Moving On

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to posting a “July” update (or even an “August” update for that matter). July was the busiest month yet and I’m still in the process of recovering from everything (although the recovery is going poorly since August is giving July a run for its money…). How can there be so much freaking stuff?

I did want to make a quick post about one thing though:

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Fran took the the kids and went to visit her family for a few weeks and that was an ideal opportunity to get the house in shape and put it up for sale. After being listed it was sold in less than two weeks!

Over the course of the ten days following the sale we moved into a rental in Traverse Mountain. We’ll be in that location until the end of September. Hopefully our new house will be done by then… if not I don’t know what we’ll do. Move again? You think I’m grumpy now…

Things on Ivory’s end are progressing more slowly than I’d hoped (albeit at the rate I expected). One of the big hang-ups is the cabinetry. Ivory is using a new company and the latest update we got is that closing has been pushed back three weeks because the cabinets won’t be ready on time (we have been very unimpressed with this new cabinet company). Overall the building experience with Ivory Homes has been okay. I’ll do a write-up at some point in the future.

I will miss our old house- it was in a great spot, we had great neighbors, and the home never gave us any trouble (outside the “normal” scope). I expect I have already idealized things in my memory.

Side note: Originally we were considering selling the home ourselves but a friend who’s a real estate agent convinced us to let him sell the home. I’d definitely recommend an agent for the additional exposure (i.e. an MLS listing) and convenience (you don’t have to deal with the hassle of scheduling showings, paperwork or negotiating the actual deal). If you need someone to sell your home contact Darin Southam.

 

A Car-free Life… Will it Last?

I have now been car-free for over a month. After I sold my last car I went through a kind of withdrawal. I felt like some part of me was missing and occasionally I felt like I had to get something right away to fill the void. But at the same time the past few months have been some of the most stressful in my life so not having to worry about any car-related issues was nice change. I decided I would take my time and think things over carefully before doing anything . I would even put “no car at all” on the table as an option.

In the spirit of fun I have looked at quite a few vehicles over the last month or so (Internet looking) and I’ve had people give me a lot of suggestions. Below are some of the vehicles I’ve considered or that have been recommended (some as a joke):

ford-raptor-june-2014 I love the Ford Raptor. If I went this direction I’d have to go with the Roush package (which includes a supercharger). Even though my local Ford dealer could install and warranty the package I’m just not comfortable pushing vehicles past their intended thresholds anymore. And at the end of the day this is a truck. A large, gas hungry, plodding truck. I am totally satisfied with my Tacoma so I don’t think there’s a Raptor in my future.

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Someone suggested the Audi R8. I saw one at RaceCo and the general consensus was that they didn’t handle well, the reliability was poor and you really didn’t get a lot for your money. Not a glowing endorsement. Couple that with what is, in my opinion, a strange looking design and then R8 doesn’t make the cut.

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I had an SS Camaro. It was a great car in a lot of ways, but fell short in others. Visually it pushed all my buttons, but it was large, heavy and didn’t handle particularly well. And it had no headroom- none. A sunroof wasn’t even an option for me. The supercharged ZL1′s power and handling have been enchanced but I’m not sure if that’s enough to make me walk back down that path.

c7-z06-corvette-june-14 The Corvette C7 Z06 looks like it’s going to be an amazing car. It’s hard to judge a car that’s not actually available though. The 650 HP supercharged engine is appealing, but I’m leery of first year production vehicles (I know the Stingray has been out for awhile so a lot of the kinks will have been worked out). Visually this car is a miss for me in some ways, but I wouldn’t let the look necessarily stop me.

jaguar-f-type-june-14I can’t say exactly what it is, but the Jaguar F-Type just doesn’t do it for me. Despite it’s supercharged 550 HP engine it’s the slowest of all the cars listed here. Couple all that with the fact that I’m not British and the F-Type doesn’t make the cut.

lamborghini-gallardo-june-14Haha… no. I think most people can appreciate the outlandish beauty of the Lamborghini Gallardo. Probably the most expensive car here and by far the most impractical. With no place to service it in Utah I can’t imagine this would be an easy car to own. And if I could find a way to afford this I’m sure it would garner a lot of unwanted attention as well.

bmw-m6-june-2014 The BMW M6 certainly pushed a few of my buttons. My friend owns an M3 and it’s an amazing car. In terms of value I think the M6 would be on the top of my list- the technology they’ve put into this vehicle is second to none.

porsche-911-turbo-june-14The Porsche 911 Turbo (the 911) is expensive, but there is a lot of engineering and technology in this car that have contributed toward it’s stellar reputation. In terms of 0-60 and the quarter mile the car is unmatched in its class. Add great handling, understated elegance and superior comfort to the mix and you have a winner.

vespa-june-14 No. Just… no. And yet I wonder.

