Unneeded efforts

The first rule of troubleshooting, do the easiest thing first. I repeated this to myself as I was in the midst of pulling the silicone off of the RV’s water heater to slide the unit out. I checked the fuses; I made sure the tank had water in it.

I exposed the household voltage off the electric heating element. 110VAC. Heating element, 10 Ohms. Why wasn’t there 12V on the 110V relay?

I pulled back the control center, no voltage at the switch. Two hours had elapsed now. And then I noticed that I didn’t toggle the dual position switch between the Water Heater and the Fireplace. Bingo.

My eyes rolled out of my head, maybe it’d work better if it was turned on.


The 30A haul is working well. With both the microwave and AC on, VDroop is around 104V which I find to be personally acceptable for intermittent use. All wiring under heavy load is barely over 90F.

Today I’ll go out there and continue cleaning, organizing. The clubhouse.

Being sick, RV Upgrades, Back to Work

First, the bad. I was hit with a viral lung infection upon returning home. I woke up Monday morning with a heavy chest and a high fever, ended up going to the ER that evening for a breathing treatment. It always seems as if when I leave Indiana for any amount of time and return, I get Bronchitis.

Airplanes and airports are pretty nasty places. Compounded with the natural stress of traveling and the allergen content of Indiana; I think that I’m at a disadvantage. For what it’s worth, I didn’t have any allergy issues in Oregon at all, I was astounded.


As for RV upgrades, I went through and replaced some failed LED lights and the water pump. The shitty quality pump that was provided had too high of a current draw between rotational pumps, causing the cheap LED lights to flicker with every pulse.

This eventually led to a failure of four of the LED light fixtures, the failure mode of such was to flicker like a strobe light in some instances which was very annoying. The new lights don’t brown as much under VDC droop, are brighter, and have two way switches to adjust output.

The new water pump is rather nice, operation is quiet and smooth. There’s a back pressure value to recirculate head pressure back to inlet for non-choppy water output regardless of flow. No more choppy water, water hammer, and faucets jumping with every pulse. An accumulator would further smooth this out, but I don’t feel as if it’s needed.

I cut down the old bastard table for perfect fitment in the RV. Much more comfortable than a dinette.

Most importantly, I have everything I need to install a 30A RV outlet on the house and a thick 10AWG extension cable to provide 30A of service out to the RV. The previous extension cord melted and power draw would often trip the 20A breaker, a safety hazard.

Technically my 100′ 10Ga extension cord can safely carry 25A @ 5% Vdroop, but I’m calling it good enough and may experiment with replacing the RV breaker with a 20A, 25A main breaker to limit tripping inside the RV, instead of a run into the house for a reset.


Inspired by our RV trailer stay in Portland, I’m making efforts to try out AirBnB’ing our RV when we aren’t using it to help cover the loan. I go back and forth about this in my head and wonder if it’s worth the trouble.

There’s also the pesky winter to consider and frozen pipes. I’d need to skirt the RV and ensure that heat is ran all of the time, along with insulation of a 150′ hose for water service. The alternative is to use the onboard water tank, but that would involve hauling out water and transferring it, annoying.

The best solution would be to pour a concrete slab and run utilities natively to the platform, but we won’t be doing such until we buy a house.

At some point I’ll be needing to rebuild the bed frame. The provided setup uses thin ass wood and lacks materials. It’s a wonder that it’s lasted this long, considering the quality. I find myself envious of Airstream owners, but what can you do?


Ah yes and being back at work. Lots of changes, busy busy busy. Same ‘ol, feels good though.

Salt Lake & Indiana Days 6 & 7 – Anxiety, Nausea, and the feeling of Home

The second the airplane tires hit the ground in Indianapolis we cheered, “We are home!”


Let’s do a recap of the bad first so that I can end on a high note. Turbulence coming into Salt Lake City (SLC) Airport fucking sucked. We were in a holding pattern and looped a few times with 50MPH wind gusts. The wings of the airplane (and our stomachs) were flapping around, some gasps from the other passengers.

