Our First Trimester!

We put a lot of thought into this attempt to live in a camper. But still with all the reading of blogs, and web pages and watching YouTube vids and asking solar gurus we were still very naive. This was not at all the image we had in our minds. The stress started pretty much in day one, the day we bought the camper.

We lived in a shared home with an awesome room-mate but her lease was up and we had to leave. We decided that we could go into another shared home but we have done that before and it is very hard to get an awesome room-mate. So, the camper is what we did. We have been searching for a camper that will fit our size of life style we wanted to live. We searched the internet in our area and it was a river of RVs and campers. There were a lot, and it made me think that we should find something awesome. We looked and looked, months went by and winter was closing in and we had to move back into our car if we didn’t find something soon. Desperation took over and we took one that we hoped would be a good one. It is a 32 ft 5th wheel. The owner said he would deliver it to where we wanted for us, since I drive a small car it would have been very hard to move a 5th wheel. He said it was a 92, he lied. It’s a 89. He said it had no water damage, he lied. I almost fell through the loft floor the water damage was so bad. I didn’t notice this as I didn’t take steps that far up into the loft area to have this happen when looking at it. Silly me! He said the water heater didn’t work, he told the truth.  He said it was winterized, another truth. He said it was sealed just this summer start. he lied. When I went up to the roof after I got hold of a ladder, the sealant looked to be 5 years old. Then of course before I could seal it up fully, it rained. Oh did it rain, inside and out.

My daughter and I ripped out the loft and discovered that lofts do not have support across the front, oh no, it’s the bed that holds everything together. what a crappy way to build anything. I learned there that building a camper is as cheap as can be and is not worth those very large price tags. After we found someone with a powerful drill to drill in some 2×6’s into the frame so we can have a temporary fix of support and no falling through the floor we insulated and boarded it up. I even added some plastic to help with weathering. This process took two full weeks and a lot of elbow grease.

Then we moved in. That’s when we discovered the lie of the leaky roof, windows, walls, and vents. Oh yes, it all rained down on our sleeping heads. That was a long night I don’t mind sharing. Next morning up, up I go to the roof top. I see very crusted, pealing weathered caulking. Gaps, and even holes that looked like nail holes. So off to Home Depot again. A few dollars later and two days later, I hoped it is all sealed and ready to go. Just in time as it rained and hailed that night. So, was it sealed up tight now, water tight? Hell no!

The window where the awning pulled out was leaking. I looked with a magnifying glass and could not find a single hole. So I decided it was probably the awning itself some how it may be leaking into the wall and coming out the window inside. So I caulked that like it was a gingerbread house and voilà! No more leaks. Only now I am positive the walls are water damaged from years of leaks. I am sure of it. Our goal with this camper was to live in it this year, and when the weather warmed up we would rip off the camper from the frame and build our own tiny home. so the weather damage inside the walls I decided to not put more money into it now since it was going to be torn off in 4 or 5 months.

I bought a solar panel. Hooked that puppy up and thought it would charge my 12V marine deep cycle battery so it could run the fridge. HA! I thought it was working but the battery was just running down and two days later, no fridge. lost all our freezer stuff and some of the fridge stuff had to get tossed out but we learned. So learning about solar power is not as easy as we thought it would be. But I am strong, independent, I can make this happen. Well I discovered that is an expense at this time I am not willing to put out for. I have seen some very complex solar system set ups and I just want a simple one. I don’t want this adapter and that adapter, I have seen some simple ones and those are still pretty pricey. I am up to getting some 6V Gulf car batteries, since they are a bit cheaper. The other solar panel will have to wait until summer, or later, that will depend on money.

For now we are getting into the cold weather so we can put stuff in the fridge just because it is damn cold in the camper. For now we eat a good deal of raw vegan foods that can sit on the counter and the food that is cooked is the dry foods that can be stored, such a lentils, dried mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa, that type of stuff. This is not so bad as we used to be raw vegan for 10 years. This type of eating is easy and familiar. One trick with this is we have no electricity, so no smoothies, no blended ingredients to make nut cheese, or sauces, or cakes, or any of the typical raw foods. We are officially eating raw foods that you chop and / or mix in a bowl with a spoon. We have had to be very creative with our meals and in doing this I am writing a cookbook for this type of living.

