Goodbye Blogger - New Site Ahead!


Posted on : 4:06 PM | By : Anonymous

I need you all to update your links to my new site:

I just finished it... and I mean just, so there may be a few bugs but it should be ready to go.  I wish there were a way to take all of my Blogger followers with me.   I'm sorry about that but please come see my fancy new blog anyway. :D

I Miss Yogurt


Posted on : 10:04 AM | By : Anonymous | In : ,

I haven't been able to eat yogurt in a couple of years.  One day about two years ago when I ate yogurt I got very sick and now I can't eat any dairy at all.  This includes milk and cheese... and don't get me wrong I love cheese so much, but I think the thing I have been missing most is yogurt

I had some kind of infection a few weeks ago and I got some tzatziki to help combat the effect of the antibiotics.  I suppose I could have made it myself but I hadn't ever tasted tzaziki and it's hard to have the motivation to mix up anything special when I don't exactly have a real kitchen, so like I said, I bought some.

Tzatziki, for those unaware, is Greek yogurt made of sheep or goat's milk and mixed with all the things I love: garlic, cucumber, olive oil, etc.  When I ate it, I don't know if it did me any good because I felt sick after.  Did the friendly bacteria help me on its tortuous way through?  Who knows... it seemed to only serve as a reminder that I can't have yogurt.

What's frustrating is that most people who are lactose intolerant can still eat yogurt because the proteins are broken down more easily or something like that.  Humans have eaten yogurt for thousands of years... but I suppose the universe likes to play little jokes now and then and leave someone out.  I have never had a dietary decision made me feel so left out.  When you don't eat bread, you can still eat many things that most people eat.  When you are a vegetarian, it's so mainstream you can eat at most restaurants easily.  If you can't eat dairy, it's as if every meal has been downgraded. When you inform your host that you can't have dairy and to make a meal accommodating you, you will see panic in their eyes as they realize that every tasty meal has some element of dairy in it.

Besides all the great calcium and vitamins in yogurt, the benefits of the active cultures of yogurt are well-known.  Because it is fermented it's supposed to be more easily digested, and it's made all over the world by just about everyone.  It is even enjoyed by cultures who don't traditionally eat much dairy at all.

I suppose I rant on about this because I woke up this morning and I just really missed having some simple strawberry yogurt.  It's a beautiful sunshiny day with blue sky and it's really warm in the bus.  A yogurt smoothie would really have been nice. :)

And now, for your entertainment, my favorite yogurt quote, from the movie Spaceballs:
Lone Starr: 'Who hasn't heard of Yogurt!' 
Princess Vespa: 'Yogurt the Wise!' 
Dot Matrix: 'Yogurt the All-Powerful!' 
Barf: 'Yogurt the Magnificent!'
"Please, please, don't make a fuss. I'm just plain Yogurt."

PS. I also want to add, on a completely different topic that the real reason I needed to post today is to give you fair warning that I am building a brand new blog.  I will be leaving Blogger behind and even the name of the blog will change out of necessity to my own name.  Don't worry, you won't lose anything!  It will be much easier to keep track of me and see what I am doing, and all the old posts will still be there.  It's going to be simply smashing!  

A Brief History of Man and Rat


Posted on : 9:30 AM | By : Anonymous | In : ,

The history of the struggle between man and rat has been long and dangerous.... for man.  Many people, dreaming of the country, imagine an idyllic green countryside, cosy fires and innumerable lambs dotting the grassy hills.  They forget to paint in the manure, the insects, and the rodents.  When you live any distance away from an urban area, there are a hundred times more bugs.  At least.  It is also guaranteed that at some point a rodent will make its way into your home and decide it likes you.

Rats are not big versions of mice.  They are two entirely different things.  A mouse will run along a wall, hit a corner, and run right back the way it came because it is timid and doesn't have the critical thinking skills to look around and examine its surroundings.  A rat, on the other hand, is smart and confident.  It will stroll in, check out the scene, and may decide to relax by the pool and have a drink while you are away.

We thought we may have killed 'the rat'.  What we have discovered is that this is not a few rats, but many rats, sending one rat into our bus every day to bring back whatever we have left in payment for their little rat mafia.   Yesterday, I was sitting at the computer and Ana came into the front of the bus quite loudly and talking, and suddenly yelled out, "The RAT!"  We all froze, and I quietly ran up to see.  Sure enough, a rat was strolling in quite cheerfully.  He looked up at me, then went along his merry way to find whatever we had left.  Obviously they liked our rat poison and wanted more of it.  I got a little closer, and looked around for a weapon.  A broomstick?  Not lethal enough.  A shoe?  There were only children's shoes.  The only thing that would kill was a hatchet.  The handle was so short though!  I hesitated only a moment, grabbed it and tried to aim for the neck.

My short sighted lack of depth perception landed my blow in the middle of his back, which broke his spine but left him in pain, and I had to hit him again.  I flipped him on his back with a piece of bus metal laying nearby and as I saw his mouth hang open and his little rat teeth sticking out, it struck me that while this rat may have been using me as part of a big experiment in a Douglas Adams-like conspiracy, killing him was futile.  Another rat would replace him tomorrow.  We left another pile of poison out, and it is gone again today.

