Sunday, February 04, 2007


I've just switched over to the new Blogger. I'm testing some of the new features. Please bear with me!


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Racing Traders

We've mentioned a few times about the importance of exercise - especially now that we are sitting at our desks so much more than we ever have. And we've mentioned that we've done mini-triathlons - several over the past few years.

Well, we've been watching this trader's blog (Brian Shannon at Alpha Trends) and had ourselves a good laugh when he talked about his first mini-triathlon and his training regimen. Here's how he was able to mix his training and trading:

Now that's dedication!

He also had this cartoon posted on his site, which gave us a nice chuckle:


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trading on the Road

I've been wanting to recap our learning experience, because I know some of you have been curious to learn how our two-month experiment went last fall.

We learned that we could trade on the road, but it altered our travel patterns quite a bit.
  1. We had to learn to balance our trading time with our travel/exploration (or vice versa). We've been spoiled traveling on the road these last few years. When we traveled we didn't have to worry about balancing the fun with the work. What's the point of going somewhere if you can't explore the area? But we had to make time for work, and some days you can find yourself in front of the computer a lot longer than you anticipated. So, we tried to devise a schedule....
    Watch the market open. Go play for awhile. Be back at our computers
    by 1:00 or 2:00 and close the market. Enjoy the sunset. Then read or
    take online classes at night to study
    ....This worked relatively well. Some days we would stay in and work a full day. But, this is true wherever you are, balance is the key in life. So, even now that we're back in our condo, we struggle to step away from our computers to exercise or get lunch or just take a mental break from staring at a computer screen.
  2. Because of the time we needed for work, this meant that we could no longer see an area in two or three days. So when we stopped someplace we felt we needed almost a week in an area in order to see the same things we would've seen when we were just traveling care-free.
  3. True, WIFI is becoming more prevalent, but not all campgrounds offered it. Or, if they did, it did not always work, was not necessarily available at the site, was not reliable in regards to dropped signals, and so forth. Our friends Jim and Chris found it fascinating that we would actually call campgrounds in advance to verify that the WIFI was functional - NOT just that they had it. Directories and websites have told us who has it, but that doesn't tell us if it is currently operating. So, unfortunately we missed some geographical areas of Florida solely because WIFI was not available at any campground in that region. This frustrated my travel planner, Andy, to no end. Not only did he try to find nice, affordable campgrounds in places that we wanted to play in, but now he was restricted on WIFI availability.
  4. If WIFI wasn't available at the site sometimes it was available at the clubhouses, or the pool deck, or we would visit the local library. Generally, there were alternatives, but not necessarily as convenient.
  5. We've considered phone cards and Datastorm (satellite) as potential options for us. Phone cards we have ruled out, because we usually don't get phone service in the places we like to visit (remote/NPS) so it wouldn't help us when we would need it most. Datastorm is still a strong consideration, but its not cheap. If we were actually making money trading it would be a no-brainer, but we're still learning and haven't met our financial goals as of yet. Datastorm would work wherever we go, providing we have a signal with the satellite. Generally the big concern is not parking under trees.
  6. We've tested Datastorm with our trading programs and have found that it works, although satellite internet is slower than WIFI. But we know it works - that is a comfort. Thanks to our friends Jim and Chris for allowing us to share their Datastorm connection so we could test all of our real-time streaming quotes and WebEx training sessions. Chris has mentioned that there are times when they use WIFI when its available in order to get certain projects done because it is faster.
  7. Being on the computer so often for trading and learning left little desire to get back on the computer to organize my pictures, post to our blog, or for Andy to write campground reviews. We use RV Park Reviews frequently when selecting places to go and feel it is our duty to contribute to this site in return. Andy is still holding a stack of campground brochures to write reviews on. This goes back to having proper balance in our lives. Although these are "fun" things we've enjoyed doing, it starts to feel like work if you haven't moved away from the computer often enough.
  8. Making money. Trading would be alot more fun if we were making money. We've invested a full-time work schedule into this new endeavor and we wish we had a salary to show for it. But that is what happens when you're self-employed, right? You don't take a salary unless there's money coming in. We have had some winners, but we've had our fair share of losing trades. We do our best to learn from every trade. We do enjoy the challenge trading offers, but we are learning that we think differently, see things differently, and that there is a lot of psychology involved with humans & money - perhaps that could be an entirely separate blog entry? But if we can't become profitable this year, we also understand that it will be time for us to look for another business. We had hoped that trading would provide enough income for us to continue traveling and do some volunteer activities for our National Parks or State Parks or another environmental cause.

