Old Diary, Relationships

…Settled in for a long winter’s nap

We aren’t really hibernating … not really … but it is our first real winter in 6 years and we are in the active process of getting accustomed to winter once again. I’m writing this on the 15th of January; so we are nearly one third of the way through our “official” winter — though Milwaukee has been known to have snow as late as the middle of May — still, “Spring” approaches and my dear wife is happy at that thought.

Right now life is a bit boring… well, not boring, just not very active.  We both keep busy during the day with no problems.  Peg is working on her puzzles as well as her daily / weekly chores; I am working on my new office installation and my daily / weekly chores.  Life goes on.

Apple Time Capsule

I am currently able to say I am finally — after too many years to remember — able to say I’m happy with my computer array.  For years, and particularly our years on the road I had to have my art images spread over three hard drives and I wasn’t able to back them up in the way I most wanted.  Recently I added a third 3 terabyte Apple Time Capsule to
 my setup and spent literally days moving files off the drives they had been living on in order to have a storage and backup system that I was finally satisfied with.  It’s been a lot of seemingly wasted time (to someone else) but to me it was well worth the effort.

Peg has gotten out a folding table that we bought in S. Texas for my office but which now is available for seasonal use as a jigsaw puzzle assembly area.  After all those years of either not-being-able to do jigsaws  or only being able to do really SMALL puzzles, because of the limited space in the RV, she is now relishing an ample workspace and good lighting!  (If only all wives were as easy to please!)

This time of year (in Wisconsin) I am a lot less active outside.  But I do try to make up for it by staying active indoors.  I supposed I’ll find out how good a job I’m doing at that when I see my GP sometime in the next month or so. We had to put off our Annual Wellness visit because of the move and one of these days I need to get that rescheduled — and prepare for a bawling out because my weight is up a bit. Still, we’re both feeling good and thus far winter isn’t nearly as bad as we remembered it. (Though SE Wisconsin has been spared most of the bad winter weather thus far.)

It would be nice to say that we are formulating travel plans for later in the year. Truth is we aren’t thinking about travel at all. (Or at least I am not thinking about it.  No telling what’s on Peggy’s mind!)

I have to say that it’s a bit strange that after a lifetime of being the “restless roamer” that I’m nearly three months into being in the same place and I haven’t felt the need to get those wheels-a-rollin’!  Perhaps it’s because I have been waiting years to get this computer backup thing sorted out to my satisfaction and I’m sort of “totally into” my little project. Still, it’s strange getting used to this new “me.”  On occasions I don’t recognize myself anymore. Age does interesting things to all of us who get to enjoy it.

We’ve gotten most of our address changes taken care of now. I might have another one or two that I missed.  And I downloaded the forms to change our VOTER REGISTRATION — voting is too important to leave it to chance on the “morning of.” Our local form is quite simple, and in the next day or two we’ll take them to City Hall along with our ID to get them processed. 

RV Living

How many ways to RE-Set

helpdeskAsk any IT Helpdesk person and they’ll tell you that 50% of their job involves resetting & rebooting devices.  When any modern, computerized device hangs up the first thing we ought to try before calling for help is to reboot the machine, or reset it.

My Verizon 6620L MiFi quit suddenly a day or so ago.  With RV park WiFi I haven’t had a critical need to get it fixed but it’s not something I like to go without for very long.

Knowing that the number 1 solution for computer problems has long been a simple reset — to allow the computerized device to reset itself back to known conditions — I tried resetting before going to the local Verizon store.

Typically you turn your machine off and then on again.  That forces a fresh re-boot.

In this case I could not turn it on, so turning it off wasn’t the solution.

I KNOW that the battery was still at 1/2 power — I checked it before turning the MiFi off the last time.   No luck.

6620L ResetSo, I tried hitting the reset button — inside the back plate, hidden in a small recess on the back of the box.  NO luck.

