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


last day of forced "vacation" due to my Upwork "connects" having been used up for the month. I can start bidding again tonight after 9PM PST. [comment]


I applied to Toptal which, according to a Quora post, is the premier site for companies that don't want to mess around with low-quality coders. Upwork pissed me off recently when my "connects" ran out; you'd think that they'd give their best coders enough so that they could keep making them money (they take 10% off the top), but no. [comment]


yesterday I measured the tread on the utility wheels sold here in La Paz: 2cm from beginning of peak, through next trough, to start of next peak. just fired up Python:

>>> import math
>>> 2.0 /math.pi

then cheated and googled: it's almost exactly 1/4 inch! I do believe I can make a drill drive for that wheel with just a little brazing. [comment]


silver has been hitting new 6-year lows with recent rumblings of war. the Fed and its minions don't need to short it when Daddy Warbucks looms large on the horizon.

whatever attacked my digestive system two days ago is mostly gone. my appetite returned early yesterday, and haven't had diarrhea in about 24 hours, but haven't yet had a bowel movement at all today. in any case, as my buddy Kayaker Magic says, "cheated death again!" [comment]


getting better. ate a little solid food. diarrhea not as often. went for a jog. [comment]


horrible food poisoning from something last night, I'm assuming for various reasons it was the Sinaloa-style chicharrones. woke up 0400 feeling bloated and nauseous. had diarrhea a few times since then and it seems to be getting better, but I still have zero appetite. [comment]


I wrote another Wikihow article yesterday, on making biscuits and scones in minutes without the use of an oven, and you can view it now with the direct link before it gets published. of course, if you're making a large batch you're still better off the old way, but for up to 6 or 7 smallish biscuits, or 4 to 6 smallish scones, this is far more energy- and time-efficient.

working on a way to obviate the need for a grinder or lathe while still being able to quickly grind down the ends of 3/4" steel rod to a smaller diameter for use with the 17mm ID bearings used in utility wheels here in Mexico. basically, use of a 3/8" carriage bolt with the "button" sawed off the end gives you a 3/8" square to fit a socket and flex coupling. a large socket, as for use with spark plugs, combined with a piece of inner tube rubber lets you either grab one end of the iron rod, so you can direct the other end to a file, or grip some sandpaper with which you can directly begin grinding.

still working on a way to use the drill to drive a wheel, too. [comment]


another happy client on upwork.com. I guess I just wasn't on it enough, bidding on enough jobs. the money is just rolling in at the moment. I don't count on it to last, though. gonna keep my spending down as low as I can.

whatever that bug I got a couple days ago was, it's gone. it only had me for the first few hours, and even then it was just a tickle in the throat, just barely different enough from my normal postnasal drip to notice. I've got to always be relentless when I feel something coming on, and stay on probiotics and away from sugar until the immune response kicks in.

just made some more low-tech ceviche with cabrilla and my brine-pickled salsa, along with the juice from one orange I found on the sidewalk a few days ago. there wasn't enough acid for it to "cook" well, so it was really a mix of ceviche and sashimi, so it may be problematic. no real GI distress yet though. [comment]


in my dream, huge trees and telephone poles started falling over, and I was pretty sure the end was coming, so I woke up. it looked like Skowhegan, at the house where I grew up.

not any sicker than I was 24 hours ago, maybe even less. I didn't eat much if anything non-paleo yesterday. hoping it's gone but better give it another 24 to 48 hours at least to be sure. [comment]


so my experiment brine-pickling cilantro with onion and poblano pepper went well. the cilantro lost its bright green color, of course, and the combination doesn't taste nearly as good as fresh salsa, but a lot of the health benefits are probably still there. the poblanos surprisingly add enough heat to make it interesting. I'm dubious about adding tomatoes; never tried it. anyway, I did "seed" the batch with the juice and remaining amaranth from my last pickles, so still unsure of whether it would have worked without that.

I'm just glad to have some pickled salsa I can use on burgers, tacos and such without having to worry about veggies rotting in the fridge. and these were all organically grown, from Martín at the Tuesday market. [comment]


coming down with something again, starting last night. ugh. 3rd time this year I think. but I might still be able to kick it, it's still only in the throat. [comment]


some notes on restarting my old altcoin daemons: dogecoind eventually, after a day or so of running, gets "lost" and starts calling everything an "orphan transaction". restarting it gets it back on track.