So, what’s the plan? I’m going to create an outline detailing points that explain exactly what I’m looking for (or not looking for). Then I can process potential cars through my criteria crusher and compare them to each other. Then when the times comes I can test drive the remaining cars (maybe?). Although between you and me- I think I already have a good idea of what direction I’m going to go.

Hughes Family: June 2014

Every time I think a month can’t get busier – boom! It finds a way. June was filled with a nice mix of fun, not so fun an totally overwhelming.

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We went to the Living Planet aquarium at their new location in Draper. The setup and layout is fantastic, but there didn’t seem to be a big difference – with regard to the actual “animals”  - between the new facility and old facility. A few of the exhibits were empty when we went so maybe there is some cool new stuff on the horizon.

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The Aquarium did have some cool new features like the rope bridge, an underwater tunnel and viewing room (in the shark tank) and an awesome aviary. Overall is seemed expensive to me but the kids seem to love it so I’m sure we’ll go back soon.

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As a pre-birthday celebration for Cindy and Fran we went to the Chef’s Table in Orem. It’s been about seven years since I’ve eaten there (and I don’t think Fran had ever been there) so I was excited to try it again. The appetizers were all excellent (cheese tasting isn’t my cup of tea, but I appreciated the idea). Sadly I think we all found our entrees to be a little underwhelming (the general consensus was that we would not go back for a “long time”). At least the company was good. Happy birthday ladies!

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Father’s Day. My parents came over and we had a fun celebration. Fran made us rib eye sandwiches (you ever had a rib eye sandwich at JCW’s? Good stuff)!

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Gabe’s birthday. I can’t believe this kid is seven already! He wanted a skateboard and an RC car. Instead of the usual RC garbage we got him a Traxxas Rustler (with some help from Grandma & Grandpa). That is a fun car so I think the skateboard may be getting ignored a little. 

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Fran’s Birthday. We had planned to go to Lagoon for the day but Fran lost her Yukon key (we only have one). We spent a long time looking for it and eventually decided to change our plans. We ate at Cafe Rio, opened presents and had some cheesecake. Maybe that doesn’t sound like as much fun as Lagoon but hopefully it wasn’t too bad. Happy birthday Francoise! You’re amazing and I love you. [We never did find the Yukon key- Fran had a new one made].

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When we built our current house I insulated part of it (around the bedroom). With regard to sound and temperature it has been really nice. So nice that I decided to insulate the interior walls in our new home. All of them. The time frame to install it was sooner and smaller than I expected and I grossly underestimated how much work it would be.  Luckily friends came to the rescue (Tyson, Fran, Jim, Tom, Ben & Mike). Thanks guys!

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Justin came by to help me do some wiring (for speakers). We noticed that a lot of the insulation upstairs had blown out and we put it back in securing it with twine. Here’s some of the finished project. 3. days and 100 rolls of frustration… er, insulation. Hope it helps.

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Here’s a cute sequence of images from a shopping trip to Costco. Claire was hellbent on getting the bag into the back of the Yukon by herself. One one casualty. 

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Lots of summer treats. No one was able to finish the deserts show in either picture. That’s living. 

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Before leaving for France the family went to watch the Lehi 4th of July parade. That’s some passionate patriotism right there. 

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I love sushi. I could for some right now. Anyone else eat sushi? Maybe we could meet up for lunch sometime. I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks learning how to make it! 

Hughes Family: May 2014

The May run down is going to be super quick. I have so many things going on that my head is spinning.

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Nice weather, flowers, gardening. That sort of thing. But seriously- I’m glad for the nicer weather (not allergies though).

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My kids have a wonderful mother. I’ve got a wonderful mother too. Happy Mother’s Day!

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As school draws to a close the kids are forced to dance. See those glasses on Mike? Those are mine and now they’re missing. At least he looks like a stud.

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We went hiking on the Timpooneke trail. I am not in hiking shape right now! It didn’t help that a couple miles up the trail turned into mud.

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We had a fun little picnic…

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… in this little valley. Obligatory panorama shot. All in all we had a good time.

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Mike got his Webelos badge. He also started playing World of Warcraft. He had to set up a sidewalk business to help pay for his game. He works hard when he’s motivated.

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Claire and Chloe shopping (they love to shop for clothes). Gabe dressed up as a pirate with his wench. Chloe with her new haircut by Chloe.

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The house is coming along but it’s causing me massive stress. So far I haven’t had a lot of fun. I’m pretty picky though. For example I wanted straight stairs. Alas, all my stairs are crooked. Why am I so unreasonable?

