Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “Reflections”

Look Twice As Good in Half the Time

Sometimes, the little things can mean so much.

Sometimes, the little things can mean so much.

Decades ago on the Saturday Night Live TV show, Billy Crystal did an ongoing characterization smacking of actor Fernando Llamas, complete with faint Hispanic accent. This character always seemed to live in cocktail lounge booths and dark steakhouses, wore sunglasses and neck scarf under a dress jacket, and presented an “appearances first” aura. Dispensing self-absorbed advice, one of his oft-heard phrases was, “It is better to look good than to feel good – you know what I am saying to you?”

Having come from an era where a suit and tie was de rigueur (“prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette, or custom”) among career professionals, I won’t debate that care in appearance makes a big impact on perception by others. And, that need not be based on added accoutrements or bling. I remember once wandering into a drawing file room with another engineer to find an engineering intern slumped over a drawing file, asleep. He was a likable young guy who enjoyed late partying, and I was glad no manager had discovered him. He awoke in a fatigued but good-natured way, and while we spontaneously reviewed his previous entertainment choices, what instantly stood out to me like a spotlight on a stage was Read more…

And Now For Something Completely Different…

My daughter-in-law stuck a video on her Facebook page, with the comment that it represented the essence of what she endured many times a day in her work. I watched it, thought it was brilliantly done, and then saw my daughter post it on her page. Her story is a bit different, as she is kind of a collections agent for a company and calls deadbeat corporate customers. She claims that she averages three per week of what the video presents, only with a lot of hostility in the mix. Yum!

The video simply has to do with what business conference calls tend to be like today, with enabling technologies promising so much and delivering something quite different. “A Conference Call in Real Life” by Don’tBeThatGuyFilms cleverly reveals the holes in the digital promise of bringing people together.

As for me, back in the mesozoic age, conference calls did exist, and the differing technology required a different methodology. Since this was well before Skype and the Internet, there were only two practical ways to bring people together without the expense of physically bringing them together.

One was to pick up the phone and go through the gyrations of calling one participant before Read more…

Life at Rancho Begley

"A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Used to be, the thought of sitting outside for a half-hour or hour to watch the sun go down seemed like a peculiar waste of time. Sure, it’s nice. Appreciate it, take a mental photo and go on to the next thing. These days, I’m noticing that it can greatly change appearance in a mere minute – or less. My mind, as always, wanders and considers things, but is no longer “somewhere else” entirely.

Another translation of Proverbs 16:9 is, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.” I actually only planned to live in a travel trailer that would be able to go from place to place as needed. The actual goal, in lofty terms, has been to widen my view of life, and determine my place in it. Most folks have this done by the time they’re halfway through their twenties. Me, I’m more of a late bloomer. Still, I finally feel as though I’m on track. Right place, right time, right life. All of it just feels right, and necessary.

The Strolling Amok blog is ostensibly about “mobile living”, or at least one form of it from one guy’s perspective. It is that, but don’t assume that Read more…

Oh, Correction to “Van or RV”

Watch your speed there, buddy!

Watch your speed there, buddy!

It seems I’ve entirely missed one other category in the motive choices available to wander through the beauty of Nature: pack mules. Some thirty years ago, a man decided to wander the West just as some of past generations had – on foot, with livestock in tow. In this case it was a mule. But these are modern times. Now he has three mules, and his lifestyle is freer than anyone in a car, van or RV – at least until the law hassles him. The Atlantic ran a very informative article about him and his mission to keep public lands available to the public. His Facebook page is here. Although he receives occasional donations of equipment and equine supplies, he does have monthly expenses which he carefully documents and shows. They’re about a tenth or less of what mine are, and his transport lends new meaning to the term “biofuel”.

Van or RV?

When this represents "very cloudy", you know you’re going to like it here. What will you reside in while you’re here?

When this represents “very cloudy”, you know you’re going to like it here. What will you reside in while you’re here?

When a few hardy souls, by circumstance or free choice, decide that a mobile lifestyle is the way to go for them, the choice of what type of contraption they will live in can seem like a difficult puzzle to put together. That’s only because it is. The options are wide, and small differences can make or break a choice.

What to choose, oh what to choose?

What to choose, oh what to choose?

I’ll claim right here that I’m not going to deliberately try to steer you toward the one solution that I prefer myself, though my feature preferences will leak into this post, of course. It helps that I’m not living in the type of rig I actually prefer, but what I do have does work quite well for me. I think you’ll know when to filter out what doesn’t apply to you, and so know whenever a particular type of rig may not be such great shakes for you, because you’re not me. Thank your lucky stars for that! Personally, I consider a converted van to be just another form of RV, but for the sake of this article, I’m pretending it’s not.

The major caveat is that I’m going to babble on here about full-timing only, and having no other housing available in the foreseeable future. Anyone can make do in anything when you have friends or relatives to stay at now and then, or some other form of Read more…

Packrat Purgatory

Packrat Ethic meets Finite Space.

Packrat Ethic meets Finite Space.

