Christmas in D.C. via the Huffman family

From my sister-in-law Julie:

I did it!  I finished the 11 foot tree skirt!!!  It was pretty intense and I had to let a few things go by the wayside and had LOTS and LOTS of interruptions, but it’s done!  This will go to the USDA building in Washington D.C. as part of the Capitol Christmas Tree project.  This years trees are coming from Idaho and my cousin is in charge of the over 8,000 ornaments and tree skirts needed for 70 trees.  She asked me to make a tree skirt and this is what I came up with.  It’s my original design.


I also took a picture when I Barb and I were in Idaho last time just before Julie completed it:


Mushroom time

Each year about this time Barb and I go hunting for chanterelle mushrooms. Today we came home with the biggest haul yet:


It wasn’t without some minor obstacles. There were weather warnings about high winds and heavy rains and as of yesterday we had mostly talked ourselves out of going today. But Barb looked out the window after getting up and said she wanted to go. There wasn’t much wind or rain at the time so we were on the road by 8:50. We had our rain gear and although the trees and branches we had to step on and over were slick we made it in and out of the woods by 10:30 with no injuries and only minor cold and dampness.


Sleeping advice

I’ve been saying for years that, as far as I’m concerned, clothes only have two purposes:

  • To protect you from the elements
  • To prevent your arrest (this can also be considered a special case of purpose 1).

    Wearing clothes while sleeping always seemed silly to me. Now we have “experts” agreeing with what Dr. Joe has been saying for decades (I admit that I didn’t know or really think about the first three reasons):

    • Sleeping naked lowers your body temperature, which helps stops you from waking up in the middle of the night.
    • A lowered body temperature at night has also been found to help you burn calories while you sleep.
    • For women, it helps prevent bacterial infections such as yeast infections.
    • And it increases a man’s sperm production by keeping his scrotum at a specific temperature.
    • When couples sleep naked, the skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin in brain, also known as the ‘love hormone’.
    • This strengthens their emotional bond and and increases trust within the relationship.

    USPSA Open Nationals

    Here are the top 15 of the 177 participants in the USPSA Open Nationals from this last weekend:

    Place Name USPSA Comp # Class PF Lady Mil Law Age Match Pts Match %
    1 M T L3042 261 GM Major       1826.4678 100.000%
    2 William D FY38810 71 GM Major       1805.9569 98.877%
    3 Lesgar M TY45606 181 GM Major       1792.7980 98.157%
    4 jj R L3137 213 GM Major       1790.1466 98.011%
    5 Brad B TY44785 10 GM Major       1761.8592 96.463%
    6 Shannon S L3936 317 GM Major       1749.1426 95.766%
    7 Eddie G A49035 92 GM Major       1730.8187 94.763%
    8 NILS J L3837 295 M Major       1728.4636 94.634%
    9 Andrew H A68907 119 GM Major       1720.1235 94.178%
    10 Cody B A81837 9 GM Major       1708.0140 93.515%
    11 Robert P A74982 208 M Major       1651.0545 90.396%
    12 Kincaid R TY78373 222 GM Major       Junior 1650.5828 90.370%
    13 John V A79695 272 GM Major       1622.8528 88.852%
    14 Brent L A73332 153 M Major       1620.2520 88.710%
    15 Grant B A72358 29 M Major       1605.3293 87.893%

    John V, at #13, is my son-in-law.

    USPSA Grandmaster son-in-law!

    Daughter Xenia sent me a text message today to announce that her husband, John, is now a USPSA grandmaster in Open division!

    Congratulations John!


    Shooter Information:  
    Shooter Name: JOHN E V
    Member Number: A79695
    Joined USPSA: 1/08/13
    Membership Expiry Date: 3/31/17
    Membership Info Updated: 3/02/16
    Data On Web Updated: 9/21/16
    RO Certification Info:  
    RO Certification Level: None
    RO Certification Date:  
    RO Certification Expiry:  
    Lookup Performed: 9/21/16
    Classifications (updated 9/21/2016):
    Open Class: GM Pct: 95.38 High Pct: 95.38
    Limited Class: M Pct: 86.56 High Pct: 86.56
    Limited 10 Class: M Pct: 77.37 High Pct: 77.37
    Production Class: M Pct: 77.07 High Pct: 77.07
    Revolver Class: U Pct: 0.00 High Pct: 0.00
    Single Stack Class: M Pct: 68.56 High Pct: 68.56
    Carry Optics Class: M Pct: 72.83 High Pct: 72.83
    PCC Class: U Pct: 0.00 High Pct: 0.00

    Dueling song birds

    I am visiting daughter Xenia this weekend and she was telling stories of the different birds that come to her backyard and eat at the bird feeder. Then we went to Lowe’s and brought home a birdbath:


    I told her of the birds I frequently listen to when I camp out at Boomershoot Mecca and that I had recorded them a few times. She wanted to hear them so here is one of the more interesting recordings. It is a dove and a meadow lark sing back and forth to each other. Crank your volume up because the sound level is a little low.

    Destroying Angel?

    I find two or three of these every year in my lawn about this time of year. They look very similar to amanita virosa, but a. virosa is said to be a European/British species. Looking into it I find a close cousin said to live in Western North America, called a. ocreata. As best I can tell, that’s what I have here. Apparently as deadly as a. virosa, I come across these while picking the common Meadow Mushrooms that fruit in my lawn every Spring and Fall. Trouble is, they’re both white, with rounded tops and in the same size range. The distinct giveaway is the white gills of the amanitas, verses the salmon to dark brown gills of the good food species. Also the Meadow Mushrooms stain light yellow, whereas this white-gilled specimen doesn’t appear to stain when bruised.

