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 if you intend them only for me.
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Table of Contents

11/07/2005-07/30/2010RV Blog - Page 1

07/03/2012Blurting Out a Bunch of Information
05/17/2013The Great Cellphone Rip-Off
02/25/2017Wrapping Up RV-Blog and Travel Log
05/04/2020May The Forth Be With You
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Blurting Out a Bunch of Information

07/03/2012 Between entries in this Blog, my Newsletters, and My Travel Log entries, I "jot down" things of interest in a computer file with the intent of sometime organizing similar topics into a semblance of order. I guess I've now been "jotting" for a couple of years and haven't seemed to get around to organizing. So, in order to clean out my list, I'm just going to present them here in no particular order. I think some people might refer to this as a brain fart ... or random thoughts ... or ... whatever ...

RV Hints from Hoffman (many of these are obvious, but I'll include them in case they aren't obvious to you) :

Washing dishes in a small container : When you're trying to conserve water while camping, like if you're boondocking, use a small pot to wash dishes in rather than filling the sink with water.

Float the Paper : I heard this a long time ago and have tried to encourage it, mostly with our female guests. If bath tissue (toilet paper) is used, be sure to run enough water in the bowl to float the paper. That will help make sure that none gets caught in that little trap door that opens when you flush, and that there will be enough water in the black tank to hopefully avoid any clogging of the dump line.

Regular (1-ply) Bath Tissue : I've camped for over 20 years and seldom have I used that special RV bath tissue. I've seen it mentioned that it must be used to make sure it doesn't clog the pipes, or to make sure it dissolves properly, but I disagree. I buy the cheapest paper at Walmart and I try to not go more that 3-4 days without dumping the black water tank. I only had a problem once, when we were parked for 5 or so days before we were able to dump, and some users probably forgot to "float the paper."

Hooking Hose Ends Together : Whenever you store your water hose, always screw the ends together so critters won't set up housekeeping in there.

Clothes Pin on Antenna Handle : This assumes you can find a clothes pin somewhere. I managed to get a wooden one many years ago and have held onto it through 5 RVs. Here again, I'm assuming you've got the kind of antenna that you wind up when you stop and wind down (unless you forget) when you break camp. I keep the wooden clothes pin on the winding handle when the antenna is down, then put it on the gearshift handle when it's up. That way, if we get ready to go and I reach up to put it in gear, that reminds me to wind down that stupid antenna.

GI Shower : I guess this term came from WWII, when soldiers in the field had to conserve water. It's just a way to take a shower where you run a little bit of water to get wet, then turn it off while you soap off, then turn it on again briefly to rinse off. When we were on our trip in 1984, we would actually just put some water in a pot (maybe that dish water from above) and use it to "rinse off" with.

Gloves When Dumping : Get a pair of good work gloves and keep them handy. There are many occasions for using gloves around the RV, for example when dumping your tanks. Not so much that you get your hands dirty, but that you can avoid some skinned knuckles when attaching and detaching the hose. It also is good to use gloves when coiling up the electric cord and water hose for storage (IMHO).

Dump Black/Dump Gray/Close Gray/Fill-3/Close Black/Fill-3-Blue : I suppose every RVer has some procedure they like to follow when dumping tanks. Here's mine -- seems to have worked for 20 years. Dump the Black water tank first. Then dump the Gray water tank and close the valve. Have someone inside fill the toilet bowl and flush 3 times. Close the Black valve. Then, go inside and fill the bowl, pour in some of that blue stuff (what's it called?), flush, fill and flush 2 more times. That leaves some water in the Black tank to slosh around and clean things up further.

Keep the Black tank valve closed while parking & leave the Gray tank valve open until the day before you leave : It's fairly common knowledge that you don't leave the Black tank valve open while parked, as that allows all of the liquid waste to run off and leaves the solid stuck in the tank. What I suggest in addition is to leave the Gray tank valve open, so you can take showers, wash dishes, etc. without having to dump until you're ready to leave. The day before leaving, close the Gray tank valve to allow it to fill up a little (I always try to shower the day I'm ready to leave or the night before). Then, when you dump following the procedure above, there's a little water in the Gray tank to wash out your hose really well.

Use your Side Mirrors to Stay in your Lane : When I first learned to drive an RV, the guy showing me told me to look in my side mirrors and find the white line as a means of knowing exactly where I was in the lane. Worked well then and still does.

