What do you love about your Class B RV?

If you’re thinking about buying a Class B RV, you might be surprised to know how much there is to love about traveling small.

It’s easy to drive.

If you’ve ever owned an RV over 22′, you know that it can sometimes be a challenge to drive and park. With a Class B RV under 22′, you can park it nearly anywhere. It’s much like driving a long-bed truck. It’s easy to handle, even for people who minimal experience driving larger vehicles.


It makes it easy to travel.

You can keep all your necessities stocked in the RV. This includes your bed, bath, kitchen and closet. When we want to do a road trip, we load up some food and clothes and we’re ready to head out.

You can go almost anyplace a car can go.

With a Class B RV under 22′, you can park in most parking lots, and parallel park in most streets. In tourist areas or destination spots, you need to check for signs that might restrict vehicles over a certain height, but in general, you can park almost anywhere. It’s much easier to park a Class B RV than larger rigs or trailers.

You can sleep in your own bed.

If you’re visiting friends or family, you can “spend the night” in your own bed. You can spend all day visiting and checking out local attractions, but when it comes time to sleep, you just walk out to your RV. There’s no need to plan for extra time or rides to go back and forth to a hotel. This places minimal impact on your family and friends, especially if they don’t have a guest room or if it’s occupied by others during your visit.

You can squeeze in at “full” campgrounds.

Because Class B RVs are small compared to other RVs, sometimes you can get a spot even when a campground is “full.” When we learned about this from a fellow Pleasure-Way owner, we put it to the test and sure enough we were able to squeeze into a “full” campground on a 4th of July weekend. A Class B RV is quite small relative to large bus-size motorhomes or long fifth wheel tow rigs.

It’s fun to personalize

Since it’s a small space, you can quickly change the decor by swapping out just a few items such as pillows, window treatments, seat covers, towels, and other hanging items. You can decorate for holidays or special events and then quickly change it around again in less than an hour.

It’s a terrific way to get around when you have time to travel.

Whether you’re retired or just looking for a weekend getaway van, a Class B RV is a terrific way to get around. It’s small enough to park in most driveways or streets in front of homes, so it can be on standby until you’re ready to roll.

It’s nice to be able to shower and get cleaned up in your own space.

If you’re used to traveling by plane, you know you need to build in extra time to get out of the airport and checked into your hotel. And once you’re settled in the hotel, you need to plan time to get to the local venues and attractions. When you’re traveling in a Class B RV, you can shower and get cleaned up almost anywhere, including the parking lot of many attractions. Once you’re cleaned up, you can walk straight into the park or activity you have planned for the day.

You can control the temperature.

Most Class B RVs come equipped with heaters and air conditioners, so it’s easy to stay comfortable all day long, whatever that means to you. During moderate temperatures, you may not need to use either one. You can conserve energy by cracking windows, using an installed Fantastic fan, positioning your rig to capture more or less sun through the windows, or strategically adding Reflectix window covers to block sun or conserve heat.

How to Close a Van Sliding Door

If you drive a van with a side door that slides, you might be happy to learn a simple trick that makes it much easier to close your van sliding door.

We’ve owned our Ram ProMaster® window van for more than a year. During this time, we often had to try multiple times to slam the van sliding door in order to lock it. If it’s not all the way closed, it won’t lock. We never put any thought into it. It’s just the way it was.

van sliding door

When I was by myself, I’d obviously be the one to slam it shut. And it often took me several tries. But anytime my husband was around, I’d yield to him knowing that he’d have a better chance of being able to close and lock it with fewer tries than me.

We love our Pleasure-Way Promaster Lexor Class B RV and its large side door. In fact it was one of the selling points of this RV. When the van sliding door is open, our tiny kitchen has a wide open view. Sometimes this view is the ocean, sometimes it’s a campsite, and sometimes it’s just the next vehicle in the parking lot. But regardless of the view, when this big door is pushed back to expose the kitchen, it makes the whole interior of the van feel more spacious as it opens up to the surroundings.

And so for the past year we went about enjoying our weekend adventures getting in and our of our RV, often trying multiple times to slam-close the van sliding door.

And then one day we were watching a fellow YouTuber with a similar van sliding door. That’s when we learned the secret.

It’s much easier to close the van sliding door when one of the other doors or windows is open. It takes the air pressure off the interior and makes it much easier to close the van sliding door.

