Afterburn Radio is back!

IMAG0020After a bit of a hiatus, Afterburn Radio is back on the air and streaming online! It’s very much still a work in progress, but the basic format remains the same: Excellent music from multiple genres punctuated with intelligent talk, timeless comedy, and captivating drama.  Give it a listen right here, hop on over to afterburnradio.com, or search for “Afterburn Radio” on your favorite radio app (TuneIn, Nobex, etc.).

Listen in your Media Player -or- Listen in TuneIn Be sure to share it with your friends, too!

I miss the old blogosphere — we’ve gained a lot, but we’ve also lost something

Gigaom

I should probably mention up front that this is going to sound like one of those “things were better in my day, young fella!” kind of discussions that old people like myself are fond of having, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to move on. The subject at hand is what us geezers used to call the “blogosphere” — which is now just known as the internet, or online media, or whatever you want to call it. On the one hand, it’s good that blogging has more or less become mainstream, but part of me still misses what the old blogosphere had to offer.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but especially at those times when Dave Winer, one of the original fathers of blogging, writes about the necessity of having your own home on the social web — instead of a parcel of land…

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Why isn’t social nudity thriving?

Great post!

Naturist Philosopher

As promised, we’re going to discuss the problems facing social nudity in the U. S. currently. It’s generally recognized by people who enjoy social nudity that there are lots of problems. Hardly anyone would deny that. A golden age for naturism and nudism this isn’t. (This discussion may apply to similar countries as well, though there are often differences.)

And as we observed in Naturism and creativity a week ago, explicitly describing what the problems are is the essential next step to dealing with the problems after recognizing their existence.

Let’s also keep in mind that, in spite of the problems, there are changes occurring in U. S. society which are potentially positive for social nudity. That has been discussed here, for example. These changes include:

  • There is rapid evolution of Internet services that potentially allow many new channels of communication between people who enjoy social nudity, and outreach…

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Beatles’ 50th Anniversary Broadcast on Afterburn Radio

While you’re waiting for this evening’s special Beatles’ Anniversary show on television (7 or 8 pm on CBS, check your local listings) or for those of you who just don’t “do” TV, give a listen to my all-day, all-Beatles broadcast on http://afterburn.caster.fm – I’ll be pulling from the entire Beatles discography; not just the hits, but rare, obscure, and deep tracks too. Over ten hours of nothing but awesome Beatles music.  Give it a listen.

Link

Jean Shepherd Christmas Marathon

Jean Shepherd Christmas Marathon

Tune in all day today, Christmas Day, for the Jean Shepherd Christmas Marathon. Hear him read from his original story that inspired the now-classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” as well as Grant Reynard’s “Rattling Home For Christmas” – a great train story.

Jean Shepherd was an American humorist and these are but a few of his broadcasts from the 1960’s and 70’s when he had a late-night radio show on WOR in New York. Today’s marathon features some of his Christmas Eve and Christmas Night broadcasts.

Conjunction of Moon and Venus

We had a clear sky this evening so I was able to capture this shot.

Moon and Venus 20120903

Moon and Venus 20120903

Exploring RV Living – Supporting Your Lifestyle

(This post is part of a series. If you’re new to my blog or this is the first you’ve seen of this series, you might look at the introduction first.)

I recently pointed out that full-time RV living is something that can be done at any income and budget level. This time we’ll talk about ways to make a living or ways to supplement an existing income stream that can be done while living in your RV.

Workin’ Nine To Five

I suppose I should start out with the obvious and possibly overlooked option: a conventional job. Just because your house has wheels doesn’t mean you have to be on the move constantly. It is quite possible to work a regular job while living at a trailer park, campground, or RV park. Even working in a city, you might be surprised at how many urban RV and trailer parks there are, and often close to shopping and bus lines.

Some people do this as a transitional step. As they prepare to retire or quit their regular job, they buy an RV and begin living in it while they count down to retirement or gear up for a location-independent income opportunity. If you are new to RVing, this is a great way to get used to your new home and lifestyle without suddenly abandoning the support system of friends, family, and job.

It’s also a perfectly good option for someone who isn’t interested in becoming a vagabond, but is interested in an RV as a simple and environmentally friendly minimalist dwelling and an alternative to conventional housing options.

Transient, Temporary, and Contract Work

There are many fields and jobs that involve frequent moving around. Workers often spend as little as a few days or weeks, or as much as several months or more at a given location before moving on. I’ve met travelling nurses, teachers, power plant workers, salespeople, consultants, and technicians of all sorts who have transient work environments. Typically people with such jobs stay in rental homes, apartments, or extended-stay hotels. Employees are often given a generous per diem to cover housing, while independent contractors pay for their own housing, but their compensation usually is more than adequate to cover living expenses.

