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


Found out I should have dried and ground the acorns before leaching. Oh, well. Next time. [comment]


Made a decision to try taking black salve internally for 20 days, a lentil-sized amount in a gelcap twice a day after meals. Let's see how this goes. [comment]


Several soakings in cold water didn't make the acorns any more palatable, in fact my last tasting was far more bitter than the first. Perhaps next time I'll try boiling them instead. Or do they need to be ground first so that the tannins can leach out? More research is required for sure. [comment]


Went for a jog here in the foothills this morning, and twisted my right ankle a bit. Saw some plums, mostly dried up but a few still juicy, so went back later to pick them. Got only 20 or so, not enough to make a wine. Will have to come back earlier next year.

Also picked some acorns. The large round green ones aren't very bitter at all, but the thin pointed brown ones are exceedingly so. I'm soaking the green ones, cut 4 ways, in cold water to see if I can leach out what little bitterness and cyanide taste (like peach pits) out.

The other things I picked that I didn't recognize turned out to be unripe buckeye nuts. Threw them out; my experience with buckeyes is too recent to do any more experimenting just yet.

Many, many deer, cat, and coon (or similar) prints on the trails here. The animals probably come down every day to Plum Creek to drink.

The other day I got an idea about how to represent reputation in an online system. Remember the quadrant someone came out with a few years back, that had liberal-conservative on the X axis, and libertarian-authoritarian on the Y axis? That same idea could arguably be presented on the same axes, but as an isosceles triangle, with libertarian on the upper pointed end, since as one approaches the individual, his liberal-conservative ideas matter little; it's only as he joins with others that such leanings have an effect. Anyway, whether or not you agree with that, anything that can be represented as a triangle can be easily represented with RGB values. A purely individualistic anarchist would be 100% green, and a purely liberal authoritarian would be red. Perhaps the colors should be BGR to match common parlance of "blue" and "red" in the political sphere. [comment]


You're welcome. I did it for myself and the country I used to love, and hope to be able to love again. I'm electing a revolution, as you say in your ads. I really hope you mean it, because if we don't elect one, we're probably going to get one in a much more chaotic manner. Have you read The Fourth Turning? If you haven't, please take a night off and do it. You or Ron Paul could be the catalyst for a bloodless fourth turning. Nobody else on the podium -- though Herman Cain comes close -- is going to be able to pull it off. It's all you.

On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 12:09 PM, Gary Johnson <email@garyjohnson2012.com> wrote:
> September 23, 2011
> Let me first say “thank you” to you.
> If it were not for your support that during these last few months, I would not have been standing on stage last night.
> You have been indispensable in our journey, and while the national media are still catching on, our momentum is clearly on a near-vertical ascent. (Keep it going!)


Kohenari makes a good point about Ron Paul's failure to challenge Perry on the death penalty. I don't take the time to study every point of Paul's or Johnson's philosophy, just enough to know if I'm in general agreement on the basics, and I believe I am, with both. Probably wishful thinking, but I truly believe it's not too late to salvage the US as one nation if we get a true Constitutionalist into the White House next election, and either candidate fits the bill in my opinion. I'm sure I won't agree with either on everything. But the death penalty requires something on the order of block-level government to be reasonably certain of justice being served. In large cities, and especially in states, it's far too easy for a corrupt or incompetent system to convict an innocent. [comment]


Tried again with the vinegar and baking soda: fail. The reaction isn't sufficiently exothermic, it stays cold. And it most definitely leaves the most potent part of the underarm stink. At least hydrogen peroxide heats up when it finds something with which to react, but it doesn't do a good job of deodorizing either. [comment]


Watched It's Complicated with Alec Guinness and Meryl Streep. And Steve Martin, the first movie in which I really liked the character he played. It's rated R, what the fuck? No profanity, no nudity (unless you count Guiness's fat ass), no sex, nothing even remotely resembling violence. Supposedly got an R rating for showing them smoking a doobie, but my conspiratorialist side says it's more likely because the movie explored some adult situations where people had to make moral decisions. That's dangerous, you can't have young people dealing with that stuff. Blood, gore, cussing, nudity, even some sex? Fine, sure, put PG-13 on it. But having to decide what is right and wrong? That's radical shit. [comment]


Today I just about completed the frame of the "trailer" that will hopefully become the base of my human-powered vehicle. Built entirely of a single 20 foot piece of angle iron with 1/4-20x1 inch bolts with nylocks, it easily holds my weight. I placed my Travoy trailer across it, and it became a usable wheelchair, though steering is hard and would quickly wear down the Travoy's plastic hinges if I used it for any length of time. My next plan is to mount it on my new bicycle, making it an asymmetrical tricycle. The wheels are off my old bike; have to see if I can also re-use the brakes. And have to add a triangle in one of the corners to keep it from deforming due to angular stresses.

