Saturday, August 30, 2014

I'm Taking a Vacation From Blogging

A couple of things.

I'm not sure that I am going to renew my current domain name: houndsandrvs.com when it expires sometime in September. Currently it redirects to my original blogspot domain. If you decide you want to continue to follow this blog in case there are changes down the road you will need to change your bookmark address to this domain name:  bhounds.blogspot.com. That will be the blog address if I decide not to renew my current domain name.

There isn't much going on in my life since I have basically finished my research of RVs and currently have no plans to travel. I find it hard to write about everyday living when the intent of the blog was to write about researching RVs and then writing about my travels. I can't honestly say if those travels will take place or not, even after almost three years this October.

I am also finding my retirement life is nothing exciting and definitely not anything to write about to send out for the public to read. It is basically what I expected it would be if I chose to live here after retiring. Things are good but slow. There is really nothing to read here when the highlight of the week is mowing the yard or washing a car.

Because of that I have decided I am going to take a blog vacation.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Saw The Bad Side of the Economy Today

This post fits more into the "Retirement" side of my blog. It would just graze the edge of the "RV" side of the blog.

By helping a friend today, someone I worked with just a few months ago, I saw for the first time the bad side of the economy in the USA. It's the economy that some say has recovered and everything is great and then there is the side where those people cannot see the light at the end of a dark dark tunnel.

In some news media over the past few years you might have read how the majority of working couples are really just a payday away from disaster. This is based on no savings, living payday to payday, a family to support plus a mortgage. Well, this is kinda like one of those stories.

In this case there was no mortgage lost, but a single mother supporting two boys below the age of 7. Due to some recent contract awards while working for the government as a government contractor, her parent company lost the contract after five years of support, when it came due for new bidding. The new contractor chose not to make an offer to her to keep her job. It is common the new company will make an offer when there is a change in government contracts.

In this case a couple of things have played against her. Those are somewhat private and something I will not discuss here, since I do have some ex coworkers that read this blog on occasion.

Without a job offer to her, to keep her job, what it did was move her and her two boys from a very nice large house that was rented, eliminated a very substantial salary to nothing and a situation where the job market is tight enough in the local area that after a month of job searching she has found herself unemployed. She is also out of money and her unemployment does not start until the week of September 21, 2014. That unemployment payment will be less than half of her salary of a month ago. How many of us could afford to take a 60% pay cut or more?

When I heard the news from a mutual friend the other day, I contacted her to see if she was ok and if there was anything I could do to help. Since I have been out of circulation by being retired, I was not aware of job opportunities as I normally would be. So there was nothing I could do there to help her in finding a job except let her know she could use me as a reference.

What she asked for and told me was the most stressful for her right now was a very surprising answer. It was an answer that showed me just how bad this friend was hurting, withdrawing and not asking for help from any of her friends. She had just moved from that large nice rental house to a small 3 room, not 3 bedroom but a 3 room apartment, where the cost of rent was the deciding factor. This was one of those older large houses that was turned into multiple apartments mostly to attract the rental market of college students years ago, but not now. The house was in good shape, a neighborhood that had remodeled older houses for blocks and blocks ... a nice area to live.

Luckily she had a ground floor apartment, with a nice front porch and yard overlooking a part of the college town and a small backyard and patio but not the type of yard where the two boys could play and burn off some energy. The rooms were good size but with the two young boys the rooms had to be reconfigured to fit them. The bedroom and the living room were reversed to give them the bigger room as a bedroom.

Back to her surprising answer and a look at a Catch-22 when things are not going your way in life.

When I asked if there was anything I could do to help her, she paused and then in almost a whisper ... "I need someone to haul my trash away".

I was somewhat confused by that answer. I was expecting to be asked for a loan, maybe buy some groceries, or fill her car up with gas but no. She said her most stressful thing right now was getting the trash hauled away.

The trash in this case were boxes of stuff she had moved but had no room for. It was things she had not sold on Craig's List or eBay. It was really just stuff you throw away. I thought I knew the answer, but asked her why couldn't she just leave it where it was in back for the weekly trash pickup. Of course one was money, she could not afford that kind of expense but the other reason was .... even though she had bagged a lot of it in large heavy duty black trash bags, the city had their own trash system where their containers had to be used. Also those containers were color coded where the trash was separated as if you were recycling. Those containers also cost extra on top of the pickup fee. I had expected the cost being a reason but not the container requirement.

The stack of empty boxes plus some filled with things not worth giving away were covering the small patio right up to the back door of the apartment. Out by the alley was a stack of large moving boxes and the large black heavy duty bags filled with more stuff not worth giving away. Only the stack by the alley had been sitting there for a month and had been in a couple of heavy thunderstorms. It was not a good situation. The boxes were soggy, the bags had puddles of water on them.

Long story short, in two different trips I was able to fill my Toyota FJ and haul everything away. The empty boxes were broken down and taken to recycling. The bagged trash will go out with my weekly pickup and the large boxes full of junk were burned ... the burning process just finished before the thunderstorm that passed through early this evening.

So the economics side of this story is, she is doesn't have a job, doesn't have enough money to last until September 21, with two young sons to feed. She also needs to buy gas to get to job interviews if she she is called. She has interviewed a few times but I'm sure here past salary keeps her from an offer. She has many resume's out for jobs in a market that will be hard to get a job, especially without a college degree.

I know from personal experience twenty years ago, college graduates some with master degrees are willing to work for less money just to stay in the area. Some have a spouse still finishing a degree, some are graduate degrees. It's a tough market to crack when looking for a job and it's even harder without a college degree ... if you expect to make the amount of salary she was making.

The two unspoken factors will prevent her from being hired in her old department, even though it has been requested she be hired numerous times by different managers, according to her.

Yes, she could have saved more or even some of her salary. The majority of baby boomers nationwide have not saved since life itself does become expensive raising a family, especially as a single parent. She was one of those that never suspected she would ever lose her job, although I mentioned to her last summer about being financially prepared in case the large contract was not renewed. These companies are Fortune 500 companies that work that bid on contracts to support government activities. That environment has naturally changed for everyone with the changes in the last year of worldwide military support and available funding released from D.C.

She was kind of caught in the 'perfect storm' of government work, and now finds herself in a bad situation.

Today was an experience I didn't ever want to witness, especially to a friend with young children.

As far as the RV side of the blog I mentioned, this situation reminded me of some of the blogs I had read over the years where families or even single people had moved into an RV and started the lifestyle due to a loss of job, loss of house due to job loss or storm damages. It also reminded me of just how fragile retirement living is for some based on living on a shoestring budget. Who knows how high the cost of energy, the cost of groceries and medical coverage will be within the next 5 and 10 year periods, let alone gas/diesel prices. Will their retirement incomes keep up with inflation?

I wonder what percent of the millions of RV travelers only do it for economic reasons?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Comments & Rambling

I realize it's part of blogging, where the notorious 10% show up and either tell you how what you should do in your life either by commenting or by email ... those 10% seem to be pretty upset after they read my post yesterday. I've never met them, have no idea who they are but it has always mystified me why strangers get so upset because I am not doing what they want me to do.