We'll continue to orchestrate our future and work on devising a trading strategy that will blend with our lifestyle and internet accessibilty. But when it comes to arriving in Yosemite, we believe we'll fold up all of our trades and take a vacation. It's the safest bet. We don't want to be thinking about what is happening to stock ABC while we are hiking to the top of Half Dome.


Yosemite or Bust!

A visitor to Yosemite approaches a park ranger and asks,

"I'm only visiting the park for one day. How should I spend my time?"
and the ranger answers,
"If I only had one day in Yosemite, I would sit right down and have myself a good cry."
We're planning a trip to Yosemite and thankfully we are planning for more than a one-day visit. We've made reservations at four different campgrounds in and around Yosemite. We were warned that getting through to the National Park Reservations line would be a challenge. It was like we were trying to get concert tickets - we were on the internet, we were hitting redial on our phone and we were getting busy signals and 'page' errors for almost an hour before finally reaching an operator.

We tried to be prepared. For a week or so prior to the June reservations opening, we picked up some books and started reading about the park, camping limitations, looked up diagrams of the campgrounds, etc, so that we would know which campgrounds we wanted and which campsites we thought would be most desirable. Our choices were limited because we were trying to go in early June to avoid the crowds but not all of the campgrounds take reservations that early because they can't guarantee they'll be free of snow, and not all campsites can fit a 30' RV. And Yosemite is now restricting campers to 14 days in the park between May-Sept, and no more than 7 days in either the Valley or Wawona.

But, Tioga Pass and Glacier Point Roads may not even be open yet (because of snow) and we didn't really want to miss out on the attractions and hikes in those sections so we shifted our dates slightly. The day we called was the first day reservations were made available for the May 15th - June 15th time period. We're booked in both USFS campsites and NPS campsites so far, and will have to leave some of our trip open to fate (for the first-come, first-serve sites) since we can't confirm when Tioga Pass will open for us to cross over the Sierra Nevada range to the Eastern Sierra area to explore. We've left ourselves with a week to possibly camp within the NPS at Tuolumne Meadows which is high up on Tioga Pass.

The good news: we got our preferred campsites! Andy checked online at the end of the day to check on availability, sites were left that our RV could fit into. Wow! Good thing we took the time and effort first thing or we might've missed out. Normally we don't make reservations when we travel, unless it's a holiday or something. But since Yosemite sees 3-4 million visitors - mostly in June-Sept - we realized it was imperative to make reservations if we wanted to stay within the park.

Our plan is to leave Florida in March and start heading that way. We plan on visiting Death Valley, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Devils Postpile. All of which are right there in that area. Perhaps afterward we can wander up to Lake Tahoe. These will all be new stops for us. Does anyone have any recommendations for us? Any place that you consider a "must-do"? Let us know. We haven't formulated a route yet.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

We had a wonderful trip home to Philly for Christmas. And my mother is recovering well from her surgery, so 2006 ended well.

We celebrated New Year's Eve with both old and new friends. We committed to our future health with a "5k Resolution Run" during the day, and that night we watched "our" ball drop at an outdoor block party in Himmarshee.

Here's to 2007 being a healthy, happy, prosperous, and travel-filled year for each of us!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Collecting on the Road

This goes back to my remarks earlier about Lucy collecting rocks along their trip in "Long, Long Trailer". I'm usually pretty good about resisting these temptations...but it's not easy. While out West, I did want to collect rocks - there's such a beautiful array of colors and textures you just want to keep a 'piece' to remember it all. I think I did permit myself two or three thumbnail-sized rocks...they were so small I've lost them by now.

