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).

Rainbow alert

Here in the Seattle area the weather has been typical for December—wet, dark, and dreary. But late this afternoon I received a text message from Barb:

Rainbow alert!

I went outside with my camera and tried to take a picture of it with an 18 mm lens but it was just too wide. So I made a photosynth of it:

Rainbow Alert by JoeHuffman on Photosynth

Lentil Pizza

We grew, and still do, lentils and peas on the farm. For years we had a stack of recipe pamphlets from the Idaho and Washington Pea and Lentil on the farm to give away to friends and relatives. Some of these recipes were quite unique and I, being a big fan of trying different things, was intrigued by them.

Long, long ago, shortly after I was married, I would occasionally make lentil pizza from one of these recipes. People look at me oddly when I ask if they have ever tried lentil pizza but that is before they tasted it. It takes quite a bit of time but it’s a unique food and occasionally worth the time.

In various moves and life changes I lost the pamphlets and perhaps five or ten years ago I stopped by what is now called USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council to pick up some more. Of course during the passage of a few decades they changed the pamphlets. The new pamphlets did not have the pizza recipe and I was concerned that I had lost the recipe forever.

But during the unpacking from a more recent move I found one of the pamphlets. And to make sure that I will always be able to find it, after all the Internet is forever, I’m posting the recipe here.

Old World Pizza
(Split peas or lentils plus a rice crust give it newness)

For two 12-inch pizzas, 16 servings, you will need:

Crust for two pizzas
5 cups cooled cooked white rice
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 and 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Mix together with a fork. Put half of mixture in each of 2 well-oiled 12-inch pizza pans. Spread evenly and press against bottom and sides. Bake at 450 F (hot oven) for 20 minutes. One sheet pan, 10” x 15” x 1” may be used. Note: 1 cup white rice, uncooked, makes 3 cups cooked rice.

Topping for two pizzas
1 and 1/3 cups cooked mashed hot or warm lentils or split peas
1 pound bulk pork sausage
3-15 ounce cans (approx. 6 cups) tomato sauce
3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano leaves
2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil leaves
salt, taste before adding
1 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Mash or whip cooked drained lentils or split peas, leaving some whole. Cook bulk sausage until well-done, but not hard and lumpy. Drain off fat and add to mashed lentils or split peas. Mix well.

Combine tomato sauce, plain or with mushrooms, and seasonings except salt. Taste, tomato sauces vary. For powered herbs, use half as much; fresh herbs twice the amount. Spread 1/2 over each rice crust. Sprinkle 1/2 of lentil-sausage mixture evenly over the sauce of each pan, then the Mozzarella cheese and a dusting of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese if desired.

Just before serving time, bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Each pan cuts into 8 generous servings. The second pan my be freezer-wrapped and frozen, to be backed at a later date. Give an extra 5 minutes for baking from the frozen state.

This unusual low-cost pizza is not a “finger food.” Serve (with a fork), a tossed green salad, and fresh fruit. Why not use this menu for a novel Sunday Brunch? A budget-bonus: the lentils or split peas, added to the sausage, serve as a meat stretcher and protein-extender in the filling, another way of getting more-for-your-money main dishes.

I haven’t made this for Barb’s family yet. Barb has been very polite when I mention this recipe and hasn’t even made funny noises when I say something about it. The facial expressions have been more than adequate to communicate her skepticism.

North Idaho Socialist Party

Brother Doug also sent me this today:

I stumbled across this story in the June 29, 1928 edition of the Clearwater Tribune.



The Clearwater Tribune is published in Orofino Idaho which is in Clearwater County. The advocacy for the nationalization of natural resources is interesting to me. So how did that work out for Venezuela and their oil recently? Or maybe the farm land in the USSR at the time of this article?

Grandma Huffman

Brother Doug sent me this today:


He also sent this:

Sadie’s obituary was published in the lower left corner of the front page of the May 29, 1925 edition of the Clearwater Tribune. There are at least two errors. She was born in 1896, not 1897. Her age was 28 years, 9 months and 15 days, rather than 28 years, 3 months and 15 days. The text below is without any corrections.

Death of Sadie Huffman

At 8 o’clock a.m. May 24th, Mrs. Sadie Huffman passed from this life at the age of 28 years, 3 months and 15 days after an illness of a year or more. She was buried in the Teakean Cemetery, May 25th with services by the Rev. Dietrick.

Sadie Carey was born near Teakean August 9th, 1897, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carey. She grew to womanhood in the Teakean section and spent her entire life there with the exception of a year and a half in California. She is survived by her husband, Cecil Huffman and a twenty-one month old son, Lowell, also her father and mother and several brothers and sisters and other relatives.

Grandpa King

I never met my mother’s father or my dad’s mother. They both died of tuberculosis when my parents were children. Today I received the obituary for my Grandpa King from brother Doug. He received it from a former neighbor of ours who we briefly went to grade school with and is now heavily into genealogy.

The following is the transcript from the Washington State College Alumni Newsletter Volume XXII, Number 8, November 1932 (it is now called Washington State University):

In Memoriam


Raymond McKinley King, aged 33, a 1921 graduate from the State College, died recently at his home in Los Angeles, California, after a long illness.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer King of Davenport and a brother of Carl and Ervin King, prominent Pullman farmers.

He was born January 26, 1899, at Davenport and received his early education in the grade and high school of that town, later matriculating at the State College.  He was prominent in athletics, winning letters in both football and track, and served as president of his class during his senior year.  He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Alpha Zeta fraternity and the Gray W club.

While a member of the officers’ training corps at the State College he contracted influenza, from which tuberculosis developed.  Several times he was pronounced cured of the disease, but each time it recurred and finally claimed his life.

