Monday, November 30, 2015
My lovely wife go away for a few months and things change back in my home town. The most noticeable change was the half a dozen windmills on a nearby mountain. Pretty impressive. Back in September we saw the materials being assembled at a staging area. Since then they've been assembled.
Some people think windmills are unsightly, but what are the alternatives? Sure beats the heck out of mountain top removal to mine coal. The same people who complain about windmills certainly don't want to live without electric power.
People also complain about solar electric power because they don't want to look at the panels. What a delicate bunch of whiners! These are probably the same sort of folks who are offended by clotheslines.
Wouldn't it be great if those blocked alternative energy production lost the right to have electric power supplied at their homes? It's not fair that some community has to have a dirty coal plant but the bulk of the power gets shipped to rich distant communities?
I wonder how much of the locally generated power goes downstate on the big transmission lines and how much is used locally? Not only does this town have windmills, it has hydro dams, biomass generation and even some limited commercial solar electric.
About two thirds of power generated is lost over long transmission lines. It would make perfect sense for most communities to generate their own power. Eliminating long distance lines would save a lot of energy and materials.
In a slow collapse grid maintenance is one of those things to get neglected. We already see that happening in much of the world. The short term fix has been for businesses and individuals to use small diesel generators to supply power. That's a pretty bad fix as small generators are expensive to run and wear out under constant use. Places that with experience with alternative energy generation and infrastructure should be in a much better position.
It would also make sense to move manufacturing close to places with good alternative power generation. However, available power is not the only consideration. Transportation is a big factor. In the future good rail or canal service, being cheaper than truck hauling, could make a big difference. A location with access to cheap reliable power, raw materials, and water transportation will do well. They did well in the past. Only cheap energy, labor, and transportation allows manufacturing in China to make sense. Don't expect those advantages to last.
Of course, I'm a big advocate for people having at least some power generation capacity. Relying on an increasingly underfunded and maxed out capacity grid seems like a bad bet.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
We had a memorial service for my dad in New Hampshire on Saturday. It went very well. We'd had a service in Florida but I felt the people back home needed closure too.
It was nice to hear how dad had such a positive influence on so many people. His life was well lived.
It was nice to hear how dad had such a positive influence on so many people. His life was well lived.
Friday, November 27, 2015
One of my credit cards expired while I was in Florida. Even though my mail gets forwarded, credit cards are not and are returned to the bank.
Since I'm back in New Hampshire I decided to walk into my local credit union and get a new card. Here's the deal, my daughter suggested we could stay at the house they bought for an investment. It's being renovated, but the heat is on, the appliances work, and it's actually pretty comfortable. That way I can leave my house closed up as we will shortly be heading back to Florida. Right now my mail is being forwarded to my daughter's house. With my house still closed up I don't want to drive 30 miles every day just to pick up the mail.
I went into the credit union and asked if I could pick up the card right here. No problem, but it would be at least 10 business days. There's a fair chance I'd be back on the road before the card came in. Fine. For a fee they could expedite the process and it'd only take a few days. The card came in and I picked it up.
Then it got interesting. To activate the card I needed to call from my home phone. My home phone is through Vonage and needs the Internet to function. To save money I've suspended the Internet service until spring. No Internet, no phone.
While still in the credit union I had them change my primary number to my cell phone number. Before leaving the teller I called and made sure the card was activated. The only problem is that eventually I'm gong to have to get the phone number changed back to my Vonage number. There is no cell phone service at my house. During the spring and summer I can go weeks without using a cell phone.
While waiting for all this to go through the teller shared a story about her father. He's been living in South America for years, yet still uses his New Hampshire credit union. The daughter's place is listed as her father's legal address. His new cards come to her house. She mails them to South America. He calls her when he gets them in hand. Her home phone is also listed as her dad's number. She calls in the activation and then lets him know his cards are good to go.
My personal business is still more complicated than it should be. Since we'll be spending considerable time away on our little sailboat, I'm going to have to find better solutions. At least I'm home part of the year. It's easy to hang up the phone on someone. When I'm physically in their building, they have to deal with me.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I hope all my readers out there had a good one. This year my lovely wife and I were invited to spend the holiday with my son-in-law's family. It was great. Good food, great conversation and everyone got along. That's no mean feat these days and one I do not take for granted.
Believe me, had people decided to take offense with other people there it would have been easy to do. However, everyone remained civil. We could use a lot more of that attitude out there in the wider world. Personally, I'm thankful that civility and good will can prevail in this day and age.
