Lenovo Idea Pad Duet 5 Unboxing
Sunday, October 1, 2023
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Anker 757 Portable Powerhouse Box Opening
Box opening of the Anker 757 Portable Powerhouse. IT'S A BEAST!!! I'm hoping this will aid me in my glassblowing endeavors on the road away from the studio. Take a look and please hit that thumbs up and subscribe. I'm trying to grow my channel. Stay tuned for a follow-up video after I get a chance to use it.
Monday, January 2, 2023
Friday, October 11, 2019
I awoke just a bit ago feeling very chilly and I hate the cold. It's still dark out and the temperature is hovering at freezing. I'm living in a rolling home, a 22ft motorhome, and I lazily parked for the night without propane or water. So there's no water for tea and even if there was, there's no propane with which to heat the water for tea. So I guess I'll shiver in silence. You would think that after going on two years of this kind of lifestyle I wouldn't let myself get into this kind of predicament but then you would be underestimating my laziness. ;-)
If it's too cold to sleep and definitely too cold to get out of bed what else does one do but surf Facebook? Come on, you know you do it! So, when I looked at Facebook it threw up my most "liked" picture of 2017.
Now as anyone who knows me can tell you, I take a lot of pics! I really expected a pic of some beautiful vista, flower, or bike trail - one of my usual pics that is. Instead I was confronted with the picture above of an empty 10ft X 10ft storage unit I had just managed to gut. I guess my embrace of minimalism attracted admirers or perhaps voyeurs who wished to accomplish something similar in their lives. The caption of the pic is as follows:
For the first time in my adult life I no longer have a leased storage unit. Now it's true that I still have some work to do on my embrace of minimalism but it's all under one roof now and able to be better sorted, re-homed, dumped, or made into a burnt offering. Making progress...
It was true. I had storage all of my adult life up to that point and had probably spent, all said and done, around $40,000+ on storage over the years. And for what? To shuffle things from one pile to another because I was hanging on to things that no longer fit in my day to day life. Oh to be sure, there were valuable piles, some valuable in sentimental attachment, others valuable in monetary attachment but the operative word there is attachment.
Whatever my reason, it was an unhealthy attachment to things that no longer fit into my life for one reason or another. I had moved on but instead of letting those things go, I dragged them along with me.
I originally simply wanted to do away with the expense of warehousing all of this stuff I had managed to accumulate over the years. It was pretty simple really, I didn't want the expense of caring for this added baggage any longer. Little did I know that this purge would soon spill over into other areas of my life as well, such as my relationships with people, personal, professional, and spiritual but that's a story for another time. My brain is too cold at the moment to even explore and or unpack the topic.
These are the things I was thinking in the wee hours of the morning as I snuggled under my blankets trying to keep warm in the frosty darkness just before twilight. Living a life of minimalism in a rolling home is great for introspection and that's good because that's all I can do right now. It's too cold to stick my nose out from under the covers!
Sunday, September 15, 2019
For the most part, my last year and a half living in a rolling home has been amazing, memorable, and for the most part the people I have encountered have been kind, hospitable, encouraging, and even envious.
Sure, it's had its challenges, trials, and tribulations. There has been a series of repairs, though no breakdowns which stranded me. I switched vehicles in mid trip which was a journey in and of itself. There have been some health challenges which seem to have been mollified for now. There have been longer than unexpected layovers where I spent much more time in one place or another than I had anticipated. And some of the shows and sales I have had haven't been up the financial levels I am use to.
However, all in all, my surprise life in a rolling home has been an adventure I wouldn't trade for anything and one I would recommend for almost anyone wanting to learn more about themselves and the world in which they live.
And then there are moments that just make me shake my head...
During my continued and extended stay in the Ozarks Mountains I rolled over to a retreat center/ministry place I have a deep and loving connection with. The people who run the place are absolutely the best and I count them as dear friends. Their hospitality, generosity, and kindness is the kind one rarely finds in this old world of ours but one often shared in these here Ozark Mountains. These folks and their ministry are a blessing to me in every sense of the word.
I had been staying there in my motorhome, Milton, when a wedding party booked all of the lodging facilities on the grounds. This didn't really affect me as, in the lyrics of an Arlo Guthrie tune, I was boondocked "off the side of a side road" and was in fully self-contained mode with no hookups, nor need.
