Finances and Stress

November 6th, 2018 by DustyLoft No comments »

Difficult financial situations are often a cause of stress. Especially for those who have others relying on them financially. In some cases the burden of difficult financial situations can be avoided.

I’ve always tried to live a spontaneous fun-loving life. I’ve always felt like that type of life was the most enjoyable and memorable. A life where sometimes a person may spend money they don’t have. I’ve done that plenty of times. Sometimes I’ve paid for it later, though the memory was usually worth the financial irresponsibility (within reason). I know that’s not always the best-case scenario for everyone. Especially, if a person has others relying on them financially.

Honestly, with financial responsibility, a person(s) may be able to enjoy more spontaneous fun-loving moments than without. Keeping a close eye on finances usually improves the quality of a persons’ life. Being financially secure provides security and a piece of mind.

Though, working with finances does take time and dedication. It also takes thought and decision making.

Finances can be complicated. Debits, credits, capital, gross income, net income, expenses, revenue, food costs, rent, bills, bills, bills, bills …. the list goes on and on and on and on.

If simplified, a persons finances don’t necessarily have to be as complicated. Breaking down purchases to the cost per day might provide a simpler perspective. Finances may become easier to understand, remember and adjust. Things that might seem like nominal expenses, when combined with the cost of all the items for an entire day, might not seem as nominal. The smallest adjustments made on a daily basis might turn into larger savings by the end of the month.

Additionally, purchase prices can be compared to the amount earned on a daily basis. A simplified approach to finances might provide the best data to allow informed financial decisions.

The below spreadsheet is designed to simplify expenses and income. It’s designed to give the user a look at the amounts being spent and earned each day. It’s intended to make examining finances a bit easier.

This spreadsheet is a variation of a spreadsheet I designed for my own personal finances. Though, I’ve changed the numbers and items. Plus, I’ve only entered data for part of a month. As a result, the prices and dates might not make sense. It’s designed to be modified by the end-user. The spreadsheet can be downloaded either via clicking on the image or via the link at the end of this post.

Simplified Expenses and Income Spreadsheet

Simplified Expenses and Income Spreadsheet

The above spreadsheet is fairly self explanatory. Though, there are some things that might not be recognizable just by looking at the sheet.

Starting from the top left:
Fixed Expenses: These are items a person pays the same amount for every month. That amount is taken and divided by the number of days in the month. The result is the cost of the expense per day.

Assets / Misc Purchases: The assets and misc. purchases are located under the fixed expenses. These are additional items purchased each month that are not fixed expenses or food items. If I purchased a book or batteries, I’ll add them to this section. If a larger purchase is made, the cost could be broken down over multiple months. If the money used for the purchase came from a savings account or money specifically saved for the item, it probably wouldn’t hurt to leave it off the list. That depends on the individual and how they want to view their finances.

Food / Misc.: At the top of the Food / Misc section I listed the food items a person uses everyday. Things like coffee, water, vitamins, paper towels, tp, shampoo, soap, ect. During past months, I figured out the average cost of the items. Sometimes the cost may go up or down depending on usage. Adjustments can be made if necessary.

Below the everyday items, I list the items purchased at the store. I enter the item name, the date purchased and the cost. I get that information from the receipt.

This part is important. When an item is finished, I go back to the spreadsheet and enter the number of days the item was used in the following field (Column E). Then, in the next field (column F) divide the cost by that number. The result gives the user the cost of the item per day.

Lastly, I enter the actual day(s) (column G) the item was used. For instance if I purchased a can of soup and ate it on the 8th, I’d enter the 8th in this column (we’re going to come back to the day(s) the items was use in the next section).

Top Right
Cost / Income Per Day: This is the section that shows how much a person is spending per day compared to how much they earn per day. I entered a sample fixed income amount (detailed below). The income should be adjusted based on the individuals monthly income.

On the sample spreadsheet the data in the last field (column N) shows a spending deficit for December 2nd and 3rd. The deficit is lowered during the next couple days. Going forward the goal should be to acquire a surplus until the spending is in line with the income.

The below information details how to acquire the amount shown in the “Difference” field.

This section of the spreadsheet is where it gets slightly complicated. The formulas accumulate the data from the previously mentioned sections. I’ve added a short video to the bottom of this post showing how the numbers are compiled.

At the end of each day, before I go to bed, I simply type the date in the first field (under Cost Per Day / Income, column I) where it says date. Then I’ll highlight the second field (under food, column J). Once that field is highlighted, I’ll go to the formulas tab and click on Autosum.

