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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2007-09-30-1929Z

Saturday I was a judge at the chili cookoff at Pancho Villa State Park. It was the first time I'd done this and didn't know what to expect -- I saved my low scores for anything with beans in it but nothing did, so everyone got 7 or better from me. All good, Texas-style chili with just meat and sauce. I gave out 3 tens, mostly for the really dark stuff with lots of heat, but I had to give a 10 to a mild chili with big, tender, savory pieces of beef in it. The taste was so good it deserved a 10 despite its lacking in other categories. [comment]

2007-09-28-1957Z

Tried carrying about 4 gallons of water in a Katadyn base camp filter bag, clipped to the top rear rail of my bicycle trailer with a cheapo Wal-Mart carabiner. It worked. I can't say it worked well -- the bag was almost hitting the ground, and probably got banged by some stones on the way back -- but it will work in a pinch, and with a little more experimentation I might come up with an improvement or two. No reason why I couldn't get both bags on it for 8 gallons. [comment]

2007-09-27-1610Z

Almost no tonguescum this morning either, despite eating a bunch of dates last night along with the obligatory steak -- a nice thick T-bone specially cut for me at the carniceria. [comment]

2007-09-27-0910Z

Can't sleep. Thinking about using an old DTMF keypad for input, and one-line LCD screen for output, on my ultraportable computer. That should require a minimum of GPIO pins, and if not, I can interface it through a Microchip device, which I can talk to in turn using 1-Wire or i2c or whatever.

I keep drinking too much. 7 bottles of beer yesterday. Yet, my testing shows the carbs in beer don't contribute to the stinky scum on my tongue in the morning; two or three days ago I ate 3 (thin) steaks as my evening meal, with no chips or any other carbs, and my tongue was clean the next morning, despite drinking 6 beers or so. [comment]

2007-09-24-1422Z

Last night when I got up to pee, I heard a very quick chirp of a whistle about 100 yards away. This was no desert bird or animal. I went and got my guns ready, and heard another signal whistle, but then it stopped. It might have just been illegals, though. If Blackwater ever comes after me, they're going to have night-vision goggles and other high-tech gear; there won't be any whistling unless it's just to scare me. Which that did, last night, until I thought it out. [comment]

2007-09-20-0135Z

Reading blogs on Technorati, it seems a number of people are blaming the escalator maintenance, and even the wearers of Crocs instead of the shoes; and there seems to be a misconception that the shoes are getting stuck at the top or bottom. That ain't the case, people. The shoes are melting as you ride up, you only notice it's stuck as you're stepping, which ordinarily happens at the top or bottom. I usually start stepping up when I'm a few feet from the top, which is when I noticed the problem. If I'd waited till I got to the top before moving my feet, it's very likely I would have had an injury. As it was, I already knew my foot was stuck so, at the top, I just yanked my foot all the way out. After the incident, I emailed Crocs and asked them to replace the shoes. They refused. So fuck 'em, let the lawsuits fly as far as I'm concerned. Don't get me wrong, I still like my Crocs, and the knockoffs I've found so far aren't nearly as comfortable. But they are dangerous on escalators. I'm still not sure what I could have done differently to avoid them melting and getting stuck. I might have been riding with the toes touching the stair in front, which would explain it if the temperature at that junction were hot enough. But I'm not sure either was the case.

I also think the reason more adults aren't experiencing this problem is the attitude that Crocs are "ugly". So "normal" people don't want to be seen in them. Naturally, I don't give a shit about what other people think.

Now, if this were to happen again to me, I'd have to say "shame on me". But the first time, it was fucking scary. You other bloggers can ridicule all you want, but if you haven't experienced it yourself, you don't know what you're talking about. [comment]

2007-09-20-0006Z

Fucking great. I think I hit 3 rabbits today, all of whom got away. Pretty soon I'll have rabbits running all over the place with crossbow bolts stuck in their backs. [comment]

2007-09-19-1306Z

Woke up sometime last night to coyote song. Just one at first, then I'm pretty sure I heard another one join in. I also saw some coyote scat in the trail yesterday, only 100-odd yards from my place. It was unmistakable because no other animal I know of eats the ripe prickly pear fruits, digests part of them, then shits the rest back out in one big magenta mass.