Ed seems to be pretty consistent with his comments over the past few months ... he is mad that I have not come to a firm decision. He wants me to "fish or cut bait". I've deleted most of his comments when I catch them so he doesn't embarrass himself. I have also emailed him a couple of times suggesting for him to stop reading my blog since it seems to increase his blood pressure based on the tone of his comments. What does it matter to him what I do or don't do?

Amazing and humorous.

Don't people have anything else to do in their life besides troll the internet and leave dumb comments on blogs telling people what to do with THEIR lives?

I don't know Edward, don't care to know Edward and am not concerned what he does out in Denver. He needs to take up a hobby since he has pulled off the road and stopped blogging.

As for the anonymous commenters, I shut that option off a long time ago because it was nothing more than 99% spam.

I had an interesting email in my inbox this morning from a long time friend with a lot of years experience in traveling. They had been doing some research on fiberglass and styrene. After a lot of fiberglass trailers in their past, they were not sure they would be buying anymore fiberglass trailers.

After reading that email I thought about a trailer I had looked at in the past and is used fulltime by one of the bloggers I follow. He has told me that after 19 months of traveling fulltime he has never had a problem with his Starcraft AR-ONE 17RD. They are available locally and will be reconsidered.

I've noticed in my recent searches of fiberglass trailers, there seems to be always an abundance for sale and most of them are priced more than they are worth. Still they don't last long and sell pretty quickly. The market seems to be pretty fluid for fiberglass trailers. So I guess the prices are not too high after all.

My addiction starts in 6 days and 8 days for my local team. That is college football. That is one sport I will watch from the first kickoff in the east to the last game on the west coast. That usually keeps me up until 1:30 or so in the morning on Saturday nights. Pro football does not start their regular season for a couple of weeks later in September. I am a fan of pro football but not one that likes to watch the pre-season games that are going on now. It will be interesting to see how much my diet changes once the games start. I've been pretty good eating wise since April when I retired.

Like I said yesterday, summer has finally arrived here in the 'tropics' of southern Indiana. It was a nice summer while it lasted but we are now in day 2 of 95°+ and 90% humidity. That knocks the hounds out into a deeper sleep than normal during the day. It keeps me inside and still time to clean, read and take siestas. The forecast shows this heat wave (normal for August) should last until next Tuesday. I think I can handle that.

The topic of old dogs came up today via emails. We all seemed to agree that older dogs have different requirements such as a daily routine that is familiar with them plus the ability for fast vet care if an emergency were to arrive. Some feel that traveling is not an option with an older dog. Other bloggers say the same about their dogs but then some continue to travel without any problems. I believe due to the high quality of dog food I have fed my hounds over the years, they rarely get sick until the very end of their life. By the time the problem is caught it's usually too late to do anything.

For those readers that have asked about the results of the dog food supplement I was using in July called Dinovite, after 50+ days Heidi's condition did not improve. In fact as she sits here today her skin condition, due to some sort of lifelong allergies, has gotten worse than it was July 1. I'll be taking her in for a shot later today. I have come to the conclusion that her allergies are environmental instead of a dog food ingredient allergy.

As Al and Kelly over at the Bayfield Bunch get ready for departure to their winter home in Arizona, they are wondering what kind of damage the current Arizona monsoons might have done to their house. I would think that would be what all part-timers wonder about when they are away from their homes. I use to wonder the same thing as I traveled outside the country from 6-10 months at a time. You find yourself too far away to do anything but close enough electronically to know what is happening.

That's about all the rambling I can do today.

Since it's Friday and hotter than ever, it might be time to pull out a new bottle of Costco's Kirkland Pre-Mixed Margaritas, throw that plus some ice into the blender and see if I can't reduce some of this high temperature. Of course I'll have to do that when I get back from the vet this afternoon.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Just Do It"

Those three words are from a famous Nike commercial but they are also three words that are probably shouted by hundreds of readers throughout North America ... under their breath over and over after reading this blog for years ... a few like to make sure I know what I should do by by commenting.

If the roles were reversed I would be saying the same thing to the blogger I was reading ... or I would have given up and left a long time ago.

When I hear that advice ... it doesn't bother me because I agree with it and really wish I could ... Really ... seriously.

I didn't plan on posting tonight but the hottest day of the summer hit today and as of right now at 7:26pm, Wunderground is telling me it's 90° and "feels" like 131°. So needless to say, the daily hound walk has been cancelled probably until next Tuesday if the forecast is accurate. So I'll blog about something that came up.

What did get me thinking about 3 hounds and a small trailer ... I know, we've been through all of this before ... anyway I was in my small bathroom, built in 1975, never expanded ... so it's small. Because Sadie likes to protect her water bowl and not share "her" water, which is in the room where my computer is, a few years ago I put a bowl of water for just the basset hounds (Winston & Heidi), in my bathroom. When you have a small house and no basement, there are few rooms to choose from. So the bathroom was the choice.

As I was standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I look down and see both basset hounds inhaling water as fast as they could, almost a race. It wasn't the water I noticed ....

It was the lack of room that I noticed.

My always active mind sprints right to the thought of adding the large bloodhound Sadie to the mix and wondering just how much room would be available. I didn't do that but it gave me a great visual of what it would be like with a large bloodhound and two long basset hounds taking up floor space in a small trailer.

With a trailer under the towing limits of my Toyota FJ, 5000lbs max, that leaves the only options being small trailers around 17' from bumper to the tip of the tow bar ... or roughly 13'-14' living area. Comparing that to what I saw in available floor space in the small bathroom in my house ... it didn't leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling of me, one large dog and two long dogs in a small trailer.

Yes ... this has been analyzed before many times.

Maybe this post is more for the "rookie" readers to give them an idea why I have not made a purchase, why I have not "Just Done It", without them having to go back a zillion pages of posts since 2011.

So, to my followers and regular readers ... this is a good example of why I have not done anything as far as traveling with my hounds. Do I want to travel ... most certainly. Do I remember our trip in September 2013 and only 586 miles ... most certainly. Yes, I would love to get to the SW before winter hits the MW. That is the plan at least.

Now back to running the hounds off the floor vents where they are blocking my air flow of air conditioned air.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Accomplishments the Past Two Days

Yesterday morning I turned off the computer, got up out my desk chair, moved to the first thing on my list ... and got started. I've spent the past couple of days being active. Less computer time, less internet surfing ... and feeling better because of it.

The heat and humidity have finally shown up but I was able to get the yard mowed between light rains. Did some heavy duty weed eating with my weed eater that has the steel blade and will cut small trees up to 2" in diameter. With all the sun, the above normal rain level this summer, the weeds and wild bushes have been hard to control. 

I did one of my favorite things of getting up on the roof of my single story house. I love it up there as long as I miss the hot weather. So this time of year I make it up before 10am. My plan was to take my smaller leaf blower with me and I blow out the gutters with that. That leaves me with the mess to pick up down below in the yard, but makes the gutter cleaning job much easier. While up there I noticed my old mahogany tree had limbs that were creeping of the roof, so I trimmed them back.

Once finished, I sat up on the highest point of the roof and just observed. It's a great view and I like sitting up there, even though its not that high. I've never seen everything so green this time of year. It's pretty nice.

