Sunday, December 3, 2017

Super Moon Christmas Lights

Sister’s House -- Citrus Heights, CA

Super Moon

Went out to take pictures of the now finished decorated house that Arny has been working on all week…and got a real good picture, without a tripod, of the Super Moon.

Sister's House dressed up for Christmas with Super Moon over House

And the layout of their house had the Super Moon floating right over their house!  The car to the left which is hard to see is our HHR, and the motorhome is also just to the left of the house.  The dual driveway is something which really comes in handy, that’s for sure.

Family Room (originally a garage)   Window Star
Different Globes   3 Deer, candy canes, one globe and lights
Merry Christmas Banner

The star light in the upper right corner sits over an attic window right above their family room window.  This area originally was the garage, way before Arny bought the house over 30 years ago.  The Christmas Light Globes hang along the front porch…the larger ones are very old…I had to put new lights in two of them this year, while others just needs a few lights here and there.  The smaller globes, that are Red or White or Blue, are new this year…a good addition.  Most lights are LED, but the three deer and the large globes are mini-lights.  By the front door is this very welcoming Merry Christmas banner which hangs in the garden.

Neighborhood House     Neighborhood House
Neighborhood House

The neighborhood is really starting to light up.  The house in the upper left is the one that mom and dad use to live in…now a young man and his wife live there, but “he” is no stranger to the neighborhood because his mother lives right next door in the house he was raised in. 

Light Keeper Pro and LED Keeper repair guns

To help with the fixing of the lights Arny had me order these two gadgets from Amazon.  On the left is the Light Keeper PRO 01201 for $11.50, and on the right is the LED Keeper LED Light Set Repair Tool for $25.50.  The red ones does Mini-Lights, the yellow one does LED lights.  I did the mini-lights, and the tool is real easy to use.  Just run the tip along the plugged in light strand which is not working, and hold the top black button down…it will squeal until it hits a bad bulb. Replace that bulb and if the lights are still not working, just keep running it along the strand until you find all the bad bulbs.  There is also a bulb tester, fuse tester, and there is also the Quick Fix Trigger, which I really did not use.  Arny did the LED lights, and it works similar except that you literally put the wire into the grove at the tip, pull the trigger and it will beep if it is good, won’t beep if it is bad.  Well worth the $40, that’s for sure!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Let’s Have Lunch

Sister’s House -- Citrus Heights, CA

South chicken restaurant via Google Maps    

Yesterday (Tuesday) I had lunch with my son Michael at a place called “South’s” at 11th and T streets in Sacramento.  Not fancy by any means, but the food was sure good.

California State Capital

Michael works in the State Capital as a staff member for a prominent committee for the State Assembly.  Although all (if not all, nearly all) state’s have a State Senate, some states have either a Assembly, General Assembly, State Assembly, House of Delegates, or House of Representatives…California has the State Assembly system.  Since the house and senate are essentially on break, although they still hold hearings and committee meetings during this time period, it is a slower time for Michael, and going out to lunch was an easy meet up.  Besides, he wanted to buy his dad lunch for my birthday which I had last week (see previous blog).  So I picked him up just before noon, and we headed to South Chicken Restaurant.  While still adhering to my low carb diet, I had the Fried Chicken Kale Salad and tried pulling off the crispy batter from the chicken the best I could.  I am not a huge fan of Kale, but I really liked this Kale Salad topped with herbed buttermilk dressing, toasted pistachios and goat cheese (also comes with onions which I passed on).  Michael had the fried chicken…which looked even better than my salad, although I don’t think I could have handled the cooked kale greens that came with it.  Only thing missing was his fiancĂ© Anna who is also a state worker, but had a 1:00 meeting which she could not have missed.  They are getting married next year in July, so you can guess where we will be next year with dad turning 90, mom and dad celebrating their 70th anniversary, and son Michael getting married…and in between a few of these events, we will probably go to Yosemite (one of my favorite parks) and we plan to be in Southern Oregon for at least a month, probably 6 weeks.

