Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday, Part Three
(Click here to jump to Part One)

I rummaged in a few cabinets looking for the electric skillet. I don't normally cook on the stove since that uses propane and propane costs money, but electricity is included in the lot rent. Besides, having the cover down on the stove gives me the only usable counterspace in the tiny RV kitchen. One of these days, I'm going to find the right size sink covers to replace the ones that originally came with the RV. I'm not sure how many people have owned this RV, but they all took good care of it. Except for the sink covers which were MIA. The last owner only had it for a few months and I wondered if the missing sink covers had anything to do with that.

It was a major pain in the ass to do without the counterspace those would have provided. I laughed as I imagined a retired couple and the wife shaking a big wooden spoon at the husband, demanding a better kitchen. The oven doesn't work and given that it's spotless and looks brand new instead of over 10 years old, I supsected it had never worked. That bummed me out at first since I love to bake, but once I found out how much propane cost, I quickly got over it and decided the oven was just more cabinet space. Maybe it was something Mrs. Previous Owner couldn't live without, but I wasn't inclined to spend the money to get it fixed. My bread machine bakes just fine, provided one doesn't mind that everything ends up shaped like a loaf of bread.

I finally located the electric skillet in a cabinet over the bed. When you only have 150 square feet of living space, where things are stored is more about the dimensions of the cabinet rather than it's location. The location of the screwdriver needed to tighten the legs on the skillet, however, was in the kitchen junk drawer. I'm pretty sure almost everyone has a junk drawer containing at least one screwdriver in their kitchen. Some things never change whether you live in a house or in an RV.

Having brought the skillet up to acceptable safety standards, I went about cooking breakfast. Hash browns first since they would stay hot sitting off to the side on a plate while I cooked the bacon and eggs. A couple of months ago, I finally gave that precooked bacon a try and decided it was made for people who live in RVs. With just two minutes and my electric skillet, I can have hot, crispy bacon that hasn't made a complete mess of my tiny kitchen. I try not to think about how such a thing is possible. I'm not entirely sure you could make bacon any less healthy than it already is, but there's bound to be a price for that convenience.

I had cooked enough food to feed a family of four and in the process remembered that I had used my spatula as an ice scraper on my windshield a couple of weeks ago. I added "spatula" and "ice scraper" to the shopping list, ate a single portion and turned the leftovers into breakfast tacos that I could zap in the microwave for breakfast next time. No sense in cooking breakfast four times when you can do it once.

After the dishes were done I took a stroll over to the RV laundromat. As I suspected, the three washers and dryers were full. There was a line of full hampers lying in wait and quarters stacked on the machines just like I used to do at the arcade to claim my place next in line at my favorite pin-ball machine. The dryers run for 45 minutes so I did the math and determined there was enough laundry in line to last for another 4 hours. And that didn't include anyone who had not yet staked a claim.

I figured I had to go with the post-midnight plan and should go home and take a nap. By now it was three in the afternoon and if it had been a work day I would have been yawning my head off and more than ready for a nap. But I hadn't spent the day in windowless cubeland at the call center so I wasn't doing any yawning. I gave the nap idea a try anyway. No luck. The cloud cover outside wasn't enough to keep the RV from being too bright inside for a nap. I added "eye mask" to the shopping list and wondered if I was going to have to go to the sex toy store to find one.

I drive by one of the largest "adult" stores in the area on my way to work, but they probably were not open that early in the morning. There is no way I was going to burn that much gas to drive there on the weekend just to buy an eye mask. No, I'd save that for when I had enough extra money for a new vibrator and some porn DVDs. Except I don't have a TV and the DVD player on my computer is broken. Oh well, maybe Wal-Mart carries eye masks.

Too bad it quit raining; rain would make it dark enough to nap. I stuck my head out the door and asked for more rain. The clouds didn't answer, but my dog did, indicating that he wanted a walk.
Saturday, Part Two
(Click here to jump to Part One)

Two books kept me occupied for the rest of the morning. The bad thing about being a fast reader is that a paperback which would last most people a couple of days will only last me a few hours. Fortunately I have a co-worker that keeps me well supplied with paperbacks. Otherwise I might cave in on my resolve to buy only one book every two weeks.

There was a time when I didn't buy books at all and did my reading on the internet. I had a nice reliable internet connection back then, but now my internet access is very hit or miss. If I can't get it on my computer, then I'll try my cell phone but I usually don't have much luck there either. Apparently my RV sits in some sort of wireless Bermuda triangle so I was quite surprised to discover that my Kindle always
has a flawless connection. I might not be able to call 911 to save my life, but I can always download a book. Go figure.

I resisted the urge to start on another book. I only had two left out of the six that my co-worker had loaned me yesterday morning and I needed to save those in case my planned after-midnight raid on the RV laundromat was successful. There was no way I was going to be able to stay up that late unless I had some good books to read. And beer. Yep, at some point before my raid I was going to have to cash in the change jar at Wal-Mart and buy some beer.

