENTED C:/ob/bora-34682/bora/devices/floppy/floppy.c:3163 A log file is available in "C:\Program Files\Bochs-2.3\colorforth\vmware.log". A core file is available in "C:\Documents and Settings\jcomeau\Application Data\VMware\vmware-vmx-3776.dmp". Please request support and include the contents of the log file and core file. To collect files to submit to VMware support, run cscript vm-support.vbs. We will respond on the basis of your support entitlement.

Here's one way, using Cygwin, to create the floppy image file:

dd if=/dev/zero of=a.img bs=1024 count=1440
dd if=color.com of=a.img conv=notrunc

And my configuration file is cf.vmx. It boots up partway; the virtual screen shows some illegible writing across the bottom. But then I always get the aforementioned error. I've tried tweaking the vmx file to no avail. Hmm, what next? [comment]


Whew. I've been in "hack mode" since my last blog entry, trying to get colorForth to boot on Bochs. Now, colorForth is very minimalistic but it assumes the ability of the FDC to work in non-DMA mode. Bochs's doesn't. I tried adding the capability, despite my poor skills in C++ and my lack of knowledge of FDC hardware, relying on Google to fill in the blanks. After I started making some progress, I found Alex Thiel's patch which possibly worked for some things, but I couldn't get it to work with the current CVS revision, even after hand-patching. So I went back to my own hacking, and finally came up with this patch, which doesn't interrupt every byte as it's supposed to (and as Alex's does), but at least enables colorForth to read in its virtual disk. This configuration file builds a Bochs similar to the 2.3 release for Windows.

Anyway, now it dies trying to access some unavailable PCI hardware, or perhaps the AGP card, which as yet Bochs doesn't emulate. So either I hack colorForth, or add AGP to Bochs, or forget about it for now. Hopefully the latter... I really need some sleep. These all-nighters are getting to me. [comment]


Playing around with Bochs, an x86 emulator. I tried to run colorForth on it, but unfortunately Bochs doesn't yet support non-DMA mode for the floppy driver. The PM1.COM test program worked from geezer's (Christopher Giese's) protected mode examples, running under FreeDOS 1.0. They don't seem to be very compatible -- Bochs complains "HALT instruction encountered in the BIOS ROM" -- but selecting "Continue and don't ask again" allows it to run anyway. I'll see if I can come up with some simple instructions for installing a working FreeDOS under Bochs, as I couldn't find such, but don't hold your breath... [comment]


Well, hot damn. There is a guy at FedEx who gives a shit. Actually, probably two or more, since it's likely someone I already dealt with brought it to his attention. A guy named Michael Schaefer called my j2 number and left a voicemail saying that the package for which I reported a service failure has had its fees fully refunded. Nice! [comment]


Found out yesterday that I have crabs. Damn. I tried treating them with pure limonene; my balls burned for probably a half hour. Then I made a mix of limonene and olive oil, 1:4 respectively. That doesn't burn as much and it seems to be effective; this morning there were a lot of little yellow rectangular-appearing specks in my pubes, hopefully dead nits. I'll keep using this for 2 weeks and see what happens. [comment]


So the DOE is doing something about carbon sequestration, to the tune of $24 million in grants. Whoop-de-do. With a goal of reducing only the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to economic output by about 1.5 percent a year (18 percent by 2012), this pipsqueak initiative makes some sense; but hell, according to this webpage, we (the US) only dumped 55 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases (25,028 million metric tons) into the atmosphere in 2003. Assuming that's mostly carbon dioxide, 37 percent of that is carbon; which means 20 trillion pounds of carbon added that year, and it's expected to grow by about 3 percent a year, even with the Global Climate Change Bandaid, er, Initiative. Whoopee. Aren't we being model world shitizens. Add another 40 million square kilometers to my previous estimate, and 120 million groups will need to bury 66000 tons of charcoal to mitigate the effects of the great oil economy. Well, if the first group succeeds this coming year, two groups next year, and so on doubling each year, by 2015 we will have accomplished it. [comment]


