Friday 29 July 2016

The Shampoo Bottle Curse

One of the necessities that we all share, no matter our living arrangements is that we all need to see to personal hygiene.
This includes washing or some form of showering and yes, will include the use of shampoo. I am no different. No matter what form of bath I use: shower, jug shower, or bachelor’s bath, I will use shampoo.
One of the challenges of this lifestyle is that since I drag my house around behind me wherever I go, that things in cupboards tend to shift in transit.
This in and of itself is not really a problem but what is the problem is things falling out at you when you open that cupboard. This happened last night, prompting a reminiscent situation.
I opened my bathroom upper cupboard and out fell my shampoo bottle, aiming for my head. It bounced off of me and hit a sharp corner of my bathroom sink counter.
This poked a hole in the bottle, near the bottom of the bottle, of course. Oddly, enough this was not the first time that this had happened to me.
This has happened before and about a year ago, when I bought my last bottle of shampoo (I don’t have that much hair) the pump in it was cracked.
I thought about returning it to the store, but given the fact that the store would write off the bottle and toss it out, I didn’t.
That seemed like a waste as the shampoo was fine, just the bottle itself was damaged. Knowing that all I needed was a new bottle, a sturdier bottle, I got to thinking.
I realized that a good bottle was a plastic soda bottle. Since my shampoo bottle was one litre in size all I had to do was buy a one litre bottle of soda and drink its contents.
After doing that, and washing the bottle out I ended up with something looking like this.
That tasty looking concoction is my shampoo poured into that same soda bottle. I got exactly two showers out of the actual proper shampoo bottle before having to go back to this one.
Ah well, it works, it is sturdy and as I said before, there is nothing wrong with the shampoo itself, just the shampoo bottle.
This is yet another example of the creative solutions that I am forced to find to situations that most people don’t come across.
If you do find yourself with a damaged bottle of something, don’t toss it out, just find a new container.
As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Thursday 28 July 2016

Slow and Steady Should Win the Race

This is a blog entry to encourage people who are reading this while still mired in debt, feeling that they will never ever be able to be out from under it to just start tackling it!

Slow and steady really does win the race. No change, no large change, happens overnight. It would be more accurate to say that that change should not happen overnight.

If you get a large sum of money dropped into your lap, you will not know how to handle it. 

Most likely, and I’m speaking from experience here, you will find ways to fritter it away, because you are not used to having it.

It will take time to change your fiscal habits and attitudes towards money and cash flow.

Once you have done that then you will be in a position to better handle larger sums of money when you do get it.

Paying off Debt is not easy, nor is it quick; but that’s okay, you need the time to learn. 

It will take time to unlearn the bad habits that have been taught to us in order to keep us perpetually indebted. Just ask me about my “Trickle-Up Theory of Economics.”

I have said this before and I will say it again: being constantly mired in debt is not normal! This is not something to just throw up your hands and accept.

Find a way, make a plan, devise some (legal and ethical) way to get out of debt! 

Clean debt, such as a mortgage is fine. Buying a car is okay too, but constantly buying a new one just to always have a new one? Why?

There are many ways to squeak out a bit of cash from your budget and put that towards your debt. You can do this, you got this.

If you are like I was and awash in debt, please do something about it. If you need an encouraging word or perhaps a bit of advice, message me and I will be happy to help. 

For clarification and legal reasons, I am not a financial planner or other financial professional and I do not claim to be one. I am just an average guy who has figured out how to get my debt gone.

A good place to start would be to download the spreadsheets that are in the column to the left and play with your budget. 

Once again, for no reason whatsoever, here is your sunrise shot:

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Back in The Black!

Due to an oddity, I actually have my next paycheque in my hands now . . . early . . . as in 12 days early. 

Why? Because my boss is going on vacation and won’t be back till after the aforementioned payday. 

Add to that that he’s not a jerk who would make us wait (yay Boss) and you have all of us with our next payday in our hot little hands even as he is away. (Talk about trust.) 

Not that this does me much good, as it is dated for the actual payday and minor trickery aside, I won’t cash it, even if I could. 

I am not due that money until that date so I will not even attempt to deposit it until that date. 

Besides, then I would have an even longer period to wait until the paycheque after that . . . and a pissed off boss (or ex-boss).

What this does allow me to do is put my budget in place for my next payday cycle, while just starting this one. 

Since I am able to budget and stick to it, I can predict to the penny what I will have left in the bank at the end of this payday cycle. 

This is a big deal when it comes to budgeting what to do and what I have to work with at the beginning of the next payday cycle. 

