Monday, April 24, 2017

How my thinking works...

I was in Lowes looking for a piece of wood to build a spice rack.   

A small rack,  just enough room for the spices I like to grab when I'm cooking.

I found the wood I wanted, it was being sold as lattice. 
$7+ for an eight foot long piece of inch and a half by 1/8th".  
Wow, spendy I thought...

As I was heading towards the check out stand I walked by the dimensional lumber. An eight foot long select 2x6 is only $6. 


That got me thinking about the really nice Delta table saw I walked by on my way to the wood...

With that $600 table saw I could cut a lot of 1/8th" strips out of a $6 piece of wood even with a 1/8th" blade kerf!  

Hmmm.. a $600 table saw will save me a bunch if I need lattice. 

Of course then I'd need a place to keep the table saw...  
Lowes sells sheds!

With my thinking this is all reasonable!

In the end I bought the piece of lattice.

Monday, April 3, 2017


I'm 64 years old and there are a few things I did, or didn't do, in my lifetime that I regret. Not a lot but some.

Today I was in a parking lot and I was reminded of one of my few regrets.
It's even green...

A VW diesel Rabbit

Back in 1981 or so I almost bought a brand spanking new VW Rabbit, metallic green, four doors, manual transmission & a diesel engine.

I was in the dealers office with the paperwork in front of me, the pen was in hand, sign my name & drive away. That new car smell AND 50 miles per gallon.

I was actually holding the pen...

I looked at the $121 a month payment (yes, one hundred twenty one dollars) and said to myself, "I can't spend that much money on a car!".

I put the pen down and walked away...

Whenever I see a VW Rabbit I always remember that day and I always regret not signing that paperwork.

There are worse regrets to have.... but still.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I've taken a lot of pictures since I started this chunk of my life.  There have been a number of cameras for this too, a couple of point & shoot with the physical lens that moves in and out for the needed zoom, one was a quality Nikon SLR and the assorted camera's that came with different phones.

Arizona sunset taken with a phone

Lately most of my photos on this blog have come from my phone camera, it's always with me & it takes good photos.

It's hard to pick just one Grand Canyon photo
and none of them do it justice

I was at the beach on the Gulf of Mexico, white sand & salt water, almost no waves. I took my point & shoot camera because my phone does way more than call for pizza or take pictures and I'd miss it if I fell in.

Gulf Islands National Sea Shore- Pensacola 

My point and shoot is a Fuji, it's waterproof & has almost no moving parts.

My first two point shoot cameras had to be replaced when the lens that came out stopped coming out or wouldn't go back in. They took good photos and did everything I wanted except they didn't last. I'm thinking it was sand or grit that did them in.  Replacements were cheap enough that they were replaced rather than fixed.

After the second camera bit the dust I spent a little bit more for a camera that was a better fit for my lifestyle. Waterproof, shockproof & no moving parts to get jammed with grit or sand. I was concerned that the lack of a physical zoom might be a problem.  It isn't.

Waterproof point and shoot with no moving parts

This has taken me to a new problem... the battery is wearing out. I've carried this point and shoot in my pocket & in a bag for long enough for the battery to wear out. That's a better problem. 
$8 for a new battery from Amazon is a lot easier than a new camera. I'm happy!

(Amazon really reminds me of the Acme Manufacturing Company from Road Runner & Coyote cartoon fame!)

With digital I take a lot of pictures, most are quick to capture what's in front of me as a reminder.

point-n-shoot a memory
Some I actually think about before hand

Sunset over the Colorado river on the AZ/CA border
Calif Hwy 1 Southbound

Going South on Hwy 1

Once I thought I had too many sunset photos.  Later I looked at them again and realized that was not possible.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tool of the week!

I've been a tool user for many years. Different tools for different jobs, tools I carry every day, tools I keep in the car.

On occasion I find something that is a real stand out.

I had to cut some big wood, Karen had this tool already so I tried it out. Son of a gun!
It worked & worked well!!

Harbor Freight $40 (on sale) electric chain saw

This (for what we had to do) was the BEST $40 spent on a tool ever! Just plug it in, make sure the bar has oil & go.

When you're done just put it away... For the very occasional user (us) this is the way to go!

Mind you it is a real chain saw as far as your fingers, toes & legs are concerned... you just don't have to mess with gas & oil.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On the road again!

We finally packed up the Pleasure-Way class "B" camper & made it to Florida!

The Gulf Of Mexico around Pensacola

It was almost a year ago that I left Holtville Calif, the free BLM camping & the hot springs with Florida in my GPS.... as place to go.   I wanted to see the Naval Air Museum.

Lot's of changes for me in the last year....

We found a Whataburger on the way! It had been a long time since I'd had a Monterey Melt! 