Keep the Bubble Leveler in the Fridge : I assume everyone either has a level with a bubble in it built into their RV or carries one along. I've got a little round one that I've had since 1984. I put it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, since that's the most important part of the RV to have level. Not as crucial as it once was, but still probably a good idea.

Changing Double Tires : Although I now have roadside service (with Good Sam), so no longer change my own tires, that wasn't always the case. Back in the early days, when I thought I could handle everything myself, I learned a trick on changing the outside tire on a double (only to be used when emergency and no other alternative). If you have some boards onboard (which I always do), build yourself up a high enough stack to run the inner wheel up it and pick the outer wheel off the ground. This is tricky to do unless you've got a bunch of boards and can build an incline, plus you have to be able to hit the brakes fast when you're on top of the pile. I did this once with a tire on the driver's side of the RV parked on the side of Interstate 10 when I was alone, so had nobody to tell me when I was on top of the pile. A bit touch and go, and I think it was the last time that I changed my own tire.

Using Cruise Control While Towing : I've read advice from RV "experts" telling us not to use our cruise control while towing. I used it when I had the diesel GMC truck pulling the 23' fifth wheel and have used it consistently while towing a toadie behind our Class A motorhomes. The only thing that I think is probably true is to not leave it on going up hills. When we first got our 1984 Allegro (and weren't towing), I thought it was really cool how the cruise control would automatically downshift going up hills. It was cool until my transmission went out near Devil's Tower, Wyoming. The mechanic told me that by the time it downshifts itself, there's too much strain on the transmission. Since then, I've tapped over to manual control whenever it starts slowing down in any incline and that seems to work well.

Multiple Appliances on 30 Amps : Some RVers have this down to a science, where they know exactly how many amps are required for each appliance in the RV. If that's the case for you, you're way ahead of me. I settle for just watching out for coffee-makers and hair-dryers. Turn either of those on and you'd better not have anything other than maybe the air conditioner going. With the hair-dryer, we usually turn off the rear air, since it appears to be on the same circuit with the plug by the dresser in the bedroom. Coffee-maker and AC seem to be okay, but don't add TV and computer ... click, off goes the circuit breaker.

Packing Cabinets with Toilet Paper Rolls and Napkins : When we travel, I always put a few rolls in the cabinet above the bathroom sink to keep toiletries from falling around. If not, opening the cabinet the first time after stopping can yield interesting surprises as bottles fall into the sink. Same thing on kitchen cabinets, putting napkins around cups and glasses to keep them from banging together.

And some random thoughts, opinions, whines, etc. :

Home Depot Conspiracy : A buddy of mine claims that there's a conspiracy between Home Depot and the Weather Channel to trick us into buying more storm supplies. He says that the Weather Channel tells us how bad things are going to be, then brings on a Home Depot commercial showing the plywood, generators, and everything else that we don't need.

Giant Economy Size Trickery : I noticed several years ago that two small bottles of Wesson Oil were equal in volume to one large size, but the two were cheaper. Same kind of thing on many products like Wine, Lay's Potato Chips, Kraft Single-Slice Cheese, and many more. But they vary from time to time -- one time, you're better off buying the 16-slice package, then next time better to buy 24-slice. And you can't completely trust those little signs on the shelf that tell the price per unit - see the "09/05 UPDATE" of my Blentry Things That Are Just Wrong!. BUT, the weirdest one that I've seen yet is the Canine Carryouts doggie treats. Once, I noted that the 7 oz was $1 and the 25 oz was over $4 - no decision there! But, next time I checked, the 7 oz was far enough over a dollar to make the 25 oz better. Then ... check this ... I saw the small bags back down to $1, but they were 5 oz instead of 7 oz. But, wait a minute! They actually had some 5 oz and some 7 oz of the same product, both for $1. And it's been that way for the last 4 or 5 times I've been to Walmart.

Brand Name Payoffs : I noticed a long time ago that I could no longer find my Heinze relish, but could find a whole bunch of Vlasic relish. I talked to the store manager and was told the Vlasic paid a premium to take over the shelf space. More recently, I've seen less of the Vlasic and more Mt Olive -- I guess turn-about is fair play. So, if you can't find something that you've been buying forever, that probably means that one of their competitors is trying to squeeze them out.

No Control : Store management, especially at Walmart, claims that they have no control over what is shipped to them. The home office makes all the decisions and they just put what they get on the shelves. So, if a Walmart manager tells you that he'll try to get some of whatever it is you can no longer find, don't hold your breath.

