Friday, November 26, 2010

Mexico Bound!

We're off to soak up some serious Carribean sunshine along with some no doubt decorative alcoholic beverages.  We have booked a cabin with a large balcony which I don't intend to leave much.  I'm bringing along binoculars, the Kindle, and a stack of NYT crosswords.  You know where to find me.

No meetings, no deadlines (oh wait - what time does the bar close?), no more indoor complaints (as Walt Whitman so brilliantly nailed it). 

I'll submit a full trip report when we return. 

 Only downside: we'll miss Doris terribly.  But she and the house are in
 the most capable of hands.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Non-Purchases

I thought it would be interesting to start a systematic accounting of stuff I didn’t buy every month.    

This moratorium on unnecessary purchases is part of my effort to aggressively save for an RV for next year. Though I’m not much of a consumer as it is, I thought it would be interesting and motivating to keep track of those small expenses I didn't incur as part of my savings goal.     

Item 1: Kindle Cover with Light - $59.99.  I do want to get this eventually.    


Item 2: Pet Sling - $28.22.   I’d like a carrier I can stealthily cart 12 pounds of Doris around in but the user reviews are mixed.  And this is not an item we need right now.  

Savings grand total:  $88.21

Well, the total amount is not that impressive but over 12 months of not buying small-ticket items like these, we’re talking a grand total of: $1,058.  This is substantial, representing about 5% of my savings goal.  

Not buying the VW bug last month (see Battles) was definitley the right decision.  We’ve also decided to stay in the same house indefinitely.  More about that later. 

All that considered, we are going on a cruise soon. But ... that decision was made months before my RV fever relapse.  And, when it comes to travel, I deliberately leave my frugal habits at home. 

Hmmm ... what can I not spend money on next month?  Note to self: comb catalogs with extra care and pick out things not to buy.  

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Miss Minimalist’s take on Minsumerism

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jumping Through Hoops

Spent the past weekend in the vise-like grips of my stats final.

It was ugly folks.   I became increasingly alarmed once I realized that the predicted 7 pound baby I was laboring with was actually a 13 pounder. 

Formula:       ∑ = OUCH! X 2. 

So basically, I spent the weekend gnashing my teeth, pausing only to bellyache to my husband, and feeling slightly sorry for myself.  But really, I mean come on, what’s to complain about really?  Though it’s my constitutional right to bitch, in this case it’s probably morally wrong.   

After all, on both Saturday and Sunday I was able to ride my bike in dazzling autumn weather to my serenely quiet office which has everything I need and which I adore. 



Now that I think about it, the only thing that could make life sweeter is if some underworked statistician owed me a big fat favor. 

And also now that I think about it,  if I just had a camper van all my problems would be solved...

All this pain is self-inflicted.  Sometimes the whole endeavor makes no sense at all.  I’m working harder now so I can work harder later.  (If you read my previous post - - you know I am conflicted regarding my decision to stay in academia). 

Come on countdown!!! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Final Home Game

This actually occurred last weekend so I'm a week behind.  I can live with that if you can.

Our little town's population must double during home game weekends when everyone piles in to tailgate.  I don't know about my fellow townsmen, but by the end of the season I'm like, "OK!  Thanks for the infusion of cash.  Go away now".  It was especially nuts this year due to our completely unexpected #1 ranking.  War Eagle !

Here's a field near our neighborhood on a normal day:



It's not my idea of getting away but ... a good opportunity to check out the rigs in their natural habitat.

What would happen if some inebriate (no one I know, of course) stood in the middle and yelled "FIRE!!!"

             World's ugliest RV.  Who needs 3 bathrooms?

World's Cutest Tailgater

Doris enjoys checking out the various grilling techniques

                                                          Once again, War Eagle !!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two Research Projects

Whew!  What a week!  Looking forward to catching my breath over the Holidays.   Things are shaping up in the quest to be called doctor .... but it’s days like yesterday I really feel the pressure.  

Fun research 

The most significant event was the first-ever meeting of my dissertation committee.  The committee is composed of 3 wonderful people.  People who not only genuinely care about scholarship but who genuinely care about me.  I’m so fortunate and sincerely give thanks.

Afterward, I allowed my brain to breathe and caught a beautiful autumn day’s end at the park with my best good friend, Doris (to my right).  

