MACarbon Steering Wheel Installation – Porsche 991

I have lusted after the MACarbon custom steering wheels for long time. Last year I decided that I was ready. No matter the cost, no matter the wait… I was all in. I submitted the order for my wheel in October and hoped it would come in time for Christmas (my ignorance knew no bounds). I worked with John, who was fantastic. He suggested the white stitching on the leather portion of the wheel and I love how everything turned out.

Below is a video showing an overview of my steering wheel and demonstrating the wheel removal process on a Porsche 991:

The wheel was completely worth the wait! I’ve purposefully tried to balance the interior and not get too carbon fiber crazy (real crazy). I’ve kept a good mix of Aluminum present (i.e. door pulls, pedals, shift knob) and so I left the center of the wheel silver. But the carbon fiber dash accents flow perfectly with the top and bottom of the wheel, which are also carbon fiber. All in all I feel like it’s incredibly complimentary and perfectly inline with the vision I have for the car. The only drawback so far is that the carbon fiber parts of the steering wheel do get a little colder than the leather (not great on wintry days)…  Still one of my all time favorite upgrades!

I really enjoy the process of customizing my car. I feel like each modification makes my car into something more one of a kind and that uniqueness beings a lot of satisfaction. I’m glad I did’t shy away from carbon fiber this time around. Also, I can’t say enough nice things about having a cool dealer right up the street- infinitely convenient.

MACarbon Seat Belts (Front & Rear) – Porsche 991

The first time I laid eyes on these carbon fiber seat belt buckles (from MACarbon) I knew I’d have them in my car one day. It was a bit of a mental fight- they’re not cheap and the buckles I already had worked quite well- but the fever from my mod-bug infection was at an all time high. I’m pretty sure my order for these parts was placed in September of 2017! But good things come to those who wait, right?

These carbon fiber covered buckles really step things up a notch as these parts are surprisingly visible (not so much in the back, I suppose). The leather covers on the front buckles looks great and hides the wires that run from the buckle into the seat. The rear buckles have a nice leather base and then that’s framed by the carbon fiber trim- a good looking setup!

Driver buckle & passenger buckle

Left and right rear buckles are the same

I originally had these on my “to buy” list with a note that said “what is wrong with you?” This was a hard purchase to justify but I managed to push it through and I’m happy with the results. It’s the little things (“Is this guy serious right now??” Half).

Below is a tutorial of the installation process (for the fronts):

Quick comparison of new parts with old parts. Rear seat belt installation is really easy… unless your pieces aren’t made quite right. Such was the case with my shipment. The surrounds needed to have some of the carbon fiber removed. MACarbon kindly offered to pay to have them returned for a fix but I told them I could take care of it. It was no problem- I milled them down a bit with my trusty Dremmel and  I got the parts installed in no time.

Sideshow: Millennium Falcon, Liberty and Justice for All.

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten any pop art (like… weeks). For some reason Sideshow Collectibles has appeared on my radar quite a few times in the last couple of months and I admit to spending a fair amount of time browsing their product offerings.

In December two things really hooked me and I placed preorders for both. The first was  “Liberty & Justice: Trinity,” a limited edition print by Alex Ross. I am a super hero sucker and Alex easily makes my top five favorite artist list. The second item was a diecast Millennium Falcon by EFX. I had been mulling over the idea of buying a vintage Kenner toy but the 19″ Falcon from EFX filled the position nicely.

Both collectibles are fantastic and I made a quick overview of them:

My first two ordering experiences with Sideshow went fairly well. They take a down payment (non-refunable) and they are good about letting you know when the balance will be changed and when the pre-order is expected to ship. They also offer a reward program for customers which gives you  about 5% back (although it take a month for the rewards to become available… c’mon, I got stuff to buy!). I imagine I’ll be a regular customer as they have quite a few items I’ve got my eye on (I’m looking at you, Optimus).

Movies Watched in 2017

2017 has ended. Here are all the movies that I have watched in 2017 (these had to be fairly current movies from this year or late last year to make the list). Newest movies are at the top. My goal this year was 40 movies, half in a theater. 
Results: 64 Movies total, 24 in theaters! This coming year I’m going to get a Movie Pass and shoot for the stars! 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [Theater] 8/10 – I thought this was a ton of fun. Loved the cast and story.

