My first video YAY! Many more to come!!!

This was one of the strangest briskets I’ve ever cooked… and I’ve cooked a lot of briskets. Overdone in 7 hours? I’ve never seen that before. Since I filmed and edited the video, I thought I would premier my channel with a less than perfect result. 5/5/20 seemed like a good date for this Gringo – and I just happen to be 55 years old too.

I will be posting cooking videos covering everything from outdoor cooking, baking, sous vide, BBQ, and more. Join me on my continuing culinary journey.

Locked Down St. Paddy’s Day

So here we are, on self-imposed lockdown (meaning we are going out as little as possible). Perhaps not all that self-imposed because everything in the Old Pueblo is closed anyway. Short Costco and Walmart trips yesterday revealed this town has lost its collective mind. We witnessed our first rationing yesterday too… and yes… it was toilet paper at Walmart (one each). The employee said there were fights over it earlier in the day.

Since I have a policy of always having a back-up for everything from toothpaste to foodstuff, we are in great shape for at least 90 days. Well, sep for the milk, eggs, and tequila… no worries… we’ll make quick sorties when required. 

Speaking of backups, I even have 3 corned beef’s in the fridge, so even our dinner plans for tomorrow are all set.

I’ve been watching the pandemic closely, following numerous news sources (noticing the different reporting styles). I’ve been watching the stock market as well. My conclusion is that we should be more concerned about the incredibly high amount of fear, more than getting infected by some virus. It’s the fear that has people selling stock and buying way too much toilet paper. It’s the fear that has increased the level of negative energy to proportions I have never felt before. Even after 9/11, I did not perceive the amount of fear and self-preservation that I have this week.

This too shall pass and we will recover from it – though many people won’t have to buy toilet paper for a very long time. Speaking of time, I think there will be a long recovery from all of this. BUT, not too long. I expect that by the time the toilet paper hoarders have depleted their supply, this will all be over and life will have resumed some sense of normalcy… well… that is if you can define what we consider normal, normal.

If only this crisis could find a way to bring us together as a community, as a nation, as a species, then maybe it’s worth it.

I Canceled AT&T DirecTV

So I decided to cancel DirecTV after at least 15 years because the service had become a financial burden, their equipment stunk – especially the remotes – and I grew tired of having to scroll through so many shopping channels.

Cost: Channels alone was $110.48 which included a “regional sports fee.” Then the equipment with the protection plan was another $50.99. With $1.22 sales tax, my LAST bill was $162.69

UPDATE: I failed to mention how easy it was to cancel. I had read a number of horrific experiences that people had with the “retention department.” So I had a plan, I would simply say that we were canceling for religious reasons. I called the number, and the nice AT&T dude took care of the cancelation quickly, politely and never even asked why I was canceling. Less than 10 minutes in total. I dreaded that call for weeks and all for nothing.

I don’t watch much more than sports, food channels and some sci-fi shows. I vowed off the news years ago and my life is much more peaceful.

I spent the last 3 or 4 months reviewing my options from cable to streaming services and I chose YouTube TV. They have the best selection of channels and include Fox Sports AZ (and San Diego), ESPN, MLB, among others. We are huge fans of Diamondbacks baseball and FSAZ airs all of their games. WOOT! 

In Tucson, YouTube TV includes all of our local network stations. It also includes all of the major cable news channels.

All this for only $53.04.

I was a little concerned about our internet service because it tops out at 20mps – and after I get the TV upstairs hooked up, I may have to upgrade my DSL – but when I do, it will be cheaper and faster.

Sure, I had to give up a few things, and the resolution doesn’t seem as HD as before, but for +$1,200.00 per year in savings… I think I’ll live.

Friday the 13th Full Moon post

It’s Friday the 13th and there will be a full moon!

Full Moon
Yeah, I took that!

I do find myself very thoughtful and somewhat eager to start a new adventure. Is it the moon? Is it my age? Is it something or just in my mind?? I don’t know, but something is stirring in me to make some changes and accept some challenges!

