tbm's Release Management talk

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 04/25/2007 - 19:09
Thanks to Romain Francoise, I found and watched Martin Michlmayr's Release Management in Large Free Software Projects talk on Google Video's Open Source Speaker series. Martin: Thanks a lot, great talk. I've been following your presentations lately, as I've given some talks on this topic - Quality Assurance on Free Software Projects (Spanish only) - However hard I try to remain faithful to the subject, I end up giving a talk on what Free Software is and how its processes are naturally more prone to yielding better quality than propietary projects.
Anyhow, with this post I want to do basically three things:
  • To cheer Martin for writing and presenting the topic. I've been refering to your work for a long time, and although my presentations are not formally papers and thus have no quotation value (in fact, they often don't have the references as anything more than comments in the source files, it at all), I should thank you frontally and publicly.
  • To get some more attention to the topics presented. Your point is very interesting and important to be taken into account specifically for Debian: I'm not 100% with you regarding that time-based releases is the way to go, but the point you make when discussing GCC (IMHO) is an important one: A project can shift to time-based releases even if it does not release on time, and its general inner processes can become quite cleaner. I do think we witnessed this with Etch in Debian - The process was much more believable and peaceful (even with all the release-related mudfights) than with Sarge. I think it partly stems from what you point out: We aimed to release in December, and we failed to precisely meet the target - but having the date helped set the release goals to something believable, and not let Sid's unstability drift too far away. During Sarge's testing cycle, for a long time, few of us even cared to use testing at all, as it was... Something completely undefined.
  • To get some insight on some points. Martin, in several of the projects you analyzed, there is a tendency to get to a six months release cycle. Many other projects also follow that cycle - There is a time-based project you didn't mention that is to me one of the inspirations of such model, and has proven to work for over a decade: OpenBSD. Yes, it lacks in many areas, and definitively not everybody can aspire to become an OBSD developer, but they have done high-quality six-month releases since they exist. However, speaking specifically for Debian: Would you like our project to follow such a schedule? For many reasons (including one you mentioned, the difficulty to support several concurrent versions, or just having oldstable versions be left too early with no support) I think we should aim for a 18 month cycle, 12 at the very least. Either I lacked attention when you went over that part or you didn't mention it - but why do you think such a short cycle is good for so many projects? What would you like Debian to do? (Of course, for answering this, you might be Martin, or somebody else entirely ;-) )
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Init-related ideas BoF submitted for Debcamp

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/17/2007 - 17:27
Ok, so it just seems like a hot topic - I just submitted a BoF for Debcamp to talk about the init-related ideas we've been discussing. As Debconf's Pentabarf conference management system does not like disclosing talk details before the talks are accepted, I'll reproduce here my short blurb:
This BoF comes out from several ideas posted in Planet Debian by Erich Schubert, Sven Müller, Joachim Breitner, Mike Homey and myself (so far). It's not to be "chaired" by any of us particularly, but I expect an interesting brainstorming session.
There are several different init systems present in Debian - However, we are only supporting currently one of them, good ol' sysv-rc - We have close to a thousand packages providing init scripts suitable for it, and close to none for all of the other systems.
In current systems, full of hot-pluggable devices, changing network configurations and so on, however, I think this situation is quite prone to change - sysv-rc and its runlevels are better suited for stable server-like systems, and is hard to adapt for future needs.
We will talk about the potential difficulties Debian will face in order to better support more init schemes, and discuss some ideas to solve them.
This should be a brainstorming session, not much material will be prepared (maybe some sketches by each of us, but nothing formal). If you plan on attending, take a look at the messages linked to in the 'links' section.
Note that, following Nomeata's suggestion, I'm presenting this for Debcamp - If you are not attending Debcamp and are interested, we will try to set this up via some sort of videoconferencing (or at least the usual video feed + IRC feedback), and I do hope we can have something showable (at least a broken concept) after Debconf.
In not-so-closely-related topics, I just learnt there is a shadow of doubt regarding my presence in Edinburgh - I will do my best to dispell the threat. I just don't want to miss a Debconf!
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Init followup