I'm here in Pensacola right now, at a friends house with the camper plugged in.

Our van parked in Pensacola 

We went to the beach, I went into the water but it's really not warm enough for me this time of the year.

The plan right now (written in sand with a stick :-) is to hang out for a little while, check out the sites (and the naval Air Museum) & then head deeper into Florida. We need to be back in Georgia the middle of March.

Naval Air Museum on NAS Pensacola

In Pensacola we did a Mardi Gras parade, my first.  WOW!

Karen & I at the parade

I can't believe the energy. It was from everywhere, all around me, the crowd AND the people on the floats. I couldn't believe it.

LOUD music from every float, always there & always different as the floats passed by.

And the beads, they throw them from the floats .. Good fun!  A crowd of happy people ... even at the bar after the parade. Pensacola...who'd a thought?

I enjoyed it.

A typical float

People throwing beads

The crowd

Too much to mention at the Naval Air Museum, a great collection of airplanes & aviation history!

A really nice section on Coast Guard Aviation.

I was a flight mechanic in the HU-16A,  HH-52A & the HH-65A during my 21 years in the USCG so I do have a slight lean towards the CG.

I think I worked on this HH-52A at some Air Station over the years

The start of Coast Guard aviation in 1917 

This sign explains it all

As a side note, remember the Wright Bros first flight? The guys helping out were from the Life Saving Service station there (early Coasties).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I like to eat, so I learned to cook.

Blogging is such a wide open thing, sometimes there are too many choices.... what do I write now? 

Food?  Why not?  I like to eat.

I really like spaghetti & like pizza so I'll ramble on about those for a few minutes.

I used to make a heck of a spaghetti sauce, fresh ingredients, simmer all day kind of sauce. But that was then.  My current sauce comes from a can, well several cans.

Tomato paste, diced tomatoes and canned sauce

It's a meat sauce generally, most any type of meat will do, this time I used Italian sausages... they were on sale.  These were links, I split the casing & fried them up as ground meat.
If I think it needs it I can add garlic & onion.

Italian sausages uncased for frying 

I've used leftover meat, canned chicken, canned ham chunks (the last two when I was vandwelling with limited refrigeration). Rotisserie chicken works great!

Brown the meat & drain it, mix in the canned sauce, the canned diced tomatoes & the tomato paste and heat it up.

Boil your favorite noodles & have at it.  I've been putting the left over sauce in a mason jar to store it in the fridge until I use it again.. the jar came with sauce in it..

Now for my other favorite, pizza! Left over spaghetti sauce will make great pizza sauce. There are any number of ways to make the pizza skin, I'm going to show my latest way.

12" pizza pan, dough, sauce, cheese and toppings

I used to do it all by hand including the kneading but I'm not against using a machine to help  My machine today (now that I have room to store one) is a used bread machine. I picked up a used bread machine at a second hand store on a day they were going 50% off small appliances, I spent $6 on it.

The $6 bread machine I use for mixing the dough

I follow the recipe for pizza dough, that takes this machine about 30 minutes, then another hour to rise. I spread it out on a slightly greased 12" pizza pan (Dollar store).
Top with left over spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese & your favorite toppings. 400 degree (f) oven for about 12 min.

The bread machine &left over pizza

It's hard to beat leftover pizza the next day... it really is.   For those of you who'd like something really different I've made pizza in my 14" dutch oven while camping.

Cheap, easy & (IMO) fun.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


The other day I read a blog that had a 15 minute video on our future with robots,
"Humans need not apply"  . The video was enlightening & a bit frightening.

Today I went to a Walmart Superstore for a few things.  Darn few check out counters were open, but there was room in the DIY counters.
I went there.

Self check out robot at work

The self check out robot up close

I enjoy going to a human when I'm checking out, maybe that's from the year+ or so vandwelling, when standing in a check out line was a chance to interact with other live humans... even if they really didn't want to talk.
The guy in front of you comments on the gossip magazine cover - do you just ignore him?

I went to the self check out section because it was open. As I was ringing up my stuff I realized that I was interacting with a robot. This robot took the place of someone who would have had to be paid by the hour, a warm body that the store would have to pay social security taxes on, and unemployment taxes & various insurances for.
As a plus, the bot may break down but it won't call in sick the day after the SuperBowl.

I'd never thought of it as a robot before.

Like the video said, the robot doesn't have to be better than the human, just make fewer mistakes.

Another robot I'm very familiar with but never think about
I wonder how many jobs these two robot types have taken?

This will probably affect my children & grandchildren more than me... probably.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The good feeling of building something

Building with wood.

I'd done a little building with wood over the last four years, doing & re-doing the inside of my vans. That was good.