What if you had to reduce the sum total of all your worldly goods into a new home measuring just 8′ x 26′? Not an 8×26 storage unit, but a living space complete with closets, couch, desk with computer, dining area with benches or chairs, bed, complete kitchen with stove, oven, microwave and refrigerator, cookware and servingware, lamps and lighting, TV and associated gizmos, bedroom, bathroom with sink, toilet, tub/shower and medicine cabinet, furnace and air conditioner with ductwork, space heater, water heater, water and waste tanks, all clothing for both hot and cold weather, and all of the hobby crap and books that you amuse yourself with? Don’t forget aisles that give you complete access from end to end, and no fair stacking boxes or bins from floor to ceiling unless you can tie them down for transport along roads rough enough to make an earthquake seem like Read more…


“You know, there’s this marvelous stereotype out there that when the white people came, the world here was perfect, that people lived in a paradise in which they were the most elegant, the most moral, the most elevated of all humanity. That’s not true. We were human beings, and we lived in our own societies, and we did things that all human beings do, and some of it was elevated and marvelous and admirable, and some of it was pretty horrible.”

JoAllyn Archambault

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota

Director of the American Indian Program at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC

How to Drop Your Blood Pressure 30 Points


One unexpected benefit of RVing for me has been the removal of constant stress. That, and my primitive “lazy-ass bachelor diet” are the only reasons I can think of for dropping my blood pressure from 138 to 108 when measured a year later. My doc had called 138 “borderline high”, and I’d had it for many years, with an Rx having practically no effect.

Imagine my recent surprise when going in to a doctor to get an prescription for being able to buy CPAP parts, finding that my blood pressure had dropped so much with no meds at all. That’s a big deal for me, since a blown heart valve deteriorates much more rapidly under high blood pressure, so I’m warned.  Works it back and forth so much that it goes from “leaky” to completely ineffective. That requires replacement, which is not a strong option for me at today’s costs. Let me know when it drops to 700 bucks or so. Apparently, if you wait that long, a replacement won’t work anyway – it’s way too late. Damage done.

If you’re on your own resources, decreasing blood pressure prolongs what you might call quality of life for this kind of ailment. I’m into that kind of thing lately. Relax. Do what makes you happy. Exercise. Enjoy life. See and experience new things. You know, I suspect that I could get used to this. “RV! It’s heart-healthy living!”

Livin’ Large

From tent to luxo-motorhome, the views are the same. How you want to get there and stay there is entirely up to you.

From tent to luxo-motorhome, the views are the same. How you want to get there and stay there is entirely up to you.

[This post is one of three related writings created for use on another  blog as a “guest post”. These articles simply explain different aspects of The Enterprise as an improvised dwelling choice. Written for a different overall audience, they veer away from the tedious “I did laundry today” reporting I usually do. Enjoy the temporary break.]

My own interest in small mobile living started a year and a half ago, while web surfing. The Tiny House movement first caught my eye, and I found the comparative simplicity fascinating from both technical and lifestyle standpoints. What a contrast to conventional, cattle-yard consumer living! Then, when I stumbled over Bob Well’s VanDwelling websites, it was like “Tiny House on Steroids” because of its much higher emphasis on mobility and economy.

Oh, this porridge is way too hot!

Oh, this porridge is way too hot!

Having already had many skirmishes with my Inner Packrat, such a simple lifestyle was a smack-in-the-face wake up call. I began to look inward, and to slowly try to figure out how close I could come to the tenets of VanDwelling without exceeding what I felt I could realistically adapt to, long-term. This exercise was just for fun, and the answer was: Not real close.

And this porridge is too cold!

…And this porridge is too cold!

But, decades of typical suburban living under an increasingly bad economy, age discrimination, and jobs moving offshore had left me feeling frustrated. I was now working a minimum-wage job to try to assist with the maintenance, mortgage, and taxes of home ownership. It wasn’t much of a help, and the mismatch of duties and skills was wearing. As a mental escape, I couldn’t help daydreaming about permanent, full-time mobile living. It seemed intriguingly different, and the mindset and values of the people actually doing it was a 180-degree spin from everything I was used to. How were they making it work? I researched hard.

Determining personal goals

To explore this academic exercise, I had to first look Read more…

The Third Degree of Cheapskate

Their silent power stops at sunset!

Their silent power stops at sunset!

Originally posted 3/18/2013

As a rule, full-time RVers are not big spenders. The great majority have prioritized the ability to live in their vehicle ahead of just about everything else. They don’t have much income, and many work temporary jobs here and there in order to continue their lifestyle. This requires travel and gets expensive, but they like the travel anyway! Others deplete their financial kitty and stop long enough to earn another bankroll so they can hit the road for a few more years.

So, over time, I’ve noticed that boondockers get a sense of achievement from conserving on the use of resources like water or electrical power, and from discovering free or very inexpensive campsites. Those from the West Coast amuse themselves by measuring their carbon footprint against what they used to do in their previous “sticks & bricks” lifestyle. Others simply monitor spending in order to gauge their progress toward achieving a Higher State of Cheapskate-ness.

Minimizing expenses is not an easy thing, because even boondocking, the cheapest way to full-time, eats through money much faster than you’d think! “But,” you protest, “How expensive could it be to drive somewhere, park for awhile, and enjoy the great outdoors? Camping, real camping, is cheap! No rent, no mortgage, no motels, fix your own food, fun!”

The current minimum monthly burn rate by full-time vandwellers – people who live out of a van or even a car – is usually regarded to be  Read more…

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