That’s it. That’s the secret to making it easy to close the van sliding door!

Duh! As soon as we learned this, it made perfect sense! Check out this 24-second clip within our video to see a demonstration of how to take the pressure off the van sliding door:

Although we had a fairly thorough how-to walk-through when we picked up our new RV at the dealership, we didn’t learn this tip. I haven’t read the owner’s manual for our chassis cab, so I don’t know whether or not it mentions this helpful tip.

It’s common to have so much thought chatter going on that we miss the obvious. Our perception is limited. Our attention is elsewhere. Sometimes we think we’re going about things the right way, and then one day we find out there’s a better way. It’s a good reminder that we need to remain open minded at all times. There might be a better way.

If you found this helpful, please subscribe to our YouTube/TechieAndWriter channel and join us on our adventures.

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

“At 2000 feet above the earth, as if dangling from a thread, all my attention is on the landscape below,” Jan says. “I haven’t forgotten my fear, but I set it aside as my husband dips the wing of the small aircraft so I’m better able to photograph the sights below.”


My Silver Lining No.3 by Jan Clayton

Her husband, Periklis Pagratis, began flying about six years ago. He earned his private pilot’s license in 2008. More recently he became a Certified Flight Instructor and is now teaching others to fly. He owns a small airplane and flies often. When he first began flying, Jan worried all the time and would be in despair every time he went up.

“It took a while, but I knew the fear and anxiety that I was experiencing was my issue, not his,” Jan said. “I didn’t want my fears to inhibit his love and passion for flying in any way. Because I love my husband and wanted to participate in the activity he loves most, I began to fly with him last year. Overcoming fear is a process that seems to have no end. It’s still difficult for me.”

If you have a fear of flying, heights, darkness, dentists, needles, public speaking or something else, it may seem impossible to get over it. Embracing fear, on the other hand, is possible. When your passion or desire is strong enough, you can find ways to suppress fear. When you do, you have a chance to do something positive.


Merge No.1 by Jan Clayton

“I try to do this with a mix of diversion, trust and faith. I keep my brain occupied with something positive other than the concern about our safety. I trust my husband to handle that. My faith is strengthened by the magnificent beauty of the world around me, especially when viewed from above,” Jan said.

The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. Antoine de Saint-Exupery  in his book Wind, Sand and Stars

“My fear of flying in small aircraft slapped me in the face about five years ago when my husband became a pilot. I was destined to come face-to-face with this fear and learn to deal with it,” Jan said. “I knew I’d eventually have to fly with him. He flies all the time, but it took me almost five years to build up enough courage to go up in the air with him. When I finally made the decision to go, I took my camera. It wasn’t a conscious decision to overcome the fear, it was just a way to distract myself. Once I was up there, I saw so many gorgeous things going on in the landscape. I was captivated. I tuned into it immediately. It all happened by accident.”

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela

“Although my fear is ever present, once we’re in the air and I see the landscape below, the voices in my head quiet down. The landscape below captures my attention and I’m compelled to get down to work with my camera,” Jan said.

Her latest body of work is derived from fear, love and passion, all of which are enduring emotions in her life: fear of flying, love for her husband and passion for making art.


Tidal Salt Marsh No.2 by Jan Clayton

“At first, the idea of coalescing my passion with my fear seemed like an odd mix, but coming to the canvas from a new angle, literally a bird’s eye view, has magnified the breadth of the work,” Jan said. She’s inspired by artists who have passion along with commitment and perseverance.

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. Robert Rauschenberg

“It’s a strange conundrum to be aloft and detached, suspended in the air for an hour or so, then back on the ground with the surface of the earth underfoot. Seeing the earth from a different vantage point is so fascinating. The bird’s-eye-view gives me unique information about the subject. In this case, it’s the landscape. There’s so much to take in. Because we’re moving and the light is changing, I never know when or from where the next opportunity for a great photograph will appear,” Jan said.

There’s a constant state of movement you experience when flying in a small aircraft, not only because the airplane is moving, but also the surrounding natural world is changing.

“My preference is to be in the air very early dawn or late afternoon to dusk. From an artist’s perspective, the light at this time is the most beauful. The sunlight rakes across the landscape horizontally and defines the shapes of the trees, grasses, and other objects with long shadows. The colors aren’t bleached out by the sun’s harsh rays, but instead are almost glowing. The view from above is breathtaking. The waterways meander their way down to the ocean. The reflecting light on the surface of the water is in stark contrast to the land and saltmarsh. The tides are moving, waves are pounding, clouds are building, the earth is rotating and the light is fleeting.”