The best part of the holiday is that there's only so much commercialization that one can do with it. After the grocery shopping is done, that's pretty much it. Now wonder there's such a push for everyone to go shopping on Black Friday. Christmas is the big money maker for retailers and they want everyone to dive in with a bang. However, Black Friday shopping has taken a slight downturn. Maybe no one has all that much money to spend. Perhaps we are better shoppers and realize most of those “deals” are really not worth it. If there are a few dollars to be saved is it worth suffering the Black Friday craziness to get it?
I don't think so.
Avoid the shopping rush. Celebrate national left over day. Nothing like a nice turkey, stuffing, cranberry, and gravy sandwich. Sure beats shopping.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
There are a lot of great places to travel. Information about trips and destinations has never been more easily accessible. With a little research it's possible to get more than enough information to plan most trips.
At one time the intrepid traveler would be lucky if the destination bore any resemblance at all to the published guidebooks. Now it's possible, in the comfort of one's own home, to call up pretty decent satellite photos on a vast array of electronic platforms. We've also got great maps, charts and GPS navigation.
In spite of that people pay outrageous fees to attend seminars and to hire guides. One time some family members and I went for a short hike. There's a spectacular view from cliffs about a two hour hike from the road in northern NH. The trail is pretty much a straight shot from the parking area to the top.
We were enjoying the view when a good sized crew of people joined us on top. After talking to them for a while it became clear that they were all part of group from Boston. They had paid a significant fee for a guide to take them on that hike -that 2 hour straight shot up the hill hike. Maybe it's because I've never had much money to throw away, but that seemed crazy to me. Anyone who could not follow a wide straight trail for a couple hours probably had no business in the woods in the first place.
Then there was the time when a favorite canoeing spot was featured in a premier glossy outdoors magazine. The author pointed out how underutilized that section of the river was. For the next few years that river was nothing but underutilized. Eventually the crowds went off to new places recommended by the magazines.
Now I dread opening up sailing magazines. They are putting on expensive seminars and guiding trips for places I've been and places I want to go to. That has the effect of overwhelming some of the more fragile places. It's one thing if a place is visited by individuals and small groups over the course of the year. It's something else when everyone shows up at the same time. Vegetation bounces back if a few people hike over it. When hundreds do in a few days, it gets wiped out. A few people can ease into an anchorage and view wildlife. Many people and all they can see is each other. It's not the total number of people so much as the fact that they are all there on the same day.
What is it with people that they feel they need to be led around by the hand? Some may think it's safer to travel in groups, but often it isn't. As an individual I can decide the conditions aren't very good so the trip gets postponed a few days or weeks. No problem. However, a scheduled trip is a scheduled trip. It would take a hurricane to make they cancel and have to send all the checks back. A large group brings problems of their own.
There are many many organized trips guiding people all over the planet. Woe be it to the individual traveler who follows in their wake. By the time he gets there the locals are sick of tourists, prices are higher, and some of the good stuff is ruined. Locals will interact differently with a few travelers and you can really experience the area. A large group has its own dynamic where they mostly experience each other.
For me, there's two big issues at play here. One is the high price of these services, the other is that you are traveling in a mob. Those articles about guided trips are very useful to me. I can find out when those big guided trips are and can then avoid them.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
There's a whole lot of logistics concerning my trip south early next month. One of the problems is what am I going to do with the car? Leaving it at my stepmom's could be worked out, but my boat is 170 miles away from her place. Florida is big. Like most of the US it doesn't have much of a public transportation system either.
Right now I'll most likely just look for a reasonably secure storage place for my car near where my boat is currently located. (Ft. Myers.)
For a while I thought I'd found a good solution. Why not rent a car, drive it one way, then rent another one when it's time to come back? Weekly rates on cars are pretty reasonable, right? Indeed they are, unless you intend on dropping off a car somewhere else rather than at the place you rented it from. Holy smokes do they charge for that little service! I've purchased second hand cars for less.
Anyone else remember when cheap bus service went to just about any little podunk town in the country? It wasn't the fastest way to travel, but it got you anywhere you wanted to go for a reasonable fee. Now there are many gaps in the system. Many of the places I'd want to travel to or from have no bus service at all.
Trains? I'd love to go on a long train trip someday, but they service fewer places than buses.
I don't fly. It's not that I have anything must against it, except for the silly security theater. Even before 911 I didn't have much patience for the security people. Now it's just best that I avoid flying. Besides, I've too much gear to haul around.
