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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The cold/flu/whatever is on its way out, still coughing up some phlegm every now and then but the general malaise is gone. Probably it will have been three weeks or more (since April 12, when I first noticed it) before all symptoms have gone. I'm going to assume it was something toxic, possibly aluminum or some other metal, that I ingested which caused my immune system to fail me so badly.

Still working on getting Minimo to run nicely on the iPAQ H1940. It's pretty good now, except the default behavior of a <INPUT TYPE="SUBMIT"> button is a little less than useful (shows a tiny rectangle with no text), and no navigation buttons at all, seemingly regardless of the greprefs/all.js settings. I'm in the middle of the latest build procedure now.

Been playing around some more with postFORTH version 1, but nothing to write home about just yet... stay tuned. I'm thinking about porting version 0 to the WRT54G also, but that's admittedly not too likely. A lot of stuff simmering right now, gonna just take my time and choose what to focus on next...

Bugger (as Kyle would say). Minimo build failed to complete, and nothing but a bunch of warnings visible. Oh well. About time to call it a night. [comment]


Got back from San Diego and found my Minimo build had failed again, but with only a little left undone. Edited the batch files a little more, replacing forward-slashes with DOS-style backslashes, and it completed... copied the result to my iPAQ, and the damned thing worked! More or less, that is... there are no navigation buttons, which I can probably fix in a prefs file somewhere, and my form submit button is very tiny and not clickable... but the <ENTER> key is now working for submitting the form, so that's OK. The lack of a "back" button hurts though, got to double-click an empty part of the screen to get the navigation buttons. Most importantly for my client- server app is that my PNG images are now rendered, they were broken in the March 13th binaries.

If anybody else is doing test builds of John Wolfe's recent sources, you may wish to apply my patch. It'll only help you if you're building for ARM PPC though. [comment]


Not long after I reported that gmail works on my Clié, it stopped working. Now I get a "Connection error.(Internal error)" which kills the connection following the usual "Invalid certificate" error. I don't know why. I noticed it the other day in SD, but tried it again when I got to Rosarito, same thing. Bummer. It was nice while it lasted. [comment]


I guessed that I probably made an error, and I had; finally got around to using my countdict class, and it failed to work correctly: all the counts came out to 1. It's now fixed with a super(type, obj) call, see the most recent arcane.py (near the bottom of the file) for details. Ignore the rest of the stuff in arcane, it was written some months ago when I didn't know nearly as much about Python as I do now (and obviously I still don't know nearly enough)... [comment]


Just found a better (?) way to do something in Python for which I often have a need: a counting dictionary, one that doesn't croak when you try to increment a nonexistent key:

$ python
Python 2.4 (#1, Dec  4 2004, 20:10:33)
[GCC 3.3.3 (cygwin special)] on cygwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> class countdict(dict):
...  def __getitem__(self, key):
...   try:
...    return dict.__getitem__(key)
...   except:
...    return 0
>>> a = countdict()
>>> a
>>> a['t']
>>> a['b'] += 1
>>> a
{'b': 1}

Not sure I got the bugs out yet, but it looks promising. I love elegance in a programming language. [comment]


Busy day. Went to San Diego to meet Someone at the airport, but left real early so I could do some shopping. Picked up another Linksys WRT54G at WalMart, turns out they have hardware model 3 now! I don't even know if OpenWRT will run on this yet, I'll check it out shortly. Also bought a dowel about the same thickness as my .9AH NiMH D-cells with which I'm making my no-nonsense portable power pack -- the dowel pieces, drilled end-to-end and with carriage bolts through them, will provide a means of attaching the wires to complete the circuit. I've been waiting months to figure something out for that.

And then, I went north to Black's Beach, the famous clothing-optional beach in northern San Diego County, just between La Jolla and Torrey Pines State Park. No naked chicks though, none even topless, just a bunch of guys. That's OK, at least I know for sure how to get there now (just hang a left onto Torrey Pines Scenic Road, drive to the cul-de-sac where the road ends, then follow the curve left on the north side of the gully; when you get to the path marked "Danger, Do Not Use", there you are; everybody ignores the sign of course. It is kind of steep, but fairly well maintained, with steps either built out of wood or concrete, or just carved into the clay soil.

Of course I went for a skinny-dip and took my first bath in several weeks, whether I needed it or not, in the always-cold Pacific. The other nudies walking by either ignored me or said hello. It was all very normal; I really didn't know what to expect. I'd been on European beaches where the women go topless, but never a place where people freely and legally walk around in their birthday suits. Mexico, at least this part, is waaay too Puritan to allow something like that.

