Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My waterproof pack and contents are still light enough

There is an advantage to having a waterproof pack so long as there are pockets and tie downs. There is also an advantage to having an extremely light pack like a ZPack Zero (4oz) and even though everything fits inside but with proper organization you probably won't notice the missing pockets.
Packs are one of the BIG-3 items you carry.
One recurring recommendation is to have a trash compactor bag as a pack liner. This is meant for non-waterproof bags where the contents might get wet. For example you might stuff your wet tarp at the bottom of the pack and then put your dry clothes inside the pack liner.

My Yukon El Capitan has arrived after being repaired and I filled it with an UltraLight set of gear. This kit assumes that my clothes will be sufficient to keep  me warm at night. As I recently reported that's not likely to be the case. I should have included my SOL bivy and the kit would be complete except that once you use the bivy it's next to impossible to put back in the stuff stack..


  • pack
  • hammock, pad, pillow, groundsheet, tarp, stakes, guys and suspension
  • shemog, micro fiber towels
  • DIY hydration hose
  • gaiters
  • first aid
  • cordage
  • water kit
  • poncho/tarp
  • cook kit
  • EDC knife, compass, whistle, fero rod
  • fire kit
  • duct tape (wrapped on water bottle)
  • dirty water bottle
  • maps, guide book and data book
  • bear bag
  • water - 1L
  • instant coffee
  • snacks and dehydrated food (1.5 lbs per person per day)
I have not weighed this configuration yet but my intuition suggests it's under 10 pounds.

  • The tarp will either be dropped because I have the poncho/tarp or because the new Snugpak Stasha tarp is a better fit
  • The SOL bivy will be replaced with a real bivy as it is nearly impossible to put in it's stuff sack.
  • while I was able to get the sleeping pad rolled up there is no point in that. I'll probably leave it open in the future and put the manual pump and patch kit into the first aid kit

almost car camping - things learned

I went camping with my kids this past weekend and I decided to take the opportunity to test some gear that I knew I was going to depend on when hiking in the everglades. One particular concern was the temperature swings. As such we were expecting the temps to be 80F during the day and 50F during the night. And it was.

And so we discovered a few things:

  • princess sleeping bags are not rated for 50F
  • My Stansport sleeping bag with a 50F rating is not
  • Sea to Summit Reactor sleeping bag liner is of no use outside a sleeping bag
  • doubling and tripling sleeping bag liners does not help
  • Sleeping bag liner sheets do not help
  • Fleece sleeping blankets are great
  • remember wool socks next time
  • coleman self inflating sleeping pad is OK for car camping but that's it
  • Klymit pads are no fun to pack away when trying to break camp quickly
  • there is something to be said about leaving stuff sacks at home
  • my Klymit inflatable was not that comfortable and it moved a lot as I tried to position myself
  • the Sea to Summit coolmax is treated with insect shield but what's the point if it's only good as a liner
  • I learned from one youtube video that I should have brought my schemog and wrapped my pillow for extra comfort
  • While I had 2 "emergency" blankets I reminded myself of the many difficult times in the book "living with a seal" and pushed through... although I still had a plan.
  • Later in the day I setup my hammock and took an awesome 15 minute nap; I should hve set it up earlier
  • Had I slept in the hammock the I would have experienced a colder night and while I have a proper bivy on order I might have to consider an underquilt or convertable sleeping bag
  • I should have closed the window; and I did on the second night
  • The sea to summit liners are also useless because they are top entry only. One of my kids needed to go to the bathroom and I nearly killed myself trying to get out and back into my bed (side entry would have been better)
various sheets

50F my a$$


Finally, given the variation in the temperature and what it means to be SUL (super ultralight) I just do not think it's possible without spending a lot more money or will to be so much more uncomfortable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

As golang considers version 2.0 I'm considering something else

As the golang considers version 2.0 I'm starting to wonder if it's time to leave. Golang has been around for 4 years and I have made a decent living using golang for all my server/framework projects. However, for two major reasons it might be time to start something new.

