Category Archives: Blogging

Diet and blog update

We have been slammed since the first of the year so I have gotten behind on blogging and fell off the wagon on my diet at least a couple of times. Now however, the holidays are over, our annual church special meetings for the year are over, annual sales meeting up in Canada at my day job is complete so I will not have to try to lose weight on restaurant food or on big meals Lorena prepares for visitors. I actually did better than I usually do and currently at my lowest weight since I started the diet-16.5 lbs. lost. Only 44.5 lbs. to go.

In addition to the diet thing and my day job, I have a couple of side projects (a development project with my buddy Gene I plan to chronicle quite a bit more and a, believe or not, real estate project with my buddy Mark P.), and a three or four more remodel projects. So, I plan to write on all this until one of the side projects turns into a business and/or I retire and continue to try to find a work from home business. Over the next couple of days I will talk about the development stuff Gene and I are doing and the business idea/model behind it.

Weight, travel, hobbies, and home improvement

Life is getting back to normal in the Chapman household. I guess I should make the caveat that it is about as normal as is possible based on adherence to the recently adopted New Year’s resolution to which I hope to stick. Lorena does not really have that first of the year resolution life modification thing because she sticks to what she is doing through thick and thin. Nevertheless, after one pretty big fall from the wagon and a brief smaller one, both due to visits and special circumstances, I am back in the game and hit a new “this diet” low in my quest to lose over sixty pounds.

My work is back in full swing with a trip to Canada and tentative trips to China and North Carolina in the works. I work on stuff that is of great interest to me and that is a gift. It is enough of a gift that I actually work on it as a hobby, too. Hopefully, within the next few months, I will be able to write about the hobby project some more because it is something that could have a fairly high level of interest for those in certain small businesses and maybe even for those with serious coffee snobbery. More on that when we (my buddy Gene and I) have more to show.

In the meantime, we continue with our home improvement projects. The entry to the house now looks less like an overgrown vacant lot, but only a little bit less like that. This month there is some good chance we will have all the new floors installed in our house, but that will depend on how often I have to travel and/or am stuck at home by myself while Lorena visits her mom in Mexico.

Where to take the blog

My blog posting has fallen off quite a bit over the last month or so. Part of this is due to a lack of time with work on the sickle cell disease project and my day job and the travel required for that, getting Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s estate settled, remodeling the house (even though the new kitchen is in, we still have about a year to go at our current pace), etc., etc. Really, though, I have not been so inspired to write too much. It was nice to be able to put up pictures so friends and family in other places could see pictures of what was going on with the remodel, but there has not really been any greater goal in my posting. The early posting about homeschool, CLEP testing, and posting about skipping high school to go to college had a greater appeal and still draws a lot of traffic to the site and was well worth the effort. After some thought, I have to find something better about which to write or just turn this into a personal blog with pictures and posts suitable for friends and family. I am working through that now. I do not think it will be a short process and I plan to continue to write as I go, but my desire is to find better things about which to write.

A new blog header and some new and old memories

New Mt. Rainier Blog Header

You might have noticed we put up a new blog header. Lorena found my old Canon PowerShot SD 750 pocket camera when she unpacked the house. I immediately went out and took this picture. I am not a great photographer and the camera, while it may not be the best in the world, is small enough to fit comfortable in a shirt pack, still takes good enough pictures that I cannot tell the difference.

This move has really been a joy. We are thankful for it all from our old friends in Texas (Dan, Al, Jill, Gary, Debbie, Sue, the Lee’s, the Drake’s, all of them) to our new friends, starting with Bob and Gena, there is much for which to be thankful. The least of these things for which to be thankful is the “stuff” we are unpacking and even that brings back memories–this is the camera Grandpa Lauro always used while he was with us. — Kelly’s new blog -- Kelly's new blogKelly Jean started her new blog ( just in time to show off her Pi Day pink rhubarb pie in her inaugural post. Who knows what she will post there, but seems like a not inauspicious start to what will, hopefully, be a long and prosperous blogging career. I hope she has as much enjoyment with her blog as I have had with mine. She drew and published a comic strip for two years so I hope she does some of that.

