2018 State of the Union – Thoughts on President Trump’s Ideas

Notes on the 2018 State of the Union

I wanted to watch the 2018 State of the Union address in its entirety before I started watching Vox, Vice, Colbert, The Daily Show, and talking with my friends.

My Thoughts on the 2018 State of the Union

There is no doubt that I live in a bubble. Everyone I know believes that Trump is either a terrible president or he is dangerously aloof. Therefore I try to develop my own opinion from source material before I’m influenced by other’s take on the situation.

“One American Family.” – Donald Trump

Some Things that Directly Affect Us as Small Business Owners

I really like the idea of all the tax cuts and eliminating the mandated health care. During the time of the Affordable Care Act, we decided not to do the program because the monthly cost was $2,000 with a $5,000 deductible. It was super expensive catastrophy insurance so it was clearly not a wise decision for us. It makes me happy that we no longer have to pay fees for not having that bad insurance.

If the tax cuts are real, we will probably get back a good chunk of the income quarterly taxes we paid during the past year. That will be really good for us.

Eliminating Regulations?

Eliminating regulations sounds good, but it doesn’t really help if they are destroying the capacity for the EPA to regulate companies that destroy the environment for other people. That’s the main job of the government from my perspective, to regulate against market externalities.

Thoughts on Economy

It’s great to hear that he prioritizes bringing car manufacturing backlower prescription costs, build out safe/reliable US infrastructure.

He wants to support paid family leave. That seems like Trump is trying to reach out to what I would consider a more Democratic position.

A focus on helping former inmates to get a second chance at life is critical. I think the worst problem in the United States is the tremendous prison population. How can a country be called Land of the Free when we imprison the highest number of our citizens on a per capita basis? President Trump addressed this and I appreciate that sentiment.

Getting Tough on Immigration

The focus on fighting street gangs seems like a good thing. I don’t know anything about gang violence in the USA so if Trump, who has a lot of access to that info, believes fighting those gangs is so important, it’s probably good that the feds are getting the resources they need. When you watch things about the gang violence in El Salvador, it becomes clear that these are organizations that need to be cut down.

That said, I still think the wall is a stupid idea. Maybe it’s a persuasive talking point, but it’s not a cool direction in my opinion. We should just be trying to be a more open and free society. Walls are for communists.

I had never heard of chain migration… V and I know personally how stupid our immigration system. It seems like Trump is trying to modernize that system. I hope congress helps him change the process. If they make it harder for immigrants, it will be a disservice to the country.


Opioid Addiction

64,000 Americans lost to drug overdoses in America? That’s not cool. Not cool at all…

How do they get tougher on drug dealers? Aren’t the drug dealers primarily pharmaceutical companies and doctors?

I’m unaware of this problem aside from some Vice documentaries. This is a really important issue to address and it’s commendable that the White House thought it was important enough to address directly in the speech. I just hope it’s not an excuse to lock up a huge portion of the population.

Nuclear Weapons

Yikes. It’s good that Trump claims to want to eliminate all nuclear weapons. It’s not cool that he says, “[it would be great to eliminate nuclear weapons]… but we’re not there yet.”

Terrorism and Foreign Affairs

I’m generally against the dissolution of human rights under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a name I had not even heard of until this speech. I would think it’s probably a good idea that this character is locked up and his friends find it very challenging to organize.

This is why the president’s job is terrifyingly challenging. How does one protect against evil, yet protect freedom? It’s a balancing act of tremendous consequence.

Foreign Affairs

Venezuela and Cuba sanctions seem harsh… but I don’t actually know much about the cost/benefit of making the countries suffer due to the philosophies of their leaders.

I feel good knowing that the president is hard on North Korea. It’s good that he is addressing specific stories in the hope of informing the public of the horrible situation that exists in countries where freedom is limited dramatically by overpowerful despotic dictators.

Focus on Freedom

The end of the speech is all about freedom, US history, defending the American way and that sort of elegant stuff. His final words are quite pleasant. The words encourage unity, freedom and American pride. I gotta say, I’ve never heard Trump speak in a way that made me think, “wow, I like this guy.”

“There is nothing we can not achieve as long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens and trust in our god. We will never fail. Our families will thrive, our people will prosper and our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free. Thank you, and God bless America.”

Final Thoughts

President Trump is starting to sound like a real President. I hope this trend continues.

His past lies make everything he says a bit dubious. The New York Times put together a piece that leads me to believe that President Trump was generally telling the truth.

With luck, things will continue to be great in the USA and President Trump will keep acting like he did on the podium in the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol. He inherited a country in great shape after former President Obama and with luck, everything will continue to be excellent in America.

The Importance of Source Material

It’s important to watch source material because it allows the watcher to develop their own opinions first.

Now, after watching the source material, when I watch Stephen Colbert (2) and Trevor Noah (both of whom I REALLY like) their shows seem dishonest. They perform a divisive comedy act that demeans The President for selected clips of him saying stupid things.

Theirs are funny, but they are reinforcing people hating Trump when his speech was essentially very good.

