Ingenuity is defined by Dictionary.com as "the quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful." My own take is that proof of ingenuity can be seen in a solution to a problem or inconvenience that is not obvious to very many people. Think MacGyver, but scaled back.
As many an RV'er will convey, problem solving without ready-to-use off-the-shelf solutions is an integral part of the lifestyle. Those that can't do it had better have lots of time and cash.
Here is an example: When we decided to upgrade our portable generator, the new unit wouldn't fit in the old storage spot. There was no room in the back of the pickup, since I had two large toolboxes installed in its bed, nor would it fit in any basement compartment in the fifth wheel. It was going to take a unique solution, one not readily apparent at first look.
I realized that there would be room on the rear bumper if I could find a way to attach a cabinet or shelf back there. Also, I had had the fifth wheel's original flimsy rear bumper replaced with a sturdy steel square pipe welded to the frame after experiencing problems with it, so weight on the bumper should not be an issue. We had previously had a dual bicycle rack clamped to the bumper when we had heavy electric bikes, and when we sold the bikes I kept the racks. When clamped tightly on the bumper, several people could stand on it without sagging, so I guessed a wooden shelf would be stable.
I bought and cut 2"x8" lumber and a number of lag bolts, washers and nuts, and, after applying several coats of waterproofing, attached the boards on the bike racks. I countersunk the tops of the bolts so they would not impede anything I placed on it. Once satisfied of weight-bearing success, I removed the back of a painted steel office cabinet and screwed it down on the shelf so as to not block the license plate. I had purchased a generator that would fit side-to-side through the locking cabinet doors, and secured it onto the cabinet floor and some boards I placed inside it just for that purpose. The doors close and lock, and though it would totally prevent someone from stealing it, it makes it difficult enough. With the rear of the cabinet completely removed, there is plenty of circulation for the generator as well. The starting cord is easily available on the side and behind the cabinet, and the gas tank can be reached with a funnel just behind the top of the cabinet.
For good measure, I secured my 50 amp cord spooler down on the shelf, and now I have my pet fence sections strapped back there as well for easy access (instead of in my basement compartment.
I feel pretty good about my solution, which is just one example of a setup that took ingenuity and a bit of carpentry skill. Like I said, difficulties and clever answers are just a part of life on the road.
Nadyne has been equally ingenious on the inside of the rig. One problem we were having was with setup and tear down between stays, in other words, for before and after travel days. As frequent travelers know, anything on a counter top in the rig tends to shift, vibrate and move while on the highway. It is very time consuming to secure all of these items for travel, strapping some down on the floor, placing some on the sofa or bed, and just all-around stuffing wherever they would fit snugly. It is even more time-consuming to set everything back up for use.
Museum gel works fine on smaller items like wine bottles and knick-knacks, but not so much on small appliances like our ice maker and coffee maker, an air fryer, or other kitchen necessities such as silverware and plate caddies. She searched high and low for a solution with the common marketplaces apparently no help.
She remembered how sticky some rubber mats are and wondered if they would hold larger items. She bought a roll of rubber matting and cut some pieces just big enough for the aforementioned appliances and caddies to sit on. We left them in place on the counters on our next travel day, stopping occasionally to check for movement (or damage), and were pleasantly surprised how well things had stayed put on the mats. She found some rubberized cooking sheets that were less expensive but had the same gripping power. We stocked up, then started snipping and using them for other pieces of equipment around the rig, such as our laptops, adding machine, printer, alarm clock and even some electronics for the TV in the bedroom. Since doing that two years ago, we have not lost a single item off of any cabinet , desk or counter due to the road vibration and sway, even on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was rough enough to break our rig's springs.
I would imagine if you ask any full-time RV'er, they can regale you with wonderful stories of their own ingenuity. Aw, shucks...
I'll leave you with this thought from American author Shelby Steele, who said, "We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity."
Some of my earliest memories are picnic lunches at the neighborhood park with my mom and dad, along with my younger brothers and sisters. Dad always brought a kite and we would spend hours keeping it flying. Mom's lunches were always great.
One of the great things about picnics is that there is no particular location necessary for them. You can enjoy a meal at the park, on a hike, on a drive or even on a rooftop. We almost always brought lunch from home when we went fishing and I'm certain hunters do the same, as do many cyclists and outdoors enthusiasts. Popular locations include the park, the mountains, the beach, in canyons, a forest, a lake, a fun place in your city, in a nearby city or town, your backyard, at summer concerts, at festivals or fairs, at sporting events, and even the library. One of my favorite concert venues is in Washington State, The Gorge at George, in which half of the seating is in tiered grassy areas perfect for picnic lunches.
The right setting and ambiance can facilitate romance, with many a first date made accordingly. Lots of games and sports are available to kids and adults alike during a day at the park, and an entire industry was built from what started out as weekend barbecues. Lifelong memories can be made and lifetime events, such as birthdays, engagements and anniversaries, can happen at picnics.
There are tools of picnicking that nearly everyone uses, like picnic baskets, tablecloths, plasticware, drink jugs and paper towels, making this activity one of the few widely shared activities around the world. A picnic lunch in the English countryside looks very similar to one in Central Park or near a French vineyard. A Rocky Mountain lunch is comparable to one in the Italian Alps or Bavarian Black Forest or in the Andes, though I might suggest you avoid picnicking on the Serengeti or the Brazilian rainforest.
Last, a picnic will cost much less than a restaurant, and far more secluded, so they continue to be as popular as ever. I had quite a few neat comments about picnics and am showing several of them here, some with editing or paraphrasing:
Andy and Maureen T.- Our memories range from being romantic, when it's just the two of us, to fond family get-togethers. Picnics are always beautiful. We didn't do couples picnics in a lot of years, but once we retired we have made it a point to plan one or do an impromptu when we can.
BLSMSS- Picnic lunches makes me happy as I remember when my husband was courting me, he used to surprise me with a picnic at a local park -- starting our lives with a nice lunch at a beautiful park. The last picnic we had was with his oldest son, whom he hadn’t seen in awhile, in Texas a few years ago. It made me so happy watching him enjoy his time with his son. Always love picnics!
