Downsizing and Finding a Home for My Two BMW Bikes

The Life of a Serial Renter

No, I’m not selling the bikes. As my son, Jay, would say, “I’m not a Barbarian.” Instead, I’m looking to move from my current abode in Rio Del Mar to Santa Cruz or somewhere thereabouts.

Having never owned property, I’ve been a serial renter all my adult life. Something about the permanence and commitment of a thirty-year mortgage scares the crap out of me. It always has. In terms of security and always having a place to live, it seems like a great idea. However, in my life, job and income security has never been assumed, nor has it been stable.

My careers –see this video for an description of them– haven’t brought me the stability and long-term financial status that is looked on favorably by most mortgage lenders. My lack of property ownership used to bother me a great deal. I felt that somehow I was defective.

But I'm passed that now. I simply don't care what others think of me and life is much easier when you live accordingly. 

Garage Wanted: And a Yard Would Be Nice

I’ve been in the same 4-plex building and the same 2 bedroom unit for about six years. When Jay and I first moved here, he was 12 years old and I chose Rio Del Mar because of the quality schools. Looking back on that decision, and how the school experiences played out, it wasn’t the best decision. In any case, it’s time to move on and leave these horrid light yellow interior walls and look for a place nearer where he now lives.

I’m hoping to find a gem of a place where I can park my bikes inside a secure garage. As you can tell, I’m placing the optimal environment for the bikes above my own. This is because I can adapt to almost anything. Of course, I don’t want to live in a shabby abode, but a 1 bedroom/ 1 bath, or even a large studio would work fine now that I’m a single, empty-nester.

I’d love to have a two-car garage, but a single car garage would also be good. Not only would the bikes be protected from the salt air and the corrosive effects of the ever-present fog (in California we don’t see much rain), but they would be secure as well. Having a well-lit, secure place to perform oil changes, general cleaning, and anything else that needed for the bikes is optimal.

Buddy
Sir Buddy, Lord Protector of the Realm

That, and a yard for my dog, too. We’re a packaged deal and that can make it a challenge. But I’m optimistic that I’ll find the right place for the four of us. 🙂

It’s Also an Opportunity to Downsize Again

Downsizing is the opposite of the American Dream. Where brash consumerism is the religion of the affluent, living simply and responsibly is my chosen lifestyle. I don’t wish to have at the large, sprawling beach home (I’ve done that). Instead, I’m quite content to live in smaller quarters where I can survey all of what I own.

Multiple homes and multiple cars (obviously, motorcycles don’t count) isn’t for me. Actually, as I’ve discussed here, owning two bikes is problematic enough for me in terms of redundancy. I still struggle with it. In a perfect world, I’d own a new BMW R1200GS and be very content. But that’s not possible right now, besides, both bikes are paid for and insured and that’s seems to be a perfect situation at the moment.

I’ve selected a few large items to sell in preparation for the eventual move. My used couch, an 8-foot x 4-foot wooden  bookcase that I picked up from a used bookstore that was selling it’s holdings, two desks, and a coffee table will go up on Craigslist soon. I’d rather not move them and I really don’t need them. Downsizing frees me from having to move all this crap again. I’d rather start over than continually move my belongings.

Shout Out to the Universe

So, dear Universe, here is what I want:

I want a 1 bedroom, dog-friendly cottage with a fenced backyard and a garage in the Santa Cruz area. I’m willing to do upkeep and yard maintenance and keep the place quiet (with occasional dog barks as he’s great at scaring off would-be intruders and a lot cheaper than a security system) and well-maintained. I need it by May 1.

You may reach me in the usual way. 🙂

What’s Your Life Work?

Do you have a life work that defines you?

I’ve been pondering this question for a few weeks. Because I’ve had a rather mosaic career including stints in medicine, education, and writing, I’m at a loss to point to something that feels like an answer. For the last 15 years, writer seemed like an answer, but now I’m not so sure.

I’ve written and published books, created blogs and websites that brought in cash, but can I really continue to feel comfortable referring to myself as a writer?

I keep returning to the thought that only creatives can definitively respond to this question: creatives such as writers, painters, teachers, sculptors, photographers, singers, musicians, composers, playwrights, artisans, etc. It’s the creative professionals that contribute works that outlast them and continue to impart meaning to those left behind as well a future generations.

  • Do engineers like my dad who bounced from project to project feel the same?
  • Do those who who sell cars, jewelry, or real estate feel that they have a life work?
  • Does what we do for money qualify as a life work or are they merely jobs?

I’ve never been happy just having a job

Even now, as a consultant who gets paid to perform a service for large companies, I don’t feel particularly fulfilled by the work. I can’t point to it and say with any certainty that the world is better off as a result of my work.

But then I ponder another question.

Does it even matter?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. The years I spent on various career paths have brought me to this place of newfound uncertainty and although it feels like an ill-fitting shirt, it’s the one I wear these days.

