OK, let me get this stuff down before I forget it all again...

Bubbles in the water. I've been at the Long Beach harbor every day for the last few days, and looking into the water for signs of life. It's mostly pretty toxic-looking. But at various places along the shore, at random intervals or continuously, you will see streams of bubbles rising to the surface from beneath the stones. I'm not talking about the few little bubbles a clam might produce, but in some cases gallons of gas (air?) per minute from a single location. I wonder if this is natural gas? The water's too cold and too yucky-looking for me to wade in and satisfy my curiosity, so maybe I'll rig up a torch with a kerosine-soaked rag on the end of a metal pole and see if the stuff ignites.

USB firestarter. I saw on some silly TV show one time that it's easy to start a fire with 2 'D' cells and some steel wool. The current produced is sufficient to ignite the steel, and that burns hot enough to light just about anything. I have a spare USB cable from that crap digital camera I had before; I wonder if the USB spec permits enough current at 12VDC at short circuit to ignite the steel wool? I've been thinking about that because I've been having a hell of a time getting fires started using my butane soldering iron as a lighter. You only get a few seconds of flame before the catalyst takes over, and with the gusty winds along the coast, sometimes you can't get a flame at all. And when I thought of burning metal, I got the idea that I can probably melt aluminum for making castings by using steel wool to light sheet metal, soda or food cans for example, and getting a very hot fire from the burning metal. Something to try when I reach New Mexico.

Portfolio coffeehouse. I've mentioned this before. There's a coffeeshop at the corner of Junipero and 4th, in Long Beach, CA, that any bohemian and/or geek would love. It's filled with little wooden tables and chairs, and some comfortable armchairs, has some computers and has free wireless for anyone with a laptop with 802.11b. Good selections of coffees and teas and some fresh pastries (and some that are not so fresh), also soup and sandwiches. Wednesday nights is 'open mic', where anybody can sing and/or play an instrument. Almost everybody was up there with a guitar singing their own compositions (guessing here), and I felt a little out of place with my karaoke-like pista, but I sang Coldplay's Clocks, and some people seemed to enjoy it. Or maybe they were just being polite. At any rate, the coffeeshop rocks. It's called Portfolio. Don't miss it if you're in LA.

On the train back to the airport tonight, I asked the chick sitting across the way if she would sell me her (nice wool) serape. I offered $20, and she took it without haggling, meaning she may have gone for $10 if I'd started lower. Oh well, I think I got a good deal anyway. It's nice and warm and can also be used as a blanket. This was a tragic figure. 46 years old, from Ontario, planning on going back as soon as she can. She's lived in LA for four years, currently living with this crackhead who's a journeyman electrician making almost $30 per hour, plus $70 per diem, and spending it all on crack. It keeps him from getting sick, he tells her. Go figure. She says she's 51/50, which means certified looney-tunes. She carries around what she calls "a bomb", apparently a little stick of plastique from what she showed me, and she can get away with it because of her mental status. She stole this Peruvian-looking guy's food while he was sleeping on the train. When he woke up, she tried to convince him that he knew her from before. He was cool about it at first, then when she wouldn't give him back all his beer when we reached his stop, he stayed on the train and started arguing/cursing with her. I moved on down into the next car, I didn't know what else she might have in that purse of hers and didn't want to find out. Before they started the fight, he mentioned that he was a security guard at the shopping center where the Green and Blue Metro lines cross... said it's dangerous because gangs sometimes start shooting at each other there. Before he mentioned that, I was gonna ask him if his company was hiring... but no thanks, I can do without lead in my diet. When I run out of money, if I haven't figured out anything else by then I can try day labor again.

Got a good 6 hours or so of sleep today (well, yesterday - it's now 0150 local time) so the sun was already getting low in the sky. Tomorrow maybe I can start building the tools to make tools to make my next sun helmet. If it works out I'll maybe post the details here. I spent a few thousand last year on projects that didn't work out, like the cargo scooter and two attempts at a geodesic dome; maybe this helmet will work. The idea is to have it dual-use, the second use as a parabolic mirror to cook food using the sun's heat. When you carry all your belongings with you, it's good to have everything with more than one use, and also to have things that are easily repairable. If my casting idea works, I'll make a collapsible luggage carrier using inline scate wheels as the wheels, since many stores carry replacements. The handle can be one of those telescoping poles that hold brooms, paint rollers, etc. Those handles can also be used as a walking stick. I was going to buy one today, but didn't have anything I could screw over the thread to protect it.

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last updated 2013-01-10 20:14:09. served from tektonic.jcomeau.com