On the beach were probably millions of baby Pismo clams (didn't try counting them). I don't know how many will survive out of water until the next tide comes in, but I hope most of them. I wish they'd wash up like that fully grown! Those things can be a bear to dig out of the sand. There's an old Gringo here in Rosarito who's going to show me how to locate them someday if I catch him at low tide.

Well, anyway, I got to the airport just barely at 9PM, but didn't know which flight Someone was coming in on, and probably guessed wrong; gave up after not too long, had my tacos and beer in TJ and caught the next taxi home. [comment]


OK, found another problem in the Minimo CE build instructions. The SDK for Windows Mobile 2003-based Smartphones needs to be installed. I'd been going over and over the software list trying to figure out what I'd failed to install -- it doesn't help that the installed names of the programs are sometimes completely different from the .exe or .msi installation files -- and it turns out they'd left that one out. Shit happens, I know, but there seems to be an implied "if these instructions don't work for you, it's because you fucked up" somewhere on the page -- maybe I'm reading into it too much -- and just assumed the fault was mine. Anyway, on to the next problem... [comment]


Weird dream just now. Recurring theme I recognized, too. Lately in my dreams I have a digital camera; big, like an old Polaroid from the 60's, much lighter though, and cheaply made, all plastic. But then, in these dreams, there's always this digital camera I used to have, but lost recently. It was about the same size as the cheap one, but a little heavier and much better quality, and regardless of what else I have, or the fact that I'm rarely using any of my cameras, I'm pissed off about the one I lost.

Also in the dream was my old friend Rodney. I'm at his place, apparently in Skowhegan, and Nancy whats-her-name from my early grade school had just driven up to visit. I woke up before I could see her though.

I realized, on awaking, that I'd just had a dream not too long ago about the old house in Skowhegan; I was driving around a motorcycle or some kind of home-made vehicle. I wonder if these skates I ordered are going to give me the kind of freedom of movement that Rodney's old Yami 100 gave me back in '75 or so? Gotta google windskating and see if anyone else is living my dream... hang on...

Holy shit! Yes!. And right up the coast, in Santa Monica too!

So much going on, right under my nose, and I can't think of the right search terms except when just awaking from sleep. I've got to test that brainwave coercion stuff I was looking at a while ago and see if I can't induce lower frequencies more often. [comment]


Cold is getting better, don't know if it's due to the abango, or just my immune system slowly rallying to the cause. I've gone back to my nightly beer mini-binges at Barandas, regardless, as of last night. Damn, those chicks are hot. And a Mexican bar with Coldplay, Depeche Mode, and Rammstein on the jukebox -- how cool is that?

IBM silently moved its 5.7.2 version for Pocket PC of the J9 VM to its downloads page sometime in the last week or so, just noticed today. The only change it mentions is a different way of using fonts, but developers have been hoping for some bugfixes, particularly for a nasty memory leak present in 5.7.1. [comment]


Google has done it again! Now gmail can be used on browsers that don't support iframes, like Netfront on the Clié. Well, to be honest, Netfront does try to, it just falls short. Anyway, now I don't need to forward all my messages to Yahoo! mail just so I can read them when I'm on the road with Clié. Check out other new features at their whatsnew page. [comment]


I woke up a little while ago, around 5 AM Pacific time, with two or three important revelations; I managed to remember one, partially.

It's been bugging me how there could be a religion like Christianity, with so goddamned many followers, many very sincere, if Jesus is just a creation of the Babylonian Brotherhood, as David Icke insists. Did they just do a better job of marketing that one? Perhaps. But it also may be the case that the guy did exist, and the manipulators just put words into his mouth after they killed him. Things like "render unto Caesar", "obey authority", and "daily bread" are not the words of a spiritually-attuned person.

Anyway, it called to mind a trashy novel by Irving Wallace back in the early 70's if I remember right, called The Word. Well, it wasn't that trashy, it had some nice sex scenes to liven it up here and there. Anyway, the plot was about a forged manuscript found which was being touted as the most {old,original,authentic} words of the Savior Himself. Plus, there was a mention in Quinn's The Story of B about there being a lot of contoversy still about the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other papyri, among Biblical scholars.

The point of all this being, of course, that it's immaterial whether or not Jesus actually existed, and we'll probably never know. The Jesus of the Holy Bible is a creation of those same fine people who brought us the Pyramids and the Food Pyramid, among other wonderful things. And whenever they want to change the message somewhat, to attract a new group of followers, is to trot out an "original manuscript" found by shepherds in the mountains of Xanadu, have a few "experts" certify it, and off they go to the printing press. [comment]


A couple of little gems for any programmers reading this drivel... I needed a way, in Python, to merge a series of arrays down to what they had in common; in other words, "intersection" of sets, that we learned sometime in high school. I couldn't find anything built-in, though there may well be something. I didn't bother looking in numpy, though I'm fairly sure it's there, because it's not on the server on which my customer is hosted, and it would be a pain to install without shell access.

