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 switch 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.

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:


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:



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.


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!

There is some truth in this

Study reveals average tech worker’s wardrobe is 85% free tech t-shirts:

A team of UC Berkeley researchers has discovered that the 85% of the average tech worker’s clothes are free tech t-shirts, hoodies, and other assorted clothing.

The study of this prevalent free clothing, known by tech workers as “swag,” has come at the same time as a massive tech boom that has swept the Bay Area. On a normal weekday in San Francisco, you’re liable to see dozens of young hipsters walking down the street wearing t-shirts, jackets, hats, and even socks emblazoned with the names and logos of companies ranging from tech titans to ten-person startups. Tech companies hand out free logo-festooned paraphernalia at career fairs, company events, and almost any opportunity available.

It’s a joke article but there is a lot of truth in it.

Most of my casual shirts and some of the shirts I wear to work have some gun reference to them. But probably 10% of my shirts are Microsoft branded. MS gave out a lot of shirts, hats, coats, sweatshirts, etc. and I still have most of them. There are other tech companies represented as well but it’s far from 85%.

Pretty pictures

Last weekend Barb and I went to California for Stanford’s Parents Weekend. It is Barb’s daughter, Maddy, who is attending there and I was mostly along for support such as carrying heavy objects, navigation, and donating excess heat to Barb as needed. It was colder than we expected and we even had rain. I’m not really complaining about it. Mostly just trying to rub it in a bit to others. While others were dealing with snow and cold we went for a walk on the beach.

When not performing my normal duties I took pictures. We drove to Venice Beach and hiked a little more than 1.5 miles south were some of the prettier ones were taken. Some other time I’ll post pictures of the two mile long particle accelerator we toured.

As shown by the unruly hair it was a little windy.


It was a little bit cold. We only saw three women in bikinis and I only saw one of them get into the water. While we were glad we brought coats and long sleeve shirts for a time it was comfortable with short sleeved shirts.

We saw a group of about 15 or 20 people on horseback. I’ve never ridden horse on a beach before. I might like to try it sometime. But it probably would have to be without Barb. She doesn’t care for riding horses.

This is probably a radar station but I preferred to think of it as a giant golf ball on a tee.

There were a fairly large number of seagulls and I was a bit concerned they were on “bombing runs” sometimes when they flew over but they were actually well behaved.

I took this one with my phone. I wish I had used my SLR. With a longer focal length Barb would not have been so distorted in size compared to Maddy and the higher resolution would have made it something I would have cropped a little bit, printed, framed, and hung on the wall.

This is probably my favorite. The dramatic clouds. The active ocean. The disappearing tire track. Even the seagulls in the distance really appeal to me.


Guns are, in a manner of speaking, an appliance. They have a function, and they do it well, for a very long time under most usage rates. The technology is pretty straightforward, the cost is competitive, the technology generally improves with time, and they are easy to operate.

Major home appliances? Not so much. Continue reading

What ball game?

XKCD gives me the intro:


Be sure to check out the image caption by hovering over the image with your mouse.

My hobby results in conversations similar to this:

Someone: What did you think of the game?

Joe: Which game?

Someone: The Hawks.

Joe: Is it the Sea Hawks? [If I could pronounce it differently I would say “See Hawks”.]

Someone (hint of confusion in their voice): Yes.

Joe: They play football, right?

Someone (they get a shifted eyed look, perhaps looking for an escape route): Yeah…

Joe: Good! Glad I got that right. Do they play with a spherical ball or the funny oblong one?

Someone (grim look): [Crickets]

Joe: I missed that game. I was probably shooting, having sex, or doing something else fun or productive. Was the game on Sunday? There seemed to be a lot of woman interested in me the other day.


Cool. Very cool, and very unexpected.

Just got word from Vox Day that The Stars Came Back has been nominated for a Prometheus Award for this year. It’s the award given by the Libertarian Futurist Society.

Past winners include Sarah Hoyt, Harry Turtledove, L. Neil Smith, Vernor Vinge, Terry Pratchett, Ken MacLeod, Poul Anderson, James P. Hogan, J. Neil Schulman, and many more big names. Even if I come in last place, just being nominated to potentially stand amid such a group of names is quite an honor.

Mugme street news

From downtown Seattle on the street Barb calls “Mugme Street” via the Seattle Police:

Two men were wounded by gunfire Wednesday evening in downtown Seattle.

Officers on foot patrol near Westlake Center heard gunfire just after 8 p.m. Wednesday and ran toward the sounds of the shots. Police saw a large group of people running from 3rd and Pine St, where officers found two men with gunshot wounds.

I don’t even like being there during the daytime.

