Lakes trail

We arrived at Mount Rainier National Park on Thursday. Our first hike on the way into the park was thwarted by closed gate on a Forest Service road:


We found a different trail nearby and walked in about a mile or so and crossed a small stream. We found a log to sit on and ate our lunch. It was a hot day and snuggled down in the bottom of the ravine with the creek a few feet from us made it a lot more pleasant.

After lunch we continued on to our campground, set up camp, then ventured out to a nearby trail which promised great views of Mount Rainier and multiple lakes. The temperature climbed to 98F. And we were going to be climbing up a mountain trail. Hmmm… Well, the hiking is what we came for. And it wasn’t going to be any cooler at our campsite.

The view of the mountain from Reflection Lake was nice and was visible from the parking area:


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The mountain has a hat

In the last few months I’ve occasionally posted about Mount Rainier 50 miles to the south of where Barb and I live. Last year at this time we went camping and hiking on the mountain. Last Thursday went back to the same campground for more camping and hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. We returned home yesterday.

One of our big joys was to see Mount Rainier up close with a “hat’”: Over 30% of the pictures Barb took are of this “hat”. Although my percentage is lower I took 27 pictures of the mountain with its “hat”.


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Living in a bubble

Early yesterday Alien asked:

Random thought: Joe, are you and Barb giving any consideration to relocating?

I mentioned this to Barb as we were getting up and received the expected answer, “No.”

That’s a little more strongly worded than the reality and also deserves a bit of an explanation. Barb and I talked about it some as we went on our morning walk and I took a few pictures to help explain. As we walked along I was struck by the alternate reality she and I are living in compared to downtown Seattle only a few miles away. Barb elaborated with, “We are living in bubble.”

In this picture, a short walk from our house, you can see the U.S. flag on the left edge of the image:


Below is an expanded snip of another flag near the car on the right in the image above:


It’s extremely rare to see a U.S. flag in downtown Seattle. Unless, of course, if someone is burning it.

Here is a common view on our walk:


In the distance to the south you see Mount Rainier which is over 50 miles away. The air is frequently that clear. My cell phone camera doesn’t do it justice but you can almost as frequently Mount Baker 80 miles to the north from another location on our walk.

In the picture below you can see Seattle (click to get higher resolution and see the Space Needle) in the distance the night after the most recent “peaceful protests”. I imagine the couple on their deck reading about the riot in the newspaper as if it had happened 1000 miles away instead of 10.


Our reality is much different from downtown Seattle. The streets and air are clean, the neighbors are polite, the police are responsive, the views in all directions with only a short hike are a joy to behold. There is a lot of territory between us and ground zero of the riots. There are thousands of homes and a large lake between us and the terrorists. The roads into our neighborhood are few with lots of cover and concealment along the sides. It is my belief that there will be a lot of warning and a heck of a lot of “vigorous”  resistance to the terrorists migrating out of their turf into ours. And the primary resistance will be supplied by the local police department who has not been shackled like the Seattle Police.Department. When I was shooting matches I frequently had a Bellevue police officer on my squad. The next chance I get I will ask a few questions about how he thinks an attempt at a riot migration to our side of the lake might turn out.

That said, daughter Jaime asked that Barb and I take a look at houses “out in the country” with her and her spouse last Saturday. They live in Bellevue near where the nearly completed light rail from downtown Seattle terminates near Microsoft. She tends a bit toward the neurotic side of normal and her location near easy access from the communist infected downtown Seattle bothers her. She received permission from “all the way up the management chain” at Microsoft to work from home “forever”. Barb and I looked at homes with them for several hours which were an hour drive from her current location. They made an offer on a place with a one acre lot next door to a home with a “Trump 2020” sign in the yard. That might as well be an alternate universe from downtown Seattle.

Also, I have accelerated my plans to buy or build a home in Idaho. A good part of our visit over the 4th of July weekend was to look at three different homes near Boomershoot we expect to be on the market soon. In this neighborhood property seldom gets formally “listed”. It’s almost always via word of mouth that you find out something is for sale or someone is interested in buying. We drove by the homes and told my brothers and sister-in-law that we are interested. We also looked at three different potential sites on my property to build. We chose one and have contacted a potential builder/architect. Then yesterday I completed a tentative floor plan. This would be small “summer home” or bugout location if things get too dangerous or politically intolerable in our current location.