At the time I was in a dream; two soldiers in olive green uniforms, Turkish I think, were in a river in the US (possibly the Mississippi), neck-deep, rifles over their heads. Somehow they were communicating with their superiors, and soon their captain, or even their President, was with one of them. The one soldier said "Follow me, my Captain!" (or "President" -- can't remember), and with rifle aimed in front, started walking, still neck-deep, underneath some bridge or pier or something. Suddenly the superior grabbed the soldier around the neck in a choke-hold. As soon as they were out from under the pier or whatever, the soldier turned right towards the bank, the captain released the choke-hold, and the soldier turned around to face him. The captain had a grotesque, almost comical, frown; the soldier, now able to breathe again, started smiling, and it grew to a full-faced grin. The captain said something like "Where the fuck are we?"; the soldier turned towards a sign, whose contents I can't remember, but I think it was the name of a small town in Mississippi. [comment]

2007-09-19-0248Z

On the way home today I saw a small (2 feet or so) bull snake dead on the side of the road, and after I got picked up my neighbors saw a dead animal which Gordon thought at first was a wolf. We turned around, and I got out for a look. It was a wild pig of some sort. I'll have to get a bigger crossbow to hunt these suckers.

Did you get American Airlines's recent email about signing up for other emails which would enter you into a sweepstakes? Go ahead, click the link. It's the most intelligence-insulting Flash content I can remember ever getting. I sent them back "Do you really think all your customers are idiots?" I should have said "three years old".

The Crocs incident I had back in February of 2004 has finally been experienced enough worldwide, particularly in Japan, that all kinds of newsmedia have picked up on the story. I'd heard from Terri Gruca from WCCO-TV back in August of last year regarding this, but never got any feedback about the story she did; found it just now, here, but no mention of me there. Oh, well. Lost my chance at 15 seconds of fame. They had another, more recent, story here. (My Technorati Profile) [comment]

2007-09-18-2118Z

A guy named Les gave me a ride from about the 30.5 mile mark down to the Sunshine store at about 25.5. I continued on from there, and before I got to the 24 mile marker my neighbor, with whom I got the ride up and whom I was sure was already back in Columbus, drove by and took me home. Still, I walked somewhere between 4 and 5 miles I guess. That little luggage carrier I picked up in El Paso is getting a good workout, and giving my spine a break.

Two people with radically different viewpoints both told me they're expecting TEOTWAWKI before the end of next year. I'm going to have to get on the ball. [comment]

2007-09-18-1515Z

Had another dream from a recurring dreamscape, the one with the bars on the waterfront that I like, but keep forgetting to go to. Well, I was in a bar in the first scene that I remember, and was buying a drink for the bartender who just got off duty. I put $10 onto the bar, and she slid over a $5. I thought, "now why did she do that? I'm paying", and slid it halfway back towards her. Then I asked "was that for the tip?", and she said yes.

The next scene I remember was in that or another bar, and a guy with silvered sunglasses, or maybe dressed in silver clothes head-to-toe, approached me as if he knew me. He was showing me some secret document and telling me about something I can't remember, in a stereotypical "military" voice. I handed him back the document, and he was trying to shove it upside-down back into the folder, and the edge bent; then he realized I had turned it around to read it, so he put it back in correctly.

I'm always hoping someone will recognize the same scenery or the same characters, and expand my knowledge of these parallel universes, or whatever they are, that I keep visiting when asleep.

I got another idea for the hand-held chording keyboard I tried to design earlier this year. Instead of Fimo clay, which requires heat to cure, I can use that wood-patch stuff that cures in water. And I can mount some kind of actuator, like a small hinge or something, over the pushbutton switches so my weaker fingers can push them easier, one of the weaknesses of the original design. But that stuff will have to wait till next shopping trip; I'm in Deming right now, thanks to my neighbor Gordon, buying some of the stuff that's been on my list since before Burning Man. [comment]

2007-09-16-0329Z

That bug that was trying to get me must be gone by now... 48 hours or more and still no symptoms other than some phlegm in my throat. I got off easy again, thank my leukocytes.

There's a relatively new carniceria in Palomas, right next door to the Gamez chicken place. Got some pulpa there today, that I thought was stew beef (and declared such at the border, even though the meat looked suspiciously pink), but when I got home and cooked it, it turned out to be pork after all. Next time I have to specify pulpa de res. Supposedly the meat all comes from local farmers and is not factory farmed. In any case it tasted fine, not having the nasty detergent-perfume smell of meats from the grocery stores near the border. [comment]

2007-09-16-0010Z

Today is Mexican Independence Day, gonna go to Palomas with my neighbor at sundown and see what's cooking.