    Thin white gills of different lengths, not attached to the stem. Base of the stem in this case has turned yellow-brown. Prominent white annulus, or ring, on the stem. This one was found growing in the grass near a water spigot where the soil has been damp for a long time, with several deciduous tree and shrub species present. Others like it have been found in different parts of the lawn, East to West of the house, mostly on the North side.

    Did not noticeably stain from bruising, even after 20 minutes

    Amanita ocreata? I don’t know

    Gills apparently not attached to stem Gills apparently not attached to stem.

    Cap flesh Did not appear to stain when bruised, even after 20 minutes Cap flesh does not appear to stain from bruising, even after 20 minutes, though the base of the stem has turned yellow-brown. The whole mushroom appears more pure white in real life than in the photos.

    Hike to Annette Lake

    Last June Barb had originally wanted to hike to Annette Lake for her birthday. But there was too much snow so she opted for her second choice, Cedar Butte.

    Instead of 3.8 miles and 900 feet of elevation gain Annette Lake is 7.5 miles and 1400 feet of elevation gain. So they say. We discovered there was about 1600 feet of elevation gain and we reached an altitude of over 3700 feet. I’m not sure about the distance but 7.5 miles sounds about right.

    It was easy trail to find and follow. Just follow the signs:


    Continue reading


    Can’t live with them, can’t live without them….

    I just got a call from a rather hostile woman. She bought the property earlier this year just north of a piece of undeveloped rural property I own in eastern WA, and then had a roadway pushed thought on the boundary – it was part on her property, part on mine. I found out about it when another neighbor called and told me about it. My non-hostile neighbors and I met and looked at the situation. The road was clearly not all on her land. I talked to the bulldozer driver who’d pushed it through; he said he’d stopped part way along when he saw that the line they’d posted wasn’t lining up with his hand-held GPS. Continue reading

    I broke it

    It was two and a half weeks ago since I fell. But still, my left wrist hurts when I try to fully extend or flex it and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. It doesn’t hurt much unless I probe it too vigorously or push the range of motion excessively. It doesn’t really interfere with my normal activities and I only casually mentioned it to Barb. She encouraged me to see the doctor so yesterday I did. The doctor says there is a small hairline fracture in one of the wrist bones. I can’t see it, but the doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon for an expert opinion so I picked up the X-Rays today to deliver to the surgeon when I see him next week.


    La Push day 1

    We left home about 11:00 AM, 15 minutes earlier than planned. We arrived at the Seattle ferry dock at 11:30 and were about car number five in line for the 12:20 ferry to Bainbridge Island. Had we arrived perhaps 10 minutes earlier we probably have been on the earlier ferry. No matter. There were no hard deadlines we had to meet.

    We had a pleasant ferry ride and continued our drive. We arrived at our cabin in La Push at about 5:00 PM. We settled in and had supper then started finding other people.

    Barb called it a snowball as we found more and more people and our group grew. Here is what it looked like when we had a little more than half of our group:



    Bob and family came in about 9:00. We stood around and talked with them for a while then Barb and I got a little chilled and tired of standing and snuck off to the cabin about 9:45. Max drifted off his cousins to the RV spot where Steve and family were parked. They had a fire pit and food so people hung out there until late.

    Barb’s birthday hike

    Barb decided she wanted to go on a hike for her birthday. She spent a lot of time trying to find just the right hike. Not too short, not too long, not too long of a drive, not too much elevation gain, and absolutely required was “a nice view”.

    She settled on Cedar Butte. It was only 30 minutes away from home, 900 feet of elevation gain, and 3.8 miles round trip. It seemed pretty reasonable. But what about the view? I’ll let you decide.

    Continue reading

    Dawes Glacier

    On Monday, May 16th, aboard the Celebrity Solstice Barb and I got up early, 4:24 AM, to get good indoor seats for our possible visit to a glacier.

    The first glacier we attempted to visit, at the end of Tracy Arm, was blocked by small icebergs. So we turned around and went for plan B. This was Dawes Glacier.

    The video below was this second attempt. When we were about a mile away Barb expressed her opinion, multiple times, that it was time to turn around. We continued. We got within about a half mile of the glacier then did a 270 degree turn before leaving.

    The scale of the glacier was hard to comprehend. It is so big it seemed much closer than it actually was. We got to within about a half mile of the face. The face was several hundred feet above the surface of the ocean and a half mile across.

    The ship is 1041 feet long and 121 feet wide. I created the image below from a screen shot of Google Maps with the Celebrity Solstice represented by a rectangle approximately to scale at the point of closest approach:



    One of the possible excursion was to depart the ship and get on a tour boat which went into shallower and narrower waters to get a look at things much closer than what the Solstice could. Barb and I did not do this but others did. If you were to go on a cruise like this don’t count on getting so close to a glacier from the main ship. The cruise director told us that in doing this for 11 years he can count on one hand the number of times the ship has gotten this close to a glacier.

    Here is the tour boat as seen from an upper deck of the ship:


    Here some of the many chunks of ice we saw in the fiord. They are incredibly blue. This is because the ice is so thick. The ice absorbs all colors other than blue. Blue light is transmitted and scattered. Because sunlight has all colors present some of the blue light comes back out to give the ice a blue color.




    This was the high point of the cruise for us.

    Some of the other events of our Alaska cruise were:

    Float plane to Misty Fjords National Monument

    After visiting Saxman Totem Park we wandered around Ketchikan for a while, we ate lunch on the ship, then waited for the bus to pick us up and take us to the float plane excursion to Misty Fjords National Monument.

    The float plane trip was pleasant and although the scenery was pretty amazing we thought it was similar to that which we find close to home.



    Continue reading