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 a rabbit yesterday morning, and another tonight. Seems that I've been more accurate than I'd thought; the one tonight had two corroded BBs in it, indicating I'd hit it twice before. It also had some huge tumors (for a rabbit), about the size of its kidneys, beneath the skin. At least one of them turned out to be a large insect larva. The meat doesn't smell very good; this one might not be palatable. I threw out most of the organs, keeping only the heart and kidneys. The liver might have a lot of metal poisoning in it. [comment]


Finally found out how to make ImageMagick make nice, equally sized, centered thumbnails like IrfanView does:

jcomeau@gdl:~$ for file in *.jpg; do
> convert $file -thumbnail '72x72>' -background grey \
> -gravity center -extent 72x72 thumbs/$file; done

Fed up by limitations on all the "free" photo sites like photobucket, flickr, and facebook, and since all the photos I want to save are useful for educational and other purposes anyway, I'm planning on uploading them all to WikiMedia. First I wanted to see what I had, though, and with a few more lines of Bash I should have what I need. [comment]


I wasn't going to blog this dream, but I still remember it hours later, so maybe there's a reason...

This is a recurring dreamscape I call "The Subway". It resembles both the New York and Los Angeles subways in some respects, and in the dreams I think of it as NYC but the climate is LA all the way. One of the prerecorded announcements that regularly plays is something like "Large and bulky items are not allowed on the subway. If you must regularly travel with large or bulky items, a storage locker is available at this station", referring, of course, to the station at which this announcement is played, one of the downtown stations.

Well, this time I went to look for the station manager. I asked first downstairs, and the guy said something like "Mr. Wong will be back soon", but then I realized he was talking about the manager of the store on that floor. So I went upstairs. The guy in uniform there had that "dirty hippie" disdain for me, and was trying to get me to go away, but I noticed the name on his badge wasn't what I had heard in the announcement. Then the station manager appeared, and he seemed to agree that the tools I was carrying qualified as "bulky". All of a sudden the other employees were friendly towards me. I was talking to one of them about how DDT was causing tumor growth in rats that caused them to suffocate when I woke up. [comment]


I left about noon yesterday to go camping in the Tres Hermanas. I took county road C009, and noticed that it and Pajaro Road were now newly paved near the new elementary school. And then something popped into mind, something that makes my gun control awareness walk difficult or impossible: the Gun Free School Zone act of 1996. Though the same act of 1990 got thrown out by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, the lawmakers changed a few words and passed it again.

So, my right of open carry is nullified within 1000 feet of any school, public or private. Which means I can't even wear my sidearm walking down Highway 11 to the village; I have to stick to the side roads. People in cities would have a hard time finding any path from point A to point B without passing within 1000 feet of a school. This act makes felons out of lots of otherwise law-abiding citizens, and of course felons can't be allowed to carry firearms at all. If this act starts seeing any concerted enforcement, it could be the start of the civil war the "gun nuts" are talking about.

In any case, I'm cancelling my walk. Judging by the scarcity of guns and ammo, enough people already are arming themselves for the coming ordeal. And I'll bet a large number of these people won't be lining up to take the HR45-mandated test and registrations, either.

I spent the night in a natural windbreak just East of South Peak that had been further built up by campers (illegals?) over the years to a nice little shelter. Walking home down the large arroyo that starts just South of the Johnson's large water tank, a large deer jumped out in front of me and bounded away Eastward. Must have been at least 300 pounds, maybe 400. [comment]


Just call me "Sparky". I couldn't wait to test out the capacitor current limiting on one of the Wal-Mart tent lamps, so I went for it. The LEDs glowed brightly for a second or two, then snap! crackle! pop! sizzle! and the show was over. So I guess I had a wee bit too much current.

I'm thinking about camping out in the Tres Hermanas tomorrow night, in preparation for my walk to El Paso, which will take me 3 days or more. It's gonna be cold. But I'm afraid I'd be too spooked in the old mine, which would be warmer. Maybe the cave, I can have a fire in there which won't be noticeable.

