More deer than people

Because of the gun range I spent quite a bit of time on my land in Idaho this summer. I saw more deer than people. I’m pretty sure it was the same deer multiple times. They came out of the woods at the same place, ate my crops in the same area of the field, and I’m pretty sure I was recognizing some of them.

Here is a picture of one group of seven (click to enlarge and see there are two next to each other at the upper left) about 250 yards away:


I saw as many as 14 at one time in this same area. Some of them would come as close as about 25 yards away without much fear as long as I didn’t pay much attention to them.

There were also other parts of my field deer visited but this was where I saw them most frequently.

Range construction is complete

The range proper is complete. I have some grass to plant and a few other niceties to finish up but it is entirely functional now.

The shooting box is at 15 yards.

This is from about 35 yards.


The pavers protect the washed river rock and drain tile directly underneath from dirt.

I need to get some target stands for USPSA paper and steel targets and a full set of Steel Challenge targets. That probably won’t happen until next year.

Minor range update

Barb hasn’t had a chance to visit my gun range and made comment the size being somewhat small. I parked my car in it and put some targets in the berm for scale so she could get a better idea of the scale:


She has revised her view of the size.

The tile inside the range and more gravel was installed yesterday and the washed river rock was put over the tile today.

Today I made two trips into town to pick up some concrete pavers to cover the gravel over the tile to prevent the dirt from plugging up the gravel and tile line. As the dirt from the berm starts to cross the paver line I will “rehabilitated” the berm.

The range still needs some more gravel but that should be completed tomorrow. Then it will be done!

I now need to invite Mike B. over. I told him about my project last winter and I promised to invite him over when it was done.

Update: The picture below is from across the road looking up range at the retaining wall for the berm. This is the reason for higher blocks on the left side than the right:


Large trucks would be visible from the range if the extra blocks were not present.

The castle wall

Yesterday someone pointed out the walls for my current home project look a lot like castle walls. He was correct. And from certain angles this is especially true:



I expect the project to be completed by the end of next week or the beginning of the following week. When it is done I’ll supply more pictures.

Eagle Scout fundraiser

The daughter of a long time Boomershooter has a daughter working on her Eagle Scout project and needs some money to complete it.

Here is her GoFundMe pitch:

Hello, everyone! My name is Elysia, and I’m a Scout from Troop 498. I want to be the first female Scout from my Troop.

For my Eagle Project, I want to build a eagle-perching pole on Eagle Island in Eagle Lake. A previous Eagle Scout put a pole on the island for our local eagles to perch on. It was there for many years, but it was made from a fallen tree, and eventually it rotted, and it fell during a winter wind storm. The community has wanted to replace it with something better, but there are a lot of projects they want to do, and not a lot of people that want to take charge. They were very happy when I said I wanted to do this!

My plan is to get a 35-foot aluminum flagpole and mount it in a concrete foundation on the island. At the top, I will put a lightweight triangular perching structure to replace the usual ball at the top of the flagpole. I will build the perching structure out of aluminum pipe and aluminum sheets, welded together into support arms, with some hardwood dowels for the eagles to actually perch on.

The flagpole is the most expensive part of the whole project at about $3750, but we need a pole like that because:

  • We need to transport the flagpole to the island by rowboat, and it comes in two 75-lb pieces. Wood utility poles would be too heavy to transport, even if they float.
  • The island is only 20-feet in diameter, so the pole needs to be light enough for a few people to lift it into the foundation socket without heavy equipment
  • Wood will eventually rot away, but we’re using only aluminum pole, aluminum screws and aluminum parts for the perch, so we won’t get galvanic corrosion between different metals.
  • The pole is rated for 60mph winds with a flag on it, so that should stand up to windstorms even with the perch at the top
  • It should be strong enough for 12-lb eagles to land on, but too wobbly for them to try to build a nest on it.

I hope to build the concrete foundation for the flagpole in August while the weather is dry and the lake is low. Then I’ll get the aluminum parts together to build the perch assembly, and some of the volunteers from my troop know some Boeing engineers with the right kind of equipment to weld aluminum. (I have my Welding merit badge, but welding aluminum is not like welding steel!)

About me:

  • My cultural background is Peruvian, Texan, English, and Cantonese, and my dad is a US Veteran.
  • The Hamlin Robinson School is the best school for kids with dyslexia and language development difficulties. They really helped me! I hope they can help someone you know.
  • I am learning American Sign Language, and I hope I can earn my Translator patch soon.
  • I help my grandma at the Shelton Community Lifeline, when I can. If we raise more money than we need for this project, and my local community agrees, I want to use any extra to help the homeless shelter.

