Thursday, May 7, 2009

Di dit-di-daa-dit-da: Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea...…Update….

I decided that I had just too much on my plate to decide whether to eat the peas, carrots, corn or green beans first.. .so I made succotash!

I also realized that  DSC00930I was not utilizing the influence of my main muse… Katie… made all the difference in the world engaging her in the process. BTW, she SNORES big time!  Even worse than my sister-in-law! (I’m gonna pay for that one).

Here is the result at this point:

  • Clifford has a few potentially trip spoiling problems:
    1. Throttle position sensor Error codes in the computer
    2. Fuel temperature sensor error codes
    3. a drive tire that loses a lot of air in a short period of days
    4. a very out of round drive tire, too
  • The Smart car rack has still not been added to Clifford so Merrily will probably have to drive it down, alone.
  • 2 tires on DakotR need to get slow (probably bead) leaks fixed
  • Everything in here is piled with cast-offs from getting our paperwork from inside the house that we will need on the road, organized and filed in the cabinets.
  • Katie is due for another Bromide level check
  • Appointment with my urologist on the state of my kidney stones (When I take long drives and particularly when I swim in the surf any newly formed ones in certain parts of the kidneys tend to turn into “rolling stones” and that is a real buzz-kill for a vacation.
  • All of the loose gear, like the computer, monitor, hard drives, table, chairs, etc. needs to be anchored. Since we reorganized the layout and eliminated the sofa and coffee table, we have not traveled off the jacks so I need to get it all stowed and do a test pull.
  • Send a Mother’s day card to my Mom
  • Get propane
  • Get special food and meds for Katie for while we are gone.
  • get refills ordered for my own meds for next week (everything seems to always run out at the same “wrong” time.)
  • clean the gunk out of DakotR’s gutters… one more time. (Frankly, I think that more stuff falls out of southern trees in the spring than in the fall.)
  • order anode rods for the hot water heater.
  • order some new shoes exactly like what I wear all the time (if I can find them anywhere, now).
  • PUT DOWN TV and SATTELLITE DISH!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Strikeout text is on items that have already been dealt with)

BTW, if you recognize the title of this post, then you are older than I am. If not, then you can update your retro knowledge from this site.


Does it seem to you like I just can’t focus?

Our trip to Cape Canaveral to watch the space shuttle launch on mission STS125 is busted. Just trying to get too much crammed into too little time and to be honest, I was not nearly as excited to drive 12 hours each way within 7 days as I was to possibly see my first Shuttle launch. Bathed in Lights

The primary goal was to meet our dear friends Donna and Bill, from the UK, down there  but their visit to the US was just not going to be long enough to comfortably do that and be with her mother on mother’s day.  The launch got moved up a day which would force them to miss Mother’s day altogether and even at that, no one really knows exactly when of the three possible launch windows on 5/11, 5/12 and 5/13 it would actually go up. It might even get postponed until 5/22 and the odds of missing it completely were just too much of a gamble for the costs.

But, Merrily already had made plans to take the week off so, off we go to a closer beach, Wilmington, NC.  The Wilmington KOA will not quite be the mosquito coast of east Florida but we do have our own varieties and its only 3 hours away. Did I mention how much I was not looking forward to that 12 hour drive down to Florida?

So, we will squat in Wilmington and Donna and Bill will come there for a few days after Mother’s day and we will still have a great time…. we always do. Besides some really great seafood restaurants and a particularly good German restaurant down in the Cotton Exchange on the river, there is the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial,

Welcome to the official web site of the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial.  The memorial and museum are opened 7 days a week, 365 day a year in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Enjoy your virtual trip through the history of this beautiful ship. Learn about BB-55 and all other U.S. ships named North Carolina.  Thank you and welcome aboard!

 Fort Fisher Aquarium (Newly renovated) and beaches, beaches, beaches.'