Next, I’ll scroll down to the Food / Misc. section (the lightly greyed out area) and highlight the field for the first item under the cost per day field (F-27). In this case it’s the amount spent on coffee ($0.42). Once it’s highlighted, I press the comma key and go to the next item under cost per day (Creamer – 0.81), then press the comma.

I’ll go down the list and click on the cost for each item I used that day. Sometimes I might have to go back towards the end of the month and add additional items for a specific day. For instance, if I purchased chips and wasn’t able to calculate the cost per day because they weren’t finished. When I finished the bag, I enter the days they were used and add that field to the calculation of the cost per day / income section of the sheet.

Remember not to click on fields that were already accounted for in the light grey section. On this spreadsheet I highlighted them in dark grey. After highlighting the last amount, press the return key.

Then, I go back up to the Cost Per Day / Income and click on the “Fixed” field for that specific day. I’d do the same thing as detailed above for the amounts listed in the “Fixed Expenses”.

Finally, I go back to the Cost Per Day / Income and do the same thing for “Assets / Misc.” section.

In the next field under Cost Per Day / Income (the income field – Column M). I simply divide the amount earned each month by the number of days in the month. The result shows how much is earned per day.

Now for the most important field on the sheet (The “Difference” field – Column N): The formula in the difference field simply subtracts the expenses per day from the income per day. This section will show how much is either over spent or saved per day compared to the amount made per day. The result provides the information needed to improve a persons financial situation.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded by clicking here. In addition, at the bottom of this post I included a short video detailing how the spreadsheet was created.

Breaking down expenses and income to the amount(s) spent and earned for a specific day is still complicated and time consuming. Especially, if the amounts are being calculated for a number of different people.

However, the spreadsheet has additional advantages. The Food / Misc. section shows how much specific items cost per day. Purchase adjustments could be made on these items to find similar products that might last longer, while still being a quality item.

The spreadsheet could also be used to prevent extra trips to the store. It will show how long a product lasts. Adjustments can be made to either purchase additional quantities or less to maintain a cohesiveness.

The next five paragraphs are possibly the most important paragraphs in this entire post: Even with the most carefully planned spreadsheet, there is always the chance to make an error.

It’s easy to forget to add an expense or enter a number incorrectly, leading to over spending. I’ve made my share of errors in the past. Businesses often have checks and balances, where different people check and double check financial spreadsheets. Individuals, usually only have themselves. We’re all human and makes mistakes.

When a person overspends, runs out of money and has to miss payments on different bills, its not a joke. These situations can negatively effect a persons quality of life.

The goal of this spreadsheet is to provide a better perspective for a persons finances. If it gets someone a little extra money at the end of each month, that’s great. However, the last thing it is intended to do is lead to overspending. And that’s why I included this section.

The more time, effort and thought put into the sheet, the better the outcome. However, it should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s probably best to use common sense, and not use the spreadsheet as the ultimate factor for spending.

Below are a few additional tips I’ve learned, that have improved my finances:

* Making a shopping list and sticking to the list when the budget is tight, usually leads to savings.

I don’t see anything wrong with spending, owning nice things, eating healthy food, if affordable. These things are not always affordable. The days a person spends the most are the days they take a trip to the store. If money is tight, those are the days to be extra cautious and to remember to only purchase the items on the list.

* Take pictures of receipts. Then, either save them on your phone or e-mail them to your computer. This way you’ll always have a record of the items purchased. Sometimes the ink on receipts wears off. A digital copy of the receipt will ensure it is always available.

* Try sites like eBates / Fatwallet. Many shopping centers allow customers to order items online and then pick them up at a specific time and date at the store. If the items are ordered via eBates, a person might obtain additional savings. (I haven’t tried this yet. Though, I do plan on giving one of these sites a try).

Download The Spreadsheet

Surviving The Apocalypse

October 15th, 2018 by DustyLoft No comments »

Being prepared for emergencies is often a necessary part of life, even if the likelihood of a thousand zombies attacking us is slim. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for unknown emergencies.

I’m not an expert in this field. Though, I do try to stay prepared. I figure, at the very least this post might inspire others to ensure they are prepared for emergency situations.

With that said, there are certain items I feel are important to have in case of an emergency. Others are a bit more luxurious. And a few of the items mentioned in this post are geared towards long term off grid survival as well.

I wanted to be thorough. We’re all different and have different needs. Below I listed all the things I could think of that might be useful in case of an emergency. If I missed any items necessary for survival, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section below.

The most important item for survival is water. I’ve read about plenty of different approaches to insuring fresh water is available if needed. Given the importance of water, this is probably an area where additional research should be done.

