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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Wednesday 2017.9.20

Autumn Equinox

Friday is the first day of fall. I am already prepared, somewhat, for the cooler weather. There is plenty of Texas Chili and Chorizo in the freezer. I am starting to crave soups again. I'm thinking of making Pasta Fagioli and freezing portions, but cooking the beans in my pressure cooker. I'll record a cooking video, but I'll plan it for Patreon instead (see below).

An aside about beans: The 24 oz. (1½ lbs./680g) bag of cannellini beans in the store was $14.49. That's outrageous. I often buy great Northerns as a substitute. However, in Smart & Final (a grocery store a few blocks up the street) I bought a 5‑pound (2.27kg) bag of Mayocoba Peruvian beans for $6.49. According to the Internet, they have a mild flavor and creamy texture and can be used as a substitute for cannellini or great Northern beans. I'll use them in the Pasta Fagioli video.

Technically, summer is over, but there is always Indian summer (Native American summer?) to look forward to. It's the time of year when we occasionally experience Santa Ana winds, hot winds blowing off the desert and into the coastal regions of Southern California. Sometimes they blow all night long, keeping nighttime temperatures high. (The Santa Anas also encourage the arsonists.) I'm ready for the heat.

As mentioned in my last blog, I purchased another portable air conditioner. There is one problem though. Toward the back of my home my windows are high in the wall, 56 inches (142cm) above the floor. The exhaust tube used to blow warm air out the window isn't long enough. In the past, I modified the arrangement by setting one air conditioner on an overturned plastic milk crate. It worked, but some plastics become brittle over time and I was seeing the conditioner sagging on its perch, maybe in danger of falling over eventually.

Thankfully, someone on Amazon sells a six foot (1.8 meter) exhaust tube. I ordered one and it works perfectly. I have two air conditioners in the back; so, ideally, I should have ordered two. However, replacing one tube with a longer one gave me a spare short tube. It wasn't difficult to cobble two tubes together to make one extra long one. So now the air conditioners are on the floor, where they belong, and I have an extra empty milk crate.

Now if only we could get some really warm weather so I can put these things to the test. If the weather.gov web site is correct, next week could be a warm one.

Patreon

I started trying something different this week. Patreon is a membership video site. Members sign up at a patron level of their choosing and the money they give each month goes, partly, to the content creators to defray costs. It's early; I'm still trying to figure out how it works.

So here is the plan: I'll continue to upload Kitchen Vlog videos to YouTube in support of this web site. They will continue to be free and I will not monetize them, thus avoiding YouTube's absurd policing algorithm. I'll also make a cooking video, which I won't monetize (avoiding YouTube's censorship algorithm), and it will be uploaded to YouTube as "unlisted." No one will know it's there; however, I can add the URL link to my Patreon site where patrons can watch it.

I don't feel the fans of this web site should have to pay; they've been dedicated for a long time, some for years. So, during the week when the new recipe and video are featured, I'll add a green "View the Video" button to the recipe page. That button will link directly to the unlisted YouTube video. In this way, those who regularly read my blog or watch my Kitchen Vlog videos will be notified of the link. They can watch the video for free all that week. Then, after the feature ends, I'll remove the green button, thus leaving Patreon as the sole source. I think that would be fair to everyone. I talk about it in this Kitchen Vlog:

My Kitchen Vlog

Or CLICK HERE.

The new arrangement won't damage my income as much as YouTube is doing by demonetizing my videos. A new video is typically watched 400 to 500 times within the first 24 hours. I have 14,000 subscribers on my Mobile Home Gourmet YouTube channel. However, I have fewer than 100 subscribers on my Kitchen Vlog channel. So very few will see the free video. Others will ask why I'm not uploading to YouTube anymore. I'll explain YouTube's new policies and direct them to Patreon. Maybe I'll attract a few more patrons.

And a quick aside about patrons. The response to my request has been good. I have ten so far. That's well short of my hope for 50, but when I reach out to the 14,000 subscribers of my YouTube Mobile Home Gourmet channel, I'll pick up more.

To be honest, I am keeping an open mind, but I am also keeping my expectations reasonable. A few years ago I supported a web site called Curious. It was okay; however, it was a lot of work, and for very little return. Cooking videos had to be edited a certain way and then converted into lessons on their web site, with test questions and annotations, doubling my work. They still have some of my videos and they occasionally pay me. I am currently earning about $10 per month from Curious. Like YouTube, they only pay when they owe me $100 or more on the first day of a month.

