I went to Florida

On Monday March 2nd 2015 I got in my 2007 Town and Country van and headed to Florida. It was the 47th day that it hadn’t reached 32 degrees [maybe there was one fluke ‘warm day’ in there but this is my story]. I preregistered a saltwater license for $49 and reserved 3 days at St. Joseph’s bay state park for $80. I left at 2:PM because I didn’t want to miss the senior lunch and had some chores. Two nights in cheap roadside motels and the third night at Alabama’s Lakepoint Resort State Park –which was excellent. I got to St. Joe’s on March 5th and spent 2 nights in the Shady Pines camping loop. On the third day I moved to an “un-reservable” campsite where I spent 3 more nights. I could have extended the stay for 14 days. On March 10th I went to Apalachicola for lunch and a walk around the village then headed home. In the neighborhoods a reasonable home sold for about $120K, the village was nice but the restaurant I went to only served Alaskan fish.Florida 006

So I camped in the van for 6 nights-very easy. The low was about 40 degrees and the highs were in the 70’s. The fishing was great but the catching stunk out; 5 days and 2 whitings [“the waters haven’t warmed up like they should’ve by now”]. I’d hoped to catch enough to invite neighbor camps over or, get them to cook them. My only peril while camping was that one morning a pest had rummaged around on my picnic table and a nearly full, closed, glass, peanut butter jar was missing; I pictured a raccoon rolling it down the road wondering how he’d open it. Oh yes, my air mattress quit holding air on the 4th night.Florida 092

Gas ranged from $2.19 to 2.59/ga, the van got a steady 24 miles per gallon and the rooms averaged about $65/nite. I ate out about 4 times; BBQ on the peninsula, breakfast in Eufaula AL near Lakepoint Park, the only grits I got all week.Florida 078

Chain restaurants and HUGE in the south and it has gotten very hard to find a real place within 20 miles of the interstate. Cracker Barrel, Dollar Stores and Comfort Inns, are all you see. I wanted a Yelp add-in that filtered out the chains but I fear the result would be an empty map.Florida 049

On Friday morning, the 6th, with the sun rising and the full moon setting, at 5:30 AM I spread Vincent’s ashes on the pure white sands between the dunes and the break. In his words I “took the wheels off the van and ‘he’ stayed there”. It was a good closure.Florida 084

Every day I wore shorts, walked a lot and fished and talked to the other campers-everyone getting a break from a long winter. The campground host, his wife and their dog, got his gigs from Campgroundhost.com and stayed 2 – 4 weeks in each camp, he was scheduled to head west and north through the spring and summer; lots of ways to go through life. They worked 15-20/per week cleaning the restrooms in exchange for the site which ran $198/week.

The spring break crowd hadn’t yet arrived except for 3 girls next to me who, on the coldest morning were sleeping in their very small car with the motor running. ‘Camping just isn’t the spring break they’d planned’.

It was a great break from winter but got a little too quiet. It’d be a gob more fun with Lisa there but someone has to work. The whole trip cost me just under $1500 and I would do it again next year.

Best read of the day; ‘Digging Deep’ – and a statement on my religion, for the record

I came across the best read of the day while researching cemetery law in Vermont.  Don’t worry, I’m feeling very fit. The first official state web page you come to [here] is a short page that would answer almost every question you might have on burial and cemetery law. It also has a link to “Digging deep”.   This is a document published by the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. Yes, it is really called “digging deep” and it is very well written (the headstone cartoons keep the topic lively) https://www.sec.state.vt.us/media/616600/digging-deep-2014.pdf

burials headstones‘The epitaphs contained within this publication actually appear on headstones somewhere in the world!’

A couple of chapter headings; section 1 titled ‘I. Burial Law — Of Grave Concern’, and section 2 is ‘II. Cemetery Law — Tales from the Crypt‘.

It seems that the Vermont laws on burial evolved as good law should. It is minimally prescriptive or limiting and really only speaks to issues that have or might actually arise. Sure, you can bury family members on your own property. OK, there might be a bit of bureaucracy; “A. Bodies may not be buried without proper paperwork” but even this is reasonable with affordable fines.

Makes me proud to be a Vermonter.


For the record, I thought I’d better spell out my religious practices so that the state can’t force me to violate them.