I thought this morning would be the real test. Would I continue with things I wanted to do around the house or would I fall into my old routine of coffee, computer time? At 7:15am when Winston decided he couldn't hold his bladder any longer and started whining to go out, all the hounds and I headed outside. It was my normal time to wake up but about an hour late for Winston. He will whine every morning to wake me up, that's the alarm clock.

With heavy dew on the grass and thick fog, Sadie put her nose to the ground and sniffed every area where something had been in her yard the night before. She had a few spots where she held her nose there for a longer time to analyze who had been there. 

The computer was turned off from the night before. We came back in and instead of coffee and turning on the computer, I jumped into the Mini Cooper for a quick run to the town's Dairy Queen to pick up a couple of bacon, egg and cheese biscuits. I love those but don't eat them a lot. I figure a few every once in a while isn't a bad thing. I glanced at my receipt and noticed they are now charging extra for the cheese ... then don't have a photo of all 3 items with 1 price.

So I'm back to the house and before I could even think about it, I've started on the next thing on my list of collecting everything that needs to go to recycling. To cut cost of recycling, the local company has merged their business with one in Indianapolis where there is no sorting done locally. Makes it easier for customers like me, where everything is put into one large bin to be transported to Indy and they they sort from the bin. 

I've continued to be in motion all day today, up until the time I sat down to look at the blog and decided to write a post. It will be getting into the high 90's the rest of the week, so whatever I am going to do outside will have to be finished by 10am but it looks like a lot of days of rain is in the forecast. 

I've thought more about traveling, more about the hounds, looked at some trailers but not a lot and I read all comments from the past few posts I've done. I'm back to that feeling of content. I've visualized what days on the road would be like with 3 hounds. I read blogs of those people on the road and see what their days are like. I have a few ideas floating in my head right now, so we will see what happens.

Fromm dog food is one of only three dog food companies in the 48 states where all their ingredients are made in the USA. It's not readily available everywhere so it might be a challenge to keep stocked when traveling but I've switched to that food this week for the hounds. I decided to overlook the cost and the 25 mile trip to Bloomington to pick it up. I just felt with them getting older, they needed a higher quality of food although what I have been buying is rated 4/5 stars. I just liked the idea of none of their ingredients were imported.

That's the excitement for this week so far. I still have more I want to get done around here and I like spending the time away from the computer. I guess having a list might be a good thing to have after all.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Every Day is the Same

{Editor's Note: The trailer in the three photos sold today about two hours after I posted them.}

More and more I am finding each day of the week is basically about the same. As much as I hate to admit it, things are turning into a boring rut again, with very little motivation to make changes. My days are not much more than staying up later, waking up an hour later, reading blogs during my two cups of homemade Starbucks coffee in the morning and then more internet surfing than I intend, the rest of the day.

At times that bothers me.

At times I think of that type of mentality while traveling. What would I do in a location where I would become bored? Would I pack up and get ready to move to a new location? Then spend the time it would take to set up a new site? I sense some of the bloggers I follow are bored based on where they are located, but they never tell you that.

It is said that is one advantage of the RV lifestyle, if you get bored with the scenery, location etc, you just pack up an move somewhere else. That also takes time at both ends of the trip.

Even when I lived in some great areas of the USA, I remember there being times just like these. It's hard to believe you would feel this way living on the beach, Carlsbad Blvd in Carlsbad Calif and feel this way. Or out in the country between Oak Harbor Wa and Coupeville Wa on Whidbey Island, just around the corner from Fort Ebey SP, that I would have feelings of boredom. The few months I lived in Breckenridge Co, was nothing but work and skiing....so there wasn't a lot of boredom.

I have found though, this feeling has increased with aging. I'm not thrilled with it nor am I happy with myself of falling into this daily routine. I know all the standard answers. I know how I have to turn off everything and get started doing something, even anything. I know if I were to start in one room and downsize some more, that would probably get everything in motion again. I could move from room to room. Most of the downsizing has been done, with very little left to downsize. I have become so lazy recently that even the thought of going to buy groceries is an issue.

I have found nothing in my life that is stressful nor anything that is a concern, leading to this feeling. Everything is going smoothly without any problems. So I am not really sure of the lack of activity on my part.

I find it really strange at times, with all I have, all the choices I have and the freedom to do them ... that I would end up feeling this way day after day.

Today I have been looking online at trailers for sale, even the older motorhomes again. I've been reading forums, checking Craig's List and still drying to decide on a couple of trailers I've had my eye on. Still no decisions. I love those big old motorhomes, but I have nowhere to park it when it's not on the road and the fear of it being a money pit.

Trailers are for sale are everywhere. There is not a lot of difference in price compared to location. I have a couple I really like, but still undecided.

I've lost interest in watching MLB baseball, lost that last month or so. I have no interest in the NFL pre-season, even though I consider myself a football fan.

The photographs of people traveling in Washington, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico keep drawing me to traveling. Then I see Winston having trouble getting up two small steps into the house after he gets outside.

Nothing has changed in my RV decisions.

I think I'm going to take a drive in the Mini Cooper, get out of town for a few hours.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Social Media and a Smaller Internet Footprint


As I have done most of my life, going against the grain, I have found I've done some things as recently as yesterday to continue that path. In a minor way and on the internet, that is.

Google+

A few months ago, I had started a Google+ account as many here know. It allowed me to have those readers with Google+ accounts to "follow" the blog. I had added the widget to my blog layout for that option to be easier. Google+ has a really nice layout, easy to set up and use but I still didn't like having my personal information exposed ... again.

I knew you could set up privacy settings to prevent what people around the world could see. It turned out to be just like Facebook though. Google+ would make changes and not let you know. Then you would either find out through other internet media you needed to go back in and change your settings again. Or after the fact the Google+ community would let you know the process was needed.

About the time I was trying to decide whether to delete my new Google+ account I had something happen that totally ticked me off. I personally had not set up any settings to where Google+ would have control over any photograph taken by my iPhone. I don't even use "location" on my iPhone photographs. One night taking photos of Heidi's allergy skin issues, I receive an email asking me if "I wanted to share that photograph on Google+" ????

How did they know I took that photograph??

Needless to say, with 24 hours after that email ... I deleted my Google+ account.

Facebook

Facebook over the years with their changes or what they call improvements, have always did things with individual accounts and then tell you later, if they do at all. After loading 100's of photographs or in many cases where people had loaded 1,000s of photographs in their "personal accounts" ... Facebook said they could use YOUR photographs for THEIR advertising ... if they wanted to.

I thought at the time that was pretty amazing. So I deleted the photographs from my Facebook account that I did not want them to use. Probably didn't mean anything, but I did that on principal. It still irked me they were telling me over the years what they were doing. Still it is THEIR site, so they can do what they want. I understood that.

Since the inception of Facebook I had deactivated my Facebook account a couple of times but would always come back. A couple of reasons led me back. Friends would email me and tell me they enjoyed my photographs, very rare posts and it was a way to keep in touch. Another reason, I was able to collect, and read certain groups I enjoyed keeping in touch with and Facebook made that easier. Those groups were sports teams, juice diets, RVing, animal rescue, etc.

As many do I never posted when I was leaving my house, or going on trips. Why announce to the world that you were gone for so many days and my empty locked house is at your disposal??? I also never tied my Facebook with my blog. Most of the blog readers and Facebook followers were two different interests. In fact a couple of years ago I deleted every friend I had listed and only kept the groups or hobbies that I followed on my Facebook account. Then little by little friends were added.

