Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Shift Happens

Seems as though no matter where I turn, I see evidence that Profit is the new god and the Ferengi (Star Trek Reference) have nothing on the GOP. 

Meanwhile, sales of the 1949 novel by George Orwell, "1984", have soared.  When I checked it earlier today it was riding a high #5 in Books on Amazon.  When I was in high school in the early 1970s, this, along with A Separate Peace and Brave New World, were required reading. I have no idea if they still are, although I rather doubt it.  

It was suggested on Facebook recently that the current administration read 1984 and thought it was an instruction manual rather than a warning.  Feels that way, what with all the "Alternative Facts" floating around on social media.

As is so often the case, while searching for something else, I happened upon an interesting individual who has just published a book:  Trumpocalypse?: The Liberal's Guide to Saving The World

It's priced at $9.99 for the Kindle edition, and I understand it will soon be available as a printed volume.


 I also found another interesting book called "A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age" that piqued my interest. 

I suppose I need to buckle down and read these books - however, I'm not sure if I should start with the two current ones, or go back and enjoy the old ones again.  In what order would you read them?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Neither Rich nor Glamorous nor Photogenic

After watching maybe 200 or so videos on YouTube over the past couple of years on the subject of RV Travels, I've come to the conclusion that I'm never going to be a Vlogger on RV Traveling.

One thing nearly all of the vloggers I've watched over the years have in common, aside from being photogenic (which I am NOT) and being willing to open up their lives to public scrutiny, is the ability to make even mundane things appear somewhat glamorous, thereby enticing viewers to live vicariously through their videos.

I know that's an over-simplification, but I already tend to write at length in a 30-second soundbyte world.

There are families on the road, couples out exploring, and singles who have opted to live out of a van or camper or motorhome.  A few do take the time to discuss things like health insurance, and the need to have a domicile for registering your vehicles and getting your mail, but very few people have actually solved some of the problems I have encountered so they haven't helped me all that much.

Most of the YouTube Vloggers who have large followings are coming into the lifestyle from positions of plenty.  I have lost track of the number of people I've encountered in Facebook Groups, on Blogs, and on YouTube who are out of touch with the fact that not everybody lives in an RV because they want to exit the rat race and see the world.  

Not everybody can say they walked away from a lucrative job, sold the house, bought a $300K motor home and are living off their savings because they made such smart investments. If you spend too much time watching YouTube videos of RV Vloggers, however, you can easily come to the conclusion that there are no poor people living the RV Lifestyle.  

I find this rather ironic because just like the Tiny House movement has been monetized to the max, so has the idea of living the RV Lifestyle.  Poor people have been living in travel trailers and tiny houses for a long, long time, but now all of a sudden, it's sexy to live in an RV and travel, and it's a badge of honor to pay as much for a tiny house as for a large one elsewhere.

In real life, most of the RVers I've met have been working at places like Amazon not for the thrill, but because they need the money and once you get hired into Camperforce that first time, it's fairly easy to return season after season.  There's a lot to be said for the knowledge that you can always go to Amazon if your other plans don't pan out.

If I have a point, and honestly, I'm not really sure I do beyond my premise that I don't think I'm ever going to do a youtube channel about my RV travels, it's that youtube is not an accurate reflection of the real world any more than reality TV is actually real.  Real is often boring, mundane, and dreary.  Real is often hard, sad, and confusing.  Real is not rewarded unless it can be slanted in such a way as to become entertainment. 

So ... when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping ... on Amazon, of course.  Here's the obligatory Amazon shopping link to get you started.  I just like this image a lot.  It makes me think of my little sister, who loves horses the way I love chocolate and peanut butter.  The image is called "Band of Thunder" and this product is a tree free journal.  Long ago when Squidoo was alive and well, I had an entire page that was dedicated to items with this particular painting.  I always thought it somewhat unreal how many people decorated their homes and especially bathrooms with these horses.  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Getting Ready for 2017 - Got Calendar?

