Impermanence

July 11th, 2012 1 comment

[im-pur-muh-nuhnt] — n Synonyms: fleeting, temporary, ephemeral, evanescent (dictionary.com)

Throughout my life, I’ve been reminded, in gentle and harsh ways, of the impermanence of space and time as we pass through it in our life journeys – possessions, friends, family, school, jobs, homes, and even scientific knowledge. [I still fondly regard Pluto as a planet of our solar system. There are nine planets. Even the little metal plates on the lawn at Griffith Park agree with me.]

I could relay thousands of bytes worth of my own stories and experience with impermanence but many of my friends already know about them. Instead, I’ll provide two examples of embracing change (welcoming impermanence) that I’ve adopted this past year.

First, in living spaces. I have surprised even myself in how quickly I have adapted to new living arrangements every few months. I’ve maintained a nomadic lifestyle this past year, at first while backpacking across Eurasia and then when I was back in the U.S. for work. I’ve moved from the Culver City area to Long Beach to Pasadena, traveling to Phoenix, AZ every month for work. I’ve had a couch or floor to sleep on through the graciousness of friends which has allowed me to save money to build my motor home – yet another impermanent living space. Once the motor home, I’m looking forward to having the flexibility of sleeping anywhere I can park and watch the stars (through the escape hatch being built above the bed area) and waking up to see the sunrise from different views in L.A. Anyone know of a good place to park for the night with an uninhibited view of the downtown L.A. skyline?

Second, in work. Why have I not been willing to settle down into an apartment or home in L.A.? Mostly because I haven’t found the place where I’d want to work. In the past, I found my living space first and then looked for work that would allow me to commute from there. My outlook on work this past year has changed such that I’ve become a bit of a “job snob”, only willing to accept work at small or medium-sized companies that more directly build things that benefit the environment or society, like a socially responsible organization. I’m not willing to sacrifice my values simply to support a lifestyle that centers around creating a stockpile of personal possessions that are of little use to other people. I’m willing to stay in an impermanent living environment in order to keep my work options flexible. I don’t feel like I’m alone in this thinking and the willingness to move for the right job. Actually, a good friend of mine is actually banking his career on the belief that there are people out there looking for the perfect job and who just need a way to find it. His company is currently matching technical job-seekers so, unfortunately, I still have to do my own searching for the right socially-responsible company that could use a project manager in non-software companies. Although I’m encouraged that more companies are understanding the desire of employees to “do good”, it is still very hard to find a company that sells itself on these merits. I’ve found that the only way I can find out how much a company supports volunteering, or how efficient a non-profit is in being good, is by getting into that job interview and asking the persons who work there direct questions like, “Do you have Green IT initiatives and what are they? If the product you are creating is not directly helping the environment, how are you replacing the resources that you are using?” I have not always received candid or even understanding responses to questions like these at a job interview. Do you know of a company that sells itself based on its ability to give to society or the environment well?

Philadelphia

July 8th, 2012 Comments off

Amy is a couchsurfer I “hosted” even though I didn’t really have a home. I provided her a tent and we camped out in Malibu as she was passing through Los Angeles on her U.S. hitch-hiking trip:

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Port Arthur

July 8th, 2012 Comments off

I met Sean while spending Thanksgiving in Death Valley:

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Let in the Light!

July 5th, 2012 2 comments

My most important decision point was that I wanted to see the outdoors as much as possible. So, being a cargo van with hardly any windows, the first thing Jeff and team did after stripping the van was to cut holes and put in windows that have screened sliders on the bottoms. Only one rear window is added because the other one will be facing into the shower/toilet room, which doesn’t need a side window as there will be a vent in the ceiling for that room.

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Interior design

July 5th, 2012 Comments off

My friend and interior-designer-in-the-making, Liz, helped me organize my thoughts enough to come up with a general look and feel for the interior. Since I want to garage my motorcycle within the van, I would need a more industrial space at the back of the van. We decided on aluminum diamond-plate. From there, she guided me through the thought process of blending that with a living space without actually having any physical barriers. My key design element – zero to no floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. As much as wood cabinets are beautiful, I have no room for them in a metal box on wheels and don’t want anything blocking the windows. (Did I mention that I get a bit claustrophobic?)