Claim Jumper exterior via flickr

Claim Jumper interior via flickrToday (Wednesday) mom had a regular checkup with her primary doctor at 1 pm, so Marcia, Mom, Dad and I went to Claim Jumper in Roseville for lunch.  Claim Jumper is a Landry’s Restaurant, and I have a Landry’s card, and for my birthday they give a $25 birthday credit if you come in on your birthday month (or before the 15th of the next month).  We like Claim Jumper, although the price can be up there…but lunch is more reasonable.  Long time blog readers know that mom and dad use to live on the same cul-de-sac as my sister…where we stay with our motorhome when we visit the area.  There is only one house between where mom and dad lived, and Sandy Claim Jumper Chocolate Cake, via Yelpand Arny’s house…and the man of the house just happens to be a manager at Claim Jumper…and he worked today…and he had not seen mom and dad since they had to move.  Well, he made sure our orders were perfect…and they were…and he tossed in a free piece of birthday cake for me which I gave Arny and Sandy. YES, the picture to the left is what it looks like…it really is that big.  Marcia and I in previous years…before diet…would eat at Claim Jumper and purchase a dessert or two to bring back to Sandy and Arny which would feed the six of us (remember, mom and dad were still next door back then.)

In my next blog I plan to share pictures of Christmas lights around the neighborhood...Arny is still working on his, and some of the neighbors are already finished.  When you have a bunch of lights, the pain is making sure they all work.  Arny asked me to order a few tools which helped find the bad areas...and I will share pictures of that process with you all then too.

NOTE:  The only picture I took for this posting was the one of the Capital...all of the others came from the Internet, and are noted as such if you place the cursor over the picture.




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving(s) of Old…Well, 50+ Years Ago

Sister’s House – Citrus Heights, CA

Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, as I have written before, has always been a huge family gathering day even well before I discovered that my Dad has 3, or is it 4, ancestors who were on the Mayflower.  I cannot remember Thanksgivings where it was just mom, dad and my brothers and sister … it always seems that we got together with many relatives, and throw in a few church friends now and then too.  Not sure what the largest gathering was…it seems there was one at our house which mom forced me to walk to when I was not even eight yet (wrote about that a few blogs ago) that we had 25 people at it…give a person or two.  Of course, as a young kid, you think things are much bigger than they really were.

Turkeyday Football

Thanksgiving has always meant FOOTBALL.  In Sacramento there was a Thanksgiving Day High School Football game between Sacramento High (where dad graduated from) and C.K. McClatchy High (where my oldest brother graduated from...and yes, as in McClatchy Publishing-Newspaper business.)  I don’t know why we went to one of these games, but we did, or at least some of us.  Not sure mom went, not sure sis went…but I know I was there.  But the REAL football games that I recall were the ones which we played about a half mile away from the house at the Sewage Treatment Plant…well, actually land which was adjacent to the Sewage Treatment Plant.

Sacramento Department of Utilities

Above is a current Google Image of the sewage treatment plant (now called the City of Sacramento DOU – Department of Utilities).  The plant was about half the size it is now…perhaps even less than half, and is that large area to the right of the green circle in the picture.  The “green circle” is where the large lawn was located that we played football on Thanksgiving morning.  We would gather all the kids in the neighborhood, even calling up a few would lived outside of the neighborhood, and have a giant football game.  We also used the same property to play baseball sometimes.  One time while we were playing some kid, who was near the bottom of the circle while we were playing where that white building is located in the circle, yelled and asked if he could play.  Someone yelled back, “Sure, come on down.”  Back in those days there was a trench which transported the water from the plant to a lake down past our house.  We continued to play, and after a batter or two we wondered where this guy who wanted to play with us went to…until we see him climbing out of the trench.  He did not know about the trench, and was running to us watching the play continue and yep, he ran himself right into that sewage treatment water.  We told him that he could still play…but he had to play right field for both teams…which is where the wind was blowing out to.  Surprisingly, he said ok, and that is what he did.

Happy Birthday    Happy Thankgiving

And every once in awhile…someone’s Birthday falls on Thanksgiving.  That happened 50 years ago, and it happens again this year, and it has happened a few times in between.  Hope YOU ALL have a nice Thanksgiving…I know I will, even as I creep closer and closer to Medicare…

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Crappy Job but Someone has to do it – RV Repairs

Sister’s House, Citrus Heights, CA

break in pipe assembly

Breaks in the sewer line are among the least favorite jobs that one who owns a RV/Motorhome have to face.  Not too much expense involved…as long as you do it yourself…but it is definitely not enjoyable what so ever. Above you can see the crack in the joint…

Sewer Assembly which needed to be replaced

…where the grey tank meets the black tank at the “exit point” where one attaches a hose which leads to the sewer.  That handle you see to the right in the picture is the handle for the black tank drain valve…the toilet stuff.  The smaller pipe to the left is coming from the grey tank, the shower, bathroom and kitchen sink.  So to fix this…I would need to deal with both the blank tank line and the grey tank lines…oh, how fun!  I want to note now that Arny examined all the bad parts after they were taken off and could not detect any impact marks…so these cracks did not come from hitting curbs, rocks, or anything like that…they are just stress cracks that developed after ten years of use.