I dug in, braced my body and meditated, thought about being on top of a rock. I dug my thigh into the aisle armrest and concentrated on the pain as a grounding point. I could feel my heart trying to jump out of my chest. I continued to hold it together, not vomit or panic (but thought on the edge of such). This went on for what seemed to be forever until we finally hit the ground, controlling my breathing and doing such from my diaphragm.

Amanda (who loves rollercoasters) was rather sick herself from the motion. She comments that we would rent a car and drive 12 hours home if she would have vomited.

Upon boarding the next airplane, I panicked and tried convincing myself,  Amanda to rent a car for the rest of the journey. She was supportive and asked what she could do. Once we passed the threshold and boarded the plane, I relaxed and didn’t give myself a way out. I was doing this, the power to be miserable, or enjoy the flight was my choice, my perception.

Once we were in the air, I returned to my normal flight postures. We watched a movie, I spent some time gazing out the window (dusk 30,000 feet up is beautiful), and the air was perfectly smooth the rest of the way home.


Here’s the self-analysis and takeaways.

  • Driving home would have sucked (and be more dangerous than just flying the last three-hour stretch). It would have been 12 hours overnight. I would have regretted driving.
  • I suffer from motion sickness and would have benefited from medication for such. I had such medicine on me but did not take it as:
    • I’ve never taken it before and don’t like taking medication unless I do so first in a controlled environment (like home).
    • The turbulence started suddenly and ended within 15 minutes. The medication may not have begun working in time.
    • It would be beneficial to try it first at home, then use it as a tool to manage such sensations as a preventive measure next time I fly.
  • The anxiety was centered around the sensation of nausea, and my paranoia of vomiting. The same feelings are duplicated by the “Rocking ship” (everyday fair ride), and the centrifuge (space mountain, Disney).
  • Exposure to further nausea stimulus would help normalize the experience for me, just as being a passenger in a motor vehicle has over the last few years. I’ve known pilots who sit and spin in a chair to reduce dizziness by becoming exposed, and comfortable to it.

I am proud of myself. I managed the anxiety well and used my tools such as deep breathing and meditation to center myself and not allow the physical sensations to become a recursive mechanism to a full-blown panic attack. I recovered quickly and prepared myself for the next flight; then didn’t give myself a way out past the point of no return.

And I think that overall, I’ve concentrated and led myself to believe that these experiences (over the past week) are seeds which will grow within me. That the more I do, the more I can do. That all experiences, all emotions can lead to growth, or at the least, we have the lenses to choose how we perceive them.

I can be better here; I can be more patient there. I can express kindness when feeling like this, or like that. I can show that I need some time alone now, or then. I can rally and push myself out into something unknown or uncomfortable then, or there. I can appreciate this experience, that one; I can be appreciative of all these experiences.

My body is doing this, or that. Here’s a new sensation, here’s one that’s usually scary, here’s one that is generally warm. Can we observe these sensations from a place of non-judgemental curiosity? What’s the root emotion here? Where does this come from?

Wanting nothing, and appreciating everything. Choosing to see the good aspects of humanity around us. Talking to someone in the airport which seems nervous; asking them their name and about their life. Smiling in the airport, while boarding and carrying love in your bones for others. Wishing people good weekends and giving your eye contact. These things are grounding.


I feel the whole experience away from home, across the country seeded much growth in me. Everytime that I’m anxious, I look back at all the things I’ve done in my life, all that I’ve overcome; and now I have this experience as the benchmark until the next one. You never quite know how strong you are, until being strong is the only option, and I keep looking forward to more opportunities.

And the next time someone asks me to fly with them? Certainly, if I can sit next to you and hold your hand.