The blog design is very simple which is good and there is a heavy use of the color pink. Surprise, surprise. You will be able to get to Kelly’s blog both from a link in the banner at the top of the page and from the blog roll in the column to the right of the posts here at

Getting ready for the memorial service with a finicky blog

The blog was down for a few days due to technical issues. I am kind of glad for that because so much has been going that if I would have written about it in real time I would certainly have just confused everyone and probably even myself. The good part is the plan for the memorial service for Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah is coming together nicely. Lots of people plan to travel to Oregon and there are lots of people within driving distance. The venue (Milwaukie High School Auditorium in Milwaukie, Oregon–yes I spelled Milwaukie correctly, it is the people in Wisconsin who spell it wrong!) has enough room for 600 people. I am sure there will not be remotely that many people there, but we have plenty of room for everyone to attend who so desires and a great place for a potluck afterward.

The complications have to do with just about everything else: work, houses, travel, etc., etc., but more about that later. I am glad to have my blog back. Those technical difficulties happened at the absolutely least convenient time ever. For the first time in history it was actually being used to get some useful information to people and then it goes down.

Test for tweet purposes

KellyRubixIf anyone wants to follow me on twittery you can go here to do that. Trying to figure out how to tweet my posts. This post is my test post to use to figure that out. The photo was of Kelly at Thanksgiving time this year in Wilsonville.

Update: I found out the way to make it look good is to use Twitter Summary Cards. I am also adding the ability to tweet my posts from a button click.

Update 2: Figuring out that I have a lot left to learn. None of this stuff really lines up right and the lining up syntax seems really arbitrary.[bctt tweet=”Testing to see if my ‘Click to Tweet’ capability works.” via=”no”]

Blog update 2016

It has been quite awhile since I did an update on this blog itself. First, I would like to say I am glad I have been able to keep writing on a regular (sometime only semi-regular) basis and I plan to keep going indefinitely. Here are a few statistics, milestones and comments:

  • I started the blog on April 6, 2004, so the blog is a little over 12 years old.
  • This is the 2978th blog post, so we should hit 3000 pretty soon. I, myself, have only written 2810, so I probably will not hit the 3000 post mark until 2017 if I can keep going.
  • We average around two comments per post, but that has slowed down since I write less now about Homeschool since the kids are gone to college.
  • I started tracking my Bible reading on the blog on February 9, 2006, so I have continued with that for over 10 years and have to say it has helped my reading consistency a lot. My plan when I started was to systematically read through the Old Testament three times and the New Testament nine times. I am on track to complete that within the next year or two. After that, I will probably set another goal and maybe switch versions to the ESV or maybe even the Reina Valera. What is most amazing and cool about this little program is that the amount I read every day has been on a steady increase over the last year or so.
  • I do not keep many blog statistics, but have a tool that shows the last month. On average I get a little over 100 unique visitors per day and between 300-400 page hits per day (not including spiders and bots). I know how to make those numbers go up, but I do not really enjoy doing the type of writing required to increase traffic all the time (I sometimes go on a binge) and that has never been the point of this blog.

Something that has interested me lately is that the use of the most popular social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (and probably even SnapChat) appears to have fallen off a cliff in terms of daily usage by the great unwashed masses at the same time these sites are increasingly dominated by commercial clutter. Meanwhile, the humble blog has maintained its attraction for people who have a message, like to keep a journal, want a place to put baby pictures for posterity or distant relatives or a million other personal, non-commercial reasons.

So my blog goals are modest. I plan to keep writing about twenty posts per month. I hope to find some things that are compelling to read for anyone else but me. I have found that to be a little bit difficult since the kids are no longer in homeschool, but I have hope with a couple of pretty big things that are happening with life and work. The include a business, a new house and, who knows, maybe someday we will have grandkids and I will get to participate in homeschool again.

Will Kelly share her art with us again?

KellyCaricatureKelly went to a conference in Las Vegas. While she was there, here group gambled at the craps table for a little while. Since did not gamble, one of the guys in the group had her roll the dice for her several times and she won him $300. The guy gave her $25 for her trouble which she promptly blew on the drawing she holds in the picture. It was from a slightly tipsy street artist and you can see it is a monumentally bad likeness. You know what they way about ill-gotten gains!

This has inspired Kelly to start to share her art once again. She has started a new Instagram account named Betty Blonde Draws. She has her first three caricatures up there now. They are very good likenesses, but of the very quickly drawn ones. She plans to do more quick ones, but she also plans to spend some time to create some that are more thoughtfully drawn.

