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


had more weird dreams. in the dream I was reading something by Sarah Hoyt mentioning "challat", and I thought I remembered an expression from childhood, "pre-challat", that I'd heard several times but never knew what it meant. so in the dream I Googled it and it meant "before a birth", meaning, for example, giving gifts "pre-challat" before a baby is born.

so then I Google it on awakening and there's no such thing.

so now I'm wondering if I ever heard anything like that as a child or not. [comment]


in one of my dreams last night, I had been trying to run across the valley, but for some reason I couldn't achieve a running gait. I was walking very awkwardly instead, and my feet were sinking too deeply into the turf to make much headway.

on awakening, it struck me that maybe I was a big, 4-footed animal, perhaps a moose, in the dream and because I thought I was a human, I was making the animal try to walk on its hind legs instead. [comment]


on the well-established scientific principle of "trouble comes in threes" (who was that anyway? Maxwell? Newton? can't remember) I figured my spell of bad luck had run out, and I could risk doing something stupid again. so I walked all the way south and east of town to fill my propane cylinder, which had run out a few days ago.

my voice got hoarse screaming at all the cars to get the fuck out of "my" lane. it was clearly separated from the travel lanes by a solid white line, but people were driving full speed in it anyway. I dunno, maybe it means something different down here. but even if the drivers couldn't understand what I was saying, they could see the look on my face and knew what it meant when I was waving my arms. they left me some room.

I got to the first of the two gas places I'd seen on the map, and I couldn't understand what they told me, but it seemed they didn't fill the 20-liter gas-barbecue cylinders. so I trudged off to the 2nd one, another few kilometers. but just as I passed the end of the driveway, a guy offered me a ride. he didn't mind doing all the lifting, and gave me a ride all the way back to the Soriana, from where I walked home. the refill cost me $195 pesos. I didn't offer Rafaél any money; I doubt he'd have accepted anyway. really nice guy, a civil engineer. his wife teaches at the technical institute on the east side of Forjadores, and his two daughters are both brilliant too, one a physicist and the other into nanotechnology.

so here I am, back sitting down, getting painful spasms every few minutes, while I was fine walking for hours. weird. about beer thirty, I'd say. [comment]


back isn't noticeably better yet, but I was able to walk down to the molinito and hang by the pull-up bar for a while, and maybe loosened up the spine a bit.

someone stole my bike sometime in the last 72 hours... really hard to tell exactly when, because I don't exactly look for it every time I go out. now I'm wondering if anything in here is safe, because if someone got in and out with a bicycle over a 10-foot wall with spikes on top, what exactly would he be incapable of?

crossing back across Obregón on my way home, drivers in both directions stopped for me, but a lady behind the southbound driver didn't stop. slammed into him pretty hard, but luckily his damage was minimal compared to her crumpled hood. he might have gotten whiplash and not noticed it though.

I hung around to see if the cops wanted to talk to me, but it was over pretty quickly and nobody asked me anything. I thanked the guy.

just goes to show you, you can make eye contact but you can't predict what those behind are going to do. always hedge your bets. [comment]


yesterday afternoon, scooching to reach under the workbench for an almost-empty propane cylinder, I lifted it out to take a look at the capacity and instantly collapsed. the pain in my lower back was excruciating, and still is, intermittently.

the cylinder didn't have what I was looking for anyway. I was hoping to find out its capacity in gallons or liters. my Mexican cylinder only had its capacity, and tare weight, in kilograms.

I could have avoided the whole episode by Googling, which I eventually did. I was trying to find out why my Mexican cylinder, visually identical to an American 5-gallon cylinder, only held about 10kg; 20 liters is 20kg, right? sure, with water. but LP gas only has about half the density of water, it turns out. so 20 liters is approximately 10kg.

