For anyone who may not know, Blog is a shortening of Web-Log and there are bunches of Blogs all around the internet. Encyclopedia Britannica defines them as "on-line journals." I seriously considered not using the term here, after reading the 7-page 11/14/2005 Forbes Magazine article entitled Attack of the Blogs, which starts off with the statement "Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo."

After seeing the article, I seriously considered calling this page Ramblings, as I do in my newsletter. Realistically, however, this really is a blog and my newsletter could also be considered a blog, which makes me a blogger!  Hey! Wait! All bloggers ain't bad! What I plan to do here is ramble on about topics of interest to me, and hopefully to you, and try very hard not to obliterate any brands or companies or individuals, as Forbes  points out is being done by those bad bloggers all the time.

So, on we go ... I'll write the words and you can choose to read them or not. If you have any comments, you can use the guestbook on this page, so all visitors can read them, or email me at rjhoffman@yahoo.com if you intend them only for me.
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Table of Contents

11/07/2005When Are You Too Old to Drive an RV?
12/18/2005Different Strokes - To Full-Time or Not To Full-Time
02/06/2006Old Guys Doing Stuff
03/07/2006Turning 65
04/01/2006TV Land
07/10/2006How Do You See RVs?  DON'T OVERLOOK THE SURVEY!
09/16/2006Is the Gas War Working?
12/30/2006How We Do Stuff
03/24/2007Drink a Beer, Read the Funnies, and Cook a Burger
07/15/2007One of the Hazards of Growing Older
11/15/2007Are We All Time-Travelers?
12/13/2007Closing Out 2007 - Sell 50 or Stop Wasting Time
12/11/2008     Closing Out 2008 - How Time Do Fly!
02/13/2009Grocery Prices - Publix vs Walmart
03/18/2009My First 10 Years of "Real" Retirement
08/18/2009Things That Are Just Wrong! TAKE THE SURVEY!
02/24/2010Things Your Mother Never Told You
02/24/2010Addendums to Earlier Blentries
02/24/2010My Views on MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.
07/30/2010Are We RVing Yet?
07/03/2012Blurting Out a Bunch of Information (RV-Blog page 2)
05/17/2013The Great Cellphone Rip-Off
02/25/2017Wrapping Up RV-Blog and Travel Log
When Are You Too Old to Drive an RV?

11/07/2005I got to thinking about this the other day. If you've visited my other websites, read my newsletter, or played Poker against me, you know that I often use "oldguy" as my handle online. I'm currently 64, so maybe not really considered old by some, but I've got gray hair and am retired (sort of), plus I get the senior discount at theaters and buffets, so probably qualify as an oldguy. Based upon that, I sometimes wonder if/when I'll get to a point that I'll be too old to be driving around in a 9-ton RV, towing a car behind, with a total length of somewhere around 55 feet. Some might say when you return from an RV trip and find tree bark on the rear corner of your RV, with no idea how it got there, maybe you're too old to drive an RV. Well, that's happened to me several times, starting back in 1984 when I first started RVing, so maybe that's not a real good age gauge in my case. Some might say you're too old when you forget to lower your TV antenna, raise your steps, or release the emergency brake on your tow vehicle, but I've also done all those - a good checklist is the answer for these, not deciding that you're too old.

My dad told me once how he decided that he and my stepmother, Eunice, were too old to continue boating. They had a really nice boat, about 18 feet I think, with flying bridge, outboard, and a little cabin area up front. They'd mainly cruise around the inland waterway in Florida, fishing and just enjoying the scenery. My dad had a serious allergy to bee-stings and Eunice took nitro for her heart. Seems that one day they were out boating, when dad opened a compartment and was stung by 2-3 bees. I'm not sure who was driving at the time, but he immediately went to get his syringe of anti-venom medicine. When he got stung, Eunice got a little excited and started to have heart pains. She went to find her nitro pills. When he told the story, dad was laughing about it, but it probably wasn't funny at the time. As he told it, there they were, him trying to give himself a shot, her searching her purse frantically for her pills, and the boat going round and round in circles all the while. Luckily, they weren't near any land or other boaters, so were possibly free to circle indefinitely, but it could've been a serious situation. He said it was about that time that they decided to sell the boat and find less active modes of entertainment, like sitting on the balcony, watching the world go by.

Do we need some emergency or close call to decide it's time to quit? Will the highway department eventually decide to do some retesting on older drivers to make the determination for them? I'm not really sure, but seems like I've heard that some states require retesting annually after a certain age. Guess I should check into that sometime. My current license expires on my birthday in 2009, when I'll be 68.

I've met people in their 70's, and possibly 80's, who are still guiding giant rigs around the highway and apparently doing a fine job of it. I've also talked to people, like RV service people for example, who tell stories of seniors who have no business behind any wheel, much less a large RV, but who have just purchased another new RV and are planning some long trips in it. I guess you'll have to look long and hard to find an RV salesman who'll pass up several thousand dollars in commission because they think a potential buyer is too old to drive.

As far as I'm concerned, I imagine my wife will let me know. Of course, there have been times in the past when she got aggravated at my driving and probably would have taken my license right then if she thought she could - of course, those times aren't really associated with age, but just her dislike of some of my driving habits. I've been told before that I'm quick to recognize the faults of others, but slow to see my own. Is that just me or is that common? I'm hoping that I'll be able to be objective enough to recognize when it's time to turn in my driving gloves, but I guess time will tell. Hopefully, it won't take some serious event to arrive at the decision. And, I hope it isn't anytime soon, since I've still got a bunch of places in North America that I still want to visit.

So what's my point? I guess I don't really have one, except that this is a subject that's on my mind now and then, and I assume on the mind of other aging RVers also. I recall when we went full-time back in 1992, we had long discussions on whether to keep a land-based home or not. My view was that a land-based home was an unnecessary expense, probably requiring maintenance every time you return from a long trip, plus having to worry about its maintenance while you're travelling. My wife's admonition was "what about when you get too old to drive and need a place to settle down?" My reply was always that I'd worry about buying a land-based domicile when and if that happened. As it turned out, Joyce wasn't able to really relax on the road, as long as she knew she didn't have a land-based nest to return to, so our full-timing only lasted a year or so anyway. We've found that she's only good in an RV for a few weeks, while I still claim to be ready to sell the house and travel forever. We've reached a compromise, where we travel now and then, but keep the house for her benefit. Realistically, I am getting rather comfortable having ready access to the internet, plus the other conveniences that are offered in a land-based home that can't easily be arranged while being mobile, so maybe I'd have to give it a few second thoughts before really going out full-time again. That question is moot, however, since Joyce remains staunchly against the idea. The question of how long I can keep RVing does remain a valid question for the future, however.

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.

02/24/2010 Addendum : As mentioned in "02/24/2010Things Your Mother Never Told You", I'm now 69 and have had to get glasses to read the road signs. Up until 2008, I was seeing everything fine and never suspected that my distance vision would go bad on me. When it got difficult to read speed limit signs and even those huge interstate highway exit signs, I decided it was time. I could still see them eventually, but when you're driving an RV, you need a little advance notice on when to exit, etc. I've updated my glasses twice since getting the first pair in December 2008, so am now starting to wonder if I'll ultimately have to stop driving the RV because of bad vision. Hopefully, I can continue to upgrade my glasses to keep me seeing safely.
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Different Strokes - To Full-Time or Not To Full-Time

12/18/2005Well, I've been thinking off and on for the last month about what's good to put in this blog. Had several ideas, but none really grabbed me. Today, however, I was reading Chuck Woodbury's weekly newsletter and one hit me. I talked about it some in my book, Retire and Travel - 20 Years Later, and my wife Joyce has a whole chapter in the book on the topic. It seems there are those who don't realize the truth on the subject, though, so I'm going to enlighten them.

When I was young, the expressions were "different strokes for different folks" and "that's what makes horse-racing popular." Whatever the expression, the point is that different people have different opinions on things .. like RVing. For those thousands who haven't read my book, I'll include an excerpt here: "After traveling for 20 years and talking to many RVers, I’ve learned that there are a large number of people out there who feel like me and a large number who feel like Joyce. Also, I found that it’s not particularly a male or female thing. I’ve met couples where the wife loves RVing and the husband thinks it’s okay for a short time, but not full-time. Some couples both appear to love the full-timing idea, although in some cases I think one or the other is just going along with the idea, but not fully convinced it’s that great. Then there are those who are both obviously convinced that RVing is the only way to go. They have no permanent home and no plans to buy one anytime soon. Finally, there are those who are willing to travel in the RV for a short time, are able to find little pockets of happiness, but are always looking forward to the time when they return to their real home – that’s Joyce." In her chapter in our book, Little Pockets of Happiness, Joyce goes into great detail on her opinions on RVing.

In Chuck's newsletter, I was amused by the "valuable piece of marriage advice" from Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson: "Take your spouse on frequent RV vacations. One of the nicest things about RVing is my wife actually smiles at me when we get inside...she's always in a good mood in our motorhome." He then goes on about how great RVing is and how it will make any marriage better ... haha. Up until  1992, when Joyce agreed to go full-timing, I thought the same thing. We'd been married for 8 years, so you'd think I knew her by then ... not so! As we drove off, after selling or giving away all our furniture, etc., I was thinking how great it was going to be! Going from campground to campground, meeting new people, seeing new things, and undoubtedly having some revolutionary idea along the way that would end up making us millionaires -- or at least independently wealthy. I'd write books, Joyce would do arts and crafts, and we'd go happily down the road without a care in the world. I knew she wasn't as keen as I was on the full-timing idea, but I just knew she'd be as excited about it as I was, just as soon as we got out there and started enjoying the freedom of the open road.

Joyce, on the other hand, was having other thoughts. As she writes in the book, "When Robert retired in 1992, we sold the house, sold or gave away all the furniture, jumped into the RV, and happily rode off into the sunset, and I had a lump in my throat before we got out of town. I knew it wasn’t going to work for me, but I thought I could tough it out! It ain’t that easy, folks!" Well, we wandered around for about a year, coming within inches of either getting a divorce or choking each other, before deciding that part-time RVing was a better idea. We've now settled down to a few trips a year, some together and some just me, and that appears to be more-or-less satisfying both of us. I don't get as much travel as I'd like, she gets a little more than she wants, but we both compromise a little and neither of us is significantly unhappy about it.

As I read along in Chuck's newsletter, I then came to the Washington Post article written by the wife of the German ambassador, who decided that the best way to see America was in an RV. As I read her writings, I was amazed at how much it sounded like Joyce, thus proving once again that statement I made in my book. There are many like me, but there are also probably an equal number like Joyce. If you want a good laugh, you must read that article. It really presents the "rest of the story."

Bottom line is that if you're one of those dreamers who envisions a life of freedom and adventure with just you and your loved one, happily rolling down the road in your RV, without the burdens and expense of a land-locked home, THINK CAREFULLY! Even though she (or he) seems agreeable to the idea, you may find it to be one of your biggest mistakes. As most experts advise, rent an RV first, take short trips, and don't sell everything until you're sure. As it turns out, we've done okay, have a better home and better furniture that what we sold and gave away, but we're still together only because of our desire to make our life together work and our willingness to compromise to achieve that goal.

If you're on the other side of the coin, and your better (or worse) half is rambling on and on about the glories of RVing, better to speak up before your sofa and bed are given away. Mention how neat it would be to rent an RV on your next vacation and how much you love your furniture. Maybe you can work things out as Joyce and I have.

Oops .. just thought of an add-on. If you're dating someone and they express a desire to just hop in their car and travel around the country, be careful. That's what Joyce said when we were dating. That's what actually prompted (along with my underlying desire to be a vagabond) our first "retirement" in 1984, the topic of my first book Retire and Travel for $1000 a Month, which you can read free on my website. At that time, she was serious and thought that's what she wanted to do. After we really did it, however, she found that her love of travel (at least via RV) was limited to a 2-3 week period. She also realized that she really preferred airplanes and hotels to RVs and campgrounds. Even after that 5 months of RVing, she still didn't speak up, however. Eight years later, here we went again, this time with her feeling apprehensive from the start. In this case, additional RV rentals and short trips probably wouldn't have helped. It would have just convinced me more thoroughly how joyous RVing was. I guess the only answer here is that if you're apprehensive, speak up and hope your mate is listening and understands that everyone isn't enthralled with the glories of the RV life.

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.
Old Guys Doing Stuff

02/06/2006Let me start off by apologizing to my RVing readers - this ain't about RVs .. much. It's more related to the Retirement Tips aspect of my major website RetirementTipsAndRVStuff.com. It's remotely related to RVing, if you consider that many RVers are old guys (guys, here, being the generic guys that includes both hims and hers). Me being an old guy who enjoys RVing, I guess I often muddle the two topics and consider them closely related.

