Get Started with iCoinPRO Today!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back in Action

Whoa! It's been quite a while since I published here on the Real Men Stay Home blog. I can hardly believe that I've let three months slip by unnoticed. Then again, all of our children's birthdays fall between August and November, so maybe you can find it in your heart to give me a little leeway with that fact in mind.

I just wanted to drop in and say that I'm back in action and will start posting several times a week here on this blog. My renewed focus is going to be on the work from home dad (moms are welcome too!). I've been working from home for over almost a year and a half now, and I want to share my success with those of you who are looking to do the same thing. Alternately, if you are working from home already, then we can share secrets to success with each other (or commiserate as appropriate, LOL!).

In any event, please come back or subscribe to the RSS feed, because there will be a lot of good information coming your way here on all aspects of working from home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Affiliate Payload

Well, I'm trying my hand at affiliate marketing again and trying a new angle this time. I must admit that the allure of working hard for a short season and then working maintenance on a network of virtual real estate is a vision of mine. This week I'm promoting a brand-spanking new product from Alex Goad called Affiliate Payload.

I guess I caught the bug of the independent entrepreneur all those years ago when we dabbled in Amway. 1996 ... ah, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Obviously we didn't strike it rich in that business, but it planted a seed inside of me that refuses to die.

Working from home is part of the realization of that dream. Freelancing provides me some control over my time, although at a considerable cost in cash equity at times. However, it is a trade-off that we have been more than willing to make thus far.

Going forward, I'm working on developing several products of my own to sell through an online marketplace such as ClickBank. One product will be about how to work from home freelancing (since I have some experience there ;-)). The other products I'm working on are still top secret, but I'll let you in on the deal as soon as possible!

Anyway, if you've ever been interested in affiliate marketing, the ins and outs, how it's done and how to grow beyond simple information products like ClickBank and into cost-per-action (or CPA) network sales, then you should really check out Goad's product, the Affiliate Payload.

Click on that link and you will get a full review by yours truly, plus the chance for one heck of a bonus!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Air Conditioning in the South

Air conditioning in the southern United States is almost a requirement, depending on where you live. We just had a window unit in our living room go out a few days ago, and yesterday I got the replacement unit put it.

This has really made me think about what life must have been like in these parts of the country 100 years ago. How in the world did people survive in 100F+ heat without air conditioning? I've got a few thoughts on this, and will put together another post later on how to do it ... although I don't think anyone will give the false impression that it would be nearly as comfortable as having a/c available.

I grew up in central Texas without an air conditioner, so I've got a few ideas. I'm also doing some research on what people did 'back in the day'. So, for all you frugally minded folks in the south, stay tuned for what to do to reduce your electric bill this summer and keep the a/c down to a minimum.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gas Saving Tips: Hypermiling Part 2

OK, so now on with the show! Here's the post you've all been waiting for, detailing exactly what I did to literally double my gas mileage overnight (see copies of my gas receipts and calculations to the left). Please note that the receipt on the left reflects in-town driving only with only minimal hypermiling techniques. The receipt on the right shows the results of my recent day trip with a concerted effort into hypermiling, including the one physical modification to the vehicle that I will reveal below. Absolutely anyone can do this, although your mileage may vary (YMMV). Keep in mind that there was only 1 modification to the vehicle itself (which was free and can be performed by practically anyone); the rest of these steps are simply a way to "re-train" yourself to drive in a way to save gasoline.

Basic Hypermiling Tips

1. Air up your tires! While most people realize that an under-inflated tire can result in a loss of fuel efficiency, they don't usually understand why. Lower pressure tires have more surface area in contact with the ground, which increases friction and drag on the vehicle. While it may not seem like much, every little bit counts. Now here's the trick to take this simple step to the next level with hypermiling.

Most people air up their tires to the recommendations of the car manufacturers. What is this based on? The car manufacturer doesn't know what type or rating of tire you will put on your vehicle, so how can they make a broad-based recommendation? They base it on the way the vehicle rides and the noise level from the tires and resulting comfort level of the passengers. Does this matter as much to you as fuel efficiency? It really doesn't to me ... of course my vehicle is over 10 years old anyway (LOL), but at least it's paid for ;-). So hypermilers take this to the next level by increasing their tire pressure to reflect the MAXIMUM rating for the tire, according to the tire manufacturer. As a result, less of the tire comes in contact with the ground, resulting in less friction. There is a slight increase in road noise and also you feel the road a bit more in the steering, but nothing I would consider to be a deterring to using this. So for me, this meant airing up my tires to 44 psi.

2. Accelerate and decelerate slowly from start to finish. When taking off from a stop, don't gun it! Slow down and accelerate at a slow, even pace. Work up to where you want to be and stay there. When you see a red light or stop sign coming up, let off the gas way in advance and coast. One hypermiler recommended keeping the vehicle's RPMs under 1800, but I found on my '96 Mercury Villager with an automatic transmission that this was virtually impossible. It wouldn't shift into 3rd gear unless I took it up to about 2100 RPMs. So, I made that my goal. The entire trip I adjusted my driving to keep my RPMs under 2100. The only exceptions were when I had to go uphill, in which case I increased my RPMs just enough to maintain speed, which ended up being around 2400.

