Author Archives: Silk Cords

I… Shall Return!

OK, it’s been a long while since I’ve write anything here. As usual, reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated though. 😀

I’ve had a TON going on at a personal level. Most of it I’m still debating if or how much to tell. On a bigger front, the house sale went through two days ago now, and I have been up to my armpits in projects. The previous owner left the place utterly filthy and we even found roaches. They took past closing to get out also. We were nice and gave them an extra day but they made zero progress packing. At that point we hit them with a $500 a day fee to stay and miraculously they were out of there like greased lightning.

Aside, from the dirt, grease and roaches, they also hid an old dryer vent hole in an exterior wall behind a bunch of crap. We have to patch that…

They also lied about claiming to have several bad electrical outlets in the house repaired. The outlets work, but the ground side of the outlets tests bad. The seller *apparently* had a contractor friend forge a work order saying the work was done, and apparently didn’t think we’d come behind and test them ourselves.

Well… As a wise president once said:

We’ve got the home inspector returning for a reinspection later today. Once it’s in writing that nothing was done, there’s going to be hell to pay. We’ve got a contractor that willfully and deliberately committed fraud to aid the seller in fraudulent representation of the condition of the house, and they both lied on legal documents. Fraud in the inducement.

So, to paraphrase Patrick Swayze… It was time to be nice, NOW it’s time to NOT be nice. It’s not like we redheads are evil though…

Beyond that, there’s a bajillion projects to do. I’ll document the progress as time allows. 😉

But the Third Little Pig was Smart…

…and built his house out of brick.

…What the hell is going on?  And who has ever heard of a little pig? They thought as they read this, lol.

That’s where we’ve been actually.  Our lease is up in a couple of months and given how hyper-inflated the market is out here, we figured it was best to start house hunting early.

No, we did NOT actually try to get on the show. LOL


…Well, when you’re already well trained in real estate yourself, AND hire the best agent out there… house hunting doesn’t take long.  We’re already under contract with a place sort of near our current location.  The place is solid brick and cinder block, even the interior walls.  Hell, the front of the house is cinder block with an outer double row layer of brick.  I figure anything short of a direct hit from a tornado isn’t going to scratch the house, lol. We definitely won’t be worrying about the severe storms that come through the South. 🙂

The interior cinder block walls are the biggest interior challenge. While sturdy as well as good insulation, they’re drab and give the place a little bit of a prison or military base feel. We’re exploring various options for wall treatments; everything from paint to faux rock treatments or even putting drywall over the cinder block. 

A SHORT Diversion into Home Buying Tips:

Image via ClassRealtyGroup.com Not the broker we used, but a good pic I found.

Coincidentally, good visualization / imagination skills like mentioned above are a HUGE benefit to you when house hunting. Before I got my real estate license, I used to think that shows like House Hunters were even more scripted than they are. Time and again, I saw people reject otherwise great houses over cosmetic issues like paint colors. Paint is CHEAP. Even cheaper if you’re willing to put in a little sweat equity and do the work yourself.

Concern yourself with the structural issues of the house as well as what type of terrain it’s on and what kind of neighborhood it’s in (low crime, good schools). Those are what’s important, NOT if you’ll have to upgrade the counter tops from formica. That’s minor in the grand scheme of things. It’s also strictly your ego speaking if you say you NEED to upgrade the counters immediately because they’re formica laminate. Backtracking slightly for the moment, by the type of terrain the house is on, I’m referring to two important factors:

First; is the area known for soft land that creates foundation repair issues? Those can be incredibly expensive. Ask anybody in Florida.

Second; is the house situated at the bottom of a hill or slope? If so, rain water can flow up against the house and erode the foundation as well. Inversely, a house at the highest point on it’s lot or property will have water naturally drain away from it, helping keep the foundation safe. These drainage issues are also why good gutters are important on a house.


Meanwhile, Back at Stately Silk Manor…

Getting back to the place we bought, the kitchen is fairly dated, but it’s got a quaint, country look to it that I like. Redo the stain on the cabinets, or MAYBE paint them white (I like natural wood and stone surfaces), and they’ll look great. We will upgrade the counter tops later as money allows. The stove is also ancient.  I’m torn there.  It’s got that old fashioned country look also. It’s built similar to an old school British oven, so it’s more versatile than a modern oven. Let us not forget that things back then just did not break (unlike the junk made today).  On the flip side, I love to cook and I could so easily see a large 6 burner gas stove sitting where that antique electric oven is now. 🙂


There’s other stuff also.  No garage, and we consider that a necessity for Ginger (the ’67 Mustang) and the other half’s Subaru. We’re looking at a prefab steel building to hold us for the time being until we can afford to get a garage built that would match the house’s construction and style. The house also has a circular driveway, but it’s made of (tightly packed) gravel. Functional, but (again) when time and money allow, we want to pave it, MAYBE even with paving stones if money ever allows.