I can't remember how long this sort of back pain lasts me. presumably it's in my blog somewhere, but with the pain shooting through me every few seconds I don't feel much like searching right now. gonna try and get back to bed. [comment]


after a few days respite from spam, it started up again. the SPF check was obviously failing still, but exim4 let it sail on through. to figure out why, I had to run it with the -bhc switches and look at the output.

turns out that the spammers had wised up to the SPF check and added the needed records to their domains. but they did it wrong (for their purposes anyway) and put -all at the end. so the check failed with permerror instead of a simple fail.

the fix: I had to dig into the bowels of the ACLs, specifically /etc/exim4/conf.d/acl/30_exim4-config_check_rcpt, and change if eq {$runrc} {1} to if inlist {$runrc}{1:4}.

let's see how long before they figure this one out. [comment]


so far the bug hasn't gotten me. except for that first day I haven't coughed at all, and rarely have felt any more than the usual post-nasal-drip discomfort in my throat. I keep expecting my probiotic routine to fail me, but it hasn't. I think the key is avoiding sugars. eating them, in any form including dried fruits, seems to be the worst thing I can do. [comment]


that "meat candle" I made the other day with machaca and beef tallow doesn't work very well. I tried to light it day before yesterday and it lit OK, but fizzled out after a bit when the wick flopped into the molten tallow. needs a stiffer wick or maybe it's just that the damned thing is too big. maybe about twice the size of a tea lamp is about the max. anyway, I'll probably try again soon.

the Sonchus and Chenopodium I transplanted look pretty sad. one of the two purslanes still looks good though. I took a different route to the malecon today, and in front of the big abandoned building on Torre Iglesias I found a number of species growing wild, including (here for the first time I think!) Lactuca serriola. also of note is one of the two common tobaccos that grow here, probably Nicotiana obtusifolia; the other is the oft-mentioned (in this blog) N. glauca, which I finally identified as that unknown semisucculent I rescued from the malecon. the crenate edges on the leaves were what threw me off. [comment]


good thing I saved that plant last night, whatever it was. apparently the city workers had time to complete several more blocks of destruction this morning before the storm hit; everything but the palms and bougainvillea had been targeted. however, one nice Portulaca specimen had been left untouched, either deliberately or inadvertently; I snagged it.

then walked down to about Guerrero, where I found a Sonchus and some Chenopodiastrum murale. took one each and went home. maybe try again tomorrow. [comment]


just finished Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, and nowhere in it do I see how he transforms his angry mob of peasants from the violent pack of thieves who need to "expropriate" every house, every acre of land, and place of business from the largest factory to the mom-and-pop bakery; to the "happy crowds of occasional labourers" who will gladly work in the fields every day to feed his comrades.

color me cynical.

if you'd rather steal than go to the commons and forage your food, I don't have any hope you'd do better after the orgy of theft and redistribution in which you just indulged. if you aren't helping your neighbors now, you won't likely do so after the revolution, either.

remember: you don't rise to the occasion, you fall back on your training. breaking windows and beating up "fascists" who have done nothing but run their mouths doesn't translate into working the fields tomorrow. go work the fields now and see how you like it; you may find you don't need to use violence to achieve your paradise on earth. and if not, at least you'll know how you'll fare later. [comment]


caught the latest bug that's going around. first I woke up with a cough, and a few hours later the itchy throat showed up. doing the usual, treating it with yogurt (probiotic).

I had a bad feeling about those two handfuls of dried blueberries I ate last night. it's close to pure sugar... really asking for trouble.

city workers started digging out the nettle-leaf goosefoot, purslane, and other edibles and decoratives that had been springing up around the palms along the malecon. if I'm going to salvage any of this, I'd better get cracking. [comment]


in my dream it was wartime, and nobody had any rights except the non-homeless elderly. the homeless weren't being pressed into warfare, but were still being rounded up by the army for forced labor like street sweeping.

not so far off the mark as to current reality in many places, is it?