Maybe my life’s work is something else

994375_10200499469284164_1481602169_nAlongside this quest for assigning meaning to my life, there were a dozen years in which I held one of life’s most sacred of responsibilities. Following a family split, I became a single custodial parent to my youngest son. As the years passed, he and I grew closer than I ever thought possible. We became friends as well as father and son and even now that he’s moved on to pursue his own creative career, he’s the one person closest to me.

During this time, I felt that my sole priority was doing everything in my power to help him come to the place of deciding for himself how to live his own life with honor and compassion.

This is the role that has given my life meaning and significance. 

1474431_10200497689799678_628490737_nBut now he’s flown from the nest we once called home. The nest is now empty.  Most middle-aged parents who inhabit this space have a partner in life to turn to for comfort and solace.

But I’ve chosen a life without a partner. I’ve been there numerous times over the years and I don’t regret where it’s brought me even though I do miss the sound of raging guitar solos from the next room and late night phone conversations that prevented me from getting to sleep on occasion.

These days, if I want see him I’ll ride over to where he works and wait for him so we can grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. I can also attend his performances as a cheering fan or help out the band as a roadie, though my middle-aged back prefers the former.

Maybe my life’s work isn’t about work at all

To see him absorbed in his creative world, though different from my own, brings me hope that perhaps my life’s work  isn’t about labels.  Perhaps it’s about enjoying the time I have in the present moment and realizing that it can all end without notice.

As I conclude this post and reflect on my various roles, I’m a bit more comfortable admitting that the question I posed in the first paragraph isn’t that important after all.

cropped-cropped-Jay-in-the-moment

Experiencing moments like this is what’s important and knowing that I’ve played a role in getting him here is enough.

Why I Sold My GoPro Hero 3 Action Camera

Awkward-Cubism

Yesterday I sold my GoPro Hero 3 White Edition for $175. I threw in all the baubles I’d collected over the year since I bought it. I posted an ad on a Facebook Virtual Garage Sale for the Santa Cruz area and it was snapped up within 3 hours.

5 Reasons I Sold My GoPro

So why did I sell this little overly hyped gem of a camera? There were five reasons why I chose to get rid of it.

  1. Pardon my appendage. No matter how I mounted the cubist piece of cinematic technology, it looked absolutely stupid. The mount on top of my helmet was the worst; It made look like I had a pudding pop stuck to the top of my head. The side mount resembled a tumor jutting out the side of the ear. Only the chin mount was seeming less weird. But even that required a jumble of angles, bolts, and extensions. That brings me to the second reason…
  2. Too many parts. Other action cameras are better designed and need only one or two mounts to get the desired shots. With the GoPro, a basic set up requires an adhesive mount, a base connection for the camera with threaded pins, and because of the 90-degree fit of the extensions, you need to keep adding them to get the right shot. All of this adds unnecessary bulk and complexity.
  3. The absence of an on-camera view screen. Most other cameras offer an on-camera view screen ensuring certainty that angles and levels are right before you start shooting. To achieve this with the GoPro, you need either the Android or iOS phone apps or the additional LCD screen add-on the GoPro offers. That means more complexity, bulk, and more cost.
  4. Limited battery life. I guess this isn’t as big a deal as it could be but with the GoPro, the model I had anyway, there wasn’t a way to conserve the battery. I had to switch it off while riding. That’s a considerable safety risk for me. Even controlling the camera via the iPhone mounted to my handlebars, it required a lot of safety-questionable activity to turn it off and conserve battery life.
  5. The Drift Ghost HD alternative. I started seeing more video comparing the two action cameras. Most of the reviews were clearly indicating that motovloggers were either inside or outside the GoPro tent. Those that compared the two and experimented with the Drift series of cameras either loved them or hated them. I knew I had to try one so when I saw the Ghost HD model on sale for under $200 on Amazon, I bought one. I’m planning a video that talks about the Drift Ghost HD so I’ll leave the explanations and review comments for that.

Still, the GoPro is an Excellent Tool

You’ll notice that none of the reasons I cited above involve the video or audio quality. I found both to be superb.

For me, the aesthetic and functional considerations were paramount but the differences in video and audio were unnoticeable. For my purposes, the GoPro didn’t make sense.

I prefer simplicity over complexity and the Drfit Ghost HD convinced me that the GoPro would be better off with another user who didn’t mind the issues that continually bugged me.

What about you? Do you have an action camera preference? Do you think I’ve made a mistake? Please hit me up with comment and tell me why. I’d love to hear your opinion. 🙂

Two Videos from Nearly Two Years Ago

In the first video, I review my packing scheme for the 12-Day Solo-Ride around the American Southwest on my BMW R1100RT. (My hair was buzzed off to avoid helmet hair.) 🙂

In this video, recorded immediately after the test ride, I reveal the results.

*I opted not to use the tank bag in these videos. I bought a much better one with more storage space.