“Life” Obstacles

Some people have noticed that I haven’t posted lately, or even worked on the site, and I have to apologize to all for that. It seems “life” has once again gotten in the way of web work.

I was actually “forced” to retire from robotics work when we moved back here to Arkansas in 2005, as there simply aren’t any robots around here to work on. And although I have been asked more than once to make special trips back to Mesa (all expenses paid) to work on a specific past project, I had to turn it down due to other obligations. And yet I still needed to make some money here until my Social Security kicked in last year. As a result, I started doing home repair work, which eventually ended up as very special work for an elite clientele that I had built up in the last five years. As a result, I ended up with a lot of “leftover” material, including some perfectly good appliances, ceiling fans and other things that people just wanted changed out as part of upgrades to newer and better… not because they were faulty in any way. And because of the type of customer they were, they would expect me to take away the “leftovers” just to get them gone.

Well, sooner or later all that stuff has to clear out. I try to let some landlord friends know what I have, in case they need something for a rental, but they can only use so much. Last year we had a garage sale in the spring, with intentions of having another one in the fall. That didn’t happen, and neither did we have one this spring, so now we again have an excess of stuff.

And to top it off, when Sharon and I met 31 years ago, she had lived on her family farm her entire life. And I had my own fully furnished lifestyle, so that meant putting two complete households together! We immediately sold off excess stuff in a sale at her farm, but still kept WAY more than we should have from both our estates. We had another sale when we left snow country, and then another huge sale on three weekends when we left here in 1994 to make the move to Mesa, and then got rid of even more in order to fit into our park model out there. But now we are back to having almost as much as before we left snow country!

Sorting through “stuff” and trying to organize another garage sale is not my favorite thing to do, so I am somewhat relieved that we are now retired and have shut down the repair business for good! Besides the clutter in the garage, I was also tired of the vehicles always being cluttered with tools and materials! But getting back to normal takes time… WAY too much time! And I couldn’t work in the garage to build anything for the minivan without getting rid of “stuff” first.

Here’s what I mean:

Garage front 1

three days prior to garage sale 10/23/11

We have been working on this process for the last month. We have a total of four tables set up in the garage with some “keepers” hidden underneath. We made use of some sheets of 3/8ths plywood, and also the sides for our fold-up trailer to create a barrier wall around the perimeter. After all, no sense letting strangers see what all we have in there, right? We used pipe clamps, bar clamps, C-clamps and even some vice grips, along with some spring clamps to secure the tops of the sheets to whatever was behind them. So all they will be able to see or get to are what’s in front of them.

Two of four tables from the back 10.23.11Two of the four tables from the back 10/23/11

The lawn chairs don’t go. My back gets tired easily. We’re trying to add some height to the tables with some bookshelf supports so that we can display more, but even with that, we’re running out of room.

Corner computer desk to go 10.23.11

A corner computer desk also goes 10/23/11

 A corner computer desk also goes, along with an old pipe vise and threaders that I don’t need anymore. And I’m even getting rid of some of the Ernst products that I no longer stock on my Toolsorter.com site. Eventually, that site will once again have more tool organizers through Amazon, as soon as I can get the Skimlinks code on the pages and reset all the images. I’m not “warehousing” products anymore! I’ll also be offering an expanded selection of tool boards on the site, since that seems to be my major seller right now.

Rear wall of garage sale stuff 10.23.11

Rear wall of garage sale stuff 10/23/11

 Besides the stuff in the garage, I’ve been clearing out old eBay and other internet marketing courses that I have taken over the years, along with anything else from the office that is no longer useful. And my wife has at least two full boxes of old hymnals to sell. It’s amazing what you collect from playing for various churches over a 50 year span!

Whatever doesn’t go in this sale, will be sold for next to nothing to a customer of ours that goes around and buys people’s “leftover” garage and yard sale stuff and then puts it in his own store. So one way or the other, this stuff IS going!

As you can see, I have no room to work on anything… especially large pieces of plywood for the reclining couch/bed for the minivan camper conversion. But after Tuesday of next week (11/1), the leftovers will be gone, and then I can take down the walls, the tables and get the rest of the stuff out of my way, so I can bring in the plywood and lumber for the bed and frame. Then you will finally see some progress!

I will be taking digital stills for the book, as well as videos to put on the site, so that you can see in detail what I am going to be doing for our own van. I have to get all the parts cut and assembled before I can verify the dimensions for the plans that will be in the book. But you will also be free to modify those plans as needed to fit your own vehicle. The couch/bed unit will fit in almost any sized van. The storage cabinet that will house the porta-potty and have the microwave on top may be an optional thing for your own van, depending on your floor length. The storage cabinet may not work in a shorter van, but in a full size van you may want more. The nice thing about my concept is that it gives you plenty of options to do things your own way.

But try not to get too caught up in details or about making anything “perfect”. It never will be, and after you’re out there awhile, you may decide you want things arranged differently. The main thing is to not let life’s obstacles get in the way. Keep the van conversion simple, flexible, and start using it as soon as you can. Life’s too short to create more work for yourself than what is balanced out by fun. A lot of fancy cabinetry may look nice, but it is also a money pit when you go to sell the van. Everything depreciates. And if you decide you don’t like the layout, you’re stuck with it. The less you spend on converting your van, the more money you will have to actually use it, and the less money you will lose when you trade it.

By the way, if I didn’t mention it before, we now have our cushions for the couch/bed, but we ordered them without the optional slip covers. My wife is an excellent seamstress, and will make the slipcovers as well as the  outer fabric covers, and we have all the materials. It’s a just a matter of time, now, and we will also have detailed pictures and videos of that progress.

Also, we have a TailVeil (dot com) rear screen room, which we ordered before they came out with the rain fly/privacy panels that goes over it. So we will be ordering that final piece in early November as well, and I am in contact with them on an affiliate or dealer program of some sort (to be worked out yet) after which I will have them available on my web site in the tent section. I’ll try to get that done before the end of November.

I have also been collecting all the “sale” offerings from my various affiliate vendors, and will soon have a page for all those announcements, to save you even more money on what we have to offer on the web site. So little by little, we are making some progress, even though it may be behind the scenes.

It is often said that it can take five years or more to get a business stabilized, and despite what you have heard, it usually takes as long on the web, too. We have barely hit the six-month mark, and although I was hoping for more, I have to say that I am at least “satisfied” with the progress. It all takes time.

Please, feel free to comment… while I get back to pricing “junk”.