‘puters, puttering, and hitting the ball…

Well, after the big crash of November ’11 (as I will remember it), I am back in business… the result of a complete disk reformatting and system recovery of the culprit computer (the one I am on now).

Whether the lock up problem was the fault of the one and only Trojan that I discovered on the system (which I doubt, because a Trojan is typically a program which needs to work in order to send information to another computer) or whether it was the fact that I am on this computer nearly every day, ALL day, and it was just over-worked… is anyone’s guess. I believe it was the latter. But thanks to Carbonite, my own backup system, the company that sends my forms to me (Jot Form), Gmail, and my good friend, Amber, at AWilliamsTechnologies.com, who referred me to a couple of good malware programs, I now have everything restored up to about 95% of where it was before the crash. And my new 500-gig computer will be here within the week, so all is well.

As for the aftermath of the garage sale, I am still puttering. My guy is back from Hawaii, but Monday and Tuesday are the only days he does pick ups, because his own store is open every other day but those. Because of the computer crash, I didn’t have access to his personal cell number (the store is closed), and missed my chance to call him yesterday and today. Besides, today, it rained all morning and he couldn’t have done it anyway. So now I am in limbo again until at least next Monday or Tuesday, when the weather service is again predicting more rain.

One of my readers asked for advice today on the curtain issue. I had mentioned (in my free book) using spring steel clips to hook onto the top of the plastic trim around the windows, rather than drill holes in the trim. The truth is, I haven’t had time to develop that idea yet, but I gave him some alternatives.

There are so many variables to work around in the different vans, and it seems no two of them are alike. My own ’94 Chrysler T&C has plastic at the top and around the sides of the windows, while everything from the glass on down is covered with leather. Also, the mid-row seat belt retractor is mounted below the window, right next to the glass, and yet the top anchor of it is mounted on the top trim above the window! How is anyone supposed to fit curtains around that?! What were these “engineers” thinking?

I have the curtains that we removed from another van that we were going to convert, but I’m not sure I like the rods, the design of the clips, or even the color of them. They may be fine for looks alone, from the inside, but I don’t think they are suitable for true “stealth” in case we need it. What good is it to have darkened windows if you have a light colored curtain behind it that also allows light to show through at night? I’m thinking that I am beginning to like Glenn Morrisette’s idea more and more. He used a special fabric that doesn’t let light show through it. He also used a dark color on the outside “laminated” to a lighter color on the inside, and then snapped the whole thing in place so that no light shows through from the curtain OR around the edges. That makes more sense for a vehicle that doesn’t even look like a camper to begin with, like our minivan concept. If no one knows you are in it, and it doesn’t look like a camper, you can get by with parking in areas that wouldn’t normally allow overnight camping!

Also, if you can manage to fasten snaps in place with small # 6 sheet metal screws, the hole that they leave is very small. There are also inexpensive repair kits that you can buy for vinyl and leather if you don’t want to leave any holes when you trade vans. In hard plastic, you can just wipe over the holes with some matching silicone caulk and they become nearly invisible. Problem solved. As further protection against marks from the snaps, I would suggest some stainless steel fender washers behind the snaps, to keep the edges of the snap from marring the soft surfaces.  That way the snap won’t dig in and leave any marks. You can even spray them to match the interior if you desire.

If any of you follow Glenn Morrisette’s blog at http://tosimplify.net, he had a great post this time, about just “doing it”. (No, not that kind of “doing it”. The other kind.)

I happened to see one of my customers standing / waiting in the bank this last week, and I sneaked up behind her and whispered “If you don’t have anything to do, don’t do it here!” When she realized who it was we both had a chuckle.

But there is truth in those words. In a discussion with a couple of people from one of my online groups, we were discussing ways to make money, and I mentioned that statistically, 95% of people will never get out of their comfort zones, even to do the simplest of things that would make a big difference in their lives. In my case, I was referring to getting out there and making money. You can’t wait for money to come to you. You have to get out there and MAKE it happen!

In a previous blog, I brought up many ideas for making money while traveling, not the least of which is online sales from a web site or blog. It is so ridiculously simple to accomplish, and yet most people won’t even try.  I even offered to coach them for free, and yet I still haven’t gotten an answer.

In Glenn’s post, he was talking about getting out of that comfort zone and making the moves necessary to be able to do what he does… travel anywhere he wants to go, whenever he wants, and be able to make enough money to sustain the lifestyle.

Notice I didn’t say to get rich, or to even do it quickly. Despite what some misinformed people believe because it has been drilled into them since childhood, it has nothng to do with how much money you make! You can’t take it with you! And once you get beyond the necessities of life, the rest is just frivilous stuff that makes you work harder to obtain it, sometimes even to the point of  destroying your health in the process! So what’s the point of doing it? That has nothing to do with the quality of life!

People talk about making their lives simpler and healthier, but they never seem to get off the couch to do what is necessary to make it happen. Maybe they think that making them a million dollars is going to make them more important to or more respected by their peers! Get over yourselves!

For some, maybe it is the fear that they won’t be able to make any money, or not enough, while they are “mobile”. I provided many answers for that on a previous blog post, and that doesn’t even begin to cover all the ways!

For others, maybe it’s the fear of “what’s out there”. I can tell you from experience that the world “out there” is no different from the world that you see any other day, and when you get out of the rat race of worrying about income, you can afford to go to much better and safer places than you may be living now! You’ll have a much more relaxed life, with a lot less stress, and be healthier! Our country in general is a very safe place, as are many other countries. There is nothing out there that is going to be any worse for you than sittng there doing nothing!