The takeaway is that there are alternative video sites and they are attracting more and more members as YouTube drives away legitimate content creators. The down side is that Patreon doesn't house the videos on their own servers. The videos are stored on YouTube but displayed through Patheon. That doesn't sit well with me. It seems like Patreon is profitting at YouTube's expense, and I can't see that relationship lasting very long.

Sunday 2017.9.17

Biggest News in Seven Years

I decided to stop uploading cooking videos to YouTube. I agonized over the decision for many days. Many of you already know that my latest uploads were being flagged as "limited or no advertising". The videos were considered inappropriate for some advertisers. Okay, I could understand if my Gateau Paris Brest dessert might be inappropriate for Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers, but YouTube doesn't provide any information, and won't.

"Limited advertising" might be okay, if we only knew how limited. Five percent? Fifteen percent? A five percent cut in my revenue wouldn't force me into bankruptcy. "No advertising" is, of course, another issue. And YouTube says we would still earn our YouTube Red revenue. When I last looked at my estimated revenue for the past 28 days, about $84 was coming from ads and only $5.25 was coming from YouTube Red.

I've been doing the research. In one video a rather overly-energetic young man tried to explain it as "tags." Tags are key words we YouTube creators can add to our videos to help them be discovered in searches. So I might add "Dessert" or "Choux Pastry" to the Gateau video. Some tags might be shunned by some advertisers — dog videos not of interest to advertisers of Tidy Cat litter box filler.

Okay, but for many of my newer videos I didn't use tags because one popular YouTube advisor, whom I respect, says tags don't work. Put the most important words in the description.

Other YouTube creators have tried to assemble lists of words they found were objectionable. Certain body parts of a sexual nature are understandable, but one person showed that nationality was an issue. His videos that contained word like "North American" or "African" were flagged. What if I cook with Italian parsley or bake French bread? Religions were also taboo.

One thing I did learn is that the AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithm YouTube is using doesn't work. YouTube admits it doesn't work well. So why use it? Because many advertisers abandoned YouTube as an advertising platform, complaining their ads were appearing on inappropriate videos. The algorithm was YouTube's effort appear proactive, an attempt to lure those advertisers back.

This might be important: Some people claim the advertisers only used the "inappropriate video" complaint as a shallow excuse to leave YT. The real reason? Many advertisers are supposedly leaving YT because they consider the web site outdated, past its prime, a dinosaur. Younger Internet users are moving to other web sites, such as social media sites that are popular among those who own smart phones. Advertisers want to target them, not the passive viewers who watches YT videos for entertainment while eating potato chips at their desk. And, besides, many of us use ad blockers on our computers. I never see ads when I'm on the Internet.

YouTube is not communicating with their content creators. All we see is that our video has been flagged. No explanation, and no recourse, unless you are a really successful YouTube star. There is a link to ask for a formal review of a flagged video, but no review will be granted unless the video has been viewed at least 1,000 times in the previous seven days. This supports another theory.

With advertisers leaving, YouTube's revenue is down. What does a company do when it can't afford to pay its bills? Consolidate. Downsize. Cut waste. Fire people. Etc. Some have suggested that one reason behind the video flagging issue is that YouTube wants to drive away the little content creators. Some of my videos haven't been viewed 1,000 times during seven years. At the very least, by flagging a monetized video as "limited or no advertising" YouTube avoids paying the content creator a portion of the ad revenue, saving money for YT.

One theory is that YouTube is courting only the content creators with high numbers of subscribers and views. "High numbers" as in many millions, in some cases hundreds of millions. If they can't profit from quality, go for quantity. Reduce costs by purchasing fewer storage servers for videos and make their server space and bandwidth available only to the creators with the highest traffic.

I still haven't sorted it all out, and no else has either. There are a lot of theories out there, but few facts. YouTube isn't revealing what they are doing, nor why. Their latest salvos have been bolts out of the blue, seemingly with no rhyme nor reason.

So, making cooking videos is not fun anymore. Planning, writing, shopping, setup, prep work, cooking, cleanup, and tear down all takes times. And then there is the time put into editing and encoding each video. I might put 10, 20, maybe even 30 hours into one video, from start to finish. And for what? To see it flagged "limited or no advertising" by YouTube? And so I decided to hang up my aprons for a while. I feel good about it. Content. And, who knows, maybe things will change in the future.

