Integrity vs. YouTube: We have been Served our 30 Day Notice

What was to be the part 2 to a snowplow video today was interrupted by a letter from The YouTube Team stating their desire to control more content; they are demonitizing all channels under 1000 subscribers and with less than 4,000 hours of watch time a year.   My wife and I are concerned that with this move by YouTube our channel will be completely ignored by the algorithm, which is already happening slightly because we don’t monetize our individual videos. But, will it become a whole lot worse?  And, that is when we ask ourselves the question, then why do it?  At this point, I can’t honestly think of an answer of why we should keep spending time creating videos when we can spend that time promoting our off grid business more.  We have been attempting to successfully blend Pauper’s Candle Company with Living a Sustainable Dream.  But, if Living a Sustainable Dream’s YouTube channel falls into complete obscurity, what’s the reason for continuing video side of things?


Please do not think we are petitioning for subscribers.  We are not, in fact, if it wasn’t for the subscribers we have, I would have deleted the entire channel this week after reading the letter from the YouTube Team.  I explain more in the video, and I think my disappointment with YouTube is quite apparent.  This post is not a whine or a pity party; it’s a reflection on what the issue is and what the next step will be.  However, I am not going to solicit subscribers as YouTube encourages me to do.  I would have less than a 1000 subs that want to be apart of this channel’s journey than over a thousand who are begrudgingly holding onto their subscription or hate my channel’s content and troll us.  I want to be real to my audience, and I want my audience to be real with us and unsub or sub when they want.  I am not going to pay for bots to sub or view my channel to meet the minimum requirements.  Yes, you can pay a company to raise your subscriptions and views on your YouTube channel using bots, computer programs, but where is the integrity in that.

So, if you are thinking about starting a YouTube Channel or have found it extremely difficult to do so, your integrity may be getting in the way. And if that’s the case, I glad to know you.

Living a Sustainable Dream,

Today we are announcing changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). While our goal remains to keep the YPP open to as many channels as possible, we recognize we need more safeguards in place to protect creator revenue across the YouTube ecosystem.

What’s Changing

Under the new eligibility requirements announced today, your YouTube channel, Living a Sustainable Dream, is no longer eligible for monetization because it doesn’t meet the new threshold of 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. As a result, your channel will lose access to all monetization tools and features associated with the YouTube Partner Program on February 20, 2018 unless you surpass this threshold in the next 30 days. Accordingly, this email serves as 30 days notice that your YouTube Partner Program terms are terminated.

One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel. Creators who haven’t yet reached this new threshold can continue to benefit from our Creator Academy, our Help Center, and all the resources on the Creator Site to grow their channels. Once your channel reaches the new threshold, it will be reviewed to make sure it adheres to our policies and guidelines, and if so, monetization will be re-enabled.

 

The YouTube Team

Man vs. Snowplow (Season 3, Episode 2)

For those who have watched the war wage on between me and my used snowplow, this is perhaps the armistice between us.  This year, I did not mess around with the motor and pump assembly.  I purchased a “new” rebuilt Meyer E47 standard assembly.  This has made a world of difference.  The plow system is functioning at the best level I have ever seen it.  The plow truck has already removed quite a bit of snow and has allowed us to be more independent and not rely on our neighbors to be able leave our property.  Even though the truck still has some electrical and mechanical issues, it still runs well enough to remove the snow.


My wife and I for the first time since we bought this snowplow truck feel we may make it through an entire season without it breaking down.  However, there are still several issues that need to be resolved before next year.  The main issue is the dramatic oil leak in which to run the truck means adding almost 2 quarts of oil each time.  The other issue is the mythical gremlin that causes the dashboard, roof, and backup lights to pulse on and off without any warning of why or when they will return.  This has made night driving very difficult and a couple times, I had to just park it and begin again in the morning.  The other issue is the mysterious floating gas tank that likes to shift from side to side.  I may drop the tank and start over with a new tank because the neck of it will not accept a gas nozzle without spilling gas when filling at half speed or above.  The other issue is the hubs on the full wheel drive.  The truck is permanently in 4-wheel drive and this will need to be fixed eventually.  Also the truck’s gas gauge doesn’t work and the engine has died so often, I do not know if it is out of gas or if the gremlin is also wreaking havoc in the coil or distributor system.