Thankful once again

Even funner research

I’ve narrowed my front-runners in the “B” category to:
Roadtrek 190 Popular
PleasureWay Lexor
I hope to drive several camper vans over the semester break – the closest dealer is 1.5 hour’s drive distant.  Not quite doable during a typical week.    

Next week promises to be a quiet one so I can a) wrestle my statistics final to the ground and b) make some structural improvements to my research design.  Trust me, it's not as much fun as it sounds.
Following that, we leave on our cruise to the Western Caribbean – an event to signal the end of  yet another fine semester.  

As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to get excited about it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trailer Décor

Here are some irresistible images I found on the web.

A productive day after all!


Roadtrek Popular 190

Sunny Kitchen

Another Cozy Interior

Green Living

Very Homey!

Kitschy Kitchenette

Blue Drawing Room

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flight Plans

I’m afraid of my job. 

That sounds weird because it is weird.  I view my job as a rapacious bloodthirsty monster that wants nothing more than to tear my flesh off, grind my bones, and swallow me whole. 
Don’t get me wrong – I love my university, my department, and my students.  In short, I love my job.  But the demands are crushing.  Faculty are expected to teach, engage in research, publish, speak at conferences, apply for grants, participate in community outreach, chair numerous committees, and …. wait for it ….. become national experts in our fields.  Obviously, it’s a lot of work and the people who are really successful do little else.  That terrifies me. 
Call it a fear of commitment. 
And yet, I don’t want to do anything else.    
See, I know all of these things - about the monster and about me - even as I wade even deeper into the academic briar patch by getting my doctorate with the aim that I will teach until I retire.  With a husband who wants to (and deserves to) retire in about 5 years, I can expect to grind it out another 12 years at minimum.  So, you see, the calls are coming from inside the house! 
As a result (because I don’t have a therapist) I spend far too much mental horsepower these days thinking of escape clauses.  Here’s a few:
Quick Getaways
  • work over the weekend occasionally and take off on a Tuesday/Wednesday to a nearby camping spot.  I like this plan because the weekends are a great time to work if you require a good deal of quiet as I do.  Another upside: campgrounds, hiking trails etc … should be pretty much deserted in the middle of the week after Labor Day.    
  •  more distance teaching.  We are doing that more and more anyway.  In fact, there is a new phenomenon in higher education known as “green professors”.  Maybe soon we will all be working in our bunny slippers in the shadow of Mt. Shasta.    
Longer Trips
  •  attend more conferences in scenic locations.  Surely, I can disseminate my research findings where the buffalo roam?     
  • save up the annual leave and take off for a month.  Perhaps combine this option with the one above.  (This is probably the option most steeped in magical thinking). 
Am I fooling myself that I can tame the monster?  Perhaps make it more of a gentle furry pet who needs me more than I need it?
Office Space

I honestly don't know.  But I'm determined to try. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Frivolous Gadget - Or - Indispensable Travel Accessory?

After considering the purchase for well over a year (and repeatedly talking myself out of it), I finally got a KindleTM.  And yes, I love it so very much … just like anybody in her right state of mind. 

The main reason for the prolonged self-denial is that I don’t spend money on books although my consumption is probably 3 a month.  I’ve always used the public library or my university library with its 5 million volumes (which they conveniently store, catalogue, and dust for me).  So, reading has always been an ultra cheap hobby.  Until now. 

Now I must feed my little e-reader.  And the marketing wizards at make that so very easy.  But …… I figure I’ve saved roughly 3.8 million dollars in reading costs over my lifetime.  I only wish I could come up with an even better rationale in which I convince myself I’m actually saving money.

Wait!  Here’s another justification!  And the entire point of this post.  I'll never run out of reading material on the road.  This is comforting.  My biggest fear is being stuck somewhere with nothing to read.  (This has only happened to me once in my 20s due to a drunken unplanned stay in a hotel room). 

But like any lurking terror – tsunamis, religious zealots, tax audits, and rabid skumk encounters – it could happen again.  Even with the Kindle.  I could a) leave it behind, b) drop it on its head, or c) mistake it for a coaster. 

Though still haunted by the possibility of being stranded, I can now carry up to 3,500 books for the weight of a piece of toast.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Living Small

I've finally learned some manners and want to welcome all new followers. (Was Jim Jones this rude when he started out ?).  I have nine!  Eight not including myself!  How thrilling!  I'm accustomed to seeing my writing in professional journals that - trust me - no one reads.

