Friday, 25 July 2008



Here are photos of the rigs that surround me. The people in them constitute an accidental, temporary community; the kind that full time rvers experience often. We have much in common and generally bond easily. Beyond needing the social fix, we are eager to learn new tricks of the trade from each other. Pictured is yesterday's watermelon party with Ed, Paul,Bob, Ron and myself.

Consider the savings represented by the 12 rigs here: Camping fees @ $10 a night =$120 a day and utility savings @$5 a day = $60 minimum. This amounts to $180 a day, $5,400 a month or $64,800 a year. We each save on average $5,400 a year. This kind of frugality just might catch on as the national financial meltdown affects more and more people.

Consider also that we are now as electronically connected to the wider world as any city dweller yet are pleasantly removed from the city's stress and noise. I count my blessings!

Saturday, 19 July 2008



PART 2(Read part one first so this will make sense)

I went on a long journey with my lovely, eccentric oracle. While she drove, I did odd jobs like navigate and make sandwiches. Now and again an aphorism would spring from her mind and I would record it. When not in oracle mode the lady was still a fascinating companion. She loves music, especially Eagles songs with a heavy message. Her audio equipment was state of the art.

Here are a few more gems that should persuade you she is an oracle.

On Talking: When no one is listening, stop talking; Compulsive talkers delude themselves.
There’s more to life than speaking your mind–there’s cultivating relationships.
W.A.I.T. Is a useful acronym to remember and ask yourself: WHY AM I TALKING

Mind Clutter: When your mind becomes a pest, give it something else to do.

Maturity: is knowing where I can get my needs met.

Forgiveness: Is about moving forward; taking your energy off someone else; creating space for
something new.

Emotions: Pay attention to your emotional reactions, they tell you who you are.
Let the MOTION in emotions remind you that they should MOVE through you.
Searching for their explanation stops the flow.
You’re a civilized human being; No one needs to know you’re angry.

Relationships: Are about seeing another person for the gift they are; the other stuff is just detail
and not as important.

Hope and Permission: Ultimately we have to give them to ourselves.

One day I asked why she chose me. She said “because you showed interest in my journey.”

Oracles are not peaceful souls, perhaps because they have glimpsed a could-be world and yet must live in the world that is. Perhaps there’s no appropriate mate for them–only temporary companions like myself.

On our last night together, my oracle gave me my biggest surprise. Perhaps as a parting gift or as a mischievous demonstration of her power, SHE REACHED INTO MY HEAD AND TOUCHED MY G SPOT. I melted into ecstasy dramatically altered and still am. Now I know specifically where the male G spot is located and in a future blog will reveal the secret.

That experience so moved me that I went searching in my literary memory banks for an apt expression. I remembered these lines from Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan where the guy is similarly affected, so noticeably different:

“That all should cry beware, beware,
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice
And close your eyes in holy dread,
For he on honey dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of paradise.”

She drove away into the West and I likely will never see her again. I grieved awhile then utilized the wisdom she left with me.

Thursday, 17 July 2008



She was gorgeous! I asked her out. As we sat for coffee I asked about her plans. She replied: “People who fill up their dance card take away their options; and often don’t recognize their own hand in having done so. Wow! I extracted pen and paper and wrote that down. I know wisdom and poetry when I hear it.

She graced me with her presence for the next month or so and I continued writing down her words, though she sometimes made fun of my efforts to catch truth with words.

I had stumbled across an oracle, a source of wisdom arising unpredictably from a mysterious and mercurial personality.
There may be only a handful of oracles in the world and here I am temporary companion to one. Read on and I will prove the truth of what I say.

Oracles are made, not born. They are people who somehow rise, scarred, but undefeated from great psychological turmoil. They assemble a personality from emotional scraps found in a disfunctional family. Not surprisingly, they behave oddly at times and are fragile. Ordinary life events sometimes throw them. They discount their special powers and struggle to be normal. They are a classic case of one who knows and knows not that they know. (classical advice: They are asleep---wake them)

The silver lining to such a background is extraordinary survival skills, unusual insights and just occasionally a “grand vision” about life.

This my oracle has but is unable to give comprehensive voice to. Instead, it burps out now and again in golden aphorisms like these:

Journey mind is being awake to the fact that I’m at the helm at the center of my life. What everyone wants is a journey worth taking, a journey without a destination. We want to participate, to contribute, to be used up.