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/17/2007 - 14:03
First of all, sorry for the delay. Leaving just as the discussion gets started is bad, yes... But I'm only now reading Erich's and Sven's follow-ups. Both (as well as some comments in my blog) ask why not integrating the startup links in each of the packages - Well, basically because I don't think that most maintainers will take care to do this, and we will end up having a situation very close to what we have today: If I'm not interested in supporting your favorite init system in my packages, I just won't bother to make the scripts.
Note: I'm going into braindump mode. Verbose blabber and some stupidity might follow ;-)
Think on the webapp scene - Most webapps ship with an Apache-like snippet so that http://yourserver/thisapp just works(tm). I love that, and it's one of the little details that make Debian shine - Things usually work with the least administrator burden possible. But it happens that there are other web servers around there - They just become somehow second class citizens (I happen to sponsor/comaintain Cherokee, for instance), as nobody cares to include the equivalent snippets for them. Apache is the standard, and is good enough.
The same goes for sysv-rc: It just rules the world. Who will work all the needed patches to support all the different init systems? As the maintainer for a simple package which requires to be started up, I probably won't care to even understand all the intimacies of every init system, at least until they all have a decent user base. But by having one package per (server,init-scheme) pair, any maintainer can come up with the needed initialization.
Of course, this degrades quickly. First of all, as a user: if mydaemon is not correctly starting up, I will probably file bugs at mydaemon, not at mydaemon-initscheme. If mydaemon changes its parameters, we will witness transition of mydaemon-*.
Further, remember this is Debian, and volunteer-work has its downsides. If the mydaemon maintainer is a primadonna (or just does not give a flying crap about the runit init scheme), he will just trash reports regarding a nonimportant init scheme. Bad. And, as Erich points out, we have ~1000 packages including /etc/init.d/something - It will mean 3000 or so packages for a decent (not complete!) coverage of the different schemes. And, of course, a very uncoordinated way of working. But back to my line of thought: If I'm promoting an init scheme, I cannot just push it down each maintainer's throat. I must include at least the most important init scripts somewhere. Maybe we could just group daemons by task, and then have -say- a webservers-runit package providing the init scripts for each webserver for runit? This could cut down from 3000 to some 100 packages, most probably team-maintained... But it still faces many scalability problems, and the bug-filled-somewhere-else problem seems unavoidable.
I think something interesting could come off Sven's idea of providing several independent scripts instead of today's complete init scripts - This would make it easier to adapt startup/shutdown and similar events to different world views, and if not specifically needed, most init scripts could even be autogenerated calling the right bits here and there. That would rock - except in the corner cases (I predict no less than 10% of the packages will become corner cases ;-) ) where it will crumble apart. But maybe if a package declares it should be autostarted and provides the separate bits, the sysv-rc, upstart or runit helper can come up with an autobuilt initscript (or equivalent) - And if it does not work, it can always be overriden by a maintainer- (or user-) supplied, explicitly built script. Humh...
The topic surely calls for a Debcamp session, as Joachim says in comments in two of our posts and Erich acknowledges. Erich, as the main instigator of this blog series, I hope you can at least join via Ekiga or such, as it can be quite interesting - But, yes, none of the people involved so far participates in any of the inits' maintenance... Anyway, please keep the ideas flowing. I want to sketch something up, as I feel this can be useful - and not only for initscripts, but for many of the areas where Debian provides several ways to do the same thing. And, once again, that's one of the best points of Debian for me.