There's not a lot of time to figure out what to do. We are leaving to head south around December 4th. Right now we plan on taking the car and leaving it in storage somewhere in Ft. Myers. We are doing much of this by the seat of our pants. Hopefully, we'll be better organized next year.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
My lovely wife and I will be up north in New Hampshire less than two more weeks. We have a lot to do during that time. Good thing that not a second of my precious time will be wasted doing Black Friday shopping. Live is too short for that craziness.
We've been staying in town. My daughter and her husband are renovating a house and it's far enough along to be comfortable. That's wonderful as I didn't have to bother opening up my winterized house. It can wait until spring.
My lovely wife and I took a trip up to the homestead today. It's frosty in there. Those night temperatures in the teens freeze things up nicely. We were able to drop off some items at the house and picked up a few more. Our time was limited because the power is completely shut down. It got too dark to work by 3:45 p. m.. Now you know why everyone in the North Country suffers from vitamin D shortages.
Dad's ashes have been dropped off at the local funeral home. His mortal remains will go into the ground next to mom's. It's a bit delicate deciding where to bury someone after remarriage. Personally, I feel the wishes of the living trump those of the dead. Taking dad's ashes north was plan B, only after his widow discovered he could not be placed in the Florida cemetery close to where she lives. When that fell through there was still a spot reserved for him in New Hampshire, so I drove the ashes north.
Had I followed dad's wishes, the ashes would have gone into the dumpster at the park. Dad knew his ashes weren't him. He loved going to that dumpster. The old man was really into getting rid of clutter and the dumpster was his friend. His golf cart was modified to haul cargo. It was like a little truck.
It's been great to meet up with many of the people back home. The people here are warm, but the climate is frosty. We'll be back to sunny Florida and on a boat before long. Have I mentioned that it's frosty around these parts?
I'm not sure if I've gotten soft . . . or smart.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Recent world incidents set me off in a blog writing frenzy -which I just deleted. It's tempting to analyze what's going to happen next in the Middle East. However, there's precious little I can do about any of it so it's not one of those things I can take action on.
Some things you can prep for. Some things you can't. However, the last place you want to be is in the middle of a war zone. When things get too desperate the only thing to do is to try and leave. At that point you are a refugee and it's tough to be a refugee. You arrive at a new country after being robbed, beaten, raped or worse. Let's just say the people at the host country don't exactly get to see you at your best. You do not want to be that person.
Here's the weird thing. Most people can leave a country with a decent amount of comfort and for less money than you'd have to pay a human trafficker. Timing is everything. The trick is to leave when things still look pretty normal. Much easier to get a visa and book a flight out of a country that's not actively falling apart.
Only those willing to take a hard cold look at their situation can take of advantage of early exit. It's hard to leave everything in one's life behind -especially when life still doesn't look too bad and there's hope of everything going back to normal. Nobody wants to be Chicken Little, shouting about the sky falling. (of course, sometimes the sky really does fall.)
Worried about friends and family? If you successfully escape and establish yourself in a new area it gives the folks who come behind you a place to go.
We forget how blood awful being caught in a war zone can get. Recently I was reading about the ancient city of Merv. Almost nobody has heard of it, but at one time it was the largest city in the world. Why don't we know about it? In the 13th century the Mongols conquered it. Some historians estimate over a million people were put to death. That's a lot of heavy messy labor with a sword.
Any place can turn into a Merv. Conditions can go south quickly. The unthinkable happens. The way to avoid the unthinkable is to think about it anyway. Imagine being a citizen of Merv. Everyone must have thought things wouldn't get too bad. Some guy who hit the trail when the Mongols were just a rumor would have thought to be a nut, by a million people -who later were put to the sword.
For those of us with modest means the best way to avoid desperate measures is to keep our eyes open and act before anyone else.
Friday, November 20, 2015
My lovely wife and I made it back to New Hampshire. We left Florida Wednesday at noon and arrived at my daughter's 39 hours later. We encountered rain all the way. It was a long slow drive, but we made it in safely.
American highways get weirder every year it seems. For example, Thursday night in Connecticut we encountered a car driving without headlights at night and in the rain. Want to make a bet that they were impaired too?
Lots to catch up on.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
My lovely wife and I are somewhere on the road, doing the reverse snowbird. We are leaving warm and sunny Florida for frosty New Hampshire. The climate is cold but the people are warm.
We will spend Thanksgiving with family, wrap up dad's affairs, then head back south. Thank goodness we have an economical car and the price of gas is low.
I've been putting together a list of things to bring south for the new sailboat -everything from a third anchor to a travel guitar. With any luck we'll be back at the boat before marina fees eat us alive. Once we retrofit and provision we'll go anchor off a nice island somewhere and decompress. I've got a nice new pair of tinted reading glasses for books on the beach.