This is all great because she is kind of an amazing caricaturist. One of biggest worries is that the kids would have a lousy art education if we homeschooled. It turns out the had a fairly amazing art education including the study of art history. Maybe it was because I am so weak myself in that area, we worked harder to make sure we overcame my weakness. It is certainly true that I also received much more art than I had before we started the effort.

So if you want to be drawn, send her a picture of yourself. She is always looking for more material.

Betty Blonde #491 – 07/02/2010
Betty Blonde #491
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Rejecting a comment

I rarely have cause to reject comments on this blog for anything other than span which Askimet pretty much handles on its own. Our content is not really very controversial in the whole scheme of things so inappropriate comments are not too much of a problem. I got a comment today that was aggressive and snarky with claims about qualifications that were impossible (and not worth the time) to check. The author of the comment took objection to something I said about getting a STEM degree (I think it was about this post) that completely missed the point of the post in a very snarky and unhelpful way. I enjoy a vigorous discussion and have been known to admit I am wrong and try to change my ways, but the purpose of this blog is to discuss topics of interest to me and my readership in a thoughtful and even vigorous and argumentative way. Anything that detracts from that needs to be rejected.

I was helped in this by a comment Tom Gilson made over at the Thinking Christian blog on how he manages his blog comments. He basically says any comments helpful to the mission of the blog that meet certain rules of decorum are OK. I will base my comment moderation on that model.

Betty Blonde #466 – 04/23/2010
Betty Blonde #466
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Christian’s (technical) PhD blog

Christan started a blog to record his thoughts on the technical stuff he is doing for his PhD. So far he has one post up titled Thoughts about Extracting Information from Sequences of Noisy Observations. It is one of those inside baseball kind of blogs where I think you have to be in the field to understand what it is all about. I do not understand much, but am going to try to give it a more thorough read when I get a chance. The graphics are great. He did them with Inkscape, a great open source vector graphics tool.

Betty Blonde #448 – 04/05/2010
Betty Blonde #448
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We are all just some guy on the internet

Sometimes I forget who I am. I read a blog post yesterday that was sufficiently interesting that I decided to click on the blog’s About page. The author is an example to us all. This lady knows who she is better than most. Here is part of what she wrote:

This really is just some blog. I really am just some…well…actually, “girl” might be a little inaccurate. I’m over 30 now, so I have to stop saying that, lest I begin to resemble those “girls” who cling to youth with all the grace of a two year old whose favorite toy is under the covetous gaze of his big sister. I’m just some woman on the internet. Take me as seriously as I deserve to be taken, and we’ll get along just fine. (See what I did there? Get Along? Right. Ahem. Expectations, remember? Low.)

Wow. I need a little more of that on this blog and in my life. Our whole family needs that. Credentialism is a bad thing. Pride in one’s own ability that actually came from God is a bad thing. Even our own good efforts are our due responsibility. No one ever gives their best efforts for more than a period of time. I am not saying we should not find joy in God given ability and even the fruits of our own efforts. God wants us to do that, but he also wants us remember from whence it all came.

Thanks Get Along Home blog for the timely reminder. The next time I write something particularly aggrandizing, do not hesitate to point me back to this post. Maybe that will help me remember I am just some guy on the internet.

Betty Blonde #358 – 11/30/2009
Betty Blonde #358
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State of the blog: Some stuff I’ve learned

At the beach shortly before we restarted our homeschoolI have blogged now for over eleven years. The picture at the left is from a trip to the beach shortly before we restarted our homeschool adventure within a month after I started writing. I wrote because I wanted a record of the things we did and it helped me order my thoughts.

We had very specific goals and it was easy to find blog topics because we were very interested in doing things well, so we studied, shopped, traveled, worked and thought about very specific things that had to do with those goals. Frankly, though, I have struggled some since the kids went off to graduate school with finding topics about which to write.

The funny deal is that the blog following continues to grow. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I have moved up to the top of the Google search results for certain categories of questions like Why Not Skip High School, which math program to use, CLEP testing and several other topics. We are starting to get more and more hits on the series I am doing on Our Homeschool Story, too.

I am more encouraged than ever about continuing to blog. When we finished homeschool I got a little discouraged because I was so used to writing about homeschool and I struggled finding topics about which to write. We succeed beyond anything we might have imagined after making a ten year plan. Our specific goals were abruptly over. So abruptly that we were caught unaware. We have struggled to know what to do next. That has diminished somewhat now for a several of reasons. My parents’ entry into memory care and our need to return to Oregon to help gave us some sense of mission, but we know (or at least hope) that will be short term for everyones’ sakes.