After my $50 donation she has 3,920 of her $4,500 goal. Can you guys push her over the top? Donate here.

Sign of the times

On June 28th a nearby weather station posted a record shattering 114.6F.

Barb and I saw this on our morning walk on July 2nd:


Close up:


Most people in the Seattle area didn’t have A/C in their homes. Even multi-million dollar homes.

That is changing.

Quote of the day—Kim

Gun powder and sunshine make me nostalgic.

April 29, 2021
[Daughter Kim was at the Boomershoot staff dinner last night. At the table with us were Tim and T.J.

Tim told a story about his mom making homemade bread and he didn’t really appreciate and realize big of a deal it was that she did that. When he was young he didn’t want to eat it because he wanted bread just like the other kids at school had. When he was in the last couple years of high school he liked it because it tasted so good. His mom died on the same day he graduated from high school. Because he was still young and wasn’t fully aware of how special that homemade bread was he had never told her that he appreciated it.

Kim then asked me, “Do you remember how when I was young you would take me to the matches at the Lewiston Pistol Club?”

“Uhh… yeah.”

“Well, now, gun powder and sunshine make me nostalgic. I told someone at work about this and they said I need to tell you. I hadn’t done it yet. Tim’s story reminded of that.”

There was a bit of a pause and then T.J. said, “She’s a keeper.”—Joe]

Quote of the day—Sam Jacobs

Today’s colleges are little more than indoctrination factories for the foot soldiers of a cadre of militants intensely hostile toward Western civilization and the American way of life. We should be mindful about salvaging whatever we can from them while aggressively kneecapping their ability to brainwash our children and attack our freedoms.

Sam Jacobs
American Education: Child Indoctrination, Struggle Sessions and Debt Slavery
[This article resonated rather strongly with me. Last Saturday daughter Jaime told of the indoctrination being done on my 2nd grader grandson. It’s close to horrifying and short of home schooling there doesn’t seem to be a solution. She has complained up through the ranks as far as the school board where it appears they are simply ignoring her.

I would be incline to retreat to my underground bunker (I wish!) in Idaho with my children and their kids and wait out the collapse of civilization. But the communists always hunt you down and take your possessions, if not your life, in the name of equality/fairness/whatever-excuse. So the options are becoming more limited with each passing month.—Joe]

Snowmageddon 2021

The sky has been sort of teasing us with a few snowflakes for several days. Then, last night, it got serious. By about 6:30 PM there was an accumulation of ten inches in our backyard.

Here is the view of the front of the house after I finished shoveling about 4:30 this afternoon. Barb started the work about 10:30 AM and I had a couple inches to remove from the stairs, sidewalk, and part of the driveway which had accumulated since she did her share.


So far it looks similar to Snowmageddon 2017 and just a few days later in the month than then.

We are thankful it is nothing like Snowpocalypse 2019.which gave us over 16 inches of snow and nearly canceled our wedding. Interestingly that storm was almost exactly the same days in February as this year.

We’re thinking maybe we should spend the middle weeks of February in Hawaii on the odd number years from now on.

Update 2/14/2021: Barb “played snowplow” this morning and cleaned the driveway and sidewalk again:



We have now essentially run out of room to put the snow. I’m glad it’s supposed to warm up today and continue with above freezing temperatures through the next few days.

The next pandemic

Just when Barb and I thought we were getting a pretty good view of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Next Epidemic Could Be a Potentially Deadly Fungus

The next pandemic could be a sometimes deadly fungal infection called Candida auris, according to experts with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The yeast-like fungus can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream, experts said, namely if it enters the body via healthcare and hospital settings.

“One of the things that makes Candida auris so scary is the fact it can linger on inanimate surfaces for long periods and withstand whatever you throw at it,” Johanna Rhodes, an epidemiologist with London’s Imperial College, told the New Scientist several weeks ago.

Dr. Tom Chiller, who runs the CDC’s anti-fungal division, said it’s unclear where the fungus originated.

“It is a creature from the black lagoon. It bubbled up and now it is everywhere,” he said, according to the New York Post over the weekend.

I want an underground bunker someplace where the nearest neighbor is at least a half mile away. With Barb, a good Internet connection, reliable electricity, a well, and a few acres, I could be relatively content, and survive the pestilences and plagues.

Franklin ghost town

Yesterday I had to deliver a simple, homemade Christmas gift which the local UPS refused to accept. Barb agreed to come with me and found a hike we could go on which was fairly close to our gift delivery route. It was Franklin Ghost Town. It was short enough that we could delivery the gift and complete the hike before the heavy rain forecast for the afternoon hit. It didn’t include any stunning views but it was interesting enough and had excellent trail conditions.

