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.

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so I was gifted a windsurfer via Freecycle. went to Sonoma to pick it up, with nothing but my makeshift "kayak" wheels, a drysuit, and a minimal plan to get it into a slough and from there down to San Pablo bay and up the Petaluma river. it did not go as planned.

in no particular order: the wheels didn't work. they hardly work for anything it seems. it needs a complete redesign. the drysuit punctured, due to sharp objects getting into my Tevas, plus possibly others due to blackberry brambles. got dehydrated, hadn't brought my Dromedary bag, so had to go to town for drinkables. had to carry the heavy board plus rigging for miles to get into the part of Sonoma creek that looks navigable. did it by alternately carrying the board, the rigging, and my own supplies. took me all afternoon and night to get to the bridge. traffic on lower Broadway at night was fairly constant, and a lot of it seemed to be people checking out what I was doing, but nobody apparently called the cops because I never saw one. I guess the farmers and other residents of that area have a "well regulated militia". sure wish I knew how to organize my neighborhood that way.

just when I got to the intersection of 12 and 121, I had to pee badly and started stowing my stuff in the bushes so I could find some privacy without overly worrying about someone stopping and making off with it. but then a pickup truck pulled up and a guy asks "can I help you?" I wasn't sure what he meant so I said "you mean like a ride?" and he said "no, but you're on my property". so I got out of there and headed towards the creek. but I wasn't sure if he was still watching me or not, and stayed there on the bridge for a while until I worked out a plan. it would take him and his buddy some time, maybe at least a minute, to get to me, scramble down the bank after me, and make a citizen's arrest. if I could get all my stuff in the water quickly, they probably wouldn't be willing to swim out after me. so that's what I did, but from the bridge I hadn't seen the poison oak. I saw a path around most of it, but I still might have gotten some on me. I also hadn't put my drysuit on all the way, so I was hoping I wouldn't fall off the board. I didn't. made it downstream a bit without losing anything, and peed, then zipped up the drysuit as best I could. it doesn't work easily. plus the aforementioned hole in the left boot got water in it.

earlier that night, approaching dawn, a guy in a truck saw the board which I had carried on ahead, opened the back and was about to throw it in when I started yelling "leave my stuff alone! leave it! that's mine!" and he finally said "OK" and got back in his truck. I don't blame him, it did look like something abandoned, but it sure would have bummed me out to lose it after carrying it all that way, and still having all the other stuff that goes with it now suddenly useless.

so anyway, floating down the creek, using the skeg as a paddle, it took me maybe an hour to get to a place where I could pull out and tie it up. I wasn't sure if the road along it was public or private so I wasn't sure if I should get back to the bridge, only a couple hundred yards away or so, and get out there, or not. but attempting to swim with my leaky drysuit, and an inflatable PFD that I wasn't sure would stay inflated, with a few tens of pounds of wet gear looked like a disaster waiting to happen. I didn't think, based on past experience, that my drybag could be relied upon with full immersion. so I climbed out and walked the road, which, it turned out was public after all.

I've got 3 largish abrasions on my toes and feet, at least one infected. muscle pains all over. I finally got a good night's sleep last night. only ate two rolls and a 59 cent bag of spicy peanuts from Monday morning to late Tuesday afternoon, but Tuesday night was treated to dinner at a trendy San Francisco eatery, Bocadillo's.

waterproofing tech still sucks. tablet computers should be completely sealed and rechargable by inductive coupling. drysuits should be rugged, breathable, and lightweight by now. paper money should be waterproof.

I'm sure there's more, I'm still weak of mind and body, and have to study the sloughs, tides, and San Pablo bay better before I try again. I can't count on being able to use my GPS when the tablet could run out of power or get destroyed by seawater. maybe I'll just go back soon and play around with the sail in Sonoma creek if it's still there. oh, and I lost a bottle of Tejava in the creek but by the time I noticed it I was worried about my drybag leaking and had to get out of there.

more later as I remember. [comment]


another critter story: on the way up, the yogurt container in which I'd stored the rest of my oatmeal combined with some mixed brown and wild rice, with a little soy sauce, had come open inside my tucker bag, and made a royal mess. but most of it was still in the container, so I left it in the bear box overnight. this morning it smelled just like yogurt. it had picked up an acidophilus! I'll have to add some wheat flour and make sourdough crepes for breakfast tomorrow. [comment]


thousands of maggotlike critters are living in the pit toilets at Van Damme. presumably they drink piss and eat shit. it might be useful to study them if we as a culture insist on not composting humanure. [comment]


so, this just happened...

Setting up exim4-config (4.84-8) ...

