Grove of the Patriarchs

After our unexpected adventure on Saturday we took it a lot easier on Sunday morning.

We hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs Loop in the Mount Rainier National Park. It’s less than 1.5 miles and has about 50 feet of elevation gain. And the trail is wide and flat:

IMG_2819

The trees, while no match for Sequoias or Redwoods, were pretty cool. Some were 1000+ years old.

IMG_2831

As is usual in much of Western Washington there was a lot of moss:

IMG_2821

There was a cute little bridge to cross:

IMG_2823

And much of the trail was what we considered “just about our level” after the previous day of exertion:

IMG_2835

This was kind of interesting. A bunch of little trees growing out of an old fallen tree:

IMG_2834

I’m 6’ 3” so this gives you a little bit of scale for some of the trees:

IMG_2840

This is Barb pretending to be a starfish in the same tree:

IMG_2846

It was a pleasant hike with nothing particularly dramatic to see and a low probability of another “unexpected adventure”.

Mugme street news

This came out just before Boomershoot and I set it aside for when I had more time. That time has come.

I have frequently posted about what Barb named “Mugme street” in downtown Seattle. In case you ever had any doubt as to the validity of claims of this being a “bad part of town” we now have this news:

SPD, FBI Target 3rd and Pine Drug Market In Operation Crosstown Traffic

A four-month operation by the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Taskforce (MCTF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has led authorities to 186 suspected drug dealers and thieves, who turned Seattle’s downtown core into an open-air drug market and street corner swap meet. As of Thursday morning, police have arrested 95 suspects, and local officials are now working to get some of those dealers off the streets by connecting them with a pioneering and promising diversion program, instead of sending them to prison.

Since January, MCTF detectives and West Precinct officers have been working undercover as part of Operation Crosstown Traffic, a partnership with the FBI, US Attorney’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and City Attorney’s Office, aimed at identifying criminals involved in a thriving underground economy around 3rd Avenue and Pine Street. Over the last year, police have received 10,000 calls of service in the area surrounding the 1500 block of Pine Street, including frequent reports of drug dealing and property crimes, as well as violent brawls, shootings, and stabbings.

Detectives also got a good look at the area’s underground economy in action, as shoplifters sold armloads of stolen goods—like Seahawks jerseys, sunglasses and even bottles of shampoo—to crowds at bus stops and on street corners. Shoplifters took the cash from those sales, detectives say, and went straight to area drugs dealers, before heading to nearby alleyways to shoot up or smoke narcotics.

Ry and I used to work in the Century Square building. It was a very nice building on the inside and on 4th street, but one side of that building was on 3rd street from Pike to Pine. We are both glad to have escaped from there.

Seattle is extremely hostile to gun ownership and even though you can legally carry a gun on the bus and on the streets company (California based) rules didn’t allow us to carry into the office.

Barb and Joe’s unexpected adventure

It started out with a mistake on my part. I got a call from Bloodworks Northwest on Tuesday asking me to donate blood. I made an appointment for the following evening and a couple minutes after I got off the phone I remembered Barb and I were going to go hiking on Mount Rainer over the weekend. Rats! I’m going to be hiking up mountains at high altitudes while a pint low on blood. It figures. I did the same thing when we went to Yosemite a couple years ago. Continue reading

Overheard

Text messages from yesterday:

Barb: Drive safely. You must be tired. I would guess we’re staying home tonight?

Joe: I don’t feel tired or sleepy. But cognitive function is diminished. Wait and see?

Barb: Ok! Can you let me know what you’re thinking before you get home? I need to shower.

Joe: Okay.

Barb: I’ll bet your cute with impaired cognitive function. Winking smile

I didn’t find anything cute about it but she confirmed, at least to herself, I was “cute” when I made it home and tried talking to her.

Another article about Brad

Long time readers of this blog will probably recalled that my nephew, Brad Huffman, died almost two years ago and the his boss at the University of Idaho named a wheat after him. Here are my previous blog posts about that:

I was browsing through spring 2015 issue of “Idaho Grain” (the Idaho Grain Producers Association magazine) and found another article about Huffman Wheat and Brad:

IdahoGrainSpring2015BradHuffman

Huh…

It looks like I made the final ballot for the Campbell Award for best new sci-fi writer. With only one published book (and one short story, also in the same universe) I figure I’m a long shot, even if I have a re-write, a sequel, a prequel, and a children’s historical book scheduled for this year. In any case, even getting to the final ballot short-list is an honor… Well, interesting, anyway. No clue what the competition is like, but it should be fun to watch unfold. I can almost hear some brains exploding from here.