Recently though I was thinking more and more about deleting Facebook also. As far as going back and deleting the photographs one by one before deactivating the account, I didn't do that. Although that is a must to delete your account correctly. I thought screw it, they can have those photographs on my account if they want them that bad.

Yesterday while visiting a local friend, we started discussing all of the social media that was available, what it was doing to society as a whole among other thoughts on current events. I told her I had decided that I was once again deactivating my Facebook account for a couple of reasons. I didn't like Facebook and what they were doing and plan to do. I know why they are doing it and it will amount to more $Billions$ in their bottom line. I also was doing it because I personally didn't need them anymore. She told me that she deactivated her account almost a year ago and didn't miss it.

Twitter

A year or so ago I decided to give Twitter a try, not to 'tweet' all the time and let the world know where I was or what I was going to be doing. I wanted to use Twitter to do what I was doing on Facebook ... add my groups of interest, my hobbies, my favorite sports teams, my favorite dogs ... and read their information from Twitter. I also found from the sports writers or sports groups I follow that I could click their link in their tweet and was able to read a newspaper article without having to pay for a newspaper online subscription.

For me, that's a good thing.

So over the course of a year or so I have been able to slowly add a lot of the same groups, RV travelers, hobbies and my sports info to Twitter.

It has been a good replacement for Facebook and Google+

The Internet Footprint

I understand and know there is nothing I nor you can do to eliminate our personal 'footprints' we have on the internet. I mean almost all of us blog. That means there is the same production of locations, photographs, current activities are all on our blogs. Readers can tag or approve your blog posts and send them out to the internet world via the small icons that you furnish them. Readers can download your photographs and do anything they want with them and it doesn't matter if you have your own personal watermark on them and that you even have the copyright statement on your site. They will be downloaded without your permission anyway.

Still with my blog and deleting Google+ and Facebook, my 'footprint' on the internet has been reduced in some way ... that is good enough for me.

We are past the point of having our personal information kept private. We as a society will never regain that privacy. In fact our privacy was probably lost many years before the explosion of social media but social media and the internet now make so much easier for your information to get out into the public.

Getting rid of some social media accounts also does something you don't realize ... less time on the internet ... unless you find something else online to fill that gap. So far I have not and so far I see less time on the internet.

Data Packages and Limits

Over time, with cell phones to smart phones, there has been a migration by companies to sell different programs which usually mean the more you pay the more data you are allowed. Since I never watch movies, rare if at all YouTube videos nor play games on my iPhone ... my data used has been pretty low. For years I never paid attention to it. I never ran over my limits.

Recently a couple of things happened that now leads me to track my data used, not only on my iPhone but also now on my home computer. Let me explain.

I had a cell phone with AT&T when they first came out in the 90's. I used AT&T because at that time they were the ONLY service in my rural area. They were the ONLY service that worked on the locations I would work and where we traveled. So I had built up years of service with them, getting unlimited data. When AT&T started having different plans you could choose from for different monthly fees I was able to keep my old plan and be "grandfathered" in ... keeping unlimited data. That seemed like a great deal.

Every couple of years when my contract had expired I always tried to move it to a newer and cheaper plan. I was rarely making phone calls nor receiving them. Everyone was either emailing and recently texting. Both of those were unlimited usage. Yet I was paying around $87 per month and not really doing much with my account so I always wanted to change to the cheaper plan.

Of course AT&T would rather receive $87 per month from me instead of $55 per month, so they would tell me that if I moved to a lower plan I would lose my 'grandfathered' account and would no longer have unlimited data. On the surface it didn't look like a good deal to pay for any data since I was getting for the price of my monthly service and unlimited.

I never checked my data usage so I would renew for two more years and keep paying $80+/mo not really thinking about it ... that is until last winter. Last winter I wanted that $45/mo plan I kept seeing on commercials on the football and basketball games I was watching. It had unlimited texting, calls but only 1Gb of data. How could people live with that. But I decided finally after twenty some years to check out my data usage.

I went back through the past 18 months of AT&T bills and added my data usage per month. I averaged no more than 300Mb's of data and WAY below the 1Gb that was being offered and would save me around $360 over the year. I called them back and 'downgraded' to the new plan. I hate wasting money like that.

When I changed from DSL to Satellite internet service by need, that new service came with a 15Gb limit on my home computer, and my iPad and iPhone that would be using the wireless account.

If you have even read this far and I doubt many have ... you know that I make spreadsheets for everything. Well in this case I did for my home computer data usage along with a graph. This would keep me within my 15Gb limit for the month. With Exede, unlike other companies, they do not charge you for going over the limit, they just slow your internet speed down after you go over your limit. I do have the choice to buy more Gbs if I want to keep my speed and have more Gb but so far I have not had to do that.

What it did do was find out for the first time where all the data leaks were. Exede will show me what I have used as I move through the month but only in total Gb. So I opened my Activity Monitor on my iMac utilities which shows me constantly what programs are using in data received and sent.

I bring this last part of the discussion up only because sine I started writing this blog post I saw something very interesting going on the Activity Monitor. Besides the list of individual programs that I have sorted by the highest user, there is a graph of red and blue for data received and sent. While I am sitting writing this, along with three other Google Chrome tabs open, it shows Google Chrome as the highest user with a total of 33.4Mb used since I turned my computer on this morning. Second WAS my Apple email program.

I say that because usually there is very little data being used in email unless I sent an email with attachments and I would see a bump on the graph of data sent.

While I was writing this post I glanced over at the graph on my 2nd monitor and noticed that something was maxing out the blue on the graph of data received. The problem was when I looked to see what was using that ... my email had moved to the top of the list using 335Mg or 10 times as more as my browser!!

I shut off my email program immediately.

For some strange reason Apple mail on my iMac had not downloaded all of the email from this morning. These were emails I knew had had received because they were on my iPhone. I'll check into this more after I finish here.

So anyway, just a lot of rambling. This might help some of you that have a hard time staying within your data usage limits. I didn't mean to ramble like this so I guess it will be a good record for my 'journal' if nothing else.

Not a lot going on to write about. I can feel a little humidity today. I have not decided between the two trailers I've looked at over the past few weeks. The hounds have been in their normal daily activity of sleeping.

It's been a slow Saturday.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Some Blog Rearranging & Thoughts

If you look closely you'll notice some slight changes to the blog. I guess it's a lot like rearranging furniture in a house, some people like to do it and some don't. I don't rearrange furniture anymore because I have downsized to just having enough. I do like to make changes to the blog though. I won't do anything drastic like change the template but I've changed the font and colors in the past.

Well yesterday during my cooling down period after mowing the yard while mumbling to myself, I decided to play around with the blog. I decided instead of decreasing the number of blogs on my sidebar like I had been doing, I would bring them all back from my Feedly account. At one time I had around 60 blogs I have collected over 2+ years to read. Some of them had disappeared from my roll without explanation ... just poof, were gone. I found those missing ones and brought them back to the list.

Since I had so many blogs I follow, I decide only they would be on the left sidebar. I moved my profile, the search box, email follow box to the right sidebar. I didn't know what to do about the favorite posts so I left them. I went back and forth trying to find the right colors for links and links that had been read. They still might be changed later, as well as the font type of my blog posts. I like the changes so far.