I tried the baking soda idea today. Squeezing the wipe after dusting on the bicarb activates it, warming it somewhat as it reacts. And it does seem to get most of the underarm odor, but strangely enough left the stink of urine under my left arm, the one that normally has no noticeable odor (to me). Anyway, promising results and I hope to remember to do more testing soon. [comment]


Last night I dreamt I was talking with President Obama about the "news": how the news that he and the upper echelons of the government get is fundamentally different from what the media serves the "common people". And that difference allows them to buy stock in companies about to receive big contracts from the government, buy commodities which are about to get price supports, and other tactics that enable the rich to get richer. He was stonewalling me every which way, but I could see I was getting to him.

The vinegar wipes I took to Burning Man this year helped, but now I'm wondering if I also take baking soda, and sprinkle it on me before the wipedown, if the resulting exothermic reaction would be somewhat equivalent to a hot shower. I'll have to test that out. [comment]


Scaled-down laser weapon simply blinds enemy by burning out the retina. Lightweight, easy to carry, and with a camera and image recognition software, can be automatically aimed at the enemies' eyes. More humane than killing and puts economic strain on enemy government, caring for blinded veterans. [comment]


Accomplished my goal of running a 5K this year: 30:07 at the Moo-Cow in Petaluma. Bad time but I'm not complaining; next time I'll start up closer to the front so I don't get stuck behind all the people walking. That should shave a few seconds off my time at least. [comment]


Walked a lot yesterday, first to pick up my tags for the footrace this morning, then out to G & G for some healthy meat (they were out of Estancia! but had Niman Ranch, which is better than factory-farm stuff). Along the way I had an idea. I get lots of unrelated ideas while walking.

What it does relate to is reputation-based systems. Imagine a Wikipedia which shows you pages based on your own viewpoint. Rating authors and editors up or down doesn't change just that one page, it changes the whole encyclopedia: for you. And, to a lesser extent, for others who have rated you up. An invitation being the only way to gain access to the site will help ensure that new visitors have a chance of seeing an encyclopedia (or whatever) that makes the most sense to them. Perhaps an online questionnaire could be an alternative.

Have you noticed how, a year or two after it went viral, Wikipedia was mostly "owned" by the cultural establishment? That could never happen with a system like the one I'm positing. The establishment would have theirs, for sure, but I wouldn't have to see it.

Now, designing and coding the thing could be a nightmare. But I'm reasonably sure it can be done. [comment]


Partway down the hill this morning my right ankle gave out, almost exactly the way it did back in High School due to weak ligaments. I stopped jogging and limped for a few steps, then miraculously the pain started ebbing. About a minute later I was jogging again, and made it downtown with no other incident. Weird. Maybe I've been overdoing the dairy lately; I made a big batch of stroganoff and have been eating it daily. Better eliminate the non-paleo elements from my diet for a while. [comment]


Tried melting plastic in oil today. The onion bag melted down nicely, but the label was a different type of plastic than the rest of the bag, and mucked up the casting. I then tried to melt down the black plastic (PETE?) case of the broken Fiskars drill, but there wasn't enough heat left in the coals and it just deformed a little. Better luck next time. [comment]


I woke up with the remembrance of my near-misses with fire (not sure if I ever blogged them or not) and then I remembered my Chinese zodiac sign is Fire Monkey. Then suddenly Thoreau's burning of 300 acres of the Walden woods while still a young man popped into my mind, and I wondered if his spirit might be allied with mine; checked his zodiac sign, though, and born in 1817 he was a Fire Ox. So perhaps not. [comment]


Middle button emulation hasn't been working since I got rid of xorg.conf. I really didn't want to go back to messing with that file, particularly since the event number can be different each time I reboot depending on what USB devices are plugged in; so I googled around and found this, and put it into my ~/.fluxbox/startup:

xinput set-int-prop \
  "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad" \
  "Evdev Middle Button Emulation" 8 1


A quick rundown on the gold sales... total intake $577, eBay took about $70 as $52 in eBay "final value fees" and $18 in PayPal fees, leaving me with $507, out of which I'll probably pay about $5 or less for shipping (since there were only two buyers). So probably better forget that earlier idea of buying in lots of 5 or 10 and reselling the coins one-by-one; I'd forgotten how stiff those fees were. This free market costs dearly, but I still got over spot price for the gold, even the cut coin. So I got out of debt for the short term, until more work comes my way.

Oh, and it only took about 30 hours to liquidate the gold, from the time I finished listing till the time the money was in my PayPal account, from where I could have gone to an ATM and picked it up. [comment]


Just pondering some things on awakening... once you've loaded the GDT, I believe you can use that block of RAM for other purposes, which gives me 32 more bytes for code that I'm currently using for working storage. And if that's not good enough, I can augment my showboot routine to implement a tiny byte-token language of sorts, indexing into a 256-byte chunk of the 512-byte bootblock. This latter will need a lot more thought... but had to get it down so I can get back to sleep. [comment]


It seems it would be quite possible to make a decent living just buying gold at quantity 10 and reselling it at quantity 1 on eBay, if it weren't for the risk of scammers, and tungsten fakes. People are quite willing to pay a hefty premium for buying a small quantity. [comment]


I was afraid my iPod charger was long gone, but they were holding it at Starbucks for me several days later. People really are basically good. I've done this several times over the last few years and always gotten it back. [comment]


I borked my xorg settings a few days ago when I upgraded the radeon driver. At first, only my mouse wasn't working -- the cursor didn't even show up -- but then when I apt-get upgraded, attempting to fix that, it became worse, and startx locked up the system hard, forcing a powerdown in order to regain control. Just now thought of what to do; renamed xorg.conf to xorg.conf.disabled, and let xorg decide the config. This never used to work, but it's working now!