I choose to store glass containers of water in a safe and cool area. These are the glass bottles / containers of water that can be purchased at most local supermarkets. My theory is that the glass bottles won’t leak if stored for an extended period of time. Plus, their caps seem to have the tightest seals.

If earthquakes are a potential hazard, additional measures should be taken to ensure the glass bottles don’t break if jarred.

Adding a Brita type water filter to the emergency supplies should provide additional options for water consumption. If worst comes to worst, they could be used to filter river water or harvested rain water.

Next would be food. Many types of canned foods can last years. Canned beans, soup, veggies and even canned pasta might be beneficial. Both Peanut Putter and Oodles and Noodles are inexpensive food items that can easily be stored.

Another great food item to store for emergencies is rice. A large bag of rice could last years in storage. Rice is inexpensive, tastes good and is filling.

MRE’s (Military Ready To Eat Meals) are designed for survival situations. They don’t need to be refrigerated. Plus, a verity of different types of meals are available for purchase. MRE’s are complete meals and they can pack on the calories. A single MRE meal could provide me with enough food for the entire day. Not to mention, the cool factor that comes with eating a meal designed for the Military.

The simple emergency preparations for food and water detailed above could keep a person alive for months. Given their importance, keeping food and water in an air tight / water proof storage bin might be a good idea. Don’t forget to check the supplies every once in a while to ensure expiration dates are still valid.

Having the proper tools to prepare meals in emergency situations is often overlooked. Chances are even with the most basic emergency situation, the kitchen stove won’t be available.

Keeping a grill with a few propane canisters would probably be the best alternative to an actual stove. For the most part they are fairly common and usually can be kept on a patio or in a garage.

Bio Fuel Cans are another great option for cooking. Bio fuel cans are inexpensive. They can cook multiple meals and are very small, making them easy to store and / or transport. They’ll fit in the glove compartment of most cars. They are simple to use and do a good job heating food. Each Bio Fuel can cook up to ten different meals.

Additionally, it might be a good idea to keep a small tabletop electric burner. Many are reasonably priced and would probably work with a medium sized generator or solar panel system. They’re also small and easy to store.

Most food items can be cooked over a campfire. A few pieces of wood, starter fluid / WD40 and matches would provide the least expensive and most adventuress cooking option.

Cooking Utensils and Supplies
It wouldn’t hurt to keep a small pot in with the emergency supplies. In situations where space is an issue, a smaller pot would be ideal.

Paper Towels: Paper towels are one of those items that are always good to have around. In emergency situations, cleanliness is often extremely important.

Additional Emergency Supplies (these are not in any particular order)
First Aid Kit: A first aid kit is something everyone should have available at all times. However, during an emergency they are especially valuable.

Swiss Army Knife: The Swiss Army Knife is probably my favorite of all the survival items listed. I’ve owned a Swiss Army Knife since I was a kid. I can’t even begin to name the hundreds of different ways I’ve used my knife over the years. Though, for starters it will open cans of food. That’s fairly important. Most Swiss Army Knives can be used for scaling fish, as a screw driver, as scissors and of course as a knife. They’re compact, light and easy to carry.

Matches / Lighter: Both matches and a lighter are great to keep with the emergency supplies. I’d throw them in a couple ziploc bags to ensure they stay dry.

Fishing Pole: The thing about emergencies is they are unpredictable and usually present different situations and scenarios. Being able to fish for food at no cost is a good option to have available. A compact travel fishing pole is probably best for worst case emergencies. It can be thrown in a duffel bag, car, and even carried via bicycle without issue. A few fishing lures would be good supplementary items.

Tent: A tent is one of those things that makes me feel much better knowing I have it around. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be thrown in the trunk of a car if required. A tent is a roof. A roof over a persons head is always a good thing. Like the saying goes, prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best. Best case scenario is the tent isn’t needed for an emergency, but used for an enjoyable weekend of camping.

ZipLoc Bags: There is only one sure way to keep food safe and that is inside a zip lock bag. Large zip lock bags are great for small bits of trash as well. They’ll prevent odor and keep ants away. If I’m gonna be out in a storm, I’ll throw my phone inside a zip lock bag to ensure it stays dry.

Duck Tape: This is another one of my favorite items on the list. I’d imagine an entire post could be written just on the different uses for duck tape in an emergency situation.

Extra socks and undies: If careful, a person can go many days wearing only a couple pairs of jeans and shirts without having to wash them. Undies and socks, not so much. That’s why its always nice to have extra clean undies and socks around.

