Home School Stuff

Pretty sweet car-camping spot

Pics are from this week’s field trip to Huron Peak, one of my favorite parts of our state.

One of the benefits of COVID (wiping out my travel schedule) is the motivation to undertake challenging drives.

Huron Peak had a 1:1 drive:hike ratio.

Chalk that up to another thing I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy.

Probably took the Volvo a little past its design specifications for the final two miles of the drive. However, we made it (just) and the views from our campsite were pretty awesome.

Today is the end of Week 17 and I feel like I’m in the home stretch for lockdown/summer school.

We are 5.5 weeks away from getting real school back. Our district is going full speed towards a reopening on August 19th. Same with our local university.

The reopening has me feeling nervous for what’s in store => September / October. I wonder if I’ll be COVID-free by Halloween.

I’d feel a whole lot better if there was more info on therapeutic options => even if I was using g-medicine to fool myself.

A Frogg Toggs rain suit turns any outfit into cold weather gear.

Kids spent this week testing out of their next grade math. Our tutor, who is a district math teacher, wanted to have proof so the kids can jump a year when they return.

I had to come up with something to keep our oldest engaged on Wednesday morning, so I promoted her to the manager of the Kirkland Apple Sauce factory. As factory manager, she had to do production calculations for packaging and apple sauce.

My wife’s birthday is coming up so we’re transitioning from 4th of July decorations to Birthday Week Celebrations!

“Have you made your mother a birthday card?”

“Well, make her another one. She does a lot for you.”

Special event preparation helps fill our days.

Sunrise around 12,000 ft.

Home School Science Fair – Round Two

First, the wire for the homopolar motor project was too thin.

Then the wire was too thick!

I’m hoping for “just right” with the third round.

I also got a blank stare when I asked, “Hey, what’s a homopolar motor, anyway?”

We’re chipping away.

We forgot my son’s shoes in Boulder and found a pair for $3.25 at Dollar General in Leadville, CO. The shoes were heavier than my trekking boots but they made it!

Our tutors are gearing up for a return to school so we will be getting less support in August. The kids were bummed. I appreciated the notice so I could give some thought to more outdoor education options.

By the way, my kids’ reaction was a reminder that humans love predictability and routine. You can use this knowledge to drive positive change in your own life.

Start each day by doing a little bit of what needs to be done.

Train for me => read for them.

The comfort is real. Axel forgot his shoes but he remembered his book.

~13,900 feet. Flowers are popping above treeline.

This is Liam the Summit Goat. I’m guessing someone made the mistake of feeding him, once. Please don’t feed the animals, or the trolls!

You can mail order 14’er patches from The Trailhead. I hid this one in his pack. Huron was his 10th 14er.

Some legit lines over his shoulder. Those are The Three Apostles. The middle one is also called Ice Mountain. Teaching my kids about cycling, climbing, hiking, ocean swimming is a double-edged sword. I remember my close calls, there were many. My view => Prepared is better than sheltered.

My masked hike was fine until I sneezed, the (too) rapid inhale scared the crap out of me. This time, my partner saved the Clone Wars discussion until the descent.

Coleman makes a six-person instant cabin – it takes one minute to set up, excluding fly. Two camping beds and we had chairs going as well. The tent isn’t recommended for a windy day but awesome for car camping. They are 6’x9′ => I’d want two if I had the full family (two adults, three kids).

Masking is spreading across the state, even in the parts with an individual, rather than collective, spirit.

Mask use is minimal on the trails. This made me want to confine my 14er trips to weekdays.


Well, I was trying to calculate in my head walking down Huron Peak. However, I can’t calculate the probability of a recurring series of events without a calculator.

Frankly, I struggle to believe the numbers even when I check the formula.

3,000 encounters… what’s the expected chance to stay healthy?

Chance of infection 1:1,000,000 => (0.999999)^(3,000) = 99.7% healthy

Slide up the risk curve 1:100,000 risk => (0.99999)^(3,000) = 97.0% healthy

Your state blows up and your activity has 1:10,000 infection chance, repeat 3,000x => (0.9999)^(3,000) = 74.1% healthy

Low chances, repeated, result in material chances.