But I digress…  At the moment, I am flooded with last minute gotta-do items (in no particular order, as they say):

  • Clifford has a few potentially trip spoiling problems:
    1. Throttle position sensor Error codes in the computer
    2. Fuel temperature sensor error codes
    3. a drive tire that loses a lot of air in a short period of days
    4. a very out of round drive tire, too
  • The Smart car rack has still not been added to Clifford so Merrily will probably have to drive it down, alone.
  • 2 tires on DakotR need to get slow (probably bead) leaks fixed
  • Everything in here is piled with cast-offs fromDSC00920 getting our paperwork from inside the house that we will need on the road, organized and filed in the cabinets.
  • Katie is due for another Bromide level check
  • Appointment with my urologist on the state of my kidney stones (When I take long drives and particularly when I swim in the surf any newly formed ones in certain parts of the kidneys tend to turn into “rolling stones” and that is a real buzz-kill for a vacation.
  • All of the loose gear,DSC00923 like the computer, monitor, hard drives, table, chairs, etc. needs to be anchored. Since we reorganized the layout and eliminated the sofa and coffee table, we have not traveled off the jacks so I need to get it all stowed and do a test pull.
  • Send a Mother’s day card to my Mom
  • Get propane
  • Get special food and meds for Katie for while we are gone.
  • get refills ordered for my own meds for next week (everything seems to always run out at the same “wrong” time.)
  • clean the gunk out of DakotR’s gutters… one more time. (Frankly, I think that more stuff falls out of southern trees in the spring than in the fall.)
  • order anode rods for the hot water heater.
  • order some new shoes exactly like what I wear all the time (if I can find them anywhere, now).

Maybe the last 3 items are not absolutely gotta-do items before we go but I am sure there are more items than on this list. 

But, this is the master list for now and all must be dealt with  before we leave on Sunday for the beach….. and just yesterday, fulltiming seemed so close!

Has anyone out there seen my mind?… I seem to have misplaced it!

and… OH YEAH!!!!!:

  • PUT DOWN TV and SATTELLITE DISH!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Yard Sale Day!!!!! ?????

Ok. My first yard/garage sale in over 35 years has come to a close. Weeks of weak preparations (on my part) have finally ended. Merrily, along with daughters Carol, Shawna, Christi and sons Emery, Randy, and Sebastien (honorary son) wrestled it to conclusion.

I put up 16 signs with about a 1/2 roll of clear shipping tape last night. They said simply “Garage Sale” with a big Arrow. Some also had “SAT 8am” on them.

The yard sale was advertised to be from 8am to 1pm. It was posted on and 5 national yard sales sites as well as advertised in the local News and Observer newspaper. True to form, the N&O’s printed paper was the only organ that got the ad wrong. They had it listed as only running from 8am to 11am. Personally, I think this was why the continuous flow of people dramatically slowed down about 11am. It was also the only ad that was not free ($26). Is it any wonder why newspapers are drying up. Mistakes will happen but the downside of printed mistakes lives long after the moment it happens.

(High step up onto soap box…) Ok, just to make a bigger point of this, once something is printed it can only be retracted, later, after the fact, if at all.  Newspaper traditions seem to dictate that we have no recourse for the lost 2 hours of exposure because it was “frozen” in print and it was wrong. I think we should be entitled to a refund proportional to the amount of lost opportunity that they caused us. (off soap box, now.) If the ads were wrong on the internet, they could have been fixed right then with no losses or misunderstandings at the time of the actual event.

Once the yard/garage sale (I could only find GARAGE SALE signs) was over, the leftovers went to Goodwill and as I type this, Merrily and Carol are going through the inventory list of what was donated.  That is so important for tax reasons.  We have been "donating” stuff for years to various charities and only claiming $20 or $50 for a bag of good clothing or a chair or table.  A few years ago, my annual Taxcut Home and Business package included the Deduction finder Pro package to help find the deductible values of donated items.

I had some detailed inventories of previous donations that I put into it and discovered that the tax values of these $50 bags was from $250 to $700, depending on contents. One can never have too many legitimate deductions.

So, the Y/G sale grossed $362 and netted $300. Aboutn 1/2 of the stuff that was out was sold including some furniture, books, and a lot of kitchen and home brick-a-brack.

We had a very surprising turnout and though it was advertised to start at 8am, people were showing up at 7:25am as we were starting to bring the stuff out and set up on the table. We probably had 10 people standing around waiting as new stuff was brought out.  As I said, very surprising turnout.

Now I just have to decide to have an electronics and computer Yard/garage sale and get to selling books on Amazon.


TechShop, Welding class and an incredible LED flashlight!