Portland: Day 5 – Wrapping Up

Breaktaking nature, Feminism, Veganism, Activism, Acceptance, Art, and Individuality bleeds from Portland. I haven’t eaten a single animal product, spare a Carl Jr’s run a few days ago for a burger (and the grease wasn’t good on my plant filled stomach).

I will miss the rolling plains, mountains, and the Pacific Northwest Coastline most of all upon returning home. There is something very appealing about sitting with a warm tea and watching the waves smash into the rocks, the cold ocean spray, the seagulls. It’s unlike any coastline I’ve been to.

 

Every store, restaurant, publicly owned museum, just everything pounds acceptance, acceptance, acceptance into your head. Everywhere recycles and most all compost. More often than not people will go out of your way on the roads to allow you to merge, pull out; friendly faces behind the wheel. People stop and turn back around in public to ask if you are okay, people want to start conversations. The eye contact, the vulnerability.

It’s the curvy roads with elevation that makes your ears pop, the expanses of rolling terrain with mist whispering over the treetops. It’s the seagulls, the rocky shorefronts. Clam Chowder soup and Earl Grey tea. The trees, oh so many trees. Parks and trails that take your breath away from the physical exertion of walking them (bring an inhaler).

And it was noticing a trans person in the Men’s restroom at the airport without any concern in the world the moment I hopped off the plane at PDX.

And the Weed. It’s everywhere. I haven’t gotten high since High School and I’m perfectly content with that, but I’d rather hang out with a stoner than an Alcoholic any day.


My advise:

  • If you don’t like to be around weed, feminism, trans people, liberal types, make fun of Veganism, and so on, don’t go to Portland.
  • Budget for food. Most breakfast/lunches are $35-$50 for two and you’ll want to eat out often due to the variety (and food trucks).
  • Renting a car and driving is perfectly doable if you stay away from downtown, but note that driving here is rather technical versus your usual flat land, straight road that goes on forever (with good visibility) in Indiana. Expect mountains, terrain, blind intersections, lots of stopping and going, and needing to take the interstate to get anywhere.
  • Class divide is unsegregated here. Expect to see BMWs, Benz parked in front of shops with homeless living outside (with their pets). But also know, I’ve only been heckled once since being here.
  • And lastly;
  • Be open-minded. Portland is weird as fuck.

Portland: Day 5 – Submarine, Science, and Parks

Started our day out with some Coffee (per the usual) and headed to a park overlooking downtown.

Then we checked out this all Vegan burger & Shake place.

Massive all Vegan burgers, loaded fries. The shakes were *amazing*.

Then we checked out the Science Museum for the rest of the day. We took a tour of a mothertruckin’ SUBMARINE. The USS Blueback (SS-581), which was briefly starred in the Hunt for Red October with Sean Connery.

At the helm of the USS Blueback (SS-581).

Moving around inside of a submarine is challenging, you have no idea. When fully stocked with food, two layers of big cans take up all walking surfaces, leaving you with about 4′ of headroom bow to stern.

It’s stinky too, you get one shower (with 30 seconds of water) every three weeks. They can have up to 91 people on board with a hot bunking sleeping system. Three people are assigned to a 6’2″ x 2′ wide bed. You sleep, and the next person scheduled to sleep is right after you. No snoozing in, they are standing there, waiting the moment you wake up to climb in.

The engine room gets up to a mild 130F when the engines are running, at 140 decibels enough to make you permanently deaf in 20 minutes without hearing protection. Thankfully those Diesel engines are only run periodically to charge the led acid batteries, the prime movers of the electric engines.

The Captain is the only one to have their own quarters, even if the President is on board. Submarine crews eat better than any other crew in the US military. The Ice Cream machine is the most important machine on the ship, the Captain won’t leave port unless it’s functioning. Fresh pastries are baked every night for the crew.

And it makes sense, it’s difficult to impossible to stay well nourished when out of the sun for months at a time.