So my interior design separates the garage from the living area by using the central “hall” that is created by the kitchen counter area, counters which will be across each other, rather than a sink/stove side-by-side look. The living area would be a neutral light color (tan for lack of a better color term) and the ceiling would be a textured material of a similar color. Textured to capture and reflect more light. Floors will be wood-like except in the garage area, which will be aluminum. To tie the garage and living areas together, we opted for plain black lacquered cabinetry.

Here are a bunch of samples of floor, wall, and black-lac intersections. I went with the Dura-Plank Forest Oak flooring. That stuff is $5/piece (whatever a piece is) but seemed like it was teflon-coated and flexible at the same time.

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Converting a Van into a Motor Home

July 5th, 2012 1 comment

I debated with myself for months about whether I could actually live in a motor home for months and what kind of motor home (size, color, shape, type, etc.) it would have to be so that I didn’t hate each minute I spent in it’s metal box confines. I ended up making my decision to convert a van based on a 67-point, prioritized criteria list, contained in an Excel sheet with links to external reference material, price sheets, and my CRID (concerns, risks, issues, and dependencies). Yeah… geek out.

Ease of driving and parking in urban areas
Light and space in living quarters
Sleeps 2 (full size bed)
Fire safety
Air circulation with screened openings
Leak-proof (particularly with penthouse top)
Fresh water system (filtered)
Waste system
Cooking and heating system
“Storage – trash container
19″” x 13″” x 8″” (like simplehuman under counter)”
“Storage – pantry for dried foods, cereal, canned foods, rice/pasta, spices, chips/snacks, extra beverages
22″” x 15″” x 10″””
Efficient power supply for laptop, hotspot, fans, and night lights
Storage – cat crate (24″x16.75″x15″), food (10″x12″x12″), and litter (13″x10″x10″)
“Cat litter box (ventilated)
16.5″” x 18″” x height?”
Storage – toolbox, vehicle lubricants
Storage – cleaning supplies
“Storage – clothes (1 suitcase and 2 duffel bags, laundry)
18″” x 40″” x 14″””
“Storage – shoes/boots (4 pairs)
9″” x 10.5″” x 12″””
Storage – light bedding for 2
Storage – emergency kits and fire extinguisher
Storage – water hoses, fuel container (empty), rope, tie-downs
Toilet
Indoor shower
Inside AC outlets
Comfort in temperatures over 75F
Full size spare tire
2-burner stove (could be separate butane stoves)
Freezer space for 1 week’s worth of food (7 meals) and ice
Storage – for serving 4 (plates, bowls, multiple glasses, and utensils)
Storage – for 1 large pot and medium frying pan
Dining table space for 2 people (internal)
Laptop work table (on bed and at seat)
Storage – toilet, bath, and vanity supplies (1 cu.ft.)
Hooks for hanging clothes (min. 8 heavy duty hooks)
Total purchase and customization cost
Repair and maintenance costs (related to mileage)
External length (<22ft length, <7ft height) Visibility through vehicle's right side windows Visibility through back windows Internal transportation of 1 motorcycle at 81.3"L x 31.5"W x 46.5"H Storage - ramps for motorcycle Winch for pulling up motorcycle Built-in lighting for working at a computer/desk Lighting for lounging and talking Refrigeration for 1 week's worth of food and beverages Storage - motorcycle helmet, jackets, and pants Integrated sound system Interior material and color Insurance costs Internal headroom without penthouse ~5'9" Comfort in temperatures below 60F Seatbelts for 4 passengers Storage - [and prep space] for rice cooker "Storage - files and books 12.5"" x 16"" x 11""" Storage - awning or tarp Safety while driving in rain, snow, and ice Gas/diesel efficiency Room for 4 sitting around a table Large kitchen sink (wash an 8 qt pot) 2 ft of counter space for food preparation Tow package (4000 lbs) Ease of toilet waste disposal in urban areas Microwave Washing sink for toilet Outside AC outlets Sleep 4 people (bunks ok) Exterior color

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The Bixie Build

July 1st, 2012 Comments off

The van conversion to a motor home is being dubbed “the Bixie Build”. My new nickname, as a friend I met traveling in Spain coined for me, Bixie – small like a pixie but with a beast of a motorcycle. That’s because the van I’m converting is being specifically designed to house my ’88 Honda Hawk inside. As well a full house on wheels – whatever I may need to live for months in the motor home while enjoying all the basic amenities of a first-world urban lifestyle (bath, kitchen, internet…).

The vehicle:
2005 Dodge Sprinter, 158″ length, high roof – purchased used

The layout:

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