Settling back into the harsh desert life -- got invited to a party yesterday afternoon; there was lamb, pork, and venison on the barbecue, and I took over some Shiner Bock on ice. Damn, we have it rough.

Got my iceplants the very next day after shipping (yesterday), and planted them in the berm on the southern edge of my primary lot. Let's see if they survive this time. [comment]

2007-09-14-0125Z

Made it through both checkpoints -- the official at the Central Camionera just asked me to push the button, and I got another "Pase"; and the US Border Patrol guy just asked me "What's in the bags?", and I answered "Stuff from Burning Man; camping gear; batteries; sleeping bag" and that was good enough for him. Home free. Sitting outside the library taking a little rest; none of the drivers of the overpowered pickup trucks that passed me by felt like risking any scratches to their paint jobs.

Stopped at the Pink Store, of course, and had my first decent meal since Sam Woo's. [comment]

2007-09-13-1853Z

Had some coffee and caught up on email at the Cybercafe; mailed my iceplant cuttings to myself, then got a cash advance at Wells Fargo. Yeah, I did it again, ran up my credit card. Shit.

Started across the border to Juarez, then realized I had no change. I wasn't sure they'd be able to change a $20, so I walked back up El Paso Street to find a fanny pack, since I wanted one anyway. No luck, but then came across one of those folding luggage carriers for only $10.80 including tax, so bought it. Ahhhh, it felt good to be rolling my 60-odd pounds of luggage instead of carrying it.

Mexican transit cops were all along Avenida Vicente Guerrero, apparently fucking everything up. The Permisionarios Unidos bus wasn't allowed to stop between Miguel Ahumada and Francisco Villa as usual, so I had to run a half block to the west to catch it. Now I'm at the Central Camionera, ticket in hand. Still potentially two searches, both with possible confiscation of my battery pack. I avoided the first search at the end of the bridge. The cop there indicated for me to push the button, which I did; it said "Pase", though, and although he still seemed to want to search my stuff I just walked blithely on by, and he didn't holler at me. Anyway, I'm resigned at this point to giving it up, losing $200, rather than raise a big stink and land myself in jail or worse. I'll still raise a little stink, though. [comment]

2007-09-13-1355Z

Toxic food, toxic air, lack of sleep... my body is fighting off some kind of bug. I'm at a Mexican restaurant in El Paso about to have juevos con chorizo. Gotta get some cash somehow for the bus to Palomas, and I really don't want to dip into the credit account again but might have to. Either that, or wait around EP till Saturday morning... not a really appealing option. [comment]

2007-09-13-0050Z

Didn't leave LA until about 10 AM. Now it's 5:50PM local (Phoenix) time, and I still feel like shit. At least, by checking my bag, I managed to keep my $200 battery pack. [comment]

2007-09-12-0653Z

Hanging out at Bar 107 at 107 W. 4th St in downtown LA. Charlie O's a block away is under renovation, bought out, so I hear, by the same people who own this place. Met some nice people, and will probably run up a tab of over $30 by the time I'm out of here... especially at $5/bottle of Sierra Nevada. [comment]

2007-09-12-0256Z

Walked all the way back from Greyhound to Figueroa, since I gave my day pass to a guy at the bus station earlier, thinking I wouldn't be needing it any more today. Back in Starbucks (sorry, Javalounge) because, while it's safer in this part of town, there aren't many places where one can urinate without paying something, and this is one of the cheapest at $1.50. Plus I get to charge my laptop battery, and have net access just outside the door.

I was going to just wait the night away at Greyhound, but I was worried that one of the idiot security guards would spot me and call in the LA cops. The security chief had already warned me about that. Better safe than sorry, even if I have to dig into my credit account again. Tomorrow I'll decide whether to mail my batteries back to me, or just try the big dog again with the morning crew. The batteries will be in my checked baggage this time, so hopefully won't cause as much of a stir. [comment]

2007-09-12-0142Z

Fucking idiots. Freaked out at my custom battery pack, then at the LEDs in my hat. If I'd kept my temper I could maybe have still gotten on the bus, because the security chief isn't a moron and could see my stuff is harmless, but I just had to start cursing. Oh, well, I've got a baggage check for my questionable-looking stuff and I'll just have to wait 12 hours or so until this security crew goes off-duty. [comment]

2007-09-11-2040Z

I had my nap at Long Beach near the aquarium, and pigged out at Sam Woo's on the Beef Brisket with Satay Sauce. That ought to last me until tomorrow... damned well better, in fact. Spent almost all my cash, and probably have less than $15 available from my debit cards, all told.

