On the Road with Jucy Lucy – Our Experiment with Low Cost RV Rental

I’ve always wanted to rent an RV but every time I looked into the deets I found them crazy expensive to rent. Well, the ones I looked into a required a huge ($2500) deposit. Granted there are better deals if you take some time to look into the best rates for rv rentals, but I stopped looking.

Enter Jucy Campers. You don’t go looking for Jucy, Jucy comes looking for you. By that I mean the lime-green-and-purple paint job is so loud you can hear it two blocks away. The good news is that Jucy RV rates are about what you’d pay for any mini-van, and quite a bit less than most hotels.

Because I’m lazy (hey, my vacation starts NOW) I’ll let Travel Fashion Girl provide the full review. Let’s just say that aside from the relative hassle of picking up an RV from Lawndale, my initial experience with Jucy has been great. The Jucy website recommends taking the Hostel Hopper from LAX, which I sorta did. NOTE: Jucy has a bad link to Hostel Hopper so you’ll need to follow the link above (or google Hostel Hopper). The nice people at the Hopper had know idea that Jucy was referring them, but my lift was prompt, pleasant and cheaper than a taxi.

Getting the Jucy van home and packed was a snap and we’re getting ready to roll out of here. So far the only downside is terrible racket made by the Jucy-provided kitchen gear. I stuffed towels around all the pots and pans and crockery and hopeful it will be a little better than a 5.0 earthquake in a china shop.

Love Camping but Can’t Part with Your Mid-century Modern Life? Try These

Face it, sometimes you want to live in a better part of town. Maybe on the grounds of a rolling estate or some place you can fish from your back porch. Architizer features the Markies camper, something like an Eichler home in a box.

If you’ve got a spare $55,000 in your budget, then check out the Spartan Carousel, sparkling like a diamond among a bunch of canned hams on MessyNessyChic. The Carousel was a premiere offering of the Spartan trailer company, demonstrating that trailer life could be fashionable. (So many ironies.)

Maybe Frank Gehry type, if so check out this pop-out postmodern camping trailer.

But for camping in the era of the Apocalypse, this one has my money – a tent trailer that fits in a shopping cart.

Is BMW’s i3 at the Frontier of Driving Technology? (Hint: It Comes with a Spitoon)

I don’t know if lumbersexual tobacco-scented hipsters are anywhere near the core of the market for the i3, but if they are BMW is ready for them with this rugged rustproof ABS squirt bucket.

This plastic ash-can isn’t unique to the i3, nor are many other features such as Connected Drive and BMW Assist. But when you roll them all together in an advanced carbon-fiber package it starts feeling as if the future has arrived. Sadly, without a jetpack.

After three weeks of driving I have a very strong feeling of being networked. This car was designed around ecosystems, electric grids, cellular systems and highway infrastructure. The BMW i3 Remote app, which lets you pre-heat or pre-cool your car when it’s plugged in, has hooks to link with Life360, a service that let’s your family and friends creep on your driving habits. So yes, even social networking plays into the design of the i3.

We’re just around the corner from the end of the automobile as we know it. With the BMW i3 the era of the Hypercar has begun. But I don’t think this era will last terribly long. The self-driving car isn’t very far on the horizon and by the time that happens we may well stop thinking about cars as cars and more as mobile offices or lounges. And when that day comes just remember that the BMW i3 helped you get there.

Looking for Some Outdoor Adventure? Check Pinterest for Best Places to Hike

Hiking on Pinterest

When I think of Pinterest I think about knitting. It wouldn’t be my go-to-destination for planning my next big adventure.

And I’d be wrong – check out these pinboards listing the best hiking trails in the world.

While you’re at it, check out the boards for outdoor gear, camping trailers, canyoneering and bushcraft.

If these pins don’t make you want to hit the ol’ dusty I don’t know what will.

52 Boxes – Cleaning the Garage as a Way of Life

My howling nightmare of a garage didn’t just get this way by itself. It’s been a thousand bad decisions over the course of years. So this year I’m committed to tackling one box a week and emerging with perfect order and clarity of mind.

