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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Technology in the Passenger Seat

I remember when we had to schlep our laptop up to the RV park’s office and plug in to their phone line in order to use dial-up to get online.  Then came Wi-Fi.  You could browse the Internet from the comfort of your parked RV.  We even got a Datastorm Satellite dish that gave us high-speed Internet *wherever* we were parked – in the middle of the desert, or in the most remote national forest.  What luxury that was.  We live fulltime in our motorhome and we need to work to make our living.  Our work is primarily on our website so it’s important that we be able to connect wherever we are.

Then came cellular datacards, and cellphones tethered to our laptops, we could be connected to high-speed Internet even while driving down the road! How wonderful right?

NO.

I didn’t like it.  I’m a geek, but I have my limits.  It’s one of my guilty pleasures to be a passenger in our RV and simply enjoy the ride while my husband does the driving.  This is a time when I have permission to *not* work.  I enjoy watching the scenery and daydreaming about oh so many things.  When we're driving down the road in our self-contained cocoon-home, the outside world disappears. No stress. No worries. Just us and the rhythm of the road.

I don’t want to give that up.  How about you?

I have to admit that the cellular connection to Internet does work great – I succumb to the dark side once in a while when I need to answer some emails, or had a deadline for some other web work.  I was glad to be able to get my work done without sacrificing our planned destination.

Now, with a Smartphone in my pocket, I find myself checking my email and looking at my calendar, almost unconsciously, even while we’re driving down the road.  The Smartphone is just so quick and easy.   I find it to be a small intrusion into my traveling reverie, but I appreciate that it allows me to accomplish the necessary tasks without getting out a real computer.  I can put it back in my pocket and return to the hypnotic hum of the wheels on the road.

What about you? Do you use a smartphone while you are the passenger in an RV? Do you appreciate the convenience? or hate the intrusion?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Digitized photo collection -- a trip down the Midwest's memory lane

If you're of the age when you remember that "camping" meant a sleeping in a tent, cooking over a campfire, and those who had "campers" didn't have water, sewer, and electric hookups, listen up. There's a treasure trove of old photographs from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that you may want to see.

Recently, 500 photos from the 1930s through the 1970s were digitized and released to the public on the Internet. The collection is part of a group held by the DNR, and its predecessor, the old Wisconsin Conservation Department. The photos were taken by "staff photographers," a position that died out in 2007 when the last official photographer, Bob Queen, hung up his Rollie – or whatever ancient "film" camera he was using at the time.

The largely black and white collection languished for decades, until the DNR tabbed Kathy Kahler, a writer for the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, to go through the archives and sort out (and pick out) the photo collection for digitization. So far, Kahler has worked her way through 500 of the targeted 2,200 final picks of pics.

Gypsy Rose Lee
There are plenty of 'just plain folk,' in these historic photos. Dressed in anything from scandalously modest bathing suits to heavy parkas and mukluks (depending on the season), there's almost a Rod Serling-esque quality to these images. People who seem so out of time, when compared to our 'modern' society. Among the people you'll also find celebrities: Imagine Gypsy Rose Lee in an inflatable raft that looks like it was made out of a truck inner tube. OK, if the name is too old for you to recall, how about Bart Starr? Ted Williams? Com'on, Herbert Hoover?

OK, even if you're too young to remember any of these folks, here's an opportunity to wonder how it is people survived the great Wisconsin out-of-doors.

Take a trip through time. The collection is available for viewing 24/7 here.

Listen to Russ and Tiña's new Internet program, Your RV Podcast. Click here to go to their Program Notes page. 

All photos Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources