RV52.com - The "Start Here" Button for RVing http://rv52.com An information resource for new or future RVers Tue, 19 May 2015 17:40:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Your computer WILL fail – Here is why – And what you can do about it http://rv52.com/your-computer-will-fail-here-is-why-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/ http://rv52.com/your-computer-will-fail-here-is-why-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/#respond Tue, 19 May 2015 17:40:44 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41482   Hello RVers. Today, more than ever, you have more and more of your life captured in digital format. RVers, more than many people are capturing their travel digitally. RVers more than many people are more mobile than ever. RVers digital life can be very rich with a large amount of digital content. Your content […]

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Hello RVers.

Today, more than ever, you have more and more of your life captured in digital format. RVers, more than many people are capturing their travel digitally. RVers more than many people are more mobile than ever. RVers digital life can be very rich with a large amount of digital content.

Your content will be in forms like books, pictures, movies, important documents, PDFs, bills, records, and more.

You’ll have your content scattered across your cell phone, digital tablet, Kindle, Nook, laptop, and desktop computer. For this article I’ll call all these things devices.

Lots of content in bunches of places is a disaster waiting to happen.

But maybe it won’t happen?

Baloney.

I’m an engineer. To be precise, I’m an electrical engineer and have designed microprocessors for a living.

I can tell you with confidence, that your device WILL fail. The real question is when.

Before you tell me “I’ve never had any device fail” or “I’ve never lost any data”, let me take some time and explain just how fragile your data’s existence is.

Your spinning hard drive is fragile

Lets talk about your hard drive. It seems like such a safe place for your data doesn’t it. It is not. It is good enough, but it is fragile.

Here is how MOST disk drives have worked for the last 30 years. Inside your disk drive there is a spinning metal disk. It spins at 5000-8000 revolutions per minute. In spins ALL THE TIME.

ALL your data is ultimately broken down into a value of 1 or 0 by layers upon layers on math. Yes, even your dog pictures eventually are simply a series of the numbers 1 or 0.

A value of 1 is stored by magnetizing a single spot, a TINY TINY TINY single spot on the spinning disk in one direction. A 0 is stored by magnetizing the spot in the opposite direction. The disk is no bigger than a large matchbook and its surface contains trillions and trillions of these magnetized spots.

Now that you know this, just exactly how likely do you think it really is that a few of your bits wouldn’t just vanish? In my mind, it is VERY likely.

Your fancy flash based solid state drive is fragile

Some of you are saying “Come on silly RV52 (Marlan), I store my data in solid state media. It is 100% safe.”

Let me explain how solid state media works. For many of you, you might wonder “what is solid state media”?

Solid state media MOSTLY means that it is NOT a spinning disk drive. For the last 30 years, either the technology had not been invented OR the technology had not been cheap enough to store data on anything BUT spinning drives. But recently, solid state media has become much more competitive. Its advantages make it competitive with spinning disks even if it is more expensive.

Solid state media has many forms and names, but trust me, it is mostly the same type of stuff. Your SD cards are solid state. If you hear the word “flash drive” or “solid state drive” you are hearing about solid state media.

Solid state media fetches and saves data faster than spinning disk media. It is quieter. It takes less power than a spinning disk. Maybe best of all, solid state media has no moving parts. Mechanical parts and movement are a huge source of failure – which means solid state drives should be more reliable than a spinning disk.

But solid state media is not perfect, and it by NO MEANS is a safe place for your data. Just like spinning disk, it is a good enough place, but it will fail. The principles on how your data stored will give you the willies.

Here is just how fragile a solid state drive can be

Here is how your data is stored inside a solid state drive or media.

Inside the solid state media there are tiny microscopic structures that are slivers of metal encapsulated in glass. Wow. Maybe you should read that again. Then, your data is STORED as electrons TRAPPED like prisoners inside the glass on the metal sliver.

Engineers have learned how to INJECT electrons through the glass to get them on and off the metal. Engineers have learned how to detect the electrons on the metal without disturbing them… too much. By detecting the presence of the electrons, that is how the engineers can determine if there is a value of “1” (does not have electrons) or a value of “0” (has electrons).

Even more interesting, we know, give or take a couple, how many electrons are parked inside that glass. Do you think that the circuitry might MISCOUNT an electron every now and then? Heck yes? We can’t even get a count on how many people are at a ball game – how the world will we get this very precise!?

What else can go wrong? Lots! The glass can actually wear out rending that little electron cage (I’ll call a “bit”) useless. In fact “wear-out” is so common that engineers simply design the system to live with it.

Neutrinos from space can knock the electrons off the bit.

If you have your data stored in a small portable device a truck could run over it and ruin the solid state media. Don’t laugh, this actually happened to my step son.

I told him, you should back up your data. In fact, let me step through some ideas that will help you make sure that your data isn’t lost.

Hopefully by now, I’ve convinced you that your information is stored on fragile things. Because of this fragility, maybe now you can logically be convinced that you should take steps to keep your data safe.

I’ll give you some of these steps as a list of “tips”.

The backwards thinking of many people

One more thing before I give you the tips. I’m constantly amazed at people who will pay $1000s to get computers, cameras, phones, e-readers. Those same people then get “all cheap” when it comes to spending money on backing up.

Here is why that thinking is foolish – the VALUE of your device is small compared to the value of the DATA on your device. You will say that your picture of your flower isn’t worth much. I agree it isn’t. But your 10,000 pictures of the last 20 years of your life, including shots of graduations IS valuable. In fact, it is irreplaceable.

Think of “data value” in the following way. The value of a Hollywood movie to the creators could be worth 100’s of millions of dollars, while the equipment to make the movie might only be worth a couple of million. I could go on and on with these examples – but the bottom line – data is worth a lot – if it can even have a value. In fact, data is always worth more than the hardware that is related to it.

So don’t cheap out on making sure your data is secure from loss.

Tips to keep your data safe(r)

Here are some of my tips for keeping your data safe and secure and the rationale behind my thinking. Have fun.

1) Manual – local backup – GOOD

Barring doing NOTHING, buy yourself a USB drive to back up your files from your computers. Just plug it in and drag and drop from your “My Documents” folder onto the USB drive. This is a GREAT start and you stand a good chance of saving 90% of what you might lose from accidental loss. It might even survive falling into water.

The downside(s)? If you used a thumbdrive you might lose it. Or run over it with a car. If ANY type of removable drive, it could get stolen. You also stand to lose data that you didn’t back up because this solution isn’t going to be that often just because it is a pain in the elbow to do regularly. My guess is that most people would struggle to have the discipline to do this monthly.

In all cases, a fire will takeout both your backups and your devices too. I’m sure hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods might not help either.

2) Manual – local backup – with offsite – GOOD(er)

To solve the natural disasters problem, I know people who actually record data onto DVDs/CDs or EXTRA USB drives.

Then they physically move the saved data on DVD, CD, or extra USB drives to a relative’s house, office, or other offsite place.

You FIX the problem for fires, floods, and other disasters.

BUT, you still get all the downsides of the method #1 and ADD to it keeping track of the backups and also having the other site. If you use other people, they will get tired of you.

( why the grammatical error in the headline – because I thought it was cute and I wanted it to be better than good but not quite as good as better. )

3) Automatic – local backup – BETTER

Now we’re talking. This involves better technology – usually a program that runs in the background looking for files that need backed up. Then that tech automatically saves them to a backup drive located on a local network.

Now your data is mostly safe – no more than a 24 hour gap in the backup and your device.

For Apple (the type of computer I use), they have built in backup to their computers and you can buy network devices that automatically connect to the Apples and backup. It is called Time Machine. The backup device is called Time Capsule. I do not use this technology.

Downside(s) – Usually this is a bit more expensive since it involves a little tech AND a backup device (like Time Capsule). Since it is local, you still get exposed to natural disasters.

I might make a note that in an RV, natural disasters are actually MORE likely – why? You can wreck, fires are common (lots of fuel like LP around), and wind and water in strange areas… RVs INCREASE this risk.

4) Automatic remote backup – BEST

You get ALL the advantage of #3 and you eliminate the natural disasters downside.

But this comes with downsides too. The big one being cost of the services. The second one is that it requires a good network between you and the backup center.

This is the choice I use. I love it. I DO have good network access and I’m happy to pay to get the security.

When I started looking at backup services, I started looking at Carbonite as it seemed the default choice for Macs. By default it is like the old adage – No one ever got fired for choosing IBM – except of course in this case it was Carbonite.

Unfortunately, I could not get Carbonite to work on my Mac. I don’t know why.

Which led me to a search for remote backup services that are easy to use and able to handle backing up almost anything.

At the end of the search I found a service called Just Cloud. I have been using it for two years. I have never had to retrieve anything, but I’ve done several spot checks.

It backs up several computers automatically and will even backup on a less automatic basis if you want.

I can wholeheartedly recommend using Just Cloud as a computer backup service . So that you know, Just Cloud did not pay for this recommendation. If you click on the link below as a result OF this recommendation and buy the service, I will get a small payment from Just Cloud because you purchased.

If you want to go look at Just Cloud and check it out – Click Here to Learn about Just Cloud

Conclusion

If you are not backing up your data, you should be. Hopefully, this article gives you some ideas on how you can get a handle on backing up your data.

