Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ack! more stuff found!

Digging around my automotive parts area in the storage unit lead to a discovery of forgotten stuff!! Well, not really a discovery but at least a surprise.

After getting rid of (given away) some tie downs, work rags, some fluids, rope and other misc stuff, I came across the box of brake parts for the van. This box contains two front brake rotors and a rear brake drum. I had it sitting on top of my bar clamps, underneath the workbench, which was obscuring my view of the smaller box below it. It is a box of books. All very good and useful books that I will have to go through and thin out but not right now.

Right now I have to deal with the brake parts and fix my drill.

The brake parts have an interesting problem associated with them. First off, are they useable? To determine this I need to do some measuring with calipers to see if the metal thickness is enough to reuse but also need to determine if they are warped or not. Second, if they are useable, what am I going to do with them?

The net value of these parts new would be about $160. Is it worth the time and effort to deal with these parts or do I recycle them and free up some more of my life? Probably the latter because they are heavy and bulky and after 6 months of storage unit fees I could buy the new parts. Plus it hampers my mobility as a van dweller.

**Update 1: I can take the drums/discs to an auto parts place and they will measure them. If they are still good then it will cost $25 per part for the machining. Assuming all are still machinable, it would cost $75 $50 per update 2**

**Update 2: Parts were taken to the shop and determined that they are still good and can be machined. The rotors need machining but the extra drum has already been done. Of all the parts I have, I would have thought that these used rotors and drum would have been trash and I could simply recycle them. Just my luck that they can still be used.**

Friday, February 24, 2012

It is friday!

Just a bit of inspiration for those of us at work.

Saturday I have a 10K (6.2mile) race which is just for fun considering I ran 9 miles on sunday, 6 on tuesday, and another 6 on thursday. Thursday's run I did in 55 minutes, a personal best.  It is also the pace I would have to maintain to do the marathon in under 4 hrs. I need lots of training to keep this pace.

I had to take the van to the tire shop because a slow leak developed in a rear tire. After the technician broke my hubcap, I was told that the puncture was too high on the sidewall to repair and that they would have to replace it (under warranty). New tire to arrive sometime early  next week, I asked for them to order a second one to replace the ancient spare tire. The shop has to replace my hubcaps so I might have them compensate me for the cost of replacement against the cost of the spare tire instead.

I must go to goodwill this weekend and donate a bunch of stuff. I am running out of room in the van.

btw, I promise to fix the keystone issues with the photos in the previous post. I forgot how to do it in my editing software and had to relearn this week. 

I want to go through the spare van parts and make an inventory then determine what to keep.
I want to find out what is causing the jerky acceleration, I think it may be an issue with the air flow signal. I will finally get to use my hand held oscilloscope to test with.
I need to adjust the idle switch and replace the cam screw.
Still need to deal with brake switch issues. Need to bleed brakes and adjust rear shoes.  Also want to measure the spare brake parts (discs and drums) that came with the van to determine if they are worth keeping or recycle.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The dark side...my storage unit

Sunset at my storage unit, I edited it in an HDR style to keep sky exposure and foreground exposure correct
In previous posts I have mentioned a storage unit where I had dumped everything from my apartment that was unable to fit in the van. I finally got around to taking some photos of it although, I wish I had some shot of it when I first moved my stuff into it. If you ever want to use a storage unit as an extra room/closet, do it the way I did with hanging clothes rack, ironing board (iron plugs into the light socked above) and stacked storage in the back. Very functional this way and easy enough to access most items, high use items or items to get rid of are at the front. All clothing is visible and wrinkle free.

Vacuum and ironing board on left, golf clubs and mattress on right. Clothes above and crap in the back.

DVDs, Katadyn RO Watermaker, Auto parts below the shelf.
Why did I have to get a storage unit? Well, it is a complicated answer but the main reason was because I did not know if I would be able to survive van-dwelling, if I was a gambler it was my way of hedging my bet. I also was blissfully unaware of how much stuff I really had in my apartment. There were some items that I knew I was going to get rid of via craigslist which meant that I would have had to wait for a buyer or donate these items and the rest I deemed worthy of keeping. The only problem was that not everything could fit into the van.

Initially I accepted having the storage unit, it was crammed with all my stuff and I felt like I had done the right thing as part of my new lifestyle experiment. I justified having it because of the value of the stuff I put in it and the "low" monthly cost. Eventually my acceptance turned into apathy, or bliss, and it was just another part of my daily life. I would visit it several times a week to exchange items like work shirts, pants, shoes, dvds, etc... I did what I thought I needed to do and posted the "unnecessary" items for sale, slowly each thing sold. Some stuff I just gave away or donated but, in the end, I still had a storage unit with lots of stuff.

