Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Cam
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Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

So as stated in my intro, I'm learning about ways to build a better world - or in other words implementing responses to humanity's predicament. To do this I'd like as much free time and energy to devote to these causes. So in the past couple weeks I've been researching different forms of investing. It started on the ERE blog with the Dogs of the Dow, then Beating the TSX, then value investing. I'm looking into the permanent portfolio right now and it's giving me a good feeling. I like the idea of low maintenance investing that does well in all economic climates. Value investing for me seems very robust, but I think in the long run it'd be too much for me to be sifting through company's financial reports to find the undervalued ones.

I do eventually plan on living on a homestead of sorts. Most likely in a small town where the population is small enough to be fed by food grown in the local area. I'm on the path to become a construction and maintenance electrician, with some knowledge of welding that I'll be gaining this fall in a 42 week welding course. One of my favorite resources regarding living in these times is The Easiest Person to Fool blog by Irv Mills http://theeasiestpersontofool.blogspot.com/

A few years ago I owned index funds, 100% stocks I think. I sold when I learned about the collapse of civilization and my world got shaken up quite a bit. i'm back now wanting to learn how to make money work for me so I can devote more time to building a better world. My first step is to get my Questrade account up and running again.

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

So I've read through the ERE Wheaton levels and found them pretty interesting. If I were to place myself I'd say I'm somewhere between embracing efficiency and optimization. I bike just about everywhere, though I do have access to a car if necessary (it rarely is). I'm in Northern Ontario, so I do get looks when I am still riding my bike when the snow banks are higher than some cars. I bought a fatbike last year to get me through the real crazy days, and it did a fine job. I think the only time even I thought "okay this is a little crazy" was riding home from work uphill in a blizzard. The roads had well over a foot of snow with drifts getting far higher. I literally could not ride up the hill without riding in car tire tracks. I mean worst case I could have walked the bike, but I had my workboots on that ended at my ankles so it would have been a chilly walk, lol. I remember my parents coming to the grocery store that evening to tell me they could come get me, and I said I'd be good biking. They think I'm a little crazy, but I think they're impressed too.

In terms of a fatbike being worth it - I'd actually say no. And this is from someone who lives through a LOT of snow. It was tremendously helpful in navigating snowy roads, but it wasn't necessary by any means on most days. I think for my winter commute in the coming years I'm going to retrofit a mountain bike I got a couple years ago with studded tires and potentially slightly reduced tire pressure. It should get me through all but the worst days, and on those days I can plan ahead to allow for walking time.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the road salt will l do its very best to murder your bike within the first year of winter riding. Even with frequent chain oiling with Krown KL-13 and wiping off the disc rotors with a garage towel after each ride, my fatbike still had a good layer of rust on the chain and brake rotors come spring. The rust on the chain came off with a cleaning, but the disc rotors have more permanent damage. It pains me to see it after one winter, but it was a good lesson. If you're going to ride through the winter in a road salted area, either be VERY vigilant in cleaning up after each ride, or ride a sacrificial bike that'll take all the shots of salt. I did the second this spring with my cargo bike I posted about earlier. It actually did very well in terms of not rusting, even with riding through lots of that salt-slush-sand mix that is the bane of all bikes' existence.

I meant to talk about The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches as I've started it and am loving it - but maybe next time.

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Alphaville
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Alphaville »

i have 700x30c ice tires (45nth) that work really well in spite of being at the lowest end of the ice tire spectrum. granted my climte is much more benevolent and my current location no longer gets much ice.

also 26" suomi tires in the "cargo" bike. these are fantastic as well, though im not too fond of the bike itself

carbide studs rule all. imo snow is not the problem: ice is the real killer.

disc brakes just beg to be covered in sludge. and the fewer gears the better too. i'm in the middle of converting my winter bicycle to single speed---using a cheap converter kit instead of building a new wheel. will report how it fares later.

i was looking at internal gear hubs too but the price was high and i don't yet have the skills for wheelbuilding. plus parts have been scarce for year now. nevertheless, if you need winter gears, that might be one way to keep things cleaner.

my "cargo" rig again has a cheap 3-speed nexus. not great, but at least no cassette to brush grit off.

we don't seem to get much salt for some reason because of wide temperature changes.