Our trip south back in September was hasty and unplanned, but dad needed us as soon as we could come down. The easiest thing to do was to get our mail forwarded to my dad's address. Since we were hanging around the house anyway we could deal with the mail as it came in.
Recently I've filled out paperwork to automate more of our finances. Just about everything else can be dealt with on-line. I've an ATT&T hotspot device that should allow me to connect to the Internet at most places we plan on sailing to this winter.
It's a plan.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Sounds like surprise! Don't be surprised when it's time to use your supplies. So you are pretty well stocked up with at a least a few months worth of supplies. Good for you. On the other hand, maybe you were stocked up pretty well and then forgot about it.
Over time you dip into your stash with the good intention of replacing them as soon as possible. Maybe you had a few tight weeks or months where you dipped heavily into your stocks. It feels good to be able to do that and you planned on restocking as soon as times get better. What if they really haven't gotten too much better? What if you thought to treat yourself with some nice things rather pile up those cans of beans again?
The next time you come to dip into your supplies you may find them a bit thin. Another thing that happens is that there's a good supply of the basics, but all the yummy stuff has been raided. Sometimes a key item that makes life better is gone. Imagine a Cajun trying to live without hot sauce?
There are two schools of thought concerning food storage. There's those who stock up on things like MREs and other long term shelf stable foods. Another approach is store what you eat and eat what you store. The idea is that the food stocks get constant rotation because it's what you normally eat. Both approaches have pros and cons.
If you've never eaten freeze dried foods using them in an emergency could be a steep learning curve. In addition to the problems the emergency is causing you may also be dealing with intestinal distress. For example, US military rations are very low in fiber. After a week or so you'll really miss that fiber.
Another problem with the long term food storage thing is that out of sight is out of mind. Maybe mice found them. Perhaps the kids took some for a fishing trip and never replaced them -a bunch of times.
The rotating stock problem sneaks up on you. It's easy to get into the habit of not quite replacing as much as you are using -especially if the budget is getting tight. You think you are doing fine as you are buying and stocking food, but suddenly you have 40% less than you should.
Now's a good time to check your pantry and see how it looks. Imagine if you had to get by with what you have right now -without any trips to the store to fill in the gaps.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
War drums are beating. Revenge is in order for the events in Paris.
I am not a pacifist. On a personal level I'm well armed and prepared to defend me and mine. However I've a very bad feeling on where things are heading.
Anyone remember how well our response to 911 worked out? Two wars? Hundreds of thousands of lives lost? American liberties curtailed? It begs the question: who's going to benefit from a wider war?
Eighty percent of all conflicts end with a negotiated settlement. Only 20% are decided by total military victory. Why then is the negotiated path in such disfavor? I suspect total military victory is more satisfying somehow. It's the old eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. However, relying on outdated religious texts for guidance isn't the best solution for people of any religion.
There's room for negotiation in significant areas of the Syrian conflict. Of course, the Islamic State with their whole idea of a Caliphate is something else entirely. Dealing with them will take some of the same techniques that are used to deal with a fanatical cult. Force will be part of it but force alone won't do the job. Another part will be busting the myths that motivate their fanatical followers. Their fighters believe they are part of something special ordained by god. That is both a strength and a weakness.
It's a strength but only while events on the ground follow their myths. Sow doubt in the minds of the warriors and the so called Caliphate could fall apart quickly. It's far from an impossible task. They are operating from a 7th century handbook for goodness sake. We should have learned a few new tricks since then.
Break up the Islamic State, establish peace on the ground, and the refugees flooding Europe can all go home. That should be enough motivation right there.
Of course, many people want to just nuke the heck out of them. Yeah, that would work, but what kind of people would that make us? Too stupid to find a solution without killing everyone and turning whole countries into nuclear wastelands?
We are better than that, aren't we?
Monday, November 16, 2015
Sunday we had a memorial service in the retirement park where dad lived. It was well attended. He was well loved and respected.
I said a few words and cried like a baby -and I'm not ashamed of that at all. Not that many people are blessed to have as good a father as I had. At age 57 I got to enjoy his company for longer than most.
Dad lived to 80 and was in pretty good health until the last few months.
Soon I'll be heading north from Florida back to New Hampshire. We are in the process of setting up another service in his home town for all this family and friends who could not travel south. If all goes well I should be back on the road in a few days.
Once affairs up north are settled, my lovely wife and I will come back to Florida. We plan on spending some quality time on our sailboat. My soul could use a quiet anchorage somewhere with dolphins to keep us company.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Our political leadership would like us to think our problems are economic, technological, environmental, or something of that nature. Those are the challenges, but the problems are political, legal and social.
