I Hope I Am Wrong


It’s been years since I last set down to write anything long form that’s remotely political, in fact 2008, if my search is correct.  In some ways, I can hardly recognize that passionately pedantic punk that felt the urge to scream into the void in the hope of persuasion by shouting (though my friends might argue about that on the occasions when I have more than a couple of gins in me).  I realized around that time that no one was really interested in what I was selling and that I could spend my life in a happier place by worrying about the things that I know I could change which is myself and to focus my time on those around me that I love. I know I’ve been better off for it.

However, I can’t pretend that last night wasn’t historic or momentous.  I am feeling the urge to write something not in the hope of being persuasive or to change the world, but because last night was tragic in a personal and long-term way.  It brought back memories and beliefs of my younger days that I don’t think I will be able to restore from this day forth and I want memorialize them somewhere.

At just before midnight last night when it was apparent what was going to happen, I had a sudden and vivid flashback to a time almost 15 years ago.  One night my dear friend Iva and I got into a heated and hours long debate about the idea that the US was headed towards nationalism.  As the child of citizens of the former Yugoslavia, she brought both logic and personal experience to her argument.  And yet, I could not be persuaded.

I argued fervently that America was different, not because we were special as a people but that we were special in situation.  A country founded purely on a set of enlightenment philosophical ideals, populated by immigrants of almost every country and religion and with a fundamental belief in pluralism couldn’t really be nationalist.  Yes, I wasn’t naïve enough to ignore our history of racial hatred and apartheid.  Nor was I naïve enough to say that we hadn’t had a certain segment of the population that subscribed to nativist and ethnic nationalist ideals; I was already quite familiar with Pat Buchanan.  However, I was unable to believe that as a young country with a complete lack of common ethnic, religious and cultural history that we could really ever become nationalists.  On that, I was wrong.

Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that has destroyed the entirety of Europe twice in the 20th century.  Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that has left piles of corpses, broken bodies and weeping widows around the entire globe.  Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that throws away the enlightenment in pursuit of a philosophy that bestows rights and privileges upon its subjects on the basis of their religion, ethnicity and the coincidence of the geography of their birth.  Last night I watched my country scream an incoherent cry of rage at people who are now to be labeled as the other, as the not-quite-human, as the enemy. Last night I saw the ideals that has made me love my country abandoned, maybe forever.  Last night I saw no better angels of our nature.  But I hope that I am wrong.

Now I am left to put my trust in our political machinery to temper and restrain the normal products of the adoption of nationalism.  As a life long libertarian, that trust isn’t very sturdy in my mind.  I don’t see how a party unified in its abhorrence of intellectualism can be trusted to uphold the abstract ideals of classical liberalism.  I don’t see how a state equipped with an entire legion of well armed militarized police can be trusted to defend the people against authoritarianism.  I don’t see how a country divided at a moment of incredible prosperity and peace can heal itself under the strain of the chaos in front of us. But I hope I am wrong.

Now, I must go back to my quiet life.  I can’t go back to screaming into the void.  I can’t see the point and I don’t have the strength or will to do it.  I must go back to trying to see the best in everyone I meet.  I must go believing that people are fundamentally good both as individuals and in society.  I must start hoping I’m wrong.

Long Silence, Lots Happening


Proving that blogging is the first thing to suffer as soon as stuff gets interesting, we’ve been horribly quiet over here lately. It’s been a whirlwind of activity as we’ve purchased our trailer, set it up and hit the road for our first work trip.IMG_1026 (1)


After much going back and forth, we decided we wanted the Airstream Flying Cloud 27FB. It’s a nice compromise between the compact length of the 25FB and it’s slightly awkward sleeping accommodations and the spacious 30 foot which would severely limit some of the places we would like to go. As soon as we were sure that our house sale was going through, we began a nationwide search for our perfect trailer. We finally found the one we wanted at Colonial Airstream in New Jersey. Even though neither of us have any real towing experience, we went with that old adage about fortune favoring the brave, and dashed to the East Coast to pick up our new home and bring her back to Oklahoma!

IMG_1033 (2)

Thankfully, we really needn’t have worried as much as we did. Between our truck which is a bit of overkill for a trailer of this size and the very nice ProPride hitch that we sprung for, the towing experience has really been uneventful which is to say wonderful!

It took us five days to get the trailer back which was a great chance to test all of the equipment and get some good practice hooking and un-hooking the trailer. We were wimps though and passed on trying to back it up for the first week.

While in Oklahoma, we’ve settled into a nice place in Luther which is close to my parents and also easy to get into the city for work. We spent three weeks in Oklahoma getting stuff organized, installing the various cellular and WiFi antennas that we will need to keep us working on the road. Then it was off for a short two week trip to try all the stuff out and get our feet wet!