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

You got it with the ice. It and the slushy brown snow mix on the edge of the road can both take you down if you aren't careful. For ice if I need to ride across it I avoid any type of steering and I usually come out fine. And I have my seat low so my feet hanging are just above the ground in case I start to go down.

I do love the idea of internal hubs too, they last so long because they're not exposed to the elements at all really. I remember stumbling upon the website for a fancy one from Norway, and everything about it looked great. Good quality, long lasting etc. Then I saw the buy now button with ~$3000 beside it and I nearly screamed. I guess that's something where a cost per year analysis might do some good.

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Alphaville
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Alphaville »

oh lol i've seen that brand i forget the name. ultrapricey. rohloff something? (german though).

sturmey-archer is supposedly good, although they changed ownership semi-recently, and some reviewers claim there have been quality issues since, but idk if it's true or not.

if going with shimano, the alfine (8 or 11 speed) series is supposedly better than the nexus (3 & 7 speed). of course the hub requires a wheel... and costs add up.

a simple 3 speed hub is fairly cheap though. classic english roadsters transported folks for decades on 3-speed sturmey-archer hubs...

eta see:

Image
Image
Image

eta: https://sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html

another: https://sheldonbrown.com/shimano333.html

and: http://web.mit.edu/2.972/www/reports/th ... d_hub.html

my current parts supplier... they seem to carry all things... https://www.modernbike.com/internally-g ... rtPriceAsc

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Rohloff yes that's the one. My memory was clearly skewed by the trauma as I just checked and it's 'only' $1800 in Canadian dollars. Rohloff Speedhub 500 or something like that. The more that I think about it though it sounds pretty cool. From what I'm reading it will far outlast me, making the yearly cost not so bad. For me the choice is if I want to get the best of the best, or one of the three gear ones probably for a lot less. I'd save money, but I think I'd end up doing more walking up hills and whatnot. A lot of the european style bikes are designed with flat terrain in mind, maybe with some small hills. Where I live now I've got a 75 meter climb in elevation whenever I come home from work. It's very easy with lots of gears, but with on my 7 speed cruiser I really gotta pump to get up the hill, and I don't like doing that because it's hard on my knees and the chain. Hmmm.

This has got me thinking about my perfect bike though...I want long lasting and reliable. Internal gear hub, potentially airless tires, not sure about brakes. European cruiser frame that allows for a relaxed riding position instead of the mountain frames that make me lean forward. Single gear in the front multiple? Who knows. Single gear is simpler, less to go wrong but less adaptable for big hills and whatnot. This is fun to think about!

*Edit checking out those links now. A chainguard is great idea too.

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Alphaville
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Alphaville »

Cam wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 6:10 pm
https://velo-orange.com/pages/pass-hunt ... -sramWhere I live now I've got a 75 meter climb in elevation whenever I come home from work [...] my 7 speed cruiser
this was my reaction when i read that the other day:

🤯

i think the problem there is not necessarily the gears but the cruiser frame. it's heavy, and the geometry is designed for comfort, not for speed/power. that sounds like a very tough climb.

my winter bicycle is constructed from a hybrid i bought new in... the 90s... :lol:

it's sorta roadish, but with 135mm spacing instead of the usual 130mm, it allows for a 30mm studded tire with 45mm fenders (2 rows of studs). both 45nrth and schalbe make 30c studded tires. a better 700c ice tire (also schwalbe) has 4 rows of studs but it's a little bigger at 35mm. add at least another 12-15mm for fender clearance, because the studs need extra room... a 50mm fender doesn't fit my frame geometry-- a little too tigh.

anyway my current build moves away from the motocross look of hybrids and approximates the english roadster look, now known as a "city" bicycle, but with a light(ish) and flexible chromoly frame well worth keeping around. for inspiration my bicycle porn is stuff like rivendell and velo orange.