After Sam's, instead of going back to Union Plaza, I decided to look for the relatively new Chinatown Metro station. I found it about two or three blocks away, north on Broadway and east to the station. It was very nicely done, with a huge circular chart of the I Ching embedded into the floor.

Now I'm in Starbucks at 7th and Fig, updating my blog and charging my batteries. Can't upload from in here though; no signal strong enough except for ripoff T-Mobile. [comment]

2007-09-11-1409Z

Well, shit! LA is now charging $5 for a day pass. But hell, I couldn't just hang out at Greyhound all day, and schlepping my luggage all over town would just destroy what's left of my feet. So I bought one. Naturally, my first stop was 7th and Fig, using their free wifi. I guess next should be Long Beach for a nap, then Chinatown to stuff my face before going back to Greyhound for the El Paso run.

I wouldn't be here this early, but I bogarted an earlier ride... instead of waiting for the 8:15 bus out of Sac, I waited in the 11PM line, handed my ticket without comment to the driver, and he took it. Gives me about a 12-hour layover instead of 3. Nice trick to try if you want to explore a little; then again, Greyhound has so many breakdowns and delays that they probably wouldn't question if you hand them a ticket that's a day or two old. You could possibly buy a ticket from LA to New York and take a day-trip through every city in between. [comment]

2007-09-11-0129Z

Last time I blogged the Capitol Garage bar, I just linked to it without the address, 1500 K Street. Big mistake. I asked 4 people for directions, all of whom were probably well-meaning but sent me walking at least 10 extra blocks carrying all my luggage. I would have pulled it up on the net but couldn't get a signal at the two or three places I tried. Well, now I know for next time. The bus station is L and 7th, the bar at K and 15th. [comment]

2007-09-10-1845Z

The #62 bus took me to L and 6th, where I got the 42A to Davis. I hopped out at Covell and F, but it turns out I could have stayed on and found a stop a lot closer to downtown (F and 5th). The bus driver could have been a little more helpful in that regard, though I can't complain -- the Yolobus was free today: Clean Air Days are apparently announced the night before on TV news, and some buses are free those days in Sacramento and the bay area. A good way to get around if you can find out in advance, or are willing to wait at a Yolobus stop and listen for the driver saying "It's free today".

I still found Fuji before it opened, and the line wasn't too long; it's now 11:45 local time, 45 minutes after opening, and still there's room for more people. I've already stuffed myself on about 15 trays of assorted sushi, don't know how much more I can take... [comment]

2007-09-10-1542Z

I woke up during the night remembering the dream I was having: I and a bunch of other USPS technicians and mechanics were standing around outdoors, in a place resembling the corner of Main Street and West Front Street near the river in Skowhegan. I was looking around for something to kill and eat, and spotted a bird that looked like a miniature chicken, with spotted gray and white feathers. I moved towards it and it hid its head in its feathers; then I grabbed it in one hand, its head in the other hand, and started twisting its head around. When I'd almost snapped it, it said "No!", but I kept twisting, and broke its neck. Before it died, it said "No, John, I didn't eat ...". That's when I woke up. I never found out what it didn't eat. Strange, huh? [comment]

2007-09-09-2220Z

After leaving Javalounge (a band had just started up, but my battery was charged and I didn't need any more coffee), I went a couple of blocks north and grabbed some Carpobrotus from the side of the highway to take back to the desert with me. I'll try carrying it back in my shoulder bags, and if I have to take the Juarez-Palomas route I can mail it to myself from El Paso.

Stopped at Oscar's Mexican Food and had a big taco de carnitas for $2.75 including tax. Let's see if that will last me till I get back to my couchsurfing host's house; I've already spent more than I intended today. I don't have any beer for tonight, though, so will probably end up spending more. I know myself too well to think I can go the whole evening without a beer.

Here on Freeport Boulevard is a retirement home called Eskaton Monroe Lodge. I wonder if that's a variant of "eschaton" and if so, if this is owned by some branch of the Babylonian Brotherhood... [comment]

2007-09-09-2059Z

A friend told me to check out the Fuji Sushi Boat & Buffet at 213 G Street in Davis, so gonna try and get there early tomorrow -- it doesn't open until 11, but according to what I see on the web, if you're not in line by 9:30 or so, forget about getting a table. Looks like the Yolobus 42A will get me there from downtown. Gotta ask the driver if ey'll let me off at 1st and F, otherwise will have to walk from UC Davis Memorial Union, or maybe Covell and F; not sure which is closer.