What this all means is that, due to the boss dipping a bit more into my well-stocked holiday pay fund, this upcoming payday is also generous. 

With a bit of scrimping, saving and budgetary magic on my part, I will be able to fully fund (back to the minimum acceptable levels) my Mid-Term Savings Account. 

This is huge, as it means that I can start to focus on paying back that IOU I have to my Long-Term Savings Account that must be paid (so sayeth the me) before the end of this year.

I will admit that I am not enthused to be back to having drivers buzz my house at +60KMH or going back to my other miserly ways.

It is good to remind myself that things are moving forward, that my situation is steadily, if incrementally. 

Again, the key to this is to have those small, achievable and measurable goals sprinkled along the path towards your larger goals. 

For no reason whatsoever, here is your sunrise shot.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Tuesday 26 July 2016

My Own Credit Card

Okay, so first of all, yesterday was Payday for me, so that meant running around and ending up in my Western Home. 

With the help of a bit of budgetary trickery I was able to put some cash into my Mid-Term Savings Account. This was my depleted “Vacation Fund.” 

I am hoping that by the end of next month, to have that sucker back up to its “minimum acceptable level of $1000.00. 

Just before going on my vacation I talked to the bank and “activated” the savings button. 

As in, I had them point the “Savings” button on any of those Debit payment machines to point to my Mid-Term Savings Account.

What this meant was that I was able to go on vacation and still keep my main account and regularly scheduled budgeting on track and not be obliterated.

Coming back, what this means is that I can spend cash directly out of that account. So, in effect, what I have done is made my own personal credit card. 

I was shopping yesterday, after buying my groceries I realized that there were a few household items that I needed, so across the parking lot I went to buy them from my host store.

As I neared the cash register, I was going to put it on the credit card, and pay it off when I get paid again. 

It has been a game where I steal from the next payday cycle for stuff that I want now. I decided to break that cycle and just buy these items out of my Mid-Term Savings Account. 

The idea is to bring back the real pain of the spend and cause me to really wonder if I need to buy this item or that. 

It worked as I was not pleased to see that account diminished, even by the $30.00 of this transaction. 

A healthy portion of it was office supplies that I stock up on during the “Back to school sales.” 

One such item are the simple and plain zip up pencil cases that are great for storing cables, chargers and other small items in. 

So, I will continue to do this and do my darndest to only spend online purchases on the credit card. I hope to keep this card down to zero, and never carry a balance. 

I thought that I would share this little trick and see if it could help others.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Monday 25 July 2016

Vacation in Review

Okay, so I was able to make it back safe and sound and in good time yesterday. I was also able to make it from the eastern edge of Kamloops back home (with fumes to spare) on one tank of gas.

Today is payday, or rather Friday actually was, so there should be a paycheque waiting for me when I get to work. 

So this is back to the grindstone for me, and well timed as I have a fresh paycycle to help me adjust back to the regular work routine.

Already as I blog this I have Monday morning traffic buzzing by my trailer all eager to get to work and seemingly to see how close they can drive to my trailer.

It was good to get away and it was good to see family, some I have not seen in years. It was not long enough, but perhaps enough for me to remind them that I am alive and perhaps not who they remembered that I was.

Likewise I could see them as they are now and not as they were. Time and life move on and those small ones grow up and have families of their own. Those bundles of joy that my brother had have grown up and are all but ready to leave the nest.

As it always does, it throws my life, or rather lack of family life into sharp contrast. Again this is always something that happens.

I have made my choices and I still continue to make them. I am not a victim of life or any conspiracy. If I am a victim of anything, it is of the choices that I have made: the ghosts of the road not taken.

I will keep going, keep endeavouring to look forward towards a brighter future. I know not what exactly this way comes, but I know that the future is of my own design.

Remember kids: the future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward.

Sunday 24 July 2016

Day 16 - Rolling Into Revelstoke

Okay, so it seems that once I got diving, I just kept going. 

I got up and packed, on schedule. As an added twist, I noticed after I was all packed up that there was an obscure and hidden box behind the electrical hookup . . . The cable vision hookup.

I had 'suffered' through a week of crappy TV with signal dropping out regularly while using my 'digital rabbit ears' on the roof, rather than use the cable vision connection that was there. . . And the cable vision cable that I had bought specifically for this purpose ah well.

I made it to the 11:00 ferry and we made it to the other side by 12:30. After that I drove through to Hope, took an early exit, got kinda lost . . . As in the scenic route to the McDonalds but managed to find a place to fill up first. 

