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


That last article was written under the influence of [yellow tail] SHIRAZ, a dry Aussie red which previously was the prime suspect for a horrible hangover and nausea that lasted two days. I'm giving it another chance. Wish me luck, would you? [comment]


Got my check from Mellon for $5619.58 today. I'll never have to deal with those idiots again. Fuck! What a farce. They kept sending me more snailmails with my investor ID and authentication number after I already cashed out. And the site didn't work in Firefox with the authentication number, only IE. That makes sense, in retrospect, for a company that doesn't give a flying fuck about security.

Of course, I can't cash it today, nor even Monday. I'll be lucky if I find a local bank that lets me open an account, after the bad experience with Wachovia in Florida back in 2003. Anyway, one way or another, I'll get my money. And spend it immediately, of course.

Lately my sourdough culture has been flourishing, and I've been making so many sourdough pancakes my neighbors are already sick of them! I don't care, I'll eat them all myself. Plus I'm making omelets with the duck eggs my friend Lynn is supplying me. I live pretty well for a poverty-level desert rat.

Spending most of my time playing with colorForth on Bochs. If you haven't been keeping track of the website, a read/write version is now out. I've been trying to get Mark Slicker's Mandelbrot program to run but no luck so far. Ditto with the various attempts at DMA support in colorForth binaries. Everything fails with QEMU and VMWare as well. I can't see how certain guys on the newsgroups so blithely state that colorForth is so easy to run. They must know some secrets to which I'm not yet privy. So off to the privy I go... [comment]


Well, I'm not the only one. Of course, I didn't think I was, but apparently it's gotten worse since the merger with Kinko's. [comment]


Precipitation! A nice gentle, all-day rain Friday, and a little snow yesterday. The desert gods are smiling on us.

After a bad hangover that lasted two days, I said to myself, "no more wine, back to beer". But no, last night I was at a party, the food was Italian, and of course there was a nice variety of wines and no beer. So I drank Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, as the others were all sweet. I must have had about 3 glasses or more. Walking home, I was afraid I might vomit and lose all that good food, but so far that hasn't happened, and an amazing thing has: my feet are warm. The rest of my body is maybe a little warmer than normal, but my feet, normally freezing at night, are very comfortable in just two pair of socks. Was it the wine? Google shows it's 36°F, much warmer than their previous estimate of 27, but still that's cold enough to get my poor little toes a-shivering.

Anyway, the reason I usually avoid wine, not my bad experience with the Aussie Shiraz a few days ago, is that it's too high in alcohol content. Even that White Lie stuff that came out in 2005 had 10 percent, as does the Italian vino leggero. If I could find a nice dry red in the 5 percent range, I'd have a good temptation to switch, especially in winter, if this foot-warming effect really works reliably. [comment]


Can any of you C++ hackers explain to me the difference in using, or not using, a set of parentheses around a #define'd value? FD_MS_DATA_READY is simply FD_MS_MRQ|FD_MS_DIO. Here is the diff. The first one causes Bochs to triple-fault with a bad opcode. The second one works. Curiously enough, it's the bad one that actually compiles the comparison, as seen in the diff of the disassemblies (the only substantive difference -- of course many of the offsets were changed due to that). In other words, there is a bug in my code -- I'm better off when the comparison isn't done (???), but there's also a bug in g++. Or is there? I'm kinda stumped. If you want to see the full source of what I'm doing, visit the CVS Browse pages of the colorForth project.

My first good batch of sourdough since last winter came out this morning, despite two very cold days of fermentation, and I made a big pancake out of it. I hope the little I left in the bowl will serve as sufficient starter for the next batch, it was excellent. Next time I've got to thin it out a little though -- the pancake came out a little too thick. [comment]


OK, so I pissed someone off at Microchip, but at least I finally got a response. I'll get my development kit in about a week. I might try one of these ARM boards as well, though I'm skeptical of the undocumented Simply Connected™ technology; their rep says I can get a full refund if it doesn't fit my application. Which is? For starters, a simple timer/controller for the hydroponics system I'm building... no, there's no pot, not yet anyway. Just spelt, amaranth, date palms, tomatillos, some cactus. Later this year, I want to work on a universal coin and bill acceptor, at least for US and MX money.

Mellon, like most companies, is so fucking inept at security. I couldn't get the idiots to send me an authentication number so I could access my account online, but could change my address, sell all my shares, and close the account over the phone, knowing nothing but my investor ID and social security number, and a little personal information that probably anyone could find on the web. And most of that without even talking to a human, just a voice recognition system! They must have identity theft losses in the millions, but they're making so much money they don't give a shit. Glad I got out in time -- MetLife stock is just coming down from a 52-week high. Even if it drops another point or three before the transaction goes through, at least I got out before some thief steals it out from under me. And I don't ever want to deal with that annoying voice regognition system again. [comment]


Man! What a week. Fedex Priority botched my delivery again, claiming that there is no such address. When I told them to reroute to Fedex Ground through El Paso, they promptly returned the package to Microchip, as a nice "Fuck you!" to a good customer.

Won a nice L. L. Bean goose-down sleeping bag on eBay for less than $100 bucks. Plan on trying it out the night of Feb. 9, after the Pink Store bash (it holds for its customers every year about that time). Remember I was looking for events in February and May, to complement the Burning Man in August and the Columbus-Palomas footrace in November? This is it. For May, I'm thinking about the Kinetic Sculpture Race in northern Cali, either as an observer or as a participant.

Burning Man tickets go on sale the 17th! Get ready, this first batch won't last long at only $195.