Remember, your RV is more susceptible to things that can cause problems for your data such as fire, flood, electrical incident, or an accident.

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Better Spartan RV book cover that doesn’t look like it was done with crayons http://rv52.com/better-spartan-rv-cover-that-doesnt-look-like-it-was-done-with-crayons/ http://rv52.com/better-spartan-rv-cover-that-doesnt-look-like-it-was-done-with-crayons/#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:52:00 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41237 I’ve been offering The Spartan RV for sale for a few months now. I’ve been very pleased with the good ratings on Amazon so I’m pretty sure it is resonating with people. So on my next book, The Ultimate Companion RV Users Guide – 5th Wheel Edition, I decided to spend money on having a designer […]

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I’ve been offering The Spartan RV for sale for a few months now. I’ve been very pleased with the good ratings on Amazon so I’m pretty sure it is resonating with people.

So on my next book, The Ultimate Companion RV Users Guide – 5th Wheel Edition, I decided to spend money on having a designer create my book cover.

I was really pleased with the outcome until I went back and looked at The Spartan RV. I was horrified – what was I thinking? It looks like I did it with crayons.

Actually, I know what I was doing. Writing a book of any kind is a massive effort. Its true what they say – products aren’t “launched” they are kicked out. I think I just punted on the cover and kicked out the book.

Unfortunately, the COVER is the FIRST thing people see when they go book shopping. So, I worked much harder at design, thinking about the font and re-did the cover. I’m sure its not professional quality, but I think it is quite a bit better. I put both covers here so you can see.

Finally, a book that helps you DOWNSIZE your life instead of "upsizing" your life Finally, a book that helps you DOWNSIZE your life instead of "upsizing" your life

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Getting to Know Bonnie – A musician that deserves to be heard http://rv52.com/getting-to-know-bonnie-a-musician-that-deserves-to-be-heard/ http://rv52.com/getting-to-know-bonnie-a-musician-that-deserves-to-be-heard/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2015 15:06:28 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41239 Hello RV52 readers. I’m going to ask you to do two things that I think you’ll thank me for after you do it. Then I’ll tell you why. 1) Go listen to Bonnie Bishop’s music. (I’ll have some links below). 2) Go check out Bonnie’s web site and new project “Story & Song” where she […]

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Hello RV52 readers. I’m going to ask you to do two things that I think you’ll thank me for after you do it. Then I’ll tell you why.

1) Go listen to Bonnie Bishop’s music. (I’ll have some links below).

2) Go check out Bonnie’s web site and new project “Story & Song” where she is redefining music.

I met Bonnie in Wimberley Texas on one of our B&B (bed and breakfast) jaunts.

She was sitting in a coffee shop tap-tap-tapping away at her old white Macbook. I asked her what the password was to the local coffeeshop’s WiFi.

No one can ever accuse Bonnie of NOT having the gift of gab.

In a short time span of an hour or so we talked about the music business, writing, screenplays, Macbooks, songwriting, creativity, web marketing and who knows what else.

After that meeting I’ve been blessed to speak on multiple occasions with this creative powerhouse and share so many ideas between us. She is absolutely amazing and the body of work she has behind her is massive and will tug at your heartstrings.

She did a mini-tour on the east coast with Robert Earl Keen this and he had this to say (paraphrased) about Bonnie’s music – “you can’t listen to her music and not be brought to tears“.

Here are some samples of her music (over on iTunes):

 Bonnie has a musical library with something like 160+ songs. It really is an amazing body of work.

But try as a person might, you can only guess at the incredible backdrop at which a song is created. These great talents reduce incredible emotional experiences to 3.5 minutes of musical notes and lyrics.

That is so unfair that pain and sorrow, or incredible joy has to be reduced down to a few minutes and in some ways a very limited format.

So Bonnie is now embarking on a musical odyssey that takes her music and gives it color in ways that go far beyond the music – audio spoken word, written word, video, and even still prints. She still is going to make never before heard renditions and take time to be playful and soulful with her music too.

I hope you’ll go check out her new project and give a hard working musician some well needed attention:

What is Story & Song

 

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Dyn-o-mite Insulated Tumblers – RV52 fully recommends http://rv52.com/dyn-o-mite-insulated-tumblers-rv52-fully-recommends/ http://rv52.com/dyn-o-mite-insulated-tumblers-rv52-fully-recommends/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:33:37 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41333 Its not really often that I get to recommend WHOLEHEARTEDLY a product. This recommendation comes from my wife Sheri. Sheri LOVES having ice water with her all day. For several years she has used the Tervis Tumbler and been very happy with it. But after years of use, whatever was helping it stay insulated died. […]

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Its not really often that I get to recommend WHOLEHEARTEDLY a product. This recommendation comes from my wife Sheri.

Sheri LOVES having ice water with her all day. For several years she has used the Tervis Tumbler and been very happy with it. But after years of use, whatever was helping it stay insulated died.

So based on a recommendation from my co-worker (Trevor) she checked out these NEW style of insulated tumblers called the YETI.

Results: Sheri loves it. So far, she can start at 7:00AM and at 5:00PM still have solid ice in the cup. She is a total convert.

Trevor stores HOT coffee in his and raves equally about it keeping his coffee hot.

Here is a picture link to it and this is an actual “proven in use” recommendation from RV52.com!

 

Have fun and let me know how it goes for you if you get one. Leave comments here!

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The time to bury the hatchet is ALWAYS right now http://rv52.com/the-time-to-bury-the-hatchet-is-always-right-now/ http://rv52.com/the-time-to-bury-the-hatchet-is-always-right-now/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:35:45 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41232 God has a way of prying loose things in your life. Honestly sometimes I wished he would leave well enough alone, but alas we are all imperfect works that are being shaped. So there is no escape from our wounds. It must have been 1978 or 1979 approximately. My dad loved to spend time at […]

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Harlan and Terrie Winter - mid 1950's

Harlan and Terrie Winter – mid 1950’s

God has a way of prying loose things in your life. Honestly sometimes I wished he would leave well enough alone, but alas we are all imperfect works that are being shaped. So there is no escape from our wounds.

It must have been 1978 or 1979 approximately.

My dad loved to spend time at his friend Wes’ gas station. Back then we didn’t have convenience stores. At this gas station they had the old Coke cooler where you left up the lid all you see is the pop bottle lids. Lids mattered. You grab the bottle, pry off the lid on the side of the cooler and you pay at the counter. I didn’t do Coke. I did Canada Dry Creme Soda or Grape Soda. Those were the days before high fructose corn syrup. Mmmm.

The men would have coffee too. There were the chairs that had the reddish plastic cover where the padding was about 6-7 inches thick. They had scratchy sounding metal legs and they rested on a plain old concrete floor.

And people would talk. And talk. And talk. Crops. Weather. Cornhuskers. Government. It was a men’s event. I don’t recall talking about females… ever. Of course I was little and those men in those days did have a great deal of discretion.

One day, a friend of mine repeated to me something my dad had said… about me! I’ll just disclose it here… first time ever – why not do it on an internationally visited web site, eh?

My dad said I couldn’t fight myself out of a wet paper bag. It had to do with football – which I dearly loved and, at best, was a mediocre player. I was fairly small as well as 1 year younger for my grade. Very hard to stand out against older boys when everybody is in that fast period of growth.

That comment stung. Let me rephrase – that comment STINGS today – almost 40 years later.

That comment DROVE me for years.

Its only top and front in my mind today because my son is at that age where careless words by me can sting him. Its also because right now at our church we are examining transformation in 7 core areas of life. God is prying at this thing with a crowbar. Arrrrgh.

That careless comment drove me to work hard in athletics, academics, and work.

I worked for a farmer in central Nebraska and in those days we didn’t have 4 wheelers. We had 2-leggers. Me. That comment drove me to literally RUN all day. When Scotty – one of the few adult male role models in my life – said “go get this, or go get that wrench”, I RAN because I wanted to be a better athlete. When I carried 5 gallon buckets I always carried two and I literally lifted them up an down like they were weights when I was running.

I HATED B’s. I collected a few in my college engineering. But in my MBA courses and high school, I only had 1 each. I was driven to do well. Both B’s were assigned to me by teachers who wanted to teach me a lesson.

But I trace much of this drive to that comment by my dad.

I wanted to erase that comment.

What would have erased that comment?

I would love to share my life with my dad and have him say these words to me: “I am proud of you.”

Its true – I have a void in my life due to five little words.

Here is the problem and why the words cannot be erased. He died before we could make amends. He died before *I* was able to grow up enough, to be adult enough, to break through the fog of the past hurts and stupidity and say to my dad “I’m sorry”. I had to go first to make amends. I think he was trying. I was the problem. (See more here)

Because he died, I can never hear those healing words from my dad. “Son, I’m proud of you.” Your dad is someone you use to relate to who God & Christ are. No wonder I have a funky feeling about the Trinity. Even worse, I’m SURE I would have gotten what I needed had he lived just a few more years.

But he didn’t live. I didn’t get to make amends.

And now I work through this on my own. But those five words are a hole in my heart that at its best will still be a wound I carry to my grave, scar tissue and all.