On system init schemes

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 09:50
I was delighted at finding Erich's series of posts regarding init schemes - In fact, when reading the bottom of your third message I got disappointing at you stating that this concludes this series of blog posts. Maybe someone can follow up with some details on upstart (which seems to be the most promising init replacement)? - I expected you to delve a bit into other schemes, such as file-rc (which is, AFAIK, quite similar to the standard sysv-rc, but instead of having directories with symlinks has files describing each runlevel in similar terms, and I understand works in quite a similar logic to sysv-rc), runit seems to work in a way quite similar to BSD's RC...
I was particularly interested on your point of view on something like Init NG - And, of course, Upstart sounds sexy, and besides, being Scott's brainchild automatically stamps a must be good legend on it, at least for me. Shame that you didn't follow on with the series - but hey, nobody's paying you to do it ;-)
Anyway... I was thinking on a way we could get at least Debian maintainers work more easily towards having more than one init scheme for our daemons and such - or at least, shipping less cruft for derived distributions to clean up. Specifically, yes, our most notorious descendant goes Upstart, so /etc/init.d/* becomes crufty for them. So, what if:
  • All daemon-like packages (i.e. those containing a daemon, or running something at startup, i.e. setting up a service interface) will be affected. Lets call our sample daemon-bearing package example
  • example will no longer ship an initscript. In fact, after some time, policy will mandate no initscripts (that is, what we today put in /etc/init.d) are included in our base packages. example will only recommend example-init. Why recommend it? Because it does not even now depend on a specific initscript - I've rolled some systems which are based on my very own init handler, for specific needs.
  • The original example package maintainer will probably take his very same initscript, and package it as example-sysvinit. This script will provide the example-init virtual package. (Of course, this will mean a very real proliferation of virtual package names). example-sysvinit will depend on sysv-rc.
  • The same maintainer, or a different one, will also package example-nginit, example-bsdinit, example-runitinit and/or example-upstartinit, depending on their respective infrastructures, and providing as well example-init. Ideally, they won't even have to conflict on each other.
  • Maybe I'm daydreaming and this could just be a bit too much... But with all support in place, even the init system itself could be handled via /etc/alternatives ;-)
This means, yes, a serious explosion of very small packages. But it also means less dependency on a specific maintainer to be sympathetic to yet-another-init-scheme. If I'm pushing superb-init, which does preemptive reverse dependency tracking and invention and works based on the oh-so-3v1l aptsh, and I'm having a hard time convincing anybody to update their packages to support my init scheme before it matures, I can at least come up with all the needed scripts to get my system usable and considerable for the masses. Sounds decent? Did I smoke too much crack? No, I haven't had my morning coffee yet, so I'll go grab some while this hits the planet.
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Etch is done! Sarge is done once again! Sam rules! Yay for the weekend!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 04/09/2007 - 10:31
Wow, what a wonderful weekend was this for Debian. And, yet again, I managed to miss the live announcement and party on IRC.
So... We got a shiny, new, French DPL. Just after that, we got one last release for Sarge, and right away we got a stable Etch - Who says having a new DPL cannot speed up things? ;-) Anyway... I don't remember where I started the meme when Sarge was released (it was not on my blog, it seems)... But here it goes again:
What were you doing at...
Etch release? Having a nice time with Nadezhda, walking around this broken and dear city in my last day of vacations.
Sarge release? At my psychologist. Yes, Sarge drove us all nuts.
Woody release? Sitting at a lent workstation at Departamento de Seguridad en Cómputo in my University. Of course, the announcement was broadcasted right away to everybody around me ;-) I was in NM by then, and was a bit disappointed because my work didn't appear in the release.
Potato release? Don't know... I was not yet involved with Debian by then.
[Update]: Thanks to Wouter, my old meme-starting message appeared - is he more patient than I am, or just more organized? :-) Anyway, boo for Jaws breaking old URLs (I upgraded 0.4->0.5->0.6->0.7 since then)
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Version 3.14 of the CoPL released

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 04/07/2007 - 09:39
As I've posted before, I recently read Lawrence Rosen's Open Source Licensing Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law. And I'm sure many of you will recognize the enormous constructive value of early-morning cavilations. Well, today I woke up thinking about strengths and weaknesses in th different Free Software licenses, and I decided to add my grain to the world of license proliferation. So, here goes version 3.14 of the CoPL. I wonder how long will it take before it reaches /usr/share/common-licenses on Debian systems ;-)

This is version 3.14 of the Confusing Public License (referred to from
now on as "CoPL"). Copyright (c) 2007 Transnational
Republic. Additional copies of this license can be purchased at no
cost from any Transnational Republic citizen at any of its recognized
outposts, or freely copied. 

Any legal claims regarding Original works or any of their Standard
versions licensed under the CoPL Should not abide by and be carried
out according to the current law of the Transnational Republic. The
Original author to pay for any attorney and other legal fees of any
dispute regarding said Original author.

This license text is designed to protect all the Technology covered
under it under a thick layer of incomprehension. No technical,
professional or social measures might be used to subvert the intent of
this license. This license Must be carefully or professionally
reviewed by a lawyer or attorney, under any jurisdiction. Any serious
attempt to understand this license will immediatly terminate your
rights to keep reading this license. Original works licensed under the CoPL
will not be affected by this provision, you will still have permission
to use them.

Redistributions of source code Should not retain the above copyright notice,
this list of conditions and the following disclaimer. 

0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a
   notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
   under the terms of this Confusing Public License. The Original work
   below refers to any such program or work or Standard version.