Canadian Hellie- My idea of a real picnic starts with a cloth on the grass. Most picnics in this area are at a picnic table, whether it's at an RV park, at home, along a roadside pull-out, at a chip truck or just in the car. I've only ever had one picnic on the grass and I still remember it. It was an impromptu idea as the day was perfect and we didn't have a cloth; just our late lunch from a take-out and a bottle of wine in a park. I was a few years younger then and didn't have any problems getting up from sitting on the grass. I can still do it, but it might take a couple of tries (chuckle).
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- We often take our lunch with us when we go on a bike ride -- you just don’t know what beautiful park you may find on your route. We are often surprised by secluded parks with great scenery.
Joan S.- I remember as a child when my family, eight of us, would pile into the station wagon after the crops had been planted and head for the North Carolina mountains. We tailgated long before it was popular -- along-side roadways and at roadside parks with picnic tables, trashcans and frequently grills, maintained by the states of Georgia and North Carolina. So much fun! Mama even traded our homegrown tomatoes with restaurants for special meals or treats for us all.
Bob and Maria- When we had been dating we had done a few picnic lunches. So when it came time to propose, I packed a picnic basket and surprised my honey at work for lunch. There was a small park nearby and long story short, I used the ring as "dessert" to propose -- the rest is history. Although she did have to go back to work, but had a great story as to how the picnic went for her co-workers (lol).
Rkymtn97- In college I would do an indoor picnic when the weather was crappie. Just spread the blanket out on the floor and add the food!
See Spot Run RV- We love picnics! When we were homeowners we would picnic at outdoor concerts. We had a backpack that was insulated with tubes on each side for wine or beers. Since we have been full-time RV'ers we picnic several days a week. We take our lunch with us each time we head out to explore the area. Along the way we look for a park of any kind, sometimes it is a city or county park, or even an outdoor lunch place in downtowns. We usually do this three to five days a week.
Nadyne H.- When we were young, we'd have a couple of picnics a year near Tucson. Most of our extended family would also be there so we'd end up with 50+ people. It was always a fantastic day! Great food and wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins!
Ann Z.- Best picnic I ever had was just about five years ago on a sunny Sunday in North Bergen, New Jersey. We brought bagels, coffee, and books and read to each other. I fell asleep in the sun.
I'll end with an appropriate quote from English actress Kate Winslet, who said: "The things that make me happiest in the whole world are going on the occasional picnic, either with my children or with my partner; big family gatherings; and being able to go to the grocery store - if I can get those things in, I'm doing good."
Scientifically, men and women who commit to life-long relationships, regardless of the gender mix, not only live longer but have much happier and healthier lives than their single counterparts. This is especially true when times are dark, such as in a significant economic downturn or a public health crisis. It seems we all crave the support of a loved one to share pain, sorrow, elation, happiness and life experiences, good and bad.
Unfortunately there are as many hits as misses when it comes to partnering with a soul mate. In a world of eight billion people, there are no shortage of those who aren't "the one." A pessimist would see this as an impossible situation, especially if they believe there is only one perfect mate for someone. I don't believe that, but rather, as an optimist, that life is what you make of it. People who are somewhat compatible can make an even better couple than those who seem to be 100% compatible. Once a connection is made, the success of a couple can be a mixture of morals, temperament, respect, past experiences and openness to love. In my opinion, a majority of couples have what it takes.
We all know those couples who met as kids, married out of high school and were married their entire adult lives. For most of us, that is an impossible bar to reach, meaning that very few people meet their soulmate that early in life. Normally it takes time and effort, knowing oneself, and being open to possibilities. I stayed in a marriage in which I started out thinking I would be with my wife forever, then found out in just a few years that it was not the case. After 26 years I divorced, then married my actual soulmate, and I was her third husband. That was nearly 20 years ago. We were across the country from each other but still managed to meet, fall in love and move in together. There is no rule of thumb when it comes to coupling. Researchers have found that couples who are hostile to each other have more stress hormones in their systems and have generally less healthy lives. Fortunately, the opposite is also true, which means that it is well worth any effort to be with a partner with whom you can enjoy life.
Happiness can be fleeting and you can't force it upon yourself. However, you can recognize when you experience it and rejoice in a life worth living. A spouse, significant other, a life partner, a POSSLQ, or however you want to define your committed partner, they are one of the keys to a happy life. The tenet, "Happy wife, happy life," could really be used to describe any partner in a relationship. Most of the happy couples we know don't argue, they discuss respectively, the difference being that, in the latter, the need to win is missing. They, like us, want the best for their spouse or partner, and that is the priority.
According to Psychology Today, "Good relationships make people happy because a dependable companionship is a basic human need. Improving social relationships will bring our happiness score up. There is strong consensus in the field of positive psychology that the number and depth of personal relationships has the greatest effect of all on happiness. And the relationship where vast numbers of people derive that greatest boost to their well-being is in their marriage.
Watch any long-time couple and you may see a symphony of synchronicity. Each knows how to make the other feel good and they do so in little ways all the time, anticipating needs and accommodating as they can.
Repeating the Psychology Today column, "a dependable companionship is a basic human need." There it is. When looking for things that make us happy, a companion is one of the most basic. Don't take it for granted and do the little things to nurture your relationship. Together, a couple can weather storms and enjoy life together so much better than individuals alone. Revel in it.
I'll close with a quote from late English actor and entertainer Bruce Forsyth, who once said, "The secret to a happy marriage is if you can be at peace with someone within four walls, if you are content because the one you love is near to you, either upstairs or downstairs, or in the same room, and you feel that warmth that you don't find very often, then that is what love is all about."
When I was a kid, especially growing up the eldest of seven siblings, holidays were the stepping stones of happiness through each year. As soon as one was celebrated, we immediately looked forward to the next one. My grandparents held huge family 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and dinners every year, and I attended all of them until I was 17.
When I had my own kids, two of which were born on Halloween (three years apart), I continued the tradition of celebrating as often as holidays came upon us. It was especially nice when they were a national holiday, meaning I could get an extra day off to stay with my family. Yes, Halloweens were extra-special in our house, with us usually have a double birthday party with lots of their friends.
As my kids grew up and I remarried, and with great distance between me and my kids and relatives, holidays became more of a meaningless chore than a reason to celebrate. It stopped making sense for Nadyne and I to give each other presents for birthdays or Christmas, since we usually bought whatever we wanted that made sense without waiting for a holiday excuse to do it. Besides, she was spending our money on me and I was spending our money on her. Holidays, other than getting time off work, stopped having the importance they had when there were children around.