Eventually every item developed a blind spot in my mind as I quickly rationalized why I needed what was inside. In doing so I felt like I had somehow failed myself. I knew that some things were going to back to CO and others were to be sold but because I had mentally eliminated it, I could ignore it. Ignorance isn't bliss. Every week I would read blogs by minimalist travelers who have less then 100 personal items and wonder if it was even possible for me to do the same. The idea of paring down to that level seemed like an impossibility when I was having a hard time getting rid of my useful but unnecessary cleaning supplies.

So what was I supposed to do about my storage unit stuff?
The answer isn't clear but it has something to do with how replaceable an item is; meaning that I could get it anywhere for a reasonable price vs the mental/physical costs of storing it. Each item needed to be looked at with this line of questioning.

example: I had a box of fluids for the van that came with it and some I had purchased, they sat below the ironing board till I started to accept the idea that I can replace all of them for less then $30. I also realized that I was keeping some of the inherited fluids just because they were useful but after further inspection did I find out how old they were. Never use old fluids, they absorb water and chemically degrade. I was overlooking this detail because I had, initially, mentally justified keeping them based on their perceived usefulness when in fact they were useless.

Every item gets scrutinized. From the item's point of view it would be as if the Eye of Sauron was looking upon it and deciding it's fate. Sometimes I look at something and initially dismiss it however, I have recognized this as a way for my mind to avoid a difficult decision. Other items need to sit in my mind and torture me till I come up with an answer. Even if I decide to get rid of something, I still put it in the van and drive around with it for a while till my patience runs out with the lack of space and I am forced to get rid of it.

I've made a new goal that every time I go into the storage unit I have to take something out. Give away, donate or throw away.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

So what is in my van, let me show you

Someone asked about what I keep in the van and where, here is my answer (some of the stuff I have, more in a future post)

The rear cabinet mostly contains socks and underwear but it also has shoes, shorts, and repair manuals. I keep my van life shirt and Mini hats here as well. See photo.

Next is the wardrobe closet which is where my hanging clothes are. I also keep the dirty laundry bag in here.

The two storage bins below the main table contain misc food things like a container of almonds, produce bags, ice pack, cutting board, loaf of bread (sometimes), spare food storage containers. The other storage bin is where I keep my pants and camera (not pictured) and the storage bin below the camera has the power cable and "dirty shoes"

I also took a photo of the kitchen drawer, lots of crap in here but all very useful.

Notice the position of the lighter, it is velcro attached to the side of the drawer making it very easy to find for lighting the stove

Here is a shot of the stuff in my shower bag.

Ill get photos of the pantry area in another post, it will take a while due to the size of the space. The same applies to the space below the rear bench.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rainy Days, Cold Days

I like rainy days, if only I could sleep in and listen to them. The sound of rain on the rear window and roof is cool, I suspect one day I'll be late to work because of it.
Sadly the rain brings with it the cold weather. This past weekend was in the 50s with lows in the 30s. Went on a 16 mile bike ride Saturday, hands were frozen by the end.

I ran out of propane on saturday, had it refilled sunday morning. Re-filling the propane tank on sunday was such a pleasant experience, the tech got the fill hose hooked up correctly, opened the valves in the correct order and even knew how to use the manual bleeder valve. For once I believe I have a totally full tank of propane, usually the techs have trouble with fitting the hose or don't close off the bleeder valve after shutting off the pump leading to wasted propane.

No van projects completed, I did purchase a wrench to get the Oxygen sensor out and also purchased a brake adjusting tool. I need to do the brake stuff, I am tired of not having properly operating rear brake lights. Hoping this next weekend will be warm.

Friday, February 10, 2012

So now what?

This is the question I ask myself quite frequently. What do I want to do?

What about my stuff?
Well, I have reached a plateau with my stuff in storage. Everything that is left will require a conscience effort to get rid of. I am prepared to let go of my DVD collection but only after I transfer it to an external hard drive, this should be my next project. This will eliminate three boxes (except for the special collections or shows), will post the rest on Craigslist.

I've removed two buckets and some cleaning supplies, hoping to give them to a friend who has a house. Also getting rid of misc spices and other cooking liquids.
I've re-posted the mattress, vacuum and woodworking tools on craigslist. Hope they sell soon, I am tired of seeing them.

Ive got a trolly jack and axle stands, need to use them to adjust rear brakes and do a fluid flush but need to get rid of them as well.

The nice sears drill I bought needs a part to fix the chuck, if I buy the parts to fix it I could sell the drill but this assumes I can actually get the parts I need.
**update** Parts were available and I purchased them. I am amazed that a consumer product can even be repaired these days.

What about my job?
Yesterday I received an email from a friend about a full time photography position in the Virgin Islands. I am so tempted to just up and leave. I don't know what is really holding me back, I could point to my financial plan and say that I am not ready but money is just a tool. I could point to my stuff and say that it takes work to move but that is just an excuse for my laziness in getting rid of it all.
I need my job to allow me to exercise my creativity and control but also improve my life in some aspect. Every day right now feels like another day wasted in my short life span, no new life skills - just paychecks.

What Now?