“The first time I flew over Tybee Island, I realized just how small the island really is and just how vulnerable it is to the whim of the ocean, the weather and the inhabitants. When viewed from above, all the problems that people have with each other, all our differences seem so small and insignificant. Sometimes we forget that we are nothing but small invisible parts of a bigger picture.”

“This bird’s-eye-view vantage point is enlightening on so many levels. Perhaps my work will inspire others to become more interested in the history or ecology of the area. It inspired me. I have a deeper appreciation of the importance of keeping our environment healthy. Georgia has a stunning coastline filled with wetlands and barrier islands. There is beauty and diversity. It’s wonderful to be able to share the scenery from above and through this perhaps a few more folks will gain an interest in the Georgia estuarine marshlands and its importance to the health of our planet,” Jan said.

“Change is constant and focusing on what divides us is futile while focusing on what unites us is beneficial. It’s worthwhile to preserve healthy relationships with others and our natural surroundings,” Jan said.

Being an artist is celebrating life. Henry Moore

If it weren’t for her husband’s passion for flying, she never would have experienced these new landscapes. Her current work is a combined effort of her finding a new way to apply her passion from a new perspective–up in the air.

Jan Clayton Periklis Pagratis fear flying artist

Jan and Periklis

She’s not really over the fear, but it changes her focus when she’s up in the air. She gets excited about what the landscape offers on that day. Despite her fear, now she wants to fly because each photograph adds to the overall body of work.

Currently, this collection contains photos of the area just below Tybee. She wants to go back up so she can shoot Tybee, St. Simons and Hilton Head. And she has her sights on other locations as well.


St. Catherine’s Sound No.1 by Jan Clayton

Jan constantly draws inspiration from her daily interactions with the people in her life, her natural surroundings and the media. To her, art is about life. It’s about processing experiences and interconnectedness with others and the environment. It is an endlessly fascinating and continually developing process of discovery, intuition, improvisation, and finally reconciliation.

Jan Clayton’s works are featured at Kobo Gallery, located in the heart of the historic district in Savannah, Georgia. You can also see more of her collection on her website at at JanClayton.com.

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis

A Toastmasters World Champion Who Will LIFT YOU UP

Have you ever witnessed someone do something really stupid? Have you watched from the sidelines thinking I could give this person some good advice but . . .  I’m kind of curious to see how this is going to turn out?

ballet arms 5th positionFellow Toastmasters, honored guests and future world champions, the people who become the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking are stupid people just like you and me, but the difference is that they practice and practice and practice day after day after day just like Olympic (O) athletes. Seemingly average people transform themselves into Super Humans (O). They gracefully demonstrate their strength. They have smooth transitions as they dance their way through your imagination.

What does it take to be the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking? It takes five things:

Timeout letter TYou need to be a Toastmaster (T).

As you write and rewrite and edit your speech, you need to apply all the basic techniques you learn in the basic Competent Communication manual. You need to have a great introduction that ties into the conclusion. You need to make people laugh and maybe even cry in less than seven minutes. In order to do this, you need to practice daily just like an Olympic (O) athlete.

One night a man a man was driving down a road when he realized he was losing control of his car. He slowed down and pulled into the nearest gas station and saw that he had a flat tire. Presiyan Vasilev was a Bulgarian living in Chicago. He never changed a tire and he didn’t know it was a stupid idea to park on a slope to change a tire. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he decided to change the tire on his own because he believed it was a weakness to reach out and ask for help.

What does it take to be a world champion?

hand talking symbolYou need to be a story-teller (S).

People love to hear stories. Get in the habit of telling stories everywhere you go. Tell a story. Ask someone to tell you a story. Listen and repeat.

In his speech entitled “Changed By A Tire,” Presiyan tells a simple story about a lesson he learned when he decided to do something stupid and change a tire without reaching out for help. He sets up the story by telling his audience he’s parked on a slope in a gas station. The guy at the register inside the gas station is watching him. His car is facing down on a slope toward a road. Cars are driving by. People across the street waiting at a bus stop are watching him try to change a tire while he’s parked on a slope. We’re already anticipating the worst that’s about to happen. But he holds us in suspense.

