Table Of Contents
1: 2009/10/13 - "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains" Today is the day I leave the world of houses behind. I am walking out of my home at 1553 Fulton, which was my home longer than anywhere else, with nothing but my unfinished bus to move into. I first leave for travelling for almost two months, mostly in Europe. I'm actually heading out to the airport on my last run to the storage unit which is holding remnants of my life. I am expecting an adventure. (Quote in title courtesy Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
A little parable: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, senor?” The American laughed and said that’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions. “Millions, senor? Then what?” The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.” - author unknown 2: 2015/03/27 - "Interesting Complications of Nomadic Wandering" Yes, it's chronologically out of order, but it belongs at the top. Now that it's been over half a decade on the road, I decided to write a little article on what it's like to live as a nomad: The Nomad Life 3: 2009/12/07 - Dave's Bus Saves The Day Monday night is the night I dance at Shades of Blues. I was getting ready to head over to Shades when I got a call from Susan letting me know that a power transformer exploded on the street that Shades is on. No power at Shades of Blues means no music and no lights which means no dancing. My bus has a 10kW generator. You do the math. I pull up to Shades and we start running extension cords. Blues dancers are die hard, so they are dancing quietly in the dark using a battery operated speaker hooked up to a laptop. But we hook up and Shades of Blues goes back into full swing, whilst the rest of the block sits in darkness. It turns out my powers can also be used for good! 4: 2009/12/31 - Crappy New Year There have been some trials and tribulations since moving into the bus, I still don't have proper heat or hot water, and my battery bank has prematurely fallen apart. None of that compares to the trip from hell that I am currently on. I decided to take the bus out for it's first road trip as a home, going up to Portland for Blues parties for the New Year. It's 2010, and I'm still not there yet, I am currently quasi-stranded in Southern Oregon. Right before leaving I started having problems with my veggie oil conversion. I had been meaning to replace the tank heat coils with aluminum since the copper was reacting with the oil, but after 10 hours of work, I only had one coil replaced, and the coolant wasn't flowing anymore, and the WVO electrical system wasn't working. After much debug, I managed to get on the road with a full tank of veggie oil and a seemingly working system. Then everything went to hell. The veggie oil system stopped heating up properly and on top of that my 'dirty' tank filter stopped working, just as it had when Haley and I made a bus trip up to Seattle which made the return a costly nightmare. This time I managed to figure out how to disassemble the filter and got it unclogged, but it still wasn't heating properly, so I called it a night. The next day, much to my shock, my generator wasn't starting up. Turned out that the industrial strength squirrel cage fan that I had installed behind it had died inexplicably, making it impossible to keep the generator cool. Now I didn't have power either, apart from whatever charge was left in my currently feeble battery bank. I got the brilliant idea to run some of the extra massive cables I had from my house batteries to my bus battery, so that I could start the bus up and use the bus alternator to charge my house batteries which would power the inverter. This would allow me to hook up a bucket heater that I had which I could dump in the veggie oil tank so that it would finally get warm. This finally succeeded, and I was up and somewhat running again - I wasn't sure what to do about the genset, but I had power to get to Portland. I started to drive again, only to notice the year switch over to 2010 as I was heading up I5. I kissed my cat, she's riding as my copilot and is the number one woman in my life anyways. :) Except that I wasn't able to switch to veggie oil without the engine losing power. I replaced the engine veggie oil filter and then tried to prime the line by switching between oil and diesel as I have done before. This time it wouldn't get power again, and one of the times I switched to veggie oil it killed the engine. I switched back to diesel and tried to start it and it wouldn't start. Disaster. Having a diesel run out of fuel is a bad situation. Now I had no heat, no electricity and no mobility. I had a pump that I had used to prime the veggie oil lines, so I thought I might be able to find the fittings to get it to prime the diesel. The pump was dead. Unbelievable. I had bought it new and used it once. Everything on the bus was falling apart, even though most of it was new and high quality, super industrial equipment. My luck was in shambles. I took a break and pondered what to do next. I heard the bus sink a bit as the air slowly leaked from the tanks (as it does when it's not running) and realized that my bay doors would