other elements of this particular dreamworld weren't so normal in this one, like the practice of bus and taxi drivers to use ramps whenever possible to become airborne. seemed suicidal to me, but on retrospect after waking up it was a low-G world, as in most of my dreams, so no big deal to them. their vehicles, designed for Earth gravity, could take the abuse. [comment]


a few days ago I decided to finally block SPF-fail emails. I should never have waited so long. I can't put a number on it quite yet but it drastically reduced spam. [comment]


on pages 121 and 122 of The Conquest of Bread, Kropotkin praises the anarchic development of the railway system of Europe, noting (whether rightly or wrongly, I have no idea) that it was accomplished without government intervention, "by free agreement, by exchange of letters and proposals, and by congresses at which delegates met to discuss well specified special points, and to come to an agreement about them, but not to make laws."

so by his own admission, free-market capitalism provided the "most striking trait of the nineteenth century", and yet he thought his communist gang of thieves could improve upon it by expropriation. [comment]


went back into the desert to see if I could find the pair of glasses I lost about a week ago. no luck. not going to try again, either; at my age the angel of death is already gunning for me. no need to taunt the fucker. [comment]


did my full 15-minute jog yesterday, after 2 days of staying off the foot and 3 days of building up to it, a few blocks at a time. not bad, considering I did nothing to fight the infection, just let my immune system handle it.

grinding cinnamon bark to make my scones lately. commies might deride my bourgeois affectations, but I challenge you to show me any nascent Marx who wouldn't gladly sit in a coffeeshop as long as there was an Engels around to pick up the tab. [comment]


making some progress on several fronts. first, my arroyo tomato has generated 8 sprouts so far. I'm remembering to water it, which is something of a miracle.

yesterday evening, Arámburo had several packs of beef bones with goodly amounts of meat and fat attached. I bought 3 packs, one of which turned out to have some pretty putrid meat, but I boiled the best of it and had a good 1/4 inch of tallow on top this morning. I put that in a separate container and boiled it again to drive off all the remaining water. then I twisted the fibers of that Gossypium (wild cotton) I'd found earlier in the day, and soaked it in the fat to make a wick. then put machaca in my little stainless steel bowl and covered it with the rest of the fat, holding the wick in the middle, then draping it over a stick across the top. my "meat candle" is now solidifying. the idea is to light it to heat it up, possibly adding bits of potato or other food to cook it, and have an easy traveler's meal.

I cut up the smaller of the two squashes and added it to the beef stew. it was delicious. not bitter at all, in fact so sweet I wondered at first if it weren't an unripe melon.

there were two Gossypium seeds left in my pocket. I must have lost the others. anyway, I scarified one of them with a file, and planted them both in a little dirt. we'll see how they do.

the cracks in my foot today seemed a little less painful, so I tried jogging didn't make it more than a few blocks. but still, better than nothing. it's the third day since I last did my mile and a half. on the way back, I noticed another of those Damiana look-alikes, like the one on Hidalgo, near the corner of Torre Iglesias and Belisario Dominguez. the yellow buds with 5 sepals, and the mallow-like 5-sided seed pods (which apparently make it not likely to actually be Turnera diffusa).

there's more but that's all I can think of at the moment. [comment]


went back to the arroyo near Home Depot today. the tomato plants, hundreds of them, are still thriving. some are starting to bear fruit.

that tree with the maple- or sycamore-like leaves was a variety of Gossypium, the wild cotton that is native to this area, but not necessarily this particular species. I'm thinking it's G. barbadense.

also saw a very healthy specimen of a mint, perhaps the same that I saw with Carla a couple weeks ago, except that now it's in bloom -- tiny, white, Penstemon-like flowers -- and has an even stronger mint flavor, instead of the more anise-like taste it had last time.

also saw and tasted a mustard-family plant with large leaves and a thick stem. the flavor reminds me of garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, but the leaves are more like a radish. I didn't want to pull it up to check, it was the only one visible.

we foraged a couple of squash from the large vine a couple hundred yards from the road. still don't know for sure if it's an edible variety.

and of course the wild amaranth is still all around, as are the nasty grasses with the goat-head-like seeds. [comment]


the cracked skin on my right foot has been getting more and more painful over the past week or so. but unless something goes drastically wrong, I'm going to let it heal by itself as it's always done in the past. my body can fight off the infection.