TIABOI : My favorite "fix-it method" - Take It Apart & Blow On It! That has worked for me for years on car problems, house problems, computer problems, and more others than I dare to mention. Sometimes, you have to shake it after you blow on it ... then reassemble it and Voila!  It works!

Sleeping With My Knees Up : One of those obvious ones that anyone with back problems has probably already learned. If your back hurts, just sleep in the fetal position with your knees pulled up to your chest. Most times, it will help.

Florida State Pie : I heard some years ago about a controversy as to what should be the Florida State Pie. A bunch of folks wanted Pecan Pie and another bunch wanted Key Lime Pie. The latter won! I'm glad, because I think Pecan Pie says Georgia a lot louder than Florida. I know there are Pecan trees in Florida, but I'd guess there are more up in Jimmy Carter country. There was question about what the Florida State Pie is on Do You Want To Be A Millionaire? a few nights ago. The lady (a school teacher) actually asked the audience, who voted over 80% for Key Lime. She took their answer, saying "well, that makes sense I guess, with the Florida Keys ..." .... DUH!

Leg Cramps : Closing with one of the best hints I've ever received. Someone told me a while back to take Extra Strength Tums if I ever got leg cramps. You laugh ... but it works. Whenever I get any cramps - legs, feet, hands, whatever - I chew up about 3 Tums and usually they're gone in less than a minute. And the great thing is that they stay gone. I've had many times when I work out a cramp, only to have it return in a very few minutes. Not so with Tums. However, Joyce has tried them and they usually do no good at all, so I guess it's person-dependent.

SpamBeGone : I also have a note about this, with no reference as to where I saw it. It says the SpamBeGone "gets rid of spam, viruses, embarrassing food stains on the keyboard, and leaves it smelling lemony fresh." Can you beat that?
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The Great Cellphone Rip-Off

05/17/2013I haven't whined about anything here for quite some time, so here we go. Nothing to do with RVs, except that most RVers take a lot of photos.

Something occurred to me the other day and I wondered why it hadn't hit me earlier. I'm also wondering if others have thought of this and if it's really a planned rip-off or simply the progress of technology.

Do you still have a camera? Many people have decided that the camera feature on their phone is all they need, so they've sort of let their camera (if they have one) gather dust. I'm still one of those "old fogies" that uses his cellphone only for making phone calls - no texting or photos. Maybe I'll whine about texting sometime later, but for now let's stick with the photos. I have a great little digital camera that I got at Walmart several years ago for around $100. I didn't buy any extra photo storage, since by setting the pic-size down to 1 megapixel, I get photos that are a good size for putting on web pages (640x480) and can store somewhere around 200 of them. That's enough for me. The sales person assured me that I'd be back to buy an extra chip or card or memory stick or whatever, but I've never had a problem with it. It seems that they set the megapixels high on the new cameras, so it will look like they can only store a few photos and make you think you need additional storage. Yet another rip-off, but not the one I'm discussing here.

I bought a camera with a Lithium battery, having learned with an earlier camera that the AAA batteries die too fast and are only rechargeable for a limited time. I've recharged the Lithium battery many, many times and it shows no sign of giving up. So here I am, taking as many photos as I like and not paying for anything. Recall back in the "old" days prior to digital cameras, the businesses were able to make money selling film, film developing, batteries, flash bulbs, and charging for enlargements, copies, etc. Now, they don't make money on anything. Here are all these photo-bugs out taking thousands of photos, using their computers to resize, copy, modify, print, etc., recharging their batteries, and not paying for ANYTHING! What shall we do? How can we make some money off of them? 

Well, how about we introduce a better way to take photos, but in a manner that makes us some bucks? We simply build cellphones that take photos. We charge for the phones and we keep "upgrading" them, so people keep buying new ones. We fix it so they can't take the photos off of their phones unless they have online data service, then we charge for that. We advertise on TV showing how great the photos are, implying that they can now throw away those old digital cameras. Then we add features like panoramic photography, but don't do the same for the cameras. Voila! Now your phone camera can do things that your digital camera can't.

What's due in the future? Like polaroid cameras, film, and so many other related things, the camera is going to fade into history. The only difference is that this time, it's not because it's obsolete, but because it wasn't generating income. And you can bet that as soon as cameras become really difficult to get, the photo-making capabilities of cellphones will probably become more expensive in one way or another. Maybe when my Lithium battery dies, I'll learn that they're no longer available. Maybe we'll lose the ability to do all that photo processing on our computers ... who knows?