lock shut when I'd lost air, and wouldn't open again until I could start the bus. Some of my tools and supplies I need to fix this were in the bay, and I could get stuck in a catch-22. I ran outside the bus and ran around opening all the bay doors just in time, only one of them ended up locked. And fortunately I realized that I had my electric collection pump from my veggie oil system. It was a bit oversized, but should be able to pump, and had most of the fittings already on it. It took a number of experiments to figure out how to hook it up so it would pull diesel from the fuel lines and push it through the engine, but I finally got it and the engine started. So now I just have a broken generator and a broken WVO system. Somehow after looking at the possibility of being totally stranded, this is a relief. I'm typing this up in a cafe in Southern Oregon, wondering what to do next. I'm not sure if I'll ever make it to Portland, though I am coincidentally close to the place that sold me the generator (though I'm guessing they're closed tomorrow, since it's the first). It's difficult to keep perspective when this keeps happening. I know that the WVO system is homemade and may have issues, but it should generally work. And everything else that is failing should *NOT* be failing. I bought the best of components and installed them correctly, so it just doesn't make sense. If I believed in a higher power, I would definitely presume that it was telling me to get out of the bus. And when I keep getting thrown curve ball after curve ball after curve ball after.. (repeat 20 times), it gets disheartening, and I start thinking that maybe a dinky $600/mo SF apartment might not be so bad. *sigh* Update - 5 hours later: WVO is working now, figured out that it was a problem with the filter not sealing properly and letting air in. Now I just need electrical power. Update - many days later: I stopped in Eugene where I bought the genset and they forklifted the generator out of the bus and I spent all day pulling apart the 'doghouse' that I built (the soundproofing container that the generator sits in) to get to the fan that's not working. I pull it out and it starts to work. Comedy. We can't figure out what's wrong with it, so we put on a new wiring harness and I put everything back together - testing the fan every few steps. It works fine each step of the way, so I reinstall the generator and hook it back up. Now the fan doesn't work. Comedy. So I pull it all apart again, and we finally figure out that there's an intermittent short inside the motor. This is the first failure they've ever seen of these fans. So I buy a new fan and install it into the bus. The new fan stops working. What the hell is happening to my bus? Update - many days later: After four days in Eugene and THREE removals and re-installs of the 600 pound genset, it's working again. It turns out that the first fan failure (wiring short) is completely different from the second fan failure (capacitor fault), thereby encompassing the only two failures they have ever seen on this fan. Both in my bus. Time to head home. Yeesh. Update - two years later: Believe it or not, fan #3 has failed, the fan has actually physically sheared off the motor. I have to pull everything apart again. 5: 2010/01/25 - State Of The DaveUnion Frequenly asked question: How is life in the bus? Interesting point #1 is that it doesn't actually feel that different from the perspective of being rooted. I don't feel adrift - it took a couple of weeks to get used to the idea of not having a specific address but unsurprisingly my brain eventually adapted. Interesting point #2 is that while I went into this knowing that there would be setbacks, just like any engineering job, I never imagined it could go this wrong. So far the setbacks have been a bit more than I think could be considered "reasonable." Lots of bad luck has come along with many pieces of equipment failing. This is new, high-quality and industrial strength equipment that is failing, and after a bunch of failures like that I think it's safe to say I have hit a run of bad luck. The last entry (above) in this history is a fine example of that. So be it. That means things are not currently ideal, I've been fulltiming for almost two months and the current major issues are: 1. No Heat Initial heat plan didn't work, and backup heat plan didn't work. Diesel furnace on the way, though that's a big project. Hopefully it'll be done before summer. ;) 2. No Hot Water. Initial plan became less feasible, so switching to using diesel furnace, though this means borrowing showers for another month or so. 3. Batteries Not Holding Charge It's not clear what happened here. The batteries are working at about 1/5th capacity, and I kept them properly charged while stored. I'm in talks with the battery manufacturers about what might have happened, but until then I need to run in low power all the time (this is why the backup heat idea isn't working) 4. No Kitchen or Cabinets Because of #1-#3 above. Only an issue because it means I can't unpack a bunch of storage boxes which means I can't clear out or organize my storage unit which means I can't sell off the excess junk I have packed away. So it goes. 5. Toilet Quasi-Functional I have to cut a vent in the ceiling to be able to use it at 100%, but at least I've gotten somewhere on this. So that's how things are in the bus. Not perfect or pretty by any means, but I'm getting by and I keep reminding myself that I'll have comfort soon. It's amazing to see how much we take for granted. Something as simple as a heated shelter is a powerful thing that we don't generally notice. It's been an interesting lesson. 