First a clue about the simple homemade gift:


And on to the trail and the ghost town:

20201219_102839The area used to be the site of a coal mine and small town. At the peak the town population was 1,100 people.Over the course of over 100 years the mine produced over 4 million tons of coal.


The number 2 shaft was over 1,300 feet deep and went 500 feet below sea level:


You could see as deep into the mine as you had enough light for:



I found it odd that there was an obvious “vein” of coal left in plain sight. I have never seen coal in nature before but close examination convinced me the dark patch just above and to the right of center in this picture is the real thing:


We didn’t really see anything we could imagine was part of the town. We found this which I image to be a filled in mine shaft:





It was a pleasant, short, hike for a somewhat dreary December day.

It is 2020 after all

Seven year-old grandson Bryce shared this in his parents Christmas letter:

Q: What’s the worst vision to have?
A: 2020!

Barb and I know we have been extremely fortunate compared to a lot of people. Still, there are some things that have been depressing to me in the last month or so.

I’ve lost three former classmates:

  • Verl Presnall was a good friend throughout most of grade school. He was also on the board of directors and past president of the East End Rod & Gun Club in Milton Freewater, Oregon. He died of prostrate cancer on October 14th.
  • Kathy (Fargo) Deyo was a high school classmate. We were never close but with a class of only 125 everyone knew everyone else. And she was always such a happy person. It was always a pleasure to be around her. She was one of those people who you think, “Life is so unfair that he/she should die so young.” She died November 13th.
  • Terry Thornton was also a high school classmate. Again we weren’t close but we had a lot of connections in the last 15 years or so. And he was another one of those people that you think shouldn’t have been one to leave us so early. Terry died December 1st of COVID.

I didn’t know it until a couple days ago but Eric Engstrom died on the same day as Terry.

Eric had a larger impact on my professional life than anyone in the world. The impact was huge. I would never have gone to work for Microsoft if it hadn’t been at Eric’s urging. He knew I had written tons of assembly language code for various graphics boards. Eric needed people to write video drivers for Direct Video (as it was called in May of 1995) for Windows 95. It had to be done by August so game developers could have games ready for Christmas. That was the wildest ride I have ever been on. Read Renegades of the Empire. Whenever you read something in there that sounds too far out to be believable double the “far out” quotient and you will be in the ball park of reality. I saw a hole kicked in a wall when I reported a bug I had found and fixed. I didn’t create the bug, it was from the manufacture of the video board. It was extremely obscure and absolutely deadly when it showed up. And it wasn’t found until after the code had been “frozen”. I was there when a keyboard was repeatedly bashed against a desk at 3:00 AM. From my office the key tops falling to the desktop sounded like broken glass. The motorcycle, spinning it’s tire in the hallway, burned a hole through the carpet all the way to the concrete. There was the illegal fireworks on campus, the Humvee driven across the grass field on campus (and getting stuck there), and the persistent thief who kept stealing RAM out of our computers in the middle of the night making it problematic as to whether we would be able to work when we came in the next morning.

That was just the first few months of my time at Microsoft and with Eric in “full bloom”. After a few years I was his first employee for his first startup, Chromium Communications.

That path changed my life forever. I made at least twice as much, if not three times as much, money because of Eric. Working with Eric and others at Microsoft was an alternate reality for me. I had never met such smart people before. I was used to frustration at explaining the same things over and over to co-workers. During those first years at MS people would “get it” before I had finished my first sentence. That changed my standards for the type of working environment I was willing to be in.

On a personal level Eric was so incredibly funny and happy and could even find humor on the darkest of days when his companies were imploding during the dot com bubble implosion. His probably (you frequently couldn’t tell) insane ideas and ambitions were amazing. When I was working in Richland, WA I would drive 200 miles, one way, to have dinner with him in Kirkland, then drive back to Richland to go to work the next day. It was more than worth the drive.

I’m certain I thought of him at least once a week even though I hadn’t had contact with him for years. I kept putting “things on the list” I want to share with him. My accomplishments and bits of news or inside knowledge about things I knew he had an interest in.

Eric had a personality (and ego) which could fill the largest ballroom in the largest hotel. He could make you believe the impossible was not only plausible but he was going to do it and it was going to be FUN! He planned to live forever and I though he probably would succeed. He failed and the shock will be with me for a long time.

2020 sucks.

Then this morning, this is just minor punctuation mark on the 2020 ledge, some thief stole the presents from our font steps. Daughter Jaime had Amazon ship them to us and we didn’t notice they had been delivered last night. Amazon didn’t put them in the package box. I checked the video this morning and saw this:


Package theft in Bellevue is up 72% last month compared to last year. We just contributed to the statistics for December.

