We planted 2 apple trees last week. Kate wanted apple trees so we went to the nursery and picked a Honey Crisp and a McIntosh. Apparently you want to pick 2 different varieties of apple trees that pollinate at the same time. Then they cross pollinate and produce their fruit.
Neither Kate nor I are gardeners. I spent a summer a few years ago working on a vegetable farm and mainly learned that I don’t want to be a farmer. However, it is nice to plant something and help it grow.
Naturally one of the trees is already showing some orange spots on the leaves. This can be indicative of cedar rust, or possibly just stress from the transplanting process. I am going to talk with the nursery about that tomorrow.
We have deer in the area so that is why each tree is wrapped in a 6 foot tall circle of fencing. Those deer aren’t gonna get my apple trees!
Now I need to figure out a drip system for them and keep them alive!
Rode with Kate, her dad, and sister to the town of Dolores about 12 miles away this morning before work. It was a beautiful day for a ride and we saw a lot of wildlife. Including a baby deer that couldn’t jump over the fence that its mother could. So the mom came back and they figured out a way to get around the fence.
My Apple Watch broke the other day. The battery swelled up and the entire screen cracked around the face and popped up. I was just sitting having lunch and it broke. I immediately started a chat with Apple Support and after spending $80+ they had a box coming to me to send it in for repair.
The range of emotions this caused me to go through was an interesting study in non-attachment and disconnecting. The Apple Watch is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off at night. I am obsessed with closing the 3 activity rings everyday. In fact I was on a 180+ day Move streak when it broke.
After the watch broke I immediately started thinking about how I was going to lose my Move streak. As that settled in I began to realize how obsessed I was with closing the rings. As I contemplated this I had the realization that everything was going to be ok.
I understand that it is absurd to think that not closing my activity rings would be a big issue, but before the watch was broken that is exactly how I thought. There were days when I would go for walks at 11:30pm to get my Move and Exercise rings closed. Sometimes the stand goal would not register for a particular hour, even though I had stood up and walked around, and I would curse the watch.
The Apple Watch is an amazing piece of technology for measuring activity. It tracks you heart-rate accurately on your wrist, which is far more comfortable than a chest strap. While Siri needs a lot of improvement, it is very useful for setting timers and reminders.
Apple calls the Watch “its most personal device ever”. The question is do we need to be personal with technology? Should be be more attached to something because it measures our heart-rate and connects to the internet?
When I was wearing the watch I would check my activity numbers all the time. Instead of occasionally checking my phone for messages they would now appear on my wrist. You can turn various notifications off, but the watch is still right there ready to be checked whenever there is a free moment to do so.
When I get the watch back I am going to reconsider wearing it all the time. I have had a concern that the Activity rings haven’t necessarily been the healthiest method of health tracking for some time. The monthly challenges, for example, are based on your prior months’ activity rate. The algorithm that determines the challenge is linear and not adaptive. That means that the challenges only go up in volume: more calories, more minutes, etc. Eventually that will lead to over-training, which can be as bad or worse than not training at all.
I have not worn the watch for 4 days now. For the first few days I was still checking my wrist for the time. Today was the first day back to work and halfway through the day I realized that I wasn’t standing up as often. I felt more relaxed and less distracted all day.
There is a time and place for the Apple Watch. I will use it for workouts and various activities. However I am not going to wear it all day anymore. At this point the watch and activity rings have become a distraction. I do not need to be reminded to workout and be active. This may change down the road and at that time I will wear it more often.
Its also really cool to pay for things by tapping my watch at the register. 😎
Last Wednesday was my first day as a trail volunteer with the Mancos Trail Group. For a few years now I have wanted to join them on a trail maintenance day but the timing never worked out. This year due to COVID-19 they have adjusted the format to an adopt a trail methodology. This allows the volunteers to help maintain the Mancos Spur trail safely. It also means I can go do trail maintenance anytime I want.
Mancos Trail Group
The Mancos trail group is a non-profit organization of volunteers who:
Mancos Trails Group promotes trail stewardship and etiquette for all trail users in the Mancos Valley.
As I mentioned before I haven’t ever made it to one of their trail maintenance days, but I was on their email list. On May 30th they sent out an email titled “2020 MTG Update: New Adopt-a-Trail opportunity in the works”. They asked for replies from people who would be interested in the program. Part of the proposal was that they “will be loaning out tools to our adopters to use for the whole season” and I was sold.
Apparently I am not the only one interested in the program and the group had the best turnout in its history. I and 16 other people signed up to adopt a section of the Mancos Spur Trail and maintain it for the season.
On June 10th they conducted a Zoom call run by the United States Forest Service(USFS) trail ranger for the Dolores Ranger District. 90% of the call was about safety including COVID-19 precautions. 8% of it was about the GIS app we would use to help the USFS trail department identify trail issues that they need to maintain.
