Thank You Chris Holm!

Preface: This was a letter I sent out to our town of Virgin this past week. If you’d like to
respond to me, I am at “niles AT”  –Niles.

My Fellow Virgin Town Residents,

Hi, my name is Niles Ritter and I am writing to express my sincere gratitude and respect to our town’s own Chris Holm – former (alas) Maintenance Supervisor for Virgin – for his years of dedicated service to this town, and for one SPECTACULAR act of dedication above and beyond the call of duty, and for which I personally, my wife Jean, our dog Blue, and our cat Desert Kitty, will be forever grateful.

Here’s the story:

Flash Flood, Virgin 2013

It was a few years ago, on a day of unrelenting rainstorms (much as we just saw recently, on Friday, October 8, 2021). We live just outside the Rio-de-Sion neighborhood, and across the street from us a dry wash was flash-flooding again. This had happened before, in 2013, and we showed Chris a video of it. And once again – failing to drain through a badly-designed drain pipe – the flood was rapidly becoming a 20 foot wide and ten foot deep lake of mud, that a few years previous had jumped our street and turned into a fifteen-foot wide waterfall just outside our bedroom window, carving down and threatening to undercut and destroy our house and home.

The monster lake this time was already sending out its watery feelers halfway across the street toward our house when the sound of a large piece of machinery was heard chugging down Entrada Drive from the highway.

It was Chris Holm, piloting a backhoe over to the foaming muddy lake and gearing up for attack.

For the next hour, with the fierce downpour roaring, and thunder and lightning bolts crashing across Gooseberry Mesa, there was Chris Holm, backhoe leaning into battle, digging down into the belly of the beast, dredging out mountains of mud and rocks, monster tumbleweeds and dead raccoons, clearing a path to the buried opening of the drainpipe, by which the water could now find a way out. Eventually the battle was won, and the water began to drain.

That day, our house, home and property were spared, thanks to the selfless dedication and quick action of Chris Holm, and for which we will be forever grateful. But our gratitude is now tempered with the worry we began to feel during this most recent storm – that without Chris, we will no longer have anyone in town to defend our home against the next flash-flood.

I am sure there are many of out there with Chris stories as well. If you do, tell Chris your story too!

FINAL NOTE: As we speak, there is a fundraising effort in progress to help Chris with the legal fees in defending himself against the town’s termination of his job. If you wish to support Chris in this effort, you can contribute to his defense fund through Venmo:

Venmo: @Chris-Holm-304

With warmest regards, and thank you for reading!

Niles David Ritter
Virgin, Utah.

PS: I wrote this purely out of gratitude. Neither Chris nor any other person has asked me to do this.
I was moved to write by the October 8, 1921 flash flood across from our house, and the realization of what Chris had done for us before.

Happy Holidays 2006

Looks like 2006 has almost come and gone without a single posting, so I thought I bring things up to date. As we suspected, the housing boom became a bubble, and is now in the process of bursting.

From what we now know, it looks like our very first venture into the construction bidding process coincided with the largest spike in construction material and labor costs on record. We are in no rush, and are now just biding our time. Our current plans are to work with Ray on fine tuning our plans, and jump back into the bidding game around November or December of 2007, by which time we expect to be living in a substantially different environment.

For more entertaining news, check out one of Gigi’s favorite blogs, called The Housing Bubble Blog.

Stay tuned… Happy Holidays!

A Setback

Turns out that the Springdale folks have changed the rules about
“high impact” lots in the town, and our site now falls under that
definition. This requires that our house be no more than 20 feet
high at any point, and that is two feet over our current plan.

Looks like we will have to move the loft back down to the ground
floor and think a lot more about how to make this all work.


Third Time’s the Charm

Here is the latest (3.0 if anyone’s counting) version of the floorplan
(click to enlarge):

That is just a screen-capture. Here is the full PDF formatted plan. Note the Gigi Loft, and the ladder for those hard-to-reach books way up there on the shelves (the ladder is only obvious in the pdf version).

Okay, so the things we want to change with this version are…


Pretty much nothing. This is very cool.

…okay I guess we’re done then.

Amazing how much this stayed in the spirit of our Version Zero bubble diagram.

The Ritter Block

The word going around is, my Dad’s Aunt Eunice has finally found some
prime samples of “Ritter Block”, which is a sort of concrete block that was
invented by my great-grandfather, George Ritter. George was in the concrete
and marble/tile business in Pinckneyville, Illinois, and his “Ritter Block” was
used in many buildings throughout that part of Illinois.

The plot had been hatched in my mind some time ago that a novel tribute to
my inventive ancestor would be to obtain one of his blocks and use it as a
cornerstone for the house we are building.

Here is an old picture of George Ritter with one of his other inventions, a
new jack for automobiles:

Solid Model CAD Pics of House

Ray Gardner just sent us some screenshots of a 3D CAD model
of the current (version 1.0) floorplan
(click to enlarge):

He also sent us the actual SKP format cad file that you can look at, walk-through etc
using a free Viewer. You can either download it directly from
(they want your email address and blood type etc), or else here are the free viewer
installers I already downloaded for Windows and Mac OS X (Classic macs and linux systems are out of luck).

Looking at the 3D cad model and spinning it around has already helped us figure out some
of the things we need to change. By the way, don’t take the size of the people in the
model too seriously for a sense of vertical scale: we’ve figured out that at this scale those people are almost 7 feet tall !

Bubble Diagram Version One

We met with Ray Gardner on Monday and worked out our first real bubble diagrams.
Here is what we came up with (south is down):


(click to enlarge)

The interesting thing about this is that it is very similar to the “version zero” diagram, in spite of
the fact that this one was drawn freehand by Ray, and we did not show him the first diagram, nor
did we tell him where to put things. All he did was ask a few questions, and the thing just unfolded
from his own knowledge about views, light, room placement and the like.

3D Anaglyph of Site

I took a couple of digital photos of the site and combined them
into a single red/blue (or red-cyan) color 3D anaglyph photos,
which you you view below (click to enlarge):

If you look closely, you can see Gigi and Ray Gardner, our architect, in the middle
right portion of the picture. This gives you a sense of the scale.
If you do not have 3d red-blue or red-cyan glasses (JPL recommends cyan),
you can get a couple of pairs (or 50) from