Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why shovel? and ice dam info

Today was the first day that really felt like winter here. Even with the dusting of snow on the ground Monday morning, the air on Monday just wasn’t as brisk as today.

We have a roof rake. We have ice melt. We have a shovel, and we probably have ice scrapers for the cars. And our neighbor just got a snowblower and says he’s looking forward to doing the whole block.

But we don’t have Heat Trak mats for our front steps. Those look convenient.

Update February 19, 2017:

The second winter after having our roof redone, it started leaking into our enclosed porch again. We think that it wasn’t through the roof itself this time, but rather from behind the gutters. The gutters filled with ice, the melting snow from higher up pushed its way backwards through the fascia and soffit boards, and came in dripping from the soffit boards inside the porch. Unlike 2 years ago, there was no water coming in through the porch ceiling.

Even if our house were completely unheated, we would have snow melt on our roof because of sunshine. With the right combination of cold temperatures and snow melt, the front gutter will gradually fill with ice and create a larger and larger block of ice.

We need to replace the fascia and soffit boards when we rebuild the front porch, and we need to replace the beat-up gutters anyway. Hopefully with a proper pitch to the soffit boards and a sane flashing approach, we can keep the water that backs up behind an iced-up gutter from backing into the porch itself. In part, that requires a contractor who understands that the gutter will ice up, that snow will melt, and that we want a backup plan for keeping the water outside.

I’ve also been looking into heat tape or heat cable for the gutter and downspouts. There are two basic types of heat cable: constant wattage, and self-regulating. We want self-regulating. We also want some sort of sanity control that turns it off if the weather is warm or if there’s no snow, so it’s not using power when it’s not needed. Perhaps a wifi-interactive switch would help.

If we want to melt ice on the eaves, there’s lots of panel choices shown here:

Here are some other useful local links:

Moonworks and NE Gutter Kings both offer gutter caps that can have heat cable run through them, which seems helpful in terms of distributing the area that can melt.

In general with gutters, we want to look at materials options and size options. Larger size seems better, given that the majority of the overly large house roof goes down to a total span of 25 feet of gutter. We want strong, because we don’t want ladders to damage the gutters. Would fiberglass or nylon be strong enough? Would the heat transfer characteristics be better or worse for preventing ice build-up and for letting the heat cable work?

How far out of the downspouts do we want to run the heat cable?

Where should the outlet and switch be for ease of installing heat cables?

Do we want cleanouts to create escape paths for water? Removable gutters for the winter? Rain chains instead of downspouts?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Make the investors unhappy

When would you be willing to go to jail? What would be so worth protesting that you would give up your liberty and maim your future in order to speak out?

But wait. What would going to jail accomplish?

Does it increase your credibility once you regain your voice?

Does it amplify your message?

Are the people who run our justice system and our jails going to be horrified at jailing you or a thousand like you? Are you human to them in a way that millions of others are not? Are you immune from vilification? From lies and smears and innuendo and mockery and disbelief and dehumanization?

Will our justice system and our jails be overwhelmed by the vast numbers of protestors? In this existing and scalable system of mass incarceration, the largest in human history, will so many people join you that the cells will fill and no more will be able to be built?

Will the cries from broken families reach the privileged who have not had to hear the cries from hundreds of thousands of families torn asunder by our deportation of millions over the past two decades?

You may not be able to avoid jail. You may decide to engage in meaningful speech or action that puts you at risk of being jailed (whether you realized it or not), where jail is a side effect. But do not kid yourself that jail itself is a practical or even impractical path to resistance or change.

Find another path.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Rig sailboats, not elections

Yes, our elections are rigged. Not by people faking the results as they count ballots, but by the rules that prevent too many people from voting to start with.

Voter id laws are specifically designed to drive down the ability to vote for the less privileged. The biggest effect is to suppress voting for racial minorities. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/voting-rights-court-decisions-racism/493937/

Closing polling places creates obstacles for people with less free time and fewer transportation options, suppressing votes from the less privileged. Choosing which polling places to close based on demographics or voting patterns is even worse. https://www.thenation.com/article/there-are-868-fewer-places-to-vote-in-2016-because-the-supreme-court-gutted-the-voting-rights-act/

Every presidential election, there are stories about people waiting in line for hours to vote. Those stories are overwhelmingly from urban areas, and it suppresses votes from minority populations and from the less privileged.

And decades of mass incarceration overwhelmingly targeting the black community, combined with laws removing the right to vote from those in jail and those who have already served their time, has created enormous racial disparities in who is allowed to vote.

Every registration deadline is an unnecessary hurdle. Every obstacle to early voting and absentee voting suppresses votes. Every flimsy excuse used to toss voter registrations and every even flimsier excuse to toss ballots is a failure to respect democracy.

Having 50 states running 50 different voting systems could be a wonderful laboratory for experimenting and figuring out how to increase voting rates, but instead is being used to develop more and more precise ways to reduce voting rates among less privileged populations. And every disparity in how voting works across the country makes it harder to have a sensible conversation about how voting should work.

And then there’s the Electoral College, which is weighted to ensure that people who live in small states and rural states have a larger voice than people who live in large states and urban states. Maine gets 4 votes in the Electoral College. The population of Massachusetts is 5 times the population of Maine, but we don’t get 20 votes in the Electoral College. We get 11.

We could solve this. We could demand a Voting Rights amendment to the Constitution. We could ensure that everyone who wants to vote has a reasonable chance to vote, and that your opportunity to vote does not vary dramatically depending on where you live. We could insist that voting matters because a government’s legitimacy depends on consent of the governed. We could insist that voting matters because a population that has a voice is more engaged in the necessary shared task of living together. And with time, we might even collectively start to believe it.