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.

A little close to home

Almost all of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Washington state (and US) are at EvergreenHealth (formerly Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland).

All of my children were born there (30+ years ago). My ex-wife and I lived about a 10 minute walk from the hospital.

The hospital is still less than a 20 minute drive of where I live and about half of that for to my oldest daughter.

Taking orders for lentils and wheat

I’ll probably be going to the farm in the next two or three weeks. If anyone in the Seattle area would like some lentils or soft white wheat I’ll bring it back with me. Quantities are limited.

Let me know how many pounds you would like. I get them in 50 pound bags but frequently break them out into three to five pound Ziploc bags. You would pick them up in the Bellevue area.

Wheat is $0.20/pound and lentils are $0.30/pound.

Send me an email if you are interested: blog@joehuffman.org.

Update: All the wheat has been asked for. There are still some lentils left. There will be more wheat available in November or perhaps October.

I also have a few pea and lentil cookbooks I purchased from the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council in bulk. List price is $24.95. I sell them for $10.00. You can sometimes get them used from Amazon for less.

When I was a boy…

A couple days ago a coworker was talking about things “the kids these days” wouldn’t recognize. One of the things he mentioned was rotary dial phones. Or even just desktop phones in general. These days a phone is a thin rectangular object you can put in your pocket and many young people would not make the connection between what they know as a phone and what a generation or two earlier knew as phones when they were growing up.

I one upped him by telling about the phones we had at the first two houses I remember living in. Here are those houses with me in front of the first house:

Here is the type of phone:


This picture is from Christmas Eve about a month ago at brother Doug’s place. The phone from my childhood is in brother Gary’s house a hundred yards away from brother Doug. Until a few years ago the phones were connected and working. There is still a similar phone in the shop between the two houses. Sometime in the last couple of decades an underground wire broke and the Huffman phone network went down for the last time when it wasn’t worth the effort to find the break and fix it.

And as late as when I was in high school there were other phones of this type on our local phone network in my two grandmothers mobile homes which were also on the property.

One of the stories I told my coworker about these phones is that these type of phones were the only type phones available at our house until I was in the third grade. We upgraded to a rotary style phone.

Mom and dad thought the older phones worked just fine and objected to the price increase (it went from something like $3/month to $5/month). They did without a phone for a year in protest before getting a new phone. It was still a party line where you had different ring types to distinguish between calls to your phone and calls to your neighbor. Our ring with both the phone type you see above and the first rotary phone was three shorts. Later there were party line phones with band pass filters for the ring signals and unless your phone used an adjacent ring frequency and the filter wasn’t that good you couldn’t hear the incoming ring for your neighbor. But if the frequency was adjacent and the filter wasn’t doing its job you could hear some vibration from the ringer and maybe a anemic “ding” or two when the call was intended for your neighbor.

Visit to an oasis

Growing up in north central Idaho an oasis was something I only saw in cartoons and perhaps on some television show. I have driven across the deserts of central Washington, southeastern Oregon, and Nevada many times but never came across anything similar to an oasis I would recognize from the cartoons of my childhood. They remained somewhat of a mythical place.

That changed last January when Barb and I visited the Palm Springs California area. We visited several oases in the area but by far the most interesting and pleasant were the West Fork Falls and Palm Canyon trails.

Since it has essentially the same trail head as Palm Canyon Trail and is only 0.1 miles long if you go to the Palm Canyon Trail area you must check out the West Fork Falls Trail. Barb and I were wandering around and I noticed something odd. I then began taking a bunch of pictures of the trees. Barb thought I was acting a little more strange than usual with the sudden interest in taking so many pictures of the trees. I had to explain. Check out the pictures below:


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Knob kabob

One thing that I really like about being around smart people is the clever phrases and names they come up with to describe things.

I came home from work the other day to find Barb had brought an old wood cabinet home. She took the knobs off and painted them. To avoid irregularities in the paint she strung them on a wooden skewer. She then suspended the ends of the skewers on two plastic containers while the paint dried.

She called it a “knob kabob”:


Naches Peak Loop Trail

Last Sunday, after hiking the Mount Rainier Skyline Trail the day before, we hiked the Naches Peak Loop Trail. It was a much easier hike, and while very pleasant, was no comparison in the Skyline Trail. Any other day it would have been an incredible hike. But after the Skyline Trail experience it was merely great.

For the most part the trails were wide and flat. There were a few narrow and rugged spots but nothing that caused us real concern. The views were wonderful. In places the wildflower were so plentiful the air was filled with their scent even as you walked by.



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Mount Rainier Skyline Trail Loop

Barb and I have visited Mount Rainier several times. There have been others but here are the ones I have blogged about:

Over the weekend we went again. This time Barb reserved a campsite (reservation required and they are booked six months in advance) so we would be closer to the Skyline Trail Loop and could get an early start and find parking. We still had to park about a half mile away from the trail head.


She has been wanting to go on this hike for years but it never seemed to work out. We took the upper loop and probably were within 2 miles of Camp Muir.

The weather was stunning. The air was clear, the temperature was pleasant, and there was no wind. The views were stunning.


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