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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2004-06-19-0006Z

Some friends of someone close to me told her about my blog, and about my references to her... she wasn't happy at all about it, and so I removed its availability from the web. I'm still going to update it though, and keep it private.

I was wrong about the laptop, it had nothing at all to do with 12V. Currently the only verifiable problem is that the (5V) CPU fan (what I was calling the 'main fan' before is actually the CPU fan) isn't working at all. This in turn, I'm assuming, is causing the CPU to overheat very quickly, so nothing else has a chance to start.

I might just get a cheap desktop and plug the laptop's hard drive into it. It's ATA-100, so should plug into a normal IDE cable OK. [comment]

2004-06-14-2239Z

Worked kinda sorta. I at least got some programming done on cronparse.py before I could overcome my laziness enough to switch the wireless back on, switch to screen 1, remove the dhcpcd pid file, and run dhcpcd wlan0.

Got another of the same rejections from Starbucks:

Dear John Comeau:

Thank you for taking the time to submit your profile for the restaurant equipment technician II, Albuquerque, NM position. We have carefully evaluated your profile, and while your qualifications are impressive, regrettably they do not meet our present need for the restaurant equipment technician II, Albuquerque, NM position.

Please visit our website at www.Starbucks.com and consider additional opportunities with Starbucks. We are a growing company and employment opportunities are continuously updated.

Again, thank you for your interest in Starbucks Coffee Company. We wish you success in your job search.

Warm regards,

Starbucks Human Resources

Replies to this message are undeliverable and will not reach Human Resources. Please do not reply.

So how do I appeal? How do I know this isn't age discrimination? Damned right my qualifications are impressive, in fact there's probably nobody better for the job than I.

Installed the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) screensaver on my GNU/Linux/KDE system. You ever notice that the address given is F0AD:42494C4C? Hmm, 0x42 is B... Let's go to my Python prompt...

>>> "\x42\x49\x4c\x4c"
'BILL'

Oh, that's nice. Fuck off and die, Bill. [comment]

2004-06-14-1922Z

Internet access is bad for me. I sit here switching back and forth between Gmail, Brainstorms, eBay, and other timewasters and haven't done a goddamned thing on any of my programming projects. I'm going to, (right after uploading this), turn off my wireless adapter and see if that helps. If not, I'm just going to have to travel to San Ysidro tomorrow and sit there in the Starbucks (that doesn't have free wireless) and get some programming done.

It really sucks not having control over oneself. [comment]

2004-06-14-0330Z

Well, here I am in Rosarito Beach... at a store 3 blocks away I bought, a couple of hours ago, 3 small loaves of fresh-baked bread for $1.50 (pesos) each, plus a small can of tuna for $7.50 or so. Altogether, less than a dollar, and I ate one loaf on the way home plus made myself two excellent sandwiches with the other two. That ought to last me till midnight OK.

Obviously I didn't, during my time in the desert, break either my wheat addiction nor my love addiction. Not sure I want to, either.

Some dickhead on RAC this evening, during an online chat with a potential client, called me "Perl-boy". What an undeserved insult. Shouldn't piss me off as much as it did, because what do I care what some ignoramus thinks? He's going to write the server component of a client-server system in C, when all it does is launch an existing executable. Wow, I'll bet he saves all of 1 or 2 milliseconds that way. Well, he got the job, good for him. Hope he fucks it up big-time and loses his "top coder" rating. Not likely though, it's too simple a project. I really don't know why I bother with that site, the competition is too goddamn hard for too little money. And having to deal with smartmouthed kids like that... bummer.

I've got my IPN script I ought to be working on, plus the Hipbone game, plus I want to code around a problem in the cron daemon on my slackware system that doesn't process /etc/cron.d/-style crontabs like Vixie cron. Hard to get motivated. Maybe tomorrow. [comment]

2004-06-11-1156Z

After I last updated my blog, I found Pantoja Park just a few blocks away; slept there underneath one of the fig (Ficus) trees; I tried one and it wasn't particularly tasty. I asked a caretaker about them and he said even the birds won't eat them! Nothing like those Calmyrna figs I ate a few weeks ago and then shit them out like a duck.

Woke up refreshed maybe two hours later and started towards Rosarito. Headed down Market to 32nd St., hung a right and proceeded to Main, bearing left at the Church's Chicken. Took that to National City Blvd, which later becomes Broadway and then Beyer Blvd., which of course takes you right to the border at San Ysidro/Tijuana. I noticed on the East side of Beyer some of those trees which I thought last time were loquats bore in fact full-size peaches, which were not yet ripe but still delicious and filling. San Diego area is a forager's delight; I've enjoyed prickly pear, barberries, pine nuts (very small and not very tasty, but my first success at extracting them), and now these peaches, since my arrival here what, two or three days ago. There's a notable absense of citrus though, except for some very tiny oranges I mentioned before, very near those peach trees on Beyer. Strange that people don't grow the bitter oranges, as in Tucson and Phoenix, or the lemon trees found all over LA and Long Beach.

