Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Some Changes. Warning, nerdy post.

Did you know I have a youtube?  If you missed the link above or my occasional posts being augmented with youtube videos, this may be news to you.

Up until my youtube has been pretty sparse.  I know that vandwellers have swarmed to the platform in the last year, it was kid of funny to see a group of 5 or 6 people at the rtr, all pointing cameras at each other while talking.  I'm not disparaging them though, the more people that can do this life style and support themselves, the better.  I found someone i talked to on the road about youtubing on there and it made me really happy.

I think the drama whoring for views is irritating though, but I try to just stay away from that, especially the guys who create drama by complaining about the drama lol.

However, they do make me realize just how bad my videos have been in the past, at least production quality wise.  A big part of that is that i don't have any special equipment nor could i afford any.  So i just used what i had, the cheapest go pro and whatever cell phone i had available.

But i still feel the information i provide is good, genuine, and useful to people.  I also use it myself to go back and remember where i have been with a fond smile.

So even tho i haven't made a penny off youtube yet (they only pay when you reach $100 in ad revenue), and despite youtube cancelling my partnership, because they now require 1000 subscribers, i decided to improve it a bit.  The money would'a been nice to upgrade my equipment but its not why i was making them in the first place.

Price dropped, 1/3 off!

I caught a sale on a piece of equipment that allows me to at least stabilize my camera, called a gimbal.  Sometimes you gotta pull the trigger even if you hadn't planned to yet.  If you watched my videos you will have definitely noticed painful amounts of shaking.  Part of that is a severe limp I have from gout.  This device will hopefully erase that problem.  You can also do some pretty cool, professional looking effects with it.

 A cheap Lav Mic, has good reviews on youtube

I also bought an external mic.  Audio is always terrible with the built in microphones of the go pro and my phone.  As i went back to edit clips of my gopro, i had to abandon whole places i went to because the audio just made it un-watchable.  This will hopefully help at least the cellphone footage.  Of course part of it is my dull voice, but I'm working on it.  I'm not a public speaker or a hyper-energetic, coked up werewolf type person to start with. lol

I wish i could afford a decent camera for video (and earth porn photos) but that just isn't possible (maybe if i get a few patrons on patreon eh?).  But in a way i am excited to see what i'm capable of now given the limitations i have.

Ahh, one day.  One day.
I also plan to make my videos a bit shorter in the future.  I often try to give every bit of info i have on a subject and want people to see all aspects, but i now realize that it just bores viewers and loses focus on the important points.

I plan to convey more of the essentials and gloss over the other stuff.  So more skips.  I think ill trust in my blog to go into more depth and send viewers here if they are interested to learn or see more.  I may do multi-parters as well.   I hate em personally but i can see how a 2 parter might be easier to digest.

So anyway, just a little bit of a technical update.   If you want to see how i improve, head over to youtube and hit the subscribe button to get my videos when they drop.  There will still be some older footage for a while as I don't want to completely abandon all I have from the past few months (mostly campsite reviews), but soon I will be adding in these changes moving forward.

Here is a video I made early on, which i felt had ok production given what I had to work with, lets see if i can top it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A troubling and confusing situation.

So I have pretty much outlined my plans and goals for the year and so far things were on track.   With the money I had saved from camphosting, combined with my unemployment, I was going to look to change my rig before heading back to my next hosting job in the spring.  Just had to come home and get mom in her new senior living setup, get my license renewed and buy my rig.

You served me well my blue friend, but
its time to retire.
Everything was going swell, but of course the government decided life can't be that easy and interjected itself in my plans.

A seemingly innocuous demand, do your civic duty, and serve on a jury.   Be on call for 5 months, ok getting a little ridiculous now....but I don't know anyone who had to serve for more than a few days or at most weeks.   After confirming my job start time to be later in the year, I calmed down.  I don't mind serving, I just don't want to risk everything to do it.

But as I got my unemployment packet and looked over the bi-weekly 'certification' form (they use to make sure you are looking for work, always available to work, and not making money any other way), I came to a pretty scary realization.  Because my forced duty, I may lose my unemployment benefits.

I started doing research online, wondering why they would even count jury duty at all, as it is mandated.   Well apparently they do and you must report it.   From multiple sources I found online you are required to report it, and how much you make (40/day for me).  Putting any other income is going to get your certification rejected, especially if you also answer the 'were you available to work' question with a NO. 

Oddly accurate...
I dug some more, and found that the law actually says that jury duty, or any summons to court still counts as 'being available to work'.   The problem is that a yes response to this combined with entering anything in the 'money you made from work or other sources' will still also trigger a rejection.

So, I am faced with 2 things happening.   The application is rejected (i have to do a paper one as well, instead of online, whenever you don't give standard 'acceptable' answers), and they will delay my payment and call me for a phone interview.  Hopefully I can explain the situation, at which point they will deduct the $40 from my unemployment, and issue my payment eventually.