So anyway, the idea is to delete elements from the "merged" lists, like so:

 results = []
 for token in tokens:
  found = findToken(token)
  if not len(results): results = found
  elif not len(found): continue
   for screen in results:
    if screen not in found: results.remove(screen)

Seems to work fine... but in reality you're losing a bunch of results. I didn't notice until I entered a token that had exactly one match, and it was not in common with any of the other search results. I got one result back, when I should have had none. What happens, when you're deleting from the same list that you're iterating over, is that the deletion shifts the whole array, while the iterator is already pointing at the next array element, which has been shifted out from under it.

So, to keep a short story short, here's the quick fix: duplicate the list before the iteration: for screen in list(results):. Now your iterator has a clean copy to do its thing with, while you delete from the master copy. I remember Larry Wall warned about this same thing in the original camel book, but I guess I was hoping for some magic in Python that wasn't in Perl.

OK, here's another. You want to just upload what you've modified in your source tree. Of course you could set up rsync, but I've had so many problems with that... anyway, I added a neat little rule to my Makefile:

upload: $(wildcard html/*) $(wildcard html_additional/*) search.cgi tokens.dat
        for file in $?; do \
         ncftpput -c $(SERVER) \
          www/$$(basename $$file) < $$file && \
         touch upload; \

The $? is makefile magic for "all dependencies newer than the target", not bash's errorlevel. I'm using ncftpput with the -c option because the target site is flat, so whatever changed in my sources goes to just one directory on the server. The && makes sure it doesn't update the timestamp on 'upload' (which is just an empty file) if a transfer fails, but I think the 'for' loop might keep running anyway... haven't had a problem yet so we'll see. [comment]


Every day my cold gets better, and every night I go to the bar, drink a few beers, and come back much worse. You'd think I'd make a connection, right?

Well, even I eventually draw conclusions. I know the coffee I've been drinking all day is bad too; it just feels toxic going down. Problem is, without something to drink other than plain old water, I just have to break the monotony. If not with something healthy, it will be something bad. So today I went to the herbalist, and he gave me this packet of stuff called 'abango'. It's wood chips, flowers, dried fruits (apparently), anyway a lot of different stuff, possibly all from the same plant. I made a tea of it by just putting it into my drip coffeemaker as I would a filterfull of coffee, and have been drinking it for the last few hours. I don't know if it's helping my cold, but I've been having diarrhea starting soon after the first cup, so at least I'm getting rid of some of the toxins in my system. And I'm not drinking coffee nor beer. So maybe it's a good thing. [comment]


The reply from ACCESS, the fine people who bring you the Netfront browser:

NetFront v3.1 for Pocket PC is actually configured not to perform a communication when the device is disconnected from network connection so that you get the error message and cannot access localhost address. This issue will be included in our consideration for the future version.

Isn't that nice. I predict that the improvements to minimo will come so fast and furious now as to obsolete Netfront and any other for-pay browser for mobile devices. Better take what money you've got and come to Baja, guys. [comment]


If you've been attempting to build minimo for Pocket PC using these instructions, you might want to have a look at my notes, particularly the errors regarding "spawning clarm.exe" -- the google results I found on that never did mention you had to be Administrator! I just thought of that because of all the other weird program failures due to that (such as hotsync to my Clié). Why you should have to be root user to compile a fucking program is beyond me, but that's Microsoft for ya.

I wish the instructions were more Cygwin-specific, they keep going back-and-forth between unix and CMD.EXE syntax, but I guess there's a reason for it and I'm trying to come up with something better before my next attempt. [comment]


Nope, that didn't fix it. Still something it doesn't like about my .png files. Oh well (sour grapes), it's a little too slow anyway.

Time to go for a walk on the beach. All work and no play makes jc morose. [comment]


Sure enough, it's looking for image/png and I'm using image/x-png:

$ strings winEmbed.exe | grep image | grep png

Let's change it and test! Woohoo, we may have a winner! [comment]


A binary distribution of minimo for WinCE is available, and getting better all the time... if you used a previous version and couldn't get it to terminate, try this one; the circled-X is in the lower right-hand corner of the screen when I run it on my iPAQ H1940, and it works. I haven't finished setting up my build environment yet, so can't do much hacking. I might use ezsetup to make an installer for it though.