Name a hard problem and odds are some of the best solutions are prohibited. Energy issues? Power expensive and environmentally unsound? Politicians will make fine speeches but they won't let you string a clothesline in your backyard or put solar panels on your roof.
Food issues? Expensive. Poor quality. Pesticides. Grow your own, but heaven help you if you want to rip the grass out of your front yard and plant veggies. That's against zoning and prohibited. Wouldn't want an unsightly food garden bringing property values down now would we?
Forget about solving problems between people without involving a host of lawyers and judges. Everybody needs a cut.
Medical problems? It's illegal to really take charge of your own medical care. If you are really lucky you'll be able to get a friendly doctor to work with you, but that's rare. The insurance companies won't pay for much of what's been known to work either.
What do these prohibited solutions have in common? They bring power back to the little people. Solving problems at the local level are a lot quicker and better than a top down approach.
There are a handful of things that's supposed to work better from the top down, but it's a lot fewer than most people believe. Those in charge rather have a poorly functioning solution that they are in charge of than a good solution that bypasses them.
All the self reliant things I've been able to do has been not because of the laws and leadership but in spite of them. Good thing I live in the far outskirts of civilization where there are fewer laws, codes, and enforcement is spotty. I put up solar electric panels without a single permit. Wired my house myself. Converted vehicles to run on waste veggie oil and turned my basement into a fuel station. None of that would fly in a “civilized” area.
I've got great faith in individuals to find solutions, not so much faith in those “leaders” who want to tell us what to do.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
I'd originally thought to title and register my boat in New Hampshire. That way I wouldn't have to pay Florida sales tax as New Hampshire doesn't have one. However, Florida registration is so much cheaper that it pretty much offsets the sales tax. Had there been any sort of problem with the paperwork it'd be much easier to sort it out while still in Florida. One added bonus I hadn't thought of was that the Coast Guard numbers transfer. Had I registered up north I'd have to buy and attach new numbers. Now all I have to do is to put a new sticker on the boat.
Now I'm waiting for an insurance quote from Boat US. In the past when I had problems they took very good care of me. Marinas, like the one it's currently sitting in, require insurance. The previous owner is keeping his insurance on until I get insurance of my own. That's kinda a gray area legally, but at least the marina isn't in a hurry to kick me out. Of course, they took my money too. At least I don't have to worry about the boat.
Funny thing about the marina. Without realizing it, I tried to pay the fee with an expired credit card. It had just expired and neither I nor the marina secretary caught it. Credit cards can only be delivered to your home address. The post office will not forward them. The back up emergency card I used instead had just been activated the day before we headed south. Talk about cutting it close.
We still caught in paper work hell with my dad's funeral business. Until that's straightened up we won't know exactly when we'll head north. Until we know that we won't know when we'll be back down.
At least I'll have a boat with all the paper work in order waiting for me when I get back. Can't wait to find a quiet cove somewhere, pour myself a rum and watch the sun drop into the ocean.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Who doesn't like to dream about chucking it all and running away somewhere? Maybe you want to move to an isolated cabin in the woods, or live like a vagabond on the road, or even live on a boat. It's great to dream. Come to think of it, it's great to actually do those things too.
That doesn't mean that life is totally carefree. One of the authors I like to read laid out he eliminated debt, sold his stuff, then moved onto a boat with his wife. It sounded all free and easy. Later I read another book by the same author. One of the big reasons he moved onto a boat in sunny Florida was because his wife had serious medical issues. A low stress life and warm weather helped her condition. He almost went broke too -until he started selling books about life on a boat.
Some people live unconventional lives because they can't handle “normal” life. Those who don't fit in might even be diagnosed with a mental condition. That's assuming living in an artificial world doing work we hate is normal. There are a lot of people in America who take powerful prescription mood altering drugs just to get through their day. What if the problem isn't with them but with the world they live in?
Could it be that the popularity of apocalyptic literature is because there's a wide spread desire for the world we live in to go away? I've always liked those books growing up -thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the world. That can be a trap. Either the world won't fall apart, or it'll fall apart the way Syria is falling apart now. Just because a horrible system is falling apart doesn't mean it won't be replaced by an even more horrible system.
Good thing it is possible to find a measure of freedom and relief from the ills of the world. Most of the unconventional people I know have some connection to “the real world.” It's often necessary to keep living the way they love to live. The guy living out of his van has to find the occasional paying gig to keep the wheels on. Eventually even the most hard core sailor has to come into port for supplies.