My religious practices are:

  1. I may not be compelled to divulge the nature, name or origin of my faith. It is personal, it is my business
  2. You should not be buried in a crypt or mausoleum [if possible]
  3. You should not be embalmed [unless you die of a communicable disease that might migrate from your remains]. This requires that, in warm weather, you should be buried fairly quickly – within a day or two
  4. You can not be forced to deliver death on behalf of a political institution/country/ or religion. You may sign up for military service but may not be drafted
  5. Be kind
  6. Use science [when possible]
  7. If you have to choose between being nice or being smart, choose the former
  8. Any member of this faith may perform a marriage of any couple who agree to love and care for one-an-other
  9.  . . . . there are more principles and practices but I don’t have to reveal them just yet

Cemetery Burials

  • Digging Deep – a guide to cemetery and burial law from the Office of the Vermont Secretary of State.

Burial involves several options. A person can be buried in a casket, which can range from an unfinished wood box to an elaborate metal casket. The remains from a cremation can also be buried. Burial can be in the earth, in a mausoleum (a building above ground), or in a columbarium (a structure for cremated remains, that can stand alone or be part of a mausoleum). Costs can include:

  • cemetery plot, or space in a mausoleum or columbarium.
  • grave liner (if required by the cemetery).
  • graveside services (if desired).
  • opening and closing the grave, crypt, or niche. {I want a niche-wanted one all my life-doesn’t everyone?}
  • grave marker.
  • perpetual care of the site.

A direct burial is when the deceased is buried shortly after death. Direct burial is less costly because there is no viewing at a funeral home and embalming may not be necessary. You can still hold a memorial service (without a viewing) at your home or in a religious building, funeral home, cemetery, or other location. {Yep, this is for me, whenever you get around to it, no hurry; I’M DEAD but, I want a lot of sobbing :ah, we’ll miss him-“these are good crab cakes” sort of thing, maybe a bonfire. “No one, but no one loved being alive more than Van”, to live and love, that is great stuff.} Oh yes, a stone should be laid that is flush to the ground such that a mower doesn’t have to raise the blade. Thanks mower.

Questions to ask when choosing a cemetery site

  • Are there faith-based limitations on who may be laid to rest in a specific section of the cemetery? (There are religious cemeteries and some non-sectarian cemeteries set aside a specific section for a faith.)
  • Are there restrictions on the type of monument or memorials permitted?
  • Will the cemetery require a grave liner?
  • Can flowers and remembrances be placed at the grave, mausoleum, or columbarium?
  • Do the fees include perpetual care of the site or is that a separate expense?

If you plan to bury a body in a town or religious cemetery, the cemetery may require a vault.

However, Vermont law says no cemetery can create a regulation that interferes with your religious burial practices [Title 18, 5378] so you may refuse a vault on those grounds.

It is reasonable, though, for the cemetery to charge you additional fees for the maintenance of a grave that may need to be tamped down over time if no vault is used. Or, you may need the services of a funeral director to order a vault.

Dead sea scrolls; what on the web will survive for heirs, for history?

smithing 015.MOV.Still001


It just dawned on me that this is how my great-grandchildren will know me. Maybe.  Not by an inanimate photo in a tin-type but as a guy who once pounded on an iron bar to make a hook. If I post even a drib of a movie to the FaceBook does it last 50 years, a hundred. I’m keeping a 40 pound 1960’s recording device in the garage so I can ‘hear’ my father’s voice. I feel simultaneously a little immortal and a little like a reflection. Will our heirs keep an old laptop around; perchance to reach back and see their progenitor?  I’m not sure why I have that interest, why would they? Does who my father was really influence who I am, who they’ll be? It seems to just be a very human interest. I see some traits of my father visited on my children; or just reflections of some traits. “You look a lot like Bert” my aunts [Corrine and Ima] said this before inviting Lisa and me into their house at the end of a long dark road in the middle of Crawford County in 1983. There is something in Humans that reaches across time. What do I want to say to my little buddies born long after I’m gone? What cogent advice do I have for my great grandchildren as they advance in age? Will they spin rings in a parabolic dish to ‘hear’ lessons from the past or see movie bits posted by their ancestors? Just wondering.

The Carbon Debt Card (“CDC”); what have you sacrificed lately? (like “what’s in your wallet?”)

TrackMyCarbonAs it turns out, we do have a serious problem with global warming; largely caused by our use of fossil fuels. Lots of great work has been done by so many – still, can’t we make it easier to track our personal effort? Everyone is wondering who will do what to make it better. Or, seeing nothing happening at all, they avoid despair by looking away. “Why should I skip beef for dinner when my neighbor drives a big SUV?”

When you need to change something (and we are really there), the first smart move is to measure the “it” that needs to be changed.

This seems doable; many want to know how they could help. Just start by tracking your carbon score?