I had been out and about on the town with a friend, when we returned to the motorhome to find a fellow wanting to speak with me. He was with the wedding party.
Now let me say, never wanting to be a burden, I had checked with the team at the center to see if I needed to move off the grounds to make room for anything or anyone from the wedding party. They had assured me that I was fine. I reiterated yet again my offer to vacate and they assured me everything it really was okay for me to stay there. Being parked barely off of a gravel road leading to several houses down the street and plenty of distance away from any loding or building and completely out of sight of the wedding circus tent they were raising, I thought I was in a pretty out of the way place.
This fellow with the wedding party didn't think so. He said that they were going to use that area for parking.
Now, my motorhome is a mini motorhome. It's five feet longer than a conventional full sized van and at twenty-two feet, just one foot longer than a 1972 Oldsmobile Delta Eighty-Eight Royale Convertible that I use to own. Milton takes up a single parking space and a half. For an RV, he has a small footprint.
So I looked at the fellow, looked at the proposed parking area, looked at Milton, and asked a gentle and yet pointed question,
"Do you really think that a parking space and a half would make a huge difference in the parking spot availability?"
Seeing the logic in my question he shifted tactics...
"Well, the bride and groom want to take some pictures with an uninterrupted view."
"And a grassy knoll parked with the cars, trucks, and vans of wedding guests wouldn't obstruct the view?"
By then I knew what was up, they simply objected to the motorhome itself. Milton is an 1985 model and though he's in good shape for his age, he is not, however, the most beautiful boy at the dance. I find most motorhomes and RVs to be terribly ugly and older ones can be even more so. Milton might not be the most beautiful boy at the party but he ain't the ugliest one either. One might gently describe him as homely, a fitting description since he is my home.
I quickly kicked into patronizing wide smile mode and was in the process of assuring him I would move and that it would take me a little bit of time to have everything ready to go, when he asked a question that triggered no small amount of egotistic irritation in me.
"Does that thing even run?"
I didn't say what went through my mind at that point. My southern manicured manners wouldn't allow it. I won't even write it but instead I'll leave it to your colorful imagination. I had previously turned around and was getting ready to climb in Milton to ready him for departure but this fellow had hit a nerve in me and he now warranted my full seething attention so I slowly turned back around.
As I turned I let slide across my face the most southern deprecating smile I could muster. One that spoke volumes - with curled lips and almost fiery glaring eyes. One that would make small southern children quake in the realization that they just had just crossed a point of no return with their teacher and had better retreat quickly. One that would make Pastor John rethink his refusal to the invitation to Sunday dinner from Sister Margret when they shook hands after the service. I think I even straightened my shoulders and squared them off a bit when I offered,
"Why, yes of course he runs! I've traveled in him quite a few places and in fact I live in him. I am a longstanding visitor and guest to this place and am here, like you, with permission."
My ego got the best of me and to my shame I pointed out that not only was I a frequent guest and visitor there but that I had also, at times over the years, held mass there in the chapel and conducted other gatherings and retreats on the grounds. I am ashamed of this part of the conversation as the proper and humble thing was to simply say nothing but smile and move on. However, my perception at the time, rightly or wrongly, was that somehow he was treating me less than and talking down to me and that poked my usually slumbering ego into waking.
At that exchange the fellow looked at me differently and began to backpedal, trying to offer several alternative parking places for me, none of which would have really worked for the wedding party or for me but he was trying, bless his heart. He now looked a little less condescending and aggressive and perhaps even a little penitent and I dare say sheepish.
Inwardly I smiled at his new found humility and as quickly, felt revulsion and guilt at my own shameless display of peacockery. I recovered my sanity and stinging with disappointment in myself, smiled tiredly and gently said,
"Well, that's neither here nor there. I'll gladly move just give me a few minutes."
I told my friend that I'd be ready to go in a few and where I planned to rendezvous with her to figure out where to head next. To my friend's ingenuity, and while I was readying Milton to move and the wedding fellow was still trying to find a compromise, she called her landlord, whom I had previously met, to see if I could simply park in the driveway overnight. The lady and lord of the land graciously consented and we were off. My friend and good old fashioned Ozark Mountain hospitality had saved the day.