For those who don't know, my "handle" on game sites, etc., is oldguy ... or oldguy2 ... or oldguy20 ... whatever is available, but hung on the oldguy moniker. As a self-proclaimed old guy, I get understandably encouraged when I note other old guys doing impressive things. I actually guess that I get equally enthused by old person feats whether they're men or women, even though you'll note that the ramblings below are all about men. Either one, if you're among the seniors and doing amazing or at least adventurous things, I'm impressed.

My first recollection of being seriously inspired by an old guy doing stuff was in 1990, when I went to a seminar conducted by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the father of the highly innovative concept Total Quality Management (TQM). One of the interesting things about Dr. Deming was that he was born in 1900, making it very simple to compute his age. Watching this 90-year-old guy on stage, in itself, was really impressive. While most of us did presentations with prepared charts that we'd created in Powerpoint or another presentation-creation software package, Deming actually hand-drew every one of his charts. His seminar was 3 days, as I recall, and most of that time, he was on stage, drawing charts and speaking for hours. All of this was impressive, but the thing that inspired me the most was that - here was a guy who, at age 50, had embarked on a completely new career - and he'd been highly successful at it. For those of you who don't know, TQM and it's principle of continuous improvement have impacted business and industry throughout the world in recent years.

It was at that seminar, when I was 49 years old, that I started to consider myself at the brink of a new era in my life, rather than winding down after a fairly successful career. For several years prior to this, I'd been kind of thinking about how I had done my share, made (and spent) my million, and that it was now time to retire and do little or nothing other than relax and enjoy whatever years I had left. I had figured on working small amounts in retirement, but just enough to keep us out of the poorhouse. Now, I see this guy who actually restarted at 50 and had become highly successful and had implemented world-changing ideas in a completely new field from what he'd done during his first 30-year career in mathematics and statistics (which were, coincidentally, also the subjects of my BS degree). And here he was at 90, still going strong and continuing to convert his audience to the principles of TQM. It was pretty much at that point that I decided that my goal should be to make (and keep) my second million during retirement, or at least make enough to live comfortably and not be hesitant about embarking on totally unfamiliar endeavors. I haven't seen that million yet, but I have found ways to not only relax and enjoy, but also pursue new endeavors and make a little extra money.

What spurred this blog entry was an article I read in the Florida Today newspaper this morning. It was on the front page, which is fortunate, since I usually only glance at the front page, read the USA Weekend magazine inside cover and puzzle page, and the comics. On the front page, I noticed the article about Steve Fossett and his plan to do the longest non-stop flight in aviation history next week. Two things immediately caught my interest - first, he was taking off from Kennedy Space Center's three-mile shuttle runway, so that meant we might be able to see him go and maybe even get a photo. Second, he is 61 years old, which is only 4 years younger than me. I read the entire article and found it really inspirational for old guys like me. If you want to bust out and read it right now, go to Florida.com - I don't know how long they leave articles out there, but hopefully as long as this blog continues to be read. There are some great animated graphics showing details of the plane, etc., plus some details on Fossett's life.

As I write this blog, I checked out the Wikipedia entry on Fossett and found "Steve Fossett (born April 22, 1944, in Jackson, Tennessee) earned the rank of Eagle Scout of the Boy Scouts of America as a youth, is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America, and is a United States adventurer. Fossett made his fortune in American financial markets, but is best known for his three circumnavigations of the Earth, as a long-distance solo balloonist, as a sailor, and as a solo airplane pilot."

The interesting thing I noted, in both the Florida Today article and the Wikipedia entry, is that very little is said about his life prior to 1985 (age 41). It's like he became a millionaire during those first 40 years, but nothing really significant or newsworthy was done until he hit 41! Now that's wild ... like being a millionaire isn't a fairly significant accomplishment. I found the article inspirational, however, because it shows me another guy who has done some really impressive things at a point in life when some are considering just slowing down and spending the rest of their life in a rocker on the front porch (which is okay, if that's your thing).

In reading the article, I was able to develop some parallels between Fossett's life and mine - is that too pompous of me? Oh well, with the danger of alienating readers who think I'm being egotistical:
* In 1985, Fossett swam the English Channel - In 1984-5, I quit my job (retired?), sold my house and all my possessions, and took off on a cross-country RV trip, which many of my friends and family considered rather adventurous (or stupid :).
* In 1992, Fossett mushed in the Iditarod sled dog race - In 1992, I retired (again), sold or gave away everything (again), and went full-time RVing with my wife, Joyce, which (again) was considered rather adventurous (or stupid :) by family and friends.
* In 1993 & 1996, Fossett drove the 24 hours of the LeMans auto race - In 1995, I "unretired", taking a job in Albuquerque, NM, that required a completely new set of talents from those I'd employed in my 30-year career up to that point; then, in 1996, I returned to Huntsville, AL to accept a position with much higher pay, but also requiring that I learn a whole new set of concepts and quickly gain expertise in an entirely new field.
* In 2002, Fossett made the first non-stop solo flight around the world in a balloon - In 1999-2002, I retired for my 4th (and final?) time, went boondocking in our fifth-wheel in the Arizona desert for several months, started Robert Hoffman Consulting, Incorporated, bought (at age 61) the most expensive house I've ever owned, and initiated several new business endeavors in areas that were heretofore totally unfamiliar to me.
* In 2004, Fossett set the fastest round-the-world sailing record in a catamaran - In 2004, I wrote and self-published my first electronic book Retire and Travel - 20 Years Later, a sequel to Retire and Travel for $1000 a Month that I published in hard-copy after our 1984 trip (and which has been read by over 10,000 people online); in December 2004, I gave away a free copy of the new book to the 29000th visitor on the first website that I created (in 1999) Retirement Tips and RV Stuff.com.
* In 2005, Fossett flew first solo aircraft trip around the world without refueling - In 2005, at age 64, I created my 25th website, most of which are for clients ranging from a gift shops to glass-blowers to Girl Scout troops; the amazing thing about this is that I was 45 (1996) when I learned what the internet was and 48 (1999) when I first learned how to build a website.
* In 2006, Fossett is going to make the longest non-stop flight in aviation history - In 2006, I'm going to ... well, who knows? The year is still young ... I know I'll turn 65, but what else?  ... we'll see ...

Well, I guess I'm not a Steve Fossett by any measure, but I'm at least doing more than rocking a chair. I really think my recent years might have been a lot different if I hadn't met Deming (who passed away in 1993) and I'm fairly pleased with retirement (semi-retirement?) thus far. If I can make it to 93 and remain anywhere nearly as active and successful as Deming during that time, I think I'll be more than satisfied.

Are you inspired by what I've told you about Deming? .. how about Fossett? .. how about me? .... haha .. I thought about just deleting all that stuff about me. I'll probably get flack about that from many .. but, what the heck .. I'll enjoy coming back and reading it in a year or so. Hope you've gotten a good laugh, if not inspiration!

Afterthought: The youngest president of the USA to date was Theodore Roosevelt at age 42 and the oldest (when inaugurated) was Reagan at 69. When you think about it, here are a bunch of old guys, 42 of them, doing stuff of major significance in their later years. I've also found some of them inspirational ... some not so much.

Do you have an interesting story to tell? Think you've done some worthwhile things with your life and want to tell the world? Let me build one of my super-cheapie websites for you and you'll have your own "window on the world" - it's like Karaoke that broadcasts your words to millions of people!

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.
Turning 65

03/07/2006I had a thought the other day ... how about that? Never too old to have a thought.

I am currently in my 65th year, planning to turn 65 on May 4th, barring unforeseen circumstances. I was talking to my old Air Force friend and frequent fishing buddy, Buckner, about Medicare, since he just turned 65 in January and has been doing some research on the topic. I was thinking that he was about the only person I knew off-hand who was my same age. Then, it hit me! I've got a whole bunch of friends in my high school graduating class that are in this same "unique" situation. I imagine about 99% of us are going to see 65 this year. I do a little blurb on the class website Leon1959.com each month, so thought about putting this Turning 65 monologue there. I thought about putting it on RetirementTipsAndRVStuff.com, since I'm assuming that many of my readers there are near this age also. I thought about doing a page on this, plus Medicare options, since I know so many people struggling (as I am) to figure out what to do about Parts A, B, C, D, supplementary insurance, etc.

While in the midst of all this thinking, I wrote an article in my newsletter about  RE-EVALUATING MY LIFE, where I talked about doing things I enjoyed instead of things that I thought were maybe needed, but that I really didn't enjoy that much. Based on that philosophy, I decided to just put some words in my Blog, which I seem to enjoy doing more than those other, more formal venues. So, all that being said, here we go ...

I think when you're younger, you figure that 65 is going to be a real biggie in the overall scheme of growing old. As it turns out, 60 was a big one for me. When I hit 60, I felt like I'd really hit "old-age" territory. I wasn't bothered too much by any of the other 0's, the big 3-0, 4-0, 5-0, but the big 6-0 was truly big. It looks like 65 is going to be just another year by comparison.

It used to be that 65 was the year to retire. Not anymore ... I started drawing my Social Security (a sure sign of being retired) at 62. Those younger than me won't be able to fully retire until 67 or later. I guess 65 isn't that critical anymore in the retirement picture. It is the year that I can now earn as much as I want, without affecting my Social Security income. Now, if I can just figure out how to start earning more without working a whole lot more than I already am. I think it also means that I can now be president of our corporation and still draw SS. Must check on that.

In most states, 65 is the year that you can get a fishing and hunting license free. That's true in Florida. In fact, if I get a Florida Oldguy license, I can also fish in Georgia. So that's kind of neat. It's also the year that I can start legally camping in Florida's State Parks for half price. So, all that is going to make my fishing trips cheaper ... theoretically. Bad news is that I thought that being 65 meant you could fish free anywhere .. not so! Only for residents in most states .. plus a few neighboring states, if there's some sort of reciprocal agreement. Seems like there ought to be a federal fishing license, especially for us old poor folks.

By the time you're 65, you've probably already figured out you get discounts at movie theaters, most buffets, IHOP, and several other restaurants. There are some that require you to be 65, so now you qualify for every senior discount available. That's neat. I actually started getting my senior discounts much earlier, as soon as I figured out that most ticket takers and cashiers were teenagers and were hesitant to "card" someone who claimed to be a senior. Now, I can do it legally.

One of the things that many old people do, including me, is wonder what malady is around the next corner, for themselves and for those around them (like spouses). Seems like there's a new surprise almost every year. I'm now taking a pill every day for my prostate, one for Cholesterol, an aspirin for heart, and a Glucosamin because Joyce said that's good for old joints. I get my bladder checked for tumors every 3 months - it's surprising how easy that test is now, when it sounds so horrific when you're first told about it. I heard on TV today that they think they have a test that will show if you're going to get Alzheimer's, but they don't have a cure yet. The question is, if they can't cure you, do you want to know? I think I would. Joyce doesn't think so. She said the good news would be that she'd let me choose my own nursing home ahead of time. That's neat .. I guess.

I think that Alzheimer's is one of my biggest concerns among illnesses. I had a feeling of what it might be like when I was in Las Vegas back in 1996. I got hopelessly lost several times and got really frustrated. Found myself going in circles for hours, knowing where I wanted to be, but unable to get there. Probably not anything like Alzheimer's, but it's the sort of helplessness that one would expect to feel if slipping toward the disease.

Well, this isn't turning out nearly as upbeat as I had hoped. I'm truly looking forward to 65, am glad I'm reaching it, and am certainly aware of how fortunate I am to be arriving here. After thinking that life was on the downhill side when I hit 60, I've found myself involved in a number of new activities in the last five years, several of which are potentially money-makers and mostly enjoyable. I've managed to stay up with new technology in my areas of interest, in spite of being more or less out of the "workforce." I'm generally able to do what I want to, when I want to, and I guess my retirement is turning out better than I expected, although much different.

I almost forgot another biggie - when you're 65, you get another exemption on your income taxes, right? Seems like I read that somewhere. I'll certainly check on that between now and next tax season. Something like that might make a major difference in how I view my income, especially after Joyce turns 65 next year and we have four deductions! Wow! Need to find some more income to claim those against. I just checked irs.gov and can't find anything about an extra exemption for being over 65 - maybe that's no longer true .. or never was.

Hmmm .. not only has this turned out to be depressing, I also find it a little boring. Sorry about that. Thought I had something to say ... guess not. Considered deleting it, but I guess I'll leave it and just not publicize it. Maybe someone will find it mildly interesting.

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.
TV Land

04/01/2006Do you ever watch the TV Land channel? I do! Lotsa Barney Fyffe, Matlock, Bonanza, Sanford and Son, Gunsmoke, and on and on. HOWEVER, I just found out last night that they have REAL shows on TV Land!  New shows! How about that! It used to be that channels like TBS, USA, TV Land, etc., were just old shows, movies, etc. Recently, all of them have started bringing on new series - just like real TV channels. So, what's that all about? You've got me ... I guess there's money to be made there. At any rate, I had just watched some old Bonanza show or whatever, when along comes William Shatner in Concert. If you're a Star Trek fan, a T J Hooker fan, a Boston Legal fan, or just admire Capt. Kirk, be sure to watch this show! It was really great!

