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


Walked from Milwaukie up 32nd Ave to where it ended, then towards the river to Milwaukie St. I'm having a coffee and pee stop at True Brew. Hundreds of books to read while you're drinking... a unique place.

Mapquest is becoming better and better for mobiles while Google Maps is damned near unusable on the iTouch. Glad someone has eir act together. [comment]


Made it to Portland, spent way too much my first day here, but avoided frostbite and learned a bit about how MAX, the subway system, runs. People are quite friendly here, except of course Greyhound's asshole security force. Demanded to see my ticket after using the restroom on arrival. Guess that's how they say "Welcome to Portland, hippie".

Rogue makes pretty good beers but, like most places, can't fry fish worth a damn. No matter, I'm getting some decent rest at my Couchsurfing host's near Beaverton. At this latitude, still have hours to go till dawn. [comment]


I fully expected to find my luggage gone, confiscated as "unattended", after disappearing to the Capitol Garage bar for the last hour or two. But nope, they didn't stoop that far. I was thinking to myself, "why not cut my hair and shave? why always make yourself a target for these pricks?" The answer: I want to be aware of what's waiting in the wings. The good sheep won't see the slaughterhouse until all the troublemakers have been whisked off in the night. Then they'll help herd each other in, making little jokes with the sheepdogs as they trod to their deaths.

That's one of the reasons, anyway. It's just more fun living on the edge. Other outlaws spot you right away, too, not just the cops. [comment]


Rentacops and other goddamned control freaks. Had to spend an extra $50 to get out of LA, $15 for a ticket adjustment and $35 for overweight luggage. And now here in Sac they just confiscated one of my tequila bottles after searching me because of the "sidearm holster" in which I'm carrying my iPod. Luckily the 2nd bottle escaped notice. I lost my temper several times but under the circumstances couldn't vent it in the normal manner but had to make do with whining. Not among my finest moments. I've just got to remember that, once they've disarmed us completely, these freaks will have free reign to dictate what we do and where we go, 24/7. [comment]


One big advantage of buying a Metro week pass is that you rarely have to sacrifice what you really want for the sake of convenience. I went back to see Hop Woo for a beef and turnip hot pot, #91. Not very good, but at least low in carbs. Now back at the 7th+Fig Starbucks with mint tea and wifi. [comment]


The sun peeked out for a little while on the Blue Line trip to Long Beach, and I imagined I'd be able to get some sleep today. But it clouded up again, and a crow seemed to be warning me away from the park. So now I'm just looking for a decent place to have lunch. Not much is open.

Last night at the Greyhound station wasn't good for sleep either; a combination of wearing the BeerBelly hydradion pack for too many days in a row, a wool underlayer rather than Capilene, and baking soda from my underarm guards conspired to form a sticky, caustic paste that caused a painful rash on my belly. So I haven't really had any decent sleep since Sunday night.

Still looks like Friday is the break in the Oregon snowstorms that will enable me to continue on my Northward journey.

I tried #145, the spicy seafood on angelhair pasta, at Hop Woo's yesterday. Huge and delicious, but too many carbs. I need something more Paleolithic today, to balance my system. [comment]


In El Paso, I got the 33 from the airport to 5 Points, then transferred to the 50 downtown. Almost missed it, since each bus has stops on each side of the terminal and nothing is explained. Couldn't find the El Paso - LA limousine, but got directed to Tres Estrellas de Oro, whose fare was only $60. By about 8AM Monday, I was walking towards the LA Greyhound terminal...

... where I found out all buses to Portland are suspended until further notice. Friday might be my first opportunity... we'll see.

I think I mentioned it before, but the Tres Estrellas station in El Paso looks like an abandoned warehouse... a little hard to recognize unless you see the "Terminal de Autobuses" sign near the roof. In front it's lettered "212-214 W. Paisano".. [comment]


My openid.cgi script, at least the "evil" part which requires no authentication, is nearing completion. I tested with several different OpenID-enabled sites, and only one choked on it. Read more at http://unternet.net/openid/unreliable/.

Getting ready for my Pacific Northwest trip. I sure hope the manipulators don't pull the plug on the economy till I get back, but I suspect it could happen as soon as the first business day after Christmas. I should have all my Greyhound tickets in hand by then, but a fat lot of good that will do if the company shuts its doors. Interesting times, these. As in the mythical Chinese curse. [comment]


More experimenting with the solderless breadboard... what was I doing so long without one! And did another calculation on the correct amount of capacitance to use, this time just based on watts. Since with 4 .22uF caps I get 1.4V across a 50.0 ohm resistor, I need to compare that with the 6 volts used by the tent lamps, divided across 4 banks of 6 LEDs with a 33-ohm resistor feeding into each bank:

jcomeau@gdl:~$ python
Python 2.5.2 (r252:60911, Aug  8 2008, 09:22:44) 
[GCC 4.3.1] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> (6.0 ** 2) / (33.0 / 4)  # power is voltage squared over resistance
>>> _ / ((1.4 ** 2) / 50.0)  # divided by the breadboard power
>>> _ / 0.88  # divided by the amount of capacitance used

So I need 120uF caps, not 22uF, if by some miracle I'm figuring it correctly this time. Those will be difficult to find in Mylar film. Might have to join two electrolytics in series with reverse parallel diodes and hope they work. [comment]


Installed pk2cmd from the Microchip website, and gputils via APT. Now I can program PICs using my PICkit2 under Linux. Once I get one useful circuit, I guess it'll be time to order more development boards and/or single chips.

