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


Got my freezer and wind generator, but looks like I'm going to have to do some rewiring to get the necessary juice to the freezer. And have to buy some pipe to mount the Air-X, it doesn't come with any kind of tower.

Got my DragonLinux system forwarding mail for everybody who wants it (so far only myself) at COSF. Check out my /etc/ppp/ip-up script for the details; it checks all members of the "users" group for a readable .netrc and .fetchmailrc file, and if found, runs fetchmail on their behalf using a cron job. It waits for sendmail and fetchmail to finish (they are all spawned as subprocesses) using pidof, then shuts down the link. Another cron job kills the ppp link after 15 minutes just in case something hangs.

I've built a new fetchmail package for Slackware, including ssl support, downloadable as fetchmail-6.3.3-i686-2jlc.tgz. It might work on a 486 or even a 386, but was built on an old slow Pentium box. I'll try to submit it to linuxmafia.org again, but last time their nameserver couldn't resolve my www.jcomeau.com CNAME. So many resolvers out there have that problem, I can't figure out why. I checked my settings with DNSreport.com and they look good, so I'm assuming there are a lot of misconfigured nameservers out there. [comment]


Got plastered last night at the Pancho Villa Lounge, playing pool with some guys from Pittsburgh here on a contract job and some girls from Deming. I was drinking Michelob Ultra Amber, and either it or the shot of El Patron tequila really messed me up. I woke up with a headache sometime in the middle of the night, and drank some water, which helped immensely; by the time I woke up again the headache was gone.

Another couple of snippets from a recurring dream that I remember from last night: there are apartment buildings on a hill overlooking a shopping center; you can get to the mall via a winding road, or more quickly on foot by going down concrete steps on the rocky hillside. The steps were rarely used, and were overgrown with desertlike vegetation and had snakes crawling everywhere. The next snippet was more interesting: a scroll of sorts, made of straws of varying length, sewn together like a bamboo shade, which was in fact an encoded ancient text. I remembered I had broken part of the code previously, and the right-hand side (with it stretched lengthwise along a wall) decoded to some kind of emblem graphic. I think. Weird.

Bought my Sundanzer 8-cf freezer and my Air-X Land wind generator, and now I'm pretty well broke again. At least I spent it on something useful this time instead of alcohol and eating out. Gonna pick up the freezer in El Paso with my neighbor's truck. But right now I'm getting psyched up to jog downtown and start whittling off this beer gut; these jeans I just got from one of my neighbors (almost never a need to buy clothes around here, someone's always giving you stuff) fits too tight over the flab. [comment]


It was Flyleaf. Just ordered the album of the same name at AllofMP3.com for 63 cents. I can't see the allure of P2P when this is so easy and far safer. [comment]


Got a lot of money for my birthday! Been buying a lot of stuff I'd been putting off, including some black leather pants, and am negotiating a good deal on a Sundanzer 8-cu.ft. freezer and an Air-X Land wind generator. I might even have enough left over to finish paying off my laptop. I lost $22 in finance charges by not paying it off last month. Revolving credit sucks.

Haven't done much lately. Currently re-reading The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Waiting for some goddamned rain so I can experiment with some mud building and get my cistern working. Been dry for months.

I had a strange flying dream the other night when a song called I'm So Sick started playing on the El Paso rock channel KLAQ. I'm not sure of the artist -- a Google search comes up with two songs of the same name, one by FlyLeaf and another by Ne-Yo... it's high-pitched female voices and it instantly launched me for some reason. [comment]


I finished reading Dean Koontz's Dark Rivers of the Heart this morning. What a book! If this doesn't scare you more than anything else you've ever read, better check your pulse and see if you're still alive. I found a good review of it just now at http://home.earthlink.net/~rdmadden/webdocs/Koontz_Book_Review.html.

One of the characters in the book mentions books by Philip K. Dick. I already knew I should be reading those because of Robert Anton Wilson's recommendation, but now I have fresh motivation. [comment]


I managed to snag a pretty good $100 job on RAC but still there's so much posting of $4 max bid projects, of which the coder receives only a single dollar. So depressing...

