Rocky

The last few years we have done everything we can to get rid of the animals. It started with Pongo our English Springer and Bob our Himalayan. They were both up in their years and had suffered from strokes. It came to be time to do the humane thing and put them down. Long time family pets but now Denise and I were becoming empty nesters of both kids and pets. (We didn’t put the kids down, they left on their own.)

Then the oldest moved back in with her husband, first child and their two dogs. A chocolate lab mix and a pit bull. What an interesting 8 months. Finally the kids were able to get back out on their own and we just had one more cat at the house.

When our youngest moved out of the house she claimed Blackie as hers and took the cat with her. So we were almost totally empty nesters now. Except…

During this past year our middle daughter was unable to keep her cat Rocky at her house so she asked if we could keep him for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure how long ago that’s been, at least 10 months.

In the spring we decided that Rocky needed to be more of an outdoor cat so we let him out. At first just for a few hours and eventually he was out most of the time. But he never missed a meal. That was until a few weeks ago, he stopped showing up.

We put out the regular notices of a missing cat. Neighbors all around us reported seeing him. Especially around a certain wooded area where they said he would be seen playing. But we never could find him.

Then finally today, a neighbor next to us said she saw him in an empty rental house behind us. Apparently there was a broken basement window that he went in but couldn’t get out. So we’re not sure how long he was in there but he is definitely a skinny cat now. We are nursing him back to health.

While we’re not so keen on having pets, we had really been worried about him. Denise especially is know for not caring much for cats but she was often looking for him and talking to the neighbors. So it’s nice to have him back. Now if we can just get the daughter to take him back…

To Google and Back!

Well, it’s taken me less than two weeks to give up on Google for mail and apps. There were just so many little things that I couldn’t do any more. So I’ve reloaded my Office 2013 Home Premium with a bit of a switch.

The thing I did like about Google was that it was all online. So in my move back to Microsoft, I am now using outlook.com rather than the fat client. All of my contacts, calendar and documents are stored in the cloud. And I have access to trimmed down versions of the office applications on the web, or I can use the full featured ones on my laptop.

I’m much happier now. I have a preview pane for my mail, I can split contents of spreadsheet columns without using some funky formula, the list goes on…

I am keeping a couple of things on Google. I like Google Sites and Blogger. So all of my blogs will stay on Blogger and I have found some really neat uses for Google Sites. To my knowledge Microsoft doesn’t have an equivalent for that.

I guess this is the crazy world we live in now. Things just seem so fluid. Nothings black and white. Remember when there was a 300 baud modem? Computers weren’t complicated then. You did all your work in one place and then you went and did something else.

Now you have your computer with you everywhere. It’s on your desktop, your lap, looks like a notepad, and in your phone. And you want them all to play nice, but they don’t. I’ll probably find a reason to change it all tomorrow but until then I’m comfortable with my choice(s).

The Basement Project – Porcelain sink

Over the past six months we have been working on our basement. In the past it has gone through a couple of different uses. Early on we had painted it orange to match the 1970’s orange and black carpet. The block wall was left off white and we had our young guests sign blocks to mark special occasions like birthdays, youth group nights and when we housed groups like the Young Continentals and Matsiko.

Later we emptied it to let our oldest daughter and her husband stay while he was going through a job transition. That was a nice time that we got to spend a lot of time with our first grandchild.

Then when all the kids moved out we started using it for ourselves as a TV room. As we prepared to sell the house we started painting the walls a more neutral color, replacing the furniture and laying down carpet.

Back in the utility room there was an old bathroom, with a throne and shower that are raised off the floor to allow for drains and a big porcelain sink that had suffered many years of abuse. It had been used many times to clean paint brushes and rollers. Which showed by the many colors of paint. One such time it appeared to have been filled with paint as the whole inside was covered with a color of tan. I think the drain must have been clogged and they just let it set to drain slowly.

So the other day, I started to paint the utility room and decided that if I could just clean up the old sink I could save it. I wanted to find a way that wouldn’t be toxic to me to get it cleaned up so I searched the Internet for solutions. Two of the ideas that I found worked fairly well. Soaking the sink with soapy hot water softened much of the paint so I could remove it with putty knives. I used both metal and plastic putty knives to scrap away thick globs of paint.

Then as I got down to the porcelain I spread the orange Goop all over and let it set. After some time I was able to scrub the sink with a kitchen scrubber and get most of the paint off. The other solution that I have not tried yet is Bar Keepers Friend. So while the sink looks much better I hope to give it that last shot of shine with a little more cleaning.