So, that’s us lately.  Not much else to report as the hunt ate up all my would-be blogging time last week. I’ll probably do a post or two in the near future with home buying tips.

In the meantime:

What Ever Happened to the Truth?

OK, trigger warning here: I’m going to be getting “political” here, and discussing racial and police issues. If that’s not your thing, I understand. It’s why I’m putting up the warning.

So what sparked this? We’ve been catching up on TV lately. We missed quite a bit of shows during our moving prep, the actual move, and the time our furniture was MIA. We got into the most recent Season of CBS’s S.W.A.T. reboot.

Overall, it’s a really good show; a rarity among reboots. They went off the deep end trying to show support for Black Lives Matters at the start of this last season though.

The episode involved trying to break up a chain of terrorist attacks that were designed to hit South Central and stir up racial tensions to the point of actual violent conflict. All this while the neighborhood is planning an annual remembrance event of the Rodney King beating.

LONG story short, the episode spins the riots following the King verdict as the fault of the police because they didn’t step in and restore order. They even have the Commander of the SWAT Division of LAPD get up in front of the community and apologize to them for not disobeying orders and trying to help (he was a patrol officer at the time).

The thing is, I was in San Diego at the time the riots broke out. I was staying with my dad the cop AND (his idea) I was also working as a private security guard in the Miramar area of North San Diego at the time. Believe me, I was paying CLOSE attention to everything that was happening.

Still can’t believe I went to work the nights of the riots completely unarmed, but otherwise looking for all the world like a cop. Pinkerton had dark blue uniforms.

ANYWAY… The truth is people in the neighborhoods where the rioting was taking place were actively shooting at any police that came into the area. Not only that, they were shooting at fire trucks and ambulances trying to help as well. The police pulled back and focused on containment because the alternative was to turn South Central into a full blown war zone, and be accused of a race massacre.

Back in those days, the police were also outgunned. The military weapons and transports that we see police using nowadays came about after the riots.

That’s a big part of why the national guard was mobilized to deal with the riots.

What’s My Point?

First, let me say that NONE of the above facts justify what happened to Rodney King, or others like George Floyd. The idea that Rodney King’s 1986 Hyundai could even do 120 MPH as police claimed is laughable. Even my dad called BS on that one. Early Hyundais were complete crap. You couldn’t get them going 120 if you dropped them out of the space shuttle.

Black Lives DO Matter.

If we’re ever going to get to a solution for all of this though, things have to be dealt with honestly. Both sides are going to have to see each other as human beings. Policing needs to change, no doubt about that. You can’t drive the police out of neighborhoods or try to eliminate them completely (as a few cities have tried) and then complain when they’re not where they were chased out of though.

It’s racist if they’re in black neighborhoods, and it’s racist if they don’t respond (fast enough) to calls in black neighborhoods. Is it any wonder cops are quitting in record numbers and cities can’t find replacements for them?

I’ve seen the impact firsthand there. We left Sacramento and California completely because it LITERALLY took 7 hours for police to respond to any call that didn’t involve gunfire. That’s IF they responded at all!

I won’t fault Shemar Moore (lead actor and producer) or CBS for trying to shine the spotlight on race issues as relates to police. They’ve done it before and up till this point had done a very balanced job of showing both sides of the issue.

I’m REALLY disappointed at the spin they put on the whole situation in this episode however. It was blatantly and unabashedly anti-police, dishonest, and only served to deepen mistrust of law enforcement, especially in minority communities. Nothing in that episode was going to promote communication or healing.

Maybe I’m expecting too much in hoping for Shemar Moore’s character to instead say “We have every right to be pissed about what happened that day and still happens too often. We can’t blame the police when some of us burn down and loot our own neighborhood, and shoot at the people who come to help us though.”

I’m only going to add one other point here: I am NOT saying that the entire neighborhood was involved in shooting at police, etc… I’ve said time and again that the vast majority of Black people, like ALL races, are good people. Like all races, there’s a small percentage of bad apples though. That small percentage did ALOT of damage though, and to their own neighborhoods.

Anybody comes in here with a racist reply about that’s how “all of those people are”, it’ll be an insta-ban from this blog. I don’t have the time or patience for ignorance and hate.

When it Rains…

It definitely pours.

Image via ClarionLedger.com

I’ve been occupied the last week or so with several different events. That’s what’s kept me quiet the last couple of days.