First of all many developers that were once java joined the golang ranks. This was not a bad thing but they brought their bad habits with them; for instance generics; which has been a contested feature currently omitted from the language. Second, in the last two years I have had tremendous success with my own DSL and there was something valuable to learn from the TH1 project.

Here is my first shortlist of languages under consideration:

  • th1 - from the origins page this seems like a good strategy. I don't particularly want to write scripted code but th1 makes the cae for forking a lightweight scripting language, code generation, embedded runner.
  • tcl - there is still an active tcl community and activestate is still releasing updates to its toolchain. These tools could bridge the learning gap between th1 and jim.
  • jim is a small version of tcl. It might have been intended for embedded systems, however, it's small footprint means it's going to cross compile well. 
  • nim - demonstrates principles of the proper toolchain. Take essentially an immutable languate structure and transcode it to some other language which is then statically compiled for distribution. However, I really need more data driven code generation and templating. But sadly it only talks to MS SQL Server through ODBC.
  • perl 5 or 6 - I originally abandoned perl 5 when I started reading about perl 6. Given all of the perl6 project overruns I'd heard that the project was now redefined as "Perl 6 is a sister language, part of the Perl family, not intended as a replacement for Perl 5"; which means p5 is not dead and p6 lives too. p6 is still early and uninteresting as it's based on a VM and can use the JVM (all part of the projects overruns). Since p5 will likely live on it's still viable however even the CPN is showing it's age and then there is still the issue of huge dependencies
  • python - not being considered. tabs vs spaces is a pain in the ass.
  • lua - the source is only 24000 lines of C and that in itself means it's not unreasonable to fork or embed. There are a number of interesting side projects like a jit and their own package manager. And it's license is not GPL. One thing that makes it interesting is that it was used as the scripting language in World of Warcraft and Lightroom. This makes the barrier of entry lower for new programmers. but alas it has poor SQL Server support and one core library was 12 years old with no updates.
  • julia - "Like Lisp, Julia represents its own code as a data structure of the language itself. Since code is represented by objects that can be created and manipulated from within the language, it is possible for a program to transform and generate its own code." But alas uses ODBC.
  • rust - too early to tell and DB support seems weak.
some research on xen
  • LING (erlang on xen) - erlang has crappy DB support
  • [elixir on xen] ... elixir - while it's not specifically "on xen" it uses erlang and is essentially some ruby looking junk on the erlang vm. And their DB support is no better
  • OCaml - only access through ODBC.
lisp anyone? I just do not feel the love. Looking at some modern variations many rely on the JVM and it's also an elitist language. I'll just have to face facts that it's not going to help a team.

lastly a full DSL. My first search generated a result set that was dominated by Microsoft and Visual Studio. That's spooky and undesirable. So I went back to activestate which I recall had a DSL framework and it seems to be absent and a search did not unearth it.

One possibility here might be something that looks like homegrown lua interpreter like the one in golang. It might also look like something like what julia or lisp describes in their code generation and adding that functionality to lua or tcl directly.

As a side note. Just as I was writing this post and reviewing th1 I also rekindled my love of fossil-scm. It's not a perfect scm but it works great and is unencumbered by licensing and uses sqlite under the covers and implements a wiki, trouble tickets and uses th1 as a scripting language. Making encapsulated projects possible and easy.

I'm getting tired writing this post but there is one elephant in the room. Nodejs and it's cousins. If I recall there is a SQL Server driver from Microsoft and maybe others. I called it out once and got some trolls in my head. But the problem may still be the execution model in that javascript is single threaded and iterating over a recordset is problematic. (I've forgotten the name of that crazy code structure but something like promises and nested callbacks).

One real possibility might be to write my own language that compiles to JS assuming I can get around all the junk and find the right vanilla packages so that the dependency cruft does not pollute the project. The Hapijs project seems to be alive and there are plenty of other projects that are useful and active. It's also a fairly low bar to entry but is it too low?