3. Always stay under the speed limit and don't go over 55 mph on the highway. While staying under the speed limit is always a good idea (it is the law, after all), most people find themselves inching above it all the time. Just try it and I think you will find it can make all the difference. When I'm on a flat surface or in town, I use cruise control to help me maintain a lawful speed just under the speed limit. Keep in mind that cruise control on most vehicles doesn't work until you reach 30 mph or so. OK, so what about limiting yourself to driving 55 on the highways? Sounds like a granny move, right? Well, it might sound that way, but it can definitely save on your gas consumption.

Take a look at this general chart from a government study. It shows that optimal fuel efficiency is reached at about 50 mph and starts dropping off above 55, with a significant drop at 60+. So what about making it there on time? Ever heard of starting early? Honestly, changing your driving habits from going 70 mph (you weren't speeding were you?) to 55 mph does take some effort. Again, I used cruise control to help me out here, as my foot tended to get a bit heavy. So how much time did I lose? Well, let's figure it out.

My total trip was 96 miles. Although my average was lower because of red lights and stop signs, city speed limits and such, let's say for the calculations that my speed was a constant 55 vs your 70. It would take you 82 minutes at 70 mph to make the trip, while it would take me 104 minutes. So you arrive 22 minutes earlier than me, or I would have to leave 22 minutes earlier to make up the difference. But, all other things being equal, would more than doubling your gas mileage make it worth it? It sure does it for me, especially with gas prices as high as they've been!

OK, there you have it! Those are three of the basic steps that I took to go from an average of 18 mpg on the road to a whopping 51 mpg! Lest you think that my trip was all highway (and I still have never gotten that type of mileage on the highway either), here is a map of my trip route. As you can see, it winds through several small towns (yes, red lights) and has ample opportunity for both city and highway driving.

View Larger Map
Finally, last but not least, I wanted to leave you with another excellent news report on how hypermiling is changing the way people drive, and driving fuel economy beyond what you could ever have imagined...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gas Saving Tips: Hypermiling Part 1

I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you something extraordinary that can literally double your car's fuel economy, blowing away the EPA mpg ratings. What is it and how much will it cost, right? Well, it's called hypermiling and the techniques are actually free. Just to get started, here's the video that ultimately led me to investigate just what this hypermiling thing was all about:

Now lest you think I'm crazy, I'm not some advanced guru on the subject like this guy. He's the nuclear engineer who came up with the idea. Me? I'm just you're average Joe trying to make sense of the rising fuel costs and figure out any way I can to combat the effect on my bottom line.

The problem actually started about two months ago. As a matter of routine inspection, we randomly check our mpg on our main vehicle every once in a while. The vehicle is a 1996 Mercury Villager with over 160,000 miles on it. It's not in bad shape, but it's not in the best shape either. Well, when we purchased the van used, we were getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 mpg, which was right on the mark for the EPA ratings, surprisingly. After a few years and adding over 70,000 of our own miles ... we were getting roughly 12 mpg. Yes, that's right, 12 mpg. I about freaked out, to be honest.

So, I did a complete maintenance overhaul, otherwise known as a tune-up. Turned out that the spark plugs and wires were in pretty bad shape, not to mention the distributor cap than had a broken center pin in it! After it was all said and done, and I replaced the air filter as well, ... we tested again. I spent roughly $100 on the tune-up (but keep in mind, this should be a regular maintenance item anyway) and we were coming in at an average of 18 mpg. An improvement to be sure, and still in range of the EPA rating, but I had been hoping for more. That's when I saw the CNN video with Wayne Gerdes. Talk about inspiring!!!

So I did it. I took the hypermiling plunge and ate the blue pill (or was is the red one - I can never keep it straight). I utilized three or four of the basic techniques that I found on Gerdes' website today and took a trip to pick up some stuff from a Freecycle contact. Since the merchandise was free, I figured it was a steal even though the round trip would be close to 100 miles. So I filled up the tank before I left and set out with a rugged determination to hypermile my rear off!!! Just for the record, our in-town driving prior to this trip (as measured when I topped off) was averaging just over 13 mpg ... pretty crappy to be sure.

So I completed the trip and the detour to top back off when I came back. It took a little longer to be sure, as one of the tips has to do with adjusting and modifying your maximum speed. However, it only added about 10 minutes to each end of a 1 hour trip, so I didn't think that was too bad. The key would be did it help my fuel economy any? Well, the total trip was just over 96 miles, and when I topped off again I put less than 2 gallons of gasoline back into the van. OPEC hates me now, I'm sure of it. But the calculations revealed that I had hypermiled my way to 51 mpg in a 12 year old gas-guzzling mini-van!!! I know it sounds incredible, but it is true!

I'm going to scan in my gas receipts so you can see for yourselves and I will also detail exactly the top three things that I did to get such incredible results. Believe me, I'm as shocked as you are ... but as fantastic as it sounds, it is true!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Moldy and Parasitic Insects

Well, as a relative newcomer to gardening, my worst fears have been realized. We've got discolored moldy cucumbers coming off the vines. Not only that, the squash bugs have found the zucchini plants and they are dying off. Not to be outdone, a new fire ant mount has sprung up near the okra -- which apparently they like.