I am continuing to vlog, as you can see from the video link on the home page. I'm vlogging to support this web site now.

Saying Hello

About a week ago I said good-bye to my old portable evaporative cooler. I disassembled it to fit all the plastic pieces (which were becoming brittle after nearly 20 years and I was tired of repairing them) into my recycling bin. It's all gone, off to the recycling places where old plastics go.

On Thursday a new addition arrived. I ordered another portable room air conditioner. They're not as efficient as a window-mounted air conditioner (or central air conditioning), but I usually don't need much cooling during most of the year. August through October are the months of concern. Some days the outside temperature can climb to as high as 100°F (38°C), although that's rare. My biggest concern is my computers.

I haven't blogged about them in a while, but they are still among my favorite subjects. I build my own computers. This time I decided to pull out all the stops, no holds barred, money was no object — you get the idea. I had never built dream machines before. At my age, now 66, I might not be fit enough to build computers again in ten years; so it was now or never. I built the best computers I could, buying the best components. Cost? Sit down. $6,000 each. Each. And I built two.

I like having identical computers. If something should go wrong, I can swap parts between them to identify the component that needs to be replaced. And, as an added benefit, one computer (the one I use for my videos and this web site) stays permanently off line. No access to the Internet, except to occasionally get updates to the Windows 10 operating system. No risk of viruses or ransom-ware. And I do regular backups anyway.

With the best components running at top speed, even with liquid cooling they sometimes register their complaints. The microprocessor cooler glows white when all is well. When it gets too hot, like when I'm encoding a video, it changes to red. I also have temperature monitors in my computer. A front panel shows the current temperature of things and when something like the video card gets too hot, the panel sounds an alarm.

The problem is compounded somewhat by the addition of dust filters over the intake fans. I hate dust in my computers. So I use Swiffer brand dusting cloths as filters. They work perfectly, until they become clogged with dust. The dust reduces the air flow, degrading the cooling, and the components heat up. Alarms sound. I change the filters each month.

If my home office gets warmer than about 85°F (29°C) there is a high probability my computers will start beeping. I can open a side panel for instant cooling, but that lets dust get inside. It's better to keep the office cool. Now, about the air conditioners (this gets tedious).

I've had a 9,000 BTU cooler in my home office. It's barely adequate on warm days. Earlier this year I bought an 11,500 BTU unit for the living room/kitchen. With both running, the temperature inside is reasonable, 10 to 15 degrees cooler than outside. On the hottest days, I sit in front of the air conditioner to stay cool.

I ordered a 14,000 BTU air conditioner. Then I shifted things around. The 14K went into the living room. The 11.5 went into the office. And the 9 was moved to the bedroom.

And this led to a small home project that I enjoyed. Portable air conditioners come with an expandable panel to fit in the window frame. It's where the exhaust hose is attached to expel hot air. I never like the design; so I make my own out of Plexiglass (I have a piece out in the shed). It isn't much to look at, but it fits perfectly in the window, and because it is as clear and transparent as window glass, it doesn't block any light. Happy, happy.

Networking

The trailer park is hiring a new manager. The current manager will retire in a few weeks. They just happened to be out in the street when I stepped outside to check on my citrus trees. Gary (retiring manager) brought over the new guy (Dan) to introduce me, telling him how much good I've done landscaping my space and working with my neighbors in this corner of the park. I am already on good footing with Dan. Since I moved in here more than 20 years ago, I've always worked well with each manager. It helps when some troublemaker (we have them) complains about me. The managers have always treated me fairly (and they usually know to ignore the problem people).

A Public Service Announcement

If you rearrange the furniture in your bedroom (maybe to make room for a portable air conditioner), don't go in there at night unless you turn on the light. I went to sit on the bed, but it wasn't where it used to be. I fell to the floor, scraping my arm on the wall, losing a little skin.

Injury

Thankfully I didn't break any bones. I can laugh about it now, but it wasn't funny at the time.

Wednesday 2017.9.13

Brother and Wife

I haven't heard from my brother in Florida yet. I assume electricity hasn't been restored to their area. Although the center of the hurricane moved very close to the community where they live, the storm had lost much of its power. When it made landfall near Miami, it was a category 4 hurricane. As it approached Tampa, it had been downgraded to a category 2.