Box of packing peanuts

Box 1 Styrofoam Nuggets

Because I’m getting a late start I’m going for the low-hangning fruit here. The only decision to make with a box of packing peanuts is how to recycle them. Our local curbside recycler won’t take styrofoam of any kind. There are other ways to recycle packing peanuts but I’m opting to reuse them. Dump the peanuts in a garbage bag, collapse the box. Boom. I’m done.

Get Your Garage “In the Zone”

The American garage is truly a multipurpose space. Part workshop, part storage unit and part garage there are so many demands put on this space there’s no wonder it can get out of control in a hurry.

Easy Closets takes a strategic view by breaking the typical garage into six zones – 1) Transition, 2) Need It Now, 3) Long Tall Thin Storage, 4) Large Item Storage, 5) Frequently Used Items, 6) Workspace.

One brilliant idea that struck me this past weekend – why am I putting heavy tubs filled with seasonal decorations up in the rafters? Instead I cleared out the camping gear shelves, stowed the tubs on the shelves and put the lightweight sleeping bags and air mattresses up in the loft.

[Image by Easy Closets]

BMW i3 Stability Control Just Saved My Ass

Yesterday some doofus in a Dodge Magnum decided to test the general properties of matter by occupying my lane while I was still in it. I swerved hard to avoid the oncoming rear quarter panel of the Dodge and then swerved back to avoid causing a chain reaction of my own.

At least that’s what I think happened. Maybe the car took over control after my initial swerve and helped me back into my lane. The whole thing happened in less than a heartbeat.

BMW’s car-and-driver-are-one stability response felt really weird, icky and unpleasant in action. To me it felt like the torsion on the wheels was making them buckle and collapse. And then suddenly the car bounced back into it’s lane – like riding a beach ball in a rodeo. I don’t ever want to do that again.

But I’m alive. Unscratched. And happy. If I swerved like that in my Jeep Wrangler there’s a better than good chance I’d have hit the ground hard.

Thanks BMW. Your car of the future just preserved mine.

BMW i3 First Drive – Whoosh!!!

Driving the BMW i3 is a huge change from my gas-hungry Jeep TJ. The i3 has a distinctly golf-cart feel with the smooth silent and instant acceleration. Once you’ve got it up to speed – only 7 seconds if you floor it (compared to 7.4 seconds for the Scion TC) – the ride begins to feel like a bullet train. The i3 hums along, floating like it’s on rails.

There is a little side-to-side liveliness on the despicably paved freeways of southern California. This might have something to do with the i3’s light weight but I’m guessing it has more to do with the narrow bicycle tires that aim to cut down rolling resistance.

The (Nearly) Self-Driving Car of My Dreams

The most amazing aspect of driving the i3 is the Active Cruise Control. Lock in your top speed and the car practically drives itself. You still have to steer but the car takes care of all the stopping and starting that makes bumper-to-bumper traffic such a soul-sucking exercise.

Oddly I find that I’m MORE alert when I’ve got the ACC engaged because a car that cuts in front of you won’t trigger the automatic braking right away. But it’s a zen-like awareness that’s vastly different from the brake-gas-brake-gas-coast-brake-brake dance that I do for at least an hour every day.

The BMW i3’s Dirty Little Secret

The best thing about driving the i3 is something I’ve never heard anyone talk about – sneaking up behind people in parking lots and tapping your horn. Man do they jump!

The BMW i3 is so quiet that people don’t hear you while they are walking. They tend to freak out when they notice that there’s suddenly a car right behind them. It’s funny but I’m finding myself being an ultra-defensive driver when there are people nearby. Much the same as riding a motorcycle, where you have to assume drivers won’t see you, in the i3 you have to assume that they won’t hear you and could easily step right in front of you.

In the Twisties

The BMW i3 handles twisting mountain roads like a champ. The short wheelbase and low center of gravity make the i3 more than adequate on ultra-winding hairpins (Potrero road anyone?). But the best part of the experience is the regenerative braking that starts as soon as you back off the accelerator. You’ve got positive control of the car through turns without ever having to reach for the brake.