While this was all going on, it dawned on me that I had learned, over these years, what kinds of blog posts and content works best to drive up page hits and unique visitors. That would be very important if I had not decided I wanted to write for other reasons than to have a large readership. I know how to link to the right news articles and blog posts, use the right words and do a few other things to gives myself spikes in readership. I do that some times just to see if it still works, but have decided that is not my reason for writing.

I am sure I will have the urge to write something every now and then to drive traffic to the site. It is fun, but not the motivation behind the bulk of my efforts. The biggest thing that helps me continue to write is that I like it now and it is part of my daily routine. We DO have a few specific goals. Lorena has been accepted at the local community college and plans to start classes as early as this summer. We have a few fun trips planned. Our kids continue to advance their careers. We plan to move someplace closer to Mexico to retire when your current responsibilities here in Oregon end. It is all good.

Life has currently put us into circumstances where it is very difficult to plan to achieve longer term stuff. That is not a bad thing, but it is not my comfort zone. I like to have something specific to do. Now we have an indeterminate period of time in front of us where we need to be available to help care for my parents (Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah) who are in memory care. I think it is very good for me. Lorena is much better at living in the moment than I. Maybe this will help me. I think, going forward, that will be more and more important in our lives. I surely do not plan to bore anyone with that, but I do plan to learn to enjoy the indeterminate. 

Betty Blonde #334 – 10/27/2009
Betty Blonde #334
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Sultan Knish on David Letterman

I have never really had a desire to be a political blogger. I write about some political stuff sometimes, but that is more a function of my worldview than any allegiance to a political ideology. That being said, it is hard to get to the news of the day without passing through the political filters of the reporters and commentators. Television news is the worst. The knee-jerk, brain dead, hard left orientation of the “mainstream media” is the worst and the country club republicanism of what postures as a more balanced choice is only marginally better. It makes me thankful we do not have a television. Radio is just as grating. I ride silently in my car these days. I probably should have been doing that all along.

So, I am relegated to getting my news from the Internet. There are actually quite a few places now from which I feel comfortable getting my news. The news aggregation sites are good because one can preview the source before they consume the product and there are often links to commentary that are worthy of a read. I found the Sultan Knish blog at one of the news aggregation sites I frequent and now I try to read everything written there. The blog author, David Greenfield, makes me kind of sad because he is not only way smarter than me, I am very confident I will never come within a country mile of being able to write as well as him. He is kind of like Mark Steyn in that regard.

I wrote this post specifically so I would have a pointer to the blog on my website and because he captured my exact thoughts on David Letterman. The following quote gives you a flavor for the whole article, but I hope you read the whole thing.

He was not a liberal by conviction, but out of laziness. When challenged by guests like Bill O’Reilly, he quickly folded. His politics were not thought out, they were unthinking. For all his pretense of eccentricity, he was a conformist who understood that if he played the game, he would get paid. His comic personality, the folksy skepticism and detached disdain served up in measured doses to viewers, was calculated to cover up this essential attribute that defined his enormously lucrative career.

Letterman is a professional sycophant who limos off into the sunset to the strains of the sycophantic braying of a dying industry. As audiences dwindle, the media has become its own audience, mourning the passing of its glorious past by taking hits of nostalgia from its heady days of power and privilege.

Betty Blonde #331 – 10/22/2009
Betty Blonde #331
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Blog changes and other blog stuff

You might have noticed by now that I have changed the blog theme. I really did not want to do it, but someone was able to replace some of our blog links with some pretty unsavory stuff. I do not have a new header image yet, but it was about time for something new anyway. I hope to get to that soon. I have wondered whether I should keep blogging now that the kids have graduated and left home. Sometimes I struggle to find something meaningful about which to write, but sometimes I feel pretty inspired. I am playing it by ear right now, but it is just part of my daily routine now, so my sense is that I will just keep going.

On another note, a blogging buddy has asked me to submit something on our homeschool for an upcoming e-book they will publish. I have decided that would be pretty fun, so I am going to do it. I will keep you posted on that as it moves forward.