Also on the list: Wesley Chu*, Jason Cordova, Kary English*, Eric S. Raymond (*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.)

Mixed words on making the short list for the Prometheus. But as I hear the competition is strong this year, so I’m a long-shot there, too. But how many people manage to make both a “best new X” list at the same time they make the list for some other category in the field competing against long-time pros?

Just getting nominated for either award is proof the universe has a twisted sense of humor. If I happen to win, I know that my little corner of the cosmos is a very strange one. Not a bad one, mind you, just more than a little bit odd.

‘Well, you know what I meant!’

Actually no; quite often I don’t, so why not just come right out and say it clearly and directly?

From Vanderboegh. I like it. It illustrates exactly the sort of ridiculous things I picture in my mind when most people speak, about anything.

I was listening to a caller on a talk show this morning, for example, who went on and on and, so far as I could gather, never said anything. The host caught on right away and after several unsuccessful attempts to prompt the guy into saying something he ended the call. A lot of words were coming out of the caller’s mouth, amounting to nothing.

That little anecdote describes much of my life. Many times I’ve sat through a whole hour of some video someone or other thought I should totally see, searching for one little bit of clear meaning (anything that didn’t require some inference or projection or other) to end up with nothing.

Two truths and a lie

Yesterday at work they told me to prepare for a group meeting where I will be introduced to everyone. I’m supposed to tell them three things about myself. Two of which are true and one which is a lie. The group is to guess which is the lie.

This sounds like so much fun I’m going to prepare for it here. But since the readers of this blog know so much about me already or could easily search the blog for many of the answers I’m going to give you a bunch more truths to better hide the lie.

I’ll update this post with the answer in week or so. In the meantime post your guess in the comments.

  • When in grade school I had to milk the cows before and after going to school.
  • I went to grade school in a two room school with two teachers and eight grades.
  • I sometimes walked through snow drifts to get to grade school.
  • I first drove on a public road with the permission of my parents when I was 10 years old.
  • I used explosives to remove hundreds of tree stumps from fields before I was teenager.
  • In high school I figured out the combination to locker of the beautiful girl next to me so I could “borrow” her hard-core porn books but I was too shy to ever initiate a conversation with her.
  • I built an electronic alarm system for my high school locker.
  • I made contact sensitive explosives in high school and scattered tiny pieces on the hallway floor.
  • I have never illegally used any recreation drug except for that one glass of beer when I was 17.
  • As a college freshman three women invited me to drive to Montana with them where the drinking age was 18. They all got drunk and we shared one bed together but I was so shy I never so much as kissed any of them.
  • I won first place while playing for the University of Idaho chess team in the Association of College Unions Intercollegiate Tournaments in Region 14 (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana).
  • I had never drank any hard liquor until my girlfriend accidently switched glasses with me a few months ago.
  • I maintain three blogs and make at least one post each day.
  • I own an explosives production facility where I make about a ton of explosives each year for recreational purposes.
  • I wrote software for the CIA.
  • I took a training pistol from the chief instructor in a handgun retention class.
  • I went to Blackwater (a private military company and security consulting firm) for “summer camp” for free and was taught by one of the top handgun shooters in the world.

I think there are only two people in the world who I currently know that can identify with certainty which one is the lie.

Update: The lie is:

I won first place while playing for the University of Idaho chess team in the Association of College Unions Intercollegiate Tournaments in Region 14 (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana).

The truth is it was second place:

IMG_2525Cropped

The reason only two people I currently know who, “can identify with certainty which one is the lie” are Barb L. and Barb S. Barb S. because she was around when I played in the tournament. Barb L. because she could have looked in the trophy case to confirm or deny my claim. My kids never paid much attention to my trophy case and I have lost contact with all the other people in that tournament.

The comments to this post were some of the most fun I have had on this blog.

In answer to Ubu52 who doubted I had built the electronic alarm for my locker here is a picture of the remnants of it I found in one of my recently unpacked boxes:

WP_20150402_001WP_20150402_002

It has a single silicon controlled rectifier so it is electronic. The magnetic reed switch is for turning it off. There was another reed switch for triggering the alarm after a delay created by the resistors and capacitors. But I replaced the reed switch with just a couple of bare wires after someone used a huge (something like 25 pound) horseshoe magnetic on the outside of the locker to trigger it. The Sonalert was a new product on the market then and I used one of those for the sound producing device. It was eventually used in a different project of mine and I don’t know if I even have it any more.

