Archive for Preparing

Automatic route planning – a 32% grade?

You may have seen stories about neighborhoods being annoyed by social traffic apps routing around congestion into their streets. Here’s one: Waze’s crazy routing over a 32% grade road is driving residents nuts by Cyrus Farivar – “I’ve seen five or six cars smash into other cars, and it’s getting worse.” No, it’s not Route 89 around Zephyr Cove or San Francisco somewhere, it’s in Los Angeles.

It’s a common story: small towns and residents living on once-quiet streets are sometimes annoyed by the influx of traffic that Waze, traffic wayfinding apps, and ride-hailing services have wrought.

But residents along Baxter Street in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood—reportedly one of the steepest streets in America (comprising two major hills)—are now banding together to try to change local traffic patterns. Neighbors have contacted city officials and Waze’s parent company, Google, to try to mitigate the problem.

They believe that a lot of drivers are using Baxter as a way to avoid Glendale Boulevard, a nearby thoroughfare.

That might be an OK detour for a commuter but it highlights a problem with automatic routing for RV’s. Even if you use satellite views you might not see the grade. 

Back in the day, the kids could grab a free map at the gas station to see where they were and how they were going to get to their vacation destination. Those maps only had major routes and highways with very little detail and nothing about local roads and city streets. These days, the navigation applications have a lot of detail about roads including those planned but not yet built, speed limits, and whatever else can be scraped from user map edits (see the Open Street Map project), state and local map data, and other sources (e.g. the Census Bureau TIGER). Don’t forget web sites about low clearance roads, either (e.g. Low Clearance Bridges and Overpasses: How to Watch for and Avoid). Then there’s the satellite views and street views that get melded into the maps. 

So we are, or can be, buried in a mass of data and detail. This is an opportunity for exploration but it is also a risk. When you get off the beaten path or on to unknown trails and roads, take care you don’t find yourself on a dead end or facing a 32% grade or other RV hazard.

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Gas asphyxiation and tire troubles in the news

In the news are two stories where careful reading and consideration is needed to avoid jumping to inappropriate conclusions.

Propane gas killed Iowa family vacationing in Mexico, police say — Las Vegas Review Journal. A cause of death in several old Perry Mason shows results from the murderer turning off the pilot light on a gas heater. What happens is that the oxygen in the room is replaced with methane or propane and the sleeping victim dies from lack of oxygen. Since the victim can expel CO2, there is no strangulation struggle. Preventing suicides this way is why helium balloon tanks often come with 20% air these days. The question is why the odorant in the propane was not noticed.

In the RV world, this is why gas appliances have the combustion path outside and why some catalytic or other heaters that burn fuel inside have oxygen depletion sensors and why the stove says it is not to be used for space heating.

Goodyear Knew Of Dangerous RV Tire Failures For Over 20 Years: Court Docs by Ryan Felton — There is an understandable tendency to blame tire (and other) failures on the manufacturer rather than to consider poor maintenance or improper use. Sometimes it is difficult to determine exactly why a failure occurred, especially if it takes time to develop. Goodyear motorhome tires, the G159 275/70R 22.5 seems particularly problematical and people have been going after Goodyear for its failures and damages for years.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. received failure claims over a tire that was installed on thousands of RVs and is linked to at least nine deaths, dozens of injuries, and hundreds of crashes as early as 1996, the first year it was manufactured and installed on motorhomes, according to court documents obtained exclusively by Jalopnik. The documents also show that Goodyear appears to have vastly underreported the number of failure claims it had received over the tire to federal regulators during a previous inquiry more than a decade ago, and confirm the tire is almost certainly still on the road today.

One problem with these stories is that it is difficult to properly place the complaint. It does cover suggested causes of failure but that doesn’t really refute the manufacturer’s claims. It doesn’t provide any information to properly weigh the significance of the rate of failure or other relevant variables. It doesn’t even provide judgments from court proceedings being that it a story about the issue going to court based on the complaint.

What you can learn from what is known so far: (1) don’t take shortcuts with RV energy sources and (2) take care of your tires and monitor them closely.

