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Sunday 2017.2.26

A Mistake With Benefits

I think I mentioned in an earlier blog that I worked for two days making sure all my videos were properly backed up to both a computer hard disk drive and to redundant archives copied to DVD blanks. And, in doing so, I found a video that was finished, encoded, and ready for YouTube, but was never uploaded — Pork and Bean Chili.

I might have thought at the time that it was a duplicate of my Smoky Pork and White Bean Chili. I watched it; it wasn't. However, and that's a mighty big "however," because I didn't have any photographs, other than the video itself.

One thing that was different about the video was that I used one of those 15-bean blends. Try to find them. Every store used to carry them. Even Costco sold a large plastic jar, shown in the video. I searched several stores before I found a package at, of course, the grocery store nearest to my home.

What is a 15-bean blend? It might not always be 15, but here is what the package says: Baby lima beans, green split peas, lentils, navy beans, great northern beans, large lima beans, black-eye peas, black beans, light red kidney beans, pink beans, pinto beans, small red beans, yellow split peas, green whole peas, and garbanzo beans. That's 15. They come in a one-pound bag and mine says "Bean Soup Mix" because the bag also includes a little packet of ham flavor seasoning (which I never use).

I like the blend because it gives a soup or chili a nouvelle cuisine sort of look. Pinto beans, white northerns, even cannellini beans are so common. Because I use sweet California chili pepper, which I prefer for its mild heat, I am tempted to name this one California Pork Chili. However, the video is already done; so I can't change the name. Someone requested I do a chili using my pressure cooker. I'm thinking of a spin-off of my Real Texas Chili recipe (which uses no beans), but using this 15-bean blend, mild California chili pepper, and calling it Real California Chili.

So here is where the benefits come in: I needed photographs. What to do? Make the chili again, of course. That is what I did yesterday morning. Friday evening I drove to the store to get the ingredients I needed. Then I started the dry beans soaking overnight. Yesterday was a fairly easy day. And, before noon I had a huge pot of chili ready to enjoy. Here is a photograph:

Pork and Bean Chili

This is one food I don't share with my neighbors because it freezes well. Using the poly tubing and impulse heat sealer I feature in my Minute Meals page, I portioned one-cup servings and froze them, putting 10 portions in the freezer. I'll have chili to enjoy for the remainder of the winter, maybe even into spring if I allow myself only one or two bowls per week.

It also gave me an opportunity to do what many people do with my videos. Rather than come to this website to download the PDF of the recipe, they cook solely from watching the video. I did the same. At each step I paused, completed that step, and then continued watching the video. It was actually the first time I used one of my videos as a recipe guide. And I must admit, it was fun.

The chili raised a question: What is the cooking time for soaked beans? I've made chili in which I needed to cook the beans for two hours or longer to get them tender. After one hour of cooking yesterday, the beans were perfect. Is it the freshness? I looked for the "best if used by" date on the bag. It was December 2019. I'll assume these were really fresh dry beans.

Wednesday's Kitchen Vlog

I changed my mind on Wednesday's vlog, having successfully filled two exhausted laser printer toner cartridges, and videoed one of them. So that will be Wednesday's Kitchen Vlog, Toner Refill Kits. It was fun, if a little messy, and it saved some money.

Another Kitchen Vlog in the Making

Yesterday the toner refill kits arrived. I think I might have mentioned that I bought two new toner cartridges recently for my laser printers. The old cartridges can be returned free of charge for recycling. But I thought, "Why not try refilling them with one of those kits?" I ordered one for each cartridge and yesterday evening I shot the vlog, showing how I refilled one cartridge. The process went very well. Almost no mess. I put the refilled cartridges in my printers and they work fine. Now I have a backup cartridge for each printer. And the cost of the refills are about a quarter of the cost of a new cartridge.

Wednesday 2017.2.22

I Made that Lemon Sabayon Tart Thing

On Sunday, after uploading the video and recipe for Macaroni and Cheese, I made the sabayon dessert. Talk about the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction — from Mac & Cheese to Zabaglione! The dessert was a light and frothy gem, with a texture not unlike meringue. It came out fantastic. Here is a photo.

Lemon Zabaglione Tart

The almond pastry shell was a perfect accompaniment to the lemon filling.

Getting the picture I wanted was another challenge. It's discernible, barely, but the photograph above is a combination of two pictures. One had a better exposure of the tart on the cutting board. The other had a better focus of the dessert on the plate. I wanted a picture that would tell a story. This one says a slice of tart was taken from the dessert on the cutting board. Okay, it's not much of a story, but I think it's a little better than a slice on a plate. I even like the little bits of crumbs. And although it's a small point, I like the fancy cloth napkin matching the rustic plate. That little bit of incongruity seems appropriate.

