Friday, November 7, 2014

Departure Date vs. Money

This next Amazon payout looks like it's going to suck. Our payouts haven't gone below $1,000 for awhile now. We've been getting about $1,200 to $1,500 every two weeks pretty consistently. That's what we're grossing before expenses. It's been good, but not great. Part of our comfort at this income level is because we aren't paying rent, and we will hopefully never have car payments. Well. The next payment is scheduled for the 8th, and it's just creeping over $600. Not so good.

We might push back our unscheduled-anyway departure date to save some more money. I have some meager savings, but I'm also trying to feed my Roth IRA, and I don't want to rob my own coffee can to pay for gas and food. I also have my van up for sale on Craigslist, and it would be nice to get that dealt with before leaving. (Anybody need a van for $900?)

I got an email from George, who has been reading this blog sometimes ever since the first time I went to Key West and was living in the aforementioned van. He said he's headed down to Austin TX soon and we're welcome to visit him at the living structure he's built that has a docking port for the step van that he's been living in for years. (Did I mention that this man is awesome?) Well, I don't have much of a clue what I'm doing on this trip I keep talking about, so stopping by Austin on our way to California sounds like a concrete idea. After exchanging some emails throughout time, it'd be great to finally meet more good humans and see what they're horsing around with.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Preparation for Ford Festiva Winter Adventure 2014-2015.

The time to leave is getting near. The Ford Festiva will pull away from PA, and we'll be off exploring and wasting time. There is still preparation to be done before we leave, and procrastination has left a to-do list with too few checkmarks. As our departure draws near, I'm happy to report that a couple items can now be removed from the list.

Item number one: seatbelts. When I bought the Festiva, the passenger side shoulder belt was missing the clip that attaches the webbing to the track for the automatic seatbelt. I called junkyards and checked with online auto part finder services. The part was not nearly as easy to find as I anticipated. After posting for the second time on the forums, somebody was kind enough to send me the clip. For free. It showed up in an empty cigarette box stuffed in an envelope. Sometimes life is awesome.

So I got the clip. Today, I found somebody to sew it back onto the webbing. I learned from the internet that shoe repair shops have the necessary heavy duty sewing machines for the job. Also, auto upholstery shops may be able to help. I called some places. Some would take over a week, and another couldn't offer an estimate over the phone. "I just want a ballpark," I said. "$5 or $500?" He couldn't guess within $100, so I decided that an hour round trip drive was not in the works. I called another number, and a friendly hometown Mexican guy told me that his shop was now closed, but he had the sewing machine in his house. He could meet me at the Italian American club in five minutes. I drove over. I showed him the seatbelts, which I'd unbolted from the Festiva, and he said he could have them ready in a few hours. Sure enough, a few hours later I had the sewn-up seatbelts bolted back in place. $20. Sometimes life is awesome.

One bolt to remove and install. Simple.

Item number two: sleeping arrangements. Previously, I had what I thought was a good sleeping system. With the back seat removed, and a platform built in the cargo area, I laid out some memory foam and thought I had a comfortable scenario. When I tested it for a night of sleep, I found it was not as good as I thought. My body sank into the seat too much, which left me feeling like I was tilted uphill too much. My top half rested on a table, as my lower half bent down at an angle. I made it through the night, but it would be hard to get used to this.

Today, I cut some 2x3's and 3/8" plywood to make a platform extension which fits over the front seats when they are fully reclined. Much, much, better. The seat platforms are fairly even and level with the cargo area platform, and when I tested it out, it felt truly flat and level. Comfortable, in fact. Kristin and I both laid down in the car, and Daisy joined us. Yes - I believe the two of us and our tiny dog will sleep fairly comfortably in a Ford Festiva.

I still need to prepare a few things. I would like to add cheap window tint, and get a windshield cover for added privacy. A system of curtains may also be in order.

The looming to-do's are being tackled, and soon we will leave. I am hoping for the best. An adventure to remember.

2x3 support cross; toe nailed joint (drywall screws)

3/8" plywood

Memory foam over all that.

Level surface for happy sleeping. Kaboom.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Certain Improvement of Circumstance

I started taking another pill. It's supposed to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I've always hesitated to take any medication for anything. A headache would have to be pretty bad before I'd consider an Aspirin for it. None of that stopped me from fairly heavy drinking throughout my 20's, which ironically was largely about self-medication of all the underlying unrest that I was so hesitant to take meds for. That's how I've come to see it anyway. That's my current mental framework.

Anxiety, ADHD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's a lot to overcome for a guy whose self image is that of a happy-happy goofball. I used to handle all those brain issues better before I was an adult. Before I was 18, I couldn't very well move to escape the malaise and discontent brought on by winter. ADHD was no problem, because I could easily scrape by in school. My aim was only to get my diploma, and I could do that in my sleep. I basically did. With my life laid out in front of me, and little choice about where to live or work, the anxiety issues were not as pronounced as they would later become.

In my 20's I began to have choices. ADHD is absolute hell when you have an office job. It is absolute hell to be employed doing anything I do not have a personal stake in. Seasonal Affective Disorder raised questions - like WHY AM I STILL HERE THEN? Meanwhile, I drank and drank and drank. I told myself I was young, and young men drink. I always knew it was bad practice, and I often thought I would have trouble hitting the brakes. At 29, I quit. Three years have passed.

I used to think humans were good. In aggregate, I thought there was more natural good, and that time and science would lead humans to repairing the damage that we do to each other and to the Earth. I no longer believe this. I think that view is naive. It's a nice story that we all use to justify our existence and make ourselves feel better. The truth, I believe now, is not uplifting. Humans are an invasive species. We are the greatest threat to our own planet, and almost every activity we engage in feeds a system of greater overwhelming destruction. I believe this, and somehow I have to be okay with this.

The sun is setting earlier every day. The fall weather is beautiful, and still I feel the deep rattle of uncertainty creeping over me. People take drugs for this. As I said in my opening, I've always been resistant to those medications, but now I am ready to reevaluate. I started taking something for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and so far it's a success. I feel like myself. Everything will be fine. I don't have to do a damn thing in life, I am basically powerless to fix our species' greatest problems, and for the moment that's okay. I can sit on the sidelines for a minute and think.

I want to take time out to research more philosophy. People have had all sorts of disturbing thoughts and theories about the Big Questions of life. I'm ignorant of the bulk of philosophical thought, and I think I have a lot to gain by exploring the questions and theories of the smarter people before me. I need to take time to sort my own life out before I can help others the way I have always wanted to. Somehow.

My views on life and Earth and god and humans have been evolving rapidly over the past three or four years. I've spent too much time rolling my eyes at myself. I've felt too disappointed that my species isn't as great as I used to believe it might be. None of that is the critical matter at hand. I have to continue in a straight line forward through time. Time will not speed up or slow down, so I am tasked with the mission of learning how I can pass my time with the smallest amount of suffering. I am better when I am positive. Happiness and positive thinking is healthy for me from a selfish perspective, but that same positive attitude is a necessary platform if I ever want to help others. I want to be the buoy; not the anchor.

Today, I am well. The leaves are half fallen, and the leaves remaining on the trees create a beautiful filter for the gentle fall sun. I have every ingredient I need for a satisfied life, and most of the work is either complete or under way. Everything is fine, and the future holds an almost certain improvement of circumstance.