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
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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.