The app is pretty slick. It uses GPS to create a pin and then asks for details about the trail issue. You add up to 2 photos and the report is sent to the USFS. According to the ranger this data is helpful because he generally gets a report along these lines: “There is a fallen tree about 3 lefts from the start next to the big rocks.” Since our maintenance activities are limited to “brushing back the growth on the sides of the trail, maintaining drainage features, removing small trees crossing the trail with a handsaw, etc” the Forest Service comes in with the chainsaws and other major trail repairs. It seems like they should promote this app to anyone using the trails…
On June 28th I was assigned my segment and given the tools to work it. I figured my first day of vacation would be a nice day to get started. Since it is during the week the trail would be empty and I would have the place to myself.
Mancos Spur Trail
The Mancos Spur trail is actually a route made up of multiple existing trails. It starts off of a section of the Colorado Trail known as Big Bend. It ends at Mancos State Park 23 miles to the southwest. Trail Forks has it listed as a Mountain Bike trail but I would only recommend it to people looking for a suffer fest. The trail starts above 10,000 feet of elevation for the first 7 miles and ends at Jackson Lake in the Mancos State Park.
The first section is the Sharkstooth Trail which begins at the Colorado Trail and finishes as the Sharkstooth trailhead. The trail is 7 miles long and goes over Sharkstooth pass near Sharkstooth Peak. 6 miles of the trail is above tree line and fully exposed to the elements. The peak is described well here:
Sharkstooth Peak is in the La Plata Mountains, part of the San Juans, and is a prominent landmark although it is not nearly the highest peak in the area. Despite its distinctive shape, its “low” height (for Colorado, that is– it would be considered a very high peak indeed in almost any other U.S. state) makes it easy to dismiss in Colorado. That is a mistake because this is a beautiful peak in a beautiful area that offers an easy approach, a fun but moderately challenging climb, and solitude that is hard to find atop Colorado’s more famous summits. In short, you get San Juan conditions and San Juan views but without the San Juan crowds (and human impact) found on the 14ers, a few of the better-known 13ers, and on the popular trails.
A funny thing happened with the trail segment I was assigned. In the email for the assignment they told me I had adopted Segment 12, but the .gpx file they sent was for Segment 15. I am a map oriented person. If I look at something on a map I have that image in my head when I think about the route. So, I associated Segment 15 as the one I needed to work on. 😂
So I maintained someone else’s trail segment. 🤷♂️
Segment 15 begins on the north side of Sharkstooth pass and continues for 1.5 miles to the headwaters of Bear Creek. 90% of the trail is above tree line and crosses a large scree field. To get to it I drove to the Sharkstooth trailhead about 20 miles from my home. The drive turns to dirt at Transfer Campground and heads up into the La Plata mountains. The last mile of road is pretty rough and I got to test out the all wheel drive of my Element.
To get to the north side of Sharkstooth pass from the trail head you have to go over the pass. So the first 2 miles of the day were uphill but the temperature was perfect for work jeans and long sleeve shirt. The jeans protect my legs from flying debris and the shirt means I don’t have to wear sunscreen. I also wear a big dorky hat, again so I don’t have to do the sunscreen thing, but also cause it keeps the sun outta my eyes.
Once you cross over Sharkstooth pass the only sign of humans is the trail. Its a very peaceful place to be, when there are no storms. In Colorado you pretty much always want to be back below treeline before the afternoon. The rain and wind can be pretty bad, but its the lightning that you mainly want to avoid. With that in mind my plan was to get to the trailhead about 8am, hike to the end of the segment in just over 2 hours, have a quick lunch, then take my time coming back to focus on trail maintenance and be off the mountain before noon.
The entirety of Segment 15 is pretty much downhill till it ends at Bear Creek. So I knew I would have a nice hike out. Fortunately all that bike riding I did this spring paid off. While I was definitely huffing and puffing at 11,950 feet at the pass, I was able to keep moving and working the trail.
Maintenance for trails at this altitude generally involves trimming small vegetation back, moving rocks that have fallen onto the trail, and repairing drainage features built into the trail. On the way down into Bear Creek Canyon I took note of various rock issues in the trail that I would tend to on my way out.
Once I got to Bear Creek I stopped and had my lunch of Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches and a couple apples. At this point I have been hiking around 2 hours and had not seen anyone else. The peacefulness was very nice and I was happy I chose that spot for lunch.