Sometimes my brain feels like a flippin' ping pong ball. This would be one of those times.

Talk about a rabbit hole (As in going down one a la Alice in Wonderland) I started out clearing up my bookmarks bar, then started deleting old squidoo bookmarks that are broken links. Hit upon one that has some javascript that used to make a nice image & link to Amazon that would work on Squidoo. 

If curious, you can find that page at the link which follows, but I think it's outdated and that using the tools at Amazon proper works better than imarketingtool.com

Wondering if it would work on weebly, (it didn't) I went to Amazon to find a link to test it with. Logged into my associate account, and saw clicks and purchases that I didn't know had happened. While trying to figure out where the clicks had come from, I found a tiny house calendar and recalled somebody recently saying they were very interested in tiny houses ... only for the love of chocolate I cannot recall who or when. So apparently I have the mind of a jackrabbit and the memory of a goldfish. 

That said, here's the calendar, and fyi, it is an affiliate link because that's how the site stripe works. I have no idea where the clicks came from, however, because I haven't used that particular tracking ID since Squidoo died. I am really puzzled!

So after determining that the tool's generated HTML doesn't work on Weebly, I decided to see what it looks like here.  This is the result:

Rather ugly, in my opinion.  Hard to see, and the image for the "buy at amazon.com" button no longer links to an active icon.  I also tested the tool with 10 titles in rows of 2, which is how I have used it in the past, during the glorious days of Squidoo, but I kept getting an error that said the site was taking too long to respond, so I finally gave up.  Guess that's another bookmark I can safely delete.

Seriously, though, Amazon's new tools are awesome especially when compared to the old tools I had to use on Squidoo.  

This was all done with Amazon's image linking tool:

Then, of course, there's the old way of inserting images that can include the price.  

I am still fond of using the image and text as separate entities, like this: 

Grumpy Cat Mini Wall Calendar (2017)

Now to figure out which calendar I want for 2017!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Health Insurance - Finally Covered!

I reached a milestone on the 1st of November - I have now worked a full 90 days for Amazon and am now covered by their insurance plan until they release us from our peak season commitment.

You may think this is no big deal, but for me it truly is.  While the affordable care act has helped a great many people, the state I came from did not expand their medicaid program, and I fall in that grey area.  I did sign up for a health plan on the exchange, and I did get the assistance for paying for it, but even though my share of cost per month was relatively small, it was enough that I could not afford any of the care I needed.  So I did not go to the specialists who could treat my diabetic retinopathy because I just did not have the money.  

Why, you ask, did I fail to do this?  Well, before the affordable care act, I had been obtaining medical care under another program on a sliding fee scale. However, when they sent me to have a colonoscopy, and I thought the copay of $30 covered it, I was horribly wrong and when the bills started arriving that I could not pay, I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  

So I spent the better part of 2 years paying for my plan on the exchange, and not having enough money to see the specialists I needed.  Plus, truth be told, I didn't realize until recently how bad my eyes are and how close I am to losing my vision.

So that in a nutshell is why we decided to come and do this thing again, despite knowing it would kick our butts physically.  Now the plan is to spend our days off seeking medical care for my eyes and hoping it's not too late to save my sight.

Wish me luck!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Essentials for Living a Nomadic Lifestyle

Although going nomadic is often the result of needing a cheaper way to live, there are some things that help a lot in making the transition, and if you have the cash to get them ahead of time, it helps a lot.  

Some things really go without saying - you need a place to sleep, something to eat, something to wear, a place to take care of your elimination needs, and a way to keep your body and clothing clean. Those are pretty much universal requisites, and there are many ways Wanderers on Wheels satisfy those requirements.  I'm sure we'll touch on most of them later on, but today I want to talk about devices that add value to the lifestyle.