Still looks like I might make it to my 50th birthday, though it coincides with Easter Sunday and the semiannual policy meeting of the City of the Sun. One of my proposed policy items is specifically aimed at the actions of a member who reportedly claims to have no reservations about killing another human being, so whether I live beyond my 50th is still a big question mark.

Over the weekend I finally fixed one of the problems with the old HP Vectra I had installed in the COSF Community Center as an email and web server; attempting to use the modem with either ppp-on or minicom would show a lag of 10 to 15 seconds between the sending of a modem command and the echo/response. By disabling the built-in serial ports in the BIOS, the lag was eliminated instantly. Now the next problem is getting a version of fetchmail that will work with current POP3 server software and run under the primitive Slackware 7.1 system.

Still can't motivate myself to work on my music software or the ROCS system. Rather drink beer and/or read Dean Koontz. [comment]


Finished reading Still Life with Woodpecker and re-reading Ender's Game. Also figured out how to repackage my program as a CAB file, see my most recent links at del.icio.us for the documentation.

It's been bugging me for months that running top on my server at unixshell.com results in a double-spaced display that makes it next to useless. Finally figured out that stty cols 79 will fix it. If it works without messing anything else up, I might just change the termcap and terminfo settings for cygwin. [comment]


Made it back to Deming yesterday afternoon, and had the catfish plate at the overrated Rancher's Grill in Deming. For "seasonal" vegetables I got a dish of canned (or possibly frozen, but way overcooked) insipid corn, chopped carrots, and peas. The catfish itself wasn't half bad, however, and my friend got me some real veggies from the salad bar.

Then went back home to City of the Sun. Got to get back to work and figure out how to make a CAB installation file for the Pocket PC version of my customer's program. Wish I'd done this a few months back when it was all fresh in my memory. [comment]


The "Tres Estrellas de Oro" driver passed right by the Greyhound station but wouldn't drop me off at the red light, so I had to walk about 10 blocks back with all this heavy luggage. Glad I travel light most of the time.

The ticket on the next bus to Deming was over $100.00. But the 1:30AM bus had the same price as my ride in, $50.50. So I'll fuckin' wait. [comment]


Made a mistake and lost $3, but maybe it will have turned out to be well spent. A guy on the MX side of the border was hustling passengers to LA, and the tickets were only US$16, so I decided to go for it. Got on the bus, and shortly thereafter had to get out to go through customs. What a mess. An old Mexican guy was arguing with the BP cop, a younger Mexican guy, and the latter was angrily trying to put him "in his place". While I was sending my bags through the scanner, there were shouts of "hey!" "get 'im!", presumably for someone a little younger than the old man previously mentioned. And then -- I couldn't find the goddamn bus. One BP idiot told me it was out the side door, another said maybe behind the Greyhound; finally a friendly taxi driver told me it was Tres Estrellas de Oro (that name didn't appear on the ticket, but it's emblem was there almost as hard to see as a watermark), and told me where the office was, just north of the customs office. I missed that bus but got scheduled for the 9PM one. Anyway, in all the quick decisionmaking I forgot to ask for my change; I had given the guy a MX$200 bill. Damn. But now I know the best way to get here: on Tres Estrellas de Oro from El Paso to San Ysidro for US$61. If I didn't have to schlep all this stuff around, I'd probably take it now, but don't want to go across the border again with it. I'd have to, because there's no cheap transit from EP to Columbus on this side of the imaginary line. [comment]


Cygwin on XP Home: weird...

jcomeau@intrepid ~
$ ls
bash: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable

It worked immediately afterwards, but this happens a lot during my Make processes too, and for some reason isn't terminating the process when it should.

Some things have changed here, but most are the same. The U.S. border patrol was checking IDs at the exit border last night, which is rather unusual; it's usually only on the way in. Maybe they were waiting for the guy who cleaned out the Camp Pendleton armory yesterday? Heh. Then at the collectivo station someone was trying to collect the money in advance (20 pesos at about 10 PM; it goes as high as 35 late at night), but I told him no, I preferred to pay the driver. I don't think anybody paid that guy, everyone I saw paid the driver on disembarking, as usual. So don't get sucked into that scam. Then the bar, Barandas, in Rosarito, had been sold 4 or 5 months ago, so I didn't get to see the beauty who owned it last August. Damn. Then again, they were open almost till daybreak! Love it! Probably only a spring-break thing though; El Torito up the street, also, was still open when I left Barandas.