That's it in a nutshell. I'm researching now for organic methods of dealing with the pestilence that has invaded our little summer garden and I will report back what I find. For now, we are watching the produce very closely and washing anything we do eat really well.

The success story of the week is the cantaloupe, of which we have harvested two thus far - and they are delicious!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Checking out

I'm always intrigued by new services online ... this one shows some interesting potential for the podcaster, but in a different way. The service actually offers anyone the opportunity to create their own online talk show, on their own schedule and gives them a blogging format to post articles and other information as well!

It's very interesting and I've heard some good things about it, so I set up an account for A5 Media (the umbrella company for all of my Internet endeavors) and hope to have my first show going very soon. I will keep you updated, but for now you can check out my show at the link below:

Internet Product and Services News and Reviews

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Nice Reminder

My wife sent me an e-mail this morning with a nice reminder of why I don't work for someone else any more. There are other aspects to it, which I will discuss in another post. For now, enjoy this re-print of a 'dear Abby' letter:

DEAR ABBY: I read an article in our local paper a while ago that said good employees who leave a company usually do so because of their boss.

With that in mind, I would like to bring closure to my recent resignation with the following open letter to my former boss:

"Thanks for asking me to stay on, but I respectfully decline. I will be self-employed from now on. However, if in the future I ever feel the need to be publicly humiliated, blind-sided, ostracized and called a spy, be distrusted and disciplined by superiors for no good reason, fight for wages that are rightfully mine, stabbed in the back by fellow employees, used as a pawn in executive rivalries, or (especially) chewed out when you're having a bad day, I'll get back to you!" -- MOVING ON IN NEW MEXICO

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Time Management 101

How do you strike a balance between work and family, especially when you work from home? In this blog post I will share a few ideas that have worked for me, as well as analyze why it's so difficult, especially in the case of the work at home parent...

The Problem

From my perspective, the problem comes in primarily because we work from home. It's a lot different when you leave the house for 8 to 10 hours a day to work from an office or other away from home facility. Even then people have difficulty sometimes in separating work from their home life, and many even allow the job to take over their lives (i.e., the all-demanding boss becomes the dictator of all of your time). However, the issue seems to actually be compounded when we work from home. Here, every time I check my email there is a chance I will receive a work-related message. Every ring of the telephone could be a client calling about a job. Instead of having at least a physical barrier to help us distinguish work from home, we've actually made the conscious decision to work from home! While this creates a challenging situation in the best of times, during the summer and other breaks from school it can become overwhelming as everything seems to be happening at the home front all at once.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is important for anyone working from home, even more so than someone who works outside the home. In fact, it can be one of the best time management tools for the work at home parent. Let's put it this way ... if you work at home, you had better set some goals, or you will never know if and when you have accomplished what you set out to do! Take the time to think about what you really want out of life and what it will cost you in terms of your time and commitment. Then, you have to decide what is most important. Put your time emphasis on those things that are most important to you! Look, you only live once and your kids will only be kids one time around. If you spend every waking moment working, whether for yourself or for 'the man', you'll wake up one day to find that you may or may not have achieved your financial goals, but your children will be long gone. This doesn't mean they will hate you or not have any respect for you ... but more than likely the whole reason you decided to work from home will have been lost - forever.

I know for me the goal of working from home has always been two-fold. First, it has never really been about the money. I'm always learning new ways to make a living from home and I'm sure my income will continue to increase. However, it is and probably will always be less than I could make as a manager in a corporate environment. I should know. I've been there, done that. So why am I working from home? My goals have always been fairly simple, even though sometimes I lose sight of them fairly easily.

It's My Time, Isn't It?

First and foremost I have always wanted more control of my time. Nothing irritated me more than having to ask for approval to take a day off or to take vacation time that I earned. I was always resentful of the ever-shifting lunch break. Sometimes it would be at the same time, sometimes my boss would suddenly call a lunch meeting literally minutes before I was heading out the door. What would have been a pleasant picnic lunch at the park suddenly became a mandatory lunch meeting will all the company yes men and lackeys. What shift I worked, where I worked, and when I could go to lunch, break, and vacations - all of these things were determined by my boss. It always felt like I had no real control over my own time. So, my first goal in working from home was a selfish one, but I wanted control back of my time. It is easy to lose sight of this goal, especially when working from home. As a freelance professional, suddenly the clients have a direct line to my home, to my personal email, right into my life! But before I share a solution with you regarding this first goal, let's take a look at what is probably the second most common goal for parents who decide to work from home.

Are Those My Kids?

Sometimes when we work away from home we get the feeling that we don't know our own family. We can grow distant from our spouse and especially from our kids. I know for me when I worked as a manager in a plastics factory my days were very long and that was part of the expectation that came with the territory. Most of the time my children were still in bed when I left for work and there were many days that they were already in bed when I got home. On some occasions they would stay up late just to kiss me goodnight as soon as I walked in the door, then off to bed they went! I found myself wondering who these kids really were. After all, I had no idea ... I simply wasn't taking the time to get to know them!

