My car was burgled

I went out to the car (Ford Escape) to go to work this morning and noticed stuff from the console scattered all over the seats, the doors ajar, and a plastic bin I keep “car food” in on the ground behind the car. A quick check in back verified I had lost a bunch of stuff.

I called the police. They said someone would be there within an hour, I sent an email to work, and I sat down to wait.

The police officer was really nice and made a report of the things I had lost and was able to obtain a fingerprint off of the lift gate. It could be mine but there is a chance it was the bad guy. I went to work and was looking at the stuff on the seat. There were several things made of smooth plastic and metal that had been removed from the console. I sent the officer a email asking if he would like to attempt finding fingerprints on those items too. He came to the parking garage where I work and spent another 45 minutes or so with his fingerprint brush and making various things black with the dust. He found another print and took it for his report as well.

He told me that there were three car prowls in my neighborhood last night and eight a short distance away the night before. My hope is that with someone this active they will make a mistake or two and get caught soon. I’m been doing some things to increase the odds of a mistake leading to their apprehension. I want something or someone to trip them up.

My losses include:

There were some other things as well that brings the total loss up to about $1800. I didn’t realize how much stuff I kept in there. The back of the Escape was completely covered with a tarp too.

They didn’t break any windows but it’s possible it wasn’t locked. I always lock it when I leave but from my bedroom with my key in my pocket the remote key will sometimes lock (or unlock) the car when I bend over.

Miscellaneous stuff: The cop was wearing the same Surefire flashlight holster and a nearly identical flashlight to mine. He is part of the bomb squad and we talked about explosives some. I shot at the same match as someone he knows in his department a couple weeks ago in Marysville.

Sasquan post, obligatory

It’s been an interesting week and a half. School starts this Tuesday, but I didn’t have a job lined up yet as of ten days ago (and the spousal unit was getting worried about that fact). The septic system had a pump die, needing replacement. And Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Convention that was being held in Spokane this year was fast approaching. The latter normally wouldn’t mean much, except that this year I had been nominated for the John W. Campbell award for best new SF writer, and my publisher had encouraged me to go. Continue reading

Bainbridge Island Swamp Lake

Last Sunday Barb and I went for a hike on Bainbridge Island. We were meeting friends from the peninsula and as this is about halfway between our homes and them liking the outdoors as much as we did we decided to go on a short hike through the woods to Gazzam Lake.

We planned to leave at 8:30 AM to catch the 9:35 ferry but we were ready to go at 8:20 and left early. We arrived at the ferry dock, paid for our ticket, and were told we were going to be on the 8:45 ferry. Essentially we arrived just a few minutes before it was scheduled to leave and just had to drive onto the ferry and it took off. Excellent timing! The only problem was we were now 50 minutes early to meet our friends.

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Grandson Bryce’s first hike in the woods

Since his parents don’t really care for hiking in the woods Barb and I took it upon ourselves to take Bryce on his first hike. It was a short walk, about 1.1 miles round trip. He walked the entire way except for when I carried him about 100 feet at the place the trail was very narrow with a steep drop off to sharp rocks on one side.

He seemed pretty happy with the whole adventure. He did seem to think throwing rocks in the water was more interesting than looking at the waterfall though.

WP_20150808_10_34_18_ProPhoto by Barb

WP_20150808_11_16_27_ProHe switched things up a bit by throwing a stick too.

Photo by Barb



All indications are that he had a good time.

Lentils anyone?

While I was in Idaho weekend before last I helped my brothers just a little bit with the harvest. They were working on the lentils and I took a few pictures:


Want some lentils? How many tons would you like? There are probably about 15 tons in this picture.


This is one of the two nearly identical machines they use to harvest the crops on our land.

You know what looks cool?

Alder wood with Laurel Mountain Forge Cherry stain. The alder sucks up a ton of the stain, darkening it to a deep, deep maroon/black cherry color. The wood also soaks up the Watco Danish oil finish like crazy. The photo is after the first application, and it will take several more to achieve a good seal and a semi-gloss or high satin glow.

Three or four applications of Danish oil to go

Three or four applications of Danish oil to go

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Better than a walk around the neighborhood

We weren’t in the mood for an all day adventure so we found a hike that was less than 10 miles away from home and less than three miles round trip with little elevation gain. We ended up selecting Around the Lake Trail.

Lakes are generally nice so there would be a view better than just the trail and the woods, right? Well… generally that is true. But this hiked ended up being, in the words of Barb, “notably non-memorable.”

It wasn’t bad in any way. It just wasn’t anything great.


One of the main attractions of this hike was a short branch of the trail called “Bus Trail”. This was the bus. I suspect its history is less interesting than all the bullet holes might suggest.

IMG_3684I’ve seen bigger and nicer ponds than this lake.

IMG_3692I’m sorry. This doesn’t qualify as a “lake”. This is a wet spot which should be drained and made into a meadow.

IMG_3691A fair amount of the trail was close to being a sidewalk.

IMG_3694Then there was the section of the trail that is fenced in.

