Guitar Lessons

45 years after the first time, I’m taking guitar lessons again! I picked up bass a few years ago and learned a lot on my own but I know there is so much more to know. Then I decided that I wanted to play electric much better than I do. So I searched for a guitar teacher and found Bill Roundtree.

As a youngster Bill played a violin and was greatly influenced by classical music. Now he shreds an electric guitar and plays for an Iron Maiden tribute band.

Today, Bill is teaching me to play guitar. He started me off with scales and speed drills and has since introduced exorcises that emulate other instruments such as the piano piece in “Winner Takes it All” by Abba. He has is also teaching me various techniques such as alternate picking, string skipping and hybrid picking.

I have a long ways to go but am I ever enjoying getting back to the basics.

Steve

Making wine

When we were in Italy last summer we stayed at a little resort at the south end of Cinque Terre. At the top of the hill was a little bar that specialized in anchovies. But they had lots of other seafood and drinks. Above our table was this trellis with grape vines hanging from it.  They also had a private white wine that we drank that was really good. We couldn’t buy it to send home but we enjoyed it while we were there.

 

This inspired me to plant a grape vine that would climb our deck. And then I thought why not plant a few more? So I bought some posts and planted 6 more between the two retaining walls on the SW side of our lot. As I got thinking about it, it would take 3 or 4 years before I had any grapes. And when I did, I didn’t want to practice wine making with my first harvest. So I started researching wine making.

Not to labor you with details, but I found that 1 gallon batches were probably a good place to start considering the size of our kitchen. I also found that you could make wine from 100% Welchs Grape juice. So I bought some jugs and accessories and started making wine.

It’s been about 8 months now and I’ve made quite a bit of wine. I tried a number of batches of Welchs using about every flavor I could find. The concord tastes like table grapes, the red and white can make a pretty good tasting wine, especially if you let them go 90 days. The cherry and peach are okay but you can tell that the juice is grape based which detracts from it. This is often called inmate wine. I tend to agree that it can taste pretty cheap.

I have also tried using frozen fruit. And while I don’t have a completed batch yet, the ones that I have in progress seem to be coming around real well. From what I understand they work well because they are picked and packed when the fruit is pretty ripe and then frozen so you get pretty good results.

I have also tried two fresh produce wines. Rhubarb is coming along but I’m not sure about the taste yet.

I also tried plums from the store but they were just not good. They weren’t as ripe as they should have been. I don’t know if I let them set on the counter to ripen some more if that would have helped or not. I generally think that I just need to wait for local in season fruit if I’m going to try fresh. I ended up dumping the plum wine. It just smelled skanky.

So my summary is I think the white and red Welchs can make an okay wine. And I’m pretty pleased with the frozen fruit. Otherwise, I’m just going to wait for summer and try to get some in season fresh fruit to work with.

I’ve learned lots and am glad that I didn’t wait to try it out for the first time with my own grapes in 3 years.

sj

 

 

 

RV Park Locating Web Site

I’ve had an idea for a while about a web site that was geolocation and map enabled for RV parks. If you’re familiar with sites about RV Parks you’re probably thinking that there are a lot of them so why create another one?

There’s a couple of reasons. First off there isn’t anything out there of significance for mobile web. I think thats a bit of coding that the normal Joe isn’t going to tackle. Other than sights like Good Sams and other services for RV’s I don’t think there is a web designer with the know how to create such a site.

The other piece is the geolocation. Which fits tightly with mobile but also provides a lot of other neat stuff along with maps. My first thought is to create a map of color coded dots based on the price of a RV site. To me that is the one piece of information that full time RVers are looking for. Where’s the cheap ones!

Then we can add a few filters to get the absolute most critical things that would be searched for. I can think of electric hookups, showers, sewer and a few others. These are the things that a person who has been boondocking might want to find in a commercial RV site.

The final bits of the site would be the page that gives all the additional information about a selected site and location information such as: Where’s the nearest gas station, grocery store etc.

As you can see I want a website that will focus on getting to the most critical information in the quickest manner. Once the key functions are there we can look for the other stuff. Like the myriad of RV Park information elements, updates and reviews by campers, photo uploads etc. But all of that should in no way detract from the main point of the web site. Find the cheapest RV park with the amenities that I need to clean up from a few months in the boondocks.

s

My Health Care Plan part 2

In part 1 I talked about the problem of having so many different people involved in your healthcare. Often these are offered as benefits but as you get deeper involved with them you find that you lose so much control that it can hardly be considered a benefit.

I also talked about the problem of using insurance for general healthcare. The stuff that you do on a regular basis. This is also called maintenance. It’s not the crisis event that can break the bank but the every day stuff that you are supposed to do. It doesn’t make sense to have insurance for something that you expect to happen. If you expect it to happen you should plan to pay for it. So that is how I am addressing the problem of health insurance.