I'm getting more comfortable carrying a weapon. I remembered not to walk into the Post Office wearing it, and to stow it before walking across the border into Mexico today. It's not that difficult. And since New Mexico law considers a bicycle a "vehicle", I can leave a gun secured somehow on my bike and walk into the Post Office, or a bar, or a government building without running afoul of the law. [comment]


Tell me it's a coincidence. Yesterday I sent emails to Sen. Bingaman and Rep. Teague, urging them to squash HR45 and to read John Ross's Unintended Consequences. This afternoon, a white Dodge maxivan with black-tinted windows comes snooping around my place. I would have stopped them but I was across the way, hunting with my air rifle, when it happened.

I scored some 1.72uF caps rated 400VDC but obviously nonpolarized, at the Deming Radio Shack today. Put one in series with a 65W floodlamp, and dimmed it to a soft orange glow. Then ran it through a bridge rectifier, and measured 5VDC across the 21 DC ohms of the bulb. I'm finally getting close to being able to power those $7 Wal-Mart tent lamps from the grid.

One of my goals this year is to get 10% of my food by growing, hunting, and gathering. Killed and cooked a dove this evening, which I plan to eat tomorrow. I do believe this goal is achievable. But will it be enough? Time will tell.

The rain finally came, but not enough. Still, coming home from Deming today, I saw how much last year's growth changed the area. It's looking less like desert and more like the savannah it once was. The next easy step is to convert the savannah to rainforest, as in the Gaviotas miracle. Voila!

Finished reading Crichton's State of Fear yesterday. It dishes up a goodly amount of food for thought regarding global warming, among other things. [comment]


A lot is happening. HR45 is already being floated out, testing the waters, to see how badly we gun nuts want to keep our arms. I'm thinking about walking or bicycling to El Paso along highway 9, with my AK47 slung over my shoulder, trailing a big sign: "NM and TX: 'OPEN CARRY' is your RIGHT. It is your RESPONSIBILITY to yourself and your loved ones. USE IT or LOSE IT! FIGHT HR45".

Pistols can be openly carried in NM, too, but only long guns in Texas. There's the danger a cop can say I'm "alarming" people by carrying it, but that's only a petty misdemeanor. And if I can round up some media coverage, I don't think any cops will mess with me.

My target start date is February 1. Anybody have some contacts at NRA? I'd like to get some TV stations and newspapers to cover this.

Every now and then, a certain color or smell, or just the seasons changing, will trigger memories I can't quite grasp. I wonder what kind of programming I've been subjected to that causes these recollections. When I was a kid in the early 60's, there was a "Bozo" show that had these cartoony introductions and/or endings, and every now and then it would be different, with a darker Gothic-style painted background that seemed to have something hidden in it... I don't know what keeps reminding me of that, but it surfaces every now and then.

I'm getting better with the air rifle. I got a rabbit two days ago, and a dove 3 or 4 days ago. This rabbit isn't as gamy as the last 3, I hope that's a precursor of good things to come. Problem with the BBs is that sometimes the animals get away, then die later. I found a dead rabbit in the arroyo that I probably hit the other day. And a dove dropped yesterday evening, but I looked all around the mesquite tree and couldn't find it.

This morning, a cloudy warm one, doves were on my greenhouse structure at dawn, and on branches of mesquites all around. That doesn't seem to happen on cold or sunny mornings. And on windy afternoons, doves cluster in the big forests of cholla cactus. Good things to know if you have to live on the little bastards. One regular-sized dove makes an adequate meal for one person. Of course, they are being fed by people, inadvertently or not; their gullets are full of cracked corn and birdseed. Gullets? I don't know if they really have one. If so, it's not anything like that of a turkey. The grain seems to be in their neck, just under the skin. I'll have to look it up one of these days.

Deming was rainy when I took the 11:43 bus home from Sun Valley Hardware. By the time I got to Columbus, everything was dry. We almost never get the rain. The gods just don't like us, I guess.

Last Saturday 3 guys and a truck, myself included in that number, pulled the solar-powered pump out of the 300-ft well. Today I picked out what looked like the right socket to take it apart, a 30mm; got it home, and it fucking fit! Why bother measuring when intuition works as well or better?

