Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Real Estate - want to know more?

My dad published his latest e-book a couple weeks ago on Amazon.  It's based on the real estate practice textbook he wrote 20 years ago.  There is updated and condensed information in a much more accessible format.  I have personally found some of the information helpful in business practice even outside of real estate sales.

I encourage you to check it out for youself!  If you do, please leave a review and/or e-mail me about what you liked and how we can improve the next edition.  If there is a follow-up related book you would like to see, I'm sure he would be open to that suggestion too!

Real Estate Primer [Kindle Edition]

From the Amazon page description:

This book has been developed from experiences both "in the trenches" of real estate sales activities and from teaching practical techniques at community colleges, National University, and in brokerage offices. It is hoped that both the new licensee and old-hands looking for a new start will find in this text a refreshing perspective on the various topics covered.

Rather than a rehash of real estate practices, this book is intended to be a “how to” book. It describes current issues and relevant data from the viewpoint of a salesperson. It is designed to show how modern methods of communication, social networking, can be used but not without always falling back to the basics. People sign contracts, people buy homes. Without human contact and interaction, nothing can be accomplished.

The Real Estate Primer, a ‘how-to’ book rather than a textbook…
This won’t get you past the state exam, but it will get you started in your new life!

When I started in real estate brokerage in 1970, I was shown which desk to use, asked if I had given the secretary my name for business cards, and wished good luck – that was my training and my introduction to the business. Had I been armed with only what is in this book, my first “try” at real estate might have been much different.

Everything you need today will either be offered by your broker – where is the restroom? What forms do we use? Or, you will find it in this book.

So, move forward with my best wishes.
William Mansfield

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is tri-tip the best?

Is tri-tip the best cut of meat, or what?!  It lends itself great to a med-rare Santa Maria grill, or... if you find the right piece, it's great to smoke.  I found the latter.

This piece had great marbling - looked like it could be Prime masquerading as Choice or almost a brisket point.  Works for me at 4 or 5 bucks a pound.

I learned how to better get my temps up and for a long time on the kettle - just pile a ton of lump for indirect and let it go for 5 hours - not much fiddling.  Now I just need to figure out how to get it to stop with the crazy ton of smoke - maybe it's the particular bag of lump that I got.  Anyway, this turned out amazing.  It was just a simple rub of S&P, garlic powder, cumin, and quite a bit of coriander.

Monday, August 5, 2013

She's a Redhead

After my buddy, Kurt, mentioned he was getting a Weber kettle, I got the urge to get one myself.  Propane smokers can make good BBQ, but I was hearing that the best backyard BBQ is done using real charcoal.  Since I learned to cook on a Weber growing up, and they seem the most versatile, that seemed to be the best choice for me.

I joined the Weber Kettle Club (WKC) forum and began reading up on the kettles.  I learned that a red kettle is called a "redhead".  That's perfect, I thought, since my wife, Megan, is a redhead.  She even got excited about the prospect (which was a challenge since I'd be cluttering up the beautiful backyard with yet another grilling/cooking appliance).  Searching Craigslist was not much help - they don't seem to be available too often.  I almost pulled the trigger on a new one from Amazon, but really wanted an old-school version of what I learned to cook on.  I also quickly realized that if a decent prospect pops up on Craigslist, it is instantly  linked on the WKC and an enthusiast snaps it up.

Just my luck, an enthusiast from WKC had snagged The Perfect redhead.  Thanks Rick for saving this beauty for me, and doing an amzing job cleaning her up!  Sure, she's got some blemishes, but it adds character, right?  All I really need to do is get some new wood handles and maybe a new cast iron grate.  Still, we got her running this weekend - grilling some fish Saturday night and smoking some pork on Sunday.  How much had I forgotten about grilling with charcoal over the past 20 years of grilling with gas?  Tons.  I'm also now using lump rather than briquettes, so maybe that's quite a bit different too.

My redhead's new home with smoke and a homebrew
First time - grilled fish
And smoking some pork with the "ring of fire" method (somewhat unsuccessfully)... and I'm not even sure what cut of pork this is - it was probably too lean to smoke, but should serve well as sandwich meat for lunches.

Edit:  Here's a bite of the sliced pork for lunch on Tuesday (fabulous, BTW):

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dad's next novel - Mary Jane

Wow, my dad has now written and published a third book in the Alexander Wright Mystery Adventure series!  The latest one, The Mary Jane Mystery, might be a little controversial... as you might imagine from the title and cover.  Actually, it's quite relevant these days, and is still a typical Alex Wright adventure - I don't even think there is any actual drug use described - it's all about the business, and, of course, a murder mystery!... along with a love interest, real estate appraisal, Orange County haunts, surfing, and man's best friend - the loyal pooch.

If you're looking for a Memorial Day weekend read, I suggest downloading your copy of an Alexander Wright Mystery Adventure!  If you read them all, you might agree they keep getting better.