Dart was always a promising javascript cross compiler language thing. It's package system indicates ODBC only.

Well, I have not answered any of questions and while golang 2.0 is still in discussion so is this.

Monday, October 24, 2016

management by dungeon master

I've read a number of books on management; herding cats and management by baseball come to mind but neither speak to my personal experience in management at different levels.

When I was younger I played traditional pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons. I played for many years and many variations of the game. Many times I was a player and others I was the dungeon-master. All of that fun came to an end when I was about 35 (and still playing geek games).

I read an article on the subject of "being a better DM". The conclusion of the article was basically this. Good Dungeon Masters cheat to keep the players interested, engaged and to direct the players in the direction of the story line.  When you think most dungeons are random they are to an extent. Either you keep battling random monsters until you find your way or you die.

And so looking back at herding cats and management by baseball and debugging the development process... while sometimes you fire the rockstar for the sake of the team... there are managers who simply refuse to promote or reward the right people essentially cheating. 

The difference between cheating in the game is that it JUST a game. Where cheating in the workplace is contrary to the social and business contract between employee, company and management. As a manager you have the responsibility to be transparent; set clear career development plans and goals; and provide timely, fare and accurate reviews. And let's not forget plenty of carrots when appropriate. As a manager if you cannot promote or champion an employee you have a responsibility to the employee and the company to "rinse and repeat" or to separate.

Management by dungeon master is not a desirable trait and in my personal experience it's only happened twice in the same company.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

multipurpose reflectix asian field hat

I do not know what the real name for this design is but I can remember seeing them in various Hollywood films like James Bond and Rambo. Not withstanding I say a hiker on TeamZPacks wearing one but I thought I could improve the design a little although I have no idea if I'll fry my brain or not.

In the following picture the hat is now a funnel or a rain catcher. With some accessories I can filter water into my dirty bottle or catch normal rain. With drip coffee and a filter I could also make a cup of java.

Opening the velcro it could make a nice pad for a puppy.

Folding it in half or quarters it could be a kneeling pad or butt pad.

Also in quarters it makes a nice DUAL rehydration cozy

And lastly it offers [a] rain protection [b] sun protection [c] larger circumference for a bug net [d] bugging from the NSA (kidding)

Friday, October 14, 2016

SuperUltraLight Hiking - under 5 pounds

I'm reading the book Ultralight Backpacking Tips and I'm at a section that is discussing SUL or SuperUltraLight hiking. As I'm reviewing the contents of the demonstration pack I'm exhausted thinking about it. My lightest pack is about 400g and his about 130g. What is further amazing to me is that I have a waterproof stuff sack that could do the trick. I suppose if I had two of these sacks and some rope I could make a yukon pack and call it a day. Also there is the Seatosummit nano tarp ponch and it weighs only 8oz. The author describes a 7oz tarp including stakes and cord, however, this is possible with the lightest Cuben fiber tarp from ZPacks the weight will be closer to 5oz. (I hate to think he was exaggerating but the weight difference between my coolmax liner and a proper camping quilt is only 7oz.)

I think that the items make perfect sense, however, there are challenges in the individual weights and I might be able to go lower in some cases.

Pack - My pack is heavy by SUL standards. I think I should make a Tyvek bag.