Another thing I want to do soon is go back into the Tres Hermanas and look for more springs and reservoirs. I bought a 1917-era topographic map on eBay that shows a spring, with the very non-PC name "Niggerhead Spring". It's not named on more recent maps. And I want to take another stab at Lonesome Cabin Tank, which apparently would not have been visible from where my friends and I stopped the other day. [comment]


Warning: this will be even more disjointed than my usual rambling. It's just a bunch of notes over the past few days which have some possible value.

Urine may be useful for dissolving caliche, making it easier to dig.

Has anyone tried making "neon" signs out of EL (electroluminescent) wire? It would seem to be a good, cheap, non-fragile way to go about it.

When I connected 12V to the Asus router a few weeks back, I must have fried the wifi hardware as well as my USB stick. I don't know why I didn't notice it before. It's still useful as a 4-port router (layer 4 switch), but that's about it.

I bought a Horton Trac 150 crossbow on eBay before I went on my last trip, and tested it out when I got back. I thought at first I couldn't pull the string, but I gave it my full effort and after about 3/4s of its travel it got easier. To release it, I put a welding glove on my right hand, pulled the trigger, and was able to save the string without cutting my fingers off.

My brother turned me onto this character. He's got lots of useful ideas and information. You could get lost on this site for hours. Just one tickler: a composter that can heat your home for the winter, and can compost plastics!

Lots of people in this area cut back their cactus plants and throw away the cuttings. These, especially "teddy-bear" or "jumping" cholla, ought to make a good rabbit fence around agaves and spineless prickly pear. The stuff will grow, too, even if it's just thrown on the ground.

I've been thinking of a way to exercise my right of "open carry" but still be able to legally walk into the Post Office, bars, and across the border into Mexico. How about a helium-filled aluminum radio-controlled craft, that I can lock my pistol into and leave floating about 20 feet up? Thinking more about it, a rollaround lockable metal box would be far cheaper, easier to make, and could be secured to a bicycle rack with an ordinary bike lock. Nobody would likely dare mess with it with people around.

Why is the government-looking building at 1701 Columbus Highway, across from Sun Valley Hardware in Deming, so secretive? Nothing but the flag and the official-looking lettering of the address on the front for identification. A google search indicates it's an office of the US Customs Service. Never seen anything but unmarked vehicles, mostly pickup trucks, entering and leaving. Black ops, possibly. Lots of comm antennas. [comment]


Chomsky on Anarchism was illuminating, but I found the same anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint that disturbed me in James Herod's work. Why must we continue the producer-consumer paradigm? To me, that's more dangerous than capitalism per se; people living freely might choose to work for someone else for a limited time to obtain some benefit. I know I do at times. But if I don't grow my own food, or obtain it via hunting and gathering, I am always at the mercy of those who do. Chomsky seems to dismiss growing a garden as "dropping out" (though he doesn't use that term), and won't consider it for himself. All well and good; there is no one right way for people to live. But I'm looking ahead to a future where that option is rejected by a majority of humans. People who stockpile the large quantities of food necessary for that lifestyle will always have to be watched by those of us who choose to live more sustainably; such a culture can turn into another earth-destroying virus as it is now.

I went with some friends into the Tres Hermanas mountains today, looking for a reservoir called Crump Tank. We found it, but it was dry. Just a few yards south of it, crossing the jeep trail, was a little water seeping out of the rocks, but no noticeable flow. Not good enough to sustain even a small tribe. I've got an old 1917-era topographic map on order that should show some other possibilities for water. Check my recent del.icio.us links for some useful resources including free topographic maps, which Topozone.com used to provide before they turned evil. [comment]


Had a nice nap in Long Beach this morning. Didn't get up till about 1:30 PM.

Thinking of starting a free workshop on guerilla gardening and urban hunting. Got to try catching pigeons with a castnet. They can be cooked in parks that have barbecue grills, such as those just south of Blue Line stations Firestone and Vernon.