Minimizing repeated exposure + reducing the nature of exposure = get sick later

Corona Diary 8 July 2020

Two out of three joining the morning sessions now. After watching “Touch The Wall” our oldest is considering joining.

Doing these updates once a week seems to be enough to provide me with a record of developments and not get too wrapped up in the news cycle.

Under COVID, it’s particularly rewarding to find ways to improve.

Testing week for me, lifetime best for power clean / push press and nudged my bench best up by 5lbs from three weeks ago. I think I can safely do a bit better.

Time to move on to the next module => SF45 Bravo. I will be swapping back squat for bench squat in the next plan. The risk of injury with (solo) bench squat is too high for me.

Over in Aspen, a friend did the Triple Crown ride with his 15-year-old daughter. Independence Pass, Ashcroft and Maroon Bells => 88 miles and 8,000 vertical feet! It caught my eye for post-COVID goals with my oldest. We’ll have a vaccine deployed in three years, right?!

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Our political class won’t mention this because it will damage their own candidate.

Regardless of the winner of the election, by 2023, we are going to see the need for a constitutional amendment to cap the eligibility age for high office => might as well sort everything at once: President, Senate and Supreme Court.

To get it done, remember the history of the rule for a Natural Born for president. The Founders grandfathered the people who approved the rule. Link to that clause.

You can see the age of all our Presidents in this link.

In my lifetime,

  • Reagan was the most compromised at the end of his term, just before his 78th birthday.
  • Biden is 77 => gaffes at 77 are not the same as at 57.
  • My heart sank watching Trump (74) walk down the ramp at West Point.
  • Sanders (78) came close to the nomination, while having a heart attack in the primaries.

In Denver we are turning away patients at our free testing site because we are short on test supplies. 2,000 tests per day is the limit. I suspect our Governor will be on that in a hurry. Tests ran out at lunchtime yesterday.

Vail Mountain is open for the summer. I hear it is busy but not as busy as last year.

Positives are remaining subdued across the state. I’ll paste our testing/positivity data below. Here is the link to the source page.

You can see the growth that triggered the bars being closed again. Our experience is behind what I expected in late-April.

Starting to see a hospitalization uptick, perhaps.

With the virus blowing up in other parts of the US, we should have a clearer idea of the hospitalization rate for young people by the end of July.

I wouldn’t spend any emotional energy on wishing “things were less political” during a Presidential Election year. Everything is going to be political the entire year, and probably after. When people are scared, stressed and angry… tribal instincts increase. It’s the way we are wired.

That said, I’ve started taking notes for a piece on “What To Do?” I know a few members of the 1% and they have been asking themselves what actions they can take.

For you personally, my advice is simple => do something hard.

Take a small step, every single day, to improve yourself. There’s nothing tougher than overcoming ourselves.

In fact, there is a mantra I say when the kids overcome themselves, “We do tough things!

Not sure about which “tough thing?” What one thing, if it happened, would change everything? One small step, daily, in that direction.

Don’t feed the trolls => early last month, I dropped the three loudest people in my twitter feed. I kinda miss the excitement but I don’t miss the drama. For me, they failed the 30-day test.

White House is shifting from “it will blow over” to a “surrender and deal with it” posture. I’m glad we don’t run our military, or economy, with the strategic thinking we have seen from this administration.

COVID makes me wonder just how bad it’s gotten with our foreign policy.

Australia reported to be locking apart their most populous states => to control an outbreak in Melbourne.

With our statues under attack, I’m reminded of my time at Catholic High School and learning about the Jewish, Protestant, and Muslim dislike for idolatry.

On that topic, the President has a point, made poorly. Right now is not the time to focus ourselves on tearing down (society, ourselves, anyone who disagrees with us). We need to come together. Our collective life is going to get very difficult if the virus runs the table in the second half of this year.

Another point on the President – everybody (pro & con) knows who the guy is and he’s done exactly what he told us he’d do.

