Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Kayak Diving and Lobster

 We did it. Our favorite thing - kayak diving. If your work is online, which most of our is, then being locked down at home doesn't lessen your work burden AT ALL. If anything it increases it. So, we decided to take December off. No YouTube Live shows. Sundays off.

What will we do? Well, there's plenty of work around the house, website maintenance, newsletter writing, bookkeeping, etc. But - the hope is that we will have the opportunity for our favorite pastime - kayak diving. Conditions have to be perfect, otherwise it's too much work. So, we check the ocean via webcam each morning. We're looking for it to be flat calm. I call it "My Ocean." I want it to be glassy smooth.  

There were two times this month (so far) that all the puzzle pieces fell into place. Work all done. No Zoom meetings scheduled. Feeling energetic enough. AND weather is good.

We even took the opportunity to scatter some of Mom's ashes in the ocean. Just a bit, because she mostly dove in Indonesia - so we will take her ashes there when we can.

Then we went diving and Jim caught lots of lobster!!

A couple weeks later, we went again.

Jim let me take his GoPro and I took some video while he grabbed the lobster. I'll add it to this post as soon as it's ready on YouTube.

Monday, December 07, 2020

What a difference a year makes

I just got my monthly email from Google showing me all the locations that I logged in Google Maps for the past month. Pretty pathetic:

Our Google timeline documents our self-imposed quarantine

Especially compared to last year
In 2019 we were doing our normal RV travels presenting seminars

I'm definitely starting to get antsy. But with the way the Virus is spiking these days, I expect that our map will continue it's emptiness for a while to come. Our big dive trip to the Maldives that got cancelled this past year was rescheduled to April of 2021. It's looking doubtful that those dates will work. The news is that we may be able to get vaccinated in the May/June time frame, so we won't be going anywhere until after that happens. 

As of today, December 7, the Covid-19 numbers in the United States according to the Google aggregate data.
Cases: 14.8 million
Deaths: 282,000  (863 per million population)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Proud of myself

Well, I'm not proud of how I'm keeping up this blog! It's been nearly a month since my last post and that's a long time for me. BUT I am proud of how I am getting back into doing a little bit of yoga at home on a regular basis.
I like yoga and I have practiced it on and off most of my adult life. ... mostly off 😋 In the 90s I developed a special liking for Kundalini yoga. It's unlike other yogas in that it uses lots of movement instead of just getting into positions and staying there. Mom and I even got to know a Kundalini Yoga instructor and would go to her house for personal sessions. That instructor later became a trusted and loved friend who helped me take care of Mom in her early dementia years. Thank you Debbie!
Anyway - last year I joined a gym and started going to their yoga classes. It wasn't Kundalini, but I still liked it. Any good yoga is a workout for energy, flexibility and strength. Since the pandemic hit I have not gone to the gym, and I don't expect to go any time soon. I could watch a YouTube video and follow along, but I like just exercising on my own, so I sit cross-legged on the floor and I go thru a series of movements that I remember from my Kundalini classes. It only takes 10 minutes, but it really loosens me up and gets the blood flowing. 
My signature tag line is 
"Blessed be the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape."

It's not just a cute saying, it is also something I believe is true for my body. I need to stay flexible. Can you touch your toes? I can touch my toes and bring my nose to my knees. At least I can now, after getting back into a routine of doing my daily yoga!
It was a book called Atomic Habits (thank you Toastmasters Book Club and Mary Helen for making me read it) that got me started again - lots of cool little tricks in that book to get yourself to do things you want to do. I haven't gotten to any part in the book yet that gets me to clean my office though 😞

Speaking of PROUD

Especially in this time where we're hearing others speak of the Covid 15 - meaning pounds gained while stuck at home ... I am especially proud of Jim and me for keeping our weight down. 6 years ago Jim lost a lot of weight and I lost a little. We went on a very strict doctor-led diet called NutriMost. We paid big bucks for guidance, supplements, and daily checkins with the doctor. We followed it to a T. Jim lost 50 pounds during the 2 month diet, then another 25 over the next year. I lost 15, then another 10.