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Home Power Thinking About Batteries

Justine Sanchez has a good article on Battery Bank Design & Sizing in this month’s Home Power Magazine. The focus is on residential systems and not on RV systems. It includes consideration for “areas with utilities unfriendly to net billing” which is one way of saying areas whose populations don’t like subsidies for energy fantasies. But the subsidies are often forced on utility customers and other modern concerns such as load leveling have become an issue in electrical power systems. 

The battery types discussed here are being mass-produced—there is a formalized testing process in place with material safety handling data sheets, etc.—and are currently available for the U.S. residential storage market.
No matter what type of system you have, there are some basic pieces of information you will need for sizing. This includes the daily energy the battery bank will need to supply and the DOD recommended for that battery type.
A primary factor in off-grid battery bank design is “days of autonomy”—the number of days that the bank should meet loads without being recharged due to clouds hampering PV output.

There is a good discussion of considerations that differ between whether the batteries are providing service for off-grid, backup, or load leveling situations. An RV has the potential for much greater variance in energy requirements in most cases. That means that a greater reserve capacity is needed. Weight, maintenance charging, and other factors are much more important in RV systems than they are in Home systems, too.


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Outside Missing

At MetaFilter the story linked was How 1,600 People Went Missing from Our Public Lands Without a Trace — That lead to an Outside story centered on the case of 18-year-old Joe Keller who vanished from a dude ranch in Colorado’s Rio Grande National Forest.

The MetaFilter page is worth a look for the comments. The Outside story is rather long but contains a lot of information.

“The first 24 hours are key,” says Robert Koester, a.k.a. Professor Rescue, author of the search and rescue guidebook Lost Person Behavior. Koester was consulted on the Keller case and noted that, like most missing runners, Joe wasn’t dressed for a night outside.
There was nothing to go on. In that first week, the search engaged about 15 dogs and 200 people on foot, horseback, and ATV. An infrared-equipped airplane from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control flew over the area. Collin’s brother Tanner set up a GoFundMe site that paid for a helicopter to search for five hours, and a volunteer flew his fixed-wing aircraft in the canyon multiple times. A guy with a drone buzzed the steep embankments along Highway 17, the closest paved road, and the rock formation Faith, which has a cross on top. A $10,000 reward was posted for information. How far could a shirtless kid in running shoes get? 
Joe Keller had just joined the foggy stratum of the hundreds or maybe thousands of people who’ve gone missing on our federal public lands. Thing is, nobody knows how many.

It’s hard to put your hunches and suspicions to rest. We’ll never know for certain what happened to Joe Keller. We’ll know even less about what happened to a lot of other people missing in the wild. 


One question I had early on was, Are you better or worse off going missing in a national forest than from a Walmart parking lot? I thought I knew the answer. You can see an aerial view of my firewood pile from space on your smartphone. I thought that in the wild, someone would send in the National Guard, the Army Rangers, the A-Team, and that they wouldn’t rest until they found you. Now I’m not so sure.

In Joe’s case, it looks like he was injured in a fall. Even being only a short ways from the ranch, finding him was extremely difficult. It may be low odds of getting lost and the idea of something happening on only a short walk near the campsite seems not worth considering. What is worth considering is that things happen, the wilderness is indeed wild even very close to campgrounds and civilization, and the risk cannot be ignored. 


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Winter is ahead – be prepared!

It’s home from the last scheduled rally of 2016 and time to start acting on buttoning up for the winter. This year, we’ve already had one winter storm and there is another parade of such storms going through NW NV this weekend. Normally, concern about freezing isn’t a big deal until Thanksgiving and the kind of freeze that gets into the RV systems isn’t really that big a risk until after Christmas. This weekend’s storm might actually get some snow on the ski resorts well before Thanksgiving which should be an unusual gift for them. So precautions need to be taken.

At this time of year, I usually just depend upon an 800 watt electric heater on a very low thermostat setting or a Thermo-Cube (Amazon link) as many heater thermostats don’t work so well in the 40 degree range needed for freeze protection. The heater needs to be one with a fan and it should be placed to help circulate air in the RV as even a little bit of circulation will avoid cold spots and reduce condensation issues. You might also open up any cabinets or drawers that hide plumbing so they aren’t hidden from inside air.

