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Santa Raided the Vault!

That’s right; the Vader’s Vault!

Yay for Black Friday sales, but truth be told I do feel a bit guilty about it given the financial issues we’re dealing with. I have faith the lawyer will get us out of them though. ๐Ÿ™‚

What did Santa bring? A copper trim finish Protector Elite saber:

Polishing cloth and thumb drive with extra sound fonts included

The Vader’s Vault store page for the Protector Elite.

This has all the bells and whistles of my Custom Battle Wrap Havoc lightsaber, and a few extras as well. That little window at the front is a LED screen that will display which “sound font” (lightsaber sound and color settings) you’re using, the battery life, a digital “kyber crystal” and a few other goodies, and even play about 6 different games such as Pong (the world’s first video game BTW). Like the Havoc, there’s also a juke box that plays The Imperial March or the Cantina Theme.

That’s the Havoc behind the Protector. If it’s not obvious, the Havoc is made of aircraft grade aluminum while the Protector is chrome steel, AND an inch or so longer. That gives the Protector a fair amount more weight than the Havoc. Both are comparatively light, but you feel it in the wrist more if you use the Protector for an extended period of time. Continued practice will get you in shape though, lol.

Slightly surprisingly, the grip on the hilt is quite comfortable. The squared off sides give it an effectively oval shaped grip which fits in the hand quite nicely. I really shouldn’t be surprised though. When we got to tour Vader’s Vault, the owner said he won’t make a saber unless it’s built well, comfortable, and FUN to use. ๐Ÿ™‚

As with the Havoc, this saber came with the option to have multiple blade colors. You CAN buy a saber with a single blade color at Vader’s Vault, and that’s a cheaper option, but why do it when you can customize to your heart’s content?

No, you’re not seeing things in those last two pics. The blade CAN display and cycle through multiple colors at the same time. The Havoc can do it also, but didn’t come pre-loaded with some of the ‘sound fonts’ that this one did.

The fifth picture is supposed to be with a Yellow blade, but the blades are so bright that Yellow got white washed out by the camera.

Unlike the Protector v1 in the video above, this v2 model will let the “seismic charge” and power button light up in whatever color you have the blade set to display, even if it’s a multi-color like in the last two pictures.

As a trade-off, I did give my Mace Windu Hasbro Black Series saber to my cousin-in-law’s son as a Christmas present. I have to admit, I’ll miss it strictly for the potential collector’s value, but it was worth it to see his face light up. We played the whole thing off like in A Christmas Story also. Enough so that for a minute I’m sure he thought he was getting a Red Ryder BB gun, lol.

The better construction and grip on the Vader’s Vault sabers just make it hard to appreciate the Hasbro ones on the same level though. Some day, down the road, I MAY have Vader’s Vault whip me up a custom Mace Windu saber to replace the Hasbro one, but for now I still have Dooku’s saber.

And for those asking WHY Santa would be handing out weapons… Because some people (and Sith) make the naughty list:

Thanksgiving Feast Reveal!

Yes, it was a few days ago, but I needed time to recover, LOL. As usual, I spent WAY too much time cooking. The results and everybody’s enjoyment make it worth while however. ๐Ÿ™‚

I once again cooked the turkey on out Recteq (Formerly Rec Tec; they changed the spelling) pellet smoker. I also had my cousin-in-law (is that a thing? ๐Ÿ˜€ ) drop off a ham since his kids are not turkey fans. Plenty of room in the smoker for both.

200 degrees (93degrees C) for 7 hours…

Since cooking low and slow will turn any poultry skin rubbery, I peeled the skin off the turkey before smoking it. At the point this picture was taken, it was looking better than it did going onto the grill. The ham was pre-cooked and spiral cut, so it went on for a shorter time to simply warm it up and add some smoke flavor to it. We’ve had that brand of ham before and it’s overly sweet out of the wrapper.

I had actually started with the desserts, as they’re the most time consuming. Up at 2:30am start also. There were 2 dutch crust apple pies and a Ghirardelli double layer cheesecake.

