road trip adventure

18 hours in a car?  Not a problem for us!  Yeah, I would love to fly and get to my destination quickly, but I’m good with a road trip.  There’s more adventure in driving.  (Texas to northern Colorado)  I don’t have photos of all the beautiful sights along the way, but I have some.  God was showing off His beautiful art yesterday… lightning, rainbows, rain, sunshine, deserts, mountains, clouds, storms, trees, rocks, sand…

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shhh! I’m a spy in the witness protection program!

Procrastinating is something I try not to do, but I seem to do it well.  Apparently it’s one of my many gifts…  Procrastinate.  Watering my plants, returning the 1,000 emails in my inbox or renewing my drivers license.  The plants are dead, I have a few people not so happy with me and I now have to change my name.  Yes, I have to change my name because I waited too long to renew my driver’s license.

It’s bad enough that the procrastination cost me an entire day of vacation, but I have no one to blame but myself.  Actually, the procrastination started about 13 years ago.  I got married.  Yes, changing your name on your social security card is part of the deal, but a part that didn’t work out for me.  I got the paperwork, filled it out, mailed it in and they lost it.  “We’ll send you another set and you can do it again.”  Really?  Yeah, because that’s gonna happen.  I thought as long as I get my tax refund, who cares?  Uncle Sam doesn’t care, why should I?

Fast forward to today.  My drivers license is about 3 weeks expired.  The window of opportunity to renew it online is closed.  I came to stand in the long, outside line to get my license renewed early in the morning.  It’s going to be 100 degrees outside today.  Wait.  Wait some more.  Keep waiting…  After standing in line for two and a half hours, I finally get to the front of the line and made it to the counter.  Yes!  It’s almost over!  No.  It’s not.  I was denied a renewal.  What??!!?!  The name on my license did not match the name on my social security card.  She said I could get a licence in my old name, but only if I showed my social security card.  I don’t carry my social security card with me.  My aliases have caught up with me.  Sadly, I’m going to have to give up my career as a spy in the witness protection program.  At this point, I would have taken a license in any name.  I just want to drive legally, I don’t care what name they call me. Continue reading

air is not free [day 355]

So I did take a day off to pick up the camper and to play a little bit.  I have to ‘fess up.  I had to make a purchase.  There was no possible way around it.  I had to buy a tire and some air. Here’s the story.

The camper had been sitting for 4 years, probably most of it on the flat tires.  We were able to fill them up with air, including the spare, although one of them was looking a little leaky.  Might as well try to use them, right?

We decided that on the way home we should stop and check the tire pressure and see how they’re doing.  One of the tires was a little low, and I didn’t have any cash for the air pump at the gas station.  I made a joke about using a credit card for the air pump, but I honestly had no idea… the pump had a credit option!  I guess I must be old, as I remember the days when air was free.  Now air costs $1.00.  I decided to suck it up and pay for the air because at this point, we still had the pumped up flat tires.  I slid my debit card in the machine, still in disbelief that this air pump took credit cards.  Is buying air really buying anything?  Still shaking my head, I pulled the card out, waited for it to authorize my account for $1.00 and the pump started.  As it turns out, the hose had a leak, so I paid to lose 2 or 3 pounds of precious pressure in the low tire.  So I really did pay for air because I got nothing out of that machine.  On to another gas station to pay for more air.  We filled up with gas and we never did stop again for air, we stopped for the tire blow out.  Continue reading

transfer of time, from shopping to sharing [day 294]

We’re taught from little on that we should always share.  As we get a little older, we have our own stuff, but we’re still told to share on occasion.  Then we hit our teens.  I don’t think anyone told me I should share anymore at that age.  We start backing off the sharing.  Then as an adult, I guess we’re not really expected to share, although if an opportunity arises, most of the time, we will share.  If we need something, we usually just go out and buy it, resulting in ownership of a lot of stuff.  Stuff that costs money, stuff that uses resources and stuff we simply don’t need.  What if we transferred shopping time into sharing time?  What if we started to share again?

So what is sharing?

share [shair]

— n

1. a part or portion of something owned, allotted to, or contributed by a person or group

— vb  (often foll by out ) (when intr, often foll by  in )

1. to divide or apportion, esp equally

2. to join with another or others in the use of (something): can I share your umbrella?