eg see: https://velo-orange.com/pages/bike-build-ideas

currently converting my "sporty townie" (budget version, not that actual one) to single speed... a *very* user-friendly 39/18 lol. (i have an alternative 16T cog, and later can get a bigger chainring for about $20... have not ridden single speed since i was... 12? :lol: )

but that's a bit of a kludge so i can keep my old frame around. now a quarter century later there are new standards like cyclocross, which is made for speed on uneven roads, and it might fit the bill better as it accepts wider tires and fenders. eg see the post with the photos in this discussion:

https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/ques ... ter-riding

you don't need to necessarily buy one--getting a hold of a used frame on freecycle or craigslist might be a start. depending on rear spacing you might eventually be able to fit an internal hub like this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvnkxHxtEW8

read the discussion for mentions of cheaper hubs than the rohloff.

also i think fenders are more important than a long chainguard. a chain is easily avoided with the right clothes or velcro straps. but one small muddy puddle will give you a huge skunk stripe. :mrgreen:

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

I very much like looking at those designs, thank you! Lots of ideas now. As of now I don't have a bike that is mine that actually fits me properly, so that is something for me to get. I got a Norco Bushpilot used for $150 and I call it my jeep bike because of the bouncy shocks and knobby tires. The issue with it is the frame is medium and I need a large. Hunting around for a large used bike, even just for the frame is something I could do. Get a frame that fits me properly and work from there. I've been doing volunteer bike repair workshops for a couple years now so I've got a basic understanding of the parts of a bike and how they come together. No experience yet with internal gear hubs but looks like I will be getting that experience at some point!

Oh and for the chainguard I'm thinking of lengthening the life of the chain. I've got lots of experience keeping my clothes clean! Elastics around the ankle are a basic solution but they are prone to snapping. My favourite solution so far is these paper clips Image

The big ones can grab multiple layers for when I've got my rain pants on, and they have a very good grip. They last a good while too for their price.

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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Alphaville »

hmmmm.... i used to play with those office supplies and they failed me a lot, particularly around thick fabrics like denim. i'd leave the house with them and come back without.

velcro leg bands otoh i've had the literal same strap since nineteen clackety clack and it still performs. i think it was $2 back in the mid 90s then so about 8 cents per year and going down as years pass.

real world scenario though, i actually bought a pair originally, somewhere along the way i lost one and bought a cheaply made replacement. which sits there for backup, unused. but yeah... my ancient cordura leg band is still the one. quality pays if you take care of it.

a small advantage of these is also they're made with reflective material which might help be spotted in traffic after dark. of course this was more of an issue in a time when night lights where much dimmer.

eta this seems to me a good value for the ages: https://www.modernbike.com/sunlite-refl ... -piece-set

--

i agree wholeheartedly with looking for the right fit for your frame--especially before incurring any expense. at my age (lmao) it makes all the difference between mobility and paralysis.

but seriously, everything from back, neck, wrist, knee and hip issues can develop from a poor bicycle fit. either muscular or joints or connective tissue. millimeters matter.

a couple of years ago i had to pay a chiropractor to get me unstuck from trying to ride a geometry i was no longer flexible enough to endure. then i had to go see a physical therapist to look after my knee pain and muscle imbalances.

your health is your #1 asset. trust me you want to make it last as long as possible. don't get arthritis :mrgreen:

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Very interesting. I'm liking how you've been doing the biking thing much longer than I have - it's extremely rare for me to know anyone who bikes everywhere in everyday life and has done so for a while. Even if you don't currently it sounds like you've been doing it a while!

I will check out the velcro straps. Those never crossed my mind before you mentioned them, so thank you.

I am bad for riding stuff that doesn't fit me. Mostly the bikes I ride are just too small, and I feel it in my knees. I'm gonna figure out my measurements for a frame with a relaxed riding posture and go from there I think.

In terms of health I'd say I'm mostly good. Regular exercise, many days I don't eat breakfast until after 12:30 (little fasts), I get good sleeps, lots of sun. My biggest vice is sweet stuff. I tell people if I'm gonna get taken out by any chronic disease it'll be type 2 diabetes. I am excited to move out and see if I can kick that addiction when I'm in a house clear of sweets, or at least sweets I can access.