Fun fact & tip: I edited these pics on the Razer Blade in Photoshop CS5. Photoshop doesn’t offer a HiDPI GUI so I have to change the desktop resolution to 1080p to use it (booo!). If you’re in the same boat be sure to click the “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings” box under the compatibility tab (right click on application icons) or PS may ignore your resolution settings.

Another Goodbye…

These days there’s simply too much going on to devote time to cars. After thinking things over carefully I decided that it was time to let the 911 go.

porsche-sold-may-2014

After getting the car back from EVOMS earlier this year it was running great and I had a blast driving it. Eventually the fuel trims spiked again though- that was frustrating since it was supposedly fixed (dealing with EVOMS… that’s a story). But, after resetting the car’s ECU, I had a spectacular issue free month. I wanted to go out on a high note so I put the car on eBay. It’s headed to a Reno dealer where I hope it finds a wonderful home.

Looking back this was my favorite car. Nothing else compared to it in terms of drivability and handling. It was sexy, the speed was satisfying, the sunroof was fun on evening drives and the stereo became my favorite over time. Childhood dream fulfilled. Good bye 911!

THE CAR

I took the car to Ken Garff (for an inspection) and that’s where it was picked up by the buyer.

2014 Razer Blade Review

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As I said my last Blade post, my initial experience with Razer was…perplexing. After navigating  through an impossible checkout system I was informed that I’d actually failed to place an order. Nevertheless, and without further action, the Blade arrived and, being the inquisitive kind of guy that I am, I tried it out. Amidst falling in love with the quality, design and power I realized that the computer screen had a dew dead pixels. Razer customer service was very responsive and the computer was quickly sent back to them via a 2-Day FedEx label they provided,

Turn around was quick. Monday was a holiday so my computer shipped from Razer on Tuesday and I had it back in my hands Thursday. They ended up shipping me a brand new laptop. In some ways it was too bad- I’d customized a lot of settings and had installed quite a few applications on my original unit. However, the new laptop they sent seems superior in a number of ways and there were zero dead pixels!

Razer's initial presentation is exceptional.

Razer’s initial presentation is exceptional.

Quickly I’ll go though the pros and cons of the 2014 Razer Blade:

Pros:

• The QHD+ touchscreen is gorgeous! I love not being able to actually see the pixels. I was a little worried about the glossy finish but I’m sold at this point. Not to mention gloss is much better suited to a touch screen. I don’t know that I’ll use the touchscreen but it’s nice to have it just in case.
• Amazing build quality and aesthetics. The laptop just feels… right.
• The keyboard is second to none- no sponginess and the illumination doesn’t really bleed out from between the keys. The trackpad is super responsive and also feels nice.
• The sound is excellent. The speaker placement is ideal and the quality and volume levels exceeded my expectations.
• No bloatware on board. That’s always a wonderful treat.
• The Razer is whisper quiet. Sure you can hear the fans when you play something demanding, but even at their top speed they aren’t bothersome.

Cons:
• A little surprised that there isn’t a network jack. And the omission of an SSD card reader is also perplexing. Yes, you can buy USB adapter for the missing items but I feel like they should have been integrated to begin with.
•  Expensive. A lot of what you’re paying for is the compact design. For the same price you could get a much more powerful, albeit much larger, laptop.

Not good but not really bad…
• The black aluminum case retains finger prints / smudges. I’m sure there’s a simple way to clear things, but I haven’t found it yet.
• The trackpad buttons are a little spongey. This is surprising given the quality of the actual trackpad. Interestingly I much prefer the buttons on my replacement Blade- they seem to have a much better feel and lack the “boink” noise of the others.
• You can’t change color on keyboard.  It could be nice to alter the colors, but the green does look great.
• Some programs (i.e. Chrome) really don’t really support the higher resolution screen. That’s not a Blade issue, per se, but it is a consequence of the higher res screen.
• With the only vents on the bottom and using the case act as a heatsink the Blade can get hot when doing serious gaming. Under normal use the unit temp is comfortable. I was surprised at how much cooler my replacement Blade runs. The returned model got extremely hot to the touch under fairly light loads, but my new Blade has remained comfortable thus far no matter what I’m doing (excluding intensive benchmarking / gaming).

Performance on my games seems excellent. The Cloudgate 3D Mark results for the Razor Blade was about 15,600. For the sake of comparison the Cloudgate score on my Pulse 17 was in the 12,600. And if you’re interested: Maingear Pulse 17 laptop review.

I think Razer is really getting close. I would like to see the next Blade with the addition of an SSD reader, a network jack, customizable keyboard colors, 16GB ram, TB SSD and a 15″ screen in same chassis. Because… why not? But all things considered the 2014 Blade is a phenomenal computer with nearly everything going for it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a compact gaming computer.

