Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

What’cha Doin’?

First time I've deployed the awning since I got the trailer!  The afternoon sun comes in through the doorway and heats up the trailer something fierce, and the awning lowers temps a heap. But it's something else to monitor during the frequent thunderstorms.

First time I’ve deployed the awning since I got the trailer! The afternoon sun comes in through the doorway and heats up the trailer something fierce, and the awning lowers temps a heap. But it’s something else to monitor during the frequent thunderstorms.

Hey, why no adventurous tales of traveling and wildlife encounters? Clean-up. See, besides pestering the kids, my tasks here in Marengo, Illinois are to record expenses, deal with the IRS, the State of Illinois DMV, my Will, and my storage unit. I must also repair or modify certain things on the trailer for the next go, and of course sweat and stink in the humid summer heat. I’m still living in the trailer of course, and still have the solar panels deployed, since electricity in my part of this campsite is billed at industrial rates. The fridge is running on electricity full-time, in the hope that this will extend the life of the propane-powered section of it, for the road. Other gizmos are on shore power or solar, depending on weather and using a desulphater on each battery pack in turn.

The storage unit is the most imposing activity by far, because my hope is to slim it down to zero. The remaining furniture must go away, since I have no plans to go back to sticks and bricks, and the storage costs easily outstrip the replacement value of the furniture. The only survivor will be a maple kitchen table, replacing the the soon-to-be-torn-out dinette table and one of two bench seats. I’d tear out the second bench, but it encloses the fresh water tank. An overabundance of clothing must be gone through and either packed away in the trailer or donated away. Living this way isn’t all T-shirts and shorts, and storage space in the Innsbruck is excellent for a travel trailer, but scary-pathetic in the manner to which I am accustomed. The art-related stuff – mat cutter, mats, foamboard, frames and complete framed art will likely go to my son who dreams of one day having a sort of studio for his prodigious artistic skills. A large, heavy box of computer-related gizmos and cables must be sorted through and donated. I gots me some good Pentax 35mm SLR film cameras and lenses, plus some early Polaroids and other cameras. Then there are many boxes of vintage radio-controlled model racing cars and equipment. Normally, this would be worthless, but not this particular stuff, and not today. All of this will be a serious pain to eBay and ship, but it needs to be done.

Here's the view out the dining room window these days. The corn was just 6" high when I arrived a couple weeks ago!

Here’s the view out the dining room window these days. The corn was just 6″ high when I arrived a couple weeks ago!

But I’m also hefting out heavy boxes of LP records and 78 RPM records to the trailer, one by one. Why? To chuck them? No, to record them as digital audio files and then chuck them. Much of this is stuff you can’t exactly get on iTunes. Spike Jones, Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman, early-early Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Bing Crosby and Count Basie, and Victor Red Seal classical recordings of the biggest conductors and orchestras in the business while in their prime. Whole albums of Boogie Woogie music recorded while it was still fresh and fun. Barely-audible music from 1904 and 1910, and dance music from the 1920s. Like libraries, the record companies and music services are not archives of historical performances. They only offer what will sell to “consumers” in quantity, not what is notable or interesting to explore. For example, much of Benny Goodman’s music is recreated rather than cleaned up, or recorded from his much later performances with better recording equipment, and it’s obvious that the creative spark of it disappeared after thousands of performances. You can easily hear the difference. In one case, the record company felt that “modern listeners” would not tolerate the original monaural, low-fidelity recordings, and put a band together to try to mimic what Goodman did. They then sold it as Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. The best of what I have is the original cuts while they were still fighting for traction, and before they became routine re-performances of “classics” decades later. The best of what I have is an unexpected delight in some way or another. The worst of what I have is dull dumpster fodder. The sheer number of LPs and 78s will make it extremely unlikely that I’ll be able to record all of them in the next 2.5 months before I leave, but if I can, that will eliminate my having to haul bulky and heavy records with me for the next two years, as well as the turntable itself.

My other media goal is to chew through just short of 500 movie DVDs and put them on hard drives. That lets me avoid having to break open a massive DVD binder every time I want to watch a movie. There’s really no place in the trailer to conveniently lay that thing open, and translating them to a hard drive makes for much more convenient access and viewing. The gizmo that reads the hard drives is called a WD TV Live Media Streamer, and plugging a USB hard drive dock into it lets it pull up any movies stored on the drive. It can also wirelessly get at such things as Netflix and other online content sources via local WiFi, but that’s problematic here because the campsite’s WiFi network is usually far too choked down to feed video streams. Translating the DVDs to hard drive takes at most about 25 minutes each, and I’ve been able to do that at the same time I’m recording records.

I’ll be posting little blurbs about the trailer mods as I go, but the next few months will be a little lean on posts about inspirational vistas and great places to visit. With the formidable laundry list of things to be done on a deadline, this little stay in Marengo will easily be the biggest challenge of the year. I think I’ll be ready for a vacation!

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12 thoughts on “What’cha Doin’?

  1. Roy P on said:

    My taste runs thru Jazz and Bluegrass. I had wanted to sell lots of these in a garage sale. Nothing. Not even at .50 cents per item. Then i discovered e-bay. Some of the things i was trying to almost GIVE away, i discovered were going for hunderdes of dollars. TRUE. Could that be a way to make some money while sizing down?

    • Unfortunately for me, Roy, my musical taste runs pretty wide as far as non-modern music, so it’s harder for me to say, “Nope, not going to have to bother recording that one”. The 78s are worthless no matter how notable I think they are, but some of the LPs are definitely worth eBaying, but I’m giving those to my son-in-law, who is a vinyl freak and can sell and trade for what he wants.

  2. Ladybug on said:

    I hope you’re not planning on ‘tossing’ the LPs, but rather e-baying them as well! There’s a niche out there for those. I’ve recently read an article that the Japanese will fly over to California, purchase them by the boxes, and re-sell them in Japan for a hefty mark-up. Might want to look into that.

    • Thanks, Ladybug! Due to the time gun to my head, I’m giving the LPs to my son-in-law, who will sort through them and do what’s appropriate – either trade them in or eBay them to get what he himself wants. A few of them do look to be worth $20-$60 each. Gotta not get too optimistic with eBay though – along the listings for identical $5 items, there’s always somebody asking $395, hoping for the “bigger idiot” theory to kick in. Now and then, the Japanese get on a spree and go until it runs out, but I’m not hoping to connect.

  3. Your story about how you are down sizing and minimizing reminds me of a thread on the Escapees Forum the year I hit the road twelve years ago. The thread was about what to do with all the stuff and how others had handled the issue. One entry in the thread that stands out was the one about the couple who were making plans for full timing and prior to hitting the road took a one week vacation. While gone, their home burned leaving nothing but ashes. The writer didn’t wish this for others, but for them the problem was solved. It was just stuff.

    • Thanks, Lloyd. True enough. I like to listen to music, and lots of it, so for me, these records will be “just stuff” once they’re digitized. I’ll be sorting through the camera equipment and clothing to get what I can actually store and use. But like the R/C equipment, the camera stuff is worth too much money to donate away despite the very narrow market. It’s just stuff if it burns, but until then, it’s a potential resource to help pull me out of my budget hole! In the end, it’s all compost, but I’d like to let it become someone else’s compost, if possible.

  4. Can you donate any of your wonderful old “media” collection to someplace like the Smithsonian that will welcome the original format? It just seems so sad to think that it is no longer considered valuable…..

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