We all have things sitting around our house that we don’t use regularly.  A few days ago, I used a drill as an example.  Could we lend our drill to a friend?  If you need a hole and you don’t have a drill, could you borrow one?  Let’s do a little exercise.

Think of 3 things you have sitting around your house, not being used or used rarely.

~

Would you be willing to lend these items to someone you know?

If you’re like me, you probably thought of more than 3 items.  What would it look like for you to lend these things out?  With current technology, this is not only possible, it’s easy.  You won’t have to wonder who you lent that book to anymore either.  You can sign up on actsofsharing.com to borrow and lend with only your friends.  Not only will it track your items, but it will also calculate how much you have saved by borrowing, how much you’ve saved your friends by lending them things and tells you how many items in total your friends have listed.  Continue reading

I bought something [day 259]

Yes, I made a purchase.  I think it was the right thing to do.  You tell me…

I hired a painter to paint all of the trim, doors and baseboards in my house, along with a few other painting jobs.  He’s doing a great job, but having your house painted basically requires moving.  You don’t have to move it all out of the house, but you do have to move it all away from the walls.  It’s a good, forced spring cleaning.  Does anyone actually do that anymore?  Spring cleaning is something I remember from the 70’s, the smell of Pinesol for days and rooms we couldn’t touch for weeks.  When spring hits, I get spring fever, and the last thing I’m going to do is clean my house.  It should be winter cleaning.  Okay, I’m done with the rabbit trail.

The painter has been getting the paint, but he was working, I was running some errands and we needed a gallon of Black Bean flat paint from Sherwin-Williams.  I was driving right by there, so my choices were to make him stop painting and go get it or I could pick it up for him.  I chose to pick it up for him.  It just made sense.  The whole painting job makes sense.  He needed to work, I needed to get the painting done, and it’s not something I was ever going to get done on my own.

The brown paint looks great, as he used it to paint over my colorful thought bubbles mural.  I miss my mural a little bit, but the bright, wild colors were not calming.  The new color is calming and the consensus is that I have an adult room now.  It was getting a little old hearing people ask which of my kids’ room it is.

Am I in trouble?

BLACK FRIDAY: the video [day 185]

Any other day of the year, no retailer would allow you to walk around their store with a camera around your neck, they would stop you and make you put it away.  On black friday, that’s not the case.  With the busyness and chaos of the thousands of shoppers, extremely long lines and merchandise everywhere, nobody stopped me.  Here’s the black friday 2010 video to the tune of AC/DC’s Back in Black.

A few black friday observations:

  • It’s controlled chaos. The retailers are creating it and they’re prepared for it.
  • There’s a size relationship. The bigger the person, the bigger the packages.  Oh, how some psycho therapist needs to analyze this.
  • People like to get a deal. I’m not sure if they really want or need this stuff, but there seems to be an accomplishment once they’ve gotten a deal.  If they researched a possible purchase during the year, they could probably find a similar savings.  Is it really a deal if it’s cheap and not needed?
  • Loss leaders. There are some deals that can’t be found throughout the year, but these loss leaders are only available to the first 3-5 people according to the ads.  Not a bad deal, but I would do the cost analysis, time and effort versus cost savings.
  • Warranties. Many of the big ticket loss leaders have very limited warranties.  Before buying, you better make sure it works before you put it under the tree.  Many items have 15 days warranties.  They might as well just skip that altogether.
  • 2 types of men. The ones that like electronics with a willingness to get up early and fight for it and the “my wife made me do this and I better get sex tonight” male drag-a-longs.  I might start a line of t-shirts before next year.
  • Sporting event. I’m pretty sure most women see this as some sort of sporting event.  It’s a race for the best deals and to get all the shopping done at one time.  Most of them are getting lots of practice time during the year, so it should be a good game.

There’s much more, but that’s the big stuff.  Now, what to get my kids for Christmas without going shopping?

get out of the trees [day 173]

My video is finally done and available!  Click here to watch it. :)

This stop motion video project was created for a contest that AT&T is doing through zooppa.com.  Here’s the concept, as posted on AT&T’s site.