1. You desire to license the Technology to a
   large community to facilitate research, innovation and product
   development while maintaining compatibility of such products with
   the Technology as delivered by You

2. Original author desires to license the Technology from You on
   the terms and conditions specified in this License.

3. Redistributions in binary form Should not reproduce the above copyright
   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
   documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

4. The names "Joe", "Curly", "Moe" and "The Three Stooges Foundation"
   May be used to endorse or promote products derived from this
   Original work without prior written permission, as they are in no way

5. There is no number 5. Seriously. In all Original works licensed under the
   CoPL, all necessary technical and social steps May be taken not
   to include, in any explicit way, the number 5.

6. Original author Must make and give away verbatim copies of the
   source form of this Package
   without restriction, provided that Original Author duplicates all of
   the original copyright notices and associated disclaimers.

7. Original author Must apply bug fixes, portability fixes and other
   modifications derived from the Public Domain or from
   the Copyright Holder. A Package modified in such a
   way shall still be considered the Standard Version.

8. No Standard versions of the Original work Must be protected by this
   license. Original authors Should not choose a different, saner
   licensing model for the distribution of any modifications they
   make. The CoPL should be taken as a retroviral license.



"You" means the original author of the work covered under the CoPL.

"Original author" means you.

"Thou" means God almighty.

"May" means "Should not, no matter what".

"Must" means "May".

"Should not" means "Must".

"Reasonable copying fee" means nothing.

"Standard version" means a modified version of the Original work.


The CoPL text, from the words "This is version" and up to and
including this paragraph, is to be taken as a preamble, and will not
be effective under any circumstances. 

All work licensed under the CoPL should be considered as licensed
under the GNU General Public License version 2 or (at your option) any
later version. It is not the task of this license to point you on
where to get hold of said license.
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Won a book for YAPC::Europe!

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 15:26
I got a mail from the YAPC::Europe organizers telling me I won a book for registering early and sending in a submission (as I have previously told you). I was even more surprised to find out I am one out of two lucky winners! So my new book is Es lebe der Zentralfriedhof.
No news yet on whether my talk (Integrating Perl in a wider distribution: The Debian pkg-perl group) will be accepted... But this kind of incentive does push me towards attending even if I am not accepted - Of course, it depends on the University sending me there. But anyway, I'm a step closer to Vienna. Somebody wants to join over there?
Oh, and by the way: On my previous posting on this topic I linked to my conference proposal URL. Little did I know that this URL is private, accessible only to the Academic Committee and me. Yes, different from what I'm used to... but that's the way it works there.
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Nonstandard monitor setups

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 04/04/2007 - 22:59
Russell blogs about his new 22" cheap TFT monitor. You lucky bastard.
I use a 17" Dell LCD monitor at work (sorry, cannot recall the model), and I've been quite pleased with it. Granted, 1280x1024 isn't what I had gotten used to (1400x1050 on my previous laptop and previous work machine), but it does the trick - And for my current laptop, I went for a smaller machine, with a 12" wide-screen 1280x800 monitor. I still find the monitor somewhat small, and the missing 224 pixels _are_ noticeable - but the size is well worth it.
But what I've been playing at work with is changing the monitor orientation - This 17" Dell monitor can be set up vertically (1024x1280), and xrandr will merrily change the orientation. So far, I'm happy with this setup. I still feel there are some video-related quirks, and maybe the pixels are a bit off (i.e. black letters in a white background have a bit of a shadow), maybe it was visible as well in the regular configuration, but not as noticeable. But well, I feel it easier to work with for most of my work cases - For having a full-screen browser, each row is smaller and more rows fit on screen - It's quite pleasant. For doing Web development, having a horizontally split screen (one above of the other) between Emacs and the browser is quite natural. And when I use more than two frames (i.e. for following logfiles or debugging multi-factored breakages on servers ;-) ), well, they are small enough that it's similar to having the ol' regular layout.
I'd still like to get a second video card and monitor. I remember working that way in the job I left four years ago, and it was very comfortable.
BTW, Russell, for your needs I suggest you to try Ion. After all, who really needs to have a root window/background after all? :-)
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Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 19:01
It's been two weeks I got my latest toy. And, lets be honest - I don't buy me toys very often.