And that's the great cellphone rip-off.
Wrapping Up RV-Blog and Travel Log

2/25/2017I was just telling someone why we sold our "last RV" and decided that travel wasn't on our menu any more, then I decided to put something here about that topic. I wrote "My Last RV Trip" back in February 2014, but I don't think I've ever written anything about how we got out of the RV life after 30 years. Our first RV trip was in 1984 - you can read about that on my Retirement Tips website in my "Retire and Travel for $1000 a Month" book.

Interestingly enough, my very first RV-Blog entry from 2005 was "When Are You Too Old to Drive and RV?" Now, some of you might be thinking that's why we decided to stop RVing ... not so, Tonto! I still drive as well as ever (in my humble opinion) and feel that I could still handle an RV just fine (I'm 75 now, for those of you who can't keep track). No, we sold our RV when living in our cabin in Mentone because we were seldom using it and every time we got ready for a trip, it usually involved a couple hundred dollars to fix this and that before we could go. In the last couple of years, I had probably put a thousand or so on little repairs and was just told I needed to replace the roof for about $2000 more. I probably could have postponed that for a while, but that plus the fact that we used it so seldom convinced me it was time to sell it. In December 2013, there was a big tent sale in Fort Payne and they had all kinds of vehicles, including some very nice SUVs. We stopped by to take a look, asked casually if they'd take our RV and tow vehicle in trade, and before we knew what was happening, we'd made a deal on a 2012 Cheverolet Captiva.

As it turns out, trading for the SUV at that time worked out very well., as things often do for us. About August, for whatever reason, we decided to close our art gallery in Mentone. I think we were both getting tired of operating the gallery, even though we were only open Fri-Sun. We still had to keep it spotless and ready for visitors all the time, we had a dog that didn't play well with visitors, and we were both having some medical problems. Then in late August, I had a major surgery, then another in late September, each of which involved several trips to Gadsden, Birmingham, etc. Although we both pretty much liked Mentone, it really was too far from medical facilities (especially for VA facilities), not to mention lack of closeby shopping, restaurants, etc. About that time, we decided it would be real nice to move to South Florida, enjoy their weather, where Joyce could be closer to her son, etc., etc.

We sold our cabin in a relatively short time, found a condo in Boynton Beach, Florida at the exact price that we got for the cabin, so made our move. Sold a few things, gave away some, and stored the rest with my son in Guntersville. We had sold the cabin furnished and bought the condo furnished, so all that we moved fit into the back of the SUV and in Joyce's little convertible.

So, here we are in Florida, RVless and doing any travel either by car or flying. Since Joyce's son Steve works at Jet Blue, we can fly most places free or very cheaply. Surprisingly, I have no inclination to fly anywhere. Joyce has been to Costa Rica and New York City with Steve, but even those trips are getting a bit strenuous for her. Most times, we're happy just hanging around Boynton Beach, occasionally going to the beach, eating out at one of the many closeby restaurants, and (for Joyce) shopping at one of our malls.

I still think I'd like to do more RVing sometime, but maybe in a smaller Class C or even a van. I could probably do great just using the SUV and staying in hotels. Still get to see the country, but without the hassle and stress of a large RV. Neither of us is in great shape physically right now, but we may do more travelling in the future as soon as the doctors figure out what all of our problems are. If so, maybe this isn't really the last blog entry.

I guess if you're one of the three people in the world that didn't watch Star Wars, I'll briefly explain that title. In the series of Star Wars movies, their was an all-powerful, unexplainable capability called The Force. It was mainly available to the “good guy” Jedi Knights, but occasionally got grabbed by the “bad guy” Dark Side. The very popular expression  “May The Force Be With You”, sort of like Star Trek's “Live Long and Prosper” (I'm not going to explain that one), was a greeting, a “good luck” wish to someone going off to battle, etc.

Why is it my title? Because my birthday was May 4,1941, seven months before the World War II Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Every year, several people greet me with “May The Fourth Be With You”, then laugh hilariously. I generally laugh along, even though I've probably heard it about 100 times. I actually find it cute/funny even after all those repetitions. If you're any kind of Mathematician, you've already figured out that makes me 79 years old – now that's really O-o-o-old.

