Camping Daze

I built a boat from scratch. I still want to build a camper the same way.

But good sense got the better of me (temporarily) and I bought one instead.

FunFinder Ready to Tow

Yeah, yeah, it’s a lousy photo. I’ll take some better ones eventually.

This is a “Fun Finder XT245” man cave. It has a ramp in the back, a door on the side, a galley with a stove and nuke, Dometic frig, head, shower, and a queen size bed. The good news is that it is just 9-feet tall and will weigh around 6,000 pounds fully loaded. The bad news is that it was necessary to make a few minor changes.

It has too many beds. Boats and campers should drink 8, eat 4, and sleep 2.
The master bed mattress sucks.
The folding couches (known as “gauchos” in the RV biz) get in the way of real furniture when they are down and the windows when they’re up.
I hit my head on the happy jack bed in the back.
It needs a desk for my computer monitors in the back.
It doesn’t have enough house batteries to run my freezer.

Real mattresses are a PITA to move around. I dragged/pulled/carried/humped the original mattress out of the camper and onto the wheelbarrow where it was not very well balanced. Carting it to the barn was easy peasy in comparison.

Three of the four bolts in the right-side gaucho zipped right out. The fourth, buried at the bottom of folding frame, did nothing but spin. I worked on that on and off for a few days.

I finally did get the bolt out of the gaucho and it fell off the wall just like it was supposed to. The retainer is indeed a plastic part about an inch long with a rusty tapped rod embedded in it. The rust part is not a good thing. I put the bolts back in with anti-seize.

The gaucho was a lot easier to handle out of the camper and carry up to the barn than the mattress.

I’m a tool guy, right? In the last 50 years, I’ve collected every possible tool I would need and inherited even more from my tool guy father and tool guy grandfather.

I bought a weight distributing hitch and discovered I didn’t have a big enough wrench.

These things come with locomotive hardware. The trailer ball has a 1-7/8″ nut that requires torquing to 450 ft-lbs. My torque wrench goes to 160 ft-lbs. Uh oh. The mechanic up the street’s torque wrench goes to 200 ft-lbs. Bigger uh oh.

Wait. I have weight!

I applied the 450 ft-lbs to the ball and 250 lb-ft to my nuts with no problem whatsoever. 450 ft-lbs is about 200 lbs standing at the end of a 30-inch pipe on my 16-inch breaker bar. 250 ft-lbs is that self same 200 lbs standing at the end of that same 16-inch breaker bar and bouncing. It may not be exactly right but it’s close enough.

The trailer sits flat and level now.

We borrowed a queen-sized air mattress from a friend and forced our son to test drive it the other night. He reported it was fine so we tried it.

SWMBO was still awake when I came to bed. It was about 55°F outdoors by then but we had a blanket and should have been alright. The mattress seemed OK but it wasn’t. It was cold because it stayed at ambient so I suspect on a hot day it would be hot. The “tube” shaped surface didn’t seem uncomfortable but both of us felt as if we were angled pretty steeply to the side. I don’t know if it was SWMBO being awake or the discomfort that kept me awake but 45 minutes later it was obvious we weren’t getting to sleep so we moved inside to a real bed.

I bought, picked up, set up, and ran the generators. The manuals are in remarkably good English with professional diagrams. I stacked them and ran them in both “economy” and regular mode. They are indeed quiet enough to talk over even in regular mode while standing right beside them. I plugged in the trailer and ran the lights and radio and the microwave with no noticeable issues.

I am sorely disappointed though. It took three pulls to start one of them.

My black and gray tanks don’t seem too too full but I will take full advantage of having a dump station at the campground next weekend.

In the middle of all this, I’ve been buying slinkies and jack plates and chocks and dogbones and totes and all manner of goodies.

And, of course, adapting the battery box I built for the road trip last year to work in the camper.


I realized yesterday that I have one shopping day^H^H working day left before we leave for our first three-day trip at a state campground and I have to work today. Work on the camper tomorrow. Load the camper tomorrow. Get the camper inspected Wednesday and relevel the weight distribution hitch.

The big task I have left is to install the battery box and wire it up. I’m presuming, of course, that it will work. We also need to put the replacement mattress in. I’ve never run the water heater or the furnace. I’ve also not run out the awning. And we need to figure out what food and clothes and sundries we’ll take.

We pull out Thursday morning, rain or shine. Check-in time at the campground is 2 p.m. but “If the site you reserved was not used the night before your arrival, it may be possible to occupy the site sooner, however that would need to be arranged with the park staff, contact the park to inquire” so I’ll need to do that, too. I want to get in around noon since we have a wedding rehearsal to attend at 3.

Lordy Lordy™.


Since I haven’t taken any of my own, here are two shots of other people’s same-model campers.
The Looking in the Ramp  ramp

And looking The Interior forward

 

Hazing

Apparently in some frat houses, hazing is still a good thing.