In General a Pretty Satisfying Ride

The range extender is what sold me on the BMW i3, not the ride. To be sure it was important to have a comfortable, quiet cabin so that I can convert some drive-time into dictation-time. And the Active Cruise Control is soothing to already jangled nerves.

The zippy, smooth and powerful driving response is just icing on the cake.

 

[Image: BMW]

How I Leased a BMW for $0 (Almost)

Here’s the deal – I live in my car. That’s to say I spend almost two hours every day dragging my sad briefcase across two counties to the salt mines. For the privilege I shuck out over $400 big ones to fill the ample gas tank on my lumbersexual Jeep TJ.

But you can only push a man so far. I broke out the yellow pad and a stubby pencil and applied an advanced form of math known as Teslanomics to calculate how much it would cost me to lease a plug-in hybrid.

Turns out on paper I could actually MAKE MONEY by leasing an electric powered car. And don’t worry, the plan is only slightly more complicated than Milo Minderbinder’s arrangement to buy eggs for 7 cents, sell them to the US government for 5 cents, clearing an 8 cent profit per egg. Basically it hinges on getting the monthly lease payment down below what I pay for gasoline.

So I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a lease for a BMW i3 – loaded (or maybe half-loaded) and joined the ranks of electron moochers who comb the streets looking for charge points the way ants look for sugar. I will confess that an idiotic mistake on my part at the dealership ended up with me getting an extra $50 sliced off the monthly payment. Horse trading is overrated, you simply need to be dumb and have lots of luck.

So life is good, right? I HAD NO IDEA A BMW WOULD BE SO FRICKIN’ EXPENSIVE TO INSURE!!!! My stubby pencil math went bad at this point. Maureen and I had some time earlier calculated insurance premiums on the basis of a STUPID CHEVY SPARK. The cost of insurance seemed no obstacle (see CHEVY SPARK, above) to carrying out my evil plan. So it was all systems go. Until it wasn’t.

Well, here I am, an electron hobo with a shiny BMW i3 plugged into my garage, working an extra two hours a day in the mines to make up for a couple of bad numbers. Your mileage may vary.

Forget Quinoa and Kale – 2015’s Superfood Should Be the Pickle

You’ve heard (ad nauseam no doubt) about the health-giving benefits of garlic. Hot tip: it’s all about the allicin.

For the record, garlic is said to:

  • Fight harmful bacteria
  • Ward off viruses
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve cholesterol
  • Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  • Boost athletic performance
  • Remove heavy metal from the body (sadly not from the neighbor’s stereo)
  • Fight off osteoporosis

You may also be vaguely aware that apple cider vinegar is supposed to have near-magical healing properties including:

  • Weight loss
  • The ability to moderate blood sugar (especially in pre-diabetic persons)
  • Improving digestion
  • Clearing up sinus problems
  • Curing dadruff
  • Eliminating acne
  • Whitening teeth (or possibly eliminating teeth altogether)

But you may be less aware of the proven bacteria-fighting effects of the lowly cucumber. Among other things, cucumbers are said to:

  • Heal sunburn
  • Remove toxins
  • Repair skin, hair and nail damage
  • Reduce muscle and joint pain
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Ward off diabetes

All that said, what’s all the fuss about kale and quinoa? Pickles have to be packing at least three times the punch of these supposed superfoods. In fact I don’t know why you’d have to eat anything else at all – except maybe bacon now and then. So why don’t we kinda all get together and agree that the pickle is the superfood for 2015?

Topa Topa Is My Everest

Lesson to be learned – one shouldn’t go from zero adventure to 8 on the strenuous meter in a single day. I’ve always wanted to hike to the top of the TopaTopa bluffs because, you know, they are there. So when Jeff put out the invite and said the trail was 10 miles (which I interpreted as roundtrip, not each way) I jumped at the chance.

Really I knew better, having read the write-up on Homer’s Travels.