The morning after he was elected, I was asked what I thought and observed,

Air Force One, baby. He’s got no interest in government.

I thought this was an excellent idea. County level red alert system – helps keep our economy, and schools open:

Click to read the full thread – green zone concept – this is smart.

Activities by risk profile – so easy my 7-year old could grasp it.

PDF of the chart.

The freedom tweets (to pressure early re-opening) appear to have not aged well.

Each time I read someone ripping on Sweden, I remind myself… Many months to run and current views are not indicative of where we will end up.

Not sure I’ll remember the drama/debate over the hydroxychloroquine cocktail. It’s been flipping back and forth on a 4-6 week cycle. Useful vs not useful.

Like so much, I need to remind myself that I am not qualified to understand the debate.

Getting Back To Cycling

From days gone by => Sunshine Beach, QLD, Australia. Married, no kids, scared of Queensland traffic!

Yesterday was 60 days in a row of riding and I wanted to jot down some notes.

The last time I got back in bike shape I was in my early-40s with only one kid and no lockdown restrictions.

Times have changed!

Another blast from the past => as an elite athlete, physiological testing helped me get the most out of my training. This one was during blood lactate testing in NZ.

At the start of May, I’d been locked down since March 13th and was injured from my run program. Early in our lockdown, my wife ordered a Peloton spin bike. I decided to try it out.

May 8th was my first ride. I immediately enjoyed the format – music with no cars. I also liked the fact that my public health authority couldn’t take away my ability to ride indoors!

It’s been a fun progression:

  • May 13th => 20-minute best effort ride (222w, 152 bpm)
  • June 25th, held 221w for 75 minutes at 137bpm
  • 1st week of July held 230w for an hour at 139bpm

I’m at ~3 watts per kilo in my “peppy aerobic zone” – that’s good enough. I’m pleased how it worked out.

A proud moment from my athletic career. Being hung on the Wall of Fame in Dr John Hellemans office. There are a lot of VERY good athletes on that wall! John cared enough to teach an arrogant, but passionate, stranger about exercise physiology and coaching. I learned so much from him.

Here’s my training protocol, you don’t need a Peloton. You do need a bike, a trainer, a heart rate monitor and a power meter.

Ride twice most days, mainly endurance. First ride is done before my kids wake up. I enjoy a cup of coffee then get rolling.

Endurance ride => the basic Peloton format…

  • Three song warm-up
    • Song 1 just spin, build cadence and power into Zone 2/Steady
    • Song 2 insert 4×30 seconds, spin-ups (cadence ~110 rpm) with power not more than Zone 3/Mod-hard
    • Song 3 split in half – Zone 2, Zone 3
  • Endurance set, alternate by song Zone 3 / Zone 2 => 20-45 minutes based on time available.
  • Spin your HR under 100bpm when you’re done

That session is the bulk of my bike training, it works great and will continue to work great. Even more important, I’m having fun.

You can see everything I do on Strava => weights/strength/hills and a lot of “low” HR endurance.

If you go the Peloton route then they have an intro to power module (here’s their power FAQ).

Friday the 13th, March 2009, Kitt Peak, Ajo Highway, Arizona => 40 years old, one of the first times I can remember stopping (mid climb) to take a picture!

Bonus tips:

  • The target power zone sets the MINIMUM for your workout target – put a floor on work – if you can’t hit your endurance zones, or if your HR pops, then your zones are set too high. Upward zone creep is common across all ability levels!
  • Heart rate zone sets the MAXIMUM for your workout – put a ceiling on stress – once warmed up, I give myself permission to push the watts up a bit, so long as my HR stays in my target zone. When I consistently generate higher level power, on lower level HR, I know it’s time to retest my zones.
  • Climbing/Big Gear workouts are a great way to rack up Threshold Watts (Z4) at Mod-Hard Heart Rates (Z3). Example here.
  • My toughest workouts are crisscross sessions – about an hour a week – warm-up and power is going over/under FTP with recoveries in Zone 3/Mod-Hard. Example here.
  • Traditional Spin Classes are done for variety, as a pep rally and to build quickness/cadence. Quickness is key as we age. This skill was tough when I started – it came back fast.
  • Being able to use Peloton to create a “proper” program was a surprise – I thought it was all spin classes and high intensity. Guess I am a bit out of date.
  • The 20-minute benchmarking test is a “nice” session in itself – kinda hurts at the end. You don’t need, or want, to be doing much truly tough stuff in 2020. There are many better places for you to put your energy.
  • Peloton has world class coaches – Alex Toussaint leaves me feeling cheerful every_single_time I do one of his classes. Throughout lockdown, I was laughing out loud with his classes. Laughter is good medicine.
  • Lift weights – moving your power zones up won’t improve your life. Getting stronger will improve your life.

A fun memory => at the end of a 12-day training camp in the Rockies, we did a handicapped TT up Mt Evans (28-mile climb that tops out above 14,000 feet). We adjusted times based on rider/bike weight. Someone noticed I was pounding fluids at the back of the line and we had to redo the weigh-in! This is my buddy Clas, he was training for Zofingen Duathlon so running 2x per day as well as all the cycling we did (over 100,000 feet of vertical). Needless to say, his legs were less than snappy. It was the only time in my life when I could beat him in a sprint!

Clas and me, later, riding into the clouds! The top 14 miles of the climb are closed to traffic this summer. If you ride then pack top/bottom shell and a very warm jacket. Also beware of the dreaded downhill-bonk!

Some specific thoughts on intensity.

  • When you’re training with power, you can track total work measured in kilojoules (KJ). If you’re a time-limited athlete (running home school, working, cleaning your house…) then KJs are worth noting.
  • You’ll quickly see that highly intense workouts have a poor KJ-to-Fatigue ratio. You get a lot of fatigue without much work being done.
  • You might think intensity is a good deal. It’s not. It’s an awful deal because highly intense workouts are stressful and stress makes you eat / crave sugar. Bad deal all around => you can easily gain fat while exercising often and feeling tired. Lose-Lose.
  • The Win-Win is a cardio program that adds energy to your overall life and helps guide your body composition, an endurance-based program.
  • Once your endurance is well established 6-18 months, it only takes a bit of tough stuff to get your numbers to bounce.
  • Your overall program needs to keep you under your sugar threshold. Cravings, and bingeing, are signs of depletion and excess stress.

Aim for a protocol you can do every day for 15 weeks.

Challenge yourself to eliminate the habits that screw up tomorrow’s training.

Keep it simple and repeat the week.

Celebrate Success

South Arapahoe Peak, yesterday

Given the simultaneous outbreaks we have in the US, our media is going to have plenty of fodder for negative stories this month.

If you follow the news cycle closely, then this could be a tough few weeks for you.

Consider scheduling a few days offline.

The route follows the left skyline – it was at my limit for “unroped spicy with two of my favorite people”

If you’re sucking in a lot of negativity then you might find spillover inside your head. The spillover may manifest as a negative voice beating you down internally.

A lot of us aren’t able to “hear” the soundtrack in our heads. As a coach, I would notice it when my athletes had a habit of negative expression in voice and written words.

To counter a habit of negativity, I’d assign an excerise => buy a small notebook and end each day by writing down one positive thing that happened.

Every single day.

Life happens where you focus.

Change your focus, change your life.

Ax-man was a little buried by the end of the weekend. When it comes to fatigue, he has developed excellent coping skills.

Our Science Fair was a huge hit.

Secret ingredients to the traditional vinegar/baking soda lava recipe – a little dish soap, a little water and red food coloring – you can see the red chunks in the lava

Public speaking starts at home – learning to listen (and not correct) also starts at home

Spoiled is when you think your life is difficult but it isn’t.

Living under COVID is difficult in many ways. We are learning to embrace and enjoy our challenges.

It would have been very difficult for me to engineer rapid positive change without the challenges of closures, home school and social isolation.