My very own espresso/capuccino maker! No, it's not a pro-level machine, nor does it try to be. I'm a bit disappointed as the espresso comes out slowly and homogeneous, with no foamy layer on top - But hey, it tastes great. So far, I'm still a terribly lousy capuccino maker, but perfection comes with practice.
Now, what's bad about this? First, that -although I'm a heavy coffee drinker, pouring at least 1 liter of regular filter-drip coffee down my throat every day- I very rarely drank coffee at home. Now I do. At least, two espressos every day - Well, two mugs of espresso, mind you - that's like six or so proper espressos. Yes, I'm trying to cut down on the coffee I get at work.
Second, well... Having the rich taste of an espresso in your mouth every day makes you despise and loathe filter-drip coffee. It just does not taste right anymore. The delicious roasty after-taste does not stay in your mouth for at least twenty minutes. But here is where the addiction part comes into play: I still need it, and when my work area's coffee machine is empty, I still go with my mug begging for coffee in other areas of the building.
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Got my Debconf tickets!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 09:24
And, while on my way there, I'll get to visit my family in New York (and get to know a bit of the city, I hope) for a couple of days as well! :D Leaving Mexico in June 7th, three days in NY, travel to Edinburgh on June 10th (arriving early on the 11th), and head back home on the 24th. Yay! BTW, attempting to save some money and the pollution caused by air travel, I asked Google for how to drive from New York to Edinburgh. It looks clear and easy, but in the end I settled for air travel. Specially for the estimated travel time (about 29 days 17 hours)... Oh, and item 23 slightly worries me: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean: 3,462 mi.
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2007 DPL vote

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 03/27/2007 - 17:17
As I have stated here long ago, I do not really believe in the Debian Project Leader. Yes, it has an importance. Yes, it's not merely a decoration figure. But I do doubt it can really make much of a difference. I don't hold exactly the point of view I held back then, but it's still quite close ;-) Anyway...
[ 1 ] Choice 1: Wouter Verhelst
[ 7 ] Choice 2: Aigars Mahinovs
[ 3 ] Choice 3: Gustavo Franco
[ 2 ] Choice 4: Sam Hocevar
[ 4 ] Choice 5: Steve McIntyre
[ 4 ] Choice 6: Raphaël Hertzog
[ 5 ] Choice 7: Anthony Towns
[ 3 ] Choice 8: Simon Richter
[ 6 ] Choice 9: None Of The Above
As it's not a post I strongly believe in, with that many proposals in play, I cannot say I thoroughly reviewed each of the platforms/rebuttals/debate (I did follow them all, of course). I agree with most of what most of them propose (Sorry, Aigars, but I don't agree with you a bit ;-) ). One thing is, yes, worth noting: During the dunc-tank brouhaha, I spoke very little, but was mostly supportive of AJ's pushing a real new proposal. Why am I ranking lowish AJ, Raphaël and Steve (who were, after all, in there)? Because I did really appreciate AJ having the guts of pushing, of being brave enough to go into uncalm territories trying to change Debian. Is that the change I want? No, I don't really think so, so I'm not voting him (or Steve, as the 2IC, or Raphaël, as one of the board members) very high. And yes, one of the reasons I'm ranking Wouter first is his tendency not to be too passionate in flamefests. And, of course, not having much of a platform - Having an overly ambitious platform which would change the conception of Debian both towards the inside and towards the outside is completely unrealistic. And that's one of Aigars' cardinal sins :)
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Jaws updated!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 03/21/2007 - 20:21
I run my blog using Jaws, a simple and quite nice blog-minded CMS project started by several friends of mine. I've long wanted to contribute to the project, but so far, I've only reported a couple of bugs. Boo for me! ;-) Anyway, I just updated from 0.6.2 to the just-released 0.7.1. Guys: You rock! What a painless, easy and (so far) well-working update! I am late already, so I'm not going to check into all the new features. So far, I'm quite happy with the extra easiness and control to get some comment-spam protection, my main gripe so far. I hope not to flood any of the Planets with a RSS upgrade (it's not been a problem lately, I guess that the Planet guys fixed that as well ;-) )
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Flash disks' reliability