A To Go Bag: A small / light duffel bag filled with only the most important essential items. Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, and shampoo might be a few good items to keep in the bag. Something that could be grabbed in a hurry if needed.

Tarps: Tarps are great to have available. Like many of the items listed, they have a seemingly endless amount of uses. However, I’d imagine the most valuable use for a tarp would be as a shelter. Combined with rope, (listed below) they can be made into a temporary shelter.

Zip Ties: Over the years I’ve realized the value of zip ties. They are inexpensive and often the solution to unexpected problems.

Poncho / Umbrella: During emergencies a change of cloths isn’t always available. In those types of situations, staying dry becomes an important element to staying healthy. Staying healthy is important to survival.

Purell: Purell is a valuable weapon in the fight against germs. It’s inexpensive and has the potential to save water.

Solar Panel System: Keeping a complete solar panel system for emergency situations might be a bit much. However, it’s not a bad idea. Many places offer solar panel kits that are small enough to keep in storage, but still have the ability to provide decent power. Fridges, stove tops, lights, rechargeable batteries and phones are items that many solar panel kits are able to power.

Generator: A generator is another option for electricity in emergency situations. Keeping a generator for basic power outages might be a little much. However, I’d imagine a generator would be quite cool to have around during hurricanes and extended emergencies.

Rechargeable batteries: In general rechargeable batteries are always good to keep at home. They save money and preserve the environment. Much like many of the items listed, its not difficult to find a use for batteries in dire circumstances. Batteries can be used in everything from flash lights to small appliances.

Lighting: Flashlights and candles are both great options for lighting. Flashlights are especially valuable when combined with rechargeable batteries.

Rope: Rope can be used with a tarp to create a temporary shelter. That should be reason enough to keep about 50ft of rope in with the emergency supplies. Additionally, during hurricanes rope can be used to secure outdoor items from being blown away.

Jacket / Coat: Depending on a persons location, a jacket or coat might not be necessary. Although, in the event where relocating to a different climate is an absolute necessity, a jacket or coat might be the difference between life and death for those needing to relocate to a colder climate.

Cooler: A cooler can serve many different purposes. With a bit of ice, they’ll keep food fresh for a couple days. They can also be used for storage and as a table. I’ve even seen coolers turned into air conditioners with the addition of a battery operated fan and Ice.

Large Garbage Bags: Multi purpose items like large garbage bags are always good to keep with the supplies. If a storm causes a leak in the roof, garbage bags can be used to keep medium sized belongings dry.

Books: Boredom can be an issue during extended emergency situations. Having a few unread books available probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. A book titled Far From Perfect was featured in a previous Green Tea Break post. Far From Perfect may be the perfect remedy during an emergency situation.

*As noted in the “About” section, a few posts might contain affiliate links. I only post links to items I feel are either of substantial quality, use, or provide great value. These are items I have either used myself or would use myself. However, I’ve noticed after adding links to posts, a few Amazon items increased dramatically in price. I do try to make adjustments as needed. Though, I don’t continually check each link. Please be sure to use diligence before making any purchase.

Metal Detecting: One Of The Simpler Things In Life

October 4th, 2018 by DustyLoft No comments »

Garrett Ace 350 Metal Detector
Image via

I grew up on a dead-end street in a very old north eastern town. Long before the town was established early settlers and Indians roamed the land. At the end of my street was a dirt road leading deep into a state forest. Much of it only accessible via atv. A few hundred meters up the dirt road, hidden in the woods, and off to the side was an old foundation.

Truthfully, to me, at that age, it looked more like a deep hole in the ground with a bunch of rocks around the edges. I didn’t think much of it. I was young, naive and didn’t know much about much. As I grew a little older I found an old Buffalo Nickel on the dirt road. I probably kicked it up while riding a bike over the dirt. I thought finding that nickel was cool. It could have fell out of a stage coach as it was riding through the road back in the day.

I lived on that dead-end street in the 1980’s. I knew about metal detectors. However, they weren’t nearly as popular as they are today. Nor was the technology as advanced as the technology found in today’s metal detectors. Plus, I didn’t know enough to get one and bring it up to the old foundation.

In the early days of settlement, I’d imagine most people buried jars of coins as a normal security measure. With a good metal detector, who knows what I might have uncovered. Eventually, I moved away. Though I kept the memories of the foundation and coin.

Fast forward almost thirty years later. I lived many many hundreds of miles away from that dirt road. I was much older and just married. It’s the first day of our honeymoon and we’re chilling at the beach. I’m wearing a brand-new shinny wedding ring. The weather is great, and I can’t wait to get in the water. I enter the ocean and dive under. As I do I watch my wedding ring fly off my finger, sink to the bottom of the ocean and disappear into the sand.