A smart transient worker can travel by  RV, which will almost certainly cost less than endless hotel stays, even when living at a campground or RV park with full amenities, and pocket the difference. There’s also the advantage of having your own home wherever you are, not having to pack and unpack for each move, and sleeping in your own bed every night.

Location Independent Occupations

This is what some of you may be looking for. You want to come and go as you please – wherever and whenever you want. Is it possible to make a living without being stuck in one place or chasing contract work? Of course it is.

Internet Income

If you have a blog or other website that generates income, as long as you can get online as often as necessary, you’re all set. Maintaining reliable connectivity is indeed possible; look here to learn more. Affiliate programs, online sales (eBay and Etsy are good examples), web design, and more are all internet income possibilities.

Writing

As long as you have a computer (or, for that matter, pen and paper) you can write no matter where you are. Of course you could write on any topic you like–fiction or non, and any format–book, magazine, newspaper, blog–but many RVing authors find the lifestyle an inspiration for their writing. Blogging about your travels or reviewing campgrounds or tourist destinations or offering technical support and how-to articles are just a few examples of RV-inspired writing.

Photography

In the era of digital photography, access to a darkroom is no longer needed to be a professional photographer.  With a DSLR camera and a laptop computer you have all you need for most photographic endeavors. You could take travel and nature photographs for magazines, or photos of campgrounds or other businesses for advertising. You could travel around as a freelance photojournalist, documenting news stories, sporting events, and entertainment news. The list of potential photographic subjects is practically limitless.

Flea Markets, Fairs, Trade Shows and More

If you like people and sales work, or have a trade or craft that lends itself to such venues, then you could become a manufacturer’s rep or salesperson, or an independent vendor, or make and sell your own craft or other product at related travelling or seasonal events,

Get Paid For Being Helpful

Are you handy? You could make your skills known when you stop at an RV park or campground, and get paid to help your fellow campers with RV repairs or computer or electronics help.

Workamping

“Workamping” is an umbrella term that covers varying types of work, with the common denominator being that the work requires one to live on-site and the payment is in the form of a place to camp. Sometimes there might even be some cash to be had, too, but most workamping gigs are just trade-for-campsite deals, so they work well if you already have an income stream of some sort (retirement, internet, writing) that you’d like to be able to stretch by reducing your living expenses.

Campgrounds and RV Parks

The most obvious type of workamping gig is at a campground or RV park. You might do maintenance, security, landscaping, or office work. Many places prefer couples because they get two workers in exchange for one campsite, but solo campers can find work, too. Compensation ranges anywhere from a dry campsite all the way to full hookups (including free electricity) plus free propane, with most being somewhere in the middle – full hookups but you pay for your electric, or have an electric allowance, and maybe a discount on propane. Most places want 20 hours per week in exchange for a campsite.

Parks and Recreation

The US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal, state, and local agencies that operate public camping and recreation areas recruit volunteers as camp hosts, maintenance workers, interpretive guides, and more. In exchange you get a free campsite (amenities vary from primitive to full hookups) and plenty of free time to explore and enjoy our  public lands.

Caretaking, House-sitting, and Animal-sitting

There is some overlap in this area, especially between caretaking and house-sitting, and while the opportunity might be offered under any one of those names, duties might also extend to the other two. Skills needed can vary from an ability to follow simple directions (watering of plants, feeding animals) to basic or advanced maintenance skills. Some opportunities will offer you a campsite, while others, especially house- or pet-sitting, may offer living quarters or even require that you live in the home. If that is the case, make sure you will be able to park your RV on the property, or suitable arrangements can be made for convenient nearby storage.

Musicians

You may not have a chauffeur-driven million-dollar tour bus, but even on a working musician’s income, you can enjoy similar amenities as the top-dollar acts by driving your own RV from gig to gig. You can forget about hotels and motels, too — you’ll have your own bed waiting for you to crash in after the show.

But Wait, There’s MORE!

There are so many possibilities. I’m sure I’ve overlooked many of them. Can you think of more? Comments are open — do share!

Desert Rain

After weeks of 110-115 degree temperatures, it’s a delightful 75 degrees and raining here in the Arizona desert. Need I say more?

Old School Meets High Tech – BioLite CampStove Charges As It Cooks

When it comes to cooking, a wood fire is about as old school as it gets. BioLite has brought the basic wood fire into the 21st century with their CampStove.

Why would I be interested in wood as a cooking fuel? My little motorhome has a fully equipped kitchen including a four-burner gas stove, but sometimes it’s just nice to cook outside. It also doesn’t hurt to be prepared for anything.

Why Wood?