Not me.  Not yet. 
I think I’ve always been a minimalist.

I remember looking around my room as a kid and saying "Mother, can we please get rid of some of these toys???"
This predisposition for simple living is probably why I want my address to be a small motorhome.  RV living is living small.  I think this attraction to a minimalist lifestyle also explains my frugal nature. 
Or do I have that backwards? 

Since discovering this community of like-minded folks, I see that most of you share these common traits of frugality + a need for simplicity.  The common theme here seems to be the desire to live deliberately. 
So I thought I would share a few of my favorite simple living and personal finance websites.  Predictably, there are just a few: 
Miss Minimalist  This blogger and her husband have taken the minimum to the maximum in their 390 sq. ft. apartment.  Her writing style is as simple as her message. 
Unclutterer    An often acerbic look at getting (and staying) organized and downsized.  Don’t miss “Unitasker Wednesday”.    
Get Rich Slowly  I’ve been following J.D.’s blog for years and I always learn something new.  The reader comments can get very interesting. 
Unhappy Hipsters  This has nothing to do with my topic ..... but it's just so freaking funny!

Got any favorite websites to share? 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

To-Do List

Two days ago, a faculty member here at our university was stuck and killed by a car while jogging.  She was 53. 

On a related note, here are the stops on my wish list (which is not getting any shorter, she said impatiently).  The list is in no particular order nor is it by any means exhaustive.

North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt NP, South Unit

South Dakota
Badlands NP
Minuteman Missile NHS                           

Salida one more time
Mesa Verde NP
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
Rocky Mountain NP

Yellowstone NP
Devil’s Tower NM

Glacier NP

Bryce Canyon NP
Capitol Reef NP
Zion NP

Olympic NP
Arcadia NP

King Arthur Flour Store

Canada and New England

                                   What's your next stop?         

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lord Love A Duck!

I just finished reading the blog The Good Luck Duck in its entirety.   

It took much longer than it should have due to the respiratory difficulties I experienced.  It's hard to breathe when you can't stop laughing!

Here's hoping the authors don't mind the cut and paste from their homepage:

All of it - the Marlin Perkins reference, the Bobby Goldsboro video link, the documented quack attacks, the tales of the toilets - funny, intelligent, and honest.  What more do you need?

Looking forward to more tales from the duckside!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Separated at Birth

Doris Day

Doris Dia

Yes, at first glance they appear identical.  However, upon closer examination, one can detect some minor, yet fundamental, differences between the two.

Sings, Dances, Acts

Chases Chipmunks

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Small Enough For One, Big Enough For Two

Here's the deal: I need something that is manageable for solo travel but also roomy enough that my husband can come along too.  I’ve narrowed it down to a small C or B+.  Here are the 2 front-runners in each class though I am not ruling out any make/model for now. 

Winnebago View

Lexington by Forest River

I think a 5th wheel would be sensational for many reasons but I’ve vowed not to have another towable – just too daunting to set up alone.  I also think about a B but really feel that would be too small and confining, especially on a rainy day.

We had a pop-up when I was a kid.  As an adult I’ve done solo cross-country trips via car/hotel  and tent camping. 

Lugging Stuff from Car to Hotel Room

Then we got a 16 foot Casita - which I loved but sold when I lost my job in 2002.  Now I've reached the enviable age when I’m ready for a rig I can level and basically be set up.  I rented a C once for 3 days and liked it but I’ve never driven an A.  The large windows in the A are most appealing but they are hard to find under 30+ feet. 

We have no dealers nearby so most of my looking is online.  We are driving to New Orleans in a few weeks and I want to stop here: 

They carry Winnebago so I hope to get a good look at a View.

Floor plan: every time I make a firm decision, something makes me reconsider.  I don’t want a dedicated bed – over the cab would work for me, but a salesman recently told me that the resale value would be negatively affected with no bed.  I still think something like this would suit nicely:  

I don’t need the over cab storage.  (I travel extremely light.  I went to New York for 3 months with a single suitcase and lived to tell about it).  But is climbing into and out of the bunk a bad idea for a 52 year-old woman with brittle bones and a small but demanding bladder???

I’d welcome any comments or suggestions!