Coco [Theater] 8.5/10 – Fantastic movie! Loved everything about it. Great acting, plot (albeit with a predictable but appreciated twist) and imagery.

Disaster Artist [Theater] 7/10 – I guess when you have a weird dream and you’re a little crazy you can make part of the dream come true.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [Theater], 8/10 – I’ll admit that I thought there were some weird parts. But the way the built up tension was pretty wild. Good cast, interesting story, sufficiently conflicted characters and pretty great visuals made for a very watchable movie. Not your Dad’s Star Wars.

Justice League [Theater] 7/10 – This got blasted by critics but I thought it was fun. I actually enjoy the contrived fights between the good guys (here, Superman vs. everyone). I don’t really understand how they came up with Steppenwolf to be the main villain… but sure. Why not.

The Shack, 8/10 – Blasted by critics and it’s easy to see why. Who wants to see a movie that does an excellent job of showing how God can be good and love his children while simultaneously allowing bad things to happen to them? A perspective altering journey.

Pirates of the Cariben: Dead Men Tell No Tales 7.5/10 – I thought they downgraded the coolness of Jack Sparrow a bit, but Captain Salazar was as good as the bad come.

47 Meters Down 7/10 – Unbelievable, but riveting. A great movie to work out to.

The Great Wall 6/10 – I just pretended the attacking monsters were Huns.

It ([Theater] 8.5/10 – Heck yes! Goonies for adults. The kids were fantastic actors and the movie pacing was spot on.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 8/10 – I thought this was a pretty epic movie. Solid story, effects, etc. It’s not the King Arthur I grew up with but it was good.

The Circle – I didn’t even finish the movie (it expired and I didn’t re-rent it). No rating but it was less than engaging.

Baywatch 7/10 – Ridiculous. Fun.

Going In Style 6.5/10 – An elderly heist movie? Eh…

War for the Planet of the Apes [Theater] 7/10 – A solid entry. Parts of it reminded me a little of home alone (i.e. an overly silly escape sequence).

Dunkirk 7/10 [Theater] – Not my favorite Nolan movie.  Well made and certainly moving at times but I’m just not a war-movie kinda guy.

Boss Baby – Better than I expected. Family values over corporate greed.

Allied, 7.5/10 – This is a very solid spy thriller / love story. Liked everything but the end.

Fate of the Furious 6/10 – Wow. What a mess. I literally had no idea what I was even watching at some points. This franchise’s ability to commandeer the absurd has no equal (with the possible exception of the new Transformers movies. Still, a ton of fantastic action.

Patriot’s Day 7/10 – Solid action movie about the Boston Marathon bombing. Seemed like it tried to stay true to the actual events.

The Belko Experiment 5/10 – Pretty lame. Stupified version of the Hunger Games in an office setting.

Bleed For This 7/10 – Somewhat hyped up biography of Vinny Pazienza. Good as far as boxing movies go.

The Mummy 6/10 [Theater] – Everyone wants their own extended cinematic universe of some kind. This is a mess of a start. Tom Cruise need to up his energy level. He’s just not intense enough…

Spider Man: Homecoming 9/10 [Theater] – I’m not a huge Spider Man fan but this movie was exceptional. The Marvel Universe just continues to blow me away.

Lion, 9/10 – I cried so hard I had to step out of the room. Adoption has always been a topic close to my heart. Lion tells the story of five year old Saroo who is separated from his family and eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Childhood memories and guilt compel him to search out his biological family. Possibly my favorite movie that I’ve seen this year.

Life, 6.5/10 – Sort of like Alien but less engaging. On the surface it does everything right, but it’s just okay.

Cars 3, 7/10 [Theater] – I liked this movie, although in some ways it felt like it should have gone right to DVD. It’s predictable but loveable.

John Wick 2, 7/10 – Good solid action flick. It’s weird to me that everyone knows they should never mess with John Wick, but they keep doing it.