The first thing to do in getting ready for winter is to open all the drains. Dump the waste tanks, drain the fresh water tank, open the drains for the water heater and the hot and cold pressure lines. Keep in mind that RV holding tanks are vented so they are bacterial colonies. Even the disinfectant used in potable water supplies fades so that storing fresh water in the RV is not really a good idea for more than a week or two.

Some winterize by using air pressure to ‘blow out’ the water in the lines. This is not a good idea. There is a risk of over pressure in the system and residual moisture in the nooks and crannies – especially in mixing faucet valves and low spots. You also need to be careful not to use an oil compressor as you need clean and dry air. The best bet is that potable pink RV antifreeze.

Before you get into the anti-freeze routine, you need to first install a water heater bypass kit (see Amazon link search results) and a diverter kit (Amazon Camco) so you can feed your water pump and pre-filter from a bottle of antifreeze rather than from the fresh water tank. You will also need to bypass or remove any water filtering and conditioning equipment you have including faucet mounted filters. If you’ve got that done, you should be able to get pink flowing in all the faucets (both hot and cold) needing only a gallon or two of antifreeze. The flow to get antifreeze in all the valves should provide enough pink into the drain so the traps are protected, too.

For the water heater, the easiest way to drain it is to pull the drain plug and flip the safety release valve to let air in. Cameco has an anode rod with a valve on it (Amazon link) for aluminum tanks for about $17 that handles both water heater needs – the anode rod to reduce corrosion and the drain valve to make it easier to drain the water heater tank.

Keep in mind that a critical part of the antifreeze routine is the spring flush. When it’s time to get ready for the next active season, make flushing the antifreeze a part of the sanitizing maintenance. Use a quarter cup of bleach to fifteen gallons of water in the fresh water tank, set the feed diverter back to the tank, and then fire up the pump to pressurize the system. At each faucet, let the water flow until the pink is gone and you can smell the bleach. Again, make sure both cold and hot get flushed. After you get the bleach smell at each faucet, let it sit for a few minutes while you drain the tank. Then put some fresh water in the tank and flush that through the system to remove any smells of bleach or antifreeze. Sometimes is takes a few drain and flush routines to clear any hint of a smell. Usually a disinfectant flush and a plain water flush gets things usable and an outing or two will finish the job.

The Amazon links provided here are affiliate links – you support this website by using them to investigate products. Another resource is Walmart online. They have most of the Camco RV line for online purchase, too.

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Real ID and the burden on traveling interstate

As it is, you need to show your papers on demand. Entering any federal facility and, soon, to travel by air. you will need a certified identification. This is called “Real ID” and the Homeland Security Department has a Real ID FAQ page answering common questions about it. A driver’s license used to be sufficient to establish identity for most domestic needs but many states don’t meet federal requirements for a proper identification in issuing driver’s licenses. The Nevada DMV does have a process where you can upgrade your license to one that is suitable for Real ID requirements. See the NV DMV page on the Real ID Act in Nevada. To upgrade your paperwork, you need to dance through a few hoops, again.

You need to present proof of identity, Social Security number, and two residency documents in person at a DMV office one time only.

These are generally the same documents you used to obtain your Nevada license or ID the first time. You must show them again, plus two documents that show your Nevada residential address. You cannot obtain a Real ID card online or by mail.

You may upgrade to a Real ID license or ID at any time. The fee is $9.25, $8.25 for an ID card or $13.25 for a commercial license. Other changes of information, such as an address change or name change, may be included with no additional fee. If you are completing other transactions such as a renewal, the normal fees will apply and there is no additional fee to upgrade to a Real ID.

This isn’t the sort of thing you can do online, either. The question is how long it will take until you need an ID like this for access to NFS or BLM facilities or other federally controlled RV and camping areas. License, registration, proof of insurance … the burdens don’t seem to be getting any smaller.