Ate my last $1 double cheeseburger at the border. From now on it'll be tacos for a few weeks, probably. Since this was my first time in TJ on a bicycle, I stopped in at the tourist info center, and a young guy there confirmed that the road shown on the map, route 1, would take me to Rosarito. What he didn't say is that it's under construction for the first few miles, and so has no breakdown lane to ride in, and that it goes through what is probably the worst part of town. I ended up walking my bike through this skid row, on what Mexicans call a sidewalk: broken, few if any ramps, sometimes large drops and rises. After climbing a huge hill, I coasted down the other side in the wrong-side breakdown lane. Then I crossed over to where it showed "Playas de Tijuana"; I'd already been many times in a taxi on the more direct road to Rosarito and I knew how bad that would be for bicycles; I didn't know anything about this other road, route 1D, but figured it couldn't be worse.

It was actually pretty good; well-paved with a wide breakdown lane for most of it. This road, past TJ Beach, is mostly housing for Americans (Norteamericanos that is, gringos) with the signs alternately in English and Spanish, so I guess it gets better road service to keep the Yanks buying the properties. Drank my last swallow of water about a mile before Rosarito; rolled up to the house maybe a half hour later. [Trying to get rid of my scabies,] I've shaved almost completely from head to toe, I'll finish the job tomorrow. Nobody who's seen me only with my full beard is going to recognize me! I can even probably go back to that bar with the dollar drafts, El Museo de Pancho Villa, that threw me out earlier this year just because of the way I looked. If I forgive them, that is.

Tried a taco de tripitas that night, along with my favorite, carnitas. I like the tripe, surprisingly. Guess I'll try all the other stuff I've avoided before too. My budget here will go a little farther, US$8 is about 88 pesos, which I'll round up to 90 for convenience. Plus I already prepaid $3 per day for eating here at the house, which she didn't want to accept at first (this was back in March) but I insisted I wouldn't feel right about eating here unless she took it. So she did. I guess now I can't really continue my saga of living on $8 a day until I get back on the road...

I may not be keeping up my blog quite so religiously while here, but who knows. I'll try anyway. Haven't decided yet whether I'm going to head north in July for the Comeau family reunion in mid-August in Canada (not my immediate family, I'm talking about the 3rd World Congress of Acadians). I don't know if I'll be fit enough 10 years from now to make the trip, so this may be my only chance. We'll see... talk to you later! [comment]

2004-06-09-1531Z

I forgot to mention, this BandwidthNow service at America Plaza is fast, free, and gives you your own routable IP while you're there. You could use dyndns.org and actually run a server if you stay at Starbuck's all day (I've been here 4 hours already). The website shows they have a presence in several other buildings in San Diego too. The speed is simply awesome.

OK, gotta get out of here and go get some sleep, then head to Rosarito. Like I said hours ago... [comment]

2004-06-09-1258Z

I think I goofed at that Kinko's. I was trying to get on the internet and guessed an IP after tcpdumping the broadcast traffic; I think I guessed the same IP as one of Kinko's machines that a customer was using. Oops. I saw a dialogue popup on the screen a few feet away from me, and didn't check to make sure it was or wasn't an IP conflict warning. I just shut down and, yawning loudly, walked out. I hate it when I do stupid shit like that.

Man, did I mention how nice it is to have a bike in SD? The uphills are of course just as strenuous if not a little moreso, but the downhills are effing amazing. I get from point A to point B in a fraction of the time, in this case from Mission Valley to downtown in probably about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes. Used to be 2 hours minimum.

I waited for the Starbucks at America Plaza to open at 4:30, got my coffee and a blueberry scone with butter for $2.95. I already spent a dollar just after midnight, at the Savon drugs for some peanuts. So that leaves me $4 for the rest of the day. Good news is that I got an email from you-know-who that she's back in Rosarito! So I can go eat there... maybe I'll get some sleep before another 50-mile trip! [comment]

2004-06-09-0220Z

Well, I broke my rule of not sleeping at night. That's what rules are for, right? The rest area was quiet, well-lit, and seemed safe enough. I lay down on the wide concrete wall and got maybe an hour or more of sleep. Then once I collected myself I headed for Blythe, California. The goal was McDonald's for breakfast, if I remember right; a lot has happened since then. I'm typing this from the Kinko's in: now guess first! Bzzzzzttt! Nope! Effing Mission Valley! What happened? Did I sprout wings and fly? No, even more incredibly amazing than that! I got a ride! But let's get back to the story.