WNYC’s Manoush Zomorodi and TED science curator David Biello got all warm and fuzzy about saving the planet from Global Warming by “hazing the sky” with sulphuric acid.

“Modified jets spewing sulfuric acid could haze the skies over the Arctic in a few years ‘for the price of a Hollywood blockbuster,’ as physicist David Keith of Harvard University likes to say. For a mere billion dollars a program to swathe the entire planet in a haze of sulfuric acid droplets could be ready as soon as 2020,” Scientific American reported in 2015.

Does anyone who remembers acid rain really think this is a good idea???

Hazing the (Apocalyptic) SkySulphuric acid. H2SO4.

The EPA defined “acid rain” or “acid deposition” as “a broad term that includes any form of precipitation with acidic components, such as sulfuric or nitric acid that fall to the ground from the atmosphere in wet or dry forms. This can include rain, snow, fog, hail or even dust that is acidic.” Acid rain darned near ruined Vermont’s maple industry.

The EPA regulated it to death. We thought.

 

Scammed

Whoa.

“Read this and beware,” Liz Arden told me. Follow the link below now. I’ll wait.

He Fell Victim to a Used Lens Scam

This scam is bigger than writer Ziemowit Pierzycki realized.

We already know about fraudulent ordering scams in which the scammer buys something from you with a fake cashier’s check or stolen credit card. Sometimes they pick up the goods but often the victim is expected to ship the merchandise via a fake shipper. If you get an offer for free money, there’s always a catch.

We already know about the very similar overpayment scam. Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.

This one is a biggie because the “Amazon” scam will work for any third-party seller on any mailorder system from Walmart to Sears to eBay to Craigslist and, of course, to Amazon.

Amazon lists more than 10 pages of used Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lenses including one for $1,250 plus $7.49 shipping from Products By Reily. They also have 31 used Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G Nikkor lenses including one for $909 plus $6.99 shipping from LuckyMerchant. “Every purchase on Amazon.com is protected by an A-to-Z guarantee” but now I’m afraid to buy even with that guarantee.

Walmart advertises “Researched. Trusted. Choose from more Every Day Low Prices and get the same great customer care. Shop one of our trusted sellers.” I just found that you can buy Mortal Kombat X (PS4) used for $15.84 from Walmart direct or $19.99 with free shipping from GameJiffy or $26.43 plus $10.06 shipping from UnbeatableSale. Beyond just the prices, now I’m afraid to buy from those “trusted sellers.”

I would hope that the folks at Amazon’s A-to-Z Guarantee department (Mr. Bezos, are you listening?) would be more on top of this but, sadly, Mr. Pierzycki will need a lawyer to make the rocket scientists in that department recognize that the scammer didn’t send the thing to his address in Gilberts.

Back in 1975, a Nordstrom’s customer in Alaska wanted to return a set of snow tires. Nordstrom’s sells a lot of things but the department store chain has never sold auto parts. Not even snow tires in Alaska. Nevertheless, the clerk took back the tires because that’s what the customer wanted.

Of course, these days it is easier to blame the victim (and lose the customer) than to prosecute the criminal.

I wonder if Nordstrom’s sells used lenses?

 

Undercooked Pizza

I hadn’t talked with Missy and Biff Loomis for a while so it was nice to hear from them this morning. Missy wears bling which dangles and jangles when she dips her minnows out of the bait tank. She usually prefers to talk about fishing and motorcycles and her job on the state so I put down my newspaper and paid attention. Today, she had pizza on her mind.

Undercooked pizza.

They had gotten tied up with customers down on the dock yesterday and didn’t get to eat breakfast until nearly noon. She decided to call in an order for her favorite pizza to The Doughbie Brothers, a friendly neighborhood pizzeria that has combinations you’ve never heard of.

Undercooked Pizza Slice from a Yelp ReviewShe drove to the restaurant to find the pie was still in the oven. The Doughbie Brothers guarantee the pick up time; worse, this is the second time they’ve been late. She grumbled a bit and a few minutes later, her order arrived all boxed up and ready to go.

Or not.

When she got it home, it was missing several toppings and the crust hadn’t been stretched out so it was all bunched up on one side of the pie. And it wasn’t fully baked.

“That reminds me of the time …” he says as he launches into a story.

We all know someone who does that.

I’m that guy.

SWMBO and I went to First Night Burlington with friends a couple of decades ago. The annual citywide, substance-free party has nearly 100 stage shows, musical acts, and arts activities in 18 or 20 venues to kick off the new year. New Year’s Eve this year will be its 35th anniversary.

A huge number of performers are either from Puffin County or are local favorites so it’s a great show for us. Some events are free and buttons for the rest are available at 65 button outlets around us.