I turned my unexpected medical retirement into a chance to have adventures. Even before then I was on a path to retire by age 45. Some people are perfectly fine working until they are old, bent, and used up, but I'm not one of them. To get out of the system before that requires planning and sacrifice.
For me it took about 6 years sort out my affairs to where I could travel. It took that long to settle up my benefits and to regain enough health to be able to go places. As much as I loved being a firefighter, it almost killed me. Once I could function again I wasn't going to waste my life watching TV.
There's no one way to find an escape from the world that's killing you. A big example is to get rid of all debt. That certainly helps, but it's not a deal breaker. I still owe on my house mortgage, but I'm not sweating it. That's getting covered by my little pension. If that pension went away, I guess the house would too. Then I'd have to live on my little boat full time. Good thing that was paid for with cash. For me the lesson is to have your escape plan paid up free and clear.
We happen to like our dome in the woods. Living there during the warmer months is wonderful. We also get to spend more time with family and friends. That another thing a lot of people feel they have to give up -everybody from their old way of life. I've some friends that go back to when I was a toddler and I feel no reason to cut off contact with them now.
My situation is working for me now, but that doesn't mean it couldn't change. For years my lovely wife and I spent winters living out of a tent and doing a lot of canoeing. Since both her shoulders had surgery, long distance paddling isn't a good idea anymore. We found sailing is good fit. We'll keep doing that until it doesn't work for us anymore.
Chucking it all and running away isn't a one time thing. It's a process and an attitude.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
My lovely wife and I went and done it. We bought a boat. It's an old Ranger 23. Of course it's going to need a little work to get it the way we want it, but it's basically sound. Here's our new winter home:
We decided to get the boat we actually had cash for rather than stretch the budget. As it is there are always unknown expenses when buying a boat, even a brand new one. We are paying for one month's marina fees to give us time to sort out our personal business. Then we are going to move the boat to someplace a bit less pricey -like out on anchor. At the end of the season we'll put it up in a boatyard where the prices aren't too bad. We've got a few in mind, but it really depends on where we end up at the end of the season.
For most people this would be a tiny boat. Fortunately, we started out with a 19 foot boat. Having comfortable sitting head room and a table I can use is a huge thing.
We hadn't planned on moving quite so quickly, but the owner was available to show it, plus there was interest from a few people. However, I'm the one who showed up with cash.
Should be interesting. Before too long there should be more post about life on the water.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
There's been an old “classic plastic” sailboat on Craigslist that I've had an eye one. I've looked at a hundreds of boats on-line. Checked out their ratings, build quality, specs, history, designers and all that. Once in a great while I've gone to the sailing forums, but it's not the best place to get information. Too many of those people on forums are out and out mean. They have their views and everyone else is an idiot -not very helpful.
My lovely wife and I talked it over. We decided to send and e-mail to the boat owner to see if the boat is still available. We will be going north for a couple/few weeks to take care of the last of dad's business. It would be nice to have a boat waiting for us when we get back to Florida. If that doesn't work out we'll most likely just come back south and get serious about boat shopping.
The price is right and I would not be surprised if the boat is no longer on the market. The rigging and sails are fairly new so that's a huge thing. Perhaps the reason it's been listed for a long time is that the motor that's included is small and under powered according to the conventional wisdom. The owner sailed the boat without any engine at all for years. Since we are all about sailing it's tempting to get a boat that sails well -fast and easy to handle. Motors are for puttering around busy anchorages and marinas -not for making passages.
There is another newer and nicer boat that caught our attention, but we'd have to go into debt a bit to pay for it. We've saved up enough money to buy the other boat, so we hope it's still around.
I'm uncomfortable with the whole idea of having a bucket list -a list of things to do before you die. The whole checklist nature of it turned me off. What happens if you check off everything? Do you then have to lie down and die? Have you ever talked to people do those crazy tours? See eight European countries in six days! Blah! That's checklist mentality.
My “bucket list” isn't really a list. Have more adventures. Life is unpredictable.
Monday, November 9, 2015
That's pretty much the gist of a recent Washington Post article. Blaming a group of people for the world's ills has always in fashion. I don't buy it.
The baby boomers are a huge demographic. Such a dramatic spike in population is bound to have an effect on just about everything. We hear about all the advantages we had. Yes, we grew up during a time when there was a lot more resources available to us. Yes, we used them, but that's we learned to do from the generation before us. They wanted us to have a lot of stuff. Who'd say no to that?
It wasn't all advantages either. I remember being in classrooms of 40 students. For a while there were two shifts of students. One class started early in the morning and a second was held in the afternoon. It's not exactly an ideal learning environment.