So another goal of working from home for me involved getting to spend some time with my children. Now, I will admit that this hasn't been all roses, as you no doubt will concede if you work from home. The ideal situation is far from reality, especially when the children are smaller, which has been my experience thus far. I have three children all currently under the age of eight, so they are starving for attention and would love to have the opportunity to monopolize my entire day if I were to let them. However, this would be counter-productive too, right? After all, if Daddy doesn't work the bills don't get paid! So there is a fine line here that demands our attention. We don't want to fall into the trap of allowing our children, who are now co-habitating with us in the "office", to monopolize all of our time so that we get nothing else done. By the same token, we don't want to end up working 24/7 so that despite the fact that we are working from home we still never spend any time with the family! So what is the solution? There is one simple thing that has worked for me. It is not without it's own set of problems, but it has helped dramatically in setting boundaries for me while working from home. It is the schedule, or the work calendar.

The Work At Home Schedule

So how does it work? It's simple really - you just have to take the place of your boss! Set yourself a schedule and a limit to how many hours you will work each week. Make a commitment to your clients that you will be available for a certain number of days each week and then for specific hours of each day. Now, be flexible - after all, you did decide to work from home to get back some control of your time, right? I'll share with you part of my schedule so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Officially, my work day starts at 12:00 noon and ends at 8:00 p.m. Yep, that's right. First off, I've decided that I like to sleep in. Is there anything wrong with that? Not really, not when you work from home! Next, I work straight through lunch and breaks. I don't smoke, but even if I did I would probably do it from my desk rather than go outside. I do use the restroom (why do we call it that?) and make a "tea run" to the kitchen every so often. However, breaks always used to irritate me at work. They came at inopportune times and always seemed to interfere with my thought process and work flow. So, since I'm working from home, I cut them out. As for lunch, I usually eat before I start working and if I decide I want a small snack during the work hours, I'm lucky enough to have a lovely wife to fix me something I can eat while working through lunch. On some days I will take a lunch, but guess what? It's entirely up to me!

This schedule allows me to spend some personal time alone in the mornings as well as spend some time with the family. In addition, after work I can spend some time (although less during school months) with the children as well. However, most of the evening time after my officially scheduled work hours I allow for time with my wife or time on personal projects, whether they be income related or other areas of interests (read: hobbies). The only kicker here is that if I get too carried away in the evenings I sometimes stay up waaay to late. Oh, well I guess that's ok because I do get to sleep in.

Finally, it's up to me what days of the week I work and when I take a vacation. As a freelance professional, I have found that most clients are respectful of this concept. After all, I did decide to work from home for a reason, right? For me, Saturdays are always off limits. We observe a seventh-day Sabbath and so we don't do any work related stuff from Friday night at sundown to Saturday night at sundown. For many people, Sunday would be their day of religious observance. Others may not have any such preference at all. Whatever your view on this point is doesn't really matter, as long as you set aside what days you will have off - no matter what. You have to make time to take time off, or working from home will take over your life. It can be worse than a job if you're not careful You thought your old boss could be a hard task-master, wait until you meet your own dark side! So for me, Monday through Friday are the standard work days. I do work on Sundays, on occasion, however I fully reserve the right to take every Sunday off.

As for vacations, most clients don't care when you take vacation - just be sure and notify them ahead of time that you are going to be out of the "office". Working from home, I find that vacation time is more a function of me having the money saved up to do something or go somewhere. After all, since I'm working for myself from home, I don't have the luxury of a 'paid vacation' benefit. I have to make sure I budget appropriately and set aside enough money so that once or twice a year I can take time off without feeling the pinch of no money for a week.


I know this has been a long post, but I'm hoping you really got something out of this. Just to recap, I want to go over the things that have helped me manage my time better while working from home.
  1. Set Goals - why are you working from home? Put every work decision into perspective in light of these goals. For me it was more control over personal time and more time with the family. If your goals are similar, then set boundaries around these things and protect them from your work!
  2. Scheduling Calendar - Set a work schedule, and stick to it! This will help you keep a balance between work and play. Before I had a schedule I had weeks were I would not get any work done. Other weeks I would flip-flop the other direction and work my butt off, but never see my family. Having a daily schedule and weekly set-in-stone "off" days has allowed me to be more productive and to ensure time with my family.
  3. Enjoy Yourself - This one wasn't covered earlier, so consider this a bonus - your reward if you will - for reading this far into the blog post! Anyway, you have to enjoy yourself. You were miserable at work at a regular job, right (most people anyway)? So why be miserable at home? Find something that you enjoy doing, and do it from home to make money. I can't stress enough the importance of being happy with your "work", especially now that it takes place in your home. Before, you could make the effort to leave your work problems at work. Now, the live with you. So enjoy yourself, enjoy your work and enjoy your family!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

First Time Garden Plot

Well, this year marks our first attempt at a semi-regular garden plot. I say that because we did try a garden several years ago, but it was more experimental than practical. This year we decided to lean towards the practical side.