After that I drove to Kamloops and after topping up and getting a snack I ended up driving to Revelstoke, where a large RV/Truck rest area called to me. So I stayed here for the night. 

This morning I was greeted by this view.

Well, I need to finish up breakfast, as I am Blogging on my iPad in the local Tim Hortons. It is about time that I got back out on the road again. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Saturday 23 July 2016

Day 15 – Travel Day 1

So, today is a travel day which means that I will be driving most of today. I have looked at the map and decided to stop for the night in Kamloops.

Sure, I could drive all the way home, but I don’t see the point. After all I don’t have to be home until Monday morning for work, and I am dragging my house behind me.

So, this means that I will have less stress as I have an easy and manageable target, one that is sorta half way home. 

So, after posting this blog I will do my dishes, pack up the inside of the house yet not do anything outside, or noisy until after eight, local time. 

This way I can be at least somewhat considerate to my neighbours before heading out. I still plan to be wheels rolling by nine this morning. 

So, I should get going as I have work to do. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward.

Friday 22 July 2016

Day 14

My how time flies, it is now two full weeks since I have started this vacation. This is the last day of my real vacation as the next two days are travel days. 

I did rest an do very little yesterday, and I will do the same today. Sometime in the afternoon I will do my laundry and later still I will pack up the house somewhat.

As I have done before, I will wait until eight in the morning before packing up, so as to not make too much noise. I still plan to be hitched up and be driving out of here or “Wheels Rolling” by nine.

I still have no idea which sailing of the ferry I will catch, but I plan to drive to Kamloops and stay there for the night and drive the rest of the way home on Sunday.

As far as the vacation fund goes, my estimations were right as it is or will be all but drained by the time I get home. 

Again that is fine, as it was a vacation and this was the time for me to spend a bit of cash and see family. 

I will go back to my miserly ways and fill that fund back up and yes, keep my savings plan on track. I will be fine, I will be debt free and in so doing be truly free.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Thursday 21 July 2016

Day 13

Yesterday was my day to explore the Victoria harbour, and I did spend around four hours walking and wandering around the harbour. 

First I wandered around one end of the harbour and then the other. The first part I wandered about was more residential in nature and quite picturesque at that.

I then drove over to the more traditional downtown core and parked in the first space I could find. 

Parking was at a premium so I paid for parking on this side and it was expensive, but I am still in “vacation mode” so I didn’t complain or get mad.

What I did do was set a saved location (pin) of where I parked on my map ap and set an alarm for when the parking was going to expire, five minutes early as a matter of fact.

This way I could wander and explore and still have time to run back to the truck (and know how to find it) before my time was up. 

Here is some of what I took on the other side of the harbour.

Some of the ships and yachts were gargantuan in size and scale. It seemed odd that anyone would need a ship that size for your personal runabout. Perhaps that’s just me. I didn’t take pictures of specific ships, as that just felt wrong to do.

It was as picturesque and lovely as I had imagined and I soaked up the scenery and the atmosphere. I ended up going home early and just plopping down.

I seem to have hit a wall as this morning too I feel like I have literally hit a brick wall. 

I am exhausted and it took some doing even to get out of bed by 9:30. For someone who usually gets out of bed at 4:00 am, this is saying something.  

I seem to have gotten to the point in my vacation where I need to just plop and rest. My greatest achievement over the next two days will be to find a Laundromat to do my laundry. 

So, if anyone in the Victoria area wants to visit with me, be prepared to come to my corner of the world. I am just not able to go anywhere . . . I is pooped. 

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Day 12

Yesterday I slept in (like today) and then got up to visit family. I visited one sister and her family for the afternoon where I got to visit and play with my youngest niece.

After that it was off to spend an evening with my other sister and her family. We even went to a secluded beach to see the ocean.

They showed me the reclaiming of an old gravel quarry which is being turned into what passes for a new “development” these days. 

As in those massive houses packed in as tightly as possible before they become townhouses. Here I thought this was just a Calgary phenomenon.

All in all it was a good day, and I plan to head on out to the Victoria downtown area and explore. I shall see what I can see and go where I can meander.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Day 11 – Travel Day

Today was a travel day where I travelled to the island and connected with the family over here. 

So, as I was leaving and packing up, I decided to take a quick shot to show you of where I have been staying while in the lower mainland area. 

I got up, packed up, and then made sure to fill all of my tanks and yes spare water tanks before leaving. 

This is a thing that I do, I always pretend that I am not staying in a campsite for a while, even though I have made arrangements for a place to stay the next night.