Monday night I'll probably spend in the Greyhound station so I don't miss my Tuesday morning bus. Got a 2:50 layover in LA, maybe long enough to grab a lunch in Chinatown. [comment]

2007-09-09-1959Z

My sister corrected me, those prickly things we threw were called "wild cucumbers". Also, I've seen a few more of those strange oak trees, and while none of them had both the acorns and the strange "fruits", I found something in common: a growth on the leaves, resembling chocolate morsels (or Hershey's kisses) but bright red, about 1/4 inch diameter at the base and about 1/4 inch tall. Since some of the trees have acorns, either these oaks are male/female, or those apple-like "fruits" are actually a fungus or other parasitic (cancerous, maybe?) growth. Maybe I can investigate more when I pass through next year. [comment]

2007-09-07-1934Z

Walked to Javalounge again today. Along the way -- on the ridge that used to be a railroad, on Fruitridge approaching South Land Park Drive -- there were what looked to me like almond trees, so I tried a couple. Bitter and cyanin-flavored, so maybe some strange kind of peach, whose fruit has thin flesh that splits while it's still green. Next to those was another of the trees with oak-shaped leaves but some kind of fruit or fungus, apple-like but with no stem, growing directly out of the branches. On this one all the fruit was dry and hard, whereas on the one along the river the other day they were still yellow-green and with the consistency of apples.

In the park I stopped to wash under my arms, and rinse out that part of my shirt. Lacking borax or anything with saponins, it didn't come out perfect but good enough to make me feel more comfortable in public. Under one of the trees in the park there were some soft, prickly fruits that somewhat resembled what kids in Maine used to throw at each other in late summer; perhaps they still do. I can't remember what we called it; "prickly cucumber" or something like that. It grew wild on vines along roadsides. "Summer snowballs" might have been a more appropriate name, considering the way we used them. Ahhh, memories... [comment]

2007-09-06-0617Z

Back in Brownie's Lounge in the same strip mall as the IGA. They don't take credit cards, and don't have draft beer, but do have Sierra Nevada in the bottle. It's been a nice day overall, and some nice music is playing on the jukebox. [comment]

2007-09-06-0415Z

Someone came along and asked if I were waiting for the bus; I answered in the affirmative, and he said the bus had stopped running. At this point I had been waiting almost an hour. Then he said if I got to the next stoplight, a half mile south, that bus ran until 9 or so. So I hightailed it, waited till about 9:10, and got the #23. Hopefully the train will still be running, and I'll get to Fruitridge. From there it's only about 2 miles to where I'm staying. [comment]

2007-09-06-0328Z

Another excellent meal at Silver Sake, with L, D, J, and K. I had two of the 22-oz bottles of Ichiban, but L helped me with most of the 2nd one. Waiting for the #25 bus back to train station D, Marconi/Arcade, but there doesn't seem to be one coming. I'll keep waiting anyway; I got impatient waiting for the #61 last night and ended up walking when I didn't need to. For sure the #61 will have been finished tonight, though, by the time I get to station K at Fruitridge. [comment]

2007-09-05-2253Z

Forgot to mention, long before I even got to the bridge there was an overpass with a walkway underneath. Two men and a woman were there talking; they made way for a bicyclist who preceded me, but even if I hadn't seen that I was ready to proceed. The older of the men sized me up and greeted me; I responded in kind and was allowed to pass. The woman said something like "carry on, soldier". I didn't know whether to feel insulted or praised. I do try to keep good posture and step smartly when I'm in dangerous areas carrying my laptop, but I didn't know I projected a military bearing. I guess that's part of what keeps me alive in such circumstances.

Wow, almost finished my pint of Sierra Nevada just typing the above paragraph. My order of wings came out and I went up to get another pint. About $11 so far, here at the Round Table Pizza on the corner of Marconi and Watson. I went to the used bookstore first and picked up a copy of KSR's Red Mars before this, and am about to crack it open. Two hours before my dinner date with my extended family, that of my lovely next-door neighbor at City of the Sun. [comment]

2007-09-05-2121Z

For some unknown reason, I decided to walk up 16th street to what looked, on the transit map, like a bridge. On the way I stopped at Taqueria Jalisco for a taco de carnitas, which for $3.25 including tax was enough meat to fill both corn tortillas that came with it. A handful of tortilla chips was included, too. My only complaint is that the salsa wasn't very spicy.

