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


yesterday I had dinner at Bismarckcito on the Malecon. either I misread the menu or I got their famous bait-and-switch gringo special; under Caldos y Sopas there was Mariscos for $130MN, and I ordered caldo de mariscos. rich and filling, the sticker shock came when the bill showed $220MN for just the caldo. I paid it but maybe I won't go there again. [comment]


an unusually cogent thought I came up with in a Facebook convo today, maybe worth sharing with a wider audience:

the ruling class rules. that's what they do. most of the top investors and board members of large multinational corporations are in this class. the rest of us, to paraphrase George Carlin, aren't in this club and have no chance of getting into it.

within the ruling class are different political affiliations, even libertarian -- e.g. Peter Thiel -- but they all agree on some certain key principles, primary among them being the ruling class matters, and nobody else does.

in that context, those of us who do not want to rule nor to be ruled are at odds with those who do wish to rule (roughly, the political right -- Steinbeck's "temporarily embarrassed millionaires") or be ruled (roughly, the political left). of the two, the left is the bigger threat because they more willingly support the ruling class in their endeavors. last Presidential election we didn't even have a choice, we had two leftists up for sale, Romney and Obama. less than 2 percent voted for someone else.



so this is what we're up against. people ignore Rachel Carson's warning from 1962 "because muh bible".

with solar and wind both under $1/watt thanks to free market forces, why continue giving your hard-earned money to the unholy alliance of government and polluting industries? [comment]


a day or two after making my agua de jamaica, I skimmed the blossoms off the top and saved them in the fridge so they wouldn't rot. I can use them for another batch, or make them into tacos. a fine layer of kahm yeast formed on the elixir soon after making it, but that hasn't noticeably hurt the flavor and may be keeping other nastier stuff out. [comment]


while waiting for my order of grilled yellowtail (jurél I worked on the piece of my right rear molar that's been causing me so much pain the last few weeks. finally got it out. too bad I left my camera's SDRAM chip in the netbook, this is a beautiful piece of fish. [comment]


just commented on an article at turncoatresource.com. in case it gets quashed by the moderator, I'll post it here too:

useful and informative article, but a few points of clarification and/or correction:

the algorithms don’t necessarily have to change as more miners come online. what changes is the difficulty of finding an arrangement of bytes that will hash to a low enough number. here’s an example:

jcomeau@aspire:~$ md5sum /bin/* | sort -r | tail
0f897806d7c027fc643531ab20333ac9 /bin/grep
0e39d6f2898ceaaf1e3d9fcb6fee0950 /bin/tempfile
0dd7f553945e453a2415936bd2d3a002 /bin/mv
0d46e555b7bc8016f1ee8d713003d499 /bin/ntfscat
0c8422f5e415cd767be9af29dc20e35a /bin/sed
0a599dea3c1affe616539219ec31b152 /bin/ntfsck
0a4e1fd11e53fc180e8f748d681945df /bin/readlink
0a3a702f716cece1c0f0456a66ca7228 /bin/fgrep
091c718ef54f50acdd17c9f5f82f6834 /bin/ntfswipe
04a77c42b5ff03838e08925db76d479e /bin/df

imagine you had to find a program that hashed to ’0000000000000000000000000022a65e’. forget about it. now let’s say you could change the last 8 bytes of each program to whatever you wanted before you hashed it (the ‘nonce’ and timestamp). now let’s say you could partition the program into about 30 pieces and rearrange them however you wanted except for the first one (the transactions in the block). this is now getting in the realm of feasability, and is a pretty good analogy of bitcoin mining.

you also said “bitcoin is not meant to hold on to for any significant period of time”. why not? it’s inflation-proof, in fact somewhat deflationary. the dangers lie in what the world’s governments might have in store to thwart it, and some as-yet-unanticipated flaw in the system that renders it valueless overnight.

as for gold and silver, you say both “[t]he value of precious metals is not artificially determined by parasitic ‘governments’” and “[u]nfortunately their success is hinged on the inability of Central Bankers to keep their prices artificially suppressed” which seems to indicate you do realize the latter is happening. funny money is flowing from the Fed, through JP Morgan and other firms worldwide, to buy and sell (short and long contracts) gold and silver with the net result, if not the express purpose, of controlling the price; and that pressure has been almost uniformly downward for years.



yesterday on 5 de Mayo I passed a coconut tree of which one branch and cluster of 3 cocos had broken and were hanging in easy reach. today there were 2 cocos left so I took one and popped it in my duffel bag. just cut it open a few minutes ago and drank the juice. yum! haven't had such a treat in quite a while.

back in the new coffeeshop at Got Baja?. coffee kinda "meh" but drinkable, free power, wifi, clean restrooms. works for me. [comment]


finally went ahead and did a 90-degree bend on that piece of plastic conduit, regardless of the kinking which the sand didn't help prevent. it's ugly, but rigid and strong. I think 3/4 inch conduit bent this way will work as a sail/landpaddle/fall-protection thing. sometime this weekend hopefully.