First was trying to get our lawn overseeded to fill in the bare spots. That was a bit time consuming and had to be worked around all the rain we’ve been getting. Not TOO bad though.

A few days later though, the lawn got overrun with wild mushrooms of several different types:

I had other pictures, but the phone ate them; yet another problems I’ve been dealing with for a while. That big mushroom on the right is a good 6 or 7 inches across, and our lawn is getting covered with those and strange small orange ones that as best I can tell are a variety of Russula and some white ones that look like death caps.

As for the phone, since the update before last, it’s locked me out of being able to DL my pics directly, and instead is forcing me to go to iCloud to retrieve them, probably in an effort to embed cookies in my PC. I’ve tried all the methods to fix that and / or reset the phone, but nothing has worked.

Speaking of not working, has anybody else noticed how utterly useless DuckDuckGO has gotten lately? It’s it’s not a cutting edge pop culture reference, DuckDuckGo.com can’t seem to find it at all.

So, next… We have our roof. I told our landlord before we moved in that it looked sketchy to me. He sent somebody out who rubber stamped it as fine. Well, maybe it’s not so fine:

We’ve got a large area at the far end of the kitchen where the ceiling is water stained and the crappy spray on popcorn is falling off. The landlord gets a guy out to look at the roof, and I swear he made the Beverly Hillbillies look erudite and well dressed. He stunk of pot also. He takes a look, and says he’s going to fix it and notify the landlord. The next thing we hear of it (after the pot-head just vanished) is that the landlord is trying to run the cost of a new roof through his insurance company.

We’ve weathered (pun intended) all of that fairly well. The leak hasn’t damaged anything inside yet, and it’s not OUR roof. The icing on the cake for me came Monday. One of the corporate idiots came to my other half’s job for whatever reason a week ago, and on Monday he notifies the office that he and the eye candy he was apparently traveling with have tested positive for COVID and been quarantined.

One of the other people at that office apparently decided they were too cool and smart to be vaccinated, so they may have caught it and passed it on to their family.

We weren’t TOO worried about it here, having been vaccinated BUT, a day later we both got sick with symptoms that mimicked the reaction we had to the second dose of the vaccine. Nothing’s been severe by any means, but I’m decidedly NOT happy about it all.

We did go to a local testing spot, and the tests came back negative. It MAY be a minor case of the flu (which oddly enough I don’t think I’ve had in 10 years), OR the vaccine might be causing a false negative.

My other half is diabetic, and has minor asthma issues, AND a heart murmur as well. IF this were COVID and we weren’t vaccinated, it could have potentially been VERY serious. Yeah, I’m pissed.

I’m annoyed just having been sick the last few days simply for no other reason than somebody thought they were above the rules and too clever to be vaccinated. Yeah our tests came back negative but I know what the flu feels like and what the vaccine symptoms felt like.

Yes, there’s a literal shit ton of misinformation on both sides of this issue, BUT that doesn’t change the fact that COVID spreads fast and has killed alot of people. Personal freedoms have to be balanced in light of social responsibilities. Both are equally important unless one doesn’t wish to live among their fellow man.

All of the above has left me frustrated with how little control I have over my life also. The roof isn’t the only problem the house has, and ending up homeless, even briefly, doesn’t exactly appeal to me. My back is making SLOW progress, but keeps going out enough to make getting back to real work impractical and improbable. THAT, in turn, means if anything happens to my dingbat spouse who ignored my requests for life insurance until AFTER the heart murmur and blockage were discovered, (and now can’t qualify for any), I’m screwed.

I spent most of my life at the mercy of abusive parents and a manipulative ass of an ex. I HATED it, and I HATE feeling like I’m in the exact same boat now.

So, M$ Outlook Actually Taught Me Something Yesterday

I was in the middle of an email with my uber small writing circle, and misspelled “Epilogue”. The spellchecker in Outlook automatically throws up suggestions before you can even do a correct yourself, and “Apologue” came up as a suggestion.

I’d never heard of the word, so I had to search it out of morbid curiosity:

So yes, an allegory or parable. The word is obscure enough nowadays that I’m not certain if I’d use it in writing… Perhaps if a character was fairly erudite and known for their vocabulary.

Still nice to learn something new however. 🙂

Culper Precision Makes Custom Gun That Looks Like Toy

Time for a Rant. Utah based Culper Precision (a firearms manufacturer) decided to customize what I think is a Glock 19 to look like a toy made of Legos.

Image courtesy of Newsweek and MSN

They called it the “Block 19” and that is a VERY real firearm. They were quite proud of the fact that they glued the Legos onto it, and got the gun to keep them in place for over 1500 rounds fired.