This CAR game will drive you crazy.

What does it take to be a world champion?

Letter P with handsYou need to be a participant (P).

Participate in weekly meetings. Presiyan, who became the 2013 world champion didn’t just participate in the club contest, he also participated in the area, the division and the district levels. He reached out for help to make his speech better than everyone else’s.

What does it take to be a world champion?

Elderly Man Standing with a Hand on His Heart in Front of the American FlagYou need to be a judge (J).

Notice the J we all carry around on our heart? We make judgments based on our culture and. As you practice and tweak and your speech, ask your fellow Toastmasters to use the judge’s ballot as an outline for their feedback. In order to win, you need to score high on the criteria spelled out on the judge’s ballot. But even more important, you need to get you message into the hearts of the audience. Ultimately, the audience will judge you based on how they feel about you and how much they feel you’re connecting with them.

What does it take to be a world champion?

letter W with fingersYou need to be a winner (W).

Presiyan used to believe that reaching out for help was a weakness. But he discovered that his weakness was refusing to reach out for help. When you reach out, you attract solutions that lift you up. This simple lesson he gave in his winning speech was, “When you reach out, you attract people who lift you up.”

Study winning techniques of the people who compete in the International Speech Contest. You can watch these winners for free on YouTube. Check out Presiyan’s speech:

Presiyan ends his winning speech by asking, “Is there something in your life that has gone flat?” Your knowledge may be limited. But when you when you reach out for help, you’ll find that others will be there to lift you up.

In the midst of a downpour, a driver noticed a woman on the side of a road with her knees in the mud trying to change a flat tire. He pulled over to help her. After he changed the tire, they were both soaking wet. The man held his arms up in the air an yelled, “we did it.”

quiet index finger over lips“Sshhh,” the woman said as she held her index finger over her lips. “Please be quiet. My husband is in the back seat taking a nap.” JokeOfTheDay

On the Toastmasters website, there’s a page of World Champions of Public Speaking, listing just one person for each year since the contest first began in 1938, only one name for each year. You may not have a goal right now to be the world champion, but imagine how much you can benefit in every area of your life by participating in weekly meetings and contests, while becoming a better communicator and leader.

If you’re already a Toastmasters member, participate in the contests. If you aren’t a member yet, visit one of the thousands of clubs throughout the world. Click here to FIND A MEETING LOCATION NEAR YOU.

You’ll find many people who are willing to help lift you up to be a Super Human (O).

Who knows, you may even become someone’s Super Hero.

Toastmasters where leaders are made logo

This CAR game will drive you crazy

The Covert Auto Racket (CAR) is a game patented by the government. They use your tax dollars to build, maintain and police the playing board (the roads). They also write the rules. Big corporations market the game, sell the pieces and set the costs on all the stuff you need in order to play.

car crashCAR is a game of solitaire, but you do compete with all the other players and objects on the road. The purpose of the game is to navigate your motorized vehicle without bumping into anything. It sounds fairly simple, but it’s a costly and risky game. Wired

The CAR game creates the illusion of freedom. Players feel like they can go anywhere they want. They quickly become addicted and start to believe they can’t do without a car.

Many parents teach their kids to play the CAR game, seeing it as a necessary step in helping teens transition to self-reliance. This complex game was carefully crafted so that even parents wouldn’t realize that the game actually fosters dependence on vehicles, big corporations and the government.

In order to play the CAR game, you must first pay for the following: driver’s license, car, license plate, title fees, inspection fees and insurance. Even after you have all the basics, keep in mind that you’ll need to continue paying for things indefinitely: insurance, gas, maintenance, repairs, parking fees, parking permits, tolls, annual license plate registration stickers, monthly payments, and loan fees if you borrowed money. And of course there are additional taxes and other hidden costs.

You may be involved in an accident or your car may break down at any time. Any player can shop around for estimates on repairs. But only players with good driving records should bother to shop around for better rates on insurance. And players need good credit to shop around for better rates on car loans. No players, however, can control the rising cost of gas.

Players must yield to all the rules or they risk incurring additional expenses such as parking tickets, towing fees, speeding tickets, attorney expenses, court fees, insurance increases and even lawsuits or imprisonment if they do something really stupid like driving while intoxicated or intexticated.

One time a cop pulled me over for running a stop sign.