A smart phone is one thing I never thought I wanted, but then when I got one, I realized it can do so much more than I ever imagined. My smartphone is a Galaxy Amp Prime which I bought in the Cricket Wireless store on sale for about $80.  It is my lifeline at times.  I use it for navigation, keeping up with my Facebook Friends and Family, using digital coupons when I shop, surfing the web, watching youtube videos, taking photos and recording videos, and there are even eBay and Amazon apps for buying and for selling.  I'm sure there are even more things a smart phone does, but those are my biggies.  Your mileage may vary. I probably use my phone for taking photos more than I use it for anything else.  I was in a Lowe's here in Campbellsville, and just loved this Dragon blow up decoration, so I whipped out the smart phone and snapped this photo. 

Something else I didn't realize I wanted or needed is a personal  hot spot, but it's another item I really don't want to live without now.  I bought the AT&T hot spot.  Here's what it looks like. 

I took it to my Cricket store and with the swap of a sim card and an additional phone line, I now have unlimited (within reason) internet access anywhere I have cell phone service for $70 a month.  It's not a perfect plan, and it's more than I wanted to spend, but we have a somewhat unique situation, and for us this was an essential.

Next to my smart phone and internet access on the go, a laptop computer is probably the next important thing.  I don't have one at the moment, having gone with a desktop all in one computer when we thought we'd be living in the apartment for more years. 

However, living in the 33 foot Argosy (pictured above) with 2 cats, my husband, and my adult son means we have to use the dinette as our "office" and so it is full of computers and the printer.  My computer isn't closeable, and hubby's got my old laptop with a plug in USB keyboard, so his isn't portable either.  However, if you plan on using free wifi in places on the road, it's very helpful if you can carry your laptop inside and enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack while you work.  

I thought I would be using my galaxy tablet more, but the battery is overheating and so until I address that issue, it's staying in the nice little carry case I thrifted awhile back.  I still want another laptop, though, because I found I really need a keyboard, and I need a larger screen than is found on a tablet, and if you are going to carry something that big, you might just as well have the whole enchilada instead of an oversized cell phone that doesn't make phone calls and only uses wifi.  Such a learning curve with electronics anymore. Mine has been steep and expensive.  But I do love the camera on my phone.  Yes, there are Christmas trees on sale in September.  I have proof, thanks to my camera's date stamp.

Well, I just learned something new - I thought I was setting this up to post automatically, but apparently I misunderstood the scheduling portion of blogger.  At least this portion of the learning curve, while steep, was not costly.

May your learning curves be flat and smooth and cost you nothing.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Preparing for the Truck Camper Life

Some time back we bought a vintage TREK truck camper off Craigslist, and have been working on fixing it up.  We then bought a vintage (1991) Chevy Pickup Truck to carry it.  Next step in the process will be to find a semi-permanent location to park the '87 Argosy so we can do some adventuring in the truck camper.

Although this woman lives in her van, her points in this video are also applicable to living in our trailer and to our plans of traveling in the truck camper as well.  I just subscribed to her channel.  Just a tip from me - most of the time when I watch talking heads on youtube, I speed them up because I can listen a lot faster than most people talk. 

I'm still downsizing, and I know there are still a lot of things I can remove from our trailer to make life more comfortable.  I am also still working on how to make simpler meals in the trailer, but I'm not cooking for just one or two people - I'm actually cooking for 4, and 2 of them are hearty eaters, so my joke is I'm cooking for ten.

That said, this is one of the things that I am putting on my list of must haves - solar and hand cranked weather radios.  This video speaks of spending $50 at WalMart, but there are some better deals on Amazon right now, more in the range of about $20 to $30.  (Note - this was written in October of 2016 - prices may have changed if you are reading this later.)

We have kept a weather radio on hand for years, ever since we moved to Texas the first time and learned about tornados, but ours is a plug in model that sounds an alarm when the National Weather Service sends out an alert.  This is as close as I could come to showing you what it looks like because I'm fairly certain it's so old that it's not being made any longer.  

With all the crazy weather we've been having, not just in Texas, I think everybody ought to have emergency supplies and a weather radio on hand.  

I'm working on getting my supplies ready - I hope you are doing the same or have already put yours together.

Until next time, thanks for reading!