Hughes Family: April 2014

Since May’s more than halfway over I guess it’s time to post some highlights from April (maybe a few lowlights too).

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Fran finally busted out the trailer! This was the first time I saw it hooked up to the Yukon- looking good! Destination-: Goblin Valley for a rendezvous with the Wilson family (no plans to push over any rock formations though). I’m not a four hour drive to visit sand kinda guy so I opted out of this trip.

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Fran needs to come along and fill in some of the captions in this post. Usually I write something and she’ll read through the post and say “That’s not what was going on there!” I wasn’t there but I’ll give it a shot. Here’s Chloe walking through bacon. The kids loved climbing on the Goblin Valley rock formations. Mike & Gabe resting under two rock mushrooms.

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But seriously- the rock formations are really cool. Some of the kids adopted frogs. The landscape almost makes me wish I’d gone…

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A good time was had by all. The kids had a blast playing together and everyone came back dusty, bruised and tired (all the hallmarks of a fantastic trip).

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While the family was gone I decided to tackle the repair of our basement couch. The kids had jumped on it so much that part of the frame had broken- although I didn’t realize this until I got inside. Since the couch had originally been pinned together I had to use right-angle braces (16 of them) to reattach things together. Then springs needed to be stretched and hooked back into place. I wasn’t strong enough to do it (they are are tough!) so I had to wrap rope around the springs and tie weights to them. Makes my top 10 list of most difficult projects. Elapsed time: 8+ hours.

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And since I was on a project role I redid some of the caulk in our upstairs bathrooms. Caulk seems to wear out pretty quickly so it’s important to keep an eye to make sure things remain properly sealed. Bathtub tip: Fill the bathtub up with water before you caulk. This will help mimic the weight the caulk will experience later and help prevent it from pulling apart.

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Activity Highlight: Marshmallow towers. We go all out on our FHE activities. Who built the tallest tower? Please.

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Activity Highlight: In addition to the basement couch the kids also ruined the couch upstairs. Since the repair was such a nightmare I decided to have my kids help me with this repair. Haha… that made it so much worse. They really tried, but in the end I just gave up.
For another FHE activity we did some limbo! I can’t really compete with the kids so I got to hold the stick (I actually resisted the urge to conk anyone).  Fran and the kids all put fourth a valiant effort but in the end it was Claire who became the limbo champion.

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In honor of the resurrection of Christ we colored eggs. Nice eggs, kids.

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And then, in an effort to continue our Easter worship, we hid the eggs and tried to find them. It’s very similar to the Biblical account of Christ rising and then Mary being unable to find him. Except in that story Christ appeared to her and the eggs rarely reveal themselves to the lookers.  Although religious leaders would probably agree that Christ is not hiding from us it is a good reminder that we must seek him out. Maybe. I don’t know how the rabbit fits in.

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Here are a few pictures from Easter. We went to my parent’s house for Easter dinner where we ate and made merry with some of our extended family (Uncle R2 D2 was present but is not pictured).

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What do I like more than spending an evening doing something enjoyable? Why making a rain gutter regatta, of course! As responsible parents it would be all to easy to let our son become a victim of his failure to plan and prepare. But naturally Fran and I helped get the regatta preparation moving along. Michael kicked in some spray paining at the end. A fine water craft indeed. It’s not about whether you win or lose- it’s about whether you have a boat at all.

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Check out this hole. Legend had it that a small neighbor child fell in the hole and skinned his knee. It took his several minutes to find his way back out. Luckily they filed the hole up with this foundation (more on that later… maybe). We’re on our way! Scheduled completion of our new residence is mid August. Frankly if they get it finished that quickly I will have to assume it sucks. I waved to an old guy and he waved back- great neighborhood to boot! 

Goodbye Old Friend…

In retrospect it seems silly of me to have ever owned more than one car. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking (nor do I require a third party analysis). I suppose that as I’ve gotten older many of my priorities have drastically changed. I still love cars, but I think at this point I’m more enamored with the idea of cars than the actual cars. And these days I’m much more interested in comfort and reliability as opposed to speed. How the mighty have fallen…

And so…

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I definitely feel some regret- I have so many good memories with this car. It was almost like a friend. I put a lot into this car – and I’m not just talking about money. I had always planned to keep it forever and if circumstances had been a bit different I think that I would have.

I had a blast building the Vette and achieving my horsepower goals. It would have been fun to to track it a bit- run a nine or ten second quarter – but I can walk away at this point feeling satisfied. Driving around a 1000 rwhp Vette is a feeling that’s hard to describe and it was cool to have the experience.

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It’s kind of funny- the Vette’s is headed to Florida, which is where I originally bought the car from. I guess in a way the Vette is going home. Goodbye old friend. I wish you all the best!