On August 28, 1924 he was married to Charlotte Verna Davies, a college student and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.  Mrs. King, with the two children, Grace Ellen, seven, and Lewis Ray, five, survive him.

Following graduation Mr. King farmed in the Joel neighborhood, near Moscow, but went to Los Angeles to enter the veterans; hospital, where he remained two years, then taking up his home in that city, where the family has resided since.

Mr. King was apparently in good health when he arose in the morning, according to word from Los Angeles.  He ate a hearty breakfast, but complained of feeling very tired and laid down to rest, soon passing quietly away.

Mr. King was very popular during his student days at the State College and was an outstanding athlete of powerful physique.  He made friends easily and was admired by all who know him for his friendly disposition and splendid character.

He is survived by his widow and two children, by his parents at Davenport, two brothers near Pullman and a sister, Mrs. Karl Kurtz, of Los Angeles.

There almost certainly a genetic component to personality and I know both of Raymond King’s children, all of his grandchildren, all the great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren I know have (or had) a very pleasant personality. In the last three years both children, one grandchild, and one great-grandchild passed away. My mom and cousin Larry passed away within a few days of each other almost exactly two years ago.

I probably got at least some of the genes for my height from my Grandpa King. Grandpa Huffman was only about 5’ 10” although his brother Walt Huffman was 6’ tall. My Grandma King was tall for a woman of that era at about 5’ 8”. But my Grandma Huffman and both my parents were of average height or a bit on the short side.

I knew Great Uncle Carl and Great Aunt Ann (Grandpa King’s brother and sister-in-law), fairly well. Uncle Carl played in the first Rose Bowl (they won 14-0). It probably was the 50th anniversary when the surviving players of the first game were honored with a trip to Pasadena and stood in the end zone for a bit during half-time. I remember Mom watching the game on TV which was unique. We never watched sports in our family. We saw a group of men standing in the end zone for a few seconds and then the network switched to a commercial. We were all disappointed we didn’t get to really see him on TV.

We would visit Uncle Carl and Aunt Ann once or twice during the year as they lived less than two hours away on a farm in the Palouse. They visited us on our farm too. Dad and Uncle Carl always talked about crops, weather, and equipment.

One time when we were visiting relatives in California Uncle Carl and Aunt Ann were about to take a cruise to Hawaii from (probably) Los Angles. I probably was five or six years old at the time. We got to go on the ship for a hour or so and look around. I misunderstood and thought we were going to go on the cruise too. I was disappointed when we had to get off before it left the dock. My most vivid memory is of everyone on the dock and the ship waving at each other and the colorful paper streamers that were thrown across the gap from each side. There was  large machine that made a pass between the dock and the ship severing all the streamers before the ship pulled away. I remember asking why they did that. Dad thought there were so many of them that even though each was easily broken combined they could do damage to something from the pulling on the dock and ship. I doubt that now. More likely is that they didn’t want the paper in the water so it would be easier to clean up.

Riding the Red Horse

Riding The Red Horse is a military fiction anthology being published 15 Dec 2014 by Castalia House. It is edited by Tom Kratman and Vox Day. I have a short story in it, the story of the first Armadillo mission. There are some big names in it, and I am honored to be among them. Vox posted about it here.


Continue reading

High heels

I’ve occasionally blogged about high heels before. Supposedly they improve women’s sex life because they “directly work the pleasure muscles linked to orgasm”. As I pointed out it would seem to me there are better ways to directly work those muscles without the risk of breaking an ankle, but whatever. I don’t have any real interest in them. But this article was very interesting to me (H/T Glenn Reynolds):

Scientists from the Universite de Bretagne-Sud conducted experiments that showed that men behave very differently toward high-heeled women. The results, published online in the journal “Archives of Sexual Behaviour,” may please the purveyors of Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo shoes — yet frustrate those who think stilettos encourage sexism.

The study found if a woman drops a glove on the street while wearing heels, she’s almost 50 percent more likely to have a man fetch it for her than if she’s wearing flats.

Another finding: A woman wearing heels is twice as likely to persuade men to stop and answer survey questions on the street. And a high-heeled woman in a bar waits half the time to get picked up by a man, compared to when her heel is nearer to the ground.

I could see myself being more likely to help them pick up something. But answering survey questions? Really? That just doesn’t resonate for me. I have never picked up a woman in a bar and only go to a bar when Barb wants to hang out with some of her friends. I therefore I have zero personal data on that point as well.

I am attracted to tall women. But what I find is that after “prying” my eyes from her face at something approaching my eye level I look at her feet. If she is wearing heels my interest is severely degraded. So, to me, high heels are negatively associated with attraction.

Barb has an interesting “relationship” with high heels too. In addition to being difficult for her to walk in them she says that when she wears them it’s as if people don’t see her. She is nearly 6’ 1” in her bare feet so with high heels she is pushing 6’ 4” and many people end up looking at something approximating her bellybutton (she has very long legs, much longer than mine). For her to make eye contact with people while wearing high heels involves hand gestures, verbal cues, and sometimes offering them a stepstool.


Tonight I was telling Barb about a Twitter conversation I got involved in with a soon to be Markley’s Law example. At some point Barb asked how long I have been doing the Markley’s Law Monday theme.

I looked it up and found the first Markley’s Law Monday was almost exactly three years ago. I’m not in any danger of ever running out of material.

I am reminded of a quote falsely attributed to Albert Einstein:

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

No matter how often we point out that we have Supreme Court decision on our side and the best they have to offer are childish insults we probably will never run out of people demonstrating Markley’s Law. There is apparently an unlimited supply of those who insist that the right to keep and bear arms is not an inalienable, preexisting, human right guaranteed to be protected the Second Amendment but is instead a symbolic penis extension.