While there is very little that ties these three goodies together they all represent my near obsession with tools and a love of just really great technical stuff, genre ambiguous…

First, My two youngest boys (Emery 27 and Randy 25) and I signed up for a 12 week, 30 hour general welding course at Durham Technical College. We all have wanted/needed some skills in this area and though I have both Rod and Oxy-Acetylene welding equipment, I have used it so rarely in the past 30 years that I feel like a kid playing with matches in a fireworks factory every time I even think about getting it our for some little project or other…. so I usually don’t.

This class (basically Free for Sr. Citizens) will get me back into a comfort zone with the equipment.  I have a lot of little “quickie” projects that I would like to do to enhance our RV setup, storage capabilities and such and have just kept putting them off.

For the younger set the tuition for this continuing education class is only $85 and covers most of the common types of welding equipment with about 30% of the time in the classroom and the rest in the workshops.

I am really looking forward to this because I have long  been considering having a small wire feed MIG welder along on our travels… just in case.  I still have the GVWR for it but maybe renting/borrowing one if and when I need it on the road would make more sense, I know. If I feel comfortable with the skills, I will not be so hesitant to rent something unfamiliar to use.

Now, this is a good segway into the TechShop in Durham.  On the way back from signing up for the welding class, Randy had seen some info on the TechShop and wanted to just check it out so we did.

Hey, this place is amazing!  They took a building that had been offices all on 1 floor, and basically, turned most of the office spaces into Project rooms that can be rented to people that want to work on “projects” and need a place to get their stuff together and have virtually all of the tools available to them to use.

To assist in creating designs they have the SolidWorks 3D CAD package on all of their Computers (and they have a lot of them). Members can come in anytime to work with any tools they need and a lot of supplies that can be purchased at below retail. That can save a lot whether one is woodworking, metalworking, doing textiles, plastics, automotive or even Cooking.

Heck, they even have a 3D printer that will “print” a 3D drawing in solid works into a scaled plastic 3D working model of the drawing.  Pretty cool stuff to see it print out a working crescent wrench (of course, being made of plastic makes it not particularly useful for anything other than a lot of ooooing and aaaahhhhhing!

Now, for something I hope you will really like….   How about a 2 D-Cell LED Flashlight that throws a 200 lumen white beam for $19? huskyledlite Well, Husky makes the Tactical 4 Watt LED flashlight that Home Depot normally sells for about $25 ( Their (Husky) number is 626731 ). Right now, its going for $19! (Its the one in the middle of this picture.)

Unfortunately, I cannot find it on but that is not so unusual. You know, one would really think that stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s would have decent online catalogues with really well thought out search engines to help people quickly get to what they really need. In fact, both companies have search engines almost as bad (or even worse) than most discussion forum sites…. (but that is a peeve for another time).

But this Tactical (I think they use this word because it has some real heft like a full sized MAGLite and could be used as a defensive weapon if necessary) light is very impressive for the money. But I just like that it lights things up enough that I no longer have big concerns in walking Katie the poo at night and having a close encounter of the 3rd kind with any snakes or scorpions.

This thing throws a beam that Scotty could use as a backup transporter.!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Well, Spring is sprung and now summer’s here

Summer’s here with a bang.. right on the heels of spring.015  Heck, the  flowers are still hanging in there on a few varieties around here and we are definitely in the 90s… with humidity.  Where I come from (pretty much all over the southeast) that means summer.

013 Never mind the calendar, its no help in this matter. Besides, I can count on one hand the number of times in the past 10 years that both the calendar and the weather prognosticators have been right.  The rest of the time it has been “unusual” or “rare” weather and seasons.

I will admit that the ability to go out at 2am on a bright moonlit night and just sit in a chair among the pines in shirtsleeves is a nice experience I have never had before this year.  Usually, the mosquitoes would have driven me in before the seat of the chair had time to warm to my butt. 008

This year, however, no mosquitoes so far. Katie and I could just sit and enjoy watching the deer graze only a dozen yards from us in the filtered moonlight while listening to a light breeze whisper through the overhead pines.

001In all honesty, I do have to admit that this scenario actually played out about 2 weeks ago as the moon peaked and before this last bout of wet and then chilly weather hit. It was all the idea of Katie the Poo dog to get me up for a 2am rendezvous with her favorite potty spot but what the heck?  It was just too nice out there to rush back in and struggle to get back to sleep.