The crowds are large and the lines for food and the church and other venues are often ridiculously long so we opted to drive down to South Burlington to grab a pie at the national chain pizzeria down there.

That chain doesn’t guarantee how long it will take but we didn’t care. We were inside and warm and enjoying ourselves instead of standing in line in the winter deep freeze. Our crust had been stretched out but it wasn’t fully baked.

With a mushy, stretchy, doughy mouthful, I called the waiter over.

“The pizza isn’t done,” I mumbled.

She offered to put it back in the oven.

Everyone at the table knew that wouldn’t work. We’d get back a mushy, stretchy, doughy pie that was really, really hot. And we did.

Anyway, retelling that story is somewhat annoying, particularly to my friend Missy. She’s heard many if not most of my stories but worse, since they’re my stories it means, suddenly, we’re talking about me.

Oops.

Paul Newman, Mary Harper, Dick Harper (back to camera)That’s a difficult hurdle for our memories because so many of them are about our own experiences. I do (sometimes) tell stories about what happened to my friend Rufus or to my friend Liz Arden or even to that actor fellow I used to race with, but I don’t know their stories as well as I know my own.

Making connections has always been my creative strong suit (see, It’s still All About Me).

If I needed a particular kind of hydraulic hose for that pilemaker I wrote about last month, I found it by remembering that I had used one on the race car, a hose that I first found in the aircraft industry. I’ve done that all my life. Likewise, if you tell me an undercooked pizza story, I will instantly make the connection to that long ago New Year’s Eve in Burlington. Likewise, if you ask me about living in the Keys, I’ll think of my grandfather who, at 92 years of age, decided to close up shop and move there from our ancestral part of Pennsylvania.

Sadly, we humans have more trouble getting to those memories as we age. I don’t think we forget the stories. We just forget the ways to find them without a little conversational help from our friends.

I certainly needed those triggers to access the stories I’ve related here today. I also certainly hope those triggers keep working so I propose a little thought experiment of those of us of a certain age or older:

When you tell a story, write down the trigger that reminded you of the story
Collect those triggers.
Read the triggers in a couple of years.
Tell the stories again.

Let’s all try to remember to do that. When you send me the results, please list this column in the subject line so I can try to remember why I wanted them.

Meanwhile, I’m having a meatloaf sandwich for lunch!

 

Thank You, John McCain

“Let’s return to regular order,” Mr. McCain said on the floor of the Senate.

Diana Bauer and I mused about accomplishments this morning. “Everybody is yapping,” she said, “but we aren’t accomplishing much.”

“Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people…

We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side…”

Mr. McCain has certainly noticed the same problem.

“You write op-ed every week,” Ms. Bauer said. “Do you think you’ve changed any minds?”

It’s a good question and shows that this writing stuff is the very antithesis of a good engineering job.

“We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.”

The Neil Gorsuch appointment shows how a job used to work:

Goal:
Fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Steps:
List the best candidates for the job.
Nominate Mr. Gorsuch.
Hold hearings in the U.S. Senate.
Confirm the appointment.
Make good:
Mr. Gorsuch is sworn in.

Back in about 1980, I honchoed the design of an industrial machine that accepted a flow of books or magazines and stacked them in an even pile so the “extra” paper around the edges could be trimmed off. It worked a treat; we installed them around the U.S. and Europe in printing plants to produce everything from Playboy to Reader’s Digest with a stop at TV Guide.

ChecklistIn order to get those magazines into your hands, I looked at the existing stackers on the market and found that they couldn’t keep up with the throughput particularly of the thin, fast moving magazines like the two-up Digest or TVGuide. That defined the problem. A number of people on my team and over in the sales offices researched what the market needed and how many we might sell because there was no way we’d spend a gazillion dollars of design time and tool up for a machine that sold three copies. The requirements came out of that research. We dreamed up and discarded a lot of solutions and homed in on the best. One of my designers at the time was arguably the best, most creative machine guy I’ve met anywhere; he did the layout. The guys in the model shop downstairs built a prototype and we tested it right there in our own plant. I installed the first one in, I think, Offenburg Germany.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

The Pilemaker went from defining the problem to making good on the solution — you reading a magazine. Or at least gazing at the foldout.

That’s the way writing op-ed and governing are supposed to work, too.

I want my columns to change the way you think or, better, to get you to take action. That’s my goal. The make good is when you do volunteer for a community group or throw the bums out of Washington.

We want the legislature to complete the tasks we set for them. That’s our goal; it should be every Congress Critters’ goal as well. The make good is when we see a bridge built across the Rock River or a health care system that works.

I have no way other than persuasion to strong arm you into completing my goal but we can force Congress to do so.

We can elect new ones.

Give them a check list.

Remind them that they lose their jobs when they don’t make good.

And then follow through.

Thank you, John McCain. You got us part way there.