Compiled by Eric Lubbers, eric@coloradosun.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning and happy Weirdest Friday of the Year, readers! We are fully in the misty, ambiguous span between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, during which the state’s workforce (and traffic) ebbs and flows, leading to bizarre moments like a ghost town of Starbucks during prime coffee break hours, or a sudden doorbusting crowd at King Soopers at 1:30 p.m. on a Thursday.

As 2018 ticks toward its end, there has still been news a-brewin’. So let’s wind this clock, shall we?


Colorado, desperate for snow, explores new takes on the old idea of cloud seeding

“We unambiguously can show it works in the atmosphere. That was very revolutionary.”

Dr. Katja Friedrich, CU professor and author of a breakthrough study on using aircraft for cloud seeding

Colorado needs snow for lots of things. Skiing, picturesque landscape photography, etc. But none are more important than snowpack, the biggest source of water in the state. To keep snowpack levels high, Colorado is turning to the skies to explore aircraft-based cloud seeding to encourage heavier and more frequent snowfall. Jennifer Brown explains the science behind the practice of changing the weather — including “revolutionary” research out of CU — as well as some potential problems with the practice, including my favorite: If we coax water from clouds in Colorado, are we stealing from Kansas, where it may have fallen naturally?

>> Read all about cloud-seeding here.

Crushed under mortgage-sized insurance payments, high country residents turn to medical cost-sharing programs

“What’s more risky, not having any insurance at all or having something that could potentially protect you and your family?”
Judi LaPoint, Summit County Chamber of Commerce executive director
“I’m really afraid this could blow up on Coloradans.”
— Colorado interim insurance commissioner Michael Conway

It’s not news that health care in Colorado’s high country is expensive.  In fact, it’s been called out as the most expensive region in the country. But after years of waiting for the state to do something about it, some in the Vail Valley are banding together with national groups to keep people getting care without going broke: medical cost-sharing plans. Jason Blevins explains how the plans work, as well as the reasons that the plans are giving Colorado’s insurance commissioner heartburn.

>> Read the whole story here.

Colorado’s internet of roads is a go. Someday soon, your car (and snow plows and buses) will “talk” to traffic signals.

It’s already been happening, probably without you noticing, but Colorado’s network of interconnected street signs, traffic signals and certain vehicles has received a major boost in the form of a new CDOT project that will expand the network to 537 miles of highway. Now, you ask, why would we want those things to be connected? Tamara Chuang explains the benefits, from better traffic management, spot weather reports and — eventually — helping self-driving cars navigate the state.

>> Get a glimpse of the future of driving here.

More from The Sun

  • You have four three days left to see one of the world’s most valuable baseball cards at History Colorado. Kevin Simpson has the backstory and talks to the card’s Denver owner.
  • Get to know Katy Anthes, the education commissioner credited with restoring calm and respectful discourse to the state’s tumultuous education system.
  • Many prognosticators predicted the roughly one-third of Latino voters who vote Republican would abandon the party in the midterms. But they didn’t. Nick Riccardi with the Associated Press looked at the at the numbers behind the Latino vote and talked to a Littleton pastor (and Colombian immigrant) who sees Donald Trump’s presidency as part of a divine plan.

The Fun Stuff

A new tradition begins: Our first Beer of the Year list!

 

Lisa Nuss slides out a glass of WeldWerks award winning hefeweizen on Thursday night at WeldWerks Brewing, 508 8th Ave., in downtown Greeley.

To determine the best breweries, best beers and what to keep your eye on, our beer writer John Frank surveyed hundreds of brewers, industry experts and enthusiasts to find out their favorites. Start planning your tour now — which will almost certainly have to include a trip to Greeley. Congratulations to the winners!

>> Dive into the whole list of winners here.

JOHN FRANK’S WEEKLY BEER PICK
Oskar Blues’ Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy Stout is a Colorado legend. Now the Longmont brewer is taking the beer a step further with new editions like hot buttered rum, peppermint and salted caramel. Check them out at the taprooms. And if you’re in the giving (instead of drinking) spirit, Oskar Blues is matching all donations to its charity through the end of the year.

BOOKS

 

Listen, you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t been keeping up with our SunLit section, where we feature some the best books and authors with Colorado connections every week. But you don’t have any excuse after you read Kevin Simpson’s roundup of the year so far. Here’s an excerpt:

We’ve got wolves, vampires, true stories of immigrants and inspiration, murder mysteries and novels of love and loss anchored to Colorado events and landscapes.

>> Go find your next good read here.

COMICS

 


The Shortlist

Stuff about Colorado worth checking out

// Jon Murray and David Migoya are answering the question you hear a lot around here: “Where is all that marijuana money?” The first in their series: Schools. // The Denver Post

// Denver is no longer in the running to be invaded by the Winter Olympics, and we’re part of a trend: “Nobody Wants To Host The Olympics Anymore// Deadspin

// This is such a fascinating story about how decades of work by big food companies to muddy the waters about how dangerous sugar is has started to unravel: “Here’s How A Colorado Dentist Became Big Sugar’s Worst Nightmare// BuzzFeed News

// Illegal Pete’s, in addition to making some excellent fish tacos, is showing other companies how you can take care of your workers and still have a successful business. // CBS4

// Here are two massive investigations published this week that aren’t specific to Colorado but are about topics that deeply affect the state:

  • Even though school shootings remain relatively rare, the ripple effect in society is enormous. The Washington Post calculated that more than 4.1 million students experienced a lockdown — a terrifying and sometimes traumatizing experience — in the 2017-2018 school year alone. Read the whole report here to see how this new regular occurrence is affecting the psychology of students around the country.
  • We’re inundated with stories about the Trump administration and the dry details of its policy decisions. But the New York Times took the time to expose the real-world consequences of the administration’s massive rollback of environmental regulations and the almost-immediate effects it has had on air and drinking water around the country.

Your Thing for Today

The Thing: DIY vanilla syrup for DIY lattes.

Why You Might Like It: Like most tourists to Mexico, I came back with a big bottle of duty-free vanilla extract … and not a lot of immediately evident ways to use it. My most regular vanilla experience is in a latte, so I decided to try my hand at making my own version of the syrup that coffee shops charge a premium for. Turns out, it’s not only ridiculously simple to do, but it’s extremely tasty. Here’s the super short recipe:

  • Combine ½ cup of white sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir until all granules are dissolved and syrup is clear.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, remove from heat, stir and let cool.
  • Pour into something fancy-looking and keep it next to your coffee maker.

Combine this with an Aeropress and a $3 milk frother from IKEA and you’ve got a never-ending vanilla latte machine right in your kitchen. And I’m sure someone could find a way to put this elixir in a wintry cocktail or three.

Editor’s note: Every Sunriser will include one … thing … to cap off our time together. The Thing will be just about anything, like a TV show or a book or a particularly cool dog toy.


That’s it for the last full week of 2018. We’ll be back with a special New Year’s Eve edition, but in the meantime, make sure to share anything you found interesting in today’s newsletter and let people know you found it in The Sunriser! (coloradosun.com/sunriser)

Have a great weekend!

— Eric

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Eric Lubbers

Eric Lubbers is the Chief Technology Officer and one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun. A native of Yuma, Colorado, he writes The Sunriser newsletter in addition to handling most of the behind-the-scenes...