Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another Update

I really should update the description of this blog as I do not live in a van, and I have one cat, and no van currently. I am looking for a job, live a minimalist lifestyle in a studio, just graduated college, and have been reflecting on several things as of late. The car that I do use had some serious work done to make it safe, and it all got done in a day. After visiting walmart for a pair of jeans, and boots at a shoe store, I decided to visit my long lost trusty friend known as the used clothing store. I have always used the 2nd hand stores for the not so important events, but discovered a great two dollar business suite with a local shop, and that is great for me as it means the clothes will not shrink. It is interesting how the stereotypes of societal norms have began to change in more recent times, and that is okay. One day at a time is how this all goes, and that is the best we can ask for. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Update on the Latest Happenings

     As of September 29th, 2014 I will be done with university classes for now as funding runs out, and it is time to get back to the grind stone. With a BAS in Human Services, and a Masters started in Management, I am sure to find something along the way. Working toward a mobile career, and beginning to write again on the side, there are so many things to look at, and explore. One thing is for certain, the experience, and knowing that it is done made college worth it, and I graduated with no debt from school, which is awesome at epic levels unknown to me. It has been a long ride getting to this point, and now concludes the adventures of school. Exploring the world, learning about new technology, and looking forward to what comes next is both uncertain, but a level of greatness.

     A few key areas of interest: I have settled on a Wolf Pup 17RP or finding another small toy hauler that has the same layout. I am in love with the size (under 22 feet for National Parks that require it), and love the front bunk bed layout that allows for storage up top, the bottom area for sleeping with the bathroom and kitchen facing each other, and not on one end or another to help balance the weight out. The garage area comes equipped with a ramp and open space on one side, and a fold up couch bed with a fold out table that is perfect for entertaining, or if I have a second person along. A large issue that has come up is where to put my bike, or if I want a kayak, as well as extra storage, and this is perfect as a custom built stand to hold storage above, along with a  kayak and bike complete with cabinet doors, and double as a desk on the bottom to serve as a home office. Below is the link to the Wolf Pup RV.

     Having lived the minimal lifestyle now in an upstairs, shared a bathroom and sometimes kitchen, while having to keep in mind that weight is an ongoing issue, I am looking forward to having a workspace that holds and doubles no matter where I live. My indoor space is no larger than a Class A bus without many of the ammenities, but I am on the go quite often, and that requires items that move as well. I have discovered a few things for those of you out there considering any type of minimalist lifestyle, whether it be due to mobility, space, or moving frequently.

     First things first, light weight electronics are great, but remember they require power to charge, and the screen is not that large, and the power can go out, so it is good to keep a few manual backup items for times when electronic entertainment is not available. There seems to be a shortage of surge protectors, USB hubs, and counter space when considering that a printer is not getting any smaller, and doing any type of project requires space to work. If any electronics are required for daily use, as mine are, then keeping a spare is a great idea. I work off an Acer Aspire 10 inch screen with a keyboard and mouse hooked up running a full version of Windows 2010 (Word, Excel ect included) that is good off the umbilical chord for about three hours. Maintaining an old XP desktop, CRT monitor, and a flat screen TV that can hook up to the tower or laptop as a backup has proven useful more than once, although not preferred.

I prefer to use the TV as is, and the CRT monitor is heavy and bulky, but it works in a pinch. I also have an old television with a clear TV digital antenna as a backup in case the TV goes, or I want to watch something local that I cannot get on Dish. It is clearly the largest item I own, and it is rivaling the dinosaurs, but it works great, and is better than nothing at all should the main TV go out. As I have gained new technology in the past few months, it can feel confusing at times just as Windows 8 rolls out, which has left me with the conclusion that my next computer will be a Mac Mini, and used flat screen monitor (I see them on Craigslist for 20-30 bucks)  as apple basically works the same throughout, and actually updates their products in a timely fashion. I do not like the new Windows 8, and the laptop is becoming outdated quickly as time goes on since 2011 when I bought it.

   Next minimalist thought, if it does not work, is not a backup, is taking up space, and a long distance move were to come up, and it would guaranteed not move, it is time to let go. Take a picture, back it up, or ensure it goes somewhere it will be loved, but let it go. The clutter build up from unused stuff, cleaning the dust off it, and the amount of space it takes could be occupied with something of better use. I am taking three old TVs in the house that do not work right anymore to a recycle place this week along with mailing out old college books that will clear up some space. Open space in a small space where everything has multiple purposes is so very important due to how quickly one mess can be a disaster as it can take up every square inch of floor space without batting a thought.