This isn't unusual and everyone that I told had their own rat story.  One person happened to have a shovel in their hands, another a rake. Rats and man have always been fighting.  In the 1600's fleas carried by rats that were living prolifically in people's houses ended up killed 1/3 of Europe.  One-third!  One of the reasons there were so many rats is that people were superstitious and thought cats were evil.  They killed cats, and the rats laughed as the people died.

I knew rats were smart, but coming face to face with the enemy really proved this to me.  I felt bad after I killed such a worthy opponent. After doing some research, it is interesting to know that rats have metacognition, an ability only found in humans and some primates.  This means that rats are aware of themselves and their own thought processes.

It doesn't stop many cultures from eating rats, and the rats don't really care that they are invading our homes so it's a strange situation.  This isn't an insect that comes in and needs to be squashed... this is an intelligent creature that doesn't care that it is taking your stuff.  The Chinese respect the rat - if you were born in the year of the rat, you are said to be creative and ambitious, honest, generous... and wasteful.

Amazingly, I almost almost wanted a pet rat, just because of how smart they are.  Apparently, rats laugh when you tickle them.  lol:

Steampunk Bus - Roughing It - (04/13/10 - 012)


Posted on : 2:05 PM | By : Anonymous | In : ,

This video glitched when uploading and it took 3 more tries to get it to work... so this is the same video with the audio fixed. Enjoy!

The Pieces of Paper


Posted on : 1:09 PM | By : Anonymous | In : , , ,

 A long while ago I posted about a job plan under the unjobbing category, and I wanted to talk a little bit more about what has happened since I posted that. Since I wrote the so-called 'Five Step Plan', the recession hit full force (although not unexpectedly), and at least six of my friends with college education, two of them with post-graduate work, can't find work.  Out of all of my friends, one person with a college education has a job in their field of study.  Everyone else is doing construction, retail and whatever else they can find to pay the bills.

What is surprising about this is that every single unemployed person is in science or engineering field, while the one employed person has a degree in English ( I forget what specific major).  It may be significant that she is also working from home doing contract consulting, and has more work than she actually wants to do.

The total debt these college graduates carry is somewhere in the half-a-million dollar range, and many are now forced to go back to school simply to avoid paying intensely high payments on their debt, and hopefully attract an employer.

I went to school for a year, and after the recession hit I faced a dilemma... continue to go and take on more debt and just hope to get a good job in three years, or stop while I have relatively little and pay off what I already owe while I am still ahead.  John didn't start school, mostly because he is one of the lucky few people right now with a good and stable job.  Yes we need to plan for our retirement but we realized there were some things we needed to prioritize first.  The game has changed.  The piece of paper you pay so much for doesn't mean as much any more, and the pieces of paper you used to buy it with aren't worth nearly as much.  All of that stuff has lost value.

So where is the real value?  What are the priorities?

1. Get out of debt.  This is common sense.  I was watching Kitchen Nightmares with the girls last night on the computer and these restaurant owners were running their business into the ground, racking up debt, but instead of saying, "Oh I am in so much debt and the burden is killing me!" They said, "We could lose our house!"  Your house?  Your house is a building.  Lose your house!  It represents debt! It is a liability.  Sell your house, sell your car, sell everything of value because it is just stuff.  Live in an apartment for a while, work hard and then you can earn the reward of owning a house later when you can afford it.  A house isn't an investment any more unless you bought it cheaper than it will ever be and paid for it cash.  Don't get in debt for ANYTHING, not even education.  I think the only education that may be worth while right now is one that you do because you love, not because it has a good future, and I'll explain that more below.

2. Decrease your living expenses.  This is part of getting out of debt, but it will help you achieve anything else you want.  There is an increasing movement of people, not just older retired people, but young people and families, who are giving up traditional modes of living and are going with the ultra-cheap lifestyle of RVing.  The Families on the Road website has become increasingly popular and the Facebook group now has 492 members.  Even if you don't end up on the road and stay close to home, living this super simple lifestyle is incredibly cheap and will help you save money and do the things you want to do.

3. Save money.  We opened our Tax Free Savings Account and put money into it faithfully, then withdrew it to use for our building project, the Albatross.  When this project is complete, this account will be put back into use.  We now simply keep money aside every month for emergencies, and it's a good thing too because we've needed it.  When the hood of the van flew up and smashed the windshield when John was going down the highway, we immediately went out and purchased another $1000 van and the insurance needed which ended up costing us a total of $1500.  This van will last us another year at least, and even if it needs a new transmission it will still be cheaper than a new car.

4. Which brings me to the 'doing the things you want to do'.  Retirement doesn't mean anything any more, and in fact everyone I know over the retirement age still works.  So somehow that whole 'work a good job and then retire' plan just doesn't function any more.  The new strategy that makes the most sense right now is to get as good a job as you can get, and try to utilize the talents and skills that you have.  Build up a network of people who can give you opportunities and support, and learn to recognize opportunities as they arise.  In general, it takes about 10 years to get successful at something, so pick something you really love, work at it for 10 years, and you will be successful and rewarded.  I'm not talking about dabbling in a hobby - I'm talking sweat and tears kind of work.  If you can start off young and do it, all the better. Then, decide what you want to do with that.  You've lived cheaply, you've saved your money, you make money doing something you love and it doesn't take much to support yourself because you already live frugally, and what do you have?  You have a good life, and you are practically retired.  The less money it takes for you to live, the less you have to work, and the more likely you can do things you love to earn your living. Being self-sufficient helps, of course, but it's not for everyone, and it doesn't have to be if you live smart.