Betty Blonde #321 – 10/08/2009
Betty Blonde #321
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Reddit slams my visitor statistics

I have no worthwhile reason to explain why I have not written for so long. I have been on the road (my usual gig in Prescott), sick (two bouts of the flu), had visitors galore (family for holiday stuff) and have worked long hours on my day job. No of them are a good excuse for not having written. The thing that has gotten me kicked off center again is a comment (here) on my Why Not Skip High School? series of posts. Christan, found it, laughed hilariously and proceeded to post it on Reddit (here). Then, the blog commenced to receive massive hits so I have had the biggest days ever–a somewhat ignoble way to get hits, but I’ll take. Even more importantly, it got me out of my writing slump. I will be back to normal rates of visitor-ship in a day or two, but this has all served its purpose.

Betty Blonde #218 – 05/18/2009
Betty Blonde #218
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Luke’s homeschool blog post aggregation site

As long as I am writing about blog posts I had better mention my favorite aggregation site for stuff that has to do with homeschooling. I do not know whether it is part of his job or not, but for whatever reason, Luke from over at Sonlight Blog has one of the best RSS aggregation sites going. The articles that appear there are completely different from any of the other article aggregations I regularly follow–most of the others tend to all link to the same set of articles on any given day. There are two blog posts I found there that are on my list for possible posts here. I think he must handpick the stuff and he does not necessarily put stuff up there with which he agrees, but what is interesting.  I highly recommend it.

Update: I should not have forgotten to say that the Sonlight Blog itself is a great place to visit every day. I do not always agree with them, but I agree a lot of the time and it is always interesting.

Betty Blonde #146 – 02/05/2009
Betty Blonde #146
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Somehow, a couple of weeks back, I got a link to the Treppenwitz blog. I am not sure who first sent me the link–I think it might have been Kelly–but now I check it everyday. It is written by a guy roughly my age (maybe a little younger, I am giving my self the benefit of a doubt) who immigrated with his family to Israel from the United States and writes about his family’s life and life in Israel. Recent events make the blog interesting, but this is the post about when his daughter, at age 18, enlisted in the army is the thing that really got me hooked. The picture of the girl in the blog post standing between her parents really hit me with the reality of their situation.

Reading his blog makes me realize we are really not so different from each other. The guy, David Bogner, is there because he wants to be there. He rightly loves his family and his country and wants to have a good life for them. He does not have to be there, but remains and is willing to do what is necessary to keep his family safe and serve his country. I respect what he is doing a lot and love that he writes about it. Do not let me or my family complain about our lot in life–we have it easy and need to appreciate and support those who want that for their own families.

Betty Blonde #143 – 02/02/2009
Betty Blonde #143
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Walking and a new short term project

Dad's new walking toolsI have to admit I have been struggling a little with a lot of very little things over the last month or two. It is almost a perfect storm:

  • The kids are moving three thousand miles from home to go to college.
  • My day job company is just about to deliver on the first (really hard) product so I will start on a new, big project that does not require 60-80 work weeks.
  • We lost Lorena’s father(Grandpa Lauro) which did a pretty hard reset on my priorities.
  • I have delivered a ton of new functionality to GaugeCam so my work there will probably just consist of bug fixes for at least a few months and probably a year or so.
  • I am fatter and more unhealthy than at any point in my life.
  • A few months back it seemed like a good idea to “finish” this blog and go on to something else, but I can’t bring myself to do it.  The problem is I realize I do not have anything very interesting to say.

So yesterday, when I was feeling sorry for myself, I decided to try to do something about my weight and health, so I went out for a five mile walk.  About half way through, I realized I was getting a sunburn on my bald head, so I stopped and got some walking tools (a ball cap and some sunglasses) displayed in their full glory in the obnoxious selfie accompanying this post.  This morning, I got up early enough before Sunday morning meeting to walk to MacDonald’s for some oatmeal.  Before I left, I downloaded one of those walking applications from my Samsung S3 (My Tracks by Google) and used it.  It is very cool, but the only direct place to post results is to Google+.  The stats, map, and graphs are cool, but Google+ is not really where I want to post them.

So, I think I got a short reprieve.  It is possible to send the walking results as a CSV file to my Google Drive.  So, to keep me interested in continuing to walk and for a short-term project, I think I am going to try to write an application that takes the results of the My Tracks app from my cell phone and posts them to this blog.  That will give me a little more time to think about what I want to do with the blog, find some new, bigger projects on which to work, get a little healthier, and get my act together again.

Betty Blonde #132 – 01/16/2009
Betty Blonde #132
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