Pack liner - while many use trash compactor bags if I'm going SUL either forego the bag or use a lighter weight garbage bag

Sleeping quilt - my liner comes in at 9oz

Sleeping pad - a torso length reflectix mat is about 7oz when combined it can cover the space blanket

Space blanket - see sleeping pad

Tarp - this is a tough sell. The lightest but most fragile material is Mylar. Next I might be looking at a Sil nano tarp/poncho at 8oz or a zpack cuben hexamid tarp at 4oz. The zpack is small enough to fold in a cargo pocket abd the seatosummit poncho/tarp serves double duty at 8oz.

rain jacket - no need if using a poncho/tarp (8oz)

insullating jacket - a second shirt and the poncho might make this be less of an issue. (7oz)

cook pot - don't need it if I'm hiking from disk to dawn an eating food that does not require cooking.

spoon - don't need this either

firekit - as much as a fire is nature's TV since I will not be eating warm food then I don't need this either. It would be nice to have a fire to dry my socks except this time of year everything is wet and regardless of this time of year this section of trail is always wet. However a second pair of socks could offset the weight.

LED light - hiking from dusk to dawn in the swamp a light could be helpful because if the sun sets and you're still trudging in swamp you are either setting up camp in the swamp or continuing to the next dry patch.

Water bottle - might need a second if you're using a sawyer.

water kit - aquamira is common but I'd prefer a sawyer too.

first aid - same for both

toiletries - pretty much the same for both

I did not address some of the other weights and although a scale is necessary, according to the author, I think I can get under or at 3lbs.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ultralight camping - sleep system

In the hiking and camping world everything is a system or a kit. It feels awkward to use the glossary but at least we are all talking about the same thing. And I'm glad I did not coin the term or I might be postal by now.

Reading the first few points in this ultralight camping book I decided to go back over my pack. While I returned my Yukon Outfitters El Capitan for a sternum strap repair I decided to put my latest day hike system in my 400g haversack. Needless to say it felt heavy.

Here are the weights of my hammock gear(approx weight):

  • friendly swede bugnet (meant for ground camping and can be clipped but no zipper) - 150g
  • Yukon outfitter bug net - 320g
  • seatosummit bug net - 82g
  • seatosummit coolmax adapter w/insect shield - 280g
  • seatosummit thermolite extreme - 14 oz/399g
  • friendly swede sheet - 250g
  • other liner - 250g
  • Yukon fly and lines - 480g
  • 2goSystems poncho - 320g
  • Yukon featherlight and webbing cinch - 680g
  • Yukon V1 and webbing loops - 570g
  • 2goSystems Bivy - 480g
  • headnet - 30g
I have not included a ground tent here even thought I have an ultralight SMD. Big Cypress is just too wet this time of year.

Where and when will I be hiking? For the foreseeable future I'll be hiking on the Florida Trail. That means lots of critters and plenty of water or rain. And then there are the temperature swings. And so with my ultralight nerd persona in action it's time to put some kits together:

Day hike
I don't need much more than water, snacks, rain jacket, compass, map, camp stool and maybe a hammock to take a nap. A poncho or tarp might be better than a rain jacket as it's versatile. Neither of the bug-nets are needed if my clothing is pre-treated with permethrin.

320g + 570g + 30g = 920g(32oz)

Overnight Summer
The summer and fall are very wet in Florida. Mosquito population blooms and it is hot and humid. And while you might not want to hammock in the nude to stay cool blankets, quilts and liners would seem to be hot or hotter. Therefore bug-nets have the advantage pointing out that the sea2summit is 82g. And since we know that rain is the thing then a proper tarp with more coverage is the thing.

480g + 570g + 82g = 1132g(39oz)

The head-net might be needed too but not necessarily as part of the sleep system. Also the hammock needs to be pre-treated with permethrin too. The hammock underside may be unprotected with the 82g bugnet.

Overnight Winter
Simply but; there are fewer bugs, less rain, and temperatures drop in the winter and spring. Granted it's only about 2 to 4 months of the year depending, however, one can skip the bug net and add the coolmax liner. [a] the coolmax has a pillow insert which is helpful in a hammock [b] insect shield [c] I was hoping I could find some thermal value on the seatosummit website but there isn't any.

280g + 570g + 320g = 1070g(37oz)

I could add the insulating sheets and treat them with permethrin myself. they are slightly lighter than the coolmax but they are slippery (silk like) and I do not like that feeling. Doubling up on systems in Florida like the bivy and a liner is simply not needed when using a tarp or a tent.