Good golly people – don’t let someone DIE BEFORE you bury the hatchet.

Pride has NO PLACE in human relations. Just go get it done. Do it for YOU. You may not get what you want, but you will be able to hold your head high and say “I did the right thing”.

Do it because you can’t erase regret. Ok?

I love all of you. For all you RV52 readers have a great week.

 

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RV52 has begun upgrade to ENTIRE company’s computers! http://rv52.com/top-mac-apps-for-blogging/ http://rv52.com/top-mac-apps-for-blogging/#respond Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:58:31 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41243 (FTC Disclosure – I receive compensation for products I recommend if you click on any of those links and purchase a product. This doesn’t bias my reviews because I don’t mess with stuff I don’t like.) Ok. I just ordered my upgrade to my laptop. I had a 2012 Macbook Pro, but it was beachballing […]

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(FTC Disclosure – I receive compensation for products I recommend if you click on any of those links and purchase a product. This doesn’t bias my reviews because I don’t mess with stuff I don’t like.)

Ok. I just ordered my upgrade to my laptop. I had a 2012 Macbook Pro, but it was beachballing too much for my taste.

So I ordered a much higher end MacBook Pro with the new fifth generation Intel i5 processors. I can’t wait for the darned thing to get there. I’ll let you know when it comes in how the thing performs.

I’ve been using the Macbook to do the following things. If you do these things, you might be interested in the software I use on my Macbook. I’ll list those below the tasks.

  • Edit video
  • Record audio
  • Create webinars
  • Create eBooks
  • Write eBooks
  • Manage twitter
  • Keep a list of things that are hard to categorize
  • Write software for RV52
  • Communicate with my RV52.com servers
  • Do presentations on our bigscreen TV
  • Practice flying my remote control airplane (I have yet to fly it)

I do other things, like email and web browse, but everyone does those things so I won’t talk about those.

Top Mac Apps

So here is my list of stuff for my creative activities and a little write-up for each app. I like to think of this as the list of top Mac apps for creatives. I’ll include a link for where you can get these materials if you are interested. I own ALL of this and have used ALL of these things. So I’m speaking with some authority on the matter.

  •  Scrivener – I love this app. It is a writing application that lets you write in your brains unorganized fashion and then come back and arrange it later. Even better Scrivener frees you from having to worry about formatting since it will manage an awful lot in post processing. I love this app and tell everyone trying to write anything about it. I use it and I’m getting better at it. You can gen your book directly into an ePub ebook format. It can be better so I’m hoping that these guys keep it going.
  • ScreenFlow – Video editing is super hard. Screenflow makes it super easy. You can do some pretty cool things with multi-camera views, addition of text and much more. I’ve probably only plumbed about 10% of everything it can do but I’m thrilled with it. When you go to make your final video it is super fast and super simple. I would recommend that most people just start with this.
  • Final Cut Pro X – This is the grand poo-bah of video editing on the Mac. Sure there are others, but this is a good one. For long time video editors, they are frustrated with the BIG change in interface as Apple slowly tries to make all of their platforms & software work together better. But I only knew this NEW interface. I would actually counsel against using this software EXCEPT for bigger projects where you want to do a more craftsmen-like quality project. For the more artsy projects, then this is incredible. I’ve only learned about 3% of what is in this tool, but I have it and will use it again. I’ll need by big bad boy Terabyte flashdrive Mac Book Pro to really make this thing sing. So to recap, for workman like practical projects use ScreenFlow. For craftsman project, use Final Cut. By the way, HBO and others do complete shows on Final Cut. That is how amazing it is.
  • Keynote – I love it and prefer it over Powerpoint – except the luddites in the tech world only use Powerpoint. You can get Powerpoint for your Mac, but I won’t let it have bullet because I’m an Apple fan boy – mostly. I think Keynote is faster, has better graphics, and better transitions.
  • Pages – Mac’s equivalent to Microsoft Word. Not near as powerful, but for 99% of what you need to do it is not bad. Last I checked it had a big miss – no mailmerge – but who uses mail anymore? In my opinion it is easier to use and faster too. I like that you can create ePub’s from it but I’m going to use Scrivener in the future to do that. One advantage of using Pages to create ePub’s is that it will resize your pictures smaller. So that might help make a smaller file. I also use it to create graphics in the 8×11 format aspect ratio that makes nice looking covers. Read about that here.
  • Preview – This comes on most Macs and is pretty incredible. A “secret” feature is that it can create JPGs from the graphics you have in the copy-paste buffer. This is an INCREDIBLE feature and I use the pee out of it. You can also annotate JPGs & others without being a graphics program expert which saves me lots of time. I recommend you become friends with Preview.
  • Garageband – A solid program for editing AUDIO. I don’t do too much of that, but when I do, Garageband is what I use. It can output both MP3 and AAC files so it is very useful.
  • Audio Equipment Package – While this isn’t a set of apps, you gotta have all this to make your audio sound good. I thought it would be useful to have a nice list of handy items to have for audio AND in your bag to make your Mac totally useful at a moments notice.
    • Plantronics headset – Use this with Screenflow or when using Skype, Lync or other voip communications service. I got it from Amazon and don’t regret it. It requires a small doodad to get it working which is USB2Audio. This headset is made for PCs so it can do double duty which is what I like.
    • Audio Technica USB to audio converter – Plug into USB port and then plug any 3.5″ audio connector into this. My 3.5″ audio port quit working on my Mac. I think from now on though I’ll use USB since the Mac seems to detect it better and adjust automatically better.
    • Plantronics USB Speakerphone – Completely AWESOME if you need to have an extended working session and want both hands free and not to have a cumbersome headphone. Audio quality continues to please me.
    • Just in case – Mac 3.5″ to PC style analog only convertor – This will come in handy for sure so have one in your bag. I do and I use it all the time, especially to plug into my cell phone which doesn’t have a USB connector.
    • YETI USB studio-like Microphone – Ok. This is probably overkill. But I have it. I think the Plantronics is just as good. Honestly, I don’t think you would need this, but the audio quality is stellar on this. The downside is that it is MUCH bigger than the Plantronics. However, the Yeti would be great for studios that you can keep the equipment set up all the time.
  • TextWrangler – Apple’s Textedit is not good enough to write software. You can’t use Page, MSWord or other non-code-writing packages to do it. TextWrangler works really great for writing code. I use it to make custom software for RV52.com which uniquifies RV52.com to the RV industry. I make custom PHP/Wordpress templates using it. I find it reliable, serviceable and quick and easy. Many wizards would point out a program called emacs which is built into the Apple, but unless you use it regularly you forget its commands. I could not run my website without this.
  • Cyberduck – You could use some built-in Apple FTP tool, but honestly if you only use that occasionally you forget the commands. With Cyberduck I can interface with my servers and upload software via something called FTP. It is simple, easy to use, and does more than I ever need.
  • iMovie – I do use iMovie. I keep using it because I know how. I probably should NOT split my time between iMovie and ScreenFlow but I do. iMovie is present on most Macs for free. Sometimes you may have to pay if you have a really old Mac. Not sure on that one.
  • Aerofly – This has nothing to do with creativity. This is a program I use to practice flying my radio control airplane. It is a unique use so I thought I would share it.
  • Skype – I use this to communicate with people when you might need to share screens, show programs, talk, and share ideas. Works with the hardware above.
  • iTunes Producer – You can’t get books up to Apple without this. It is critical to have for eBooks.
  • Evernote – Just a great place to put notes and stuff. It tries to organize your stuff when things are impossible to organize! I only really use its notes. I don’t do anything fancy with it. I’m a rookie at Evernote.
  • JustCloud – I maintain a backup on the internet via a company called JustCloud. It seems expensive, but to me it is cheap insurance. We used to use USB attached hard drives, but they would not survive a fire. Also I could not get the backed up data remotely. I tried Carbonite but I could not get it to work. JustCloud has been super reliable. Friends don’t let friends compute without backups!

Anyway, hope this helps. Also if you use these programs you can get help from me too. I am only human and have limits, but you just never know.

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The Giant Cowboy Boots of Wimberley Texas – a Photographic Scavenger Hunt http://rv52.com/the-giant-cowboy-boots-of-wimberley-texas-a-photographic-scavenger-hunt/ http://rv52.com/the-giant-cowboy-boots-of-wimberley-texas-a-photographic-scavenger-hunt/#respond Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:01:55 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41221 On a recent trip to Wimberley to get away from the hectic Austin my wife and I decided to go capture all of the giant cowboy boots that were scattered around Wimberley. The boots were an idea put together to showcase the western charm and artistic “bent” of Wimberley. Wimberley itself is an amazing city […]

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On a recent trip to Wimberley to get away from the hectic Austin my wife and I decided to go capture all of the giant cowboy boots that were scattered around Wimberley.

The boots were an idea put together to showcase the western charm and artistic “bent” of Wimberley. Wimberley itself is an amazing city of artisans. Not just painters, but artists of all kinds – sculpters of all types – brass, copper, other metals, clay, marble and junk – yes junk. Painters, mosaic makers, and almost anyone visually oriented you can think of.

Then there are the actors and actresses – there are several venues for live plays in Wimberley.