The rain dried up a few days ago and its 68 degrees out there right now … sans moon. We saw our first snake of the season on the street during our evening walk so I am not so tempted at the moment to rush out for an encore evening.  But the appeal is still fresh in my mind. The pics are from a few I took on a walk through the neighborhood a few days ago.

As we move towards getting on the road in October, I wonder where I will find other places that will offer such opportunities or maybe some that are even cut from a grander scale.   Whatever they are, I sure am looking forward to those experiences, too. 


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dancing ! ? . !

Along the way to this point in my life I have managed to avoid almost all situations that required me to dance.  Now, don’t think I don’t have a love of music  or can’t carry a beat… Heck, I played Trumpet for 6 years in JH and High school and finished sitting solo chair.  It’s just that somewhere, in my wiring, anything that might trigger some self consciousness usually was like an “oops” with a weapons grade nuclear device and I would melt down. 

So the simple solution was to evade the opportunity for personal embarrassment by avoiding scenarios  that might develop into a “dance” opportunity which I successfully have done for the past 50 years…. I am now thinking this was not something to be applauded.

So what is different now?  I think that all along I have wanted to dance, particularly with the love of my life but just could not take the potential personal pain of being “out there”.

Once, when I was in Seattle to teach a seminar, My wife and I, while pursuing an evening mall meal happened upon a small band playing in the area while we ate, and folks were dancing to good old tunes from the big band era. 

By the time we were finished eating, I actually suggested we go dance .. and we did and had a great time at it until the band quit.. That was about 1976 and the last time I danced publicly.

Sure, I have gotten really hooked on Dancing with the stars. I only started watching it because I like John Ratzenberger and he was one of the celebrities on during that season. I quickly saw that he could do what I knew I could do and more, that his attitude switched from expecting an early dismissal to responding to his fans support that kept him in the running. In that I found an admiration and a lust for dancing and figured that if John could do that then It certainly would not hurt me. Several seasons since then I have found that I am now appreciating the whole beauty of the well performed dances without hardly noticing the lack of clothes on the female dancers.

Then, when #3 son Emery, III got married, there was a band and dancing at the wedding reception (actually a DJ, but that’s irrelevant). During the reception, I saw many of His wife’s family and friends dancing almost continuously and some of them were my age (and shape) and just seemed to be enjoying themselves without any apparent awareness that they were being watched.  They were just dancing because they liked to dance.

I was sitting there really wanting to dance. I finally got up and did so with Merrily and loved it… all the while I kept looking out for that 3rd foot of mine that kept getting in the way. Never did see it but the experience convinced me that one skill I definitely wanted to have when we got on the road, was to be able to comfortably hold my own on a dance floor.

So for starters, we signed up for a 12 week social dance class at A Step to Gold and tonight was the second week.  I have the slow dance (with promenade variation) under my belt and the rumba…. maybe. And we are totally enjoying it!  This is way better than it was learning this stuff on an asphalt basketball court in 7th grade PE… Believe me!.  This is really nice and now I really want to do it.

But I don’t think I will ever be doing any acrobatics (heck, at my age and condition, just taking a shower in the RV is pretty heavy on the acrobatics.

But we are having way more fun than I ever imagined I might.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Katie the “Poo” is doing well

For those that have been concerned about how well Katie is progressing after her major surgery to correct a very large liver bypassing artery… She is doing extremely well.  Much better than was thought by most of the doctors by this point. He last lab work came back nearly normal in every respect.

She has been more than 4 weeks without a seizure and the 3 that she had prior to that time were progressively gentler and shorter. This is a very good sign for the future.

It seems that the opinions of her doctors varies as to her final stability and the likelihood of continued seizures after the liver shunt has been fully corrected. Those more in the General Internal medicine group have been very confident that she will be seizure free.  Those in the neurological specialty have been more certain that she will always have to have her seizures controlled and the surgeons are completely uncommitted either way.

This division is interesting because all along the way, our choices in deciding whether it was kinder and cheaper to work towards a seizure free life or just put her down (horrors! I hear out there!) would be the right choice. Those chartered with the early investigations and recommendations were all for a simple permanent solution with surgery but as we drilled deeper into the problem (all the while gushing $$$$ like an artesian well) there were more and more “well… but…” responses and the odds kept changing as to her anticipated permanent quality of life (and ours).