In Chapter 9 of my book "Retire and Travel - 20 Years Later", I take you down memory lane, telling you why being born in the 40s is (IMHO) the best time to start your life. The chapter starts below and contains the entire chapter from the book.

When I wrote the book in 2004, I was only 63 and still felt like I'd been living a "charmed" life  Subsequently, I wrote the 3 articles listed below. (If you go to read them, this wndow will remain open to make it easier to get bac) 02/06/2006Old Guys Doing Stuff (Article "glorifies" the things the older folks are accomplishing) 03/07/2006Turning 65 (Somewhat upbeat article about "you're only as old as you feel") 03/18/2009 My First 10 Years of "Real" Retirement (Good things about being old)  

9. Born in the ‘40s (E)

Well, I guess I'm not done blogging yet. This is actually Chapter 9 of my book “Retire and Travel – 20 Years Later”. About every few years, I find myself searching for it for some reason or another. I usually look here first, so decided to put a copy here to simplify future reference. Also put a copy on my Facebook page and in my Travel Log (with pictures).

It's May 4, 2020 and I just turned 79. I reread several of the articles that I wrote about my life and decided I needed to add more current info at the end of this, which was written in 2004. You can read through it all or CLICK HERE to scroll down to the new stuff.

NOTE: I just read something on a website that relates to this chapter. As you may or may not know, those born from 1946-1964 are Baby-Boomers. Now, there appears to be some disagreement on the exact years, but apparently those that followed the Boomers are Generation X. I’ve heard that one, but what I hadn’t heard was that those that preceded Boomers (like me) are part of the Silent Generation. Ever heard that one? Well, since I don’t have a better name for us, I guess I’ll use that one. Not sure what’s silent about us … LOL.

I was born in 1941. So what, you say? Well, let me tell you. If you were born in the 1940s, as I was, you probably already know, but let me call your attention to a few things in case they haven’t occurred to you. I feel like those born in the ‘40s have lived in the best decades for everything, starting with the optimism of the post-war years. After winning the war, many people felt like anything could be accomplished with the right attitude and dedication. That’s the attitude that I picked up very early in life and one that I still have.

When was the best time to be a teenager? Why, in the 1950s, when Rock and Roll was born and cars were king! I remember the first time I heard Elvis singing Hound Dog on the radio – I was 15 and driving my first car – a 1951 Studebaker. Of course, I had no idea what Rock and Roll was, but I knew that I really liked the beat of the song and the way Elvis sang it. You can hear him sing it now at I was an Elvis fan then, through his whole career, and even today. I went to an “Elvis Concert” in 1997 in Memphis, the 20th anniversary of his death. They had huge movie screens on-stage, showing Elvis as he was in concert, with live backup singers – the same backups he’d had in life. It was amazing! I felt like I’d actually seen him on-stage that night. At the end of the show, Priscilla came on and introduced a video that Lisa Marie had made, in which she sang Daddy, Daddy in “duet” with Elvis and with his father in the background. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! Elvis even came back for a couple of encores in response to the cheers of the crowd – as close to a real concert as anything I could have imagined.

The 1950s were also a time when the drive-in theaters were really popular. Best place ever to party, with a date or with a bunch of friends. Great, cheap entertainment! In Tallahassee, Florida, where I spent my teenage years, we also had two drive-in theaters and several great drive-in restaurants. No McDonald’s or Wendy’s, but little local places with car-hops and hamburgers and beer and always a bunch of friends around. If you recall Al’s Drive-In on Happy Days, that’s exactly how some of our drive-ins were, except we spent more time in our cars than we did inside the drive-in. They also weren’t really family places, like today’s fast-food restaurants, but were more like hangouts for the 15-25 crowd. I don’t think there’s anything like them around today.

The Dixieland Drive-In was a former drive-in theater, so had the speakers for ordering the food and had plenty of area to cruise around. The Corral Drive-In was across the street, was much smaller, had a sand drive instead of paved, but was just as popular. Many an evening was spent cruising first the Dixieland, then the Corral, to see who was there and what was happening. If I didn’t find anyone interesting, it was up the main street and back down again, looking for something to get into. One of our favorite things to get into was the drag-racing on the old Tram Road. It was way out in the country and had a quarter-mile marked on the pavement. I was there many times, both as a racer and as an observer. I never saw anyone have an accident there. Of course, in the ‘50s there were fewer innocent bystanders driving the backroads and the cars we raced seldom got to any really high speeds in the quarter mile. But then there were the top-end races out on the Wakulla Road. Even farther out of town and more secluded, this was a stretch of road about 10 miles long where we went to race at full speed until one driver out-distanced the other or the end of the road came into sight. I only went out there a couple of times, probably because it was somewhat dangerous despite the fact that it was secluded. When you’ve got two cars, side-by-side, at speeds over 120, I guess you’re an accident looking for a place to happen. But we loved our cars, the speed, and the competition – just lucky nobody ever got hurt.