paying the water bill in La Paz should be easy; about 10 different stores and banks serve as agents, supposedly. the Arámburo on Madero didn't accept it; the first Oxxo cajera refused it because it said FEB (it was from mid-Feb to mid-March), but the other, an older woman, tried to ring it up for me. the barcode wouldn't scan. ended up taking it to the water office to pay. [comment]


ate a roasted serrano pepper with my fish taco lunch today. went down easy, but burned in my stomach so bad it had me worried for a while. drank some of the jamaica sun tea I started in the front yard last night (which hadn't actually gotten any sun yet, but enough juice had leached into the water from the blossoms by then), and took my siesta on the beach and I was OK. [comment]


went to El Parnazo today for a liter even though it's not a major moon phase. just felt like getting stupid I guess. but now I'm sobered up and about to get back to work.

news of Leland Yee getting arrested were encouraging, makes me want to believe OathKeepers among the FBI are asserting control, trying to prevent or at least minimize the coming violence of revolution. but more likely he's just the fall guy for some even bigger fish; considered expendable by the Bay Area power cartel. [comment]


found out the aguas (today it was agua de naranja) at Elotes Don Pablo downtown are only 10 pesos, and the guy didn't mind ladeling it into my coffee cup. I'd been searching for something else to drink besides coffee and beer, and this seems to be agreeable to my system, not too sugary.

speaking of sugar, I had an ice cream cone yesterday with no ill effects, but I'm going to try to keep it a once-a-week or so indulgence.

spent another $20 or so on connectors and wire to hook up to my solar panel. still haven't figured out what I'm going to do for a buck converter or inverter to AC. I really don't want to do the battery thing. heavy as hell, toxic to manufacture, and don't last very long. [comment]


bought a 245W solar panel yesterday from Todo Solar on 5 de Februario in La Paz. not a bad deal at all for USD455, under $2 a watt. unfortunately it's a 24V nominal panel and I can't use it directly for much. maybe the cordless drill.

the tomato seeds I squeezed out of desert-acclimated tomatoes into pots a week or two ago are sprouting; I have 9 seedlings today up from 3 yesterday.

made chilaquiles for lunch and dinner today. basically, just fry up leftover corn tortillas after quartering them, and add whatever is leftover in the fridge. can't really go wrong, especially if you use lard as the cooking oil. [comment]


well, it took the patched firmware, and rebooted, but only partially. now only the power lamp is lit, and the wbr1310 is unresponsive to pings and web requests. guess I might have bricked it. [comment]


I believe I found the problem with the WBR1310 firmware image I made with Collake's FMK tools. the 16 bytes starting at offset 0x50 of the image are the MD5 checksum; if that isn't corrected, the upload program rejects it and doesn't attempt to burn it. let's see if I can patch the modified image with xxd, and see what happens. [comment]


after many years, finally put a decent set of iptables rules on my servers. I'm my own worst admin. if I were as sloppy on other people's servers I'd be out of a job.

also had an easy time of apt-get upgrades, despite a new libc6, which typically leads to hours of cursing, hair-pulling, and downed servers. luck seems to be in my favor today. [comment]


I was hoping my brilliant analogy would make my opponent see the error of his ways and join me on the freedom train. turns out I was fighting an unarmed opponent. feel free to join in if you're so inclined. [comment]


stopped into the Todo Solar store today on the corner of 5 Februario and Constitución. the windows are all barred so it always looks closed, but if you go right up to it you see the door is unlocked. anyway, the 250W panels aren't a bad deal at USD460, less than $2/watt. I was expecting they'd be much higher.

my Aspire power adapter must have a flaky connection in the low-voltage line at the brick. by having that end of it shoved against the wall, it keeps enough pressure on it to maintain a connection.

a guy on the Gringo list sold me a Portasol butane-powered soldering iron for MXN730, about USD65, so I can work on some projects now, like my desalination ideas. [comment]


yesterday while jogging I saw a seagull repeatedly carry a live mussel, which washed in attached to a clump of seaweed, and drop it on the malecon to break it. he's learning from the crows?! he'll have a genetic advantage, and presumably so will his offspring, if he isn't limited to handouts and leftovers as many other gulls are. it's nice to imagine the whole world, all the animals, reaching enlightenment and coming up with new ways of doing things both for fun and for survival. those rays we saw attempting to fly out by Espiritu Santo a few weeks ago are another example. in a high wind it's entirely possible they could go many yards in a single jump. [comment]


yesterday on the way back from cola de ballena I noticed the pitch dripping from large old acacias where branches had been cut. it formed hard, glossy patches on the road underneath, but was liquid with very little viscosity coming out, and it had a smell like smoke flavoring. I imagine this could, if collected, be a very useful substance for food flavoring and varnish if nothing else. [comment]


it is indeed the power adapter getting wonky. the plug is repositionable; I popped it out and back on a few times, and it's working at the moment. fingers crossed.

