Friday, June 4, 2010

Ever Wonder about the Full-time RV Lifestyle?

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

Fulltiming refers to a subset of RVers who live and travel full time in their RV. Normally, these Rvers do not have a traditional house (sometimes called a "stick" house).

Purists may define fulltiming in a strict sense - to mean no house, condo, RV lot or any other physical roost to return to. Others allow that if someone is living and traveling in their RV most of the year, they are fulltimers. Like most RVers, we don't get too fussy about the definitions. If someone thinks of themselves as fulltimers, that's okay with us.

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

In our case, our only home is the RV. Like a turtle, our home goes with us. All of our possessions are stored on board - in inerior cabinets, exterior bays or our tow car.

Fulltimers share the interests of the overall community of RVers. Talk of rallies and boondocking and toads. Chat rooms about plumbing and electrical matters that would never cross the mind of a non-RVer.

Yet the fulltiming RVer also deals with aspects unique to their particular type of RV lifestyle. We think it is a great way to live, but it is not for everyone and is not a decision to be taken lightly. Here are a few considerations:

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

Getting rid of a house and personal belongings can be emotional, to say nothing of the logistics. What to keep, what to give away, what to do with the rest.

Close family ties. People accustomed to frequent visits with family and friends need to consider how they will adjust, and how they will stay connected from across the miles. Some people find it difficult to leave a physical community or geopgraphy. On the other hand, we have met RVers who delight in their RV lifestyle as the perfect way to visit with friends and family geographically scattered around the country.

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

How to stay connected in general is a consideration. Mail, email, RV internet access, phones. Fulltiming RVers deal with these in different ways, and take advantage of new technology.

Space: Less of it for things. We can often find yet another niche to stash yet another thing into our motorhome. But make no bones about it - it's a big change from the land of walk-in closets, basement shelves and "room in the garage".

Space - less of it for you. Less personal space and privacy. People living together fulltime in an RV need to be able to get along. They will be together more often and in much closer quarters than traditional living.

Costs. Fulltiming RVers need to plan what it will cost them to live a fulltime lifestyle. This means budgeting for day-to-day living expenses on the road, as well as planning for the future.

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

The traditional house is an appreciating asset. The typical RV depreciates over time. Money may be needed to replace or upgrade an RV. Or the fulltimer may want to plan for a time when they travel less frequently and also maintain a more traditional home.

Jobs. The fulltimer may want to consider working on the road to supplement income. There are lots of options available. As you ponder the choices, think about what impact working will have on your planned fulltiming lifestyle.

Some jobs require a commitment of time in one location. Others can be taken on the road. What types of RVer jobs merit consideration?

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

Establishing an RV home base. Fulltimers still need a home base for a variety of reasons including voting, medical coverage, insurance, taxes, drivers' licenses, etc.
And so on.
When we first became intrigued by the thought of fulltiming, we started reading. We read books that dealt with RV living, and fulltimer experiences. We read books that not only educated us - they inspired us!
We got different perspectives and ideas.

We think this kind of research is a MUST for anyone pondering RV living on a fulltime (or even most-of-the-time) basis. Whether you choose to be a fulltimer or not, the learning is sure to help you create and refine your RV lifestyle.

FunAndFunOnly ( - SridhaR

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Moneyless Man

"Don't get rich quick! Ask me how!": Mark Boyle, "The Moneyless Man" began his finance-free existence in 2007.

(CNN) -- For most of us it seems that money makes the world go round.

But not for Mark Boyle, who has turned his life into a radical experiment and pledged to live without cash, credit cards, loans or any other form of finance.

The British economics graduate was inspired by Gandhi's call to be the change you want to see in the world. After six years working as the manager of an organic food company in Bristol, UK, he decided to strike out in a bold new direction.

"I was sitting around with a friend one night in 2007 discussing the world's problems, and we were trying to work out which one to dedicate our lives to helping solve," he told CNN.

"Then it hit me, at the root of it all was money, which creates a kind of disconnection between us and our actions, whether that's through sweatshops, industrial agriculture, or war, and so I decided to see if it was possible to do without."

