Of Updates and Sharp Objects

May 18, 2017   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

Greetings, blog faithful. It’s Thursday (of course) and it’s May 18, in the year 2017. That makes it 16 and a half months since I sat down and started writing “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” way back when we still lived in Liberty Lake, Wash. Seems like ancient history. And today, maybe today, possibly today, we might just get a real look at when the book will be available. I wish things could be more predictable with publishing people, but apparently I’m not the only author they are working with, so I take my updates from them when I get them.

Earlier this week, I was surprised to discover that the final piece of the pre-production schedule was the “title page” that goes at the front of the book. When you open the cover, the first thing you see is a right-side page with the title of the book on it. Why they waited until the other 545 pages were done and print ready before asking for the title page is not something I understand completely (at all) but apparently that’s how the process works.

Outskirts took a shot at it themselves, but it was just the front cover of the book rendered into black & white. They also wrote “We’d prefer text-only for your title page, but you can feel free to approve this as is.” I wrote back within seconds to let them know we’d do a text-only title page ourselves. It seemed dumb to me to have a reader hold the book in his or her hands, looking at the fabulous color cover, and then open the cover to see the same thing in black & white.

Keeping it simple. (Click to enlarge any photo)

Todd Myers and I decided “simple, classy, and straightforward” was the way to go. This also leaves a lot of white space for autographs. When you open the book, this is what you’ll see (barring any additional footnotes or copyrights Outskirts needs to put at the bottom.) Yeah, seems kind of underwhelming that something this simple would be the final thing that needs to be done in order to go to publication, but what do I know? I’m just a dumb author.

We got this back to my Outskirts rep yesterday, and after Todd submitted it I sent her a note and asked when we’d finally have a handle on publication. She wrote back and said “I’ll keep you posted and let you know as soon as I learn that info.”

So…  Maybe that will come today. Maybe it will come while I’m writing this blog. I’ll type as… slowly… as… possible. But seriously, if I do move on to new subjects and then get an update, I’ll break into our regularly scheduled programming with a bulletin.

So let’s go back to last week (more time travel, right?) After my Thursday blog was posted I took a walk around downtown Spokane for a bit, grabbing a quick bite at Twig’s, one of our favorite restaurants, and then we drove over to the place where the knife skills class was to be held. There’s an old flour mill there, overlooking the Spokane River and Spokane Falls, that has been transformed into retail and fine dining, and the class was held in a kitchen specialty store where all things cooking can be purchased. They have an actual kitchen classroom permanently set up. We were only a little nervous.

They have a variety of classes, and ours was for basic knife skills with vegetables and fruits. No butchering or cutting of meats. That was fine by me, but it was a little intimidating to pick up the ultra-sharp German chef’s knife and hold it in my hand. It was a Wusthof, one of the most prestigious knife makers in the world, and it was more than likely the single most incredibly sharp thing I’ve ever beheld. Even the slightest screw up could really do some damage.

Our instructor was a great guy, and very talented. He had a bit of Alton Brown in his delivery, and that kept us loose and entertained. We learned how to hold the knife, how to slice (forward), how to use our left hand as the guide hand, actually making contact to the side of the blade, and then got to work. Potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, green onions, white onions, cucumbers, garlic, cabbage…  None of it was safe.

It was cool to get a feel for it, and even though I’m still a stark beginner I did absorb the “rules of the road” to a great degree, so the rest of it is just practice. You know the line. Say it with me: “Guy walks up to me in Times Square and asks, ‘How do I get to Carnegie Hall?’ So I told him. PRACTICE!”

And here’s the best news. I nicked the middle of one fingernail during the 90-minute class, but that’s it. No slices, no dices, no chops other than to the vegetables and fruit. Bottom line, if you like to cook but are self-taught like me, a good class on knife skills is a solid and worthwhile thing to experience.

UPDATE: There is no update. Still waiting on word from Outskirts. Not sure whether to cite Tom Petty (“The waiting is the hardest part”) or Carly Simon (“Anticipation”) but both apply.

Hello Spokane!

After our class, we walked next door to the restaurant that is also in the old flour mill. It’s Clinkerdagger and it’s a go-to spot for anyone who is visiting Spokane or who lives there. It has million dollar views of the Spokane Falls, but that wouldn’t keep it in business if the food was lousy. The food is spectacular, so the views and the meals are on a par with each other. And the Falls were ripping. I was in the mood for a steak, but Barb took a chance on a Steelhead Trout filet. She’d never had it before, but absolutely loved it. I had a bite and can vouch for it’s spectacular flavor.

Here in Woodbury, we’ve been doing a good job at spending money as of late. The first thing was pulling the trigger on something we’ve needed to do, and have planned to do, since we moved back here and put this fabulous home theater in the lower level. We finally bought theater seating.