I tried holding the OFF button on for a 10 seconds.  Sometimes an extended holding of the button will work as a ‘reset’ switch. NO luck.

backplate and batteryI tried removing the battery, leaving it out for 1/2 a minute and then replacing it.  No Luck.

Those were all the variations I could think of so I took the box along with me to the Verizon store.

Guess What?

There’s another way to reset this particular electronic device….

Remove the battery, and hold down the on/off switch for 10 seconds.

And guess what…

That fixed the problem.

Seems no matter how I try I still can’t help but looking the idiot at the Electronics store.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary, Travel

Starting Down a Long Road

I’m ahead of schedule!

Not that ‘schedule’ means much in my life at the moment.

We still have other appointments scheduled here in Milwaukee aside from the medical stuff:  our financial guy, our insurance lady, yada yada yada,  but,  at last I am also tackling my InterWeb Monster! In August when it became apparent that we would not be out of Milwaukee during September I set myself a task: migrate my personal website from an ISP I’ve been using for 10 years — with many problems — to a new site.

That will take FileZilla a bunch of file-transfer-hours, but having upgraded my in-coach storage I have storage space to handle files while I play around with technical mumble-jumble & redesign.  By doing it while we’re here I won’t  bankrupt my Verizon data account!  And if there has been an annoyance in the RV lifestyle that caught me unaware;  it was the preciousness of data when you are tethered to a metered Internet line…..

And so it was…

That on an overcast Sunday I got out my not-so-favorite file transfer program and began the long slog.  Some might wonder why I bother; I guess my answer is by continuing to cope with technology I’m doing my bit to stay young in heart and thought.

This has been a burr under my saddle for a couple years. I know for sure that 2 years ago when we were at Blackhawk Park I had horrendous problems.  It has seemed that at the worst possible times I have been locked out of my own account because of one excuse or another, usually claims of high usage that I was never able to understand.  Had we been living at in sticks & bricks I would have made this change long ago; but like most of us RV’ers, our dependence on mobile Internet holds back some projects.  At least those of us who live on a modest budget.

While I muddle along with the demons of the InterWebs I may not write as much as normal.  I know some of you may take that as meaning we are having medical problems or some such but rest assured that all is well on the medical front for now and I’m simply trying to save you listening to me run on about bytes and html and coding.

We still hope to do a little wandering around Wisconsin.  But Peggy already knows her husband has gone into seclusion in the back office and he may only make cameo appearances for a while.  Not many of you are all that interested in  techno-geek gobbledygook, so consider it my blessing to you to  spare you the drudgery.


The two new back up drives are plugged into my system (for some reason it took longer than I thought it would)  but I have yet to mount them on a wall and clear up the cord snakes.  And, yeah…. I still have to set my printer up wirelessly for the new network.  Grrrrr.

Having said that, he who lives without filters and has good intentions don’t aren’t always realized may wander off from time to time.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary, RV Living


Somehow I'm going to get this computer to slide out of the pathway to the exit!

Somehow I’m going to get this computer to slide out of the pathway to the exit!

SO, I know I said I wasn’t going to post today, but I’m so happy with the computer table re-make, that I’m going to at least post shots of the new setup.

If you remember, the old arrangement with 4 legs obstructed the table feet from sliding under cockpit seat.   By removing the legs the table could slide all the way under the driver’s seat and open up about 8″ more aisle no matter which way you put the table in.  Sliding it flat against the driver’s seat bought you a little more space, or sliding the table forward towards the dashboard let the forward part of the table slide in further but the rear corner stuck out even further (picture a rectangle — the diagonal is longer than either side).

20140407130147112014040713020012Now, without those extra legs the table isn’t quite as strong — but still strong enough for the use I put it to.  The table feet slide all the way under the driver’s seat, and we have an extra 8″ of aisle!  I’m happy with the results.

On an extra special side note, Tuesday is going to be a red letter day.  We are offline for the day and with luck we’ll be back online again Wednesday sometime.  Wednesdays’ post is already written, and it will post on it’s own, regardless whether we have a signal by then or not.

