Timber Framed Pergola

One of the projects I’ve been working on lately has been a timber framed pergola in a nice neighborhood on Saint Simon’s Island, GA. I haven’t worked much with timber in the past, but this is a rather simple project, so it’s a good introduction for me.

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Hope Deferred

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

So round about 4 years ago, my wife and I had finally had quite enough of the daily grind and rat race. We dreamed of a simpler, more slow paced life, where we could take time for the things that matter in life. Animals, gardens, fruit trees, lazy days on the lake, camping. While we weren’t coming from any corporate, high demand, high paying jobs, that would run you down over the years while ruining your health, it was still very demanding and somewhat stressful at times. I was self employed in construction, and she, a school teacher, and later a secretary. So we had some flexibility in our schedules, just not to the extent we wanted. This is some of what motivated us to move from south Georgia to the hills of Kentucky.

As you may know, starting a farm is NOT cheap at all. Especially when you are starting out on 100% raw land. Every single thing you build, buy, plant, or cut, costs either lots of money or sweat and blood.

Sweat and blood, I can give. Money, well, that runs out pretty quickly, when you haven’t had years to save up for the task at hand.

Since we had chosen a rather small community to move to, there wasn’t just a whole lot of work to go around. A fellow can find work, but it’s not always very well compensated, so the issue remained, financing.

The school called, they needed a teacher. We needed work, or at least, we needed to money that comes from working. I also had job opportunities in Georgia that stemmed from living there nearly 30 years. After praying on it for several weeks, we decided to make the move, hoping to use the opportunity to pay off some debt, and save some money to bring our farm farther along.

The move has payed off. We are once again debt free. And have been able to put aside some money to get our dreams off the ground.

As the end of the school year gets closer, the excitement at the thought of getting back to our little place in Kentucky is almost to much to contain. The mulberries should be in full swing when we get there, with blackberries soon following. The poke-shoots are past their prime, though we may get a few. The blackberries we planted last year may bear fruit as well.

Our camper sits, waiting on its occupants, us, to return. Sadly it will only be for 2 months, as we will be returning to Georgia for 1 more school year.

And yes, my heart IS getting sick from all this deferred hope I have sitting around inside there. And I DO believe it will be like a tree of life to my soul when the day finally comes where we can move to our farm permanently.

Until that day…..

5 Ways To Be More Secure Online

The recent outing of Facebook as having nefariously collected, stored, and sold the data of millions of people, both users, and non Facebook users, made me rethink my online security.

Here are 5 ways to increase your online security.

  1. Use a VPN.

A VPN, or virtual private network, re-routes your traffic through different servers, located all over the earth, to confuse anyone who may be attempting to track you online. It can also help limit ads and malicious websites. The one I am currently using is called CyberGhostVPN. AVG also has a VPN service. If you use Opera as your internet browser, they have a built in VPN which you can activate when you are browsing secure sites, i.e. banking, financial services. At the least, you should ALWAYS use a VPN when you are on an open network

2. Use a password service.

Many people, including myself, use the same password, or slight variation thereof, for many different accounts on many different websites. A password service, (I use LastPass) can not only save all your passwords for various websites, LastPass even offers auto-fill, on both PC and mobile devices. It can generate secure passwords using various parameters, such as upper and lower case letters, number, and special characters, which you can set. One drawback is, all your usernames and passwords and protected by only one password. So make it a good one, and keep it in a secure location.

3. Use a secure browser.

While these browsers may not be secure on their own, BraveHola (also a VPN and ad blocker), and Epic Privacy Browser, will work alongside your VPN of choice, increasing your ad-blocking and anti-tracking capabilities.

4. Use a non-tracking search engine.

Many search engines will track your every move online. This is how they can serve you targeted ads. They will store “cookies” in your browser, which can track and store you online movement. They can then sell this information to the highest bidder. A search engine, such as duckduckgo.com will not track and store your information.

5. Stay off of social media.

While is is a non-starter for many, a great way to keep your private information private, is to not put it out there in the first place. To many people post nearly every minute of their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and then turn around and get upset that the social media giants have all their information. While I no longer use Facebook, I have been taking a look and several interesting looking social media sites. To name a several, MeWe, YoursMinds, and Steemit claim to be committed to customer privacy. MeWe seems to be the closest Facebook clone of the four.

6. Bonus

Use secure, encrypted, email. My choices are Protonmail, and Tutanota.

Secure messenger services. While Telegram is built on encryption, and includes  texting, file sharing, and touch to talk, it is not the easiest, most convenient to use. I prefer it over many others, but some people have a hard time adapting to it. Voxer is a very convenient touch to talk service, and also includes texting, and file sharing. And while it doesn’t come standard with encrypted messages, they recently added the option to open private, encrypted chats, with plans to include group chats in the future.

As with all things, you will sacrifice a little convenience for more security. But in the end, for me at least, its worth the peace of mind.