On the other end of town was Mutt & Jeff’s – closest to the High School and the most popular for lunch. It was more like Happy Days’ Al’s Drive-In than any of the others in town. For about an hour around noon every day, it was a challenge just to get in and out of the place, much less to get food and still return to school on time. There was a daily battle to see who could get there first, eat, and then return to school in time for the fourth period class. Some of us were usually able to escape from class early enough to be able to beat most of the crowd over there – but the real challenge was choosing a route that avoided the red lights and stop signs.

Did I mention that cars were king in the 1950s? I sure thought so, anyway. My car through High School was the 1951 Studebaker, which I spent many hours on – painting, repainting, “customizing” by removing chrome, door handles, trunk handle, replacing the grille with chrome bars, etc. It had dual exhausts, made a lot of noise, but wouldn’t do much over 80 mph. I think I probably put 10 or 20 thousand miles on it, just running paper routes during those years. I’m not too sure about that, since the odometer quit soon after I got it and I don’t think I ever got that fixed. In those days, I never really cared how far I’d gone and all the travel was just around Tallahassee anyway. After High School, I put in a year of college, then quit and went to work as a mailman. With my newfound wealth (Post Office was paying $7 an hour then), I fairly quickly went through two 1956 Fords, a 1959 Pontiac, a 1959 Oldsmobile, and a 1962 Volvo.

The Volvo took me on my first trip around the USA in 1962. With its fold-down seats to provide me with a bed, I went from coast-to-coast without ever spending a night in a hotel. I ate mostly cheeseburgers, cokes, and peanuts and had a ball! In 27 days and for $300, I covered parts of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York (slept at a parking meter in Greenwich Village), across Canada to Detroit, through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington (went to 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle), Oregon, and Nevada. Stopped in Elko, Nevada and won $400 on a 50-cent slot machine – paid for the entire trip! From there, I went to Utah, Colorado, Arizona, where I lived in Phoenix for 3 months. Then homeward bound through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and back to Florida. That’s 25 states and somewhere over 10,000 miles for less than $400 – I didn’t know how fortunate I was to be able to do it then. That same trip now would cost what? Around $4000? Of course, now I’ve graduated from folding down the seats to sleep, to sliding out the slideouts and connecting the electricity and water, but the scenery is still just as amazing and the travel just as exciting!

The 1960s were a time of tumultuous protesting, the anti-war movement, the peace movement, flower children, and beatniks. Best place to be in the ‘60s? College! I spent a couple of years in the Air Force, got out before getting sucked into the Viet Nam war, then returned to Tallahassee in 1965 to finish college. I had already spent my time as a sort of beatnik, growing a semblance of a goatee and going to coffee houses, etc. I also figured that spending a night in Greenwich Village in 1962 had qualified me as at least a junior-level beatnik. By the time I got out of the service and back into college, I was intent on finishing school and starting a career, so kind of watched the beatniks and movements and protests from the fringe. I graduated in 1968. On my birthday that year, May 4th, the terrible Kent State confrontation with the National Guard happened. Made me glad I’d stayed on the fringe.

When was the best time to be starting a career in computers? I think it was the 1970s. When I graduated in 1968, I was working on a CDC 6500, one of the first really powerful computers that took a step past the wiring boards of the early IBMs. I got hired by a contractor on the NASA Apollo Project in Houston and really rode the crest of the high-tech wave that put men on the moon in 1969. I was there when the first interactive computers were introduced, when we began “talking” to computers over telephone lines, when we started to link many computers together to get big jobs done more quickly, and when we saw the first interactive color graphics. The ‘70s were THE decade for computer innovation and were the glory years for those of us lucky enough to have chosen hardware or software development as a career. It’s true that computers existed earlier in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, and desktop innovations happened later in the 1980s, but it was the 1970s when the early inventions were first put to real use and when those applications provided the foundation for the many innovations that have followed. In the ‘70s, we took the computer from being an electronic brain that only appeared in science fiction books and movies, to a necessary, highly useful product that merited the expenditure of large amounts of dollars and hours to improve its speed, power, portability, and usability.