Stay tuned for exciting news.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Journey DL, Old Diary

Find Me a Welder!

I’m getting tired of messing around with this computer table.  So I’m going to take matters in my own hands and find me a welder.   There’s a shop in Reedsport called Umpqua Industrial Supply that the Forest Service uses and I’m hoping if I take a drawing along that maybe they can do the cutting and welding for me.  I can repaint what needs repainting black after they’re done.

I think I figured out my problem

I think I figured out my problem

The base doesn’t have the casters on it any more — I removed them long ago, and simply put furniture slides on the bottom of the lower rails.

Removing the front legs and supporting the front  with angles will give me enough strength.  Removing the curved brace will lose a little stability but If need be I can always use wire ties to strengthen that one cross member.

The revised table will slide under my driver’s seat; it won’t be too wide and as a result collide with the steering wheel, and it’s still the same size as my current table.  I like it.  I think it will work.

Some time this week I hope to get to the welder — or someone he suggests who might do the job better.

Wish me luck.

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary

The Almost Perfect RV

We might have found it — the almost perfect RV.

Which doesn’t mean we’ll ever end up owning it, but it’s nice to know it exists.

But first — The State of Wisconsin made a legal eagle out of me on Monday.  I received my license plate stickers for the CR-V that I was short, and as soon as we got home I stuck all of my new stickers on the appropriate plates — on Journey and on the CR-V.  Yay!  I’m legal.

And my Government identity “sponsor” took my email to her about why my credentials were hung up and forwarded it to the guy who told me there was a hangup and asked HIM what was wrong.  Seems I’m the first person she ever sponsored for an identity and she has/had no idea what she was doing.  Well, duh…. considering that it’s more than 3 months now… and we’re still fighting this war…. do ya guess?

I fixed the water system.  Well, I didn’t fix it, but I turned off the pump anyway!  One of our hosts called in to say the water wasn’t running in the campground.  All the staff were missing so Peg and I went exploring and we found the problem — a bad pump that ceased sucking water.  About all WE could do was to turn the pump off so it didn’t burn out — but later in the day Bob got out there and a contractor, and if the contractor gets Bob a quotation by 7:30 this morning the repair should be complete on Wednesday.   Somethings do happen quickly — and they usually have to do with the water system. 🙂

And… we spent half of Monday out talking with Volunteers — doing the other part of our job — for a change.  It was wonderful!

OK — I suppose I owe you an explanation. We still are not looking to BUY a different RV.  But our recent conversations gave rise to some interest in researching whether there even existed an RV with a floor plan that would accommodate the little lessons we have learned in 2 1/2 years of owning Journey.

We conclude there does exist such a beast.

It’s called a 2005 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 40PLQ… and if you are wondering if that 40 means what you think it means– alas, yes it does.  This frigging beast is 40 doggone feet long.  Longer than we ever wanted to be — and probably longer than we ever WILL be.

Yet, it’s fun to dream and so here are the visual details.   I say it that way because I did not investigate whether the engineering part of the RV would meet what I want — but this little project was JUST about aesthetics.  After all it has the ‘wrong’ chassis — a Workhorse, not a Freightliner — but hey, we’re dreaming here and you’ll see why…  This is the only model I’ve seen with one simple feature:Floorplan

^^^^^^ There it is. Right there at the rear of the coach.  A sitting room with a desk and room for my ‘puters.  No place for my cameras, but there IS room for my ‘puters.  It doesn’t solve the problem of where I go in the middle of the night when I wake up and want to ‘pure, without waking Peggy.  But it’s bigger and comes close.  

Ok — so we won’t likely ever buy one of these.  But I know that the Coach-of-my-dreams exists.  Isn’t that nice.