By the time we were up to initiating the surgery we were already more than $2600 into her diagnosis and care and the surgery was expected to run from $2300 to maybe $5000 … or more, depending on complications and what they found once inside. Even after the surgery ($2500 in the end) there continued to be speculation that she might have to have additional surgeries and a growing certainty that her seizures would always have to be controlled to some degree.

I am a kind person by nature but this whole scenario of decaying optimism over the course of her diagnosis and treatment has left me with a real “doesn’t anyone actually know anything?” feeling.  When it got to the day after surgery and the surgeon says that they have never seen such a large liver shunt before and don’t have any real evidence as to  how fast it will close up nor how completely, nor how to titrate the after surgery medications to keep her seizure free while she heals, I was feeling like we had really been had as guinea pigs and would continue to carry an unknown financial and emotional burden for months or years.  Not a happy camper am I right now.

Yes, Katie is doing very well. Better than expected (but consider that they had no reality based expectations in her case) and tapering off of the meds. Actually,  she is on about 1/8th the dosages she started with and completely off of one med and her personality is coming back to normal.

The final outcome is still out there 8 months to a year before we will know for sure if she is going to live a normal life from there on. Right now, we hope so.

In the interim, my previous blog about perspectives is very much in action.  Had we not been already living in the 400 sq ft of DakotR while we worked through all of this we truthfully would not have had any idea what the best and worst case endings for this might actually mean to us once we are on the road.  Seriously, working around a sick or impaired animal 24/7 is a real challenge under normal conditions.  in the limited space of an RV what affects one affects all 24/7.

So, The perspective we gained from this whole experience set in the context of living and being full timers already is that a pet is not a great attribute to have along while trying to travel and see new things and workamp and generally spend much time away from the RV. Sure, that wagging tail, slurpy kiss and totally glad to see us is something hard to deny as a benefit. But, spontaneity is generally not on board and a full night’s sleep is mostly out of the question without Ambien.

Everything has to be planned in advance with the pet’s wellbeing at the top of the to do list and whose needs are always more important than our wants.

This perspective is one of those things that we have learned on the way to fulltiming and something that would have been completely invisible on the radar if we had owned the resources to just get on the road in the beginning.

Katie is now a part of our family and even the occasional curious thought that we might be better off if she was “rescued” again gives us uncontrollable shudders.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

So maybe its time for a little perspective?

I realize that quite a few of my more recent posts seemed to have little to do with fulltiming and a lot to do with my more personal problems and quirks.  Its all part of the same picture….. what its like getting to fulltiming from somewhere else.

Over the past 10 years that we have been seriously planning for this new lifestyle a lot of material has passed these eyes and most of it has been narrowly focused on the details of fulltiming. Whether these details have been in the form of financial preparations, logistical scenarios or “do-overs” as the writers discovered better information or products, it all represented a process of growth and maturing into the new life.

Only a few have tried to fill in the areas confined by the dots they have been connecting. Let me be clear because I am not criticizing those that connect the dots.  That is essential.  What I am trying to convey is that it is absolutely important that one keep checking the picture on the box cover to be reminded what the work should look like when finished.

People, by nature, tend to run with the associations they have at hand and that is an essential adaptive survival mechanism. But succeeding in an overall project is about keeping these associative digressions actively connected to the overall goals.

The excitement, urgency and sheer thrills of changing one’s lifestyle can be intoxicating and can be infatuatingly distractive to the overall process if not kept in check and on task.

Here I sound like a know-it-all and yet I am not even on the road… yet so it may be hard to take me seriously.  To be honest, though, I have a lot of experience with accomplishing long term projects. Particularly those which, in the beginning, I had no experience with the subjects nor any ideas about how to accomplish the goals but I did have a belief that it was a good thing and important to accomplish.

As I see it, the same holds true of changing to a life of fulltime RVing… almost no one that is pursuing it has actually done it before so I feel fairly comfortable that my perspective about “getting there” is about as valid as anyone else’s.