In VanLife or RVLife people in more traditional homes and living circumstances can sometimes and often do, refer to us as homeless and I think they honestly see us that way. They question our quality of life, the sanity of our choices, and often try to project their own needs, desires, and insecurities upon us. People have even suggested I am punishing myself by living the minimalistic lifestyle I live. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I always counter with: I'm not homeless, my home just rolls where yours stays in place. And with: I'm not deprived at all but quite the opposite, I feel like I live a decadent life of comfort, freedom, and ease. They then almost always ask solicitously, "But you really want a real home don't you?"
And I answer, "I have a real home."
The maybe unconscious condescension in these types of questions and assumptions sometimes challenges me. It did so during this encounter. It may have been my own projection onto this fellow with the wedding party and I own that but it seemed to me that he began the conversation treating me as a seemingly homeless person in a broken down vehicle who was something to be pushed aside from the view of the bridal coronation that was to take place. As something less than.
The whole exchange has offered me the gift of introspection. After all, the only thing I can honestly do is to look within myself for a change in my own heart, rooting out my own insecurities and my own stinging pride and to change my own reactions when such encounters happen and they will always happen while I choose to live in a real home which just happens to be on wheels.
The wedding party fellow was only acting out of ignorance, wedding stress, and within a construct of societal norms and projections. All of which were temporary, forgivable, and able to be addressed within the context of mind-expanding education. He gave me a great gift though, one of self-discovery and exploration, and for that, I thank him.
It also gives me further insight into how people treat others who unlike me and those of us embracing this #VanLife or RVLife lifestyle may have been forced into a living situation such as ours, and how those unfortunate people may feel with the kind of condescension that often comes from others in regards to their forced lifestyle. That's another gift of this encounter, one of broadening and deepening my empathy and again I'm thankful.
Hopefully, in the future, I will be more sensitive to everyone concerned with this kind of issue and in this kind of encounter. Until then, I'll work on my own ego and tendency to project.
I will also work on my deprecating southern smile. I don't really think it was withering enough! More evidence that I've spent too much time in the northern states.
Happy trails! Do what you love and love what you do!
Friday, August 23, 2019
Living in a Class C Motorhome is anything but simple at times and though I have many, many fewer possessions than I had when I began this journey, I feel less like a minimalist living in larger rolling house.
There's an old saying, less is more and there's so much truth to that. As I've been continuing to downsize and minimalize, I'm coming to appreciate that truth as it translates within my reality. Nothing could illustrate the point better than my recent adventure in moving from a full size van into a Class C mini-motorhome.
I started out this adventure in a 1995 Ford Econoline Chateau Club Wagon, the Kraken. I spent a good deal of time working on a build-out in the van in which I could live when I did craft shows. I meticulously engineered my build to meet my specific needs which was heavy on storage in order to store my tools, raw materials, displays, and inventory for being a traveling glassblower.
Now it's important to note than when I was getting ready for this adventure it was only going to be a part time gig while I was traveling doing craft shows. It beat paying for hotel rooms and insured maximum profitability for me. However after 6 months I returned home to a failed relationship and a completely new reality for my life going forward. That's when I started evaluating #VanLife and what my needs going forward were or might be.
I spent another 6 months in the Kraken living in it as a home. It worked in very many ways but there were a few things that were troubling. I couldn't sit straight up unless I were sitting in one of the front seats, I absolutely couldn't make glass in side the van, and my climate control was fine for cool to cold weather but during hot weather I didn't have air conditioning or even screened windows to open. It was also hard to entertain in the van. It was a cramped space really only built for one. Now, it's not like I have an exciting social life but one always hopes for the possibilities and I do like to cook dinner for friends et cetera.
Years ago, when I was married I traveled in a Class C motorhome with a wife and three cats. We traveled doing much the same thing I have been doing this last year, making and selling glass. It was a 24ft older motorhome and lacked some of the creatures comforts of other similar RVs in better condition but I really enjoyed it. My wife did not. We eventually returned to living in a stationary house with all the bills and all the responsibilities that come with. One year later my wife lamented leaving the road because "life was so much easier and sweeter in the motorhome." Too soon we get old and too late we get smart.
Having had that early experience of traveling and living in a Class C motorhome I always thought in my mind that that was the perfect situation for me as a traveling glassblower. I could work in one, live in one, sell from one, travel in one, and even entertain in one and all in reasonable comfort. (Wow! While typing this I keep thinking to myself, this sounds good and the option I should focus on!)
