Neat film from the National Film Board of Canada about ideas for handling being at home alone during this pandemic. Personally I have done well with this as it has allowed me to read and listen to more. I have found new hobbies in woodworking and expanded my love of riding my bike.
Not everyone enjoys being isolated though, and I understand that. Sitting with your own thoughts and imperfections can be terrifying. My best advice is to get up and get outside. Fresh air and activity, even minor activity, is so helpful physically and mentally.
Also if you need to talk with anyone I am always here. I might be slow to reply sometimes cause I have my own shit going on, but I will get back to you eventually. Just gotta keep on keepin on!
2020 has been a wild year with just the COVID-19 pandemic. To up the ante the US is also having a Presidential election this year. Since I live in the state of Colorado there are a lot of things to vote on here as well. I needed to spend some time researching the ballot initiatives and decided to write something up about my though process. Here we go:
Biden/Harris – I think this tweet sums up the race for me:
John Hickenlooper – He is a Democrat so there is a 70% chance that we align on most things. He isn’t perfect but he is a closer representative to what I want to see done in the US and Colorado. The pandemic has caused as close to a black and white rift in the US’ government as I have ever seen. On the Democrat side it is based on science and reason. On the Republican side it is business as usual. A pandemic is anything but business as usual. In Colorado we have done a much better job than most of the country dealing with this but we are not done yet. Hopefully having reasoned leadership will help.
I live in Colorado’s 3rd district so that is the representative that I get to vote on for the US Congress. This year we have Diane Mitsch Bush vs Lauren Boebert and it is turning into a bit of a race. The 3rd district is traditionally a Republican stronghold as it is mainly rural. However 2020 is not a traditional year and Bush could upset the controversial Boebert.
Samulski – This is the county that I live in and we need all the help we can get. Traditionally we are a farming community but as drought increases it is going to be important that we expand our horizons. I have been working on the Samulski campaign to get her website running.
Amendment B: An effort to repeal Gallagher Amendment governing property taxes
This is a complicated one. The Gallagher Amendment was created in 1982 to deal with the rising costs of living in Colorado. It fixed the total residential property tax revenue at 45% with the remainder made up by business property taxes. Since it was passed it is estimated to have saved residential property owners $35 billion, that is a b.
The problem is that it ties county and city government hands in how they handle property taxes. In smaller rural areas the amendment has been a problem because the larger richer counties determine the tax rates. I am conflicted on how to vote for this.
Colorado has an interesting history when it comes to taxes. In 1992 we passed the Tax Payers Bill of Rights TABOR, which forces any tax changes at the state or city level to be put to a vote of the people. This has kept Colorado taxes low which is seen as helping growth and limiting government. It also means that a lot of government services are underfunded like schools and road repair.
The Gallagher Amendment and TABOR seem to be at total odds with each other even though both limit how the government can rule. However we are in a different time in 2020 and it seems like we need to make a change here and repeal the Amendment. I will vote to repeal.
Amendment C: Expands ability of nonprofits to conduct bingo and raffles as fundraisers
Ah the expansion of gambling in Colorado. I remember when they first allowed gambling to start happening again in a few select towns in the 90’s. Personally I have no interest in gambling. I work too hard to make money and just giving it away seems like a silly thing to do.
Now gambling is seen as a good way to raise money for nonprofits. How messed up a situation are we in that we have to run gambling enterprises to raise money for nonprofits that help children? Rather than raise taxes on everyone we take advantage of people with an addiction to pay for their children’s health.
I want to vote against this on principle, but until we actually raise taxes to eliminate he need for nonprofits this is going to be helpful. Do you think Gamblers Anonymous will hold a raffle?
Amendment 76: Citizenship question to vote cuts would-be 18-year-olds out of the process
Sounds like voter suppression so I will vote against this.
Amendment 77: Allow gambling towns to increase or remove bet limits on casino games
Sure, maybe it will help raise tax revenue to fund more Gamblers Anonymous. Again, until we raise taxes creating more tax revenue via gambling is a necessary evil.