As is true of most journey’s it is the trip that teaches and not arrival at the destination.  That is only a date on a calendar and perhaps a benchmark to bigger things. It is the journey to fulltiming that teaches and changes us to fit that new life.  I suspect that this may be one reason that some folks actually get on the road quickly (money is a good lubricant) and then give it up quickly.. they may not have spent enough time “learning” what it really is and is not and fitting their lives to its requirements.

So, Going more slowly is not a bad thing but it can be frustrating to the impatient.  it can also help investigators to better flesh out what their lives may actually become once they are living a fulltime RVer’s lifestyle.  I truly believe that one must pay attention to this process and monitor not only their progress towards their goal but how they have been changing within themselves as part of the preparation for a new life. If they do then they will not arrive in a state of disappointment and disillusion because their expectations never matured as they progressed. 

It is more important that one be happy and fulfilled with the new life than to have all their lists checked off and purchases made.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bugged - Badly bugged

Ok, so what was my reward for getting a major amount of work done to catch my MS Money database up to the  present?

I got to catch the flu …. big time!!!!!!

Days and nights of sweating to chills and gut pains to sharp spinal pains and  muscles that won’t quit twitching and get pulled if I try to scratch my eyebrow.  Boy!  Talk about un-fun days and nights. That has been my reward for the past 3 days.

Sure, I felt like I might have been coming down with something for the past week.   I had too much energy… a bad sign for me…. usually means my immune system has kicked in and is raising my entire metabolism to a higher level…. To be honest, this was a good thing while working on fixing 5 years of screwed up database and banking records, userids and passwords.  One slip of the mind there and it may not be possible to recover from the fubar.

Its done, though.  I still have about 3 or 4 minor accounts to cull for bad and missing records and then I will call it gold and, as Smith said in Backup! Back-up BACK UP!, it will get a certified backup.

its not important how it got this bad.. honestly, it could not be helped, but, for our future planning work and with the tightening economy we really need MS Money working with solid data. I will go into more details at some time in the future about its key role and how our financial structures are setup and work together (most of the time) but that’s a story for another day.

Meanwhile, God, please get me over this FLU!!!!!   PLEASE!!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bonus Post Today

In our procrastination Queue are a couple of things that need to be addressed, pronto!

One is reservations at Disney at the end of October (Our launch date). We are trying to sync that with a Shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral. I have always wanted to see a launch in person and there are not going to be too many more of them in this program.

There is one scheduled for November 12th but a wrinkle that has been in the works (and in our planning) is a visit by Merrily’s long time friend, Donna, who lives in the UK.

Donna and her FiancĂ©e’ are planning to come see a launch, also. Their plans are for one in May (there are actually 2 planned spaced 3 days apart).  We would really like to see them as well as Merrily’s brother and his family up in Jacksonville, FL . I think that the odds of actually being in the area when a launch finally occurs (they tend to slip around a lot) are a lot better in May with 2 of them.

So, our Disney reservations are still afloat as are those for dates after Nov 1.  Just yesterday, Merrily suggested Fort Desoto state park as a “next stop” after Disney. We have really wanted to stay there for several years but the locals seem to have it pretty well sewed up.  Only Florida residents can make reservations more than 6 months in advance so we are playing a waiting game. Guess we need some backup plans to allow for some slippery schedules for launches, full parks, etc.

Gotta get on that right away.


Fixing the Wasp Problem behind the refrigerator

The annual startup of the whole Bee, wasp, spider cycle has begun. I saw a few of each the other day and one of my primary projects for the colder weather was not accomplished, yet. I know that there have been wasp/Dirt Dauber nests in  back of the refrigerator. I have seen them going in and out last year.  I don’t really want to destroy any one of them. The spiders keep other insects in check and the wasps and bees keep the spiders in check… I just don’t want any of them nesting on or in my living spaces.

I am not a weenie about such things but I am also not stupid. Bumble Bees and Dirt Daubers are pretty benign and generally won’t sting if you don’t directly assault them.  But Paper wasps, Flickers, most of the other large varieties are pretty aggressive and unpredictable.  I have seen a few that managed to get inside DakotR and each is encouraged to leave through amply opened doors and windows rather than by attacking them. Trying to dispatch a wasp in a closed area is like trying to take a gun away from a green beret… you are coming away with pain no matter how it ends.