6: 2010/02/25 - Angry Cops Abusing Power I have a feeling I'll use that title for more posts in the future. It turns out that owning a very large vehicle, such as a bus, is grounds for police harassment. I'm working inside my bus, and a large number of cop cars show up. I am a danger to society, evidently. The police start pounding on the bus at the same time they are getting a tow truck ready to tow it. Not that it's parked illegally, but it seems that the police enjoy harassing 'troublemakers' such as myself. They claim that it's been parked in the same location for weeks now, which is provably false because I had just moved it there the night before, and if it *had* been there for more than 72 hours, then I would have had street cleaning tickets, which I did not. I pointed that out to them, and they were uninterested. So they started yelling at me that they had proof that I had been parked their for more than 72 hours (not true). I tried to explain this to them, when one of the officers said she wanted to look in my bus and she walked over towards it. I asked if she had a warrant and I was ignored. She stood by the door and asked me if it was a bus or motorhome. I told her it was registered as a motorhome (as they should know). She asked the same question again. Cops are easily confused and not great listeners, near as I can tell. She kept asking this and telling me she wanted to go inside, which I refused. Then she threatened to call the "Office of Commercial Inspectors". I told her I didn't know what that even meant. My gut feeling is that it was just a ploy to trick me into letting her into my bus, because she gave up on getting into the bus and yelled at me some more about how the street is private property (also not true). Cops are great source of fantastical information, and in this case I'm using the root of 'fantastical' which is 'fantasy'. What a day. The end result is that I drove away while they towed the family of four that was living in their RV in front of me which unfortunately had a dead battery. That family of four wasn't around for very long, my guess is that they have become homeless and the father is now unemployed. Good job protecting our streets! 7: 2010/06/22 - The Scum Of London This is yet another entry my mum probably shouldn't read. I'm off dancing in London, and it's time to head back to Zurich. I get to the bus stop early morn in a fairly decent neighborhood with my dancing friend Ursi and all of our luggage when three gentlemen (and I use that term loosely, if not sarcastically) come up and one of them starts asking me where I'm from. His eyes are bloodshot from whatever. I tell him lots of places, but he keeps asking, so I tell him San Francisco. It isn't until much later that I realize he's trying to figure out if I'm from around this neighborhood, my guess is that he's a local. They tell me to give them my phone and my money. Actually, they mumble it a few times, and I have to keep asking him what he's saying. That's a bit displeasing. The mugging part, not the mumbling part. I look at them for a while. I've thought alot about what I would do in this situation, and it has occurred to me that in many cases the muggers are also uncomfortable and scared, and if you can figure out how to get them to bail on the situation, then you can avoid losing out. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), my fight/flight response is fairly undeveloped, so I don't get very freaked out in threatening situations. So I look at them for a while. I've discovered that tends to really unnerve people who are expecting you to be scared. I figure it probably won't work in this case, since there are three of them, but I decide to give it a go. I calmly suggest to them that they don't need to have any trouble. This goes back and forth a bit, them demanding money and me telling them that they should probably leave. One of the guys reaches his hands out and gets a lighter from another guy and then pulls out something that looks like pepper spray and ignites it to get a little burst of flame. They ask for my phone and money again, and so far they've pretty much ignored Ursi. Fine. At this point, with Ursi there, and with our laptops, our luggage as well as a huge wad of cash which is fortunately stashed away elsewhere, so I figure it's better to just get rid of them. Amusingly enough, my iPhone had just broken a couple days before back in Zurich, and I happened to be travelling with an extra phone that I brought to London, which I actually find quite useful, if old. So I take it out and ask if they really want this 'piece of shit' and they tell me to give it to them now. They want this over with so they can get out of there. I ask if I can take out my sim card so I