    Did I mention that everything needs to have its place, and remain there? Remember that when one item goes in, another must either go out, or be added to the new structure as nothing can just be for keep sake. I am vastly learning what using something means as I clean my personal space, and attempt to organize everything, and move items in order to clean, and redo the wood floors that are in need of some touch up work. Make sure furniture fits between doorways, and can be moved up and down stairs in order to reorganize. There are down falls to minimalist living, but by keeping things in order, not stuffed into closets, and behind closed doors, the things that are out are easy to find, and may find more frequent use.

    Just because the system works today does not mean it will tomorrow, and that is the key; whenever there is a major life change, ensure to go through each space and clear out what is not needed, and reorganize based on life priority. Having a desktop space, and a dedicated TV and printer stand are critical at the moment, and therefore organizing a dedicated office, tools, and personal products section makes life easier. One cart stand serves as a modified kitchen area, and the closet shelf fits personal items, while a bookshelf, and open shelf stand hold just about everything else. Keeping items off the floor, and using big rugs is incredibly handy to open the space up, but remember that any personal going trhrough projects will change things up in a drastic way. Tackling one project at a time works great, and buying only as much stuff as needed is also crucial to success. However, on that note, buying in bulk saves time and money, of which the less clutter laying around, the more storage space for in bulk items.

More ipod ramblings...
     The ipod organizer app called Moms Planner is the greatest item ever, and is what I use to do indiivdual plans. The WIFI calling feature of Text Now is handy for long distance calls over WIFI, and it even comes in clearly. I made a call today, and was very impressed with the overall experience, which means the ipod makes a good backup phone. The camera is good enough that snapping photos of important paperwork to be mailed in works great, and the editing software is good. It is not a replacement for a professional grade camera, but it gets the basic pictures done, and with the icloud email function, I have had a very good experience so far. FreeMusic+ is also great for offline music on the go, and the picture quality is good as well. I enjoy Dragon City on the go, which also requires WIFI, but actually looks better on the ipod than on my regular computer screen.

     And finally, the Anker Bluetooth keyboard paired with the ipod 5 touch using the Anker adjustable stand works great. Organizing paperwork that is not to heavy, and moves frequently can be done with the blue foldable cloth organizers sold at the dollar store. I have added the little baskets from the Dollar Store as well to organize cables, pens and pencils, and every other random item so that is easier to access, and can be moved easily. Some of us just aren't built to lift and haul oak furniture throughout, or have a cat that has fur, and in order to keep the place clean and sanitary, requires frequent vacuuming and sweeping. Maybe a few ideas made it out there, and I will take pictures as soon as I get a few more items organized for a few ideas.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

iPod touch 5 c

    In other news, I absolutely adore my new iPod touch 5c with the new wifi ac and lightening port, which means no longer is there a giant apple chord, and the experience is gorgeous, with so many apps to choose from. 250 dollars for the ipod, 2 for an eBay jelly case, 20 for 2 sizes of running band, and a mini Bluetooth speaker, and an adorable  keyboard and sturdy stand. The target aluminum stand for my archos tablet is also awesome, and with the keyboard is almost a laptop. My acer aspire laptop has a keyboard issue as well with a function key stuck, and now I am looking for a used apple desktop. It would be nice, but my kindle came used with extra books, so used has benefits. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Living in a Small Space, Technology and Minimalism

Hurray, I am done with by BAS in Human Services, and now I waiting for my degree in the mail as I would love to walk in September with my class, but I need the degree in order to find a job in my career field. Now I am working on my Masters in Management that is built around consulting, which is most excellent as it touches on several of the skills that I had been lacking, and have shown up in the workplace. In the future, it would be great if I could telecommute or run my own business, but for right now, I am in the starting over stage in trying to put my life in order, and that is easier said than done. This is truly an exciting time in my life, and thanks to technology, and a combination of online learniing ,and in person as well as traveling in  van, I am graduating school with zero debt from school, which is great, as that was my goal. 
     It has been a long journey in traveling all over the country with one cat as my other was extremely unhappy with the travels nonstop, and it proved unfair, so now she is with a good friend, and is happy as could be. My now 8 year old cat who was born in August 18, 2006 is still young and spry, and adores traveling, walking on a leash, playing with the dogs, and visiting cat shows on occasion, which we have not had a chance to do recently due to the shortage of local shows, and a very tight budget that should hopefully change in the near future. 
     The loss of my van in AZ the first summer I was there that I literally lived in it part time due to a turn of events that I hope to never experience again, but it turned out okay, and it proved to be an adventure that I will remember always. I also formed relationships that are long lasting and gorgeous that I hope to see continue. My road travels and people I met along the way also proved beautiful with some of the best memories, friendships, great times, and life lessons than one could ever imagine, and did I mention the stunning scenery and diversity of the various local cultures. One thing remains for certain, and that is that things happen for a reason.
     Plans are to explore the international scene, visit at least Comic Con festival and medieval festival this summer, and find a local job for the time being to continue on my professional career trajectory. 
     I am planning on a custom layout lightweight RV trailer, and a van to haul it with because even though parking the home is easier, having multiple camping choices is also nice due to group travel and camping with various individuals means taking the car as a second vehicle. I cannot see having a truck and topper style camper due to the extra maintenance of the roof and other parts when a trailer is sufficient, and a van is much easier to maintain. One camper is enough, plus the car. I would love a class A, but would still need a tow car, and 2 repair bills seems a bit much.
    It does not seem to come up to often that a topper style camper requires a pick up truck that is the correct size, and that means that changing either one would be a pain. Plans are for a van that is styled as somewhat of a partial commercial RV build that can be used as a toyhauler. 