“Didn’t you see the stop sign?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, “but I don’t believe everything I read.” Steven Wright

Speed limits are posted on roads and you’re supposed to obey them. You can go faster, but you risk getting a speeding ticket. New speed-trap technologies are helping to increase revenues for local jurisdictions who have ticket quotas to help compensate for their tightening budgets. Players can cheat by slowing down in known speed trap areas.

Freeways are places where players are free to toss their fast food trash out their windows while they’re on their way. These free-to-litter-ways are expensive to build and maintain. Taxes cover the cost of the government employees who build and maintain them and the prisoners who clean up the garbage. Most players don’t feel bad about this, however, because they know their tax dollars are paying for the prisoners‘ meals and housing. They seem to qualify for more benefits than the working poor.

Years ago, some players got annoyed with the amount of litter on the freeways. In 1984, James R. “Bobby” Evans came up with the brilliant idea of getting people to volunteer to clean up after their lazy neighbors. For this, the Adopt a Highway program gives companies or organizations a discrete sign to advertise the fact that they have volunteered to be the garbage collector for this stretch of the road. If the road looks bad, it’s now the fault of that company whose volunteers are slacking.

The US has long held the record for more cars per capita than any other nation in the world. And the government has convinced players that this makes them champs. Winners, some believe, have nice cars, vanity plates and two or three-car garages attached to big houses in the suburbs. They may look like winners, but keep in mind that the game wasn’t designed for the players to win. The only winners in the CAR game are the oil diggers and frackers, and big companies who make or sell CAR stuff.

Losers appear to be the people who have older model cars or ones in disrepair. But some of these people have more assets than the ones driving newer models. It’s nearly impossible to know, however, because Americans rarely share financial information with anyone they trust.

woman in car Betty Auchard

Illustration by Betty Auchard

Many people play the CAR game for years without realizing how much stress it causes. According to a recent study by MIT and Audi, driving can be as stressful as skydiving.NYDailyNews. Players can expect to get stressed out twice a day by their work commutes. Slate. And players can also expect to get stressed out when driving with their kids or spouse . . .

It’s hard to avoid playing the CAR game in a country where the federal government has invested in interstates instead of trains, and state and local jurisdictions have invested in pavement instead of public transportation. The US has more cars per capita than nearly every other country in the world. According to DriveSteady, “the United States is clearly in the lead.” In 1991 more than 95% of American households had a car. But the numbers are finally starting to shift. Today, that number is closer to 90%. CNBC

CAUTION: Once you start playing the CAR game, there are only two ways out. You quit or die.

Some players quit against their will. They can no longer afford the car, they lose their license or their health has deteriorated from so many years of a sedentary lifestyle and now they’re no longer healthy enough to drive. This can leave seniors stranded, forcing them to give up their homes in the suburbs.

Some people quit willingly. They see the financial and health advantages and they position their home, work and family life in such a way that they don’t have to play this stressful game any longer. Few people have the willpower to do this in a culture which has designed its infrastructure around cars instead of people. According to Louis CK, people who play the Covert Auto Racket game have a different set of values.

Corvette from HellMillions of Americans are injured in traffic accidents each year. The CDC reminds people to buckle up and reduce their drinking and driving, but they don’t say anything about alternate transportation modes. Every day, thousands of people are involved in crashes that result in injuries and deaths.  In 2012, there were 34,080 motor vehicle fatalities in the US. NHTSA. About 93 people die each day on American roads and, unfortunately, some are just innocent pedestrians and bike riders. The three major causes of fatal accidents are distractions, speeding and drunk driving. These are just some of the reasons why this game drives people MADD.

There were times in my life when I played the CAR game and times when I didn’t. I’ve lived in everything from small towns to big cities. Lots of college towns have high walkability scores. I lived virtually car-free for many years as I progressed through my education at Monterey Peninsula College, Slippery Rock University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Florida.

Europe has great public transportation. I went anywhere I needed to go by foot, bus or train when I lived in Nancy, France. I also lived without a car in one of the biggest cities in the world, Shenzhen, China. Coincidently, they have one of the newest subway systems in the world and it hooks up to high-speed trains or planes that take you anywhere you want to go.

It’s easy to quit the CAR game. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose. Like gambling in a Vegas casino, CAR will welcome you back into the game again anytime you show up with a big wad of money.