How about working with your physician to make sure that you aren’t ordering unnecessary tests? 

First off, I’m planning on paying for what we expect to do to stay healthy. Wellness checkups and getting prescriptions for the sinus infection. Those sorts of things should just be paid for out of our pocket. And as I mentioned in part 1, high deductible insurance sort of does that but eventually it starts covering those things for you. The tendency then is to think about meeting your deductible so that everything else is paid for. Not a good plan. Spend more to save?

How about working with your physician to make sure that you aren’t ordering unnecessary tests? Or to make sure that his rates are competitive and not making up for differences in other areas of his practice. Don’t get me wrong. I want my doctor to make a reasonable living. But I don’t want to pay to make up the difference for other areas that are using the services inappropriately.

I still need a way to plan for the unexpected. The type of expense that would bankrupt me if it happened. I think insurance makes sense here but so does other plans. The one I’m considering is Samaritan Ministries. It is a way that we can help others or they can help us when the medical expenses are beyond the expectation of regular maintenance care. It’s not an insurance but a community of believers sharing with others in need. And it is an approved “insurance” under Obamacare.

So recapping where I am at. I have replaced traditional insurance with a medical cost sharing and having full control over my care decisions. I have eliminated the need for employer provided health care and being locked into a plan that I didn’t get to choose. But I haven’t totally addressed the government issue. I won’t be in one of their exchanges and they aren’t forcing me to buy insurance for regular healthcare so that’s a win. But I still have this shady business of the IRS to deal with.

Have an emergency fund. Be self insured. Use good financial discipline to take care of yourself.

I don’t want to tell them a thing. I don’t need the NSA, the IRS or any other SOB’s looking into my health history or anything else. I haven’t seen the IRS form yet. But I have seen samples that indicate they will be asking all  sorts of questions that are frankly none of their business. Especially since I won’t be using their services. I’ll be looking in to that in the next few months and updating you on how I’m going to deal with it. Forgive me if I sound angry on this one!

Finally, there’s the short term and long term disability insurance. The short term is easy. Have an emergency fund. Be self insured. Use good financial discipline to take care of yourself. I didn’t have a fully funded emergency fund when I left work in March but we were able to make it 6 months with out too much trouble. You don’t need AFLAC either. Do it yourself.

The long term disability is a little more complicated. I still don’t like insurance but if you truly qualify under their terms for disability it is very helpful. The problem is that not everyone fits their criteria. Sometimes we need to make the decision ourselves not to go to work for a certain amount of time while we get healthy again.

So that pretty much covers my health care plan. But I hinted at a part 3 of this series. I am going to take a couple of more paragraphs in the next post to describe how I am taking this same philosophy into other areas of my life.

s

It doesn’t work if you don’t use it!

Did you know that the lymph system doesn’t have any muscles or system of it’s own to perform the functions that it provides? From an article on lymphnotes.com I learned that the lymph system provides many important functions such as:

  • The lymphatic system aids the immune system in removing and destroying waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, toxins, and cancer cells.
  • The lymphatic system absorbs fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system and delivers these nutrients to the cells of the body where they are used by the cells.
  • The lymphatic system also removes excess fluid, and waste products from the interstitial spaces between the cells.

The problem is that it can’t do this on it on. It needs help in the form of movement. Exercise is the primary means of this function. As the body moves, the movements of the muscles stimulate the flow of the lymph. But you can also get massages to help with the flow of lymph. A self massage will help or a massage from a massage therapist. If you want to get right to the point try a physical therapist. They can perform a specialize massage designed specifically for the lymph system.

If you are able, exercise is the first order of action. This is the way it was designed to work. Some people have physical limitations so massage can be an effective substitute.  I think that the important message for me in this is that the body that God designed is meant for motion. If you’re not feeling well and decide to take it easy that could be the exact opposite of what you need.

To release the toxins that are attacking your body you need to have the lymph system working correctly and that is only accomplished through motion.

s

Ambien and the CPAP vs me!

Earlier this year the FDA issued a warning that dosages of Ambien needed to be reduced due to the risk of next morning impairment. At that time I was already on the lowest dose for the controlled release so it didn’t really matter. I have also understood though that it was never intended for long term use. So I have considered that it would be next on my drug elimination list.

Recently I have also been having significant issues with wearing my CPAP. My face seems to be highly sensitive to any pressure. So between these two thoughts I decided to go cold turkey off of both of them. I wanted to get back to the normal me and try more moderate treatments for my sleep issues.