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Some call them rats with PR. They don’t hibernate but they do hunker down when it’s cold or the weather is bad. Since they live off nuts with an occasional bird or bird egg and insects and whatnot, we probably ought to avoid putting out peanuts for the Blue Jays. Most of those peanuts get stashed and that means the squirrels can probably get a good meal robbing the Blue Jay stash. They are ‘cute’ but there are reasons people don’t like them around. GruntDoc has a nice picture about why the War on Squirrels got started. They chew on wires and other things.

A few years ago, some squirrels built a nest in the V of my B-Van V-8 engine. The smell of roasting sagebrush on the annual spring trip to the smog and lube center was quite nice but also quite a fire hazard. It took a bit of doing to get into the area to remove all the debris and clean things out. Now, its just another item on pre-trip the checkoff list.

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Fire and Wind

The fire season is looking towards a season change to winter. Fires and winds can make a difference in your travel plans. A couple of websites that provide useful information are from ESRI and HINT.FM

ESRI, a company that develops geographic information systems (GIS) has a public information map that shows the database of wildland fires, winds, and air quality alerts. Click on a marker and you get a popup with additional information.

The wind map is a personal art project. It shows wind data from the National Digital Forecast Database for the continental U.S. The winds are flowing lines whose intensity indicates the winds speed. If you are looking for a synoptic overview of what the winds on the continent are doing, this work of art can be fascinating.

For a more traditional view of weather along a planned route, don’t forget the wunderground road trip planner. If you’ve got your route set up in Google Maps, GmapToGPX might help you transfer the route to your GPS.

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CO, grid power, and recognizing the dangers

“By far, the biggest killer after a blizzard is carbon monoxide poisoning,” Lavonas [associate director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver] says. “The biggest mistakes people make are using improvised heating sources and using electrical generators improperly.”

Liz Szabo says Portable generators pose safety risk after snowstorm. The same thing happens whenever there is a major grid outage.

The same issues are a concern with RV’s. This is why such things as the Camco 44461 Gen-Turi RV Generator Exhaust Venting System [Amazon affiliate link] were created. If you can’t get the genset away from your RV and downwind, then perhaps getting the exhaust up will help. Whatever you do, a properly functioning CO detector is a must.

One of our friends ran a 2kw genset in the back of a pickup truck for an oxygen concentrator overnight. He was startled with the CO alarm in the wee hours as genset CO had penetrated his trailer.

In a B-Van, the genset exhaust was run to the nearest side right under the main window. It should, at least, have been run back to the rear quarter away from any windows or vents.

Note that carbon monoxide is a cumulative poison. Alarms have to look at potential dose over time to determine when things are getting hazardous.

As for the grid, PhysOrg says Better power grid synchronization may enable smart grids to self-recover from failures.

“Although the LHC has often been called the largest machine in the world, that title may be more appropriately given to something much more familiar: power grids. Consisting of thousands of generators and substations linked across thousands of miles, these networks form the backbone of society in developed countries. Yet most of the grids that power our modern economy are based on technology from the 1960s, even though power demands have changed dramatically since then.”

If you can get around the bias that seems so common these days about everything falling apart, the story does report on some of the esoteric stuff that we depend upon for electrical power. The grid is kinda’ like a big bowl of Jell-O (Jell-O at Amazon) with all sorts of wiggling on its surface. If something big comes along, a jiggle can form that swamps things and creates havoc. The report is about new techniques that watch the surface of the Jell-O and apply counter jiggles to help keep the surface smooth and power flowing like it is supposed to.

note: Amazon affiliate links support this site at no cost or obligation to readers. Your click through is appreciated.

The thing is, to make Jell-O during a power outage really requires refrigeration and that means an alternate power source. The advice is that you want to avoid opening the refrigerator door to help keep things cold. Maybe Hot Chocolate? But that requires heat and the problem of backup heat sources in the house is another hazard. Oh, my. Just bundle up and wait it out?

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Antenna install and radio issues

If you are into amateur radio or just looking to put up a CB antenna so you can hear the rally information, installing an antenna and wiring the radio can present a challenge. K0BG has a rundown on OTR and RV Installs that summarizes the issues.