Now that we are retired and not working, holidays are back to being happy stepping stones through the years, though without the excitement they once evoked. Being on the road, we love to visit all of our family members, wherever they are, but don't necessarily wait for holidays to do so. It's more about the geographical timing of our schedule. Independence Day fireworks at a son's house or birthday dinner with a daughter are always something to look forward to.
As a young adult, I enjoyed watching classic movies. "Holiday Inn" (1942, with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds and music by Irving Berlin) became one of my favorites. This is about a quaint Connecticut inn that some popular show business stars buy and hold holiday performances in. This is the first venue in which Bing Crosby sang "White Christmas," and it was so popular that it spawned his movie of the same name. I never miss Holiday Inn when this movie is on at Christmas time.
One thing about not getting caught up in the commercialism of each holiday is that we can enjoy the holiday itself. Also, we are happy to take advantage of seasonal sales for our own purposes. Why buy electronics in August when the Christmas season is around the corner?
One great thing about being in campgrounds during holidays is that campers are in a festive mood and are wanting to share good times with strangers. Many strangers become friends and we love to catch up with them as our itineraries cross. Thanksgiving in an RV resort can be wonderful!
Just as a sunrise can fill someone with hope and determination for the coming day, so can New Years Day be a day of resolution to be better, wishes for dreams and ambitions, and hope for humanity. After all, it's called "New Year's Day," not "Old Year's Passing Day."
I think there has been a bit of Internet fatigue in this election season, so I'm not surprised that I had fewer comments this past week. The ones I received were great and I've included some of them here. As always, they may be paraphrased or edited.
BLSMSS- Holidays make me happy as they are celebrations -- days that most of us try and enjoy as other things in our lives may not be joyful. As my children and grandchildren have grown, holidays have changed yet my children try and celebrate them as we did when they were little. Holidays gets us together in some way to reminisce and come up with new ideas for the next. My favorite holiday has been and will always be Christmas. It makes my heart so full to see the grandkids open up presents, the beauty of putting up my villages, tree and lights and the real meaning of Christmas.
Richard, Deb and Wally- Used to be getting together with all the family, grandparents was my favorite thing about holidays -- laughing, conversation, catching back up with everyone. Then there's the FOOD! I loved the holiday food, making cookies at Christmas with Mom and grandma, fruitcake that only few liked, bowl of nuts you had to use cracker and picks to get the nut out. Hard candy, seeing Santa, playing in the MN snow -- nothing like it.
Warren and Terry of NE PA- When we had our sticks-and-bricks house out in the country we would have 4th of July at our house with fireworks. We would have family and friends over with a big cookout. Thanksgiving is at our oldest daughter's house with family in Ohio. Then Christmas would be either at our youngest daughter's house or our son's house in Pennsylvania. We still do Thanksgiving and Christmas the same but not the 4th of July.
Steve R.- Holidays are every day, but more special when we get see our nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with one more on the way. I think I have the right count...
Nadyne H.- Holidays now, in our retirement AND living full-time in our RV, are much different today! There were the holidays when the kids were still living at home, then the holidays when the kids were gone and we had young grandkids, that was still fun and exciting! Then the grandkids grew up and we started getting great grandkids! I used to look forward to any holiday just to be off work, sort of a mini-vacay! Nowadays, we are off everyday, there are no children, grandchildren or great grandkids around so we usually enjoy the hoopla around us at whatever RV resort we are in! We’ve had Thanksgiving dinner with 100 other strangers and met new friends. We have spent Christmas Eve going to dinner with people we’ve never met and really enjoyed ourselves. There are no “strangers” when you holiday in an RV, just friends you have not yet met!
I'll finish up with a quote from Canadian actress Rachel McAdams, who said, "I had a lovely childhood. For family holidays, we went as far as the car could take us - we would drive to Florida, even though it would take three days. I didn't know we didn't have a lot of money because there was always food on the table. I didn't have a lot of stuff, but I did figure skating for a long time, and I always had my skates."
My first hike occurred when I was in the Boy Scouts at age 14 in the Los Angeles area. My troop's leaders drove us up into the San Gabriel Mountains to a trail head and we proceeded to hike six miles up into the forest. I hated every minute of it.
We set up camp for the weekend and then on Sunday, we broke camp and hiked back down the trail, a bit easier walk, but I was still not a fan. I had overpacked, which wasn't ever going to happen again. A few months later we hiked one of the Seven Peaks trails in the San Bernadino Mountains. That was the first time I had climbed to a mountain peak. Looking down over the valley below, mostly of which was barely visible through the smog, was exhilarating.
Health-wise, hiking is one of the best all-round activities you can do. Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book, "ReSYNC Your Life." Samir Becic: hiking increases fitness, allows you to take control of your workouts, tones the whole body, helps prevent and control diabetes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and may improve the antioxidative capacity in the blood of oncological patients, helping to fight off the disease. It's a social activity that increases creativity, increases happiness levels and curbs depression, and allows you to commune with nature.
My own preference for hiking really stems from my vagabond spirit -- there is only so much of nature to see from the highway. On one of my hikes in the mountains when I was in my twenties, about five miles from the road we came across a car, probably circa 1920's, rusted nearly completely imbedded into the mound of dirt in which it was sitting. On another walk at Lake Mead, outside of Las Vegas, there was a dilapidated pleasure boat from the fifties or sixties sitting on the desert floor, in an area recently exposed from the lake's retreat due to drought. You just never know what you're going to see. Also, the farther you are from civilization, the more apt you are to see wildlife -- in the wild.
We in America are so fortunate to have city, county, state and federal departments that create and maintain hiking trails in all 50 states. You can hike in so many terrains, too, including sandy desert, rocky mountains, thick forests, alpine elevations, spongy tundra, dripping wetlands, lake or ocean beaches, and so much more. Although public abuse of those trails has begun to force some trail closures or additional fees, there still seems to be a commitment by the appropriate agencies to keep lands available to use. Also, there are many volunteer groups that periodically tend to trails and trail heads.