I then had two long side bars, each side of my section of posts. I had thought about changing to a 2 column blog, looked at it but didn't like the way it looked, so I kept it 3 columns and then increased the number of posts to show trying to match the length of each side bar. I know as long as my posts are never the same length, those sidebars will never match. That's ok. So a long list of good blogs I follow and some I found within the first week of my RVing interest in October 2011.

My major priority today well be get into the FJ and go buy some groceries. My dog's have plenty of food, with a new bag of Fromm's Golden dry food still unopened. In the past Sadie would have tore into that bag the first chance she got, to do her tasting test but not now ... maybe she is calming down as she ages. In the meantime as they eat well, I would tell you what I am down to in the kitchen but it might scare you. I have been eating out more this month though ... maybe that's the reason for my lack of grocery shopping.

I find it interesting that I am driving less and at times it's really hard just to go buy groceries? Is that weird?  I've driven 12 miles to the Super Walmart to buy groceries a couple of times this past week, they have a great produce selection, and each time I have returned home not buying a thing. I looked, but walked out. Interesting.

I find the news recently to be somewhat disturbing, things going on in the USA that you would never think would happen. I usually don't discuss news or politics here and no plans to in the future, but it's surprising what's happening in our country right now. To put the icing on the cake, a picture of a high school football team from a school to the west of Indianapolis, shows up on Facebook today that will take the internet by storm. The photograph has some of their team members in football uniforms standing on different parts of a black Hummer (extreme police vehicle) holding automatic weapons. It was a photograph the school/team was using to advertise the opening of their season. Hopefully they will use another photograph and that one will get pulled.

I think a picture like that tells a sad sad story about society today.

Off the soapbox .... looking at my list of trailers this morning. I have one that has lowered the price, it is about a 5 hour drive north of me through two major cities. It is all so tempting but the size of the tanks are a possible issue. Of course on the other end of the spectrum, those tanks are bigger than what I would have tent camping, so maybe they are workable. Some very high quality refurbished work has been done with a long of changes I like and the asking price is good. It has moved closer to the Camp Lite Livin Lite 13QBB trailer I have had my eye on.

I guess that is the enjoyable part .... the search. 

I was reading The Bayfield Bunch blog as I do every day, and saw that Al is already talking about their trip back to Congress AZ and set the departure date of September 27. I looked at that date and couldn't believe it was just a six weeks away. I'm finding out again just how much time is moving faster in retirement than when I worked all day. I haven't had one day during my four months of retirement where the day felt like time was crawling, whereas I remember quite a few days working you would have swore the clock had stopped moving.

Last week my long time friend and one of my college roommates from 1975, stopped by for a short visit. He had just returned from Colorado with a couple of weeks of hiking. He had a great 2012 Jeep Wrangler with some self-modifications to carry all of his gear. It looked to be a great vehicle for off roading and getting to campsites off the grid. He called me yesterday during my time after mowing the yard to just talk but also said the jeep was at the body shop and he may have totaled it last weekend NW of Indianapolis. I told him those jeeps are built like tanks and it would be awfully hard to total one.

After he told the story of his accident I began to wonder if he might be right. It has been great weather all summer in Indiana  but it had rain in the Indianapolis area on Friday, some heavy misting on Saturday and Sunday morning. Well what many forget and what happened to him ... with the rain and heavy mist, it could have brought a light coat of oil being to the surface of the highway. 

He was following a friend, going he thinks about 30mph, on a two lane country highway with no shoulder. As he moved through the first of two curves in the road, he thought he felt the rear of the jeep kinda slide and by the time he hit the second turn he was on a surface like ice. His jeep proceeded straight across the second turn, down an embankment about a 45° angle and hit a tree head on. That impact employed his air bag and sent his jeep hard into the tree behind them.

All in a matter of seconds, both his front and rear end of the jeep had heavy damage.

He is physically fine. His jeep is totally mangled, maybe not repairable. It just shows you how things can change in your life so quickly, in an instant, when you don't expect it. I remember when I was in a bad auto wreck in 2010 just how fast it happened, no time to react, and remembering nothing but hearing a loud explosion. I had been sitting at a 4-way stop on a US Highway, waiting to make a left turn heading home after work. A large Dodge Flatbed truck, with a modified huge steel bumper, pulling an empty horse trailer of horses but had a huge highway concrete machine inside the trailer ... hit me at 65-70 mph. (from police report) I don't remember anything. It happened so fast I didn't know what happened ... I was out consciously in less than a second ... but that is a whole different story.

What I am trying to say is, you never know when something bad can happen in your life .... so it's best to live each day the best you can. 

I am remembering that statement as I make my decision to leave with the hounds and not wait.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Felt Good Enough To Get Outside

This is the second post of the day so I must be feeling better ... lol. Last night I heard the local weather man say "today could be labeled the best day of the summer", weather, activities etc. I was sorry I missed the great weather the past three days so I was feeling good enough today to take the hounds out for "the walk". I was wanting to get out and do something.

Of course Heidi the "queen of the couch" and a total sleep monster has to be urged over and over to come outside for the walk. Once she gets outside, she is the leader of the walk and always has to be in front, she loves 'the walk'. Sadie is reading to go outside anytime 24/7. Even when I was sick these past few days and would be up at 3am or 4am because I couldn't sleep, she would want to go outside. Out we would go. It's great outside that time of night, especially on a full moon.

Winston always wants to go, so after a few days of unexpected rest for his back, he was barking and trotting outside, if it's possible that basset hounds can trot.

It was so nice I actually checked the weather on my iPhone just to confirm what I was feeling ... 76° and 48% humidity. That is just unbelievable August weather for the 'tropics' of southern Indiana. We are usually yelling "uncle, I'll do anything you want just turn the temps down a little" this time of year.

After the dog walk I could tell the yard needed mowing, even though I did that just 4 days ago. So I did the normal routine of pulling out the stuff in the small shed just to be able to pull the mower out. Even in the great weather, after about two laps around the yard ... it hit me.

I don't want to do this. I don't want to be here. I'm tired of doing this stuff over and over. Look at that over there ... things I need to do like every week. Glancing around the house as I mowed the mental list of things to do kept growing ... like a nightmare. I'm not talking repair type stuff, just the normal stuff that comes with home ownership. A few more laps around the yard and I start thinking how long that list could be next spring after being gone for 6 months. I can feel myself turning into an unhappy mower.

I wasn't happy, mumbling to myself (comical) but still mowing. By the time I had finished the backyard I was ready to sell everything i own again and hit the road. I wanted nothing to do with owning a house. The side yard, the pace continued, thoughts are flying. By the time I hit the front yard ... I'm out of here. Mentally that is.

I'm ready to sell sell sell ... but I keep mowing. I keep thinking I'm tired of all of it and I need to get out of here otherwise it's the same routine over and over and over. So I finish the yard, turn the mower off and start to push the small 22" mower up my 100' drive. Instantly I feel how out of shape I'm in. I'm sucking air like a bike rider off the back of the pack. Sweating more than I should. While thinking, "I wonder how I'll feel doing this when I am 5-10 years older?"  I didn't like the answer to that question. Nor did I enjoy the short 50 minutes of mowing a fairly easy yard to mow.

