Finding a builder or contractor


“Local builders aren’t getting it

Butson says the local builders he’s contacted haven’t been of much help.

“More broadly, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will have to do most of the engineering work for this renovation,” he says. “I have hired an architect who can create plans and construction details for what I want to execute. What I have not been able to find is a builder who seems to understand these issues or possible solutions.”

Butson has spoken to several builders, but they all insist that he will need heating cables.

“I fundamentally disagree with this, but I doubt I will be able to convince them otherwise,” he says, “and even if I do them, I don’t have confidence in their ability to execute the necessary modifications and details.”

For homeowners in search of a builder who is familiar with building science principles, one option, according to Holladay, is to contact a local energy rater certified by RESNET ( tor the Building Performance Institute ( To find a local energy rater, Butson can use the search function on one or both of these two websites.

“Call up the energy rater and ask for the names of local contractors who understand energy issues, building performance issues, and building science issues,” Holladay says. “Good luck.”


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“The World Health Organization is recommending that the radon
action level be reduced to 2.7 PC/L from the US current standard of 4 PC/L”

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Pros and Cons of Android vs iOS Circa October 2017

(I will update this from time to time… last updated Oct 2017)

All the apps I use are really on each so no issue there. So it really comes down to silly things.
Most people seem to be locked into one or the other. I’ve used both quite a bit and am agnostic/impartial. So here are the things I’ve noticed. Things to keep in mind… an important one to me is Google Voice integration. For some it might be some camera features.

What I would buy:
iPhone SE A1662 32gb Verizon or better… SIM FREE
Moto G 4th generation / “Moto G4” unlocked

Android Pros
– I personally think the web interface of archived photos is about 1-million times better than iOS
– I love being able to press ANYWHERE on the screen to take a picture in the camera app. Easier to switch to video than in iOS
– my older 3G phone doesn’t seem to prevent tethering which is helpful when travelling (I believe this is because the OS is out of date… in this case a good thing!)
– “if this phone is lost call XXX-XXX-XXXX” msg on lock screen is trivial! So helpful! Has saved us once!
– photos are widescreen. Apple still does 4×3 type photos?!?!?!
– Google Voice integration. Being able to MAKE calls appearing as your google voice # makes it easier to switch networks/SIMs.

Android Cons
– cannot install Amazon apps without having to go thru all sorts of ridiculous stuff (because they don’t want normal Android users to compete with Fire???)
– if everyone else is on Apple… no apple messaging/facetime
– older androids had much worse security choices in apps and storage was not encrypted by default. Better starting in Android 6.0

iOS Pros
– Old phones are MUCH MUCH MUCH more supported by new updates to the OS. iOS 11 on iPhone 5S
– Much better news app
– Google knows enough about me already.
– camera is great
– slowmo mode and timelapse are great
– can still get a small phone! iPhone SE is great!
– locking out apps when driving!
– 5 presses Emergency Call feature!

iOS Cons
– Expensive to get a FULLY unlocked (CDMA/GSM) phone which will work on all 4 major networks. “SIM FREE via Apple Store”. If you just need *GSM* unlocked, I think that’s easier — like I think the iPhone SE A1662. But it’s a bit murky. Web pages explanations don’t necessarily match my experience with carriers.
– Setting up data networks is sometimes a mess. If you cannot find the proper profile file to set the APN,
you CANNOT do it manually. Also it (for me in iOS 11) failed once and I had to restore from a backup I had made in iTunes! (Yikes!)
– Getting a “if this phone is lost, call XXX-XXX-XXXX” msg on the lock screen is nearly impossible. This msg WILL appear
once you REALIZE it is lost and lock it from iCloud, but having it right on the lock screen is WAY BETTER!

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Screentime and… What is Work?

Great article from Silvia Beier on the nature of work for many of us and what this means when we worry about screen time for our kids.  That’s right… look in the mirror!  And I don’t mean that in a negative way per se.  Just that a lot of the work we do looks EXACTLY LIKE what our kids look like when they are on screens — whether they are watching a TV show or vlog, or playing video games — either alone or with a mob of friends on a minecraft or terraria server.