It’s amazing how the crew lived all the while being under the sea, I couldn’t imagine the psychological pressure of knowing that if anything went wrong; you are pretty much fucked; as even if you escape from the Submarine out to sea, you’ll likely die from the bends once you reach the surface.


We played connect 4 with two robotic arms, charged ourselves to thousands of volts with a van graff machine, got some chemistry in, and learned about human reproduction and baby development. There is a display at this museum showing every stage of the development of a child in the womb, with actual specimens (50 or so). Amanda was rather interested and spent time learning; while it made me feel uncomfortable, mortal.

SCIENCE, bitches!

We ended the day with an all Vegan Chinese restaurant in which Amanda tried out General Tso chicken for the first time (I couldn’t tell the difference, at all. It was weird).

Amanda, upon realizing that it’s ALL Vegan.

Portland: Day 4 – Rainy day and Birdlady

And now the Pacific Northwest’s banner exhibit: Rain and Cold.

It’s scheduled to be rainy over the next few days until we leave. I couldn’t imagine Seattle and the rain that they experience rather constantly. Temps are ranging from the low 50s to the low 70s. There is a head start on Fall here compared to Indiana.

Portland has a homeless problem. Tents are a common sight, along with people pushing their shopping carts around. Mixed in with these sights are Audis, Volvos, and a Ferrari/Lotus or two. Class seems to be less segregated here, people in fancy BMWs pull up to doughnut shops with hopeless people sleeping outside.

We started our day out with some breakfast, then headed to Target to get a pillow for the airplane trip home Friday. When walking into the Target restroom, I was greeted with a mix of cheap perfume the store uses to try and odorize the restroom, mixed with human piss and putrid rotting of a homeless person in the larger stall next to mine.

The smell was nauseating, yet familiar. The scent of my bodily functions was quite preferable in that moment, I spent my time with my face buried in my shirt. Emotionally I was torn between empathy, as that person in the stall next to mine could be me, yet angry that my senses were being assaulted.

There are no easy answers to be had. Homelessness and capitalism don’t intertwine and the system leaves many behind; compounded by a lack of social services and mental health care (even for those who are privileged). I ask myself what I can do, and come up empty with answers.

And yet, I remind myself that a vulnerable group to homelessness are war veterans; unable to readjust to society with little to no resources available to them upon returning from risking their lives, and livelihoods to protect the very thing that shits all over them when their bodies or minds give out and they are no longer useful.

I find myself immensely appreciative of what I do have and the opportunities afforded to me; while also becoming more mindful of my privilege. One could say that we are a little homesick, but there are always opportunities to grow from any experience.

Later that evening

After we napped and I got some alone time in, we headed out for Pizza. Do I need to continue mentioning that it was Vegan?

Then Comedy for Open Mic Night. Some lady showed up rocking her bird on her shoulder (she takes it everywhere).

Everything, everywhere, constantly.

As we were leaving the Comedy Club late at night, I stood in the common area and waited for Amanda to finish using the bathroom. I was fumbling around with my wallet and a bit disoriented. A young person walked by and then walked back and asked if I was okay; as I looked anxious.

The empathy hit me like a pile of bricks. However brief that encounter, there was a genuine vulnerable human connection there; kind of like everytime someone does something completely out of their way in Portland to give you a hand on the road while driving.

I hope that I can bring some of this kindness and acceptance back to Indiana with me.

Portland: Day 3 – Pacific Coast

We started out the day by going to a Coffee Shop for breakfast. It was the first time I’ve had the trendy coffee that is all the rage on Instagram.

This is large and it’s loaded with caffeine. The foam was 1/3 inch and rich soy.

The venue had a relaxed vibe, plenty of succulents and they only served Vegan fare and drinks (a common theme in Portland).

The roads were somewhat technical, downshifting, corner planning, and attention were required. Spouts of fog rolling over the plains, spotty bouts of rain, wet roads. Logging operations were abound and there is a distinct wilderness feel of pine.

Elevation was also apparent on our two-hour cruise to the coastline with some ear popping.