Even when we visited the Wimberley Trade Days, as we walked along the paths visiting the booths of the artisans you see amazing things. One such thing is that over the last three years there is a boy playing blues guitar and singing. He sings no matter how rainy, hot or in-climate the weather might be. Over three years, I can hear a real musician develop. I’m sure I’ll be hearing about him someday. He seems to have the moxie and is putting in the practice time to be great.

On another visit, Sheri and I were just sitting in the local coffee shop and we started to talk up an attractive gal hoping to get the internet password. It turns out that people you just talk up are famous folks. This gal’s name was Bonnie Bishop and she can do things with her voice that ought to be outlawed in several states. More on Bonnie in another article though…

Today I just want to share the boots with you…

Enjoy.

The "A Rose by any other Name" Cowboy Boot The Weekends with Grandpa Cowboy Boot The Timeless Cowboy Boot The Year of the Horse Cowboy Boot The East meets West Cowboy Boot The Cactus and Lace Cowboy Boot The After Midnight Cowboy Boot The Bountiful Boot Cowboy Boot The Cacti Sunset Cowboy Boot The Body Bootiful Cowboy Boot The Cotton Eyed Koi Cowboy Boot The Turn the Boot Around Cowboy Boot The HIll Country Birds Cowboy Boot The H.O.T Cowboy Boot The Well Heeled Cowboy Boot The Yellow Rose of Wimberley Cowboy Boot The Bootique Cowboy Boot The Gingerboot House Cowboy Boot The Made in America Cowboy Boot The Layers Cowboy Boot The Bootleggers Cowboy Boot The "Stars at Night" Cowboy Boot The Eternal Harmony Cowboy Boot The Over Rover Cowboy Boot The Picnic Cowboy Boot The Boot Hill Cowboy Boot The Wild West Cowboy Boot The Spirit of Wimberley Cowboy Boot The Kickin Round Wimberley Cowboy Boot The Hill Country Landscapes Cowboy Boot The Homegrown Music Cowboy Boot

 

Everyone of these boots is quite beautiful. We sure enjoyed seeing every one of them.

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The Ultimate Companion RV Users Manual – 5th Wheel Edition http://rv52.com/the-ultimate-companion-rv-users-manual-5th-wheel-edition/ http://rv52.com/the-ultimate-companion-rv-users-manual-5th-wheel-edition/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:14:17 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41183 Hello RVers. A new masterpiece has been created by RV52.com. OK. Maybe not a masterpiece, but it is something that I think will be really really helpful for RVers. I call it The Ultimate Companion RV Users Manual – 5th Wheel Edition. My goal with this book is to make the 5th wheel seem a […]

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Hello RVers.

A new masterpiece has been created by RV52.com.

OK. Maybe not a masterpiece, but it is something that I think will be really really helpful for RVers.

I call it The Ultimate Companion RV Users Manual – 5th Wheel Edition.

My goal with this book is to make the 5th wheel seem a lot less daunting. I’ve noticed that too many people give you TOO much information or talk down to you. Not me.

I’ve made this book really, really simple with TONS of pictures. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then this book is HUGE. I put in pictures of most of the major components of an RV. Then I put in a nice description of each item and some ins/outs that will help people out.

I call it companion because I don’t document everything. First that is impossible. Secondly, there are other great sources for that like the interwebs, the manufacturer’s manual, and the individual components manuals. No, I just try to give you the info you need to put each thing into context.

I’ve constructed this book from all of my other books PLUS a ton of new content.

You can find it on Apple iBooks and Amazon as well. I don’t list them here because it is better if you buy from me directly. Why? Because if I make updates, I’ll notify you. No such luck with the other guys.

Here is who might be able to benefit from this book:

  • People JUST thinking about buying a 5th wheel
  • People who JUST purchased a 5th wheel
  • RV dealers who want to help out their customers (I can provide special coupons to dealers)
  • RV manufacturers who might want to help their customers (I can provide a coupon to mfgrs)

Check it out!

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The Smokin Hot Blonde in my Dream (totally safe for work) http://rv52.com/smokin-hot-blonde-dream-totally-safe-work/ http://rv52.com/smokin-hot-blonde-dream-totally-safe-work/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 12:50:48 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=41145 Hello RVers, I had a dream last night. It really was a dream. It was SO significant that I thought I’d tell you about it. Before I say much more about my dream, I thought I would point out that DREAMS are in your head. My dreams occur in my own personal real estate. Therefore, […]

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Hello RVers,

I had a dream last night. It really was a dream. It was SO significant that I thought I’d tell you about it.

Before I say much more about my dream, I thought I would point out that DREAMS are in your head. My dreams occur in my own personal real estate. Therefore, it just seems to me that dreams ought to go pretty much like you want them to, within reason.

On to the dream…

In my dream, I’m in some sort of Antebellum style mansion where the porch with big columns is facing to the west. I’m standing on that porch looking out at the sunset. The sunset is astounding in its beauty.

There was a breeze and it was cool on my skin. I was just slightly chilly. As I looked out from the porch into the sunset, there was no ground, water, or anything else that I can remember. It might have been there, but it is a detail I can’t remember.

I was by myself.

As I was standing there, a blonde, maybe 25 years old walks up from behind me and wraps her arms around my arms and then leans her head on my shoulders.

Now mind you, this was NO ordinary blonde. This was Kate Upton level. She had on a low cut white, snowy, snowy white sweater. The sweater was the fluffy type – very high end and it did nothing except accentuate the buxomness of this incredible vision of God on earth. She was like looking into heaven.

As we were standing up, we both got tired of standing and I sat down on the porch steps. She sat down right beside me still hanging on.

As we’re together, I can feel the softness of her skin. I feel her curves. I feel the warmth emanating from her. For me, a 100% red blooded man, I believe I told her something like how wonderful her warmth felt.

Then she looked into my eyes. Our eyes just looked into each others eyes. Time stood still for that very minute. A million places to be on earth, but this was THE place to be.

I longed to hear her voice.

And I did.

As she was gazing into my eyes she said “You remind me of my grand-dad.”

And then she looked back out towards the sunset.

About then the alarm went off. I think I woke up just a little bit mad.

Even in my dreams, time fades away on me. Even my own personal mental real-estate is telling me I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

I never hear people talking about it. I wonder – do other people mourn the passing of their youth?

Rarely do I remember dreams, but this one… it has burned itself into my memory.

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Understanding RV Model Numbering – Quick Notes http://rv52.com/little-things-ive-learned-about-rv-naming/ http://rv52.com/little-things-ive-learned-about-rv-naming/#respond Sun, 25 Jan 2015 03:15:00 +0000 http://rv52.com/2010/03/12/little-things-ive-learned-about-rv-naming/ This might seem like a silly post, but here are some little things about how recreational vehicles might be named or what the little designations might be in their model numbers. Understanding RV model numbers makes RV shopping much much easier. It will also help you to get a bogey on price without actually talking […]

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This might seem like a silly post, but here are some little things about how recreational vehicles might be named or what the little designations might be in their model numbers. Understanding RV model numbers makes RV shopping much much easier. It will also help you to get a bogey on price without actually talking with anyone – just for quick mental notes of course.

I don’t think this is a hard and fast set of rules, but this should get you close.
SS = Super Slide
FK = Front Kitchen
RK = Rear Kitchen
RL = Rear Living
FL = Front Living
Q = Queen bed somewhere
K = Kitchen somewhere, many times this is used to show off the outdoor kitchen.
RE = Rear Entertainment (not much different from rear living)
BH = bunk house (extra beds for kids – not for example the kitchen table converting into a bed)
Once you know this code, then you can start to figure out the other variants manufacturers use.
The numbers in the model number seem to come in two varieties – One number that is more like square footage and one that is simply the length of the unit. Typically, you can tell them apart because square footage has an extra digit.
392 = 392 square feet. I think it counts the slides extended.
292 = 292 square feet.
29 = 29 feet (29 * 8) = the real square footage.
Now that you know the numbers and the letters, you can very quickly understand an RV and have a pretty good idea of what is in store for you.
Examples of different RV model numbers and what they translate to as near as I can tell:
  • Puma 19-RL — 19 foot rear living travel trailer
  • Puma 23-RBFQ — 23 foot Rear Bunk (or bath) Front Queen. This one actually is 28 feet long so the 23 doesn’t make much sense, but I think you could also think of it as a way to “sort” the product line from smallest to biggest with length as an approximation. In other words – don’t get too hung up on it.
  • Puma 28-RBSS — 28 foot (approx) rear bath super slide.
  • Puma 31-RDKS — 31 foot (actually 34) rear dining kitchen slide.
  • Keystone 288RLS — 288 sq ft (appxo 32feet x 8 feet wide) rear living slide
  • Keystone 330RBK — 330 sq ft rear bunk (outside) kitchen.

Of course these are my guesses – they  don’t really tell me, but I think I’m pretty close overall. Now that you have at least a partial decoder ring, the models can mean a little be more and be more useful to you. It isn’t a perfect scheme, but I think you’ll find it handy.