I was in Quartzsite Arizona when I first saw the RV of my dreams, a 1985 Chevrolet MRV Mini-Motorhome. So when the opportunity arose to turn seven hundred glass hummingbirds into a 22ft Class C motorhome I jumped at the chance. "Milton" became mine.
Everything worked in him and the roof didn't leak. The refrigerator was new, to the tune of over a thousand dollars. The generator was practically unused and Milton had been obviously cared for all of his life. He also had half the miles my van had on it. His awning was great and he had a new mattress in the full size bed. Even his tires were pretty new. All in all, he was a great vehicle and home.
I danced back and forth on whether to keep him or not. I didn't go into this change of lifestyle blindly. Because of my former travels in in a Class C, I knew of the added expense in gas, oil, and fluids for travel; I knew of the greater cost of repairs not only in regards to the "house" part of the vehicle but also in regards to the mechanics of the aging van part of the vehicle; I knew of the parking challenges and I knew of the driving challenges. I understood how greater luxury would mean less freedom because I would need more money for this new living arrangement and to make more money I'd have to work more, making and selling more glass. Being more of a slave to money meant less freedom. I knew all this and still I chose the new RV. I tearfully sold the Kraken and embraced my new life.
My gas mileage has been predictably bad but then I am comparing it to sixteen to nineteen miles a gallon in the van and so four to eight miles a gallon in the RV is terrible. So far, my repairs have exceeded the amount I spent on the van the entire time I owned it and when I sold it the van was in pretty good condition. I am even now at this writing struggling with an engine repair that may be more serious than I thought at first.
There's no doubt about it, moving into Milton and selling the Kraken has slowed my journey to a standstill. If it's not the cost of repairs then it's the cost of fuel. I'm not sure I continue to want to trade my freedom for some creature comforts or conveniences that aren't critical to my enjoyment of life on the road.
Embracing minimalism has taught me how little I need to be comfortable, content, and indeed happy and how needing so very little gives one a greater sense and reality of freedom. I've also realized that I crave freedom much more than I do excessive comfort or material things. This has been a lesson well learned.
I may or may not move back into a van but I know now what its critical to my comfort and what is needed for my space. Time will tell the story...
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
It's hard to believe that I've been living in a rolling home for exactly one year as of today. So much has happened since that fateful day, some of it wonderful, some of it extraordinary, some of it beautiful, some of it challenging, and some of it beyond heartbreaking. In short, what a ride it's been!
There's an old John Lennon lyric that goes something like this, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."
I learned long ago that the sentiment expressed in that simple observation was profound and it certainly has rang true for me this year. I started out with one set of goals, dreams, and vision and ended up with almost none of those plans working out or even mattering now. What a difference a year makes.
This leads me to ruminate on something that I've been working on for a while and that is, that I think it's important to manage our expectations. Expectations left to their own devices and desires can run amok in our lives and steal our joy if we let them.
Now I'm not suggesting that we do away with hopes and dreams but what I am suggesting is that we don't let our natural expectations define our moment. I don't think we should use them as a litmus test of success but instead, we should use them as a measuring device of where we were, where we hoped to go, and where we are now. We should always try to look for the joy of the moment, even in despair, frustration, and or perceived defeat. It's there, if only we'll look.
My journey in #VanLife, when I first started out, was littered with expectations and if I let them, those expectations would convince me I had failed in my journey. Almost every one of them played out in a different way for me than I had expected.
Some of those ways have been very hard to adjust to and some of them have been very uncomfortable but they have all introduced some much needed introspection and ultimately personal growth for me as a person, a glassblower, a writer, and as a person of faith. It's important to state that, left to my own devices and desires, I would have not chosen a single one of them for myself and yet, here I am.
For those of you thinking about embarking upon #VanLife I would invite you to hold your expectations lightly. I would invite you to be gentle with yourselves as you approach a new way of life. I would invite you to be open to the beauty of the moment instead of getting caught up in perceived projections and or half-assed assumptions. Try to be supple rather than rigid. You won't break that way.
Let yourself be; let yourself breathe; let yourself grow. Give yourself the gift of time and exploration. Don't rush or try to control the journey but rather simply live it.
For what it's worth, that's my reflection after a year of living on the road in a rolling home.