can still keep my number. I don't actually care about the sim card since it's just my prepaid swiss number, but it helps to slow them down. They tell me they'll take it out, so I give the phone to the big guy and he starts to open it. It's kind of funny, because the phone has a loose charge connector and probably isn't worth anything, except to me. Every once in a while the mini-flamethrower guy shoots of a small flame. I guess it's supposed to intimidate me, but it really just keeps pointing out that he's got a small penis. They demand my money. The big guy with the phone is having trouble getting the sim card out, which turns out well for me, because he's the one closest to me and he's not paying much attention. I take my wallet out - it's a little metal cigarette case. I just got some money for teaching, and I know there's a fold of bills on both sides. So I open it quickly and slide out one of the folds of money and close it back up, with about 60 pounds showing on the other side. Fortunately they're too hopped up or nervous to notice me closing the wallet with half the money inside, and I hand them what I took out and put the wallet back in my pocket. The big guy can't get the sim out, so he gives it to me and demands I take out the sim. That's nice enough, I suppose. They turn to Ursi and start asking her what kind of phone she has. She just bought an iPhone, so that's unfortunate, and she tells them she doesn't have a phone, that I had been carrying our only phone. They ask her again but then the big guy says "No, leave her alone, she's a lady" and they stop bothering her. I guess they don't know Ursi ;). They don't even ask her for any money, which is great, because her wallet has money from all the countries we dance in, and as a Swiss person I'm pretty sure she's got over a thousand pounds worth in there. They start to run off, and the big guy turns around and yells to me "A piece of advice, cut your damn hair" and then says something about "if you don't want that advice.." but I didn't catch the rest of it. Maybe he wasn't such a nice guy after all. Or maybe he just doesn't like long hair, and wanted to give me some fashion advice. We watch them take off, then we move Ursi's money to a safer spot and I take her phone. Due to an earlier tragedy, I had learned that the number for the police outside the states is generally not 911. I had been collecting the emergency numbers with each phone sim I got, and so I tried 112, though the UK number is 999 - somehow we got connected, probably because Ursi's phone is Swiss. The police showed up, but there wasn't much that they can do, they admitted, and so it goes. As poor as I am (probably poorer than these punks), I don't mind losing the money that much, I mostly mind them gaining it. And I mind actually bringing two phones on a trip to Europe and ending up with none. That's annoying especially since I was planning on buying a used iPhone when I got back, and now I have to figure out how to make calls for the next month. Aggravating. If only the cell phone they had taken had a "remote explode" option, that'd be nice. Fortunately these guys are almost guaranteed to end up getting raped in jail, or else in the gutter begging for money. Either way, it's pretty funny. And I think I'll keep the long hair. 8: 2010/11/11 - Dave Hanks Madison, starring in "The Terminal" I spend quite a bit of time in Europe. Many of the Western European countries are members of the "Schengen" union which is essentially a Visa treaty. The Schengen countries (many EU and some non-EU countries, like Switzerland) have a 90-day out of 180-day limit for non-Schengen folks like USA passport holders such as myself. Turns out that I stayed 94 days out of the last 180. I just found that out on my way to a gig in Tel Aviv, after spending an hour with the police at passport control. Oops. It's my last gig before going back to Zurich for 2 days to get my stuff and *my cat* and then I was going to fly back to the states. The police let me run off to try to catch my flight, but told me I wasn't going to be allowed back in Zurich/Schengen Europe after the weekend, in fact, possibly for the next 5-10 years. Whoa. That means not seeing most of Europe, not going back to one of the places that is home for me. No Barcelona, no Herräng. Hell, I somewhat own a home now in Herräng that I just bought last year. Regardless, I have to make it to Tel Aviv this weekend. I get to the gate and the plane is still there but I can't board because El Al has superstrict security and luggage policies. They send me to the transfer desk in the terminal. But that's a SwissAir transfer desk and they can't do anything about "voluntary" ticket changes for El Al. And the El Al ticket desk is outside the terminal. Outside passport control. Where I can't go. <impending music of doom here> Fortunately I talk to the El Al people back at the gate, and they walk over with me to the transfer desk and convince the woman there to help me out, so she calls the El Al desk and manages to get the ticket changed for a bit over $300, now I'm taking a flight that is 9 hours later, and I'm stuck in a tiny terminal in ZRH without much food I can eat. But that's not the worry - the worry is that I am supposed to fly back to Zurich on Monday and then fly out to the US on Wednesday, with my cat. I've called Ursi at this point to brainstorm the situation, at this point I'm wondering if I have to book a new flight home from Israel, or if maybe I'll have to be stuck inside passport control at the airport for two days waiting for my flight home. I tentatively take the terminal train back to the entrance to the terminal where passport control is, praying that the exit for the train is the same as the entrance, so I can talk to passport control before being forced to leave. Fortunately it is (though I turn out to be damn lucky later because when I go through security they don't ask for my boarding pass, which is good because El Al took my old one and I can't get a new one from the desk at the terminal until later in the day). I get to passport control and find the officer who I talked to before. There is much dispute over the interpretation of the 90 days out of 180 days rule. When does the 180 days start, whether it is *any* period of 180 days and so on. If you sit down with the problem you'll realize there are actually a number of interpretations that make sense. Do some google search for "Schengen" and you'll see that this is frequently debated and each country seems to have their own answer. Evidently Switzerland is using one of the interpretations that, in my opinion, doesn't make much sense. And bless them for it, because it means that *my* 180 day period started when I came into Europe for my summer trip. Which was 178 days ago. Which means that in 2 days I have another 180 day period, and I can come back to Zurich, get my stuff and my cat, and take my flight home. All for the low, low cost of about $600 in fines for those extra 4 days. Woo. That's almost a $1000 for my visa adventure. Better than my nightmare experience with the Russian embassy trying to get a visa for their country, but that's another story. And $1000 is a damn cheap price for freedom, it's far better than living in Terminal E of Zurich for the rest of my life. :) But the fun doesn't end there. I'm stuck in the terminal for 10 hours waiting for the evening flight. And I go to checkin 2 hours early, and thank goodness, because for some reason the Israeli airline security (which is intense) doesn't like me or my answers, and they take me down into a concrete room by the baggage claim and interrogate me. And they confiscate my carryon and won't let me bring *anything* on the plane except my wallet and my phone, and I had to fight to keep the phone. No laptop. Not even my *pillow*. My very dangerous pillow. So it's been quite an adventure, but now I am sitting in Tel Aviv and free again. Evidently the world of officialdom decided to have a field day with Dave Madison. 9: 2011/02/19 - Another Trials and Tribulations Okay, first of all, let me just say that life is going great and I'm having a blast. I need to point that out because the last few entries (and this one) are about things going crazy wrong. Part of this is because I choose to live life outside the box (such as travelling around Europe so much), and I know that. But some of it is coming from somewhere else, and I'm trying to figure out the source. But this entry clearly demonstrates (again), that: 1) I have incredibly bad luck 2) I can move mountains It's Saturday and I'm in the UK, though I run a Saturday night venue in SF: http://TheRentParty.com/ On nights like this, it's run by my co-organizer (McAwesome Pants) Chelsea Lessard. Unfortunately she's burnt-out and recently sick, and on top of that we are having a huge party tonight with live bands and international guests. I'm in the UK teaching at GNSH, and we have wireless, though it's a bit temperamental. I get on long enough to send Chelsea the payment info for the bands, DJs and teachers, and get a message from her: "I'm at the bank. Call me." Clearly something is wrong. At that moment, my computer's internet stops working. That's fine, I have a UK sim card in my cell phone that has cheap internet, so I get online there and start to call her over Skype. It rings, and I connect, and I get to talk to her for about 3 seconds before my phone internet stops working. Wait, what? So I decide to just call her directly, and then my UK number suddenly can't make international calls. Evidently my credit is being used up because Lebara is ripping me off *again* (they tend to incorrectly debit your account, this happened with my Swiss Lebara number and I had to call them multiple times to get them to stop). I call customer service, and they are closed. Okay, fine. So I figure I will just get my USA sim card out of my sim card collection and call her using my US number. I can't find it. I protect that sim card out of all my sim cards like it's gold, since it's my US phone number, and, out of all my cards, it's gone. Okay, plan B. I go to the dining hall and find my teaching partner, and I use her phone long enough to call Chelsea and find out that Chelsea is unable to withdraw money from the business bank account. Great. But she has already managed to open up two accounts that I need to do an online transfer to so she can get the cash. Two