And repeating for completeness this is the picture of the girl, Mary Ann, with the locker next to mine which I “borrowed” the porn from when I had the alarm in my locker:

Mary Ann

As far as the consumption of alcohol and other recreational drugs all the things I said are true. I’m even pretty sure that Barb switching the glasses on me was an accident.

The one glass of beer I had when I was 17 was my first day of college when I fell to the peer pressure, felt bad about it during and after, and didn’t do that again.

It was interesting the response my kids had to this post. Xenia hasn’t said anything about reading it but James and Kim both had the chess story and the three girls in Montana story on their short list. Kim correctly suspected that one of the women was the much older half sister of one James’ best friends in high school who was, eventually, the first girl I ever kissed (she is now college literature and women’s studies professor in a long term lesbian relationship–just so you know the sort of damage kissing me can inflict). Either I never told James about that or he forgot it. When I started to tell him about last week he cut me off as it being just too weird.

Unexpected question

Barb got a new water heater installed recently and one of the installers poked his head in the laundry room to ask Barb to turn on the hot water facet in the kitchen to get the water to drain.

Some time later he asked, “Who here works for Blackwater?”

Barb told him no one, but that I had got a tour through their facility. That wasn’t exactly correct (see also here) but it was close enough.

Apparently he saw the hats hanging up in the laundry room:

WP_20150327_001

Rattlesnake Ridge

Barb, Maddy (Barb’s daughter), and I went on a hike up to Rattlesnake Ridge yesterday. It was cloudy and there was some precipitation but not bad. It was about two miles each way with quite bit of elevation gain. Because of the dreary weather I hadn’t anticipated there being any great photo opportunities so I didn’t bring my SLR with me.

The view was nicer than I expected and we took a few photos with our phones:

WP_20150320_002

WP_20150320_008

Mugme Street news

The following event occurred one block from what Barb and I fondly call “Mugme Street”. This has been my bus stop on the way home for a year and a half:

Police arrested a man who was seen counting his heroin stash Downtown Monday afternoon.

Bike officers were on patrol Downtown when they noticed a man acting strangely at 2nd Ave. and Stewart St. just before 1 PM. The officers approached the man and could plainly see him counting baggies of heroin, all of which were individually marked with a price.

Police arrested the man and collected the heroin as evidence.

I’ve had very strange people approach me at this location. When I’m waiting for the bus here I get and keep my back to the wall until the bus arrives.

I don’t want to work in downtown Seattle.

Prunes!

Why should the word “prunes” be followed by an exclamation mark? Because they’re MY prunes, or rather they were planted on the property I currently own, long before I bought it.

Do you know the difference between a prune and a plum? I didn’t, though of course I’d heard several of the theories that float around, at least in the Pacific Northwest. According to the orchard owners hereabouts (and who would know if not them?) a prune has a free pit, meaning that if you rip the fruit open the pit falls right out, whereas a plum has an in-grown pit and you have to cut, or chew, around it. That would mean I have prunes.

I’ve heard that there are peaches with free pits and peaches with in-grown pits, and they’re all called peaches, so go figure.
Continue reading

Mugme Street news

From the Seattle Police Blotter:

Bike patrol officers noticed a man near 3 Ave and Pike Street make a suspected narcotics sale around 2:30 PM. Officers contacted the man and found him to have a Federal warrant for his arrest.

After arresting the man, officers found him to be carrying about twenty-eight grams of methamphetamine valued at around $2000. Officers also discovered a loaded gun on the 40-year-old man, which had been reported stolen in Seattle.

3rd and Pike is ground zero of Mugme Street.

Stuffing gas!

I’ve warned people in the past of the potential dangers of stuffing gas, but it’s never been taken seriously. Last thanksgiving while we were putting away leftovers, I gave out the warning again.

“DON’T use aluminum foil over the stuffing!”
(Der…)”Why not.”
“It dissolves the aluminum in short order, and I don’t want to eat stuffing with that much metal dissolved into it.”
(Derp) “Heh. Don’t be silly.”
“I’m telling you, I’ve seen it many times.”
(Rolls eyes, like I’M the idiot) “OK fine, we’ll put some turkey over the stuffing. That way no stuffing will be in contact with the tin foil.” (still thinks foil is made of tin – go ahead and try to find actual tin foil at the grocery store)

Less than two hours later I opened the fridge and this was the result. The stuffing gas had wafted up past the slices of turkey and eaten dozens of little holes in the aluminum.

Stuffing gas!

Stuffing gas!

If stuffing gas were to be weaponized, no aluminum structure would be safe. Keep an eye on Mrs. Cubbison!