I received many great comments from friends and followers about this topic. Here are just a few those, with some paraphrasing or minor editing:
Hank and Shirleen- We like to hike. We love nature, but at our age it must be fairly level and not too long.
See Spot Run RV- I love to hike. If you listen you can hear the quiet and at the same time you can hear the breeze or the bird or other animal. Hiking simultaneously gives me peace and energizes me. I enjoy the different plants and trees and animals I see. I like to become one with nature so when I see an animal, we can just look at and admire each other. I enjoy hiking along a creek or river and seeing waterfalls and especially when I see things I don't normally see. Hiking is adventuresome and at times go to places most people never see. Wow, I could go on forever. Hiking is just wonderful!
Warren and Terry of NE PA- My wife and I love to walk, getting out there on the trails and seeing nature. Also, just about all trails have geocaches, so we can do some geocaching. I have a back problem and moving helps. I've also lost weight which helps not only my back problem but also with overall health.
Jessica H.- I was lucky enough to grow up living in the woods, and now that I have kids of my own, they, too, live and love playing in the woods!
Shelley A.- Hiking is very peaceful. I try to choose hikes where I don't have cell service. I don't have a care in the world when I am hiking. I don't think about my problems or work at all -- a complete reset for me. Hiking keeps me calm and peaceful, and it provides great exercise!
Ayub B.- Hiking is no less than a journey into self, soul searching, an exercise in self discovery and a return to pure innocence.
Nadyne H.- It seems to me that when Jack picks a trail, that trail will most likely include mud...
Gabrielle C.- I love hiking! This has been one of the best ways for me to get to know this country since moving here!
Sarah H.- I go hiking and trail running at least three times a week! Luckily, there are four or five great spots within a couple miles of my house and work.
John H.- Spectacular views spark imagination and inspiration. Whether you are a casual observer or a professional photographer, nature always provides an equal opportunity.
Bill J. and wife Diane M.- We look for trails at every stop and take the easy and moderate ones when we can, up to about four miles at a time. Right now we are taking sections of the Discovery Trail that runs from Ilwaco, Washington, through the woods and then along the the Pacific Ocean to the north end of Washington's Long Beach.
DeeperStill- I am in Ocean Park, Washington, for two more days. After getting repairs done on my brand spanking new Winnebago View, I will be hiking up at Ledbetter tomorrow with friends.
Theramblingquilter- We just spent a month in the Smokies and hike different trails there. So peaceful and relaxing. We also love riding the rail trails that are popping up all over the country. So much safer and relaxing than riding in the roads.
Peggy C.- My knees won't let me to anything but short walks and hills are out. Love looking at pictures though.
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I have a really different reason for hiking. I do like nature, but I also know nature provides great benefits, not just to the mind and spirit, but to the body, beyond the benefits of exercise, as well. As we traverse trails we kick up soil-based organisms (SBOs) that are inhaled and provide better immune functions and increase our ability to fight off disease.
I'll end with a quote American journalist Nicholas Kristof, who said, "Wilderness trails constitute a rare space in America marked by economic diversity. Lawyers and construction workers get bitten by the same mosquitoes and sip from the same streams; there are none of the usual signals about socioeconomic status, for most hikers are in shorts and a T-shirt and enveloped by an aroma that would make a skunk queasy."
The first time I used the Internet to learn how to do a household repair was for a broken 37" LCD TV. It would have cost over $400 to repair in a shop, more than half of the purchase of a new TV, which was usually at the top of my pain threshold. Since it was either repair it myself or throw it away, I really had nothing to lose. The problem had been that the TV would turn on and run for about a minute, then power off, no matter the video or power source. I went to YouTube and searched for the issue along with the TV's make and model and viola! There it was!
I watched the fifteen-minute video three times and became confident that they had accurately described the issue and the resolution. I opened up the back of the TV, which was difficult with 14 screws in odd places, and documented where the screws had come from. I located the board that was supposedly the problem and disconnected it. I then called a few TV repair shops that advertised that they sold parts and got quotes for the board as well as some confirmation that this was the issue. The new board only cost $59 and I picked it up from the shop when they called to say it was in, just about two weeks later. I installed the new circuit board and reassembled the TV (all but one screw, which I couldn't find the spot for), plugged it in and stood back. I pressed the power button on the remote and the TV's picture slowly appeared. About ten anxious minutes later it was still on and running properly and I felt pretty good about myself. That TV went on for another two years before we gave it away when downsizing to move into our fifth wheel.
Many of us take the Internet for granted. I come from the BI era (Before Internet), I once owned a computer sales and repair shop and had five four-drawer file cabinets just to collect and store manuals and tech data for everything we sold or worked on. With each model update, we had to a) know about it, b) request info for it, and c) file the paper manuals and tech data we received, assuming we did. If we had an odd repair on something for which we didn't store specs or schematics, we would have to call the manufacturer, which could mean hours on hold before talking to someone who may or may not speak English well, and wait for the manual and repair instructions to come in the mail, or later, via email. If you were the unfortunate customer waiting for your essential equipment, it might be quite a wait.
I remember when Seagate, one of the largest hard drive manufacturers in the country, placed all of their tech manuals online, right on their site. Many a tech had tears in their eyes. Western Digital soon followed, then Hewlett Packard, IBM and everyone else. Eventually consumer manufacturers caught up and put their manuals online, realizing that their own support volume would be reduced, which happened.
That is the technical specifications side of repairs, but you were still dependent upon technicians to diagnose and repair your equipment, and that wasn't always cost or time effective. Enter YouTube and the mighty geeks who decided to show off their skills. Repair videos became so popular that more and more types of content were created, including how-to, when to and why to videos for the RV and travel industry and for the millions of homeowners wanting to DIY.
When I wanted to install my fifth wheel flooring, I watched videos on the various choices, selected one, and then several more videos on how to purchase and install it. It was a two-day job, but it turned out well and was a fraction of the cost of having a pro install it. When my awning switch went out, or my refrigerator stopped cooling, or my generator refused to start, the Internet came to my rescue, though I did decide to let a tech do some of those repairs. It was an informed choice.
Other uses of this valuable resource include automotive and engine repair, hobbies (i.e. RC planes and drones), plumbing, gardening, birding, and on and on and on. I recommend doing electrical repairs yourself, obviously an electrician should be hired whenever possible, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't become an informed consumer beforehand.