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/19/2007 - 18:19
Uwe asks about fast, reliable, not noisy storage mechanisms - And yes, of course, he talks about Flash memory's well known limitation: The relatively low number of write cycles each area of the memory is known to be able to withstand. I recently told this same argument to a friend who was enthusiastically telling me about his dream project of setting up a computer based exclusively on solid-state storage. Of course, he didn't like the limitation. But after reading a bit (sorry, I don't have the URLs at hand - but Google is a good friend), it seems that many (most? all?) controllers work around this limitation by rearranging the most used blocks around, so that the Flash gets as evenly used as possible. Quoting from Wikipedia's article on Flash memory:
Another limitation is that flash memory has a finite number of erase-write cycles (most commercially available flash products are guaranteed to withstand 1 million programming cycles). This effect is partially offset by some chip firmware or file system drivers by counting the writes and dynamically remapping the blocks in order to spread the write operations between the sectors. This technique is called wear levelling. Another mechanism is to perform write verification and remapping to spare sectors in case of write failure, which is named bad block management (BBM).
So, Uwe, just check the media you get supports wear levelling technology, and you should be safe.
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The environment and us

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 03/15/2007 - 17:04
Ben, Erich and Russell bit - Why shouldn't I?
A. Copy the list below to your own journal and Bold the actions you are already taking Underline the actions you plan to start taking Italicize the actions that don't apply to you B. Add one (or more) suggested action(s) of your own C. Leave a comment here, so that she can track the meme to your journal, and copy your suggested action(s) back to my master list. Shame - I cannot comment on this, as I'm no a LiveJournal registered user. And I don't intend to be either.
  1. Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs
  2. Choose energy efficient appliances - always a criteria when I have a choice. Not always the dominant criteria, though
  3. Wash clothes in cold(er) water
  4. Turn the thermostat of your hot water tank down to 50°C (125°F) We have a on-route boiler (calentador de paso - any translators? :) ), it only heats when the hot water pipe is active. Of course, it burns much more intensely than a tank, but still, I feel it's an overall saving
  5. Install a programmable thermostat (or turn the heat down over night and when you're out of the house) - Pfff... Artificial weather in Mexico City? Don't be silly! ;-)
  6. Register with the Canadian Marketing Association's Do Not Contact Service to reduce the amount of junk mail delivered to your house. - Would love to.
  7. Eat less meat (particularly feedlot beef) - Nadezhda is a vegetarian, I seldom eat meat
  8. Walk, bike, carpool or take public transit as often as possible
  9. Make sure you know what can be recycled in your area, and try to recycle as much household waste as possible - In this country, recycling is a lot. We hand-recycle some things, but of course, at a very artesanal level
  10. Compost using an outdoor compost bin or an indoor vermicomposter
  11. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
  12. Buy local, organic or fair trade food where possible
  13. Reduce air travel
  14. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
  15. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
  16. Plant a tree
  17. Buy fresh foods instead of frozen (Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce)
  18. Keep your car tuned up and your tires inflated to their optimal pressure
  19. Use biodegradable dishwashing liquid, laundry soap powder, etc.
  20. Drink tap water (filtered if necessary) rather than buying bottled water - And not only because of the environment - huge price difference!
  21. Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth
  22. Unplug seldom-used appliances and chargers for phones, cameras, etc., when you're not using them
  23. Plug air leeks and drafts around doors and windows with weatherstripping - I guess this applies to places with heating/AC
  24. Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc. - As much as possible, of course. Or try to reuse those meant to be disposed.
  25. Consider garage sales, Freecycle, eBay, or borrowing from friends/family before buying a new tool or appliance
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High, cold, tiring, beautiful, delightful, proud... Should I go on?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 03/13/2007 - 19:44