The van wil be outfitted with a sink that can be gotten from an old VW camper or something similar, and the shower section will come from the pop up camper shower and toilet in one so the sink does not have to be the main source of the shower. The bed will be taken from the Honda Element seats that will have to be custom fitted unless another type of seat can be found so that the bed can be the seats folded down, or removed. A table that covers part of the side door that flips up can serve as a cooking space for my NuWave, as I don't want a permanent cooking element in the van. 

Hence, the van will have 3 chairs in the front with a center table taken from a Euro van. The seats will fold up as in the Honda Element style, drivers side into a long single bed, or can be removed all together. That takes up the drivers left side of the van, and the right side will have  a double sink, counter for crock pot, coffee pot, microwave oven, single electric burner, and NuWave stove top that can be all be stored below the sink, and removed when not in use, or taken into a hotel or other gathering place as needed to avoid the eating out food bill. Next to the kitchen, towards the rear of the van will be  the shower, toilet combo as having a huge shower with the entire wall seems pointless to me when a shower curtain can be used when the counter height bathroom (hence additional counter space when not in use) offers a toilet and shower. Given that life in any RV will have limited water resources due to the small size of the pump, and other appliances. 

So, that is left side for the bed and chairs with table, and the right side for one long counter with a double sink, and shower/toilet pop up combo.That leaves an entire area in the back for a bicycle and storage. I will have a bike rack installed on the rear of the van, and carry a soft topper, but realistically, I think it makes a vehicle stand out, and draw attention to what is inside when there is stuff on the outside. That means the entire interior could fit in a high low model  with out cabinets everywhere in order to keep everything neat and organized. If the model is a high top, then I will also add an overhead bed to allow for another sleeping space, but have zero plans for a soft top, and the manufactured rvs seem to be wimpy, so a custom built rv that passes inspection with rvia and the canada inspection team so it can actually travel. Hence, the main reason for choosing one that can be custom, and go for more than a cruise to the local rv park. The actual van will be more paperwork to register, but can go to both tent and rv spaces.
    Eventually, based on a desire for international travel, I will be adding a trailer that is a hard sided toy hauler, and under 22 feet so it can go to national parks, and be hauled overseas in some situations. The toy hauler can be used to haul a small motorcycle and/or bicycles, have a living room and open porch on the toy hauler, as well as house more guests for social hour. 
    As I would love to be able to do rescue animal transport, and show cats again, it would be great to cut down on hotel costs and driving costs. The entire plan can be done in phases, which means no diving in, and means something to work for. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Update and Graduation in May

I haven't posted in a while, but decided that I will add an update at this point. I am almost done with school, and plan to be on the road again in a year. I have been enjoying some outdoors time with some friends part time camping and exploring the local parks. I am planning on either a jeep or high top van, and a small toy hauler like the VRV without the pop out included for the back porch potential which will make life more comfortable. There is a little more weight but moving things back and forth, the larger holding tanks, and the ease of putting a bicycle or similar is much easier, plus it can be used for light hauling as needed. I graduate May 17 with a BAS in Human Services. It has been a long time coming, and I will be starting my Masters as well, but will only get 2 semesters in full time. From there, I have plans for a job that requires part time travel, and hopefully then lead to a location independent lifestyle. I still have an address as needed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Realities of COPD

I came back because a relative was diagnosed with COPD, of which I have little to no experience on a day to day basis dealing with the affects. COPD is scary to watch, and has no cure. I am not looking forward to this situation, so we do the best we can with what has been given. There is no timeline, and we will continue to fight, but I have watched my relative's overall health go down quite a bit in the past few years, and it is scary. I am concerned, and hope there is a long time, with a turn around in health to be seen, and that is the best we can all hope for. This entire situation is overwhelming to a point, but it is a day to day struggle. Anyone who has dealt with COPD that has any advice on how to make life better for someone with COPD would be greatly appreciated to email or comment given the situation. Oxygen therapy and surgery are something the individual is not willing to work with. So, prayers and positive thoughts....