We’ve gone shopping for theater seats a couple of times previously, but right after the move and the huge expense for the big flat-screen and sound system, we didn’t have the appetite for the seats. You can buy “cheap” theater seats, but that’s exactly what you’ll get and in the end you’ll have buyer’s remorse for going that way. So, we waited until we had saved up the money and went shopping again over the weekend. One of the groupings we’d seen last year was still available, and we made up our minds to do it.

Since we got back here, we’ve just been sitting on some mismatched stuff that has functionally served as a place from which we could watch TV, but it’s not actual theater seating in any way. It’s a white leather chair, a matching love seat, an ottoman, and a brown leather chair. It’s not uncomfortable, but it’s not designed for what we need and it looks kind of hokey.

The unit we bought has four seats, arranged in an arc. There’s a love seat in the middle, with two separate recliners, then two individual recliners on either side of it. Cup holders and tray tables for everyone, and all the recliners are powered by battery packs, so we won’t have any electrical cords running through the middle of the room.

What we liked about them the most, besides the comfort and quality, was the backside. Our seats sit out in the middle of the room, and when you come down the stairs the first thing you see is the backside of everything. Most reclining theater seats don’t bother making the back attractive, and when they’re in the reclined position you can see the rails and all the other apparatus back there. I guess they’re designed to sit in front of the back wall. This unit was designed to sit in the middle of the room. Everything in back is uniform and covered, with a solid piece instead of a skirt. It looks the same upright or reclined.

We also custom-ordered a special burgundy color, so that turns the purchase into a 12-week wait, instead of 10 days, but we can deal with that. We’ve been fine on our floppy mismatched stuff for a year, so what’s 12 more weeks? When it comes in, I’ll post “before and after” photos to show you what we’ve done.

Oh, and my wife remains the best professional negotiator I’ve ever known. So much so that I let her do all of that herself, because any words that might have come out of my mouth would most likely have damaged our final price. Before signing on the dotted line, she came home and hit the internet hard. When she went back to the store, she brought with her a printed Web page of the exact same unit, from an online store. It was $1,200 cheaper. The store matched the price. Well played, indeed.  Oh, and the charge for installation? Yeah, that disappeared, too. Extra well played.

My other expense happened Monday and Tuesday. We had taken a hot tub late on Sunday night and Barb noticed that the pump seemed unusually loud. It was, but I think we’d gotten used to it over the last couple of months so I hadn’t noticed. Then, on Tuesday, I went out to service the tub and it wouldn’t run. The screen showed an FL-1 code. Generally, that’s a filter issue.

So, I took the filter out and cleaned it thoroughly. When I put it back it, it fired up but within a minute the code came back and it stopped running. So I drove 20 miles to get a new filter. The guy at the Jacuzzi store has been there for many years, and he’s sold us a lot of stuff including this tub. He gave me some hints for things to try, because the FL-1 code can be related to a number of things. None of them worked.

A tight squeeze on his knees, but we’re all fixed again.

I then called the service center and a guy was at the house within an hour. He took the access panel off and immediately knew what the problem was. The main pump was fried.

He didn’t have this particular pump on his truck, so he came back Tuesday to replace it. A bit more than $600 later, we were back in business. Also about 500 gallons of water, later, as well. I changed the water once as a work-around but that did nothing. We had to drain it again for him to replace the pump, so that fresh water went away and another 250 gallons filled it back up again. The joys of having a spa.

But, you know what? Worth every penny and we get 100-times more enjoyment and relaxation out of having a hot tub than all the expenses added together. For four years in Liberty Lake we had the fantastic steam room to enjoy, but we didn’t have a hot tub and we missed it very much. All is right with the world.

UPDATE: Still no update. I’ll probably go ahead and post this now, and if I hear from Outskirts later today I’ll get back into this installment and add the news. If I do that, I’ll post it on Facebook and Twitter.

The book is coming. It’s almost here. It’s just a matter of when…

Thanks for all the support and the continued interest. I’ll see you either later today or next week.

Oh, and remember… Fasten your seatbelt, put your tray table in its upright and locked position, and if you read this blog and actually liked it, then by all means please “Like” it with the button at the top. Enjoy your flight.

Bob Wilber, at your service with a working hot tub, seats on order, and almost a book.

FINAL UPDATE: Just got an email from my rep at the publisher, and it was really not that specific. Just a letter telling me my book is now off to its final phase, called the “Pre-Media Phase” of publication. Lots of talk about supervisors and quality control people and all of that. No mention of how long this takes. Weeks? Probably at least one or two…  That’s my guess.

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