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RV ing lite – Things you really NEED in an RV for a good experience http://rv52.com/rv-ing-lite-things-really-need-rv-good-experience/ http://rv52.com/rv-ing-lite-things-really-need-rv-good-experience/#respond Sun, 18 Jan 2015 15:34:29 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39583 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) There is an old Zen saying – “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” What that means is that even though you may have really arrived at the pinnacle of mental states and internal peace, life still goes on. You still […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - Thx for making a list of the things we NEED in our RV - http://rv52.com/?p=39583

There is an old Zen saying – “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” What that means is that even though you may have really arrived at the pinnacle of mental states and internal peace, life still goes on. You still need to perform some basics.

The same applies for the Spartan RVer. You may have reduced your lifestyle, but you still need to have some things. Not all things are bad. The whole idea is to have what you need and very little else. It is NOT to have nothing.

There are some items that I would consider so important that I would say they are essential. Some of these things would be on my “essential” list.

* Scanner/Printer combination – I have been using Epsons for several years and have found them more reliable, easier to use, and longer lasting than Canon’s and HP’s. This is critically important because it is a portal in and out of your digital life. You have to be able to scan things. I like a scanner much better than digital photographs from your cell phone. They are much smaller, better auto cropped, and don’t get mixed in with your personal photographs. You get to avoid sorting pictures on your computer. I also think you need a printer. I’m always printing something – without a printer the inconvenience factor would be really, really high.

* Computer Laptop – I think a computer is essential. It stores your digital life. It is a communications portal. You can share your digital life with it. You can order things with it. You can do things with your computer that you can’t do with a smartphone or a tablet. Plus isn’t it nice to have a keyboard? I cannot, under any circumstance other than editing video, see the need for a desktop computer. A laptop should do it.

* Cell phones – I think this is critical. I for one would not live without a smart phone since it can get rid of so many other things like GPS, Cameras, Camcorders, Voice Recorders, and more and more and more. These things really are amazing.

* Backups – There is no real way to stress how important backups are. You CANNOT successfully back up your equipment to disk drives inside your RV.  If your RV burns down you are toast because your originals AND your backups will be destroyed. We backup things to a 3rd party, OFF SITE company called JustCloud.  I give them my strongest possible recommendation – click here to learn more about JustCloud – It works on pretty much everything: Mac, PC, Linux, Android, IOS, and heaven knows what else. I use it every day. I feel quite confident that my stuff is very, very safe.

* RVing items that are awfully handy to have when you need them:

  • Stinky Slinky
  • Stinky Slinky adapters of all kinds.
  • 30 Amp Cable / 50 Amp Cable
  • 30 to 50 and 50 to 30 Amp adapters
  • Drinking water hose.
  • Extra water hose.
  • Kitchen water pitcher that filters your water
  • Emergency whole RV water filter

* Modest Toolbox – I recommend a tool box with a reasonable set of tools. It is important to clearly draw the line between RVer and RV repair specialist. The RVer has enough tools to do the basics and knows how to use a phone. The RV repair specialist has an entire truck full of tools. A reasonable set of tools might be:

  • Pliers & Vise Grips
  • Crescent Wrench – focus on adjustable tools rather than complete sets – this reduces weight and space.
  • Screwdriver Set, modest though – focus on manual drivers to save weight
  • Hammer
  • Tire wrench – just make sure you have one somewhere
  • Jack – just confirm you have one
  • Electric Air Pump – Make sure it can go pretty high in PSI.
  • Tire Pressure Gauge -You’ll need this.
  • Teflon Joint Tape – Lots of water hoses on an RV. This comes in really handy.
  • Small Voltmeter – Excellent for measuring battery voltages and checking RV Parks electrical outlets BEFORE you connect.
  • If you think I’ve missed something, send me a note.

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Storage – Circling the Globe Several Times Over http://rv52.com/storage-circling-globe-several-times/ http://rv52.com/storage-circling-globe-several-times/#respond Sun, 11 Jan 2015 16:49:25 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39541 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) One of the options that RVers might consider for downsizing their life is storage. Their logic is that for a nominal monthly fee, they can keep their stuff in storage, and then when they end their adventures, they simply buy an empty house, fill it […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

One of the options that RVers might consider for downsizing their life is storage.

Their logic is that for a nominal monthly fee, they can keep their stuff in storage, and then when they end their adventures, they simply buy an empty house, fill it up with stuff and shazzam, they are back in business just like they left it.

Tweet This:@rv52 - I love my storage - you are a big meanie! - http://rv52.com/?p=39541
Tweet This:@rv52 - I agree - storage sheds are hoarding done neatly - http://rv52.com/?p=39541

Personally I don’t like this option.

However, it does avoid RE-purchasing furniture which is usually done at retail prices, while selling furniture is done at Craigslist fire-sale prices.

But in exchange for avoiding the RE-purchase it also allows everything you own to deteriorate in storage while you travel. Some of your stuff may be so hopelessly out of date when you return that you don’t want it. I’m thinking about TVs & VCRs which might have been pretty useful going in, but the HDTV and DVD revolution killed them.

Also, it seems very silly to spend $50-$150 / month in storage costs to keep your stuff. After two or three years in storage, you could easily be down three, four, or five thousand dollars in storage costs. I don’t get understand people would do that? My theory has to do with an idea that it is hard to “let go” for people.

If your stuff was SUPER valuable, like Picasso paintings that might make sense – but if you have that kind of juice, you really don’t need to downsize because you can afford to simply add RVing onto your life. You would keep you home in the Hamptons, right?

But the really, really big reason that you should avoid storage is that it is very unhealthy for you.

Storage is unhealthy for two reasons.

1) You leave a little piece of you behind inside your storage shed. That may not be much, but if your goal is to truly live and travel with complete freedom, total experiential immersion and 100% presence, then you can’t leave pieces of you scattered around.

2) This is related to #1, but just slightly different in an important and subtle way. If materialism is an illness in modern North American society, then perhaps absence of materials is an antidote. If you could learn to live without, learn to live light, clearly define your true needs and stay within those boundaries… then maybe just maybe when you return from RVing you might be surprised that you are the most mentally healthy and well adjusted person that you know. So not having storage might teach you that you simply don’t need those things, even when you have the space for them. That might be a very freeing thing indeed.

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Worry is Worship http://rv52.com/worry-worship/ http://rv52.com/worry-worship/#respond Sun, 04 Jan 2015 16:53:53 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39543 (an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) Just for a minute, I’ll get a little bit Biblical. For those of you who are not Christian, don’t be offended, there is some really great stuff in there. But I wanted to pick out just two verses from the most popular book in history. It also […]

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(an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Just for a minute, I’ll get a little bit Biblical. For those of you who are not Christian, don’t be offended, there is some really great stuff in there. But I wanted to pick out just two verses from the most popular book in history. It also happens to be a book in which I believe what it says – particularly when it is highlighted in red.

Matthew 6:27 – And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Tweet This:@rv52 - Matthew 6:27 - And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? -http://rv52.com/?p=39543

Luke 12:34 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Tweet This:@rv52 - Luke 12:34 - For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -http://rv52.com/?p=39543

My wife has a saying… She says “Worry is worship.”

When you look at the two Bible verses, uttered by the greatest philosopher and teacher in the history of mankind, you should have trouble disagreeing. (Christian or not, most people can agree that Jesus was a pretty amazing dude, right?)

Your mental state – particularly one that is negatively oriented – simply cannot ADD to your life. Quite the opposite in fact. Negative emotion can be shown to produce elevated levels of cortisol.

Cortisol helps you handle stressful situations by readying your body with extra energy and power. That can be a good thing when you get these jolts of extra power only when you need them. But if you park your body in a continual state of chemical readiness, you actually will wear out your body. You are not meant to be at high alert at all times.

So if you have a bunch of stuff that you worry about, it isn’t adding to your life – worry can’t do that. Worse – it is killing you.

How do you handle this?

I’m reminded of a story about JP Morgan. In his day, around the turn to the 20th century, he was very very famous. An equivalent famous today MIGHT be Warren Buffet except JP Morgan was much more in the limelight than Mr. Buffet. JP was approached on the street by an investor who explained to Pierpont that he was having trouble sleeping at night because of the stock market. He then asked Pierpont what he should do. JP, without even skipping a beat told him “Sell off stock until you can sleep.”

JP Morgan, while very, very wealthy also knew that money was really just money. [ I read a really fantastic biography on JP Morgan here – The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance ]

The second quote speaks to the idea of being present.

If you have your treasures strewn all over the country your heart will be strewn all over the country too. By heart, it means parts and bits of your mind.

Lets say you say “Just because it is in the Bible does not make it so.”

Ok. Fine.

But what if it is true. For example, you lets say you are enjoying life down in Biloxi. Having fun on the beach, gambling, drinking fine wine, and carrying on without a worry at all. Then the 10th of the month rolls by and you forgot about the payment to the storage place. So then they call you and give you some crap and say they are going to sell off your storage unit. You are able to fix everything, but now on the 10th of every month you carry that little bit of worry. You might even have a nice Steinway piano in the storage shed. But now you have in the back of your head worries about humidity and rodents. So you NEVER really get free of the stuff. Remember you put it in storage in the first place because you assigned so much value to it you wanted to keep it.

No matter what you believe about the Bible, the wisdom in the verse is rock solid. It gets worse if you have a house that you just kept. You’d worry sick about broken pipes, windows, burglars, and more.

