Monday, May 25, 2009

oh boy! oh boy! oh boy!… unlimited hot water!!!!!

Awhile back I admit I was not the biggest fan of tankless water heaters. I felt that my 10 gallon Suburban DSI hot water heater was up to the tasks I needed it for. For me, the advantage of having both electric and lp gas energy supplies available was a bonus that could not be matched by a tankless.

So what has changed?  I spent a winter getting a cold water supply that was a lot colder than the summer temp cold water going  into the hot water heater, that’s what. My previous experiences said that by running both electric and gas at the same time, I had good recovery times and by throttling back the hot water stream a bit I could maintain comfortable temperature water almost indefinitely.

The gotcha in this is that I am a big guy and (maybe to be a bit gross for some) I have a lot of body fur which takes a lot (and I mean a LOT) of warm to hot water to rinse off completely. Playing the dual-heat source and throttled back hot water flow in the winter meant that I could either;

  • brush my teeth and shave
  • wash my hair
  • wash my body
  • warm up my cold cramped legs and back muscles.

There just was not enough instant BTUs going into that cold water to heat it enough to do more than 1 item on that list before it got shrinky-dink cold AND FAST!

After quite a few months of debating the possible advantage of a tankless (specifically, a Precision Temp RV-500) I started looking for some sort of “deal”. Of course, Merrily had to be on board with the idea, too, otherwise, I would not do it.  I think she was moderately accepting of the idea but not really sold on spending $1000 for a hot water heater.

About 3 months of casual searching only turned up units that were nearly full price but finally, a good deal for $600 showed up on Ebay. I certainly hope its a good deal.  I received it a few days ago and it looks to be nearly new (as claimed) and in good condition but the weather here has been daily storms so I have not tried to work up the install just yet. I don’t want to get half way through and get ace’d out by the weather for hours to days.

In making the decision, I spent a lot of time searching for the experiences of others that had the Precision Temp RV-500 and had used it for multiple seasons.  I did not find anyone that was not positive about it and most were completely satisfied, whether the cost justified the attitude or not, I don’t know.

All seemed to be saying that it did what I wanted it to do, though, and with a washer and dryer in DakotR, the old 10 gallon never gave hot water for wash and rinse and I sometimes felt my BVDs had a little scum left in them from soap residues.

We will see when I get it installed.   I have toyed with the idea of keeping the Existing HWH installed so I can have electrically heated water, too.  Not sure if i have the room for both or if it is even an approved installation style by Precision Temp. I don’t have a strong inclination to even go there but it has crossed my mind.

More to come on this subject.

On other fronts, we have finally committed our Disney trip Campsite reservations and bought the tickets to Cirque Du Soleil, La Nouba.  Not an easy set of choices, though and not because we didn’t know what we wanted but because we didn’t want to pay full price… but that’s a whole post in itself and I will give it to you a bit later.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wilmington, NC – Very, very nice though a little cool, today, for the beach.

Our plans to watch the space shuttle launch on May 12th got scuttled! It just took too long to get the specifics nailed down tight and then they bumped the launch up a day and the combination made it pretty irrational to try to force fit this 12 hour drive to Cape Canaveral into this week of vacation.

So, the last minute destination switch was to… drum roll please…..   Wilmington, NC!

We opted to stay at the KOA Wilmington Campground (more on this, later) as there are few other campgrounds in the immediate area and our friends, Donna and Bill, would much more enjoy some urban American activities rather than just sitting in a state park in the wilderness.  Sure, doing that would have been a nice venue but, heck, they were driving 8 hours from West Virginia for only a 2 day visit with us and then returning to WV to fly back to the UK the following day so, they deserved to have some sort of excitement while down here.

So, here I sit doing this blog while Merrily, Donna and Bill are out “excitement-ing” in Wilmington Historic downtown on the river walk. We have always loved to come to Wilmington ever since we moved to Raleigh in the early 1980s. There is a lot of great stuff to do including touring the Battleship, beaches, Aquarium, riding ferries.

Wilmington is not (at least not yet) the glitzy tourist Mecca that Myrtle Beach has devolved into but it does have a lot of interesting places and things to do. The famous Wrightsville Beach is very close by. Public beach access parking is scattered all along the area but its all metered parking (ugh!) but the beach is worth it.

Carolina and Kure beaches are not far away with great beaches and mostly free access parking. Those areas are much less commercialized than Wrightsville and more like '”home-boy” beaches.

But, as usual, I digress…

Bill is into birds and serpents so he is off visiting the Wilmington Serpentarium for a few hours while Donna and Merrily wander around the “oos and ahhhhhs” land of shops and stores along the nearby river walk .

Me?  I am still not feeling too swift because I got too much sun (allergy to it) the day we left to come here and also probably ate something else that I can’t handle anymore and am quietly recuperating in DakotR with Katie. I am having my kind of fun, too, so no one loses, today.

Chances are I will get a call from them about dinner time to meet somewhere to eat and all will end well.

I am generally not a raving fan of KOA camping, mostly due to price but I have to say that the Wilmington KOA really is something a cut above.  There are a lot of big rig suitable sites with easy ingress/egress (unlike the KOA Myrtle Beach with its old stand of pine trees encroaching on the roadways).

50 amp FHU sites just about everywhere, a 3 pen off leash pet exercise area and plenty of places for kids to play. The sites are all level beach gravel and Clifford and DakotR fit nicely with room for the Smart car to fit without anything hanging out or sitting on the grass.  Its surprisingly quiet with no nearby railroad tracks, Interstates or airports to rattle us.

A decent promo video gives a good perspective of the available amenities.

The staff has been mostly college kids with a few workamping older folks like us, thrown into the mix and I can easily see Merrily and myself working in a place like this sometime in the future.

We reserved a Lodge (not a cabin with no bathroom) for Donna and Bill. Its a short Park model with a log cabin motif inside but complete with everything but linens.  They are loving it!

Talk about convenience, there is a Hess gas station at the entrance which, at the moment has the lowest fuel prices that I can find in this whole area. On the opposite side of the KOA driveway is a big vehicle pull through car wash with lots of bays tall enough to handle any sized RV. That’s just too darned convenient!

As I said, I am not a big fan of KOAs and have stayed in a few that were not acceptable but this one is something special and is well managed and cared for. Its certainly better than many of the Coast to Coast Deluxe resort properties we have stayed in.

We will definitely come back here.


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.