It wasn't all downhill to Blythe, but it wasn't too difficult, either. After only a few miles the lights of a city were up ahead; and before too long I was looking at the bridge over the Colorado River. I was also looking at a sign that all vehicles must go through an inspection point. Uh-oh. I wasn't sure bicycles were allowed on that bridge, remember it's an interstate route. But I figured I'd wing it, first just get out my trusty flashlight to show as a headlight. Hmm, it's not in my left cargo pocket as it should be. Maybe I put it in the other pocket? Nope! I lost it! My $30 waterproof, no-batteries, LED-lamp flashlight that never wears out! Gone! Damn damn damn damn damn!

Well, pull yourself together, Intrepid Wanderer. So forget about crossing with the traffic. Now I see that there's a walkway, I just have to hop a fairly short fence, maybe 4 ft. high. Threw my stuff over, first the laptop bag, then the bicycle, and finally my own arse. Made fairly sure I didn't lose anything else in the process, and started pedaling across. When I got to the end it looked like it was fenced off, but I continued and it was open. Good. Got around the inspection point. Down a dirt hill, and started following the road but wasn't at all sure where it headed, so turned back around and entered I-10 again at a place past the inspection area. I didn't take the first exit, nor the second, I was looking for Mickey D's. There it was, at the third exit as usual. I guess McDonald's makes a point of always locating at the westernmost entrance to a town. At least here in NM, AZ, and CA along Interstate 10.

It was already about 6AM, so they were open for business. But what? No $1 breakfast items? What's going on? Oh yeah, this is California, they stopped that here some months ago. Well, it was good while it lasted, in New Mexico and Arizona. I got the sausage-only biscuit or McMuffin, can't remember, for $1.69 or so. I decided then to change my schedule so I eat breakfast after 11AM, either that or have my bananas for breakfast instead of later in the day.

After breakfast I went looking for a park. Blythe isn't a big city by any means, but I couldn't find it; up one street and down the other, I stopped looking for the park itself and looked instead for a phone booth with a phone book. No goddamn phones, either! Finally I found it outside the donut shop I had already passed. Freaking Verizon phone book, probably no map. Yes! It had one, and it showed where the park was. Got there a few minutes later. And these blithering idiots were starting the sprinkler cycle! Fine time to do it, just when the town is waking up and wants to walk through the park. Well, I waited till the first section was done, lay out my tarp on the still-wet grass, and lay down to sleep. And what a sleep. Best I had in days, maybe weeks. Woke up refreshed and no aches and pains from sleeping on concrete or hard-packed adobe mud; grass makes a much nicer bed. Plus I didn't have to cover my face because there was a nice shade tree under which I had positioned myself in such a way as to be awakened about noon, when the sun would clear the branches. Perfect. The sunlight playing on my eyes through the leaves woke me gently and happily. It's good to be alive!

Back to the phone book to find a library. It gave the address, but I couldn't find it on the map. So back to McD's for lunch, and talked to an old guy there who knew the city well. Turns out it was just on the opposite end of the same park. So went back and checked my email; the only thing I remember interesting was from RentACoder saying that my bid had been accepted. But I had deleted that bid! Something's fubar with their software. I noticed it before but thought it was only cosmetic; deleted bids still showing up in the "My Bids" section, and automated emails telling me someone else won a bid (even though mine had already been retracted). But now it turns out that the buyer either didn't know I had deleted the bid, or he knew but the software allowed him to select me anyway. Well, I responded to the email telling them what I just told you, but now I'm not sure if it went to RAC or to the buyer himself. This Kinko's apparently doesn't have free net access so I won't know until tomorrow at the earliest, unless after midnight I decide to spend part of my $8 to use their paid net access. Not bloody likely. I had to do my laundry today, with $1.75 wash not the 50c there was in Phoenix; I'm gonna be pretty hungry by midnight, not much chance of having money to spare tomorrow. Anyway, I told either RAC or the customer that I wasn't going to have reliable net access for another week, so there's no rush.

After filling my water bottles, I left the library and headed to the end of town again. Got on the entry ramp and was unpleasantly surprised to see the sign forbidding pedestrians, bicycles, and motorized bicycles from the interstate. Of course, that didn't stop me; I preferred to interpret it as meaning in the roadway proper. Of course bicycles can use the shoulder. Of course!

Well, I got about 5 miles out, sweating my ass off (remember this is still fairly early in the day), first found a quarter, then not long after, a dime; getting back on my bike after picking it up, I notice a red pickup stopped in the shoulder ahead of me. What's this? A lady who looked a lot like Cher, on the passenger side, had the window rolled down and asked me if I needed anything, could I use a ride? "Sure, I'd love a ride!", repeating the words I had once tried on a sign to no avail; but let's forget about that one for now; I jumped in, her man, a tough-looking dude, told me to get down so the cops couldn't see me. I was thanking them profusely, and told him I'd help with the gas, he said to forget about that, "just don't get me pulled over".