So, to answer Alien’s question in something more than one word and less than a page, we feel pretty safe where we are for now and really like what we have here. We won’t be moving unless there is some pretty drastic changes happening a lot closer to home. However, we and others, are implementing plans to deal with that scenario.

4th of July visit to Idaho

Over the 4th of July weekend Barb and I visited Idaho. The plan was to visit Elk Butte Lookout, watch the fireworks show in Orofino, and maybe do some hiking. We drove over on the 3rd, fixed the weather station at Boomershoot shooting line, inspected the top of the shipping container at Boomershoot Mecca, and did a few other odds and ends before checking in at the Konkolville motel in Orofino.

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Lopez Island

On June 5th Barb and I took the day off work and went for a drive to Lopez Island. Lopez is the third largest of the San Juan Island archipelago. A map is here.

We had been there together before (and here) in 2015 and camped. This time it was just for the day. Going earlier in the year resulted in the temperature being a little cooler. With a little bit of wind it was occasionally on the cool side of comfortable but with a flannel shirt or sweatshirt it was still nice.

We saw many of the same things and hiked many of the same trails. It was our first real excursion together since the COVID-19 outbreak. The lack of traffic, both on the highways and the ferries, reflected the current situation. It seemed that we almost had the island to ourselves. It was a wonderful vacation from the lockdown.

The trails were wonderful. The views were wonderful. And the companionship was awesome.


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Men are drawn to borderline personality traits in physically attractive women

Via email from Barron. He says he laughed. That’s understandable. I didn’t laugh. That should also be understandable:

Those with borderline personality disorder have problems regulating emotional impulses and often experience rocky relationships. But new research suggests that many men find traits associated with borderline personality disorder to be appealing in physically attractive women. The study has been published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The research was inspired by a viral parody video, in which a man provides scientific-sounding advice about the relationship between a woman’s physical appearance, personality, and her dating appeal.

“I had stumbled across the Hot Crazy Matrix (HCM) YouTube video and was struck by its popularity and media coverage it had attracted. It got me thinking about why it resonates with so many people,” explained study author Alyson Blanchard, a senior lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste University.

More information on HCM is available here.

If you think you may be dealing with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Read this book:

It changed my life.

We went for a drive

Barb and I have been on the more cautious side of the behavior spectrum in regards to avoiding risk of COVID-19. We have been going on almost daily walks but haven’t gone on any hikes in the woods and mountains like we usually would have by now. Last weekend we decided we would go for a drive and at least visit the mountains and enjoy the view of them from my car.

I found a place that looked like it had good views and we had never been. It’s the parking lot for the Alpental ski area:


It’s about a 45 minute drive from our place and I figured we could get out and walk around the parking lot some without having to worry about the whole social distancing thing on narrow trails. I expected something similar to what you see in the picture above.

We were surprised to find the parking lot almost completely full of cars with lots of people. Apparently my idea and choice of locations was not all that novel.

We managed to find a parking spot and took some pictures. There wasn’t much walking though. The weather and views were great so we accomplished our mission to get out of the house and do something a little special for our current circumstances and more like the normal we are looking forward to.

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I’m here to make a deposit

A couple days ago I had a check to deposit. With Tamara’s words from 11 days earlier still fresh in my mind I put on my white hat to indicate I was one of the good guys:


I’m not sure it helped that much. But they did let me in the bank when the ATM didn’t want to allow the deposit so I couldn’t have been all that scary.

Walking across the crater

For our first year anniversary (wedding pictures here) last February we went to Kailua-Kona Hawaii. It was the first time in Hawaii for me. I wanted to wait until their stupid gun laws allowed me to carry but Barb did such an awesome job bargain shopping that travel, lodging (in a nice condo), and meals for the week came in at under $1000 (IIRC) that I decided it was worth sacrificing my principles.

It wasn’t quite what I expected. I expected numerous huge beaches. I expected jungle like forests. I expected flowing lava and blobs of red hot rocks flying through the air. I was wrong.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t see and do some really neat things. We did. The high point for me was walking across a volcanic crater. This crater:


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Antibody tests

Last week Barb, her daughter Maddy, and I all had blood drawn for testing of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

All results came back negative. We were pretty certain Barb and I would be negative. But Maddy was working in Brooklyn, New York until late March and told us horror stories of how tight people were packed on the subways. So, when she came home she was in quarantine for a while. But we thought maybe she picked it up without symptoms. Nope.