It's not rendering the PNG images in my app, I think I might be using the wrong mime-headers. I hope it's something that simple. But at least it recognizes the localhost address, something that Netfront 3.1 for PocketPC does not. [comment]


Playing with postFORTH version 1 again, and finding it's fubarsky under Win2K. The PE files don't work the same... something in the GNU/Cygwin development tools has changed so that, while objdump thinks the binaries are executable, they in fact are not.

At first I thought that under Windows 2000 a 'RET' back to the operating system just wasn't returning %eax into ERRORLEVEL, as it did under XP, but as I was crafting a post to comp.lang.asm.x86 I was writing "gdb skips past my breakpoints..." and whammo! I realized it wasn't even using the correct start address. Dammitydamndamn. Maybe I should focus on version 2 instead, which will run as its own binary format under Linux. But this bugs me, and I'll at least make a stab at trying to figure it out. [comment]


Barring a miracle, I probably won't be in Old Town tomorrow -- this cough isn't getting any better and I don't want to make anybody else sick.

If anybody has a solution for getting Netfront on Pocket PC to connect to a localhost address, I'll buy you a beer (the first person with the answer). If you're not in my immediate area, I'll paypal you $5 for a pint. Offer is only good for a day or two, because if I don't find a solution by then I'll probably give up on that avenue. (By the way, I mean when it's disconnected from the host PC and any other network access -- I know it works when it can access other IPs. I'm using a local HTTP server to dish out webpages, and want the browser to render them out in the field). [comment]


Learning how to make an honest-to-goodness Windows installer program for a Pocket PC executable... great info here at SundialSoft and Scott Ludwig's classy page (for ezsetup). I already proved to myself it will work, just trying to integrate everything into my Makefile.

I forgot to mention last night, I saw the theatrical version of The Butterfly Effect at Barandas last night. The ending was a lot less interesting than that of the Director's Cut that I saw on DVD last month. The Mexican dude sitting next to me just kept repeating "que loca! que pelicula mas loca!" to the barmaid. He's right, too. Have you seen Coldplay's music video of The Scientist? It can be pretty disturbing, but very nicely done. Why pay for crap at the movies when you're already paying for DSL, and can find lots of good, free content? [comment]


Doing some website maintenance. Cold getting worse again. Changed my pic to one of the 49th birthday pictures I took just outside the door of the internet café, the sun low on the western horizon highlighting the gray in my beard. Starting to look like Bob Pease, ain't I? Wish I had his brains... [comment]


I also bought a pair of Hypnoskates, the Wave model, on sale for $75. While not the cross-country skates I had in mind, they're a step in the right direction, and I'll give them a try.

I'm not going to hurry, just go as fast as I can (like my Dad used to say). If I'm under the same curse he was, I've got less than a year to live. I'm going to make the most of it.

Spent a couple hours at Barandas again tonight, but only one beer before I switched to Jack Daniels. Two shots plus the beer came to 110 pesos, or $10.00, pretty close to what I'd have spent in a typical bar in the states. Then another 20 pesos I pumped into the jukebox (no Norteña crap while I was there, heh!), and 11 pesos tip set me back almost $13.00. Big spender. I can't keep that pace up very long, better get back to California or New Mexico and forage for a week or two. Or finally go to where there's some wild game and learn how to hunt. But, knowing me, I'll stay right here, keep getting contract jobs for keepalive income, and piss the next year away. Yes, I'm full of contradictions (among other things), I've already mentioned that.

The cold hasn't gotten significantly worse in the last 24 hours, so maybe it's bottomed out. Let's see how long it takes to stop coughing altogether. [comment]


Been shopping for some unusual products. One is a pee tube, something I've been wanting to design for a while but never got anything that worked and was comfortable to wear. The halfbakery is a great site; for every strange idea I have, I find someone on halfbakery has already come up with something the same or similar; and often I even find "baked" solutions, such as the Stadium Pal, of which I just bought one.

Also ordered a 3-point screwdriver which I hope will be the right size to open my old Sony Clié from which I hope to salvage some parts or at least learn something; I've tried removing them by filing down a jeweler's screwdriver but they're torqued in there pretty tight, and if I wear them out much more I'll have to drill them out; not a big deal I guess, but I was hoping to use them on my "new" Clié, which has already lost 4 screws. Seems like Sony gets just those back two in there tight, and all the rest fall out on their own after a few weeks of use.

Going to meet someone at Casa Guadalajara next Monday afternoon at 2 PM to discuss this idea for inflatable clothing that I (and, obviously, others) have had. Stop by and join us if you're in San Diego. Note that my beard has grown considerably since the photo in my blog was taken; but you can spot me by the dollar-store black cowboy hat I'll be wearing. [comment]


I was born about 49 years and 4 hours ago, haven't learned a damned thing it seems... this catarrho is kicking my ass, I haven't coughed this bad in a long time. Can't seem to stop drinking beer long enough to get my body alkaline again.

