This is the story of our exploration of the human condition... continuing the adventures in our BattleWagons until something great happens or we decide it's a lost cause. Est. 2008

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An Update: Counting Down to Bugging Out

Our lease expires in eighteen days. Eighteen days until we load up our trailer, hook it up to our truck, and make for the promised land.

Bozeman, Montana, is a beautiful place. There is no end of things to explore, places to go, wonders to see, but there is a certain amount of money required to maintain that, money which I am not making in my current profession.

Salida, Colorado is our goal. It's where I grew up, a small, artsy town nestled in the Sawatch Range and hugging the Arkansas River. Hopefully, it'll be a better fit for us.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

THURSDAY FEELS: Taking Back the Middle Class

I know this isn't what typically goes in feels, but I'm passionate about it, so I'm putting it here. I'm taking back the middle class.

With this whole project, moving into an old trailer, down sizing, saving money, etc., I have begun to think that this is the new face of the middle class citizen. Wages have fallen when compared to expenses. Houses are more expensive. College is more expensive. Food, gasoline, meds and doctors visits, all of the things we need to survive are so much more expensive when compared to how much money we're bringing in. Families used to enjoy the privilege of one parent working, while now, both parents work, usually with one parent making maybe $100 more per month then daycare costs. It's ridiculous.

However, I'm refusing to give this society that much of my time and money. I'm moving into a trailer, a tiny house that we've completely paid off already. We're going to park it at a mobile home park for $300/month plus utilities. This may seem cheap and tragic, but I don't see it that way. I see it as living within my means, responsibly, and not in excess.

It used to be that people saved up for a house. The average down payment was half of the purchase price. Now, people wind up paying so much money in interest to the bank for a suburban, cookie cutter mansion they can't afford, with a huge garage for their SUVs that they drive, solo, to work every day.

We can do better than this, and I think my generation is going to face a very harsh reality: America has messed up pretty badly. We've done on the government level what we've done on a personal and family level. We have tons of debt, we don't have any drive to get real jobs, the kinds of jobs that involve physical labor. We value sinking tens of thousands of dollars into degrees that help us work in retail and refuse to invest thousands of dollars into a certification that would potentially earn us close to six figures with overtime. We're lazy, and we're all moving in with our old parents.

So I'm downsizing. I'm working nights. I fix my own things when I have the means. I'm being happy with what I have, what little there is, and I'm saving for my future.

Help me take back the middle class.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Family Creations

I don't have any creative projects that I've worked on lately. Truth be told, we've saving up to do this trailer thing. However. In the spirit of Christmas, here is the Boy with a sonic screwdriver I made from a keychain, an old pen, and some duct tape. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: The BattleStation

I figured I'd show you guys some of what we're getting into.  These top two pictures are the inside of the tiny bathroom in the back of the trailer.  Everything works,so we'll be moving in and re-modelling shortly thereafter. The bathroom floor will be replaced, a small electric heater added, and the cabinet and sink will be replaced.

Here is the interior.  The first thing we did after cleaning is take down all of those gaudy drapes.  Yuck.  Feels way better in there now, but work to do all around.

This is the outside.  1971 22' RoadRunner, apparently built in Utah.  The Woman looks like a boss, locking it with authority and pizaz.

Here's the kitchen area.  Counter tops will eventually be replaced.  We haven't decided what the counters are going to be made out of, although I am leaning heavily towards making it all a usable butcher block.  The fridge is plenty huge.  The furnace works, and the stove is all gas.  On one of our window shopping expeditions, The Woman picked out a back-splash/wall treatment that looks like the pounded copper in old-timey saloons.  I'm totally fine with that.  

Here's a better overview.  The dinette will likely be taken out and replaced with a couple of simple, folding barstools and a table that folds down and out of the way, creating much more usable space for kiddos to run around and get into no good.  We won't only be living in here with The Princess, but The Prince will be staying with us occasionally, too, as well as The Duke, a little boy whose parents we trade babysitting with.  The dinette will be the big project, however, afterwards, between where it is now and the bed/couch, I'd like to install a small office table to have a place to design or work on projects inside.  I feel like it's crucial to be able to stay inside, as the high today was 5 degrees here in Bozeman.

That's your sneak peak.  I'll let you know when there is more.  Our target date for move-in is January 1st.  We'll be throwing more pictures up as things progress!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THURSDAY FEELS: A Few Notes on a New Career

It's just after 2 am.  A month ago, I would feel anxious and tired, but now that I'm working nights, it's not so bad. I'm still adapting, but coffee and I always had a basic understanding that we're currently expanding on.

I love the work I'm doing now. It's such a huge departure from what I used to do. No creativity here. No deadlines. No production and quality control.

Just interaction, and safety. I provide those two, simple things. Some of these kids have rough stories. Some have inept families. Some make bad decisions. But I'm finding, the more I get to know them, that they're my kids. They mean a lot to me, and if the shit hit the fan, I'd pick all of them up before I left town for safety.

The crazy part is that a year ago, I had no idea I'd be here. It's scary, but I can't afford to contemplate the future too much. Time to focus on the now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: The Pending Move

We've talked, the lady and I, and we're going to try to move into the camper after the first of the new year. That gives us a little bit of time to go through the trailer, fix anything that may need attention, keep everything all good for living in.

We've found a wonderful storage space with a wonderful guy, Bob, who lives on scene. The rates were reasonable, and it's very secure. If you're in Bozeman and need storage, look up Abba Dabba storage.

After we move it, we're looking to move the trailer out to a local mobile home park. Hopefully that will give us the freedom and privacy to start really working on the trailer, tearing out walls and what not.