I will be changing the layout of this blog… actually, I am going to rebrand it all together next week. It will be more about me – of course – but will also be about my life companion of 3 + decades!! It will be called Carrie & David. I haven’t registered the domain name yet but this domain will be redirected there anyway.

So that’s about it for this blog. The new site will include travel, life, photos, videos, and what it’s like when two lifelong best friends grow old together whilst still enjoying life, new adventures, and new experiences together.

Yes, there will be a separate one where I will share our culinary journey too.

VRBO San Diego : Baywatch Bungalow

Our first trip in many years takes us to San Diego and nice little studio Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO). We love VRBO’s because they usually come with a kitchen and they are much less fussy than a resort or hotel. We love to get out and see things, but we also like to relax, cook for ourselves and enjoy the privacy (intimacy) of our own little home away from home.

The Baywatch Bungalow was great. Even though it is a studio, it’s very spacious. The owners are very accommodating and the place is well equipped. The location is amazing! Right in the middle of everything but still in a nice quiet neighborhood. The price is right for this little gem.

WordPress user, admin, and host

Since it appears that I am becoming a WordPress user, admin, and host, I am trying to establish a workflow for starting a new WordPress site on my servers. There are features/plugins that all sites should have.

They are

A Theme
Whether it be free or paid for, all WordPress sites require a theme to present the content. For this site (more personal than anything), I have chosen a paid-for theme called “ContentBerg” which utilizes the Guttenberg features. It has many of the tools cooked into the theme so I don’t have to add those features individually. There is a bit of a learning curve to each theme, it just takes time and practice to get to know the ins and outs of each theme.

All web publishers want to know how famous they are. A good web publisher wants to know a lot more such as where traffic is coming from, what pages are most/least popular, and even demographics, user platforms and more. I will be utilizing the tried and true Google Analytics for my sites.

All (okay most) web publishers would like to be famous, but everyone I know, want to make money from their efforts. With a starting blog like this one, the easiest way to generate revenue is to use an existing Google Adsense account. As the site grows, I can add affiliate links and direct-sold ads, but for now, especially for this site, I am not anticipating a large amount of traffic and so… not much revenue.

Back up and recovery plan
In the past (since 1995), I have always published locally and then transferred the articles and files manually to the online server. This has been my way of protecting myself from hackers (yes, I’ve had sites hacked through shared hosting issues) and also from the sudden disappearance of a hosting company (yes, I’ve had that happen twice over the last 20+ years).

With WordPress websites, there is the added complexity of the relational database which is near impossible to host locally and mirror live. I’m sure there are ways to do this but it is not my intent to create a handshake schema between local and live content. I will copy all files to a backup location and will back up the database at set intervals just in case of the worst.

I have yet to develop and establish my disaster protection and recovery plan for WordPress websites, but suffice to say that the files and database/s will be stored locally on a schedule and a written recovery checklist will be printed.

(Future link to disaster protection and recovery plan for WordPress websites here.)

More to come… I have to get the August issue finished now.

FranTech Section

I have added a section of my personal blog called “FranTech.” It’s basically my name, Francis and the word technical. It also has a playful connotation as frantic which is how I develop websites, magazines, videos, etc., so it’s appropriate.

The idea is to have a section devoted to techno-babble related posts and videos that may be of use to people interested in that sort of stuff. I will likely have subcategories to this section such as video editing, HTML, CSS, website hosting and much much more.

ColorMag “free” WordPress Theme a NO GO

ColorMag free theme by ThemeGrill screen shot

I’ve spent a few hours today (Sunday, May 26, 2019) installing and configuring the free ColorMag WordPress theme only to discover that I cannot add a top banner AdSense block to monetize the site.

I liked everything I saw about the theme, especially the categories since I hope to diversify this site in many ways. But my brief experience with the theme reveals that any effort to place advertisements is not possible, at least not without editing the files directly. Editing files is problematic because if (when) there is an update to the theme, any manual modifications are overwritten by the update. I’ve already experienced that with the default.

Oh well… live and learn! It’s possible that many of the free themes available will limit my ability to monetize, which I guess makes sense.