But seashells are too hard for me to resist. Especially when I'm close to home and I'm heading that direction. Then I'll allow myself. Actually, Andy will allow me to. He's more disciplined about such things then me. And the Gulf Coast is so splendid for shell-collecting.

I wanted to show you the new additions to my collection:
The total gathering from this two-month trip.

And, here are some of my special finds:
A Gaudy Natica.
I've found some different moon shells over the years, but never found this pretty, or should I say "gaudy", shell.
Banded Tulips.
These shells are so delicate that it is very hard to find them in one piece.
A Horse Conch.
Oh, I have many, many conch shells scattered around my house - but mostly Queen Conchs or Florida Fighting Conchs. One winged conch. This is our first Horse Conch. He's a little weathered and we had to chip off some of the barnacles, but I don't throw back my "firsts". I already had to give up several Crowned Conchs because they were occupied - either by the original owners, or crabs.
Lightning Whelks.
Generally, not an unusual find. But look at the one on the's different. It curves in the opposite direction and has a flatter cone up front. I'll have to find out what this one is.
Again, not an unusual find, but I liked the colors on these three. The picture doesn't do them justice.
My "Sunset Collection"
Scallops, Coquina, Jingles - all in pinks, yellows, oranges, purples, and reds.
In the rear - some type of a Fig shell. According to my shell book, it is commonly found off of western Mexico to Peru. So, albeit weathered and dull, still a keeper.
In the front - Apple Murex. Another uncommon find for my collection. Especially with color.
The other two? Not so sure - sorry!

One of the reasons I enjoy collecting seashells so much is because of the environment. Imagine yourself on a white-sand beach with the Gulf gently lapping at your feet and the sun setting off to the west. Breathe in the fresh salt air. The pelicans are diving for fish, dolphins breach, the fist-sized sandpipers are darting along the water's edge, the gulls and terns just stand there and watch you stoop and walk, stoop and walk. If you get too tired of the stooping and walking, you can sit and dig through the sand at your feet. Shells are buried about a foot deep in spots. It feels like a vacation all in itself. You forget your worries, or let your mind casually process life. And with all of this surrounding you your eyes are looking for that special shell - it could be the color that strikes you, or the pattern, or knowing that you find a fragile one in one piece, or it is one you haven't found before. But each one is unique and beautiful like a piece of art.

So, now what that I've collected another mass of shells? I have to find more glass containers to store these in. My current containers are all full :)


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bonita Springs, FL

We wanted to end our trip on the Gulf Coast. So on Sunday, we finally peeled ourselves away from our friends in Zolfo (we were supposed to leave Saturday) and headed southwest. Bonita Springs is just south of Ft Myers. It's about 6 miles inland, but was as close to the sand as we could get. The prices of the Florida RV parks are outrageous in the wintertime and it's a good thing we are heading home soon. We were joking that if we do get back out on the road in January, we are going to have to drive straight through the state. We're still earnestly trying to stay around $20/night, but it was harder on this trip. Partly because of our need for WIFI reduced our options.

Bonita Lake RV Park has WIFI, but it wasn't working well. They've been waiting for weeks for the repairman. Not an unfamiliar story. But at least we were able to get WIFI most of the time if we sat outside at the pool deck. Not a bad arrangement at all, actually. It was covered and had electric and there were large picnic tables to use. One night we could get WIFI in our rig by placing our Linksys Travel Router on the roof of Spirit in line-of-sight with the antennae. That was cool, too.

We went road-biking one day up Hickory Rd which runs north-south close to the beach. We rode from Bonita Beach up to Ft Myers and back. Twenty-two miles. It was pretty, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. Bike lanes were only on a portion of the road, and several drivers were not very courteous when sharing the road. A dump truck that passed within inches of us shattered my already frayed nerves. In Florida they just passed a "three-foot rule" which states that drivers are required to allow three feet of space when passing bicyclists. Even three feet doesn't feel like much allowance if the car is going 50 mph. So, a "thank you" to each of you who moves out of the lane when passing a bicyclist, slows down when passing, or waits til its safe to pass for all parties involved. I know it might not mean much to some people, but it is my life. And, as Jon Bon Jovi sings, "I want to live my life while I'm alive!". So thanks again to those who share the road, and brickbats to the dump truck driver who thought the law was a "three-inch rule".

