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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2010-06-30-0954Z

Another recurring dream, and this one will make an incredible short story if I can get it down. I was in a universe where a secret society exists, one more brutal than any I've heard of in this one. Every man or just some men, starting very young, from maybe the age of 12 (I saw myself from outside for a moment; I was a kid in his early teens, a little overweight, of some race with skin slightly darker than the whites, and had straight black hair), some much later, starts getting bullied around. Cops are in on this too, or are simply being used by the cabal to harass and torture their victims. Someone, for example, would start picking on you in a public place, and others would join in. Those not in the society would cower or run away (or maybe they're in on it too, I couldn't tell), leaving you to fend for yourself. The whole purpose, as I began to understand it, was to get you to be immune to pain: I'd hit these guys, even drive a stick through their arm repeatedly, and they'd just keep coming. They'd find me everywhere I'd go. Then I started realizing I always kept going to the same places. Instead I went into a communal kitchen and pretended to be working on cleaning under the sink, and was able to hide there for a while. Then the guy who first saw me there came back, asked how I was doing. He said "You're from Pennsylvania, aren't you? This guy over there was just telling me about you." So I knew they'd caught up to me. But at that point I understood that they weren't just trying to kill me.

I started finding things I could use for weapons and caching them in different places, places I'd never gone to before. They'd catch me again and start torturing me. Their torture devices would fail, and I'd help them fix it so they could torture me some more.

The whole purpose, I finally understood, was to make men into super-soldiers: those who ignored pain, were always mobile, were resourceful, and did not fear death. At all.

I also realized I'd either pass their test, or die. Nobody, once they were chosen (and again, this could be every man, or only a few, and no women were recruited though they may have been involved) would be left alone until one or the other occurred. I felt that this was an offense to my freedom, but realized I'd have to pass the test to remain free, and by that point I'd be one of them and would be in agreement with what they were doing. In fact I was already in agreement by the time I woke up; I saw the method to their madness and decided I wanted to be that powerful myself. Especially considering the alternative. [comment]

2010-06-28-1802Z

Saturday I rode my recumbent into San Francisco, trying out some bike paths I saw on Google Maps but which apparently few people know about or care to use. Following Redwood Boulevard south through Novato, it dead-ends twice but is connected by a bike path to another section of road. The farthest I had to get away from a direct run along Highway 101 was the Mill Valley-Sausalito bike path.

It took me all day, and by the time I got onto Columbus Avenue I was quite hungry. Past the tourist trap area, the Burgermeister looked tempting with its Niman Ranch beef and $3 beers between 5:30 and 7:30, 7 days a week. They were botching orders left and right, including mine (I asked for Pepper Jack and got cheddar, another guy got my Pepper Jack) but I had a good meal and got out of there without spending much over $12.

My Burley Travoy is already breaking at the middle joint. I keep popping it back into position but it's only a matter of time before it doesn't hold up any more at all. Probably all those bumps over sidewalks that don't have ramps are giving it too much of a shock.

Went to Tomales Bay yesterday with the Petaluma Paddlers, fought the current out towards the mouth instead of hugging the shore and getting a favorable eddy current like the smarter paddlers did. I was exhausted, slept almost 11 hours. Now got lots of work to do over the next few days before we're off to 4th of Juplaya. [comment]

2010-06-25-2310Z

The pain hasn't recurred in my hand since I cut down on wheat. But my right foot is still cracking and getting infected. Can't keep it ground down fast enough.

When you brush without toothpaste, instead of spitting you can just swallow it. Sounds gross, but it's your own germs after all, and sometimes spitting is not an option.

Solved a problem for a customer on RentACoder.com involving binary files whose format needed to be reverse-engineered. He said he'd given the job to more than 20 other coders who couldn't figure it out.

Really liking my recumbent. Got to start figuring a way to float it, and add a trailer to it that can carry people. Offer a free taxi service, tipping encouraged, and maybe make good money without any license needed. Water taxi, human powered, between downtown and the marina.

Did the Lagunitas free tour as far as getting almost two pints of free beer, and the jazz band just started. Life is good. [comment]

2010-06-22-1009Z

Just awoke from an interesting dream, in which I was in, or watching, a book or movie called Humidor, not about a cigar case but rather a natural phenomenon of the Earth. I'm already forgetting most of it, but just before I woke up it was being explained to me that the earth's core had just recently, in the last 30 years or so, solidified, and was functioning as a supercomputer. I told the explainer, played by a Jeff Goldblum or Tommy Lee Jones sort of actor, that I couldn't see how a liquid magnetic core could just self-organize into something so complex, and he answered "ever hear of DNA"?

Might be good grist for a fictional short story. [comment]

2010-06-20-0254Z

The narrow bridge was only southbound; northbound back to Petaluma was pretty safe except for one spot where a "slide ahead" sign was blocking the shoulder. And once I took the Petaluma Blvd. South exit the shoulder was on again, off again, but there wasn't much traffic.

