This morning I noticed that a nearby shop seemed to be throwing away some big letters. I wanted them. So tonight I ventured out with a couple of bags and thought I would snag them before they ended up crushed, trashed, or disappeared. When I got close I realized most of them were badly damaged, melted, or otherwise pretty ugly. But check out this big G!
Fortunately my awesome wife is allowing me to have it in the living room right now. Don’t worry, I cleaned it up a bit!
I have been quite the traveler over the past five years. Only once did I decide to use travel insurance. Buying any insurance is always a gamble. I have become quite cynical about insurance. My health insurance currently doesn’t cover anything but emergencies. My homeowner insurance has such a high deductible that I just about have to totally lose the house to get anything. Since I don’t have a car right now it is nice to not have auto insurance.
A good travel insurance review and attention to the fine print is definitely important before throwing money down for travel insurance. I had my passport stolen along with a netbook and other items but the travel insurance I had did not cover it. And the total value of the items was just a few dollars over the deductible for my homeowner’s insurance. Not worth the potential of my premiums increasing.
Some things that happen on trips that have cause us to need to change tickets would not have been covered by any travel insurance. Of course, I don’t want to say that travel insurance isn’t ever worth purchasing. It could make a huge difference in the quality of a trip – especially if you need it!
Last year after we learned we were going to Mongolia we had to figure out what to do with our household belongings. we could rent a storage unit for a few hundred dollars a month, buy a container to put our things in, or… build our own.
I was able to spend a few weeks working on improving the exterior and interior of the two story building.
I added this metal siding to the side facing the house. The vapor barrier on this side had come loose from many of the staples during winter storms and just blew in the wind annoying the renter. The metal was leftover from the roofing material.
Pepper was a bit concerned about the lack of railing around the opening to the first floor from upstairs so I used some aluminum stock that I had salvaged and red cedar that I reclaimed to make this railing.
I spent a lot of time working on getting the workshop organized. I hung up our bikes, built a lumber rack and sorted my salvaged wood, built shelving under the stairs, and even went through my collection of fasteners among the hours that I spent trying to get it organized.
Above you can see the lumber rack. Many of the pieces of wood are labeled by species and length. The bikes are hung up along the walls where they are out of the way – if the room looks big that is because the walls of this floor are a little over 10 feet tall.
Above you see the stacks of bins under the stairwell. I still have a lot of odds and ends here and there but getting that space organized opened up a lot of space in the rest of the shop.
I picked up this fastener organizer about 6 years ago for $20. I honestly would spend a lot more time looking for nails and bolts and the like if I didn’t have it.
Glues, caulk, paints, cut bottles, more fasteners, tools… It is a full shop!
I even got a rack set up for my overalls, tool belt, protective equipment, and pegs to keep gloves dry. I like the amount of light that is on the table with the chop saw. I started hooking up my shop-vac to the chop saw dust collector to keep the dust down in the shop.
The desk has great light too and is nice for finer projects like jewelry making, soldering, and sorting parts.
Below is a view of the front of the building. I will honestly miss working on and in it!
We went to Khustai National Park west of Mongolia’s capital in Ulaanbaatar and stayed at a ger camp a few kilometers away. On Saturday morning we loaded in a bus and a little way into the park lucked out and saw a group of Przewalski’s horses. They were extinct in the wild from 1966 until 1992 when they were reintroduced from horses bred in zoos. These are truly wild horses – not domesticated horses gone wild. Last year they were reclassified from “critically endangered” to “endangered” although only a few hundred of them live in the wild.
This was our second time seeking the horses and I was elated to get some good photos and a decent video of them.
I have entered an idea in the Independence Project contest at Instructables.
And after you have watched that you should check out the outtakes…
I don’t have many resources for being very creative here. But I noticed that bits of wire are easily found along the roadsides and sidewalks so I have started to pick some up. At a ger camp last year I made a small bird using wire and feathers. Today I made this champagne bottle from found wire bits. There is a bicycle spoke, the wire cage on the cork was found and all sorts of sizes and materials in the wire.
It was a fun little project that was easy to do and didn’t take much time. I really like the result. I want to do more wire sculptures that use an item or two from the object of the sculpture to give the piece more clarity.