What if every American was issued a numbered card that is used with every purchase; “Sorry, cash might be legal tender but, I have to run your ‘Carbon Debt Card’ (CDC) when you buy gas, a ticket, electricity”? Like a gas ration card issued in WWII. Would you switch to a L.L. Bean card or an Amazon card if they were the ones willing to start the effort? Sure, they’ll make money on it, they shouldn’t be citizens but they were set up to make money and let them. Whoever begins this, takes the risk, and will, I am certain, make some money. How about a FaceBook card?

If it was cool to have a carbon debt score under, say 5 mTons, it’d be a start. People might start to tweak their mindyourwakeconsumption habits or curb their ecological indiscretions. T-shirts should be issued.

Maybe business people and politicians would carry 2 cards; one for personal consumption and one that is “billed back” to the organization. When they run again or sell their wares there’d be a scale to apply.littlefeet

Maybe, if a million people around the world said YES, track my consumption and I’ll use your credit card to do it, we could start. It might attract the attention of a politician or a corporation who recognizes that they need to lead this.

Maybe this is just a first small step.

Share this on FaceBooks if you support taking the first step towards curbing climate change.

Building a rough draw/shave hourse

Like building a work bench; don’t you need a bench to build a bench, you sort’a need a shave horse to build rustic horse.

The first horse I built has been super functional and served very well. It was very inexpensive and really quick! Dimension lumber, two screw pegs, 2 hinges and one log:

  • 8 foot 2×10
  • 8 foot 2×3

swingIt’s 5’ long so you can work on long pieces and you can work stock up to 5” thick. It has shaved a lot of things including cherry legs for a table, spoons and odd other items. It has little risk of being a cherished heritage piece handed down to kids but it has been functional for 4+ years.


swingprofile swingbenchdetail1swingbenchdetail

My second attempt was equally cheap but took a lot longer. It also pushed the ‘too short’ limit for length. My goals were:

  • No power tools; splitting mall, hand ax, block plain, draw knife, brace and 2 bits (3/4″ for the axle, 3/8″ for the pegs).  OK, I did use the circular saw a bit as I lack good hand saws.
  • No metal fasteners
  • Very small – such that it’d fit in an apartment

It is a single fulcrum design (there must be a better description – maybe single pivot). It is very rugged and would last for eons but is more of a hobby horse than a shave horse. It’s useful but could be longer. It was split from my firewood pile. except for four screws used for ease of adjustment it is all pegged. I will build it again and make it a little longer that 34″.

I learned a lot on this project – mostly just how awesome power tools are. I split a log to make the bench and spent way too long shaping it. The legs too were split from a log and hand shaved.

pivot pivotprofile 1pivotbench 1pivotbenchdetail1 1pivotbenchdetail2Lots of learning. My next one will be a bit different.  so-it-goes.

Resume; Van purcell

Van Purcell

While fully embracing retirement I am still interested in learning new things, earning some money and generally having fun. I like working and, odd as it is, I really like data. I am good at data and enjoy a good spreadsheet. I am a heck of an analyst, I am mature and a really good trainer. I don’t want another full time career; been there …     I would like an occasional challenge, part-time gig, or project.

1986-2013   Central Vermont Public Service Corp. (‘CVPS’)

Green Mountain Power (‘GMP’)

163 Acorn Lane Colchester, VT 05446
2008-2013      Manager Geospatial Technology Department

  • Insure that GMP systems complied with state and federal regulation and served the needs of the internal stakeholders. After acquisition of CVPS managed the projects to merge the outage management system, the asset management and construction tracking system and the GIS. Also developed the strategy to move the merged mobile workforce to tablet based toolset with AVL and outage mapping available to crews.
  • Evolved GIS as a foundational component of strategic initiatives including a fuller deployment of ESRI products to support engineering decision making, rapid delivery of one-off maps for varied audiences, line-books maps, deployed Intergraph’s G-Technology and In-Service suite of products supporting asset management, service restoration, and preparation for AVL and mobile computing.

2002-2008      Manager Business Development and Technology


  • The BDT department was responsible for business analysis, prioritization, and implementation of IT changes/enhancements related to Engineering & Operations division. This included managing changes driven by regulatory requirement, business strategy as well as changes imposed by platform and program upgrades. In 6 years as manager this area successfully implemented, supported and maintained:
  • A mainframe-based Customer Information System and its integration to the meter reading system based in IBM/IDMS products.
  • A homegrown Work Management System fully integrated to the GL accounting package, the continuing property records and the automated mapping and facilities management system built on Intergraph’s FRAMME product, upgraded to G-Technology in 2008.
  • A Computer-aided Dispatch and Outage Management System utilizing Intergraph’s In-Service suite.
  • A homegrown On-call System supporting routine and major restoration efforts.
  • Deployment and adoption of an ESRI GIS platform.
  • Integration of systems between and among all of the above and many other legacy systems including General Ledger, Materials and supplies, DigSafe, Time Track, and the Fixed Asset (CPR) Internet access both internal and external.
  • The department was focused on the integration of diverse technologies as well as optimizing the relationship between business processes, procedure and policy and system functionality.