Or as what happened to some others, they will just cancel my claim altogether, and I will have to fight to get it reinstated by contacting them, and wont even get the pay for those weeks.

Anyway, it leaves me wishing that I had went to my doctor right away and gotten an excuse to get out of jury (I do actually have a spinal defect that makes sitting or standing for any prolong period of time progressively more painful, that's why I can only drive 1 hour or 2 max at a time).  But I was snowed in the last 3 weeks, and out of time to see the doctor.

   As it is, the best case scenario is I go to court all day for free, and worst case is I lose nearly $4,000 in benefits (assuming I stay unemployed till spring) over 40 bucks.

I wish they just made an across the board exception, with a little checkbox, for 'did you serve jury duty' and leave it at that for 'doing my civic duty' like im supposed to do.  Since you have to go and employers aren't even suppose to prevent or penalize you for going.

Actually, I think I know...

It all seems odd and confusing to me.  The timing is terrible, if I coulda just got a couple checks in the bank I wouldn't mind but they almost perfectly conspired to conflict with each other (i found it more than a coincidence that just days after paying my states 'personal property tax' on my van, I got a notice to serve, I should have waited till my registration was expired in February).

Oh well, maybe I can find a shitty retail job if all of this falls through that I can just quit later.   Just felt like bringing up a strange situation that you may find yourself in if you do the camphosting/unemployment route.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Get a Job Easily: Everything You Need to Know About Camphosting

Job Sweet Home

I've wanted to do this blog post since I finished camp hosting back in October, after I completed my first season.   I decided to upload this blog post now because the time to get a camp hosting job, is quickly approaching.   Camp Hosting companies usually do the bulk of their recruiting at the end of January for the following spring (May and June typically).  Since I want to be thorough, it will be a lengthy post, so sorry about that in advance, I will try to break it up as best as I can.

If you are more of the "Show don't tell" type, I also made a video covering these points and giving a demonstration of typical camp hosting day.

What is Camp Hosting?

You may not even know what Camp Hosting is, so let me explain.   Camp hosting is a job where you manage a campground for a concessionaire (company) to take care of the area, collect fees, and make campers happy.   It is nearly always a seasonal job (but not always) and most jobs take place in the spring-autumn months (but not always).   The specifics of these jobs vary widely by not only the particular company you work for, but by the location even in that same company, and even by the particular land owner/planner (typically government or utility) that contracts that company. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Everything You Need to Know To Stay Warm.

West Virginia, cold as ever.

As I sit here, the temperature is a balmy -2 degrees in Wild and ahem Wonderful West Virginia.   So, I decided to talk a little bit about how I keep warm while living in my van for years without becoming a popsicle.

More often than not, people always worry about me in the winter freezing in a van.   It's kind of amusing to me, as the hot weather is much more dangerous for me than cold.   You can always warm up, but you can only cool down so much.  It got to the point that one cold day around 0 degrees, I had to send out a picture next to my thermometer reading around 80 degrees, I was in my shorts :)

Obviously the best way to stay warm on the inside of your dwelling, is to simply make sure it is warm on the outside of it.  You probably heard the term snow birds, usually associated with seniors and retirees in RVs moving from a summer home in the north down to a summer home or rv park in the south (usually florida, at least in the East). 

Panama Beach Florida
Our elders are wise, so why not learn from them.   As a vehicular nomad, one of your greatest strengths is to be able to move your home at will.   Why not just drive to where temperatures are moderate and where you like them.   If the weather turns extreme again, move on!

Colorado River, Ehrenberg Arizona
Most often, people consider snow birding as moving from one end of the country to the other with the seasons, but remember that distance is not necessarily a requirement, just a change in temperature.  Another, often cheaper, way to get that is altitude.   For instance, you can live in warm Ehrenberg or Quartzite Arizona and stay in the desert through the cold winter, then move in the harsh summer by driving UP to Flagstaff or Prescott, Az where it is much cooler.

Near Winslow Az, Higher Altitude

But if you are like me, sometimes it isn't possible to move, for work or family reasons.   Or you may have missed your window of opportunity, and might become stuck in a cold weather situation.  It's nothing to worry about, as long as you are prepared.

Cheap Garbage

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

I hope you have a terrific 2018 wherever you are!    

My only resolutions are to get a new rig and a way to take a warm shower indoors this year.   That's right, I plan to actually get out of the van, and into something more comfortable to drive long distance, and with more room inside for a shower.   Right now I am not sure what form this will take as I have very little money, but I am currently looking at getting a used minivan, suv or small pickup and either a used small camper to refurbish, or an empty cargo trailer to build out.  

Since my work ended in October, my funds are set for now (savings), but I am hoping to receive unemployment soon while I'm out of work to give me a small boost toward my goals.  I might also be able to sell or trade the van once I know I have a suitable replacement.

Well see, as always if my upgrade plans fall through I still have the van to fall back too.  

To my friends out on the road and on the way to the RTR or already out there, safe travels, I'll be joining you next year :)