When I watch Vice, they do a race-based piece about responding to the State of the Union. It does a great job of complimenting the minority groups that are doing interesting stuff in the government, but it doesn’t address the good things that Trump said and his surprisingly presidential demeanor.

So source material is critical because these shows missed that very interesting development.


What are your thoughts? Did you like the speech? What do you think about the importance of watching source materials?

Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Piko Negro Cabinas y Pizzas – Los Pargos, Costa Rica

Our first night’s stay in Costa Rica in January 2018 was at Piko Negro Cabinas y Pizzas.

The thin crust pizza here breathed delicious new life into us after a 19 hour trip from Reno to Chicago to Miami to Liberia and finally to the front soccer field in Los Pagos in Guanacaste Province (Frente de la Plaza de futbol de Los Pargos, Provincia de Guanacaste, Los Pargos).

The man behind this project seems to be Joel and he is a creative and beautiful wood worker.

These hardwood surfboards with recessed LED lights are really cool.

Everything is custom made from hardwood at this place. There is interesting detailed work everywhere you look.

Even the bunk beds are hand crafted.

This is a VERY good spot for surfing and living. They have fairly good wifi available all night.

Another good example of the handcrafted details you find in every piece.

Another example of handcrafted details. Concrete and gravel custom sink.

This would be a cool place to work and live from. The room is not expensive, the internet seems to be consistent, the surf is quite close and the food is delicious.

Thanks for the stay Joel. Please feel free to use any of these photos for your Airbnb listing if you want. I hope to return after the wedding.

Jocko Clock – The Pomodoro Clock with Jocko Willink

Allow me to introduce Jocko Clock.

Jocko Willink Pomodoro Clock

Free Code Camp has various projects in which aspiring software engineers write programs as they complete the coursework. One of the projects requires the student to build a Pomodoro Clock.

The idea behind a Pomodoro Clock is that you set a 25-minute timer as you begin a task. You promise yourself ahead of time that you will work on that task until that time has elapsed. With luck, you will be inspired to keep working after that 25 minutes is complete. At its core, the Pomodoro Technique is a procrastination elimination tool.

I know no public personality that inspires procrastination destruction more than Jocko Willink. His podcast always inspires me to work harder and wake up earlier. That’s why I made the Jocko Clock.

Jocko Clock

So the above project combines the principles of the Pomodoro technique with audio clips from Jocko Podcast. I sourced the recordings from YouTube.

Clip 1 – Get out of Bed | Clip 2 – Not Feeling It?

Whenever you load Jocko Clock, you’re greeted with Jocko’s voice,

“Get up and get after it.”

After you complete your 25 minutes, you get another message from Jocko.

“…you stayed on the warpath.”

Developing Jocko Clock

While building the clock, I went down a lot of dead-end roads. I integrated JS libraries that were complex, CSS libraries that broke everything and a host of other bad ideas.

After a lot of confusion, I found that simple jQuery and JavaScript were the best for executing these simple tasks.

To get the clips, I recorded the YouTube audio with Screenflow. Screenflow has a leveling tool which I used to homogenize the levels. Then I used Audacity to downsize the audio files from 3-megabyte .aiff to a 100-kilobyte .mp3 (64kbps is fine).

Jocko Clock Improvements

If you think you could help with any of these improvements, feel free to create a pull request. This clock is open sourced and available on GitHub here.

Center Align – I’m having a really hard time vertically aligning the clock so that the font grows and shrinks with the window size. I was able to weasel my way out by adjusting the image and the watch layout, but I wish I could make it responsive to the window size.

Font –  The font should match his actual watch, but I couldn’t find a Google font that fit the bill properly. Below is an image of what it should ideally look like:

jocko clock

A Bigger Library of Audio Clips – The tool would be more fun to use if the audio clips were randomly selected from a large library. That way, each time the user started a working session, they would have a gamified inspiration to get after it.

Catalina Island SCUBA Trip + Helicopter Rides and a Margarita

Here is a quick video about our Catalina Island SCUBA trip. Below I’ll just make a few notes about the day, the experience and lessons learned.

Deciding To Go

When we embarked on this journey, it wasn’t because I actually desired to go.

I actually didn’t want to go at all.

I assumed that it would be cold and dark off the coast of Catalina Island. There was a big part of me that was afraid of seeing Great White Sharks too. There is no part of me that wants to dive with Great Whites. Coral Sharks and big Leopard Sharks are fine, but I have no desire to swim with the man-eating sharks.

Also, I was badly out of practice. This was to be my first time diving since we dove in the Similian Islands.

What I love about having adventurous friends is that they push me to do things that are uncomfortable. David put it best: “We dive because we would rather look back at life, saying ‘I can’t believe I did that’ instead of ‘if only I had’.”

catalina island scuba


The visibility was great. I feel like I could see 20 – 40 feet. The water was clear and the video doesn’t come close to describing how beautiful the sea is. SCUBA diving allows the diver to see things no one else can describe. No picture actually does this justice.


Diving in kelp is a blast. We swim through it, get stuck in it and help your partners out of a tangled kelp situation. I love it.

