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


it struck me the other day that nixtamalization might make the process of leaching tannins out of acorns more effective. but this Reddit post provides an answer that both shows what was wrong with my previous attempts, and nixes the nixtamalization idea. [comment]


so I didn't lose either the dromedary bag or headlamp. and despite the "poor, pitiful me" award, I'm generally upbeat about the race. watch out for me next year. [comment]


I didn't get a photo of it, but looking for the plants of which I did get photos, I believe I may have found California manroot, Marah fabacea, the day before yesterday in the foothills near Mt. Lassen.

other plants that have been identified through the plant identification group on Facebook, are: Penstemon speciosus or another Penstemon; Calystegia malacophylla or maybe a Convolvulus or some other vine; Clematis lasiantha or another similar species; Cirsium occidentale or another thistle; Fremontodendron californicum or another flannelbush; and this possible lilac; and there's this unknown plant with glossy, waxy serrated leaves and small trumpet-shaped pale blue flowers. [comment]


blast from the past: rat bastard Anthony Portantino, anti-gun male, expounding on his ignorance of constitutional law and his fear of inanimate objects. Charles Nichols hopes to repeal his and all the other bad laws dating back to the Mulford Act, restoring lawful open carry without giving up 4th amendment rights. while at first I thought it counterproductive arguing against the Peruta decision, I now see his point that open carry is a much bigger win. [comment]


so I got the "poor pitiful me" award. insult to injury. I was expending every ounce of energy, despite an opposing wind and possibly also a reverse eddy current, to get out into the channel and thus the flood tide under my own power and the officials forced a tow on me. I may have been blocking the way for other racers. I don't know, it didn't look that way to me. but blaming me for my bad attitude after taking my whole reason for participating in the race away from me seems mean and petty.

that's OK, I'm going to take that anger and turn it into something positive. I'm going to develop a cheap, comfortable, fast, amphibious vehicle and share it with the world. hopefully you'll see it next race. unless you blink.

looks like I lost one dromedary bag and one headlamp this time. about $60 gone. hopefully something turns up. [comment]


heard last night that the rampmeister was irate, and that the only person more hated than me was the drunk in the blue kayak. wow. hated. that's pretty bad. [comment]


Wendy and Team Terrapin were good neighbors. quieted down when they said they would.

after cogitating on yesterday's ousting from the water, I see the rampmeister's point of view. I was in the way, and uncooperative. I'll just have to make a water-capable machine for next year. nomolotec. [comment]


2 or 3 or so days ago my upper back pain disappeared. my foot is better, too, but probably only because I've been staying off it. [comment]


gave my awards dinner wristband to the Grateful Dead camp and got them to agree to turn down the music later. I'm going to watch the ribs while my campmates make the rounds of the party camps. the sun, out for only an hour or so, already ducked back behind the clouds.

already on my 2nd bottle of wine. I may not be exactly happy yet, but I'm cheering up.

been thinking about the nixtamalization process, and wondering whether or not it would make an easier job of rendering acorns and buckeyes for eating. will have to experiment with that one of these days, first with pickling lime, then quicklime, then homemade from burned seashells or caliche.

my butane stove, that I bought from the Alphabet Soup thrift store for $15 and found gas canisters for about $4 each at Big 5, is working well for braising the ribs, much better than the propane stove, which is always tippy and has a flame that's hard to turn low without going out.

the chief medic and another race official apologized to me earlier today, at Eureka Natural Foods. it's not their fault I was blocking the channel. I'll just have to do better next year. [comment]


I couldn't make any progress in the water today, and apparently the rampmeister got antsy and ordered the chief medic to get me out of there. but somehow the guys got the wrong message, and told me I was out of the race. or at least, that was how I took it. so I gave up on the race, rinsed as much of the mud as I could off my gear, and am just going to party from here on out. I definitely need to get a working, water-ready sculpture for next year. [comment]


get the supreme quesadilla de chile verde. excellent, filling, and cheap. [comment]


finished day 1 of the race first in Eureka, had the obligatory pint of Downtown Brown at Lost Coast, and, having failed to remember the Asian fusion place we found last year (the Vietnamese place on F between 6th and 7th seems to be permanently closed) we ended up at Chapala. hope it's good. [comment]


shaving with my pocketknife is pretty much down, except I can't get a close shave where it matters most, in the "kissing zone", the moustache and chin areas. I still have to use a safety razor for that, and have the problem of unclogging it after each shave. finally came up with a solution for that: the same ear irrigator I use for wax removal. fill the bulb and squirt it against the clogged blades, it cleans them fairly quickly with a minimum of water. before it could take over a gallon, waiting for it to get hot then sometimes still couldn't get enough pressure from the faucet. now I just have to remember to take one of these with me on trips. [comment]


went to Whole Paycheck to make a custom trail mix for the race, something with a good blend of carbs, protein, and oils without lots of sugar. I settled on organic saltines, pecans, and hemp seed. we'll see how it works out.