Years ago, I was an avid Captain Kirk watcher. I followed almost all of the Star Trek series, from the original right up through Star Trek Enterprise. I thought that Shatner was a significant part of the success of Star Trek in general, and I enjoyed his performances in all those early shows. I enjoyed watching him in T J Hooker and was pleased to see that he was able to play more than just Captain Kirk. When he started showing up in the later Star Trek movies, somewhat more wrinkled and a mite overweight, I began to wonder if he should have quit while he was ahead. Then, when he started rapping or singing or whatever that was, in the PriceLine commercials, I thought "Whoa ... time to quit!" He looked a bit over the hill and like he should have quit just prior to this time.

Then ... a couple of years ago, along came Boston Legal. I was amazed at how well Shatner played the part of Denny Crane. It was as if it was written especially for him, and he continues to do great things with the role. Watching that show, I was really impressed by Shatner's resilience and ability to jump from one part to another totally different one.

Last night, watching William Shatner in Concert, I had a little of that "Old Guys Doing Stuff" feeling again. Here was guy that many, including me, had written off as a has-been, doing a great show, much of which poked fun at himself. It highlighted his accomplishments through Star Trek and T J Hooker, on through Boston Legal, but then there was the "singing" ... he sounds like he's reading poetry, instead of singing, but it's entertaining. His rendition of "he's a has-been" was really entertaining, but was bettered by the one about "I haven't made it yet" or something to that effect. In each case, he was singing about himself and making entertainment out of it. Just fantastic!

As with my "Old Guys Doing Stuff" article above, where I note how inspirational Steve Fossett's accomplishments were, I feel alot the same way about Shatner. I think what he's done is great, the concert was a winner, and if you get a chance, don't miss it! It's seeing guys like this that is going to keep guys like me continuing to try to do new things in the future. Hope he keeps on ... and I'm wondering what's after Boston Legal.

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.
How Do You See RVs?

07/10/2006There's a Web Poll at the bottom - don't forget to go express your opinion!

One advantage of being old is that you have a bunch of experiences to draw on. Over the years, I've seen many reactions, heard many opinions, listened to many views, and read many conflicting perspectives on a variety of topics. As a result, there are times that I put a bunch of these observations together and have a revelation ... a realization of a situation that, to me at least, is extremely surprising and possibly of major importance to the rest of the world. When I have these revelations, I immediately assume that I'm the first to realize their existence and significance, only to sometimes learn that I'm the last the figure it out. Some of my revelations, like when I figured out that no convertibles had been produced for about 20 years, turned out to not be revelations at all, but only me waking up and finally smelling the roses. Hopefully, my revelation below is something you may not have already realized, so will be of some value by raising your awareness to a situation that may affect you at some point in the future. Or it might even cause you to consider where you fit in the scheme of things and to possibly even result in your re-evaluating your perception of RVs.

I had a revelation of sorts the other day - I was pondering some strange reactions that I've heard about RVs over the years and I suddenly realized - Not everybody sees an RV the same way that I do! Below, I'm going to discuss some of these views, labelling each, then include a Web Poll at the end of the article to see how you readers feel about all this.

Now, I already knew that my wife (and probably many other spouses) doesn't view our RV the same way I do. When I look at our RV, I see freedom, adventure, and the ability to go wherever we want, whenever we want to. Joyce sees it more like a somewhat large, very narrow, very confining coffin with bars on the windows, where turning on a hair-dryer can blow a circuit breaker, not putting enough water in the flushes can cause serious black-water stoppage, not clicking the refrigerator can result in cold contents being spread across the living room floor, getting hot water requires turning on the stupid water heater 30 minutes in advance, and nearly every day-to-day activity (like walking the dogs) is a major operation, fraught with pitfalls. I've learned to respect this perception and tried to work with it, balancing our limited time in the RV with long periods of living in our land-based, more spacious, simpler "real" home. Label this the "Coffin View".

The opinions that I started thinking about the other day are those of people who really don't know much about RVs and have reached their own conclusions based upon experiences that they consider "similar" to RV-living. What started me thinking was an experience I had several years ago, when I was doing some temporary on-site work for an employer that I'd been associated with for many years and where I had retired a couple of years earlier. I couldn't get a campsite and asked my employer if I could park the RV at the outer boundary of their large parking lot for a few days. No problem! ... until I made the mistake of extending my awning one afternoon. Wow! You'd think I'd plowed a garden in the corner of their parking lot! The next day I got strong words from upper management, letting me know that my RV was no longer welcome in the parking lot and that I needed to vacate as soon as possible. After a little research, I learned that the facility manager was extremely concerned that "all of the retirees" would see this as an invitation to come live free in the parking lot and would converge, with all of their monster RVs, and set up a commune in the parking lot that would be impossible to move. Upon reflection, this produced several revelations.

First and foremost, I realized that these managers don't see a somewhat expensive and upscale home on wheels, equipped with all of the modern conveniences, affordable for those few individuals with an adventurous spirit and a willingness to bear the added expense in order to be able to experience the freedom and flexibility uniquely available to those in the RVing community. They instead saw a home on wheels, a MOBILE HOME, conjuring up images of trailer trash, large black lawn bags of household trash in the front yard, junkyard dogs tied to the undercarriage, old cars up on blocks, drugs, prostitution, crime ... and all of the other negative stereotypes that come from exposure to a few somewhat trashy mobile home parks over the years. I'm not criticizing mobile home parks in general, I'm saying that there are a few out there that are really trashy, and exposure to a couple of these can leave a lasting and indelible impression on the viewer. Being in Alabama at the time, I'm sure these managers had no doubt seen some of the trashier of these, and they knew what was coming as soon as they saw my awning come out.

Second, and somewhat surprising, was the obvious assumption that there were a bunch of retirees out there that would jump at the chance to set up house-keeping in the company parking lot. True, it was convenient to shopping and schools, but hey, retirees don't care much about schools and most would rather not be that close to shopping and cities in general. The view isn't that fantastic and the parking lot certainly doesn't represent a very stable environment. I doubt that there are any of my fellow retirees out there that who would even consider living in the company parking lot, unless they were being paid handsomely for doing so.

Finally, I concluded that these younger manager types seemed to assume that all of those hundreds of retirees out there owned an RV (or mobile home). I don't know if this would be because they can't afford anything "better", because they need to be mobile so they can go visit all their children and grand-children, or if they simply assumed that an RV was part of the standard retirement package. In any case, I'd guess that probably one out of 100 retirees that I know have an RV or would even consider having one. Most retirees have some of the same opinions of RVs, many of which are this "Mobile Home" association - as evidenced by the many retirement communities with very strong aversion to anyone being allowed to park an RV in front of their land-based home for more than 15 minutes or so.

So, that's one view. Label this the "Mobile Home View". I'm not criticizing those managers by any means, just using them as an example of one view of RVs that is in direct opposition to my own. Prior to that point, I guess I'd assumed that most people see RVs as I do - NOT SO!

When I see an RV, I initially assume that the owner(s) are somewhere between semi-affluent and wealthy to be able to afford an RV. I also assume that they're reasonably intelligent, adventurous, willing to take risks to enhance their living enjoyment, not afraid of being viewed as unconventional, inclined to spontaneous actions, and generally the type of people that I'd get along well with and that I'd enjoy having as a neighbor. They tend to keep the areas around their RVs clean, always pick up after their pets, never dump their trash (or holding tanks) anywhere other than officially-designated spots, and always try to leave their parking spot as immaculate as they found it. I'm not too close-minded to not realize that there are some RVers who violate some or all of these perceptions, but I truly feel most RVers are exactly as I assume them to be. Reflection upon the reactions of others to my RV and the RVs of others has, however, finally drawn me to the conclusion that not everyone sees that when they see an RV. In fact, I might venture to say that the majority of people don't agree with me!  Label my view the "RVers View".

Another view, somewhat similar to the Mobile Home View, is the one apparently held by the majority of members of boards of many homeowners associations and condo associations. If you closely read the by-laws of some of these associations, you'll note that they're highly opposed to, possibly extremely fearful of, any parking of boats or RVs anywhere in view. Contrary to my view that large boats and RVs are very expensive and a sign of affluence, association boards seem to consider them a sign of trashiness, a tendency toward clutter, and owned by those who have no pride in the appearance of their homes. They not only outlaw boats and RVs from the front yard (the location usually used by those who truly don't care about the appearance of their home), they also don't allow them in the driveway, or even up by the side of the house, unless they're completely hidden from view. They don't allow parking at the curb for the purpose of loading and unloading for periods longer than a few hours. One subdivision I was in once didn't even allow parking for a few minutes! I had a little furniture to unload at our son's home in Ft. Lauderdale, and a police car showed up about 3 minutes after we stopped, letting us know that we had to move NOW! Wow! Those people must have had some really bad experiences with RVers (or maybe with mobile homes .. who knows?). Whatever, it seems that homeowners associations generally view RVs and boats to be similar in appearance to those large trash bins that construction people put in the driveway when they're building a house. For this reason, I'm going to label this the "Trash View".

One more comment on the Trash View. The interesting thing I've noticed in some of the by-laws is that there is no limit on how long a "commercial vehicle" can park on the street in front of a home. That means that those huge lawn service rigs can park wherever and whenever they want to, as well as any huge, ugly, commercial truck or trailer. That seems unreasonable in my view, since many of those commercial vehicles are much more intrusive and unsightly than any RV or boat. On the other hand, it works out well for me, whose RV is actually owned by Robert Hoffman Consulting, Inc., and therefore qualifies as a commercial vehicle. I haven't pushed that detail much yet, but it's ready when/if I need it in the future.

Once again, I'm not criticizing those who write the community by-laws. Their goal is generally to try to maintain a beautiful, pleasant, and inviting environment, so they have to outlaw anything that they view as a threat to those objectives. My point is that some of those views, and consequently the community rules, reflect a general misunderstanding of what an RV really is. Like the Mobile Home View, I feel that the Trash View results from perceptions based upon past experiences that are considered relevant to RVs, but which are really quite different.

There's one more view I've noted and this one is one that I truly don't understand. I've come to realize that many TV personalities and newscasters seem to have a really warped (IMHO) view of RVs. When they hear or are reporting on some person that decided to purchase (or rent) an RV and then forced their family to take a cross-country trip in it, they seem to view this as the height of unreasonableness and torture. It's like eewww! ... living in an RV for a week! ... How could anyone even consider it? I've wondered about this for quite some time and have concluded that these people have never really seen an RV up close, definitely never been inside one, and sort of view living in an RV as very similar to living in a car - a situation conjuring up views of poverty-stricken, homeless people, burrowed deep in the trash and worldy belongings stuffed into their rusty 20-year-old car which probably doesn't run and is infested with mice. I hear of some wealthy foreign individual who decides to buy a quarter-million dollar RV and take their family on a tour of the USA and the newscasters come across with .. Wow! What a wierd guy! How could he consider demeaning his family in this way? There's no way that people of culture and breeding would be able to handle that for more than a few days!

I really don't know what to call this view. I've heard it over and over again on morning shows, newscasts, celebrity interviews, and in movies ... like "RV" ... When Robin Williams first brings the RV home, his family looks at it like a torture chamber. It's presented as a huge joke and an extremely unreasonable whim of a somewhat deranged middle-aged wierd guy. And that view is probably what most of the movie's viewers felt! That's just wierd. I guess I'll simply call this unreasonable view the "Media View", since it seems to me shared by most of those in the media.

THE BOTTOM LINE : So what's my point with all this? Well, I guess I'd like to try to raise a little awareness in those who don't know much about RVs and RVers - maybe not with this particular Blog entry, but through the future actions of RVers who may not have already been aware of the "other views." I, of course, think that my perception is the correct one and that RVers are, in general, a group of pleasant, friendly, clean, and possibly somewhat unconventional people, but people that you'd probably enjoy having as neighbors. I'm hoping that I can find ways to sway the other opinions described above, so that more of my neighbors and acquaintances can gain a better understanding and appreciation for RVs and the RVing lifestyle. One good way to sway some opinions is obviously to actually be an RVer as I describe in my RVers View.

The only opinion I think I have to just accept and live with is the Coffin View, held by my wife and some others. That's how they feel and it probably ain't going to change, so hopefully the Coffin Viewers and the RVers Viewers can just get along and try to accommodate each other as much as possible.

Finally, how about taking my Web Poll below? It doesn't record who you are, just your opinion. And, if there's a "view" I've forgotten, email it to me - I'd like to hear it.

Whoa! Wait! I just thought of two more views that need to be in my poll - the "Extravaganza View" and the "Hog View". These are related, but slightly different. The Extravaganza View is held by those who look at RVers as people who have more money than they need, are quick to waste it on frivolous ventures, and are probably proudly displaying a sign bragging that they're "Squandering their Grandchildrens' Inheritance." They put the extravagance of RVing in the same category with gambling large amounts in casinos, spending unreasonable amounts on pointless parties and expensive travel, and generally wasting resources that could be much more intelligently employed.