I had heard the helicopter take off earlier while I was reading. They were on the ground just about the right time for a shopping trip or brunch at one of the restaurants nearby. Then again, maybe they were shopping for an RV. That made more sense. It would have been pretty cheeky to land in the field unless they had business here or knew the owner, but I figured anyone that owned a helicopter was probably pretty cheeky to begin with.

I had been too involved with reading to stick my head out to look at the time and even if I had, all I would have seen is a helicopter taking off. Nothing that would have given me a clue as to their business here. Normally I wouldn't even have been curious about it, but it was slow day. I stuck my head out the door and confirmed that the helicopter was gone. Ah well, that was a dead end now.

It was still raining, but the sound of thunder wasn't weather related. It was my stomach reminding me that I had only eaten a half a can of Spaghetti-O's for dinner, drank coffee for breakfast and now it was past lunchtime. I looked around, but there wasn't anything that provided the necessary inspiration for cooking.

Normally I'd go with bacon, eggs, and hash browns on a Saturday, but I was out of butter. I could cook hash browns with vegetable oil, but that seemed sacrilegious. My stomach growled again and reminded me that if I went out to eat, the hash browns would most likely be cooked with oil so I might as well save myself the expense of going anywhere. Bacon, eggs and hash browns then. Maybe the food would put me in the mood for a nap.

(Click here for Part Three)
Saturday, Part One

It's not every day that I have my early morning peace and quiet disturbed by the sound of a helicopter flying close by. Very close. As in sounding like it was about to land on the roof of my RV. I hadn't done anything recently that would require someone to send a S.W.A.T. team in to do an extraction so I stuck my head out the door and took a look. And damned if a helicopter wasn't landing in the field across the street from my RV. It wasn't painted conspiracy theorist black nor did it have police or air ambulance written on it. No TV news crew letters either and it appeared to be just a rather brightly painted private helicopter. Three guys that looked to be middle-aged were milling around and it didn't seeem that it had landed due to mechanical trouble. Shrug, maybe one of them needed something from the store and didn't want to hassle with trying to drive in Saturday traffic on a day when a major intersection on the freeway was shut down.

The helicopter was of less concern than the three hampers of laundry being loaded into my neighbor's SUV. Crap, someone got the jump on me for the three washers in the laundry room at the RV park. Looks like I wasn't going to be the early bird getting the worm today. Finding an empty washing machine around here was much like trying to find an open keypunch machine at the computer lab back when I was in college. Yeah, I'm old and went to college back when you used keypunch machines and cards to run computer programs. But in college I could pretty much count on the machines being empty early on a Saturday morning. That didn't translate too well to an RV park full of early risers who were not out partying the previous Friday night.

Okay, maybe I should try and grab the washers at 2:00 am in the morning when all the old geezers and hard-working stiffs were asleep. I don't have too much luck staying up that late anymore, but maybe I could go back to bed and take a nap. Nah, too much coffee. I'm not much of a morning person and when my alarm goes off at 5:00 am during the week, I'm non-functional until after I've had my third cup of coffee. Normally I don't set the alarm on a Saturday, but I was planning on doing laundry so I'd already had four cups. Scratch the nap idea.

I could drive into town to a laundromat, but given the previously mentioned shutdown on the freeway, that held as about much appeal as going to the dentist. I decided instead that I would get another cup of coffee and sit on my front steps to watch the guys in the helicopter. I looked out the door, but there were no longer any signs of life around the helicopter and it was raining now. Drinking coffee that was watered down by rain wasn't very appealing so I added "umbrella" to my shopping list and picked up a book. After all, there are few things more satisfying than staying in on a rainy morning with a cup of coffee and a good book. Might as well make the best of things.

(Click here for Part Two)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Alice in Cubeland, a pseudo flu and RV living
Today was my first day at the new office and while it is definitely "cubeland", it's better than most that I've experienced so far in my working life. Then again, my generous opinion might be due to the fact that I only spent 2 hours working at my cube today. I spent the majority of the day in the training room helping out with some computer issues. Yes, we have IT staff to do that, but they were swamped with other urgent issues and training starts on Monday. They were also unable to figure out what was up with PowerPoint not behaving with the projector, but I knew how to fix that, having run into that exact same situation several times in the past. I often forget just how much experience I have and today was a good reminder that I could do IT work again if I wanted to go back in that direction at some point.

I was out sick yesterday with what felt like the worst case of flu I've ever had. I spent a miserable day in bed, drifting in and out of Technicolor fever dreams and wondering why every part of my body had to hurt all at one time, including my fingernails. Then Theo woke me up at 3:00 AM this morning because I had failed to take him for his evening walk and I discovered at that point that I only felt like I had a really bad cold (and let me tell you, it's no fun taking the dog for a walk at 3 in the morning when the temperature outside is 15 degrees Fahrenheit.) But given that I felt better, I either kicked the flu's ass in record time or it was just one very mean-ass cold virus.