I keep wondering why only the right foot? the left foot always stays comparatively smooth. [comment]


yesterday, I again took the left branch of the Palmira arroyo, and this time followed it until it dead-ended in a natural amphitheater carved by wind and water. climbed out the lowest end and up the hill to the right, to see where I was. lost my glasses when I hit a branch, and crab-walked back down a ways to see if I could find them, but no luck. crab-walked down the other side of the hill to the right branch of the arroyo, and walked back home from there. one of these days I hope I figure out how to make it through the pass.

today I went kayaking with a group, but knowing how painful my body gets doing that activity, I plowed ahead and was coming back from the lighthouse before the rest of the group reached it. but then I got lost. I didn't see the car (not having glasses helped that happen) and, figuring it was the next cove down, kept paddling south. when I was just about to the entrance to the ferry, I turned back. the intense sunlight, heat, blue sky and clear water made me start thinking I was in a dream. there's a cross on the rocks near the cove, and I started wondering if perhaps I were already dead, and that cross was for me. I hung around the entrance to the cove for a while, and saw no kayaks. finally I went back into the cove, and this time I saw the car, to the far left. about an hour later, the others came back. they had stopped on a secluded beach for lunch. [comment]


one step forward, two steps back. all of a sudden, the Spark clusters are requiring me to use HDFS for all file operations, meaning prepending "file://" to the paths I was previously using. it must be due to something I did, but I can't figure it out so I'm trying to deal with it. I put the "file://" into the Makefile definition, but then got the dreaded "multiple target patterns" error. so I've been modifying the Python script itself. royal pain in the ass. [comment]