On the way down, I forgot to mention, I saw a doe and fawn on the right side of the road, less than 20 yards away at the nearest point. The doe easily jumped the barbed-wire fence, but the fawn bounded along it for a few yards then just stood there, waiting for it to open up I suppose. One of these days I want to do some hunting of some sort... I feel I'm going to lose my instinct. [comment]

2010-06-19-2303Z

Rode my new acquisition to Novato today, roughly 11 miles. There's a hairy bridge not far south of Petaluma, no shoulder, that I had to get off, wait for traffic to slow, and walk across, holding my hands loosely on the handlebars so that if a car hit the bike, I could still maybe escape unscathed. But all went well. Though 101 is marked "freeway" at the entrance off Petaluma Blvd. South, it isn't prohibited to bicyclists nor pedestrians, and in fact within a half mile its "freeway" status ends; there's cross traffic.

At Moylan's beer garden, having a 10-ounce Kiltlifter. Funny they sell it in pints everywhere else but here.

Having motivational problems with programming. My customers are, thankfully, being very patient with me.

Running "iwlist scanning" shows a "Free Public WiFi" AP, but it's not giving me a DHCP response. Are all these scams? Anything with an SSID of "Free Public Wifi" never seems to work, anywhere I've come across them. [comment]

2010-06-16-1821Z

Starbucks will start giving free unlimited wifi to everyone in two weeks. There goes the neighborhood. I'd better get there at opening time to have a shot at one of the electrical outlets.

Started an experiment about a week ago, using a kombucha "mother" to eat a HDPE plastic bag. It seems to be working, I've stopped feeding it sweetened tea and it's still bubbling away. But no sign of the bag degrading just yet.

Bought a BikeE recumbent on Craigslist, and went to pick it up yesterday, near San Ramon. A bit unstable, so far, with the small front wheel; I keep jerking out into traffic (very bad). But oh, so easy on my poor hands; very little chance of nerve damage, with no weight placed on them.

When I went to get a cash advance at the bank yesterday, I showed my DL for identification, but it had expired last month. Lucky I had my passport card. NM doesn't offer renewal online like California does, so looks like I'll have to go back or get a CA license.

Spending way too much, now got to knuckle down and work for a few weeks to pay it all off. [comment]

2010-06-11-0518Z

Today I jogged partly up Sonoma Mountain Road before I got tired, from 10:26 to 11:41, some stops at traffic lights in between. Then I walked as far as I could to Jack London Park before I got stopped by a gate near the top of the mountain. So I walked back, making it to the Lagunitas taproom by 16:07. I had a Lucky 13 ale, which I remembered was the first Lagunitas brew I'd ever tried, at the Safeway heading out of Placerville; an Imperial Stout; and a Cappuccino stout. Stopped again at Starbucks when I got downtown, and had a shower at the gym before returning home. I'd gone close to 20 miles without eating or hydrating, having for breakfast only about 6 ounces of kombucha and a slice of gluten-free bread.

It was a beautiful day, but I'm exhausted; and I've got lots of work to do, besides playing with colorForth, on which I've been spending a lot of time lately. [comment]

2010-06-07-1742Z

Got the race results yesterday; my "vehicle", Lotecnotec, came in 19th out of 43, 34 of which finished. I was in 4th place on day 1, but days 2 and 3 I got heavily penalized for skipping the water parts. And next year, they won't allow racers to go overland on the 3rd leg unless everybody goes overland; so I really have to be ready for the water by then. Drysuit and float bags, minimum.

Went to a meeting down in Santa Clara two days ago, and thought of a new slogan for bay area public transport: "Twice as long, for twice the price!". No wonder the car culture is so well-entrenched despite an otherwise wonderful system of buses and trains. Who wants to leave 4 hours early to get to work on time, and spend twice what they would on gasoline?

Musing about what will happen if enough people get enlightened before we destroy ourselves... products will be built to last 1000 years or more, and made so that if they are obsoleted by new technology, the parts can be easily recycled or reused. Standards will be established and followed, and maybe someday there will only be a few tens of different motor types in regular household use instead of thousands. Roads will be paved once forever and will not need maintenance for hundreds of years; and when that time comes, they will be made as new and not patched, as now when concrete roads have holes filled with asphalt patch. And all that's just a start. Above-ground structures will be phased out in favor of a vast network of burrows and tunnels, enough room for billions in a naturally climate-controlled underground. Above, the houses will disappear along with the notion that people can "own" land, and the deer, elk, buffalo, and wolf will once again flourish. [comment]

2010-06-02-1752Z

In a recurring dream I am an assassin, and the government is tracking me down. I keep buying books and other things that help them locate me (strangely, Catcher in the Rye was not one of them) and right before I woke up, the agents were in the same building where I was. [comment]

2010-06-01-1811Z

Finished day 3 of the race at about 1630, way faster than last year even though I took a longer route, swinging by the fairgrounds as instructed. I had done the Cannibal Island Road part in just under an hour, jogging and scootering most of it. Had a rather inglorious finish, trying to sprint the last few yards but tripping and falling down. Somehow I caught myself with one hand as if in slow motion, and didn't hurt myself at all. [comment]

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