They stopped several times for bathroom breaks, food and gas. Her name is Zora and he's Ron. He spent 10 and a half years in prison for something, didn't ask what, but I don't care, they're damn good people. Nobody else even pretended to offer me a ride, not even that day I was out of water, wind in my face, 10 more miles to the nearest rest area, and made that sign which hundreds of people blithely ignored. I had already consigned all of car-driving humanity to the hottest regions of hell, but Ron and Zora saved your sorry asses. You can say your prayers to them from now on.

Anyway, they said they were going to San Diego. I decided right then and there that LA could wait for another time, and told them that would be just great; turns out what they had in mind was actually Oceanside, still part of San Diego county but farther north along the shore than I had ever been; doesn't matter, they saved me at least a week of pedaling, and the trip, though not altogether comfortable underneath my bike, my legs alternately cramping or losing circulation, was short and sweet. The last hour or so was getting pretty cold as we approached the Pacific, but I was dressed for it.

They dropped me off at the Denny's in Oceanside, I thanked them again and we went our separate ways. It was easy to find South despite the cloud cover, just keep the ocean on my right. Mile after mile, it started a cold drizzle and my pleasure at getting the ride was severely dampened but by no means erased. By daybreak I had reached the beach at Torrey Pines State Park, where I had planned to take an ocean bath but due to the cold decided against it; instead I took a brief nap until the restrooms opened, and went inside to apply my Escabindex, the Mexican brand of Benzoato de Bencilo that my lady had bought me. I later realized I must have left the bottle in that restroom. Damn, I'm starting a very bad habit of leaving things behind. That's worrying me mainly because I had to remove my ring due to swelling, and am now wearing it on the keyring where I have my bicycle key, attached to a plastic ring on my fanny pack. That's one thing I'd really rather not lose.

Through the park, down the hill on the opposite side, finally stopping in La Jolla at the Mobil Mart next to a Starbucks. Resisted the urge for my favorite Espresso Brownies (another log on the bonfire of my vanities), and instead had a hotdog and coffee at Mobil for less than $2 total. Got back on the bike and pedaled. And pedaled. And pedaled.

By the time I got to Ocean Beach it was mid-afternoon and the sun was breaking through the clouds. Perfect! I had my bath, a very quick one believe me, in the cold Pacific, and gathered up my clothes for the laundromat. About an hour later, feeling more civilized and without, hopefully, a noticeable odor, I made my way back to Old Town and after some searching and asking around found a McDonald's; had two of the dollar double cheeseburgers and then went to Ralph's for bananas. Still hungry, and it's very early in the day; back to McD's for a hunger-killing coffee, and tried to take my mind off my stomach by singing along with the muzak. They played some good songs among the trash, notably Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. I had enough for another double cheeseburger, which I bought about 6PM, and then one cookie for 42c another half hour or so later. And then I was out of cash until Midnight. I'm gonna stick to this budget no matter what. I started towards Mission Valley, and got here not more than an hour later. Probably not even an hour. Man, it's so nice having a bicycle to maneuver around SD! It was OK walking with that roll-around flight bag, but this is worlds mo' betta. I can get lost a lot quicker, and then get back on track again that much quicker. It's fucking great.

Well, still three and a half hours till midnight and I'm running out of steam. Not sure what I'll do now; head downtown, maybe, or to Chula Vista and Imperial Beach, or stay right here in Mission Valley. Haven't heard from my lady for a few days, not sure if she's still in Florida or she's already in Rosarito; I'm sure I'll hear something sooner or later. I can't ever be sure if she still loves me or not but it's fairly certain she won't forget someone who has fucked up such a big chunk of her life... so when she has a chance she'll write.

Getting back to McDonald's: say what you will about the quality of the food, they are the only fast-food restaurant I know of which is very consistent with their dollar menu. Burger King, by contrast, is clearly a follower and not a leader in this regard. Every now and then they'll make a lame attempt to trump Mickey by putting the Whopper on sale, but McD's quickly, in Arizona, countered with a dollar Big N' Tasty, the same thing. In Phoenix the BK's didn't offer the whopper for a dollar, but a double cheeseburger, so Mac had them whoppered. They never win. And often, they just give up, as now in California where the dollar items are the lame Whopper Jr., some chicken nuggets and two wimpy tacos. McDonald's has had the dollar double or better for well over a year now nationwide, as far as I know. Maybe some regions haven't had it, and they of course don't offer it in airports and other such high-rent areas, but I know for sure South Florida, Southern Cal, Arizona and New Mexico. Plus they often give me the Senior price (45 cents or so) for coffee without my asking, and today I found out that they sell the cookies one-off and not just 3 for a dollar. And they refill the coffee as many times as I dare ask (never gone beyond 3 yet, but maybe I'll try for 4 one of these days). For a person on a strict budget, old Ronald is a hero. My arteries may be filling with grease, but my hunger pangs are normally abated.