The Hog View is those that view RVs as road-hogging, gas-guzzling, highway-damaging monstrosities that have no value and certainly have no place on our public roads. They feel that anyone with a vehicle that large is obviously supporting terrorists and devious middle-eastern oil interests by frivolously using as much fuel as 10 "reasonably-sized" vehicles. They view RVers as having no concern for the environment, the rights of others, and the value of frugality and conservation of our precious natural resources.

All that being said ... please take a minute for my Web Poll below.

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.

   So, How Do You See RVs?
RVers View
Coffin View
Mobile Home View
Trash View
Media View
Extravaganza View
Hog View
None of the Above

Is the Gas War Working?

09/16/2006Back in 2004, I created a page on my RetirementTips.com website named 2004 Gas War. On it, I included a letter that had been emailed around the internet since 2002, and probably still is. The letter isn't dated, so each new recipient thinks it's current. The information in it generally is - it talks about how gas prices might hit $3 a gallon this summer and how we should all stop buying from Exxon and Mobil, until they drop the price to $1.30. On my page, I take that one step further, suggesting we all buy our gas only from Murphy, the station you'll find in front of many of your corner Walmart stores, until Exxon, Mobil, and the others drop their price to that of Murphy.

Well, here we are in 2006, still talking about how prices might hit $3 ... or even $4 .. this summer. It looks like prices will never drop below $2 again ... although, as they say, never say never. I've whined about the prices in my newsletters numerous times .. I just did a search on "gas war" and got 9 hits. Seems I talked about it in Jan 2004, did the page in Mar 2004, then talked more about it in Apr, May, Jun 2004, Apr 2005, and Nov 2005. Looks like a pet topic, eh? Not really ... there just seem to be significant events to talk about now and then ... like the bloated profits oil companies continue to report. And, every time the news comes out, the prices drop for a short time, as if to try to appease the concerned customers.

Just this week, I've begun to notice that most stations are very close to Murphy's prices. Some are even below their price. I don't know if that indicates that the War is working and they've all decided it's better to compete with Murphy, or if Murphy has raised their price to that of others. My tendency is to think that others have dropped to compete. Although I'm not sure that our War has anything to do with it, I think the business community in general is concerned about Walmart taking over every area of retail sales, including gasoline. Whatever the reason, I'm pleased to see it happening. I've noticed, however, that every time I go past a Murphy station, I see cars at most of the pumps. At other stations, that usually isn't the case. I realize that I still go primarily to Murphy, unless there's not one convenient, despite the lower prices of others. Maybe we all have become so accustomed to going to Walmart, that we're just ignoring others who might be even lower priced. I guess time will tell. If we keep going the direction we are, I guess Walmart might end up being the only retail store left to go to.

So what's my point? Well, in one of my newsletters, I said "I'm going to stay with Walmart and my 3-cent discount card until I see prices back in the $1.30 range -- if that ever happens." I guess I'm not naive enough to think we'll ever see $1.30 again, but my original thought was to stay with Murphy, until others made their pricing competitive. I think that's happened now, so I'm going to start giving them some of my business. I'll be keeping my eye on Murphy, however, to see if they manage to drop below the herd again.

I'd like to think that our Gas War idea has worked, but really no way to tell, I guess. Not unless we could get an Exxon or Mobil (or whoever) executive to admit that they dropped their prices to Murphy's level because they were losing business. Wouldn't that be great?  ... haha ... I'm not holding my breath.

02/24/2010 Addendum : I don't know about you, but I'm still fighting the Gas War and buying at Murphy stations as much as possible. I've noticed that quite often the prices at other stations are in line with Murphy, but now there's another factor - where the oil is from. In some of the recent emails listing companies that buy from countries that "we don't like" (e.g,. some Middle East countries) and generally just up-in-arms about avoiding foreign oil, the emails have started to mention how Murphy sells American oil. Just one more reason to buy at Murphy!
How We Do Stuff

12/30/2006This blog-entry (would that be a blentry?) has nothing to do with RVs, retiring, or anything that I usually address in this blog. It's just a thought I had this morning and I have no other place to record these valuable thoughts, so here 'tis.

I was brushing my teeth this morning, when I realized that I brush top and bottom on the left, then top and bottom on the right. Why not all the top first, then all the bottom? Do others do that?

Same thing on shoes and socks. I put on one sock and its shoe, then the other sock and its shoe. Why not both socks first and then shoes?

Some time ago, conversations with my brother-in-law and others later revealed that, at least in those I asked, men washing their hair in the shower rinse facing the water and women rinse with their backs to the water. Why's that? Is that true for all men and women? I've tried it with my back to the water, head hanging back, and it just doesn't work well for me.

I've noticed in my many years of marriage that there are at least two ways to do even the simplest activity. This usually shows up when I watch my wife doing something totally different from the way that I do it, when I had no idea that there was any other possible way to do it than the way I did. Since I spend more time with Joyce than with anyone else, I guess it's natural that I'd notice this with her, but I imagine it's true between individuals everywhere.

My point here is to wonder if the way we do simple tasks indicates something about our gender, age, upbringing, ethnicity, etc., or if people are just different and there's no specific approach for any particular group. For example, I've heard several times that when men look at their nails, clipping them or whatever, they do it with the fingers outstretched. Women, on the other hand, supposedly curve their fingers toward them to clip, etc. In my case, I clip my right hand with fingers out and my left hand with fingers curled - that's the only way I can make things work. Does that mean that my right hand is male and my left is female? Or is it that my "primary" hand (I'm mostly right-handed) is the indicator of my gender?

I'd like to, just for fun, do a survey about how people do things ... unless someone can point me to a website where someone has already done this, as is often the case when I come up with a new idea. Before setting it up, I'd like to get a better list of things we do differently and what it supposedly indicates relative to gender, age, or whatever. I'd appreciate inputs at rjhoffman@yahoo.com from anyone who has thoughts on this. Also, if you know of any other characteristic other than gender, age, upbringing, or ethnicity that might be a factor, I'd be interested in hearing that also. Send this info to me and I'll set up a web poll in a couple of months. Ain't this exciting?  Or maybe I've just been watching too much Seinfeld.
Drink a Beer, Read the Funnies, and Cook a Burger

03/24/2007 Despite what you read in my newsletter and the monthly Leon1959 update, things aren't all roses here in retirement-land. Beyond the usual taxes, unexpected expenses, various levels of aches and pains, our recent biggie was that Tootsie, the bigger (6 pounds) of our two toy Yorkis, is really sick. We took her to the pet emergency hospital, had her X-rayed, took her home for a night, decided she needed to be hospitalized, then took her back and they kept her on IVs for 5 days. After several X-rays, ultra-sounds, and a biopsy, they still couldn't figure her out. She just had no energy at all, wouldn't eat or drink, etc. Last we heard, the doctor thinks it might be a reaction to a tick bite that causes their immune system to rebel and attack the organs. We're giving her Prednizone for the immune system, she's home and eating a little, so maybe she'll recover. We certainly hope so! And that was a lot more than I planned to say about that.

My point was going to be that when you're not feeling tip-top, maybe the best thing to do is to find something you can do easily that you enjoy. In my case, since we've been on a Nutrisystem diet for about a month, that would be to eat a cheeseburger. I also enjoy cooking out and, when I do, I either try to find myself a beer or a glass of wine.  I started the fire, opened my beer, and decided to read the morning comics while waiting. It really felt good! I'd recommend that to anyone .. anyone who likes beer, burgers, and comics, that is.

Now let me tell you about my Weenie Hors de' Orveures (sorry about the spelling). They're great snacks, while waiting for the real meal to cook. Take two Oscar Mayer wieners, slit them lengthwise, but only cut about 3/4 of the way through and put them on your grille with the slit facing down. When they've cooked sufficiently, turn them over and put some cheese in the slot. I take a full slice of cheese, tear it into strips, put a couple on each wiener, then eat the rest. Works out great, as I love cheese by itself as well as with something. When the cheese melts, stab through the wiener crossways, so as not to drop the cheese out, then carefully bite on each end until you reach the fork. At that point, it should be cool enough to allow you to take if off the fork and scarf down the rest of it. I usually wait until the wieners are nearly done before putting the burgers, steaks, or whatever on the grille, but I guess that depends on your own cooking preferences.

One more note on Tootsie .. she just barked (sort of) at the washing machine, so that's also a good sign. She's our off-balance alarm. She barks whenever the load gets unbalanced and the washer starts to squeak. We're hoping that the attempts to bark might get her adrenaline running and help her fight off whatever is getting her down.

We went out looking at new RVs a couple of months ago. Joyce was thinking that she might be willing to RV longer if we had two slides in front to double the size of the living area. We looked at several 3 and 4-slide models, talked about prices, decided we didn't want to get into an RV that had a payment over $1000 a month, so decided to keep what we've got. It's a great RV, has a slide in front and one in back, has a great V-10 Ford engine, great brakes, and the payment is less than $400 a month. I had the carpet shampooed today and I'm going to get a couple of things fixed that have been broken for a while, and maybe this will continue to be our home away from home for a while longer. With gas prices being what they are, I'm not even sure I want to plan any long trips anytime soon. We've been talking about a DisneyWorld trip (30 minutes from here) and maybe a little wandering around Florida. Guess we'll see ...

We spent most of February and March camping at the Space and Rocket Center RV Campground in Huntsville, Alabama. Nice little campground, reasonably priced, very convenient to my work location there, but it sure was coooold! I tried leaving the hose connected for a couple of nights, then it froze solid so I disconnected it and just used the internal water tank for the rest of the stay. The thing that really surprised me was how much the price of Propane has gone up! Seems like I used to refill my tank for about $14, although I guess maybe it wasn't near empty when I did. This trip, I let it go down real low, then went to fill it up. The first time, it was $81! A couple of weeks later, $89! Looks like that might be a major consideration of expenses for those who stay in cold weather. I don't plan to again anytime soon! I checked on prices and Propane was $2.70 a gallon there. I called down the street to the U-Haul place where I refill it here in Florida and they charge $3.33 a gallon! Needless to say, the cost could've been a lot worse if we'd been in the $3.33 area.

We had been thinking about a trip up to South Carolina, across to Arkansas, then South to the coast and back home. Spend about a month or so, travelling small distances each day, and try to do some sight-seeing and enjoying the countryside. Seems like (as I've said several times before) we're always in a hurry whenever we get into the RV. Always planning ahead to get to a certain place at a certain time. This trip was to be a real RV trip! However, with the Tootsie problem and a couple of other situations, I guess may I'll just drink a beer, read the comics, cook a cheeseburger, and hang around here until things are looking a little better. Maybe people will come to visit us, instead of us having to do all the travelling.

One of the Hazards of Growing Older

07/15/2007 June has been somewhat of a difficult month, friend-wise. A business associate that I've known for several years passed away. A girl I dated steadily my senior year and a couple years afterward passed away. A friend of 25 years that I communicate with almost daily has suddenly found himself in long-term care and is having a very difficult time. My title refers to the hazard of losing friends as we grow older. We all expect it, but when you get into your 60s, it really starts to happen with almost monthly frequency and it becomes much more a part of your thoughts than you'd anticipated. Then, you start to wonder how much worse it's going to get in your 70s, 80s, etc. -- unless you become one of those that others are missing ... which is the worse hazard?

In the 1970s, I lost my brother and my mother, one unexpectedly and the other after a long illness. Both were very sad times and I still think about both frequently, even after all this time. I often think about how my brother would have reacted to something, or what he might be doing, if he was alive today. I think about the fact that he passed away in his 30s and never knew any of the joys, or hazards, of being 40, 50, 60, and older. I think about the fact that I'm now older than my mother was when she left us, and how old and frail she seemed in her final days. I think about how fortunate we are who are up in years and still healthy and active, and am reminded of how quickly that can change.

It seems different somehow, when people close to our age, or younger, are suddenly gone. When I lost a close friend when we were both in our 20s, it was sad, but didn't make me think of my own mortality. He was Don Schecter and was killed in his 20s while driving a racing car in a race in Mexico. I grieved for him and his family, but it didn't seem to affect me as much as some of my recent losses.

The first one really got to me was Ross Anderson. Ross was in my high school graduating class in 1959 and I hadn't seen him since graduation. He went off to Annapolis, in the Navy, and I'd heard he was flying F-4s in Viet Nam. I had tried over the years to find out about him, but had no success until early in 2004. I found out he was alive, got his email address, and even his phone number. I tried to email him a few times, and then, before I got off my duff to phone him, I heard he was killed in a plane crash. I wrote a tribute to him, if you'd like to read it on our Class of 1959 website.

With Ross, it was bad because I almost got back in touch, then failed because I procrastinated. However, thanks to some online photos and writings, I was able to see a little of how he turned out, what he had done with his life, and to reconcile myself to the fact that he was a 60+ year old man, like myself, and had lived a good life. With Clif Grayson, my steady girl-friend in my senior year and a couple thereafter, it was much different. I heard last month that Clif had passed away, with no details of whether it was sudden, unexpected, or after a long illness. I hadn't seen her since a brief visit about 1980, so still thought of her more or less as she was then ... or actually more like she was in high school. I think these are the ones that are most difficult .. the ones where we still think of them as they were at 18 years old and where it seems so unbelievable that they're gone. That's the case with many on the list of deceased classmates on our website. I still think of them as young, carefree high school kids and have a hard time accepting the fact that they lived many years, had families, and no doubt had many of the same experiences that I have over the years.  What's really thought-provoking is to realize that they were possibly no different from the way I am right now - going along, thinking that I have a goodly time remaining to accomplish what I want to accomplish and suddenly ...

One of the "suddenlies" that hit me in June was Ralph Hethcote. I worked with Ralph for several years at Northrop Grumman in Huntsville and we'd stayed in touch since then. He got my newsletter each month and sometimes would comment back about things that related to his current life or future plans. Whenever I visited Huntsville, I'd stop in and ask him when he planned to retire. I'd often tease him a little about being too conservative and telling him to just do it. He was a couple of years younger than me and, on my visit last February, he told me he'd finally made definite plans to retire in January 2008, right after he turned 65 in December. His health was reasonably good as far as I know, he was a non-smoker, was watching his diet and his weight, drinking water and diet cokes ... one night in June, he and his wife had just discussed retirement plans at supper and he was lying on the couch watching TV. She said she heard some gurgling sounds and ... he had a massive heart attack and never recovered consciousness. This one was one of the worst to hear - to have no warning, no extended illness, just bam and it's over. I feel badly for Ralph and very much so for his wife, who now faces the question of what to do next. Joyce often mentions that to me ... she really has no idea what she'd do if I was suddenly not here. You talk about it now and then, you try to make some plans just in case, but you never really know until it happens.

Another situation that actually started back in March, but really hit home in June, relates to my old friend, writing buddy, and part-time RVing side-kick, Virgil Allen "Al" Wulff. I first met Al back in around 1982, when I hired him into GRC. Over the years, we've stayed in touch, and he ultimately retired to Tampa, right across the state from my home in Rockledge. I've done his website VirgilAllenWulff.com and have tried to assist him in building a semi-successful career as an author of Metaphysical Mystery novels. I wrote some details of his situation on his website, but the short story is that he went in for an operation in March, all seemed to be going very well, then he got an infection, had a stroke and two cardiac arrests, and is now in a long-term care facility. His wife, Martha, tells me that he has good days and bad days, but is seldom his old, jovial self and looks like he's in for a long period of recovery. I'm staying in touch and doing what little I can, but there's really little anyone can do except keep him in our thoughts and hope that he pulls out of it soon. I guess it might perk him up a little if I could figure out some way to sell some books for him. If you're interested, visit the Virgil Allen Wulff Library that I set up a while back. Maybe you'll find something worth your investment.

The thing that really hits home about Al's situation is that here we have a guy that's pretty much strong as a horse, has very little history of medical problems, then is suddenly under 24-hour care and not able to do any of the things that had been his daily activities for years. We no longer get his emails, phone calls, or see him playing Bridge online. It's looking like our collaboration with Aliens To Vegas (A2V) will be his last novel for a long time, and possibly his last ever. He had been feeling a little down about the lack of success of this and his previous works, and we'd discussed whether to continue or not. With this illness bringing him down so much, I'd not be surprised if he never went back to what has proven to be a much more difficult undertaking that we first thought. Although A2V is actually his sixth novel, he still isn't convinced that his writing is good enough to make him a successful author. I've often told him that as long as he enjoyed the writing and was able to sell a few books now and then, he might as well continue. Several times, he's almost stopped, then decided to try "one more book", with some new ideas on marketing the product, exploring new topics, etc. A2V is this kind of departure from his usual Metaphysical Mystery genre, venturing into sort of an RV travelogue with a turn into Science Fiction, as well as a platform for Al to describe some of his long-considered thoughts on the future of our planet.

I'm not sure what exactly I planned to accomplish with this Blentry (that's Blog Entry). I guess I'd been thinking about this more since June and wanted to write a sort of tribute to these friends. One thing that I decided after Ross, and now Clif, was to get in touch with old friends that I had thought about, and not procrastinate until it's too late. One of these is John Hankin, another Leon High School classmate. I actually tried to phone him last week, but haven't been able to get a good phone number for him. I guess I could get real drastic and write an actual letter. I've been haphazardly trying to get in touch with him for a couple of years, but I guess it's just one of those things on my to-do list that doesn't ever get done.

Other than contacting old friends, I guess the other thing that comes to mind regarding this "hazard of old age" is to get those things done that you want to get done. I feel like I've done most everything I wanted to and been most everywhere I wanted to, but there are some little things, like that RV trip we've been talking about since April. We're now planning it in August, if something else doesn't pop up.

Maybe the bottom line is that, as you get older, procrastination becomes a much more serious problem than it was in your younger years. Now, if you mess around too long, you'll have missed that opportunity, whether it's contacting an old friend, taking an action (like retiring), taking a trip, or just doing something you wanted to do before you go. I could get real drippy here and remind you to tell those you love that you love them, but that's not really my way. Guess I'll wrap this up.

18 August 2007 : My good friend Al Wulff passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. His wife, Martha, will have him cremated and his ashes put to sea, as he requested.
Al will be sorely missed.
CLICK HERE to read Al's biography.

Are We All Time-Travelers?

11/15/2007 Here we go again ... a blentry that has nothing much to do with RVing or retiring, but I'm in a philosophical mood and have nowhere else to philosophize. I was going to put it in my newsletter, but decided instead to put it here and reference it in the newsletter.

Humans have been dreaming about time travel for a long, long time. As far back as H. G. Well's The Time Machine in 1895, on through Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979 TV series), and continuing with movie and TV series including Quantum Leap, Star Trek, and Stargate. I myself have "wandered through time" in my writings, as far back as 1985, when I was asked to do an article about my 20 years in computing and my predictions for the coming 25 years in technology, including computers, movies, and television. I wrote an extensive article, but alas, I did it in Hypercard on an Apple Macintosh. I don't know where it is now, even if one was able to still find an operational version of Hypercard. I do recall, however, that most of my speculations had to do with holograms and interactive TV/movies, and none about the monumentous advances that we've seen in world-wide communications on the internet.

Just the other day, I was thinking about time travel, and realized that the older we get, the more we can travel through time, as long as we only travel backwards in time and not forwards. How do we do that? Well, think about something you did an hour ago. For example, I stopped at Quiznos and had a sandwich. It's very easy for me to recall the sounds, smell, and taste of those events an hour ago. In fact, if I close my eyes and think very hard about it, it's very nearly as vivid as the actual experience. Likewise, if I think hard about a place I was last week, I can accomplish the same thing. By really concentrating, I can fairly vividly recall the sounds, smells, look, and feel of an art show I attended with Joyce last week. I can "travel back" a month to a visit I made to an RV park in South Florida, and can almost smell the ocean breezes, hear the commotion in the auditorium where we gathered, and re-listen to the announcements and presentation we gave.

Take that a step further and you can travel back through your memories to any of your past experiences. Having something like my Travel Log, I can read back over my past RV "adventures" and it's almost like being there. And, the longer you live, the more past you have to visit. I'm in the midst of writing my recollections of my high school years on my 1959 graduating class website in my Countdown to the 50th (reunion). They're obviously not as detailed and vivid as my recollection of my Quiznos sandwich today (now about 6 hours ago), but rereading the chapters and looking at the photos brings them almost to a level of actually being there.

So what do you think? Are we all time travelers, wandering through our history with our memories? Will the future bring some method for actually having an out-of-body experience and really being there using our minds?

I have all three parts of the Back to the Future movies on tape and watch them in sequence every now and then, usually while camping alone and there's no good TV on. As I watch, I see experiences that almost duplicate some of those that I had in the 1950s and wonder how it would be to actually go back and visit. I heard on TV the other day about some doctor that thinks he's on the track to finding ways to allow us to live (in good health) for hundreds of years. If that happens, will we be able to expand our brains enough to enable us to travel back through our memories? Wouldn't that be great?

Enough philosophizing ... I guess I'm ready to get serious (sort of) and do the newsletter. Hope I got you thinking and wandering down memory lane. If not, maybe you're not old enough yet :)
Closing Out 2007 - Sell 50 or Stop Wasting Time

12/13/2007 What's that title mean? Read on ...

Well, I was thinking about putting together my newsletter ... hmmm ... let me back up a little.

For those who don't know, I do a lot of writing/typing. When I started my software engineering career, I learned that I was a prolific writer and generated thousand of words in technical manuals, interoffice correspondence, and even some fiction, like My 25 Years in Computing. When I semi-retired in 1984 and took my first real RV trip, I wrote a book about it, thinking that people would love it and I'd make a bunch of money. I sold about 100 copies at $5 and didn't make much. When I retired again in 1992, Joyce and I went full-timing in our RV (for a short time) and I thought I'd be able to make a bunch of money writing travel books and claim it all on my taxes. After my IRS audit in 1993, which cost me $14,000, I decided that wasn't going to work out so I gave up writing for a while. When I retired AGAIN in 1999, I discovered that I could build websites, and I knew this was my Pot of Gold! I could write on the internet, entertain and inform people, and eventually figure out how to make money from it. Millions were making millions on the internet, so why not me? In August 1999, I started RetirementTips.com and began relating my travel adventures.

So, now I have a Travel Log with 84 chapters and I add another whenever I accumulate enough photos and "adventures" to write what I consider "another exciting chapter." I guess 84 chapters in 8 years adds up to almost one every month. I also put out my Retirement Tips and RV Stuff Newsletter about every couple of months. I originally did it monthly when I started it back in January 2003, but have slacked off in the last couple of years.

In mid-2004, just after I attended my 45th high school class reunion, I decided our class needed a website, so I created Leon1959.com. In June 2005, I realized that we were exactly 50 years beyond the time that I and my class graduated from the 8th grade and were preparing for 4 long years in high school. I thought that it would be really neat to trace those 4 years on the website, recalling events and adventures from that very important period of our lives. I started the Countdown to the 50th (reunion), adding a new nostalgic chapter each month, starting in June 2005 when I wrote about June 1955. My plan was to do monthly entries right up to graduation in June 1959. I've kind of slacked off since then, reducing my chapters to quarterly instead of monthly, but I'm still plodding along toward graduation. 

In November 2005, I decided I wanted to philosophize about RV travel, retirement, poker, and other topics that I found interesting and hoped others would also. I started my RV Blog then and have written 11 Blog Entries (Blentries) to date, which also amounts to about one every two months.

So, as I started to say above, I was thinking about putting together my end-of-year newsletter. I also have a little backlog of photos from the past few months, so thought I might also do a travel log chapter. Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be neat to somehow combine the newsletter and travel log chapter?" I thought about writing text only in the newsletter, since I've never put photos there, then complementing those writings with more info and related photos in the travel log. After giving that some thought, I decided I'd do four related creations! A Leon Countdown entry that related to a Blentry that related to the newsletter that related to the travel chapter! Would that be great or what! About the time I got started on it one night, Joyce asked me what I was working so hard on. I said it was my newsletter and she gave me her "wasting time on that again?" look, which set me to thinking. My whole intent in starting all this back in 1999 was to ultimately figure out ways to generate income. Was I any closer to that goal or was I really just wasting time and effort? And, how did I determine whether anyone other than me was getting anything out of all these writings? That's when I hit on my Sell 50 or Stop Wasting Time idea. What's that? Read on ...

Here's my thinking ... I wrote the original RV travel adventure book in 1984, with the intent of making some money ... it didn't. I wrote a sequel in 2004, produced it as a reasonably-priced ($10) ebook, and thought that would certainly make money, since I had no shipping or publication costs. It made a little, but nothing earth-shaking. Joyce asked why I didn't stop writing those silly travel books and do a spy novel, so I did. I even invented Holly Hoffman as the author, thinking that would appeal to the female crowd. Hey, I might even get it on Oprah! It's been in my RetirementTips Library for several years and all totalled, I've sold ..... zero copies. Then, I teamed up with another author, Virgil Wulff. He had produced 5 novels, 2 of which he published as hard-copy pocket books, had done book signings, radio shows, contacted hundreds of publishers, and worked very hard to make a success of the book-writing business. I had created a large website for him at www.VirgilAllenWulff.com and we had both put a lot into various approaches to advertising and marketing his novels. We decided to put together a book that combined his interest in meta-physical mysteries, mine in RV travel, and add Science Fiction to make sure it had wide appeal. We worked on that project for about 3 years and finally published it in hard-copy in 2006. I'm sorry to say that Virgil (or Al, if you knew him in the 1980s) passed away in mid-2007, never really realizing the success that he'd tried so hard to achieve. I don't think he sold more than a couple hundred copies of any of his books, despite all his valiant efforts.