Overall this worked real well. When I walk in the utility room that area now pops with fresh paint and a nice clean porcelain deep sink.

Learning fingerstyle from Denny Zager

A few years back I was looking for a new guitar and found the site of Denny Zager. If you’re as old as I am you probably remember the song “In the Year 2525”! These days Denny lives in Lincoln NE. builds guitars and gives lessons. I’m not sure if he does one on one training any more but he does have an extensive library of training videos and workbooks to teach the fingerstyle method that he has developed over the last 40 or so years.

If you visit his site, you’ll find that he has quite a system that he has developed for building incredibly easy to play guitars. And the prices are for the common person. When I bought my guitar he was still taking peoples guitars and applying his techniques to them. I wish I had done it at that time. Now he has moved on to his own line of guitars.

Depending on how well I do with this new fingerstyle technique I may consider a new guitar. I’d really like to have a ZAD50CE for my next guitar! I have played some alternate tunings lately, my favorite being EABEBE that Jars of Clay use a lot. I’d like to be able to just leave one guitar in that tuning and have another in standard tuning.

But for now I’m just learning to play fingerstyle like never before. I’ll see how that goes, then maybe I can talk the wifey into a new guitar!

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What’s important

Recently I added one of those “cloud” widgets to the blog to show the categories that are available on the-jacobsens and to count how many articles are available under each topic.

As you can see by this classic web 2.0 design, Fibromyalgia is leading the pack on the articles that I am writing. Now I understand that having just completed a pain program that completely changed my life has a lot to do with this. I shouldn’t get too worked up yet.

The thing that I find interesting is how the other topics either rise or don’t rise to the top. I think about what is important to me and where do I spend my time. Faith and Family, you would think should rise to the top. Family only has one post. I’m also very interested in the political climate today and you would think I would have something to say about that.

In my About Me sideline I say that “I want to be me”. I think that is some of what I’m trying to decide here. Who is me? Did I really just say that?? Yes, I did.

I think this web 2.0 widget gives me some insight into who I am. The topics that cause me to write blogs are the ones that will rise to the top. Hopefully, I will find that I am spending the right amount of time and energy on the right things.

Jonathan and David, the covenant

So much is said of David, his victories and his failures that I think we sometimes overlook Jonathan. We know that Jonathan and David had a deep love for each other. And Jonathan made a covenant with David.

1 Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

I think this is interesting from a covenant point of view as we understand the oneness of marriage. We may want to understand what it means to become one. As you can see in 1 Samuel 18:4. Jonathan gave David his armor, sword, bow and belt. So that anyone seeing David would see Jonathan. They became one in the same.

This covenant agreement even surpassed the binding of family. Jonathan had proven that his love for David, provided David with protection from Jonathan’s father Saul. You can see in 1 Samuel 20:3 that that fact didn’t get past Saul. He understood where he stood in relation with David. I can only imagine that it really enraged him to know that not only was David getting more credit in his victories against their enemies but he had won over the Kings son as well.

1 Samuel 20:3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.” 4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

I have also heard it said that they became one in spirit. Which wasn’t a big leap for them. If you compare 1 Samuel 14:6 and 17:26, you’ll find that these two men had very similar faith in God and similar disdain for the Philistines. I love the little jab at the Philistines “of these uncircumcised”. Like wise with David, “Who is this uncircumcised”. They both were declaring that these people were not God’s people. They did not have the sign of the covenant.

Jonathan:

1 Samuel 14:6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” 

David: 

1 Samuel 17:26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

Jonathan could have been God’s chosen. But he wasn’t. He was the likely successor to the King because he was the son of the King. He also was a faithful follower of God. Much like David, he loved God and hated God’s enemies.  But David was the chosen one and Jonathan died with his father.

I often wonder what it would be like to have a covenant relationship like David and Jonathan. Covenant isn’t something that we are very familiar with today. There are some fraternal orders that practice similar parts of covenant and associations like firemen who have a deep sense of support and camaraderie for each other. But to truly have a covenant relationship with someone is something that I just don’t think we comprehend in today’s world.

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.

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Blog it already! Will you?

I’ve been doing a lot of blogging lately. The pain program, Going Google at work and home and other things have given me a lot of stuff to talk about. I find that I can churn out a lot of posts. Michael Hyatt a popular blogger and platform evangelist, talks about getting your posts out without spending too much time on them.

I don’t like to proof read to much. I’ll write a post and read it. Most times I’ll find that I didn’t quite develop the thought like I wanted to so I’ll do a little re-arranging. Then I’ll give it a final read and shoot it out. That’s it. Not much processing or production for me to get a post posted.