I guess that's enough for now. If you're like me, you see a long-winded post like this one you'll just skim it or skip it anyway. Later, buds. Hey, don't take it personal about my rants about motorists. As I said before, I was one too, and so whatever I say about any group to which I ever belonged I say to myself. Or in my conversation with Chris and July one day in City of the Sun: "I don't deny I'm full of contradictions", when asked about my aversion to driving and drivers but still insist on my computers. We all have our own reparations to make with Gaia, and I'm just trying to whittle down my future obligations without sacrificing anything I'm not willing to sacrifice.

[comment]

2004-06-07-0756Z

Well, it turned to downhill at last. Just past mile marker 30. About fucking time. Now let's recap the last day or so: I made it to the rest stop with some water left, but hungry as hell and no ones, just some chump change. I didn't see a snack machine, just the soda machines and the overpriced candy machine. Damn. And of course none of them accept $5's, only $1's. That's what happens when you give someone a monopoly (in this case the Department of Blind Services), they don't give a damn about service, you have to use them or go fuck yourself. And it shows. I didn't lose any money in them myself, but I saw someone else lose a dollar.

Riding during the day has one distinct advantage; you find money on the side of the road. No bills yet, unfortunately, but plenty of dimes and quarters; I collected 75 cents yesterday and about a dollar today. Every little supplement helps when you're on such a strict budget. But riding at night under the moonlight is sublime. Too bad the moon rose so late tonight, it won't do me any good; there's already enough light coming from Blythe, CA to light the rest of the way. Lack of light didn't stop me from taking the free ride downhill though, I just went a lot slower.

Anyway, getting back to the previous rest area: I was looking under the machines for change and only found some pennies. Damn. But then I looked again at the machines themselves, and found the snack machine! It was so poorly lit compared to the others I hadn't noticed it before. And there were some items for 75 cents! I plunked in the most beat-up of the 3 quarters I had found, and it took it! 2 more and I had a 1-and-a-quarter-ounce bag of corn chips in my grubby paws. I wolfed them down, aflatoxins and all, savoring every last bit of salt on my favorite substrate. Then a cute little black girl handed me almost another dollar in change (very likely sent by her mama, who had said hello to me earlier), and I bought a bag of peanuts with that. That combination of forbidden fruits (according to the Neanderthin diet) gave me enough energy to get to the truck stop, about 5 more miles down the road. Or 7 or 8, can't remember. Anyway, since it was already way past midnight (about 4 AM), I cracked open another $10 and bought a chocolate bar and some cashews, more forbidden fruit, and wolfed it down too; I was still very hungry. Then a few minutes later the restaurant next door opened, and I ordered the special for $3.99 which included coffee; not a good deal, just one egg scrambled with ham, and a biscuit with gravy. I had to take it easy on the coffee too, because it was almost bedtime. As I was leaving, Nature called and I went back in and left a donation in the city sewer system.

There was no rest area nearby without backtracking (and I just don't do that for any reason), so I just crashed by the side of the entry ramp leading back onto I-10. Woke up several times, but finally dragged my ass back onto the road about 9-ish. Rode until the sun was beating down too furiously, and stopped under an overpass, climbed up the 45-degree concrete to the shelf just under the road above, and tried to get some more sleep. It wasn't easy; I couldn't stretch myself out straight along the ledge without risk of rolling down the embankment, so I had my legs on the downslope. This wasn't comfortable and after a few hours I reverse-crabwalked down the embankment and sat there next to my bike, alternately lying backwards against the slope, and resting forwards against my knees. After a while, trouble. A cop. He pulled up right in front of me, and rolled down the window. It looked almost like the same cop trooper who had given me the hard time the day before, but I hoped it wasn't, and smiled and waved. He said "how ya doin'?" in a friendly voice, so I knew it wasn't the same guy. An ambulance showed up too. Turns out someone had seen me there and called 9-1-1 thinking I had passed out. Idiots. Wasted taxpayer money because they're too damn lazy or scared to pull over themselves and ask. Anyway, the paramedics gave me a couple bottles of water, which I really didn't need but what the hell, it was better tasting than the city water I had, and it was cold. I had to give my ID to the cop and wait till he had called it in, as usual, but it wasn't long before he wished me well and went on his merry way. At least one of the Arizona state troopers isn't an asshole. Nice to know.