Using some of the methods for spacing and crop layout based on the book, "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew, we've planted and even experienced our first harvest. Now as novice gardeners, we were way late on the draw getting this thing in the ground. Around here in our neck of the woods, it's not uncommon for folks to start planting some things in March as our last frost is usually no later than March 30th. Unfortunately, because of our dependence on someone else's tiller, our plants didn't get into the ground until the last week in May - so we missed all the great springs showers for free watering.

Despite this fact, we have experienced some dramatic success and I thought I would share it with you here on the blog. Learning as we go, I'm taking notes for next year, that's for sure. (Actually, i've discovered quite a few crops that I can grow through the winter here because of our mild climate!) So if you've never planted a garden before, take heart dear reader, it can be done! This is just our latest and most visible step toward more self-sufficiency. Next year I'm hoping for two things: (a) to be on our own land, and (b) to have a large enough garden to do some basic canning for food storage.

Zucchini Squash...

Cantaloupe Melon ...

Onions ...

Okra ...

A wonderful family ...

The Hydrogen Gas Saver: Fact or Fiction

The Hydrogen Gas Saver: Fact or Fiction?

With the rising cost of fuel, people everywhere are looking for something to help them save on their costs at the pump. From fuel boosters to super magnets to the hydrogen gas saver, it almost seems like people are willing to try anything. In fact, you are probably reading this article right now because you are trying to find out if such a thing as the hydrogen gas saver really works, right? Well, let’s take a quick look at the science behind the idea and then we can go from there.

Free hydrogen gas saver information

The concept has been around for years actually. Producing HHO (hydrogen-hydrogen-oxygen) gas from an electrolysis method applied to water was first discovered by a guy named Brown. So that is why you will hear HHO referred to sometimes as Brown’s gas. It’s just another name for the gas that is produced when electrolysis is done correctly. The hydrogen gas saver is simply a method of creating this HHO gas as a fuel booster for your car. Now there are some folks out there claiming that they can run the car completely 100% on HHO ... that is something I would have to do some more research on.

However, as for the hydrogen gas saver actually helping your car get better gas mileage? It’s really not that hard to believe ... there are tons of people all over the world posting their findings on the Internet, and most of them aren’t looking to sell you anything. They are simply ‘bragging’ about what a great savings they are experiencing at the gas pump with their hydrogen gas savers in use. Just a cursory glance over many of these testimonials will give you reason to believe in this new concept of a water hybrid car. People are posting gains of anywhere from 25% to 250% from their original m.p.g. values.

Free hydrogen gas saver videos

That brings up another good point. Before you go installing a hydrogen gas saver on your car, you want to make sure that you find out how many miles you are getting to the gallon now. This will give you a good baseline to know whether or not the device is working properly (or any device, for that matter). While there are fancy gadgets out there that will give you an instant reading on your m.p.g. ratio, I prefer the old school methodology myself using those time honored tools called pencil and paper. Here’s how you do it. Fill up your tank and reset your trip odometer. If you don’t have a trip odometer, write down your regular odometer reading. Drive normally and don’t fill up until you are close to a quarter of a tank or less. The more driving you do, the more accurate your results will be. Next, when you fill up again, record the trip odometer reading or regular odometer reading (before you reset it!). Also, you will want to record how many gallons of gasoline it took to fill back up your vehicle. Then it’s simply a matter of dividing the number of miles driven by the number of gallons it took to refill the tank. This will give you a baseline m.p.g. so if you install a hydrogen gas saver you can really quantify your savings.

So what’s the bottom line on the hydrogen gas saver? From everything I’ve seen, it works. Some cars adapt better than others, and some cars seem to require add-on computer controls, etc. But to get a 50% or more increase in gas savings ... wouldn’t it be worth it? Now a word of caution about the hydrogen gas saver: you can find these things all over the Internet. However, HHO gas is highly flammable. My point being that you should get the best information available when researching and making your decision to build your own hydrogen gas saver. Don’t accept everything you come across as being ‘the real deal’ either. Just remember, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. Free information is out there, but when it comes to being safe, is free really the way you want to go?

Get a great set of plans to build your own hydrogen gas saver here:

The Water4Gas Book

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Balancing Priorities and Keeping It Real

Well, it's been over a week since I posted my 'average Joe' post. Geez ... that was depressing, wasn't it? Sorry, just keeping it real ... even in what some would call a great situation (ie, working from home) there are still times when things just don't gel right. Can't explain it, probably never will be able to.

But, for anyone who's interested, I'm moving past that now.

Still working full time, trying to build my little Internet empire and diversify my income all while taking time out for myself and my family. The balancing of priorities with someone who wants more out of life can be truly exhausting. Will it be worth it in the end? I think so ...

So, what am I doing now? Well, I'm still writing search engine pages and I recently picked up a somewhat paid blogging gig with I'll be posting a link to that blog here soon. I'm also starting another blog that caters to a niche that I am interested in ... and I'm trying to relax by doing some reading, and eventually, some writing of my own (again).