Every day since then, we weigh ourselves. When the weight creeps up, we smack it down with healthy food, low or no carbs, and generally not eating much. I used to be hooked on sweets. Now, I can't remember the last time I had a cookie. We go out for an ice cream cone once every couple of months.

We'll have the occasional pasta meal, and we've been getting takeout from Flanigans of ribs and potato but when we see 2-3 extra pounds on the scale, Jim makes our dinners look like the photos below. In the lower left corner - that's not mashed potatoes, that's mashed cauliflower.

And here is a recent photo from one of our YouTube shows

We could each still stand to lose 10 more pounds, but that would probably mean giving up our wine, and I'm just not willing to do that!


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Getaway for a day of play

 After the RoadTrek rally, and visiting with Alex, we left our RV with Sunshine State RV in Gainesville (where we originally bought it) for some service - new batteries, generator service. They needed it for at least a few days, so we rented a car to drive home and planned to return in a week or so.

While home, we did episode 201 of our YouTube show on the topic "What can you do with an old phone?" Then we had a couple of Toastmasters zoom meetings, a meeting over Google Meet with my Google Photos Product Experts group, and a workshop I teach on "Getting the Most out of Google Photos."  Why is it, the more retired we get, the harder it seems like we work? It couldn't be that it's because I just want to lounge around all day could it?

A Google Photos workshop I teach over Zoom

Anyway, when it came time to go back to Gainesville to pick up the van, we decided to make a mini vacation of it and contacted our friends Chris and Cherie who are living on their boat in Sanford to see if they were up for a visit. They suggested a night at Blue Springs - one of our favorite state parks. Yay!

We still had one meeting to attend, but the campground had a pretty good Verizon signal, so that worked well. The setting makes all the difference.

Attending a meeting on Zoom while at Blue Springs State Park

They even got us into the water. It was a bit chilly, but quite fun.

After a day of play, we followed them back to Sanford and helped do a little bit of Democratic campaigning on Saturday. We held signs for Biden/Harris and felt uplifted with each passing car who honked their support. Then we drove home and filled out our mail-in ballots. We determined to vote in person at a local early voting location. The mail in ballots were just for backup. 

I sure hope the results are better than last time. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A different kind of post - Universal Basic Income

What do you do with a travel-log blog when you're not traveling? I got tired of a daily/weekly journal of pandemic living. During this time of staying home and watching politics in an election year, I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading, so I decided to write about that.

I've been reading a lot lately about Universal Basic Income - UBI. The first I heard of it was from presidential candidate Andrew Yang. On the debate stage, he said he was going to give everyone $1,000/mo. I didn't know what he was talking about - I thought he was really rich and this was basically a bribe he was giving to get people to vote for him. Turns out that it is a simple plan for the future to eliminate extreme poverty and promote the general welfare within a capitalist/democratic system. Link to Yang proposal.  

I kept listening, and reading. What I concluded is that UBI fits well in my world view:
Freedom within structure - Capitalism with a floor and a ceiling

What is UBI?

The idea is that the government gives everyone a direct payment of money with no strings attached. Not enough money to live comfortably but enough to keep everyone out of extreme poverty. That's the "Basic" part. The "Universal" part is that everyone gets it, regardless of their current income. Rich people would get the same $1,000/mo (for example) as the poor and homeless people. The "no strings attached" means that there is no bureaucracy involved, no paperwork. No need to prove your income, no need to prove that you have children, no need to prove how you would spend it. Are you a US citizen? Are you over 18 years old? If so, $1,000 would just show up in your bank account once a month. Link to explainer video on UBI

Is UBI Socialism?

No. As Andrew Yang says, UBI is capitalism where income does not start at $0. Think about it, even a monopoly game gives all players some starting $. Capitalism is driven by people buying things. They can't buy things if they don't have any money. A universal basic income supports capitalism thriving. Link to article Universal Basic Income is Capitalism 2.0

Why do we need a UBI?