I would have greatly appreciated having running water this morning, but as usual, the pipes froze overnight so I had no hot shower to clear my head or any running water at all for that matter. That should be the last work night that I have to deal with frozen pipes this season. We are predicted to have a much warmer weather pattern next week and after that, a night in the teens for the length of the time that it takes to freeze the hose outside would be extremely rare. I have enough camping experience to make do without running water, but I'm putting heat tape on the shopping list for next fall if I'm still living in an RV at that time. Or maybe I'll be able to afford one of those expensive heated hoses. Either way, I'm not planning on repeating this particular RV experience.

That said, there are many things about RV living that I do really like, but I haven't lived in one yet through all the seasons and I'll be curious to see how I weather the spring thunderstorms. I experienced some pretty frightening high wind speeds this winter and there will be plenty more of that in the spring, with gusts even higher that what I've felt to date. The only casualty so far has been my nerves and the barbecue grill which has been blown around the place a couple of times despite my attempts to secure it. Theo doesn't like it much either when the RV is rocking like crazy, the stabilizer jacks are groaning, the cover over the slide is flapping, the vents and windows are emitting howling noises and the neighbors patio furniture is slamming against the side of the RV. Although, I'm pretty sure he's going to like my tornado evacuation plan even less since it involves him wearing a muzzle while we hang out in the campground restroom. A plan I hope I don't ever have to put in place, but best to have a plan, just in case.

That reminds me, I need to buy a weather radio before the season hits because I can't rely on the internet access here and the radio stations are pretty useless these days when it comes to providing timely weather information. The next time I hear them tell me to go visit their website for more information about the weather, I just might smash something. If I had internet access, I wouldn't be listening to the radio for information in the first place!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Lone Star Beer sign

Once upon a time, there was a giant Lone Star Beer sign in Austin. Back when I was a kid, we would take the bus to the drag (Guadalupe Street) and one of the things one would do while hanging out on the drag was to go kick the sign. It was a ritual, perhaps our secular version of Mecca, and it was something I did for many, many years until one day the sign was torn down. I don't remember any political outrage or any protests from the kick-the-sign group; the sign was simply gone one day and that was it.

I can't help but wonder, if we had the internet and social media back then, could we have saved the sign? Would we have gotten wind of the plans to tear it down and mounted a successful public outcry? Who knows, but I've seen it happen in other cases. I think we could have pulled it off.

Monday, February 07, 2011

RIP Gary Moore

One of my favorite guitarists is gone. Bummer.

Big sigh of relief as I get home
The Monday From Hell is over. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the office was closed on Friday due to the ice on the road which meant that today was a busier than usual Monday. Mondays are pretty brutal anyway, but today was a killer. I did manage to have lunch with a friend of mine over at Nutty Brown Cafe which was a nice break from the chaos and was also my last chance to eat lunch there. Tomorrow is move day and I'll be way on the other side of town in the future. I'll miss that place, but I'll get to reacquaint myself with my old lunch haunts since the new office is located very close to the old call center where I used to work. I wonder if that Denny's still has good hash browns? I plan to get the answer to that question on payday.

My RV survived the big freeze with no busted pipes as far as I can tell. So far, I've found no water leaks, but some of my neighbors were not so lucky. We traded strategies for dealing with the next one and pretty much decided there wasn't much else we could do other than keep the furnace running and cross our fingers. The RV park wasn't spared either and we didn't have any running water for a day while they repaired busted water lines. At those temperatures, even some buried lines broke.

We've got more cold temperatures on the way and another possibility of sleet/ice on Wednesday. This time it's not slow business that's making my paychecks short since we've got more business at work than we can handle. Instead, it's the damn weather and I'm crossing my fingers that I don't miss another day of work due to icy roads. This is typical February weather here so if I can escape broken pipes for the next month, then I won't have to worry about it again for a long time.

The days are getting longer and I'm looking forward to the return of some sunshine in the evenings. I'm going to need it because the new office is a cubeland and I'll have no window. I so really don't want to work in a cubeland again, but maybe it won't be so bad this time. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm gonna hate it.

Friday, February 04, 2011

snow day! It doesn't snow in Austin very often, but it did last night. one inch of snow by itself wouldn't have been enough to shut the city down, but we had sleet before the snow so underneath it was a layer of ice which made driving impossible. Of course people attempted it anyway and that made for some free entertainment this morning as I watched vehicals slide down the hill. A crowd of people gathered and cheered or booed or clapped as if we were at a ballgame or demolition derby.

I still don't have internet access at home, but I do have a smart phone now which can access the Internet. However it takes me forever to type a sentence so I doubt this means a return to regular posting. But I will try to post a line here and there and who knows, maybe I will get better at using this touchscreen keyboard.