The hike in was 6.8 miles with a 1735 ft. gain in elevation. There was rain and I couldn’t remember if my pack had a rainfly so I used my anorak to guard the pack and got soaked to the skin. We camped by some boulders at Chief Peak. We had more rain, freezing wind and our tents were iced.

There were snow flurries in the morning but the rest of the day was clear. 16.7 miles, 2014 ft. ascent, 3573 ft. descent. Got to the point where the smallest incline had me gasping for breath – like Hillary near the peak of Everest. And near the peak is as close as I got, lagging behind Jeff and Kevin who summited.

The hike back was a death march. Not sure how I made it. Feet were ground skinless by my overly stiff Vasque boots.

I wouldn’t do it again for the world – not without being in better shape. But it was worth doing this once.

Why You Should Never Set Priorities

Every time I open my “Big Box of Stuff” – my instant organiztion system that involves sweeping everything under the rug and declare all problems solved – my head starts spinning with the urgency and cataclysmic busy-ness of everything.

I’m fighting the urge to drag everything out and prioritize it.

But not so fast – the danger of setting priorities is that you set yourself up for endless twiddling.

Also, it turns out that juggling too many priorities takes a huge toll on overall success.

[Photo by Dakota Roos]

Did I Just Get a Message from God?

roadmap to my future?

I walked into my office this morning to find my Master Plan to Rule the World peeling off my thinkboard.

Oddly enough my “roadmap” for managing the family trust fund (which btw was taped on top of the Master Plan) was still on the thinkboard. Is this God’s way of telling me to stay focused on the roadmap?

Like Jesus on Toast

How much attention should we pay to random, yet seemingly meaningful happenings? Maybe such events are just Jesus on toast.

Or maybe something deeper is afoot. If a random pattern is indistinguishable from a picture of a face, then how are we to say that it is not, in fact, a picture of a face. Likewise if a fortune cookie or a supermarket horoscope is accidentally meaningful, then how can we say it has no meaning?

I guess the only way to know for sure is to butter the toast and bite.

NeatDesk or ScanSnap? I Should Have Spent the Extra $50 and Bought the Ugly Scanner

I admit that I bought a NeatDesk scanner instead of the Fujitsu ScanSnap because the NeatDesk is a joy to the eyes and the ScanSnap looks like a discarded toner cartridge.

But after listening to David Sparks and Katie Floyd rattle on about the Fujitsu iX500 as they do, I’m wondering if I made the best choice.

I’ve got two gripes with the NeatDesk. First, it jams too easily. I sometimes have to do a little ninja-origami to get the paper go through the first time. But I’m also concerned about the software. It works well enough but I worry about shoveling all my documents into a system that could vanish at any time.

Deal With It

OK. Well, this is the scanner that I have. And maybe it’s not so bad.

NeatDesk Hacks

Feeding odd sized paper into your NeatDesk

Scan to Dropbox with NeatDesk

Scan to Evernote with NeatDesk

Change the location where NeatDesk stores your data

Everything You Need to Know about Success Is in the Hunger Games

What does it take to become a huge success? Apparently it takes a whole lot of work – and not just any kind of work, but the tough work of self-examination. To put a finer point on it, it takes something called Double Loop Learning.

Most of us probably think of the path to success in the terms of “try, try again.” Think of an archer facing a target, shooting, falling short of the bulls-eye, making an adjustment and shooting again. This is what Chris Argyris identified “single loop learning,” a simple servomechanism approach to fixing what ain’t working.

The second loop adds a lot of complexity. Here you must explore your values, assumptions and your blind spots.

This is where The Hunger Games comes in. If heroine Katniss approached the gladiator-style teen-on-teen combat using single loop learning she would have used a pretty simple decision block:

IS PEETA DEAD? –> NO –> KILL PEETA

Fortunately Katniss goes for the double loop. The assumption behind the Hunger Games is that only one combatant could emerge as the winner. But if you have to sacrifice your core values to survive, are you really a winner? Maybe there are no winners. Or maybe the State is the only winner. Read the book, it will all make more sense.

And if you want to get ahead, go back and question everything.

[Via Swiss Miss]