The simple reason for this is that the only guarantee in this lifestyle is that I am responsible for making sure that I have what I need to live. 

There are any number of a thousand reasons as to why I will not be in a campsite the next night, so I always like to be prepared. 

So this means charging up everything that needs to be charged up, filling up water tanks, and doing my dishes and anything else that makes sense to do with a: water, sewer and power connection.

Pretty much as long as I have had Wanda, there has been a problem with the water level sensors in her black water tanks. 

It always reads at least ¾ full no matter what is actually in there. This is due to “klingons” inside the tank attaching themselves to one of the sensors.

One little trick I did to try to clean out my black water tank, was to fill it half full of water before the trip. I also poured some dish soap and chemical cleaner down there as well. 

The reasoning is that the motion of driving and the rocking motion of the ferry will swish and swirl that water around in that tank and therefore clean the inside of the tank.

When I got to my new campsite I not only drained the tanks but also did that water flushing trick with that new wand washer thingy that I have down the toilet.

Well, it worked and her sensors now read accurately. So, yay! Okay, back to the trip.

So on my way to the ferry I was almost smashed into by 3 impatient drivers and saw a road rage incident

One driver got out of their car, and rushed to the car in front of them and opened the driver’s door. The driver of this car, screeched out of there, turned left from the right hand lane on a red light and sped down that road. . . . welcome to Vancouver.

I got to the ferry terminal after a nice leisurely drive and was welcomed by an eagle. an actual bald eagle flew beside my truck just a few metres to my left. 

I don’t have a picture of that because I was driving and to do so would be distracted driving. 

So here I am at the ferry terminal.

Here I am in the lineup at the ferry, where I had a one sail wait. 

One note of interesting trivia is that my truck and trailer all together from the front to back is 45 feet long. They had to measure it for the ferry. 

Another bit of trivia to remember is that for one, the ride was 230 bucks, and the other is that they only take credit cards, no debit. Odd that.

Here I am in the ferry car deck.

Of course here we are pulling away from the dock.

On the trip there were some lovely coastal scenery.

Finally I made it to the campsite that I had booked and settled in. Here is my home for the week.

After getting settled in and flushing out my tanks I rested for a bit but ended up at my sister’s house for a game of “cards against humanity” to play with the kids (the naughty cards had been removed).

Here is a shot of everyone playing cards.

And here is a shot of me and my two sisters on the couch.

Here is a shot of us trying to make this shot work yet someone kept photo-bombing. (This was the best).

Here is a lovely and artistic pic of my sister and her daughter (my niece), nicely framed.

Here is the final shot of this blog, my extended family that lives down either on the island or in the lower mainland (minus one sister and her family).

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Monday 18 July 2016

Day 10

Sunday was a good day and the last day that I spent with my family in the lower mainland.

After a day of baseball, we ended the day with sushi at a local restaurant that is a favourite one of my brother’s. So much so that there is an off the menu special that bears his name.

So, today is the day that I head to the island. After packing up my house I drive to the ferry and see how long of a wait that I will have to make before sailing to the Island.

Tomorrow’s blog will have pictures once again. For now, though, I need to run.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Sunday 17 July 2016

Day 9

Another day, another fun filled day spent watching baseball and spending time with family.

So, this once again makes for a short blog entry, but a full life, or rather a day full of life. 

Once again, I won’t go into detail or post pics of the family, as my life is out here on this blog for all to see, not theirs.

It was a good day of reconnecting with family and I have one more day here in the lower mainland before heading off to the Island to see more family.

I will post more pics then as I do plan to do a bit more touristy things over there, as it has been some time since I have been over to the island.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Day 8

Yesterday was a day to spend with family. I spent the day watching my nephew’s baseball game at a tournament that they are attending here in the Vancouver area.

After that we went for a celebratory meal, as our side left the other team in tatters. After that it was back to my brother’s family’s house where we visited around the fire pit.

All in all it was a good day but, since I was in the moment, I have no photos. Due to the personal nature of the day, it seems appropriate. 

Due to the fact that I suck at remembering to take photos at such times, this will probably continue on into today. 

Since this morning is the sixteenth it means that the last of my automatic payments have gone through. I have been able to stay above zero in my main account even during this trip.

How I have done this is to be spending directly out of my Mid-Term Savings account using the ‘savings’ button on the direct payment terminals. This way I am drawing down on that account and not on my Main Account.

Whilst I am interested in having fun and seeing family on this trip and not so much on what this is costing me, I still want to keep my financial plan on track.