Well, after that I tried resting some more but was getting tired of resting (!) and, though it was still early, 3 PM-ish, I figured I'd head on down the road. I was already starting to feel hungry again, since that breakfast wasn't all that substantial for the money. The town of Quartzsite was ahead at about mile marker 19. Several hours of uphill, then a steep uphill slope that had me buck down to first gear for the first time since I first entered Arizona (almost always I keep the front gear in high, and just cycle through gears 11 through 15 on the rear axle), and then about halfway between 30 and 29 began the downhill. I coasted into Quartzsite, took the first exit, and went into the General Store, a friendly little place, and bought about a pound of bananas at 49c/lb, more peanuts, a bag for 99c, and a Little Debbie brownie for a quarter. I asked if the town had a McDonald's and the girl said yes, at the other end of town. Great! I just sat outside and ate the two bananas and half the peanuts. And of course I had to eat the brownie, it wasn't good but for 25 cents who's complaining.

About 2 miles down the street I stopped at McD's, where I spent the rest of the daylight hours. I got my dollar double cheeseburger without ketchup or mustard (the two biggest sources of carbs besides the bun) and a coffee which I had refilled twice; not sure if that's allowed but I asked and I received. Then about 8PM-ish I went and bought another burger; apparently they failed to see the special order at first so I got two burgers for the price of 1! And that with money found on the roadside! I ended up overeating. But that's to be expected after being hungry so long. I was getting ready to go back onto I-10, just a block away, when Nature called again with a vengeance. Probably the hull of that Yucca fruit from the day before. There was a convenience store/Burger King handy, so I ducked in and used the facilities. I don't like to do that without paying, so I found something for 50 cents, a small bag of hot (spicy) peanuts, and bought it. It was a good idea, then I had some change for the next rest area (where I am now, typing this in).

There's construction going on for about 10 miles past Quartzsite, and I was afraid of having to deal with a narrow shoulder, but it didn't happen; just the usual hazards of tire treads and other crap, and in addition the bases of the hazard lights. But overall no big problems, just the lack of light previously mentioned kept me going slow except when traffic in my direction lit the way for me. Maybe someday I'll buy a decent headlight. But for now, if and when I save up enough money I need a new rear tire, it keeps deflating every few miles and I haven't been having much luck patching the damned things. I'll get another bulletproof tube like I have for the front tire, about $16.

So anyway, here I am at about mile marker 4, and have the rest of the night to bike into Blythe, CA, my goal for breakfast, less than 10 miles away and it's only about 2:30 AM now. So I'm doing good; kept my $8-a-day budget (with aforementioned additions) for two days, and saved $4 for the domain renewal coming up. Hoping Blythe has a Kinko's so I can move some money into my PayPal account in time. Then, LA here I come!

[comment]

2004-06-06-0115Z

Well, two nights' progress was only 54 miles, and the sun is getting almost low enough to start another leg of the journey. I'm at the rest stop at mile marker 87 or so, at which only the candy machine works, so I've been eating that and edibility-testing the fruit of some unknown (to me) Yucca plant with red flowers. On the last one I ate the green husk and not just the white sections of fruit inside, it was very bitter and I think I'm going to regret it later.

Yesterday I got pulled over yet again. The guy looked like trouble. About 5'8", stocky, reddish hair and bushy moustache. Picture Teddy Roosevelt without the glasses. Anyway he says to me in a very sarcastic manner "What do you think you're doing?". I told him I was biking to L.A. He said "not on the freeway you're not". I explained to him several times about how the DOT website showed this section of road was open to bikes on the shoulder and he didn't want to hear about it. I was so pissed, I didn't even get his name and badge number. So I got off at the next exit; headed South; there was no goddamned gas station as he said there'd be, just as I expected; so headed West until the road turned to dirt, and back North to I-10 again. There was a gas station there, but I had already decided I wasn't going to look for an alternate route. I just hung around there, spending the last of my daily allowance, and then the last dollar out of my PayPal balance. At dusk I got back on the road, and pulled into the Rip Griffin truckstop later as it got dark. Waited there till midnight, and broke out another $10 and bought a couple of hard-boiled eggs at 25 cents each, and a bag of pretzels for 79 cents. They let me fill my water bottles from the fountain. At about 1AM the moon was high enough for me to see again, and I made the slow, fight-for-every-mile trip here.

I've got to get control over my spending. I decided last night I'm going to trim my already-draconian (for me at least) budget of $10 and keep $2 each day to replenish my PayPal balance. And when I have at least $100 in PayPal, try to keep on with $8 a day so my money lasts the year until next March 15. If I can start making money somehow, all the better; but at least I'll be able to live.