So here I sit at 9:43pm Eastern time, I just took a couple of ibuprofen tablets to help my recovery of mowing and finishing the last of my fresh squeezed Minute Maid orange juice. I'm in the mode of getting out of here. The strangest thing of all though, is not my ranting to myself while I mow (that's hilarious) but since the sickness is over my sinuses are clear and no sign of allergy unrest. Allergies are something I have lived with daily and for some reason they have vanished. Maybe I need more treatments with that Neti Pot process to keep my sinus passages clear?

I've had a couple of trailers eyed out for the past month. Basically one of those "if I were to buy something this is what I would buy" but sliding it off to the side until departure time. Well, after my self-ranting while mowing the yard, I am going to put a little more serious effort in closing the deal on one of those trailers. I'm also going to get some things listed on Craig's List and eBay to sell. I'm going to make another large run to Goodwill. I was even thinking of a "garage sale", empty the house and leave in a westerly direction and a realtor for sale sign in my yard.

Long time readers, followers have heard all of this before. It's a part of the roller coaster ride but I have always thought it would only take one thing to shove me off the edge ... when the "fun meter" is broke, I've always made changes. That was for jobs, location changes, and my trading/selling my automobiles.

So we will see.

Yet, I am thrilled that I am feeling better and it was another beautiful day in the 'tropics' of southern Indiana.

I've Been Sicker Than a Dog

It's pretty amazing while enjoying The Best summer that I can remember here in the 'tropics' of southern Indiana, that I end up getting "sicker than a dog" from Sunday till Tuesday. I am not sure what happened, what it was or how it was fixed but by Tuesday afternoon I was feeling much better.

What started out as what I thought to be my allergies going into overdrive Sunday afternoon turned into a full blown head cold by late Sunday night, early Monday morning. I am not even sure if it was a cold because I normally get those in my eyes and in this case I didn't. All I know is by 1:30am Tuesday morning I had a forehead that was hot to touch, my sinuses were completely plugged and I was lightheaded. I had a deep respiratory cough to go along with it.

I didn't have a lot of meds on my shelf to choose from, since I rarely get sick. I robbed from Winston's buffered aspirin, my generic antihistamines, some Vic's Vapor Rub and ended up being desperate enough to use a Neti Pot. Something from that combination worked over the 36 hour period.

Somewhere after 1:30am Tuesday morning and before 7:30 that same morning, the respiratory bug had almost disappeared, leaving an occasional cough behind.

During the 36 hour period of 2 sleepless nights, weird dreams and only fresh fruits as meals I thought about a wide range of RVing. One minute I was not wanting to even try it. That may have been at the peak of my sickness when I thought that. A few times in the early dark hours that I was really sick, I was happy I was in familiar territory. I remember thinking a couple of times during that period it would have really been hard under my condition to get the dogs outside when they needed to go, all three attached to leashes and me lightheaded enough I could barely walk.

By Tuesday night I was back to looking at trailers, older motorhomes and rigs for sale. I also found a few more people that travel with large breed dogs, although not the hound breed. My list of bookmarked trailers for sale decreased by half over the weekend, where they had sold. These are trailers I find on forums that link into the seller's  craig's list ads, rvt and rv trader. I still cannot believe I have not decided on what to buy.

One thing is for sure. There always seems to be a list of rigs to buy and the prices rarely change. That got me thinking that a better option might be to buy in the SW after I arrive there this fall. A big disadvantage would be not seeing the rig first hand before making the purchase. I still kick myself for not buying Al's 2003 Damon Challenger he and Kelly had for sale a year or so ago. It was already set up for boondocking, the right length and would have been plenty of room for the 3 hounds and I. Plus it was well taken care of. I could have bought it sight unseen and knew what I was getting.

Then I think of how I want to go small and tow with my Toyota FJ.

So who knows?  I only know right now that I will be spending my winter in the SW.

Friday, August 08, 2014

All Missing Pictures Have Been Fixed

Something I wasn't expecting to do but it's complete as of now.  Last night I saw a recent post that had a big icon symbol on a white box where a picture use to be. It was missing. I instantly thought of my recent change of deleting my Google+ account, which I'm glad I did by the way.

So I assumed it would be just recent pictures due to those being posted while having my Google+ account. I spot checked a prior year before my Google+ account and there was another one. Why I don't know, until I thought back to all of my changes since this blog started.

1.  Changed from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5s and transferred pictures.
2.  Started a 2nd new blog with a different Google+ profile ... then deleted that blog and profile.
3.  Started a new Google+ account and then deleted that one after I found out I couldn't have 2.
4.  Merged the new blog back into the old blog ... the deleted the new blog.
5.  Made a new Google+ account recently ... then deleted it a month later because I didn't like it.

During all of those changes I was making new blogs posts, and some of those had pictures.

So once I found some older blog posts, even in 2011 missing pictures I then went back and looked at every blog post I have since this blog started. I was lucking that in the first two years of the blog I did not post a lot of pictures. Still, in 2011 and 2012 I had a few missing pictures that I have uploaded the original picture.

All pictures are fixed.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Time To Change My Passwords

First the first time in 20+ years of using the internet I decided it was time to use one of those password protectors, where you log into just one password and have everything covered.

I usually don't panic when there is an announcement of a major hack on passwords and user names ... I'm not in a panic state now either ... I just decided it was time to play on the safe side.

In the past I might have changed passwords to my banks and credit cards but not many more than that. Those passwords were about 8 digits long with a few letters and numbers, nothing outlandish. With the last hack of Target Stores around Christmas, I used one password I called "Hacker$Suck14", just to tell any potential hackers hello.

After reading the news flash Tuesday about a Russian organization making their way into MILLIONS of passwords and user names, I immediately went to my old standby for a review at CNET. They review everything from browsers to televisions. I then did some google searches on "lastpass password protection".

First of all I am not an employee of LastPass, nor do I have an affiliate link for them. It's all straight up information. LastPass had received 4/5 stars from CNET and 5/5 stars from PCmag, plus a lot of the geeks recommended it. So I downloaded it and have spent the majority of my time the last day and a half loading my websites into LastPass, let them assign one of those long 12 digit passwords with upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. Passwords you'll not remember but LastPass will do the remembering for you and will load them.

I did this by starting with my bank accounts since I do all of my banking online. Then I added my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I spent some more time the first day reviewing and learning how to work LastPass and then last night added a few more sites that I frequently use...mostly forums where a user name and passwords are required.

This morning I decided to start the final stage and loaded all of my websites that dealt with my credit card or any place in the past years, no matter how long ago, where I had bought something online using a credit or debit card. The new passwords were generated by LastPass. I then logged in those new passwords into my old spreadsheet that shows all my sites that have a user name and password, sorted alphabetically.

After that, I would change the password and add the site (a couple of clicks) to LastPass, I would then close out the site, close out that browser tab, log back into the site and see if the new system worked or not. With LastPass the user name and password should preload even after unclicking the "remember me" box on every site. I made sure I could get back into the site before adding a new one.

LastPass worked like a charm.

One thing they don't tell you, its a one password system AFTER you get all of your websites loaded with a user name and password. That was only a couple of clicks to accomplish but my process was time consuming. You had to bring up each website to add it to LastPass.