Then it happens that I’ll be looking up a post to send a copy to someone who was interested in a certain topic or thought and I’ll find that really stupid English mistake or spelling problem. The other day I wrote a comment relating that I was searching my sole. But I haven’t looked at the bottom of my feet for quite a while.

I do find that I like getting things written as soon as I can. I can have two or three topics come to me and if I let them set, they’re gone. I like to grab my computer and write 500 words, get the thought out of my head and move on.

So, if you’re reading my stuff and find some really stupid English. Well…. It’s not unexpected. You can let me know. And if I’m not deeply involved in speed writing another post, I may fix it. Or not.

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I’ve Gone Google!

I have used Google in my Web Marketing business for a number of years now. The Adsense, Adwords and Analytics products have been key in monetizing my sites. I have also used the Google Webmaster Tools to track the submission of URL’s and identify site errors.

Now, I’m turning my attention to my personal productivity. Because of my experience in IT I have tended to want a high degree of control over my email. I also tended to think that I needed a high level of functionality. What I have come to terms with is that I don’t want to spend my time on the very technical aspects of managing my own technology. I also needed to determine what I truly needed in the productivity suite.

Another thing I have been mulling over is that my laptop is a beast. It’s heavy and it has a lot of fat applications loaded on it. So as I look at this whole concept. I want to see what is tying me down to my big fat laptop.

So lets start ticking off the issues.

Mail. Once I started using Gmail I found that my life became easier. I ported my personal email addresses over as pop3 accounts, deleting the email from the server when it was downloaded. I migrated all of my legacy email up to the new account along with my calendar and contacts. During this part of the change, I also tied all of this tightly to my Google+ profile. This is the beginning of my online platform.

Documents. Everything has been moved to Google Drive. I separated my true documents from the storage of my website source code and archives. Now I’m starting to realize the benefits of having everything in the cloud. No matter where I am or on what computer I can get to 90% of what I need.

Productivity Applications. Two nights ago, I uninstalled the complete Microsoft 2013 Office Premium suite from my laptop. This was quite a freeing event for me. Now that I only have the Google Apps to use. I can commit to migrating my documents to that format. Google addresses documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms. This takes care of a lot. For Access I can use either the spreadsheet or I have access to MySQL for heavy lifting. The other things I need to consider is Visio (I think I can use autodesk online) and project.

Blogging. I used to blog on WordPress blogs that I hosted on my own servers. Again I needed to get myself out of the technology business and concentrate on what I really wanted to accomplish with blogging. I have moved my personal blog to blogger. Redirecting my personal domain name to Google. I still have a business blog to move. I found that this was not an easy task since there is not a good permalink match between the two and the workaround was a very manual process to complete.

What’s left?  I use netbeans for development. I have tried a few online IDE’s but have found them wanting. This is an application where I really need the functionality that netbeans provides. I say “need” but I have to remember that I have adapted very well with the other areas so I have to keep an open mind.

So what does this all mean to me? What have I accomplished?

I really like the ability to get to most of what I need from anywhere. I also feel like I’m leaving behind some legacy boat anchors. I am learning to use all of the social and collaborative tools of the Google suite. I’m linking Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to everything I do. I’m excited. I like being a consumer of technology.

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An evening at the Gathering Place

Tonight I had the pleasure of enjoying some incredible guitar at The Gathering Place in Glenwood, IA. Kay and Linus LeFever hosted David Michael Boyd a solo musician singing and playing original music who explores various musical genres including rock, blues, jazz, classical and “experimental expressionism.”

It was “Slow Breathing” from his GuitarArt album that was my favorite tonight. If you have read some of my articles on pain management, you may remember that I struggle with relaxation techniques. Somewhat because of the tendency for relaxation CD’s to follow far eastern religions which I’m not a fan of and that I’m just not a “turn the mind” off kind of guy. Not saying that’s wrong. I understand very much that I desperately need to relax my mind. But I digress.
This song “Slow Breathing” really captivated me. David introduced it as the night letting out it’s breath as if it’s exhaled all of the trouble from the previous day. I really liked that thought and as he started the song and continued singing, I felt myself being drawn in to a state of relaxation.
I didn’t get to stay for the whole program. Coming up on 8:00 pm it was time for me to find some ice after a long day at work. On the way out I got a moment to talk to David and express my appreciation for that song. He told me that he had several works that followed that genre. I have been on his site and hope to communicate with him more as I explore some CD’s to help me relax. I think I might have found what I’m looking for.
If you have a chance visit his site and listen to some of his music. He is an extraordinarily talented musician and wonderful Christian man.
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