I'm hoping this next leg of the journey will be easier. There's another rest area 37 miles away, and a truck stop not far from that. Gonna go for the truck stop, and get some real food in me even if I have to spend half a day's allowance. Found out from another guy who was pulling a camper that this last stretch of road had a slight upgrade. So it's not the gods holding me back after all, it was just gravity. Heh. Well, I hope it turns to downhill or at least to flatland, this 5-MPH travel is for the birds. [comment]

2004-06-04-0550Z

Well, I was going to leave tonight, heading towards LA, but for some reason I just don't feel up to it. Didn't do much at all today productive, except that I washed my clothes. Some laundromats here along Indian School Road have 50 cents wash, 25 cents dry. Not bad at all. Too bad I lost my $4 box of Borax somewhere between Food City and the laundry. At least I had filled my bottle with it.

Still trying to get MIDI sound in Linux. Trying with 2.6 kernels but problems keep occurring; it was locking up during boot, mousepad was no longer clickable with just a touch (I had to reboot to Windows to fix that one), and not really making any headway with the ALSA drivers (nor OSS, which I'm trying though they're deprecated). For a while there, I think I had kmidi working but not any more. Damn. But that wouldn't have been good enough anyway, since I need the ability to transpose and drop tracks/channels.

Good thing Kinko's has its laptop workstations. Haven't found any places with free wireless yet. Although the weak battery doesn't help in that regard, since I can't go prowling for an hour at a time any more. 5 minutes is about tops. And each time I use it from the battery, I lose a fraction of a volt that no amount of solar recharging seems to recover. [comment]

2004-06-03-1127Z

Just thought of one of the things I forgot previously: an example of what "totalitarian agriculture" (Daniel Quinn's term in The Story of B) does: for one thing, it sucks more groundwater out of the earth than hundreds of families. One farm in Deming will pump thousands of gallons, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands, in a single week, to irrigate its crops. Now, that water is a commons, a shared resource. Yet these farmers are hogging the lion's share of it, and dropping the water table more and more every year. Without this form of agriculture, the water table in Deming might even stay the same, being replenished by whatever rain there is during the year; there are so few people living there! But the way it stands, it looks as though it could be sucked completely dry in another 20 years or so (wild-assed guess).

What gives them the right to take all this water? Nothing does; yet nothing prohibits it either. Until we as a society complain and make our voice heard, this "rape of Gaia" will continue unabated. Same goes for motorists (yes, I was one once too); they merrily go along, polluting the air, ground, plants and animals all along their path. Plus, they endanger lives. If everyone walked or biked, instead of maneuvering these killing machines all over creation, the world would be a much safer place. Just because they can afford the price of gasoline gives them the right to do all this damage? No, but it's accepted by society as a whole. And that's the problem.

As you can see, I don't have any answers, just more questions. Just wanted to air that one. [comment]

2004-06-03-0716Z

I went looking for a Starbucks, to get a good dose of wake-up juice to sustain another all-nighter at Kinko's. I really didn't get enough sleep this morning. Well, the first one I found was closed. So I headed to 7th and McDowell, where I thought I remembered the next-closest one was, but found My Florist Cafe instead. I just barely had enough for a cup, it came to $1.89; and only 30-odd cents left for a tip. Not good. Also, I wanted something to munch on, and they had a nut mix for $3. So I did something I shouldn't, used my "infrastructure money", my PayPal balance, to pay for it. I then regretted it, because the "nuts" turned out to be mostly those Japanese rice-snack thingies. You know, the ones shaped like little fish, and dried peas, and other such carbohydrate-and-legume nonsense. Well, anyway, what's done is done. I now have a grand total of $5.88 left in that account. Got to get off my lazy ass and do some programming on RAC. For real this time. Maybe. There has to be a better way... [comment]

2004-06-02-2351Z

Arizona DOT is on the cluetrain! Got an answer within 24 hours, it actually answered my question and was friendly to boot! Amazing!

The information that you are looking for is on our website at
www.azbikeped.org  Go to ADOT Bicycle Policies, and then the bicycle 
policy,
and also the controlled access highways bicycle policy. There is also a
bicycle suitability map which shows the suitability of the roadway for
bicyclists, and where it is prohibited.
 
Have a good trip!
 
Carol Slaker
Arizona Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator

-----Original Message----- From: John Comeau [mailto:jcomeau_ictx@yahoo.com] Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 4:29 AM To: info.dot.state.az.us Subject: bicycles on shoulder of interstate routes

Hi, today I found out the hard way (by getting pulled over) that bicycles aren't allowed on the shoulder of I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix. But signs indicated that they were allowed between the NM border and Tucson. Where could I obtain this kind of information in advance of my next trip (about a week from now, heading West to California on I-10). Thanks - jc

===== John Comeau http://jcomeau.com/ Support use of open source OS's! Charge for Windows versions of your software!