Oddly enough, they also don’t understand the outrage this has generated with people.

Stats on how many children are killed with guns are sadly twisted and politicized. Regardless of the actual numbers, children getting ahold of guns and accidentally shooting themselves, a sibling, or shooting people at school are too common, and IMO one is too many because a responsible gun owner keeps their guns properly secured.

I’ve already called for the gun owners to be tried as co-conspirators in such cases unless they can show that they did have their guns locked up. Kids are tempted by the mystique surrounding guns, and if you make it look like a harmless toy, whatever respect they may have for the weapon is going to be lost. This was just completely irresponsible on Culper’s part.

Before any of the Pro-Second Amendment crowd jumps on me here, I *am* a gun owner. I own a CZ-75 Compact 9mm pistol:

Image courtesy of CZ-USA.com

Not only do I own it, I practice regularly and I’m pretty damned good with it:

Image courtesy of me; 20 rounds at a distance of 40 feet or 12.19 meters

Point being that I’m not some extremist activist who has never held a gun nor understands how they work. I’m a responsible gun owner who keeps my gun secured, practices to be accurate so I don’t unnecessarily endanger somebody IF I’m ever forced to defend myself, AND I hope to never, ever have to point it at another human being.

Culper made a gun that looks like a child’s toy, and then defended it by saying they were doing it to protect the second amendment (I can’t make this stuff up):

What’s all the more scary is that Instagram post got 2900+ likes.

Then, when they started getting TONS of hate, they doubled down on stupid, saying the reason people didn’t like it was because they gave their children unlimited access to guns or were a bunch of ignorant anti-second amendment nuts. See the story I linked above. I’m paraphrasing but NOT exaggerating.

THIS is the kind of irresponsible idiocy that makes others question the mindset of gun owners.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

My OPINION on this; Why does it matter? First of all, as previously stated, it LOOKS like a toy. That’s going to give a child a false sense of safety with it. Ideally, children in a gun owning household are taught to respect guns, that they’re extremely dangerous, and not a toy. Even such children would likely be tempted by this however. It only has to be put down for a moment for a kid to snatch it up too.

Second, and equally important, it shows that the ADULTS are viewing guns in an irresponsible manner.

A gun can be used as sporting equipment; for competitive target shooting or hunting, as well as for lethal self defense. Regardless of use however, it is a DEADLY WEAPON and should ALWAYS be treated with the respect and caution that comes with that.

Things like this, and the stupid gun tricks videos on YouTube reflect poorly on ALL gun owners. It does NOT protect the Second Amendment. It instead shows that it’s followers are too stupid to respect that rights come with equal amounts of responsibility.

As a responsible gun owner who values the ability to defend my home as a LAST resort, I’m extremely offended here, both by the infantalizing of guns, and the gaslighting of people who had the common sense to object to this stupidity.

If you need your gun to look like a toy, or be a pretty color (ie it’s pink);

then, to be blunt, you don’t have the right mindset to own a firearm.

It’s Rained So Much….

Anybody remember ‘The Match Game’?

Well, in that spirit:

It’s rained Soooo much here that ___________.

The squirrels and jays are building an Ark

People are commuting to work in boats

The state song has been changed:

FINALLY!!! Scrivener 3 for Windows!

As I’m starting to gear up for more writing, I decided to check yet again to see if the oft promised and never released Scrivener 3 was released for Windows.

IT’S HERE!!!

Not only that, they even kept their word and gave me my upgrade from 1.x for free!

I have to be honest, at this point I’ve just downloaded it and am beginning to work through the tutorial. The only thing new that I’ve seen thus far is the ability to easily insert pictures and videos into your project. I’m not even sure if the videos have to be linked via YouTube or something similar.

Some stuff, as noted in the description I… borrowed from the Scrivener home page has been moved around and “cleaned up”. I’ll see if this ends up to be better organized or not. At this VERY early hour, the two things that I can report are:

  1. That gawdawful, clunky Windows 95 era interface is FINALLY gone
  2. The new version is 64 bit, so it’s a good deal more responsive.

I suspect my previous review will hold true that you can do anything with Office that Scrivener can do. It’s just a question of IF Scrivener has finally made it easier and cleaner to do it with them; one tool instead of 3 or 4.

If you own a copy of 1.x you’re eligible for either a free upgrade or half off depending upon when you bought it, so check it out:

Scrivener for Windows home page at Literature and Latte

Beyond that, I’ll report back in a day or two how things have been going for me.