I didn't receive many comments about this topic. Again, I'm blaming people's apathy regarding anything related to the Internet these days. Here are just a few comments, with some minor editing:
Humdrum Hermits- We have definitely made use of online repair instruction! It has been an invaluable resource for naturally socially distant (introverted) people like us. The RV Cool video on replacing a cooling unit was our step by step instruction for fixing our 15 year old RV fridge, and we feel especially good about it because we took the time to really do it right. We're not sure that a repairman would've taken the time to do the extra taping and other things we did to enhance the insulation. By learning to do it ourselves thru online instruction, we feel confident in the repair and built up our confidence for the next repair.
Nadyne H.- I love this availability online! Several times we've been able to fix something ourselves by watching a video! If nothing else, we can find out what needs to be done and a repairman may have a harder time taking advantage of us.
Mary Lou C.- David Loves researching information online, especially YouTube. Everything in his technical decisions come from hours of online research. I just have to hang on for the ride.
I take this quote by Apple CEO Tim Cook to heart. When speaking about online information, he said, "We shouldn't all be fixated just on what's not available. We should take a step back and look at the total that's available, because there's a mountain of information about us."
For most, retirement is a phase of life, a chapter near the end of the book, a distinct change in lifestyle. Social security age requirements may influence the target (retire at 62 or wait until full benefits kick in, or somewhere in between), or the status of one's 401K or retirement savings plan, or perhaps one's health condition. Any way you get there, hopefully you can enjoy it.
My father passed away from a stroke at age 55, and he had had huge retirement plans that he never fulfilled. My wife's mother became ill just about when her father retired, and he put aside their retirement travel plans. When he passed away, she was still too weak to travel. That inspired both of us to retire and hit the road running as soon as possible, I did postpone my exit as a manager a few months until I could help train my replacement, but was still 62 and Nadyne 63 when we pulled the trigger, selling our house and moving into our fifth wheel.
We had planned our escape for five years and could hardly believe when it finally arrived. Downsizing was far more difficult than we expected (as you can read about here), and leaving friends behind was equally disheartening. Social security only pays so much and we have resisted using savings, so Nadyne is still working about 40 hours per month and I am writing, along with getting a few book sales each month, so that we can be more comfortable in our travel.
Since retiring and moving to the highways and byways of America, we have had good times and bad, the bad mostly having to do with our RV repairs, losing Lucy, our beloved dog of 12 years, and COVID restrictions. However, the sights we've seen, the experiences we've shared, the awe of nature, the splendor of the night sky, the interesting differences in landscape and community among the different sections of the country, all of these have made our lifestyle much more than satisfying. As an added bonus, we've been able to visit, in person, our six kids, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and ten siblings and their families, scattered across the country. This would not have been possible if we weren't able to retire and travel freely like we do.
I did not experience a culture shock when I stopped getting up at 4:45am on weekdays. Instead, I began to "sleep in" until 7am and stay up as long as I like. Sometimes I even stay in bed until 8:30! Before the pandemic, we were able to experience the local night life and regional restaurant favorites wherever we happen to be and I have now sung karaoke in about 20 states. We are anxiously awaiting for this entertainment to become available (safely) to us again. I now have photo galleries posted from 35 states and our two cruises (Alaska and the Caribbean), much of which has been taken since we hit the road. We return to Colorado every summer to catch up with friends and do the doctor and dentist routines, and to tour one of our favorite states.
And then there are the myriad of friendships we've made, some due to our membership and activities in RVillage (now 300,000 RV members strong), and some are people we meet along our journeys. The RV community is an usual bunch in that members have much more in common that not. Almost everyone has stories about a black tank experience or a particularly bizarre campground, and they can't wait to share experiences with people who haven't heard them yet. We see a few of our RV friends in multiple locations, which is always fun. One couple has crossed our path in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and in Ohio, and another in California, Florida and Oregon.
None of this would have been possible without our retiring while we still had our health. Sadly, like both of our fathers, some never get the chance. I highly recommend it!
I received several comments from friends, fans and followers about retirement, a popular topic. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
A32Deuce- I retired at 59 in 2008 and haven't looks back. Get to do what we enjoy -- we bought our RV in 2012 and started to travel more. Time is short, so enjoy it while you can. I started planning to retire in 1968 to go out at the age of 55.
Hank and Shirleen- We retired after our 2nd careers in 2007. We had an RV for five years already. We took off for Alaska in May and have never looked back or were afraid we made a mistake. We stayed up there for three months. We are now on the road for 4-6 months every summer. We belong to two RV clubs and are gone two weeks out of every month all winter (in Texas). We still have our sticks and bricks (!) but we love our RV lifestyle. We have met sooo many new friends doing this and will keep on as long as we can!
Outofsightadventures- I retired last year and being a type-A personality all the way, nobody we know thought a) that I would retire and b) that I would make it past six months without running back to corporate America. Pfffft! I haven’t looked back once and definitely don’t miss it... at all. Livin’ the dream!
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I retired at age 55 as we had met our retirement savings goal. Although I have enjoyed my job, once the goal had been obtained I didn’t see the point of working any longer. First thing I did was to go back to community college and take all the courses I never had time to take the first time around. I took about two classes a semester for nine years until we went full-time RVing, accumulating about 132 credit hours. I enjoyed sparring with the instructors (as I was often the oldest, wisest, most experienced person in the room). I always did my homework and unfortunately, raised the bar for the entire classroom (mostly 19-year-olds). I was also able to teach around 500 people in traditional methods of preparing whole, real food. Both of these activities really gave me purpose and meaning. But now it’s all about traveling and adventure, which I enjoy just as much.
Tom and Trish- I retired 1.5 years ago at age 64. I'm enjoying it and wish I had done it earlier. My wife plans on retiring in three years when she's 62. We moved from Durham, North Carolina, to the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau. Our new home is in the country but close to town. We built an RV Port and fenced in the nearly one-acre lot. I thought I would have more leisure time, but no, my wife bought me a fixer upper cabin on a lake. My time is split between our main property and the cabin. I've lost 20 pounds after leaving my desk job and much healthier, but, sadly, there's not enough time to enjoy RVing yet. I did sort of talk my wife into our first snowbirding trip to Alabama and Florida this fall and winter by making reservations. She still works (from home). I offered to head south early and set up camp; she'll join me a bit later.
