Month 1 Progress Toward 2013 Goals
As I write this review of my progress toward my goals during this first month of 2013, I’m sitting in Oasis RV Park in Las Vegas and the weather is warm and skies blue. My mood is decidedly better today as I have reconciled myself to having just spent $6,500 to have repairs done to my motor home, after the grueling drive down from Edmonton revealed both mechanical problems, and problems within our coach. Consequently, my outlook for the year remains positive even as I have not met all of my goals for the month.

Physical Well-Being – I was ill for the first week of this new year with a viral infection that was making the rounds. I did get and take an antibiotic because my illness seemed to have turned into a sinus infection. I finished that medication on day 10. For the first 25 days of the month, I was able to spend at least 20 minutes a day and as much as 50 minutes on some days, doing my early morning stretch exercises. We left Alberta for a vacation on January 26th and that had some impact on my exercise behavior. Once we hit the road, I used the circumstances as an excuse and did not do them for the last six days of the month.

I had intended to buy a step counter like “The FitBit” to monitor my daily steps, but was not able to do so. It is only available on-line with a delivery time that would mean receipt after we left on vacation, or in a Best Buy store in the U.S. I had no way to actually measure progress toward my goal of walking at least 3000 steps in this month, so I simply decided to walk at least 30 minutes per day.

After the first week, I did walk that minimum and as much as 45 minutes each day from the 8th through to the 25th. I missed the 26th, 27th, and 28th because of the twelve hours of driving each day. On each of the 29th, 30th and 31st, I walked several hours as we explored the Las Vegas strip, but at a leisurely pace. 

I did use the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone every day of the month to track all that I ate. Although I had several days of excess, I generally came under the daily calorie count that I am allowed if I intend to shed a ½ pound per day.
As to weight loss, I haven’t achieved a reliable measure of my weight. However, people say that they’ve already noticed that I am less of a man than I was. :)

Having done the exercises and walking even for this short time, plus having reduced my consumption the little that I have, I can say that I feel slightly more limber, with better core body strength, and more comfort moving around. The ‘bull in a china shop’ feeling is diminishing.

Writing - I worked on the revision of my book on the Smart Selling System during ten days of the month, spending at least two hours each of those days. I wrote five haibun, and eight separate haiku in this first month of the year. I produced no freelance poetry, and did not begin a fictional story.

I participated in the Haibun Writer’s Workgroup, both submitting my own work for feedback and offering my own comments on the work of others.

I read several books in this period including a Bernard Cornwell book, several by Elizabeth Sims, one and a half by Joseph Kanon, and the latest from Stephen Hunter.

Photography – I was able to join Florence and friends during two photo shoots in the studio in her home, and one shoot in that studio with just Florence and I. She graciously acted as my photo model for some portrait photography. In looking at all the photos, I have some shots that I like and will post on my website.

Website – I posted two of the haibun that I wrote and a few images from the first studio photo shoot. 

Relationships – My mother had a lumpectomy to remove a breast cancer, and the surgery worked. She impressed me with her resilience, how well she handled the event, and how fast she has recuperated. We have been in regular contact, either by my visits or by phone calls and text messaging. She has become quite computer literate and this facilitates our communication.

I managed to spend slightly more than our regular weekly time with Quynn during this month, particularly because she was ill early in January, and because her mother allowed us to take her to the lake house over a weekend.

Dianne and I began a five week trip leaving by motorhome on January 26th. The trip went well, except for a 100 mile stretch approaching Salt Lake City in a snow storm with accumulations of snow and ice on the road.  We kept our heads and managed the stress well so this didn’t have any negative impact on our being together.

Had some time with Kelly before and after her announced retirement on the 11th of January. David left for Australia early in the month.

Travel – Our journey to the southwest took us through southern Alberta, across the border at Coutts/Sweet Grass and to the I15. This highway, heading south, traversed Montana, Idaho, Utah, a small piece of Arizona, and into Nevada to our first warm destination - Las Vegas.  In Montana, we briefly left the I15 at Boulder to take an easier less mountainous road to Dillon, where we rejoined the I15. That made the journey more interesting as it was on roads I had not been on before.

All of that winter travel was very easy as the roads were clear.  From Dillon, we had our last stretch to go to reach Salt Lake City. As we approached within 100 miles of SLC, we encountered snow that began accumulating on the road. The temperature was such that this turned to slush, which built up on the wipers making it very hard to clear the windows. Closer to Salt Lake City, the roads became quite icy and we passed many cars that had slid into the ditches.