“Common threads often include long cable runs, limited antenna mounting options, poor ground plane issues, and RFI suppression. Worse, the answers are not always simple; the solutions are usually more expensive than passenger vehicle installations; and most manufacturers are generally less cooperative than automobile manufacturers. The latter is especially true when the chassis, and the coach-work are made by different companies; a common occurrence with RVs, and not unknown in OTR trucks.”

It is not only about where to put the antenna but also about where to put the radio and how to run the wires. Then you get into problems of interference and noise. It can get interesting …

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Consumer Reports Trailer Tips

The weather is beginning to pull on those who have an RV (and aren’t winter sports nuts!). Consumer Reports has Trailer tips – How to get ready for the summer towing season to get you off to a good start.

“If you’re a first timer, have recently stepped up to a larger trailer, or just want a refresher, start with our towing guide for the basics. That has plenty of information about how to match your vehicle to the load. (Also read: “Pulling your weight.”)

And whether you’re an experienced trailer veteran or hitching up for the first time, take a few minutes to read the following tips.”

Flush out the pink stuff in the plumbing, sanitize the fresh water system, and make sure everything works like it is supposed to. Then you can get out and enjoy what the RV offers.

Another Consumer Reports item is about How to prepare for driving without a spare tire. Check the DOT dates on the tires, including the spare if you have one. Inspect the tires for cracks and other problems, Investigate any tire that seems to be losing air faster than the others. Be prepared and check your emergency equipment.

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Lezak’s Recurring Cycle

Those TV weather guys are often rather strange. One took note of a pattern in winter storms and now uses his idea of recurring cycles to aid in his forecasting about winter storms. Lezak’s Recurring Cycle posits that a unique weather pattern sets up in October or so each year to establish atmospheric conditions. That pattern cycles and repeats over and over during the winter until it slowly falls apart during the next summer.

LRC & April 10th Storm says

We are currently in the fourth cycle of the LRC which has had a cycle length between 45 and 54 days centered at right around 49 to 50 days. A major storm is now expected to form over the western states. We can go back to cycles 1, 2, and 3 and see very clearly this part of the weather pattern and how it is now repeating in cycle 4. Remember it isn’t just this one snapshot in time, but the entire weather pattern that is cycling. Take a look at the next three maps, and you can click on any map to make it a larger picture:

This year has been particularly interesting as the storm cycle is on top of the La Niña phase of the Pacific Ocean’s tropical temperature pattern. As wikipedia notes “Expected La Niña impacts during November – January include …

For the contiguous United States, potential impacts include above average precipitation in the Northern Rockies, Northern California, and in southern and eastern regions of the Pacific Northwest. Below-average precipitation is expected across the southern tier, particularly in the southwestern and southeastern states.

That is what has been the case in the 2010 – 2011 Winter with near record snow in the Sierra’s reinforced at intervals during the winter. Since this cycle is just shy of two months, anybody planning monthly meetings requiring travel might want to see if they can use the idea to help plan meeting dates.

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The value of a good map: blaming technology is foolish

The Donner Party is famous because of what happened after it got caught in an early snowstorm on the east side of the Sierras. They were delayed in the journey to California because the guide they hired knew about a shortcut in Utah that turned out to be not really suitable for a wagon train.

The same thing happens today, more than 150 years later. Death by GPS in desert illustrates that the guide these days is the maps embedded in GPS navigation units. You will nearly always find these sorts of stories blaming “GPS” when it is really the maps (the guide) people use and the judgment they employ in their travel based on those maps.

These are not just stories of unimaginable suffering. They are reminders that even with a growing suite of digital devices at our side, technology cannot guarantee survival in the wild. Worse, it is giving many a false sense of security and luring some into danger and death.

Technology, of course, is not the only denominator to those disasters. Others include poor planning, faulty judgment, bad luck and the lemming-like rush of visitors to Death Valley in the summer, many of them unfamiliar with the danger – making heat-related illness and fatalities nearly as predictable as the searing temperatures.

But then the header is “Not all GPS units reliable” … The article is full of assertions like “the unit directed them” and “tourists are being led into danger by technology” as if the driver had no choice in the matter. But the truth is in there if you read carefully such as about four tourists who disappeared.