We’ve spent the last week in Gunnison, Colorado which is on the southern side of the state just down the road from the ski town of Crested Butte. We stayed in an RV park on the outskirts of town while we looked for some places to do some dry camping the following week. First lesson learned, don’t count on RV Park WiFi. This is one I had already heard from other full-timers, but I had hoped that we could make it work. Unfortunately, the park WiFi was extremely throttled and usage was very limited. Combined with a lack of usable cellular signal, our first week of on the road working was a bit tough. We also got our chance to work on our first trailer repair. During the antenna installation, we didn’t entirely seal up the access hole to the inside of the trailer, which made for an alarming leak that we think we now have under complete control.

It hasn’t been all work and learning though. This weekend we got a chance to head up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for a little sight seeing. Grace wasn’t too thrilled with the steep drop offs (She is very, very afraid of heights.), but she humored me. It’s some amazing sights to be sure!



For this week, we’ve moved about 20 miles up the road to a small National Forest Service Campground right by the Taylor River outside of the small hamlet of Almont, Colorado. It’s a beautiful spot with enough sunny spots for me to try out the solar panels and with the beautiful, rolling sound of water running through the rapids just down the hill from us. This is the sort of place I’ve been dreaming of when we started thinking about this change of life. Can’t wait to spend a week here to find out just what it’s going to be like!

from Aluminum Dreams http://ift.tt/2aMYjjv

Week 3: A Return to Normalcy?

So, my three weeks off is coming to an end.  It’s been an amazing whirlwind of activity that has moved us closer to our dream of the open road than the last few months combined.

This week was a slow return towards normalcy. I personally spent most of the week doing client work, cleaning email and getting business work taken care of after the craziness of the last two weeks.  Kind of nice to write some code again. I didn’t think I would miss it so soon.

However, we also made some great progress on the house as well.  The house exterior painting is almost complete.  This includes the great new porch color which is really looking nice.  We also managed to complete the sale of a few more of our remaining household goods.  Things are really starting to look empty around the house …

Our Almost Empty House

The really big news of this week was that we went truck shopping this weekend.  Thankfully, I was able to enlist the intelligent assistance of my auto-handy brother-in-law, James, for a long day of test driving a large number of extremely large trucks. We finally found our new tow vehicle!  Meet Minerva, our 2012 F-250 Diesel Pickup Truck …


This is another one of those big milestones on our journey that seem to have made up the last three weeks.  In the long term we hope Minerva will take us a long way down the roads we hope to travel and in the short term, it’s great to have a vehicle that can carry our remaining goods around to donate or store.

So, tomorrow I head back to the day job.  We still have a lot of work left to do, including, painting the interior, replacing some flooring and remaining yard work and clean up.  However, all of this seems so much more obtainable than when we started this dream a few months back. For awhile, our task list seemed like it stretched into eternity.  Now, while there is still so much to do, we are feeling like we have a grasp on the project.

In closing, some sincere thank yous are in order to everyone that has helped us out for the last several weeks.  In particular, thanks to my step-father Mark who has guided our construction efforts for the last three weeks.  Without him, I’m sure the house would be in much worse shape than when we started.  (And thank you to my mother, Hollis, for your advice and allowing us to borrow Mark during this busy time.) I also want to thank our house painter Kevin Jefcoat, who squeezed us in to his schedule on very short notice.  I also want to thank my in-laws, Dan and Teresa, for providing us some great flooring for the house.  Thank you to my stepkids, Alex and Gwen for being such a huge help setting up the estate sale (at 4 a.m.!). Ahead of schedule, thanks to my aunts, Seddie and Connie, for helping us with the interior painting.  I also want to thank my employer for helping get me this time off for all of these projects. Also, a HUGE thank you to James for helping me pick out the perfect truck for our needs and offering to teach me about my new diesel acquisition. (And thank you to my sister-in-law Allie for letting us borrow James.)

We also want to extend a big thank you to everyone who dropped by our estate sale and everyone following along and cheering us on during the start of this big adventure.  Your kind words and encouragement help more than you can know!

from Aluminum Dreams http://ift.tt/1r8ceZA

Week Two Construction and Downsizing Update

I think there is an inverse correlation between the frequency of blogging and how busy someone is. The silence here should be indicative how exactly how insane the last week was for the both of us. However, as far as making progress on our dreams, this was the best week yet.

We started off at a fairly calm pace. Mark and I did a large quantity of tree pruning, replaced one wall of paneling on the old detached garage and finished getting the porch squared up and ready to go. Grace continued getting ready for our estate sale which was scheduled for this last Saturday.

My house painter, the excellent Kevin Jefcoat (if you are looking for someone), got us squeezed into his tight schedule and started making great progress on the house exterior. We were also able to get a yard crew in to do some serious rehabbing on the yard, long neglected by yours truly.

It wasn’t till Wednesday night that Grace was finally able to pound it into my thick head that we owned a lot more stuff than I ever understood. Thus began two very long days and nights of hauling, sorting, stacking and pricing.