accounts? Yes, because the amount we need to transfer is more than the $1000 limit. So I borrow my teaching partners computer. It works on the internet, except for an odd set of pages, such as my bank page. My phone internet starts to work again, but I can't do transfers to other accounts on my phone until I've logged in first to verify. So I find yet another computer and manage to get online. I login to the bank and setup the transfer, but I need to verify it by receiving an SMS. An SMS to the phone number that I can no longer access. Fortunately Wells Fargo has the option to call in to get an access code to do the transfer. But I can't make international calls. But fortunately they have a UK phone access number. So I call that, and connect to Wells Fargo, and just as I'm about to talk to an operator, my phone cuts out. There's no credit left. Plan C. Or D. Or M. I'm not sure at this point. I need to topup my phone, which I know I can do online. I setup a Lebara account for my number online, but they need to verify my email address. I can't check my email without my computer. So I use a temporary gmail address to verify the account. Lebara has a bug in their system so at first after it tells me I've verified my email it won't let me login because my email isn't verified. Comedy. I get that worked out, and start to do the topup. I enter my card number and my address, and it doesn't work, because it turns out it needs a UK address. Fortunately my new hero, Simon Selmon, has just arrived, and he's from the UK. I give him 10 pounds and beg him to use his card to topup my phone. His first card, of course, does not work. Sure. But then the second one does, and my phone is back up. I call Wells Fargo, and just as I'm about to get an operator, the computer I am borrowing runs out of battery and shuts down. No really. And the owner (from Barcelona) doesn't have a UK adapter. I run back to my housing to get an adapter, and plug it back in and start it back up. It needs his password. I find him to get it logged back in, and I start the transfer all over again. I call Wells Fargo and get the access code and manage to get the transfer done. I start to do the second transfer, and find out that the $1k limit is a daily limit, not a per transfer limit, so I can't do the second transfer. I talk to the agent and finally work out that the ATM daily limit can cover the rest, so Chelsea can now withdraw the $1k from her first account, and the rest from the ATM card she has. Now it's time to take a hot bath, and, maybe if I was a girlie man, cry for a bit. It'll be good to dance it off tonight. 10: 2013/12/29 - The Fortress of Daveitude I found a fenced in lot in SOMA on Craigslist that looked like it might be big enough to store my bus and a car, which I needed for when I was travelling. I went to look at it, and it turned out to be much bigger than expected, so it became my fortress. It fits all my cars, my bus and two storage units and a patio with an outdoor theater screen (the one from the Fulton Fun House living room!) where we play Rock Band at 3 am because I don't have any neighbors. Heavenly. For more info, see: The Fort 11: 2014/01/13 - Covered California doesn't have it covered Just to be clear this is not a political rant. My issue is not with the politics or ethics of "ObamaCare" - it is with the technology and beauracracy behind it. I have been trying to get health coverage with CoveredCA (the government website). It's completely broken. Here's a partial list: * The interface is awful. As an example, if you're logged in and try to use any of the contact forms, it forces you to fill in your information that it already has - and all of the forms have unnecessary requirements that are sometimes stated and sometimes you just have to figure them out to submit the forms. It's amusing in 2014 to see a form that requires a phone number that is in the exact form of "(xxx) xxx-xxxx" * The website is sometimes completely down and will not load * The phone number has a hold time of many hours IF YOU'RE LUCKY. Some days it simply says that there are too many callers and goodbye and then hangs up on you. * During the application process you need to submit proof of residency and proof of income. If you then click on "Submit proof" it takes you to where you can submit proof of income. There is nowhere to submit proof of residency * They have amusing requirements for usernames and passwords, many of which they don't tell you when you are creating an account, you just get to keep guessing until it works. * Their online chat waiting queue time is amusing, it jumps from an expected wait time of between 30 minutes and 150 minutes every few seconds until you are connected, 3 hours later. * Their online chat support is worthless. I just spent three hours waiting to talk to "Robert" who was the epitome of a useless government employee. He kept utterly failing to answer my questions and utterly failing to help me, and he kept trying to disconnect the chat without having accomplished anything (which he finally did - in the midst of me begging him not to go). He amusingly kept telling me to call for help, even though I kept telling him that the phone number was not accepting any calls. His reading comprehension is at early grade school, as far as I can tell. There's a full list (as well as my lovely conversation with "Robert") on the full rant about how Covered California Sucks Balls. At this point I'm going to have to admit I am really confused why there aren't a number of people who are responsible for this in prison. 