So now lets bring this all together.

All your worrying, all your mindshare, all that energy that you devote to your stuff represents your attention. It represents mental energy. It represents focus – or for the things other than your stuff it represents a loss of focus. But if the application of focus, even in a small way, could be interpreted as a kind of adoration, then that starts to track with the Webster definition of worship.

And if your time is spent worrying about your stuff, then your worry is indeed, worship.

I don’t know about you, but worshipping at the altar of stuff, particularly fungible replaceable stuff that no one will care about when you die, is time NOT well spent.

What is the entire point of this story? To encourage people to break any emotional attachments to things. The better you can do this, the healthier mentally you will be.

The better you can do this, the easier downsizing your physical footprint into an RV will be.

 

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Biggest impediment to RV ing – The House – Thoughts from RV52 http://rv52.com/biggest-impediment-rv-ing-house-thoughts-rv52/ http://rv52.com/biggest-impediment-rv-ing-house-thoughts-rv52/#respond Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:55:18 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39563 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) Not a lot of answers in this short article. But maybe, just maybe, somehow, this will help you by giving you different perspectives. Some of the perspectives might be contradictory, but again, maybe something will stick. In the United States home ownership is a cornerstone […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - Nice article on ideas around house economics - http://rv52.com/?p=39563

Not a lot of answers in this short article. But maybe, just maybe, somehow, this will help you by giving you different perspectives. Some of the perspectives might be contradictory, but again, maybe something will stick.

In the United States home ownership is a cornerstone of the US idea of middle class wealth creation. It has many special provisions in the US tax code. That makes the idea of a home a “bigger deal” in the US than in other countries, but it is a big deal in other countries too.

The whole idea of the Spartan RV is to really get you MIND wrapped around the idea that possessions just are not that important. That you can simply trade money for possession and back again is a pretty fundamental idea too. You just can’t fall in love with a thing. At the end of this book, if you feel a little bit detached from things and you want to go hug lots of people, then maybe I’ve done my job.

But the Spartan RV is NOT a book on managing your money. It is only about refining your feeling towards money and things.

But the house… it is the most thorny of the RV issues.

A house isn’t just a physical possession. Think about it. The first question out of people’s mouths almost anywhere in the world is “where are you from?” or “where do you live?”. That ties back into the idea of a house. A house is roots. It is belonging. It is being.

Even in the RVer parlance, almost everyone has a home-base. Home base is where a stuck on the ground permanent house is usually located. It is almost as if RVers think of their RVing as a temporary journey – a “going out”. Similar to St Paul’s treks through the middle east. St Paul always returned to his home base – except for the Rome part at the end. But everyone always wants to return.

There are LOTS of reasons to return, right? Children. Grandchildren. Cousins. Family. Friends. Those are pretty good reasons and I can’t fault a single one of them. Shoot – my secret fantasy is that my kids want to live on my 5 acres in their own little houses and we make a “compound” and do internet marketing together. Stupid I know, but don’t all of us parents secretly want the family to be this big happy kumbaya?

Take away the family aspect and aren’t you left with only friends and familiarity as the reason you return? Are those two things good enough?

Is the idea of “place” so ingrained in the human experience that we are fighting our inner being of who we are?

So if you can get to a financial place in your life where you are free from geography, can you truly be free to live without a home base?

I can’t answer any of these things.

But I can help you through some ideas about what to do with your home and how to keep it from holding you back. In NO WAY is this a complete treatment of the aspects of home ownership and finance, but maybe just maybe it will help you get over the hump or break loose some ideas.

A reader of my blog (http://rv52.com/the-official-rv52-com-blog/) wrote me one time saying that he was upside down on his house and that was a big impediment to RVing.

Just in case someone doesn’t know what “upside down” means, it really means that to sell his house, he may actually need to cough up money. It means you OWE more on the house than the house is worth. There might be an in-between idea where the house is worth less than you paid for it, but you still got some money back after paying off the mortgage.

For that reader, he is in a tough pickle because unless he has the money to pay off the mortgage he really is stuck with owning a home until he can make good on his loan commitment. You should always make good on your commitments with no exceptions. If you don’t then you are wrecking our country.

But that reader still has options.

You could rent out your house. You can use a property manager to do the heavy lifting on the renting. Property managers get 8-10% of the yearly rents to do this work – about a month’s rent. Get a good one if you can. No, really, get a really good one that you can trust. Otherwise your house could get tore up.

When renting your house – set your expectations accordingly. You’ll get an occasional headache from renting. You might make a little monthly extra cash, but probably not. More likely you’ll get close to covering your mortgage and your taxes. If you can have a long term successful run of renting you might end up with a paid-off property which is an excellent goal.

If the house can mostly cover its expenses, even if you are upside down, at least you’ll be somewhat close to not having to cough up money.

Be prepared to have a fund for paying 2-3 months rent and swapping out a carpet and painting occasionally.

You could just sell and pay off the mortgage by coming up with a little money. That requires some nerves of steel, but let me explain the ideas behind this crazy move.

If being underwater with your house is keeping you in place and your dream is to be on the road I have news for you. You will die someday. Be very careful about not living your life trying to recover a little bit of money. As you get older, this becomes more imperative.

Lots of people say – “I’m waiting to sell until the market improves”. But here is the scoop. At any one time your asset is worth exactly what it is worth now. If you don’t want to sell your house and take a loss but 15 other asset classes will provide a better return on the money, then it is better to sell the house and put the money in a different asset class (bonds, stocks, CD’s, T-bills, gold, pork bellies, and on and on).

Here is an example. You buy the house for $120K. It is now worth $100K. Based on the real estate market in your location, in five years it will be worth $120K again. However, you can find a CD earning 5% (this is just an example). In 5 years the CD will be worth $125K which means you would be worth more than the house. I’m ignoring all sorts of things like tax considerations or the idea that you need a place to live, but you can see what I mean, right? The QUESTION should never have been about how much money you lost, the QUESTION needs to be: what is the best place to put $100K to invest.

If you had to cough up the $20K in the example above then you look at the differential in value between what the $20K was making (CD @ 5%) versus mortgage loan at 7%. You would still be better off paying the $20K and getting an effective return of 7% on the money, which is 2% better.

Secretly – maybe not so secretly – I’m also a partial believer in the Dave Ramsey no debt is good good debt concept. If you want to sell your house and RV and the house debt is holding you back, then you have to attack it.

In general, freedom with no money is better than debt servitude with complexity and an asset that needs care and feeding.

Freedom is always better.

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Being Present Now – Mindful RV ing http://rv52.com/present-now-mindful-rv-ing/ http://rv52.com/present-now-mindful-rv-ing/#respond Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:09:20 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39553 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) This may be the single most important chapter of this entire book. Once you are free from place, time, and worry, you can focus less on being free FROM something and focus on being free FOR something. There may be no better thing to be free […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - I LOVE LOVE LOVE the EXPERIENCES of peace that RVing gives me - http://rv52.com/?p=39553

This may be the single most important chapter of this entire book.

Once you are free from place, time, and worry, you can focus less on being free FROM something and focus on being free FOR something.

There may be no better thing to be free FOR than simply enjoying the moment you are in 100%.

I suppose it is the most cliche’d item in the last 5 years, but mastery of it can bring to your life a fullness of experience that few people ever achieve.

It is “being present”. People also might say “being in the moment”, “being in the now”, “creating the space” between people, “listening intently”.

There are already FANTASTIC resources that touch on this subject in a big way. I’ll give it a layman’s treatment, but before I get started, I’ll list some of the resources where you can go very deep on the subject:

Before getting into the real benefits of “being present” I just want to poke on how prevalent the topic is in mainstream culture – probably because it is so important.

In one of the Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is training with Yoda on Yoda’s crazy dark forest planet. In several of the training sessions, Yoda reveals to us his amazement of Luke’s powers, but just as Yoda is getting blown away, Luke’s disbelief causes him to not finish the exercise completely. Yoda chastises Luke for “always having his mind elsewhere”.

An example of just how critical and easily detectable “being present” is by another person came from the Queen of England. When speaking about Prime Minister William Gladstone she said “When I am with him, I feel I am with one of the most important leaders in the world.” However, regarding Benjamin Disraeli she mentioned that “He makes me feel as if I am one of the most important people in the world.” This can only be caused by truly being an active listener. My guess is that if you make the queen of England feel important then good things happen. No need to resort to puffery, simply be interested.

What are the benefits of “being present now”?

  • Better love life
  • Deeper friendships
  • Massively increased learning
  • Increased enjoyment of every day
  • Tons of ancillary benefits such as longer life, better health, better career opportunities, increased business, and on and on.
  • People just might attend your funeral

I can’t possibly dive into all of these, but lets take just a few and go over them.

Better Love Life – Think about this. All partners really want is for someone to love them 100% and pay attention to them. This means that when they speak, you put down the iPhone and you listen. You don’t look over their shoulder or glance at things around the room. Don’t stare either, you can watch different parts of their face and not appear psycho. Be sure to blink or you’ll appear psycho, but be intent on them. Mentally imagine there is a tunnel between the two of you that communications passes back and forth. Do this as much as you can and your partner will say things like “I’m really glad we had a nice talk tonight.” How about “You really made me feel special tonight.” When your partner senses that you value them, then you will get that back several times over. Yes some marriages are troubled. But most people earnestly want to be successful. Stop waiting for the other person to go first.