Think of a single mother in the US who needs to stay home to take care of children and maybe ailing parents, what is she supposed to do to pay rent and buy food? She will beg, borrow or steal to keep her family alive, but how healthy will they be? How distressed will she be? People who are secure in knowing they can afford basic housing, food, and clothing are healthier and more productive. A UBI would define a floor, a basic level of income that no citizen should be able to go below.

Automation is taking over more and more jobs every year. Truck drivers will be replaced with autonomous vehicles, factory workers are replaced with robots, artificial intelligence is changing the medical and legal fields. The future is leaving a lot of people behind. Other jobs will be created, but that takes retraining. How do you retrain when you need to find a job that puts food on the table?

Side note: one of my heroes is Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome. He was a futurist and he declared that he would never work in exchange for money. He believed that it was nonsense to expect every person to work a job, even if it was meaningless and degrading, just to make money. Link to article about Buckminster Fuller's views on work.

Will UBI take away incentive to work?

Remember, the B in UBI means basic, people still need to work for a comfortable lifestyle. In any place where UBI has been tried, hours worked went down only slightly. The cases where people didn't work were when they stayed home to take care of other family members, or they went to school to improve themselves. A UBI is Basic, people are still motivated to improve their lot, they just aren't in fear of losing the ability to eat and sleep. Experiments around the world have found that UBI did not affect employment, but did increase mental and physical well-being, reduce poverty related crime,  increase school attendance. Link to list of all UBI experiments

How much would UBI cost?

Obviously, paying every person hundreds or thousands of dollars a month will cost a LOT of money - trillions. But, maybe not as much as you think. First of all, a UBI would replace much of the current welfare programs. Also, even though rich people will get the payments, they will repay it in their taxes. And, when you consider the economic returns of giving everyone a basic income, you see that it probably more than pays for itself in the long run. People who aren't worried about food and shelter are free to be creative - they start small businesses and create jobs, they can care for themselves and stay healthy rather than get sick and need expensive healthcare. Link to cost discussion

A path to the future

I'm a Star Trek fan and I've noticed that they simply don't have money in the future. People's basic needs are met because the future is "post-scarcity." Replicators simply create food whenever you want. People work because they seek fulfillment. I read a book called Trekonomics that goes into great detail. The missing link was any explanation of how society made the transition to eliminating money. By the end of the book, I decided that money would still be important as a means of exchange, but we need some means to stop the free-fall of poverty. So, I then read the book Give People Money, which is all about Universal Basic Income. In the conclusion of the book, the author writes:
What would happen if a $1,000 check showed up in each and every American’s bank account each and every month for the rest of their lives? For the rich, not much would change. But for the poor, it would be transformative, with America’s impoverished families starting to look far more middle class. Bills would get paid, houses would get fixed up, more and better food would get eaten. Those families in deep poverty, without any cash income, would disappear.
We have a sense from studies of programs like the EITC and food stamps how the more wide-ranging effects would play out. Infants and toddlers in low-income families would be less likely to be hospitalized. They would eat more. They would literally grow more. As they got older, they would enjoy better health and better grades in reading and math. That would translate into higher earnings and better educational attainment years and decades out. As adults, they might have a lower incidence of metabolic disease. They would likely live longer.
The basic income would help the chronically poor, but it would also help the tens of millions of people who find themselves intermittently in need of support. In any given year, one in three workers leave a job. Millions of others experience a family illness, an eviction, a car breaking down. Self-employment and contract work, falling benefits and rising costs—driven by worker disempowerment, wage stagnation, and high inequality—have together created a kind of precariat that overlaps and exists just below the middle class, itself shrinking. One in three families has no savings, and half would have to borrow or sell something to come up with $400 in an emergency. A safety net is a tool to prevent deprivation among some. Universal cash benefits are a tool of insurance and self-determination for all.  (from the book Give People Money

Is Universal Basic Income politically feasible?