The first few nights were horrific. Insomnia was really bad and when I woke up my throat was really sore from snoring. I was determined however to stay at it. Some comments I had read from others who went off Ambien said it took them a month to get over it.

It’s been about 8 days now and I think I’m settling in without the Ambien. But I really miss the CPAP. So last night I went back to a different mask and had better sleep. I have been using a full face mask and it fits well but just hurts everywhere it touches. So I pulled out a nasal mask that I had tried before and with more determination seemed to do well with it last night.

I know I was restless last night. Waking several times to adjust the mask and get the air flowing like it should. I think I went right back to sleep each time. I was probably pretty tired from the previous nights of sleeplessness.

So that’s my new baseline. No Ambien and my nasal mask. I was hoping to get rid of the CPAP too but maybe that was too ambitious. I’m happy to be rid of another drug. I’m down to just one now.

s

Target Heart Rates for Aerobic Exercise

Before you start exercising, consult with your physician to determine your appropriate heart rates and whether there are any physical limitations that you need to consider.

We were having a discussion the other day about what our Maximum heart rate was and at what level should we push our hearts to get good Aerobic exercise. The first thing we have to find out is what our Maximum Heart Rate is. This is simply a calculation of 220 minus our age. So as you can see below. At age 55 our Maximum Heart Rate is 220 – 55 = 165. From this number we can start coming up with some plans.

For someone who has not been exercising, I would suggest that they target the 50 percent level of their maximum heart rate. While doing this you should be starting with a lower duration of exercise. Let’s say if our long term goal is to walk 30 minutes, you may want to start out at 5 or 10 minutes twice a day at an easy gate. Once you have created a reasonable baseline you can start increasing by a minute a day. After a week you should be ready to start kicking it up.

The next step would be to pick up the pace of your walking to simulate how you would walk if you were going ‘to get somewhere’. Monitor your heart rate so you know how each change that is made affects it. The goal would be to get up to the 75 percent range. You may need to add some hills into your route if your heart rate doesn’t want to come up. This is a good range to be at for the average person who is just wanting to stay healthy.

If you decide you are going to train for a more arduous event you could work yourself up to the 85 percent range. I’d say at that point you should be working closely with a trainer and physician to make sure everything is okay and monitored properly. The only other note for the average person is that it doesn’t hurt to push from 75 towards 85 percent on a once or twice a week basis just to keep the edge on.

Age 

Maximum HR

50 percent

75 percent

85 percent

20

200

100

150

170

25

195

98

146

166

30

190

95

142

161

35

185

93

138

157

40

180

90

135

153

45

175

88

131

149

50

170

85

127

144

55

165

83

123

140

60

160

80

120

136

65

155

78

116

132

70

150

75

113

127

75

145

72

108

123

80

140

70

104

119

85

135

68

101

115

 

My WebSites

I have been working on my websites recently.

My first cabin web site is getting a data makeover. I’ve contracted with a 3rd party firm to research all of the properties that I have and fill in the blanks as far as phone numbers, email addresses, URL’s and descriptive text. It has been quite a project so far. We started with 1000 records as we felt out our relation ship, and now I have just received the second set of updated 5,000 records. 13,000 more to go. I may just let them finish the rest up in one batch.

My second cabin website is up and running now. You may be asking “Why two”! My original site is already indexed by the search engines and is pulling 20,000+ visitors a month. Not a lot but, I don’t want to mess with that. I did want to add some new functionality that would completely change the way the site was indexed so I decided to add another site. Cabins, Resorts and Lodges main benefit over CabinQuest is that it is capable of listing properties all over the world. It is also available in multiple languages. This one is also monetized in several different ways too. So maybe it will open up some new opportunities for me.

My Cabin Blog is just chugging a long. It’s not really a site for the consumer, although you may find some interesting articles there about unique vacation properties. This site is really meant for the vacation property owner. It will keep them up to date on the new features of my other two cabin web sites and industry news.

USS Suribachi AE-21 has been revitalized. A number of months ago I redirected the DNS to the Suribachi facebook page. This site had been around for twelve plus years and was well established in the search engines. I had originally abandonded it because I was tired of fighting the spammers that kept attacking my comment and forum pages. But I have decided that a well established website is worth retaining as a base for all of my other sites. So I have upgraded the e107 software and reconfigured it so it properly notifies me when things are going on so I can keep up.

The Jacobsens is my long neglected personal website. Over the years I have dabbled with blogging and posting family photos to this site. I have become a little disenchanted with facebook. Maybe just overwhelmed at being marketed to all the time between the ads for products and game solicitations. So I may just spend more time over here.

That’s my update for now. I should have some more interesting activities in the near future as I explore the process of growing my two cabin sites.

s