So that's the news structurally speaking. As far as career-wise, it's a crap shoot. The work at the group home is really rewarding. I really enjoy these kids, they crack me up. But as far as a permanent home, I remain skeptical.

Total side note: today is election day. Please vote, please, please vote. Take your country back.

Friday, October 31, 2014

ARTWORK FRIDAY- The Book of Genesis...

I'm working on a hobby project to re-write and tie together all of the major spiritual texts of the world to serve as an appendix to a sort of sci-fi novel.  Long story short, here's the very first look at the (I'm sure to be plenty revised) project that may take me YEARS to finish...

In the beginning, we were told, God created the heaven and the earth. We were told the earth was a dark, formless waste, and that the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.  Then we were told about everything else God made, everything from food and water to stars in the night sky to dry land, light and day, and there was even a blessing in to have as much sex as we could muster.  God wanted us to live in bliss.
We already had everything we needed.  We had a fertile planet, not too close to the sun, abundantly rich in oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon.  We had intelligence.  We had figured out how to farm, how to have our food much easier than hunting for it.  We were set.  So when the Anakim told us 4,000 years ago that all of this was God’s creation, to enjoy it, to be prosperous, you would think we would have simply said “thank you”.
            The Anakim had arrived and terraformed of the most barren and uninhabited land on this foreign planet.  Not much was known about us from their perspective. The third planet in a system of 8 regular planets, typical young star, ripe for life with intelligent inhabitants, but those inhabitants hadn’t yet understood their place in the universe.  They didn’t know their world was one among many.  They still believed in Gods and other superstitions.
            This made the Anakim’s arrival that much more dramatic.  As any futuristic happenstance is viewed as magic from the previous generation, the arrival of the [ALIEN A] was an act of God.  Their ship, bright and hot as the sun from its journey through the atmosphere, slowly landed and transformed the land around it, a procedure that takes, well, about 145 hours or six days.  They prefer to terraform the environment around their ship before meeting the locals as kind of a goodwill gesture.  It’s their way of saying “we mean you no harm.  In fact, look at this beautiful piece of your planet we’ve created for you.”
            Originally, the seventh day was the First Day, the day the Anakim made their first contact with us.  We took it as a blessing that something so magnificent could be interested in us.  It must have been God, yes?  I mean, it seemed like every plant on every field was growing.  It had rained for the first time in years.  (This was the middle of the desert.)  One could understand how a hunter-gatherer with no ability to even fathom creatures from other worlds could feel like he had a whole new life given to him, a soul, previously denied him by his too-simple existence.
            The ancient word for this place where the Anakim originally landed was called Itl-Eden, or as it was popularly simplified over the centuries, Eden.  In this place, in their grandest symbol of peace and friendship, they created a spectacularly bountiful garden, overflowing with fruits and vegetables, lush green trees, no predators.  It was a place for early humans to live and have the opportunity to think more, to evolve as a species.
            Part of their terraforming created a lake in the center of the development area, mined from a nearby aquifer.  Enough water sprang from the lake that four rivers left Eden, flowing through different lands, and gaining different names.  The Pison flows through the entirety of Havilah, where gold, bdellium, and onyx are mined for trade.  The Gihon, similarly, runs the entire length of Ethiopia.  The Hiddekel cuts through the east of Assyria.  The fourth river, of course, was the Euphrates.
            To keep our early ancestors safe, the Anakim sent a guardian to live amongst the humans.  They tried their best to replicate the appearance of humans, but they usually lived for centuries, sometimes millennia.  Even in human disguise, they still lived for hundreds of years.  The first one they sent was named Ahdam.
            To say Ahdam was a guardian would be selling him far too short.  Ahdam was the Anakim’s equivalent to a highly trained survivalist and goodwill ambassador of sorts.  They sent him with every tool he could need to win over the locals.  This garden, of course, was a great start.  The second phase of the terraforming project creates more complex organisms from the host planet.  Ahdam was crucial in this process, spending time learning about the native flora and fauna over his stay on Earth.
            One night, while Ahdam was sleeping, the Anakim sent another guardian to Earth.  She carried a message from her commanders for Ahdam.  She handed him what looked like a twig or a branch.  When he grabbed it, an image projected in a faint blue light from all of the little tips of wood.
            Ahdam, this mission just got much more dangerous.  The Baalists have found this planet.  We’ve intercepted several reports that they may already have spies there.  The orchard has an emergency distress beacon.  It’s wired into the red apple tree.  If you sense anything out of the ordinary, take a bite from an apple from the tree. Your messenger is Eive, and she will be your partner for the remainder of the mission.  It may take a few revolutions in this sun’s vortex before you see any signs of a Baalist invasion, so your mission in the meantime is to try to learn as much about the local species as possible.  Observe their customs and traditions, and emulate as much as you can.  Enjoy this opportunity to learn about a group of aliens nobody else has ever seen.
            The transmission ended, and the tips of the branches all simultaneously ignited into tiny, candle-like flames.  Ahdam and Eive looked at each other and smiled.  They realized they were both naked. (The Anakims are an advanced warm-blooded species, able to regulate their temperatures in much warmer and colder environments than humans.  They were also more emotionally mature.  Thus, they had no need for clothes.  They turned to face the humans that had already gathered to see what the spectacle was.  They continued to smile.  This was science.  This was forming bonds with an alien species.  And even though local human customs of the time demanded they wear clothes, they were not ashamed or embarrassed.  They just laughed it off, grabbed a few nearby fig leaves, and got to work building a habitat like another couple of the native hunter/gatherers who had shown up to investigate all of the commotion.