Sharon M.- I took early retirement at 60 to start breeding horses, something I'd wanted to do since I was old enough to say "horsie". I'm still managing to do that, though I've had to downsize from the big warmbloods to mostly ponies... and a lot fewer numbers as well.
Nadyne H.- I'm only semi-retired as I still work for a couple of clients. I hope to someday be able to fully retire... I would love the absence of work stress, deadlines and concern about Internet running my life.
Mary Lou C.- I am disabled, so not really retired. I was running a service dog school and I truly loved it. But, between financial and health problems, I had to close it. Currently I am making masks and accessories. S ome of my previous students are reaching out to me because of their inability to use of the off-the-shelf masks. So, I am now enjoying a fun and rewarding hobby and looking forward to a true retirement!
Kat C. Hds- I was in the Aircraft Industry for years as a Buyer and MRP Controller Supervisor. I tired of the constant stress and overworking. In my late 40's, I took a voluntary lay-off, moved in with my sister while I went back to school full time. I got licensed in Massage Therapy and opened my own Day Spa. Going on 14 years now and couldn't be happier. I'm working less hours, hired independent contractors to allow me to manage the spa and take only the clients I want. Best decision ever. I'm not retired, but moving closer to my goal of only managing and at some point hiring a manager, then I will retire.
The Four Seasons was an American rock and pop band that became internationally successful in the 60's and 70's... Just kidding. This is about the earth and its changing seasons.
Most people know that the four seasons -- spring, summer, autumn and winter -- exist on earth as a result of its tilt on its axis, compared to its orbit around the sun. Knowing that the orbit is not perfectly round might cause one to think that summer happens when the earth is closest to the sun and winter when it's farthest away, but that is not the case. Because of the tilt, part of the earth is getting more energy from the sun in summer and less in winter. In spring and autumn the amount of energy becomes more-or-less equal around the globe. Also, because of the tilt, the northern and southern hemispheres enjoy opposite seasons from the other (the US experiences summer while it is winter in Australia, and vice-versa).
But nature is not content to simply make the temperatures shift from one season to the next. The earth's climate revolves around the changes in solar energy, and each geologic region has its own peculiarities. Some are universal, such as snow and ice in winter, autumn changing of colors of leaves as the deciduous trees make less and less chlorophyll, flowers blooming in the spring and summer, and monsoons and hurricanes appear as the heat of summer warms the atmosphere and oceans.
Humans have adapted well to the seasons, especially in agriculture. This has enhanced hopes and expectations as each season begins to wane and make way for the next. Spring is for planting, and fall is forever harvest time. Summer is for work and play, while winter is for hunkering down and hibernation.
I have had the opportunity to live in a variety of locations around the country throughout my life, from the two seasons of California (summer and fall) to the two seasons of Western New York (winter and August 12th, or winter and construction, depending on who you ask), but also the four seasons in Washington State and Kansas. Even those areas that seem to skip seasons truthfully don't. You just have to be paying more attention.
Contrast is a big reason that the changing seasons enhance the human experience. The warmth of spring and summer can be fully appreciated once one has survived the colder fall and winter. The rains of spring follow the snow or ice of winter. The heat of summer replaces the chill of spring. The cooler breezes and autumn storms follow the dry heat of summer.
As one would expect, everyone seems to have their own favorite and disliked seasons. Growing up in heat or cold doesn't necessarily make one like them more or less. It really is an individual taste. But, the universal themes of hope and anticipation accompany nearly every change of season. In my case, however, dread of winter was always my autumn emotion.
I received a variety of comments from friends, fans and followers on this topic. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
Abraham F.- Arizona's season's are almost bearable -- Hot, Stupid Hot, and What the Heck Am I Still Doing Here?
Donna H.- I think we look forward to the "change" in each season! It gives you renewed hope and something to look forward to!!
Jennifer C.- So many different things you can do in every different season that you can’t do in another... I think my favorite is spring, with flowers blooming, the smell of fresh cut grass and no mosquitoes, who aren’t out yet.
Peggy H.- I live in California. There are two seasons here. Hot and very hot, with occasional spells of rain and temperatures hovering around 60°. I got nothin'.
BLSMSS- The four seasons make me happy to see the beauty it brings. Fall brings the beauty of colorful leaves. Here in New York, driving the roads means seeing all the colors the trees produce. Winter is the glistening of sparkles from the ice and snow, just like a prism. Spring brings all the beautiful flowers in all radiant colors as well as the beautiful butterflies. In summer, the trees are so full, the waters are filled from thaw, and people are out enjoying life. Like Jack's pictures, nature’s beauty is what makes me smile throughout the seasons.
Nadyne H.- I love three of the four seasons. I dislike summer if it is higher than 80 degrees and/or 50% humidity. I don't even mind winter! Fall is my favorite season because it signals the end of summer and there's a nice chill in the air. I love the fall leaves, primarily in the east and northwest, with all their bright, beautiful colors. I have to admit that as much as I love Colorado, fall is a disappointment -- autumn in Colorado is all about yellow, only yellow. After living in New York and experiencing fall there, nothing will ever live up to it again I'm afraid.
Canadian Hellie- Summer is play time for all ages and harvest time for gardeners and farmers. Fall is the most beautiful with all of Mother Nature's beautiful array of colors. This could be my favourite time due to the beauty, the warm days and cooler nights. Winter is calming and the nights are much brighter with to the moon's rays bouncing off the snow. It used to be a playland for me too; but not so much anymore. Spring is awesome, it's renewal time, the hope for farm crops and vegetable gardens that are planted and the hint of summer to follow. I love all the seasons and sometimes I wonder if the winter season will never end; but it does. Sometimes it seems as though we jump from winter into summer and miss spring completely.
Buddy and Cathy- We like all four seasons but I like the spring best because that is when God wakes up all of the beautiful creation that he has allowed to sleep for a while.
Steve and Aileen P.- Budy and Kathy's are our sentiments exactly!! We were watching the meteor shower tonight! The wonders of His creation!!