When I got to the bridge, it looked a lot like the one approaching San Diego going north from Silver Strand. If you read about my experience there, you won't wonder why I was a little apprehensive. I asked a couple of junkies of indeterminate gender, who were chatting near the entry, if the cops would hassle me if I were to walk across. One of the skeletal humans, with a woman's voice, told me if I walk straight across without stopping they won't bother me. "It's a shortcut". So I did. It was a little hairy, with the traffic passing by inches away at 60+MPH, but I survived it. On the north side of the river a guy was taking a bath down below the bridge, and his buddy was hollering something at me which I couldn't understand, so I just waved.

I took the first exit, and it was a huge park which runs along the American river. There I got my first close look at a tree whose leaves resemble oak, but which has a fruit like an apple. I did the first part of the Universal Edibility Test by squeezing one of the fruits in my hand, and the juice hasn't irritated me, a half hour later, so will maybe eat one before I head home.

Then I walked up Del Paso, and here decided to get a day pass on the transit system. I could have walked to my destination with plenty of time to spare, but I'd had enough excitement. I got a signal from UptownFreeWifi07, but the train came before I'd finished typing this in, so will have to upload elsewhere. [comment]

2007-09-05-1745Z

Today I walked up South Land Park Drive instead, and ate an acorn (quite sweet) and an apple I found on the side of the road. Crossing Broadway, I found the Javalounge with free wifi and power. My kind of place: good coffees at a fair price, served in a ceramic mug if you say it's "for here". A true neighborhood-type hangout, not a yuppie in sight.

I decided next year not to get the "beef sticks" at Butcher Boy, they don't last the week. The Bloody Mary beef sticks were fine, though, as were the kippered beef and buffalo jerky, although the latter were sweetened a bit too much for me. Then again, I might have my own chorizo for next year's burn. [comment]

2007-09-05-0049Z

Holed up at the Capitol Garage bar, drinking my second pint of Newkie Brown and using their free wifi and power. Trying to figure out the Sacramento transit system enough to get around the city a little easier than walking, although the $5/day pass makes me want to hoof it as much as possible. I could have saved the $4 "will call" fee by buying my Greyhound ticket at the station instead of online, though, and that would have almost covered the day pass. Dammit. [comment]

2007-09-04-2320Z

Crossed over Broadway, took a right on Riverside, and went under the Highway 80 overpass. Carpobrotus! Tons of it growing on the slope. Got to pick some up before my bus trip back to El Paso next Tuesday morning. [comment]

2007-09-04-2217Z

Some food experiences in Sacramento so far: Vic's ice cream gives you two scoops for about $4 that almost fills a 16-ounce cup. Way better than any national chain I know of. Walking north on Fruitridge from south of the city, I found Tugboat Fish & Chips #6, and had a single piece of their fried fish for $3.39. Not a bad deal at all. Came to Tower International Cafe, walking west on Broadway, and am having a cup of their house coffee for $2. It would be great if they had wifi, but they don't. [comment]

2007-09-04-1733Z

More notes from Burning Man, copied from various scraps of paper before I throw them away:

The guy, Bob, who drove me into the Burn, told me he avoided a second hip surgery by having stem cell treatment done in Mexico. It requires several treatments at $200/bottle. The doctor just injects a bottle of stem cells into the area that needs treatment, massages the area for a while, and you'll feel some instant relief, and a permanent cure after getting treated for a few months. The doctor is José Luis Diaz Barboza, with offices in several cities. It sounds amazing to me, I didn't know it was that easy. Makes me wonder where they get all the stem cells though. Newer technology that can convert any cell into a stem cell may make these techniques available to the average individual.

I should build a giant helium-filled exoskeleton, driven by linkages to my own limbs, myself being in one of the ankles of the giant. It won't work in winds very well, but on a calm day I could take 30-foot steps with ease. Forget the helium-filled balloon "skin", and just use ultralight materials, and it might work in light winds too.