So there you have it ... see you on the flip side, 'average joe' ;-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To Thine Own Self Be True

Those were the words of Shakespeare. Or at least that's what we are told. They might just be the words of Frances Bacon. Nevertheless, they ring a truth that transcends the ages and drives home a startling point: you shouldn't try to fool yourself.

I have come full circle. As I write this tonight, I have had what perhaps has been the most overwhelming epiphany of my life. All my life I have tried to rise above some invisible thread that holds me back. Always at the top of my class, but never where I wanted to be. At every turn, just when success would seem to be within my grasp, I would fail to gain the prize. I have always felt above average and called to have some significant destiny ... to rise above my peers.

I realized today that's not it at all. The truth of the matter is, I'm just an average Joe. I don't have any super destiny awaiting my in a pot of gold at the end of some rainbow. I have what I have right now, and that is it.

I have a contract job, working 40 hours a week - an average Joe.
I have a wife and three kids - an average Joe.
I don't own my own Internet start-up, and I never will - an average Joe.
I've never made a six-figure income, and I never will - an average Joe.
I struggle from month to month just to make ends meet for our family - an average Joe.
I'm not the husband nor the father that I should be - an average Joe.

So much for having anything really meaningful to share with you. I'm not a real blogger. I'm not a "real man" as the title implies. In fact, the truth is I'm nothing more than an average Joe.

So, without further ado, I believe I will lay this blog to rest. After all, there's not much point in me wasting my time on here. You're not even listening. How do I know? Because I'm just an average Joe.

Good Bye and Good Night to all the average Joes out there.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Today in Weather History

Just checking my e-mail and noticed this little blurb at the end of my daily weather forecast:

"This data in Weather History... In 1919, an F5 tornado tore a path of destruction through Fergus Falls, Minnesota. 59 people were killed and 400 buildings were destroyed.

In 1947, twelve inches of rain fell in Holt, Missouri in just 42 minutes.

In 1972, the remnants of Hurricane Agnes dumped 10 to 20 inches of rain across Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was inundated by flood waters after a dike was breached, which caused $3.5 billion in damage."

Huh. Funny how we always think that our current predicament is worse than its ever been before. Judging from this blurb, 2008 may turn out to be just another average year. Oh well, so much for the harbingers of doom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Independence Day

OK, maybe it's not Independence Day for the rest of the country yet, but today is Independence Day for me! It was one year ago today that I decided that I had enough of the bullying boss that I used to work for and walked out of the company I was employed with.

It was a tough decision, to be sure. With only a few months' worth of income set aside, I made the giant leap into the unknown. It's been a rough and bumpy ride, but worth every minute of it.

I still struggle with diversification. As a freelance professional I see "success" with any single company as just another form of a J-O-B. I think diversification for any self-employed person is critical to their ultimate success and freedom, allowing them to still call the shots.

One final thought on this Independence Day ... you can do anything that you set your mind to do. If you are still struggling with a big decision, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get moving!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Grammar in The Wrong Hands Can Be Dangerous

As a writer of web content, I'm going to take a minute to vent here. After all, if I can't do it here, where can I do it? OK, so there is your fair warning - this post isn't necessarily about working from home or fatherhood ... deal with it.

What has happened to the grammatical standards of the English language? Perhaps the Internet and all of it's fast-paced slang abbreviations killed it. Maybe, just maybe, we allowed it to die because nobody really held an interest in keeping it alive anymore.

I write for several places online, and am endeavoring to break into the offline markets as well. My concern for the future of English grammar comes from these writing experiences. Many times I have seen copy editors just ignore grammar issues an approve stuff anyway. That is disconcerting enough. However, when I see copy editors actually make corrections that are wrong and publish them to a group of people - hold the phone, we've got real issues now!

Not only does this impact the person who wrote the piece, but it also impacts everyone who is "learning" from this editor's feedback. While the editor's job should be to make corrections and bring things up to speed - all the while training folks, it doesn't always happen this way. So what happens when an editor gets it wrong and actually pushes the "correction" out to his staff? A group of people have just become more ignorant of proper grammar and are farther behind the writer's curve for having listened to him.

Now you know the reason for the title of my post. Grammar in the wrong hands truly can be dangerous. My only question now is how to communicate the truth to the copy editor without getting slapped in my wallet.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Diversification is the key to long term success in working for yourself from home. I believe that. Have I done it? Some, but not to the extent that I would like to.

At the moment, my primary source of income is writing search engine results pages (aka SeRPs) for a human powered search engine. It pays well for online work, but it still just a freelance contract. So what does that mean? It can go away at any time, for any reason. That is something I don't want to be worrying about every month.

Diversification means spreading out my talents among many services. Ultimately, diversification for me means developing multiple streams of passive income, so that I'm not spending every waking moment trading my time for dollars. I know that I have to work, but it would be nice if work wasn't an all-consuming force in my life.

Bottom line is just like the old saying goes: dont' put all your eggs in one basket. If that basket breaks, you lose everything you've worked for. Want a case study? Here's a case-in-point for you ...

Over the past two years, I've really read up on blogging and earning money from blogs via various advertising models such as Google Adsense, Text Link Ads, banner ads, block ads and even Pay Per Post. So what did I discover? All of those things pay, but only a few are what I call "hands off" passive income. Adsense was one of those, of course. On another blog that I have since abandoned, I documented for several months the sources of my online income, the amounts, etc.