Byrn Family Fitness Center – if there’s a will then you can figure it out. Picture is our Saturday morning fitness program. My son is finishing his “walk back” – I’m running my hill repeat in the background. The local college kids have embraced our street and we see some spectacular runners blaze past.

Personal responsibility is a key value of mine. In the past, this was to the exclusion of maintaining relationships. My kids have helped me do better with finding a balance between hard and soft skills.

Lots of personal responsibility was on display this past weekend: packing our own gear for a climb, learning to recover from a deep bonk (with grace and without blaming anyone), taking care of siblings.

The habit of having to take care of ourselves at home is spilling over into our larger lives.

Ax looking down the wrong turn I was about to make for my family. Thankfully, we managed an upward traverse back onto the main route.

Money and Kids

The basics:

  • An unconditional allowance set at $1 per week, per year of age
  • Money sits with Bank of Dad and yields 10% APR – I want my kids to get very excited about compound interest – we have a generation of kids growing up in a no-yield environment – this will have a HUGE impact on our societies – don’t know specifics but do know it will change finance for a long time
  • I hold a veto on any spending out of the “allowance account” – there is no obligation for me to be reasonable – if you disagree with my decision then…
  • Buy it yourself, kids can earn their own money – own money equals own choices – I want my kids to get excited about providing value to others and earning money for themselves – this is much more important to me than winning in sport
  • Summer reading prize – read every day across the summer and get a very good prize – it costs me $100 per kid, per summer, to create a habit of morning reading, without being asked!

The incentive structure has been successful.

Our latest addition is babysitting – our oldest taking care of our youngest. We’ve settled into $7 per hour for the oldest with $2 per hour to the youngest at the same time. We give them a written schedule with some easy chores to complete. This is the easiest “kid combo” for us to manage – the older sister/younger brother dynamic hasn’t been figured out, yet.

Another popular product is exterior cash wash at $5 per car, per kid.

Our oldest makes scrunches, masks and children’s stuffies. Orders, pricing, manufacturing, delivery… all sorted by her. Since school ended, she is averaging $75 per week of supplemental income.

Dawn breaks near the 4th of July Mine, Indian Peaks Wilderness

15 Years

Today’s my 15th wedding anniversary. I thought I’d leave something for my daughters.

I was born Canadian and figured if you’re going to marry an American then best to do it on the 4th of July.

In normal times, the benefits of a strong domestic partnership aren’t obvious. These aren’t normal times!

Being locked down with my wife is great. The other night I shared, “I could roll this for another 75 weeks, no problem.”

I saw my wife’s silent reply in her eyes… 75 frickin’ weeks?! Anyhow, she might not feel the same way about lockdown but she’s happy for me.

That might be a good first tip => the capacity to be happy for other people.

I had zero empathy through my 20s. Which bring us to the next tip…

End bad relationships early

You’re unlikely to get to a great marriage via a rocky courtship.

How will you know it is a bad relationship? Turn that question on its head.

Is it going to be the greatest mistake of your life if you let this person go? That’s how I felt when I proposed to Monica.

Be willing to be alone

A good marriage is an outstanding deal. It is worth a lot of effort to get there. There is so much stuff I don’t have to deal with.

However, there’s no rush to get there. It wasn’t until my 30s that I started to show any potential to be “marriage material.”

Don’t marry the prettiest girl in high school

This observation isn’t about being pretty, or being female.

It’s this… being treated like you’re special, for no good reason, from a young age, will skew your perception of the world.

All my best relationships, male and female, have been with people who grew up lower middle-class. The exceptions were financially comfortable but had to overcome significant emotional challenges growing up.

Pretty, gifted, athletic… from an early age… can make the rest of your life seem like a downer.

Don’t peak in high school.

How to spot a husband

Is he kind? Kindness takes time to develop in many people.

Will people work for him? You’ll be doing a lot of work together.

If people like working for him then you’re less likely to resent him. Female-to-male resentment is the #1 trait I come across in unhappy marriages.

A kind guy, that “people” enjoy working for.

You, and your kids, will become his people.

Good luck.