Grey Tank valve that I replaced gaskets in

Prior to finding the “crack” in the pipe, I knew that this grey tank drain valve was leaking.  I had replaced this whole part last year, and at first it held…but then started leaking.  I knew that they have replacement gaskets, and that was pretty easy to put in…the gaskets I had to replace had bent, not allowing for a good seal all the time.  Lesson learned…always check these gaskets even though they come already put together when you buy a valve like this.

Grey tank line showing elbow leak

Upon further inspection, Arny also found another small crack in the elbow that the arrow is pointing too.  This is between the grey holding tank and the grey tank release valve…the more water in the grey tank, the more pressure on the line, the more this small crack would drip. Since the grey tank is on the other side of the motorhome from the dump valve, all the pipe

Valterra T60 1/4 Bend Rotating Heel Inlet Valve Assembly with 3" Hub x 2" Hub x 3" Bay with Cap     ABS Glue
 ABS Hub for connecting 2" pipe to 1-1/2 pipe   24" of 1-1/2" ABS pipe
 1-1/2" Flex Coupling   ABS 1-1/2"  Elbow

To fix it I needed to get the following parts (after the grey tank release valve gaskets which I replaced a few weeks ago at a cost $7.75 from Amazon) … A Valterra T60 1/4 Bend Rotating Heel Inlet Valve Assembly with 3" Hub x 2" Hub x 3" Bay with Cap – note: could not find a 1-1/2” that I really needed ($30 from Amazon), ABS Cement Glue ($5.00 from Home Depot), 2" to 1-1/2" ABS Bushing, this part is needed because original Valve Assembly was a 3” and 1-1/2”, so this bushing will take the 2” down to 1-1/2”  ($1.50 from Home Depot), 24” of 1-1/2” ABS pipe ($3.50 from Home Depot), TWO Flexible Couplings to connect new parts to original pipes ($4.00 each from Home Depot) and a 1-1/2” ABS Elbow ($1.50 from Home Depot).  I also purchased a cutting tool to add to Arny’s vast collection of tools ($29 from Home Depot, not shown).  Parts to fix the leak cost under $50, and another $29 for a tool…so the cost was not that bad.

Black / Grey pipes and vavle project

The worst part was dealing with the black tank valve.  Although we had taken the motorhome to a Chevron Gas Station that has a Dump Station (free if you purchase $20 of gas) and rinsed the black tank out real good…the years of waste built up on the valve still had to be dealt with without too much gagging.  I just thought about all the real bad diapers I have changed in my lifetime…and it was a toss up as to which was worse to deal with.  Once we got this part of it fixed, and loosely attached, we then cut the elbow out that was leaking and fixed that part, then tightened everything up.

Grey Pipes Project 
Putting in the elbow was the easy part.  Arny did all the gluing and the cutting, I did all the attaching underneath.  It took us about 3 hours, with a chunk of that time figuring out how to attach the new Valve Assembly since it was just a little different than the one we were taking off.  All in all, it works.

Extender   Rhino Flex Pipe to empty into a Blue Tote

To top it all off, I also ordered this extension to fit on the new assembly to make it easier to attach a hose to when it comes time to empty, and a new hose to attach to the blue tote that we use here at Sandy and Arny’s house to empty our waste tanks.

New Rhino Flex hose from RV to Blue Tote

In the end…it is still a crappy project…but one that needed to be done.  Did most of the work last weekend, got the new hose and adapter in from Amazon on Wednesday, and it stopped raining yesterday.  Dumped our tanks this morning, and there are no leaks…but even dumping the tanks is a pretty crappy job leaks or no leaks…but better when there are no leaks.

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Mr. Steak Years

Sister’s House--Citrus Heights, Ca

Mr. Steak on Madison Ave (from Sacramento Bee)

It was Easter break, my Junior year, when my brother Bob, who did not live at home anymore, came up to my room after I went to bed and woke me up.  What I remember is this:
“Hey Dave, you awake?”