Most likely, like any kind of website, can be hacked ... but they have layers of security built in and none of the user names or passwords are stored on their servers. i have to read more on how that works. It might be a case where they are stored locally, possibly on the hard drive...don't know yet.

So at least I have some added protection for my passwords. They also offer a free system to warn you if anything suspicious shows up on your credit ratings, so I signed up for that also.

I would say with the increase in hacking sites in today's internet and in the future, its better to be safe than sorry. Otherwise it would be like leaving home with the garage door left open and the house unlocked.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Internet Data Usage & Free Apps

Click Photo to Enlarge
It's been about 6 weeks since I switched my home internet service from DSL Unlimited Internet to Exede Satellite Internet with a 15Gb per month package. I had also switched my cell phone service from AT&T to Verizon for various reasons already explained. This Verizon package gave me 10Gb of data per month, free calls and free texts for $60 per month.

That left me with a total of 25Gb's per month of data, single person household.

I never realized how much free internet data I was getting with my local provider's DSL service. They recently stopped supporting DSL thus passing it off to two other companies for connection issues. I am thrilled with all aspects of the Exede Satellite system. I guess to prepare me for internet service on the road I am now finding new things to do to reduce my data usage to keep under the monthly limit without having to pay more.

I am pretty computer knowledgeable. I am not a programmer, nor IT support but over the 20 years of using computers I know enough to be dangerous I guess. So what I found out recently as today, a few easy ways to decrease "wasted" usage that was easy to understand. I also found some surprises.

Hopefully some of this information will help those on the road having trouble keeping within their data limits. Also for any people at home that have a data limit, even your smart phones may find something here that can help you out.

I will try to explain this in basic terminology.

Facebook is the number one data sucker due to the way they cache all of the photos and videos from other Facebook users and advertising. This is even if you spend very little time on Facebook and don't watch any videos. After you log into your personal page, the data activity has started and a lot of it in the background that you are unaware of.

Watching videos, movies, or YouTube also is ranked high if not #2 in the data use business. I have learned to watch many of my music videos on YouTube after midnight because between midnight and 5am I get unlimited data. There are are just certain times I like to see my bands live on stage with loud volume coming though those computer external speakers. Now I have to do that after midnight or sacrifice during my other internet activity.

I don't watch movies on my computer nor do I download large files except those system updates. Yes, I had the box checked to not only check for updates daily but also download them automatically and let me give the permission for installing them. I kept the box checked that my system would check for updates daily but I un-checked automatic download. Now I will get a notification that an update is available and I can program that to download and install between my free data hours of midnight to 5am.

I've found some pretty good advice from computer geeks more knowledgeable than I am and have implemented most of what they said.

The first thing I did was go into my browser properties, found the apps page, searched for and installed 2 different apps that prevents all of the news, Facebook, ESPN and any other sites from automatically loading and playing videos at the time you go to their site. Yes you can click on those screens to shut off automatic play but they always seem to come back to auto play after a period of time.

So, I found and installed Flashblock and AdblockPro.  Both of these are free and you can find them as apps whether you use Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox. Since I don't use a PC nor IE I cannot speak for that browser.

Just to make sure Facebook was under control, I logged into my Facebook account, looked to the upper right corner and clicked that "down arrow" then highlighted "settings". On the left side of the screen after that page loaded, I clicked on the Videos icon and made sure that 'AutoPlay' was turned off.

Now with those 3 things you have prevented a lot of what I call "wasted data usage".

My problem was I was always use to having 15-20 tabs open on Google Chrome at times, that uses data. I can only read one screen at a time, so now I am starting a new habit of using one tab at a times. Those multiple tabs being hard to pass up because it's convenient. I also closed my 4-5 Excel spreadsheets I would always leave open....after all I am a known Excel spreadsheet junkie ... but those took up a little data just sitting open all the time. So now I only open them to update or read them.

For Mac users, I went into the Apps folder and clicked open the Utilities folder and brought "Activity Monitor" to my dock. This will do various things such as track all internet network usage since the last time you booted your computer to on. I then moved the columns to the way I wanted to see them such as Recvd Bytes first then Sent Bytes as the 2nd column. I also sorted that column by clicking the down arrow on the column, large to small so I can see what programs are running and using the most data by listing those on top if they are using the most data.

After closing tabs, closing files that were sitting open and not used, I saw that only the required system files were running in the background. I see now, that my two largest users are Google Chrome and my Mail program, just as it should be.

Apple has their own malware program installed where it will monitor your hard drive at all times. People that have PC's that I talked with today recommended two free programs to monitor for malware and delete it. Those were Malwarebytes and Spybot Search and Destroy. Neither of those programs were not for Apple computers.

If you have malware running in the background, it is using your data. A lot of the time you will not know it's even on your computer. Have someone with some knowledge run those malware programs because you have to be careful of not deleting programs by mistake that your computer or operating system needs to run.

The biggest spike in my usage in 6 weeks was the day I connected my TV through my wireless Directv modem to my Exede internet service. I did not even watch a movie on demand, no YouTube, I just made sure the connection worked. I was thrilled that I had connection. I could watch movies On Demand now, or YouTube on a larger TV screen. I then turned off the TV, put my computer in sleep mode and went to bed. The next day while working outside and not having either on, I burned 1.7-1.9Gbs.....I was shocked. I figured it was the constant updating of movies or system upgrades by Directv.

I called Directv and explained my problem, they had no answer. I couldn't find anything on the Exede forums either. So I unplugged the TV modem. I track my usage on a spreadsheet that feeds a graph so I was able to see by day what was happening. After unhooking the Directv modem I was back to normal usage of .4-.6 Gb of use. .5 is right on target for 15Gb's in a month.

I can honestly say with a family of 4 or even just a couple using the internet for normal use, I don't see anyway at all you can stay within a 15Gb to 20Gb monthly limit. That leaves you with 3 options ... control  and watch usage like I am doing, pay more money for more Gbs or shutdown during prime time hours and do your major downloads during your free data periods IF you have one.

Hopefully this rambling has not confused or scared you and there is something here that can help you. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have and I'll try my best to answer them or post them on a forum to get an answer from the experts.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Thoughts In General

There is not much going on after a great weekend. I must admit that I forget what day it is at times and have to look at the iPhone calendar to tell me. That is how nice it is being retired. I had a long time friend stop by yesterday and we had a rather interesting discussion. Some of that pertains to traveling, rving, hiking etc.....old activities.

As you see from the blog I have done a little 'cleaning and rearranging'. I was listing too many blogs on the sidebar, so I moved a lot of them over to my feedly account where I can read all of their updates along with my other stuff listed there. I also came close to deleting my Google+ account this weekend and I still might. I rather doubt it will take the place of the information I follow and read on Facebook. Also, what I think is concerning, is the same as Facebook, if you don't keep a close eye on your account and privacy settings ... they seem to change without anyone letting you know. Then you have less privacy than you thought you did.

One thing that got me thinking about deleting Google+ was, of all things, taking a picture on my iPhone. It was just a photo of Heidi's bad back legs. They were not photos I was going to put on a blog or pass out to anyone. They were just for me so I can see later if there is any improvement using the Dinovite food supplement. Soon after I took that photo, I get an email from Google+ asking if I wanted to share the photos? That ticked me off. I couldn't believe Google+ had moved their way into my iPhone. Isn't there any privacy anymore?