Before the dutch crumble topping was added and after it was done baking.

One of those pies went to the next door neighbor, who was kind enough to bring us over a store bought pumpkin pie. The cheesecake (link to recipe at Ghirardelli) was major work. I didn’t remember to get a picture until after we’d cut into it also, lol.

It looked prettier new.

What you have there is a chocolate graham cracker crust, then a layer of regular “vanilla” cheesecake topped by a layer of chocolate espresso cheesecake, then covered with Ghiradelli chocolate ganash, fresh raspberries and mint leaves as garnish.

Since the layers are both liquid when added to the springform pan, they come out with a marbled look instead of even layers. There are some things I’d change with that recipe, having made it now. That will be a separate post in the near future though. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Overall it was a hit, and almost as rich as my goo-goo cluster cheesecake. Something I just realized I’ve never posted here… O_O

Once the desserts were out of the way, I was able to focus on the actual dinner.

One very easy side dish I did was a giant butternut squash:

I know, kind of small. At least it didn’t have a phallic appearance though, lol.

All I did here was skin it, dice it into cubes, throw it in a casserole dish with melted butter, and top it with brown sugar and cinnamon, then bake.

It’s an easy, old school recipe for a veggie dish that even most kids will devour.

There was also some homemade dressing, not stuffing. The difference there is that stuffing goes IN the turkey for cooking. Dressing goes in the oven in a baking dish. Unfortunately, I forgot to get pictures of those two items.

Family also brought over some green bean casserole, fresh baked bread and store bought pecan pie. Yes there was as much dessert as there was food.

From bottom to top: Bread, Turkey, Cranberry Jelly, Dressing, Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Ham, and WAY at the back off to the side, the Butternut Squash.

Note I wasn’t able to get the skin off the drumsticks or wings, as the picture shows.

How did THAT experiment work out? Reasonably well. I won’t call it a huge success because the turkey was just slightly dry. That had more to do with my thermometer breaking on me though. That, in turn, led to the turkey staying on the smoker a little longer than it should have.

And that’s my Thanksgiving dinner recap. With that, I’ll leave you with this important Thanksgiving thought:

๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Four Years…

Yep, 4 ‘Glorious’ Years…

This was actually about a week ago. Things have just been a mess here, and I didn’t get around to this sooner.

It’s hard to believe I’ve actually been here this long, and how little I feel I’ve accomplished beyond dealing with a never ending, ever escalating series of disasters that keep me from doing any real writing.

The Origins of Halloween

A Reblog from Last Year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Silk Chatters

Well, firstโ€ฆ Happy All Hallows Eve, all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Image from History.com

Sheree did a post mentioning how France celebrates โ€œAll Saints Dayโ€ on Nov 1st instead of Halloween. I thought it would be fun to go into the origins of Halloween, given the day and allโ€ฆ ๐ŸŽƒ

The general consensus is that Halloween is an evolution of the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain (actually pronounced sow-in or sow-win. And I wonder why I have no luck with Gaelic despite my roots, lol). In reality, several cultures such as the Romans (and Egyptians IIRC) had similar holidays around this time. Samhain probably is the primary influencer of modern Halloween however.

LONG story short, Samhain was a recognition or belief that the spiritual veil between the material world and all of the spiritual realms is thinnest on this day of the year. This had both good and bad effects for the Celtsโ€ฆ

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Friday Night 80s!

Back in the 90s, when I lived outside Atlanta, the local pop station (Star 94 FM) did “Friday Night 80s”; all the best fun songs from the 80s. I’m bringing it back as a little change of pace for the blog. Every Friday will have a 80’s video and song, maybe a movie clip with a song.

So, let’s start out with one that reflects where I’m at and flashes back to one of the best comedies of the 80s:

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.

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:

The Vader’s Vault Grand Reveal!

Somewhere as the dust was clearing from all the recent madness, my “May the 4th” special order lightsaber came in. It is a “Battle Wrap Havoc” model with some awesome customization:

The above picture is it sitting next to my Hasbro ‘Black Series’ Mace Windu lightsaber for a bit of comparison.