And on awakening a few minutes ago I figured out the problem with my bootstrap code. I was using the trap flag to monitor progress, dumping out several registers on the screen. But I had already switched to unreal mode for the ES segment register, which meant that the dump routine had to take that into account, or avoid using ES altogether (so forget STOS and MOVS). Or I can just turn off the trap flag during that part of the execution, but I'd rather not. At least I can figure out my options now; for days I've been blinded to the real cause of the spontaneous reboots.

Now to the dream that woke me up (in addition to the need to pee)... I was with Bob Dylan (only he looked and talked like Al Pacino) on a college green somewhere in one of my usual dreamworlds, I think it's the one with a high cliff on one side of it, and a hidden river you need to go through some strange series of tunnels or old mine shafts to get to... but anyway, Dylan was explaining to some younger people about a book. I saw the book, and I or my dreamself recognized it (but I can't remember anything about it now except it had some stones arranged on top of it in a square or circular shape), and I commented to him that I had seen that about 35 years ago, in similar circumstances, at Worcester Tech, and that he was there then also (although in the realworld, I don't believe he was, at least I don't remember it). He reminisced with me momentarily, but then he started talking about how he had just threatened a bank teller; and suddenly he started swinging some kind of nonlethal weapon, laser or mace or something, around, pointing at different people. The crowd started chanting something like "if he [something something] jump him", and I hollered from the back, "if you jump him, don't hurt him" in the same cadence, and the chanters took it up. So I assume they jumped him but didn't hurt him; meanwhile I was in some concrete underground parking lot where two buses were trying to fit, going in different directions. The one entering backwards, who normally waited for the other one to finish backing up into his slot, wigged out, backed into the other bus, and was pushing it laterally along the paved surface. As the driver was crushing the first bus against the back wall, I was running out of space, and barely managed to squeeze between the steps of some stored bleachers just in time to avoid being crushed myself. That's when I woke up. Weird shit.

I'm going back to sleep now, or at least try, Yoda be damned. Just had to share that with ya. [comment]


Fell asleep drunk with the music on, and had the dreaded recurring dream of the post office: the one where I'm called in to work after retirement, I forget to clock in, I don't have an assigned area and just wander around, and I never get paid. This time I go up to the mezzanine and Lenny hears me out. He tells me it would be easier to pay me if I'd remember to clock in, and I agree, and say "so at least I should be paid for the times I did remember, as a start". He didn't give me any definitive yes or no, so I'm encouraged, and head over to the ACDCS, one of which needs service. A scruffy Irish-looking guy, 30-ish, with long hair and a red beard, also arrives to work on it. Since the ACDCS has changed completely since the last time I was trained on it, I defer to him to take the lead, but he says he'd rather do the grunt work than troubleshoot, so I get started. That's when I woke up to pee.

So there may be a trigger for that dream: music in the background. The post office that I knew did indeed have some strong similarities to a bad dream with background music; although I had plenty of good times there and learned a lot. Another potential trigger is being behind in my finances; I'm looking for someone who already owes me money, and I still feel cheated out of an award for my contribution to the 3547 Automation Project (that page was written about 9 years ago). [comment]


Then a visit to Maguire's pub, which still has the half-off special on Mondays and Tuesdays, for a pint of Smithwick's (pronounce: smitticks), $2.50. Plus $1 tip, that's a complete meal for $5.50, not bad at all. [comment]


Petaluma Creamery on Western just west of downtown is now serving pizza for $2 a slice! And that's a decent sized slice with lots of cheese and multiple toppings.

Plus free wifi (belkin54g). And a clean private restroom.



That fireworks display the other night was, I heard, put on by the Flaming Lotus Girls.

Last night curiosity plus a bit too much wine got the better of me, and I cut open one of my 1/20 ounce gold Maple Leaf coins to make sure it wasn't tungsten. It wasn't. [comment]


The Supco SM670 is not a workable replacement for the Whirlpool ET14AK evaporator fan motor. Sure, you can change its rotation to the same clockwise, but then the fan blades point the other way; I guess you could leave the rotation CCW to get an equivalent air flow, but the mounting brackets would need to be kludged on somehow after drilling out the rivets. And it's not the same thickness, so I'm not sure it would even fit properly. Gonna have to spend the extra money for the right part, I guess. [comment]


I have been watching the most fucking incredible pyrotechnic display of my life. It just ended. [comment]


Note to self: next year bring at least 12 bottles of wine for my own use, allowing for spillage, in addition to what is earmarked for potlucks and other sharing. And dry out the biscuits. And use only ends-and-pieces bacon, not normal slices, for pre-cooking.

Folded my 10W solar panel in half for trickle-charging my battery pack. It showed 6.1 when I pulled it off after a few hours. Let's see how it performs tonight; last night I had the taillight but the headlight went from weak to dead fairly quickly. [comment]

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