While BioLite’s target customer probably camps somewhat more primitively than I do, why would they even be interested? Compact gas and liquid fueled stoves are abundant, convenient, and reliable. I’d like to think that, for at least some, there is a simple romantic or nostalgic attraction to a wood fire, but there are other good reasons, too. How about not having to carry fuel and empty fuel containers? How about wood being a naturally renewable resource? Oh, and how about if, on top of all that, it could recharge your phone or other devices while it cooks your food?

High Tech

Oh yeah. This is about as high-tech as cooking on wood gets. It uses forced ventilation for efficient burning, reduced emissions, and a really hot flame. And while there are other fan-driven wood camping stoves on the market, they all require batteries to run the fan, and that means batteries to remember and replace. The BioLite uses thermoelectric technology – the heat from the fire is converted to electricity to power the fan. Not only that, but it generates more electricity than it needs for its fan, and makes the surplus available via a USB jack so you can charge your phone, LED light, or other gadgets. Pretty neat, huh?

I first read about this sometime last year and just had to get my hands on one. At the time they were still in development, but they were taking email addresses of interested parties. I signed up and eventually forgot all about it until one day, out of the blue, I get an email telling me they’re accepting reservations for preorders. Eventually I was invited to place an actual order, which finally shipped last week and arrived this week!

Nicely Packaged

I was impressed from the moment the UPS driver handed me the box. Much smaller than I was expecting. The box, that is. It was exactly the size it needed to be, but not a millimeter larger in any dimension. And no polystyrene peanuts nor plastic bags, either. BioLite gets extra points in my book for smart eco-friendly packaging. In the box was the stove (in a drawstring nylon stuff sack), a short USB cable (for initial charge-up of the internal battery), a handful of sawdust-and-wax fire starters in a waxed paper bag, and a sheet of instructions.

Nicely Built

The stove is very well built. Excellent fit and finish. The “power module” (orange unit containing the fan and electronics) stores inside the fuel chamber. For use it attaches to the side of the fuel chamber and is securely held by extending the legs, one of which engages with a protrusion on the bottom of the power module.

Get Ready

I connected the power module, using the supplied USB jumper, to an AC powered charger to “condition” the battery prior to initial use. This is only necessary the first time, or if the stove is stored for more than six months.

The BioLite burns wood or other biomass, so I went about collecting some. It didn’t take long to collect a handful of twigs, plus some bark and pine cones fallen from nearby trees. I collected a variety from smaller than pencil thickness up to about as thick as my thumb. I broke them into about 5-inch lengths.

First Firing

I attached the power module to the side of the stove and deployed the legs.  I loosely filled the fuel chamber with a few pieces of bark and the smallest of the twigs. I twisted a bit of newspaper up into a “stick” of sorts and stuffed it in. I lit the paper with a long barbecue style butane lighter, sticking it down to the bottom to get the bottom of the paper and some of the bark burning as well.

Once it looked like it was burning well enough, I started the fan (doing it too soon would just blow out the flame), and after another minute or two, it was going quite nicely, so I added a couple pine cones and some of the thicker twigs. I switched the fan to high and put on a pot of water.

Charge!

While waiting for the water to boil, I watched for the LED bar above the USB jack to turn green, indicating that it was ready to use as a charger. I connected my combination cellphone and UHF/VHF radio and sure enough, the phone’s display indicated it was taking a charge. I was using fire to charge my HT/phone — how cool is that?

Tea Time

I probably should have started a timer, but it wasn’t three minutes before the water started to bubble a bit, and in less than  five it had achieved a vigorous boil. During that time I had to lift the pot once and feed the fire. I made myself a nice cup of tea and took some photos.

Conclusion

In all, I’m very pleased. I can honestly say the BioLite CampStove has exceeded my expectations. It’s a great little stove; burns hot and clean on a handful of twigs. It’s so efficient that it only left a couple of tablespoons of ash. I can also see it being really nice as a compact portable (tabletop, even?) campfire. I don’t know how often I’ll have a need for the USB charging feature, but it never hurts to have a backup plan. It might work nicely to directly power a small LED light — maybe to see what I’m cooking at night?

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Oh, and  what’s more, BioLite is using sales of the CampStove to help fund the design and construction of a larger version for use in developing nations. For more info or to get your own CampStove, check out BioLiteStove.com.

Manufacturer’s Specifications:

  • Packed Size  Height 8.25 inches  Width 5 inches
  • Weight  33 oz (935 grams)
  • Fuel  Renewable biomass (twigs, pinecones, wood pellets, etc.)
  • Fire Power Output  Peak: 3.4 kW (LO), 5.5 kW (HI)
  • USB Power Output  Max continuous: 2W @5V, Peak: 4W @5V
  • Compatible Devices  Powers most USB-chargeable devices including smartphones.
  • Charging Time  20 minutes of charging provides 60 minutes of talk time. Charging times vary by device and by strength of fire.
  • Boil Time  4.5 minutes to boil 1 liter of water. Varies based on strength of fire.
  • Fuel Consumption  1.6oz (46g) of wood to boil 1 L of water

Exploring RV Living – Is It Expensive?

