Our Kitchen Project

Denise and I are getting ready to do a kitchen makeover. We have agreed on a plan to paint our custom wood cabinets red (that took some talking to get me to agree to that), install a new granite countertop with new sink, replace the linoleum with tile and outfit with new hardware on the cabinets.

But to start this project we realized that the window above the sink needed to go. It’s one of those that has the cranks and two panes that swing out from the middle. It has always been drafty and just looks old. So this weekend we decided that we would replace it first to get us started on the rest of the project.

I had taken some measurements before I started and thought the window was 36″ x 36″. A pretty standard size that we could find at the big box stores. So I started taking it out. Of course this type of window is all self contained. the frame and panes all have to come out. Once I was able to get the trim off the inside and outside, the window slid out of the rough opening. I found that the hole that it left was more like 41″ X 43″.

So I thought, Okay, a 40″ X 40″ window shouldn’t be that hard to find. Not so much. We went to the two nearest stores and were fruitless in our endeavor. I ended up ordering the window that will be here in 3 weeks. So after buying some plywood and covering the hole, I was off to start the next project; Man Cave II.

In a few weeks, I’ll tell you how this one turned out and I should have some updates on our kitchen project.


Man Cave II

I really enjoy my basement man cave. We have a nice sized TV with a home theater system and a couple of places for Denise and I to sit as we’re watching our ‘shows’. Denise has an area where she does her crafts and sewing and I have a corner for my guitars and amp. All in all a nice place to spend the evenings.

But now the weather is getting nicer and I’ve found myself on the deck more and more. While I’m out there I like to listen to music so I have dragged an old set of computer speakers and my phone out there or the little boom box from the garage. Neither of these provide an audio experience so I started looking for a reasonably priced improvement on my outdoor auditory enjoyment.

What I found was a system based on the  300 Watt Pyle Receiver and these 500 watt Pyle speakers. I had searched all over the Internet to find some good reviews, examples from other people etc. I was really surprised at the lack of detail that I could find. Many of the options were composed of fake rocks and toad stools for the speakers. But I really couldn’t any recommendations for receivers or amplifiers.

I had considered that I’d just get a stereo amplifier and hook up a radio, cell phone, mp3 player as needed. But I wanted to have something that was more permanent and could be used more easily by others. So that’s how I ended up with an AM/FM receiver with options for an Ipod, USB port and typical amplifier auxiliary connection.

So I ordered from Amazon and was expecting the receiver on Saturday and the speakers on the following Tuesday. I was surprised to have them show up on Saturday. I had committed myself to replacing a kitchen window but after removing it and finding that I was going to have to get a custom window ordered, I had some time to work on Man Cave II.

The installation was pretty straight forward. I mounted the speakers high on each side of the deck, ran the speaker wires across the top of our pergola, attaching them to the wood with little wire clips. Then I drilled a hole through the cement block to run them into the garage where I put the receiver. Which as a side note, has A/B speakers so I can listen to some tunes while I change the oil in the truck! Those will have to be a later purchase though. 

Another option to this receiver is a separate output and control for a subwoofer. I think this would help the bass quite a bit but for what I’m using it for I don’t think I’ll go to that expense. My searches on the Internet didn’t reveal a similarly priced subwoofer so I’ll have to look into that some more if I decide to get one later.

I also bought a set of cable management trays to hide the speaker wires where they come down the side of the house. I still need to get that installed. The other thing I found was that the receiver has a remote control but since it is infrared I can’t use it from the deck. So I’ll be looking for an extender to get that hooked up.

So the big question is what do I think of my new system? I like it very well. The receiver a top of the line unit but it works very well for what I’m using it for. The speakers, I like even better. Between the two the provide very good sound. If I run the bass all the way to one side it sounds crappy but if I keep it moderately in the middle or just adjust it slightly to the left or right it provides all the adjustment I need. I can turn the speakers toward the back yard and crank it up and it sounds very good as I’m back in the garden.

So for less than $170 dollars I am overall very pleased with the equipment, the way it sounds and the options. I accept that I can’t crank the bass and volume but I don’t think I like that much bass anyway. 


Fire Fighter Training – Great Lakes 1980

There were several groups of us that would go through an exercise where a team of 4 or 5 guys would go into a cement block building to fight a fire. Inside was a raised steel grate floor with burning fuel below and jets of burning fuel being sprayed in various directions. We were given an Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (OBA) to use as we went in. These devises would provide up to 60 minutes of air but the timer was set to 45 minutes to provide a buffer.

The interesting thing was that all of the groups would use the same OBA’s . So the first team had no worries. The last team would wonder if the tank was going to run out on them while they were fighting the fire.

So there I was, in the last group, lined up with our backs against the exterior wall waiting to go into the building with flames coming out the door and my timer was going off. About the same time the instructor told us to get going, so in we went. I was the third man on the fire hose and we went in sweeping the fire and beating it back. We were well inside the building when I ran out of air. I removed the mask and tapped the should of the guy ahead of me so I could move up in position.

I remembered that they had said you could get some air off the hose if you were the nossleman. So I moved up until I was running the hose. Sweeping the hose back and forth I started feeling pretty good, until I heard some laughing. I could see the instructors in the background and figured it was them laughing but I really didn’t know why until I looked back on my hose. No one was there. My whole team had left me. Evidently, their OBA’s had ran out of air as well and they left me to fight the fire myself.

Once the trainers knew the gig was up they shut down the fire and let me out of there. It actually felt pretty good to know I didn’t freak out in there.

I had just been thinking tonight that I was glad that boot camp had prepared me for some extraordinary events that I might experience in the Navy career. Luckily I never had to fight a fire on a ship but those kind of experiences give you some perspective on what to get excited about and what you are able to handle when you prepare for it.


Walking in the Winter

Walking downtown Omaha when the weather is nice is nice. There are so many different places to go and see. But when the weather turns bad it’s another story. In the past few weeks I have not walked nearly as much as I’d like to. Some days are just bitter. So I sit at my desk in misery. The chronic pain creeps in and I long for a good long walk.

I knew that if I could just get to the Brandies building I could get a really nice walk in. But from my location on 18th and Harney that was at least 5 blocks to make it to the 16th and Douglas entrance I was familiar with. With the temperatures getting down to the single digits, that just wasn’t going to work. I would tense up way to much to make it beneficial. So I started talking and exploring.
I figured there was at least a closer entrance to the Brandies building and by asking enough questions of my co-workers I found not only that, but a route that takes advantage of several other passages. So here goes.
Green portions are all inside

Starting at DOTComm I go up 18th to Harney and into the Douglas Omaha Civic Center. Down a hall, up an escalator and out the North entry.

I walk diagonally and then across the east crossing of 18th and Farnam and enter US Bank at their Southwest entrance. I walk through the building to the East entrance on floor down on 17th street. Just a few steps North brings me to an entrance of the 17th Street Parking garage. 
Interestingly enough. If you go down 2 flights of stairs you find your self in the Brandeis building mezzanine and food court. From there I start a 5 to 6 block walk all inside. Going from Brandeis to First National Tower, First National Bank, Double Tree Hotel, First National Technology Solutions and finally to the parking garage on 16th and Davenport. 
If I turn around and just come back I will have walked almost 30 minutes which is my goal. Today, I walked most of the inside part twice and was gone 45 minutes. I also encounter about 6 to 8 flights of stairs in that walk but they are broken up so I don’t notice them so much. And that’s how I get my walk in when it’s winter.


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!


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.


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.” 


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.