Friday, October 31, 2008

The Simple Life in Panama

OK, I have some research to do on this one. I've now had two independent recommendations to Panama as a quiet and inexpensive place to retire. This picture was clipped from a Panama City condo ad on the web. According to Frank Kurk, there are lots of expat beach bums living comfortably on the Pacific coast. Comfortable condos are apparently as cheap as $150k. Now living on the equator is not my ideal situation, but its an interesting answer to the "simple life" question.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Simple Life in West Virginia

This lovely shot was clipped from the destination360 website because I didn't have any pictures of West Virginia. While not all parts of West Virginia look this nice, I wanted to pick W. Va. for the simple life because it was one option in the original search with Zora.

A few years back, before I had my digital camera, I took a motorcycle trip down to visit Bob Wilson when he was working in Charlottesville, Va. I wandered the back roads both trips and found it a very quiet place to live. Oh yeah, and the roads are nice too.

The trick for W. Va. would be finding the right place. You see the east is too close to Washinton and gets expensive, but is naturally the nicest part. The west is former or current coal country and is cheaper, but also poorer in view and in spirit. I'm guessing that , depending on your finances, you could find the right combination of cost and countryside.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Simple Life #2

OK, I admit I stole this picture from the web. It represents a place and a story from my friend, Zora. As I am not a tropical paradise kind of person, this simple place is not for me, but I think Zora would have stayed there a long time if she could have.

Zora was enjoying traveling the world and had spent a month or two at an ashram in India, when she had to leave India for a while before she could renew her visa. Given the options of flying home or flying somewhere new, she decided to wander around Thailand. After a bit of looking about, she ended up on an island and settled into a hut, not unlike this one. Looking out of her hut, she looked through a few large palm trees, over the nice beach, and into the ocean. I can't remember how many weeks she stayed, but if I recall correctly, the accommodations cost $4 per night.

It was actually stories like this that started the ongoing discussion of where can a person of limited means live a simple life in a beautiful place. For Zora, Thailand would have been an option other than the Thai government doesn't let foreigners own property. From there we set up rules for the "Simple Life". You should be able to own property, it should be affordable, and if English is spoken, that's not a bad thing.

So give me your ideas. What's that place that you have visited that made you want to just sit down and stay.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Simple Life

OK. The economy is lousy. The big bosses at my company are thinking about selling us, breaking us up, or just plain closing. The whole industry is in the middle of a free fall off of a cliff and that's only part of the whole economy in a mess. In reality, everybody I know could be out of a job tomorrow.

Now, I'm not too worried for myself. I've been a good saver and will survive, but I can't help thinking about what's next. In order to make it more fun and not so much worry, I've decided to start playing with ideas of where I could move and retire to a "simple life". Sometimes, I won't be able to tell if its someplace where I could live cheaply, but anyplace that is quiet and simple, where one could live without the trappings of modern life qualifies. Of course, cheap is more true to the concept.

I also invite suggestions and pictures of interesting places from others. I haven't figured out how to have comments post pictures, but feel free to email me a small picture and words for a "simple place". I'll try to post it in your name. Please limit pictures to roughly 600 x 800 and jpeg format.

So for now, here is my first suggestion. On the west coast of Scotland, down miles and miles of one lane roads, I found this lovely little cottage with a view out to the Inner Hebrides. The cottage is near Loch Mudle on the way to Kilchoan. The little dirt road that passes in front of the cottage goes to the little village of Ockle, but if you can't find that, look for the penninsula north and east of the Isle of Mull. The islands in the distance are the Isle of Eigg in the foreground and Isle of Rum touching the clouds in the background.

A magical place, Scotland.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

His and Hers Campaign Signs

This time of year, I really enjoy walking outside. The weather is cool enough, the bugs are gone, and the fall colors are fine. This Sunday morning I needed to workout at the health club, so rather than walk on a boring treadmill, I decided to park in Chelsea and walk around the village. I drove into town before dawn (which isn't that early with Daylight Savings hanging on) and went for a walk around the quiet streets and nice Victorian houses. Being that it is only a few weeks before the election, there were also lots of political signs to see.

First of all, I had to wonder where did all these people get their signs and what did it cost them? I realized that the fact that I hadn't a clue where to find a political sign if I wanted one was probably a sign of indifference. Also, I get enough political email as it is. I can't imagine giving some one my name, address, telephone and being hounded by some political party.

I started noticing that, at least in Chelsea, there are a larger number of Obama signs than McCain signs. The Obama signs can be seen on a whole range of houses from fancy to modest. Interestingly, the McCain signs seem to be primarily on the more modest houses. I'm not sure what that means.

Finally, I came to a modest house that had both McCain and Obama sign, right next to each other, in the front yard. I don't know anything about the people that live there, but I'm calling them "His and Hers" campaign signs. I wonder what the conversation around the dinner table is like in that house.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Favorite Season

Today, its raining, but I thought I would share a few shots from a sunnier day. Right now, its peak color and it makes me remember how lucky I am to live in such a pretty place and be allowed to be out in the country as part of my job.

The hickory and spruce are in my front yard and it feels like they are enjoying the weather as much as I am. A blue sky doesn't hurt anything.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Projects Keep me Sane

Its been a while since I last posted. There have been a lot of negative things going on and I just didn't feel like it. A lot of negative energy at work which culminated in layoffs for two guys in my group. Guys that I have worked closely with for years and that is more painful than I expected. Of course, not as painful as for them. That combined with my motorcycle falling off the hoist and sustaining some significant damage as part of a week or two when nothing went right.

After a rough stretch, I usually find that working on a project, that is, making something with my own hands, is what starts me feeling better. So while this is nothing exciting on its own, my little machine shop project is part of repairing the bike. And myself.

The part that broke was a molded plastic latch that held my trunk on the back of the motorcycle. It had this slightly complicated shape, with angles on the front and back, and a place for the male part of the latch to grab onto. The whole thing is about 1 1/2" tall and wide and will mount on a modification of the aluminum luggage rack. Overall, it was fun figuring out how to make it on the mill.

Here is wishing you projects that keep you centered.