So, here's the deal -- I've put together a page showing the 5 books that I've either authored or co-authored. They all sell for $10 or less. I've put them all onto a single webpage, with links to details and purchase information on each.

My feeling is this. I don't charge for any of my periodic writings, but have toyed with ways to get paid. I thought about trying to charge a miniscule amount for my newsletters, just to see how many would sign up. I mentioned charging classmates for the inclusion of their biography info on the Leon1959 website, got a few positive responses, then figured out an easier way to do it and not charge. So, how do I get paid? It's obvious! I sell some books!

And I've decided ... my "audience" includes somewhere in the range of 300 or so folks for all these periodic writings. If a reasonable number of those 300 would buy a book, I'd feel like I was finally generating income with these efforts. If nobody buys one, that would surely convince me to go spend my time elsewhere. So what's an acceptable number? ... I decided that if 50 of you decide to buy a book, that's the vote of confidence that I need to continue. If not, I won't really be offended. It will just point me in another direction for my endeavors.

Go read my page Closing Out 2007 - Sell 50 or Stop Wasting Time and see what you think. Buy a book and get more of my ramblings? It's up to you-all. How's that for ending the year with a bang? I may end up with a lot more free time on my hands in 2008, eh?  :)

By the way, I've just finished my Travel Log Chapter 85 Closing Out 2007, my December 2007 Newsletter, and my 4th Quarter of 1957 entry at Leon1959.com. Feel free to check them out before you decide on what you think I should do with my future.
Closing Out 2008 - How Time Do Fly!

12/11/2008 When I was younger, it seems like I heard or said that a lot .. "My! My! How Time Do Fly!"  I recall using it mostly when I was late with something - homework, a payment, a date, or whatever. Little did I know how fast time would actually fly as I got older. Seems like just yesterday that I sat down to write my "Closing Out 2007" entry above. If you haven't read it, scroll up and read it before this one. I plan to refer to it rather than repeating stuff.

Of course, my memory is so bad these days that there are details about that closing out 2007 that I've forgotten. Reading back through the above Blentry, I do recall that I was questioning the value of spending time writing on this page, in my newsletters, in my Travel Log, and on my graduating class website. I decided that I'd let my "reading public" decide by buying 50 of my books if they wanted me to continue writing and ignore me if they thought I could better spend my time on other pursuits. So how dia all that turn out?

Ha, ha ... as I recall, that Closing Out 2007 - Sell 50 or Stop Wasting Time  page that I reference above explained my frustration and included links for readers to buy all of the 5 books that I'd written or co-authored at their standard price. That End of Year Sale effort sold ZERO books. I then decided to extend the offer and rename it my Valentine Sale offer, but this time sell all 5 books together at the all-time low price of $20. That sold 10 books.  I then decided to extend the offer again and rename it my St. Patrick's Day Sale offer. That sold another 10. I then decided to extend the offer again and rename it my Independence Day Sale offer. That sold another 5. Now it's out there as "until further notice" and I've had no additional sales on that 5 for $20 offer. However, I sold one of the "20 Years Later" books at full price and one of the autographed "Retire and Travel" paperback originals (at $25 - I'm amazed every time one of those sells). Then, just last week I set up my "Aliens to Vegas" paperbacks at a nearby art show and sold 2. So that's a total of 29 this year. Not the 50-book vote of confidence that I'd hoped for, but not a complete bust either. I guess I'll continue to write, but just not spend so much time on it so often.

During 2008, I did do a few little updates. I couldn't resist writing a newsletter in March 2008 with leadin article TIPS FOR SELLING ONLINE, telling about the online selling seminar I attended and some neat things I learned on that topic. I plan to do an end-of-year newsletter in the next day or so, as kind of a my-year-in-brief kind of thing.

On my graduating class (1959) website, I did one update in the "capturing our high school years" monologue for June 1958 when we graduated 11th grade and became SENIORS!  Then, another for September 1958, when we actually started our Senior year. Here also, I'll do an end-of-year (1958) write-up with whatever nostalgic reminiscences I can come up with.

And that leaves the Travel Log. I held fast on that one and did zero updates to the Travel Log in 2008. Here again, it's probably of interest to me (and maybe to you and a few others) to talk about RVing in 2008.

When I get these done, I'll come back here and put links here to DEC 2008 NEWSLETTER, DECEMBER 1958 REVISITED, and PART-TIME RVING IN 2008.

I also plan to WRITE ANOTHER BOOK!  The one I have in mind is about the idiosyncracies and peculiarities of our four dogs. If you have a pet, I'm sure you've got some stories that you think are wierd or funny or interesting about your pet's behavior. I'm not sure at this point if I'll get enough of a book out of just talking about our 4 dogs or if I'll solicite inputs from my readers. I tend toward the latter, because I'll then get to read the tales of other pets and it will undoubtedly make the book more widely-read. If/when I get that started, I'll put a notice here and send out email to all on the distribution for my newsletter.

And how have I been spending the "free time" that was to occur as a result of my stopping all the writing? Well, I'm not sure where that went. I guess the time I notice it most is at the end-of-month, when I formerly would spend a couple of days writing a newsletter, etc. I no longer have that pressure and that's a relief. Every now and then, I think about things I'd like to write about and consider doing a newsletter or blog-entry or travel log chapter, but then I go off instead and watch a little TV or play a little Poker or do something productive on one of my several "jobs". By doing that, I'm  either enjoying some relaxing time or I'm making money, both of which are probably better than forcing myself through a newsletter or travel log or whatever.

It is interesting to me to notice how pre-occupied I apparently am with "time." Looking at the titles on the Blentries on this page, I note that 9 of the 13 relate to saving time, how we use time, and aging. When I originated this, I intended it to be about RVing and travel, yet only 4 or 5 of the entries address those topics. Sorry about that. If you came here looking for RVing and travel, I guess I've dropped the ball a little.

I hope you enjoyed 2008 as much as I did and had an equal number of successes. I look forward to 2009, hope the economy improves, and hope Obama accomplishes half of the things he plans to do. And how about those gas prices!! We certainly can't complain there!  It seems strange now to read the Gas Wars entry I wrote above in 2006, where I speculated that gas would never again get down to that $1.30 range - well, here we are! My buddy in SC tells me they've got it at $1.37 and I saw on TV yesterday where a station in Orlando was selling it for $.99.  Maybe it's time to republish my "Retire and Travel for $1000 a Month" again - the two main problems with that $1000 were the price of gas and the cost of medical insurance. The latter still remains, but the gas is now back near where it was when I wrote that in 1984 - ain't that amazing?
Grocery Prices - Publix vs Walmart

02/13/2009 Not really directly related to RVing or retirement, but probably of interest to one in either of those situations who may not be aware of the significant differences between Walmart and other stores. Despite all the bad publicity about how Walmart is buying in China and putting mom-and-pop stores (and some quite a bit larger) out of business, they continue to provide the best products at the best prices. I still think they're the best bet for anyone who needs to save money - isn't that everyone? I sent the message below out today in an email for friends, then decided it might be worthwhile to put here.

Have you ever done a price survey on groceries? I used to do it now and then, back when I was young and poor. We now buy mostly at Walmart, but there are a few things that Publix has (like their deli stuff) that we can't get at Walmart. Sometimes when I go to get those items, I pick up others just for the convenience. So just for curiousity, I did a survey this week. Was I surprised!

Walmart is about 25% cheaper than Publix on things the I buy!  How about that?

Item Publix Walmart
bologna 3.39 1.98
bacon4.99 3.00
Jimmy Dean sausage 2.99 2.98
weiners 2.99 1.98
milk 2.19 1.05
chili 1.25 1.00
vienna 0.50 0.47
ice cream me 4.99 3.96
ice cream J 4.29 3.50
potato chips 3.99 3.00
bread me 2.69 2.52
bananas (pound) 0.69 0.67
cashews 4.69 3.00
cottage cheese 3.29 3.00
tomato (pound) 1.69 1.88
Kellogg's Bran Buds        4.59          3.68
Cheerios (14 oz)            4.29            2.78
Nexus shampoo             16.99          15.98
St. Ives Lotion                4.49           3.97
Snackwell cookies           3.19           2.37
Puffs tissue                     2.33           1.98
TOTAL 80.50 64.75
My First 10 Years of "Real" Retirement

03/18/2009This ain't RVing, it's retiring, so if you're not interested in that, you'd better go elsewhere. HOWEVER, if you're in your 30's or 40's, you might learn something :)  If you're already retired, you may want to send feedback.

So, what is "real" retirement? Some might argue that I'm still not retired, since I'm holding 2-3 jobs (more or less) and spend about 3-4 hours each day "working" on the computer. I even drive up to Huntsville and work in a real office now and then, when a proposal is in the works and Northrop Grumman decides they want me "in-house." When not consulting for them, I'm maintaining a couple dozen websites, assisting Joyce in her ever-growing career as an artist, and/or  (up until December 2008) was doing campground WiFi installations. I'm sure I'll find something similar to do with that "free" time sooner or later.

But, if I wasn't doing all these things, what would I be doing? I guess those who can afford it are spending their retirement golfing, traveling, relaxing, and just doing whatever strikes their fancy. I guess I feel like I'm sort of doing that, but keeping my brain active at the same time. I probably spend about 3-5 hours every day playing online poker or doing other enjoyable things online, and watching at least 4-6 hours of TV on nights when there's decent shows to be watched (e.g., "24", American Idol, and almost anything on the SciFi channel). Plus, I usually have the two TVs on my desk going all day while I do whatever on my computer. So I'm doing what I want to do, pretty much when I want to do it, and I'm not going to an office every day --- I'd call that retirement.

For those that know me or have read my books (if not, go read Retire and Travel   FREE online RIGHT NOW!), it's well-known that I've "retired" four times, in 1962, 1984, 1992, and finally 1999. This appears to be my last one, unless something changes soon. Never say never, however. Due to some changes in our situation, I'm considering dissolving our Robert Hoffman Consulting, Inc., then either continuing this work as a proprietarship or (YOUCH) become an EMPLOYEE again. We'll see ....

At any rate, in the first two retirements, I more or less assumed I'd be going back to work sooner or later. In the third, when Joyce and I went "full-time RVing", I actually thought that we'd be doing that forever and that the Bounder and Bronco II were our last two vehicles ... hahaha. Since then, we've had 10 vehicles!  BTW, if you'd like to see all 28, from motorscooter to Mitsubishi, go to my new America Views - Hoffman Vehicles page. We stayed "retired" for 3 years that time, and the "unretirement" in 1995 was one of the smartest moves I've made in my lifetime.

BUT BACK TO THE TOPIC - 10 years of retirement. Why reflect now? Well, in a couple of months, I'm going to attend my 50th high school reunion. If that's not a time for reflection, nothing is. You can read more about that in my latest "Countdown to Graduation" entry on our class website JAN-JUN 1959 .

So, how's that retirement going, Hoffman? Well, I'd say it's going totally different from anything I expected. Like much of my life has been, I've found that if I just stumble happily along, things just seem to go right for me. Sorry about that, if you can't say the same. I guess I'll hear at our reunion how it's going for the other 300 or so in my class. For me, it's been a series of unexpected events. When in my 40's and 50's, I assumed that retirement meant establishing a life style, then just trying to maintain the status quo. I figured that we'd decide how/where we wanted to live (whether it be in an RV or a land-based home), find some activities that we enjoyed, then just try to survive and maintain the lifestyle as long as needed. I worried a little about what we'd do when we got too old to do those things we wanted to do, or even to take care of ourselves, but that question hasn't yet been answered. I think we've reached a point where we just hope that we both don't lose it at the same time, and that we'll be able to take care of each other as necessary. I guess if worse came to worse, I'd think about trying to bribe one of our kids to come live with us or us with them, but one hopes that never really happens. Another choice might be to get into one of those retirement communities where they provide daily assistance, etc.

Let's get off that ... back to where I mentioned Status Quo. That thought was pretty much totally wrong. Since 1999, we've moved 3 times, first renting a first-floor beach condo, then a 9th-floor (really neat!) beach condo with views of ocean and Indian River/Melbourne, then finally (in 2002) inland to the house that we're still in. But don't let that "house we're still in" fool you -- we're continuously talking about how neat it would be to find a little place in the mountains, like in Alabama or Georgia or North Carolina (probably too cold for us there). It's aur plan this Spring to wander up around Mentone, Alabama and see what we might be able to afford. Of course, we've done that a couple of times already, in other "mountain" areas, and haven't committed yet. But whatever we do, it certainly isn't that "decide how/where" and stay with it mentality that I assumed we'd be in.

And speaking of lifestyles (is that one word or two?), that continues to change also. When we last retired in 1999, Joyce was dabbling in various arts and crafts, had been a successful floral designer for several years, and wasn't too sure what to make of this retirement plan. She thought we were jumping off the cliff way too early, and probably expected this to be another of those "temporary" retirements that we'd already gone through twice. So what happens ... she decides in 2000 to go to the Decorating Masters Institute in Atlanta to get some formal training on faux painting and other decorating approaches, then she gets into a successful home decorating business that continued until about 2007, when she decided she didn't want to climb ladders anymore. Then, she branched off to water colors, took some classes (and still is), and is now winning awards at local art shows (check out ArtByJHoffman.com). Who'd have thunk it?