A little while ago I remembered the dream I had last night; I was writing software for autonomous agents which would requisition some kind of certificates. For some reason I made them have a graphical appearance like humans. I can't remember what language I was using but it was object-oriented for sure. [comment]


Finished the 5k in 99th place out of 200 or so, with a time of 30:15. Very bad, but considering the pulled muscle I'm glad I went the distance. I stopped only once, to take off my shirts; next year I've got to go topless, and only wear the t-shirt they give each runner. The winner was a young Kenyan dude who made it in 15:12. My throat hurts; the last quarter mile or so I was shouting on every exhalation, trying to drive myself that last stretch. Once across the line I just collapsed right there in the road, letting my heart and breathing slow down to something reasonable. People probably thought "drama queen" but what the hell. Listening to my body has kept me alive so far, I'm not about to stop now.

What enabled me to run at all was a decision to forego running on my toes; the previous occupant of my place left a pair of sneakers that fit me, and I used them to absorb the impact while I jogged along normally, rolling off my heels. That spared my calf muscles sufficiently to avoid another strain.

Now I have Burning Man in August, and the 5k in November. I should probably find some annual activity in February and May to keep the juices flowing year-round. [comment]


Still messing around with Scott Bidstrup's carbon sequestration figures trying to figure out something workable. As before, I calculated approximately 1 quadrillion pounds of charcoal will need to be buried to undo the effect of the carbon dioxide added by the Industrial Revolution to date. This would be about 66000 tons per square kilometer for about 8160000 square kilometers (1.6 percent of the earth's surface). About eight million groups of people will have to commit to producing and/or buying this amount at a cost of up to $1000 per ton, grinding it and burying it in a square kilometer (about .4 of a square mile). That's 66 million dollars for each group not counting labor. Of course, if you don't own that much land, and there's no public land you can use for this purpose, you could enrich a smaller plot with the same amount. For example, the City of the Sun has about 1/4 of a square mile; if we could come up with that kind of money, say with grants, we could have terra preta 4 or 5 feet deep rather than just 3.

I finished Fifty Degrees Below yesterday afternoon, and it really got me thinking what can be done now to reverse the global warming trend before it bites us in the ass big-time. [comment]


Ten gallons of gas to El Paso yesterday. Got my eight 6V golf cart batteries for my new beefed-up solar power plant, and also got, via USPS, the 80W PV panel that I won on eBay for $405. Things are looking up, but I now have to sequester 55 pounds of powdered charcoal to undo the effect to the atmosphere of the gasoline I burned on the trip.

If everyone would sequester 5.5 pounds of charcoal for every gallon of gas he burned, we'd freeze the greenhouse effect at its current condition. If we buried more, we'd reverse it. Plus we'd make the soil better. This won't work as a program, but it would work as a vision, in the context of the Ishmael books. We just have to make the decision. Let's choose life.

I'm currently reading Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson. It took me a while to warm up to Frank, the protagonist, but it's right on target with its environmental outlook. Strongly recommended. [comment]


It would probably be a good idea to get some kind of stethoscope that plugs into the microphone port of my laptop, if such a thing exists, and use it to observe how well the limonene works by showing a graph of the sound of the termites munching away. I'll have to look into that.

Had a dream last night, a lady friend and I were walking through the remains of an overgrown shopping mall, and finding thousands of dollars that the wind had blown into the weeds. Weird.



Speaking of injecting... I wonder if injecting acid into a door lock would quickly and reliably dissolve the pins and allow it to be opened. Seems to me it would even work on pickproof locks like Medeco. I'll have to try it someday just for kicks. [comment]


Forgot to mention, I pulled a muscle yesterday, my left calf. It hurts like hell. Hope it heals before race day. That'll hopefully teach me to start stretching before runs, something I've never consistently done.

Going to El Paso today to pick up 8 new golf cart batteries for my solar array. Told you I'd spend my inheritance quickly!