12: 2014/03/31 - A New Beginning On Monday I went to Shades of Blues and met Charlie (who was still going by Arielle at the time). Two weeks later we were in love. A few months later, and I knew. And thus, our clock is ticking towards the end of this segment of "Mobile Dave" 13: 2014/06/10 - Leaving San Francisco I lose the lease on the awesome fortress that I built at 6th and Folsom, and it's time to move out. Charlie is now everything in my life, and she doesn't want to live in SF, so this is the time to go. We clear out my home, the fort, and get ready to leave for Europe. I seem to do that quite a bit after moving out. After SF/Europe, we do a cross-country circle of the West half of the states, travelling up North, around to Minnesota and then down to New Orleans. We spend the Winter in the North and the Summer in the South. This is improper mobile home usage. I do not recommend it. We actually had a complete freeze of the water system in Leavenworth and broke a water pump. It was cold. We got to New Orleans and searched for property, even put an offer on some property before leaving for a teaching residency for three months in Barcelona. When the property didn't go through, we figured we didn't have to go back anytime soon, so we travelled on to SE Asia for a few months, saw a bunch of countries, and then ended up in Europe again for Herrang. Then we got back in time for Burning Man... 14: 2014/08/27 - Surprise Proposal Charlie and I took a trip to Europe in July, and before that I had decided that Europe would let me know if I was right, if this was the woman I belonged with. It had. I spent the next couple months trying (in secret) to plan the proposal and find a ring. Facebook wasn't helping, they had recently discovered that they could partner with companies that you were shopping at and target you with advertising, so suddenly my Facebook ad banner was loaded with wedding and engagement ads. Charlie would come over when I was looking at FB and I'd have to quickly change windows, as if I was hiding the porn I was looking at. Wedding porn, I guess. I decided to propose at Burning Man, though the shipment of the ring that I had finally put together was coming after we had to leave, so I gave a good friend a key to pick it up from my mailbox. On the drive up, we were playing a great word association game. Two people come up with a word and say it at the same time. Then you both think of a new word that is based off the previous two words and say that. You continue this until you converge on the same word. We had just finished a round and were starting a new one. I said "got one!" to signify I had just thought of a word, and Charlie said "got one" as well, then we count to three and say the words. As we count, I suddenly realize that my free association word I've picked is "diamond" and I can't say that! I quickly change to some other word, like "blue" and we finish the count. Charlie says "diamond" and I realize three things: 1) She must know. My cover is blown. 2) I have to come up with some way to quickly change the subject, I use "diamond" as in "baseball diamond" to come up with the next word. 3) We should have just *won* the game with the ultimate goal, saying the same first word! (We have had this happen since). So she's on to me. We get to Burning Man, and I'm planning on proposing early in the week. On Monday, two of our friends in our camp get proposed in a big public proposal involving the camp. Crikey. Then I find out that my friend got in a car accident coming up. They are all okay, and to my credit I asked about them before asking about the diamond, which is also okay, but isn't arriving till Wednesday. On Tuesday we are walking back from the open playa in the middle of the night. There is a beautiful metal sculpture of huge letters spelling out "LOVE" (we later take an engagement photo there). Surprisingly there are only two people nearby, and as we approach we see they are very excited. We get close and the woman screams, "we just got engaged!" Oy, for fuck's sake. They are lovely and giddy, and I am politely congratulatory, and in my head thinking "how can I get off this topic!" She bubbles towards us, "are you two engaged?" I mutter something about how we've only known each other for three months (which is true). She says that they've known each other for only two months, then realizes her slight social blunder and says "well, everyone moves at their own pace" Yes, and my pace is in one more day! Be cool, lady, be cool! :-) So we hug them each goodbye and as I hug the happy man, I whisper in his ear, "I'm proposing to her tomorrow" We start walking off into the open night, and in about 40 feet the woman (clearly after hearing the secret) starts screaming with surprise and joy. I turn to Charlie and pass it off with "wow, I guess she's pretty happy then". The next day I tell Charlie that we are doing our Burning Man photo tradition with our friends of going to the perimeter fence on the far edge of town and taking a photo with the sunset. There are two surprise-lies in here: 1) The photo tradition is actually sunrise, not sunset. It involves Victor and I at a minimum, and we do the devil sign and thank Satan for the new day, to poke partial fun at the sunrise "thankers". 