It's about reducing your consumption, and there are lots of small ways people can do that which will benefit themselves and the environment.
--Mark Boyle, author, "The Moneyless Man"

Mark sold his houseboat and set about preparing himself for his new life. He posted an advert on Freecycle asking for a tent, a yurt, a caravan or any other type of shelter and was immediately rewarded by his first taste of human kindness.

"Asking for a caravan was just a joke, really, I didn't expect to get one, he says. "But this woman had an old one she no longer needed and it was costing her to keep, and so she gave it to me."

At least he would have a roof over his head. The caravan was taken to the organic farm where he was to volunteer three days a week in return for space to live and grow his own vegetables.

Then a friend made him a cheap wood-burning stove from an old gas can to heat the caravan, and with a few other budget purchases, including solar panels and a trailer for his bike, he was ready to go.

His food would be cooked on a rocket stove made from two old catering tins, and he would wash in a solar shower essentially a black plastic bag suspended from a tree, and warmed by the sun.

His lavatory would be a hole in the ground screened by a wooden modesty structure to protect the sensibilities of any walkers using a nearby footpath.

Then, with his pockets empty he didn't even carry keys as he decided not to lock his caravan and start trusting the world a bit more Mark was ready to go.

Everything was about to change.

Even breakfast on the first day would be different, with morning coffee no longer an option, and the ingredients for his breakfast beverage now gathered in the hedges around his caravan.

"I drink nettle and cleaver tea, sometimes with some fresh lemon verbena when I find it," he says.

"It's all very good for you: iron, calcium, anti-oxidants. I also drink plantain tea for my hayfever, and that's everywhere, even the cracks in the path."

Could you live without spending money for a week? Do you think you could follow in Mark Boyles footsteps? Tell us your thoughts in the "Sound off" box at the bottom of the article.

Although it hasn't always been easy, and there have been many challenges and sacrifices, 18 months later, Mark is still living this way. He told CNN he has really loved it and never been happier or fitter.

"The first few months were hard, just finding my way," he admits. "If you think about how disruptive it is when you just move house or change a job, imagine changing everything at once. But after a couple of months it became very easy, I had all my routines worked out."

Mark's remarkable journey is relayed in his new book, "The Moneyless Man", which along with detailing the practical challenges on the rocky road towards his new world, also explains the philosophy that drives him that human society is fairer, happier and more secure when relationships are not mediated by money.

Any profits from the book will be invested in buying land to create a "Freeconomy community", where people can experiment living together without money.

Public interest in his project has been divided. While a huge number of people are very supportive, there has been harsh criticism of him, particularly on Internet forums.

"It's funny, if you don't have a massive plasma TV these days people think you are an extremist," he says.

"People tend to be either very positive about what I'm doing or very negative; I think it's about 70 percent/30 percent. But I try not to get too worked up about it; its early days and we live in a very money orientated world."

Of course not everyone can, or is ready to, live like Mark -- a point he is happy to concede. But he does believe people can live more like him, and be happier as a result.

"There's no one solution for everyone, and everyone has different needs," says Mark.

"It's about reducing your consumption however that is appropriate for you, and there are lots of small ways people can do that which will benefit themselves and the environment, like car sharing."

With this in mind he put the money from the sale of his houseboat towards setting up, a social networking Web site that aims to help reconnect people in their local communities through the simple act of sharing.

Essentially users sign up and offer skills, spaces and tools they have to others for free. When you need something, you just ask. It's a virtuous circle. So far the site boasts 17,882 members in 131 countries sharing 315,757 skills, 62,033 tools and 287 spaces.

"The thing with "Just For The Love Of It" is it seems really genuine," Em Butler, who has signed up to the site, told CNN.

"With other similar projects like 'Freegle' and 'Freecycle' you know there are people on them waiting to scam you, who will take what you offer and sell it on. But with this its hard to see how that would happen it really is just for the love of it".

So far Mark's adventure without money has taught him a lot, and he has inspired many others along the way, but he remains philosophical about his success.

"I just get up each morning and try and say if it happens, it happens," he says.