Regardless, I'm working on getting my MIDlet to run on the iPAQ, using IBM's J9 VM. After a few false starts (I first downloaded the ppro10 package, which was for standard java apps, not MIDlets, which need midp20) I am still having problems, and not even their sample Golf Score MIDlet will work.

Found some cool command line utilities at Microsoft. Sorry Ant, I still prefer GNU make. And I detest XML. I don't care how many jobs I lose because of that. Well, at least not for now. I'm hoping it will die a horrible death before I do. [comment]


Been working on something I've been wanting to do for many, many years: hack the BIOS on my computers. For starters, I just want to set the NVRAM defaults to something sane; for some reason, on powerout, the NVRAM always gets trashed on one of the computers, so the setting for coming "on" after powerout never works. And I want boot-from-LAN always enabled.

Intensive Google searching finally found a command to dump the ROM:

$ dd if=/dev/mem of=/tmp/bios.dat bs=1024 skip=960 count=64

It even works under Cygwin, but you have to be Administrator. If you've set up sshd on your Cygwin box, you can ssh -l administrator localhost, dump the ROM, then exit back out to your normal user account. Pretty cool, huh?

Only problem is, I have reason to doubt, under Linux at least, that this is really the true complete BIOS dump; something tells me part of it contains a list of boot devices:

jcomeau@USER ~
$ cmp -b -l zero_bios.dat billy_bios.dat | wc
    335    1622    7351

jcomeau@USER ~ $ strings billy_bios.dat > /tmp/billy_strings.txt

jcomeau@USER ~ $ strings zero_bios.dat > /tmp/zero_strings.txt

jcomeau@USER ~ $ diff /tmp/*_strings.txt 40a41,44 > Seagate Technology 1275MB - ST3 > WDC WD2000BB-22GUA0 > SAMSUNG CD-ROM SC-148 > HL-DT-ST GCE-8525B

Most of the differences are between offsets 5476 to 5766, and 6593 to 6867 (decimal), according to the full cmp output. The others look like timestamps or serial numbers which could indicate real differences in the BIOS binaries; these machines were identical, purchased at the same time from Wal-Mart.com. [comment]


Tickle in my throat. Rhinovirus or something. A good indication that I've been straying too far from my Paleolithic diet; too many carbs, especially sugars, otherwise my immune system would have been strong enough to kick their little asses. So today I ate my caldo de mariscos with plenty of salsa picante, though I couldn't resist the totopas (tortilla chips). Maybe I can still beat this bug. I haven't caught a full-fledged cold in at least a year, as I remember.

I passed up all those ride offers on Craigslist, these people aren't replying to my emails anyway. Probably will stay right here for a while. Got plenty to do; tried my microscope out for the first time yesterday, now that I have slides and coverslips. Pricked one of my fingers and tried looking at the blood, but can't recognize individual red cells even under 1000x magnification. My eyes started straining even after a few minutes, so maybe I'm doing something wrong. If my vision gets any worse I'm going to regret it. [comment]


I got an email from a friend who wasn't able to pull up the movie I mentioned, http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2666529, and I'm afraid other people will be having the same problem, so here are some pointers. That link will send you to ifilm's summary page for the film, at which point you'd normally click "Watch Now!" and everything would be hunky-dory. But don't do that unless your browser is already set up properly with ifilm.com.

Instead, scroll down to the fine print at the bottom of the page, and you'll see the topic "Video Preferences". Ifilm will query your browser as to what video players are installed (I don't know how it does that, hmmm, but it seems to work) and you select one by clicking in the little radio button next to the name. If you have Windows Media Player 9, that will, in my experience, be the best bet. It gives you some bandwidth options; with WMP9 the options are 56, 200, and 300 Kbits. If you have dialup, you're stuck of course with 56, and even then keep your fingers crossed. DSL subscribers with a 256 bitrate can use 200, and broadband and premium DSL subscribers can use 300. Most public libraries should be able to support the highest bitrate as long as you get there when few people are using the internet.

OK, now you're set up, close that window and click on "Watch Now!" in the other window. You'll see it buffering, and once it's 100% buffered, in WMP9 you can right-click on the "movie screen" and select "Zoom", and go to full screen. I haven't found a way to do that reliably with QuickTime or RealPlayer, but you may know those softwares better. Anyway, you might see an ad for another movie or for something else first, but the full-screen mode should remain for the movie following; if it jumps back to a small screen, as it sometimes does, just right-click and zoom again. Enjoy the movie!