That is our plow truck’s dirty laundry list of problems that still need to be worked out and hopefully the truck will not implode before the end of this season.  Creating a priority list, I have decided the engine leak, 4-wheel drive, and electrical systems are top priority.  The gas tank though difficult to work with still functions.  I will probably hire out the oil leak and 4-wheel drive system while I chase down the electrical problems and rewire the entire truck if I must.

A broken Christmas present becomes a learning tool for both my son and me.

It was the second day after Christmas, and it was quiet all through the house as my son was watching his new Brady Bunch Season 1 DVD while Ma and Pa sipped coffee from the couch.  Then rose a bang and an “Oh, no!” with such a clatter as the DVD player slipped to the floor.  Child with tears rapidly approaching, checking his precious cargo to my hands.  Everything looked fine and off he went again, until hours later his headphone jack slid into the DVD player’s casing and would no longer allow his headphones to work.

I am skeptical that my son’s slip to the floor jarred his headphone jack loose.  When I first took it from the box and helped him set it up, the DVD personal player’s side ports all wiggled and seemed loose.  The on/off switch even dived into the DVD player, and I gently pressed it to prevent pushing it into the casing.  My instinct to handle something carefully when it appears fragile seems to be only a parental concept that a 10-year-old boy has not developed yet.  Why should I and my son have to treat every item we buy these days with such care as if it will break on its second day of use?

I wonder how many of you faced the same disappointment.  You purchased an item with your hard-earned money and within hours of use, it implodes.  I am running into this it seems at every turn these days and my off grid blog is starting to have several articles that talk about product failure versus success. What will happen to our society if our products we purchase are so cheaply made and break easily upon simple use?   Profits it seems have overruled product quality.  Our once strong, proud, innovative economy has been replaced by worthless guarantees and exchanging cheaply made failed products with the same cheaply made product that will fail.

What was my option?  Call up the customer service desk and ask for a refund.  I should have when I first opened the box, but my nature to handle an easily cracked egg kicked in and I missed my chance.  The DVD player once upon inspection inside was not broken; it was made without any bracing for the ports.  Why would they even design it that way?  How could the design/engineering team forget such a simple and logical penny piece?  I made the bracing out of a broken flash drive component and some hot glue.  So simple, but I am flabbergasted by the ineptitude of the design. Perhaps, it is not profits, but lack of problem solving skills in the company’s design department. I don’t know the answer, but I am seeing this across the board from my propane heater we use in the candle shop, the pull start assembly on the generator, the after-market radiator in the F-150, the speed of our Internet connectivity through our data plan, and even our peanut butter (a blog post at a later time). Buyer beware is quickly becoming my mantra for each “purchase now” click on the Internet.   I am debating leaving Internet shopping for local mom and pop stores, big box stores, or even a visit to the mall miles away, so I can inspect and feel the quality of the product in my hands again.

Ask my son, “What do dads do?” and he will answer, “They fix things.”

That was the only option I could choose to do, roll up my sleeves, crack open the DVD player, find out what’s wrong, and be my son’s hero and fix it.  All the while during the process, teach my son to one day be the hero for his family as he learns to do what dads do and that is to fix things. Hopefully one day, I will teach my son, so his family can rely on him to fix things from broken toys, to machinery, and even broken relationships.

Flashback: Lighting the Wood Stove for the 1st time didn’t work out so well.

Flashback to six years ago when we lit our Kitchen Queen wood cook stove for the first time.  We had our challenges trying to figure it out, but now it is easy.  We moved into our place for two weeks during December of 2011 to see if we could manage the home with the extreme cold of a North Idaho winter.   We managed quite well and decided to move full-time onto the property in January.


However, that first night was a very cold night.  The home was hovering at 39 degrees Fahrenheit and by the time we went to bed, the home had warmed up to about 50 degrees.   As we laid in bed shivering, with several blankets and a down sleeping bag as a bed spread.  My wife and I huddled together for warmth and the thoughts running through my mind was, “Oh, no, I bought too small of a wood cook stove, we are going to freeze.”

Needless to say, I did not share these thoughts with my wife as she whispered, “Do you think it’s ever going to get warm?”

I said confidently, “Sure it will get warm; give it some time.”