How does freeing yourself from stuff help? Easy! It is pretty hard to create that space between you and your lover if you are checking stock quotes on your iPhone. You’ll get no bonus points when you partner is asking you questions or checking your understanding and your mind was drifting to your classic car under the cover back at home. No, stop all those thoughts and focus. It will be worth it.

Better Friendships – This is like Better Love Life except it is with people who are not your lovers.

Massively Increased Learning – When you learn, you intake information from your ears, your eyes, and some of your other senses. But 9 times out of 10, your learning will involve reading, audio, visual, or video transmission of information from the source to you.  When your mind is thinking about the snowstorm back home – worrying about the pipes freezing – it isn’t fully paying attention to the learning material. You are in effect making a connection with bunches of static. Just like a far away radio station, you cannot hear all the music because of the static. If you had to replay the song you couldn’t do so with perfect fidelity simply because you never heard the full song. But if you had a close by radio station you would have heard the entire song, including the subtle notes.

Just like a static filled radio station, so it is with your mind wandering while learning. Worrying about stuff, or anything for that matter is simply static.

Logically, if you paid for the information, why would you pay and then not pay attention. That doesn’t even make sense. You would have purchased maybe $100 of information or learning and only got $50 of it – and it was YOU who decided to make the bad bargain.

Don’t do it. Leave your stuff behind. When you are ready to learn – learn without static!

Increased Enjoyment of Every Day – When you are fully present – when you are fully in the here and now – you can experience all that life on earth has to offer.

Just waking up, when you mind is focused on the very moment you are in, you can taste the coffee more completely, the subtle flavors are completely revealed to you. Stepping outside of the RV into the brisk air of the majestic beauty of the world, you nostrils can really take in the scent of the pine. You sense the hint of flowers in the air. You step boldly one foot in front of the other. You can sense your heart beat pickup as you start to walk. For the first time in years you truly hear the birds and the animals of the area.

None of this is possible when your mind isn’t focused on where you are at that very moment.

Why shouldn’t something so simple as cup of coffee be truly enjoyed. Beans harvested from the plants by human hands, dried, roasted, packaged, shipped, bought and sold, ground, brewed, and served. The fact that you get to enjoy it so far away is a miracle. It is the work of many many people. Hurrying through your cup unappreciatively is disrespectful.

People might attend your funeral – If you are a great lover (not just in the Biblical sense), a great friend, and find joy in all that life has to offer, then people will want to be around you. On your final curtain on this earth, they will find time to send you off as well.

One of the rewards of being Spartan-like is that you mattered.

 

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RV ing the Spartan (lite) way – A framework for clothes http://rv52.com/rv-ing-spartan-lite-way-framework-clothes/ http://rv52.com/rv-ing-spartan-lite-way-framework-clothes/#respond Sun, 14 Dec 2014 15:27:48 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39579 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) Clothes deserve a topic all by themselves. Surprisingly, clothes are very, very heavy. They also take up a fair amount of room. Clothes are also a big part of identifying who we are in the world. The neatness and cleanness of clothes also signal who we […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - Thx for popping my shoe-bubble. Darn you! -http://rv52.com/?p=39579

Clothes deserve a topic all by themselves.

Surprisingly, clothes are very, very heavy. They also take up a fair amount of room.

Clothes are also a big part of identifying who we are in the world. The neatness and cleanness of clothes also signal who we are to the world.

To be Spartan-like with clothes you must utilize balance. You should have just enough clothes, but not any more!

Are you surprised that clothes are heavy? Here is an experiment. Weigh yourself with a normal outfit and shoes, then weigh yourself naked. You’ll be very surprised at the difference. It could easily be as high as 5 pounds.

Multiply 5 pounds TIMES 40 outfits. That is 200 pounds of clothes! If your significant other has just as much clothes, now you have upwards of a 500 pound clothing weight inside of an RV. Remember, that some RVs might even have a carrying capacity of no more than 500 pounds.

You must watch the weight at all times. Especially if you are going to live in the RV full time.

I think the same rules should apply to clothes as they do to everything else, with some slight caveats.

* If it is casual clothing – you should wear it once every two weeks. I recommend having a 2 week supply of clothes before you need to launder clothes.

* You can wear your blue jeans more than one day so you don’t need a 1-to-1 blue jean to shirt mix.

* It is OK to a limited amount of special occasion clothing – perhaps 2 outfits for special occasions.

* Shoes – I’m sorry ladies – but you have to keep your shoe collection reasonable. I would shoot for 2 pairs of casual shoes, 2 pairs of bumping around sandals, a fitness shoe, and 2 pairs of nice shoes that can be worn with you 2 nice outfits and cross-over to some of the casual as well. That will give you plenty of choice without filling the RV up with shoes. Putting a shoe rack anywhere in an RV will affect your day to day living. Trust me I’ve done it.

* Husbands and Wives (or other similar co-habitation units) – Limit your TOTAL combined clothes collection to no more than what the closet can hold. If you have a full width closet that is the width of the RV then lets be realistic – let the lady have 60% of the space and you can take 40%. But under no circumstances should there be any clothes overflow except for the normal underwear, socks, and a small miscellaneous collection in a small set of drawers.

* If you have a travel trailer which has a right and left closet, there is no good way to give the lady more space. You’ll just have to each get one of them. (Hint to the ladies – a fifth wheel will serve you better if you have lots of clothes).

* Underneath the bed storage – Don’t fill it with clothes. The space is too juicy and if you’re not careful you’ll have lots of weight hidden under the bed.

The best “rule” I can give for keeping your RV Spartan-like in the clothing category is this – If you can’t fit it in your designated area for hanging clothes then you probably shouldn’t have it.

 

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RV ing and a philosophy of LESS – consistent with most forms of spirituality http://rv52.com/rv-ing-philosophy-less-consistent-forms-spirituality/ http://rv52.com/rv-ing-philosophy-less-consistent-forms-spirituality/#respond Sun, 07 Dec 2014 17:11:50 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39555 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) Many, many people believe in something – some form of higher power. My personal bent is belief in some guy that died 2000 years ago, came back to life, and mediates between me and the creator of the universe. Some believe in Mohammed, some Buddha, some […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - I LOVE LOVE LOVE the EXPERIENCES of being present with my Creator that RVing gives me - http://rv52.com/?p=39555

Many, many people believe in something – some form of higher power. My personal bent is belief in some guy that died 2000 years ago, came back to life, and mediates between me and the creator of the universe. Some believe in Mohammed, some Buddha, some people are Hindu… there are many, many more religions and things to believe on this earth.

If I’m a betting man I must believe that you are a believer in one of those religions I’ve listed above. I could be wrong – don’t hold that against me – I’m just betting the odds.

Now assuming that you are in one of those belief systems – I have to believe that you also have to want to be better at whatever your religion is – a better Christian, a better Muslim, a better Jew or what have you. If you aren’t striving to improve, then you really might be a fake. Again I apologize.

Following my reasoning, given you want to improve yourself, given that you are probably in some form of belief system, then it goes to follow that nearly EVERY ONE of these religions has as a fundamental tenant that you should not accumulate stuff for the sake of accumulating stuff. Having substantially more than you need is immoral no matter what seat you are sitting in.

So by choosing a Spartan-like life you are also choosing to be closer and more consistent to your belief system.

Doesn’t that make attending your normal religious services feel that much better?

You bet it does.

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Freedom from Worry – Philosophy on Worry Free RV ing http://rv52.com/freedom-worry-philosophy-worry-free-rv-ing/ http://rv52.com/freedom-worry-philosophy-worry-free-rv-ing/#respond Sun, 30 Nov 2014 17:06:48 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39551 (this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) Worry. Defined roughly as a “state of anxiety” over actual or potential troubles. As I write this a storm is coming in. We recently bought a new car so we parked the car in a nearby parking ramp because we didn’t want hail to hurt the […]

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(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - I LOVE LOVE LOVE the independence RVing gives me! - http://rv52.com/?p=39551

Worry.

Defined roughly as a “state of anxiety” over actual or potential troubles.

As I write this a storm is coming in. We recently bought a new car so we parked the car in a nearby parking ramp because we didn’t want hail to hurt the finish of the very pretty car. But once we did it, we moved on and didn’t think anymore.

We DID worry about the hailstorm. We took action to address the WORRY. Once we implemented our plan of action, worry was released.

Worry that leads to action that leads to release of the worry could actually be good.

Some people worry that the stock market might go down. The problem is that they cannot control the stock market. Their worry cannot spur action. Well it could – they could sell the stock. Then they will worry that they are missing out on the market going up. People who worry about the stock market very likely will worry simple to worry.

If you are RVing in Florida having the time of your life and you are worried about the 6 feet of snow that could potentially break the roof on your house, you are being a slave to your house. You are TAKING FROM your joy of the current moment and placing mental energy on something you can’t control and cannot take any action to remedy short of double checking your insurance. This is a great example of how possessions can keep you a slave to worry.