One thing I realized was that Adsense was a consistent performer, with no extra work on my part. I would post on some of the blogs, but nothing really overwhelming or a schedule killer. Month after month, Adsense continued to perform and even increase slightly each month, as my blogs and websites experienced more traffic. All was as it should be.

Now don't get me wrong. I wasn't making a ton of money on Adsense. The first year, I got one check from Google for $100. The next six months I qualified for another one. I was on schedule to get another one in a month or two. That's when the basket dropped. I got a nice little email from Google one day saying that my Adsense account was suspended, and that I was welcome to file an appeal, but no further action was required by me, or them. The reason they gave? Well, that wasn't really clear, but it was "possible click fraud". Okay. Wait just a minute.

I'm a white hat kinda guy. I'm trying to put together real content for real people. What happens? I get the Google slap! I know all kinds of guys out there selling black hat SEO stuff, and making a killing off of Adsense. I get the best month ever of traffic to my various blogs and websites, and boom! Google shuts down my most consistent source of passive income. Of course, I filed an appeal, but never heard back from them. I re-read their TOS for the program, and realized they reserve the right to cancel anyone for any reason whatsoever, without explanation. Wow. Nice.

Moral of the story: Get many baskets to put your eggs in!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Work At Home Dad Commercial

OK, most of you have probably already seen this commercial. Keep in mind that we don't have basic cable, and we lost our Christian satellite system at the end of March, when SkyAngel went out of business. So here for your viewing pleasure is the fantasy of the work at home dad.

When school is out in a few weeks, I'll shoot a video and show you what it's really like, 'cause this ain't it.

Check It Out: New Blogroll

OK, so before I had a list of "resources" ... whatever that meant.

I went on a search this evening for the elusive WAHD. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's right ... in search of the work-at-home dad! It's fairly easy to find a nice list of SAHDs (stay-at-home dads), but finding the group that stays there AND manages to work there, all the while being a dad no less, is very tough!

I assure you that I am qualified to do this type of research. I've been online for over 10 years. I've used search engines that pre-dated Google! Of course, they are all gone now, but that's beside the point. Even now, I'm a freelance writer and I provide SeRPs (search engine results pages) for the best human-driven search engine online. However, when it comes to the WAHD, I believe it's an endangered species!

Anyway, my hunting tonight pulled up some new blogs. Now before you go tearing me up, I already know that some of these are not WAHDs, but rather SAHDs. That's okay too ... I picked them because they are witty. So there you have it ... a new blogroll of the blogs that yours truly will be checking out over the next few weeks. Care to join me?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hard To Find Good Help

Have you ever noticed when you're working from home how hard it can be to find good help for special projects?

Well, we moved my desk into our bedroom so I would have a more secluded office from the rest of the house, but the fax machine stays up front with my wife's computer setup. Yesterday I had an incoming fax and didn't give it a second thought. I IM'd my wife, who set it up and got the fax off of the machine for me. Then she did something different ... she sent a special helper to bring it to me.

Now imagine having this little person as your courier each day ... this just makes it all worthwhile, no doubt about it! What do you think?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Office With A View

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have an office with a view? No, I'm not talking about the corporate high-rise view from the 50th floor overlooking the concrete jungle! I'm talking about a home office with a view that is tranquil and awe inspiring. Working from home should provide something like that, don't you think? I was thinking about that as I realized that my home office view is quite nice actually. So, I thought I would share it with you. Here is the view from my "office":

Now isn't that nice? If you take a few minutes to listen ... you can actually hear the birds singing throughout the day. It is very inspirational and peaceful ... compared to the concrete jungle! :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008


I never realized how hard it would be to be a father. I always wanted to be one, partly because of the fact I didn't have one growing up. But I can tell you now that being a good father in the 21st century is very difficult.

I want so many things for my family, and I want to provide so many things for my family through financial means. I don't want to rely on others for my income and survival. But everything takes time. Time spent every day working so I can pay the bills, time spent every day attempting to develop some passive/residual income streams so that I don't have to spend so much time working. Personal space and personal time also comes into play. Marriage is another thing that takes time. Then there is personal time with my children. Lest I forget (and let's be honest, I forget a lot!), there is also a need for spiritual time - daily time in devotion or study of God's word.

So how am I supposed to fit all of these activities into a 24 hour day? I'm supposed to sleep too, but sometimes that comes in limited quantities. I used to survive on 4 to 6 hours of sleep because I was partying all the time. Now I survive on 4 to 6 hours of sleep because I am always working on another project, another job, another website, etc. So where does it all end?

I simply don't know how to balance all of these things in my life. Fatherhood, after 7 years, is still a mystery to me. Slowly, I feel that I am losing my influence over my children. Is there any way to get it back? I don't know, but I'm sure going to try ...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Have A Dream

Have you ever had a dream in your life? Something that you wanted to accomplish so bad that you could almost taste it? Well, I have ...

