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Month: October 2008

Vacation


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Next week I’ll be taking a vacation from work for the first time in a year. Changing jobs a couple times during the past year has kept me from being able to take any amount of time off of work so this is a much needed break. My family and I will be taking a short trip to New Jersey to visit some relatives and then I’ll be spending the rest of the week doing work around the house including recording some new songs and working on some websites. So I won’t be at my job but I’ll be doing work at home.

I think I’m going to take the week off from articles on here as well. After many political articles in a row I’m feeling a bit drained from all of it. Monday’s article Electing a King, pretty much sums up the best explanation I can figure for what America is possibly about to do. The implications of not only the outcome of the presidential race but also senate races will have far reaching effects for many years to come and right now I just don’t have the energy to keep writing about it. So I will return with new articles November 3rd, right before the election. And if I am as productive as I hope to be with my time off then hopefully I will be able to share some of what I do next week with all of you


Catching Up With the Internet


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I’ve spent the last four years on dialup internet. During that time I wasted countless hours waiting for pages to load and didn’t go to many websites because I didn’t have the time to wait. I also killed many website ideas I had during that time because managing them would have been impossible on dialup. As of a month and a half ago though I have finally rejoined the rest of the high speed world and am on a level playing field with my internet connection.

I came to a scary realization a couple week ago though. While I spent the last several years maintaining simplified websites to accommodate my connection, the rest of the internet was becoming bigger and better and I simply ignored what I couldn’t do on my connection. Now though I realize that while I was stuck, the rest of the internet has passed me by. My web design and graphic design skills are severely out of date and if I want to be able to compete in the online world I need a major upgrade to my knowledge. I may have grown up with computers but kids today have grown up with internet capable computers and their skill level is accordingly greater in the online arena.

If you find that your skill set is also obsolete here are some subject areas I would recommend studying: css, xml, php, asp, javascript, internet marketing, and very importantly graphic design. The first several things I listed are the meat of what makes a site do what it does but the internet is increasingly a visually dazzling place and most sites don’t need a really meaty backend to be able to perform their intended function. So if nothing else, try to look good. Good graphic design is often aided greatly by good graphic design software and that unfortunately isn’t cheap. All of the graphics on all of my websites were made using Paint Shop Pro. Years ago I would have likened Paint Shop Pro to being really similar to but not quite as good as Photoshop, while keeping the price tag much cheaper than Photoshop. Unfortunately though in recent years the makers of Paint Shop Pro have really not kept pace with the tools that are now available in Photoshop.

There are a number of really great free tutorials scattered throughout the internet that could teach me any of the programming languages I listed. And that is where I plan to start when I am able to make the time. I haven’t yet figured out how to resolve the graphic design problem but I’ll work on it. We live in an online world and it changes with such frequency that it is far to easy to be left behind.


Economic Immunity


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With all of the panic driven market changes of late and the government takeover of much of the financial sector many people are worrying about their financial futures. Analysts are having to change their predictions about the future of the economy on an almost daily basis and usually not in a positive way. There are two ways for certain to come away from this economic meltdown unscathed. There are plenty of other possibilities as well but these two are certain. One is that you could be the CEO of one of these corporations that you ran into the ground and made off with millions from. In that case you are probably in pretty good shape yet. The other certain way to ride out the economic storm unscathed is to be self-sufficient

My regular readers have seen me write about self-sufficiency in the past and it dawned on me the other day that if someone was self-sufficient then all of this stuff that is going on would barely even register in their lives. Take for example the Amish, they are certainly not 100% self-sufficient but they are probably about as close as anyone in America. You know, except for some crazy cults living in the mountains somewhere I suppose. I searched the internet for articles discussing the economic downturn and it’s affect on Amish communities. You know what I couldn’t find a single article. The reason that they are unaffected is because they don’t have mortgages, they don’t have money in the stock market, and they don’t have much use for oil. They grow their own food and make their own clothes. So there are lessons we can learn from the Amish.

As I’ve discussed in the past, I am very inconsistent in my approach to self-sufficiency. The other day I had to come to terms with the reality that my house is not located somewhere where micro-hydroelectric was an option. Wind probably wouldn’t be very effective for me. And a solar system is well outside of my price range. But I also realized that I spend much more on food in a year than I do on electricity, we won’t even discuss how much I spend on heating oil in a year. Though we do grow a very small percentage of our food, if we were to increase that amount a good deal then we would gain a certain level of immunity to world economic issues.

Food prices skyrocketing? Not a problem. Another tainted vegetable scare? That’s okay. Can’t afford the gas to drive to the grocery store? Hey no big deal, there’s food right outside the door. I have no delusions of ever being 100% self-sufficient but I can build myself a layer of protection from the world’s economic woes by taking steps in that direction. And you can too, maybe you don’t have the room to grow much food (although converting your yard into a garden would be a much better use of space) but perhaps you could generate your own electricity and know that even if you lose your job in all this mess, at least the lights will stay on.



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