After freaking. Then thoroughly searching the entire area, the ring couldn’t be found. Neither my wife at the time, nor I knew what to do. We kind of both stood there, not wanting to leave the spot, while knowing the chances of finding it were slim. As we stood in the ocean, I looked down the beach. There was an older man in the water with a metal detector. The second I saw him I knew he’d be the best chance we had to find the ring.

We called him over and explained what happened. He walked over near where I was standing and waved his metal detector a few times just above the sand. He stopped. Reached down with a scoop and scooped up a bunch of sand. He sifted it through his scooper. I watched the sand fall back into the ocean. Then, presto. At the bottom of his scoop sat my wedding ring. He found it a few feet from where we were looking. He saved our entire honeymoon. We graciously thanked him and offered him money. He wouldn’t accept the money and went on his way.

After that day, I started thinking about the old foundation and metal detectors. I researched them on line. They had become extremely popular. And the technology was quite impressive. Many were able to be completely submerged under water and could detect metal buried deep in the ground.

I purchased a metal detector. It was completely submersible and very cool. Even though I looked at it mostly as a hobby, I couldn’t wait to get to the beach. I thought about the different cool trinkets I might find. The first year or so I was able to make it to the beach a bunch of times. I’d search in the water, the sand and near the docks, while the wife got some sun. I’d spend almost the entire time looking for different trinkets and treasures.

Though, due to many of life’s struggles I was only able to make it to the beach with the metal detector a few additional times during the next ten years. During that span I owned two different metal detectors. The first one I purchased was a Fisher 1280x Aquanaut.

The Fisher was a great metal detector. It never gave me problems and I found it to be durable. I felt it exceeded expectations for its price point. Unfortunately, I didn’t own the 1280x Aquanaut very long. Due to reasons not related to the metal detector, I had to sell it.

Eventually, I was able to get another metal detector. I got the Garrett Ace 350. This is a great metal detector in every way, shape, and form. It is partially submersible. It is extremely efficient and could detect even the deepest of objects. Not to mention, it is extremely modestly priced.

The few times I was able to go detecting, I didn’t find any items with a monetary value. I mostly went to beaches that were thoroughly searched by various metal detector enthusiasts. Plus, most days I was only able to stay a few hours. However, I did find the time spent at the beach valuable. I always enjoyed searching in the ocean, digging up bottle caps along with the occasional coin. It provided an interesting and trouble-free way to spend time. I still have a Garrett Ace 350. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll come across another ancient foundation. This time I won’t let the opportunity slip away.

Mid Week Break – RC Car Race

August 8th, 2018 by DustyLoft No comments »

Far From Perfect – By George Farina

July 8th, 2018 by DustyLoft No comments »

Far From Perfect - Author: George Farina


I spent most of 2017 writing a book called “Far From Perfect” (described via the below press release). Before I started writing, I decided to put together a timeline of different events I went through during the span of my life. This was done on a spreadsheet. I went back as far as I could remember. I’d enter the date of the event. In the next field I’d write a description. I ended up with about four hundred lines. From there, I decided to start writing.

Once I started writing, I wrote six days a week and spent almost the entire day typing away. I’d go to bed thinking about what I wanted to write the next day. If I thought of something I felt couldn’t wait, I’d often get up in the middle of the night. I’d fire up the computer and jot my thoughts down.

The book took about nine months to finish. Then, I spent about a year making adjustments, while trying to figure out the best way to move forward with publishing. During that year I was often traveling. The adjustments and research were done sparingly, as time permitted. After researching the many different avenues for publication, I decided to take the self publishing route.

Currently, the entire book is being printed and bound by the author. Each book takes about a half hour to put together. Then, the binding is glued and set to dry overnight. The next night the cover is glued to the binding and set to dry overnight. From start to finish it takes two days to create each book. Because of this process, each book is a little different. This is a self published book in every sense of the word. Each book purchased is truly a one of a kind.

The book was written, typed, edited, and proofread in its entirety by the author. Please be understanding in regard to potential errors. There are over 70 thousand words and 285 pages. Even though the author used diligence, he is only human and as such prone to making mistakes. Far From Perfect takes place in East Hampton, Connecticut, Cromwell, Connecticut and Miami, Florida.

