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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Wednesday 2019.4.17

Microphones

I don't have a good relationship with microphones. I spend a lot of money on them and they don't last, no matter how careful I am with them.

To be honest, I can't complain about the money. My Mobile Home Gourmet channel on YouTube is doing well enough now to cover the cost of replacement mics. However, it makes me unnecessarily nervous when I can't trust a microphone I'm using.

An example: I'm trying to edit a video and I am painstakingly working around segments of static or buzz because the wire near the connector is failing. At least, that's where I think the problem is located. I tried wearing headphones connected to the camera and listening as I manipulated the wire, trying to locate the problem. The mic worked flawlessly. Now what?

If I could find the bad area, I might be able to repair it. I'm not useless with a soldering pencil. And I have a spare connector.

I do have one spare mic, brand new, still in its original box. Knowing microphones don't last long, I try to keep an extra one on hand in case of a failure. I can't set food aside for a week while I wait for a replacement mic to arrive in the mail.

Projects

One of my video projects, the one that is giving me the most trouble because of the microphone, is a vlog for My Kitchen Video. Someone asked me to do a video on how a shirt is constructed. I can do that. I've tailored more than a hundred shirts in my time.

I'm not a professional tailor. Without the right machines, I couldn't earn a living. Sewing buttons on by hand, for example, occupies me for the better part of an afternoon. A commercial button attacher machine would do the job in minutes, but they cost around $2,000. And where would I put it in a mobile home? I'd need a shop, which means renting a space, and that costs even more money. No thank you. I am happily retired and content to remain so. I like to say, "I am gainfully unemployed."

Initially, I thought the subject of tailoring might be a good idea for another vlog channel; however, I quickly changed my mind. The cost of making a shirt is about $30, even when the fabric is on sale. Add the cost of gasoline to drive my old SUV 90 miles (round trip) to the nearest fabric store, and the cost is almost too high. However, I need the colors for my videos. Considering that the vlog channel wouldn't qualify for monetization, it would be too expensive. And what would I do with all the shirts? My food costs for most videos is about two or three dollars, and I can give the food to my neighbors if my keto diet doesn't allow me enjoy more than a taste in the last clip of the video.

Another potential problem area and I am anticipating, maybe, involves the trolls. I imagine a video in which a man sews a shirt will invite more than the usual volume of snide and offensive remarks. I'm accustomed to dealing with them on my Mobile Home Gourmet channel. In fact, I have more than 230 people banned (actually hidden) from that channel. I've mentioned it before. It's a feature YouTube provides. We can hide a person's comments. It takes affect across the entire channel. The trolls can still write comments and they will see them, but one else, including me, ever will.

There is a similar feature I use for the same effect. I can designate one video's comments to be "by approval only." I do this when a video becomes popular. One of my spareribs videos is trending now; so I changed the comments. And under the influence of Donald Trump when juvenile insults and name calling have become popular and acceptable (in the eyes of some), I see the potential for some offenses here.

As for the shirts, I have two more to tailor and that will keep me well in "show shirts" for a long while. I call them show shirts because I only wear them when doing videos. I never put one on for eating out with friends or to attend the regular meetings of our news discussion group. I have commercially made shirts to wear on those occasions.

Sunday 2019.4.14

Sort of Cheating This Week

I didn't have a new video quite ready. I shot one, a modification of the Cream of Broccoli Soup I featured last Sunday. I made it again with cheddar cheese — Cheddar Broccoli Soup. As usual, there is a story.

When I was doing research for the Cream of Broccoli Soup I saw several recipes that used cheddar cheese. They weren't the recipes I was aiming for, but those soups looked delicious. They played upon my mind. Finally, Thursday evening I drove to the store and bought a block of medium cheddar cheese. I actually prefer mild, but I thought a slightly sharper cheddar would taste good in the soup. It does.

Friday afternoon, after fulfilling a few necessary responsibilities, I made the soup, doing a video of the process. Everything went well. But then there is the editing and photography. If I had pushed myself, I might have gotten everything done in time for today. But lately I'm not into pushing myself. Life is too short, and I have way too many projects keeping me busy. And Saturday afternoon was out because that was the meeting of our news discussion group.

So how did I cheat?

I looked at my SmoothieTube videos on YouTube. My Strawberry Carrot Smoothie has the highest number of views, nearly 200. If the video can gather that many views on such a small channel (currently only 75 subscribers), it must be a good one. So I did a quick re-edit of the video for my Mobile Home Gourmet channel and featured it here.