Configuration file '/etc/exim4/conf.d/auth/30_exim4-config_examples' ==> Modified (by you or by a script) since installation. ==> Package distributor has shipped an updated version. What would you like to do about it ? Your options are: Y or I : install the package maintainer's version N or O : keep your currently-installed version D : show the differences between the versions Z : start a shell to examine the situation The default action is to keep your current version. *** 30_exim4-config_examples (Y/I/N/O/D/Z) [default=N] ? Installing new version of config file /etc/exim4/exim4.conf.template ...

y u no offer me option on exim4.conf.template, deeb?

I had no backup. I'm screwed for the next few hours at least. [comment]


over the weekend I finished milling the fire control cavity (again), and this time the trigger and hammer work properly. I still couldn't fit the selector in; had to file down the top of the trigger assembly just slightly, and tap it in using a hammer and dowel. and I'm not sure when I complete it that I won't have a problem with the selector not releasing the trigger. I milled the whole thing too lopsided.

also installed the chain on lotecnotectu today. two problems: the chain drifts off due to axis misalignment, and even if I can solve that, the "bike" is too rear-heavy, and pedaling just spins the front tire. it doesn't "bite". [comment]


my Facebook page The Moon hasn't been working (posting phase updates) for a few weeks now. I just started investigating, and found out the Navy server from which I get current phase info is down. guess I'll have to actually do some coding. [comment]


just spent probably an hour or more diagnosing a bad headlamp on a Subaru Outback. worked on high-beam but not on low. pulled what I guessed was the low-beam bulb out and tested it with the ohmmeter: good. now instead of checking the other bulb, I decided to hook up the meter and make sure I was getting power to the bulb. I was not, and what I saw was very confusing. of the 3 wires that came into the headlamp assembly, one split off to go to each lamp. ground, right? wrong. it was +12V. wtf? this was where I went off on a wild goose chase, finally ending up pulling the power cable off the other headlamp assembly and checking its voltages, and finding them the same: +12V, Ground, +12V on low beam and Ground, Ground, +12V on high beam. so I finally had it figured out: the ground wire went only to the low-beam lamp, and the fixed +12V line went only to the high beam lamp. when high beams are on, the relay switches the common lead to ground, turning off the low beam lamp and turning on the high beam lamp. otherwise, both sides of the high beam lamp were high. that's why when I tested voltage on it, there apparently wasn't any, because there was no differential. and of course, I was on the wrong lamp; when I finally pulled the low beam lamp and ohmed it, it was burned out. [comment]


having a hell of a time aiming the dish at the router this time. SNR going from 4 to -4, packet loss from about 30% to 100%.

peak watercress harvest about now on plum creek. the Chenopodium album that had just come up a couple months ago is almost gone, and what's left doesn't look appetizing. [comment]


today I scored a loaf of spelt bread, some onions, an apple, a potato, and a carrot from the senior center; 4 largish crayfish from the pond, though I lost one somewhere along the way; another apple from a neighbor's tree (he piled the drops near the sidewalk); two ripe avocados from my favorite grocery store dumpster; and got some FRNs from another neighbor via nextdoor.com, for pulling out a rosebush. it was hard work, but something I can do while still an alcoholic.

cooking up a soup of the veggies and crayfish tails, after eating the avocados and apples. it's hayboxing now. [comment]


fall is finally, indisputably, in the Sonoma county air. [comment]


thought I'd buy some bandaids to refill my first-aid kit. walked into CVS thinking they'd have good prices, but the cheapest box was over $3. guess I'll wait 'til I go to Mexico in another 6 weeks or so, they're about half that price down there. economy of scale? what's happening here... [comment]


violence is the language of the State. those of us who wish to change the State must be fluent in this language. but always remember, the State is the undisputed master of its use. [comment]


from a Facebook friend whom I trust:

Because this might help someone with a fungal infection (which Valley fever is) I want to share this comment which was my response on a friend's health related thread.

I had a Valley fever infection in 2007 and rather than take the Diflucon which has liver destroying side effects (they planned on blood tests for liver damage every three weeks and taking the Diflucon for a year or more) I had my wife bring a pan of water to boil and put about 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil on it. I held my nose, closed my eyes (it will sting your eyes or your sinuses and you want it to go straight to your lungs) and inhaled it til it was gone. The next morning the fever was gone and I was back to normal. My doctors wouldn't just release me but did blood draws for 9 more months and sent them to UC Davis where they do all the Valley fever lab tests. Their tests confirmed the infection and the tapering off of the antibodies confirmed the cure.