Over the years I've had three things that I have dreamed about that I have wanted with all of my heart. The first one has come true for me - I'm working from home for myself! However, as you have read on this blog, that has been a mixed bag of results. While I am technically self employed, and I am working at home, I still have to maintain regular hours and pretty much feel like I am still working for 'the man', only from home instead of at his office.

So how about those other two things? Well, here's what my other two dreams are ...

1. To be able to generate residual income, or some kind of semi-passive income, online. This would enable me to continue to work from any location that can access the Internet, as well as allow me even greater flexibility in my time. I would love to be "semi-retired" by the time I am 40 (I am 37 now).

2. I want to be self-sufficient. What I mean by this is that I want to have solar power, my own water source, grow the majority (if not all) of my own food, etc. I don't just want to go "green" because I want to save the planet ... I want to be prepared in the event of a complete economic meltdown (which I feel is coming).

So what do you dream about, and what steps are you taking to achieve your dreams? In my next post, I will share some of my thoughts on making it happen.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break Recap: Work at Home Hell Week

Well, spring break is over for our family. Last week was, to say the least, the most challenging week since I've been working from home. While I did start this work from home adventure last June, it was well after school started before I found a regular paying gig that constituted steady work. We lived off of savings for several months while I searched for the right "fit".

So last week really constituted our first attempt to all co-habitate AND work together all at the same time. Three kids at home all day became a very challenging scenario indeed. Even though my wife was here to help, we both about went crazy trying to work (her part time, me full time) and corral the kids at the same time. It was by far my worst and most unproductive week thus far working from home.

Of course, this brings up an important issue. How will I cope with working from home during the summer? I attempted a different schedule during spring break. I tried a late evening shift, sleeping in during the morning hours and spending time with the kids in the afternoons. Unfortunately, I never slept in as much as I would have liked, the kids wore me out in the afternoons, and I found myself tired and lagging during the evenings, sometimes unable to complete my intended schedule. That shift sure didn't work.

All I know is that I'm glad spring break is over. I can easily say that it was hell week here at home "sweet" home.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Networking and Writing

Ah, where to begin. The journey never really ends, does it? I've renewed my personal interest in building a network of readers - either through my blog on topics of religious interest, or my articles that I am going to write on everyday events and issues as a citizen journalist.

You see, everything is going great over on my full-time gig. No problems. So why am I going to start stepping out and doing freelance stuff on the side? Well, as the old saying goes, I don't want to have all of my eggs in one basket.

At heart, I really do believe I have it in my to be a writer. Granted, a lot of my writing style is very conversational and opinionated. I don't know if I can stick to the facts and garner a following as a reputable citizen journalist without wavering into the passion zone of my writing, so-to-speak. I really want to continue this blog, and develop an outlet for my other articles as well.

I've taken another look at Associated Content, Helium as well as another writing gig that I've signed up for - Natural News. None of these are paying big bucks, although Helium does have a marketplace section where real publishers are paying decent money for articles that are picked out of the crowded competition. Of more interest to me over there right now is their current involvement with the Pulitzer prize people as well as the National Press Club. Now there are two groups that it would pay to be associated with as a writer!

Keep your eyes on the blog here, and I will be passing along my profile(s) as well as a link (or two) to my writing outlet blogs. Hopefully you're up for the ride ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I did it again, didn't I? Updates and more ...

OK, it hasn't been 3 months yet ... but almost. I really need to take some time to focus on this blog every once in a while. This is most disgraceful - especially for a self-proclaimed "writer"!

Well, things on the work at home front are going well! I have managed to get a regular schedule going, and I'm working full time now with an online company! That's one of the reasons (ahem, no excuses here) that I've let this blog slip. In addition, I've started doing some additional research into Internet marketing, RSS and blogs, and traffic generation. I'll probably cover this more in another post - I do want to share some of the great stuff I get to do - there's a social side to it, and I want to invite you to my join as my friend! ;-)

I've come to a simple conclusion: it's time to get on the social networking bandwagon, or get off the road! About 5 years ago I read a great article about the future of the Internet, and what was going to drive all of our traffic: blogs, RSS, and pings. Well, I sat on my duff for several years, and caught the tail end of the wave. Sure, all of those things are there, and they still work, but not like they did when they first hit the net!

So what's the moral of my story? Social networking is all the rage NOW. Reviews are in, projections are out ... it IS the next wave of Internet traffic driving phenomenon. Now, this would apply very broadly to Digg, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, even YouTube and the like. There has been some discussion that even some of these sites are beginning to bog down - a result of which is the loss of "value" for the average user.

Take Technorati, for example. When it first came out, and for a year or so after that, it was a great resource! However, since the minions of black-hat marketers have been spamming the heck out of it, it has pretty much been overloaded with spammy blogs, etc. So it's usefulness for the average user has plummeted. It seems that has been the downfall of almost every single Internet resource ... after a period of time.

So the biggest advice I can give is this: look for the early warning signs of something taking off - and get on board! It's not about spamming, it's not about screwing people, it's not even about big business. But any business has to have traffic - even a brick and mortar store. So, go to where the traffic is, and invite them in! The cardinal rule, however, still applies: you must provide something of value - or they will NEVER come back.