Desiring a specific outcome dilutes effectiveness.

Our path consist of this moment, these circumstances, and the choices we make. Journey is what we see when we look back.

Movement is stimulated by putting something on our horizon, and requires stamina, support and constant revision.

Living to get what we want causes us to live always with a sense of deficiency. A better choice is to explore how to be adequate to the challenge of this moment.

Everyone needs to create for themselves a buffer zone, a shield against intrusiveness so that we get to have all our thoughts and feelings.

Seeking to be right is a paint-by-numbers approach to life.

Problem lives are misapplied talents. Reacting to pain is what causes addictions, it’s an inability to be with our emotions.

We have nothing to give till we take care of ourselves.

Help that works is throwing a lifeline, Not pulling them in. It is creating space for people to help themselves.

End of part 1. In part 2, I will share what the oracle said about Relationships, Forgiveness. Emotions, Hope and Permission, Talking, Mind Chatter, Maturity.

I will also share why she chose me to receive all this and the dramatic climax of this association of a poet with an oracle.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Hypenotized by Apple

Watching the cloud of hype around last week's release of the new iPhone, I was struck by the way Apple's psychological influence over the tech industry continues to grow. I'm having trouble thinking of any recent technology product, let alone a smartphone, that got such heavy coverage for both its announcement and its initial shipment.

Apple's PR miasma is also starting to twist the thinking of people in the tech industry who ought to know better. Apple's gradually becoming the yardstick against which other tech companies are measured -- and since Apple is such a unique company, it's almost impossible for anyone else to measure up.

Case in point: A recent commentary by a CNET reporter, writing about RIM (link):

"There is no RIM hype machine and when a new BlackBerry is released, hardly anyone in the major media outlets care. And if they don't care, neither will the average consumer who doesn't know too much about the tech industry and won't read columns like this; they rely on the NBCs of the world to get by. So if RIM wants to more effectively compete against Apple, it needs to do everything it can to follow the Steve Jobs formula: secrecy, compelling products, and a great PR team. If it does, look for RIM to not lose as much ground as you may think. But if it doesn't, Apple will run amok."

Problem number one with this thinking is that Apple and RIM don't sell to the same markets. RIM's core is middle-aged business professionals; Apple's is hip twentysomethings. I'm not saying there is no overlap, but I've spoken to plenty of RIM users who would be embarrassed to carry a music-playing, video-watching hunk of eye candy like the iPhone into a business meeting. It's like announcing to a client, "I spend my work time on YouTube."

The second problem is that Apple's skill at PR has somehow turned into an excuse for reporters not to do their jobs. The implied message in the CNET article is, "if you don't put on a spectacle, the press will ignore your products." Excuse me, but isn't the press's job to dig out the real value and separate it from the hype? Don't we pay you (or sit through your ads) to look past the PR and fancy speeches and advise us on what really matters? If we just wanted someone to echo the latest hype, we could get all our news from blogs.

But the third problem is the one that worries me the most. Apple is almost uniquely good at marketing. Its communication power is a combination of longtime company history, Steve Jobs' personality, and a culture that values perfection in marcom. Any tech company that makes its goal to match Apple's flash is going to look bad by comparison.

If anyone from RIM is reading this, please listen to me closely. I beg of you, don't be chumps. You're Canadian, for God's sake. You don't do sexy. You do humble and inoffensive.

Steve's from California. He's a pop culture icon from the '70s; the Madonna of technology. If you try to imitate him, you're going to look like mom and dad pogo-dancing when Rock Lobster comes on at a wedding reception.

Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

Which brings us to Microsoft's latest marketing plan.

Word on the street is that Microsoft is planning a huge advertising campaign this fall to pimp its image. Microsoft executives say they have finally tired of taking all that abuse from the Mac vs. PC ads, and they're going to fire back with their own cool advertising this fall.

Remember what I said at the start of this post about Apple twisting the minds of tech company managers? They have done an incredible number on Microsoft, the sort of thing I used to dream about when I worked at Apple.

Welcome, Microsoft. Seriously.

When I was at Apple, one the competitive team's central goals was to goad Microsoft and Intel into targeting us in public. We used all sorts of tactics to irritate them. We printed bumper stickers that read "Honk if your Pentium has bugs." We hounded them in online discussions. We did press and analyst tours demonstrating all sorts of annoying flaws we'd found in Windows.