After doing some research on how that happened, I found out I now have to go into my iPhone settings and make some changes to prevent that and later I did.

I've never liked Google+ even when it started. I was hesitant in starting an account but I did because people were using their Google+ accounts to follow the blog. If I find out that anyone can follow my blog without the requirement of me having a Google+ account, then I'll get rid of if and go back to my blogger profile.

I found out this morning just how good of a watch dog Sadie is. You know, the mild mannered bloodhound, where tv commercials show the mild mannered bloodhounds laying on the porch in the sleep mode and never moving. Well the man from the electric company that rang the doorbell found out otherwise. She scared him enough that he had backed away from the door by the time I answered it. She went sprinting to the door with a very loud aggressive bark. He asked me if she would come through the door after him. It was surprising how vicious she sounded when that doorbell rang. In some cases that might be a good thing.

My long time friend and a college roommate stopped by yesterday on his way home. He is semi-retired at 62, does some part-time dentistry, but would prefer to be full-time retired. We were always biking or hiking the USA 40 years ago while in college. We have discussed many times as we got older how our attitudes were changing about the activities we use to really enjoy and did on a regular basis. In my case that was bicycling and his was backpacking and hiking all of the USA.

When he told me of his recent solo hiking/backpacking trip the Colorado last month, I could relate some of that to my thoughts of traveling cross-country in a trailer. It was interesting because over the years he had told me he had a burning desire to get back into hiking and backpacking like he use to, and planned to once he retired full-time. His desire to travel was the same as mine was when I first discovered the RV full-time lifestyle.

The interesting part of the conversation was that he acted on his burning desire to go out west and hiked. He thought it would be like he remembered hiking his 20's, but the trip had surprising results. Those results are the same kind of things I have thought when deciding to travel or not.

He was planning to be gone for at least a month maybe more depending on his desire to travel. He called a couple of days before he left and was really excited about the plans. He said it was something he had been wanting to do for years!! Yet, something happened that he hadn't planned on.

After he arrived in Colorado, he made various short hikes but nothing like he had planned. He said each time he felt like turning back and did. Instead of camping out every night like he had planned, he would return to his car and then stay at a motel. For two weeks he only camped in his tent one night up at Alpine Lake in Colorado. He said that burning desire wasn't there once he started hiking.

After that night of camping and a great day of hiking, he said that when he woke up the next morning he knew that was it ... he was finished. Here he had spent years talking about getting back out into the wilderness and then not having the urge, need or motivation to do it as much as he planned on. He was satisfied with the one day and night instead of months. He had at least done what he wanted to do.

We have always wondered if we would ever have the same past desire to get back into activities we use to live by and enjoy. So far neither of us has stayed with anything consistently over the years. Him with competitive swimming (masters division) and backpacking, me with bicycling and working out.

Had age taken away that desire to compete or remain active with hobbies we once loved?

That lack of consistency has always made me wonder about the "what ifs ....". Such as, what if I buy a RV or trailer, take off and then two weeks later you find out that is not what you want to do ... after years of indecision, research, etc ... it's over just like that. Then you have a trailer you don't want to use.

He said he had a great trip but he was somewhat disappointed that he only needed 1 day/night of camping out in the boonies after years of wanting to do nothing but this. He said he didn't think he would be taking any more trips like that .... it was over.

Is that a factor in why I never make a commitment to buy something ... anything ... and try it?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Daily Dog Walk

I initially took my iPhone in hopes of getting photos of the fawn or deer today on our walk. Neither showed up, so I took photos of the daily walk we do. We do this in snow but usually call it off due to rain or wet grounds.

Normally I will have Sadie on a 25' retractable leash, Heidi gets to run free and Winston is a little different. Once he gets to the edge of the backyard without a leash or collar attached, he will refuse to go on the walk. He will sit there as we walk away, then I will hear him barking in the distance. Eventually he will take off without a leash or collar but will be only a 1/4 of the way by the time we get back.

So to combat that act of stubbornness that comes with the hound breed, I will slide a collar on Winston with an act of hooking him to the leash. That's good enough for him and he takes off to join the others on our walk.

Today just as we were getting ready to leave I heard the local microlight flying. It's the first time I have seen him this summer. Normally he will fly over the field we walk in but today it made a reverse turn as he approached the house. By the time I had ran in the house to get my iPhone, he was leaving. You can barely see him in the center of the photograph.

Motorized Glider straight ahead
Sadie is ready to get on with it
It's good to get back into the field of smells

The daily tracking pose 

It's Winston's distractions that make his walks slow and long

Starting the walk as Winston drops off the back.

It was at this corner we saw the fawn last week

The owner of the field has mowed a path for his grandson's ATV

Both Bassets Dropping Back Further Behind

Do We Have to Wait on Those Bassets?


Both Bassets Like to Sniff as They Go

Winston is Right on Schedule ... Hold on a 'Sec

Winston's Pace Includes Time to Sniff

Wait!!  I'm Almost Caught Up

Heidi is The Leader on the Way Home

Starting the Return Trip Home

Ah .. Something else to check out along the way


Close to the end ... where are those crazy basset hounds?
Close to the End of the Walk

The end

Friday, August 01, 2014

Response From Kickstarter

I received good news today, at least as a start on Kickstarter. I've read good stories about this site so last Tuesday I went over to the site to find out what I could and if I had a "project" that would fit their requirements.

I had a little different project from their norm, so I emailed them for clarification and received their reply today, confirming that my project would fit in their project model and that I could moved forward with my idea.

I had an idea that I have had set up for a years and in the past I had emailed these out to family, friends and co-workers when they requested them. The word got out what I had or did for my own personal enjoyment and/or analysis, so more and more of the information I had was passed out for free.

Recently I had been thinking of ideas that would generate online income. I was looking at ideas I could sell online, electronically and not dependent on me being in a certain location or even have internet connection. From 2005 - 2008 my fulltime job was at home, selling autographed sports memorabilia online via Amazon, eBay and my website. I had 4-5 blogs that tied into these websites to generate traffic. I didn't ship anything from my house since all of my inventory was at the authenticator's location. They would drop ship the order as I received a sale.

Sounds pretty simple and it was great between those years but it also amounted to 7 days a week and long hours. I was making enough income to live on and work from home. Due to the economy change in 2008, plus a change in policies from my suppliers, business decreased rapidly. After going back to a 40 hour a week job in 2008, I ran my online business part time until 2011. Those part time hours still amounted to over 20 hours per week in addition to my 40 hour per week job. When I was doing the business full time I was working 7 days per week and anywhere from 6-16 hour days.

I loved it though, sports is my thing, so the hours added up and it didn't matter. I loved all the work I was doing and it never seemed like a job.

With the urge to travel and with an expectation of not being able to be connected to the internet all of the time I began to look at other options in generating income this past month. I am not sure if this idea will work but I'm going to try it and find out.

I have most of the set up work completed and will only have to write a project description to add on Kickstarter. Once I get things set up on Kickstarter, I'll post the link and go into more detail what my project consist of here in a blog post.