I will turn half a century old soon. Statistics would suggest I could easily live to be a century old before I retire this ole body. Regardless of how long I have left, I plan on living my life radically different than I did for the first fifty years.
I'm going to try to let myself be; let myself breathe; let myself grow. I'm going to give myself the gift of time and exploration. I'm going to try not to rush or control the journey but rather simply live it. I would invite you to do the same.
Be safe and do what you love and love what you do!
Monday, April 22, 2019
Oh my goodness, life has taken another turn on the wheel. For me it's a time of transition, metamorphosis, and rediscovery but then that could be everyday really.
While visiting Arizona this winter, I went on a side adventure to Tucson and then to Sedona Arizona. When I returned to Quartzsite, my little world would change forever.
There was a Class C motorhome for sale in the vendors' lot where I had set up camp. It was a great temptation. It was an older motorhome but in great shape. As a matter of fact, I hadn't seen one this old in as good a shape for so little money perhaps ever.
The little treasure was a 1985 Chevrolet MRV Freeport Signature Class C Motorhome. In so many ways it was everything that I had originally looked for and hoped for when shopping for a vehicle in which to travel and stay in.
The little treasure was a 1985 Chevrolet MRV Freeport Signature Class C Motorhome. In so many ways it was everything that I had originally looked for and hoped for when shopping for a vehicle in which to travel and stay in.
When I was originally looking for something to travel in for my glass business I was looking at Class C motorhomes but couldn't find one that suited my needs, in the condition I needed be it to be in, that I could afford. So I settled on my full-size van affectionately named the Kraken.
The Kraken was a thing of beauty and was in fabulous shape, a most handsome grey 1995 Ford Econoline E150 Clubwagon Chateau. I was able to do the build-out on the inside and make it everything that I needed it to be with a few glaring exceptions and best of all he was beautifully grey inside and out, more than 50 shades I might add.
Those exceptions weighed heavily upon me during this last year. Because of my storage needs for inventory and things for my business, my bunk had to be built a little higher off the floor then I would have liked. As a result I could never sit straight up in the van while in back. I also could not make glass in the van because there was no space to do it safely or even really at all. Entertaining was also a challenge and if I was ever to have a social life I thought perhaps I needed something larger with a full kitchen, a place for two people to comfortably dine, and more sleeping room. While I had grown used to personal hygiene practices in a van, I still felt that I would like a shower unit and the van was not conveniently conducive to that.
The Kraken had checked off all of my needs but the new motorhome seemed to check off most of the rest of my checklist in terms of both needs and wants.
All said and done the Class C cost me seven hundred crystal glass hummingbird suncatchers wholesale.
I ended up acquiring the motorhome and then began to decide what to do with two vehicles, which one to sell and which one to keep as I certainly couldn't keep both. After putting them both up for sale and taking them both down several different times I ended up selling the Kraken.
It was a bitter sweet day. The Kraken had carried me on the beginning of my journey and had seen me through some real heartache and struggle. He had provided sanctuary in a topsy-turvy world in which I unexpectedly found myself. He was my safe place. He went to a good home though. A good guy who was living the #VanLife from Washington State adopted him. They will, hopefully, have many adventures together!
Everyone who knows me knows that I think everything must have a name. The new RV, however, wouldn't give me its name for the longest time and people were asking, "what did you name it?" I usually like to live with a thing for a bit while we get to know one another. Eventually the thing usually offers it's name, we come up with a name together, or a friend offers a name that sticks. That wasn't happening.
When I was preparing to leave Arizona, I started the motorhome and was pulling out. As is my custom with all vehicles I've owned, I patted the dash and said , "okay, let's get going...Milton."
Wait! WTF? Where did that come from?! It felt like an epiphany but I thought, Milton huh?! Next thought, Milton who? John Milton? Strange enough, it resonated.
It was weird but it felt/feels right. Not a name I would have necessarily chosen but Milton it was.
I have to brush up on my reading a bit. It's been many, many years since I read any Milton. He of course was the seventeenth century English poet who wrote, most notably, "Paradise Lost" and also, less notably, "Paradise Regained" among other works.
Perhaps I was channeling my anxiety about selling the Kraken and I felt that paradise was indeed lost. Who knows?! The name was a complete surprise to me. Hopefully I will find that while paradise was lost, it has also been regained.
Be that as it may, Milton is my new home on my continuing adventure.