Today I got tacos de carnitas at Rosarito's southernmost Flor de Michoacan, caldo de mariscos at Mariscos Sonora (which is now up to 38 pesos from 35 for the large bowl), and both last night and right now am enjoying tacos de carne asada and al pastor with the clean taste of cerveza Pacifico, that Mazatlan brew, at Taco Bell in Tijuana, still MX$11 for 3 tacos and for each beer. The dollar was still a little weak here last I checked, so I'm paying with pesos.

Picked up most of my stuff, but left the microscope, too heavy and bulky and likely to incur import duties. Might end up taking the Greyhound to LA just to avoid hanging around at various places with all this extra bulk. [comment]


Finally got through Camp Pendleton, the sprawling Marine base occupying hundreds of square miles of verdant Southern California hills. There was an alarm going off in the armory and they held us up a few minutes; apparently this wasn't an everyday occurrence and they took it seriously. Approaching Oceanside now, if we aren't already there. [comment]


I could maybe have taken the Metro 577 to the VA hospital where I caught the OCTA 1. But then again, maybe it's that weekday-only route I tried once before. Will have to check on that.

It was raining on the way into LA last night/early this morning, but it's cleared up and is turning out to be a beautiful California spring day. Good thing I was able to get a few hours sleep on the bus last night so I can enjoy it and still continue to make progress on my southbound trip. Will probably forego the obligatory Margarita at Casa de Bandini today, and maybe get one on the way back. [comment]


Nope, the OCTA 1 is still $1.25 and in fact the driver told me to keep the quarter. And it's San Clemente I'm headed to not Claremont, which we passed on the Greyhound, being East of LA. Good thing I didn't rely on my spotty memory. According to my computer, it's 14:16 in NM, so it should be only 1:16 PM here. If so, I ought to be in Rosarito well before the bar, Barandas, closes. [comment]


I'm in California, all right. A car waiting to exit a parking lot onto 7th Street actually backed up and left the sidewalk clear for me to pass. And someone left several loaves of partly-stale bread at the OCTA bus stop; I snagged a baguette for later. My policy of carrying an extra shoulder bag pays off.

I walked here heading East from the Portfolio, so not sure if the Long Beach buses are still 90 cents or not. Someone just told me the OCTA is now $1.75 instead of the $1.25 it was last year, but we'll see. [comment]


Here I am back home at the Portfolio! Arrived in LA about 9-something this morning, got a bus downtown from just outside the Greyhound terminal, and caught the Blue Line to 5th Street. Walking up 4th street, I picked a still-green banana to take the edge off my appetite; I hadn't eaten since early yesterday evening, and the half-a-pork-chop that I ate then made me so queasy I didn't touch any more food all night. Then stopped at La Fuente further up the street, and got 2 tacos de carnitas, and here I just finished a chocolate cherry brownie and am sipping on coffee while using the free wifi.

Forgot to mention yesterday, I got my NM drivers license! The picture came out very nicely. No need to worry about that crap again till 2010.

So far nothing to update on my travel page, the day pass in LA is still $3. Let's see if OCTA and NCTD have stayed the same. [comment]


I'm at the bus station in Phoenix waiting at gate 1 for reboarding of the Greyhound to L.A... it was a last-minute decision based primarily on my getting a ride to Deming this morning and finding a special for $50.50 to Los Angeles. For the same fare I could have gone to Claremont, but I couldn't remember at the time if that's Orange County or one of the LA suburbs, and have no way of checking now. When are they gonna put wifi in the bus stations, for christsakes? And bars, while they're at it?

What kind of a world is it that serves beer and liquor on planes, and has it available in almost every airport, but if your breath even smells like beer you can't board a bus? Let me answer that: fucked up.

This morning I did phase 2 of the edibility test for rattleweed, a variety of locoweed. The seed-pods only; they tasted like spring peas, except for some slight bitterness in the pods themselves. I should have gotten them a week or two ago when they first appeared, they're already stringy and quite tough. But I think they're edible. I'll finish the test when I get back from Rosarito with my microscope, tools, and other valuable stuff I left behind last fall. [comment]

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