There was also a big difference in the experiences of the leading edge baby boomers and the trailing edge. Those of us at the end sometimes found all the good jobs filled up. I noticed it locally. Those good blue collar jobs lasted long enough for people to retire, if you were on the front edge. Those at the end of the boom found themselves in their 50s and out of work.
Lumping a whole generation together really ticks off those of us who did follow the herd. For example, don't blame me for the ills of Social Security. I'm not even in the system.
Pitting one generation against another keeps us all from working together. Every generation has something positive to contribute.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Saturday, November 7, 2015
That's what I tell myself when I start to take myself too seriously.
About 100 years ago the world was embroiled in WWI. It was horrendous. The loss of life was on an industrial scale. Hundreds of thousands of men died to advance a few miles one way or the other. It was a titanic struggle. Now only historians know much of anything about it.
When I was kid there was still a lot of WWI vets around. Those old men, some with missing limbs, used to scare me. There was something in their eyes. Of course, 50 years later they are all gone. Now we are quickly running out of WWII vets. It won't be all that many years before they are gone too.
Sometimes there are evils in the world that must be eliminated. Nazi death camps were real. Other times, the rights and wrongs of it are muddier.
Recently I was reading about J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He served in WWI and was one of the few of his college class to survive. He said that at first he believed the Germans were evil beasts. Later on he came to the understanding that there were good and evil men on both sides.
100 year ago the world was chewing up its young men on the battle fields. I wonder what wonders the world missed out on because of it. All those human lives wasted. All those creative minds lost forever. We almost lost Tolkien and the world would have been poorer for it. No doubt we are poorer for the loss of the contributions of all his fellow soldiers who didn't make it.
A 100 years later all we have is the political mess that WWI set in motion. In 100 years my life most likely won't matter to anyone. That's how it is with most people, like it or not. At least I didn't throw it away for a cause that no one will care about in 100 years.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Since I've been staying pretty close to my dad's place these days I've been doing a lot of reading. As you might expect a lot of that reading is travel tales, especially sailing stories.
No doubt helping provide end of life care for my dad has put me in a reflective mood.
There are people who sail over the horizon leaving friends and family behind. Those bonds don't seem to hold them as tightly as their desire for the new and different.
Other people are are content to send down deep roots. They build a life around their home area, family, friends and their community. At the end of their life they are content to have surrounded themselves with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
There really is such a thing as “travel genes.” If there wasn't humans would be an isolated species off in the corner of the world somewhere. For some people that travel is their strongest motivation.
Some of those genes get spread around by travelers. More than a few strays have been let behind in someone else's nest. Another successful strategy is to stay and nurture your offspring to do what you can for them.
Then there are those of us who want it all. We want roots and connections, yet also want to experience new things. So what do we do? Some of us raise kids then travel. Other take their families on adventures. Everything is a compromise. I may envy those who's dropped anchor in exotic distant ports and were young and full of energy. On the other hand, I would not have paid the price. I needed that youthful energy to raise my kids.
. . . besides, I ain't dead yet.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
My lovely wife and I were in search of a bottle of rum. (Why is the rum always gone?) Normally we leave New Hampshire with a half gallon and it gets up through the winter. We aren't big drinkers, but we like the occasional sundowner. It's also nice to be able to offer people a friendly drink. This year we hit the road with just a wee flask of the holy water.
Today we finally got around to picking up a bottle. We were able to find a bottle but rum isn't exactly exotic. These privately run liquor stores around here all look kinda shabby. Maybe it's the bars on the windows. Mostly it's the poor selection. Heaven forbid if I wanted a decent bottle of single malt scotch.
I miss the liquor stores in New Hampshire. They are clean, well lit, have excellent selection and helpful staff. As a special bonus, the prices are some of the lowest in the country. They are also a state run monopoly. When prohibition was finally repealed each state took their own approach on how booze was going to be sold. New Hampshire decided to handle liquor sales in state operated stores. They do a good job of it too.
One of the saddest liquor stores I saw was in Kentucky. The county we were in had been a “dry county” that prohibited liquor sales. The store was basically a pile of boxes on the floor with some industrial shelves where a few items were haphazardly stacked. Pretty sad looking. I hope it got better.
Now I understand there are plenty of people who should not drink. I can respect that, but please respect that there are some of us who can take a drink without having to see the bottom of the bottle. Then there are those who against booze for religious beliefs. Fine. As for me, I believe I'm going to have a drink.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
As if I don't have enough to do. This month I've joined National Novel Writing Month. The goal is write a 50,000 thousand word novel during the month of November. Pretty lofty goal for anyone. I've written a couple novels before under different pen names.