Future Plans Coming into Place

Technology has changed so much in the past 20 years, and so have the gear, tools, and equipment available for traveling. Full time travel has become more socially acceptable, viable, and a choice for many. People no longer have to stay home tied to the phone when on call, and are no longer tied to a beeper. Now there are cell phones, texting, and voice mail, multiple lines, telecommuting, and working from anywhere. What makes this all possible, and what is the end goal when considering what to own in day to day life? Living life as a minimalist between studio apartments, mobile dwellings, and moving every so often, there are certain belongings that are critical to success.


Back in 2006, moves were made with much larger and bulkier electronics, and were less energy efficient which limited usage, and public internet was not that common except in a few airports and coffee lounges. On the flip side, more people had unsecured wireless, and crossing borders was more complicated. Nowadays, electronics are light, energy efficient, and more individually tailored, which translates to buying a computer, and then needing to buy pieces and parts for the individual’s needs. Gone are the days when the Blackberry was the most sophisticated item, and no one had ever head of a netbook or tablet.


The items listed are items owned for over 2 years, and are a critical part of day to day life, and have proven their value over and over again.


The first is the Acer Aspire netbook, which was built in 2011, and was bought at the local trusty Wal-Mart. I added a spare battery, extra charger, extra chord, and it came with the international charger. It has been loaded with full windows 2010, and allows for full time college education, as well as the watching of Netflix being hooked to an old flat screen monitor in place of television.


Next is the Archos 101 which when loaded with Android 2.3 has proven useful, even though it isn’t the most up to date to be found on the market. It serves my purposes, has WIFI built in, and has plenty of ports, attachments, cases, accessories, and at 300 on EBay, proved to be a smart investment. Especially great is the game Jewels and the RealCalc app from the Google Play store, which is where the Android apps are found.


Then, there is the Nokia E71 which via JoikuSpot allows for WIFI where it wouldn’t normally be available, has a recorder, is great for texting, and works great for personal needs such as Google maps, email, and other basic app abilities. The E71 still costs over 150 dollars, and holds its value well due to the diverse nature of a phone no longer made through Straight Talk. The Razor is also great for prepaid Verizon, still looks great, has large numbers, and has proven a solid, reliable phone when the Straight Talk phone lacks reception. The fact is that traveling with prepaid phones that can have different numbers assigned, be activated at any given time, and have national cards, as well as buy from any other phone capabilities, as well as website ordering makes it a great offer. As a former happy customer of Sprint, the constant moving proved a problem with reception so prepaid, with the various plans available, became the best option available.


Next is the old trust Sony Walkman 8GB from 2012 that works great, has wonderful radio reception, charges quickly, and really does have 30 hours of battery life, which gets used over and over again. Sporting a 3.5 mm headphone jack, the choice became a pair of headphones made for the iPhone that has a microphone, and a built in antenna for better reception. Nice and simple, and not connected to any internet network of any sort, it is a great device for bus stops, running, walking dogs, or simply relaxing at home due to the small size, radio, MP3, and podcast abilities to allow for seamless transfer between one function to the next. The amount of space holds quite a bit, and as a fan of Michael Duncan’s History of Rome podcasts, which are listened to over and over again, Sony has proven reliable once again.


The camera is a Canon, and is relatively aged, so without going into reference, it is worth saying that Canon still has great quality photography equipment, and Sony ranks a quick second. There was a time when one camera to the next was the norm, but after a while, certain items remained, have aged, and just get better with age. Adding a better pixel quality camera will come when the need presents itself, but for the time being, Canon remains on board, capturing the most precious of moments.