Worry that spurs you to action is good worry. That worry is temporary. One of the most important words in the definition is the word “state”. The state of anxiety is a state that is fight or flight. When you are in a fight or flight mode, you will produce cortisol. Cortisol is good for short periods of time, but for extended periods of time, cortisol will shorten your life.

For you to effectively know if you need to downsize something you need to ask yourself “Will I be thinking about this [insert thing here] while I am a thousand miles away from here?” If the answer is yes, then you need to seriously consider exchanging the item for cash.

Note: If you exchange something for cash because you were going to worry about the thing, then worry that you are missing out in stock market returns, you might need professional help. Certainly the question has to be – what exactly is it that you want or need out of all this worry?

But if you can be free from worry, you can completely detox your body from cortisol, get yourself some sleep, and leave your troubles behind.

Wasn’t that why you bought your RV in the first place?

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RV ing Spartanism made easy – courtesy of your cell phone! http://rv52.com/rv-ing-spartanism-made-easy-courtesy-cell-phone/ http://rv52.com/rv-ing-spartanism-made-easy-courtesy-cell-phone/#respond Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:27:14 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39561 (an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) One of the neatest little handy tools that can be used for good or evil is a smart phone. If you still have a flip phone, you might consider switching because the smart phones are easy to make calls. No need to be afraid. It is just […]

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(an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

Tweet This:@rv52 - You might have convinced me to get a smartphone! Thx. - http://rv52.com/?p=39561

One of the neatest little handy tools that can be used for good or evil is a smart phone.

If you still have a flip phone, you might consider switching because the smart phones are easy to make calls. No need to be afraid. It is just that smartphones can do much more. They are expensive, but if you don’t do too much with your computer, a smart phone can completely replace your computer.

I own an Apple iPhone. My wife owns a Samsung Galaxy. The iPhone brings you into orbit around Apple, and the Galaxy brings you into orbit around Google. Nokia has a slick smart phone and it brings you into orbit around Microsoft. I’ve no experience  on the Microsoft side of things so can’t comment on them.

Buying a smartphone on ebay or Amazon is a dizzying experience and I would recommend going to your local phone store that you trust to get some guidance. You might not get as good of a deal, but then again, you are more likely to be happy that you got what you needed.

Now that you have a smart phone, here are the ways that the smart phone can simplify your life substantially, which is yet another form of Spartanism (utility per dollar or utility per trouble).

I’ll explain how I use my iPhone. You can reasonably assume there are similar things on the Android (Samsung Galaxy) front as well.

  • Eliminate clutter from business cards. I use the business card app called “ScanBizCards”. There are others. This one cost $1.99 which is basically the same as free. It does a good enough job that I haven’t hunted for others. After scanning, you can make corrections. Then (a critical step) you can send the business card to your Apple Address Book and it will be saved for you on your iCloud and then all your Apple devices. I use this a bunch.
  • Get rid of the paper address book. Honestly, you probably aren’t doing that good at keeping up on your paper book anyway. I keep ALL my addresses in my Apple Address Book. Furthermore, it keeps anniversary dates and birthdays and puts them on my calendar. If I cared more, I would send out cards. But there should be NO address book clutter laying around your house. Or post-it notes!
  • EBooks – You can read Apple iBooks, Kindle books, and Nook books on your iPhone. You can also read PDFs. You can use iBook app to manage your PDFs, which means when you put it in iBook it appears everywhere on your Apples due to iCloud. Very cool. I’m not recommending LOTS of reading on your smartphone, but if you are bored it comes in handy.
  • Music – All your music can be on your iPhone. If you have lots of music stored on your Mac, you might need an iPhone with lots of memory. I’ve found that more memory is always better. No exceptions.
  • Presentations for Work and Play – Any presentation you put on your iPhone, say it is stored in your Keynote iCloud or in your email, can simply be displayed via the iPhone. I’ve presented successfully at work. Now you can eliminate your large computer completely. Personally I won’t do that, but you could. If you are in sales this could be invaluable.
  • Banking – Eliminate all papers from your bank because banking apps have your records online. Never write checks again – so you can eliminate checks. Never go to the bank again because you can eliminate having to deposit checks. I’ve done all this. Most national banks have good banking apps with picture deposit. I would also recommend having Paypal installed on your iPhone as well. It is related to banking.
  • Eliminate Any Credit Card Machines – this is only if you are selling things at shows. If you don’t have the Paypal triangle or the “square” you are really in the stone ages. If you don’t accept credit cards, then I would have to question your business acumen. I’ve heard that accepting credit cards increases revenue by 63%. Yes you part with 1-4% but come on, can’t you build that in? What are you scared of?
  • Pedometer – Your smart phone can replace your pedometer. Then it is a superior pedometer because it can keep track over time.
  • Emergency Scanner – When you want to grab a “scan” of a piece of paper, use your phone. I like scans better for a number of reasons, but sometimes you need to grab a copy of something because you might not get it another way.
  • Camera – 95% of the pictures with modern smartphones are good enough. Unless you make money from pictures, be honest, get real and get rid of the digital camera. Make sure you get them off your phone, onto your computer, and backed up. I had a friend who dropped his phone and a truck ran over it seconds later and he lost 2-3 years of pictures. Please don’t let me say I told you so.
  • Camcorder – 60% of the videos you need are just find with a modern smartphone. Get rid of the camcorder too! It seems harsh, but lets get down to the essentials.
  • Voice notes. Yep. No need for a voice recorder. Lots of ways to do this. Just look for a good app. Apple has an OK app for this. Not great, just OK.
  • GPS – Yep. Get rid of the GPS device. Apple app is fairly good. Google’s app for mapping and navigation is amazing. You can also purchase offline apps from the appstore as well if you need navigation when out of cell phone range. This does become an issue so to be fair to GPS, the smartphone is not quite as good, but I think it is good enough. Just know the difference.
  • Get rid of all those stupid plastic cards. I use an app called “Key Ring” and have eliminated my Lowes, CVS, Walgreens, Randalls, Health Club, and about 20 other cards. You take a picture of the front and back. It is pretty amazing and I highly recommend it.

I could go on. Depending upon your profession, you can find many apps that can reduce your need for extra clutter. No it can’t be a hammer if you are in construction, but it can carry a version of plans, allow you to geo locate from virtual to real world, make measurements, and do other things that are amazing.

So make sure you use your smartphone as a tool to simplify your life. And like all tools, the more you use it the more valuable it becomes.

[ P.s. Make sure you back your phone up every few days, even with iCloud. Someday you’ll thank me. ]

 

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Who wants used kitchen gadgets http://rv52.com/wants-used-kitchen-gadgets/ http://rv52.com/wants-used-kitchen-gadgets/#respond Sun, 09 Nov 2014 16:42:17 +0000 http://rv52.com/?p=39539 Could have been called: Getting over your stuff so you can downsize and go RVing (excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV) I love kitchen gadgets. My wife loves kitchen gadgets even more. Food, and the kitchen, tie into our deepest reptilian brain in ways we don’t even know. Our feelings on friendship, comfort, safety, […]

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Could have been called: Getting over your stuff so you can downsize and go RVing

(excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)

I love kitchen gadgets. My wife loves kitchen gadgets even more.

Tweet This:@rv52 YOU try talking my spouse out of the gadgets - http://rv52.com/?p=39539

Food, and the kitchen, tie into our deepest reptilian brain in ways we don’t even know. Our feelings on friendship, comfort, safety, and family route through the idea of food. More than being necessary – food is a fundamental identifier of who we are.

Kitchen gadgets, implements, or appliances identify who we are.

Wine paraphernalia lets us say to the world, via visitors to our kitchen, that we are cultured, sophisticated, and very social.

Industrial looking refrigerators with the stainless steel doors, industrial looking cookstoves with bold burners, and a seriously big and varied pots and pans say that we are SERIOUS foodies. We prepare our food at home. We entertain lots of people. We are hardly bologna and Miracle Whip people.

But how much do we REALLY use.

Assuming we have all the stuff I described above, we probably only use maybe 2-5 different pans, tins, skillets, and more… EVER.

It is pretty likely too that bologna exists in our refrigerator. Or sliced ham. And most certainly a mayo or salad dressing-like product so we can slap together a sandwich.

For 95% of you the truth hurts. You blew all that money on things you don’t use but will look pretty good.

The good news: Some of the HIGHER end things like a copper pots or specialty skillets will convert to cash quite readily and you won’t be out much money at all.

The bad news: Toasters, coffee pots, toaster ovens, anything with the name Ronco… probably won’t convert well.

If you are going to downsize – these things gotta go.

In an RV, you are going to have a built-in refrigerator, a built-in small stove, likely three burners, a smaller built-in oven, and limited storage space. Pick the things you use AT LEAST once per week to keep from your BIG house kitchen. Everything else is wasted space and money.

That candy making pan you only use every third year to make peanut brittle – you can leave it behind.

When making fancy reductions or fooling with sautés, you might simply need to use a more mundane pan instead of a specialty pan.

In an RV, I don’t think this is about going without, it is making sure that the things you bring serve you well. It is better to wear one or two things out because they served triple duty than to have three things taking up space.

You simply must be relentless.

Heck, I’d even make the argument that a REAL gourmet chef can get it done when the equipment list is more limited.

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