I sometimes feel like the hard work they are doing understanding Terraria (“OK GOOGLE: terraria vortex wings”…) is EASILY as complicated as the software engineering work that I do for a living.  (They would probably love it!)  But for now… this PLAY is their WORK.  I see no difference between the WebEx meeting I had this afternoon — sharing screens and discussing a design with colleagues — as when my kids are working on crafting and defeating bosses in the latest game while discussing it all on Skype running in the background.  Some in the same room or across the house…. others across town.  Really.  It’s awesome, it’s natural, and it’s work.

Silvia Beier, Are They Getting Their Work Done?, October, 2016

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What it’s like for our Sudbury School family

Family First and Peaceful Parenting

Our kids go to SVS.  What’s it’s like for our family is this (and forgive me if I’ve written this down before)… peaceful!  It’s peaceful.  Not that it is quiet… we tolerate a lot of “wild fun” around the house.  But there are things missing that I know are pretty common like homework battles (there is no HW, unless they choose it), getting-up-in-the-morning and get-to-the-bus-stop battles (there is no set time they have to be at school… just the 5 or 5.5 hours the state requires), no tears, none of this stuff.

It’s wonderful and amazing and priceless!

Off to Work!

What I also wanted to say was what it is like for me personally when the kids go off to school.  Frankly, it’s exactly the same as I felt when I was a kid and my parents went off to work.  Namely, they would go off and do their own thing for “a few” hours a day, they would later come back into the family fold, and we’d maybe hear a bit about their day at work, but maybe not, and that’s it!  It’s the same with the kids at school.  That’s their time to do exactly as they wish!  And we hear bits and pieces of it, but certainly not right when they get back.  They are usually physically exhausted, mentally exhausted, and/or starved, because they were too busy to eat!  So it’s usually “Hi, welcome home!” until they have recharged their batteries a bit back at the family cave.

Now granted, we try our darndest to do the same (give the kids complete freedom) around the house, but it’s not going to be quite like being independent at school for a few hours a day.  At home with Mom and Dad they are expecting a little help and parental care and we’re happy to oblige.

So that’s one of the really great things.

“There’s nothing more exciting than peace!” — Byron Katie 

I like that quote because it reminds me of a concept(and forgive me if this seems like a stretch) in technology standards and generally in technology/tools we use.  When there is “peace” (standards) at one level, it allows incredible creativity to bloom at a level up on the stack.  So in software, the standards of HTTP and HTML have allowed for the creativity of the web to happen.  In the home, the peaceful state we experience allows for the creative expression and development of all of us, especially our kids.

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Here’s a post where I will collect interesting posts discussing the flaws in the SHARE THE ROAD yellow diamond signs and why MAY USE FULL LANE (R4-11) is much better.  Some towns and cities have already begun to change their signs. (Columbus Ohio —

  1. It’s linguistically clearer
  2. It shouldn’t be a yellow-diamond warning sign.  It should be a white rectangular informational sign.
  3. The MAY USE FULL LANE (R4-11) is already in use
  4. There is even an add-on — “R4-11aP” CHANGE LANES TO PASS

“A yellow diamond sign is for warning drivers of potentially hazardous road conditions, whereas the Bikes May Use Full Lane signs are white rectangles, which are regulatory signs that control lane use. We believe it is more appropriate to treat bicyclists less like potential hazards and more like the legal road users that they are, and to remind other road users of that fact.”

OK, on to the links for your consideration:

1. Critique of Share the Road (2012)

2. Share The Road stinks (2010)

3. Crazy Driver Buzzes Cyclist and Incites a Heated Argument (Youtube 2016)

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Talk talk

“The most famous physics institute of the 20th century was the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark. Bohr is the man who created the quantum theory of the atom, which lies at the heart of modern physics. He collected around himself the greatest physicists of his time, and hung out with them. That’s what they did, they hung out. I’m using that phrase because we hear it a lot in this school. In his Institute, they’d come for a season to hang out. They’d take walks in the woods, they’d sail on the ocean, they’d swim, and what they treasured more than anything was talking. They talked about physics, they talked about theories, they talked about God, they talked about philosophy. What they were doing, all these greater and lesser physicists, was trying to understand about each other: “How does he see the world? What is he thinking?””

Article: “Conversation: the Staple Ingredient” by Daniel Greenberg at Sudbury Valley School

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