“”Am now…”

“You want a job at Mr. Steak?  You can start tomorrow if you want to work there.  Hitch is, you will have to be able to be to work at noon each day.”

“Well, don’t know how that could work since I am still in High School.  But there is this thing called “work experience”, I know other kids who leave school early to go to work….ok, sure, what time should I be there?”

“11:30 sharp, wear dark pants, you will get a shirt when you are there….”

Typical 1970's Mr. Steak via Google Images

That started what would be a career which would last until 1986.  From Busboy, to Cook, to Head Cook, to Assistant Manager, to Manager to General Manager.  Back in those days, the typical Mr. Steak…and there were over 270 nation wide, looked like this one above.  It served only USDA Choice steak, used no tenderizers or spices except on the Teriyaki Steak and on the Kebobs.  It was always full service, unlike a Happy Steak, Ponderosa or Sizzler which were “serve yourself” style.

Typical 1970's Mr. Steak sign via Google Images
The sign was bright yellow, with “Family” emphasized because they had a strong push for being a family restaurant.  Kids had their own menus, and kid’s meals would come out first, before the parents meal so that the parents could take care of getting them going on their food without the parents foods getting cold.  (Except for the kids steak, which would be served at the same time as the parents food.)



Mr. Steak Postcard showing 1960-1970 design, via google 

This “vintage” postcard really shows what the interior looked like back then.  The waitresses wore a red uniform, with a white apron and white hat, and white shoes.  The restaurant had 32 tables and booths.  This picture was taken from the Hostess/Cashier Station, and the nearest table was table #1.   In the middle right, where you see the shingled roof, was the kitchen.  Doors on each side of the kitchen  led to the back room.  Each waitress had a number, and when an order was ready, the broiler cook would call her number.  On a Friday night, there would be 7-8 waitresses working, 2 hostesses, 2 busboys, 1 dishwasher, and 3-4 cooks.  When it was full of people, it was pretty loud.

Mr. Steak Ashtray via Google    Mr. Steak matchbook via Google

Mr. Steak kids bib via Google

Along with any restaurant there is always the promotional items.  The most “stolen” item was the Ashtrays (upper left).  Matchbooks were free for the taking (upper right).  And all kids got a “Mr. Steak Bib” to wear.

Mr. Steak new look mid 1970's

The late 70’s brought a “new look” to many of the restaurants.  By now the number of restaurants nationwide had dropped to just over 200.  Those restaurants which remodeled, did do better…but competition from places like Black Angus, Steak and Ale, and numerous other higher end, full liquor establishments were drawing people away.

Mr. Steak new look mid 1970's

The interior’s of those which were new or remodeled had a brown, wood look to them.  To shut down much of the noise, instead of a microphone, a light number system was used…#1 for section 1, #2 for section 2, etc.  The kitchens were closed off to where only a slot for the food to be passed through was open, and the noise level inside dropped dramatically.  In Sacramento though, we were on our second ownership, and by 1980 I was managing my “own” (I did not own it, but I always managed it as if I did own it).  Then, around 1981, the owner decided to sell them back to the company.  MOST Mr. Steak’s were franchised, but the company, headquartered in Denver, owned around 20-25 locations, some of which were turned back to the company from the franchisee who was folding under.  In our case, we were not folding, the owner (who once worked for the company during the 60’s and early 70’s) just wanted to sell…and the company had first rights to purchase…which they did.  With that, I had to go to work in San Jose twice for 13 weeks the first time, and 15 weeks the second time all in a 32 week time period.  That unit was losing lots of money, and they needed a manager real bad….but I would not go there permanently because frankly, I could not afford the bay area, and I did not think the place would survive very long.  Sure enough, they closed it about 18 months after my last day working there.

Mr. Steak new logo mid 1970's   Mr. Steak new logo mid 1970's 

Mr. Steak new logo mid 1970's

Of course, with new look comes new matches, ashtrays, and even a belt buckle which they gave to managers…I still have a few of those somewhere, along with a business card.

Mr. Steak's last logo   Mr. Steak's last logo

Then in the early 80’s they once again changed their logo.  Cooks and dishwashers wore these baseball hats, and they finally started to sell beer and wine in their company stores (before that only some franchises sold alcohol.  A large church about 1/4 mile from my location protested the beer and wine license, but we did finally prevail…and on Sunday after church we did not put out the wine glasses as to not offend the church goers.  Another thing we did was have half or more of the restaurant as non-smoking, instead of the 10% prescribed by California law.  Of course now days, all establishments are non-smoking in California and most states throughout America.