Gorgeous, and an awesome travel partner.

Once we arrived at the shoreline the ocean spray was pungent in the air, the smell of salt carried in the wind. Wind, rain, and chill greeted us along the rocky coastline with cold water. Rolling pains and plenty of green punctuated the view, along with shorefront homes, and vacation rentals.

Amanda never had seen, nor felt the ocean before. She braved the cold and walked barefoot with the sand in between her toes.

Amanda’s first time seeing the ocean.

We walked along the coastline a mile or so, then we headed to a coffee shop along the coast to warm up. I enjoyed the best cup of Earl Grey tea I’ve yet to have.

We stopped along another viewpoint before heading back. The sun was out and we sat for some time in the sand in quiet reflection.

Leading to my favorite photo of the day

The Pacific Northwest is unlike any other coast I’ve visited so far. Rugged terrain, trees, rocky shores with wind and ocean spray. It’s the kind of coastline that makes you want to grow a beard, drink craft beer and buy an all wheel drive vehicle, along with a kayak, camper, or bicycle.

I’d love to camp here sometime or rent a shoreline hotel room overlooking the sea, enjoy clam chowder soup, and sit in quiet reflection.

Portland: Day 2 – Trails, Books, and Weird

We started the day out with an all Vegan Doughnut shop and coffee. Afterward, we headed to Starbucks to get some writing in. Today has somewhat been a blur, we got much in today.

Portland roads are windy, have elevation and the traffic laws somewhat differ. What I found most interesting is the inability to pump your own gas here. There was some talk about a new law for smaller towns in Oregon allowing self-serve and the response from the community was comical.

“It’s dangerous! I don’t want to smell like gasoline!”. I don’t know about you, but if you are setting shit ablaze like in Zoolander, or smelling like gasoline, you shouldn’t be driving a car.

I’ve yet to see a single car with rust here and Subarus, old Volvos are aplenty. They do have emissions testing, so thankfully no dumbass diesel trucks “rolling coal” and spreading around the lung cancer here.

We headed out to a park and went on a hike. The elevation was killer to walk back up of but was totally worth it.

Witch’s house, in a valley situated between two 30 story hills

We headed to brunch sometime after; I’ve yet to visit a non-all-vegan restaurant, and only one store (Trader Joe’s). Veganism is a big thing here, along with Liberalism and Feminism.

Next up was Powell’s Books, The World’s Largest Independent Bookstore. 6 or so stories of awesome with their own parking garage. Amanda, being a creative writing major, certainly enjoyed the experience.

You have died of Dysentery
Activism and empowerment is a Portland cornerstone.
Soon to be one of our favorite mugs when we return home

Outside, there was a man with a typewriter, “Poet for Hire”. Portland bleeds individualism and art.

Check out the typewriter. Sadly, we didn’t have the chance for a poem.

We checked out a Vegan strip mall & grocery. Sharing the block is the Portland Social Justice Center.

Roses are red, male egos are feeble. White Supremacy will be destroyed by the power of the people.

We bought some groceries and headed back home for a bit to rest before meeting Amanda’s friend Audrey; an Indiana transplant, currently living in Vancouver, WA.

We finished out the evening with Audrey at a hip as fuck bar, sat outside on a patio surrounded by bamboo, trans, queer and hipster peeps, then headed back home.

It’s currently 8:28PM here, which is 11:28PM EST. We are tired and I’ve already tripped up with the time change by contacting people back home.

Tomorrow we go to the Pacific ocean to chill on the beach for a rest day. There’s apparently a shipwreck on the coast that’s pretty popular. I’m personally hoping to see jagged rocks and a lighthouse.

So, how would I describe Portland so far? Liberal, weird, feminist, activist, tattoos, outdoors, terrain, trees, individualism, weed (everywhere), weird driving experiences, genuine, artsy, beards everywhere, friendly, eye contact, homeless people, hippies in vans.