I injected one of my termite-infested vigas with 2 fluid ounces of d-Limonene this morning. It soaked the stuff in quickly, but a lot evaporated, and apparently still is evaporating, into the air also... I hope breathing the shit isn't going to make me sick. I think they're going to need a lot more than 2 ounces each, and at least half of them are badly infested. [comment]


Got my FedEx package today... the guy in LC kept his word after all; the "returned to sender" notice was just computer-generated bullshit. So I'm about $560 richer for the next 24 to 48 hours or so, until I get to El Paso and buy a new set of storage batteries. Catch me before then and I might buy you a beer...

Speaking of which, I've been convinced of how much money I waste buying kegs of Guinness and no Irishmen coming to help me drink it. From now it's just bottles; at least those labeled "Draught" still come from Ireland, though the others, so I hear, are made in Canada. Nothing tastes as good as unpasteurized Guinness out of the keg, but I can't afford spending $180 per and throwing most of it away. [comment]


FedEx nightmares. My brother sent me my inheritance a week ago Friday, FedEx overnight. By Wednesday the tracking showed "incorrect address". Never mind that I've gotten at least two FedEx shipments to this address before, no problem.

So... I went online and logged into my account. I noticed it still had my La Mesa address, so I tried to correct it; it didn't work. But, true to form, FedEx attempted to charge my credit card $10 for the privilege of using their website. It didn't work because I didn't have that much in my Paypal account.

Then I called, and my account was reinstated. It had been placed on hold because I hadn't used it in a year or more... of course they never bothered to email me about this. I was told to call back in another 24 hours or more to update my address information. I was also connected to customer service to give them directions to 8260 Lighthouse Lane.

Next day still no delivery attempt, so I called up after hours, spoke to some Indian guy (very likely in India) who assured me they would try again the next day.

Friday, still no attempted delivery, so I called yet again and this time got them to connect me to someone in Las Cruces. I waited on hold for minutes, then a guy named Philip told me they don't know how to get to my address, it's not in their system. I asked him why they didn't route it through El Paso or Sunland Park, whose drivers know this area and deliver here every day? Because, he explained, this package was sent "Express" and only "Ground" shipments go through those cities. I replied, with some profanity, that a week with no delivery can hardly be called "Express". So he said, after the obligatory chastisement for my foul language, they would reroute it as a ground shipment.

Saturday morning I got an email that my package had been returned to the sender.

Somewhere in there I was told I'd be billed an additional $10 for not having a valid account number at the time of shipment. Also, the charges that had been attempted to my Paypal account and failed caused them to place my account on hold yet again. So I gave them my other account number and they charged it. It remains to be seen if they'll reimburse it after 11 days, as they usually do. They think that borrowing my money for 11 days without my consent is perfectly fair and reasonable. And in one of those calls I tried to update my address in their system, but of course they still couldn't verify its validity and I'm in limbo until some higher-up approves or denies it.

Is this any way to run a delivery company? I've been screwed over by them all, so switching to another isn't the answer. I'd just like to find someone at DeFex (misspelling intentional) who gives a shit.

An expat named Scott Bidstrup has a cool webpage on Terra Preta and carbon sequestration, in which he claims that if the 1.6 percent of earth's surface that is under cultivation in tropical and subtropical areas has 11.8 pounds of charcoal added per square foot, we will completely undo the effects of carbon dioxide added to the earth's atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution. That's about a quadrillion pounds of charcoal according to my calculations.

A way to look at it that has a higher feel-good quotient is to take Scott's figure of 3 ounces of carbon that we have to get rid of for every square foot of the earth's surface. Using that figure, with a 3 kg bag of charcoal, you can undo the Industrial Revolution's effects for about 35 square feet of your backyard. Not to mention making the soil much better quality as you add more and more carbon to it.

I'm still experimenting with the d-Limonene and styrofoam. The viscous stuff seems to work pretty well as a glue also. And I've found some links that indicate the limonene will work well as a termite killer, even soaks into the wood by itself. See my Del.Icio.US page. [comment]

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