Mr. Steak's menu 1980's 

Although they tried very hard to keep up with the Industry, it was destined to be one of those Restaurant Chains that would die off.  The 80’s introduced one of their better products, the “Steak Lover” menu (those are menus in picture above).  14 oz New York Strip, 12 oz Top Sirloin, 16 oz T-Bone, 14 oz Ribeye and the 8 oz Filet Mignon.  (I think I have the sizes right)  These steaks were as good as any other restaurant except for those who served USDA Prime (and even better than some of those too).  In the early 80’s, with the company owning the Sacramento restaurants, the north store and my store were both converted to the image which they hoped would safe the Mr. Steak concept.  I have pictures, but not with me…I think my daughter actually has them now, and there are none on the Internet.  More up-class than their original remodel, it had etched windows, wooden tables, comfortable chairs…it was real nice. 

Mr. Steak Mascot

In June 1985 I married my first wife, whom I had known through working at Mr. Steak for a number of years.  In late 1985 I briefly went to work for an independent restaurant in Sacramento that was just starting up…just to realize about 6 weeks into it that the guy lied about his financial backing.  My name was on the liquor license, and we made a deal…he lay me off, let me get all the goods back to the purveyors so that they did not lose too much of their money, and I would not report him to the Alcohol and Beverage Commission (ABC).  He agreed, I then wrote ABC a letter letting them know that I no longer worked for the establishment, and within a month it was out of business (I did not report all the stuff he did, but I never said that I would keep my name on the liquor license).  At Mr. Steak, however, the company had decided to sell the three restaurants to a franchisee who had lost his new concept Mr. Steak out in the Denver area.  During this time period I could not go back to Mr. Steak for 30 days after the sale went through…so I have a few months off.  We went to Utah to see my wife’s brother, and I decided I wanted to go to their business school…and that is what we did in late August of 1986 after working for Mr. Steak for another six months (March-August).  While getting my business degree, I worked in the library…where they just happened to have a School of Library and Information Sciences masters program…which is how I became I librarian.  Graduated with my Business degree in August 1989, and with my MLIS in August 1990.  By January 1991 we moved to the Pine Bluff Arkansas area, with three kids, all born in Utah.

As for the Mr. Steaks in Sacramento….before 1986 ended, they closed the south area store, the one I started at.  By the summer of 1987, the Fair Oaks store, the one I managed and worked at the longest, down…and before the end of the year, the north area store was shut down.  In the restaurant business…if the owner does not know how to operate a restaurant, they had better have a REAL GOOD, trustworthy manager…  Mr. Steak as a “Nationwide Company” went bankrupt in 1987, and remaining franchise locations retained the name and did not have to pay a franchise fee any longer.  I don’t think there are any Mr. Steak restaurants, which were part of the Mr. Steak Franchise, still in existence. 

Finley's, converted from Mr. Steak late 80's

In Michigan (Battle Creek, Lansing, Jackson, Muskegon and Okemos) the owners there changed the name from Mr. Steak to Finley's, now Finley’s Grill & Smokehouse, and they still have five restaurants operating, still steakhouse style with a diverse menu…although I am not sure the current owners are the same as when it was a Mr. Steak  (wish I would have known that when we were in Battle Creek earlier this year!)  As we travel and drive through various towns, I see old Mr. Steak buildings.  Some are now Chinese, Mexican, or other type of restaurants, while others have been split up into two or three establishments.   Here in Sacramento, the north area store is a Sub Shop, with another part of the building used as a Goodwill Express, but is now empty.  The south area store is a Mexican Restaurant.  As for the Mr. Steak which I worked at the most…well, it is now a part of the Pavilions Shopping Center, a premier luxury shopping center which first started while I was managing the Mr. Steak on Fair Oaks...and when the restaurant closed down, they expanded right over the entire property.


After Thought added 11/14/2017:  Forgot to add that my now brother in-law Arny and his crew from his auto-body shop use to come into the Madison Avenue Mr. Steak for lunch.  I am POSITIVE that I have cooked their meals before, probably showed them to their table a time or two, and even rang them out when they left at the cash register as I worked at that store off and on for at least two years as a cook, head cook, and was Co-Manager for a few months before I became Manager at the Fair Oaks location.  This was YEARS before he and Sandy even met.

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