Van Build – Rebuild / Superstructure

Those of you who have been around here for a while will remember my original build. I had an extendable slats-based bed on the left side, a rudimentary kitchen forward of that, and nothing on the right side.

This layout didn’t suit me well for a number of reasons: Continue reading “Van Build – Rebuild / Superstructure”

The Wisdom of Walden, Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Revisiting some of my favorite passages from Walden, and explaining what they mean to me.

“When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, his vacation from humbler toil having commenced.”

Live below your means – way below. Most of us in Western societies spend every penny we earn. Few save much if any, and almost nobody would entertain the thought of living as if we made a fraction of what we do. If we can easily afford a $2000/mo apartment, we figure that’s what we need to live in.

Many vandwellers have gotten the idea: They’ll stay at their job, making say $2000 a month, but they’ll only spend $500 of it. The rest goes right into savings. These people don’t necessarily have a problem when they lose or quit a job, knowing they’ll be just fine. It’s a term you may have heard called “F.U. money”.  Whether you live on minimum wage or have a six digit income, your expenses can remain constant and low. Continue reading “The Wisdom of Walden, Part 2”

The Wisdom of Walden

I speak, of course, of Thoreau’s book, which may as well be the Bible to vandwellers and boondockers.  I’d like to revisit some of my favorite passages, and explain what they mean to me.

“But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool’s life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before.”

Men labor under a mistake. Time is money. You don’t pay for things with dollars; you pay for them with hours of your life. Every dollar earned and spent is for that much of your life you should rightly have had to yourself. But instead you decided to trade it away. And for what? Usually, for creature comforts and luxuries that only take you further away from Nature – From how we were meant to live.

Almost every cent is wasted on fleeting moments or things that will become garbage. The money you spend on air conditioning and entertainment may as well be burned. You can adjust your climate by traveling to where it’s nicer, and you can entertain yourself with a book. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of free (or no-cost-added) books just a few clicks away.

In the end, you can’t take any of it to your grave. You’ll just leave a house full of garbage to your children. It’s more a mess to clean up than it is an inheritance, and they’ll be remembering you with every trinket they sell or throw out. The pain is extended at least until the estate is closed. By living a minimalist lifestyle, you can save them that; and you can save yourself the waste of collecting the trinkets in the first place.
Continue reading “The Wisdom of Walden”

Verizon Beyond Unlimited hotspot plan

I chatted with a salesperson from Verizon Wireless and got a number of concerns addressed and questions answered. Thought some of it might be helpful here. I looked into Verizon specifically because they’re known for having the best coverage in rural areas, and I plan to spend a lot of time in the middle of nowhere.

  1. 4G/LTE speeds are somewhere from 5Mbps to 50Mbps, but usually between 5 and 12. She couldn’t answer this with a number so I had to go look it up.
  2. The Beyond Unlimited plan is truly unlimited. However, once you use > 22 GB / month, you will be deprioritized if you’re on a congested tower. When you get deprioritized, you will be stuck at 3G speeds (600Kbps). You will never be charged or disabled for extra usage, no matter how much. The 22GB limit is reduced to 15GB if you get the regular Go Unlimited plan instead of Beyond Unlimited.
  3. If the tower you’re on is not congested, you will still get the full 4G LTE speeds (or whatever your signal will carry), no matter how much you use. It is unclear how they define “congested”.
  4. If you get just the hotspot, it’s $85/mo if you enable paperless billing and auto pay. There are discounts beyond that if you also have phone(s). She quoted me $20/mo if I’m also paying for two phones.
  5. 4G/LTE hotspots are able to connect to 3G-only towers, if that’s all they can find.
  6. Hotspots support plenty of devices connected at the same time; 10 to 20 of them depending on the device types.
  7. Once you reach your 15GB or 22GB limit, only the hotspot is deprioritized; phones are not.
  8. Verizon allows signal boosters, but you are required by law to register them. Which gets tricky since you’re supposed to tell them where you’ll be using it.
  9. You can buy a “Data Boost” once a month. It will increase your limit by 5GB for $35.
  10. If you travel to Mexico or Canada, the plan is 512MB/day instead of 15-22 GB/mo. However, if more than 50% of your talk, text, or data usage in a 60-day period occurs in Canada or Mexico, they may limit or remove your service in those countries.

I also found this FAQ which frankly answers more questions than she did. Hope this helps.

Note: I am not a Verizon customer yet, but I plan to be as part of my transition into vanlife. When I do, after I’ve had enough time to evaluate it, I’ll either update this post or add a new post. Hopefully I’ll remember to link it from here.

You Can Never Go Home

For twenty years I lived at home
it was quite sensory;
Grew up, moved out, and went to roam
but missed the memory.

One day my Dad died / and of course I cried
and then I decided to buy it;
Nostalgia had lied / me it did misguide
but of course I had to try it.

I found it quite strange / to see all the change
from my long lost childhood
I could not arrange / I could not exchange
what was left just wasn’t good.

Despite my new claim / ‘twas only in name
a house is not a genome;
It just wasn’t the same / and with no one to blame
I learned: You can never go home.