Ramblings of a Techno-Viking


Looking for an RV

My search for an RV to live in has evolved over the past 9 months. At first I thought a short (20-24 foot) Class C would be best for me.

The ads for the Toyota pickup-based ones looked good -- cheap and good fuel economy. That idea didn't survive actually stepping in one, however; it was small enough to give me claustrophobia. The problems with the actual unit (squishy floor, fridge door held by golf T, etc.) didn't help, but everything at that dealer had some problems. Later I found out they tend to be under-powered and can't carry much cargo weight, further reducing them from consideration.

I also looked at a number of other class C RVs, and test drove one from a rental place. It was by far the best of my initial search, but at $20k it significantly exceeded what I originally planned to spend. It was a 2005 Tioga Jamboree (newer than anything else in my initial look) with 134k miles missing some of the standard features (awning, power step, and TV) -- apparently ordered by the rental company without them.

My current plans are to get a 25-30 foot Class A. While they don't have the over-cab bed, they frequently have chairs in the front that can be turned around to make them usable when parked, unlike the pretty-much useless when parked cab portion of a Class C. Being based on a medium truck chassis rather than a cut-away van, they tend to have higher carrying capacity as well. Many have "basements" (outside accessible storage compartments) with much more space than Class C vehicles tend to have. Class C cabovers tend to be a source of leaks as well, especially if it has a forward-facing window.

Slides give you more interior room when parked, at the expense of actually reducing the amount of stuff you can carry. Not only do the use interior space when closed, the weight reduces your available cargo carrying capacity. Some RVs with slides are difficult or impossible to use without the slide opened, so Wal*Mart overnighting is impractical with them. Combined with the extra expense and potential problems, I am seeking an RV without slides.

As my research has continued, I've found my initial hope of getting something usable for $10k was unrealistic. Now I expect to spend at least $15k-$20k initially, with another $5k available for repairs in the first year, and I'll want to spend $2k or more customizing it. (Some customizations don't make economic sense to delay.) Tires are around $2k for a set, and many used RVs need them right away due to their age. Unfortunately, all these amounts may need to creep upwards again.

Fuel economy and horsepower has mostly improved over the years, with a jump between carburetor and fuel-injected engines. First generation ODB allowing engine monitoring may available in 1996 or newer RV chassis, with the improved ODB-II coming later. (Sometimes earlier on California models.) Ford introduced the V10 in the 1999 models, skipping the 1998 model year for cutaway vans and medium truck chassis, so a "1998" RV with a Ford chassis is either on a 1997 (or older) v8 chassis, or one of the early 1999 chassis produced in 1998. There seem to be more problems with the Chevy-based Class A chassis overheating than the Fords, but the Allison transmissions they are hooked to seem to be liked. The early V10s have a reputation for "spitting" spark plugs. Workhorse W20, W21, and W22 chassis have a brake recall going on. None of these potential problems bother me excessively, but they are something to be aware of. Chevy has discontinued their medium trucks, so some parts may become hard to find. Overall, I have a strong preference for ODB-II, and would like a V10 if I can afford it and it doesn't mean compromising too far on other things.

Posted Wednesday 08 September 2010 00:00 UTC
Last edited Friday 05 November 2010 00:34 UTC

To blog or not to blog

Well, this is an experiment. Currently I'm just writing stuff using emacs, and plan on formatting it and putting it up on web pages later. The formatting stuff isn't really an issue, I'm not thrilled with most of the blog formats I've seen, but writing a perl program to add html tags, headers and footers should be pretty easy. Whether I can continue to motivate myself to write these frequently is the main question.

School managed to teach me that writing is a chore that should be dreaded, so I haven't written much in the past mumble decades. Hopefully I can unlearn this, and learn to enjoy it. Writing about subjects of interest to me, without hard deadlines, should help a lot. I do read quite a bit, and expect to write about that later.

Apparently, a few people make good money with popular blogs, and many more have at least some income from them. There are two sources for this income I've found out about so far: ads on the blog page, and paid product mentions in the blog itself. People get paid to mention products, whether they use them or not. So you should be suspicious of product mentions that don't fit into the person's lifestyle when reading a blog. Many of these paid placements don't want that mentioned in the blog, so there may be vague mentions of "sponsors" or even explicit mention of not being paid for specific product reviews.

Unlike my previous web pages, I expect to put ads on this blog (if it continues) and hope it will at least pay for itself. At this point in my life, I'm just to poor to do otherwise. If it actually makes money, I can justify spending more time on it.