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

So I've been figuring out some ethics to live by today. I've done a lot of reading on all sorts of stuff from stoicism to permaculture to buddhism and this is my big blend. I don't think this is final, but it's a good start. I did it on paper but here are my thoughts in bullet form:
- The golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated
- Permaculture: earth care and people care - getting away from human supremacy and anthropocentrism
- Social justice: people are people, no matter what race, class, gender etc.
- Anarchism: question hierarchies to see if they are useful or unjust. Direct action + dual power structures (ties into building something better - below)
- Money is potentially unlimited, time is not - know which one to prioritise!
- Spend your time building something better instead of getting angry over how the world currently is (similar to Paul Wheaton's stop being bad at bad guys idea)
- A rich, interesting life will have its up and downs. All experiences, positive or negative, can be learned from

I was raised in a non-religious family, so these ethics have been picked up over time from many places. It feels good to have a set of principles to stick to. I got inspired when I listened to the Daily Stoic podcast this morning about choosing who you will be a child of. It's basically who you choose to model yourself after. I didn't exactly do that, but I have principles that I will do my very best to stick to, and that's something.

white belt
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by white belt »

I have this bike: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/win ... ngton8.htm

It’s a generic brand available here in the US through certain discount sellers. It has a shimano nexus 8 which has worked perfectly for the 6 years I’ve had it. I added my own aftermarket additions like a better rear rack and lights powered by a hub on the front wheel. It includes fenders and front fork eyelits which are hard to find on most budget bikes and even harder to retrofit.

I use the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and the only flat I’ve ever gotten was from a tear in the rim tape.

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Very interesting. I just checked and it does like I could get it shipped to Canada, either through another shipping company called MyUS or get it shipped somewhere close to the US/Canada border and get it there. Little bit of trouble but it's definitely an option. I like just about everything about that bike.

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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by white belt »

I mean is it as good quality as a high end touring bike? No probably not. But if you pick up something like this and add ~$500 in your own accessories/aftermarket parts, it's probably going to come out better than any $1000 new or used bike you can get. At least that was my assumption and so far it has proven true. I suspect the bike will also last a lifetime given the frames are made in the same factories as well known brands like Trek or Giant. Bikes Direct has a lot of other options as well.

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Thanks for introducing me to this, I think this might be how I end up getting my next bike to last me a real long time. And I agree, buying a good reliable bike as a start and adding to it as needed seems like a good way to go.

Married2aSwabian
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Married2aSwabian »

Hey Cam, enjoyed reading your post yesterday. I’ve done a lot of reading about Buddhism over the past couple of years as well -Thich Naht Hanh, Chogyam Trungpa, Kamlesh Patel and others. Seems to fit really well with ERE and simplifying one’s life. Jacob’s insightful post today (orig from 2009) about Symptoms and Diseases is essentially about the four noble truths: we all have suffering, it’s caused by attachment and clinging, there’s a path to suffering, as well as a path to well-being. Often it’s about letting go…addition by subtraction. Reading Marcus Aurelius Meditations now - stoicism is cool. It takes a bit of work to put the principles into practice every day, which is not so easy - for me anyway - but worth striving towards. Another book which I recently reread is Tom Wolfe “A Man in Full” - it’s a pretty entertaining read and I’d forgotten the underlying theme about stoicism.

The world would be a much better place if more people would follow the ethical guidelines you list!

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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Campitor »

Sizing recommendations for purchasing the correct bike frame for your height: https://www.bicycle-guider.com/bike-art ... ize-chart/

When I was a teen, I purchased a book on bicycle maintenance and it recommended setting the saddle height to 103% of your inseam length from the top of the saddle to the top of the pedal when they are furthest distance from each other (this is when the crank is parallel with the seat tube).

Adjusting the saddle to 103% of my inseam was a game changer in regards to pedal power and knee strain. And the balls of your feet should be resting on the pedals. I've seen too many cyclist pedaling on the arch of their feet which results in a significant loss of pedal power.

I also have pedal stirrups which are very easy to get out of when coming to a stop. Stirrups (or clips) allow you to pull and push when cycling which utilizes both legs to power the drive train - this lessens the knee strain on the power stroke. I also have a lot of of gears which makes riding up hills much easier; I could never go back to a 3 speed bike unless I was cycling in relatively flat terrain.