I watched the reports on TV all day. By 7:00 in the evening (my time here in Southern California) the worst of the rain had passed my brother, which reduced the dangers of tornados and street flooding. I still look forward to hearing from him, but the worst of my fears passed. I feel confident he and his wife are okay. I don't know about their home. It was built recently according to Florida hurricane standards. The windows, for example, are able to withstand winds up to 130 mph, and he put up the storm shutters anyway.

Google Maps is fascinating because I can see their house. It was built as part of a golf course, with the various fairways nestled behind the rows of houses. He and his wife enjoy golf.

I was able to share a little bit of the excitement with them. Here, during the same evening, we had thunderstorms. Although my brother sees them almost daily during the summer, we rarely experience thunder and lightning here. There were short periods — like only a few minutes — of heavy rain followed by several minutes of moderate rain tapering off to nothing. The lightning and thunder was never close. Using the formula that sound travels about one mile in five seconds, the thunder and lightning was rarely nearer than about two or three miles away. I was mostly interested in the rain watering my landscaping.

Pissing Off YouTube

I'm angry. I'm really angry. Again, YouTube flagged one of my cooking videos as too inappropriate for advertisers. Why?

What really upsets me is that YouTube gives me no recourse other than to delete the video and upload it again. And I'll upload it again and again and again until it passes their policing algorithm. Their algorithm detects something — it could be a spoken or written word, or maybe an image — that is objectionable. The data is there. So why can't YouTube reveal the offense? Why not: "You video has been flagged because the word 'nuts' (pine nuts) has been detected." I could fix the problem if I knew what it was. Instead, YouTube leaves us guessing. How can we solve a problem if YouTube doesn't tell us what the problem is?

So I decided to fight back. I vlogged again about it, getting bolder. How's this for a striking vlog title?

Or CLICK HERE to view the vlog video.

I know it won't do any good, but it was a way to vent. My Kitchen Vlog isn't popular enough to have an effect. In 24 hours the video had been seen by less than 60 people. Derral Eves, a popular YouTube advisor, can upload a video and within a day it is watched 60,000 times.

I was a bit worried that YouTube would block it immediately. When I upload a video, it typically starts processing at the end of the upload and I see something like "95% processed" as it finishes. This time, it stopped at 35% and held there for a while, then slowly progressed until completed. Was someone alerted? Will my Kitchen Vlog channel be banned? Am I being paranoid?

I might be beyond caring now. It's enough work and expense to produce a cooking video without YouTube adding to the burden. I don't want to use this blog as a place to complain, but sometimes I can't stop myself. Many hours go into making a cooking video. There is the research as I develop a recipe. Then shopping. I need to set up my home for a video, covering all the windows with blackout fabric to control interior lighting. Print my cue cards. Shooting takes the better part of a day, sometimes two days if something needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Then tear down and washing up. When all the video clips are copied to my computer, I begin the editing, which takes an hour or two. When that is done, the video is encoded in high definition 720p and ready for upload.

On the other hand, a vlog can be done, start to finish, on under one hour. All I need is a subject. I can sit and talk for 10 to 15 minutes, all in one take. There is almost no editing. Vlogs are wonderful. Other than setting up the camera and covering the windows (and making a cup of coffee), there is no work. Just sit and talk. I love it.

When YouTube flags of video because I said "chicken breast" rather than "chicken white meat," I need to edit again, searching for every word that might offend their policing algorithm.

And, to explain, no one at Google sits down to watch all videos. They would need to employ half of America to do that. They use a mathematical computer algorithm that is able to read text (like the spell checker in your word processing software) in the title, description, and tags; examine picture frames for things that look like titties; and listen to the audio for words that sound like "breast." If any offensive words are found, the video if flagged. The current problem is that the algorithm can't analyze the words in context (and programming an algorithm to do that might be cost prohibitive). Rather than detecting something harmless like "chicken breast" it only discovers "breast" and that triggers the flag — unsuitable for advertisers — and there goes my revenue.

If I were in charge, I would set up a rating system for content creators. As it is, I have the highest rating possible on YouTube because I never violated anyone's copyright (I create all my own content). I never spam anyone. And my content is cooking, not buxom young ladies in string bikinis. Why not rate content creators for their subject matter? It would be as easy as their other rating system. My videos could be designated as family-safe cooking programs with no need to scan them with an algorithm. Besides being fair, it would be efficient. Scan only the channels that have a history of being suspect.