Probably not. The American work ethos is deeply ingrained. When hearing about UBI for the first time, most Americans think it means paying people to be lazy. They immediately discount any politician who proposes such an idea as a socialist or communist. However, with the current Pandemic, congress has already made universal payments and are debating about more. The door has opened. 
The best chance for political viability is if it is framed as a dividend. The United States is a very rich country, everyone in the country should share in that wealth. 
Take Alaska for example, the revenue received from its oil riches go to fund the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). The state constitution established the right of every Alaska resident to receive a dividend. Since 1982, every person has received from $400 - $2000 once each year depending on the revenues received. As you can imagine, this is a very popular program. Alaskans now consider it a right. Why shouldn't it be a right of every American to share in the profits of our corporations? Why should Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg get it all? Didn't the taxpayers who fund our highway systems, the workers who harvest our food, the truck drivers who deliver supplies, and the health workers who keep employees on the job get some credit for creating the environment for those companies to thrive? 
If it means that Bezos and Zuckerberg, Exxon and Walmart, have to pay more in taxes, I for one am fine with that. Capitalism and Democracy are the best systems ever devised for operating a country and a society except when they are left to run amok. No person should be left to free fall to homelessness, hunger and despair. There needs to be a floor. And, no person should be allowed to profit in the multiple billions of dollars without being required to contribute substantially to the rest of the people. There needs to be a ceiling. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Nothing like a Pandemic to bring out your inner Hypochondriac

 Our Roadtrek rally was small. No more than 25 people in the room. We have often given our seminars to groups of several hundred. But, still, that's 25 more people than we've seen in over 6 months!

Most people were good about wearing their masks, but then we had to take them off to eat and I took mine off when I was on stage and speaking.
After 3 days of this, we drove over to Gainesville to park in the yard of our good friend Alex for the weekend, then we had an appointment to take the RV in for service on Monday. Since we had "been around people" I felt extra cautious about visiting with Alex. We would not go in her house. We only talked while sitting in our camp chairs outside. Then:

I sneezed!

OMG - I'm getting sick. I might have Covid. I need to quarantine. yada yada yada The only way to calm fears is to get tested. Jim and I had already agreed that we would get tested when we got back home, but Alex told us about another friend that got tested right here in Gainesville, so I called and made an appointment. We went in to the Urgent Care facility, they stuck a swab up both nostrils for each of us, and told us we would get a text message with results in 2-3 days. They were very professional, clean, friendly. I didn't sneeze once - I was already feeling better.

We still didn't go in the house, but we enjoyed our time at Alex's visiting with her and her Donkeys. And, it was SO nice to have some pretty photo ops. We are usually traveling all the time with tons of photo ops. For the last 6 months we've been home. I'm starting to know each and every flower all around our neighborhood!

Tuesday morning we got the text message from CareSpot - both of us are Negative. Whew!

Monday, October 05, 2020

September was Book Launch month

 I got 'er done.

We sold about 230 on our special, spiral bound deal, and they're also selling on Amazon. About 150 there so far. 
I think Jim actually likes doing the work. Here's a little video on how he does the spiral binding.

Our Book Launch special was a spiral-bound, autographed book AND a voucher for an online workshop with me over zoom. The books are all bound and mailed and I've given 2 workshops so far. I think they went pretty well. Got lots more to go.
Here's a screenshot of my class today

We're off to a small RV rally in N Florida tomorrow. This is a major adventure considering we've barely been out of the house since mid March - that's over 6 months.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

August 29, 2020

 I need to mark the day, but I'm not going to say much because I've said it all before.

Marilyn - 1931-2020 

I booked a dive boat to take Mom's ashes out to sea on Dec 5. When the time came, there were still too many Covid restrictions and many people would not be able to make it, so we cancelled the boat and had a zoom meeting instead. That was great because we were able to get people from all over the country to participate. Here's the video of the Zoom meeting memorial:

Friday, August 14, 2020

We did it! We went Kayak diving - twice

Mini Season

August 6 to March 31 is lobster season in Florida. To give scuba divers a head start on the commercial operations, there is a 2-day mini-season on July 29-30.
July 29 came around and the weather was decent, so we went. The seas were not as calm as I like, but they weren't bad. I felt so out of shape, Jim had to drag my kayak to the water for me, I just couldn't do it. Paddling on the ocean in the sunshine was gorgeous. It did feel good to get outside in a socially distant, safe way.