view blog for 2024-07
view blog for 2024-06
view blog for 2024-05
view blog for 2024-04
view blog for 2024-03
view blog for 2024-02
view blog for 2023-10
view blog for 2023-09
view blog for 2023-08
view blog for 2023-07
view blog for 2023-06
view blog for 2023-05
view blog for 2023-03
view blog for 2023-02
view blog for 2023-01
view blog for 2022-12
view blog for 2022-11
view blog for 2022-10
view blog for 2022-09
view blog for 2022-08
view blog for 2022-07
view blog for 2022-06
view blog for 2022-05
view blog for 2022-04
view blog for 2022-03
view blog for 2022-02
view blog for 2022-01
view blog for 2021-12
view blog for 2021-11
view blog for 2021-10
view blog for 2021-08
view blog for 2021-07
view blog for 2021-06
view blog for 2021-05
view blog for 2021-04
view blog for 2021-03
view blog for 2021-02
view blog for 2021-01
view blog for 2020-12
view blog for 2020-11
view blog for 2020-10
view blog for 2020-09
view blog for 2020-08
view blog for 2020-07
view blog for 2020-06
view blog for 2020-05
view blog for 2020-04
view blog for 2020-03
view blog for 2020-02
view blog for 2020-01
view blog for 2019-12
view blog for 2019-11
view blog for 2019-10
view blog for 2019-09
view blog for 2019-08
view blog for 2019-07
view blog for 2019-06
view blog for 2019-05
view blog for 2019-04
view blog for 2019-03
view blog for 2019-02
view blog for 2019-01
view blog for 2018-12
view blog for 2018-11
view blog for 2018-10
view blog for 2018-09
view blog for 2018-08
view blog for 2018-07
view blog for 2018-06
view blog for 2018-05
view blog for 2018-04
view blog for 2018-03
view blog for 2018-02
view blog for 2018-01
view blog for 2017-12
view blog for 2017-11
view blog for 2017-10
view blog for 2017-09
view blog for 2017-08
view blog for 2017-07
view blog for 2017-06
view blog for 2017-05
view blog for 2017-04
view blog for 2017-03
view blog for 2017-01
view blog for 2016-12
view blog for 2016-11
view blog for 2016-10
view blog for 2016-09
view blog for 2016-08
view blog for 2016-07
view blog for 2016-06
view blog for 2016-05
view blog for 2016-04
view blog for 2016-03
view blog for 2016-02
view blog for 2016-01
view blog for 2015-12
view blog for 2015-11
view blog for 2015-10
view blog for 2015-09
view blog for 2015-08
view blog for 2015-07
view blog for 2015-06
view blog for 2015-05
view blog for 2015-04
view blog for 2015-03
view blog for 2015-02
view blog for 2015-01
view blog for 2014-12
view blog for 2014-11
view blog for 2014-10
view blog for 2014-09
view blog for 2014-08
view blog for 2014-07
view blog for 2014-06
view blog for 2014-05
view blog for 2014-04
view blog for 2014-03
view blog for 2014-02
view blog for 2014-01
view blog for 2013-12
view blog for 2013-11
view blog for 2013-10
view blog for 2013-09
view blog for 2013-08
view blog for 2013-07
view blog for 2013-06
view blog for 2013-05
view blog for 2013-04
view blog for 2013-03
view blog for 2013-02
view blog for 2013-01
view blog for 2012-12
view blog for 2012-11
view blog for 2012-10
view blog for 2012-09
view blog for 2012-08
view blog for 2012-07
view blog for 2012-06
view blog for 2012-05
view blog for 2012-04
view blog for 2012-03
view blog for 2012-02
view blog for 2012-01
view blog for 2011-12
view blog for 2011-11
view blog for 2011-10
view blog for 2011-09
view blog for 2011-08
view blog for 2011-07
view blog for 2011-06
view blog for 2011-05
view blog for 2011-04
view blog for 2011-03
view blog for 2011-02
view blog for 2011-01
view blog for 2010-12
view blog for 2010-11
view blog for 2010-10
view blog for 2010-09
view blog for 2010-08
view blog for 2010-07
view blog for 2010-06
view blog for 2010-05
view blog for 2010-04
view blog for 2010-03
view blog for 2010-02
view blog for 2010-01
view blog for 2009-12
view blog for 2009-11
view blog for 2009-10
view blog for 2009-09
view blog for 2009-08
view blog for 2009-07
view blog for 2009-06
view blog for 2009-05
view blog for 2009-04
view blog for 2009-03
view blog for 2009-02
view blog for 2009-01
view blog for 2008-12
view blog for 2008-11
view blog for 2008-10
view blog for 2008-09
view blog for 2008-08
view blog for 2008-07
view blog for 2008-06
view blog for 2008-05
view blog for 2008-04
view blog for 2008-03
view blog for 2008-02
view blog for 2008-01
view blog for 2007-12
view blog for 2007-11
view blog for 2007-10
view blog for 2007-09
view blog for 2007-08
view blog for 2007-07
view blog for 2007-06
view blog for 2007-05
view blog for 2007-04
view blog for 2007-03
view blog for 2007-02
view blog for 2007-01
view blog for 2006-12
view blog for 2006-11
view blog for 2006-10
view blog for 2006-09
view blog for 2006-08
view blog for 2006-07
view blog for 2006-06
view blog for 2006-05
view blog for 2006-04
view blog for 2006-03
view blog for 2006-02
view blog for 2006-01
view blog for 2005-12
view blog for 2005-11
view blog for 2005-10
view blog for 2005-09
view blog for 2005-08
view blog for 2005-07
view blog for 2005-06
view blog for 2005-05
view blog for 2005-04
view blog for 2005-03
view blog for 2005-02
view blog for 2005-01
view blog for 2004-12
view blog for 2004-11
view blog for 2004-10
view blog for 2004-09
view blog for 2004-08
view blog for 2004-07
view blog for 2004-06
view blog for 2004-05
view blog for 2004-04
view blog for 2004-03
view blog for 2004-02
view blog for 2004-01
view blog for 2003-12

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Valid CSS!