In conclusion it seems that the sleeping system is between 2 and 3 pounds. I need to gain some experience because there is something to be said for ground or cowboy camping when it's dry but in either case there is something to be said for just a little insulation for both.

UPDATE here is the winter kit configured. Not pictured is the sleeping bag liner/blanket. Notice the poncho is asymmetrical and that it ALMOST covers the hammock. If it was a strong rain the poncho would have to be lowered a great deal. The grommets on the poncho are very small meaning it's necessary to guy them out.

Yukon featherweight and 2gosystems BOB

packed up

Monday, October 10, 2016

more about hammock suspension systems

Many fine bushcraft experts suggest NOT using 550 paracord for hammock suspension. Many believe that while it's strong enough on it's own there is simply too much stretch.

paramax 1000 and 550 paracord

I tried paramax 1000 by itself and had a number of problems. It would have been a convenient solution but the knot on the tree side fused with the working end and took effort to remove. The rope stretched and was near impossible to get a consistent lay. Finally I added tubular webbing to protect the tree and that just made it bulky. One other attempt included doubling the cord and while that distributed the stretch it was heavier and bulkier. All that was important as I was planning to hammock over water in the everglades.

Good for guy lines but not much else. Black hard to see. Very think, and strong, could easily cut flesh.

Whoopie sling and soft shackle is just plain complicated and still requires something to go around the tree. All this joinery can be risky. The reflective material was chintzy.

I tried singular and tubular webbing. The singular webbing fused just like the paramax. The knots also slipped. The tubular webbing was heavy and bulky although it did not fuse. However, it was slippery and the knots did not hold.

The Yukon suspension system held up nicely. It was much less bulky than the ENO Atlas and the Yukon cinch (not pictured) was even better. Both held the suspension, did not slip and while the cinch version was easily adjustable the segment model was fast. I would recommend a Dutch Hardware webbing hook to prevent the material to material abrasion.

While the packed webbing looks like they might be the same size.  The Yukon version is lighter and actually smaller by volume.

One unrelated item is my rope and s-biner to hank my pack from a tree.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

parsing the difference

"I am Sorry" is not the same as "I apologize"
"I am sorry for what I said" is not the same as "I am sorry if what I said hurt you"
"I should not have said that" is not the same as "I regret someone recorded that"
I played Dungeon and Dragons (D&D), also referred to as PNP - paper and pencil, from age 12 to about 35. While the game was fun to play and a distraction from every day stress and boredom it was fun to read the references and find new loopholes that would extend or improve the virtual life of my character. On one ocassion I went to a local convention and I played a different kind of PNP and what struct me was that the dungeon master was completely transparent and while that made for a more difficult gameplay it was fast, fun and virtually deadly. Then one day I read an article in one of the D&D magazines. Essentially the article said that the game was rigged and that dungeon masters were meant to cheat in order to keep the story going and the players happy.

So hearing that HRC has a public and private plan is no great revelation. That the Russians are trying so hard to disqualify her suggests that she's probably scarier or stronger a proposition than Trump is. More importantly I think someone needs to check Trumps foreign entanglements. That he has not actually relinquished his business to his kids, as he promised, and that he seems to have debts in Russia and China mean that these countries may be able to influence him far and above any possible pay for play that HRC is accused of.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Home made hydration system

For not particular reason I'm not a fan of "the hydration pack". First of all they are expensive relative to the smartwater bottle. Second they are not as ubiquitous as the smartwater bottle And third but not last the bottle works great with most water filters. And let's not forget the first purchase includes water for free.

And so I implemented a DIY smartwater hydration project. I particularly like this project because my Yukon Outfitters El Capitan pack has deep web pockets, 

smaller bottle has a spout
Step 1: buy a smartwater 1L and .8L bottles

Notice that not all the water bottles have the spout. The spout is required for this project but not in general. This project is only part of my water system which includes my sawyer filter. An original spout or syringe is required to flush the filter

the spout removed from the bottle

Step 2: remove the spout from the bottle.

