Thank you for visiting!

You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting to know me-

No, not you getting to know me. Me getting to know me. I am in transition. I am in conscious transition. I plan to retire at the end of next December, and I am moving into my next career. I have no idea what that career will be.

So, I bought the 2009 edition of What Color is Your Parachute, by Richard Nelson Bolles. It has been around for decades, and always sells well. Mr. Bolles updates the book regularly. I am sure he makes a lot of money by doing so, but I really get the feeling that he cares enough about the people who might use his book to do so for their benefit. I suspect he is wealthy enough by now not to have to do this, but he keeps on doing it.

More than just how to find a job he has tools in this book to aid a person in getting to know themselves. Though I have long been circumspect in my life I don't know how well I actually know myself. These tools will be useful in getting to know me, and from there I can figure out where I really want to go.

All of my previous careers (if such some of them can be called) have been taken to care for my family. I am at a point where I also have to seriously consider what I need. I need to find something that is not just a source of money, but something that will allow me to express myself through work. This has to be more than a job. I have had a lot of jobs. Now I need something more.

Presently I am reading through the book, familiarizing myself with the contents. I shall read it again, and do the exercises. Many are hard, and it will take time. I want to take that time. I want to do this well, and find a path that continues to care for my family and allows me to grow as a human being.

I look forward to getting to know me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Digging out the roots-

Overcoming our own shortcomings is no easy task. The hard part, one would think, is recognizing that we are not quite so wonderful as we might have deluded ourselves into thinking we were.

Perhaps I shouldn't use 'we.' I am talking about me. I have had several periods of depression in my life, and over time I have become bitter. I recognize my own faults in this. I have to, or I won't overcome the problem.

So, from studying I have found techniques to manage the depression and related anger. For the most part I have done well in learning to manage this problem. I accept it as a health problem. A mental health problem, but no less a health problem for that.

The years of depression and anger, however, have allowed a deep rooted bitterness to take hold. This is proving more difficult. Bitterness leads to a critical and unforgiving attitude, and that attitude can be a firmly established habit.

I thought quitting smoking was hard.

The "cure" for a bitter heart is to forgive. That is very hard. Not the first time. No. That isn't so hard. It is to forgive and forgive and forgive. When you are out to change yourself the other people won't necessarily change. They will continue to offend, intentionally and more often without intent.

Two weeks ago I felt I was making headway. During the last two weeks the people who offend me most often have offended again. In a most unforgiving manner I spoke ill of those people in a context that was not suitable. I failed to forgive, and I fed that very root of bitterness I was striving to remove.

So, like a drunk or a junkie, I must begin again each and every day.

The fact is, this is a hard thing I am doing. Like giving up smoking, only much more difficult.

My name is Michael Lockridge, and I am addicted to my own bitterness.

One day at a time. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Camp Stove-

I picked up a Northwest Territories single burner camp stove the other day. I have used it twice. The burner head is screwed onto a small propane tank, which sits in a base that keeps it stable.

The stove lights quickly using a simple lighter. Even at low setting it provides a good amount of heat. When heating the contents of a can this can present a challenge. I found I had to stir often, and frequently remove the pot from the burner to prevent burning the food. Still, for the cost this is an adequate stove. The total investment was less than fifteen dollars.

If real cooking is important in your camping experience I would recommend spending more and shopping carefully for a suitable camp stove. However, for a budget unit that can boil water quickly and (with care) heat canned foods, this thing is just fine.

I would eventually like to find a small grill that will add to my camp kitchen. A bucket grill might be just the thing. The Sagaform Metal Barbeque Bucket Grill seems like a very good choice to me. Very simple, and it looks like it would do the job for quite a few years.

So far my camp cooking is extremely simple. Heat and serve. However, I know camp cooking can be an art, and I may well decide to follow that muse in the coming months and years.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Minimalist RV-

So, my Sporz II truck tent occupies the back of my truck. The air mattress/foam pad bed fills most of the interior space. I have begun to regularly put up the awning that is part of the tent, and apply three tarps to enclose the area covered by the awning.

This configuration has been adequate for my current camping needs. It has been the focus of my thoughts as I continue to explore the idea of the minimalist RV.

Minimalism in an RV is a matter of cost as well as size and complexity. My current system is cheap, but does require some set-up and break-down time. I would like to reduce that time, but not at a much greater cost.

The RoadTrek RV is pretty small and simple, self contained and on the whole a nice vehicle. Unfortunately, the RoadTrek is expensive. For those with the money, it is a great minimalist option. Set-up appears relatively quick. Practically none, if you are not connecting to sewer, water and power.

