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

MrCreditRepair.biz will fix your credit rating!

2009-05-31-0228Z

Been home for a day and a half now, still recovering from the trip. A lot of my gear is moldy from the Humboldt weather, now it's drying out in the desert heat.

The ride home was interesting. A blond guy two seats behind me and in the opposite row started choking the guy in front if him. The driver, a short tough guy apparently of Chinese extraction, told him in no uncertain terms to sit up front, and he did, in the seat ahead and to the right of mine. He got off at San Rafael, of his own volition though it wasn't his destination, perhaps correctly surmising that the driver was going to throw him off in any case. He was obviously out of his mind on some drug, though I don't know what it may have been.

Greyhound tip: often waiting in line to ask for what door at which to wait for your bus is a waste of time. I was recently given the wrong info twice, once in Sac and the other day in SF. The security guard knew the correct door. And he let me leave my luggage in line while I went out for food; went back to Elephant and Castle for the fish and chips, mistakenly remembering that that was the place that had gotten it right. Damn. Shoulda read my own blog; I dropped about $24 there for fast-food fried frozen fish, big soggy fried potatoes, and a pint of Anchor Steam. At least the beer was good.

Usually I seem to lose valuable stuff on my trips. This time all I seem to have lost is my REI compressing duffel bag, $12 if I remember right, and a $1 Wal-Mart pocketknife.

I thought of another advantage to using compressed air for powering a small vehicle: the tank could be filled at many existing gas stations.

Camelbak tip: keep the water tube tucked away inside the hydration compartment whenever it's not absolutely necessary to have the tip dangling within easy reach. Those tips easily get pulled out and lost, and the bite valves degrade quickly in sunlight. [comment]

2009-05-26-2343Z

Trying The Sidelines bar for the first time. Friendly place, and they have Downtown Brown on tap. [comment]

2009-05-26-2306Z

When Sushi Spot told me there was a waiting list yesterday though there was plenty of room at the sushi bar, I started going back to Tomo. Today I had the butsuguri, a huge plate of sashimi for only $8.50. Well, maybe not huge but satisfying.

If I get the sculpture with the oars built, a cute name for it would be "robot", with lines over the o's so it's pronounced "rowboat".

I didn't know Kokatat drysuits were made right here in Arcata. I was talking with a guy named Brent who has one but says he feels the sweat build up in it if he's not actually in the cold water.

Found small drybags called Aloksak that work for passports, money, bus tickets and such. Now if I could just find a ballistic nylon trucker's wallet with an aircraft cable lanyard. [comment]

2009-05-26-0308Z

Eureka Natural Foods on Broadway is still a good spot for wifi, power, and clean restrooms.

It turns out Halvorsen Park is the other way, on the boat ramp end. Maybe I'll remember next year. Day 2 started at 1000, but I didn't leave the park until I heard that my team's Maneating Clam sculpture sunk on entering the bay! They were safe, but the brakes were shot, and they had to take it down hills manually for the rest of the race.

I had a thrillride down the hill in Loleta after remembering to try riding my rig down with a skate over the rickshaw handle. I got going so fast I got scared and started riding the brake, but it didn't stop me! It barely slowed me down. So I deliberately crashed into the grass on the side of the road. Finding both myself and my rig unscathed, I got back on and rode the rest of the way down. WooooHOOOOO! I just about ruined the brakes, but it was definitely worth it. Made it into Crab Park about 1856, found Ron and his son Izzy and shared the first of my Armenian pomegranate wine, after setting up my sleeping bag and lighting a campfire. Met lots of wonderful young people who are into saving the planet. Kyle, the son of a Mad River brewer, gave me a Steelhead beer. Nice sweet dessert beer. It won an award at a recent beer competition, hence the "solid gold" motif of the racing team this year.

Left Crab Park about 0648, walked back past Loleta, across Fernbridge, and straight into downtown Ferndale. Again I missed the finish line, never seeing the KHUM banner, but I figure I crossed it about 1058.

After the Clam came in I got a ride back to Arcata with Tom and Galina. My bus leaves tomorrow morning, so I have one more night of camping out in Arcata.