It has been less than a year since our last garage sale and I had thought we had already made a lot of progress. This time around has taught me a bit about my personality that I really am not fond of. I’ve spent an enormous portion of my life collecting an incredible amount of what could be politely described as detritus and more accurately be termed as crap.

Some of this is your standard consumerism stuff but a lot of it is my obsession with old oddities. In this group, there are true oddities such as weird balances for measuring the specific density of substances, fossils dug up on childhood camping trips and WW I trench lighters. But, there were many more perceived rarities which turn out to be anything but. One example was an extremely beat up old copy True to the Old Flag, by G.A. Henry, a history of the American Revolution from the British point of view. Turns out this book is well known, has never gone out of print and is available in any number of formats.

No matter what, I think it will be extremely important for me to put my “Ooh, that’s odd” and “Ooh, that could be useful someday” natural attitude to acquisition in check if I’m ever going to make living in 200 square feet really work.

However, this first extremely large pass at downsizing went well, if at a frenetic pace. We were able to get the vast majority of stuff ready to go for the sale. Even better, we were able to sell a huge quantity of it in a massive one day sale that started at 4:00 AM. I owe an especial level of gratitude to the many old and new friends that made an effort to come by and pick up a few items!

By the end of the day, we were more exhausted than I can remember, but felt extremely satisfied that so much progress has been made towards this big change in our lives. Grace commented today that the emptier house is her first indication that this is really going to happen. I can second that motion.

Today, we were kind of forced by soreness and sleepiness to work at a much more leisurely pace. We mostly spent the day attempting to put the remaining house back into some semblance of order, assisting in the pickup of some of the larger sold items and to start boxing up the rest of the items that will be donated to charity. Of course, all we really wanted to do was to be like Opie on a nice sunny afternoon . . .



from Aluminum Dreams http://ift.tt/1SrBqQr

Week One Construction Update

It’s been amazing to see what can get done in a week if you can get the time to focus on it.  I started this week with a laundry list of home and garden tasks, some of which I had been ignoring for years.  I end this week with some major projects done and progress on many others.

The major task of this week was my front porch which has been long needing to be re-decked. With diligent effort, Mark and I were able to finish this, which is the most daunting of my repairs, within the week.


I spent this weekend was spent clearing brush, shrubs and trimming trees, especially around the building structures in preparation for the exterior house painting.  Now I have several dozen trees to chop up and put in the dumpster.

In the mean time, Grace has been frantically working to keep our business up and running while also priming the front porch and prepping us for our estate sale which is happening next weekend.

We have a lot of irons in the fire, but so far we are keeping up with them all and it’s great to finally see real progress towards our dreams.

from Aluminum Dreams http://ift.tt/1UOCTHd

It Starts with a First Step

It’s been a frustrating few weeks for me on the home liquidation front.  Partially, I felt stuck in a rut of analysis paralysis; constantly planning and no action.  However, mostly it just not finding time to get anything done. Between my day job, my side work on Fore & Aft Design and just the stuff that we have to do to keep our lives afloat, there just wasn’t enough hours in the day.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to arrange three weeks off work to get to work on house repairs and to downsize like crazy.  Plus I’ve been able to twist my father’s expert arm and he’s agreed to provide some much needed expertise to this undertaking.  Even the first day, which has mostly been logistical work has felt like more progress than the entire last month.

Today we shopped for lumber, appliance parts, ordered a massive dumpster and did some minor repairs.  It might be a small step, but it really feels like actual progress. Call me excited.

Tomorrow begins the porch rebuild . . .

from Aluminum Dreams http://ift.tt/1RGyA9C

A New Dream

For me, it started with a dream of boats and wide open spaces. While growing up in Oklahoma City can’t be described as exactly living in a concrete jungle, it also wasn’t the exactly the great wide open either. I then spent several years in Chicago, which really was the concrete jungle before returning once again to Oklahoma.


And yet, my favorite memories are of traveling through wide open vistas, whether family camping trips through Big Bend, TX, backpacking in New Mexico or any number of bicycle trips. After seeing quite a few of those American vistas, I thought the next wide open space to visit would be the ocean.

Grace wasn’t so convinced. I mean despite the fact that I don’t know much about sailing, I might have an issue with sea sickness and I don’t have enough money for a yacht, I didn’t see any real obstacles. However, we judiciously decided to set our sights a little bit more conservatively for our next plans.

Grace never had the chance to travel much and while I’ve traveled quite a bit in the US, I’ve never spent long periods of time out in the wild.

So, that’s where this new dream of getting a travel trailer and heading out to see the United States. This blog will tell our story as we start paring down and prepare for our great new adventure.

from Aluminum Dreams http://ift.tt/21BvUBR

Lake Overholser Water Release

This gallery contains 11 photos.

After 3 years of endless drought, we here in central Oklahoma at least, were with desperately needed rain.  It’s gotten so extreme, that our city reservoirs must release water to prevent flooding. After a tip from my Mother, Grace and I took a little photo date down to the Lake Overholser Dam to catch some photos […]