In SLC itself, many of the drivers were struggling with inadequate tires for driving on ice and were sliding all over the road. We had good traction because of our weight, and made it through town to an RV Park that Dianne had discovered on-line. The description of the park was of a pristine mountain resort, but we didn’t see this as everything was covered in about 8” of snow.

Squeezing amongst the already parked units and their vehicles, which were crowding the roads in the park, we managed to get situated in our site and plugged in. We had visions of a good nights rest under our heated sleeping blanket.  

However, we discovered that the 110v power was not working and this was a serious limitation on our use of powered devices. We had light because of our 6 volt interior system but could not use anything that required the 110v. We had a restless sleep and left early in the day for Las Vegas.

We found that the snow on the roads had both melted and been cleared away. It was amazing how fast the city was able to recover from that snow storm. Driving conditions were fine for the rest of the journey to Las Vegas.

About 70 miles shy of Las Vegas, we stopped at a Chevron station which was a full service centre and got gas. One of their people struck up a conversation, claiming it was because of his interest in our Alberta plates, because his wife was from Lethbridge. He then noted that one of our front tires was a little low on air and offered to fill it up. He directed me to bring the unit around to the back of the service centre and added air to the tire.

He then looked behind the tire, which I assumed meant he was checking for a nail or other source of a leak. He suggested that the shocks were completely spent and should be replaced. After a quote of $500, they put two on the front then indicated that the ones in the back should be replaced as well, which would double the cost. With the gas and shocks, we left the station with twelve hundred dollars less than when we first arrived.

While driving, we phoned Camping World to book a service appointment to fix the non-functioning electrical system. An appointment was easily made for the next day. We drove to the RV Park where we had a reservation and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the park. We placed the motor home on our pad and slept with an extension cord running through the window to power our electric blanket and allow us to charge our personal electronics.

During that evening, we made a list of the many little things that needed to be done to the RV. The next morning, we presented our list to the service advisor who booked our unit in for service. He estimated the cost would be $900 but did indicate he was just guessing because he didn’t yet know the cause of the electrical problem.

At the end of the day, he advised me that the necessary part for the electrical repair would cost us over $800 because it would have to be rushed in. We indicated that he should proceed, and that we would get a hotel for the night.
Two hotel nights later and one additional visit to the service centre where the technician pointed out all of the things that needed service, we wound up with a bill of $5,560. This included replacement of other items that I had replaced in Edmonton previously but was never happy with. It turns out that everything now works as it should.

We had one other major expense. Before leaving Edmonton, we each bought the best roaming package available for our iPhones. Our carrier is Telus. It was priced at $100 for a month of travel in the U.S., allowing unlimited texting, 150 minutes of voice calls, and 150 MB of data. Dianne also bought a 150MB data package for her iPad for $40. We intended to obtain a new sim card for her iPad and one month of US roaming service once we arrived in Vegas.

All went well, with each of us judiciously managing our phone use. We got to Vegas and went to an AT&T store and bought a 5GB data package with sim card for her iPad at a cost of $50. Please notice the differences. For $10 more, she obtained 33 times more data allowance. I had wanted a good Bluetooth mobile and rechargeable speaker system, and AT&T had one of the best – the Big Box Jambone from Jawbone. We bought this to play music from my iPhone in the RV, both while parked and while driving.

In the hotel, I tried the speakers and they worked extremely well playing the music from my iPhone. I decided that I wanted to create a new playlist, so set up my computer, created the new playlist, then attached the iPhone to the computer to sync and download that playlist to the phone. The music was on the phone so all that had to move was the playlist which is a small data file.

Unfortunately, I left the Personal Hotspot setting turned on, and it appears that I somehow accessed the internet. During the sync, a lot of apps that I had on my computer were downloaded to my phone, presumably by the sync function, or so I thought. I left the computer on while going out for part of the evening, and as it was not done when we returned, while going to sleep for the night.

In the morning, I found that my data usage had leapt up from 15MB to over 1 TB (1024 MB).  This means I had consumed my data allowance and exceeded it by about 850 MB. Telus charges $1 for each MB over the allowance.
In a panic, I called Telus technical support to see if there was anything that could be done about what happened and was told that I must have been accessing the internet and there was nothing that could be done. While trying to figure out what the technician could tell me about what I had done, he was in the middle of telling me how to turn off personal hotspot on my phone when the call was broken.

He sent me a text message telling me what to do but never called back. We had previously been told that the technicians were supposed to call back whenever the call is broken off but he did not. In frustration, I turned off my phone and gave up. I expect to see additional charges of $850 on my account when I return home.

The month had mixed results in the progression to my goals. I did follow through on some of my promises but not completely. I failed to do so on others. However, I think I am establishing new habits that fulfill my intentions for the year.

full moon
hunched over,
an old lady