Some random ideas I got while walking, and in exchange with other people:

Use a helium filled bubble for welding and food storage. Use tubes out the bottom for breathing while inside.

Push impeller with compressed air. "Gear up" by repositioning jet closer to axle.

"Hoosier" ballon tires have internal gears.

Lifejacket can double as sleeping pad.

Humboldt Exchange prints their own currency.

Attach sandals to oars for rowing on land. Attach sandals to hands, elbows, and knees for fall protection and for use as brakes.

Race photos at khum.com, race notes on twitter tagged kgc09. [comment]

2009-05-24-1544Z

Another idea for that vehicle: make it possible to lock the outrigger wheels above, below, or even with the road plane. Then you can have a 2, 3, or 4-wheel vehicle as needed for speed, stability, or adapting to the terrain.

While sucking down beers at Lost Coast, I met an intelligent longshoreman named Pete. He told me I should read Eric Hoffman, another "intelligent longshoreman", and he bought me a beer, my fourth pint, which I couldn't finish.

Fennel grows like a weed everywhere here. There are other weeds that resemble mustards and poke too, but I'm not sure enough to try them.

The park for KSR paticipants to camp is supposedly at 1201 Waterfront, but Waterfront turned into Railroad, and I couldn't find the park. There's an abandoned park of sorts where homeless people were camping, though, so I crashed on the beach. Woke up at daybreak with a hangover and beershits, and made my way to Eureka Natural Foods on Broadway for coffee, wifi, and power. During the night I heard party noises across the water, so maybe I missed a turn. Maybe next year I'll find it. [comment]

2009-05-23-2308Z

At Lost Coast Brewery having a Downtown Brown and halibut and chips on order. I'm in third place, or would be if my vehicle were registered. Crossed the Eureka finish line about 1643 despite getting a bit lost at the Manila Community Center. Hard to remember to follow the road all the way around, and there are no signs.

Met Linz, Eric, and Dave of the Bikin' Fools team this morning and got registered. The cops hassled me out of the plaza area so I couldn't run the first 3 laps, but I went down the side streets like last year and past my team at the Lab. They never caught up with me. I passed the Hippie-Potamus on the Manila beach and saw Ron of Marimba One with the pit crew. Someone was stuck at the beach exit so I went around them and had Dead Man's drop to myself.

A lot of sculptures are using tires made out of welded black plastic (polypropylene?) that someone told me was storm drain tubing. If I could keep it packed flat and join it somehow on arrival, it ought to work fine for my idea: a vehicle with a large knobby on one end and paddles on the other. Two outrigger knobbies for stability and flotation. Seat swivels and slides forward and back to put the weight where needed.

The halibut was pretty damned good. Better for sure than the places in SF I tried. [comment]

2009-05-23-1011Z

No matter what I do, the Arcata morning air gets through all my layers and chills me to the bone. By about 0200 local time I started breaking camp. Feeling better after the walk back to town.

With some help, I found the Kinetic Lab, first building East of the corner of 8th and N on the North side of the road. Just walk in and look around, people are friendly.

Didn't drink any beer yesterday, trying to give my stomach a chance to recover, but I had some sake with my sashimi. I found I prefer Sushi Spot over Tomo; same high quality but more for your money. [comment]

2009-05-22-1144Z

No problem with Greyhound in SF yesterday, but I had stomach problems all the way to Arcata. Got in late, about 2300, and set up my sleeping bag right there at the bus terminal, inside my oversized duffel. Took me maybe an hour to get to sleep, but then I got sbout 3 hours of shuteye before the cold wind woke me. Now I'm at the donut place having a bagel and coffee waiting for the co-op to open. Probably won't help my poor stomach any. [comment]

2009-05-21-1412Z

Made it to 901 Columbus before its 0700 opening, and they still had my new iPod charger! I feel $30 richer!

Got a bad case of the morning-after shits due to the 6-1/2 pints I downed yesterday. Oh, well. It happens. [comment]

2009-05-21-1125Z

Tara at E&C told me about Ryoko's, a sushi place on Taylor street. Turns out it's just up the hill from CoCo Bang, where I'd eaten on a previous trip. I had some green tea and a bowl of ikura (salmon roe) with rice and other stuff. After wandering the streets for a while, I showed my ticket to the Greyhound guard and he let me in.