Proposition EE: Increase tobacco taxes and add new nicotine tax to ease state budget pain and pay for preschool
Smoking it a terrible habit and people should stop. Raising taxes on tobacco has worked before and will keep working. Also we need more tax revenue.
Proposition 113: Whether to join the national popular vote compact instead of current Electoral College system
This is an interesting effort to alter how the US general election for president works. It will require a lot of other states to join in the effort but it might work. I will vote yes for it.
Proposition 114: Colorado voters will decide on reintroducing an endangered species, wolves
I will vote yes on this.
Proposition 115: Prohibit abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy unless life of woman is threatened
How are conservatives all for small government but then for some of the most restrictive laws? For me this argument is simple: Does a woman have full control of her own body? My answer is yes.
I will vote no on this.
Proposition 116: A income tax cut for individuals and corporations, but less money for state
I will vote no on this. We do not need to cut any taxes at this time.
Proposition 117: Put limits on fees created by the Colorado legislature for state enterprises
Since Colorado has TABOR the state has had to get creative on how it funds different state enterprises. This is done with fees. Now we want to limit the fees. 🙈
I will vote no.
Proposition 118: Create a new state program and fees to provide paid family and medical leave to workers
That wraps up the 2020 US and Colorado elections. Thanks for playing along.
Got on the bike this morning and started riding to Chicken Creek Nordic center. Its a 40 minute rode from my home that starts on pavement then turns into a nice dirt road ride. I ride there a lot because it’s close to my home, and gets me into the San Juan National Forest the fastest. Today I started off thinking I would go for a two and a half hour ride. Seven hours later I rolled back into the compound with a new route completed.
For most of the summer I have been riding into the Chicken Creek Nordic center, and then riding up Chicken Creek road. These rides range anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours depending on how far I go. One ride that I have been thinking about is using Morrison 610 to connect to Highway 145 and then creating a 60+ mile loop back to the small town of Dolores and then home:
The big issue was that I haven’t ridden any of Morrison 610, and my only food was a package of ShotBloks. The good news was that I had plenty of water, and when I got to Dolores I could stop for Gatorade, potato chips, and candy bars. If I got to Dolores…
The temperature was chilly but not cold. With a skull cap, light jacket, and warm gloves I lost some feeling in my fingers but overall was comfortable. After one and a half hours of riding I was too warm for the jacket and gloves. 30 minutes later I switched the cap out for my regular headband. I was feeling very good, but also knew I had a long way to go.
One issue I immediately had with the Morrison 610 trail is that it’s a multi use trail. This means that ATV’s and dirt bikes can ride it. I have friends that tell me dirt bikes help break a trail in for mountain bikes. Yeah right. More like they break a trail.
The issue with anything with an engine is that it can spin it’s tires out anytime. This erodes the trail and leaves large roots and rocks which are not fun to ride a bike on. Personally I don’t see the need for recreational vehicles. If you want to recreate then get a bike or go for a hike. </rant>
The silver lining is that the 560 forest road kept criss-crossing the trail. The second time I crossed it I stopped and check my Trailforks app to see if the 560 forest road was a valid option. Sure enough it was and I could avoid riding the worst eroded part of Morrison 610 by riding on a mostly nicer road for about 4 miles.
The aspen trees in our area have been changing color for a few weeks, but it seemed like they were at peak color today. Half the forest was bright yellow and beautiful. The views definitely helped distract me from the climbing. Eventually I got back on Morrison 610 a short distance from the downhill to Bear Creek Trailhead.
The downhill section of Morrison 610 into the Bear Creek Trailhead on Highway 145 is only 2.5 miles but it has 1800 ft of elevation loss. There were a few trees that had fallen across the trail which I had to dismount for. Part of making a 60+ mile bike ride fun is not falling on a tree, or at all.