Quote of the day—bitterb @bitterb

It seems that “Holy Shit March” is a phrase we can just use for everything in life at this point.

bitterb @bitterb
Tweeted on April 2, 2020
[This was in response to this tweet by Tamara K. @TamSlick which I was seriously considering for a QOTD in it’s own right until bitter topped it:

Almost four million NICS checks in March. That’s a lotta guns.

It’s interesting to see the normalcy bias in action. Six months ago I, in my rational mind, knew something like this was possible but it didn’t feel possible in any reality I might experience. Today, working from home, seldom going to stores, wearing a mask when you do, and wiping down everything that has had recent contact with another human before it comes in the house feels ordinary.—Joe]

In forced quarantine

No. Not me. My phone.

Yesterday I noticed my phone wouldn’t lie flat. Odd. Upon further investigation I realized the battery was swelling. It’s a Galaxy S8 Active. The back doesn’t come off to allow you to replace the battery.

Rats! I don’t want to go out and buy a new phone now. I don’t want to have to move all my two factor authentication stuff to a new phone. It could take a full day to move to a new phone.

I looked on Amazon for a new phone and then decided to look for a battery anyway. Success! It includes tools and adhesive to take the phone apart and glue it back together. I ordered the battery.

But I need my phone for accessing things at work because of the two factor authentication. I can’t just put my phone in an old ammo can in the back yard to avoid explosion and fire hazards then run out there to check text messages every once in a while.

I made an indoor quarantine for it:


The phone is inside two zip lock bags, on top of an old cookie-sheet, and surrounded by nearly 200 pounds of lead (and brass).

I pulled the phone out a few minutes ago to check something and the swelling has increased:


The new battery is supposed to arrive in the next 45 minutes and the phone will then undergo battery replacement surgery.

Update: The battery has been replaced and the phone is functional. And it is in the process of being fully charged.

The battery replacement is not for the faint hearted. There were two electrical connecters which were the smallest I have ever seen. I put on my magnifying glasses to see many of the components I needed to manipulate. The adhesive replacement was a bit of a sticky problem (pun intended). They supplied two large strips that needed to be cut into six (or more) pieces. No instructions on how to use the adhesive.

News you can use

I had some allergy symptoms that woke me up the other night. But I’m familiar enough with my pollen allergies that I wasn’t too worried about it being COVID-19. The symptoms were gone in a few hours and everything is good. But had I not been so sure this would have been useful:

Clara, a coronavirus Self-Checker – The CDC has developed a new online bot nicknamed Clara designed to help people check whether they may have symptoms.  The bot is not intended to diagnose diseases but help users make decisions about whether they need to seek appropriate medical care by asking a series of questions to establish the level of illness being experienced.  Clara can be found at:

Mandatory “social distancing”?


Gov. Inslee says ‘mandatory measures’ under consideration to combat coronavirus in Washington

Since the novel coronavirus emerged as a threat in Washington, officials have sought to keep people here from infecting each other by offering advice, health care and other assistance. What they haven’t yet done to slow the spread of the virus is tell residents what they can and can’t do.

That could change at some point, however.

Officials are considering mandatory measures for social distancing as part of the state’s effort to combat the outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday.

Barb, my oldest daughter, her spouse, and I, all in Bellevue, have been doing our part for the last week. We have been working from home and minimizing contact outside our homes. We are also prepared for several more weeks as needed.

We live in interesting times.

Working from home

Health officials in King County (Seattle area) are recommending, among other things:

Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so.

About 5:00 PM on Wednesday a blog reader told me::

Microsoft just told all employees who can WFH to do so until March 25

My employer said something similar yesterday. My team started WFH the day before that.

I can work from home for almost everything except meetings where someone is likely to be using a real whiteboard (we have virtual whiteboards in some conference rooms).

My first thought was, “Will the VPNs fall over?” So far both my MS contact and I have had not had any problems with our Internet connections to work. I suspect they have self-scaling VPNs.

Barb has been working from home exclusively for years now. It’s a little odd for both of us to be working from home every day. It’s nice but it just feels a little odd to only see each other for such extended periods. I wonder how it will feel after three weeks.

Yesterday I asked Barb if we are going to get “cabin fever” and get irritable or something. She thinks she will be okay as long as she doesn’t feel physically trapped as in being snowed in or something.

We’ll probably will go for walks occasionally. That should help and it should be safe as long as we don’t have contact with other people.