That plate, by the way, is one of the ugliest plates I own. I don't know why, but ugly plates look great in photographs. When I shop for such things I go to the clearance shelves at the back of the store. That's where I find the stuff that no one else would buy. This one was a ceramics project by a student at the University of California Santa Barbara. I know that because on the underside of the plate are the letters UCSB. The campus is near where I live.

Video Backups Done

Phew! It took two days, but I went through all my archives, made sure every video had two backups — one archived to DVD blanks and another copied to a hard disk drive — and made sure everything was catalogued in a database I created to keep track of such things. I'm satisfied. After filling the previous 4TB drive to the brim with files, I heat-sealed it in an anti-static envelope, labeled it clearly, and put it away. I am now using the new 5TB HDD I wrote about in Sunday's blog. Happy happy.

Another Mac & Cheese

One of the advantages of having a foodie web site and YouTube channel is that I hear from people who know things I don't. Someone directed me to a web site in which a science-sort of guy experiments with recipes. He makes a decent macaroni and cheese, and it's super simple.

He puts the macaroni in a saucepan and adds only enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook six minutes, stirring gently the whole time. Add some condensed milk and cheese, cook another two minutes, stirring, and then plate.

Okay, but wait.… I followed his instructions and the cheese clumped in the pan. It was edible, but not creamy and smooth. Maybe he uses pre-shredded cheddar that is treated with an additive to prevent clumping. I shredded fresh cheese. However, in a cooking course we were taught never to put the cheese in a pan when on the flame. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese, and stir only until melted and smooth. That's what I did in my second attempt. Here is what it looked like:

Creamy Mac & Cheese

Creamy and smooth, and satisfyingly delicious. Ergo: If you shred your own cheese, add it at the end of the cooking time after removing the pan from the heat.

Here's another problem solved: In my first attempt, stirring the cheese in the pan on the heat coated the inside of the pan with a lot of cheese, difficult to scrape off. I learned another trick, elsewhere on the Internet. Put enough water in the pan to cover the cheese mess, add a generous splash of ammonia, cover the pan and leave overnight. The following morning the cheese was reduced to a very soft residue that was easily rinsed off. Wash and dry, all is well.

Today's Kitchen Vlog

As mentioned in Sunday's blog, this week's Kitchen Vlog is about tailoring. Here is the link:

Kitchen Vlog link


Also, I mentioned in a vlog that I had bought a new toner cartridge for my computer's laser printer. Actually, I have two printers and I had bought two cartridges. This week I decided to experiment with a refill kit that makes it possible to fill an old cartridge with new toner and use it again. I am going to try filling one, maybe both, of the cartridges in a vlog and see how it goes. I will either save a lot of money, or make a mess with black toner all over the place. If you've never dealt with a toner disaster (I have) you won't know how horrific it can be. Hopefully it will go well.

Sunday 2017.2.19

Your Donation Dollars At Work

It has been a while since I reported how the donations to this web site are put to work. I don't buy shoes with the money nor pay for trips to Disneyland. The donations are used solely for this web site and for the cooking videos.

This week I purchased another hard disk drive (HDD) for this computer. Nothing failed. Nothing needed to be replaced. However, the HDD on which I backup all my videos is now full. It's a big drive — 4 terabytes (TB). That is a lot of storage space and I was able to copy six years of video files to it. Those include all the orginal clips shot with my camera along with the projects and encoded files for the videos you see on YouTube.

Besides the HDD, I also archive all the files to data DVDs, which are stored in boxes in my office. Each box holds 190 disks and I am more than halfway toward filling a fifth box. I like having redundant backups because I encountered problems in the past. One set of archive backups was unreadable, but I had a second backup on HDD that I could use to rebuild the archive. Now I test all the archives before I store them.

So what did I buy? It is a 5TB Western Digital Caviar Black HDD. I like the Caviar Blacks. They cost a little more than the other colors, but they are better built and come with a better guarantee. What little I understand about WD's hard disk colors, of the three that are for desktop computers — Green, Blue, and Black — Black is the best. Green, the color of money, is supposedly the budget drive for people who don't have much money to spend. Blue is the general purpose drive. And Black is the quality drive for those who want the assurance their files will be safe.