Subject matter I plan on blogging about include RVs and the fulltime lifestyle, why I'm planning on doing that, OpenStreetMap, Debian, SF, SF fandom, furry fandom, filk, naturism, electronics, computers, and life. I'm sure food, traveling, places, and people will get mentioned too.

A catchy name for my blog would be nice. Two of the ones I'm following have the blog named after the RV, but I don't have an RV yet. This also means I can't use a picture of my RV in a nice spot for the blog header.

Pictures add interest to the blog entries, but I don't have anything appropriate (with permissions) for either of the entries I've done so far.

How often I add blog entries remains to be seen. For now, I'm thinking about somewhere between daily and weekly.

Posted Thursday 09 September 2010 00:00 UTC
Last edited Friday 08 October 2010 06:10 UTC

Eating cheap for a single person

Most cookbooks and cooking shows assume you are feeding multiple people. For those of us that have been single for many years, this just isn't true.

To keep food fresh, minimize the amount of surface area exposed. For cheese and vegetables, you may be able to cut off the surface layer that has gone bad and use the rest. Lettuce should be used from the outer leaves in, throwing away the wilted outermost layer if needed. A head of lettuce can last 3 weeks this way. To get diced onion, cut a slice or two, then make a series of parallel cuts one way and another set at a 90 degree angle.

Some kinds of food (like milk) I won't eat much after the expired date, and others like pasta in sealed packages are just fine years later, other than being less flavorful. Canned food is usually among the latter, but bulged cans should be discarded. Acidic foods, such as pineapple and tomato sauce, can react with the metal in the cans and shouldn't be eaten if the smell is off. Some foods like produce keep longer if kept cold, and others like pasta and chips better if they are kept dry. You'll need to decide if it is worth your limited refrigerator space to keep things like potatoes. Multiple small sealed packages may be the best value for a single person, even if the per-ounce price is much more.

The major chain stores tend to have better weekly specials, but are more expensive than the discount stores on most everything else. Produce tends to be cheaper where Mexicans shop, but the quality needs to be watched closely. Mexican pasta comes in small packages and is cheaper per pound than the US or European pasta. I've seen stores take meat out of "expired" packages and put it to be sold at their butcher counter.

Dollar store food tends to be about to expire or actually expired unless it is something regularly carried, and sometimes is more expensive than other stores. Milk, which I only use for cooking, comes in quart containers and tends to be fresher than the small containers in supermarkets. (A quart is about the amount of milk I use in 2 weeks, about as far forward dated as I can find.)

Marked down, about to expire, foods can be quite cheap -- or very overpriced. Mark-down racks tend to be located in the back of the store, sometimes partly down an employee hallway. Whether they exist at all, and how deep the discount, can vary store to store, as well as between chains. I've seen stores mark down something from regular price, and have the exact same item with a much later expiration date on special for cheaper elsewhere in the store. Consider if you will consume it before it goes bad, and price compare to the item you would normally consume (where you would normally buy it) rather than the regular price of the deluxe item being discounted. Pre-grated or sliced items may save in prep time, but tend to spoil faster.

When comparing prices, include your time and gas money. It doesn't make sense to spend an hour and $3 in gas to save $.50 on a few items.

Posted Friday 10 September 2010 00:00 UTC
Last edited Friday 08 October 2010 06:10 UTC

Easy Casserole

This is an easy, tasty, and filling dish that is harder to describe than to make, since I don't measure and don't make it quite the same twice.


  • 1 can Condensed cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
  • 1/2 can milk (see below for amount)


  • 1-3 cups leftover chicken or turkey, diced or 2 cans tuna


  • 1/2-2 cups Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and/or other cheese that readily melts (a small portion can be a cheese that doesn't melt easily)


  • Several small-medium potatoes, cleaned and sliced or 2 cups elbow macaroni (increase milk to 1 can)


  • Mushrooms, either canned or fresh
  • 1/2 cup Ham, Salami, Bacon, or Pepperoni
  • Frozen peas (add late in cooking)
  • Other vegetable
  • Diced onion
  • spice to taste (The soup and accent meat tend to be salty, so additional salt is rarely needed.)

Mix the ingredients together in slow-cooker or a 3-quart microwaveable casserole. Cover and slow cook or microwave (uncovered potato, covered macaroni) until the starch is desired consistency, stirring occasionally. 5 hours for slow cooker, 30-45 minutes for microwave.

Posted Tuesday 14 September 2010 00:00 UTC
Last edited Monday 04 October 2010 20:53 UTC