Think of like street art and disorganization like an artist’s desk with paint smeared here and there, art murals and graffiti on postage labels on telephone poles. The love of the outdoors and adventure

It’s a city that has charm and is fun to visit, but I think a tad bit too busy for me to want to live here. I enjoy my wide open spaces just a bit too much; maybe it’s not being used to terrain, mountains and straight roads that go on for miles.

As for anxiety, I don’t have anything to say other than I got to feeling a bit raw this evening, but that’s expected. It’s been a great day, a long day.

Oh, and trans people freely using bathrooms. We need more of that in Indiana.

And as always

Portland: Day 1 – Flight, Weed, and Vegan BBQ

Preflight

As it often has been, stress and anxiety cumulated leading up to the day we were to leave. I actually tried a Xanax two days before the flight; the first time in three years since I’ve been prescribed the drug that I actually took it.

Sidenote: If you are ever prescribed Xanax for anxiety, don’t be afraid to try it (easier said than done). The 0.25mg dose did nothing more than make me feel a little stoned, yet very relaxed. You may actually really like it, but still; be careful, the shit is rather habit forming and may hurt over the long run if used often.

I spent that evening on Cloud 9, watching flash mobs and street performers on YouTube. It’s good to know that I have a silver bullet now, but it would have been more useful back when I suffered more.

The flight

Actually rather tolerable, if not enjoyable. The experience was nothing like the previous ones to/from Flordia. There was some faff about seat assignments as Delta went and fucked that process up as of late, but thankfully, we were able to sit together.

Salt Lake City; terrain.
Blood red lake in Utah

Once I’m in the air, I’m fine, docile even. The sensations of takeoff are the challenging parts for me, the same reason why I don’t enjoy roller coasters in my adult life; the motion and feeling as if my stomach is a bowling ball suspended by a rope, being swung about.

Note to self: Go ziplining more. The sensation is able to be normalized with more exposure.

In headrest infotainment system on Delta

Delta’s flight experience is nice. The equipment is a newer feeling, less used. Each seat is a rich red pleather and there’s enough room to exist. Southwest feels like the most terrible airline I’ve experienced in terms of comfort and quality, while American Airlines is somewhere in the middle. We watched Black Panther on the way and I was surprised that they had Deadpool 2 available; all included.

Amanda is pretty awesome to travel with. She can be a tad higher stressed in the airport, but she’s kind and focused. She handles herself well, plenty of touch and kisses before, during, and after the flight.

On the ground

Portlannnnnddddd!

Picked up a car, was upgraded to a sweet loaded VW Passat (the heated seats came in use this morning, a chill 54F) and made a beeline to a Vegan BBQ place. BBQ Ribs, mac n cheese, triple decker cheeseburger; it was awesome and I’d eat it anyday.

Checked out a store called Therapy, got a feel for the liberal vibe here.

Oh, and Pot. There is Marijuana here everywhere. I could walk in, spend $5, go to Starbucks, stand outside and get high as a kite and no one would bat an eye. Being from Indiana, one of the more hardcore anti-pot states (along with the private prisons to keep lobbying for that); it feels very strange.

We checked into our AirBNB; a small RV trailer. It’s quirky and weird as fuck. I love it. There’s a three hour time difference here, which you’d think isn’t that strange, but we ended up going to sleep at 4PM (7PM EST) to awake at 2AM (5AM EST). We then like slept from 3AM to 6AM and I still feel like I could spend a day napping (they must pump it in the air here).

I’m sitting here in Starbucks, after having some Vegan doughnuts for breakfast writing. We will be checking out some parks (one of which you can see four mountians from), and meeting Amanda’s friend Audrey from Vancouver.

As for Anxiety? Nope. Pretty much mute. No meds, didn’t take Xanax since trying it out last week. A few short years ago I couldn’t drive down the block to the store alone; now I’m flying across the gosh damn country. I love it.