I bought the 5TB because it gave me the best price per TB. And it was currently on sale at a slight discount. With tax (shipping was free), I spent $240. That leaves about $74 in the PayPal account. About $130 will go into the account next month, a payment from Curious.com because of videos I sent them a few years ago. They don't earn much, but every four months I get a payment from them, which also goes toward support of this web site.

All is well. I have new storage space for videos. It will probably take seven years to fill the new HDD. There are no current needs. There is more than enough funds in the account to take care of any future needs. So, once again, Thank You to those who help support this web site. I appreciate your generosity.

And if you haven't seen my Kitchen Vlog on Amazon Prime, this purchase might serve as a good example of why I don't pay $99 per year for Prime. I could have purchased the HDD from Amazon for exactly the same amount. They probably wouldn't have shipped it until a week later and the total wait time for delivery could have been as long as ten days. Instead, I ordered the HDD from Newegg.com late Wednesday afternoon. It was shipped FedEx the following day and was delivered to my home on Friday morning, less than 48 hours after ordering it, and without paying for shipping or for Prime.

Lime Flowers

I mentioned in an earlier blog that my lime tree (I think it's a lime tree) is finally blooming. There are several bunches of flowers budding on it. When they open fully, they don't last long. But here are two photographs of flowers budding on the tree.

Lime tree flowers

Lime tree flowers

I used a cotton swab to pollinate some of the flowers, in case the bees don't notice them. I should know in a few months, assuming the pollination works, whether or not this tree is a lime. I did look at pictures on the Internet, and most of the flowers look different. The fruit will be the proof.

Better Rain

Finally, a relatively slow-moving storm system passed through the area this week. Of course, better depends on your needs and where you live. For those who live close to large streams or rivers, or below the Oroville Dam, too much rain could be troublesome. Five people died as a result of the storm, and two cars and a firetruck were swallowed by a sink hole. My home is on high ground. Drainage is not a problem here.

The advantage of a slow-moving storm is that it drops more rain, which helps fill the reservoirs and the aquifers. Northern California has more water than they can cope with. Here in SoCal we are still in a drought situation, although the water shortage has been eased somewhat.

The reservoir is now more than a third full. This last storm doubled the water in the lake. Two areas of the county received nearly ten inches of rain in 24 hours. Where I live the rain was more moderate, but we still received nearly five inches. We are well above where we should be for a "normal" rain year. In fact, if no more rain fell this year we'd still be at nearly 120% of average rainfall for the season. And there are more storms to come. Today is sunny, but it will start raining again tomorrow. This next storm is expected to be milder.

My Kitchen Vlog

Wednesday's vlog will fulfill a request. Someone asked me to explain how I learned how to do tailoring when I was in college.

Wednesday 2017.2.15


I haven't done many desserts for this web site in a while. The last one was the Frosted Pineapple Squares, which wasn't impressive except for the nostalgia of using a recipe from out of the 1960s. And it's more of a coffee cake than a dessert.

Most of the recipes I've done lately were by request, which I enjoy because they save me from having to pore over cookbooks or Internet recipes, trying to decide what to do next. One of the cookbooks I don't visit often is The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. The French Laundry is a posh restaurant in the Bay Area, north of San Francisco, and (according to their web site) reservations need to be made a month in advance. The cookbook is full of elegant meals, many of which are expensive to prepare.

The Lemon Sabayon – Pine Nut Tart is an example. Pine nuts are outrageously expensive. I bought some a few months ago to shoot a new video for my Chicken and Spinach Pie. Are pine nuts essential? No. Someone gave me a great idea. Use sautéed mushrooms instead. That will be my choice the next time I prepare the pie.

According to my Larousse Gastronomique Culinary Encyclopedia, Sabayon is the French name for the Italian creamy dessert Zabaglione (or Zabaione, which is probably where the French name comes from). Giuliano Bugialli, in his cookbook The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, says the dessert is most commonly made with Marsala. The French Laundry recipe is a variation that might not be a true sabayon. They use no wine and the mixture is poured into a baked tart shell, browned under the broiler, allowed to set for an hour, and then served either cold or at room temperature.

And that's what we call research.

My variation is a tart shell made with almonds rather than pine nuts, at a considerable savings. I wondered about the almonds; however, I've made Almond Cookies in the past and they held up very well to baking. One of the first recipes I prepared of this web site is my Almond Biscotti, which is a wonderful cookie to serve with coffee of tea. They also bake well. So the decision to use almonds instead of over-priced pine nuts seemed like a sound one. I also think the flavor will be better too.