I hate current. I am holding on to the down line for the kayaks when we're underwater so Jim can be free to hunt for lobster. The current was taking the kayaks one way and I needed to go another. Kick as hard as I might, I could not make any headway. We're usually down for at least an hour, but I sucked down my air in only 40 minutes. 

Jim did catch a few lobster - yay! And we made it back to shore just fine. It was still wonderful to get out on the ocean on a beautiful day, and I felt good for getting a bunch of exercise, but I told Jim I may be getting too old for this. 

The next week

August 6 is the first day of the real lobster season, and it was a gorgeous day. The kayaks were still on top of the car from last week so that was one less job to do. 
What a difference conditions make! I'm so glad we went again this week. The seas were flat calm, no current. I was in heaven. We stayed underwater for over an hour and I still had 1200 psi of air when we got back on the kayaks. YES! This is the kayak diving that that I know and love. And, I spotted a lot of lobster too! Jim bagged 7 of them. Limit is 6 each.

People always ask, how do you get back on the kayaks after coming up from the dive? So I took this little video of Jim.

And, oh yea, we ate a nice dinner too.

So, that was all Good News. And, I'm making real progress on my book. I think it's going to be a good one. 
Then there's the 

Bad News

As of today, August 14, the Covid-19 numbers in the United States according to the Google aggregate data.
Cases: 5.35 million
Deaths: 170,000

The Alzheimers facility where Mom lives has been on lockdown since the end of March with no reported cases. I have not been able to visit. Worse than that, her wonderful aide Vilma has not been able to visit. Vilma is much better with her than I am at this stage, she would always get her to walk and take her outside. I'm sure Mom hasn't walked since the lockdown started. The staff at the facility are fine also. Sofia, her main caretaker at the facility texts me a photo now and then.
Here's one from June 30. I won't post the one from August 8, it's just too sad. I got a call from Hospice today that she has stopped eating. The nurse will be with her over the weekend. I hate this disease.


Monday, July 27, 2020

The new normal

It's been a while since I posted - more than 2 weeks. You can tell that we're settling in to this new normal. I keep filling my time with more projects - book, Youtube shows, making videos, holding meetings, presenting classes using Zoom, giving Toastmasters speeches using Zoom. I've gotten so busy, that when Jim suggests we could take one day and go kayak diving, I say "I'm too busy!" Saturday we participated in a Toastmaster Zoom meeting with nearly 200 people to learn how to combine online attendance with real life meetings. Yesterday, we did Episode 195 of our YouTube show. Today we're giving a Google Photos presentation, via Zoom, to the Golden Gate Computer Society in San Francisco - 7pm their time, 10pm our time :-(  Tomorrow, we're giving a presentation on using Chromebooks to edit photos. This one is for the Dayton Ohio computer club. 

Jim has been spending time improving his room. A while back, he completely took over the guest bedroom, getting rid of the futon/couch that we used as a bed when we did have guests. We decided that a wall bed, aka Murphy Bed, would be the right way to go so that Jim had the most amount of room and we still had a guest bedroom. He researched and finally came up with his choice. It arrives in pieces, so he asked Devon to come over and help assemble it. It turned out to be a full day job.
This is how the murphy bed was delivered
They attached the frame to the wall

Jim supervises

The finished project

How it looks with the bed down. Too bad nobody is allowed to visit now 😞

The complete Studio/Guest bedroom. Jim is very happy with his new room

Bad News

July 27, 2020 Day 131 since we cancelled all travel plans to just stay home.
Covid 19 numbers: U.S. Cases = 4.31 million, U.S. Deaths = 149,000
Florida is a hotspot with 424,000 cases and 5,853 Deaths
Broward County opened up a bit, then cases started spiking, so we're back to some level of lock-down. See the screenshot below from Actually, Jim and I haven't been paying that much attention to the rules. As long as the virus is a problem, we just stay home - period. We get our groceries delivered, Jim does most all the cooking except for once each week to 10 days, we order ribs to go from Flanigans, or chicken wings from Wings Plus, then Jim goes to pick them up - wearing his mask. I sometimes get in the car with him just to go for a ride.