It's important in another way. My SmoothieTube channel is not monetized. It doesn't qualify, and it might take years for that channel to grow enough to satisfy the qualifications, if it ever does. So by putting one of those videos occasionally on my Mobile Home Gourmet channel, it will earn a little revenue. And it buys me a little time away from cooking.

One example is the Banana, Avocado and Kale Green Smoothie. It was viewed, so far, nearly 570 times on Mobile Home Gourmet (only 27 times on SmoothieTube) and it generated $2.29 in revenue, so far. That isn't much, but with more than 360 videos, together they cover the food costs of making those videos.

And so that is how a smoothie became this week's featured recipe.

Meanwhile, I'll probably have the Cheddar Broccoli Soup video ready by Monday, so check the bottom of this web site's home page to see if the soup video is listed there for advance viewing.

What's Next?

I don't have any cooking videos planned, although I am planning to look through my keto cookbooks again. I've had two requests for my Kitchen Vlog channel. One person asked me to do a video of how I put foil on my stove. I can't imagine that will be very popular. I can't even imagine how I might make it entertaining, or even interesting. Maybe.

Another request was for how to tailor a shirt. That's challenging. Showing cooking is easy because nearly everyone knows how to use a measuring cup or a kitchen scale. Rather than a "how to" instructional video, I'll probably do it as "How a shirt is made" — sort of like a documentary.

On the bright side, I can shoot both videos and if I don't like them in editing, I can delete them. No harm done.

Wednesday 2019.4.10

Unusual Weather We're Having

Sunday evening was strange. I went to bed around 10:00. It was about 71°F (22°C) outside. I have one of those bedrooms clocks that projects the time onto the ceiling. There is a weather sensor outside under the porch awning. So the clock projects the indoor and outdoor temperatures we well. By 11:00 the temperature outside rose three degrees to 74 (23). It went up rather than down. By midnight it finally started to drop again.

I haven't opened my windows at night since last fall. I have a skylight I leave open all summer too. I opened them again.

Monday was warm too, climbing to 95°F (35°C) by the afternoon. I'm not complaining (much). I moved to Southern California to enjoy weather like this. But my computers were not happy. The red light came on inside, warning me the computer was overheating. Although it was too early in the season, I set up the office air conditioner to help keep the computers cool. As for me, I drank plenty of water. I emptied a one-liter bottle during the course of the day, besides two cups of coffee and the glasses of water I drank at a restaurant during lunch.

I Ain't Got Wings

I love chicken wings. I eat them a few times each week. I arrange the raw wings on a lined small baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 1 hour. Then I transfer them to a freezer bag. That way, they're easy to remove from the bag a few at a time as I need them.

They're expensive — $2.59/pound at Costco — but I like them anyway. I tried the other grocery stores. One store had them at $5.99/pound. I don't mind paying a little extra, but that was way too much. So I decided to try something else.

What if I were to buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs and cut them into segments about the size of chicken wing pieces, freeze them, and store them like I do wings? I tried it. They're more convenient. No bones. And they were a lot less expensive. I'll have a few pieces with my dinner this evening.

Otherwise…

Other that the weather and the wings, it has been a quiet week. On Saturday the news discussion group will meet again. Congress is planning some tax changes.

1) They will vote whether or not to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from providing a free fax filing service, thus bowing to the lobbyists of the tax preparers like H&R Block. (Several congress persons receive substantial donations from those services.)

2) The form employees use to report their tax filing status to their employer, current called a W-4, is undergoing a massive overhaul, making it much more difficult to complete. Maybe companies like H&R Block will be needed to complete the new W-4, or whatever it will be called. The goal, according to the news, is to make withholding more accurate; people will pay less or receive a smaller refund at the end of the tax year.

And I can't help wondering how these new tax changes might affect the voters next year. I can't imagine they will be happy with the government.

And For Those Who Might Be Keeping Track of the Tailoring…

Number three of seven was delayed. One reason was the heat mentioned above. With the air conditioner running, the industrial sewing machine can't be turned on — the two will pop the circuit breaker (they're on the same circuit). But it will be finished today.

Sunday 2019.4.7

Taxes Are Done

I don't procrastinate when filing my taxes until the deadline is almost here. But if I am going to send money to the Internal Revenue Service, I might as well send them the money as late as possible.