Sometimes, the movie never starts to buffer, though the right-hand side of the screen shows "playing". In that case the "movie screen" is all black, with no "control buttons" (play, stop, rewind etc.) at the bottom. To cure that, just click where it says "playing" off to the right, and you should see the controls appear and it start to buffer momentarily. Another possible problem is that it will blow past your movie altogether and show you one of its own top selections. As far as I know, you're screwed at that point. Try another movie, or come back to it later.

If you want to get out of full-screen, I've found that double-clicking anywhere on the screen works, also Alt-Tab. No doubt other methods exist. [comment]


I was curious, so I did some homework. This site says there are 8.8 KWh, after conversion inefficiencies, in one gallon of gasoline. But then, how do you go about converting that into miles traveled? If you just convert to foot-pounds, you're figuring the energy used to lift that amount of weight, not carry it over essentially a flat surface (ignoring the mountains in Arizona!). So let's just use a typical 20 mpg for a 3000 pound vehicle, and extrapolate. 3000 / 170 is about 17.6. Or, I add less than 6 percent to the vehicle's weight. Let's say that translates into 6 percent worse MPG, so now we're only getting 18.8 MPG. Is that valid? No clue. San Ysidro to Deming is 630 miles according to Google Maps, so without me the trip would cost (assuming the other passengers are weightless) 630 / 20 * about $2.50 per gallon is about $80. With me weighing it down, the total comes to $84. So I was off by a factor of two or so. Not bad for a wild-assed guess. Yes, there's still a lot of guesswork in the calculations, but I think my point was valid. One extra passenger does not add significantly to the fuel expense, because the vehicle is using the bulk of the available energy to propel itself. [comment]


I posted this on the SD Craigslist on the 3rd:

Anyone headed east on Interstate 10? I'll pay $20 for gas and help with daytime driving (my license requires me to wear glasses, which I don't have, but can see well enough during the day) in exchange for dropping me off in Deming. Anytime in the next few days will work for me. I'll meet you anywhere in San Diego, but live in Rosarito.

So I get some replies. Got one early this morning, (shown as received):

Hi There, Leaving for New Mexico on ASpril 11th. Pay some gas and we can get you there, retruning April 17th..Tom

Looks OK so far, right? A pretty clearly worded request, and a reply that would indicate acceptance of the terms? So I respond:

Thanks Tom, was my offer of $20 enough to make you happy? If so, what time and where do we meet tomorrow?

I might go another $20 for the return trip too, but not sure yet.

So you can imagine my surprise when I get:

Wow!! Your a big spender for me to go 200 huindred miles out of the way for $20.00 what else can you offer??...................... Tom

Of course my second reaction after surprise was anger, and in my college days would have resulted in a long sentence of carefully worded insults; but in my old age all I felt like saying was:

I didn't ask for any favors, dude. If you were going I-10, that would be $20 towards your gas expenses. If you're not, then it doesn't make any sense for you or for me.

Rideshare on Craigslist could be beneficial for both driver and rider, and maybe sometimes is, but almost all the time I see the people offering the rides trying to cover their full gas expense, with a little profit tagged on, from just one rider. That's fine if that's the way the rest of you want to play it, but I thought I made it clear that wasn't what I was looking for. I doubt if the incremental weight of my bod and gear, about 170 pounds, will cause more than a dollar or two of extra gas expense (admittedly, I haven't done the math, just guessing). So taking a passenger my size along is pure profit of $18 or so, assuming you're going anyway, with or without him... right?

Oh well, as you were. Ignore my bitching. Keep driving your car, all by yourself, for every trip, long or short, poisoning my air and endangering my life (while you yack on the cellphone, oblivious to pedestrians and bicyclists)... It's your life, and you have to live it to the max, to hell with everybody else. [comment]


Note to self: no more Casa de Bandini killer 'ritas on an empty stomach. Sure, I came back to Rosarito with such a nice buzz I didn't mind the sardine-can taxi ride at all, but then I just crashed for 8 hours or so and woke up dehydrated.

OK, let's back up... got 2 or so hours of sleep yesterday morning and headed towards San Diego about 10:30... taxi after taxi, almost completely empty, passed me by. I must really look like shit, I was thinking. No wonder that security guard was so sure I was there to steal something that he just went looking for something out of place and decided to blame it on me.

But then, along came a bus: a nice bus too, like a Greyhound, though a little dated... but I asked him the price to Tijuana Centro, and he said 8 pesos! 3 less than a taxi, for a comfortable bus ride! Duh, let me think that over, dude! Hell, I jumped on, gave him a 10-peso piece and gave him back the 2-peso change he handed me. Crossed the line with no hassle today, bought my Day Tripper, went to America Plaza then to the post office on Broadway (at Horton Plaza) and sent my appeal form to the SSA with delivery confirmation. Which was half of my scheduled business of the day done.

