My vote is in for 2020!!!

October14

My vote is in for 2020! Lindsey and I are doing a news fast until November 1st. I do not expect us to know who the next President is until Thanksgiving due to the time it takes to count mail-in votes… although I am hoping for a blow out so Trump can’t launch a coup. I am worried about the violence we are going to see over the next 10 years from the Trump cult. Interesting time to be alive.

I am very glad to not be in the USA during this period.

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Biking In Northern Portugal

October11

Just some quick photos from some rides near Viana Do Castelo. Beautiful area!

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Portugal!

September28
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News Fasting.

September28

Lindsey and I have been on a news fast since early September. It has been really good. I think I am going to stick with it and only do news every 2 to 4 weeks on a Sunday. We are just tired of it and powerless to do anything about the direction of the USA. We bribe politicians, we vote, we call, etc.

I wish I could click my heels and it was Nov 10th and the election was over just to get through this period.

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Love For Valencia + Moving To Portugal

September1

I LOVE Valencia Spain!

It is by far my favorite city. And, it is one of the first places that both Lindsey and I feel is “home”. It has amazing weather, amazing people, and a perfect blend of city, nature, and beach. Plus great biking!

It has been really hard to think about leaving the city and we’ve dealt with waves of grief/anger over the last couple of months :(. We do not want to leave… we would like to stay here long term.

We always knew we couldn’t stay in Valencia for more than 1 to 2 years because of Spain’s tax system. They have some taxes that are poorly designed and we would be paying 60% to 70% of our income in taxes. Which makes it impossible to live here. Spain has a very badly designed Patrimonio tax and because we are American we are stuck between the two systems. If you are not an American citizen it is pretty easy to avoid these taxes and pay much less, but as Americans, a lot of those options are not available to us given American regulations (waiting on the USA to switch to a territorial tax system like every other country in the World). The other option we had was to move to Madrid as it is the only region to void the tax, but we did not like Madrid.

Part of our trip last month was to scout locations around Europe and see what clicked. We were debating between Austria and Portugal… and Portugal won out based on weather/cost.

So… we are moving to Portugal :). We’ve been to Portugal several times and we are looking forward to finding our neighborhood and settling in. We hope is we can find a place we like as much as Valencia in the next couple of months.

We have hope that Spain will fix their system given the huge economic crisis. The current system makes startup/business investment near impossible and they need labor reforms to make it easier to hire people as employees. The current system punishes risk and pushes money into real estate where it won’t lose value but your returns are very low (how a lot of people avoid Patrimonio taxes if they don’t leave in Madrid).

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Why I do not want my son to grow up in America.

August31

This is a hard thing to write. 

I love the USA. We have such an amazing story that attracts and inspires people from around the world. We have a can-do culture that I adore. But, we have failed to turn our potential and American bravado into positive results for our citizens. 

I do not expect miracles and I do not expect us to be perfect. But over the last 20 years, it feels like half the country has been convinced to join a death cult. And, that death cult stands for nothing except telling Americans how exceptional they are with their freedom and big penises. As a nation we are drunk, covered in our own tears and vomit, and singing tiny dancer on the floor of a gas station bathroom. We are sitting in a puddle of our own exceptionalism. It is cold.

I do not want my son to grow up in the USA.
I do not want my son to be an adult in the USA.
I do not want him to be a parent in the USA

I view the USA a lot like I do a war zone. I am the type of person who wants to do a few tours in a war zone. I will flourish in that environment. And, I know plenty of people who are like me. But, I also know that if I spend 15+ years in that environment the war zone will change me and I will start to think it is normal to wear a necklace of ears and drink from a human skull (if THIS is your answer to what is “best in life” it might be time to take a vacation :)).  

Would I want to raise a family or children in that war zone with a war zone mentality? 

No. It creates people who only think about “I” and not enough about “we”. We overdosed on individualism a long time ago and instead of rehab and moderation, we thought it would be smarter to just add it to the water supply and up the dosage by 100x. I do not want the USA to be Europe/UK/Australia with their tall poppy syndrome but we have got to find a balance before we destroy our citizens. 