Then it was time to get back to work and eventually my car. I noticed a section of trail that was really muddy. In the GIS app they had an option for “trail spring/seep” and that matched what I saw the best. I took some photos and made a few notes in the app. Once I was back in cell phone range it would upload to the USFS system. My thinking is that it would be good to place large stones in the path like pavers. However that seems like pretty extensive trail construction that may or may not be what the USFS wants done. Better to let them know about the issue and then I will hike back after they work on it to see what they chose to do.
After that I spent the rest of the time pulling large rocks off the trail. The Rogue Hoe came in handy for this as well. I was able to use the steel head to pull up one corner and then pivot the rock on the opposite corner. Using this technique I was able to move some impressively large rocks without compromising my back or hands.
Overall there wasn’t a whole lot of trail maintenance to do on this section. Maybe the person who was actually assigned the segment had already done the hard work! 🤣 It was nice to hike the segment since I had never been back to Bear Creek at this elevation before.
Just over a year ago Victor Ramirez gave a great presentation at WordCamp Atlanta about how he was managing blocks for Dow Jones, who use the new WordPress editor as the backend to all of their publications. He described a block they created for the byline that made it 1 million times easier for the writers to use.
The success of the byline block was due to the creating a process that the user was used to. The initial idea was to give the user a drop down list of all the authors available. This solution was untenable due to the large number of authors. Instead they took a page from Facebook’s friend search. In this case as you start typing the authors name it would show results that match the name. A little extra development work created a solution that users were already used to.
He had a great analysis that developers and designers might consider when building websites/apps: think of the Domino’s website as your competition. The user experience of the Domino’s website is a very engaging experience (as long as you can see). From start to finish the website keeps you aware of the process and doesn’t try to force you into a new way of doing things. It is an experience that users enjoy and look forward to.
Is it possible to make all websites and apps like the Domino’s website? Maybe not, but it seems useful to think of websites and apps outside of your industry as competition. People only have so much time in the day. At some-point they may have to decide between spending time on your interface or Domino’s.
I had been playing around with the new WordPress editor, called Gutenberg, since it was officially released with WP 5.0. Since the beginning it made sense that the WordPress editor needed an update. Compared to using other web apps like Facebook or Squarespace the WP editor was a relic.
Since I started the 100 days of blogging challenge 65 days ago I have been writing in the new editor everyday and there are a few things that I have come to enjoy:
Title change also updates the permalink
When you change the title of a post it also updates the permalink. This used to be 2 separate edits and its nice to have it as one action now.
Copy a URL, Select text, paste, link created
Creating a link is super easy. Copy the URL you want to use for a link, select the text you want to convert to a link, and paste. Done.
Pretty much everything about adding an image.
The initial steps of adding an image are not much different. You choose between uploading an image or selecting from the media library. Once you select the image there are a lot more options available. I am a big fan of the full page image option, but it is easy to move the image around the page too.
Writing space that is conductive to creativity
A cluttered workspace is not conducive to creativity. This is applicable to an editor as much as a desk. The new editor is clean and simple. I have my View set to Fullscreen Mode only and miss nothing.
The new editor has some nifty keyboard shortcuts that speed up the writing process by letting you stay focused on writing. My most used shortcut is the forward slash/question mark key – ‘/’. Use it when you start a new block. It will put you into a block navigation menu. Start typing the name of the block and it will appear like a Google Auto Suggest. I use it mostly for a heading or images.
How about you? Are you using the new editor? Do you have any tips and tricks?
Today marks the first time I have seen a rattlesnake on our land. It was more than 500 feet from where we live and spend most of our time. I am not thinking about relocating it but it is a good reminder that we have company out here.
The great news is that rattlesnakes love rodents and help keep their population in check. The other good news is that I have a name for the area I saw it in: Rattlesnake Alley.
In other news that fenceline trail is ready for riding. Total lap length from the new cabin entrance is 0.82 miles. I ran a few laps this afternoon and am getting in just under 5 minute laps. Riding it has helped me see a few things I can adjust to make the ride a little nicer. Overall I am very happy with the trail. It can be ridden by anyone but is still challenging enough to be a workout.
As I am writing blog posts I get new ideas. A lot of the time I let the ideas go without making a note. Sometimes I let the idea sidetrack me from the original post. There is a 3rd option that I am starting to use: make a new post and add some thoughts on the idea. This post started as one while I wrote post 63 and 64.
This is helpful in a few ways:
I capture an idea to think about later.
I have multiple posts ready as drafts that I can jump into anytime.
When its late and I need to get something up I have an ace in the hole! 🤠
Tonight is a #3 type of night. I picked my bike up from the welder and it is looking good. He took all of the old weld off and cleaned up the tubes. Then he welded them back together. Titanium is a tricky metal to weld so I was very happy with the work he did.
After that I returned some items to Home Depot and picked up a battery powered string trimmer, using curb side pickup to minimize being in the store. Then I swung by Tractor Supply to grab some fencing for our new apple trees.