As far as heating the camper we have used candles and the shared body heat under the blankets to stay warm through the night. I am waiting for a paycheque to buy a propane heater such as the Big Buddy or Mr. Heater type thing. I did look into the tiny wood stoves and since I grew up on wood stove for heat I am wanting to get that put in our unit we build. For now, we will use the propane heater.

I have plastic up around every window and spray expanding foam in nooks and crannies to seal out the sold drafts. I still need to skirt the unit and a blanket to Velcro to the door frame. I have the Velcro around the door, just need to sew the other half of the Velcro onto the blanket. Then I hope that is all that is needed for that.

I have a fire detector, and carbon monoxide detector, only now I need to get a gas detector. The camper does have one, only it is electric. It only works while plugged in.

Toilet. I am sure you may be curious how we can go the loo without using the toilet and flush system. This is where the compost toilet comes into place. I started with an electric compost toilet that we purchased. It would work awesome if it were plugged in, however our solar panel didn’t do what we thought and we can’t use that electric compost toilet. I searched around and found a non-electric compost system. Inspired by the lovable loo system I build my own. We love it. I was very amazed at how easy it is and how well it works. There is absolutely no smell in our camper. Even after those very smelling deposits. I watched some people’s posts in YouTube about this type of system and we tried saw dust. We did not like that at all. We tried hamster wood chips, that was the same as the saw dust. Then we tried the peat moss. This stuff is the best. I bought I hope enough to last the winter since I can only buy it here during the summer garden season.  I really hope I bought enough. I bought those large bails that take two people to lift, for $5.00 each. Super store and Wal-Mart sell them usually, we looked at garden stores and they wanted $26 for a 3 Kg bag. Absolutely ridiculous  price when one $5 bail is the size of my cars back seat. How does compost toilets work? After you make a deposit of #1 or #2 or #3 in the Boove’s case, you just take a scoop (like a pantry measure cup scoop) and scoop up some peat moss and cover the deposit. The rule of thumb is the same amount you deposit is the same amount you cover with. I find that urine is not a needed covering in most times but BM’s are covered for sure.

Water is not running either. Yet. I found a propane system that runs on battery to make water run and heats the water. I will get this in a few months as well, only right  now we go to our local recreation facility and go swimming and shower 4 or 5 days a week. We wash our clothes at the local laundry mat.  For the other water needs I pour out water from a 20 gal jug as needed. I heat water on the stove in a kettle for dishes and teas. The rest is just poured from the jug as needed. The two of us drink about 3 to 4 liters of water each a day and cooking is about another 2 liters/day plus dishes so we are using the 20 gal jug up in about 2 1/2 to 3 days when we are home over the weekend, and during the work week we use up the jug in about 3 to 4 days since we are not home for most of the time.

Here’s a tricky part. Charging our phones, tablets, and laptop. I am here at the library writing blogs, building a cookbook, typing stuff, answering emails, etc. All the while our units are charging it the library. At my work I plug in my phone and our batter bank charger so we have emergency power for our units if they run out before we get to the library or work. This has been frustrating at times. We used to charge the phones in the car but it was draining the battery to fast and it wasn’t able to charge fast enough, so now we just charge one phone at a time if we really need it.

 

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Job Scammers, What The @#$%

This post is a bit longer than normal; I am sorry for that. There is a bit of info to put in here and too little to split into two posts. This advice is only that, my advice. Take what you want, leave what you don’t want.

We now live in a province that is struggling, we struggle for food, maintain a shelter, and find work. Sure, everyone has their sad story, but it’s like we are slowing morphing into the city of Gotham. Where is Batman to stop the evil men in our real world? Praying on the unemployed, desperate and helpless. The law can’t keep up with the technology and scams that are floating around, so are helpless themselves. Ever since the rejection of old-fashioned moral values, enforcement of rules in schools and the common public expectation to be kind in our daily life, then the ease of bringing people closer with technology; our world is becoming more and more of a jungle, filled with dangerous creatures at every turn. I’m talking creatures that want to hurt you and take your money.