Do I want people who do not want to be in a war zone to be stuck in a war zone? 

Fuck no. I think maybe 20% of Americans want to be in the war zone and 80% are stuck there. The 80% that are stuck are hard-working and super-smart people that are just not as broken as that 20%. The 80% do not want to work 3 jobs with no paid sick days or time off just to survive in the USA. The 80% do not want to work 60+ hour weeks for so-called “career success”. The 80% do not want to sacrifice being a parent and being part of their children’s lives for their career. The 80% do not want to spend every day at work apart from a two-week vacation until they die. And, so on. 

Do I want people who are like me in that war zone? 

Yes! We need the 20% to do what they do. With the caveat that I want them to have a Geneva Convention so they don’t turn the entire world into a war zone and break everything. The USA is in a weird place where it has created rules that overly-regulate the wrong things. We’ve allowed private interest to create licensing and regulations to create monopolies while removing regulations around EVERYTHING else. Capitalism doesn’t work if you don’t have equal power for the common good and labor. It is like we looked at homebuilding and said we don’t care if you build the houses out of asbestos and napalm as long as the person who installs the doors pays $45,000 to go to these four-door installer schools and pays $3,000 a year to be part of a door installer guild. 

So… why do I not want my son to grow up, be an adult, and be a parent in the USA?

#1 – Health Care

I want my son to be able to focus on just getting better if he gets sick. I do not want him or any other American skipping medical visits because of money. And, I do not want him to declare bankruptcy because of the huge bills. And, I want my son to be able to get affordable health insurance no matter the job he is doing. If he is a cashier at Walmart and gets cancer he should only have to think about treatment and getting better. There are so MANY countries doing healthcare better than us. Go steal their system and implement it. And, stop paying for expensive treatments that extend life by only 6 months – we have to have some honest conversations about the inevitability of death. 

#2 – Paternity/Maternity Leave

I want my son to be able to spend time with his kids when they are born. And, I want his partner to be able to do the same thing. For all the bullshit right-wing politicians say about family values they don’t do a damn thing when it comes to actually help families be families. 

#3 – Daycare

If my son and his partner want to go back to work I don’t want the cost of daycare to crush them financially. For a family of two, this can cost as much as $1,500 to $2,000 USD a month and that is insane. If the government wants future taxpayers it needs to incentivize families to have kids and provide subsidized child care nationally. Make it easier to be a family in the USA. 

#4 – Paid Vacation

I want my son to have a life outside of work. I have family members with high paying jobs who get ZERO vacation days for their first year. WTF! Even if you are lucky to get two weeks off a year, that is just enough time to de-stress from work but not enough to remember who you are outside of your job. And, I want him to get time off even if he doesn’t work for a high paying tech company. If he ends up working as a cashier for Walmart I want him to get at least 4 to 5 weeks of paid vacation. It is like our society forgot that there is more to life than work and that people are more than cogs in a machine. In Europe, the minimum amount of paid vacation is four-weeks plus 10 holidays. In Mexico and Brazil, you get six weeks of paid vacation. Why are we so far behind the rest of the world? 

#5 – Paid Sick Days

If my son gets sick I want him focused on getting better, not having to choose between getting well and food/rent. Plus it is good for society as the current pandemic is showing. 

#6 – College + Debt

If my son has the desire, drive, and ability to go to university I do not want him to go into life-ending debt to afford that education. Education shouldn’t only be for the rich. I want any American who has the drive to be able to go to a university or technical school (and, at any age). It doesn’t have to be free, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be tied to the cost of a part-time minimum wage job (like when Boomers were in college). 

#7 – Guns

I do not want my son to be killed in a school shooting and I don’t want him to grow up doing active shooter drills. The USA has a problem with guns and it continues to take no action. When 20 children between six and seven years old are gunned down and your country does nothing you know you are broken. We need better gun control policies and they have to affect current gun owners and models. 