Here's the release from my dad:

I am pleased to announce the release of the third in the Alex Wright Mystery Series: The Mary Jane Mystery.
Alex, a real estate appraiser in Laguna Beach, California, creates a pot farm to benefit his pal, Zack Potrero, police detective for the Newport Beach Police Department. The excitement and compelling action build from there leading to a guaranteed shocking conclusion!

As a new release opportunity I am offering any of the Alex Wright Mysteries for $0.99 until 6pm, Monday, May 27th.  Simply go to: and download the book(s) of your choice to your computer or other device.  HAPPY READING!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thermal Expansion Tank

What the heck is a thermal expansion tank, and why would I ever need one?  That's certainly what I was wondering... and didn't know anyone that has one in their house.  After reading online, I figured we probably did need one.

We've got some nasty water hammer that we haven't been able to resolve.  After testing the water pressure, we realized the pressure reducing valve wasn't working (probably 1950's original), so we were getting whatever 100+ psi the City was providing us.  That could obviously cause some issues, so we added another PRV.  Dialed down to 45psi, that still didn't seem to do the trick - the water hammer remained.  We figured it was just poor pipe supports.

Finally, I wondered why, shortly after a shower (especially), the water pressure seemed SUPER strong and would lessen after just a few seconds.  It seemed to be getting worse recently, so I read some more online.  Apparently, with the working PRV, the heated water after, say, using the shower, has no where to go (heated water expands)... hence the increased pressure.  A pressure tester on the system revealed we had as much as 180 psi in our system!  Yikes!!!  I am amazed that our whole water system didn't explode... and that the pressure release valve on the hot water heater didn't appear to be working (note to self, still check that).

Anyway, I installed the thermal expansion tank and pressurized it to 50psi.  It works beautifully.  The water hammer is still there, but much reduced.  Now to install some more water hammer arrestors and hope that helps as well.  I'm just trying to avoid having to deal with all the spiders and nastiness under the house to install better pipe supports which is probably the real problem.

Here's the new thermal expansion tank, sitting happy just past the PRV.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Real BBQ

Oh no, I've got another hobby... as if I have the time to entertain another one.  At least this one doesn't cost too much and doesn't take too much time.  Real BBQ - low and slow - is just too good to avoid.  The justification is, we have to eat anyway, right?!  Megan was kind enough to get me a propane vertical cabinet smoker for Christmas - little did she know she was going to fuel yet another hobby.  On 2/24/13 I did my first real long cook with this smoker.  It takes dedication (or insanity) to commit to a full packer brisket cooked low and slow.  We found a relatively (9#) small brisket at Smart and Final.

I woke up on a Sunday morning at 5am to fire up the smoker, trim and rub the brisket, and got it on the smoker at 5:40.  Throughout the 12 hour cook, I learned a few things to improve on next time.  1. I picked-up another back-up propane tank, 2. I bought a better in-door thermometer (so I don't have to keep opening the door, dropping temps, just to check the temp), and 3. Just a little hotter might not be so bad.

The brisket could have used more time - maybe another hour.  The thermometer in the door is useless.  I used a remote thermometer and it seemed to consistently read low by about 40 degrees.  I also had a thermometer inside that I feel is very reliable - but needing to open the door to check it creates problems by cooling things down frequently.  Still, everything turned out pretty darn good.  It all could have been a little better, but I'd say it was good for a first major run at it.  The best part were the burnt ends finished in the oven - wow - beef candy!

Here is the day's timetable (smoker temps), followed by a progression of the cook:

5:40 - Brisket on at 220*
6:40 - add more wood @ 220*
8:15 - add water @ 200*
10:15 - add water @ 240*
11:30 (photo) - add pork belly & tri-tip, water, wood @ 240*
1:00 (photo) - add water, add wood @ 220*
2:00 - probe check, not close @ 240*
3:00 (photo) - add water, probe check not close @ 240*
4:00 - took off pork belly and tri-tip, add water @ 240*
5:45 - took off brisket @ 185* (oops, ran out of propane)

I'll let the progression of photos speak for themselves.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Car Guys

I was at an APWA luncheon yesterday and the conversation turned to car guys.  I'm a self-described car guy... probably inherited from my dad.  It feels like there is an immediate connection with other car guys, having come across them in different circles.

At any rate, the discussion yesterday got me reminiscing about when I spent a lot of time in college wrenching on cars - a couple Cadillac restorations of mine along with various other cars of friends.  I had to dig up some old photos - some of them are at the end of this posting.

The ASI Auto Center at Cal Poly may have taught me just as much as what I learned in class.  The Learn By Doing motto was in full practice at the Auto Center.  It was a sad day when they closed the Auto Center.  We tried to save it, but it didn't happen.

These days, my wrenching seems to be limited to very rare occurances like when it was time to replace the brake fluid in the WRX - great opportunity to switch to braided stainless brake lines and high performance pads and fluid.

Mostly I get my car guy fix with the annual Car Guy Weekend with Dear 'Ole Dad.  This year we plan to hit the Pismo Beach car show on Father's Day weekend.  The last time we saw it was 23 years ago... wow, time flies!  I'm sure it's an even bigger show these days.

Okay, on with the photos...