I already seem to have lost my new iPod charger. Probably left it at 901 Columbus. Dammit. [comment]

2009-05-21-0349Z

The fish and chips weren't even as good as at SF Brewing, but no matter, the barmaid has a nice smile and I'll probably camp out here a while longer. [comment]

2009-05-21-0307Z

At Elephant & Castle having a pint of Smithwick's Irish Ale, dark and sweet, waiting to try their fish and chips. Hopefully someone in SF knows how tobatter-fry fish properly. [comment]

2009-05-21-0201Z

I can no longer seem to make a Discover payment from my iPod. Whenever I click "submit" from the Verify page, it always hangs. I should probably just get rid of the goddamned thing after what they did to me anyway, but am not willing to let go of it just yet. [comment]

2009-05-21-0140Z

Back at 901 Columbus having a cuppa coffee after an attempt at a nap along the Embarcadero. Despite assurances from the bus driver and baggage handlers in Oakland, the Arcata driver refused to take me without my paying $15 for a ticket change. Most likely because it's a day early, but I'm wondering if I should be back in Oakland tomorrow just to be safe. I'll play it by ear, and meanwhile will try to enjoy my San Francisco night as best I can. [comment]

2009-05-20-2133Z

Walking past the bronze statue at 1st and Market towards the Greyhound station, I smelled the unmistakeable aroma of msrijuana. I turned around to see one of the biker-types taking a long drag. I, with my 4-pint buzz, laughed to myself to see this level of outlawism alive in one of the biggest US cities. It's uplifting. [comment]

2009-05-20-2036Z

While waiting for the Oakland bus last night, I left my oversized duffle in the line at Greyhound and went south in search of Tony's bar. I found it, but it was no longer a cantina; it had hefeweizen and pale ale on tap. I had a pint of the latter, Stone from San Diego. Got back into line, the 11:30 PM bus wouldn't let me on but the 12:45 did.

I was supposed to wait for the Arcata bus in Oakland but both the driver and luggage handlers said I'd be better off in SF so I followed their advice. I'm here at SF Brewing Co. on Columbus having a pint of Albatross lager. I also had some of their King of the Hill Stout, $5.50 a half pint, strong and sweet, and the SF Pale Ale, a nice lightly-hopped ale. The fish was typically bad but chips nicely spiced.

The bartender Paddy let me charge my iPod at the bar, and the brewer, Brandon, just clinked glasses with me. Nice place, glad I finally stopped in. [comment]

2009-05-19-1431Z

The gods heard my plea; I counted 6 cop cars when I left Denny's at about 0400. I had slept in the vacant land just East of the Grand Hotel between about 2100 and 0300. From coffee at Denny's to sausage biscuits at McD's, then to Greyhound to see if they'll take me a day early.

Chipped a tooth yesterday, just fell off while walking. No pain yet.

I'd forgotten my bike lock, for my rolling luggage, at home. Bought a new one at Wal-Mart instead of having to make a trip back to Columbus. [comment]

2009-05-19-0158Z

I'm starting on my third Negra Modelo at La Fonda, after finding true the rumor that Hat Creek Saloon has closed its doors. This is the first time in years I've patronized this place, after that last time they'd not only lost their liquor license, but they hadn't even served chips and salsa. Unforgiveable, but now all is forgiven. [comment]

2009-05-18-1618Z

The agave beer I started on the 7th finally started showing some signs of yeast activity yesterday, but since I'm leaving today or tomorrow I canceled the experiment. The yucca blooms I started in a 3.6% (2 tbsp salt in 1 quart of water) brine solution on the 14th is souring nicely. It should be fine; I topped off the brine a few minutes ago.