Step 3: the original opening is not actually wide enough for the tube so hollow it out just a little.

Step 4: remove the lid from the spout

Step 5: measure the tube against the 1L bottle to get an approximate position for the spout

Step 6: run the tube through the modified spout and superglue it into position

Step 7: (not pictured) install the mouth piece to the other end of the tube

Installed on haversack - this pack has shallow web pockets and no place to secure the tube on the shoulder harness. Notice I used some green/black shock cord. (bottom right)

Installed on Yukon El Capitan there is a built-in green restraint on the shoulder harness.

The best part about this project is that I do not have to clean the hydration bag. Just replace the bottle as you would normally. This could prevent some nasty side effects although you still have to clean or replace the tube and mouth but this can be done with a sterile wipe or boiling water (this will fit in a stanley pot).

political venting

In response to a hyper-charged day....

Johnson seems to be waiting for a clue

Clinton might be a liar and even so might be extenuating circumstances

Trump is an out and out bullshitter.

Monday, October 3, 2016

carabiners or knots - tech in camping

I have at least on hammock that included a carabiner in the setup and since then I have been trying to get rid of it. I have tried a number of webbing, whoopie sling and paracord solutions. My current plan is 1000lb paracord with tubular webbing to protect the section that wraps the tree. The hammock happens to use webbing on the gathered end and any of the solutions would work fine. And so I am stuck between efficiency, reliability, weight and practicality.

  • biners of any type are mechanical and subject to failure. Many have been successful but I'd rather rely on the knot. Besides the biner does not pack well and the cord or web does
  • whoopie slings are complicated and difficult to field replace especially if the setup is biased to whoopie. (complicates the gathered end.
In a moment of weakness I decided to look for a biner that could be used to make my paracord setup as easy to adjust as a whoopie sling. I found the camjam.

It does not look scary yet there are more moving parts than a typical biner. The interesting news is that it'll support the necessary weight limits and cord sizes. And as I sit here writing this post I desperately want to include this device in my configuration because it'll make tensioning my lines as easy as whoopie slings but a little less reliable. One possible positive side effect is that having the biner on the inside could make the ridgeline easier to install base on the 90deg orientatino change that a biner would provide.

UPDATE:  It's a cool biner but after a single paramax shakedown I realized there is too much stretch in a single strand of paramax. In order to get this to work I'd need a double strand and that's not going to work well or be cost effective.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I've been experimenting with the paramax and it's time to throw it in the garbage. Even though a single strand is supposed to have 1000lbs strength it still stretches. Doubling the rope reduces the stretch because it's being distributed but it's a pain.

I've also been experimenting with tubular webbing. The model I've been using is very slippery and quite heavy. It took a while to get the right length and then get the knot right as it kept slipping and until I got the becket just right and even so there was some roll in the know.

POSSIBLY MY LAST UPDATE: I tried a marlin spike hitch. It held but there were some complications. The single strand webbing made a lot of noise and it seemed that there was a lot of slipping and compression. Early experiments showed that loop on the tree side of the suspension seemed to fuse as did the cord. I did not have any knot slippage on the tubular webbing side.

The knot compressed and flipped

The knot head fast
I think the reality is... if you are in the median weight range of the hammock and suspension capacity then there is a good chance that the paramax, camjam, and many of the different knots I've tested will work fine. However, if you are on the other end you simply need a different solution. As I started to accept that I needed to add the carabiner to keep things simple and without exotic knots or materials I have accepted that I have to return to mainstream.

As a result I've ordered a new set of straps for Yukon Outfitters. Parker has been a great help as I've been working through this shakedown.

another bad day for open source

One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is just how complicated it is to install, configure and maintain. Happily gitlab and the ...