There's at least one REI store in LA easily accessible from the Metro: from the Green Line Douglas station, walk South on Douglas one block to Rosencrans. Turn left (East) and walk about two blocks towards the overpass. You'll see REI across the street. Got my money back for the StormSocks I'd bought in Seattle for their water resistance; they were OK in light rain but they let slush right on through.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk to Hank's from Grand station. Probably quicker to take the Blue Line to the end and walk from 7th and Fig, but I felt adventurous. Didn't know the bartender, it wasn't tattoed Debi nor red-dyed Teresa. But good old Mike was there as usual. That's gotta be one of the friendliest bars in the galaxy.

Had just one pint of ESB, stopped at 7th and Main for my taco de carnitas, then walked to Greyhound on the East side of 7th. There were ramps at least to Alameda. Should be in Deming tomorrow morning sometime. [comment]


Portland had water fountains, constantly running, all over downtown. Something I miss on landing, dehydrated, in LA.

Don't know if I mentioned it before, but the sidewalks between Greyhound and downtown on 7th Street are in bad repair, and on the West side there are many wheelchair ramps missing. Not a good job of maintaining the commons. I notice no such problems in the shopping district, no big mystery. The rich don't take Greyhound, and if they did, God forbid they walk any more than half a block; otherwise why did He create taxis?

Gaiman's mention of turning "at right angles to everything" in American Gods, was obviously out of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, all the more so since the latter book was mentioned in the former. It's a cool concept, and deserves to be incorporated in other works, as was Le Guin's ansible. [comment]


If I'd gotten to Greyhound before they closed, I could have spent the night there, as I saw through the window people were doing. But no, I just hadda stay at Elysian until closing. Now I've got to wait over an hour till the big gray dog reopens at 6.

The driver had mentioned cynically, as we entered Seattle a few days ago, that since Greyhound didn't own the restaurant operating out of its building, the food was pretty good. I ate there, Pho Bac, yesterday, and I have to agree. Its prices are very competitive, too.

I'm almost finished my first Neil Gaiman book, American Gods. It looks to have been influenced by Pynchon's Mason and Dixon, and Quinn's The Holy, but it definitely stands on its own as well.

I had decided to sleep at Greyhound yesterday morning rather than try the room at Club Z, which might have had gay couples fucking in adjoining rooms. The Greyhound only had muffled conversations and a TV at low volume. [comment]


Last night, about 1:10AM local time, I took the #16 bus across the river and through the woods. I could't see the wooded hilllside I'd noticed earlier, so pitched my hammock there at the empty terminal. I awoke in less than two hours, chilled badly. The hammock and my existing layers weren't enough.

I might still try renting that room, $10 for 4 hours at Club Z, a gay bathhouse. That's only available from 0600 to 1800, so couldn't avail myself of it last night. [comment]


Went to REI today and spent almost $400 of money I don't have. About half was for a Hennessey Hammock. And still I haven't gotten any sleep to speak of. The Green Tortoise hostel had some dorm beds available but $33! Forget it. There's a place on Pike and Boren that advertises small rooms, $10 for 4 hours. It's intended for trysting I guess, but maybe I can sleep there. [comment]


Still walking around. Soaked from head to toe. One sandal strap broke. Found another 24-hour eatery, the 5 Point Cafe at 415 Cedar Street near the Space Needle. Coffee sucks, but they do accept plastic with a $10 minimum. I ordered the 5 Point omelet.

I thought I had the answer to the BeerBelly hydration pack causing my base layer to get soaked with sweat. Started swapping base layers daily. But tonight the hydration bladder seems to have started leaking. So I removed it. [comment]


Searched for 24-hour eateries on Citysearch. The first two I found, Metropolitan Grill and Mama's Mexican Kitchen, weren't. Then I ran into one I hadn't seen listed, the Hurricane Cafe. Pretty good chili and damned good coffee. [comment]


On my second pint of Perseus Porter at Elysian Brewing in Seattle. Even their ESB is as hoppy as an IPA, but the porter is smooth and sweet. No place to crash, looks like another long night ahead. [comment]

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