I have looked for work for some time now and it has been tough. Rejection is becoming a daily expectation for me. But one thing that surprised me was discovering and stumbling over job scam after job scam. They are everyplace.

My first encounter was a job that offered management training, no experience needed. What? I have never seen this before in my life. What kind of job wants managers that have never worked a day in their life? Or has absolutely no idea about the job? Curious as I am I fired off a résumé. Sure enough, they emailed me back with a Skype call appointment.  My second red flag. A Skype call? They claim to be in the same city, why on earth would I need to do a Skype call? I started to research the company online, just googled the name of the company. There was no official website like you would find for Wal-Mart or Ikea. The only links were of job search engines. There was no contact number, no address, and no way to get a hold of anyone or go to the office. This is BIG red flag three.

I decided that I would ask around about this as it just seemed wrong to me. I am sure with new technology there may be some new ways of conducting interviews, but Skype for a job in the same city is just wrong. Perhaps if I were applying for a job in another city, country, or perhaps someday different planet, a Skype call would be reasonable. The commute for a 30 min interview would be killer on the pocket-book. I asked a job placement agency that was legit, I went to the office itself, I also talked to the government job search section of our government building. I learned a lot about what scammers are doing, even physically harming people to get their money. So be don’t put private information on your résumé when sending online. I will talk more about what not to put on your online resume at the end of this post.

Scammers are getting people to pay money up front for a job or enrollment in a company, using whatever label they can to get you to pay. Pay for administration fees, or processing fees, or pay for membership or training fees. All CRAP! Don’t pay it, run away from any company that wants this. Unless you are buying into becoming your own boss, it’s not your cash that legitimate business get upfront. Apparently, people have been physically harmed. This is just insane, crazy beyond measure.

I once had a phone call scammer call me representing himself as a company that I won something. As I was talking to him I started to get those red flag feelings. He swore, he did not use proper sophisticated language, meaning too casual of speech for a proper business. He would ask me my postal code, address and I wouldn’t give it to him.  He seemed wrong so I called him on it. I told him that he did not sound like a legitimate HR personal, I then told him I think he is a scammer. Well I thought he swore a bit before, he could make a pirate blush now. I hung up on him, hoping that would be the end of it. Oh no, no, he was not done with me. He would call and tell me he will find me, he knew what city I lived in and said he was coming for me and my family. He was angry at me for exposing him for what he was, he chose that life so why? Why would anyone want to hurt others so much and find joy in it maybe, power? I would not give him that, I am perhaps stupid, but I will not satisfy such a ridiculous behaviour. I would just hang up on him. I called the police but as usual, they said until something happens they can’t do anything about it. Plus, being a call from overseas it is out of their jurisdiction. Jurisdiction? Don’t they join with other countries to stop these people? But I can make an official complaint. Typical, I had heard that when dealing with a violent ex-boyfriend stalker.

So this phone scammer called me at 2 am everyday for a month, I changed my phone number and it was peaceful for about two weeks and it started again. I changed my number again and complained to the phone company that they have a leak in the company and I made a huge deal of it. I have not heard from him since. I learned he knew my city simply by my phone number, since caller display is now available it is amazing what people can get from that. I did not have a Facebook account and was told that, that was probably what saved me a lot more problems. Since many people put way too much information on their Facebook accounts.

If a “you have won” phone call turns into this hassle what the heck happens when you are looking for work? You have no money because you are looking for work and they want your money? How does that make any sense? I think of Al Capone who employed men who were looking for work. What a nice guy hey? He helped the poor saps out by giving them work? But with strings attached. These guys don’t want to hire you, just fork over those food stamps buddy.

So when you are looking for work and you get those appointments for, Skype or phone interview before they are going to decide to bring you in, research the company before you talk to them. Are they legit, can you go to the office? If yes, do so. Check it out. Today we are our own Batman, or his butler that did a lot of the research for him. We are to become like spy’s sort of. We must do our own research on the company, gather intelligence. I have learned that a lot of them are posing as “marketing “companies. At least that’s where I am finding all of them. I mean seriously, I stumble on them a lot, why are the cops not “looking for work” and get them?