I had come here to meet someone about a custom sewing job, the inflatable clothing I've probably mentioned before. In a nutshell: dead air space is a good insulator. Having clothing that can hold air, at least for a while, might eliminate the need for me to wear several layers of clothing, because when it gets cold or rainy I can just inflate it. It might also serve as a sleeping bag in that respect. Anyway, I advertised on Craigslist for someone with kite-sewing skills, because the ripstop fabric used has the characteristics I need. I got an answer from a lady whose mother-in-law, she says, is an expert in that... but the mother-in-law doesn't use email, so I had to call. I called from the Old Town terminal, but the lady wasn't home. Her daughter told me to call the next morning, and I said I might... anyway, I had been kind of planning for a C de B margarita anyway, so walked over and sat down at the first table on the far side of the fountain, same as last time about a year ago. No Carlos, though. I sat there and started reading V. by Thomas Pynchon, which I had picked up at the Rosarito Red Cross thrift store a few days ago.

After about a half hour, I asked Daniel, a server who had passed by once or twice before, if there was no service to these tables; he apologized, took my order, and brought me my large margarita, which is almost enough to take a bath in. He also kept me well-stocked with chips and salsa all the time I was there, which kept my stomach full but of course didn't help me handle the alcohol -- that always, for me at least, requires meat. And the food may be good there but the prices are too steep. After about half the 'rita was finished, I was too blitzed to read, so just sat there peoplewatching for another hour or so. I was thinking the guy at the table in front of me was Hugo Weaving, aka Agent Smith of The Matrix, but after asking him about the plate he ordered, shrimp with pineapple served in a hollowed-out half pineapple, decided that he really didn't look or sound all that much like him. But who knows? Maybe it was. Not that I was going to ask for his autograph, or anything, I don't give a shit about that... but would probably have thanked him for doing such a great job with that character. Of course I saw him in LOTR too, in which he was also excellent, but Matrix was such an eye-opener for me, that's what I'll always associate him with.

I haven't been keeping up my booklist, have I? Well, before I left Deming, I read some more Daniel Quinn stuff, Providence and Beyond Civilization, both of which I heartily recommend, and Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups, which would possibly be usable as tinder if you kept it dry. Sometime after she wrote The Accidental Tourist, which was very good, she must have gotten so clever that my primitive cerebrum, as Agent Smith would say, can no longer comprehend what is the purpose of all those words. There were a few gems, to be sure, but mining them out of all that cold gray rock was not worth the effort.

There were some other books I think but can't remember at the moment. I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for Gravity's Rainbow but was pleasantly surprised to find V. the other day, so I'm plowing through it... like most Pynchon stuff, it's not easy reading but in this case he makes up for it by being laugh-out-loud funny.

I got my customer's program ported to the Palm via midp4palm. He paid me, but he's not completely happy with it. For one thing, the text and images show up on the right side of the screen, which is a known bug in its implementation of the Form class, and being MIDP 1.0 has no Item positioning. I'm hoping Palm One's JVM will solve the problem on his Tungsten at least; the Clié users will have to live with it. Yes, I could probably use a Canvas and implement all the text wrapping and scrolling myself, but why? Shoot, I'd rather take another approach altogether. Anyway, I'm thinking of taking a rest from paid jobs and working on my postFORTH for a while. [comment]


I got back from a few beers and karaoke to find the whole neighborhood power out again... found the sink and peed, then tried to sleep, but the power came back on within a half-hour or so, and I watched as my server came back to life on its own for the first time in a real test! The key was a forced reboot if the directory /home/rosarito wasn't found, meaning that the /home directory didn't get mounted properly. Within 3 minutes of the second reboot, dyndns.org had clamped onto my IP and rosarito.kicks-ass.net was back on the web. Fucking amazing.

Then I took my laptop out of sleep mode and found this email:

A Must See: The Great Lie: Death toll of the American Dream, a film by brothers Lance and Dan Hubp, is now available for free viewing at ifilm.com. Inspired by the teachings of Daniel Quinn. To access the film CLICK HERE. http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2666529

The Quinns have viewed the film on DVD, and Daniel says it's "A devilishly ingenious surrealist mystery. I've seen it twice and will need a third viewing to unlock its secrets. It definitely deserves a wider audience."

The Great Lie was featured at the 2005 Director's Lounge Berlin Andre Werner - Curator 2005 Directors Lounge, Berlin says:

One of the favorites among the public was "The great lie". The story about financier Nicholas Dunn who finds himself suddenly trapped in a mysterious realm beyond his control is a diabolic and surreal movie that starts with a very clever twist and keeps it's suspense till the very end. Excellent directing and a brilliant cast made "The great lie" one of the gems of the Directors Lounge 2005.