It was breathtaking in a few ways:
Once I reached the bottom of the downhill and made my way to Highway 145 I still wasn’t even halfway done with the distance. However the majority of the climbing was complete, and I would be on pavement for the rest of the ride home. I poured my 2 reserve water bottles into my Camelback bladder, and ate my last ShotBlok before heading for Dolores.
Highway 145 is a road Kate and I have biked before, but in the other direction. 4 years ago on Labor day weekend we biked the San Juan Skyway. On day 1 we biked up Highway 145 and today I quickly recalled that there is no shoulder on this road. The majority of drivers gave me plenty of room when passing, and a few slowed down if there was oncoming traffic. So, that was nice.
My butt was beginning to get tired of being on a bike seat about this time. Fortunately I was listening to the audio book Can’t Hurt Me during the start of David’s ultra marathon career. Compared to what he went through in those races my day was looking really nice. It is fascinating how much the mind will get you to quit something because it is hard.
Once in Dolores I stopped at the first gas station to get some calories. At this point I was 6 hours into the ride and had eaten 200 calories in shotbloks, which are just fancy Gummie bears. It was time to consume calories. My preference is for a 32 oz bottle of blue Gatorade, Lays BBQ potato chips, and chocolate bars. This station had Kind bars which make me feel like its kinda health food. I had 2 of those and grabbed a Cliff Bar for security in case I needed more calories before I got home.
Dolores to home is about an hour ride taking it easy. The good news is that at this point easy was the only gear I had left. Since I have biked this section a lot it was much more routine than the prior six hours of riding had been. My butt was definitely over riding bikes for the day but overall I felt good. I stayed well hydrated the whole ride and reserved my energy well.
Next step will be expanding the route to go over Sharkstooth pass and drop down the entire Bear Creek trail. That will add at least 2000 more vertical and at least a dozen or more additional miles. Should be fun.
Fun ski/splitboard film in the Swiss Alps. Besides being able to ride awesome mountains and make us jealous the riders attempt to be as low carbon footprint as possible. Its a fun snow sport film that gets me excited about winter. The side focus and commentary on climate change is sobering. Here you can see the environment change as the glaciers have melted away.
The movie is fun and interesting in many ways. The history of the alps, the crazy athletic abilities of the athletes, and the conversation about the environment. Naturally it got me thinking about our carbon footprint and impact on climate change.
One of the focuses on our home design has been Net Zero design. The idea is to build a structure that produces all of the energy that it uses. To do that we build a highly efficient home that is run on electricity. Then we add PV Solar to cover our electrical usage.
How big a difference does one house make though? The thing about one house building like this is that then it leads to other houses building like this. Once you see that something is possible it becomes more probable that you will do it too. I think most people look at Net Zero from an up front cost perspective.
Yes adding insulation and Solar PV costs money, but these are two things that continue to pay you back. Instead of having expensive counter tops we will have a home that pays for its energy usage starting year one. By year 5 or 8 we will have recouped the cost of the system.
Yes climate change is a massive issue and it will take a lot of action from the largest countries and companies. But I also see the benefit in each one of us taking action. While individual actions are small they add up by influencing each other to do better.
Regarding the ski movie: Its odd that in 2018 there weren’t any female skiers or splitboarders available for the movie…
Interesting take on a time travel documentary about time travel. The writers had fun putting this together. This is not going to be the most monumental thing you have ever seen. However it should distract you for just over an hour with at least mild amusement. Free with Amazon Prime.
I mentioned ICF in a prior post as the technique we have settled on for building our basement walls. What I did not mention was that initially we had also planned to build all the walls with ICF. We changed to using 2×6 framing based on various green/passive building techniques we had been reading about.
However we have recently been considering whole house ICF again. This is due to the price of lumber skyrocketing in the US currently. Generally building your entire home with ICF instead of traditional wood framing adds about 3-5% to the overall bill. Currently lumber is about 30%+ up in price so that 3-5% is pretty much wiped out. Add to that the extra costs we were going to incur with spray foam insulation and external continuous ridgid foam insulation and ICF is looking pretty nice.