We trimmed the mint plants to try and get them to resume their growth. Pepper trimmed the dead and wilted parts. I have spent the past two weeks removing white flies and their eggs from the underside of the leaves. Here is what the mint looked like two weeks ago after the pruning.
And two weeks later we have this growth already…
Two weeks ago Pepper also planed quite a few of these pots of basil. They have started to sprout…
Wednesday afternoon we boarded our flight from Petersburg, Alaska. We were not all seated together but hopped down to Seattle and spent the night at Holly and Ryan’s place where we left two bags a month ago. They had to work so we were able to hit a brewery, get pizza, relax and shuffle things from bag to bag before they took us to the airport on Thursday night. While pulling into the terminal to drop us off we realized we were flying on Delta. ”Ugh” was the collective reaction. Multiple negative experiences with them and a long flight was not something to look forward to. When checking our bags we were told we would be given seats at the gate. It is a “very full flight” – great. Pepper asked if we would be seated together. They said we would be but that they were shuffling big groups around to try and make space. That sounded promising.
Pepper got her (second-to) last Starbucks for a year and then we went to the gate. We were pestered for not having a Chinese visa. Apparently even the airline gets fined if they drop off passengers that do not have the proper visa. But we have done this before. You don’t need a visa if you are transferring within 24 hours. We showed them our tickets to Mongolia, our Mongolian visas, our Mongolian alien registration cards and the few stamps in our passports already given for these transit stops. They decided to allow us to fly. And because of the big groups or the hassle about our plans or just good luck we were bumped up to business class.
I downed a few glasses of champagne and orange juice before takeoff. They gave us small pillow, big pillows, a comforter, slippers, and a bag with an eye shade, ear plugs, socks, lip balm, lotion, tooth brush, tooth paste, a sanitary wipe, shoe polish, shoe horn, comb… The earphones fit well and gave great sound. The meals were fantastic – dinner was five courses. And the wine was delicious. The seats folded down nearly flat with raised legs. I watched the Avengers and most of John Carter until the wine kicked in. It was a great flight.
Then we had a long layover in Beijing. Ten hours to pass time. I tried to sleep. Pepper did a puzzle. We all read and played games on tablets. McDonald’s only had Spicy Chicken Sandwiches available. Not even french fries! So Burger King would have to be the last chain meal for me. We are to arrive in Ulaanbaatar at about noon.
Kevin has done a great job of being there for me and that can be really tough with me having spent the last 15 years in Alaska and now moving to Mongolia. But lately he has come through with some timely gifts.
Shortly after I arrived in New York (wow… it has already been a month since then!) Kevin sent two pairs of frames for glasses to me. I took them to an eyeglass store at the mall but it was just going to be too expensive to have lenses put in them without buying my frames there. The salesman thought the frames were “dope” and that one pair would make cool sunglasses. But the price to get lenses put in was more expensive than buying frames and having lenses installed.
So I went to one of those big box stores that I really despise because of their tradition of destroying small businesses, poor employee benefits, and attractiveness to the least desirable segment of the American population.
Their eye doctor wasn’t in but would be in in five days – the day I left. So I asked if I could bring in a prescription. Sure. Not a problem at all. I just had to bring that in and let the eye doctor look at it… the same eye doctor that would be coming in on the day that I left. Gee. Thanks for the help.
So I am hoping I can get my lenses put in when I get back to Mongolia for cheap. After all, we spent about 1/10th on Jordan’s braces as we would have in the US!
I have been reading about principles of fitness. One theory that applies and is discussed in the text I am consuming is that of overload. The idea is that the body needs to be overloaded to improve. If the muscles are not stressed they do not improve. It is logical. By making the body work harder – whether lifting more weight or going a farther distance than normal then it begins to adapt to the increased stress.
I have become interested in how the overload theory also relates to mental health. Sure, some people are predisposed to cope with stress in their life better than others. They may just be more laid back naturally. But dealing with stressful situations in life – be it work, relationships, or just day-to-day activity would enable the brain to deal with stressful situations better over time. So the theory goes.
I like thinking it works. Sort of a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – as long as it is more stressful than normal.” It is nice to look back on life’s lemons and treat them as something that shaped my current ability to deal with difficulties in life.
Don’t get me wrong… I have lived a privileged life. I an never struggling at the bottom of Maslow’s needs seeking the necessities of life. But most days I feel well adjusted. Especially with my coping mechanisms available to me!