The next morning our heads were sweating as our knees were freezing.  The heat was trapped on the ceiling and hadn’t extended to the floor yet.  By evening, the concrete floor had warmed up and the entire house was warm to a balmy 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  My wife and I opened the windows to let the outside’s single digit weather balance our home’s temperature.  My wife changed into shorts and a tank top.  I just sweated and enjoyed the warmth.

Once we began to figure out the stove, controlling the home’s temperature has become very natural to us.  Now, we know when to open and close the dampers when to stoke the fire, etc.. Living off grid has been a huge learning curve for us.  However, I would say that it has made me a more rounded person.  I have begun to develop a talent for fixing things that I would never have attempted before.  My wife has also changed quite a bit as we have become more self-sufficient in maintaining and operating our systems.

Christmas Eve… Enjoy the Moments

Merry Christmas Eve to everyone.  This is truly a blessed day at Living a Sustainable Dream.  We are blessed to have both our parents visit for the Christmas Holiday.  My son gets to know both sets of his grandparents on his Ma and Pa’s side.  When I was his age, I was not so blessed.  I only got to know my grandmother on my father’s side.  My other grandparents had already passed on.

Today, we prepared virgin Tom & Jerry batter for everyone.  We enjoy mixing the batter into our morning coffee.  Our friends a few years ago introduced us to the Tom and Jerry drink and being fans of the eggnog latte’s for years during the holiday season the batter has become a traditional hit for us.

If you would like to access how to make a Tom and Jerry, watch our YouTube video

Today, we are going to church this morning to celebrate Christmas with our parents.  Both our parents have been married over 50 years, so my wife and I are humbled when we think how marriages can last in the culture of today. Tonight, we will attend the Christmas Eve service at church, our son is one of the Magi in the play.  We saw a pre-performance last week and he did great.  We are so proud of him and both my wife and I were choked up during the performance.  We are becoming a family.

In the midst of a world full of problems, my wife and I decided to take moments to be joyful and thankful for what we have.  Even if the moments are only few minutes or seconds, just seeing the metaphorical sun through the parting clouds is enough. May you have a Merry Christmas today and find the moments that you can look back on with joy.  If nothing comes to mind, this is the evening we celebrate a baby being born and placed into a manger because there was no room in the inn.  A baby who would change the world and asked that we love our neighbor and even more importantly love our enemies by turning the other cheek.

 

 

 

Snow Storm Hits and the Solar Panels Quit

During the winter gray skies and snow defeat our solar panels’ power production.  This is the time of year we rely heavily upon our backup generator once the battery bank is spent. Removing snow from the panels, isn’t too bad, but if left undone it can become a real problem if the snow melts into a thick slush and freezes solid on the panels.  I have the panels tilted to the steepest pitch possible for the winter months, which helps remove the snow when it warns up enough for it to begin to melt.  However, because it takes a lot of effort to adjust them each season, I leave them at the winter pitch all year.  My power production is fine enough during the spring, summer, and fall months even at the winter pitch year round.

The snow storm was severe enough to knock several trees over.  Many people were without power for the next 24 plus hours.  Even though we weren’t producing power from our solar panels, we had enough stored power in our battery bank to ride us through.  We did not realize our area had lost power until our son was excused from school the next day because the school was without power.  It is moments like these that being off the grid is really nice. We don’t have to wait until power crews can find the time in the outage to bring our street’s power back on.  We are no longer a number on someone else’s priority list.

 

How do we have followers and subscribers?

This weekend our YouTube Channel grew to 500 subscribers.  However, we have been purposefully not chasing the YouTube algorithm.  Because of this, we never thought we would ever reach 500 subscribers within this past year.  We demonetized all our videos, intentionally try to stay away from click bait titles, and focus on content.  Basically, living as we preach.  We are thankful for all those who have chosen to follow our posts here as well; we are currently at 148 followers, three of which are male strip clubs in Australia. Who would of thought?


When we started this blogging it was to let others know you can live an off grid live style without compromising modern conveniences to the point that your life becomes all consumed with chores.  We still have many chores, but we have many of the modern appliances to shorten those duties to a manageable time line for us.  I still work full-time off the homestead while my wife works the homestead and her business, Pauper’s Candle Company, on the property.  When I get time off work, I am doing a large portion of the repairs, maintenance, and building new systems to integrate into our daily lives at Living a Sustainable Dream.  So, a big thank you to everyone who has been able to glean information or participate vicariously in our adventures in modern, off grid, homesteading in Northern Idaho.