Good News

We're getting about 1 month to the gallon these days.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Life, Google photos, and weeks 14-15 of the pandemic

Back in 2004 I wrote in this blog that 
the RV lifestyle gives you a lot of practice with "Letting Go." It may sound a little painful ... lots of goodbyes.
 ... but as my favorite philosopher says, "By letting go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go." Now it's Google that is teaching me about letting go! I had to let go of Picasa to fully embrace Google Photos. I had to let go of Google Plus to move on. Now I'm having to let go of the Google Photos logo and the menus that I've been teaching since it's release in 2015. I knew this change was coming. Actually, I've been anxiously awaiting it. The last printing of my book was mid 2018. I started working on a new edition in the second half of 2019 with hopes of getting it out by the end of the year. Then I attended the product expert conference and learned about the major changes planned for 2020. Not wanting my book to be obsolete immediately after printing, I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, June 25 the redesign was released.
So, what do I think of it? It's not my job to have an opinion, it's my job to explain. I do have an opinion, but it doesn't matter. The quicker I can let go, the quicker I can adapt. I covered it all in episode 194 of our YouTube show. 

Still Staying Home
Our July 4 anniversary was celebrated by staying home. Some things are opening up, but new cases are climbing. We're fine at home, so that's where we're staying. Jim did go on a shore dive with Devon yesterday.  A friend of Devon's who is a brand new diver was the motiviation. They couldn't go kayak diving because we only have 2 kayaks. They has a perfect day - all went well. They reported seeing 4 sharks, and a large tarpon.  

After giving a speech on 8 Tips for using Zoom at our 7am Toastmasters meeting, I took the rest of the day off. Just sitting on the couch all day while Jim was gone. Watching movies, reading a book. Aaaaaaahhhhh

Covid-19  numbers
Day 114 Fri 7/11/20 : Covid-19 Cases in US=3.25 million, Deaths = 136,000

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Our Escape Pod

Members from our USA Dive Club made arrangements for a day trip to the keys to paddle kayaks around the mangroves. Sounds like fun, let's go! We decided to make a trip out of it, put some food, clothes and computers in the camper and took off a couple days before the kayak day. It's only 2 hours from our house to the Tavernier Elks lodge that has RV hookups. We've been there before and loved it.

Mostly, I felt the need for scenery to photograph. I'm getting tired of Iguana photos around our neighborhood, and there's just not that much of interest to photograph around the house. Sunset did not disappoint!

We are just so comfy in our little RV, our Escape Pod. We've missed it. We also worry about it a bit. It's not good for it to sit for months on end, who knows what will stop working during its sequester? We were quite happy to learn that the air conditioning worked great! It's a good thing - I don't think we could have survived the 100 degree heat otherwise. 

The Elks lodge was open for food and drink, so we took advantage. Jim was happy to get a couple nights off from cooking duty. They were requiring masks, and it was not crowded, so we felt quite safe.

They even had decent Wi-Fi, so we sat out in the porch area for our Friday morning zoom meeting.

Saturday was kayaking day. We stopped at Florida Bay Outfitters to check in and pick out our rental kayak. We had reserved a tandem kayak, thinking it would be more relaxing to have both of us in one boat - relaxing for me anyway. I could let Jim paddle while I sat back and took pictures. Well, it didn't work out that way. It was a big, wide, stable kayak with foot peddles as well as paddles. Not the best choice for the kind of kayaking thru the mangroves. It acted more like a barge than a boat. Jim's foot peddles were broken, and it just didn't move well enough to make do with just the paddles, so I was peddling AND paddling most of the time just to barely keep up. Then, we started down a narrow path thru the mangroves that turned out to be a dead end. We had to paddle backwards all the way back to the opening because there was no amount of 3-point, 4-point, or even 5-point turns that could get that barge to go the other way.
Are we having fun yet?!
Oh yeah! We were outside, we were on the water, we were with friends, we were getting exercise. We even had a bit of a challenge. It doesn't get any better. We stopped in the shade for lunch and had lots of conversation and laughs. It was a great day. Thank you Ryan for making this happen!