Monthly Archives: September 2013

So You Didn’t Get a Hammock and Now You Need a Massage

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You sit at a desk all day staring at a computer, or maybe you didn't heed my sage advice and you went camping without a hammock. And now you are paying the price. Your shoulders are sore and your back aches. There's a crick in your neck that just won't go away. I guess pine cones don't make good pillows. But wait! You're one of the lucky ones. You have a spouse or significant other who is willing to give you a massage. There is nothing better. If I had the cash, I would love to support my local masseuses and would frequent them regularly. The few times I have gone for a professional massage, it was wonderful until the hard sell at the end to buy into a membership. Sorry, that isn't in the budget.

What's the worst part about getting a massage at home instead of at a spa? You don't have a face hole in your bed that's what!! Am I right? There is no way to get a proper massage of the shoulders when you have to turn your head to one side to the other just to breath. Even if you try some fancy pillow packing trick, your head will still be at an unnatural angle and you are more in danger of getting another knot than getting a relaxing massage. But we here at the green workbench don't tuck our tails between our legs and raise the white flag of surrender. No siree! We come up with a solution and try it out, that's what we do. You look at massage tables online. Holy guacamole, those things are expensive, and it's just a padded folding table with a face hole. We can build that.

I found hinges at Rockler that are used for folding tables. They lock into place. I grabbed some wood, hopefully you have some lying around from previous projects. I had some foam padding from some packages. All I needed was the vinyl. Vinyl cleans easily and doesn't soak up whatever massage oil or lotion you are using. I just grabbed whatever was on sale, which is why my table is the color of salmon puke. But I was going for cheap. I cut a face hole in the board, and with some staples and some glue, upholstered it. I made the legs adjustable and attached them. Now you can place the folding table at the edge of any bed of any height and create an instant massage table. The hole is placed so that your neck isn't tilted up at a weird angle because it's a gradual rise from your chest up. I also included a small padded “pillow” for your forehead which helps a lot. It is connected with string sewn through the vinyl, foam, and board, but it is tied loosely so it is somewhat adjustable.

Check out the video and let me know what you think in the comments. So if you have a sore aching back and shoulders or if you just want an intimate candlelit evening at home, there's no need to waste your fortune on visits to the masseuse or fancy tables, just pull the folding, adjustable massage table out from under your bed and you are ready to go.

 

Raise the Roof!! Or Rather, Lay the Roof.

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Labor Day weekend, the last weekend of summer, and in our area at least, the last weekend before school starts. There is always high expectation the summer will go out with a bang and we will be refreshed enough to last us through until the next holiday. Last year we took a camping trip to Neah Bay, the northwestern most point in the contiguous United States for a camping adventure that included kayaking, scuba diving, spear fishing, and playing on the beach. We went with our friends, another family, and promised to do it again next year. It was all great fun.

This year we were thinking of a more land locked adventure in the Northern Cascades, one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. for our camping trip. We envisioned hikes to alpine lakes, wildlife sightings, and walks along fern strewn grounds through old growth cedar forest. We phoned our friends to make plans and finalize the location and they dropped the bomb. They desperately needed a new roof on their house and had to get it done before the rainy season starts. They couldn't spend a frivolous weekend in the woods when there was work to be done and the arrival of months of gray skies was imminent.

Well, we couldn't go camping when we knew they were home working, and we had promised to spend Labor Day weekend together anyway. So it was decided. We were having a roofing party. Now I don't have a ton of roofing experience, but I have done it in the bitter cold of winter in Utah and don't want to ever do that again! Our friends began some of the prep work during the week, but on Thursday evening a monsoon rolled in, the likes of which is rarely seen in these parts. We hoped it wasn't a precursor for the weekend!

The Thursday storm set things back and Friday after work I went over to help them tear of the two layers of old shingles until dark. We had hoped to be completed and ready to start installing by Saturday morning, but no such luck. We also needed to replace a few soft rotting boards of plywood. We didn't really start laying tar paper and shingles until noon on Saturday. Our prayers for sunshine were answered however. But be careful what you pray for! Just ask my bright red neck and my almost heat exhausted self! The bright hot sun mixed with tar paper and shingles makes for a long day.