And what about the oldguy (that's one word - it's my online handle on gaming sites, etc.), what did he do? Well, when we retired in 1999, I was riding high in the stock market. Like many others, I could make money on almost any stock buy, and I foolishly assumed it was my expertise. I believe a chimp could have made money in the Fall of 1999. I figured I'd play the market, travel in the RV when possible, and just generally mess around and enjoy life. Then, several things changed .... About a month after I retired, they called me and asked if I wanted to help on a proposal. Great opportunity to live in the RV for a while and get paid for it! Through that exercise, I made some extra bucks, so decided to take that trip to go boondock out West - I'd been hearing for years about Slab City and a little about Quartzsite, Arizona, and really wanted to check them out -- so I did (see my Travel Log, Chapters 1-14). On that trip, I stumbled onto Homestead.com, learned how to build websites, and that opened up gobs of opportunities for me. When I returned from Quartzsite in February 2000, the market was dropping like a rock and I decided it was time to get a little more serious about getting some continuing income. I worked with Northrop Grumman to establish a continuing consulting role and I started looking for people who needed websites (doesn't everybody?). Since then, I've probably built over 1000 webpages and am currently maintaining over 2 dozen websites for friends and family, and actually getting paid for most of them.

My first website was RetirementTips.com website, where you'll find my Travel Log, America Views, and a bunch of related topics (now just under 500 webpages and over 3000 graphics). That remains the site where most of my life is being recorded. While traveling, however, I noticed that many people didn't have the vaguest idea of how to get online while RVing, so I created InternetOnTheRoad.com (nicknamed IOTR). It initially concentrated on telling people how to find "modem-friendly" campgrounds and other locations where you could find dial-up access. Then, in late 2004, I stumbled onto a WiFi connection at a campground in Ft. Lauderdale. Wow! I thought I'd found the answer to continuing internet access on the road! Then, I stumbled onto a company called WiFiRV and began working with them to sell campgrounds on the idea of WiFi. Through that association, I learned a lot about the mechanics of WiFi, best ways to access it, and put all I learned on the IOTR website. Although I resigned that job in late 2008, I'm sure I'll find a use for all that knowledge in the near future.

So, instead of a stock market day trader and avid RVer, I'm now more or less a defense industry consultant, web designer, on-the-road internet expert, and occasional part-time RVer. In addition, I've realized one of my life-long dreams (sort of). Other than home card games, my first real gambling experience was at a casino in Elko, Nevada in 1962. Since then, I've stopped in Las Vegas whenever I got a chance, and more recently have visited casinos in Mississippi, Louisiana, the cruise ships at Port Canaveral, and wherever else I've been able to visit. I've been saying for years that I'd really love to be able to retire someplace like Las Vegas or Biloxi and just spend my free time gambling. Two problems with that - 1 - I usually ended up losing my money if I played long enough, and 2 - Joyce had no desire to live in either of those places or any like them. Then, about February 2004, I stumbled onto Texas Hold'em Poker. I think I first saw it on TV, then later discovered that I could play for real money online. Yay! Plus, I actually won much of the time. Now, that occupies much of my "free" time, although I'm not playing nearly as high stakes as when I started. After playing for about 2 years, I checked my winnings and losings to see how I was doing. Would you believe, in those two years, just making deposits of about $300 at a time and withdrawals when I got far enough ahead, I had moved $18,000 out of my bank account and had moved about $18,100 into my bank account. I was amazed that it had been that much, and that I was that close to even. After that, I slowed down some and am now playing more $2 games and none of the $50-$100 games. Much less stressful. As it turns out, it's fun and easy to win, but also very easy to lose for long periods, so I'm now watching the dollars closer and still enjoying it. The big deal (i.e., my life-long dream) is that I'm able to play whenever the mood strikes me, and I win enough to make it fun without being a danger to our livelihood.

So, bottom line, what I'm trying to say is that if you're not yet retired, you probably have no idea how your retirement is going to turn out. So many things affect it, like changes in technology, changing opportunities, and changing desires, that I think it's almost impossible to predict. Likewise, I'd say that (IMHO) too many people wait too long to start their retirement, because they're afraid they're "jumping off the cliff too early." Joyce still maintains that we'd be better off if I'd continued to work longer, but who knows? Look at the economy today! Those who are working and worrying about their jobs are no better off then us retirees that are worrying about losing our IRAs and any part-time income that we have. I still maintain that we couldn't have done it better, and that if I'd continued working, who knows where we'd be?

Afterthought - related - Funny thing ... I've noticed that many of my life-changing events have happened "on the 9's." Like the TV channel that offers "weather on the 1's." I guess it started with my high school graduation - 1959. Then, my first real job (with TRW in Houston) - 1969 (actually started in 1968, but the first Apollo flight that I supported was Apollo 13 in July, 1969). Moved to Huntsville, Alabama and switched from Aerospace to Defense industry - 1979. Completed my Master's Degree at University of Alabama - 1989. Retired the fourth/last time - 1999. Writing this blog - 2009.

Weird, eh? Also, have you ever noticed that weird doesn't follow the I before E rule? I had thought that "leisure" was the only word that violated the rule, then I discovered weird the other day, thanks to my automatic spelling-corrector.

If you have views on this or something substantial to offer, put an entry in the guestbook above or email me.

SHORT 2011 UPDATE : Things just keep a-changin' ... no more online poker, since some DA in NY put a stop to it for all USA residents - BOO!   And, we found a place in Mentone ... check out Artist-Retreat.com and ArtGallery.Mentone.com.
Things That Are Just Wrong!

08/18/2009In my last entry, I whined about how the "i before e" rule isn't always right and how I'd noticed that weird and leisure don't follow it. Since then, I've noticed a bunch of other words that also "violate" the rule. I'm amazed that I've lived this long thinking that rule was almost golden. Not sure why I suddenly noticed the outlaws, but since then I've bumped into keith, their, foreign, and a few others. I looked the rule up on Wikipedia and learned that there are a bunch more: species, science, sufficient, ancient (where ie follows c), seize, sovereignty, feisty, kaleidoscope, and more. I also learned that Britain stopped teaching the rule in June 2009. They must have read my blog entry above :)  Wikipedia also lists several alternative versions of the rule and a bunch of other exceptions.

Anyway, it's just a real surprise to me that there are so many words that don't follow that rule, when I've spent the last 60 or so years following it more or less religiously. But, that's nothing compared to what follows below!

Do you save your change? I always have! I put it in jars and empty peanut/cashew cans, throw it in drawers, toss it into the cupholders in our vehicles, and just generally save it all ... including the pennies! Then, every now and then, I gather it all up and take it to the bank to cash it in. When we took off on our 1992 retirement, we dropped off some jars of coins at the bank in Huntsville and they counted and cashed it for us (FREE!) and it added up to over $300. A month or so ago, I realized that we had a bunch of cans, etc. in the RV, plus some in various places in the house, so I decided to go cash it in. I checked with a couple of banks and found out that none of them take change unless it's rolled!  Wow! What a surprise! I'm certainly not going to sit down and roll that quantity of change and I'm not going to invest in a change-roller that I'll used about every 10 years, assuming I could even find it again next time. I checked around and found that there's a change machine at Walmart that charges 9% to cash you in, but the one at Publix only charged 8.5% so I used it. HOWEVER, I really don't like to give someone even 8.5% just to change my change into cash! I told Joyce we could take the change to Vegas and get it cashed for free, plus we could then take the cash and make a bunch more with it ... haha.

At any rate, I've decided to stop collecting change altogether. Whenever I get any, I keep it in the cupholder in my car and try to use it when I can. Since we pay for most things with our ATM cards, it's not often that we really get change. On those rare occasions where I pay cash, I often just tell the cashier to keep the change if it's not much. I figure that's my contribution to aid the minimum wage earners. Many places, like McDonald's and Walmart, have a change donation thingee of some type at checkout to accommodate people like me that don't like change.

If I were King, I'd simply round everything up to a whole dollar and do away with change. I guess then the next step would be to do away with $1 bills by rounding up to $5 .... haha

My third whine is about those manufacturers that sell a "large, economy size" something that's actually a worse deal than the smaller size. I think I first noticed it with Wesson Oil. Before they started posting the price breakdowns in grocery stores, I'd stand there and calculate in my head. As it turned out, the Wesson Oil was easy, since the large size was twice the number of ounces as the smaller size, yet significantly higher priced than twice the small one. You could buy two of the small size and get off cheaper. After noticing that, I started checking the cost-per-unit stickers a lot more. Did you know that the Family Size of Lay's Potato Chips costs more per ounce than the Classic smaller size? I've found this on many food items and also on many non-food. Check the cost-per-ounce the next time you buy clothes detergent ... I'll bet the "large, economy size" is a worse deal. What really irks me is to know that there are millions of families out there, trying to save a few bucks by buying larger sizes or buying in bulk and actually spending more by doing so. I've never bought any of the bulk stuff, so don't really know if that saves or not, but I'd sure recommend checking cost-per-unit before just assuming you were getting a better deal by buying large.

I saw evidence of that fact when I was working for the WiFi company. Either accidentally or intentionally, prices would sometimes be set up so that a 3-day service cost more than 3 1-day services ... and the 1-day were automatically renewed if the service was used an additional day, so it wasn't for convenience. I was frequently amazed when I noticed that a person had purchased one of the $14.95 3-day plans instead of the $3.95 one-day with auto-renewal. I brought it up to my manager and sometimes a correction was made, but changing the prices cost him a couple hours of developer time, so he had little incentive (other than ethics) to fix the problem.

So, bottom line, be wary of the i before e rule, dump your change, and pay attention to the cost-per-unit signs. And, I guess it those are the worse things bothering me, I'm in pretty fair shape, eh?

WHOA! HERE'S A BIGGIE FOR YOU!  09/05 UPDATE: I was in Walmart earlier this week and was about to buy the Walmart brand bath tissue, when I noticed it's unit price was 21.2 cents per 100 and all others were in the range of 16 or 17 cents! How could this be? I was sure that Walmart brand was the cheapest. Then I took a closer look. The Walmart package had 6 rolls of 176 2-ply sheets for $1.27, while the Angel Soft right below it had 4 rolls of 176 2-ply sheets for $1.26. You're obviously getting about 50% more with the Walmart brand, yet the unit price stickers showed 21.2 for the Walmart tissues and  17.9 for the Angel Soft. IMPOSSIBLE! One of them was wrong! I told the store manager about it and she didn't seem too concerned. To me, this is outrageous! I don't know about others, but I've always believed that those were printed by computer and were always right! Youch! I went home and calculated 1.27/(176*6/100) = 12 cents per 100, the correct unit price for the Walmart brand. I've sent an email to Walmart about this and certainly hope to hear more about it!

Is it just me or are you a little outraged knowing that those stickers can be wrong? Send me an email or put an entry in my guestbook to let me know. Better yet, here's a poll.

02/24/2010 Addendum : I notice from the Poll that 63% of those responding agree that those stickers are supposed to be right and 25% are outraged!  Good! I'm glad someone is agreeing with me. Now, what can we do about it? Any suggestions?  Now, about that bath tissue with the wrong unit price. You won't believe this! My mention to the manager and email to Walmart had no effect, so I went back a week or so later with pen in hand and CHANGED THE STICKER! I then checked over the next few weeks to see what would happen. NOTHING HAPPENED! My hand-corrected sticker remained. One time when I was in there, I saw a lady stocking a shelf nearby, so asked her about the stickers. She said she'd noticed my change, knew it was correct, but was unable to get her computer to put out the right one so just left mine there. UNBELIEVABLE! It's now 4 months later and my hand-corrected sticker remains! Yesterday, I noticed a sticker on Ketchup where they had incorrectly input 64 QTS instead of 64 OZ, so the unit price was showing as .02 cents per ounce. Obviously wrong, but to make it more obvious, I took my pen and put several large Xs over it. I wonder how long that will take to correct.

What about those unit price stickers?
I don't use them
I've never noticed them
They're supposed to be right!
I'm outraged!
I don't really care one way or the other

PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO CLICK HERE AND READ A SHORT MESSAGE FROM YOUR WEBMASTER
Things Your Mother Never Told You

02/24/2010Back in June, 2003, I wrote a newsletter with the following in RAMBLINGS:

"This month, I'm going to ramble a little about aging, a topic dear to the heart of retirees. If you're younger than me, you might find this informative. If you're older, you may be able to add some to it. Hopefully, you'll at least get a laugh out of it.

At one time, I was going to add a webpage named "Things Your Mother Never Told You" or something equally as comical. On it, I was going to relate things I've learned about aging as I've aged. I decided I didn't know enough to merit a page, but I think there might be enough for this newsletter. Here goes ... 