taking along 3 dromedary bags, one for water and flotation, the others for flotation only. if these can keep my bike above water, I won't have to use my drybag as a float, which always causes it to leak.

pretty sure I won't have my low-tech recumbent ready in time, so looks like it's going to be Copout in Blue again this year. [comment]


two persisting pains: one in my right foot, in the tendon and/or muscles running from front to back of the foot, that spikes when I jog "front-strike". the second is my neck and/or upper back, which only bothers me when I make certain motions, that I've had since I swam in the river to test my drysuit a few days ago.

counting down the days to the race, it doesn't look probable I'll have a vehicle other than Copout in Blue, the old Huffy bike that has had numerous parts replaced since the last race. but there's still a chance. and I might come up with something to keep Copout above water without using my drybag as a flotation device, which does not work well at all and causes water to seep in every time. [comment]


had one of these samosas in Guerneville the other day. got to make 'em someday. [comment]


so it was over 3 miles, almost 3.5. that last blog entry was made at Studebaker's coffee shop in Kelseyville, wifi key mintmocha1, where I walked after the pain in my right foot got so bad I couldn't justify jogging any longer. got back to Petaluma late this afternoon and went to the market for dinnermaking materials. it was an unqualified success. I ate about 10 soaproot shoots which I grilled along with the steaks. they were somewhat bitter but quite palateable regardless. now I'm waiting for fsck to finish on my netbook, which died while sleeping over the weekend. oops, it just finished. time to get back into the Matrix. [comment]


took me about an hour and a quarter to get to Kelseyville from a campsite at Clear Lake. I jogged as far as the junction of Clark and Gaddy, which might make my 5K for the year. my tablet died of course so I can't verify. [comment]


changed out the rear wheel a few days ago, and today finished drilling an M6 stainless bolt with a 5/64 cobalt bit for a new rear brake bolt. Copout in Blue is ready for this year's race in case I don't make something better in this final week. [comment]


renewing my passport cost me just under $111.00 so far, before postage. the 6-page form was $0.61 at Staples as submitted over the web. their clerk couldn't find it for a couple minutes though. apparently web orders don't go into their normal queue so they have no record of it at the local store.

the photo, which my lady took for me and which I submitted to epassportphoto.com for their free download, cost me 29 cents to print, plus 2 cents tax for $0.31 total, I picked up at CVS pharmacy on my way back home. I had to wait about 10 minutes or more there, since the lady who works the photo department was doing something far more interesting than servicing customers who were waiting to pay, so two other clerks eventually had to take over the boring part of her job.

anyway, that beats the snapfish deal I blogged about a few years back, for which I had to pay postage and wait a few days. but that might still be the best bet back in the desert where I lived then. [comment]


#TIL one can pay the full trip on Sonoma County transit even if it means multiple buses: e.g., I can pay $3.05 on the 20 or 22 to go from Sebastopol to Petaluma, changing at the Santa Rosa transit mall to the 44 or 48. just don't want to lose the transfer. [comment]


in addition to the public restroom made private, two benches in Putnam Plaza have been removed; benches paid for in good faith by people in memoriam to loved ones or simply to do something beneficial for others. perhaps they are just off somewhere for repairs but I don't know. I sense a war on the local homeless population. [comment]


went up on the hillside while still light and rescued my chair. it's ready for tonight if I decide to camp out.

changed out my wetsocks for normal socks to give my feet a chance to dry out and breathe. but it seems possible to wear them for extended periods, and the baking soda kept athlete's foot fungus at bay. [comment]


I think there might have just been a glitch in the Matrix. I saw a cat drive by, then another cat that looked just like him. it may have been the same cat. [comment]


I'd forgotten that the freewheel is borked. jogged to the bus station and got on the 101. but it was the 101 south, and emptied my Clipper card. the driver gave me a transfer, with which I just got on the northbound bus, but I'm still out a few bucks. [comment]


quick update on the feet: the baking soda is working well. no stinkfoot and the constant moisture of the wetsocks has no apparent ill effect, in fact the cracked skin on the heels might be softening. but it just seems so unnatural and counterintuitive.

also, a few small grass stickers did get stuck in the fabric between the socks and the sandals.