Cheaper are the Westfalia campers. These are quite adequate, especially for one or two people. Much cheaper than the RoadTrek, but still a bit of an investment at around $15,ooo for a good rebuilt unit. Again, for those keeping things simple they are a good choice, if the cost is not an issue.

More and more the stealth camper cargo van appeals to me. Especially after examining the options for tents that attach to the open rear of such a vehicle. In full stealth mode the unit needs to be modified to provide for sleeping and potty needs, and some resource regarding water and cooking. Probably the cooking should be done outdoors unless a suitable ventilation system is installed.

When a more luxurious camp can be established the tent can be erected and attached to the open rear of the van, providing some living space in which you can actually stand up! The tents add only a couple of hundred dollars to the cost of the modified van. The vans can be gotten at a relatively low cost, sometimes just a few thousand dollars.

This set up is superior to my own in that it can be stealth camped. I cannot do that.

For those who do not understand stealth camping it is setting up to sleep in areas generally not open to camping. A stealth camper will fit in around similar vehicles, and not draw attention as the owner sleeps within. A white cargo van fits the bill quite nicely. For those stops in between regular camp grounds it is a great set up.

Tioga George was skillful in stealth camping a class C motorhome. The cargo van can be even more easily stealthed. Just pull into an area late at night where cargo vans are common, and go to bed. No lights, no cooking. Just sleep. Leave before people are up the next day.

The intent of stealth camping is often to skirt the laws regarding overnight camping. A camper must assess their own relationship with such laws, and the idea of violating a law in general, before stealth camping. The low cost (free) might be sufficient to convert otherwise law-abiding citizens to stealth from time to time. Others will be compelled to seek out an "authorized" campground in order to feel comfortable with camping.

I recognize that some of these laws are intended to prevent people from living on the streets of a community without providing any contribution to the local community through taxes and such. Other such laws are simply a way of driving people into paid campgrounds in order for the campgrounds to make the money they would not get if campers could just camp on the streets.

If you are planning stealth camping as you pass through a community and are a responsible camper, I don't see a real issue with ignoring a petty law. keep it clean, keep it quiet, and stay only long enough to get rested.

On the occasions you use a regular camp ground the tent extension can really make a van a home. If my little tarp expansion on my Sportz II truck tent can make this bit of cloth seem like home, then I can easily believe that a tent added to a stealth camping van would seem a mansion.

Perhaps I will get the opportunity to set up a stealth camping rig and try it out. The whole minimalist RV thing is fun for me, and I would love to give this a try.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year-

The whole New Years Eve thing has never been particularly important to me. Parties, lights, noise. Nope, not for me.

In most of my past journals I did make some note of the new year. Reflection. Speculation. Very few resolutions. I never found that particularly interesting, either.

I have always enjoyed the time between Christmas and New Years Eve, however. It has always seemed peaceful. It always seemed quiet. The Great Christmas Huzzah, then the wait until the New Year. A contemplative period.

Now the New Year has begun. It is special, since this will be my last year as a correctional officer. It will be a year of preparing for what might come next. Time to consider a next career, and make the necessary preparations for the big change.

Our household will become full again this year, as my daughter Beth, son-in-law Dave, and the grandkids come back to live with us. We will have to creatively use the space in the house, and develop new ways of living together. I look forward to it. I loved having the little ones around, and being able to watch them grow will be wonderful.

The next Christmas is just over the horizon. It will come soon enough, and be most welcome when it does.

A whole new year. Pretty cool!

Virtual Travel-

A while back I did a virtual travel project. I plotted a course around the perimeter of the United States, and then tried to visit points along the way over the Internet. I collected photos and bits of information and made a file for each day of travel. I still have the collection in a rough format.

By the way, the virtual journey took about 270 days.

As I did this project I found that I really wanted more pictures and blogs relating to the many small towns I virtually passed through. Unfortunately there are not a lot of photos of the places. Some places will have family photos and friends photos, but few photos to show the place.

At this time I have a project idea growing in my mind. One that I can actually do, and encourage others to do. It is a virtual travel library of photos of places people might want to visit over the Internet. People who cannot travel at the moment, but who might want to visit some place via photos, videos and writing.

As I said, it is embryonic. At this point it is just the idea of people going out and photographing the place they live. Trying to get images that would share with the world the place they call home.

Many people don't value the place they live. Having lived there a long time they cannot see the place through new eyes. That would be the challenge.

The reward would be a wealth of place photos on the Internet. The reward might also be a new perspective on that place called home.

We just got a new camera. The images we can get with this camera are good enough for this particular project. It is just a digital snap-shot camera, and not particularly expensive. However, it is a tool I can use to begin my project.

So, if you happen by this blog and find the idea intriguing, get out there and take pictures. Share the place you call home with people like me.

I will do the same.