And then there is this one.  You get an email telling you to call the company and discuss opportunities. They did not state the job you applied, they did not really say much of anything, but give you a number. Problem here is when you call the company you are paying as though you dialed a 1900 number. Pay per minute on the phone, and they will make you stay on that phone as long as they can. If a legit company emails you they will say, thank you for applying for XYZ position and would like to set up an interview. Please meet at out office located at XYZ place at XYZ time on XYZ day. If at anytime the company you apply to is vague, it is a red flag.

I also urge you to go to your local job placement agency office building and talk to them about how to avoid job scams. If they don’t know what you are talking about try another place. I have met a few people who are blind to this and make many excuses, such as “that is not a real thing”. They are the ones that will be scammed down the road. I would not argue with them, just find someone who can guide you. Or even talk to the local police fraud department. Or do some more research online and gather intelligence on how to stay safe when looking for work.

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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A JOB SCAM

Before you even apply for a job carefully read the advertised job. Trust your waving red flag feelings, if it seems off, it is. If is sounds strange, it is. Don’t trust the company that doesn’t give the company name, or any information on job details, is it vague? Also, I find a lot through so-called employment placement agencies that claim they are working on behalf of a “un-named” company. The so-called placement agency does not even exist outside that post you found it. A legitimate business will have a physical address you can go to, or even google map it to view the building if it states its headquarters are on a different province. (Thank you technology) If you google map it and you see an empty lot, or no such address or a house on a street, it’s not real.

Ask questions, legitimate companies are proud of their success and want to answer questions that a potential employee has about the great business they have.  Scammers are absent in the information, if you feel like they are avoiding or dismissing your questions, I suggest not perusing that “job” any further.

Research. Research. Research. I can’t emphasize this enough. As Dorothy says “We are not in Kansas anymore Toto”. It is a whole different world out there.  It will take you longer to search for jobs online, it sometimes takes me about three or four hours for one job, from researching the company to creating the targeted resume to sending it off.  Even then I am careful what is on my résumé. (more about this later) Just because a company name is on LinkedIn, or Facebook, or a job search engine like, ziprecruiter, monster. indeed, or any of the many, many others, it doesn’t mean it is real. It can still be fake! Look for the physical address, contact number, real company webpage, in the news? Look for company reviews from those scorned ex-employees. Also, I look at reviews that are a mix, if they are all perfect reviews, that seems fishy too about a company.  No one has a 100% employee satisfaction rate.

Trust your intuition. Many of us have learned to push down our intuition because we want to fit in, or not cause waves, or whatever the reason. I want you to trust your intuition, to allow it to guide you. If you feel uneasy about a job ad, let it pass, move on. I want you to be safe, happy, and find a good job. Or better yet, start your own! Whatever you decide, please follow your gut feelings.

 

WHAT NOT TO PUT ON YOUR RESUME, ESPECIALLY FOR ONLINE SUBMISSION

Don’t put on any personal information. Having said that a resume is filled with personal information. I mean the identifying type of information. Your physical or mailing address leave off. Just put your City or town name. You may or many not leave off your phone number. I have the employer contact me via email only. This is the easiest way to get a feel for the company if I am unsure before going forward. Unless I know without a shadow of doubt it is a legitimate company, then I will put in a phone number. If you have your media accounts linked to your resume, make sure your social media accounts do not have your personal identifying or locating address on it anyplace.  The scammers will scour the social media sites like a stalker to learn everything they can about you.

Job scams are something every job seeker needs to be aware of, but don’t lose hope. If you keep your wits about you, trust your instincts and follow these suggestions, I am sure you will be safer in your searching. I hope you find a great job for you, take care and be safe.

 

Have you had any experience with a job scammer you would like to share?

 

Organic or Non-Organic?

All the people I spoke to this week thought of fruits and vegetables when asked what is organic? Majority of the individuals I questioned, did not understand the real meaning behind “organic”. Fair enough, there is a lot of hype and contradicting information around this.  So, did you know that organic can be used to label fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and type of fabrics as well? Think hemp and cotton.

Literally defined by the Oxford Dictionary, Organic (relating to farming) is: (1) “Produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals”. So far in (2) Canada our government states that a product cannot be labelled “organic”, “certified organic” if it is a G.M.O. product. So thankfully, for now, organic also means non-G.M.O.