I plan to bike to Sebastopol today for my orientation to Chimera. [comment]


went to my campsite about a half hour past sundown tonight. it was still light enough to see my gravity chair in the next site over, but not light enough to avoid the poison oak. so I left it until I can go back in sunlight. I also verified that my wetsocks resist being penetrated by grass stickers, and that I probably didn't get into poison oak the other night. [comment]


figured out how to save money eating, at Whole Foods of all places. in the bulk section they have a "lentil curry soup mix" in which the lentils are pre-cooked. all one need do is add to boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. up front they have a water dispenser and a microwave, so voila! instant lunch for about 50 cents. I noticed also they have organic Mary's chicken livers for $3.99 a pound, which could be cooked the same way, but it would take a lot longer.

of course, that wasn't enough to fill me up, so I'm stuffing my face with much more expensive raw walnuts and pistachios. still, I should end up full for about $5.

cops just arrested two guys outside, guessing for shoplifting. there but for the grace of brains and a conscience go I. [comment]


in my dream I was in Russia but it was low-G. I could skate easily on hardwood floors. I thought a truck was coming at me across a rocky field but it turned out to be a cargo box full of produce, maybe a ton, simply tossed by the workers after filling.

my feet feel damp inside the wetsocks but I want to give the experiment a good chance so won't take them off just yet. [comment]


changed out the baking soda in my underarm guards after about a month of use, the last week or so without even showering. they work unbelievably well. I still want a better way of fastening them at the top, as these tarp clips I'm using now are too big, and cause me pain when a shoulder strap pushes down on them, but as far as function goes I can't complain.

also trying something new, baking soda in my new hydroskin wetsocks, in an effort to mitigate athlete's foot fungus and resulting stinkfoot. [comment]


forgot to note that 5/8" is also the size of a lot of heavy-duty fencing material. not sure yet how to tie that into the sculpture ideas.

Petaluma apparently no longer has a public restroom at Putnam plaza. while the sign still indicates it's there, a smaller paper sign on the door itself contradicts it and says it's a private bathroom for the patrons of Food Bar. and long after Food Bar was closed, I saw someone with a key, probably from one of the other food or drink venues, going inside. make it impossible for homeless to find a place to pee, and then you can lock them up for public urination. I hate that. [comment]


Petaluma, when the bars start closing Saturday night, can be a scary place. I was walking back up the hill after a pint at McNear's when a pickup truck of noisy drunk white guys hooted at me, "hey baby" and "how much for that Indian"? they crossed the intersection, but a few blocks later another car drove in behind me, on the wrong side of the road, with seemingly the same bunch of guys hollering "Indian". they followed me, harassing me for another block or two before they disappeared.

this morning I heard a quail doing its "wow! wow!" lookout call, then looked up the hill and saw two nice, plump quail waddling down the hill towards me. haven't seen the little buggers for 6 months. nice to be back among friends.

night before last I attempted to sleep in my little hideout on the hill. someone had taken my gravity chair, but left my luggage, saw, and jacket. I was able to stay reasonably warm for a while, but without the chair I couldn't get level so was too uncomfortable to sleep for long. I'll have to go look during the day sometime. I doubt it's gone from the hill, some schmuck probably took it to his own campsite.

yesterday I was poking around Friedman's and made a discovery: 5/8" threaded (and presumably unthreaded) rod fits almost perfectly into 1/2" galvanized (and black?) schedule 40 pipe. just requires some filing on the welds, for which I bought a rattail file. went out to the parking lot with a bunch of rod, pipe, and fittings like side outlet tees, side outlet elbows, and crosses (none of which I knew existed in threaded fittings), and 4 wheels with 5/8" bearing ID, and prototyped a simple vehicle in about an hour with no cutting. of course it doesn't steer, but it's indefinitely reconfigurable and I'll figure something out. [comment]


had two tacos de cabeza from the Tres Hermanos truck outside Copperfield's on Kentucky St. good, though a little pricey at $2 each. but if you're hungry late at night, it may be your best option downtown.

now having an Anchor Steam at McNear's. Eagles' One of These Nights on the jukebox. [comment]


a few well-placed cuts to the battery and battery compartment of my cellphone enabled me to install it backwards, i.e., with the contacts not touching, so I can carry the phone in my pocket without it accidentally turning on and automatically calling 911, which it has done many times. luckily I didn't cut into the lithium, or the other coffeeshop patrons would have had quite a show. [comment]

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