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

P.S.: Oh — and in the meantime — I might have found a little table I can use to solve my over-the-driver’s-seat computer-table issue.  It folds up, you can use 1/2 at a time — giving me a 31″ x 15″ adjustable height table with legs wide enough to extend across the base of my driver’s seat.  It looks to be a cheap, flimsy, table, made by Coleman, but it might fill my need.  Even if I have to buy and cut a heavier (read that, ‘more durable’) top to the thing — the existing top is only MDF.    The local Camping World is having an open house on April 4, if they have one in stock I’ll check it out.  (actually I ‘ll call first and SEE whether they have one.)

Old Diary

Good People

I poke a lot of fun at the bureaucracy that we are dealing with here but I have to give equal time to the good things we find here.  (well not exactly EQUAL time — but at least serious mention)   Once again I have been impressed by the quality of personnel who work here on the Forest.

I know a lot of people who are downright disrespectful of government workers.  But the one thing I have found is that given a chance to prove themselves, most people will surprise you in a positive way.  Not all people — there are some jerks and creeps out there.  There are abusers and molesters and lawless idiots too.  But most people will surprise you in a positive way if you just give them a a chance.

Wednesday was another good reminder of that fact.  It was volunteer meeting day; the first since November.  We’ll be having more of them soon:  one in April, and probably a small one each month through the summer season.  But this was the first in a few months and there were some things to be covered; in fact there were a LOT of things to be covered — enough to make a bunch of sore bottoms by the time we were all done.

After talking over things going on with volunteers, the boss set up a program with personnel from various departments coming in and going over 1.) some of the volunteer gripes and 2.) covering safety issues, and 3.) reviewing policies and procedures that have been controversial.  I was once again impressed by the quality of personnel who work for the Forest Service here.  There was a lot of solid information presented.  The presenters were enthusiastic as only people with a passion for what they do can be.

We learned about more of the intricacies of the collections program — and why the volunteers are asked to do a variety of chores.  We learned about Tsunamis.  We learned about how to be better hosts — the Forest Interpretation specialist (Dave Johnson) gave a particularly interesting presentation on that topic.  And we had two of our three L.E.O.’s in to talk about what they can respond to, what they cannot respond to, how to get in touch with them, and when to go straight to 911.  It was a very good and very informative meeting.

Dave Johnson

That’s Dave down there on the bottom right of the picture

When I think of park or forest interpretation I tend to think of the display boards along a trail or the programs conducted by rangers for children and adults but interpretation is also something that volunteers need.


Interpretation is about more than just programs in the sand and bulletin boards on the side of the road.

Interpretation is how we get to be better volunteers; how we do a better job understanding our campers and welcoming them and our day users; how we defuse touchy situations, keep ourselves safe, and make our visitors feel more at home and empower them to enjoy their time here on the Dunes.  Wednesday was about on-the-job training — though if you asked volunteers present I think you might hear some of them say it was a waste of time.

Of course — what’s a waste of time and what is valuable to you — all depends on your attitude.  And attitude is what Interpretation is all about.

Let me make a brief aside here.  All autumn and winter we have been struggling because of personality disputes between two particular hosts.  They live and work near each other and they have not been able to get along.  Staff have visited them both several times (individually and collectively) to try to work out the personality clash  and until recently we thought the problem was sort of resolved.

Today at our meeting those clashes came back to the fore; one of the volunteers displayed (in front of the entire group of volunteers) why the problem existed — just by being who they were.  Some of the volunteers were offended by the way in which they just could not let go of past experiences.  And an otherwise positive meeting ended on kind of a sour note.

52330000The boss is slow to take disciplinary actions against volunteers.  We love our people;  we can’t function without them.  But the boss’ boss, the one who seems to be the laid back one among the bunch wasn’t so slow.  He stepped up to the plate and took action.  After the Big Boss witnessed the display that offending volunteer got himself fired.  Volunteers aren’t employees;  there are no rules for who can be fired and how hard it is.  An agreement is terminated and that’s that.  It doesn’t happen often;  two events in as many days is extraordinarily unusual but for the sake of the entire volunteer program there are times things like that have to happen.