#8 – The American Dream Is Dead + No Safty Net

America has been rebuilt for the upper-middle class and rich and Americans have an increasingly small chance of upward mobility. You have a better chance of upward mobility in Canada and these 31 countries (mostly in Europe). I want my son and his friends and other Americans to have the chance of a better life. There is no reason we can’t deliver that. Instead, we’ve built a country that is built on the backs of the poor and lower-middle-class. 

The American safety-net is almost non-existent. I do not want to eliminate risk, but I think we can help more people get on their feet, create jobs, and do better. Right now our safety net is like playing Russia roulette with 6 bullets in a 6 bullet gun. You are going to lose. I’d like to get it down to 1 bullet. And, I don’t necessarily want us to be Scandinavia. But, I feel at some point the USA looked at the huge pit we force people to climb out of and said you know what? We should add lasers and guns and bears because it should be harder so only 1 in 100,000 people can “make it” in this country. Plus that is good business because the ones that do will be so de-humanized and broken it will create great jobs for therapists.

#9 – America’s Kids = My Kids

I want to live in an America where we strive to give every child the chance to succeed no matter the amount of money their parents have, the color of their skin, or equally silly divisions. Right now it feels like we are building a country where we think the only way for our kid to win is at the cost of all the other kids. That mentality utterly disgusts me.

For many reasons, my son is going to have incredible opportunities and experiences. Some of which his classmates could only dream of and that is ok, that is part of the inequality life. But, everyone should have access to things like a great education, free/cheap university or technical schools, great healthcare, paternity/maternity leave, paid vacation and sick days, safe housing and neighborhoods, equal justice and treatment before the law, equal legal access, equal treatment by businesses, and so on and so forth. I do not think the USA is headed this way. The last 20 years have been horrendous.

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How should rage be expressed?

August27

I would love for change to be achieved without violence or property damage… but how can you not understand the desire to burn this system to the ground that has failed a group of people so badly?

Put yourself in a black person’s shoes. Count the number of people who look like you who have been shot and police let off without any repercussions or change to the system. Then count the daily interactions you have with a society that treats your children, your siblings, and your family as 2nd class citizens.

The vast majority of people protesting are peaceful. That is remarkable. We should listen to them and work to fix a broken system. The property damage you see on TV is amplified 100x because it gets ratings and with right-wing media, it fits a narrative that scares white people (also do not forget cases like this that rarely make the news when the dust settles, it was white nationalist pretending to be protestors that are trying to cause violence).

But, who are you to condemn protestors who are burning property and causing economic damage? People are angry, they are tired, they have been trying to get change and nothing is happening. Maybe burning down a business or a building will get your attention, what do they have to lose at this point?

It reminds me of the Boston Tea riot. When Americans “violently” rioted and destroyed businesses that were part of the system oppressing them. They “violently” destroyed millions of dollars worth of tea, ran ships aground, burned warehouses, broke into shops and stole their goods, and other violent actions. As an American do you think that was justified?

Samuel Adams argued that the Boston Tea Party was not the act of a lawless mob, but was instead a principled protest and the only remaining option the people had to defend their constitutional rights.

Are you ready to support this principled protest as the only remaining option the people have to defend their constitutional rights?

P.S. Also to the people on Twitter posting “all lives matter” please STOP saying that BS. “All lives” are not the ones getting shot by police and they are not the ones who have to teach their children entirely different rules for any interaction with the police. Saying Black lives matter is saying please value us as much as white lives, please help us stop a system that is killing us without repercussion, and please help us fix this system so that our country is stronger together.

P.S. 2. If you want to see the difference between how police treat white people and black people just imagine this… a white man shoots 3 people with an AR-15 rifle at a protest, he walks with his hands up down the road toward 3 police cars, police just let him go past despite people screaming that he just shot people. The man walks to his car and drives home. The next day they arrest him for murder. Do you see how that could be a problem when 3 days previous an unarmed black man surrounded by 3 cops is shot in the back 7 times while walking to a car with his 3 sons in it? Do you see the difference there?