OK Guys, You REALLY Need to Hang It Up…

I debated writing this days ago when I read that 76 year old Harrison Ford trashed his shoulder during the filming of Indiana Jones 5, and that filming will be delayed for 3 months because of it. He was just rehearsing a fight scene also.

Picture via digitaltrends.com

We also have 59 year old Tom Cruise reprising the role of Maverick in Top Gun 2. Never mind that it’s almost unheard of for anyone older than 45 to be flying fighters for the military. In fact, the world record for oldest fighter pilot is an Isreali F-16 pilot at 60 years old.

67 Year old Bruce Willis is still knocking out action movies at a pace to outdo Steven Seagal’s string of late life B movies as well.

And as it turns out, Arnold (who was born in 1947 and is 74 years old) is also doing more action movies also, including Expendables 4 and a new Conan movie.

*Raises walker over head and snarls* “By the bones of Crom, you kids get off my damned lawn… err sand!!!”

OK, being a little more serious, most of these guys, Stallone included (since he keeps doing Rocky and Expendables movies) are in really good shape for their ages. They still look nowhere like they did in the 80s though, and are really stretching the bounds of suspension of disbelief by continuing to try to relive their movie glory days. Poor Bruce Willis looks particularly haggard anymore.

I LOVED these guys in the 80s and 90s. I thought the idea of the original expendables was awesome also; grizzled veterans showing they’ve still got the moves. After a while though it starts to remind me of Ric Flair (the wrestler). This is the guy as I remember first seeing him when I was a YOUNG kid in the 70s:

Nowadays, 40+ years later, he still trying to make himself relevant within the WWE, and it’s just sad to be honest:

Getting old sucks, I get it. I’m getting there far faster than I’d like to admit, and my spinal issue are only highlighting it. I don’t like to be told I can’t do things, and I’m sure these guys don’t either.

At some point you have to set your pride aside and retire with dignity though. Harrison Ford is a great example here. At the end of Indiana Jones, they had probably the best scene in a otherwise horrible movie when the hat blew off Indy’s head and his son picked it up. Perfect symbolic passing of the torch and Indy could still be back in the role of the wise old master, mentoring his son. NOPE, he has to take the spotlight again though.

The Expendables started to go that way with 3; Barney training the new kids. It didn’t last though as the old guard had to come bail them out. They made it clear they were sticking around at the end also.

The 20 somethings can bad mouth the WW2 generation all they want, at least the actors of that generation knew to pass the torch and move on to more mature roles.

Anniversary Dinner

I’m LONG overdue for a food post here, and even this meal was a week ago this evening.

For those who have been following long enough, AND actually reading (RARE), you’ll recall that last weekend was my 2 year anniversary. Thankfully, it was SLIGHTLY less hectic than the actual day.

We had family over and I cooked a big meal for everyone. MOST of it turned out too.

First was homemade Tex-Mex guacamole with tortilla chips as an appetizer:

The main course was Ribeye steaks, slow smoked on the Rec-Tec and then reverse seared on the Weber charcoal grill:

There’s some (turkey) bacon on the top rack that was going to be chopped up and added to the steamed green beans but…

It’s hard to see from the pic, but some of the green beans were bad and turned brown while steaming. So, the beans went into the trash and the bacon got saved for later.

Luckily I had another vegetable in the works at the same time, a combination dish really. I took zucchini and yellow summer squash, sliced them into rounds, seasoned them with a little salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and rosemary, then topped them with Parmigiano Reggiano.

I’ve said it many times but it bears repeating; Parmigiano Reggiano is WORLDS better then plain old Parm cheese and Infinitely better than the gunk in the green can.

The basic recipe i found online just said to go with the cheese only but I knew a light bit of seasoning would help also. Once you throw the cheese on, just bake at 425 (or 218 degees C) until the cheese turns golden. Oh yes, cut the veggies 1/4 inch or .635 cm thickness. The summer squash turns out a little watery, but everybody loved both:

I also had some sliced baby potatoes for a carb:

Oh and if you’re wondering how those steaks turned out:

That’s as close to I got to a picture of a fully plated meal. It kept saying “Eat Me”, so I put down the phone and did. 😀

BUT… Then There was Dessert:

And this was a bear. The core of the dessert was individual sized, double chocolate mini bundt cakes. It took 3 tries to get cakes that would come out of the molds properly, and I had to thicken the batter almost to the point of being brownies:

BUT, we weren’t done there, nooooo. Next I took some Godiva chocolate, and melted it into a ganash, topped the cakes with Mayfield Cookies and Cream ice cream, and then drizzled the ganash all over them:

We ate good, and I think I’m turning my in-laws off the local restaurants with the quality of my cooking, lol.