[ Warning: Long post follows ] Just today, I read that H01ger is happy he can wear just a T-shirt somewhere in Northern Germany. Well, from my point of view, much the opposite has happened. And I'm not just happy - I'm fucking proud! About four years ago, Nadezhda went almost every weekend to hike to the mountains with the Grupo de los Cien people. I'll sidetrack a bit to speak about them: Grupo de los Cien is a group of mountain lovers (no relation with the enviromentalist group which later took the same name) that, since the 1950s, have built and maintained the high mountain shelters in Central Mexico. It is a group, by the way, with which Nadezhda fell completely in love - and now it's up to me to find out why ;-) But lets go back to the main topic. Almost every week, she came back delighted and loaded of energy from a mountain hike. Almost every week, I told her I wished to go with her, of course, if they went to a simpler route. Of course, lugging around over 130Kg of humanity is no easy deal. And, after over a year and because of many problems that came together at once, she stopped going to the mountain as well. She always kept an eye on their friends, but so far had not been able to return to the mountain. Ok, so last week she heard the group was organizing volunteers to go fix the Ayoloco 2 shelter. She signed up, and invited me. I was afraid, but accepted the challenge - Of course, full of fear. Being this a historical event (at least in my life), I cannot but offer you some of the photos I took. And, yes, I've just started playing with Flickr. Lets see if it works for me ;-) Saturday, 5 AM, we woke up. 5:50AM, we met part of the group near Daniel's house, in Condesa. 7 AM, we were having a nice breakfast (tamales and coffee, yum!) in Amecameca, still 28km from La Joya. From Amecameca, we went to Paso de Cortés, where we met the rest of the group, and from there we went by a little, bumpy and unpaved road until La Joya. Somewhat around 20 people started the hike at around 9 AM. According to Google Earth, La Joya (just South of the Iztaccíhuatl - white woman or sleeping woman in Náhuatl) is at 3995m - And, of course, to start at that altitude is not easy. The air is very thin, and walking a little bit too fast quickly makes you feel the blood pumping, trying to get some more oxygen. I often remembered how my Bolivian friends behave in Potosí, walking slowly even when in a hurry :) We first went down a little valley, then up. The first portion of the hike was on soft, wet sand, with some grass (what we call zacate - Strong, hard grass, not what you commonly see in a garden). I soon learnt that was a blessing, as it was by far the easiest part. Then we went up a steep and quite rocky area - It started getting tricky for somebody not used to trusting his own feet. And it was steep, yes. This was the first time (of many, of course) I started thinking whether I should head back. We reached what I foolishly thought was the summit, only to find a steeper, longer way to go. It started getting common to find little deposits of snow/ice (I don't know the exact term in English - it's called aguanieve in Spanish, literally snow-water. [[Update]: Thanks to the now-DD H01ger, I now know that aguanieve in English is called sleet]. I understand it's a bit harder than snow, but still much lighter than hail). We crossed a completely rocky section - No sand to hold the rocks to their place. That meant being extra careful (and thus, extra slow). But just afterwards, in case it was not enough, Mother Nature answered my pleads for some sand - we crossed a section made exclusively of loose sand. And, please, if you have ever walked upwards on sand, imagine doing so at over 4000 meters. I was taking so much care of how and where I stepped that I strayed not more than 5 meters down of the path the group was following - Being able to climb back to the right path was really not easy. This was the point that not only I was thinking about heading back, but I'm sure Nadezhda thought I would abort the mission. She cheered me up, took some pictures of me as soon as I got out of the sand trap, and we were able to move on. After the sand, some more rocks, and we started feeling the chilly wind. We entered a cloudy region - Humidity does get the coldness into your bones! We could not really see where was the rest of the group, so we proceeded the best way we could. Fortunately for Nadezhda and me, just behind us came the very experienced Mario Corsalini and led us. And, yes, we finally saw the Ayoloco 2 shelter. I was by then exhausted, after some four hours of ascent. I ate one of my apples - The sweetest apple I have tasted so far. After resting a bit, and realizing I was almost frozen (we were at 2 Celsius under, with constant chilly, humid wind)... Then I started working with the guys, reinforcing the shelter, while Nadezhda and some other people painted the inside with. People started eating - of course, I joined them. And, after some time up there, we started going back down. Miguel Ángel, a volunteer in the Izta-Popo park, walked a good portion of the descent with me, giving me tons of help and tips. Thank you, thank you, really. The descent is, of course, much easier - We were chatting most of the time, and we made only around two hours back. The weather was quite nice on us - We had some aguanieve falling every now and then (yes! Yes! many of you guys have heard/read me bitch on how I had never seen snow falling before - Ok, this is not exactly snow, but I think it qualifies as my first experience ;-) ), but aguanieve does not make you wet, as it bounces off the clothes. When we approached La Joya we started having some light rain. We hopped in the cars, and then the rain really began. But even if this was not enough: Grupo de los Cien was celebrating the 83th birthday of one of its senior members, Poncho Rico. No, being 83 years old is not an excuse for skipping this memorable hike. We went to Anatolio's house, very close to Amecameca, and had a delicious dinner, cake and drinks. Nadezhda: Thank you. So, so, so very much. Thank you for being so patient with me, for dragging me up the Sleeping Woman. Thank you for getting me into this so very important and beautiful experience. I hope this will be the first of many. There is still a very long way for me to go before I'm really up to the challenge, but believe me: This will not be my last time on the mighty mountains.
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