Meanwhile, I haven't said anything about my citrus trees in a while. They continue to grow, adding new branches and leaves, and now a few pieces of fruit. Here are two pictures.

Orange tree 1

Orange tree 2

In the past, the fruit would fall off before it ripened. I suspected the trees weren't mature enough to fully support the fruit. Now the fruit is near to being ripe on two of the trees, with more in development.

It also helps me to figure out which tree is which. The one in the second picture was labeled "Meyer Lemon," but obviously it's an orange. Maybe the first picture is of the Meyer. I'll know when I can harvest.

The lime tree, the one that has been slowest to grow (probably because it only gets sun in the afternoon) has dozens of flower buds on it now. I'll try to get a photograph when the flowers open, and I'll use a cotton swab to pollinate some of the flowers. I'm really curious to see how the fruit, if it doesn't fall off, turns out on that tree.

I haven't tasted any of the fruit yet.

And the Herbs

The herbs are a different story. It's winter. The rosemary, marjoram, and oregano continue to thrive. They must like less sun and a little cold. The Italian parsley, thyme and sage are surviving, but struggling. The sweet basil, tarragon, and Thai basil are evidently anticipating spring. Those three died way back a month or two ago, but now new buds are beginning to appear.

Today's Kitchen Vlog

In Sunday's blog I mentioned the request to demonstrate how I keep my cookware looking shiny. I uploaded that vlog to YouTube this morning. Here is the link:

My Kitchen Vlog link


Latest Reservoir Report

The lake is currently above 17% capacity. Actually, I shouldn't care, because none of our local water comes from the lake. This part of the county depends on aquifer water. The lake is part of the state's water conveyance system, delivering water to areas further south.

The reservoir serves as a useful measure of how severe, or not, the drought is in our area. We are still living with "Stage III Water Shortage" conservation measures, and the local water management board still uses the reservoir as a reminder of why we need to conserve water, even though we don't get water from the lake.

Regardless of their rationale, I have certainly done my part. I have no lawn. The stone requires no watering, and the Dymondia is drought tolerant. With the rains we've had so far this winter, I haven't watered my yard in months. And more rain is expected later this week.

Sunday 2017.2.12

And Then There Were Two

I did two cooking videos this week. The Chicken Wings video was uploaded to YouTube this morning. I also put a Macaroni & Cheese video in the vault for later. I've been trying to work on my discipline, not putting off video projects until the last possible minute. College football season is over, and the recent season of The Grand Tour concluded last week on Friday; so I have fewer distractions tempting me to watch my new TV.

I'm not sure what I'll do next. These two new videos were by request, but last week's Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni video was something I wanted to do for myself. I'll probably find another project I think I might like. Or maybe I'll redo one of my really old videos, like Eggplant Parmesan. I love eating Eggplant Parmesan.

Meanwhile, I've been having some fun vlogging. Someone requested I do a video showing how I keep my stainless steel cookware shiny. I don't have separate cookware for my videos; I use my everyday pots and pans. But I keep them polished. The bright pans not only look good, but they help create an impression that says I'm a clean cook.

I also did another vlog about my college days because someone asked me to talk about how I learned to tailor when I was in college. That was easy (and I got to show off a little). And then I did a totally self-indulgent vlog in which I don't speak a word as I solve a Rubik's Cube. I like that one because I have a warped sense of humor, but I'm not sure others will like it. However, vlogs aren't supposed to gain fans like cooking videos do. So, a little negative response is fine with me.

Again the weather was bad for photography when I made the Mac & Cheese, but good for the reservoir; therefore, I used studio lighting again. The picture isn't awful, but it's good enough. Here is one:

Macaroni & Cheese

When I prepare to upload the video and recipe to YouTube and my web site, I'll crop the photo closer to that bowl of food. The casserole dish doesn't need to be in the shot. The ceramics don't match anyway.

And, because I made a huge casserole dish of the stuff, I went around to my neighbors and gave nearly all of it away. I ate the food that is in that dish. That was enough to keep me satisfied.

As for the Reservoir…

Every little storm helps. The county predicted the lake would accumulate no more than 15% of its capacity this year. As of yesterday it was over 16%. That isn't much, but the season isn't over yet. We probably won't fill the reservoir this year, but any progress is better than an empty lake. More rain is predicted for later this week.

Wednesday's Kitchen Vlog

On Wednesday I'll upload the video mentioned above — how I keep my stainless steel cookware looking clean and shiny.