The whole idea was to get them so pissed off that they would lash out at us in public. Because we knew that when a market leader attacks a challenger, it just makes the challenger more credible.

So what is Microsoft doing? It's attacking the challenger. Microsoft VP Brad Brooks specifically called out Apple in a recent speech (link):

"There are a lot of myths out there in the marketplace today, a lot of myths around Windows Vista...we know the story is very different than what our competitors would like our customers to think.... Windows Vista is the safest OS in terms of security vulnerabilities in its first year of operation, safer than any other commercial or Open Source OS in its launch. Now, I don't hear Apple making claims about security around a product that is that great.... The other big thing that's different this time around is that we've got a pretty noisy competitor out there. You know it, I know it. It's had an impact, been a source of frustration for you, but today, that line, we're going to start to challenge. We're going to get our story back out into the marketplace.... We've got a highly vocal minority out there in Apple. They kind of look at this and say, hey, you know what, you're kind of boring with the mundane message; it's not cool. They tell you it's the "i-way" or the highway. Well, you know what--we think that's kind of a sad message."

Macintosh share is still just a small fraction of Windows' share, but Microsoft is treating Apple like not just a challenger, but as the opinion leader. Microsoft is responding to Apple's marketing, and what's worse, it's bragging about it in public. What an incredible turnaround from Steve Jobs' first days back at Apple, less than ten years ago, when Bill Gates appeared on the big screen and Jobs publicly kowtowed to him.

It's easy to say what Microsoft shouldn't do, but a lot harder to say what they should do. They do have an image problem, and they do need to do something about it. Here's my take: Apple has always been the cool one, and always will be. Microsoft has traditionally been the safe one. Not as flashy as Apple, but dependable and prudent; the choice that'll never get you fired. That's why 80% of the public has chosen Windows over the years. Rather than trying to act cool, which is destined to end in embarrassment, I think Microsoft should apologize for the problems with Vista, give a timeline for fixing them (I think many of them actually are fixed by this point), and then move heaven and earth to make sure people see them deliver on that promise.

The ironic thing is that Brooks actually did some of that in his speech:

"We had an ambitious plan. We made some significant investments around security in this product. And you know what, those investments, they broke some things. They broke a lot of things. We know that. And we know it caused you a lot of pain in front of your customers, in front of our customers. And it got a lot of customers thinking, and even yourselves and our partners thinking, "Hey, is Windows Vista a generation that I want to make an investment in?" "

That's not a bad start, but in today's Apple-soaked industry atmosphere, the snide comments on Apple dominated the coverage. The best example was the Wall Street Journal's business and technology blog, which headlined its article, "Microsoft Ready to Hit Back at Mac Guy" (link).

So now every Microsoft ad in the new campaign is going to be judged on whether or not it's as clever and cool as an Apple ad. I'd like to ask for a show of hands -- who thinks Microsoft can out-cool Apple?


And as for RIM, well, I'm sure you could do a better job of PR than you do today. But don't try to be sexy. A message more like, "real men use a thumb keyboard" is probably the ticket for you.


Thanks to for featuring Mobile Opportunity in the latest Carnival of the Mobilists.



Paul Styles is a man made smooth by much thoughtful living. Though he could afford a luxurious bus camper, he lives in a modest rig costing $8,500. His money philosophy: “ I will spend no dime before its time. He has been everywhere and done everything including several world tours as a dance host on cruise ships.
A lawyer by career, an adventurer by choice, he won his economic freedom and chose to wander the US, retreating periodically to the forest where I met him near Flagstaff.

Last night he hurried us off to a singles dance. Wearing black slacks and a black silk shirt and seating himself, I watched as he slipped on a pair of black patent leather dancing shoes and glided into action. In minutes, a host of ladies hovered around our table waiting their turn to be whirled by the master. It’s a beautiful thing to see a waltz done properly. I shuffled obscurely on the sidelines. At one point the music turned hot and Paul opened full throttle, doing the Charleston, hopping and kicking so energetically with an enthusiastic 30 yr old that the floor cleared and cheered them on. Of course he won first prize.

Today the Philosopher emerged in a four mile walk. I carried pen and paper gleaning a few gems for you.
1. “We live in a field of dreams. All we need do is point our desires.”
2. “Time is more than money; Time is everything!
3.”I’m here as a witness and I haven’t seen it all; I keep going!”
4. “Since I do not know where I’m going, any road will do.”
5. “I book passage today to a fabulous isle—my someday I’ll “

He’s a joy, a treasure and now a friend. I have his permission to show his picture and e-mail address:

Friday, 11 July 2008


I'm in the midst of perhaps fifty thousand acres of pristine, beautiful,cool, free-to-camp-on land and I count only 12 campers scattered miles apart. Why in heavens name are there not hundreds taking advantage of this paradise?