(This post is part of a series. If you’re new to my blog or this is the first you’ve seen of this series, you might look at the introduction first.)

RVing is considered, by some, to be an expensive recreational hobby for those who have an adequate supply of disposable income. I suppose it could be, if you intend to buy a brand-new half-million dollar custom motorcoach which you’ll park in a $100 per night RV resort.  Even more costly if you do so while keeping and maintaining your conventional home as a primary residence.

In reality, full-time RV living, just like conventional housing, can fit almost any budget. When you’re full-timing, your RV is your home, so all the money you used to spend for rent or mortgage payments on a house or apartment is now available to spend on the RV. One way some home owners transition to full-timing, if they have sufficient equity in their homes, is to sell the house and use the proceeds of the sale to buy an RV, or at least make a sizable down payment if they choose to finance a larger or newer coach.

There’s really two different costs to consider: the initial cost of acquiring the RV and preparing it for full-time living, and then there’s the ongoing expenses.

Home On Wheels

Let your budget be your guide, along with your expectations and abilities. A shiny new class-A motorhome will easily set you back a couple hundred thousand or more. Go for something a few years old, but still nice, and you can do it for much less. If you don’t mind gambling on an older rig, and you’re a good shopper, you can probably find something decent for $10-20K.  If you’re on a tight budget, and a little handy, you can probably find something under ten thousand. If you’re like me — dirt poor, but very handy and resourceful, and don’t much care what the neighbors think —  you might get away for under five grand.

That range of prices would be for a motorhome. If you already own a decent pickup truck, you might look at trailers instead, for 1/4 – 1/2 the price of a similarly sized and equipped motorhome of the same age and condition. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and other options too. You might want to take a look at this post for more info on the different types of RVs.

Cost Of Living

Once you have your rig and it’s all set up to live in, you’ll only have your ongoing expenses to worry about. Once again, you have a lot of control over what you spend. There’s plenty of opportunity to spend money if you want, yet living can be really cheap, too.

You can stay in an RV park with full hook-ups and amenities similar to an apartment complex, and you can expect to pay about the same as you would to rent an apartment, and maybe a little less. You could instead choose to be adventurous, and camp on public land, parking lots, and other free places. You’ll save rent, but will have to move more often and will have the inconvenience and possible expense of finding a place to  refill your fresh water supply and dump your waste. Still, if you’re looking to save money, that’s the way to go. I discussed all the different options for different places to stay in this post.

Vehicle Expenses

You’ll have expenses related to your motorhome or your trailer and tow vehicle. There’s insurance, registration, maintenance and repair, and fuel. Various choices you make will affect these costs. For example, an older rig will cost less to register and insure, but might need more frequent or more costly repairs. A smaller rig will use less fuel than a larger one. You can also save fuel by travelling less frequently and/or shorter distances. Routine maintenance includes such things as fluids, filters, and tires.

Tired Tires

Tires are an expense you’ll have to plan on no matter how much or little you drive. While you’re not likely to wear out a set of tires on an RV, they will “age out.” As tires age, they become more prone to failure, no matter how much tread depth they have or how nice they might look. This is something that isn’t thought about much on a passenger car – it is usually driven enough that the tires wear out before they age out. RVs tend to be driven much less, so they can get too old for safety even while they look brand new.

Safety First

I learned that the hard way when I tried to take a trip on 12-year-old tires, and in Arizona in July, no less. So learn how to read the date codes on all your tires, and replace them when they get to be seven years old or so, no matter how good they look. And NEVER drive on a tire that’s over ten years old!

Same As It Ever Was

Of course you’ll also have the same sorts of living expenses that you always have, no matter how and where you live, so keep those in mind as you budget. Things like food, medical expenses, phone and internet.

The Bottom Line

While the sky’s the limit with luxury RVs and resorts, it’s also a great way to live a frugal minimalist lifestyle. If you own your RV outright, you could live on $500 a month without hardship.. You could live quite comfortably on $1000, with money to spare for the occasional splurge (or to stash away for a rainy day).

Living small and mobile is living cheap.  Living cheap opens the door to all kinds of creative ways to make an income, and frees up more time to do what you enjoy most. It can enable someone on a limited budget to live a decent life.  In the next installment of Exploring RV Living we’ll look at all sorts of ways you can earn an income while living in your RV.

Are you a full-timer, or have you been? I’d love to read your thoughts on how affordable RV living is. If you’re considering the lifestyle, but have questions, ask away. Comments are open!