Lessons Learned

Some background; local cops have been out for me and my family. Not in a big way, just looking to take advantage of opportunities. Both of my kids have had run-ins with the law. Some serious and some very, very, laughably trivial. I was once the victim of selective enforcement regarding dogs being off-leash ($100 dollar ticket) on or the day after the local cops were subpoenaed to appear in court as witnesses on one of those trivial cases, they’ve threatened to have the dog destroyed, and recently one of the cops was seen prowling in my yard, and was not forthcoming as to why when I called him on the phone afterward. One of the former cops from the same department had been “hitting on” my under-age daughter and her under-age friend. That’s 2.

Continue reading

Achtung, Juden! Das ist Verboten!

In processing a customer order today, we got a “Service Not Allowed” message from our credit card merchant services bank. They’re the ones who handle all of our credit and debit card transactions. We called them to find out what this message means, because we’d not seen it before. Well, they were by this time quite familiar with the “problem”. The problem is MBNA, in this case, who issued the card to our customer, DOES NOT ALLOW TRANSACTIONS WITH GUN RELATED BUSINESSES.

If you’re doing any business with MBNA, you’d best give them a jingle, and DO NOT FORGET this. This sort of thing seems to be on the rise, and it will get worse unless we push back, soon.

Update, Jan. 7, 2015; The customer called his bank, assuming the “Service Not Allowed” was due to a late payment on his part. As I explained to him several times; we were told by our Merchant Services bank that it was due to MBNA policy, and that our Merchant Services people were quite familiar with said policy as they’d had to deal with such denials many times previous. The customer only repeated what he’d said about a possible late payment. In any case, the transaction, on the same card, was approved today. All I can make of it, given what we were told by Merchant Services, is that MBNA will cave without comment or discussion once they’re called on it. From what commenters are saying, the practice of denying transactions may be random, or it may be targeted toward individual customers or vendors. Without more information I have no way of knowing. This would all seem quite unbelievable, except for what we already know about the recent IRS targeting, Fast & Furious, the attempted intimidation of Sharyl Attkisson and others, and other insidious pranks aimed at the perceived enemies of Progressivism.

Lowell Huffman

The person I have known longer than any one else died New Years Eve.

From the Lewiston Morning Tribune:


Lowell Huffman died of cancer on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014, at his home near Cavendish, surrounded by family members.

James Lowell Huffman was born to Cecil and Sadie Huffman on Aug. 13, 1923, in Cecil’s parent’s home in Arlington, Calif. He went by his middle name of Lowell all his life. Lowell’s mother died of tuberculosis when he was only 22 months old. Cecil later married Ollie Pitcher, who helped raise Lowell. Lowell grew up during the Great Depression living on a farm near Cavendish. In addition to his father and stepmother, Lowell’s uncle Walt, aunt Pet and three children, Doyle, Darrell and Mardelle, lived in the same home and shared many adventures with Lowell.

He attended first through eighth grades at the South Teakean School and graduated from Orofino High School in 1941. Lowell attended the University of Idaho where he studied agriculture for two semesters. The family sold the farm and moved to California in 1945, where Lowell had various jobs including working as an appliance repairman.

Lowell and his cousin Doyle rented land in Idaho and started farming in the fall of 1950. In the winter months, Lowell and his cousin Darrell started a business in Riverside, Calif., manufacturing television antenna masts. For several years, Lowell worked in California in the winter time and farmed in Idaho in the summer time.

His cousin Mardelle introduced Lowell to Ellen King in July 1953. Lowell and Ellen were married Feb. 14, 1954. With help from Doyle, the couple purchased their own farm in the Cavendish area in 1959 and slowly built it up over many years, adding land, buildings, a grain storage facility and much more.

Lowell and Ellen built a new house over a period of several years, moving into their new home in 1969. They had three children – Joe, Doug and Gary.

Lowell was a member of the Evergreen Grange Hall from 1939 until it was disbanded many years later. He served on the North Idaho Foundation Seed Association for several years in the 1980s and 1990s.

His greatest passion was farming. Lowell enjoyed owning and operating caterpillar tractors while raising wheat, barley, peas and lentils on the farm. Construction of new buildings, clearing new land and making other improvements on the farm were things Lowell always enjoyed.

When he wasn’t farming, Lowell enjoyed gardening and telling stories of his younger years.

Lowell is survived by three sons, Joe Huffman of Bellevue, Wash., Doug (Julie) Huffman and Gary Huffman at the family farm; five grandchildren, James (Kelsey) Huffman-Scott of Bellevue, Kim Huffman-Scott of Troy, Amy (Nathan) Faragher of Orem, Utah, Lisa (Kevin) Lewis of Boise and Xenia (John) Vlieger of Clarksville, Tenn.; and three great-grandchildren.