IMG_3704This might be fun for kids of the appropriate age but we didn’t bother to check it out.

We did have fun with a short game of “Where’s Barb?”


There was some scenery that was pleasurable to look at and it was certainly better than a walk around the neighborhood.

Franklin Falls

It is very hot this weekend and Barb went looking for a hike that wasn’t too long and with very little elevation gain. Franklin Falls met our criteria.

It was crowded and it is easy to see why. The trail was mostly wide and smooth. The trail was shaded and while it was 90 F at home it was 72 F at the trail head. Only at the very end was it a little bit sketchy with a steep drop off on one side:


The actual falls were nice too:


The bridge you see in the upper left of the picture above is the west bound lanes of I-90 just west of Snoqualmie Pass. As Barb said, “I had no idea this was here.”

Ted Bundy: King of Hearts

Barb’s nephew, Tyler Brown, is a graduating senior at the University of Washington. As his thesis project he is making a short film about Ted Bundy. I’ve talked to him a couple times about the film. He’s been researching it for a couple years now and had some amazing stuff come together for it.

He was telling some other students about his project and one of them told him (paraphrased), “I live in the house Bundy used to live in. Would you like to film some scenes in it?”

Another person involved in the film has a VW Beetle of the correct color.

He discovered Bundy’s ex-girlfriend, who is extremely secretive, lives about a mile from where he lives. He visited her and gave her a copy of the script.

Bundy spent a lot of time at a bar in the University District and followed at least one victim from the bar. The bar is Dante’s. They still had the booth, in storage for 20 years, that Bundy frequently sat in. Tyler helped them get it out of storage and it is now back in service. Tyler will film part of the video in that booth*.

Tyler is raising money via Kickstarter to finish the film. See the trailer, learn more about the film, and donate.

* Although it was many years later Barb went to school at the U of W and spent time at Dante’s as well. She remembers the large L-shaped booth.

Summer brunch

Three kinds of lettuce, two kinds of basil, cilantro, chard, green onions, radishes and fresh raspberries, all harvested within minutes of serving, topped off with sliced eggs, some ground black pepper and a little balsamic vinegar.


Followed with the last of a batch of home-made rhubarb ice cream.

Needs a little more rhubarb

Needs a little more rhubarb

It isn’t “OMG, yum yum”, five start restaurant quality. Not by a long shot. For one thing, one of the lettuce varieties has been attacked by insects and has a lot of little holes in it, and the radishes are starting to get slightly pithy. The tomatoes aren’t quite ripe yet, so no tomatoes either. Maybe next week. I should have added a little more rhubarb to the ice cream. Next time.

I have learned that the radishes should be planted in relatively small quantities about once per week, all season, so you always have nice, peak quality ones. I just haven’t actually done it that way yet. Similar deal with the lettuce.

So it’s nothing that would pass muster at any restaurant. It’s just good food though. Good for the body and the soul. Soul food.

Quote of the day – Roy Masters

“Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women. If it dies there, no constitution, no law and no court can save it.” — Roy Masters, June 29, 2015

To that I would add “no military and no armed citizenry” can save it.

I heard him say it while listening to his radio program on internet re-feed on the way to work. He may have been quoting someone else for all I know, so don’t hold me to the attribution. It’s the kind of thing he’d blurt out spontaneously anyway, so I figured it was his.

The engineering mindset

On Saturday Barb and I were going out for the evening. She was trying to decide what to wear and:

Barb: I don’t like anything I put on.

Joe: That’s an easy problem to solve.

Barb: ??

Joe: Take everything off.

For some reason Barb didn’t see this suggestion nearly as helpful as I did.

I think the issue is with her problem statement. I should work with her on that so that in the future we won’t have these sort of misunderstandings.

Good to know

Via Bruce Schneier.

The terrorist risk is low in the U.S. compared to the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and even Europe:

According to the index, which ranks world cities by the likelihood of a terror attack based on historic trends, 64 cities around the world are at “extreme risk” of a terror attack.

Of these, the majority are in the Middle East (27) or Asia (19).

Some 14 are in Africa, where the rise of Boko Haram and al-Shabaab as well as political instability have increased risk.

Three are in Europe – Luhansk (46) and Donetsk (56) in Ukraine, and Grozy (54) in Russia – while Colombia’s Cali (59) is the only South American city on the list.

The British city most at risk of terror attacks in Belfast (91), followed by Bristol (178), Cardiff (313), Manchester (398) and London (400).


According to Verisk Maplecroft, Paris (97th and ‘high risk’) has experienced one of the steepest rises in the ranking, reflecting the severity of the terrorist attack in January 2015 that left 17 people dead. The risk level in Paris is representative of a wider trend for Western countries, including Belgium, Canada and Australia, where the level of risk in key urban centres is substantially higher than elsewhere in the country, in part due to the significant PR value attached to such high profile targets by militant Islamist groups.

I know someone leaving for South America soon and it’s good to know they probably won’t have terrorist issues on top of the high crime rate risks.