The answer came to me: NO FACILITIES--No water, no toilets or prepared parking places. Only the truly self-contained can enjoy this cool beauty day after day. That's good news for us full-timing, solar powered vagabonds and regrettable for those captured in the hot and the hectic.

One of my early poems celebrates our good fortune and good sense:


I travel full time with a full set of stuff;
Not less than I need or more than enough;
All safely-stashed within easy reach,
Ready for desert or forest or beach.

I have food, fuel, a good fly swatter,
Stove, fridge and plenty of water,
A potty, skillet, four kinds of soap,
A swiss army knife, a strong tow rope,

A satellite dish, a good TV,
Tools for any contingency,
Cleaning supplies, things for the bed,
Sunglasses, towels, needle and thread,

Flatwear, flashlight, several hats,
Air pump and plugs to fix my flats,
Toiletries, spices, bolts and screws,
One bicycle, five pair of shoes,

Credit cards, books, several bags,
Saws, brushes and cleaning rags,
One inverter, lots of clothes,
A stash of money, a water hose,

A mirror, medicine, compass and maps,
Scissors, twine and two mouse traps,
A shovel, sandpaper, a nice towed car,
A clock, some cards, a VCR,

Stamps and envelopes, parts to spare,
Pans and dishes, an outside chair,
Paper and pens, solar panels,
Summer cottons, winter flannels.

Well, you get my point; this full set of stuff
Is all I need to smooth the rough;
I can cook, eat, wash my hair,
Watch TV or make repair.

I can sleep, bathe, read or dig
With just the stuff in this small rig.
Where tourists gaze and rush away,
This traveler parks and stays the day.

Down back roads by lazy brooks
I take a nap or read my books;
Chase the wind, drift and roam;
Let night overtake me everywhere home;

Live my life in a thousand places;
Share myself with a thousand faces;
Drink-in life till I've had enough;
Thanks to my rig and a full set of stuff.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008



Everyone you relate with wants something from you and you want something from them. Every one of us comes to the social marketplace to do business; We come bringing our “selves” to trade with other “selves.” We are complicated beings and “trading” is extraordinarily subtle because we do not often know what we have to offer or what it is worth. Nor do we know what, precisely, we want in return, having only a vague sense of our needs.

Occasionally, transactions are fairly clear as with prostitution, though even this trade is fraught with complexities.

I come to the marketplace bringing me–a hodge podge of talents; some are good trading material and some are not. I have a vast knowledge, a huge repertoire of memorized poems and quotes, a bare sufficiency of wealth and an assortment of useful skills . All of these hard won values I have found are not valued at the marketplace. This philosopher, poet, fount of wisdom and craftsman that I am goes empty handed home from the market. It doesn’t sell.

Luckily, there is more to me or I would have starved. I have things to trade that are valuable: skills that grew from the turmoil of my childhood. I learned to be pleasant and pleasing to others–how to listen. to respond, to scratch the incredible itch we all have to be heard and understood and appreciated. Most valuable, I learned to call forth and play with the child inside others. This is easy for me and I love to do it.

These latter skills, to my constant amazement, are much in demand at the market and I regularly come home with full baskets. Indeed my basket has overflowed for most of my life. Friends care for me, ladies have loved me.

I say all this to make two points: Marketgoers , all of us want value for value–however contorted they may see the exchange. We must trade for the goodies we want. It helps me immensely to learn what “sells” and what doesn’t. The things that came hardest to me, my data, does not sell. The things that came natural to me proved to be most valued in the marketplace. I suspect this is true for you too.

The second point is this: Childhood was troublesome for all of us and we all learned certain adaptive skills. I’m suggesting that these skills hold the seed of our unique genius–our most marketable skills. Oprah Winfreys’ powers were surely ignited in her troubled childhood.

I once lived with a lady who was actually raised in a chicken coop by a poverty stricken family. She grew up with a fierce passion for social justice, became a lawyer and defended death row inmates.

Now days when I’m doing poorly at the market I reflect on my childhood talents.

Randy Vining 7/8/08