The German tourists “made some classic errors,” said Callagan, the Death Valley wilderness coordinator. “They had no business being where they were in a van, alone, in the summer. They didn’t have a good map. The road systems out in Butte Valley are confusing. They were traveling in the summer, unprepared. Did they have 10 gallons of water? No. They had very little.”

The GPS is not the only guide that may lead you astray. On a forums discussion an RVer was asking about dispersed camping in the Mojave National Preserve. He got two responses. One said to stick to the established campgrounds and avoid off road camping until he had had a chance to investigate them personally. The other said that there were a lot of places where he could pull of the road for an overnight. It is true that there are many such places but what happens when you find you have left an established road at sundown for a trail with no way to turn around or where the trail rapidly degrades to deep soft sand? How do you know who to trust?

This is related to those folks who decide to do a bit of back country hiking near a resort location like South Lake Tahoe. They don’t go prepared. They don’t have a good map. They just hope their cell phone will work to call for help. It may work near a populous area but in places like Death Valley, the odds of a cell phone working are remote, even on the main roads.

We do have very good maps these days. You can know exactly where you are with a good deal of precision nearly anywhere. Vehicles are incredibly reliable and capable. Search and Rescue teams have tools and techniques (and practice in their use) that give them capabilities to find lost travelers like never before. As the Sacramento Bee article notes, though, there is no substitute for proper preparation and good judgment. Never underestimate the wilderness.

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Highway emergency telephone numbers

Via the RGJ ‘data’ page is the Dispatch Magazine Highway Notification Numbers map. There are numbers for emergencies, for roadside assistance, and for travel information.

Although 911 has been designated as the “official” number for reporting emergencies in the United States, many other numbers have been implemented for reporting highway situations: accidents, intoxicated drivers (DUIs), or disabled vehicles. In most cases, dialing these special numbers routes the call to the agency with jurisdiction over the state highways or Interstates, rather than to the local law enforcement agency.

This map shows alternate telephone numbers established by the states to reach a state-level law enforcement agency to report highway situations, some of which could be considered “urgent.” These numbers were generally established before the wide implementation of the 9-1-1 emergency number. The numbers also are routed to various types of agencies, some of which may not be first responders—police, fire or EMS—but rather highway departments.

You’ll often see roadside signs that tell you the emergency number to call when entering some jurisdictions. This map can help you figure out a possible number if you don’t see such signs. It also highlights just how confusing it can be trying to figure out what to dial for help while on the road. Many insurance companies as well as Coachnet and AAA provide and some vehicle warranties provide roadside assistance. You need to be aware of the services provided by those you have available to you and the numbers, both telephone and account or member, that you will need to know to obtain assistance.

It is generally considered to be an emergency when life, limb, or property is endangered. Roadside assistance is needed for when you are disabled but able to get off the road and out of the way of traffic. Travel information is needed to learn about construction ahead or road controls from storms.

The FHA has a traveler Information Telephone Number – 511 and a deployment map with additional information on the WWW. For some states, Safe Travel USA provides the traveler information.

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Meal prep, your own frozen dinners

One of the ways to make things easier on the road in your RV is to reduce what you need to do for dinner. You can pre-pare your dinners and stash them in your RV’s freezer. Melissa recommends (Don’t Panic–Dinner’s in The Freezer.) (Amazon link referencing Melissa) as a resource. “When we are traveling in our camper, I simply stash the homemade meals in the mini freezer before we leave and pull them out as necessary.”

It looks like the book was successful enough to breed a sequel. — Might be worth checking out.

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Your legacy and your assets online

Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera, Chronicle Staff Writer at SFGate discusses the problem of how Web sites deal with digital assets after we die. Do you have a contingency plan so someone can easily take care of your online presence if you die or are incapacitated? Who knows the ID and password you use to access online banking or investment accounts or how to obtain them? Do you have instructions that someone can use to notify your friends and correspondents of your status if need be? What should be done with the user accounts at social or shopping websites?