However, as a believer in prevention before cure, I decided to cover the vent holes I have seen them using for their transporter to the refrigerator cubby. They are the typical kind with 3 rows of shielded holes on 2 doors, one for the bottom to let fresh air in and 1 door at the top to allow the heated air to escape.I had planned to do this during the cold weather while they were not active.

In looking for a solution I found the typical RV pricing on packages of stiffened screens to stick onto the inside of the doors.  At about $32 a package (2 packages required) you can see why I was trying to work out another solution.

I was in the basement (of the nearby house) when I spotted some rolls of aluminum expanded web gutter shields, designed I think, to catch every pine needle that tries to escape the roof.

I cut sections of it that were long enough to run the length of a single row of venting holes, then folded that in half and cut off the very tips of the folds so that I had 2 equal sized pieces.

I got my Gorilla Duct tape (its not just for “temporary” use, anymore) and cut three – 4” strips for each vent row.

Then, each strip was folded lengthwise (gosh this would be so much easier if I had not loaned my camera to #3 son) and to fit over the open holes with a flange to tape down above and below the row.

Basically, end-on, it looked kinda like a “Z” with a hump in it. A strip of tape on each end (be sure to tuck the ends of the mesh down snug) along the long edges of the mesh and its done.

I am not totally positive that the mesh will stop all the dirt daubers but I think it will because the mesh fits closely over the venting holes and there is no room for the wasps to land and climb through it.  I figure that if they are able to get through then I can either remake the covers by first, squishing the mesh lengthwise so the holes are a lot smaller or by making a second identical screen but offshifting the holes 1/2 the size of the holes. I know they won’t get through that.

I sure hope that I got all of the active nests out of there before sealing it up. If there are still active hatcheries in there, its going to get interesting.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you already postponed yesterday.

Yeah, I said that!  I am the captain of the procrastination team so its all my fault, anyway, so why try to hide it…. much.

I cannot believe that this time is screaming by as fast as it is. I honestly try to get a post on here every few days but lately, I am lucky if its every few weeks. Somehow, I have got to get a better grip on these things. If its this bad for something I love doing I must have no concept of how bad it is for the things that really deserve procrastination.

Having defended myself with that, I will try to catch up on things.

(knocking on some wood) Katie has not had a seizure in over 2 weeks.  This is a record untouched since about October 2008. I think its an indicator that her liver is kicking in and doing a better job for her and that the surgery must be working.

It has sure seemed that her typical responses to the medications have been slipping over toward the overdosing area and I have been backing them all down a lot. Most of them are down by at least 1/3 of the amounts she was getting the beginning of February.

She is more active and less sedated during the daytime, has better coordination (most of the time) and her disposition is settling in on the very sweet marker so I am thrilled.

Oh other fronts, the tax work is coming along and I am just minutes away from printing the final versions of the Fed and State forms…. I won’t say what year, though.

My own issues with my meds seems to also be settling down. Keeping a Patch on for 4 days is about  the limit I can stretch it to and its usually getting pretty uncomfortable at the 72 hours mark but I don’t feel I am staying as aware I as need to be if I just swap it out every 3 days and don’t touch base with the discomforts at least a little bit.

The Pristiq is certainly the hero, here. It has given me a lot of my life back and in particular, some predictability for planning purposes. As long as I don’t go skipping doses my unstable startle response stays nicely in check and I can now go places and do things that I have not ever before been comfortable with nor able to do without side effects lasting for days afterwards. One example is that I am now able to walk a mile or so a day. I haven’t been able to do that since about 1999.

Enough with the boring personal junk.  On the RVing side of things, we finished up the Workamping university’s Workamping 101 course which taught us how to go about finding and applying for workamping jobs that will suit our needs and spirits. Getting committed into a bad workamping fit is a real buzz kill from what we have heard from several experienced workampers we have talked with.

The Webinar was well handled and the content was definitely worth the tuition price. We feel like we have gained some actual experience in this area even though our first actual workamping experience is yet to be undertaken.

I have been trying to get an idea of what kinds of web based tools could help us while RVing and workamping.  I know there is plenty to search for and a lot of good content to work our way though but I am more concerned about being able to recall the information on demand that we have previously come across in our searches. 