So, to recap, the 1940s were the best decade to start life in, the 1950s were the best decade to be a teenager in, the 1960s were the best decade to go to college in, and the 1970s were the best time to start a high tech career. Could things get any better? Yup.

Here I am, going along in the 1980s, happily advancing in my computer software career, when I get this great idea to retire and travel for awhile. Could I do it and still continue to advance my career? Sure, it’s the ‘80s! We can talk to computers over phone lines – all I need is a method to do it. Well, I was a couple of years too early for desktop computers. When I decided to travel in 1984, IBM was just putting together their first PC and the Apple boys were just hatching their Macintosh ideas. I didn’t know that, however, so I put together my own portable system using what was available to me at that time. Joyce and I had just gotten together in late 1983, had discussed the travel idea, and went out and bought a 1984 Allegro 23’ Class A motorhome. I had a computer terminal that only needed a phone connection to work with the VAX computers back at the office. So I got a 100’ phone cord and an acoustic coupler that would work on a payphone and off I went! I was retired and traveling! We’d stop near a payphone in the middle of nowhere, string out the phone line, hook up the modem, and I could communicate with the computers and the people back at the office for as long as I needed to get a job done. It wasn’t anything compared to what you can do today with the internet, but if I’d been a few years earlier, it
wouldn’t have been possible at all. Once again, it was the best decade – the best decade for retiring and jumping into an RV and traveling around, keeping in touch by computer to make a couple of bucks now and then.

In late 1984, I “unretired” and returned to work in Santa Barbara, California. I had learned enough about retirement to know that I needed a little more money, a retirement past-time, and a plan to get there. In 1985, I saw my first desktop Apple Macintosh computer and was fascinated. Here was the machine I needed to be able to stay computerized while I traveled in the RV. I quickly became a devout Apple follower and published my first book using the amazing Apple Macintosh computer. I ultimately moved over to a PC, as did most of the computing world, but I still have a place in my heart for the Macintosh. But I digress … what was so great about living and working in the ‘80s? Again, it was the innovation relative to computers. Here I was, a computer geek since the ‘60s, and computers were quickly becoming one of the world’s major tools for communication, calculation, entertainment, and many other purposes that hadn’t even been identified yet. I was on the ground floor of the greatest influence to the future of the world since the invention of the wheel – or at least I think it was/is. Every household is getting one or more desktop computers, every office in the world is depending on them, and I have the distinction of being one of the original computer geeks. What could be better? Answer – the internet!

The ‘80s might have been the best decade for jumping into an RV with a computer and the best time to be a geek who knows computers, but the ‘90s were even better. I had retired again in 1992, then decided to unretire in 1995 – just in time to learn all about the internet! And what came with the internet? – online access to the stock market! As we came to the close of the ‘90s, I thought once again how lucky I was to have lived when I did. The ‘90s were the perfect time for someone yearning for retirement and travel. By 1999, I had retired again, had been playing the market online and making some really good money, and was in the midst of creating websites, just knowing I was going to discover some great way to make bundles of cash off of the internet. As I celebrated New Years 2000 in Las Vegas (read about it in my Travel Log on the Retirement Tips website), I could see a great future – we had settled in a fantastic area of Florida, we had the RV paid for, traveling when we wanted to, IRA increasing nicely, what could go wrong .. go wrong .. go wrong? (phrase plagiarized from 2001 – A Space Odyssey) … read on.

The 1990s were indeed a great time for planning and implementing retirement. Although it took me a couple of times, I think I finally got it right in 1999. Except for one minor detail – I didn’t know we were going to have the longest Bear market in the history of Wall Street! Maybe the ‘00s aren’t going to be the best time to be starting a retirement that depends on IRA money – poppy-cock! Remember what I said back at the start of this chapter? Just about anything can be accomplished with the right attitude and dedication. Add to that the belief that humans thrive on challenges – well, now we’ve got a few. I weathered the Bear market largely due to being able to do much more consulting work than I had originally anticipated. This was possible for me largely due to the ready availability of the internet, my access to an RV, and some very accommodating employers. The internet makes it possible for me to do much of the consulting remotely out of my home or RV. The RV makes it very convenient to go park outside the office door whenever necessary. And, of course, the accommodating employers are necessary to allow me to work in this manner. Once again, if it wasn’t for the availability of the technology, it wouldn’t be possible. If it was the early ‘90s instead of the early ‘00s, I’d probably be stuck back in an office by now. As it is, I can get the work done while still enjoying most of the benefits of retirement.
So here we are – the 1940s generation have lived in the best of all times because:
• 1940s: Best decade to start life in
• 1950s: Best decade to be a teenager in
• 1960s: Best decade to go to college in
• 1970s: Best decade to start a high tech computer career in
• 1980s: Best decade for jumping into an RV, traveling around staying in touch by computer, best for being a computer geek, and starting retirement planning
• 1990s: Best decade for planning and implementing retirement
• 2000s: Who knows?