Cold Water Diving

Because I was wearing a 7mm suit with gloves, booties and a hood, I never felt cold in the slightest. The most uncomfortable part was putting the gear on and the initial plunge. After that, it was great.

At first, I thought the additional neoprene made it hard for me to get my buoyancy right. I later came to the conclusion that my buoyancy problems were due to my inexperience. I hadn’t dived in a long time. I forgot to add air to my BCD so I was heavy the whole time. This was a very rookie mistake and I adjusted for it the second dive.

The first dive we went to 27 meters which is very deep. Even down there, the visibility was great. The second dive we didn’t go so deep. Both dives were beautiful.

Catalina Island Helicopter Company

Catalina Island

That’s it. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Our Skoolie is Complete

Today we announce our completed skoolie! It’s done. We hope you enjoy the video.

Final Silicon Touches in the Bathroom

V didn’t think I did a good enough job on the bathroom so she dove back in there to put even more detailed thought into little room of water. She sanded the grout and the ceiling down to a smooth finish, then used the stain to reseal the room. Finally, she went to war with a particularly sticky brand of silicone. It was a battle, but at the end of it, she was able to accurately explain, “the bathroom is done.”

V was happy to use silicone on the final day

Final Skoolie Electrical Upgrades

I upgraded some dangerous wiring I had set up. A few months ago I installed Romex 14/4 on a 20 amp circuit. Thanks to the YouTube community watching our build videos, I was alerted to the fact that my 20 amp circuit breaker is not of suitable restriction to limit the power to NOT burn up the 14/4 Romex, should an overvoltage event occur.

Now the 20 amp tandem breakers have been switched over for 15 amp single breakers. We now have a safe electrical system on the bus.

Final Skoolie Electronic Works

Next, I added a water heater switch to the internal house bus brain. The water heater switch is there for extended departures on the bus. Now we flip a simple switch to conserve gas. Huzzah!

Skoolie Spice Cabinet

We created the spice rack from Christmas tins. V painted the tin and I screwed them into our cabinet walls.

Final Skoolie Touches - Painting the Spice Rack

Easy Peasy.

Final Skoolie Touches - The spice rack cabinet

Look at those Happy Faces

We started this conversion in March of 2017 and it’s now December of 2017 as we declare the project as completed.

The smiles on our faces are testament to the relief we feel knowing this project is complete.

Ian and V are happy to take time away from the skoolie

Though it took us three times longer than we anticipated, we are happy that we can call the school bus conversion project, done.

It will soon be for rent on Airbnb. I will link the listing below once it is live.

Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

V Waves ‘Goodbye for Now’ to the Skoolie

Waving Goodbye to the Completed Skoolie

Brick Mortar Repair – How to Repair Cracked Brick Mortar Joints

Here is a quick video on brick mortar repair. Because I used pre-mixed mortar, the process was very easy and could be done by anyone.

Brick Mortar Repair Supplies

Tips on the Mortar Repair Process

The thing I learned about this is that the SimpleSet mortar requires a large amount of time to set properly. I came back to the project about 12 hours after application and the mortar was not solid when I touched it.

Brick Mortar Repair - The Original Crack in the Wall
The Original Crack in the Wall

So I just waited another day before doing the next layer of thin set.

Brick Mortar Repair - First Layer of Mortar Repair
After wrapping up the first layer of mortar

When working with the sponge, I find that it’s best to have almost no water content in the sponge. Basically, I want to wring out the sponge as much as humanly possible before using the sponge to texturize the area that I filled with mortar.

Brick Mortar Repair - Second Layer of Mortar Repair
Applying the second layer of mortar to the wall.

Overall, I believe this is a great solution to a cracked mortar wall like this.

I hope this helped. If you have any details or suggestions to help others, please let us know in the comment section below.

Brick Mortar Repair - The Repaired Wall
The Repaired Wall

Wrapping the Skoolie Bathroom

In today’s video, I wrap up sealing the skoolie bathroom and I install the towel rack and the toilet paper dispenser thing. It’s a fairly swift video, but I hope it serves you well.

Urethane Application Supplies

Urethane | Brush | Sandpaper | Respirator

Spar Urethane Application Notes

Many tutorials online attempt to make this process seem much more challenging than it really is. I found the process to be very simple.

First I used a large sponge and wrapped the sponge with 220-grit sandpaper. This allowed me to sand the strange angles.

The first application sucked up a LOT of the urethane. The fresh wood inhaled the product so the first layer involved using half of the can’s contents. The second one probably used 1/16 of the can.

Many people talk about avoiding bubbles and doing a very careful job with this. I found that information to be stunting. At the end of the day, watching videos where people used a ton of caution just held me back. The material goes on clear and I didn’t have any bubbles. At first, I worked hard to be very delicate with the material, by the end, I was slapping it on and spreading it out. Both methods of application resulted in similar results.

Testing the Seal

To test the urethane, I splashed water on the wood. If it had soaked into the wood, I would have known that another coat or two would be needed. Luckily, after two coats, the water beaded up and dripped from the ceiling. After I dried the water off, there was no visual sign that the water had penetrated the urethane coat.