So, I’ve got another position to fill.  I’m sure it won’t be that hard to fill, but it’s another project on the pile.  And I think the decision was a good one.  The Big Boss definitely sent a message:  respect is required;  it is not optional.  And over the next couple months I’m sure there will be enough opportunities to make that point one-on-one.

But it just goes to show that all the good people on staff are there and behave as they do because they have good bosses, people who care about other people, who care about impressions — knowing that impressions are the only thing we really make on other people.

I’m glad I’m here.  Peg and I are both glad we’re here.  We have quality people to work with; people who are showing US how to be be better people, how to care more about those around us, and those in our care.  We have our days when we are challenged, sure.  But we had those before we retired.  We love most of our challenges because they make us better people.

I thank you for stopping by today.  I want you to hear the good things about the people here, not just the bureaucratic bumbles and the seemingly endless mixups.  I hope you join me tomorrow.  Tomorrow we head off to Springfield to get our credentials.  I’m sure there will be more interesting stories to tell.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary

The Complexity Fairie

And I was so foolish to think that just cuz I got my profile that maybe my dance with the bureaucracy might be over.  Oh, foolish boy!

Meet the Complexity Fairie!

Meet the Complexity Fairie!

I have discovered a new, never before described, form of life.  I call it: The Complexity Fairie — and he/she appears every time I think I have this volunteer gig figured out.   And he/she sprinkles me with fairie dust until… I’m complexified!

I got home on Tuesday to find an email in my personal mailbox telling me I needed to make an appointment to get my LincPass credentials started.   It seems I have to make several trips to Springfield (OR) to get credentialed.  Fortunately I can drive my Uncle’s vehicle to do so — 90 miles each way is a bunch of driving if I’m going to have to make the trip two or possibly three times before we are done with yet another hurdle.

What the heck is LincPass?  Its a smart card designed to replace user names and passwords.  I’m told it was supposed to have been implemented over a year ago;  but word here is that it may be another 5 years before this Forest sees full implementation.  So, I’m jumping through hoops that probably won’t ever do me any good.  At least it’s a pleasant drive over to Springfield (likely in the rain) and maybe while we’re over there we’ll grab a nice meal.  Of course we can’t park in a resto parking lot — because civilians like to report Forest Service vehicles parked in what they think to be non-work related locations.  Ya can’t win for losing.  (Some day I’ll tell some stories about volunteers and federal vehicles.)

Still more hoops to jump through

Still more hoops to jump through

I’m a simple guy and I supposed that all of this fuss and bother is jolly well worth it — all I know is that I’m a lot more familiar with a much simpler way of life.

On the other side of the coin I got an email early this morning from a nice woman in Colorado who has been off on sick-time for the past 9 days — and she saw my inquiry from a couple days ago about what to do about Volunteer.gov.  Not only did she answer my inquiry, she changed the user account I had been borrowing into my own account, transferred some data that I expected to have to transfer myself, and while she was getting me all sorted she also sent me a copy of the user guide for the backend of volunteer.gov.  How nice was that!  It is so much nicer to have an identity.

Do you think I could dust my BOSS with Fairie dust?

Do you think I could dust my BOSS with Fairie dust?

As for identities…  my boss told me now that I have a profile I have to take a course on internet security.  Ok — I thought.  I like classes. I like learning.  So I went to the website to find out what I had to learn.  And once again the “Complexity Fairy”  sprinkled me with Fairie dust.   The website says they have recently gone through a major revision and if you are credentialed as a non-employee you have to have a Sponsor register you for the classes you need.    I could see the disappointment in Boss’ eyes.  She really didn’t want to hear that.

I think I have enough Law Enforcement approved applicants now to fill my openings for the season — I have a few calls to make to see whether I can match up the names with our opportunities.  Wish me luck.

Thanks for stopping by; I’ll talk with you tomorrow.