I always enjoy the more relaxed lifestyle when I’m not playing the CAR game. I’m currently living car-free in one of the biggest cities in the US, San Jose, CA. It’s easy to get around here by foot, bikebus, light railsubwaytrain and even plane.

Every now and then if I really need a car, I use Uber, Lyft or Sidecar, or I rent a ZipCar for a few hours. Parents tell their kids to share their toys, but toddlers are watching to see whether or not their parents share theirs.

Jacob, a teen boy, just passed his driver’s test and asked his dad if he could borrow the car.

“Bring your grades up from a C to B average, study the Bible, get a haircut, and then we’ll talk,” his father responded.

At the end of the semester, Jacob showed his father his report card and asked, “can I borrow the car now?”

“You have a B average and I’ve seen you reading the Bible, but your hair is longer than it was before.”

“But dad, Samson, John the Baptist, Moses and even Jesus had long hair!”

“Yes, and they all walked everywhere they went.” GuySports


Public Transportation Takes Us There logo


Four Great Ways to Solve Your Garage Storage Issue



Do you really need more shelves and hooks for stuff you rarely use? Before you pull out your wallet to buy garage storage systems, think for a minute. Consider the following suggestions:

1. Downsize before you organize

Most of the time, garage storage isn’t the only issue. Running out of space is often a clutter issue. Don’t throw more money at the problem by buying  shelving units that only add to the problem. Chances are, you can get rid of more than half the stuff in your garage. The more often you clean out your garage, the more likely you’ll be able to Organize Your Garage In No Time.

When you have a free day, get the family together and remove everything from the garage. Yes, everything! Not only does this give you a chance to clean the garage, it also forces you to go through things and determine what you need to keep. If you have children, they’ll moan an groan on garage-cleaning day, but if they keep stuff in the garage, they need to be involved. They don’t like going through piles of clutter any more than you do. Be sure to give them an incentive for their participation.

If you haven’t used something for the past month, you probably don’t need to keep it. If you haven’t used something for the past year, it’s definitely time to sell it or give it away. At the end of the day, call your local Goodwill or Salvation Army to schedule a pickup.

Your Commute is Now Your Gym sign (1)

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives

2. Downsize a vehicle

If you have an SUV, trade it in for something smaller. If you have a car, trade it in for a Smart car, a motorcycle or scooter. When you decrease the size of your vehicle, you make more room for other things in your garage.


3. Sell a vehicle

Selling a vehicle has several big advantages. You can save money, get more exercise, and have more time to build relationships and get work done.

You’ll save a lot of money in the long run. On average, Americans spend more than $9,100/year for each vehicle they own. And those are after tax dollars! FairTax estimates that most Americans are paying 23% or more toward taxes. That means you need to use about $11,000 of your earnings each year just to pay for one car. Don’t get too hung up on the accuracy of this estimate. Instead, take time to calculate the specific cost of your own vehicle(s). See for yourself how much you’ll save.

When you spend more time walking and biking, your health will improve and you’ll find it easier to sleep at night. It’s no coincidence that the USA has one of the highest ratios of vehicles per capita and is also the most obese country in the world. If you need a car every now and then, you can rent a car for a few days or use a car-sharing service, such as ZipCar, for a few hours.

Commute with a colleague or look for carpool buddies through eRideShare or CarpoolWorld, or take public transportation, ride a bike or walk. You can also combine various forms of transportation. In many cities, you can take your bike on the bus or train. Whether you’re carpooling or waiting at a bus stop, you have more time to socialize and build relationships. When you commute via public transportation, you can work, listen to music, or nap while your driver is paying attention to the road.

4. Convert your garage to living space

A 2-car garage is typically 400-600 square foot. After traveling and living throughout Europe, South America, the Caribbean and Asia, I can tell you that millions of American cars have better housing than millions of humans on the planet. And housing is a problem for many people in the US as well.

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, millions of families and children in the US go homeless each year. And according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, on any given night more than 60,000 veterans are sleeping in the streets. When you convert your garage space to living space, not only do you increase the square footage and potential value of your home, you could also create a small, affordable living space to rent out to people who can’t afford more. Doesn’t it make more sense to invest in people or your home instead of shelving?

Make It Easier to Save the Trees

When I see signs like this asking me to be green in one way or another, I’m very willing to comply.