What the fuck is Google doing today? Gmail locks up both IE and Firefox, hard. So hard that even after "forcing" it to close, and it asks you to send or not send the error report to Microsoft, it still stays there. I've had to shut down the computer, twice. Fucking Windows. Have to reboot the computer because an application locks up? No such thing as 'kill -9'. What shit.

Went through my first ritual abuse this year, my monthly shower and shave. Still not 100% rid of those damned crabs, but I'm oiling up every time I get any kind of itch from my navel to my ankles. Yes, they've laid eggs (nits) all the way down my legs, which I didn't expect, which is why I didn't nail them all the first time. Apparently they're afraid of heights, as they haven't gone up into my chest hair. [comment]


Fedex (a.k.a DefEx) fucked up my delivery again. Instead of rerouting as I asked them to, they returned my Microchip Pic development kit to Microchip. "Duh... the computer says this is an incorrect address, so you need to give us a correct one." Bunch of idiots. [comment]


Didn't think my feet would ever warm up last night, but I finally got to sleep. I was awakened from my dream while it was still dark outside, by a woman's voice calling me loudly; but no woman was there. And it didn't make sense as part of the dream. I don't remember the dream now, but I remember that much. I wonder if Neo heard Trinity like that. Anyway, I went back to sleep, but kept waking up, so I could keep improving the next dream. It went something like this: I was walking through this town, maybe Rosarito Beach, drinking a beer. A female cop caught me and gave me a warning, but naturally I just kept drinking my beer, so she caught me again coming down the other street. I ran to escape into a huge amphitheater, or something similar, with very steep sides going down a hundred feet or more. I slid, and partially flew, to the very base of the D-shaped cavity, and was going to slip into a tunnel there, but the cops caught up with me too quickly. By then there was a whole SWAT team, and they had me pretty good. But then, they had to take me up a slippery ramp on one side, and so had to leave me uncuffed so I could make my own way up; they had one cop in front of me and the rest behind. I eventually got an idea: I grabbed the hand of the policia in front, and threw him behind me, sending them all sliding down back to the bottom. A cop up on top saw that and came down after me, but I just threw him over the side. Then when I got to the top edge, it was glassed in with lots of little glass tiles, and some sort of display underneath. I grabbed something metal from the display and started breaking the tiles, but then I woke up for good. Damn, that was a fun dream. A whole SWAT team for drinking a bottle of beer in public! What's not to love?



AllofMP3.com is back in business! They've been online, but for several days they weren't accepting orders and I thought the Russki WTO backers had done them in. Time to buy your albums at a buck apiece before something happens again... [comment]


Woke up to snow this morning, standing out naked pissing with snowflakes swirling around me. But it warmed up later.

I guess those iceplant cuttings were no great loss after all... the ones I planted earlier this year look dead after all the cold weather. But the dates I germinated using this guy's method worked! I got two out of 3 seeds sprouted, and am going to try some more now that I know it works.

And, during the past 24 hours, I fixed a bug I had introduced into the colorForth sources during the conversion from MASM format to GAS. The binary can now be downloaded with the modified Bochs it runs under, from SourceForge.net. [comment]


I've been looking for info on how extensive was the interurban trolley system in the northeast U.S. before it declined, with or without GM's help. Anybody have an idea? I vaguely remember a reference that one could travel from Boston to Minneapolis cheaply on trolleys but can't find it now.

Various ideas for wikis: a cheap-transit site that lets you search for an optimally (cheap, fast, scenic) route between cities (or within a city); and a shared aerial-photo site that lets hobbyists with RC-controlled planes and hot-air balloons with cameras stitch together their photos onto a world map. Maybe using the Google Maps API or something more basic like GRASS GIS.

As if documenting and improving colorForth weren't enough to occupy my free time. [comment]


I keep forgetting to blog this: before I went north on Mesa the other day, I decided to make one more search for the Tres Estrellas de Oro bus station, and finally found it in a nondescript warehouse next to the Beer to Go store on Paisano, just two blocks south of Greyhound and a block and a half west of Burger King. There's no indication that it's open for business; I felt as though I was walking into someone's living room. But it is in fact in operation, and the rate from El Paso to San Ysidro is only $62 including tax, $14 cheaper than Greyhound's 7-day advance fare; and this is the walk-in rate! Didn't check their prices to other locations, but if you want to get somewhere cheap from El Paso, check them out! [comment]


I awoke on the street, puking up probably 2 or 3 of the 8 or so pints I downed that night at the Cincinnati Bar. Disgusting. But that's the way I chose to celebrate New Year's day. Drank coffee at Dunkin' Donuts across the street till about 5 AM, Then started walking into Juarez. Had to take a dump really bad, and noplace open until I got to the chicken place at the far end of Juarez St. Ordered some coffee but didn't drink much of it, then went upstairs to the toilet where some nasty vinegary-smelling shit stuck all over my ass and I had to wash myself off in the toilet. That's what IPA does to me.

The buses were running late that morning, I guess due to it being New Year's Day. I had given up on the Permisionarios bus, and started walking, when it pulled up behind me and I rode it to the Central Camionera. Got on the 10:35 bus to Crucero Palomas and was in town by early afternoon. Pink Store was closed, so just continued across the border, where the Border Patrol confiscated all the ice plant cuttings I had brought back from San Ysidro. Fuck. At least they left me my barberries, which I can plant next spring. Charles gave me a ride to the City of the Sun, and I got warm and cozy with a lady friend while the clouds blanketed the sky above with gray down, and a cold breeze whooshed into my wind generator blades. I was home. [comment]


OK, so it's already the new year in merrie olde England. Hemingway's was closed, but the Cincinnati bar across the street has a new year's party going, and they have some good beers, and wifi! The network (WPA) key is PartyTime. Looks like I'll be here till closing. [comment]

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