might try it for my postnasal drip. can't see how it would help, but likewise can't see that it would hurt. [comment]


caught 3 more crayfish today, even without the glove, and made 3 little sandwiches that I just finished eating. I came to the realization that I can save a lot of fuel by not cooking the whole thing. so I smashed their heads with a hammer, tore off the tails and claws, and just steamed them with a little water in my skillet. it was a lot harder to pull the meat out of the tails, but worth it for all the butane I saved.

feeling close to 100%. unless I take a turn for the worse tonight, I can say I kicked the bug in about 100 hours, I guess. [comment]


I'm not sure if the "free" crayfish I'm harvesting are really worth it. it takes about 20 minutes to bring them to a boil, which is 1/6 of a $3 butane canister, or 50 cents. and there's not much meat in the damned things. except for the thrill of the hunt, as when one of them bit me on the way home, it would probably be better to spend a little money and buy some organic liver meat, which cooks up in about 5 minutes. [comment]


another possibly recurring dream, meaning that within the dream I remembered having the experience before, that of being trapped in a huge warehouse which was filling up with water during a storm. in this particular dream, the storm was just beginning, and I was starting to watch the wind pick up with the front roll-up door open. but the owner or manager came by and shut it, locking me in. I asked if there were a way to get out, he said to cut the chain. I said I didn't have a tool to do that, he just shrugged and went away.

not long after that, some other guy came up some secret passage, and completely ignoring me, walked across the room to another hidden door, and went through. I screamed "motherfucker!" at him, which woke me (and probably everybody else in the house) up. [comment]


the Prunus on Lynch Creek Trail north, west of Sonoma Mountain Parkway, was very likely P. lyonii, "Catalina cherry". native to the Channel Islands off California, it is also listed as P. ilifolica ssp. lyonii, a subspecies of hollyleaf cherry, the one I found a bit farther north on SMP. so, two more edibles added to my mental database. [comment]


no doubt about it, I'm sick. what remains to be seen is how quickly I can recover. c'mon body, I know you can do it. [comment]


found Prunus ilicifolia or hollyleaf cherry, at calflora.org. I think it's one of those two I posted a few hours ago at Plant Identification. still don't know the one with the smooth glossy leaves, but will assume it's also a Prunus. [comment]


identified sweet clover (tree clover), Melilotus alba, on Facebook's Plant Identification forum today, and also tentatively identified Solanum americanum, which I also found growing along Lynch Creek today.

I'd really like to identify those sweet plum-like fruits, but so far no joy.

I've definitely caught some kind of microbial nastiness. hopefully I can kill it before it grows. [comment]


started feeling a tickle in my throat about the time I hit Payran on the way back from G&G. sat down at Whole Foods and ate some steak tartar with Estancia ground beef, Clover yogurt, and wild-gathered watercress. [comment]


sauteed the kelp I gathered and dried last time paddling Drake's Estero in olive oil, and ate it as the salt source with my ahi sashimi with chopped garlic for dinner tonight. it was perfect in flavor and texture. I don't know what those whitish patches of brittle growth were on it, but didn't worry about it after cooking.

splurged today, had a Starbucks coffee for the first time in a long time, but after one more I can get a free meal as a reward. the senior center with its 50 cent coffee won't be open again until Tuesday. and that dinner cost me a little over $3. I got a bunch more of that $2/bottle Primitivo, and 10 packs of sausages for the upcoming weekend trips. I can always gather greens, and starches are usually easy to find cheap or free, but for meats that keep well without refrigeration, sausages are hard to beat. [comment]


just saw a bat ray flapping its "wings" in the Petaluma river next to Dempsey's. a first! [comment]


already jogging back to normal after a tentative slow run up East Washington yesterday. still felt some twinging towards the end of it, so I'm not at 100%. but close enough.

making some progress on kybyz, but it may yet be a while before I have anything ready for alpha test. [comment]


won't starve today. unlittered at Lucchesi with a leather glove I'd found on the street today, and along with the plastic trash hauled out 4 decent sized crayfish. just grabbed them by the claws if they were hiding in the drain holes, or came up behind them and grabbed them if they were walking the perimeter. they scoot backwards if they see you. I probably got caught on camera, so might not get away with this again. but the leather was sufficient to keep the claws from hurting.

on the way back, scored at the Grocery Outlet dumpster: 3 boxes strawberries, slightly moldy papaya, bag of broccoli florets. [comment]


yesterday, just as I was hitting the Lynch Creek Trail again after going around the Clover dairy plant, a pain shot from the top of my left foot to my knee. had to stop my jog and walk. guess I've got to run barefoot again and undo whatever bad habits have been creeping into my stride. but first I have to heal. [comment]

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