Candy and the Dogs- I love the rythm it sets. Each changing season marks the passage of time in a flow that makes it easier to cement memories. Whether it’s Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall each period has a unique edge that sets the tone. Renewal, rebirth, rejoicing or reflection -- all are easily marked as time passes with the changing seasons.
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I think the best thing about season change is the variety -- spring flowers, blue skies in the summer, and the crispness of the air in the fall. I grew up in Southern California but lived as an adult on the East Coast for eight years. What I enjoyed most about that was people prepared in the Fall for the Spring -- basically it told me that people were hopeful. If they wanted a nice Spring they had to do some things in the Fall to get it.
Mary Y- Spring is my season. The intense colors of flowers and spring greens. It is all about a new beginning, a chance to start anew.
I'll finish with a quote from American writer Rebecca Solnit, who said, "For millions of years, this world has been a great gift to nearly everything living on it, a planet whose atmosphere, temperature, air, water, seasons, and weather were precisely calibrated to allow us - the big us, including forests and oceans, species large and small - to flourish."
I remember going to the beach as a kid growing up in Southern California. I have very fair skin and usually sunburned before I was there very long. After a few summers I became proficient at building sand castles, skim surfing and surf Frisbee, and as a teen I would head to the piers as often as I could to fish for bonita. That wasn't very often.
The last time I visited Long Beach while I still lived in the L.A. area, it clouded up and a curtain of lightning bolts appeared on the sea's horizon. That storm closed in pretty quickly and I shot to my car and raced it home. The lightning and I arrived at the same time, with bolts striking towers and trees all around me. It was terrifying, but I did get to see ball lightning for the first and only time.
The oceans were created, according to current scientific thinking, millions of years ago by the escape of water vapor and other gases from volcanoes and the molten rocks of the Earth into the atmosphere, surrounding the cooling planet. Adding to this condensation was water and ice delivered by asteroids and comets over centuries or millennia. Without this phenomenon, it is unlikely life would have formed on earth, and we wouldn't be here.
According to NOAA, the ocean produces over half of the world's oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. It transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns. From fishing to boating to kayaking and whale watching, the ocean provides us with many unique recreational activities. The world's oceans provide more than just seafood, with ingredients from the sea found in foods such as peanut butter and soymilk. Many medicinal products come from the ocean, including ingredients that help fight cancer, athritis, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.
But the waves! Waves are most commonly caused by wind. We have all seen cresting waves during a wind storm over a large lake or ocean, and this happens continuously somewhere in whatever vicinity you are located. Waves can also be caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun (tides), by a weather or land disturbance off shore, such as during a hurricane or after an earthquake (tsunamis), or with large ships or land masses pushing the ocean ahead of them.
There is a long, detailed explanation as to why we have crashing waves at our shoreline, including orbital motion of the ocean's kinetic energy, but I find the mystery and wonder more appealing than the minutia. One need only stand on the beach or a cliff's edge for a few seconds watching nature's magic to get lost in it. The combination of the rhythmic pounding of the waves on the shore and the cadence of its crashing sounds, along with a continual rumble of all of the shoreline waves together can sooth one's soul and calm one's heart.
I received some excellent comments from friends, fans and followers on this subject. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
Ayub B.- Oceans have unlimited majesty and mystery, every beach has lethal attraction, not less mysterious than Bermuda Triangle. Ah, oceans really connect us, not separate!!
Canadian Hellie- There's nothing like a soft, warm breeze from the ocean on a hot evening. The views of the ocean meeting the sky is like none other.
Bill J. and Diane M.- Right now we are happy because the temperatures are reasonable here by the ocean, while inland they have had hot weather. We are about half a mile from the Pacific on the Washington State coast.
Ed R. (OCREF)- I love the Northern Washington coastal area. While I was attending the University of Washington in Seattle getting my Masters Degree, I was fortunate enough to have a 25' Chris Craft Connie. I used to love cruising the San Juan Islands on weekends. The wonderful breezes from the ocean! I'm fortunate to now have a beachfront home in California -- some very beautiful summer days, foggy days, cold winter days when the wind blows and the surfs up!!! All are awesome!!!
BLSMSS- Oceans make me happy for the sweet smell it has. You know you're getting closer to it when every smell you take gets sweeter. The calming feel I get from the blue waters for miles is amazing. To realize families and friends we have, some of their families crossed them at one time to get to our great country, without that we may have never met. To see all the beautiful creatures that live there, another of nature’s beauty.
Habadabeer- Looking out at the ocean is like taking in the night sky -- it gives you a better sense of scale, and lets you see things from a whole new perspective. My Dad was in the Navy in World War II. He went straight to boot camp from our little hometown in upstate New York, then shipped out across the Pacific to Hawaii for his first duty station. He was looking out at the horizon in all directions one evening when one of his supervisors asked him what he was thinking. My Dad said, “That’s a lot of water!” His NCO said, “Yeah, and that’s just the surface!”
Curt603- I love the activity at a marina -- people watching!
Bill22- You can always tell when you're near the ocean even if you can't see it. Just take a deep breath and smell the salt air. There's nothing better.
"The Brews Cruise" Ken & Ara- The smell of the salt air and the view of the vast expanse of water -- something magical happens as stress fades away; breathing brings a relaxing feel. I love being at the ocean.
Bob & Maria- I like the smell of the salt air, going snorkeling and seeing all of the marine life. We have been to the Caribbean a number of times and love the different greens and blues of the ocean. Of course, there's nothing like a moonlit walk on the beach, hearing the gentle waves touch the beach then recede.
ff1946- We live on a boat from November to May in the Florida Keys. We can’t stay away from salt water very long...
See Spot Run RV- I love the ocean's colors of blue and green. I love to hear the crashing of the waves and riding them into shore, the smell of the sea salt. There is a calming to be near the sea. It's always fun to play in the water.
Bruce & Linda (Omnibus)- I like that fact that, besides being filled with life, the ocean itself seems to be alive; constantly in motion with a wide range of moods.
Trailerite- I love a rocky coastline -- the sights and sounds are mesmerizing. But the smells of a beach and wetlands makes me very relaxed. The best, though, is going to sea on a not-too-large ship. It makes me feel so small and makes me realize how large God is. The ocean takes on so many colors and moods way out in the middle of it.
Nadyne H.- Even though I prefer lakes, as bodies of water go, I enjoy camping near the Pacific Ocean for the sound of the waves and the beauty of the waves crashing against the shore.