So when I saw the sign I looked all around the restroom, but didn’t see any hand dryers except for the paper dispenser in front of my face.

I didn’t see anything near the water faucets or on the other walls in the room, so I pulled out a few paper towels and dried my hands. I put the paper towels in the garbage along with all the others, and then when I headed out of the restroom, I saw the hand dryers in the hallway. I didn’t notice them on the way in because that wasn’t the main thing on my mind at the time.

Are you with me here?

One of the first rules of good design is to keep things where they’re going to be used most, and this is especially important in public places. I didn’t even see the hand dryer until after I dried my hands. I wonder whose idea it was to install them around the corner in the hallway? McCarran needs to hire new restroom designers who understand the needs of travelers.

I was pulling luggage on wheels. The last thing I wanted to do was to grab my luggage with wet hands and start looking around for hand dryers. If this had been several years ago, I might have sent one of my kids off for this game of hide & seek.

The partially bubbled bumper sticker on the paper towel dispenser is a clue that the hand dryers were probably an afterthought, installed after management at the airport decided to take efforts to be more green. The bubbles in the bumper sticker also whisper out a lack of concern for quality by the person who installed it.

I suppose it’s better to have the hand dryers in the hallway than not to have them at all. Maybe the employees know about them and use them. But they’re sort of in the way in the hallway. Although there wasn’t a line when I used the restroom, I’m sure the dryers are inconveniently placed if people are entering and exiting the restroom with luggage while some people are standing around drying their hands. This seems like it’s designed to create a traffic jam.

If McCarran wanted to encourage people to use the hand dryers, they’d be the choice closest to the sinks. I just checked out the McCarran website and I didn’t see anything on their “GREEN Initiatives.” Since they screamed out “GREEN” on their bumper sticker, I thought they’d have a quick link to “GREEN Initiatives” on their website, but if it’s there, I couldn’t find it.

On a green design scale of 1-10, I give them a 3: one point for the bubbled bumper sticker, one point for installing the hand dryers and one more point for good luck next time I’m in Vegas.

If you’re a member of the American Restroom Association or the World Toilet Organization can you please spread the word that McCarran might have a few underused hand dryers that they can donate to a good cause?

Interested in flying through greener airports? Plan your next trip around a long layover at one of the World’s Ten Greenest Airports.

Got an airport story you want to share? Please leave a comment.

Ideas From a Big Green Palace in the Desert

Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting lost in a big green palace (or palazzo in Italian). The Las Vegas Sands Corp. claims that The Palazzo, The Venetian and Sands Expo & Convention Center development is the “largest green building on the planet.” That’s quite a claim, but they do have LEED Silver certification and specific business practices to back up their assertion.

When we checked into the Venetian a few days ago, I noticed a “Sands 360” brochure entitled “Leading the Way to a Greener World,” and I was impressed with all that they’re doing to be greener than the average hotel. If the brochure wasn’t in the room, then I probably wouldn’t have had any idea of how much they’re committed to sustainability. You can’t find it easily on their website, so I guess they think it doesn’t matter to the majority of their customers.

Here are just a few elements of their beautiful green design:

1. Atria skylight that takes advantage of natural desert light:

2. Extensive planting areas and permanent built-in planters create a vegetated roof, which help reduce building temperature and storm water runoff. In addition, they’re irrigated with a subsurface drip irrigation system which reduces water wasted through evaporation, typical of traditional irrigation systems. It also allows the pathways areas to stay dry so guests don’t have to duck when the sprinklers are running.

3. Wall to wall mirrors in the elevators reflect and increase light. Although this is a good idea to reduce the need for lighting fixtures, perhaps they can put the elevators on outside walls in their next development so that they can utilize natural lighting for the majority of the day.

4. They installed five large mirrors in the bathroom and in the hallway just outside the door. The mirrors help to reflect and enhance light in this room that has no windows. This is good, but it could be better. In their future developments they can improve on this by bringing natural light into the bathrooms.

5. They give the customer the option to minimize the washing of bed linens & towels, and I like how the sign requires customers to put the sign in the bed if they want it to be made rather than the opposite. I’ve also stayed in hotels where customers are asked to place the sign on the bed if they don’t want it made and this makes much less sense!

And check out the Green Palazzo link on the back of the sign where you can find more details about their green design and processes.