Once I got home I broke out the new string trimmer and immediately needed to charge the battery. It didn’t take long and I was cleaning up the edges of the yard. The battery lasts about 30 minutes of full use which I am very happy with. Once it is empty I plug it into the charger which is charged by our solar system. So I am mowing the yard with the power of the sun, which is kinda cool.
I then took the trimmer to the fenceline trail and it did really well. I have been trying not to remove the roots of grasses from the tail area. Doing so makes the trail become moon dust which isn’t what I want at all. Leaving the grass roots makes the trail hold together. It also means the grass will grow back but that was gonna happen anyway. Besides now I have a battery powered string trimmmer!
I finished the fenceline trail pretty quickly. The north side is mostly grasses and was a bit easier than all of the bushes on the south side. I haven’t had a chance to ride it because it was getting late and I needed to plant the apple trees.
We picked up a Honey Crisp and a Machintosh at the local nursery yesterday. We also got a pretty good introduction to raising apple trees. The first lesson is that you need to plant them in the evening. This gives them an night to adjust to the new location before the sun rises and bakes them.
I got them planted just before dinner but still needed to put up 6 foot fencing around them. The fencing keeps the deer from eating the leaves and killing the tree. Fencing is a process that I do not necessarily enjoy. It is hard on the back and hands, but when its done well it feels good. I got the fencing done at 10pm and realized I needed to write a blog post.
I am on vacation so there will be no ‘workouts’. However I spent the entire day working in the sun and have the farmers tan to prove it. The nice thing is there are water spigots spread out on the land. So I was able to refill my water bottle a lot.
Is there a block for the new WordPress editor that acts as a temporary holder?
What I am looking for is a block that holds a space for an image to be added later. I add the block then add some text describing the image. There is a visible button in the block that says something like: “Convert to Image block”, and the entire box as a different coloring to make it stand out. Later I come back and click the button. The block converts to an image, the text is added to the Alt tag, and the Image Block option buttons appear. I select my image and publish the document.
If any temp blocks exist in a post then the post cannot be published. This could be adapted to serve as a placeholder for quotes, links, videos, etc.
Is there something like this out there already? I have searched but nothing even close comes up. It seems like most blocks are for final publishing, nothing for pre publishing seems to be available.
I know I can create a block by myself and am looking into that, but why reinvent the wheel if something already exists like this. I think this would be useful as it would allow me to continue the writing process without stopping to find the image, then crop, optimize, upload, and adjust it. I could leave one of these and keep on writing.
Later when I am reviewing the post I will see the temp block and replace it with the image or whatever else it was place holding. There would be no danger of publishing the post with the temp text as the block prevents the post from being published if it still exists.
If you know of something like this please let me know. If you want to help me build this I am open to any advice and recommendations. If you think this is a bad idea please let me know why.
What a day! I got up and headed for Sharkstooth trailhead to work on my section of adopted trail. I took a small backpack with 100 oz water bladder, 4 apples, 2 PBJ’s, and some shotblox in case. I also had a second pair of socks, rain jacket, and first aid kit. For tools I took the Rogue Hoe, a farmers file, my switchblade wood saw, and some gardening snips.
I am going to do a more thorough write up tomorrow about the whole experience but I can tell you that section 12 is open for business. It took 4 miles to get to the far end of my section. I did some work on various parts and reported one issue to the Forest Service using their GIS app. Overall the section is in pretty great condition and I am ready to handle another section whenever they are ready.
It was a beautiful day and I have a number of great photos to share. However I am very tired and am going to keep this post short.
Hiked 8 miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain in 4 hours.
Tonight marks the start of a week long vacation. It’s going to be a staycation but we have some family visiting. Not a lot planned other than no work for a week. While I enjoy my job a lot it is nice to take a break every so often.
Tomorrow my plan is to get up early and head into the mountains for some trail work. I mentioned a few times that the Mancos trail group has changed things up this year for COVID. Instead of meeting in a group and working one section of trail a week they have gone with a trail adoption plan this year. The trail is the Mancos spur and has been divided up into 14 segments. I got segment 12 which is pretty remote. I will drive just over 20 miles to the trailhead then hike about 1.5 miles to my section. All of which will be above treeline. I will be sure to take photos and make it tomorrows post.
I dropped my bike off with Eric, the owner of Myth cycles, yesterday to get the cracked weld repaired. He seemed pretty optimistic about having it fixed by Friday which would be nice. I am also really interested in having him build me a custom bike, but I need to save my money after the solar system for the cabin.
Overall I am looking forward to spending some time on trails in the mountains and on our land. It will also be nice to spend time with family and catch up on life.