So, what’s the big deal anyway? The big deal is that we as a human species, are losing the fight against obesity, disease, and it is costing us a lot of money and lives. Pollution is real. Global warming is happening. We can make a difference; it is not too late. How does this relate to our food?

Follow with me on the journey of our food. Let’s start with the plants. They are grown with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides / pesticides, sprayed regularly throughout the growing season. These fields are grown strictly to feed animals; none is put into human food sources. The amount of acreages to grow food for these animals is far greater than it would take to grow for direct human consumption. Destroying our natural resources such as the rain forests, forests, and over use of the land. This plant food source is fed to such animals as cows, pigs, and fowl. (We will come back to the plant farming later.) The animal does not get to roam around eating a variety of fresh grasses, or even see the sun. Instead they are packed into small pens and cages so tightly they cannot move and stand in their own feces. They are fed these plants and grains in excess, so to assist with production of milk and increase weight. (Remember we pay by the pound.) The animals are also injected with growth hormones, fertility hormones and a lot of vaccines.

So far we have an animal that now has chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides / pesticides, growth hormones, fertility drugs, and a lot of vaccines running through the body which stores in the marrow, meat and fats. (If a human were to endure the stress and life of the slaughter animal, the human body would be extremely sick and in the hospital.) When an animal is stressed, such as being penned up, not allowed to sleep, beaten, prodded, the long tight transport to the slaughter house, and even walking down the line to slaughter; there are hormones the body creates that are also now added to this already packed list we just spoke of. This stress reduces the level of nutrient in the animal flesh depleting the vitamin and quality of protein.  (3)  (4)  Some believe that that fear is negative vibrational energy we too consume, as it has no time leave the body before being cut up.  As an understatement, the animal meat is tainted.

Now you go to the store and purchase some bacon, or a steak, or maybe a chicken to cook up for dinner tonight.  You ingest this animal flesh that is filled with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides / insecticides, growth hormones, fertility hormones, multiple animal vaccines and the stress induced hormones; no matter how hot or how long you cooked your animal flesh, you cannot cook this stuff out.  These toxic substances are not heat sensitive, they do not evaporate, they do not magically vanish. They must go someplace, and where do they go? In your body.  You had a cup of milk as well perhaps? Now you consumed another lactating hormone as well on top of those same toxins. We have not even discussed G.M.O. and I will not in this post as it would make this article too long.

Maybe you didn’t have milk, maybe you had water. Great, that is healthy and great for our bodies. Did you get that water from the tap, that got its water from the streams, that got its water from the run-off those grain / plant fields grown with chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides?  Or the water that seeps through the ground entering the waterways through underground water sources. Either way, that water has entered our main water system. So now you are drinking this toxic sludge as well and eating it.

So, what can you do about this? Through consumers shopping habits and letters to their supermarkets requesting organic grown and organic fed foods, it forces the farming industry to change its habits. But if consumers do not make the demand for the change, then farming continues as it has evolved into, and will continue to evolve into practices that pollute our water ways, and our foods. Stop buying animals that was grown with these toxins and cramped, stressful, and inhumane pens and cages. You want to look for (5) “free range”, “grown / raised without hormones / antibiotics”, “organic fed”, “organic or certified organic”. Do not be fooled either, “Humane” does not mean the animal was cared for, raised better, or slaughtered without stress. It is just as violent a life as any other animal endured in conventional farming. (7) (8) “Halal” or “Kosher” slaughter is another great thing to look for in your supermarkets. This is done by hand and with the care of the animal in mind. (9) Though, there have been some varying reports of some meat plants not performing proper Kosher slaughter, I leave that to you to investigate.

So, does it matter if we buy organic? I say yes, we can make farming change by our purchase demands. As a consumer, we drive the market to make changes, if you refuse to purchase “conventional” farmed foods they must change to make money, they must go organic.  I don’t want to feel fatigued all the time, nor do I want an unclear mind. I don’t want muscle aches, arthritis, impotence, disease or any other ailment from toxic foods and water. For me, I don’t have a lot of money, but I buy organic any place I can. I grow tomatoes and some veggies in a pot in my window and some fresh herbs.

Tina Curtis