As many of you know, my Mobile Home Gourmet channel on YouTube generates a modest amount of revenue. Some people can make a career of YouTube and if they have a hot topic they can make a good living with their videos. I have a friend who collects LEGO sets and he watches LEGO videos often. Supposedly, at least one of those LEGO video producers earns his living from YouTube.

Google/YouTube doesn't do federal and state withholding. At the end of the year they report to me my earnings — and report them to the IRS. The pension system that deposits my monthly benefit into my bank account does do the withholding; so most of my taxes are paid. However, with the addition of the YouTube revenue, my total tax is typically underpaid, and thus I had to send $456 to the IRS this year.

There is a bright side. The California Franchise Tax Board doesn't tax Social Security benefits; therefore, I am typically overpaid with the state. My refund this year was $415. So my final out-of-pocket tax expense this year amounted to only $41. I can live with that.

Food Hack?

Don't try this!

Someone sent me a link to a video about tricks used for food photography. It was fascinating. I decided to look for other tricks on YouTube. Search for "food photography tricks" and you'll see them. One showed some quick and easy ways to prepare food. I tried the hard boiled eggs.

Using a push pin, the person poked a little hole in each end of four eggs. The eggs were placed in a bowl with enough hot water to cover. Microwave for 2 minutes and the eggs are cooked and easy to peel. NOT! I opened one. It was barely cooked around the outside and inside was still fully raw. I decided to try another 2 minutes. At 1 minute 30 seconds two of the eggs exploded. The one remaining egg was cooked inside, but the shell wouldn't peel off. I'll return to using my Instant Pot, which does perfect hard boiled eggs. This adds more truth to the saying, "You can't believe everything you see on the Internet."

Occasionally YouTube asks me to complete a survey about my experience on their web site. One of the questions is typically something like, "Do you trust YouTube videos?" I always answer No. The follow-up is usually, "Why did you answer No to the previous question?" I then tell them about the many videos I've seen that are either totally fake, unreliable, or simply downright wrong.

And that's why I do the actual cooking in my cooking videos. You get to see how the recipe works and if something goes wrong, I'm honest about it, and maybe even show you a simple fix.

Wednesday 2019.4.3

It's April Already

The days are getting longer and the nights are getting warmer. We experienced a very mild winter this year. There was only one frost warning that I can remember. There were several days of rain, which was good. We needed it. But no cold. One more condition we can attribute to climate change perhaps.

A Long and Odious History Ending Soon

On April 1, 1994 I moved into my mobile home. I still love it 25 years later. I've kept it in good condition, adding improvements along the way — new vinyl siding, new copper pipes, landscaping, awnings, a new water heater (twice), two new decks, etc. It's a good home.

About five years after I moved in a neighbor sold his coach to an alcoholic couple. They were obnoxious. The husband eventually died from liver failure. She was a nurse and therefore the hospital granted her the approval for a liver replacement.

I get along well with every one of my neighbors. We're friends. But there is one exception — the former alcoholic woman. She's sober now, but no less bitter. It had been a 20-year nightmare living next to her.

I've tried. I've spoken nicely to her. I've given her money when she asked for it. But nothing I do does any good. To her, I'm the enemy.

And, what's worse, she has three loud barking dogs. We're allowed only one dog per space in this park. Keeping my windows closed on that side helps, but when I'm doing a video my microphone picks up the noise. More than once I've had to edit out the annoying noise of a dog barking during one of my cooking videos.

Some recent events changed the situation. The park levied an additional charge on all the residents. They added everything from capital improvements, such as paving, along with the parts and labor of changing a light bulb. Some of the charges really were excessive, but without a lawyer to fight them in court, all we can do is grit our teeth and pay our bills. The one nasty neighbor decided she was going to fight the park lawyers in court, with the help of another neighbor. No lawyer, just a resident up against the park owner's lawyer. She lost every challenge.

However, the court action resulted, we were told, in $300,000 in legal fees for the park owner, which, of course, will be passed on to the residents.

Fearing a lawsuit against her, she listed her home for sale this week. It was like a 25-year anniversary present for me. I don't know how long it will take for her to sell — three months, three years, who knows? But knowing she is moving out, and taking her dogs with her, lets me see light at the end of what has been a very dark and very long tunnel.

Another Smoothie

I added another smoothie video to YouTube this morning and posted the recipe here in this web site — Blueberry Almond Yogurt Smoothie. This is one of the better flavored smoothies I've made. The flavor of the blueberries works very well with the almond butter. I didn't add any coconut oil, but it would make the smoothie a little more keto friendly. You can link to the video with this graphic:

Or CLICK HERE.