Besides the views of the waterways on our bike ride, I also enjoyed the amusing mailboxes along Hickory Road. Here's just two of the many creative ones I saw.

We went shelling at sunset...

We went shelling via our kayaks...I can't really say we went "kayaking" because we only paddled about 3/4 of a mile before getting sidetracked with the shells. You could see them at low-tide along the shores of deserted beaches or on the sandbars.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Zolfo Springs, FL

After leaving Cortez we drove to stay with Jim and Chris in Zolfo Springs. They are working at the Thousand Trails - Peace River RV Park. Jim is so lucky! His job is to work 12 hrs/wk in the community center helping people with their computers and how to use WIFI. This is a perfect job for a Geek. This is what he loves to do and is a perfect opportunity for him and Chris to make contacts to promote their company Geeks on Tour. Jim does the hardware: installs Datastorm satellite dishes; installs WIFI systems in RV parks; repairs computers; etc. While Chris is the software girl: she builds websites for individuals and companies; she creates Access databases; she is teaching Picasa and Blogger seminars; and more and more and more. These two can do it all in my mind. By the end of the weekend I began to refer to them as "Gods on Tour". They've been bugging me to create email addresses Well, I was having a problem and couldn't get it to work. Jim sat down at my computer and ,viola, five minutes later he had it working. I'm telling you - he's a god. I would've never thought to retype my password entered into my email account settings! Ha! Yeah, sometimes Jim has to deal with idiots like me who mistype passwords...but hey, in my defense - it's hard to know you mistyped something when it just looks like a bunch of dots.

We had a great time hanging out with them and we learned a lot, too. The Park had WIFI at the clubhouse, but not at the sites. We parked behind Jim and Chris and tapped into their Datastorm (satellite internet dish). Satellite is slower than WIFI but we could do what we needed to do. We learned, however, that JiWire, a new program installed for WIFI security, caused us some grief watching our video or audio casts. Chris and I spent a lot of time discussing Picasa and Blogger. Two programs that allow us to organize our pictures and share them with you all. She's gotten nitty gritty with these programs and I thank her for it. She is able to tell me the pros and cons to help me ensure I won't lose my precious memories. So, if you want to learn more about these programs - you can visit her site(s). She has articles and tutorials and all sorts of information.

Oh, it wasn't all "business". We played some pool and found that after several games we were better at giving away the win then deserving it. Only once did someone actually win the game and put the eight-ball in vs. scratching or causing some other foul. And, believe it or not, it was Andy that won. Yes, we were all in shock at that.

We also had two movie-nights. One was outside at the pool area and was hosted by Jim and Chris for the entire park to enjoy. The movie was 'Long, Long Trailer' with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. It was a beautiful, starry night and a great movie for this RVing crowd. We actually found that it was a better movie than the more recent "RV" with Robin Williams. Alot of what was poked at is still true with today's RVers. For example, Lucy liked to collect rocks to remind themselves of all of the places they visited...well, doing that in an RV could be hazardous. But there is a desire to "collect" things along your travels. More on that later. Our second movie night was more intimate. It was in Jim and Chris' RV using their projector and pull-down window shade as a screen. We watched one of our movies that we got from Netflix. Yeah, we are still using them. We dropped down to the basic account: one movie at a time, two per month at $10/mo. We figured that with mailing time and viewing time, two would be the most we could get anyway. It's about the same as a rental, and cheaper than buying movies, and it's fun to get a movie delivered every two weeks.

Another exciting moment for us while in Zolfo was that we were able to see the shuttle, Discovery, take-off on Saturday night. I had my camera with me at the pool-hall, but not my tripod. Zolfo is about 100 miles away from Cape Canaveral, so we were surprised as to how bright the sky lit up at take-off, and then how clearly we could see the shuttle itself.

You can read more about our stay with Jim and Chris on their blog. Oh, while you're over there, take a look at the video from Namibia from Marilyn's trip over to Africa. Chris' mom, Marilyn, takes such wonderful, wonderful trips around the world. I want to be just like her when I grow up!