Reading Karl Bushby's account of crossing the Bering Strait I'm having second thoughts about attempting it myself. My plan to island-hop the Aleutians by windsurfing or kiteboarding may be better in some respects, but that last jump across the border has one 300-mile run between islands. Even worse will be the political problems if I actually make it, if I get caught anywhere but in the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. Karl went to the village of Uelen, and promptly got arrested. The only two ports of entry in Chukotka are Provideniya and Anadyr, neither of which are easily reachable directly, and require a special permit (propusk) for that region. By taking the more southerly route, I'm avoiding a lot of ice and a lot of beaurocratic hassles; with a good North wind, I'll be only days from Japan via the Kuril islands. A 30-day dual-entry tourist visa ought to do the trick, though it will leave me only two or three weeks to enjoy Japan, and I'll need a boat ride to Petropavlovsk afterwards; not sure those are even available. Tacking against the wind is of course possible, but slow going. 90-day "guest" or "visitor" visas are available too, but they're only single-entry. [comment]

2009-05-16-0225Z

As of 3 days ago, pastor Steven L Anderson posted the actual video of his beating and tazing, including the smashing in of his window by DPS officer J. Mitchell, who really seems to be enjoying his job in the stills posted on Steven's blog. Boy, they must have hated giving him his camera back and especially the footage from BP's own cameras.

My agave syrup beer is still not noticeably fermenting after about a week, but the pickling of the yucca blooms I picked yesterday seems to be going great, regardless of the little bugs that were in every blossom.

My rabbit meat had maggots in it this morning, and the meat was somewhat slimy, but I just deboned it and cooked it again, and have been munching on it throughout the day. Maggots are just food, after all.

I've had two articles featured on WikiHow over the past two days, the most recent being Run an 18V Ryobi tool using a car battery. Hopefully these ideas get more people thinking about living off-grid and sustainably. [comment]

2009-05-14-1608Z

I finished Heinlein's Between Planets last night. It was a good yarn, but it looks like he got tired of it about halfway through, and crammed the second half into two pages.

Woke up about 0230 local time from a flying dream. While still in the dream, I was wondering why I never see other people when I'm flying; only birds. Then on awakening the thought struck me that while I was flying, I was a bird, or rather, my spirit was hitching a ride in a bird's body.

Speaking of birds: I hit a sentinel quail in a mesquite tree today -- feathers went flying -- but so did it, and it got away. I also might have hit a cottontail and a dove, both of which got away. Bad day, evil for both hunter and hunted. But my second time out I did manage to kill a cottontail, and had its liver for breakfast. The rest of it ought to last me till Saturday morning, because my neighbor served up a second breakfast and is going to treat me to a mesquite-grilled steak later this afternoon.

I also want to gather some yucca petals and pickle them. It ought to be an interesting variation on sauerkraut. [comment]

2009-05-13-1806Z

Reported Discover's forgery to IC3 yesterday, but my bank reneged on their offer to revert the NSF fees. So it still looks as though I'm out over $100 due to their screwup.

Got a dove for breakfast this morning. I've hit a few rabbits over the past few days but they've all gotten away. Maybe I'll buy (oh, horrors!) some food today when I take the bus into town. Don't want to have to open canned food unless I'm starving to death. That Wolf brand no-meat chili was so bad, the neighbor's dog wouldn't even lick the plate.

Oh, and GreenFax didn't work out for me yesterday, had to print and snailmail the stupid thing. Customer support says that happens sometimes with toll-free numbers. Just lovely. Well, at least I'm not paying a stupid monthly charge for something that's only going to work occasionally. [comment]

2009-05-12-1535Z

Signed up with GreenFax for their send-only service. It doesn't have any setup charges nor any monthly payments, just prepaid minutes that never expire. Now, that's my kind of deal. I almost never have to send a fax, but when I do, it used to be a real hassle. Hopefully this will work out really well.

