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Posted on Nov 21, 2012 | 0 comments


At the risk of going along with the obvious theme for the week, I’m just going to go with the obvious theme for the week and say Happy Thanksgiving!

One year for Thanksgiving when Dan and I were dating, we rode with his parents and brothers to my mother-in-law’s (Shelly) family event at her mom’s house about half an hour from Dan’s parents’. On the way there, Shelly asked everyone to go around and say what they were thankful for. Being the adolescent boys that they were, Kyle and Alex (Dan’s younger brothers)  immediately started complaining about how they were tired of having to do this every year, it was so overdone, and they just were not going to cooperate. And so, she didn’t make them say what they were thankful for, but I could tell that they had really hurt her feelings by not participating in her tradition.

I would guess that the majority of American families have their own little traditions that make the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays unique to themselves, and most families will have to face the day when those traditions are challenged. Sometimes this comes from challenging children, busy schedules, or adding new members to the family, but when it happens it is always a little disappointing for someone.

This year is the first year that we won’t be spending Thanksgiving with any of our grandparents due to family schedules and it is may also be the last Thanksgiving that we live within easy holiday travel. If our plans continue moving forward, Dan and I will be in Florida next year, preparing our new home for traversing ocean passages. Not exactly the tradition we are used to. Because of that, I’m trying to do a little extra savoring of the season this year. Being a little more gracious with our family differences, and a little more thankful for the time we have left.

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Posted on Nov 16, 2012 | 0 comments

I Can Hear Clearly Now, the Pain is Gone!

Note the “multi-baffled” design with the vent through the middle. Keeps water out and lets the pressure release.

Okay, the pun is a little much I know. The important thing is, it’s true! You see, for some reason when I am scuba diving I have a very difficult time equalizing my ears while descending. For anyone who has ever felt that pressure squeeze, you’ll know it can be very painful and distracting when you are just trying to have a good time diving. There were multiple times even in our training pool dives that I just could not get my ears to equalize properly only going down to 12 feet! Not only was it a problem during the dive, my ears (especially my right ear) would hurt for a week or more and cause muffled hearing.

After looking up the problems I was having online, I discovered that the continuing pain was a good indicator that I was doing real damage to my eardrum, duh. I decided I needed to do something to protect myself from permanent hearing loss, but I didn’t know what. Dan uses a special mask that covers his ears because he has surgical tube implants in his right ear and can’t get his ears wet, but it’s a pretty expensive mask and I wasn’t entirely sure that would help my equalization problems. At this point though, I was starting to feel like I needed to find a solution or I wouldn’t be able to dive anymore.

Finally, when I was researching the problem I found what I thought might be a real solution. On a few of the scuba forums, people were discussing the use of vented ear plugs while diving. The idea was a little scary because one of the first lessons you learn about diving is how wearing normal earplugs actually creates a negative pressure zone between your eardrum and the plug and can cause worse damage than wearing no plug. However, the vented ear plugs have a vent to allow air to escape from that pocket. I wanted to try them out, but our local dive shop didn’t sell them and I was wary of buying some online without being able to see them first.

Then, on our trip to Bull Shoals (yes the one where I came home with staples in my head) the boat dock was selling JBL Hydro Seals. To quote the JBL website they “utilize an advanced multi-baffle polymer design providing exceptional protection against water entering the ear canal.” And they work! I used them for the first time on our advanced training deep dive, and I have never had an easier time equalizing my ears. To be perfectly honest, I’m still not entirely sure why they work, but I know that I won’t be diving without them again. Another bonus is that because of the vented design, you can still hear normally while wearing them, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything important or need to wait to put them in until you are getting in the water.

To recap: if your ears hurt from diving, buy some JBL Hydro Seals*. You won’t be sorry!

*Another popular brand of vented earplugs is Doc’s Proplugs, though I haven’t personally tried these they also get good reviews online.

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Posted on Nov 7, 2012 | 0 comments

The Election is Over, Now What?

Well Election Night has come and gone, and once again we all chose a president. The real question now is so what? While it’s nice to hear what a candidate is “planning” to do, what we really need to know is how their policies are going to affect our everyday lives. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find good concrete information about how US policies affect our future plans. We have been trying to find better information about what our status will actually be once we move out of the country essentially as nomads.

Here are a few of our most pressing questions:

  • Where is our legal “residence” once we no longer live anywhere specific?
  • Would we have to pay state income taxes in addition to federal if we aren’t a state resident?
  • Through which state/city do we do our absentee voting, and where do we have our ballots sent?
  • How is the federal health insurance mandate going to affect us? Does it apply if we aren’t living in the country?
  • How do we maximize our tax status to use the system to our advantage while we are living on interest only?
  • Do we have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of our house if we don’t “reinvest” it in another house? (This one we have answered now: only if we sell our house for more than $250,000 more than we bought it for. In our dreams.)
  • How do the new overseas banking regulations affect us?

The difficult thing in finding the real answers to these questions is the fact that every cruiser is different and most policies aren’t exactly written with roaming nomads in mind. And while both of us are fairly confident in our abilities to read and understand legal contracts and other important documents, we aren’t very comfortable with basing very serious decisions on our own knowledge of tax, immigration/emigration, and healthcare law. I mean have you ever tried reading raw tax code? Not recommended for the living.


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