What? You didn't know I wrote novels? Don't worry, few do. Writing novels is a good way to make a small fortune -as long as you start with a large fortune. I've just finished a rewrite on a novel I've been working on and off for years. It will take about a month for my writers' group to get back to me on that. I hope to get it into print before too long. (Yes Adam, it's that novel.)
The timing was pretty good as I finished at the end of October. Usually I remember NNWM about halfway into the month. This year I signed up at the last minute and started writing. Well, it's day three and I've surpassed 5,000 words, so I'm on track.
Normally my novel writing is kept separate from my blog. However, I've decided to publish this one as Sixbears. While I'm drawing heavily on my real life, I'm describing the novel as “magical realism.” It will have quite a few fantastic elements in it -some of them made up. I've got my creative license. I can do that.
I'm on track, but I've got to do better than that. Sooner or later there will be days when I cannot or will not feel like writing.
Right now I've one eye on the computer and one eye on my dad to see if he need assistance with anything. As he cancer progresses he needs me sometimes, if only to let him know I'm still there.
Writing a novel has proven to be a good distraction.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
I was talking with a Mohawk from Canada the other day. He spends about 8 or 9 months of the year down here in Florida. Unlike other Canadians he doesn't have to return to Canada after 6 months. It's one of the few advantages of being recognized as belonging to the First Peoples. A buddy of mine has the same deal but in reverse. He's a US citizen who owns property in Canada and can stay up there as long as he wants.
The Canadian said he'd move down to Florida full time except for US health care. He and his wife try to schedule most of their healthcare while up north.
US politicians go and on about the horrors of Canadian healthcare but I've yet to meet one Canadian who would give it up for what we have in the US. Of course, if you are wealthy or a politician with the best of US care the Canadian system might be a step down.
Right now I've the cheapest bronze plan I could scrape up money to pay for. Before that I went two years with no health insurance. There's a couple of times I should probably have gone to the hospital, but I sucked it up and took my chances. Socialized medicine doesn't look too bad to me. On the other hand, a totally open market system might not be bad either. Real open competition should bring prices down to earth.
Right now I'm a getting an up close and personal look at end of life care. The hospice people are good, but are locked into pretty tight constraints. They can't do some fairly simple things that could make life better for people. The patient would have to drop hospice, get medical treatment, then go back on hospice -with all confusion and messed up paperwork that would entail. Hospice and regular doctors don't really work together. It's a mess, all because of the way things are paid.
Monday, November 2, 2015
It's easy to forget that we are already into November. Seasons in Florida don't mean quite the same thing they do in New Hampshire.
A good friend of mine recently sent photos of his last canoe and kayak trip of the season. Funny to think that people back home have put their boats away. Sure there are exceptions. I know some wild men who paddle every month of the year. In the depths of winter they bundle up in dry suits and brave the river rapids where the swift water doesn't freeze. Those guys are nuts, even by my standards. Too easy to flip and get swept under the ice.
Later fall weather up north can have some pretty dramatic swings. One year we canceled our end of the season canoe trip due to 6 inches of snow. Well, we thought we canceled. By the next weekend temperatures were in the high 50s and sunny. Four of us canoe camped overnight on an island. It was a beautiful weekend.
When my lovely wife and I first came down to Florida we had a canoe on the car and did an awful lot of paddling. It was pretty amazing. Sure beat canoeing among the ice flows. The only weird thing is that when we got home and went on our annual river trip I was still keeping an eye out for alligators. Every half submerged log set off alarms bells until I remembered the nearest alligator was over 1000 miles away.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Horror movies are often set in remote locations. There's no one around to save you. A few years back a horror move was shot not too far from where I lived. I've been inside the theater that's featured in the movie and ate lunch at the restaurant. The woods where the film was shot are very familiar to me. I've roamed those woods, especially during hunting season.
The funny thing is that all my memories of those woods are very happy ones. Deep quiet woods make me feel very relaxed and safe -even in the dark.
My dad and I used to go deer hunting in those hills. Once we hiked in we'd split up and wouldn't see each other for hours. Sometimes we'd agree to meet at a designated spot to have lunch together. Much of my hunting time was spent sitting on a ridge somewhere trying my best to blend into the forest. It wasn't really about the hunting as much as it was getting out in the deep woods -good for the soul.
I guess if you are a city person the woods are dark and dangerous. Of course, if you lack woods skills it is a dangerous place. However, with a little knowledge and the right attitude, it's exactly the opposite of a horror movie.