2000-2002      Systems Analyst/Program Lead – CADOMS

  • Project lead for selection and implementation of the CADOMS system, possibly the first IT undertaking to come in on budget, ahead of schedule while delivering every requirement promised.


1989-2000      Systems Analyst/Program Lead – Work Management System

  • Head business analyst in all aspects of the long-term project that took the company from a totally paper-based records management to a fully automated and integrated work management records system. The final system resulted from a strenuous collaboration chiefly between Accounting, Engineering and Operations.   In 2001 this application was sold as a design guide to Chattanooga Power. The system remains in place to this day and has grown to serve several additional areas of the company.


1986-1990      Joint Lines Coordinator

  • Coordinator of a 100% joint use inventory that resulted in $1.3 million in back rent and substantial increases in yearly revenues as a result of developing and filing pole attachment rate tariff that codified and superseded 26 joint use contracts while doubling rental revenues.
  • 1983 – 1986  Valicom Field Services, Inc.

Bloomington, Indiana

President and co-founder

  • Built a company that focused on the delivery of utility field inventory services.

1979 – 1983  Commonwealth Telephone Technologies Corp.

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Project manager

  • Onsite project management for CATV construction and expansion and REA contract administration on telephone upgrade projects.



1978     Indiana University      Bloomington, IN

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

Vincent Norman Purcell, my brother

He was born 5/18/1959 and he died Monday 12/15/2014 at home with his dog Sadie at his side.  He was cremated at Lauck and Veldhof’s funeral home.

Tony Elrod had employed him for something like 15 years as the ‘KeyMaster’. He let folks into the gym, took their fees and locked up after they left. They were from all walks. The last time I sat with him we watched a dad and his 3 boys practice ball. There are groups of executives from Elly Lilly, folk from the hood and old guys who ached after every play and asked Vince for ice. If they gave him a tip, he’d want to buy them a beer after the game. After our mom passed I tried to call Vince every week. I really miss that Sunday night; ‘I need to call Vince’ feeling. I had to drag stories out of him and he never asked questions but it was good to connect with my ‘Old Buddy’.

His best fried, Kitty Minardo, took great care of Vince. Once he was ill she fed him twice a day, bought his groceries and had coffee with him. She took his dog and I’m sure is caring for her as she did my brother. I am forever indebted to Kitty.

Lisa and I went out and attended a celebration that Thursday, held in the neighborhood bar that Mona runs and about 40 people came and exchanged sweet stories on my brother.

  • Mona reserved a table for Vince for the burlesque shows. Libby, our niece, found the sign on the table once and shared the evening with Vince.
  • One guy, Anthony Mills-“Old Guy”, stopped in on his motorcycle every time he came to Indy and called everyday. He brought Thanksgiving dinners every year.
  • Scott and Ike would show up late and Vince would tease them every time that ‘it’ll cost you extra’.
  • I would have told a few; him driving the BMW to wash it, taking the wheels off the van to live at the beach, “is there a ‘short trail ole buddy?”, the risks of ‘all-you-can-eat’.
  • And many more

Thank you everyone especially Anthony, Mona, Tony and Kitty.

Vince pirateIndy 013vince VT sledVince Fishing


Building a pulk sled with only a saw and a pocket knife

Here is my take on building a pulk sled with only a saw and a pocket knife. pulk-finished

There are a bunch of great designs out there that seemed a bit over-built. My design is not yet tested, has a few potential weaknesses but was simple to build and should be simple to maintain. The most likely point of failure is the para-cord so I recommend carrying plenty of spare cord.

I ordered the sled, recommended in several posts, from Midland Hardware for about $35:

The Pro Expedition Sled 60 x 20 x 6 seems durable and rugged without being heavy. It has two nice rope eyelets that worked perfectly for attaching the carabiner. It seems like a good all-round sled.

I bought a 10’ piece of ¾” PVC and cut this in half, sanding the inside of both ends so that no sharp edges attacked the paracord line I ran through them; $3. The line is doubled; probably excessive but added no cost.pulk-pole

I bought 4 carabiners at the local Ace hardware for $1.50e. These are not for climbing; those cost about $7 bucks each. These have “SAFE WORKING LOAD 150 lbs” stamped on the side but don’t seem that tough.

I bought a spool of paracord for $10 (the good stuff rated for 550 lbs) and a “webbed pistol belt” for $20 from the local Army Navy store. I have a lot of spare cord and used maybe 30′.