Donna B.- The sound of the waves, the smell of the air, I love the ocean. Unfortunately, I can’t go to the beach, my skin can’t take much sun exposure.
Peggy H.- Growing up in Southern California, my childhood, especially my teens, are filled with memories of the beach. I recall my first solo drive in my mom's car being to the beach with a few girlfriends. We slathered our bodies with baby oil (yeah - we know that's dumb now!) and frolicked in and out of the surf. I began to think of the ocean as rejuvenating in adulthood. I’d pine away at photos of the ocean. In the last 11 years I’ve had more opportunity to cruise and I’d get a balcony as often as I could manage it. I’d sit near the window and imagine the life below the water’s surface, the biodiversity of it all. From the tiniest plankton to the bus-sized whales, from jellies to human-like dolphins…. I would get hours of entertainment just using my imagination. Now that I’m painting and drawing, many of my subjects are marine life. I guess that should be no surprise.
If I get caught up in the busy-ness of life, months can go by without seeing the ocean. I swear she gets jealous and calls to me from afar. It becomes an obsession until I finally succumb to her demands and find my way driving there, and if lucky, sitting in a hotel room close enough to hear the surf. The ocean is my refuge and my retreat. She restores and invigorates me. My dream is to retire to a decommissioned lighthouse and turn it into a bed and breakfast. Special discounts available for family and friends!
Kathi B.- I should have been born a Pisces Instead of a Taurus. Always have been a water baby and then discovered snorkeling. To be in the warm salt water and seeing all the sea creatures up close -- my own personal aquarium! Swimming weightless among the sea turtles is the best. I try not to think about the sharks. The best way to see them is in the cage. Think that is why we love to cruise. To be on the water with multiple chances to get in it in every port.
The early need for air conditioning grew out of the need to preserve foods, as foods that are kept at room temperature spoil easily due to the growth of bacteria. At temperatures below 40°F, the growth of bacteria is reduced or eliminated. With the development of food refrigeration came air conditioning and humidity control shortly thereafter. The invention of absorption-type of refrigeration in the early 19th century showed that liquefied ammonia could chill air when it is allowed to evaporate. Ice was created using compressor technology in the year 1842 by a physician named John Gorrie.
The first commercially-available air conditioning systems were used to cool air for industrial processes, rather than for personal comfort. The first electrical air conditioning was invented by Willis Carrier, the Father of Modern Air Conditioning, in the year 1902. The rest, as they say, is history.
In America, hot temps begin, on average, in May for the southwest and in July for the rest of the country. Indeed, this week CNN reported, "A record-breaking heat wave is sweeping across the United States, and close to 90% of the population will experience 90-degree heat over the next seven days." So, you can see that air cooling is a must in much of the country.
I grew up in dry Southern California, so dry, in fact, that we had a giant evaporation cooler (AKA swamp cooler) that worked well. When I moved north to a more humid climate, I realized how good I had had it. Swamp coolers don't work in humidity. In every place I have lived since my Washington State home I have insisted upon air conditioning, which handles humidity as well as heat, including New York State, Nevada, Kansas and Colorado. Even in the desert of Las Vegas and the usually-dry elevation of Denver, summer monsoons can make the heat unbearable and swamp coolers ineffective.
We now have A/C in our cars, trucks, RV's, supermarkets, schools and at most workplaces, and most of us can't imagine life without it. There is nothing better than to come inside from a hard afternoon working in the yard and sit on a cool sofa, preferably with the cold air blowing right at us. From what I can tell, A/C is one of the most underrated unsung heroes of 20th- and 21st-century living, allowing us to enjoy summer life instead of sweltering in it.
As usual, many of my fans and friends have contributed comment on this cool topic. Here are some of those (I have edited or paraphrased a few of them):
Donna H.- I love coming back inside from working in the yard and feeling the cool air from my air conditioning hit me!
Sharon M.- We never had A/C in Montana ... very few really hot days and the nights always cooled off. I could not survive in Kentucky without it, however. The combination of heat and humidity are debilitating and I have to be in the house, in A/C, by mid-morning... and pretty much stay there until almost dark.
Kathy S.- We have evaporative cooling (aka swamp cooler). We are lucky to also have A/C. We only use it on high humidity days. It's quiet, it keeps things dry and reminds us that things weren't always this comfortable!
Nadyne H.- I couldn't live without air conditioning as I don't "do hot," as I like to say. When I was young, growing up in Tucson, Arizona, we initially had air conditioning, but eventually Dad took it out due to the amount of it going out the door as the 5 of us and our friends went in and out everyday, all day. He replaced it with a swamp cooler which was poor at best during monsoon season in the Tucson summer. As soon as it started to heat up each summer I remember each of us going through the ritual of re-arranging our bedrooms so that the bed would be directly in the path of the air coming out of the register vent! I can also remember a brother (which one?) would close my vent during the night in order to increase the amount of blast he would receive in his room! I would awake, sweltering, to find my vent closed or nearly closed... not nice. Once I was an adult, I made sure wherever I lived had A/C, not a swamp cooler... sometimes two A/C units!
BLSMSS- The thing about A/C that makes me happy is seeing my husband feeling better after being outside working, coming inside and be able to cool down and be comfortable.
L.D. Clark- I like the fact that it’s there when and if I want it. Plus, my chocolates don’t melt sitting on the table!
Hank & Shirleen- My wife, a native Texan, says that Air Conditioning is our friend! And I agree!
Connie Jo- I can breathe with the air on!! Calgon, take me away!!!
The Cleary Clan- We love how our 15,000 BTU A/C keeps the motorhome cool. We have a 32-foot long Class-C. Recently it was 94F outside and 69F inside.
WeMustRV- We have two 15K A/C units that keep us cool. They work hard sometimes being that the sides of our RV are dark and act as a thermal magnet. 105-degree heat index last week, 95 degrees and 80%-plus humidity, made them a must.
Like myself, Bill Bryson is an American author who precedes modern air conditioning. He wrote, "I grew up, really, in the days before air conditioning. So I can remember what it was like to be really hot, for instance, and I can remember what it was like when your barber shop and your local stores weren't air conditioned, so it was hot when you went in them and they propped the doors open."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.