 

Sunday was a much needed day of rest and Monday we got right back to it. The completed roof looks so much nicer and changes the appearance of the entire house! It was a great weekend of good old fashioned work. It reminds me of the days of community barn raising where everyone pitched in to help. We had a few other guys helping us out as well, which made a big difference. And an entire family showed up on Monday and took care of picking up all of the old shingles that were just thrown from the roof. That was amazing! I made sure to get my son involved to teach him how to lay a roof, just as my dad did for me. You never know. He may have a weekend vacation on top of a friends' roof someday in his future as well. I hope we set the right example and he too will choose to raise the roof over pitching a tent!

 

Playing the Host Game

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I'm not talking about having people over for dinner party or serving up a better spread than the next guy. I'm not talking about making the most creative Martha Stewart center pieces. I'm talking about your website or blog. For bloggers, the two most common choices are Blogger and WordPress. There is always the option to go completely free on those services, but that means your domain name will have “.wordpress.com” or “.blogspot.com” which lets the entire world know you are too cheap to purchase a domain and don't take your blog seriously. The free option is for people who want to share cute stories and photos with the grandparents.

Your first step is to purchase a domain name. I did some research and followed the recommendation of other bloggers in choosing to acquire my domain from godaddy.com. It was a very simple process and not too expensive. Once you find a domain name that no one else has registered and that is descriptive of your website identity and content, pull the plug and make the purchase. Now you have to pick a service to host your site. Godaddy offers hosting as well. I chose to go with bluehost, based on recommendations from other bloggers. They offer multiple plans and the price gets cheaper the more time you buy at once. Seeing as this was my first experience in creating a site, I decided to go month to month until I decided this whole blog thing was going to become, well, a thing. It started out at 9.99 a month, but was quickly jacked up to 11.99 a month. That is crazy expensive!! Bluehost was very easy. I installed WordPress, changed the name servers at godaddy, and I was off and running.

After a few months, I went in to bluehost to look at what it would cost to change my plan to one or two years, but there wasn't an option to do it. It said I had to call customer service. I hate calling customer service! In bluehost's defense, the one time that I did have to call them, they were very friendly and fixed my problem right away. I just don't like having to call in as a general rule.

So I started to look at other hosting services and found one with a coupon that would allow me to purchase three years of hosting for around $65! That is a great price. I googled the company and didn't find any negative reviews, so at that price, I went for it. My new hosting service is through hostmetro.com. I couldn't even get one year of bluehost for that price.

Then began the headache. I am not a software engineer or website designer. I have no idea how to design and build a website. It is my goal to someday learn. I am a pretty quick study and fairly technical, but have never had the time to really delve in. After switching to hostmetro, I decided to try and transfer my site from bluehost by myself. That was a mistake! First off, I changed the name servers prematurely, so I effectively took my site down before it was ready. When I realized that mistake, I switched them back to bluehost to give me time to make the transfer. I downloaded my site from bluehost and uploaded it into hostmetro, but I had no idea what folder to put it in or what to do with it afterward. I had a scare when I loaded a new version of WordPress on hostmetro, and it appeared I had lost all of my articles to date. That was a bad feeling!

Finally I decided to ask for help. Every time I tried to google how to do something on hostmetro, I only got results for host gator. Apparently hostmetro is new enough that there isn't much written on the web. Hostmetro has the option to chat, call in, or submit a support ticket. I decided to submit a ticket and got a response within an hour or so. I provided my bluehost login because hostmetro advertised they could transfer my site for me. Unfortunately they came back and said bluehost requires everything to be downloaded to the local machine, so I had to go and download my site from bluehost and then upload it to hostmetro via cpanel. Then hostmetro went ahead and did the rest, building out my wordpress site. They informed me when it was done and I went into godaddy to change the name servers again. It takes a couple of days for the domain to resolve to the new host, so I waited.

Finally, after two more days I started trying to access my website. I could access it via some browsers, but not with others. When it did load, it would load very slowly. I could access it on my phone, but not my tablet or laptop. Arggghhhhhh!!! I could log into WordPress, but couldn't access the admin panel. I went back to hostmetro, and was told I needed to clear my browser cache. I did, but no dice. I wrote back to complain and then suddenly everything started to work. It's quick, responsive, and works in every browser.

The saga of switching hosts lasted over a week, but in the end everything worked out. For the price, you can't beat it. Hostmetro was responsive and helpful and figured out whatever issues I was having for me, even though I probably created most of them. And now I know that I really need to find the time to buckle down and learn how to build a website and use cpanel. In the meantime, I'll keep writing. I have three years before I have to think about changing. Tell me what hosting service you use and why in the comments.