Marble Run Fun

The other day Gabe made me an awesome little cardboard house (below, left). He told me it was for marbles and proceeded to roll one inside. I asked him if we could build an even bigger marble run around the house and he eagerly agreed.

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We created the runs using regular 8 x 11 sheets of paper. It’s pretty simple. Just cut the  paper into fourths (long ways). Fold a section in half (you can use tape to keep the edges together) and then fold the edges up on both sides (make sure your run is wide enough to accommodate your marble).

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Decide where you need turns and cut out triangles in your run. When the cut out sections are folded and taped together they will create the angles (adjust as needed by cutting out more or less triangles). Add runs as desired and tape your new run under your old runs. You can use the same sections of paper to create structural supports. Always make sure your marble runs angle down enough to maintain momentum.

Here’s what we ended up with:

Not too bad! Maybe one day we’ll build something a little more aggressive.

Hughes Family: January 2015

January was a blur. There’s no other way to describe it. I feel like we did a ton of stuff, but the photographic evidence doesn’t seem to support the claim. Maybe the best thing to do is just pretend it was a relaxing month. January was like a slow motion massage.

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What better way to start off the 2015 than with a little skiing? Fran, Catherine, Randall and the kids (most of them) hit Sundance for a day of snow and fun. One of these days I’m going to go skiing again. Green diamonds all the way.

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The beginning of the year is the perfect time to make poorly thought out resolutions. “Be healthy” Vague and yet impossibly difficult. Lots of veggies and lean meats? Check. Good thing these kind of resolutions only last a couple of weeks!

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Gabe is playing basketball again! We put in a quarter court (is that a thing?) in our side yard and he and Mike play all the time. I actually played a quick game against both of them. I am really out of shape, but I crushed them. Keep practicing kids!

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Per French tradition Francoise made “la galette des rois” (the cake of the kings). In addition to being delicious there is a hidden treasure in the cake. Whoever finds it while eating is the king! This year I was the lucky guy so I got to wear this sweet crown.

 

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How is this even possible? I swept up an amazing pile of trash. And then a few days later I swept up another pile. Our kids just seem to dump trash and food on the floor wherever they go. This isn’t “haha” funny to me either.  I feel like it denotes a serious lack of respect and consideration. What can I do? I know… just keep sweeping.

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Even taking into account their messes I feel like I have wonderful kids. I spent some time with Gabe playing on the SNES and working on a few projects- he’s quite the little builder. Chloe is enrolled in dance class and loves it. Claire is turning into quite the little chef and can make cookies completely on her own. Mike is an adept strategist and it’s fun to play games like Pandemic with him. Yes, the rewards of parenthood often outstrip the costs.

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We’re working on landscaping! The HOA here in Ivory Ridge has been fantastic. They have completely ignored everything we have asked and our repeated submissions. I don’t understand why the HOA hasn’t been turned over to the community or why no one who actually lives in Ivory Ridge is part of any decision making process. We are just plunging ahead. I don’t see why they wouldn’t approve our beautification efforts but nothing surprises me anymore.

As I said, the visual documentation of what I experienced in January is lacking. Perhaps that’s due in part to being gone for a few days at the SHOT show. Perhaps I need to take more pictures. Or perhaps my brain just makes stuff up to hurt me.

 

2015 C7 Z06 / Z07: First Impressions

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After inadvertently locating my “dream car” a couple of months ago I decided to take the plunge. In a very real sense this represents my last effort to enjoy owning something like this. It’s powerful, unmodified, unasbused and fully warrantied. If this car causes me excessive emotional trauma then I know there’s no real hope. Right now I’m in the break-in period. That means I keep it under 4K RMPs and I don’t really get to experience a lot of what the car offers. Nevertheless, here are my initial impressions of the car, having had it for a couple of weeks (I’ve put on a whopping 160 miles).

With no love from my local dealers I ended up getting my car through Castle Chevrolet in Illinois. Zach was my sales person and he was fantastic. He kept me updated at every step, answered all my questions and has been responsive following the sale as well. I used Don with Specialty Mobile Transport to bring the car to Utah. He picked it up on a Thursday and had it to me Friday- Overnight car delivery. Unreal. Buying out of state can be a bit stressful but everything went smoothly and was nearly stress free.

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Visually I think the car is breathtaking. When the C7 first emerged I had some reservations about how the car looked (especially from the back). The Z06’s wider stance alleviated some of my concerns but it wasn’t until I was standing in front of (and behind) the actual car that I knew I’d been unfair. It’s aggressive, sleek yet refined and it seems to turn heads everywhere it goes. There’s just nothing legitimate to dislike. I’m really happy with the Arctic White and I feel like the black accents and wheels go perfectly with it.

And finally some carbon fiber! For some reason I held out and never put any CF on the outside or inside of my C6. But I was thrilled that Chevy offered it on the C7 and the visible carbon fiber package does not disappoint.