Beyond the economics though an ICF house has major practical benefits:
The walls are self standing. This allows the roof to be built in different manners since it is independent of helping support the walls. You can even use ICF for the roof.
Sound proofing. A solid concrete house is very quiet.
Thermal bridging. Since the concrete is solid all the way around and the insulation is built in there is no thermal bridging, which is a fancy way of saying that wood studs suck at insulating.
Bullet proof. I really hope we never have to test this but if it comes to that we will have a fortress in which to ride out the apocalypse.
Build time. With ICF you build the form, pour the concrete, and the walls and insulation are done. Then its just roughing in electrical and plumbing and adding the finish.
We have gotten some quotes from ICF suppliers. Now we are talking with installers and getting quotes. The fun never stops apparently.
I am addicted to the Youtube channel Cercle. The scenery and the music is perfect for working on my laptop to. Kate is also a fan. This episode is cool af as FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) slays an assortment of instruments on the salt flats in Bolivia.
In the design of our home I have ceded almost all territory to Kate. The bedrooms, bathrooms, general living areas, and kitchen are hers to design and rule. I have asked for 3 things: a full basement, a large garage, and a large section of southern facing roof for solar.
Of these 3 things the basement has me the most excited. In the house I grew up in we had a basement and my bedroom was down there. The insulative properties of a basement cannot be overstated. Light, sound, and heat are all better kept in a basement as the walls are concrete and the earth is a massive insulating barrier.
Over the last few years I have worked on a few construction projects. Specifically I have worked on building foundations and crawl spaces. In these projects I was introduced to Insulating Concrete Forms aka ICF. With ICF traditional metal forms are replaced with lighter forms generally made from Styrofoam. These are much easier to construct and after the concrete is poured are left behind to serve as insulation.
Our designer is familiar with ICF and has worked them into our basement design. For a moment we considered doing ICF for the walls of the house as well. We cancelled that idea due to cost and practicality. With ICF you have a concrete wall so remodeling is more difficult. Additionally while ICF does add insulation to the concrete wall it is only an R-17. Our goal is a minimum of R-20 with the walls. I will talk more about the walls in another post.
Now we need to find builders who are familiar with ICF. We don’t want to be someones first time. It seems like a win-win for the builder as ICF requires considerably less skill to install. I am an example of this. Its pretty much like building legos.
As the blocks are installed on top of the foundation reinforced bar (rebar) is added to give tensile strength to the concrete. Then concrete is poured at 4 foot levels to build up the wall while avoiding the dreaded blowout.
A blowout is when part or all of the form fails and concrete pours out. As you can imagine this is a disaster and to be avoided at all costs. Hence the saying of respect: “Concrete waits for no man.“
We will have a few windows in the basement but for the most part its gonna be dark and awesome. The main floor of the house will be built with BCI Joists which will be able to span the width of the basement. This will allow us to avoid needing any support walls or posts in the center of the basement. I am thinking it might be a nice space for an ice rink or tennis court 🤪.
Last night I watched some Youtubes before packing off to bed and caught an episode from Vegan Cyclist that I had not seen before. He goes on a pretty epic mountain bike ride which is cool. Then at the end of the video he talks about how he and his wife make it possible for each other to do their own things.
It’s a footnote to the overall video. The lighting is terrible but the honesty is awesome and I highly recommend watching it. Here is where this part starts:
They are 100% committed to each other with no questions asked. If one of them wants to do something that is important to them the other one says yes, then figures out how to make it happen. This is so crucial for any partnership and especially for a romantic relationship.
There are times when it is hard to do this but those are the times that you need to do it. If you want the relationship to last and be enjoyable. I know that I am guilty of not always being 100% committed when Kate wants to do something but I try to limit those times. I also try to make it up to her as quickly as possible, somehow. This may explain why we have a rose bush.