2) Our friends, who tell us they will bike out to meet us, are not coming. And there's one more surprise. We weren't taking photos. I had the camera set to video. When you watch the video, you'll see that I was completely wrong about thinking that Charlie knew about the proposal. She did not see it coming at all. And her response was amazing. Stellar Proposal at Burning Man 15: 2015/06/07 - "Where are you from?" We often get the question "Where do you live?" or "Where are you from?" when we travel, because people are curious and trying to get to know us. Unfortunately, we don't have a good answer for that question. I used to answer with "It's complicated" - and then sometimes joking about how I wish Facebook had that as a choice for "Hometown" and not just for "Relationship" - it's a valid point, FB realized that they could make it possible to include people who had non-simple relationships. They haven't figured this out with "hometown" yet (you have to have a single, real geographic city as your hometown), but I suppose that mirrors many of the people we meet. I use "it's complicated" less these days, because people often assume I'm trying to blow them off, many respond with, "It's okay, you don't have to tell me if you don't want." Other answers I have tried, such as "my mother's vagina" don't really work well either. The problem with the question "Where are you from?" is that it doesn't have a clear answer in all cases. With most people it's easy, most people have a steady home that *feels like home* to them, and that's where they feel they are from. In fact, over 90% of the people in the world (according to a statistic I just made up) have lived and spent their *entire* life in the city/village/hamlet that they were born in, so it's not surprising that most people have no problem with this question. But the reality is, "Where are you from?" is a very vague question. However you define it, I guarantee I can come up with a way that it can't be answered. People often revert to "Where were you born?" - which I tell them was in Madison, but we moved a month and a half later, so do they really know more about me now? Lately I've switched to the answer "We have no home" or, if language is a barrier, that we have no country (publishing that will certainly bite me in the ass if I decide to run for political office ). This has generally worked well, though it's still surprising how difficult this is for people to wrap their head around. Which is funny, because in the end they are getting far more than they bargained for - what tells you more about a person, that they are "from" Poughkeepsie, New York or to find out that they are a nomad gypsy that wanders the world? (Note: No, I am not from Poughkeepsie, I have never even been there). While this answer has worked well, it has completely fallen apart in Southeast Asia. We are asked this question alot (since we are often the only people with this skin color in the places we end up) as people are very curious about us. But when we answer "no home" the response has been almost universal, that of total disbelief. In Thailand: Masseuse: Where are you from? Dave: Nowhere. I have no home. M: *laughs* No really, where are you from? D: Really, we have no home. We just travel. M: I think you are good liar. You have big house. It took a while to try to understand why. By their standards we are wealthy - we are, after all, able to pay for a massage. For us, a $5 massage is not a huge expenditure, even considering that at this time I was unemployed and our savings was almost run out. That is the massive difference in the economies we come from. And that difference is the key in the confusion. In many of these countries in SE Asia, many people are working so hard to just have a home. To them it is unthinkable that anyone who could have a home would choose not to. It really helps put into perspective the way that we are blessed in our freedom and our journey, even as we may need to count our dollars to watch what we spend, we still have the ability to discover the world. But it's not just in underprivileged economies that we see this confusion. So many people are not prepared to deal with people who choose to live a simpler and 'un-homed' life. I tell people that I don't have a home, and I often get pity from people. This only amuses me. To me, I have pity for all the people who have the freedom to actually move beyond "homed" life and still do not. But today in SE Asia (in the Philippines) Arielle finally met someone who understood: Clerk: "Where are you from?" Arielle: "No home" Clerk: "Oh. Travel. Like Travelling." The clerk? She was a 13 year old girl. So evidently it's some time after the age of 13 that we forget that we have so many ways to live in this life.
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