Typically, what I have is a PDF document that needs to be signed and faxed in. So I convert it to postscript, add my signature and date in the right places (takes me a few tries, usually), convert back to PDF, and send. It's worked like a charm when I could email the PDF back, but in this particular case they only want a fax. So, fingers crossed... hoping it works. [comment]

2009-05-09-0259Z

Killed a rabbit after sundown, with the full moon rising in the East. Left it next to the road and tried to get another, but the others got away. One is good. It will likely last me the weekend. Just about my whole paycheck will be going towards Discover's fuckup and the resulting fees, so I'd better be damned good at hunting this week. Some of the nopales are sporting new nodes, so that's another source of nutrients; I'd really like to gather enough to pickle. [comment]

2009-05-08-2342Z

July Oats up 9 cents a bushel again today:

CHICAGO, May 8, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Grains closed mostly higher in futures trading on the Chicago Board of Trade Friday as oil prices and commodity stocks continued an upward trend.

Corn was up 4 to up 4 1/2, soybeans were off 9 to off 16, wheat was up 19 3/4 to up 21 1/2 and oats were up 8 3/4 to up 10.

Corn closed higher with prices gaining as the dollar weakened Friday. Wheat was supported by a report of Canadian stocks that came in below expectations. Soybean prices dropped as delayed corn planting pointed to a possible increase in soybean planting.

My options are almost worth what I paid for them again... I still think it's possible that this is the start of the dollar's tailspin into oblivion, though, so I plan to hang onto all 25,000 bushels another 6 weeks or so. [comment]

2009-05-08-2216Z

My fees for Discover's buggy payment system are at $128 and growing. They keep resubmitting the payment to the wrong bank, costing me $25 overdraft fee at the bank and $39 "returned payment" fee at Discover. Just lovely. Good thing I'm rich, isn't it? [comment]

2009-05-06-2336Z

The rabbit I killed this afternoon had a layer of subcutaneous fat under its pelt, which was quite unusual. Then when I slit its abdomen, something even more unusual appeared: twin fetal rabbits. This was the first pregnant mother cottontail I'd gotten. I'm cooking up the fetuses and organ meats for dinner. [comment]

2009-05-06-1720Z

Finished the rest of my rabbit stew yesterday morning. No luck hunting yesterday nor so far today; pretty sure I hit at least one jackrabbit but they all got away.

Two weeks until I leave for Arcata. Still nothing useful as a vehicle. I'm thinking of buying an American Tourister or other good-quality rolling suitcase and modifying it to accept the bicycle trailer wheels, rather than continue trying to make the trailer look like rolling luggage. [comment]

2009-05-04-1918Z

Just when I thought I'd gotten all my financial worries squared away... paid my Discover bill online. The payment system says bank information is effective immediately when you change it. Great, switched it to one account to pay $100, and back to my regular account to pay the $27 and change remaining. This was last Saturday.

This morning, checked my accounts... the $100 was billed to the wrong bank, one that only had $60-something in it. So now I'm in the red there, and that's where another two bills will be coming in Friday, which will mean two more overdraft charges for a total $75 in fees. Tried to handle it with Discover over the phone, but kept switching me back and forth between departments, and finally hung up on me. So fuck 'em, I'll just try and resolve it some other way and not trust their payment system ever again. [comment]

2009-05-02-0126Z

As I was walking 5 miles across the desert today, there was a shimmering in the peripheral vision of my right eye for about the first half of the distance. It was like those attention-getter flags you see outside car dealerships, just out of view off to the right, making a constant distraction and making things even directly ahead fade in and out. Finally, a little while after I took a drink from my hydration pack, it went away. Is this a symptom of dehydration? If so, I'd never heard of it before.

I was almost expecting a UFO to land and ask directions, it was so weird... [comment]

2009-05-02-0004Z

Got some training in Appleseed shooting techniques today, at 25 meters only. Best results, as expected, were from prone position, where once I got used to the gun and the stance I hit one within the bulls-eye and two more within 1cm of it. From sitting, I hit my first 3 in a 4cm square area of the target. Of the 2nd set of 3, two were in the square and the 3rd just outside (2mm) of it. From standing, I had two shots in, then one wild one 3cm from the target box. I was having trouble holding it steady, so called it a day. No sense wasting ammo, the shortage being as it is. I heard 380ACP ammo was going for about a dollar a round. We were using .22, which isn't that pricey but still hard to find.

Haven't been hunting again since bagging that last cottontail. I still have most of the jackrabbit meat uneaten. [comment]

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