Without further ado, I would like to announce the publication of “Far From Perfect” via the below Press Release :

Far From Perfect Press Release:
(Date: 7-8-2018) This press release is to announce the publication of my first book: Far From Perfect – By George Farina. I’m not a New York Times Best Selling Author. I’ve read books on their best seller list. The words flow effortlessly. They are rhythmic. They thrust a person’s imagination into a new and exciting world. Parts of what I’ve written might come close. I guess that’s up to the reader to decide.

In this book I tell a story. It’s a true story. It’s a story that was written with a lot of thought. It’s a story being told as accurately and detailed as possible. It’s a story detailing part of a persons life. It is also an informative story. I try to pass on as many of the things I’ve learnt as possible.

This is a book about a life. It’s about the experiences encountered during that life. The things witnessed. Throughout that life many different events occurred. People entered and left. These were people I met in school. They were neighbors. They were people I met at an abandon 18-wheeler truck trailer, during a time when I didn’t have any other place to stay. They were people I met at events, at work, and even in the middle of the street. I met people through chatrooms, Myspace and Plenty of Fish.

Many of these people took parts of a “far from perfect” life to enjoyable. Their personalities; their character; their charisma made parts of my life exhilarating. They gave me many amazing memories. I relived them vicariously while writing. These are memories I accumulated over the course of forty years.

With that said, as the title states, my life was far from perfect. I’ve been through plenty of struggles. Some of the struggles I didn’t include, simply because I don’t like thinking about them. I know I’m not the only person on this planet who has struggled throughout their life. I didn’t set out to write a book. Circumstances led me to writing. Now that the book is finished, I think people might like hearing a few of the stories I’ve detailed. Others who’ve been through struggles might relate.

When I started writing, I wasn’t in a good place. My head was filled with all that went wrong. It was filled with all the terrible. As I continued writing, I started thinking about the people I’d known, and all the crazy things we’d been through. I thought about their personalities and their sayings. I often laughed to myself as I wrote about them. They drowned out much of the terrible.

Even with many of the terrible times excluded, I wrote about enough struggles to justify keeping the title. I hope the people who decide to read Far From Perfect find it enjoyable.

Far From Perfect can be purchased at:

Camping: A Cool Calm and Collective Getaway

June 14th, 2018 by DustyLoft No comments »

Campground Tent

When I first started this blog, the idea was to give people an outlet from the stresses of everyday life. A place someone could go to get away from things and enjoy life for a bit. A place that might take their mind off work, their finances, and the droves of rotten stories plastered all over the web. A place where a person could get lost inside a story. A place where a video posted might add a smile to a persons face, even if just for a few seconds.

I’ve gotten away from this blog during the course of the last few years. Ironically, I’ve probably delt with more stress then most people could imagine. However, I still try to think of ideas for posts, usually without much luck.

That was until today. I’ve been thinking about camping lately. I figured, what better way to relieve stress? A person could literally remove themselves from a stressful situation for a few days while experiencing the wonders of nature. For some, that might be almost impossible, due to deadlines and finances. For others, camping might be a good option. A relaxing weekend in the wilderness might provide a needed getaway.

Camping has a way of setting a persons mind at ease. Camping is an experience. It can be exciting and can be done on the cheap. Camping is something different. For most, it is a way to break away from the normal routine. That same routine being done, day, after, day, after, day, after, day, after day.

Camping can give a person a chance to think – to reflect on their life – to put things in perspective. The extra time in thought might help with decision making. It might help a person forget why they needed to get away in the first place.

Camping often puts a person in a situation to do things they might not ordinarily do. There are literally a zillion things to do at and around campgrounds. Hiking, bike riding and fishing to name a few. Long walks or hikes are defiantly a good way to de-stress. Bike rides are another. One could even plop a chair next to a local lake, crack open their favorite drink, and cast out a few lines. Of course, things don’t get much better then roasting a few marshmallows over a campfire. Unless, you’ve got gram crackers and chocolate. Can someone say smores.

Writing in-and-of-itself is a great way to submerge the mind into another world. However, it can be difficult during the hussle and bussle of everyday life. While camping, writers can write. There is no rush to finish that blog post, diary entry or article before work – before dinner – before bedtime. When suffering from writers block, I am all but certain a cure can be found at the campground.

One of my favorite parts of camping is the rain. I’m talking tent camping. The sound the rain makes while pouring down on a tent is a special sound. It’s a special feeling. It’s a cool, calming feeling.

We’re all different. Most of us, at some point in our lives have to deal with things going wrong. Sometimes we’ll get frustrated and need a break. Sometimes we simply fall into a routine. We’ll get board and we’ll want to do something different. Camping just might be the solution.