Okay, it's time to step down from my soap box. I have other things to do.

Sunday 2017.9.10

Saying Good-bye

No, not me. I'm not going anywhere. This week I finally decided it was time to let go of my old portable evaporative cooler, otherwise known as a swamp box cooker. It served me well for many years — 15 at least — but the plastic was becoming brittle and I had repaired it enough times. Also, after every summer I had to clean it out, soaking the parts to remove mineral build-up. It was a lot of work to maintain, but it kept me comfortable on warm dry days. (It was useless on humid days because the evaporation was only effective when the humidity was well below 50%.)

With portable air conditioners now, I no longer need the cooler. It was only taking up space. So I disassembled it to fit all the plastic into the recycling bin. It feels good to have moved it out of my home.

Hurricane Irma

I have been following the progress of Irma closely. As I mentioned in Wednesday's blog, my brother and his wife live in Florida. When I last heard from him, most of the projected storm paths put the eye of the hurricane up the eastern coast of the peninsula. Since then, the projections have moved more westward. The latest forecast track puts the eye of the hurricane directly over the area where their home is located. Uh-oh.

They live about 70 miles driving distance south of Tampa and about 10 miles inland from the beach. Today they are in the midst of the action and I'm hoping they are okay. They retired to Florida and this is their first hurricane experience there. In his last update he told me about their preparations — storm shutters on all the windows, plenty of water and other essentials — so I'm hoping for the best. I'll know more in the next few days, depending on whether or not they have electricity.

One of the problems is that Florida is so flat. There are no mountain ranges to break up the storm's structure. Although it will weaken some as it moves over land, they might still experience hurricane force winds (75 to 110 mph) in their area. And I don't know how far above sea level they might be. The storm surge and flooding could be an issue, even though the housing development they live in has been built for drainage and the homes are constructed to be storm safe. As I write this blog this morning (Sunday) the hurricane is category four with sustained winds at 130mph.

Chorizo Revisited

I used up all the chorizo I made about a week and a half ago. It was a mild chorizo. I decided to experiment again, this time making a spicier chorizo. I bought a package of "Pork Shoulder Country Style Ribs Boneless" at Costco. It is pork shoulder cut into strips. It's inexpensive ($2.79/pound). I use it in several of my recipes — Pork and Bean Chili, Smoky Pork and White Bean Chili, and Braised Country Pork Ribs, to name a few. I trimmed and discarded the fat. I wanted chorizo that was made only with clean pork meat and spices. To ramp up the spiciness a little, I doubled the chili powder and paprika to 1 tablespoon of each. It is delicious. I was a little generous; I gave away half of it, keeping one pound for myself, half of which I froze. I still have plenty of pork; so I'll be making more.

Wednesday 2017.9.6

Cooler Days

The weather has finally cooled down at last. I recorded a high of 100 degrees (38°C) on Sunday. I was doing all I could to stay cool enough to feel comfortable. I went outside only to photograph my citrus trees to show the latest. Here is one of the Buddha's hand lemons ripening:

Buddha's Hand

By the end of September, maybe sooner, this one will be ready for harvest. There is another one on the other side that isn't far behind. Others on the tree continue to develop.

Meanwhile, my orange tree is blooming again. One orange survived from last time; it's still developing. Maybe this time I'll get a few more pieces of fruit. The bees have been busy pollinating the flowers. Here's a photo:

Orange Blossom

That bee, by the way, makes me envious. I know the hive is enjoying orange blossom honey. I love the flavor of orange blossom honey.

Do I Have an ASMR Voice?

I think I mentioned in my newest Kitchen Vlog that some people say they find my voice calming. One person sent me an email to say he enjoys watching and listening to my cooking videos because of my voice. Another person told me he likes to listen to my videos when he goes to bed. With his disability, the sound of my voice helps lull him to sleep. I'm touched.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Another person commented on one of my videos:

Your voice has the qualities that trigger this sensation in listeners acoustically. Trust me. I know.

I trust you. You know. It confirms what others have told me, several times. And, it seems like an asset.