Some random thoughts. Phoenix has almost no cacti growing anywhere, compared to Tucson that has them all over the place. But there are quite a number of the bitter orange trees growing in publically-accessible areas. For foragers, Tucson, so far, seems far superior.

Remember that James Bond flick where he is caught in an avalance of snow (with a babe of course) and he has this airbag vest that surrounds him in a protective bubble? I'm thinking one of those could be an ideal all-around solution for many things, provided the 4 "slices" of the sphere could be expandable separately; for example, with half of it expanded it could make a passable boat or sleeping surface; if you're asleep and it starts raining, inflate the rest to form a barrier against the rain.

There was a bunch of other stuff I meant to type in but it took me all damned day to find this Kinko's on the North end of the city, and I forgot. Maybe later... [comment]

2004-06-02-0516Z

So, the cop pulls me over and tells me bikes aren't allowed on the freeway between Tucson and Phoenix. Nice. That explains all the places where the shoulder narrowed to the point of impassability, that I had to either find a way to walk around or, in the case of the place near mile marker 198, go for it, almost getting killed when a truck screamed past centimeters away. The force of the air hitting me damn near knocked me out. Anyway, now he says there's a bridge up the road about a mile that I won't be able to cross. He recommends I cross the barbed-wire fence onto the dirt road. Right. I did try it but it was too high and I couldn't risk puncturing my tires. So after he left, I went for it; turned out it wasn't as bad as he thought, I could just walk along the ledge, walking my bike in the narrow shoulder. Not nearly as hairy as the other places I'd already passed.

Nonetheless, I'd been warned, and didn't want a ticket, so I did get off the freeway at the next exit that had a store. Refilled my water and asked the clerk how to get into Phoenix other than the interstate; he told me to go West to Maricopa, then North. Great. Tried it, ended up right back at I-10. Added two or three miles for nothing. Got back on I-10 to Chandler, then North on 56 Ave. Bought two $1 Big & Tasty burgers (seems BK is selling their Whoppers here in AZ for 99 cents, so Mickey has to match the deal), and poked around till I found this Kinko's on 54th St. I'm still at least 15 miles from downtown Phoenix but I've got all night ahead of me.

Now I've just got to figure out what parts of the Interstate do allow bicycles in the shoulder, and which don't. A shame they have to complicate things so goddamned much. Also, I heard from a lady in Ohio who said they don't allow bikes on the shoulder there, either. So my dream is yet far from realized. Nevertheless, I'm grateful for the length of highway I found that I can use. [comment]

2004-06-01-2230Z

By midnight I had gone 30 miles; I decided to refill my water bottles at the next opportunity; and the next exit had - wonder of wonders - a bar. They normally even had Guinness on tap but they were out; they did have Dos Equis, that nice amber brew from South of the border, so I ordered a pint of that. Ron, the bartender, a sixtyish white guy, tall, neatly trimmed white moustache, wouldn't let me pay for anything after I had to turn down the $4 dinner plate "because I'm on a $10-a-day budget". All I managed to pay for was a pack of peanuts. The other guys, regulars I presume, were also very friendly and helped me plan the next leg of my trip. I could have taken I-8 and gone straight to Yuma then San Diego, cutting off hundreds of miles. But in the end I decided to go to Phoenix anyway, just to see it.

Two pints of ale is not good for Neanderthin Man, especially when he didn't eat enough. About 10 miles down the road, with still 10 ahead of me to the rest stop, I saw a clump of pine trees and decided to get some sleep there. Unrolling my Hennessey Hammock for the first time in many weeks, I was snoozing in no time; woke up a few hours later to the sound of farm machinery, giant monstrous-looking vehicles, harvesting the field next to me. I attempted, and failed, several times to shake off the carb-induced stupor before I could get back on my bike. I stopped about every mile to drink water as I headed towards the rest area.

And here I am, hours later, at that same rest area. A guy handed me a couple of BK Whoppers not long ago, for which I thanked him profusely, as the vending machines here only sell way-overpriced junk food and I needed energy to finish biking into Phoenix. Which I will begin shortly, now that digestion has sufficiently advanced and the sun is getting lower in the sky.

Realized, as I was about to practice some of my songs, that one thing I still need Windows for is my MIDI music. Apparently the MIDI utils on Slackware depend on some "Arts" software which seems to be missing. So until I either install that or figure out how to use /dev/midi, I'll have to reboot to Windows for singing. Ugly. [comment]

2004-06-01-0216Z

Monday afternoon, getting close to sunset, and I'm getting ready to hop on the old bike and head towards Phoenix. Haven't done much today, just puttered with my online pub software, drank coffee and ate too many pastries. Got one more dollar I'm going to spend down the hill at McDonald's and then it's onto Interstate 10 for another hairy ride along the shoulder with cars whizzing by at 75MPH and above. [comment]

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