Home School Notes

Volcano Project nearly complete – if you look closely then you can see animals in the foothills, oblivious to the carnage to come.

Our youngest kids did a great job with their Science Fair project. The project is on a “tri-fold display board” made by Elmer’s.

Getting the electric motor project working for our oldest has been tougher. We got the rectangular homopolar motor to spin but have been struggling to get our “tiny dancer” to rotate.

We have a video clip that’s more impressive than this photo but I haven’t cracked the code on posting videos.

The first season of Colorado Classroom ended with 14 episodes. We’ve enjoyed the programming so started our 2nd Grader on the 3rd Grade lessons. She sits beside me and we do the class together. She’s a sweet kid and I enjoy our time together.

The Blue Gem of Mystery Island. A good coach can get you to do things you wouldn’t do on your own. Many thanks to Coach K, Axel’s English Tutor.

Got the COVID Blahs? Here’s a list of ideas to shake things up:

  • Field trip to a local volcano/park – Dinosaur Ridge is on my list for when we climb Mount Sherman
  • Trails/trees/nature
  • Bake a cake
  • Ice cream takeout 
  • Run through a sprinkler
  • Date night, in – Movie for the kids – last one we watched was Four Kids & It
  • Night walk – kids love anything in the dark
  • Train for something “scary” – our oldest has been doing NCAR hill repeats for an attempt to ride up Mount Evans, the top 14 miles is closed to cars this summer
  • Science Fair
  • Learn next year’s math – you can get it done in July/August
  • Write a book – this was my son’s June project with his English teacher – his younger sister will give it a shot in July
  • Need more ideas? Here’s a Google Doc shared by a master teacher.

If you’re caught in a rut then schedule a change.

To get myself to try something new, it helps if I fix a date, and a time, in my calendar.

I’m the rider-of-last-resort for my daughter and got the call yesterday. Se we headed up Flagstaff Mountain for an afternoon session. Lifetime personal best for a continuous climb and she did great.

Her pacing reminded me of a buddy in Utah (T.G.) – she took it out hard from the bridge then settled in.

I still laugh thinking about TG’s training camp many years ago. I’m on the far side of elite performance but he’s still crushing it.

About halfway up, that’s the 1st Flatiron dead ahead – our route curves around to the right

We can see these flags from our front door in BoCo. They must look a long way up to a kid.

Matching camo mask and shirt – pink & grey pedals paired with her Camelbak – high-end shorts courtesy of a very elite athlete – in endurance sport, some of the best are the size of boys and girls. We live at 5,500 ft.

In case you’re wondering, she didn’t climb with her mask but I was curious so rolled mine the entire time.

It was 90F in the shade. The mask starts to get challenging above 225w => fortunately, my ride buddy’s “age-grouper pacing” settled a half-mile after the bridge.

Corona Diary 2 July 2020

I hope y’all had a great Canada Day (July 1st).

We marked the occasion with our 100-day cake. It was actually Day 110 but the kids didn’t seem to mind.

In their excitement, after we sang Happy Birthday Canada, they started chanting U-S-A, U-S-A!

Best lockdown ever.

Magical thinking is a coping mechanism that I have met in different places.

I’ve seen magical thinking by CEOs of bust companies. Athletes with regard to supplements and superstitions. Hospice patients trying to deal with a terminal diagnosis.

I think we might be seeing something similar from the President and his supporters. Some of my friends are echoing a line I heard the President say yesterday, “this is all going to blow over by the fall.”

I sure hope so.


The whole issue about masks is an own-goal by the President. I think it is related to his aversion to using protection. I get it.

Separate from his personal views, it wasn’t necessary for his political goals. His core constituency will follow his lead.

Outside of his core supporters, is a group that doesn’t like him much but supports his agenda. Why place these people in a position where they have to publicly go against him?

Why alienate the supporters of convenience? Each break makes the next one easier.

Anyhow, information on the practical benefits of masks appears to be spreading. Spreading slowly, and in a very American fashion (loud, pissed off, lots of debate, people getting shot).