P.S. 3. Defund the police is a bad slogan… what it means is let’s rethink what the police do. Do we need armed police to do traffic stops or respond to accidents? Do we need police responding to mentally unwell people who need help? Do we need police interacting with the homeless? Do police need to be the first responders to domestic incidents? In no way does defund the police means no police, it means let’s chop down what isn’t working and start anew. That might mean police need to reapply for their jobs and they need training that teaches them to de-escalate. Plus police should focus on solving crime because they are currently doing a shit job (Approximately 38% of murders, 66% of rapes, 70% of robberies, and 47% of aggravated assaults go uncleared every year – source FBI)

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Calico story…

August25

I heard Calico crying and walked into the room to see what was wrong. Apparently, Lindsey and Calico were playing a game where he was Aladdin and he was trying to steal her cheese (he loves Aladdin). He was laughing and having fun, but then Lindsey said the police came and Calico told them it was Aladdin who stole her cheese. But, then he started crying because he felt bad for telling on Aladdin and giving him up to the police. Later, he told us he was sad too as Aladdin and other people were poor, and that he thought their faces were sad.

He was very tired, right before nap time…

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My bribes are in…

August18

I hate putting money toward Politicians, but it is how the game is played in the USA and until we get it out of the system…

Now that we are ~80 days out I gave money to any of the Senate campaigns I think there is a chance to win. Especially to unseat Mitch. Who got money? Amy McGrath, Barbara Bollier, Alan Gross, Doug Jones, Mark Kelly, John Hickenlooper, Jon Ossoff, Theresa Greenfield, Sara Gideon, Cal Cunningham, Jaime Marrison, and MJ Hegar.

So stupid that this is how we vote in the USA. I basically view this money as a lottery ticket, that maybe something will change compared to the dark path the USA has been going down for 25 years.

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Biden / Harris – Why should I vote for them?

August12

I posted in 2019 about my struggle to vote for Biden.

So, why should I vote for him now?

He is a bland centrist, he is too old, and * most importantly * I think he lacks the knowledge and will to use the Republican’s own methods against them. My biggest complaint about the Democratic party is their resistance to using Republican tactics against Republicans. They like to stick to informal rules that haven’t existed for 25 years and they need to recognize that the Republican party is no longer the Republican party of old. It is a cult run on fear and Fox news. If the Democrats do not start playing by the new rules they will lose the war to determine the soul of this country.

By not playing the new rules they have already allowed the Republicans to play the game without offering real solutions to the American people. The Republicans only have fear mantras that their supports recite, have you ever seen a Republican plan to improve anything we face? Health care? Climate change? Growing inequality? Clean water?

I should note, I am not a Democrat, I switched from being an Independent to a Democrat after Trump. I felt I had no choice and wanted to register how utterly disgusted I am by the modern Republican party. The Democratic party and I have many differences, but the Republican party’s war on data, good governance, science, education, clean water, clean energy, good capitalism, and minorities is insanity.

But back to Biden/Harris…

I will suck it up and vote for them.

Why?

Because at the very least they are competent. Joe Biden is too old to be President but Kamala Harris is uber competent. We need competent people at the helm during this crisis. I am also hopeful that out of this crisis we can reboot significant parts of our society and economy to make them more resilient. It might be too early, but my hope is this is the right time for FDR level change. And, I have hope that Kamala recognizes the new rules.

I won’t lie, a big part of me thinks this country needs 4 more years of Republicans and Trump. Why?

Because only then will enough people be in REAL PAIN to drive REAL change. We are too rich and too stupid. Too many poor white people are voting Republican and too many rich white people are stuck in their bubble, unable to see past the Republican fear mantras.

P.S. Republicans of old used to have many good ideas. We need to move to a personal and corporate territorial tax system like the rest of the world. We need to safeguard the USD as a tool internationally. We don’t need to balance the federal budget, but we need to get it under control and build some better planning around how and when we flex it (see the prior point about safeguarding global USD dominance), we need to increase taxes or lower military spending, we need to bring in economist and data and experiments into government programs to make sure they are effective, we need to reduce and streamline rules, we need to de-license some of the license economies that have grown up, we need to look at the pros/cons of the monopolies we have created in a globalized world, etc, etc.