He also said ASMR is a popular area of interest on YouTube; so adding the letters ASMR to my Kitchen Vlog and my Mobile Home Gourmet channels might attract more interest in my videos. I added the letters. Now we shall see. Which leads me into…

My Kitchen Vlog

As I mentioned in Sunday's blog, I've been entertaining thoughts of vlogging about sports. I gave it a thorough try on Saturday, watching three football games, taking notes about game highlights to cover in my vlog, and then shooting the vlog. The amount of work involved changed my mind. Each football game can run 2½ to 3 hours. Then there is the sorting through my notes, picking which ones to put onto the cue card that I fasten to my video camera's tripod.

But I was still ready to move forward. I created a new graphic for a new YouTube channel:

Sport Vlog graphic

The white space would be for the title, such as "The Indiana Hoosiers vs. the Florida State Seminoles" or "Let's Talk Sports." Then I watched a YouTube video that suggested giving an additional vlog a second thought. What if it takes away some of the time and energy devoted to the primary YouTube channel? In my case would be my Mobile Home Gourmet channel. They recommended using a vlog to complement the primary channel. Duh! I vlog in my kitchen. It's called My Kitchen Vlog. Why not use it to provide additional information about the foods, recipes, and research I use for my cooking videos?

So I rethought the format of My Kitchen Vlog, and vlogged about it. Here is the link:

My Kitchen Vlog

Or CLICK HERE.

Vlogging the News

I've also been getting some much-appreciated encouragement about my news vlog lately; so I decided to video another one. I talked about hurricane Irma and the controversy with North Korea. Here is the link:

Vlogging the News

Or CLICK HERE.

I heard from my brother yesterday. He and his wife live in Florida, about 10 miles from Florida's west coast, about 50 miles south of Tampa. He finished putting up all the storm shutters. Earlier he filled the car with gasoline. His wife went on a shopping spree, stocking up on essentials. They have plenty of water. They're ready for Irma. He said he'd let me know how they are doing, as long as they have electricity.

But, uh-oh. I saw a video clip on the Weather Channel and they said people in concrete block homes (my brother and his wife) can be deceived into believing they're safe. The video showed how debris hurled by hurricane force winds can penetrate the concrete. They recommend staying away from exterior walls.

It's the Little Things

Several years ago I bought a small-ish down comforter at Costco. It cost $25. I wished I had bought more than one. What with seasonal use and occasional laundering, it lost much of its original thickness, but I couldn't part with it. It was often just enough to help me go back to sleep when I wake up late at night.

Here's the thing: What do you often do before going to bed in winter? You turn down the heat. I would feel plenty warm enough to fall asleep in the evening because my home was warm. But during the night my home would cool down. I'd wake up. At first I couldn't figure out why I couldn't go back to sleep. I didn't feel cold, but I eventually figured out the problem. I simply wasn't warm enough to sleep. I learned to throw on an extra blanket at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and then go back to sleep.

I was in Costco yesterday. Along the entrance aisle where they usually feature stuff, I saw "Double Black Diamond Packable Down Throw" comforters. They're packable because they are light weight and can be folded up and pushed into a little cloth bag (included) for packing. They were priced at about $20 each. I bought two, and I might go back and buy more. I have some of those space-saver plastic vacuum storage bags you collapse with a vacuum cleaner. These throws would condense well. So I'm thinking I could buy a few more, store them, and pull a new one out after the old one I'd been using starts to lose its usefulness.

One caveat: I put one on the bed last night and it really is light weight — and warm too; however, it is so light and the fabric is so slick, it slides off the bed. When I woke up this morning it was on the floor. I need to solve that problem, maybe make a duvet cover.

Sunday 2017.9.3

Penn State Football

September at last. Labor Day is tomorrow — the beginning of football season.

I might sound like a crazed fan, but I'm not. I'm far more of a computer enthusiast than a football fan. I can talk ad nauseam about building by own computers. But, if I were to blame anything for my lack of interest in TV sports, I would name my old 35-inch picture tube TV. It was incapable of HD programming. Wide screen broadcasts were cut off at the sides.

As I said in earlier blogs, the local cable company went all digital last fall. My TV was useless, as it was only analog capable. It had to be replaced. None of my home theater components would connect to a new TV because the receiver, DVD player, etc. all connected with old-style RCA plugs and new TVs are HDMI. I took advantage of Black Friday sales and replaced everything, including the speakers. And I got a new cable box, with a recorder — something I'd never had before.