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The interior is a huge step up from the C6. The dash has a carbon fiber surround, leather trim and door inserts, microfiber roof lining and a refreshed feel. The red and black interior mix on my car is just right (for me) and the red is gorgeous. I appreciate the little touches like LED map lighting, the multi-colored HUD and the secret compartment behind the stereo screen. People overused the word “driver-centric” when talking about the C7 but I don’t know how else to describe it. Nearly all of the interior focuses on the driver’s interaction and experience with the car. The seats and interior are comfortable but it does feel like headroom and legroom are diminished. I’m most surprised about the headroom- I don’t recall an issue on the C6. And the 911 has a ton of headroom with a sunroof.

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The technology in this car is amazing. Most of the “help you drive better” features I can’t really get a feel for yet but the ride control selections are great. The digital dash is a nice addition (if not a little over the top). Want to change the way your display looks? No problem. You can tap into a ton of the car’s systems and display real time data. You’ve even got an option to change the way your car’s exhaust sounds right from the headunit. You also get a PDR (performance data recorder) that allows you to record video while you drive. No more need for a dash cam! The system can time your 0-60, quarter miles and even track events. Valet mode records events and locks your car down when someone else is at the wheel. There’s just a ton of stuff here and I’m stoked to play with it.

The interface is well laid out (for both the dash and stereo) but the system has a few glitches (I put up a post on www.corvetteforum.com – so far it appears no one else is having my issues). The biggest “problem” I have is that voice recognition doesn’t seem to work on my phone anymore (it was working). Frustrating but not the end of the world.

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The Bose stereo is one of the better stock systems I’ve heard. That’s not to say it’s great but it’s on the verge of being good enough not to mess with. Plenty of volume. The base, although a little boomy, is more substantial than you’d usually find. The highs lack some detail, but the system seems well balanced and nothing is piercing or painful when listening. I wish there were more EQ options but overall it’s enjoyable.

Thus far I am very impressed with how the Z06 drives (again keeping in mind that I’m putting around like an old man). Steering and handling is tight and responsive. The car feels well planted to the road where my old C6 felt a little sloppy (and I’ll be very curious to see how the car compares to my old 911). Braking with the Z07 carbon ceramics seems exceptional too. The transmission seems good- shifting is nice and crisp and and the clutch pressure is okay (it could be a little tighter). I’m sold on seven gears yet either. I don’t know if I’ll end up tracking my car at all but I’ll bet it would be a blast.

It’s not a perfect car, of course. The aforementioned stereo and lack of cabin space is worth noting. Turning at low speeds produces a lot of wheel chatter (the car comes with a tag explaining it’s normal but it seems excessive to me). The Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup tires are super sticky and pick up every little piece of road gravel (these are not the tires I would have picked for daily driving). I realize this isn’t a luxury car and while absolutely tolerable cabin noise seems excessive as well. Minor gripes so far.

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I have noticed the C7 Z06 seems like it’s taking a bit of a beating in recent reviews and comparison tests (i.e. versus the Viper, Hellcat, GT-R, Porsche, etc). Anyone who knows me can attest that my relationship with cars has been tumultuous and so seeing the bad press causes me a little worry. Many people point to a potential “heat soak” issue or overly conservative tuning as part of the problem. I will base my opinions of the car on my experiences but I’ll be curious to see if the situation ends up affecting me. What I’d like the car to be is a comfortable cruiser, potential daily driver and a weekend track warrior.

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Negative press aside I think the C7 Z06 actually represents a great value. When you compare it to the Porsche 911, the GT-R Nismo or even a Viper it’s downright inexpensive, And the amount of available features surpass even some of the most expensive model variations other manufacturers offer. So far so good. Just a few hundred miles to go and I’ll see what she can really do.

I’m obviously not a videographer but I’ll call it a day with a quick walk-around of my car:

The SHOT Show. Why Do We Go?

Once a year Blade HQ heads out to Las Vegas to attend the SHOT show. Our goal: Fuel “Operation Grow & Dominate.” We’re on quest for new products, a mission to strengthen existing relationships and a crusade to excel (it took me awhile to come up with all that stuff).

Personally I think going to the show is pretty grueling. It’s non stop walking and talking, wheeling and dealing and wining and dining. None of that is stuff that I’m particularly good at and sometimes I get the impression that I may even be in the way (as well as another owner who won’t be named at this time). We have people attending the show who are much more qualified to handle this stuff. So why do we keep going?

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Sure…something about the atmosphere is Vegas is exciting.  And hanging out with coworkers is definitely fun. Perhaps it’s a misguided attempt to show we’ve still got “it.” Confession time: It’s the sandwiches. I was upfront with everyone volunteering that I was “going just to get a lobster sandwich” (found at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio). In a strange twist of fate Jim was also going for a sandwich. Specifically to mock an incredibly oversized club at the Carnagie Deli (he mocked it by finishing the entire thing).

Thanks Vegas! We’ll see you next year.

 

 

A Sushi Burrito!?

When a coworker showed me his coupon for Chiba Sushi Burrito we laughed. I love sushi, but a “sushi burrito” seemed like a questionable idea. It seemed so odd that we agreed we’d have to go check it out (we’re adventurous like that). We rounded up several “victims” and headed over to Chiba.