Argentumd takes about an hour of fiddle-farting, building up its RAM usage to about half a gig, before it even attempts connecting to anything. then it works very quickly, in bursts, getting its blockchain up to date. [comment]


something is killing the geckos in large numbers here in La Paz, BCS. my guess is the mosquito spray, either directly or indirectly, by poisoning their food supply. [comment]


just finished a job on Upwork.com. finally. the two previous jobs I had to abandon because I had finished according to the spec but the client wasn't happy, and I didn't want to ding my reputation.

this puts me on target to be living within my means for this month, the first time this has happened since the beginning of my "new normal" economic situation. I don't believe I've ever seen such an anemic freelance programming market. there must be a glut of programmers worldwide to account for so many jobs posted at about a dollar an hour. and so many jobs amount to theft, just scraping content from existing websites, or spamming. [comment]


no rumbly in my tumbly a few hours later, so I think the ceviche experiment went well. that's something I can do on the road anywhere, since no cooking nor refrigeration are required.

my 3rd attempt at sourdough starter officially failed today, after noticing a layer of kahm yeast on top. going to give up until colder weather comes along.

anyway, I'm happy with the biscuit dough recipe I posted recently. I can keep making yogurt for a little over a dollar a liter, and cook the quickbreads on the griddle with either my molcajete or small Pyrex bowl inverted over them, in about 7 minutes. I tried without either, and the middle didn't cook; that extra trapped heat makes a significant difference. [comment]


got a decent $200 job on upwork.com today. let's hope I don't fuck it up.

also was given MXN100 extra on the local computer cleanup job I just finished today.

whenever I have to meet a client in a coffeeshop, it blows my daily food options out of the water. after a coffee, my allowance drops from MXN50 to MXN20 or so. so I tried some "poor man's ceviche": bought MXN10 worth of cabrilla: two small fillets of sea bass. went and found an orange tree growing over the sidewalk and picked a green orange off it. went to a park, cut open the orange, ripped the fillets into small pieces and squeezed the orange juice over them, in the same bag in which it had been wrapped by the vendor. kept squeezing the bag occasionally for an hour or so to make sure the juice was covering the fish. when I couldn't wait any longer I ate the ceviche. it tasted good. hoping I don't get violently ill from some bad bacteria.

I still had about 10 pesos left to spend, so got a roll at a panaderia for 4 pesos, and ate it, and can do the same again later if necessary. [comment]


low-budget blastoff to the moon with my family. ripe mangos to be picked. a disc on the wall that periodically describes an arc about 5 degrees each way from 90°. all in a night's dream. [comment]


so I learned how to make biscuits and scones from the same base recipe today, and both came out OK, cooked on the stovetop. here's the general idea; it'll take more experimentation before I get something foolproof.

ingredients: 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 cup fat (I used lard), 2 cups flour (I used whole wheat). stir dry ingredients together, and cut the fat in until the whole batch resembles bread crumbs. keep it in the fridge until you want to use some.

when making a biscuit, take about a half cup, add just enough yogurt to make it a dough that can be formed, knead for 15 seconds or so, flatten it into a biscuit and throw it on a lightly greased skillet. cover with an upside-down molcajete, and heat on high for 4 minutes. then flip it over, re-covering with the molcajete, keeping it on high for another 30 seconds to a minute, then turn off the gas, letting it continue cooking for 3 minutes or so using the heat already in the skillet.

for a scone, the only difference is you stir in some sugar before adding the yogurt, and maybe also sprinkle some sugar on top of the formed dough.

the idea of using yogurt instead of milk is that the acidity activates the baking soda and makes it rise better than it otherwise would, and/or counteracts the metallic taste the soda can otherwise give. and using the stove is a lot more energy-efficient in general than the oven.

anyway, the biscuit rated maybe a 3 out of 5, the scone a solid 4. I plan to make double- or quadruple-recipes in advance to have on hand when I get a craving for quickbread. I get tired of sourdough crepes when I make them every day, and this is sufficiently different to serve as an alternative.

another benefit to this recipe is that none of the ingredients absolutely require refrigeration. even yogurt can last several days without it. [comment]


so my last two attempts at starter smelled like vomit and didn't turn sour even after several days. but I didn't keep feeding it as the answers in the Reddit post advised, so I guess I jinxed any chances of Acidophilus taking over from the dreaded Clostridium. armed with this new info, I'm going to try again. [comment]


ate some of the brine-pickled Proboscidea fruit with amaranth leaves. as hoped, the pickling eliminated the bitter taste of the devil's claw. the brine is too salty; I had added too little at first, and got slime and yeast floating on top, so I dumped off the top, added more water, and as it turns out, too much salt. but it's edible and I salvaged what would otherwise have been a wasted batch.

second day in the sun for my yogurt, and it's not gelling. I'm having my doubts about the viability of that Mexican yogurt. [comment]


finally found some yogurt in Arámburo that says it has active cultures. bought a 40-cent (6 peso) serving and a liter of milk, total of 24 pesos or about USD1.50, to make a batch of sun-made yogurt tomorrow. with that I'm going to try my luck making biscuits and scones. I've got to make a functional solar oven this winter. no more excuses, just have to do it. [comment]


very frustrating day. I'd been almost 3 days straight working on what I'd hoped would be a maximum 3-hour job on Upwork (formerly Odesk), scripting an Instagram-to-Facebook image and caption scraper. I finally gave up; it was working great, except it would perversely not make the posts visible in England, where my client was, and none of the app or user settings would account for that. I had to give up and throw all those hours away. then I tediously spliced two radio adapters together, wire by wire, to install a new radio in an older SUV. luckily that worked. beer-thirty; this liter of Pacifico is going down so quickly I might have to break the budget and go get another. [comment]

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