Note the hilt is slimmer; more in keeping with the real world size (diameter) of a sword grip or hilt. It’s also much lighter and better balanced. I *almost* feel like I could fence against a real rapier with it. The hilt length is just long enough to be comfortably used as a one handed or two handed weapon also.

Other Differences:

Here’s what else this lightsaber can do that my two Black Series sabers can only dream about:

Even more realistic blade “activation” and “retraction” with the Plecter Pixel blade

Better sound effects for swings and impacts, including more sensitivity to being swung and actual flash on impact.

Additional SFX and light effects for deflecting blaster fire or force lightning (activated by a second button)

Light up power switch!

15 included Sound Fonts to allow customizing of all the above sounds

The ability to customize the blade’s color for both it’s main color and the clash / deflect effects:

That’s just a small sample there. The installed options included Blue, Teal, Red, Purple, A red and orange mix, Yellow, Orange, and a sort of Sky Blue that’s my favorite thus far. That doesn’t photograph well, but it looks almost identical to this Star Wars: The Old Republic blade color:

It’s a Blue Core War Hero color crystal for you gamers; in an Arn’s Unshielded Lightsaber model hilt w/ Gemini Pulse tuning.

There’s even one option where the blade cycles through all the above colors, which is kind of cool in a bizarre, not lore friendly sort of way. ๐Ÿ˜€

The Sound fonts and blade colors can all be changed on the fly. With the power off, press the second button to access the list of options, then cycle through using the power button. More detailed changes can be made via connecting the saber to a PC and using software to set up in-depth customized profiles.

More Comparisons:

Just to give you an idea of how clunky and unwieldy the other manufacturers can be with lightsabers, here’s my custom havoc next to my original lightsaber shell from Ultrasabers:

Now, the length of the “Fallen LE” shell I’ll give Ultrasabers a pass on. The lightsaber, story-wise, originally belonged to a Lesat Jedi, and Lesats are as big as wookies. Ergo, it makes sense it’d be a nearly a claymore hilt for a human. That thing is thicker than an old police D Cell battery maglite though. The coloring makes it beautiful to look at but it’s unwieldy.

Some day I *may* still finish that saber also, IF I can find a third party that makes electronics that will fit and are better quality than Ultrasbers’ stuff.

Lighting or blade brightness wise, a picture is worth a thousand words:

That’s a completely dark room with the Vader’s Vault saber providing 75% of the illumination. The Havoc was set to purple for a fair comparison against the Hasbro Windu blade. It’s so bright it looks white in the pic. Now that’s Illumination!

LOL

Nuts and Bolts:

Just a quick look at the technical stuff actually. The blade is self contained and can be removed (unlike the Black Series stuff). Similar to the Black Series models, the blade has LED strips running it’s length that allow it to simulate the blade extending or retracting. The main difference is the blade has multicolor LEDs and more of them. The blade plugs into the hilt and is held in place with an allen screw.

The bottom of the blade has a contact plate to allow power to the LEDs:

And the hilt has a couple of contact strips in the socket for it’s side of the power connection:

Irony: The blade plug for my Ultrasabers hilt fits perfectly into the blade socket for the Havoc also, making for great display potential:

Sadly, as it was intended for an older, flashlight type saber setup, the blade plug doesn’t light up at all. Still looks fairly good though. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Official Release Video:

For those who want a more in-depth look at the base model Havoc saber without my fancy emitter shroud, here’s the official release video for the Havoc, direct from Vader’s Vault YouTube channel:

I’m still discovering a few goodies built into the saber and it’s soundfonts. For instance, there’s a ‘jukebox’ option that will make the lightsaber play the cantina theme from A New Hope. When the battery gets low, the saber says “When my patience ends, bad things happen” (a quote from The Old Republic’s Sith Warrior character).

Now all I have to do is find a dueling league since this thing is 100% combat rugged and ready. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€