Add 2 USB backups, a few memory sticks, and a portable USB DVD player for the laptop, that can be played with any USB port that connects to the TV or computer monitor, it has proven extremely useful, and has been well traveled, which will hopefully see many more miles throughout the years to come. The DVD case continues to be carted around, of which the DVDs are backed up onto memory sticks, along with the music for easy access as needed. There is also the Canon Pixma scanner, printer, and fax combo, the reliable Target camp chair, DVD and blue ray disk player, lightweight fans of different sizes (including 2 USB fans), trusty Thermos canteen, luggage set, a few books, foam gel mattress, clothes in two totes, a few dishes that are easy to wash, coffee maker, camping gear, and the cats bag, cat tree, and BoodaDome litter box. Add the cat show kit, and that literally sums up what is to be found as a minimalist. Never again will I worry about moving because of owning to much stuff as many others have done, and with that, the next move is coming up.


After extensive research, and making sure to know what needs and wants there are at a personal level that can work with the need to work, continue to provide an environmentally protected area for the cat with the litter box separate from living quarters, and the exact furniture needed so that nothing has to be given up. Time has been taken because after 3 vehicles being home on a temporary part time to full time basis, the decision to have a manufactured trailer that has a bathroom, does not rust, and is lightweight to haul became the requirement for happiness. Day to day maintenance and tasks became too overwhelming, parking to unreliable, and repairs expensive to make full timing in a motorized home (no home if repairs are needed) a problem.


 So, a 16 foot toy hauler trailer is the final decision that fits having a shower, toilet, kitchen with sink, stove, fridge, living area with flip down bed on one side, flip down seat and flip up table, a/c, heat, bubble windows, awning, outside shower, garage area between flip up bed and table/chair, and anchor hooks so the ramp can serve as a porch. The inside a/c will have shelves to the ceiling that personal belongings fit on in slide out shelves. In front of the shelves and the inside shower/toilet will be curtains instead of doors, as doors take up room to open and close. The litter box will in the back corner of the garage with diamond patterned flooring in a custom made box that has a hole in the back, and a slider box that is brought out for cleaning to limit odors and tracking. Then, a mount will be made on the wall for the bicycle, as that is the reason for the toy hauler.


Toys stay inside, having a shower readily available, having a separate area for the litter box away from the kitchen, and not stowed in the indoor shower, and space for the cats sturdicage are items that will not be negotiated. Having space for an office chair, an area that can be open for exercise when outdoors isn’t always possible, and a pet friendly, easy to clean area are needed, The low cost Huffy that has been since high school is reliable, and comes for the long haul, and with a family members health declining due to a diagnosis of COPD means the acquisition of 2 dogs, which means plans had to change over the course of time. Realistically, the dogs do not change the spectrum save for the fact that a back ramp that can be used as a porch seems like a great idea, and a separate area where pet hair is not welcome also had to happen. The space at the end that forms the garage area will be used for kennels with wheels that can be pulled up the ramp to reduce lifting, as the two dogs sleep in kennels when their owner isn’t home. One is ten years old, and the other is three years old. Both get along with the cat, and the three year old requires a significant amount of exercise, and weighs in at 50 pounds. She has a great temperament, and loves to travel.


The trailer also allows for the dogs and cat to stay in a climate controlled home where they can remain hooked up, and have a pet sitter visit them during the day as needed. Working a regular day job is required, and having a vehicle where the pets do not go to work is required. Preference does not lend to boarding, and having a home that is separate from the daily driver is preferable. In case of emergency, someone else can haul home as well, and the cost of parks is cheaper than rent in some cases. Also, motor travel will not change, so why not have both readily available? There is also an interest in a small motorcycle as well, and a toy hauler allows for it. Attending dog and cat shows, having company, parking in a park where age will not be an issue because a standard toy hauler is like an old fiberglass egg, which means a timeless classic that blends in, and is still lightweight should work out well. For what is findable in rent, doesn’t involve yard work, and isn’t required to be a permanent fixture, the trailer is perfect. Work requires travel in most cases, and the pets have been the largest issue, trailers are nicer than most apartments, and come with a/c at a reasonable cost. Add solar panels, a large screen flat screen that mounts on the wall, and life is great. There is no time frame for what is to come, but hopes are for within the next year to have a car, toy hauler (there are many to choose from), and simply move what is hear into it. 


Considerations were also given to a pop top, but the condensation could prove to be a problem, and a slide out the cat could get stuck in doesn’t seem like a great idea. I can’t wait to get on the road again, and do it better this time. Finally, the problems that have been long term are finally ending. My current residence is selling in the next year or so, and so the time to make the move is coming. The excitement, dedication, planning, and money are coming into place much quicker than planned, and the pet situation isn’t one now, as well as meeting park requirements as there is a love of campgrounds with amenities. It is amazing what a person is willing to accept in the span of 10 years of adventure, of which floors that can be swept and mopped, exercise area,  a/c, and a built in shower are not optional. Then, off to explore kayaking, and more national parks.