Repost of me and my 9-year old at 14,000 feet elevation, masks the whole way. 25 pounds on my 51-year old back.

Our President is planning a no-masks no-distancing rally at Mt Rushmore to celebrate July 4th. Their governor told people worried about infection to stay at home.

Unfortunately, we’re in this mess as a result of the next infection, not the first. The National Infection Tour rolls on.

Our governor shut our bars, and clubs, this week. On this first go-round, they had been allowed to reopen for 14 days. At the end of April, he told us we’d be opening/closing/iterating as we navigate through the crisis.

Some red-state governors are starting to converge to the blue-state approach. That said, Cali is trending up again. I wonder if there’s a lot of AC-equipped dormitory housing in SoCal.

Just in case things blow up, rather than blow over, I’m continuing to prepare for another shelter in place order.

Last year one of our Siamese cats died. Ax-man made his younger sister this one from scratch. Old-school lego technique from a pile of loose blocks!

Russia is in the news for doing very Russian things (cash bounties for killing our soldiers). Seems like a stupid thing for Putin to do, and he isn’t stupid. More typical would be to offer cash and weapons for “general purposes.” Here’s a link to what our CIA did when the Russians were fighting in Afghanistan.

You’ll probably see the current situation through whatever lens confirms your views of the administration. Here’s a point to consider about malfeasance…

It’s impossible to know all of the misdeeds of a regime while they remain in power – Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia, etc…

Even for the good guys, it takes time for facts to come out.

Our oldest claims she taught our cat to take selfies… 😉

I was living in Hong Kong during the Handover from the Brits to the Chinese. Recently, the Handover hasn’t gone well, but it has gone as many expected.

The UK has offered a five-year visa to Hong Kong holders of the BNO document. I think this is a very honorable thing to do. I can remember many people viewed the documents as worthless when they were issued. More on the path to citizenship being offered in this BBC article.

I was cleaning the fridge this week. Afterwards, my wife asked, “How long did that take?”

As far as I know, I am the only first-born male in 125 years to clean a refrigerator in his 50s. I’ll be doing the toilets later, Sweetie.

Freedom turned out different than I expected.

Volcano project rolls on. I’ve told the kids it will blow sky-high on the 4th!

No Fate

Our family party planner is gearing up for the 4th of July

Came across this in my feed via PaulG.

Lots to unpack.

Here’s a partial list of countries where I’ve spent more than ten weeks of my life: Canada (Happy Canada Day, BTW), England, USA, Scotland, France, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Australia and Bermuda.

The tweet above touches on something I’ve noticed about rich countries – we can get away with a lot of stupid stuff.

Inverting that observation, if you live in Taiwan, Hong Kong or New Zealand then you KNOW you can’t afford to screw up. The “Feds” in these places don’t have the capacity to bail you out. Only a very rich government gives you a tax cut and starts a war of choice.

This knowledge has a profound influence on their cultural outlook, work ethic, community bonds and social cohesion.

In the US, we are seeing the result of a widespread view that competence doesn’t matter. Left and right, we see populism ascendant.

We will pay a price if we rip down what remains.

It’s a big year for peas at Byrn Family Farms. Be careful with the seeds you choose to water.

Next idea for you.

Yes, the next year is going to be awful – people are going to die (many needlessly), businesses will go bust, friends and family will face ruin.

Awful is always there. Terror is always there. You will never not find them.

Whatever emotional pattern you choose to repeat across this crisis is going to be with you for a long time. The stress of your current life situation is going to burn some deep habits.

An attitude that the future is already lost will not serve us well. Mainly because it will distract each of us from the work we need to do. The work required to rebuild the damage which continues to be done to our communities.

What to do?

Well, pay attention when you find yourself drifting into a pity party.

Acknowledge it.

Then set a time limit on it.

An hour each morning, is about the max you should allow yourself.

But consider => if you start each day with a large coffee and a workout then you might be able to avoid it altogether.

Here’s a good read about facing difficulties with grace => Tuesdays With Morrie

Each week I get a choice. I can focus on the 150 hours I spend in my house, or the 18 hours I spend out of the box with my son.