A Fun Little RC Car – Megatech MegaPro 1/18 Scale RC Car

July 25th, 2017 by DustyLoft No comments »

The MegaTech MegaPro RC car is great fun and very durable making this video today’s Green Tea Break. It’s 4wd; its fast and can handle almost any off road condition with ease. The MegaPro is 1/18 scale and is well balanced. They were being sold new (I think through Radio Shack) back in 2009. At least that is when the car I own was purchased. However, from what I can see through, they stopped making / selling this model. It can be found used and there are still replacement parts available as well as aftermarket parts. Some of the modifications that can be purchased are dual engine kits(allowing a second engine to be installed in the car), oil shocks and different types of tires.

Megatech Megapro Remote Control TruckMegatech Megapro Remote Control Truck

Megatech Megapro RC TruckMegatech Megapro Remote Control Truck

Evolution Of The Internet

June 16th, 2014 by DustyLoft 2 comments »

This 1990’s commercial got me thinking about the early days of the internet. I’ve been fascinated with the net for as long as I could remember. I figure because the world wide web is so vast I liked it for different reasons at different times in my life. It’s somewhat funny watching this today, not only because the video itself has some funny parts, but also because most of what’s talked about is second nature for so many of us. It seems like much of what’s said is relevant today. Meaning the infrastructure of the internet hasn’t changed all that much since it was first introduced.

Considering I’m in my 40’s, I feel lucky to have been around the net since it was first introduced in the early 1990’s. My father started working as a computer operator in 1965 and later switched to programing in the mid 1970’s. Back then there were no home computers and only larger companies used computers. These were gigantic mainframe computers used for data storage and manipulation. They were so large they literately took up an entire room. Computer programs weren’t typed into the first computers like they are with today’s computers. Programers would write the program out via longhand onto a coding sheet and afterwards they would be typed into a Keypunch Machine. The Keypunch Machines would print the program onto a small rectangular manila index card via punching a series of little square holes into the card. The cards would then be inserted into the mainframe computer, which would be able to read the cards and convert the information into a language it understood. From there the computers would perform the task as originally designed by the program. Since these computers only had 12,000 bytes of memory and no hard drive, data was stored on large tape drives. The tape drives looked like giant movie reels from the 1940’s. And to put the 12,000 bytes of memory they contained into perspective – 1 megabyte of data has 1,048,576 bytes. These gargantuan computers didn’t even have enough memory to store one decent sized jpeg image. Looking back I figure my fathers background with computers played a large part as to why we ended up having access to the internet at an early stage.

The first ISP we used was from a provider called GNN (Global Network Navigator). It was introduced shortly before AOL and had many similar features including the channels on the home area. We ran GNN on a 386 PC with a 14.4 modem. By today’s standards the modem and PC were as slow as dirt, but back then that wasn’t something of concern. Using even the slowest computer / modem combo for e-mail and research was much faster than driving to the Library or hand writing a letter. Prior to the PC we had a TI99 and a Commodore 64. Both of those computers were kept in our basement. Somehow I managed to talk my parents into letting me keep the PC in my room. I was ecstatic just to be able to experience the world wide web. However, once I discovered chat rooms shortly thereafter I had a new infatuation. I remember when I first came across the GNN chat rooms. I thought they were the greatest thing imaginable. The chat section(s) were basically one long chat room with hundreds of people from all over the world. They also moved very fast. I discovered them one night before I went to bed. The next morning I skipped school and talked online all day. I was infatuated with this whole new world and couldn’t pry myself away. I grew up in a small town and there were people from all over the world in these chat rooms. Plus, I was a somewhat quite kid so it seemed like a great way to meet girls. Even if at that age I would never have the opportunity to meet them in person.

Even though the infrastructure of the net is very much the same there are many differences between today’s internet and the one of days past. Altavista, mentioned in the video was the go to search engine at the time and my favorite. Altavista is now gone with the wind and has been for a while. AOL also mentioned has changed drastically. For me, its hard to believe. Both were extremely popular during the early 1990’s. Although, AOL would give me fits when the connection would drop. I remember playing 24 hour Slingo tournaments. Slingo was a slot-like game offered through AOL. It was very similar to the Facebook games of today. They would have 24 hour tournaments where players would compete against others online. Players would have to stay up for 24 hours playing contentiously to obtain the highest score. Apparently, there were others crazy enough and determined enough to play the game for 24 hours straight because I never won a tournament. As with GNN, AOL had chat rooms but they were a little different. AOL had hundreds of different rooms. There was one for just about everything. And they usually contained plenty of people chatting away. This was cool because you could find chat rooms that matched your interests or even your location. And as with GNN I spent hours upon hours trying to meet girls in the chat rooms via AOL. Though, this time a bit older, a teenager, a bit naive but determined that the gal for me was waiting in one of those rooms.