And how do you protect this personal access information while on the road yet still have it available with use instructions in a safe and secure manner? No longer is it the family lawyer with a will in his safe. Exactly what it will be is being figured out. Martínez-Cabrera describes some of the options being tried. A first step is just being aware that the problem exists and that is where you can start.

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Hunker down, it’s a winter storm!

They were forecasting a bit of snow Sunday night into Monday and it appears the forecasters were a bit conservative. Here’s what is looks like Monday morning.

The Nevada Winter Road Conditions website at Safe Travel (also 511 or 877 687 6237) has chain or snow tire conditions on I80 nearly all the way across Nevada, on US 50 out past Austin, from Gerlach to Hawthorn and even on the US 70 Feather River route as well as all the usual routes in the Reno and Carson City area.

So, if you are thinking of travel in Northern Nevada this week, forget it. Find someplace you can hunker down and wait for the storm to break and the road crews to clean up the mess and the weather to abate a bit. Do make sure to find someplace to hunker down where you can keep warm as this storm appears to be bringing January and February temperatures with it.

In weather like this, road travel is hazardous and even just keeping warm and safe can be an issue. Take care.

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Thermostatically controlled outlet for freeze protection

Fall is here and the cold fronts are making their way through the Great Basin. That means taking precautions to avoid freeze damage. Generally, your RV won’t suffer freezing problems with most of these storms even if the overnight temperatures get down to near 20F. That is because the temperatures aren’t that low very long and the inside of your RV has some residual heat built up during the day. Even so, precautions need to be taken.

The long term solution is to run RV potable antifreeze in the lines to make sure the faucents, pump, and pipes all have the pink stuff in them rather than water.

A short term solution is a device like the Thermo Cube. This costs a bit under $20. It plugs into an outlet and you plug an electric heater into it. It powers up whatever is plugged into it when it gets down to 35F and turns off when it gets back up to 45F. # Maximum Rating: 1800 Watts, 15 Amps, 120VC (to be used with GFCI outlets).

The Thermo Cube can be used with several different devices to help save electricity and wear & tear on your equipment. We recommend the following devices to be used with the Thermo Cube – Self Regulating Heat Tape, Heat Lamps, Stock Tank Heaters, Pond De-icer, Engine Block Heater and Outdoor Pet Heating Pads. [Cozy Winters]

The Water Garden has it for $15. Gun Dog Supply is another source. It has also been found at local hardware and building supply stores.

A device like this coupled with an inexpensive fan type electrical space heater placed in the bathroom of your RV can provide just a bit of heat with some air circulation that will help prevent freezing until winter really sets in.

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About that noise near Tuscarora

Some don’t appreciate a blaring boom box in the campground but you might hear one anyway if you approach Tuscarora Nevada. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Rock music blaring from boomboxes has proved one of the best defenses against an annual invasion of Mormon crickets. The huge flightless insects are a fearsome sight as they advance across the desert in armies of millions that march over, under or into anything in their way.

In flyspeck villages like Tuscarora, crickets are a serious matter. The critters hatch in April in the barren soil of northern Nevada, western Utah and other parts of the Great Basin, quickly growing into blood-red, ravenous insects more than 2 inches long.

The crickets can make for hazardous driving, too. Cleaning them off the rigs can be a chore as well. Take care and take heed!

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A hypothermia story

Now that winter is turning to spring, it might be a bit late for a warning, but it is never too late for a reminder. describes the cold hard facts of freezing to death in As Freezing Persons Recollect the Snow–First Chill–Then Stupor–Then the Letting Go. It could happen to you.

– lowest core for an adult is 61F but anything below 77 is usually fatal. You tremble violently at 95F

But for all scientists and statisticians now know of freezing and its physiology, no one can yet predict exactly how quickly and in whom hypothermia will strike–and whether it will kill when it does. The cold remains a mystery, more prone to fell men than women, more lethal to the thin and well muscled than to those with avoirdupois, and least forgiving to the arrogant and the unaware.

People can learn adaptive mechanisms to help deal with the cold. Some interesting things happen when core body temperatures drop – and also when they recover. Read the story to learn about what could happen to you.

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