Can't remember if I mentioned it, but am seriously thinking about canceling my trip South this winter. The shit is inching steadily towards the fan, and I don't want to be out of the US when it hits, unless I'm in the middle of the ocean or on an asteroid. [comment]


Experimenting with capacitative reactance, I'm getting 0.7VDC across 16.8 ohms with 0.88uF of polyester film capacitors. I need 6 volts across 8 ohms to match what the LED tent lamps from Wal-Mart use. So, assuming it's linear, I need about 20 times the capacitance. A 22uF cap ought to be pretty close. This is, in case it's not clear, with about 120VAC at 60Hz. [comment]


On that walk back from the mountain the other day, I saw what looked like a large lake off towards the Cuatro Hermanos near Palomas. I'd heard of a salt lake near there, but had never seen it.

A day or two ago, I figured out what I'd been doing wrong in the checkid_setup part of my script: when generating the key-value pairs for signing, you have to leave off the "openid." part of the key name. That part of the spec could use some clarification. Hell, the whole thing could. And examples throughout would be nice, also. [comment]


Haven't been traveling for a while, so might have a hard time remembering: wear it or lose it. Anything not connected is likely to get left behind.

Walked around the southernmost of the Tres Hermanas this morning. Left the Living Foods Learning Center about 7:30 and didn't get home until about 12:15. Didn't find any springs, but saw lots of large tamarisk trees, and other large trees that had leaves like holly.

Learned something new from my friends: Creosote bush and caliche go together. Dig where there's no creosote and you'll only have rocks to worry about. [comment]


Went to Deming today to get the $17 round-trip Greyhound ticket between Portland and Seattle, but after fucking around with it for almost two hours, the best they could do for me was $53. Truth in advertising be damned.

My PowerFilm 25W solar panel bit the dust without ever getting any real use. Everything is shit anymore. Another piece of expensive trash. [comment]


Had this weird dream this morning, which may be recurring (within the dream, I remembered it happening before): a jackrabbit was coming out of my place, while I was outside with the BB gun. I aimed to take a shot at it, but its ears turned into horns. I shot the top of a horn off, but it still had 4 huge horns, the head of a goat, and a Dune-sandworm body, with the consistency of some inedible tubers I dug up the day before. I took another shot at it, but the BB bounced right off. I was wishing I had a more powerful gun with me when I woke up.

My rabbit stew smelled putrid, so after eating a little I threw the rest away. Damn. And I'd already added almost all my amaranth, rice, and veggies trying to thicken it up.

Greyhound has some awesome prices on the web with 10-day advance fares. For example, LA to Deming for $30. I've gotten most of my travel taken care of now. For some reason, I can't purchase the $17-round trip ticket from Portland to Seattle, and I really wanted to see Seattle this time. [comment]


OpenWRT installed just fine, but now I know why the Asus comes with a 5V power supply. Or at least I think I know, because I fried my USB stick. So I'm guessing that, while the router uses a switcher to generate the correct CPU and logic voltage, it passes the input power straight through to the USB port. There goes 8GB and several hours worth of setup. Shit. [comment]


Got my Asys WL-520GU yesterday, and last night I opened it up, saw the voltage conversion circuitry with the 16V-rated caps, and on a $50 whim, plugged it into my 12V system. It didn't fry! Now gotta load dd-wrt or openwrt on it and see what it can do. If USB storage is supported, I should have me a nice little PXE bootserver. And someday I should start a WIKI on off-grid tech, so people will know what works on their 12 or 24-volt system without modification. [comment]


Finally making progress on my goal to OpenID-enable my websites by year-end. Here's the scoop. Stay tuned. [comment]


Shot a rabbit and a dove today, panfried them, and added them to the soup. Sure hope there aren't any BBs left in the meat. [comment]


Awesome frost this morning, due to the recent rains and an exceptionally cold night. For once, my down-filled booties didn't do their job.

I killed my first rabbit yesterday with the Daisy 880, after finally aligning the scope. Couldn't repeat the performance this morning, though. [comment]


After all my experimentation, I've found the only sure way to irrigate the ears is with those squeeze bulbs from the drugstore. It sometimes takes 10 to 20 squeezes per ear, but it's got the right amount of pressure to get the goop out. I just removed large black chunks of wax from both ears, and the right ear is still kind of painful.

Got precious little rain from the storm front that passed through, but at least the wind is blowing tonight, and I can make some progress on OpenID. Finished that $400 RentACoder.com job with a "10" rating, which ought to boost my Top Coder standing substantially.

Planning on going to Portand, OR around the end of the month. Another friend's wedding, then maybe up to Seattle for a quick tour of the city. Hell, why not into Canada while I'm at it? We'll see... [comment]


The rope light atop my place now flashes "shebeen" in Morse code. Finally! I'd been meaning to do that ever since I put the thing up. I wonder if anybody will ever notice... The trick I used was to tie the base of an NPN transistor to the cathode of the DMZ LED of my WRT54G. I have a shell script turning the LED off, which tri-states the GPIO pin, and the pullup resistor sources enough current to switch the transistor on, sinking the cathodes of the LEDs of the rope light.

I think I have the Daisy air rifle about figured out. When it's cold, the air always escapes. It's got to be in the sun for a while before it works at all. Then, sometimes even when it's warm, it has to be pumped a while before the pressure starts to hold. Other than that, it's not a bad little rifle. Maybe someday I'll be able to hit something with it. [comment]


Wouldn't you know it. I was waiting in the customer service line in Wal-Mart today, and decided to pump the air rifle a couple of times in preparation for demonstrating my reason for returning it. The damned thing held air! For the first goddamned time!

So, I brought it back home and it's still working. I'm not sure what the secret is, but it seems to like being held with the muzzle pointing down while pumping.

Also, my new modification of my bicycle trailer worked awesomely, at least while in Deming. I was able to jog from Wal-Mart to Peppers, pulling it one-handed behind me. I'll get some pictures or make a YouTube video as I have time. Gotta finish a RentACoder.com job first. [comment]

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