Lowell was preceded in death by his wife; and grandson Brad Huffman.

There will be a celebration of life from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 10, at the home of Doug and Julie Huffman.

Pine Hills Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Brother Doug had this to say on Facebook:

In the past two years and two days, I have lost my mother in 2012, my son in 2013 and today my father (in 2014). I hope we are done losing family members for a while.

And this:

My family moved to a different home in September of 1959. At last we owned property, but the house was a run down shack with a leaky roof and no insulation. My parents started work on a new house in about 1963. Doing nearly all the work themselves, with some help from my brothers, myself and a few neighbors, we didn’t move into the house until April 20, 1969. My mother was 12 days past the midpoint of her life on the day we moved into our new home. My father was 2 days short of the midpoint of his life on that day.

Niece Amy said this:


2 years and 2 days ago my Grandma Huffman passed away. Shortly after that my Grandpa Huffman found out he had cancer. This morning he joined my Grandma and passed away at the age of 91. He was a very hard-working man. When I was a teenager, I didn’t realize how unusual it was for a man in his mid 70’s to spend day after day working in the fields during harvest. He was very dedicated to farming. During the last 2 years he surprised everyone with his strength undergoing surgeries, overcoming a MRSA infection in his lungs, and being unable to eat for most of the month of December. I will always remember him as hard-working, dedicated, and strong and am grateful for his example. This picture was taken at Thanksgiving.

For some reason one of the thoughts I sort of perseverated on the day after Dad died was a conversation I had with him which probably was in 1969 near the time of the first manned moon landing and some time after watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. We speculated that by the year 2000 “ordinary people” would be going to the moon and living there*. Dad said that I probably would be around for that but that he wouldn’t. I asked why and he said that he wouldn’t live that long. His father had died by that age and he didn’t expect to live any longer than that. It turned out that had he lived another 13 hours he would have made it into 2015.

On January 15, 1986 I sent my application to NASA for a position as Mission Specialist on the Space Shuttle. 13 days later Challenger blew up shortly after launch. NASA sent me a letter a month or two later saying hiring for those positions was halted until further notice. By the time they were hiring again my situation had changed and I didn’t apply again. And at this point I give us equal odds to enter a new dark age as having a lunar colony during my lifetime. The odds of me setting foot on the moon are asymptotically close to zero.

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of Dad:

Four generations of Huffman’s; Lowell, James, Bryce, and Joe in the house Dad built.
Photo by daughter Xenia on July 11, 2014.

Dad on the farm.
Photo by me which probably was taken in the early or mid 1980s.

See also the picture here.

Comments are intentionally closed. Having a conversation about the death of a close friend or relative is uncomfortable to me.

* Both Tam and Roberta recently made posts about things that didn’t happen on the imagined schedule as well. These may have actually triggered my thoughts on the subject.

Quote of the day—Barb L.

Your high moral standards are often troubling to me.

Barb L.
December 31, 2014
[This was in the context of my disapproving look when she said she was going to use a crate to stand on a step when taking down the outside Christmas lights. She further elaborated on her doing things like going the wrong way in parking lots as a short cut to a parking space.

She sometimes even asks me to close my eyes while she engages in such behavior. I almost always comply. But, without me saying a single word, she did agree to use a step ladder rather than the crate this morning. And she accepted my help with the lights on the peak of the garage.—Joe]

Tweakage haiku

Lower back spasm
Collapsing in agony
Gravity wins again

Or perhaps a limerick is better:

There once was a spasm near lumbar
That dropped a man down for a tumbler
He whimpered in pain
As he stretched out again
On the floor where he might have to slumber

Yeah, your lower back going out on you with a muscle spasm is really a pain. Basically a day stretched out, where any little twitch or twist might send it back into spasm, while icing it and taking pain killers and an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. Eventually I was able to get to the PT to get a slightly rotated vertebrae back in place, and the ER for a shot of industrial-strength muscle-relaxer / anti-spasm meds and painkillers. Then a slow recovery; last time it was about a week to get to 75%, then another month or so until I felt pretty much 100%.. I’m up to walking around without a cane, most of the time. The only good part about it was that this time it happened in the house, so I wasn’t stretched out in the neighbor’s driveway starting up at the trees. It must have been accumulated stresses, because all I was doing at the time was picking up a little bit of spilled cereal off the floor.

I guess it is time to start taking the stretching, lower back, and core muscle exercises more seriously, and pay attention to any lower back stiffness and be proactive with the ice and ibuprofen. My dad had some intermittent back problems 30-ish years ago, and my brother a couple years ago, my other brother 4-5 years ago (and they are ~30, two, and four years older than me, respectively).