"I'm just trying to take life as it comes and enjoy it along the way."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Aurora Borealis: Nature Lights Up the Skies

Aurora Borealis: Nature Lights Up the Skies

All it takes is for the earth to have an atmosphere and the sun to eject ions at speeds up to 1200 km/second then BAM! You’ve got some unbelievable mother nature action. Imagine what people must have thought, thousands of years ago, when they saw these streams and swirls of light and color in the evening sky. Watching this spectacular celestial phenomena today, for that matter, is beyond spectacular.

[ Warning: Lots of images. Please allow for images to load. ]

Aurora happens in both the southern and northern hemispheres, particularly in the polar zone. It is called Aurora Borealis (also known as Northern Lights) in the Artic region and Aurora Australis in the Antartic region. Streaming plasma clouds, composed of fast moving charged particles, form a solar wind. It is the tangential interaction of the solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field that traps some of these charged particles. These trapped particles then flow along the magnetic field lines of the earth into the upper most regions of our planet’s atmosphere. That’s when the lights become manifest and their dance begins.

Schematic of Earth's magnetosphere


Aurora australis captured from space by NASA's IMAGE satellite.

Aurora australis as seen from a Space Shuttle

Aurora Borealis seen from the International Space Station (ISS)

The Northern Lights shine above Bear Lake, Alaska, US

Panoramic photograph from Edison, New Jersey, US

Red and green Aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska, US

Aurora Australis appearing in Swifts Creek, Australia

Green Aurora Over Lake Superior, Canada

Aurora Borealis as seen over Canada at 11,000m (36,000 feet)

Aurora sightings in Oklahoma City, US

Northern Lights over a house in Iceland

Aurora seen at night in Scotland, UK

Aurora over Arena, Wisconsin, US

View of the Aurora and Comet Hale-Bopp over Boston, US

Purple Aurora in Flambeau Lake, Wisconsin, US

Another one from Flambeau Lake, Wisconsin, US

Aurora Borealis with Orion, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Northern Lights - Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Navaratri: The 9 Divine Nights

"Nava-ratri" literally means "nine nights." This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter.

What's the Significance of Navratri?

During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as "Durga," which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as "Devi" (goddess) or "Shakti" (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.

Why Worship the Mother Goddess?

We think this energy is only a form of the Divine Mother, who is the mother of all, and all of us are her children. "Why mother; why not father?", you may ask. Let me just say that we believe that God's glory, his cosmic energy, his greatness and supremacy can best be depicted as the motherhood aspect of God. Just as a child finds all these qualities in his or her mother, similarly, all of us look upon God as mother. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which gives so much importance to the mother aspect of God because we believe that mother is the creative aspect of the absolute.

Why Twice a Year?

Every year the beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctures of climatic change and solar influence. These two junctions have been chosen as the sacred opportunities for the worship of the divine power because:

(1) We believe that it is the divine power that provides energy for the earth to move around the sun, causing the changes in the outer nature and that this divine power must be thanked for maintaining the correct balance of the universe.

(2) Due to the changes in the nature, the bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change, and hence, we worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental balance.

Why Nine Nights & Days?

Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights.

Why Do You Need the Power?

Thus, I suggest you join your parents in worshipping "Ma Durga" during the Navaratri. She will bestow on you wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge, and other potent powers to cross every hurdle of life. Remember, everyone in this world worships power, i.e., Durga, because there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or the other.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


News Item: IIM-B creams the best paid jobs


$193,000. That’s how much 29-year-old Gaurav Agarwal of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, will make once he joins Barclays Capital, a British Bank, to work on Global financial risk management.

‘‘I attribute the increasing salaries to the economy. I also feel that many Indian salaries being offered now are much more when compared relatively,’’ said Agarwal, an electrical engineer from IIT Kanpur. ‘‘I joined IIM Bangalore as I wanted to change what I was doing,’’ says Agarwal, who plans to return to India after a few years.

IIM-B also saw the highest offer for a domestic position by an international firm — at Rs. 30 lakh per annum. ‘‘This has been a historic event for us. Of the 182 students that opted for placements, 65 have already been recruited,’’ said placement committee member Saurav Bansal.