Now I’m in my 60s and it’s the first decade of the 21st century. What can I possibly come up with that makes this the best decade to be in? Well, if things continue as they are, there may be some great medical innovations coming along that allow us to live longer and healthier -- innovations that wouldn’t have been available a decade ago. We appear to be coming out of the long Bear market, there appear to be health care reforms on the horizon, the senior generation continues to gain political clout, and drug manufacturers continue to invent new pills for all kinds of maladies, including an improved version of Viagra and various health-enhancing drugs. And we’re not even halfway through the decade yet. I guess we’ll see – maybe I’ll ramble a little more about that in my next book, 20 years from now … LOL. Speaking of Rambling, check out the next chapter of that 20-years book.

2020 ADD-ON

Well, I was 63 when I wrote the above article and now I'm79. Not quite the 20 years promised above, but 7 is good as it's the end of the 2nd decade of the 2000's. Note that the 1990s above are mentioned as “Best decade for planning and implementing retirement” - and I did. My final retirement was in 1999 and I've managed to stay retired for 21 years – well, sort of semi-retired. I still do websites for about 70 people, but I refer to it a a “hobby” for tax purposes. Due to a very astute accountant and close management of expenses, I've managed to pay zero income taxes since 1999. One of my “goals in life for a long time”.

The 00s started off great! I was doing a lot of computer consulting for a lot of money requiring (I thought) very little effort. Thanks to my employer and my accountant, we were able to buy the best house that I ever owned in 2002 – 3BR, 2BATH, 1800 sq. ft.with big yard and nice screened pool in the back yard, a new 36' Damon Class A RV in 2003, and a 2003 Mitsubishi convertible. Living well and enjoying life! We continued to check out mountain homes on the internet and in 2010, bought a 1927 log cabin on the main street in Mentone, Alabama, the highest town in Alabama on Lookout Mountain. For two years, we kept the Rockedge home and traveled to Mentone now and then. When we weren't there, we had a realtor handle rental of the cabin. When there, we'd just move in for however long we wanted to stay. Then, In 2012, we got a real good offer on the house, so we sold it and moved to Mentone. Opened a weekend art gallery in the cabin and showed works from Joyce and others. In 2015, we decided that shopping, doctors, etc. were just to far away, so we sold the cabin and moved to a condo in Boynton Beach, Florida – our last move? And, by the way, all of our transactions were completed over the internet, with no face-to-face needed.

So, now I have a recliner with automatic controls to raise and lower it, my 47” flat-screen across the room houses both my TV and my computer, and I'm pretty much happy as a lark. From there, I can watch TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime movies, play online poker, and build websites.

AND, definitely the most significant innovation in the 10s decade and perhaps in all history was the introduction of the smart phone. I'm in my 70s and the old memory isn't what it once was. However, my phone can remember almost anything I need, from the nearest pizza restaurant to any trivia that I'm interested in, with very little effort. For example, I saw a picture that I thought looked like an old movie star and couldn't think of his name. Without the phone, that would have bothered me until I remembered the guy's name. Simple with the phone -  I asked “what was the TV show with 3 ladies running a design company in Atlanta?  (Designing Women)”, who were the stars of Designing Women? (Delta Burke and two others), who was Delta Burke married to? (Gerald McRaney) – so, that's the guy I was looking for! .. LOL :) Without that phone, I'd be lost ...

So, I guess the add-ons are:

• 2000s: Best time to explore retirement options using online capabilities; travel and have fun while you're able, as health and financial problems may be on the horizon; learn to use the internet
• 2010s: The flat-screen and all that goes with it are great, but I think the best innovation in this decade was the phone that knows all the answers;

Maybe more later – one never knows ...