The best way to do that is to separate my vacation expenses from my operational expenses. As long as I keep remembering to press that ‘savings’ button, this will continue.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward.

Friday 15 July 2016

A Dirty Job That Has To Get Done

Okay, so before heading out to spend the day with my brother, I did a bit of maintenance on Wanda that I should have done for some time now. 

I pressure washed the inside of the septic tank, or otherwise known as the “Black Water Tank.” 

As we know or can understand this can get dirtier than your Greywater Tank, due to the very nature of, shall we say, what goes down into that tank.

So, first of all we need a wand that will reach down into that black water tank and wash the walls for us. That is best done with this contraption that I found at a big box retail store and not at an RV dealership.

If you notice the end there is a bar that spins and two nozzles at the end of it which will not only spin the bar around but wash the walls as well.

In order to do this you will need a few things: 

1. Two water hoses (rated for fresh water)
2. A Y-Splitter
3. That wand washer (thing)
4. Your sewer connection hose.

First, you connect your sewer hose to your rig, and making sure it is ready and able to drain nicely.

You will notice here that I have a hose support rig that bends and goes down on an angle so as to allow the water to flow nicely. 

This is quite handy and I recommend getting one of these, along with rubberized work gloves so you are not directly handling the business end of that pipe.

Also, note the clear pipe that is between my sewer connection and the pipe. This is quite handy as it lets me see when the water is finished draining out of the tanks

Not only that but by looking at the water flowing out of the tank, I can see what colour it is. The colour is necessary in this procedure so as to know when the tank is clean.

Next you connect the two hoses to your handy dandy water supply tap. After that you connect your two water hoses to it.

Next you connect one hose directly to the “septic tank flush” connection. This is connected to a series of nozzles located inside the tank that is supposed to clean the tank for you. 

This helps but it won’t clean the pipe leading down to the toilet or the bottom portion of the toilet, from the under the bowl and down. This wand thingy will.

What that septic connection will do is help flush what you are knocking off of the walls out of your tank and into your septic drain hose.

Next you run the other hose into the RV and make sure it reaches the bathroom. Here is what mine looked like.

Next you connect the wand washer (thingy) to that hose and make sure it can easily reach that toilet. 

Thankfully this wand has an on/off valve on it, make sure that you turn that valve off before turning the main water supply on or you will have a very wet bathroom.

With the water on, the septic cleaning nozzles will be flushing the septic tank, as they are supposed to do. What you do is go inside your RV, pick up that wand and start cleaning.

How you do that is step on the foot pedal to ‘flush’ the toilet. As in, open that valve in the bottom of the bowl and leave it open.

Stuff the business end of that wand (thingy) into the toilet and past that valve before turning the on/off valve on. 

Next what you do is slowly lower and raise the end of that wand down that pipe, lingering just under the bowl of the toilet. 

Once you are down into that septic tank you can then try to swish it around a bit. Again, the point of the whole exercise is to clean that tank out, so do this for a bit. 

If possible, have someone monitoring the colour of the water gushing out the other end of the sewer connection pipe. 

Keep cleaning until nothing but clean water is rushing out. That’s it, you’re done! Pack it up and clean up.

Since we are on the subject of water hoses let me mention a few things about them. First of all you don’t need an ‘RV rated’ hose what you need is a hose rated for ‘drinking water’ and a good one at that.

What that means is that the inside of the hose is rated to be able handle water that is meant for drinking and not contaminate it in any way. 

The RV rated hoses are also designed not to break down and pass little bits of hose into your water pipes.

Why this is important is because if those bits get into your water pump they could damage it, and probably isn’t all that healthy for us, either.

To insure that does not happen, I bought a small mesh screen and put it on the end of my filler nozzle. This is what they look like.

That filler nozzle is a small hose with an on/off valve on it. This way I can control the water flow at the fresh water filling station and not at the water tap. Trust me this is important once the tank gets full.

With regards to the hoses themselves get a commercial grade one and one with a decent hose connection on it, here is an example, 

The darker hose is a commercial grade hose, the red hose is a standard hose. The commercial grade hose has a connector on it that is one piece and, if needed I can put a wrench on that to turn it.

Trust me, this is important if it is four in the morning and you are trying to pack up camp so you can drive to work. 

At that point, you do not need to have a hose connector that spins and spins and spins and so you never get the hose to come off. 

I even contemplated cutting the hose off and leaving it there as I drove down the highway to work. I would then have wrestled with it after work, but I was eventually able to get the hose off.

That is all for today, sorry for the log blog entry, but I hope some of you find it helpful. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!