Wednesday 2017.2.8

Better Planning

Rather than waiting until the last minute to shoot a video, and then scrambling to get everything edited and encoded in time for an upload (sometimes working until late in the evening), this week I exercised some better discipline.

Someone requested that I do a video on chicken wings. The first thought that came to mind was Hot Wings. I don't like hot and spicy food. I like the flavor of chili, but if you've ever looked at my Texas Chili recipe you've seen that I use a mild, sweet California chile powder. So the idea of Hot Wings didn't appeal to me.

However, I did some research and I found an amusing recipe online. It says to prepare the marinade, pour it over the chicken wings, and let them marinate in the refrigerator "overnight," turning 2 or 3 times. I couldn't help wondering: Who is going to get up at 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning to turn over chicken wings?

Naturally, I had a better idea (actually, two). I made the marinade in the evening, and I sectioned the wings into the two meaty pieces — the wingette and the drumette (saving the wing tips in the freezer for the next time I make chicken stock). Then I refrigerated everything, without combining the chicken and the marinade.

The following morning (which was yesterday) I divided the wing pieces between two one-gallon ziplock freezer bags and poured most of the marinade into the two bags. I reserved about half a cup, thinking I could use it to baste the wings while they baked, like I did in the Bourbon Chicken recipe. The basing gave them a more golden, glossy look, like they had been varnished.

I let the wings marinate in the refrigerator all day, turning the bags over every hour or two to flavor the pieces evenly. Then, late in the afternoon, I baked them.

The flavor and appearance of the wings was great — slightly sweet but mild, the flavor of the chicken meat coming through the flavors of the marinade. The lighting for photography was not good. It rained all day and even when the showers let up for a while the sky was gray and the light dreary. I ended up doing the final photography using artificial light. It was good enough. Here is a photograph.

Marinated Chicken Wings

There is one advantage to using artificial light: I don't need to hurry. I can shoot the photographs long after the sun has gone down. Sunset was at 5:30 PM, but I did the photography well after 7:00 in the evening. No rush, no stress. I still prefer to shoot with natural lighting, when I can get it, but I also enjoy the advantages of working with artificial lighting. Looking at that picture — c'mon, it ain't bad, ya gotta admit. And if you think that chicken looks delicious, you will love the recipe. That chicken was fantastic! (And don't think keeping that pat of butter on top of the corn wasn't a challenge.)

I did do one bit of cheating though. I didn't make the macaroni salad; I bought it at the local Smart & Final store. After doctoring it up a little with diced celery and garnishing with some chopped green onion, it was good enough to eat. I ate everything on that plate.

And I got lucky too. I bought three ears of corn because they were "3 for 99¢". They were still in the husks; so I wasn't sure what I was getting. I cooked two, just in case. The one in the picture was the good one. The other one looked awful; about a third of the kernels was missing.

Now I'm hoping someone will invite me to a potluck barbecue this summer. I'll make those wings.

Today's Kitchen Vlog

As planned, I reminisced about my college days when I was a stage actor. Some of it is amusing. Here is the link:

My Kitchen Vlog


Sunday 2017.2.5

Routine…Maybe Ritual

I has been more than a year since I built my computers. I still love them and they still look new, especially inside. I continue to practice my ritual routine on the first day of each month (or near to it) by changing all the dust filters covering all the intake fans. If you haven't watched my Kitchen Vlog about keeping dust out of a computer, you might want to by CLICKING HERE.

Each new generation of computers runs faster and therefore hotter. Heat is an issue and there are plenty of computer devices designed to help keep a computer cool. Fans are the most popular, but to be really effective they need to move a lot of air. That makes them noisy. Or, use a lot of slower but quieter fans instead.

The latest coolers use liquid in enclosed loops. A cooler attaches to the hot component, such as the CPU (Central Processing Unit, or brain) and it is connected to a radiator by hoses. A quiet little pump circulates the liquid through the cooler and radiator. The radiator cools the fluid, which cools the CPU, around and around it goes. The radiator needs fans too. More fans.

The video card (GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit) processes the stuff you see on your monitor. It also generates a lot of heat, especially when playing processor-intensive games. Liquid cooling is the most efficient and quietest way to go. More fans.

My computers each have five fans, all oriented to pull air into the computer. That might seem counterintuitive because the goal is to exhaust hot air. However, the air finds its way out. By orienting my fans for air intake, I can place an air filter over each fan and it catches any dust that might otherwise get into the computer. Dust, as it collects on things inside your computer, acts like a blanket, keeping things warmer. It doesn't take a genius to understand blankets are not a good thing inside a computer.