Cast member Zahn McClarnon will be a featured actor in "Into the West," Steven Spielberg's new series coming in June.

To access the film CLICK HERE. http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2666529

I'd recently discovered ifilm.com as a great source for soft porn, but didn't realize it had anything like this on it. If you liked Jacob's Ladder you'll love this. And if you've been following Daniel Quinn's message through the 3 Ishmael books through to Providence and Beyond Civilization, you'll recognize the importance of this film. This isn't some amateur production, this is damned good acting. There are plenty of people who will like this movie and will miss the message completely. That's cool. As Mother Teresa would say, publicize it anyway. [comment]


Goddamned fucking stupid rentacops. I was in El Comercial, the Mexican department store with the big orange-and-white pelican sign, looking for one of those cheap ceramic lamps that mount on a utility box, or alternatively a desk lamp. Finding none, I was walking out when one security droid motions me to follow the other droid to the area where I had been, and he's showing me two cheapo paintbrushes. His boss comes along, and he speaks some English, and he's asking me what I was doing with the paintbrushes. Of course I said I wasn't doing anything with them, that the security guy had them not me. I smelled some kind of a trick, so I started asking the droid what his game was. But that guy couldn't understand, so his boss tells me no, he's not up to anything he's just doing his job. I could see where this was headed; if I didn't get out of there the cops were probably on their way and it was their word against mine. So, cursing profusely, I walked out and on to some other stores before heading back. Fuck Comercial, I hope to never give them another penny as long as I live.

Still wondering what his game was, or if he just needs glasses. The only thing I can think of is that he has some deal in cahoots with the Rosarito cops; he accuses a Gringo of shoplifting, the cops come, Gringo has to pay off the cops to stay out of jail, and cops share the proceeds with rentacop.

Just goes to show how precious and fleeting freedom is, and how you have to make every moment count -- through no fault of your own, you could find yourself in a prison cell tomorrow morning, and spend the rest of your life there. [comment]


Yesterday I removed all of the Joan Baez songs from her Diamonds and Rust album, except the lighthearted Dida, from my Favorites playlist in WMP, and tonight I'm downloading a bunch of songs by Phil Collins, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Cyndi Lauper, and Pat Benatar from AllOfMP3.com to take their place. I'm tired of beating myself up for being what I am, an ordinary man. Pat understands that: no promises, no demands. And Cyndi's always there for me, time after time. Yes, we both could have died then and there. But we didn't, so why not enjoy what time we have left on this amazing earth? [comment]


Pornsurfing marathon last night, damn sometimes it's almost impossible to jack off... that's one of the great advantages of living on the street, there's no privacy and no temptation. Here at home with high-speed internet there's always a way to waste a few hours, days, weeks...

Anyway, in my frantic search for virtual flesh, I followed RealPlayer's prompt to install a Divx "plugin" which actually resulted in an installed application on my desktop, one of the few installers that actually works for a non-administrator Windows user. Today I clicked on the desktop Divx icon and was prompted to send information on my system to their server, which I didn't click. There were actually 2 questions, but don't remember the first one... in any case, I got suspicious and was watching with WinDump in another window when I clicked on "Finish", and this is what I saw. The hostname for resolves to "unknown.level3.net" but googling found it to belong to falkag.net. Now I'm curious as to what those 29472 bytes of information were... [comment]


As the sun was peeking over the Eastern horizon this morning, I was pulling into the Rosa Parks transfer station in L.A. As the sun is setting in the West, I'm sitting in Taco Bell in Tijuana, enjoying tacos de carne asada y cerveza Pacifico... the trip cost me $2 more than last time, but still cheaper than Greyhound and much more interesting. Since the magstripe caused the transfer to fail at UTC, I hung out there for an hour or so and had some coffee before continuing here. But now I'm out, again temporarily, of the land of the fear and the home of the slave. Feels good to be home. [comment]


Another change, this time with NCTD. They no longer give transfers; you have to pay $1.75 for each leg, or $3.50 for a day pass. According to the driver, it's good for San Diego transit also, but on the pass itself it says it's valid as an inter-agency transfer to MTS for only two hours from the time of issue. So we'll see how it goes before I update the webpage. The pass doesn't actually say what time it was issued, so I might get away with using it all the way to San Ysidro. [comment]


No Deming in the headlights yet... back towards Rosarito at the moment. Just updated my L.A. to San Diego route page with a 25 cent fare increase on the OCTA bus. [comment]

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