The AT&T Simplify Your Life video contest is a chance for you to make your own video about AT&T’s Online Services, such as Paperless Billing, Account Management, AutoPay, and Online Support. Each of these services can help to make life simpler.

The concept is to stay out of the trees, meaning the phone trees and paper trees, and to use the AT&T online services.  To see a blog post on how it was made, check out jodywissing.com.

I decided to do this contest because I liked the theme, simplify your life.  In trash society world, that means be green, have less stuff and utilize our resources.  It was easy to make a video about that!  And I’ve always wanted to use my old phones in a stop motion video.  No new paper was harmed in the making of this video.  As for the junk mail…

Rethink possible.  :)

sleep productivity [day 169]

I wish, just some of the time, that I could turn off my brain.  It’s full of active monkeys, as one of my friends said.  Another says I have crossed-wire mentality, that’s why I can be creative and artistic, but at the other end of the spectrum, do computer programming and financial analysis.

As I sit here at 2-something in the morning, realizing I can’t sleep because I was designing things in my head that need to get into the computer, I decided it’s cool to be productive while sleeping.  Doesn’t do much good for sleep, so this next part, we’ll attribute to lack of sleep.

As I thought about my brain, it reminded me of the Spongebob Sqaurepants episode where Squidward makes Spongebob remember everything about fine dining, then he forgets his name.  The scene is in his head as many Spongebobs look desperately through file cabinets, depicting his brain cells.   Poor Spongebob is in a panic to remember his name.  Eventually his head blows up and he freaks out.  Good thing it’s a cartoon.

Like Spongebob, I love to use my imagination.  Sometimes it’s so far out there that it scares people, or they just can’t see the big picture of my thoughts.  The reason is that most of it is abstract, not at all normal.  I see an opportunity of any type and I have to process it.  Everyone thought Spongebob was crazy when he came up with pretty patties.  The thing that makes him so happy is that he’s motivated by fun, and the general joyfulness that comes from using his creativity.  Not all of his ideas work out for the best, but at least he’s not afraid to try them.  So if you find the magic pencil, put it to work.  My magic pencil came in the middle of the night.  It’s still well before 3 a.m. and I’m off to make a latte, and use my creative superpowers to design the time machine I built in my dream.

an eyePEACE for free?

problem: $0

I want to use the video feature on my DSLR, but when it’s bright and I’m outside, I can’t see the screen on the back of the camera in order to change my manual focus.

possible solution: $375

I can buy a Zacuto Z-find attachment for my camera. The low end model is around $285 and the pro model is around $385. My money tree hasn’t started blooming yet, so let’s move on.

brainstorming: $0

On weekends I run tech with, well, and bunch of techie people at work. I told them my problem and how I thought I could make one of these for free. I mean really, all I need is for it to be dark so I can see the screen.  My idea was to get some cardboard and duct tape and make a cute little hood, similar in size to the expensive pro thing.  I was challenged by Aaron who said, “You can’t do that, what will you use for the glass?  You can’t do that without glass.”  He later joked that I would have a paper towel tube taped to the camera.  So he was right, I did need some magnifying glass to pull this off.  The expensive pro thing is just a glorified loupe, and I’m pretty sure I still have at least one of those from my film photography days.  I also have motivation now that someone challenged me that it cannot be done.

the solution: $0

Yes, I said $0.  I decided to do a MacGyver on this.  Even if I wanted to buy the pro thing, I can’t because I’m doing my one year of no retail shopping.  Here’s the step by step process I used to design and create my free… oh, it needs a name, doesn’t it?  Hmmm, how about eyePEACE?  (the penny-wise everlasting adaptable cone-shaped eyepiece)  Eye feel much peace that I did not spend $300.

step 1: find stuff

I dug through my garage to see what raw materials I could find.  Not only did I find my loupe, I found 2 of them and a magnifying glass.  (sometimes if pays to be a pack-rat)  Here’s my list of materials and it’s all stuff I already own, and in some cases, about to recycle:

  • magnifying glass
  • duct tape
  • a cream cheese container
  • a piece of junk mail
  • a black t-shirt
  • an oversized hairband

If you don’t have everything you need, check out a thrift store or freecycle, or better yet, post your need as your Facebook status update.  Other people have junk too, and in most cases, would be happy to part with it.  Continue reading