How about a jacket and pants made somehow with old inner tubes, such that when uninflated they fold up (using that stretchy ribbon stuff sold in sewing shops?) allowing them to be worn comfortably in hot weather and, inflated, they cover completely, offering padding for sleeping, rain protection, wind protection, and insulation? I really need something to pad my lower back or tailbone area when I sleep on my back. The ultralight pad I bought on eBay just isn't working well enough. If I can't get one of my inventions done by next year's burn, I'll probably have to buy a full-size inflatable pad.

For an air trap for fermentation, how about something like a J-trap, just a length of plastic tubing sticking out of the top, looping around like a sideways S, with water in the lower curve?

I saw a guy with homemade stilts and want to copy it. The footholds were just screwed to the sticks, and there was foam padding grasping the calves, secured with two lengths of leather belt on each leg, also screwed to the (outside of) the sticks.

Someone told me about a sail for windsurfing that has an inflatable edge instead of tubing. It's very light, and on a swell you can catch the breeze and even fly for a short distance. This might work for windskating too.

Those human-powered vehicles I was talking about could have some kind of retractable ball on the front, and a normal trailer hitch on the back, so that they can be joined to each other or to a car or truck, forming "trains" for group travel. If I came up with a good spec, I could publish it before next year's Burning Man, and people who make their own vehicles could join the train on the way.

Make spokes for large-wheeled vehicles using just baling wire or similar? That's what it looked like on the KSR vehicles. Gotta see if I can find a spoke die cheap on the web.

I only ran 6000 feet -- a little over a mile -- the other day when I ran from 5 to 2 and back again along K and L. That's extrapolating using the distances shown on the map. Shit, I had hoped it was at least 2 miles for all the pain it's been causing me. Still, over a mile in bare feet is quite an accomplishment.

Rocket stoves, hexayurts, comap(.com? mathetmatics resources), using algae for converting engine exhaust to oxygen (chlorophyllcollective.com), boolane.com (the guy who gave me the ride in), gotta follow up on all this stuff.

All for now. Now to find a place to upload this... [comment]

2007-09-04-1200Z

Been working on some ideas...

To open a shebeen along the lines of mine, one should build a blue LED rope light with 1-foot spacing of the LEDs, the same as mine, and set up a wifi signal, either connected to the internet or not, with the WEP key "burningman". A nomadic passerby would notice the one-foot spacing of the blue LEDs, which no commercial product has (to my knowledge), then double-check with a computer to see if the SSID has "shebeen" in it and if the WEP key is burningman.

The problem with bottle structures is, if you start them then leave them for a while half-finished, weathering will weaken them or even destroy them, particularly if the bonding agent is mud. Pre-forming blocks of bottles using baling wire around the necks would make bottle construction a more useful general-purpose method, and could be productized in poor areas. If you pre-fill the inner gaps with adobe, you might need an additional loop of wire around the outside during transport to prevent the assembly from coming apart and the adobe shaking out. For a curved roof, you'd want to wait until it was all up before you filled it in, or you might even want to pre-form the curve by tying the necks closer together in one or both directions (both for spherical curve). Hmm, bottle dome? Now, that would be an above-ground structure I might be able to stand the sight of.

Braze together a closed metal box with a loop of copper tubing coming out one side, coiled some feet away for a foot or more, then coming back into the other side of the box. Fill the whole thing with some kind of high-temperature fluid, like vegetable oil or petroleum, then plug it shut (3/8 inch IPS maybe). Put the metal box at the focal point of a parabolic solar reflector with the tubing sticking out of the top and bottom. The hot liquid will flow through the tubing by heat convection, and the coil will transfer that heat to anything you want inside your house. Boil water? Condense it through a glass or stainless steel coil to distill it? Melt and injection-mold plastics? Use the melted plastics to fill the gaps in the bottle blocks mentioned above?

Braze or weld sheet steel to make two metal troughs, one about 8x3x3 inches, the other about 12x12x24, with the final figure being the top. Secure a peltier device between the two, at the bottom of the larger. Fill the large trough with water, and place a bottle or can of beer in the small one and fill it with water too. Rig a motor and rollers somehow so that you can spin the can or bottle while the peltier device is energized, hot side towards the large container. You should be able to cool off a bottle of beer in a minute or two this way. This will need some testing. In fact, all of the above ideas will need some work.

I'm at a couchsurfer's house in Sac. There's an IGA store a few blocks away, and a realtor's office with an unsecured wifi signal next door that's on 24/7. I-5 is just a few blocks away and I might try hitchhiking to LA, or wait a week and take the big grey dog.

[comment]

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