I use Swiffer Sweeper refill dusting cloths as filters over my fans. They work excellently. They catch a lot of dust, especially in summer when the windows are open and fans are running. In fact, the filters fill up (if that's the right expression) rather quickly. As they clog with dust, there is less air flow and my computers get hotter. I equipped my computers with a temperature monitor and it sounds an alarm when the computer gets too hot. (As I sit here and look at my computer, the graphics card is currently at 32°C (about 90°F) which is low.)

And thus the ritual of changing all the filters at the beginning of each month. I don't wait until an alarm sounds; I just change them regularly and then I have nothing to worry about.

About Today's Feature Recipe

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

I really like the photograph, but there is one little issue. When I save a photo for my web site, maximizing it for the Internet, the graphics program likes to warm the colors up a little bit. This photo has a slight pink shift to it, especially in the upper left. The hue isn't in the original. The original color is quite natural. I played around a little with color correction, but, again, I was too pressed for time. I finished shooting this recipe yesterday afternoon, leaving way too much to do in the evening. By bedtime I still didn't have everything ready for my web site.

I got up extra early this morning to finish the updates. They went well. But I really need to plan my videos better. I'd like to set aside Monday to always do a video. That would give me plenty of time to get everything done, and maybe even do a second video during the week to have a few put in the vault for future use, just in case (like if I injure my back again).

As the for recipe and food, this was one of the best flavored cannelloni I ever made. I gave some to a neighbor who usually doesn't tell me how good the food is unless I ask. He called me early in the evening to tell me, "This time you hit it out of the park." He loved it.

Wednesday's Kitchen Vlog

Someone suggested I reminisce about my childhood or college days in a vlog. I was a theater major, emphasizing in acting (although I took many design courses as well). The suggestion gave me a lot to talk about; so I might do a second vlog about college theater as well.

Wednesday 2017.2.1

A Quiet Week…So Far

For those interested in knowing how my back is doing: It's much better. It is still sore and it seems like the healing process continues to be two steps forward and one step back. Monday was not an easy day, but yesterday I felt so well I was able to go to the store again.

I also felt well enough to do another vlog. I've been searching for ideas, but one presented itself in a discussion with a neighbor. We both shop on Amazon.com, but he subscribes to Amazon Prime. I do not. I decided to vlog about it. I'm not sure how interesting it might, or might not, be; however, I chose to talk about it anyway. I don't expect my vlogs to be as popular as my cooking videos. They give me another use for my audio/video equipment; so that's good enough for me.

Another reason for the vlog is because of something unusual going on at Amazon. I ordered something last week on Monday. Here it is the following week on Wednesday and I am still waiting for a notice informing me the item shipped. This seems odd because it is an item that is stocked, sold, and shipped by Amazon. It is in their inventory. Also, they don't need to box it. The item is shipped in the same carton used by the manufacturer. The only task necessary for Amazon is to print a label and stick it on the box. So why the delay?

I have my own conspiracy theory about it: That Amazon randomly selects some items to be delayed in the hope that they'll frustrate people who doesn't like to wait — and maybe they will subscribe to Amazon Prime at $99 per year. Not me.

The problem with Prime is that most of the items I might purchase on Amazon are available from other sources. In the vlog I showed an HP Laserjet cartridge I recently purchased for one of my printers. It sells for $61 on Amazon. It was the same price on Newegg.com, also with free shipping. The advantage of Newegg is that they ship quickly, usually the following day but sometimes the same day. I had the toner cartridge in my hands within 48 hours. And if I couldn't wait at all, the local Staples store, which is within walking distance, sells the cartridge for $68. I could have enjoyed a leisurely walk and brought the item home in less than an hour.

So what is the advantage of Prime? It's good for people who don't live close to shopping centers like I do. I needed an HDMI cable. Amazon sells what I wanted, but so does Best Buy, which is also within walking distance. They're in the same shopping center as Staples. I bought the cable at Best Buy. No waiting.

I won't stop shopping at Amazon, but I'll check other sources first and use Amazon as a last option. Here is the link to today's vlog:

Vlog link


Sticker Shock

My electricity bill jumped from $75 to $100 this past month. Too much watching that new 4K TV?

Rain Tonight

Weather is probably the least interesting topic for a blog, but for those of us in Southern California who have endured through five years of drought, rain is a headline story. The precipitation is forecast to continue through Friday, followed by a sunny weekend, and then more rain early next week. Bring it on.