It is 2020 after all.

I did get some good news late yesterday. Dad tried to buy a particular piece of prime properties to add to the farm on August 16, 1978. He was not successful. My brothers and I tried again in the early 1980s without success (the owner would barely talk to us).

In 2008 there was a verbal agreement between brother Doug and a third party. The third party wanted some of our land. Doug agreed that we would trade it for the land we really wanted. We knew the land we wanted was for sale but the owners wouldn’t have anything to do with us.

In May of this year, yes 12 years after the verbal agreement, they FINALLY, signed a contract to follow through with their verbal agreement. The contract said the deal would closed by November 29th. Uhh.. okay. That seems like an awfully long time to sign a few papers. We signed our papers in the middle of November. Wow! That took a long time (almost all of the hold up was on the side of the other party). But at least we are going to make the deadline. The other party still took what seemed like forever. Twice they sent papers to the title company without the signatures being notarized.

Yesterday the title company sent an email saying the papers had been recorded at the local courthouse.

It took over 42 years, but now we own that property. Maybe we can close out 2020 on a happy note.

Update: 12/15/2020 was also a good for another reason. I did the final review on a new patent application from the lawyer. I’ve solved tougher problems but I’m more proud of this patent application than any of the others. I thought of Eric a lot when working on this. Last January through March I worked an average 16 hours a day 7 days a week (except for a week in Hawaii for our first wedding anniversary) to find the solution and demonstrate its validity. I really wanted to tell Eric about this accomplishment.

Eric Engstrom

This morning I received an email telling me Eric Enstrom died.

I probably spent an hour staring off into space thinking about him. I thought about all the things I would say in my blog post. Then I realized I didn’t have enough time in the day to write everything I would need to say. I have too many other things that must be done today. Maybe next weekend I’ll have the time.

Read some of the things I have written about him in the past to get a flavor of my view of him. And know this, he had a tremendous influence on my life. My life would have been unbelievably different without him. I last saw him in March of 2011. I’ve been wanting to “catch up” with him for years and always put it off. Now, it’s too late.

Eric once told me:

I will consider myself rich when I’m standing on the moon with the sunlight reflecting off my visor as I’m looking at my initials carved into the soil. They will be big enough and deep enough that when people on the earth look up they can see I was there.

He wanted me to do that for him because of my experience with explosives. I did the calculations on the line width needed for the font. IIRC it was seven miles. I told Eric it was impractical and his immediate response was, “You just need more explosives.”

That’s just one of dozens of stories I could tell about Eric. And no matter how many stories I told it wouldn’t begin to capture the reality of his personality and genius.

The man who planned to live forever and had plausible visions (as well as crazy ideas) of how to make that happen died from medical complications after dropping a monitor on his foot.

Lost classmates

Long time Boomershooters didn’t know him but they had plenty of reason to appreciate him. Terry Thornton owned Portogo Portable Toilets and delivered them to Boomershoot until 2017 when he sold the business.

We weren’t close but we had a fair number of connections. I went to High School with Terry and when I lived in Moscow Idaho he lived about a 100 yards down the street from me. I would occasionally see him at the grocery store and other places around town. His wife was a chemistry teacher at the high school and taught all my kids. One time she called me about Xenia. 

On December 1st Terry died:

Terrance “Terry” Thornton passed away Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Yuma, Ariz., from complications of COVID-19.

He met his wife in Moscow, and he and MaryAnn Kallas were married March 4, 1979, in Spokane. They enjoyed traveling, watching their daughters play sports, watching their son ride in motorcycle races, riding their side-by-side, hunting, boating, golfing and gambling at their favorite casinos. He also had a love for riding motorcycles, dirt bikes and his Harley-Davidson. He was always in search of Bigfoot, and we wish him well on his quest to find “The Foot.” He was happiest when he and MaryAnn were traveling and his theme song was “On The Road Again,” which he sang loudly and off tune.

Terry never met a stranger. He would say hi and wave to everyone. His friends and family described him as funny, charming, the kindest soul you could ever meet, he lit up a room wherever he went and always had a smile on his face, kindhearted, good man, excellent husband and father, one of the good ones, wonderful laugh and warm hugs, caring and loving and hero to many. He could go into a room of deaf and blind people and come out with friends.

This is the second former classmate I’ve lost in the last month. Kathy (Farbo) Deyo died November 13th:

Kathy attended the one-room school at the Yaak until the family moved to Butte and then later to Orofino when she was in the third grade. Kathy made lifelong friends while attending school in Orofino, graduating as a proud Maniac in 1973. Kathy was the editor of the high school newsletter, editor of the annual and instrumental in organizing class reunions that are held every five years.