6. It’s difficult to take a picture of the indoor air, but I can tell that I feel good breathing the air in this hotel. In most hotels, I usually notice unpleasant odors. But not here.

7. And here’s a great way they’re helping the local community–they partnered with Opportunity Village’s linen and terry (i.e., sheets and towels) recycling program. Opportunity Village converts used fabrics to cleaning cloths while providing jobs for local special-needs residents.

Not only is this a good idea for every hotel, it’s also something you can do in your own home! Here’s a colorful sample from my home. My mom always used old towels & linens for rags, so I’ve always done the same:

Thank you Sands for your green efforts. I’m happy to have the opportunity to be your customer!

But here’s the best news about Sands that most companies haven’t figured out yet. For every $1 that Sands has invested in being more sustainable, they’ve gotten a $4 return! Read more about this in their Sands Eco 360 Overview.

If you have more ideas about greening the design or business processes of hotels, please feel free to leave a comment.

Want to Smell Like Michael Jordan?

Today I was behind Michael Jordan and smelled toxic exhaust. But just in case you want to smell like the backside of Michael, you can buy some of this bottled fragrance at Perfumania.


Advertising on the back of trucks is such a good idea. I never knew that this NBA All-Star who nailed an average of 30 points per game did this with crooked ears. No one ever talked about his disability, but things always come out in the end. I don’t think this was a nice thing to do to Michael, but this is just one customer’s opinion.

More companies should take advantage of the opportunity to advertise on these mobile placards. Millions of trucks are rolling on our Interstates everyday and many of them have nothing to say. Here are a just a few ideas:

National Federation of the Blind)

  • Got a splitting headache? (ad for Bayer Aspirin) This one would make the most sense to the guys loading and unloading the truck.


I’m really on a roll with this mobile billboard idea.  If you have more ideas for ads on the back of trucks, I’d love to hear them.

Mercedes-Benz C-230 Back In the Shop Again!

This evening I had a scary experience with my little red Mercedes. I was driving on A1A in North Miami when I noticed a smokey smell, but I ignored it thinking it was just something in the air.

2003 Mercedes-Benz C230 Rwd 2dr Sports Coupe Shown

Then I come to a red light and stalled out. I was able to restart the car, but then a red light began flashing on my dash telling me that my alternator and battery needed to be checked. I realized that the smokey smell could be coming from my car. I was in the middle lane of a 3-lane highway, so I decided to make the first right to turn around and go back to the Trump Hotel. This is when I realized that my power steering was gone.  I used all my strength to make the turn.

While sitting at another red light, I got a message to turn off as much as possible in the car to conserve the battery, so I turned off my CD player and my air conditioning, and closed my sun roof. I couldn’t think of anything else I could turn off or close up. Next I got a message that the car was overheating and I realized that the burning smell was indeed coming from my car. I wasn’t far from my hotel so I began praying that I would make it back without being stranded on the roadside. On the way I looked for gas stations, but found none. I made it back to the hotel and let the valet know that I was going to call Mercedes. When I got out, I saw steam coming from the hood.

Although I should have checked for the roadside assistance number in the owner’s manual, I thought I had it programmed into my cell phone. But after getting back to my room, I realized that I didn’t. So then I did a web search for the number for several minutes. It didn’t come up right away, so I did a search for Mercedes-Benz Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. I decided to call the Ft. Lauderdale Benz on Federal Way since the location is north of my hotel, toward Jacksonville, rather than south of it in the direction of Miami.

So I called the Ft. Lauderdale number and pressed 5 for roadside assistant, as the instructions directed me to do. After pressing 5, I got a message that this wasn’t a valid extension! Ugh! NCR* on Mercedes Ft. Lauderdale for an extension that leads to a dead end! My customer satisfaction was dropping fast. 

Then I went back to web surfing for the USA roadside number and finally found a generic contact number for Mercedes-Benz USA. I called that number and, after just a ring or two, got a nice young lady, Angela, on the line. She was friendly and sincere. It helped to calm me.  Since I was back at the hotel, she advised me to call the Ft. Lauderdale service center at 7 AM in the morning before having it towed there. I appreciated her advice and that’s just what I’ll do tomorrow morning.

I drove from Jacksonville down to Miami on Sunday for a Hammer seminar and the car was fine until today. I’ve had the care for less than 3 years and this will be the 13th fairly major repair! Something’s up with this car!

*NOTE: An NCR is a nonconformance.