There are lots of great people who vote Republican. It is easy to see why. Simplistic solutions are easy to sell and easy to fit into your world narrative. We live in an uber complex world and it isn’t easy to sell the complexity. For example, keeping our water safe for consumption is HARD, we are failing at that in many parts of the USA yet the EPA gets railed on for overreach and hurting business by the Republican party. I want to live to see a future where the Republican party cares about giving people clean water to drink instead of pretending the EPA is some anti-business boogeyman.

P.S. 2. I think Joe Biden is a superb human being. And, someone who has dedicated his life to public service. I just don’t think he is the leader we need right now. I hope I am wrong :).

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End of our 2020 European road trip :)

August8

We had a great trip :).

We got back on August 6th to Valencia Spain so a good 36 days out in nature. We did two long days of driving to get back a little early as France was about to get hit by a heatwave and we were struggling to find places to stay. August in Europe is a big vacation month and we didn’t plan that far ahead :).

Notes for next time:

  • Book a minimum of 7 days in each place. We found it much more chill and easy if we stayed at least 7 days in a place. It gave us the space to get settled, do some day trips, and relax. We did a few 5-day stays and it was too short. We really enjoy longer stays too we’ve found.
  • Plan ahead if in the midst of summer :). We had good reason not too because we wanted to stay flexible in the face of Covid and uncertainty there.
  • We did pretty well, but making sure we plan activities for Calico is key. Whether that is the playground, swimming, hiking, but something for him is important.
  • We spent ~$125 USD a night on average. That is pretty good for summer and some of the last-minute bookings we made. It does remind us why we like the offseason though as it is quite a bit cheaper than peak summer.

Some of my fav family pics :)

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Salzburg Austria and Freiburg Germany

August8

We spent a little less than a week in both Salzburg and Freiburg. I went on some amazing bike rides and I was blown away by the biking infrastructure in Austria. I am pretty sure I could bike to Vienna on purely bike path.

Salzburg
We had a short visit with Salzburg on our trip with Lindsey’s mom in 2015. It was great to see more of it, especially in summer and when we were able to bike. Very fun time at a gorgeous lake too.

Freiburg
I spent the month of August in Freiburg in 2013 and it was really cool to spend 5 days here again. We also managed a short visit from Strasbourg via train when Calico was 6 months old. It is a beautiful city in the black forest.

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Slovenia!

July24

We’ve been in Ljubljana Slovenia for a week and it is an amazing country. It is so beautiful and we’ve had a great time! I didn’t find many bike rides that were not on roads, but still got a few rides in (more altitude than i am used too!). I hope they build more cycle paths out into the country as the city is amazing for bicyclists.

The people we’ve met are super nice and it feels semi-normal here. Very low COVID rates. That said we take all the same precautions here and everyone here is wearing masks inside and following the rules (that we saw).

And, a wet fun bike ride this Saturday morning :)

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39 Years Old :)

July20

Birthday!

We got to Slovenia yesterday and we are just taking it easy today after a few days of driving. Slovenia is the 47th country I’ve visited and pretty cool to add that to the list :). I wonder when and if my age will bypass the number of countries I’ve visited. Lindsey had candles and some wonderful cake and balloons. Good birthday week :)

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Lombardy Italy…

July20

Driving in Italy is crazy. Sometimes stereotypes seem accurate. My new nickname for Italian drivers is “blindspot”. They also don’t believe in turn signals, staying in the lines, consistent speeds, etc. Riveting few days of driving :).

We drove from the French Riviera to a small town outside of Milan to stay one night before driving onward to Slovenia. We were really careful in this area despite the low COVID numbers. The hotel scheduled dinner and breakfast for us in the room and the entire stay felt weird. The hotel was deserted and the town felt dead. They had strict protocols for check-in, nobody in lobbies, no use of the elevator, masks at all times in common areas, etc. It was great to see compliance and the ways they are changing to keep this in check. Everyone was super friendly.

I had a beautiful 40km ride the morning before we headed out. They had a beautiful path along the river in Parco Regionale del Serio.

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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