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The restaurant is fairly nondescript and I couldn’t get a good sense of what kind of experience to expect. They offer a dozen or so burritos and I ordered one called the 49er. When it came out the amount of tuna was alarming but I’m the kind of guy who follows though (plus other people were making satisfied grunts). After my first bite I was a fan. It was delicious!  It’s a little awkward to eat but that’s a price I’m willing to pay. The the amount of “sushi”” you get works out to be a great deal. I think everyone in our group enjoyed their burrito. I will absolutely go back and I can recommend Chiba if you’re in the mood for something a little different.

Playing Ostrich at Work (An Egg-citing Day!)

I have been feeling a little stressed out at work this month (the whole year thus far). We have some ambitious goals and that means there’s a lot to get done. I’m pretty sure time is moving faster than it used to and that means we have to work harder and smarter. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… so we work hard and play hard (hope there are enough adages here for everyone). Seriously though- we try and make work a fun place. Stuck in a rut? Do something crazy. We ate an egg. A big egg.

The backstory is weird and complicated. Tim, Adam and I had discussed getting a pet penguin. Somehow that segued into trying to get a penguin egg from a zoo. And that turned into a conversation about eating eggs. What would a penguin egg taste like? Turns out you can’t really get a penguin egg, but you can get an Ostrich egg. Before I knew it Tim had a “small” ostrich egg on it’s way to the HQ.

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For the record a “small” ostrich egg is huge. It’s the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs. This is only the second time I have had the pleasure of holding an egg this big. Since it was chilly out we wheeled our grill over to warehouse three (no active inventory) and commence the cooking indoors. First we fried up some bacon (sadly from the common pig and not the hippo bacon we longed for).  We then spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to hack into the egg. After a failed (and smelly) Dremmel attempt we poked holes in both sides of the egg and used an air compressor to force the yolk and white out. It sort of worked…

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… but eventually Adam had to give the egg mouth to shell (it’s really all about the seal). With the contents in the skillet we one step closer to our goal of eating a not-chicken egg. It took awhile to get the egg cooked up but it smelled good and, aside from a texture difference, looked like the scrambled eggs we all know and love. This is the plate I scooped for myself (probably about 4 chicken eggs worth). No turning back.

Size aside, there are definite difference between ostrich and chicken eggs. I’d describe both the texture and taste as “regular eggs infused with grit” (as in grits that one might eat in the south). While the egg was good I’m not sure I’d ever eat them in lieu of chicken eggs given the taste difference and price (they are not cheap). We took the cooked egg around work and forced it onto anyone we could find. Horizons were broadened. Hearts were warmed. And ostrich was shared. Thanks to Adam’s efforts next week we’ll be eating a swan egg.

And that’s how you run a company. With protein.

Nerdy Nothings – January Edition

This year I think I’m going to treat my blog more like Facebook. Or how I think I would treat Facebook…if I used it. I’m thinking smaller posts, more frequency, weird crap that no one wants to hear about- that kind of stuff.  So, in that spirit I’m excited to post this “Nerdy Nothing.” Brought to you by Apple and eBay.CAPTION

Some of you may remember that I procured an Apple Powerbook 520C back in 2011. That was a blast- no regrets. But the dream was always to own a 540C. And one day a brand-new-never-opened-mint-in-the-box 540C popped up on eBay. Insanity ensued. And when the dust cleared I stood atop the corpses of my defeated bidding foes, victorious, sealed box in hand. And what did I do? I opened it of course. I’m eccentric like that. So without further ado here is a video of me opening what may be the last sealed Apple 540C on earth.

I haven’t had the heart to unwrap the computer or turn it on. I doubt I ever will. Look at me- preserving a little part of history that future generations will never appreciate.

Corvette C7 Z06 Splash Guards

Based on my experience Utah roads are not kind to cars. And this time of year dirt, rocks and salt abound. In an effort to prevent inevitable paint damage I installed the available GM splash guards onto my car. The GM part numbers are 22935635 (front) and 22935639 (rear). I’m not sure why parts like these aren’t standard- they look great (to me, anyway) and I’m certain they will help prevent rock chips. My local dealer happened to have these in stock but they can be ordered from any store that sells GM parts.

Installation is super easy as these guards replace the ones already on the car. You need a socket wrench with a 7mm bit, 15 minutes and a flashlight is helpful. The installation process is the roughly same for the front and back. Remove the 7mm bolt that holds the original guard into place. There are five tension clips that secure it to the car. Gently pull the old part out starting the top.

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On the rear guard transfer the clip nut to your new guard (the orientation of the clip doesn’t really matter as long as it’s centered- this is how mine looked when I removed the original part). When installing the new part note that there is a small tab that needs to go into the wheel well liner. Then simply align the push clips with the body and press them into place. Finish by screwing in the 7mm bolt.

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At the widest point the splash guards add about an additional inch of protection. A must for people who live in a place like Utah!