Sometimes I can’t manage a one hour cap on my dissatisfaction and I’m still really upset (at what I don’t really know!) when I go to bed.

On those evenings, I fall asleep with a mantra, “tomorrow will be better.”

Tomorrow will be better.

It works.

My choice => up early, improving myself before my kids are awake.

Taking the two points together.

I will not blame you for sliding into a pity party, or righteous anger.

Every one of us can justify those feelings. I feel them in me – they come and they go.

I choose to let negative feelings go because they will not get me the life I want…

…for myself, for my marriage and for my family.

No fate.

Adversity Reveals

This picture reminds me that leaning into the difficulties of fatherhood has one of the highest returns on investment, in my life.

Saturday’s entry in my Daily Stoic (link is to Amazon) was a reminder that adversity reveals, an excellent topic during these times.

I have a hunch, Colorado is in a lull in our virus process. I’m taking advantage of the lull to get outside.

This week, my kids are wrapping up an academic year’s worth of math.

Five weeks to learn, one week of review – on to the next year’s concepts.

Financial price was ~$500 per kid. The price in time was 4 classes a week (1-on-1, 30 minutes) and 4-6 homework sessions of 20-45 minutes each. The classes were led by a Middle School teacher. Her skill is how we made such rapid progress.

My role was making it happen and dealing with the occasional fallout when the kids struggled with the new concepts.

  • Financial investment – less than expected.
  • Time investment – less than expected.
  • Emotional Investment – more than expected.

It’s probably like that with a lot of things.

The true skill lies in pushing through the emotional hurdle of the status quo.

Bison Peak, Lost Creek Wilderness.

Our experience with Summer Math reminded me that harder is more meaningful. The kids have gotten a lot out of their struggles. In overcoming “math,” they know they have achieved something.

The challenges of these times have demanded more from all of us. Hopefully, you’ve seen the benefit of having to step up.

Difficult does not imply worse.

Right around 12,000 feet in the Rockies.

Governance matters.

Our local and state governments have done an excellent job at navigating through the early stages of this crisis. I disagree with a lot of what they’ve done! Part of what they’ve done well is manage all of the disagreeing voices.

The process of translating “the choices of government” to “an outcome in society” requires social trust and cohesion.

America has trust issues and many are making them worse. However, the lesson here isn’t for our country or your local jurisdiction. The lesson is for your family and your marriage.

There’s a balance between competence and cohesion. To lead, to govern, you need to be keeping both in mind and acting in a way that builds social cohesion.

Time and time again, I have been surprised by outcome.

We are 15 weeks into a process that will take far longer than I expect.

Adversity will continue to reveal.

Home School Stuff

Step Two – the paper mache mix is flour and water, overnight in the fridge

We zoned out and missed our 100-day party!

Going to place it next week on July 1st, Canada Day.

Step Three

Science Fair projects are coming along. Volcano research included studying, then writing a paragraph on, the Ring of Fire. Bella completed a diagram on the parts of a volcano. We also watched a National Geographic special about Kilauea.

We had a little excitement when we ran out of brown paint for the volcano. I called an audible and we did an impromptu class on pigments – mixed our own brown, which looked a little purple, initially.

Next up a little greenery and some ocean

Virus news is so volatile, there are developments opposite of my notes within 90 minutes of posting => endless humility training.

State in-bound quarantines (NY/NJ/CT), local positives (back up), large health systems partially shutting down (costly in care and profits).

Here’s what’s clear:

  • The closest most of us could come to a meatpacking environment is an air-conditioned bar => dense, loud, humid and temperature controlled => additionally, there’s alcohol and a need to remove masks to drink. It is in our collective interest to pay to keep these places shut.
  • ~100 million Americans live in a state where the virus appears to be accelerating (CA, TX, FL, AZ).

We have friends in the bar and restaurant business. Very tough times for them.

Not all bad news – the Feds won against a hospital group that sued to keep pricing secret.

Disclosure helps.