I started out with the floor in the Ford van
A borrowed tablesaw at a borrowed work space

This is doing the 4th rebuild (Ford) as I search for a better way
2nd build in the mini-van

Then last week I built some stairs & a landing for the new home, I really enjoyed to whole thing!
I had forgotten how good it felt to build something like that.

The stairs

That left me with a real different feeling about building things!  The difference was as much in my head as anything else.

The lumber
Doing or re-doing a van in someone's yard and/or the parking lot of a big box home store is 'different'. It's a task, a job and it's different from working on and at your own home.  It's a good feeling, a better feeling.

It was a feeling that had been forgotten, it was nice when I realized I was smiling at what I'd done.

The hand rail

I have to admit that buying a miter saw & having a place to keep it was a BIG part of the feeling! When I down sized from the house to an RV I sold my tools & it seems I really missed them.

Getting the RV/home displaced the planned travels to Arizona but now that the basic things are done here it's time to go traveling!
It's still winter, time to go to Florida!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The American Moon

In 1972 the moon was American. 
Today an American has to buy a ticket from the Russians to go into space.
Anyone know what happened?

The last man to walk on the moon in 1972

A few days back Captain Eugene Cernan USN (Ret)  passed away. He was the last man to walk on the moon, that was Apollo 17 back in 1972.
In those days the moon was American.
In 1961 JFK gave his speech that established having an American walk on the moon was a national priority. In 1969 we did walk on the moon ... in 1972 we went home.

From the public announcement that we would do it to when we got bored of it was just 11 years. Today when an American goes into space he buys a ticket from a Russian...

I am saddened by this, something great has been lost by my country.

Is it the money? Is it the time involved? Is the risk to American lives?  No... I don't think so.

The Apollo program cost $134.3 billion in 2013 dollars, took 11 years & 3 lives were lost.

Just as a comparison let's look at Afghanistan.  2001 to today is about 15 years in Afghanistan, $685.6 billion dollars as of 2013 & and 2386 lives lost as of October 18th of last year (2016).

To keep these dollars in perspective in 2008 we gave the banking industry $700 billion dollars to cover their gambling debts. That's $757 in 2013 dollars.

So it's not the money, it's not the time & it's not the lives. Why did we give up space?

Beats me... maybe the money was just going to the wrong places?

Friday, January 20, 2017


We bought a house, well, a 37' 5th wheel to leave on our lot & call it a house.
It's been awhile since either of us had a proper home of our own. 

Backing the house in to the lot

We were about ready to head for Arizona when this deal came by, and we couldn't pass it up even if it was going to require time & money that had been earmarked for something else.
The RV gathering in Quartzsite  will be there next year.

I am sure there are some who would poo poo the notion that a 5th wheel RV could be a home but it has everything the two of us want.

Ceiling fan

Deep sinks in 'just' enough kitchen
An electric fireplace

It does take more than just a house to make a home, that took some time & a little money.

We had a friend come over with his pickup to pull the 5th wheel 14 feet forward into the perfect spot. We had a truck load of gravel delivered to the driveway/parking area out front. He did a fine job spreading the load out and we finished it with shovels & a rake.

The 5th wheel in it's spot & gravel spread out

I needed to get the weight off the wheels/axles/springs & needed to get it level.
When you crack an egg into a hot frying pan and it slides to one edge of the pan the house is not level. When you move fast from one part to another (like chasing your naked wife <g>) & the house bounces a little.... it needs some support.

Concrete bricks & lumber were the answer.

Using the built-in manual scissor jacks at the end of the 5th wheel, with the built-in electric hydraulic jacks at the front (they move in tandem), a torpedo level at the stove and a six ton hydraulic bottle jack we were able to get the house high enough that it did not bounce on the springs as you walked and it was level.

Six concrete blocks & a 2 x 6

Bricks were stacked at three different places on each side. Lumber was used to shim the stacks as close as we could get to the metal beams that support the structure.
Then the house was let down onto the supports. The level was checked at the stove, the center of the house at the kitchen, the forward bedroom and the far aft reading table. The doors were positioned to see if they swung on their own.
A frying pan was put on the stove & a small amount of water was added to the pan.  It just sat there! Success!


I did make a few observations in this whole process. Re-learned a little even.

The concrete bricks seem heavier than they were some years back :-)
A minivan can have too many bricks in it.
No matter how easy it is to pick up a single block by hand & walk with it, it's still easier on everything to put 4 blocks in a borrowed wheelbarrow and move them like that.
Red Georgia clay is slippery when wet & can make a mess on the floor.

It's good to have a home & I'm now ready to travel!  I've been trying to get to Key West for some years now... maybe this is the time?