Some people may worry about the expense involved in a mobile life style, mostly because they keep thinking “anywhere I park is going to cost a fortune”.  Sure, if you choose to stay in campgrounds or resorts, they have fees, whether it be in nightly rates or membership fees. But if you think that’s the only answer, then you need to go back and read Glenn’s blog from the beginning! He has only paid one night of camping fees in over two years on the road, and that one time was necessary in order to establish residency in another state! Fourteen dollars in two years is not a “fortune”!

There are thousands of blogs online written by people who are living a “mobile” lifestyle, and many of them are kind enough to lay out their living expenses, so we can see exactly what it costs them. I can guarantee that many of them are living on less than a thousand dollars a month, and living a high quality lifestyle that most people can only dream about!

You can’t just go “gung ho” and dump everything you own before you know what you are getting into. But neither does everything have to be perfect. It gets back to the old joke “how do you eat an elephant?”  One bite at a time, of course.

The first thing you have to do is figure out how to support the lifestyle. That might mean paying off other bills for awhile, to get your expenses down to the bare minimum. It might mean coming up with another way to make a living than just a 9 – 5  J-O-B (Yuk!).

The best way to do that is find something that you can get started with while you are still working, that you can continue to do while traveling. That way, you will have extra income to get your bills paid down sooner, AND it gives you experience in that job so that you will be ready to move into it full time later. Most businesses take up to five years or more before they reach a leveling out point where they are profitable. Don’t wait until the last minute to get something going. DO IT NOW!

If you’re new to RV’ing, it may be scary new territory that you have to learn about. You won’t get it all from books, no matter what you do. The best way to learn anything is to get out there and do it! Get your hands dirty!

But maybe you can’t afford a nice new $300,000 motorhome. Maybe even a $30,000 used motorhome might seem like a strain on the budget, especially if you are still paying on a mortgage. For some, they are lucky to afford a $3,000 trailer. You can still do it if you plan properly for it!

That’s why starting out small may be the best for most people. Start on getting that extra income coming in… something that can be done from anywere without tying you down. Something you can do with a computer is ideal.

Start getting rid of excess clutter that you don’t need. If you haven’t used it in the last year, you don’t need it! While you’re working on simplifying your lifestyle and getting an alternative income working for you, use some of that extra income to start getting away, at least on weekends or non-work days.

The best way to do that without making a huge investment in an RV is to start out with something small and workable. That way, if you decide you don’t like it, you have very little invested in the effort. Our concept for a minivan camper is ideal. You can use it to start out, and see how the mobile lifestyle fits you. It gives you a  chance to get out and explore without the need to come home every night. Try a night or two at a time. It will also clue you in to what you might have left at home or what may need to be purchased yet. It can also work the other way, and clue you in to the fact that you don’t need to drag nearly as much stuff with you as you had thought!

If it makes you feel safer to be in a campground, then go for it. The knowledge of what they are like and what they offer is good experience. We all have to start somewhere. As you get to know more about what alternatives are available, you can try other places. You’ll meet other people. Don’t be afraid to approach other people, especially the ones in similar vehicles. Campers and RV people are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet… probably because they are out of the rat race, and are more relaxed and outgoing. Each one of them will have a bit more of the puzzle (or in Glenn’s case, the crossword) that will give you a bit more information than you had before, and gradually you WILL learn how to make this lifestyle a good fit for you.

Using our free 94-page book as beginner’s guide, you can see how to make your minivan into a camping and traveling vehicle that you can use for as long as you need it, with minimal investment. If you decide later to upgrade to something larger, you might want to keep the minivan available as a tow car for a larger rig, or for shorter trips.

The point is… don’t wait for everything to be perfect. It never will be! Get out there as inexpensively, as flexibly and as quickly as you can, and then build on what you learn. Sure you will make mistakes! We all do. Get over it, learn not to do them again, and move forward!

You have heard me talk about my computer issues and many of you are thinking, “oh, that is beyond my abilities!”  Guess what! I am not an Internet Technology guru! Robotic troubleshooting is as far from IT work and web design as anything can get. I’ve not had one single class in computer repair!

When I started with my first online computer in 1999, I didn’t know the first thing about web sites or marketing on the web.  I had no idea what html was. But I knew that to make the new computer tax deductible and save me a bunch of money, I had to use it for business, so I started a business.  Everything I learned, I learned by DOING IT!

I learned word processing and spreadsheets first because that is a necessity in any kind of business.  Sometimes I pushed the wrong button. So what? I learned not to do that again, and tried something else! I never even had typing in school, and I still use all the wrong fingers on the wrong keys, but I can still type about 60 words a minute just from repetitive practice!

I didn’t learn to build web sites overnight, either, but I bought Front Page and started through the tutorials. Now I use several different web site builders to do my work!  I didn’t learn marketing overnight, but I went to some free seminars, signed up for some newsletters, paid dearly for some other classes, and now I know enough about marketing to make a living at it.

I have no fancy degrees. I learned robotics by doing it, a long time before I ever studied the Associates course in Electrical Engineering. Books don’t teach half as good as jumping in and doing the work!

There’s an old saying that “you can’t learn to weld by reading a book”.  There is a certain action that you have to learn with your hand on the stinger, and a book can’t teach you that!  You have to get a “feel” for it.  You can’t learn ANYTHING if you refuse to take chances, and without taking chances you will never get ahead! And that applies just as much to learning about camping and RV’ing as it does to anything else in life. People who have never camped or used an RV don’t have a clue as to what “the lifestyle” is all about, or why those who know it are so adamant about it.  But those of us who have done it understand it.  And I am telling you that it is worth dumping everything related to “real” home ownership to be able to do it and feel the freedom it provides.

You can’t hit the ball without picking up the bat.

Like Nike says… “Just do it!