Saturday, December 24, 2016

Taking stock

Today I sit on the bus, looking around. There are things that need to be done, things that should be done and things that might be done. On the whole, progress has been good.

I looked at the barrel hangers I welded and was unsatisfied as they should in my changed opinion, be oriented differently. Thus I have cut another piece of steel ready to weld links to. Originally, I was going to replace the mounts I'd already installed. I've changed my mind about that now. I'll just add two extra chains attached to four extra mounts. I'll then see which, if any, fail. That will support each barrel from 5 chains, hence I bought some more chain. Rather than buying extra connecting links, I might just weld the right length of chain to half the mounts so if any links fail, the chain will fall safely away from the tyres.

The battery powering the fans needs in my opinion, to be mounted underneath the bus. Thus, I shall make a mount and bolt it to the underside of the bus at the rear. If the mount breaks loose and falls off, oh well. At least it won't fall under my wheels. I keep thinking about a battery to power 12v stuff but thus far can't really see any great advantage. Solar powered extraction fans seemed a good idea but in practice, they're not as practical as they could be. Having said that, they do work and I imagine in the heat of summer they will work far better.

Meanwhile, my smartphone pretty much died about a month ago having been in varying stages of demise since September. I bought a Tracfone SIM card and for text messages it has been great. For voice I made one call to another Tracfone and the call quality was terrible. It remains to see whether it's good or just cheap trash. I must admit I really like the idea of paying $20 every 3 months for my phone service, given that nobody ever calls me. That's much better than the $50 a month that I was paying for talk, text and data with Straight Talk. I really do not need data. 

Thinking about data any my bus lifestyle I have realized just why people are so broke these days. Back in the 40s when life was good, most people didn't have a car. They cycled, walked or took the bus to work. They had a radio and some had a TV but no cable. Some had telephones but not everybody. Nobody had cellphones, internet nor most of the electronic gadgets we see as normal but which are in fact luxuries.

My bus has solar powered ventilation, battery powered lighting, a small gas cooker and no fridge. How much electricity do I need? Sure, I have a plugin that I can use in order to use mains power when available but that, I feel, was me making a blunder. I have a feeling that though nice, mains power is a red herring.

Today I looked for Christmas cards. Looking proved to me just how much absolute garbage has crept into my possession. I'm going to have to take one box at a time and see what I really need to keep. I suspect not an awful lot to be honest.

I seem to be moving farther and farther away from the modern electronic lifestyle. My bus has no TV, no video player, no sound system. I have a pocket radio that runs off a PP3 battery that never gets used because I love silence too much. My smartphone died so the only camera currently used is on my elderly tablet. Interestingly, the charge controller on my solar setup will also charge USB devices. That gives me the option of charging my tablet or my phone.

But what about the Internet? Well, my old friend Eric, blogs profusely but does not have his own internet connection. Instead he uses connections along his travels. While I do have a MiFi pad, the data is so appallingly expensive, I never buy data nor use it. 

So, how much am I saving versus spending?
No smartphone so I save $50 a month though I do spend about $6.67 a month on the Tracfone.
No internet so I save between $15 and $50 a month.
No electricity so I save $28+ a month. Batteries cost about $5 a month.
I do use a $3.50 cylinder of butane each week.
Rent - if I paid for land rent in a mobile home park that would be $200 a month as opposed to $525 which was the last actual house rent I paid.

Expenditure now... $25.67 but $225.67 if I rented in a mobile home park
Expenditure at the max... $650+ per month.
Annual saving $7,491

Note... I haven't factored in heating nor cable TV. I'm really unimpressed by beating. When I lived in Britain, in cold weather we wore warmer clothes and went to bed earlier, using minimal heating. Small gas heaters are available though their cost and running cost have not been calculated. The alternative is an electric heater.

So, no wonder everybody is broke. They all have to have the latest gadgets etc. I can put a light on, grab a mug of tea and sit down with a book when there's no available internet connection. We make life too complicated and too expensive with all our toys.

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