In my 30's, I learned that you can't eat all the junk food you want and expect to never gain weight -- did I think I could? ... yeah ...

In my 40's, I learned that even though I'd always had 20/20 vision, I should expect to start wearing glasses. Phooey!  I'd seen older people squinting to read small print, but had no idea it happened to everybody!   ...

In my 50's, my doctor told me there are two kinds of men at my age -- those with prostate problems and those about to have prostate problems ... that was a bit of a surprise ...

In my 60's, I'm now finding out that when you get older, the bottoms of your feet wear out! Jeez! Going bare-footed was something I enjoyed when I was young and hoped to again enjoy in my retirement. Now I have to put on shoes now and then just to keep my feet from hurting.

hmmm .. what's next?"

Well, now I'm 69 and I'm finding out what's next, so thought I'd write this blentry about it. I was recently told that "at your age, everyone eventually gets cataracts." Am I asleep or dumb? I didn't know that! I thought some people got them, but that it was a selective old-age disease, like arthritis, that some people got and some didn't. Or am I about to be told that "everyone at your age should expect to get arthritis"? Guess I should look that up on Wikipedia. Anyway, I'm beginning to show cataracts and will have to have that fixed sometime in the near future I guess. From what I hear (from my elderly friends), the surgery is relatively minor. I also heard that while fixing the cataracts, they can also "adjust" your eyes to be near-sighted or far-sighted. I guess I'd choose far-sighted, as wearing glasses to read isn't nearly as aggravating as having to wear them all the time to see the world around you.

I've had another strange and unexpected thing happen to me recently. In my RAMBLINGS above I talk about losing vision in your 40's. Well, in the last year or two, my vision has started going the other way. Sometime in 2008, I noticed that I was having difficulties reading road signs that had previously been easy to see. It got so bad that in December 2008, I went and got some glasses from my friendly Walmart optician. I only got prescription dark glasses, since I never drive at night.  Ha, ha ... that's not completely true. One evening, we stayed out later than expected and I drove home wearing my dark glasses. Kind of scared the passengers and we all decided it was time I went and got prescription clear glasses for those rare occasions when I had to drive at night. That was in September 2009. This week, I went back to update my dark glasses, because my vision continues to get worse and they weren't doing the job. I'm beginning to wonder if bad vision will be what decides that I'm too old to drive an RV (my first topic up there in 11/07/2005).

The good news is that while my distant vision deteriorates, my close vision is improving, I can now read Doonesbury without any glasses. I mention Doonesbury, since that's about the smallest print of any of the cartoons. Being a liberal Democrat, Doonesbury is also one of my favorites, although I generally read almost all of them. Have I mentioned that's about the only part of the Sunday paper (the only day that we get a paper) that I read? But I guess that's another topic for later.
Addendums to Earlier Blentries

02/24/2010 Wasn't quite sure of the best way to handle this, but I have updates to earlier blog entries. I've decided to include them all here, then duplicate them at the end of the related entry.

Addendum to "11/07/2005When Are You Too Old to Drive an RV?" : As mentioned in "02/24/2010Things Your Mother Never Told You", I'm now 69 and have had to get glasses to read the road signs. Up until 2008, I was seeing everything fine and never suspected that my distance vision would go bad on me. When it got difficult to read speed limit signs and even those huge interstate highway exit signs, I decided it was time. I could still see them eventually, but when you're driving an RV, you need a little advance notice on when to exit, etc. I've updated my glasses twice since getting the first pair in December 2008, so am now starting to wonder if I'll ultimately have to stop driving the RV because of bad vision. Hopefully, I can continue to upgrade my glasses to keep me seeing safely.

Addendum to "09/16/2006Is the Gas War Working?" : I don't know about you, but I'm still fighting the Gas War and buying at Murphy stations as much as possible. I've noticed that quite often the prices at other stations are in line with Murphy, but now there's another factor - where the oil is from. In some of the recent emails listing companies that buy from countries that "we don't like" (e.g,. some Middle East countries) and generally just up-in-arms about avoiding foreign oil, the emails have started to mention how Murphy sells American oil. Just one more reason to buy at Murphy!

Addendum to "08/18/2009Things That Are Just Wrong! TAKE THE SURVEY!" : I notice from the Poll that 63% of those responding agree that those stickers are supposed to be right and 25% are outraged!  Good! I'm glad someone is agreeing with me. Now, what can we do about it? Any suggestions?  Now, about that bath tissue with the wrong unit price. You won't believe this! My mention to the manager and email to Walmart had no effect, so I went back a week or so later with pen in hand and CHANGED THE STICKER! I then checked over the next few weeks to see what would happen. NOTHING HAPPENED! My hand-corrected sticker remained. One time when I was in there, I saw a lady stocking a shelf nearby, so asked her about the stickers. She said she'd noticed my change, knew it was correct, but was unable to get her computer to put out the right one so just left mine there. UNBELIEVABLE! It's now 4 months later and my hand-corrected sticker remains! Yesterday, I noticed a sticker on Ketchup where they had incorrectly input 64 QTS instead of 64 OZ, so the unit price was showing as .02 cents per ounce. Obviously wrong, but to make it more obvious, I took my pen and put several large Xs over it. I wonder how long that will take to correct.
My Views on MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.

02/24/2010 I put "etc." in the title above, because there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of these Social Networking websites out there ... and I don't use any of them! I don't say I never will, because I hate to say never, but also because there's a slight chance that someone might convince me of their value at some point. Joyce has recently gotten onto FaceBook, so I'm watching and listening to see how that works out. But, in general, I think they're a ridiculous waste of time, they open unsuspecting users up to sexual predators (if they're young users) and identity theft (if they're older users), and they serve no real purpose other than to line the pockets of the site originators, their advertisers, and the spammers that they pass email addresses along to. Am I just an old fogey or does anyone agree with me? See Poll below.

The first one I became aware of was MySpace. I don't know if it was really first, but would guess it was the first that gained any notoriety. I think the first I heard about it was on newscasts, when they began to realize that sexual predators and identity thieves were having a field day with all of that easily-accessible information being put online by unsuspecting novices (both young and old). We've all laughed at those who were gullible enough to believe what they were told in chat rooms by people claiming to be handsome/beautiful thirty-somethings or wealthy gentlemen (or ladies) looking for companionship, but those were usually isolated cases of one person happening to bump into the wrong villain in the wrong chat room at the wrong time. MySpace, on the other hand, gave those villains bunches of people to work with and made their villainy much easier. Then, about the time people started being more wary of MySpace, along came FaceBook.

I've been hearing about FaceBook from every corner of my world. It's on the news, it's promoted by talkshow people, and it's apparently widely-used by all levels of politicians, celebrities, and common people. I hear about people putting out their deepest secrets, personal information, addresses, financial information, and all the while assuming that only their friends will have access to it. Do people really believe that anything on the internet is safe ... that emails are private ... that text messages aren't being read by anyone other than the receiver ... hmmm. We all pretty much assume that the CIA/FBI monitors cell phone traffic for context that they consider threats to national security. Likewise, there are people and companies that have very efficient automatic bots that scan the internet constantly, looking for key words or topics, but these can be anything from "I'm a mixed up teenager wanting to learn about sex" to "my social security number is ..." Spammers constantly watch for new emails addresses or methods to contact more people and what better way than through a website that invites contact? It would be interesting to me, if I was on FaceBook, to talk about wanting to take a trip to Peru, then see if I started to get spam about discount travel to Peru ... it wouldn't surprise me at all.

And don't even let me get started about Twitter. Who is egotistical enough to believe that there are bunches of people wanting to follow there every trivial thought or deed throughout the day? I don't care if you're my favorite celebrity, I'm not going to spend my time reading how you just petted your cat. And what about those who spend all their time following the tweets of others? Is that the most productive thing they can find to do? Despite the fact that some of my favorite TV personalities claim to be "tweeting", I still think it's silly, a waste of everyone's time, and that they're making a mistake in promoting it. I think many do it just so they can appear to be internet-savvy, when what they're actually doing is passing the innermost thoughts along to a subordinate who actually knows how to operate a computer.

I PREDICT -- that in the not-too-distant future, there will be some sort of big scandal arising from use of these social networking sites. We've already heard about law enforcement using them to track down sexual predators, but I suspect that something much bigger and messier will happen one of these days.

Despite all of my big objections to social networking sites, they're really nothing but a way for people to put stuff on the internet without the bother of having to create their own website or have someone do it for them. So, I've asked myself, how is that so different from what I do? I write My Travel Log, my RV-Blog, and my Newsletters, where I tell a lot of personal stuff about me, my family, my activities, and my views on just about everything. Is that any different from sticking that same info out on a social networking site? I think so. I figure I'm probably too old to have to worry about sexual predators, I'm too poor to be a good target for an identity thief, and the odds of one of these villains wasting time reading about RVs or retirement tips or how to access the internet on the road are pretty slim. But, I could be wrong. I guess I may end up eating those words one of these days. I guess the other factor is that I'm fairly experienced with the internet and with computers in general, so sort of know what to watch out for, what not to say online, and try to keep up with the latest suggestions on how to avoid identity theft (see my Protect Your Identity! page). Although it's not been updated recently, I think it's still valid. Seems like I got an email just recently that contained some of the same suggestions.

Is this (or any other) Blog any different from Twitter? I think so. Twitter (as I understand it) limits you to a few words, so the temptation would probably be to put out several tweets if the limitation was too restrictive. They can be on any topic and are sent out to everyone on your friends list (or is it Tweet List), and I assume to any of their friends, and their friends, etc. A Blog is intended for a specific group of people with some specific common interests. In my case, that's retirement, RVing, and of course my family gets everything :) I try to stay on topic as much as possible in my Travel Log and Newsletters, although I guess I do ramble on just about everything in this Blog. Maybe the difference is that I only email about my Blog occasionally, but usually just leave it to you to come here when you decide you're interested. Or maybe I need to re-evaluate to see if I'm actually sitting here tweeting without realizing it ... that would make me one of those egotistical people I mentioned above ... hmmm.

I've included a Poll below to hear what all of you think about this topic. I hope I've included enough choices. If not, feel free to email me at rjhoffman@yahoo.com or put a note in my Guestbook above.

What about those Social Networking sites?
I don't use them
I use FaceBook
I use Twitter
I use MySpace or other
I think they're ridiculous!
I think they're great!
I don't really care one way or the other

Are We RVing Yet?

07/30/2010 Throughout the years, I've been claiming to be an RVer. Recently, I've begun to wonder if I really am. Thinking about it, I'd say there are RVers, campers, and travelers. RVers are the ones that really enjoy their RV and can't park in an RV campground without putting out the table cloth that fastens on the picnic table on their patio, cranking out the awning, hanging up their smiley-face lights or something similar on the awning, laying down the grass-like green carpet under the awning, and then wandering around the campground to say howdy to all their fellow RVers.

A camper is one who has a small RV, popup, or more likely a tent. They spend their first few hours in the campground setting up their popup/tent/whatever, gathering firewood for the required campfire, rubbing on suntan lotion and/or bug repellent, and putting swimming suits on all the kids for the mandatory visit to the campground's pool/lake/pond.

Travelers are like Joyce and me. Although we still carry the picnic table cover and smiley lights in the RV, they haven't seen daylight in several years. I roll the awning out about once a year to make sure it doesn't have holes in it and the grass-like green carpet was in the dumpster long ago. When we pull into a campground (probably called an RV resort, RV park, or possibly a Motor Coach Resort), we simply park, put jacks down, slides out, hook up electricity, turn on the TV(s), and settle in for the evening. I don't usually even hook up the water or get out the dump hose, unless we both plan to shower in the morning or if we're staying more than one night.

As travelers, we're really just using the RV as a mode of transportation between home and destination. It is, however, a major difference from using a car and I'm not sure how we'd be able to travel without it. The primary thing the RV provides is a means to travel with our two dogs. It could probably be done with a car or van, but the RV certainly makes things much simpler. Another factor is that we've become very accustomed to sleeping in our own bed, having our kitchen and bathroom readily available, and not having to pack/unpack suitcases each time we stop overnight.

On our current stay in Mentone (see Travel Log Chapter 88), we've taken the RV one step further. Besides using the RV to get us and the doggies from Rockledge to Mentone, we've continued to make use of it while staying in our mountain cabin. It's become somewhat of a storage area (a really large one!) and guest quarters for visitors, of which we've had a few. Here again, we'd probably have gotten along without it, but having it certainly is convenient.

So, my point is ... I guess what I'm trying to say is that although we're no longer genuine RVers, we're still very much appreciating the value of having the RV and continue to make good use of it. Even Joyce, with her aversion to RVing in general, will admit that she's glad we have it (most of the time) ... as long as I don't ask her to live in it for more than a couple of weeks at a time :)
I've often wondered if there was a limit to how long I could make a web page. Now I know ... about this long. The RV-Blog is continued on RV-Blog2 page.
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