Therefore, I discovered glorious high definition football on a huge 65-inch flat panel TV. It was wonderful! I was mesmerized! And so I started watching football. Lots of football. And I found that I enjoyed the Penn State games best because of their quarterback, Trace McSorley. There was one problem: My home theater system was complete and ready to enjoy in early December, at the end of the football season. I missed nearly all the games.

This year I was ready. The first Penn Stage game, against Akron, was yesterday. I was impressed with Penn State, but not with the game. It was something called a "money game." Each team earned one million dollars for their play, but they were mismatched. Akron never scored a point. Penn won 52 to 0.

And that takes us into my latest Vlogging the News attempt.

Vlogging News and Sports

As I mentioned in my previous Kitchen Vlog, I learned from my failure. Although I might enjoy reading and watching the news, and talking about it, the masses of YouTube viewers do not share my interest. However, I discovered something when I vlogged about Peter Sagan being disqualified from the Tour de France cycling race for causing a crash in which Mark Cavendish was so badly injured he had to withdraw. Most of my news vlogs only average about 50 views, and that situation has remained unchanged for months. However, that one Peter Sagan vlog was seen more than 2,000 times, so far. There are a lot of sports fans on YouTube.

And that was only cycling. How many fans are into cycling? If cycling can pull 2,000 views on a virtually unknown YouTube channel (only 65 subscribers), what would football attract? I feel like I am standing at the edge of a precipice and the valley below me is glittering with gold. Okay, that might be an exaggeration.

To be more realistic, I can't expect sports vlogs to do any better than my cooking channel. Cooking is an overly-saturated subject area. There are almost as many video cooks as there are people in America. Maybe that's an exaggeration too, but it makes the point. There are tens of thousands of cooking videos on YouTube and mine do not rise to the top. I'm not Gordon Ramsay nor Alton Brown. I'm not sexy and pretty. I'm a 66 year old guy living in a mobile home.

So I fully expect my sports vlogs to flounder helplessly at the bottom of a sea filled with similar videos. I don't know any gorgeous college women who might sit beside me on the sofa, wearing a string bikini (her, not me), while I watch a football game and video my comments. However, I won't know until I try. And at the very least, the games will give me something to talk about. I'm running out of ideas for my vlogs.

For a while I'll call it "News and Sports" because I might still talk about the news, and I need to know whether or not the sports vlogging will take off. If it does, I'll create a new YouTube channel for sports.

My Home Theater System

I write a lot about my TV and more than one person asked me to post a picture of my system. Here it is:

home theater

Behind my head, on the desk, are the three components that run it all — a Denon receiver, Yahama Blu-ray player, and Contour cable box. There are eight speakers — four corner towers (one visible in the corner), two front side channels, a center channel (on the stand) and a sub-woofer (hidden in the corner). The TV is a 65-inch ultra-high definition Samsung mounted on the wall.

Thinking Again…

I did a test of the sports vlogging thing, watching the Ohio vs. Indiana game Thursday evening. I thought I might make verbal notes, recording them with my camera, during the game. One problem: The amount of video. I had nearly 37GB of video, which filled all of one memory card on my camera and ¼ of the second card.

Even though I stopped the camera during time-outs and commercials, I still had nearly 2½ hours of video, which I needed to filter through to find about 12 minutes of commentary. And, I didn't like any of it.

When I shoot a Kitchen Vlog, I run the camera for 10 to 15 minutes, all in one take, and that's my video. I can literally shoot, edit, and encode in less than an hour. Recording my own live commentary through an entire game is not an option. For the next game I'll sit with my computer keyboard in my lap and take notes.

As for September…

The month started as September should — hot. Yesterday morning at 7:00 it was already 75°F (24°C). I ran the window fan all night for the first time this summer. This morning at 8:00 it was already 80°F (27°C). The temperature peaked yesterday at about 97°F (36°C). I expect more of the same today. Then it will cool back down to normal during the week.

When I moved to California in 1975 this area saw a record high temperature of 107°F (42°C). Global warming wasn't an issue back then. Although the National Weather Service was predicting a high of 84°F (29°C) for yesterday, at 7:00 in the morning I knew better.

And then there is hurricane Irma out in the Atlantic. It won't affect me, but I'll be contacting my twin brother in Florida to see how he and his wife are doing.