While it may be stale news that Indians are making unprecedented success in many fields and that too in global arena, maybe you’ve not noticed something between the lines: the success of typical middle class in general-- and Baniya class in particular-- in professional fields; the success of Baniya clan in business is already well-established. Baniyas have shown their mettle in business and be it Gujarati, UP or Marwari, the Baniya has the will and the capabilities to make money in any adverse situation.

Let me explain why.

You go to any IIT, IIM, Engineering, Medical, Management, Architecture or any other knowledge- based institution, you’ll come across many Bansals, Aggarwals, Jains, Guptas, Mittals at every level of these institutions and organizations. Have you wondered why?

1.       Family Values: Baniyas are conservative, conventional, and enterprising. But, most of all, they are family people who respect family values. Which means, they respect their women and elders and inculcate good values in their children. I think the divorce rate in Baniyas might be the lowest, but I’ve no figures to substantiate this. Yes, the curse of dowry is there in Baniyas but then, it is there in the whole of Indian class.

2.       Pragmatic and Progressive: Baniyas value progress and are extremely practical and adaptable. They realize that the only way to climb up the stair in the society is by education. No wonder, Baniyas are willing to sell their house to finance the education of their children and pay through their noses for making the best possible education available to their wards. They are also God fearing and religious, but liberal towards other religions.

3.       Law abiding and conservative: Baniyas are the most conservative and believe in being law abiding. In US, the crime rate of Indians is the lowest and being highly educated expatriate and immigrants; they respect education, merit and are useful to their society they live in. Yes, they’re somewhatdabboo and cowardly, but being in interface with the general and sometimes envious public, they have learnt to be low profile and simple/ austere in their conduct.

4.       Money-wiseThe credit card companies in US are extremely angry with Indians for taking their credit card and paying the bills on them in time, unlike Americans; this means these companies make no money from them and this they don’t like. Baniyas like me take the cards, use it to the minimum and pay on time, much to the consternation of the card companies. Baniyas are the least defaulters of banks, loan companies and live within their means. They save money and use it for education, marriages and building properties. No wonder, most Baniyas die rich. They believe in living within their means.

5.       Genetic Disposition: Baniyas are good at maths and they’re genetically inclined towards engineering, business and hisaab-kitaab. It is in their ghuttithat they get maths and science from their mothers and fathers.

In such a scenario, you will come across only two other sets of people who can compete with Baniyas in education:

1.       Tamil Brahmins, who have been the back-bone of Indian bureaucracy and are extremely intelligent, honest and hard-working

2.       Biharis, who thanks to Lalloos, have to run away from Bihar due to lack of infra-structure, law and order and some backing in the society for education are the next largest group who puts extreme premium for education and jobs in the govt.

So, no wonder if you come across a Baniya at every level of management in any organization.

Incidentally, the richest Indian is also a Baniya.

His name is Lakshmi Mittal.


The "Eye of God" in Outer Space

Emailed NASA photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope has been labeled 'The Eye of God' by frequent forwarders.

Description: Emailed photo
Circulating since: May 2003
Status: Authentic NASA image

Email example contributed by A. Lieb, July 27, 2003:

Subject: Fw: Eye of God

This is a picture taken by NASA with the Hubble telescope. They are referring to it as the "Eye of God". I thought it was beautiful and worth sharing.

The Eye of God

Analysis: This is an authentic photograph (actually, a composite of images) taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. It was featured on NASA's website as an Astronomy Picture of the Day in May 2003 and thereafter reproduced on a number of websites under the title "The Eye of God" (though I have found no evidence that NASA has ever referred to it as such). The awe-inspiring image has also been featured on magazine covers and in articles about space imagery.

What it actually depicts is the so-called Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases." At its center is dying star which has ejected masses of dust and gas to form tentacle-like filaments stretching toward an outer rim composed of the same material. Our own sun may look like this in several billion years.

Update: Another giant "eye in space" was photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope on May 4, 2009. In this case the image, one of the last taken with the Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, captured the Kohoutek 4-55 planetary nebula in the constellation Cygnus.

Image Credit: NASA, WIYN, NOAO, ESA, Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), & T. A. Rector (NRAO).