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Married2aSwabian wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:05 am
Hey Cam, enjoyed reading your post yesterday. I’ve done a lot of reading about Buddhism over the past couple of years as well -Thich Naht Hanh, Chogyam Trungpa, Kamlesh Patel and others. Seems to fit really well with ERE and simplifying one’s life. Jacob’s insightful post today (orig from 2009) about Symptoms and Diseases is essentially about the four noble truths: we all have suffering, it’s caused by attachment and clinging, there’s a path to suffering, as well as a path to well-being. Often it’s about letting go…addition by subtraction. Reading Marcus Aurelius Meditations now - stoicism is cool. It takes a bit of work to put the principles into practice every day, which is not so easy - for me anyway - but worth striving towards. Another book which I recently reread is Tom Wolfe “A Man in Full” - it’s a pretty entertaining read and I’d forgotten the underlying theme about stoicism.

The world would be a much better place if more people would follow the ethical guidelines you list!
Yes I've found Buddhism very helpful along with stoicism. I routinely go back to The Practicing Stoic for reminders, but I haven't read buddhism stuff in a while - I think that might be good for me.

The letting go of attachment is very challenging, but I think very much worth it. I learned about it in Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron. I've got minor chronic backpain from scoliosis, and learning about unattachment was very neat. It's the idea that our resistance to pain is what makes things so uncomfortable and not the pain itself. I tried a couple times to meditate and 'let the pain be'. Or to 'give it space to just be'. It sounds very woo-woo but it did help. It's letting go of the idea that pain=bad and just seeing that is just another sensation and we are better off giving it space then fighting it as if it is a mortal enemy. The same goes for any sort of unpleasant sensation: in trying to chase it away we turn it into some sort of boogeyman. In reality the uncomfortable feeling is just another feeling that will pass with time. Again this is all very easy to write about but to put into practice takes some serious effort. Back when I was on social media it was my go to when any feelings of discomfort came up, whether that be boredom, disappointment or anything else. Now that I'm basically off, hunting out new books and blogs to read is my pastime. It's better as I learn a lot more than I did mindlessly scrolling, but it is still very much an escape from unpleasant feelings. I think the time may be here for some reminders from Buddhism!

Cam
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Campitor wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:56 am
Sizing recommendations for purchasing the correct bike frame for your height: https://www.bicycle-guider.com/bike-art ... ize-chart/

When I was a teen, I purchased a book on bicycle maintenance and it recommended setting the saddle height to 103% of your inseam length from the top of the saddle to the top of the pedal when they are furthest distance from each other (this is when the crank is parallel with the seat tube).

Adjusting the saddle to 103% of my inseam was a game changer in regards to pedal power and knee strain. And the balls of your feet should be resting on the pedals. I've seen too many cyclist pedaling on the arch of their feet which results in a significant loss of pedal power.

I also have pedal stirrups which are very easy to get out of when coming to a stop. Stirrups (or clips) allow you to pull and push when cycling which utilizes both legs to power the drive train - this lessens the knee strain on the power stroke. I also have a lot of of gears which makes riding up hills much easier; I could never go back to a 3 speed bike unless I was cycling in relatively flat terrain.
The measurements are interesting and very helpful. I think for most of my life I've been riding bikes too small for me, until we got an extra large frame Devinci bike recently when one of ours got stolen. I certainly feel the strain in my knees after ride a smaller frame, and it's definitely something I'm going to consider for my next bike purchase. That way my knees will still be nice and functional even after years of riding.

I have heard of the clips but I've never tried them. I always thought of them as something for the hardcore capital C Cyclist and not a commuter, but the reduction of knee strain is piquing my interest.

Married2aSwabian
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Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Married2aSwabian »

Cam wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:14 am
I've got minor chronic backpain from scoliosis, and learning about unattachment was very neat. It's the idea that our resistance to pain is what makes things so uncomfortable and not the pain itself. I tried a couple times to meditate and 'let the pain be'.
I have occasional flair ups of low back pain (which I don’t want to compare to scoliosis), but it’s very painful when it happens a couple of times a year. Reading Meditations and how Marcus Aurelius lived his life stoically playing the hand he was dealt, made me think, “Hell yeah, I can do that! Piece of cake.” …So as I lay on my yoga mat last week trying to veeeery carefully stretch out my low back and having great difficulty getting back UP OFF the mat due to shooting pain and cursing like a fucking pirate, I thought, “Well, you absolutely flunked THAT test of stoicism!”. :lol:

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