in other news, the largest remaining fragment of my right rear molar is loose and somewhat painful. it'll probably be popping out soon. hoping for a miracle 3rd set of teeth any day now :^) [comment]


so my laptop power connector shows nothing coming in. just great. this goddamned Acer Aspire lasted less than a year? hopefully it's just the wall wart. [comment]


tried bending PVC pipe today using packed pea gravel, as I didn't have any sand available. it didn't work, not on 3/4" pipe anyway. kinked badly. [comment]


assuming goodwill goes a long way. the author of this originally poorly-titled article raised a lot of hackles, and the author, defensive at first, changed the title. I took that to mean she wasn't an anti-gun idiot, and used some gentle persuasion. I'd say it paid off. from the Disqus comments:

Linsey Bald 9 hours ago

Hello all,

This is not something I normally do, as I stand by my original headline based on my previous post, but in consideration of the responses from concerned readers, and so as to not misrepresent either my own views or skew the importance of this topic, I changed the headline.

Thank you kindly,


JohnComeau Linsey Bald 7 hours ago

thank you Linsey! I was gonna throw in a jab about the vigilante firemen running around with their extinguishers but you took the wind outta my sails :^)

seriously, I guess you can sense the passion we "gun nuts" have about this topic. we're being demonized daily, and losing the ideological war will most likely spell civil war, which we are trying desperately to avoid.

Linsey Bald JohnComeau 5 hours ago

You're welcome.

I was hopeful that this article would generate some productive discussion. Not the sort of back and forth banter that it did, and continues to. My bad.

JohnComeau Linsey Bald 5 hours ago

you could avoid such gaffes by reading fellow Examiner authors David Codrea and Kurt Hofmann, who cover gun rights. their columns will give you a better sense of what the discussion is and why it is important. thanks again.

Linsey Bald JohnComeau 4 hours ago

Thank you for the suggestion. (And I am NOT saying that sarcastically) :)



pretty sure the cold or whatever it was is over now, after 9 days. gotta do a better job of maintaining my immune system.

marinated some steaks in guava tonight, came out pretty good, but I overcooked them. George Tatakis would not have had any kind words for what I did. cooked the guava with some sweet potatoes and mashed them together, that wasn't bad either. [comment]


realizing that the presence of an open browser on my desktop is an invitation to goof off, and having been exposed to a new text browser that's well maintained (compared to lynx and links), w3m, I've written a couple of tiny scripts that allow me to do two of the most essential things.

the first is google.sh, which lets you (after you've symlinked it as $HOME/bin/google) type "google your ass is grass", hit <ENTER;>, and see the results of the "I'm feeling lucky" search. or just type "google" and get the Google homepage.

the second is gmail.sh, which takes you to the HTML version of Google mail. your cookies are stored in $HOME/.w3m/cookie, a plain-text file that you can easily view and edit. [comment]


saw a netmeme today (I refuse to call them simply memes) that indicated that while our rights are taken away bit by bit, we only get them back by revolution. at first I thought, no, we in California and Illinois are getting our gun rights back now; but then it hit me. we are already in a revolution. mostly a bloodless one, so far, but we've made our intent known, thanks to Mike Vanderboegh, David Codrea, and others, who have made it abundantly clear to our putative "leaders" that we have no need of them; we are perfectly capable of directing our sovereign selves.

soldiers on R & R have a chance to recharge before once again facing battle. I drank 2 litros de cerveza tonight as my contribution. let's hope I can fulfill my role in active duty as triumphantly. the whole world is indeed watching. historic battles are coming up. [comment]


so the virus didn't go away after all. throat flaring up again, congestion getting worse. still pretty minor symptoms, but all the coffee isn't helping. took some more sauerkraut this morning, but probably too late. [comment]


late last night, I awoke from a recurring dream, on the outskirts of a city near a military base. I had been sent there (by the government?) to find out why the salters and pepperers were being derelict in their duties; diners were having to eat their food unseasoned.

there was an outdoor musical theater, which billed itself as being popular because their songs were simple, happy, and well-known and loved by all. but in fact the songs were melancholy, strange, and sung in some strange language in which I knew not a word. and just about everybody in the area seemed to be using codes or signals unfamiliar to me, and just plain acting strangely.

on awakening it came to mind that the rules were so strict there, the people had come up with a system of code to transact their underground economy. the salt and pepper people were busy dealing in contraband and didn't have time to do their assigned jobs. [comment]


forgot to mention that, besides avoiding sugar since I felt the tickle in my throat, I had some home-made sauerkraut as a probiotic boost later that day. that may help explain the rapid recovery. [comment]


feel the same this morning as I did 24 hours ago, pretty much: a little congested and with more post-nasal drip than normal. so I guess the worst symptoms lasted less than a day. [comment]


coming down with something, felt it in my throat all afternoon. that muffin this morning was a bad idea. too much sugar lately. [comment]

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