Now the internet is a way of life. A life where people couldn’t possibly imagine living without such a luxury. Sure, Altavista is gone, AOL is only a microcosm of its former self. Myspace users migrated to Facebook. All but the most diehard LiveJournal users switched to Blogger and WordPress. Netscape Navigator is caput. Free website hosts/builders like Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire and Fortunecity don’t really exist. Today you have Blogger, Tumblr and Facebook as the popular options. Users of Peer-to-peer sites like Napster and Limewire have moved on to Torrent clients like PirateBay, uTorrent and Bitcommet. Chat rooms I’m sure still exist, but are not nearly as popular as they were in the 1990’s. IRC and AOL chat rooms were the most popular at the time, but I’m not even sure if they’re still around. And really I wouldn’t even know where those users migrated, maybe Myspace along with other social media sites like Facebook, Hi5 or Twitter. I figure some even switched to texting platforms like WhatsApp. Furthermore, one of the nets biggest changes is with video. Due to faster connections videos, television and movies have become extremely popular.

With so much changed there are some websites that thrived or at least survived over the last 20 years of cyberspace. eBay has had many ups and downs, but is relatively the same and in no danger of changing or going anywhere soon. Yahoo! is always evolving, but its main feature is still data searches. However, I have to say I miss the Yahoo! magazine and auctions. Aint-It-Cool-News, a smaller website I first started visiting back in the 1990’s is still run by the same owner and with very much the same idea as when first launched. Plus, the very heart of the internet, the infrastructure, is almost identical from when it was first introduced. All web address still start with http:// (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Domains typically start with WWW (World Wide Web) and the combination of the three (http, www and domain name) is still the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The World Wide Web is still accessed via web browser. Web browsers basically convert programing languages to the graphics / design you see on websites. HTML and PHP have evolved a bit from earlier days, but are currently widely used programing languages. Though, they are slowly loosing ground to newer languages such as Ruby and Python.

With technology always evolving one never knows what the future holds, especially with mobile platforms becoming increasing popular. But for now the main idea of the internet is relatively the same as when first introduced in the 1990’s. For many of us its hard to believe that was over 20 years ago.

Vintage Mainframe Computer

A Vintage Mainframe Computer – Honeywell 1800.

IBM 029 Card Punch Data Recorder Keypunch Machine

This is an old IBM 029 Keypunch Machine with some punch cards. – Image by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

America Online Home Screen

The America Online Home Screen as it was in the early 1990’s.

* Additional Notes: The above video isn’t of the complete internet commercial. The original is about thirty minutes and can be found on Youtube.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! – Fallen Idol by The Greg Kihn Band

May 23rd, 2014 by DustyLoft No comments »

Fallen Idol by Greg Kihn Band (Lyrics)

they say its lonely at the top
they say the only thing you got
this isolation sure brings you down
no true friends still come around
its so cold here in the winds
the singer knows the song he sings
his washed out image about to take a fall
inside he doesn’t care at all

and the lights go out on the fallen idol
there will be no joy in the dressing room tonight
and the curtain falls on the fallen idol
in a black limousine he will leave here unseen, tonight

when he was young he was a fighter
he always knew which way to go
times changed him, rearranged him
and it seems like he’s the last to know

and the lights go out on the fallen idol
as he stares into the spotlight one more time
there’s no curtain call for the fallen idol
as the band looks away they don’t know what to play, tonight

he stands alone now on the edge of the stage
and I swear I could hear his heart pounding
his voice is just a whisper in the back shadows and echos of the great auditorium
and he looks out, looks out at the faces and he says
reach out and touch me or I might fade away
reach out, reach out and touch me
before I fade away

and the lights go out on the fallen idol
as he looks right down the barrel one last time
and its curtains now for the fallen idol
as he backs from the stage with his sole in a rage, tonight, tonight

reach out, for the fallen idol
reach out, reach out for the fallen idol
reach out

Gordo: The Worlds Greatest Street Drummer

May 17th, 2014 by DustyLoft No comments »

This kid deserves a record deal, but for now only those in Sydney, Australia get to witness his unbelievable talent in person via the streets. Though, I’m pretty sure street goers will be more than willing to help fill his buckets with coins based on his performances. This amazing street performer goes by the name of Gordo. He’s been playing drums since he was a child and buckets since high school. He has a YouTube page and Facebook page. Once you press play be prepared to be wowed!