Simple lists and databases get unwieldy as the content grows and the time to find exactly what we want gets longer and longer. I feel a more dynamic approach needs to be developed that makes it an ongoing part of the whole process. It needs to be readily available, current and self sustaining.At present, I am working up a prototype on a SharePoint services site that integrates all of the info we gather into separate entities that can serve as a full collaboration platform between us and those that we need to work with.

Once I get enough of it setup and working to my ideas I will make it visible to the public for  critique and suggestions. I certainly don’t have the ability to foresee everything it needs to be able to do, up front so getting critiques and suggestions will be vital to delivering a truly useful and well targeted tool.

Oh, the Smart car is doing great, too!  I know we need to name it and get our vanity license plate but its hard to be feel free to be creative with locked in mortal combat  with taxes every day. I only just got the dealer purchased standard plate mounted on it last night.

And to close out this epistle, we finally found a dance class we think we will like.  Its taught nearby and the first of 12 weekly classes will start on Wednesday, March 25 so we will undoubtedly be sore for a few weeks from the class and rehearsals. I think it will all be worth it when we can feel comfortable in a social dance situation. I am tired of feeling that I can’t dance without being an embarrassment to myself and Merrily. Now that I have the pills to keep the angst under control I might as well take advantage of this newly found insulation against personal embarrassment and develop some skills that I was always too shy to  tackle.

Looking forward to it all.


Friday, March 6, 2009

A brief status update

I know I was trying to keep this blog abreast of our daily activities as we work towards a full time life on the road in the US. It was a noble intent but sometimes the practical side of reality will not be denied and the time and attention to do this right was simply overwhelmed with the business of dealing with the alligators around our butts.

The truth is that we have wrapped up the issues with Merrily’s ailing sister and her affairs and she is settled and her stuff is stored. As I mentioned earlier, My daughters, Carol and Shawna helped Merrily take care of things in the proper way and all are back into their own personal lives.

Also, the ongoing drama of Katie the CockaPoo is improving. She had another seizure two mornings ago after Merrily had left for work. I was asleep (recovering from being up most of the night) and I was awakened by a clawing and struggling on the bed behind me. I turned over to see Katie on her side and trying to drag herself over to me.  She was in the beginnings of a seizure that had her legs just flailing and her head bobbing and jerking all around uncontrollably.  She was reaching out to me for help the best way she could.

I immediately slid my free hand over to her and up under her head and she just went limp with a big sigh as her head settled into my big outstretched hand. She was still struggling but was clearly relieved at my contact.  I quickly snuggled her up to me and supported her in a more prone face down attitude that had her legs tucked up under her.

All this seemed to abort the seizure and it never developed into the uncontrollable rigor in her legs and neck that typically has always happened before.  The seizure was mostly over in a few more minutes but she was still kind of wobbly and when she tried to walk around it was as though she was quite drunk.

I quickly got dressed, got her meds into her and then we started walking around outside. The more she walked the better she became and the less the occasional stumble or wobbles occurred.

I am somewhat suspect that she got into something when she raided the garbage can the night before and that may have contributed to this particular seizure.  Since it had been 11 days since her last one it certainly appears that her problem is becoming less sDSC00799evere as her shunt is gradually closed off by the cellophane restrictor band that was put around it a few weeks ago.  This is very encouraging though it will be probably 6 months before we will know if she will ever be completely free of the seizures.

On other fronts, The Smart car is here and so far, no surprises except for how peppy it really can be with the right driver attitude.DSC00760  As others have found, it is a little squirrily in the wind but it keeps up with traffic nicely, even at 70mph. if you are not carefulo the heated seats will melt your jelly beans and the A/C is pretty instant, too. Got to try it today.

Since our weather has been running from a few days of lows in the low teens and highs below freezing to days with lows in the mid 50s and highs in the high 70s, we have gotten a chance to check out its all season capabilities in just a matter of a week.

I will say that I am impressed with its ESP (electronic Stability Program) for controlling traction in slippery conditions.  The first thing I did when it snowed was go look for a hill to try to go up and see how it worked.  In short, it worked very well.  I was only able to find 1 place that I was even able to get a wheel to start slipping and the ESP took over, gave me solid traction in a split second and it was like another vehicle sudden gave me a push the traction grab was so solid.

More later but right now its Friday and Merrily should be home shortly and I need to get cleaned up from the day’s work before she gets here.