Transformers: The Last Knight, 6/10 [Theater] – It’s like no one cares and they don’t even try. Still a visual smorgasbord but with a totally incomprehensible narrative.

Wonder Woman, 8/10 [Theater] – Really good! DC’s best super hero movie to date.

NOTE: I’m going to stop putting in the ticket images. It takes too much time and with the QR code system sometimes I don’t even have anything to include these days. 

Little Boy,  7.5 – Although it’s from 2015 we chose to watch this on Memorial Day hoping the kids could see how difficult would have been to see a father go off to war. It’s emotionally manipulative, but I felt like it was needed and the movie is paced well and the acting is solid.

Collateral Beauty,  7.5 – Touching. I did not see the plot twist at the end. I think there is collateral beauty all around us but being finding it takes an emotional maturity I doubt I have at this point.

Alien: Covenant,  7 [Theater] – I liked most of it, but I just don’t understand why spaceship crews in the Alien movies have to be so stupid. There were dozens of ways that everything that went wrong in the movie could have (should have) been prevented.

Get Out, 8.5 – A very smart mystery thriller. I will freely admit that I  didn’t guess what was going to happen.

Monster Trucks, 7 – Cute movie- really more for kids. Boy meets monster, boy befriend’s monster, adventure ensues.

A Dog’s Purpose, 8 – Really liked this. I think it’s too bad that critics decided to lambaste the entire movie. Great message, enjoyable storyline and solid acting.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2, 8.5 – Loved it. I don’t think it’s as good as the original, but I don’t know how it could be. James Gunn really has a knack for making this kind of fun work.

La La Land, 7 – Very enjoyable. Not all actors are singers, but that’s okay. The ending is hard to take but sometimes there are two dreams and they simply can’t co-exist.

The Founder, 8 – Spectacular in man ways. I really relate to Ray’s ambition but not his ruthlessness. Well crafted, well acted and powerful.

Girl on the Train, 7.5 – Pretty good mystery thriller. Reminded me of what lies beneath.

Hidden Figures, 8 – Inspiring. I’m not a huge fan of the way history is embellished to make certain points even if it does make a more emotionally satisfying journey.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, 7.5 – Much better than I was expecting. It’s nice how they try and retain continuity throughout the HPU.

Ghost in the Shell, 6.5 – Certain visual elements are very loyal to the original Anime and that was appreciated. Casting was a strange choice (especially given that the Major was Japanese before her… transition). The original was also much more subtle whereas the new movie sort of yells “Are you still human with only your brain in a robotic body??!!” Still a fun watch.

Beauty and the Beast, 8.5 – Great remake. I thought the “gay” controversy was blown way out of proportion (nothing is this movie is inappropriate). They kept the great elemts from the original cartoon and still manged to make this movie exceptional on its own terms.

Before I fall, 7 – Sort of a modern Groundhog Day. Certainly more current, visceral. These kinds of movies always make me think about our limited perspective.

Assassin’s Creed, 6 – Sort of a cool mess.

Kong: Skull Island, 7 – Ultimately forgettable, but thrilling to watch.

Logan, 7 – Intense but disappointing in many way. It’s sad to watch a hero deteriorate.

Queen of Katwe, 8.5 –  Based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi and the game of Chess. Fantastic acting and absolutely recommended (I’m a sucker for a good Chess movie though).

Masterminds, 7 – Better than I thought it would be. Lots of funny moments moments mixed with lots of not funny moments.

The Light Between Oceans, 7.5/10 – Absolutely heart wrenching. Just when you think it can’t get more emotionally distressing they find a way to take to the next level. Despite it’s excellence, it’s almost too sad to recommend.

Lego Batman, 8 – “Puter!”

Arrival, 8.5 – Wow! What a great story. Great science fiction with a super twist.

Inferno, 6.5 – I’m not sure I even understand this series anymore. At lest they stopped the virus.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, 7/10 – Not a bad effort but Tom Cruise is starting to show his age a bit (it’s fine- he has to age).

Split, 7/10 – Intense and disturbing. Somehow I failed to understand the twist and the movie progressed almost exactly as I expected (perhaps a testament to my deranged thinking?).
split-movie-jan-2017

Keeping up with the Joneses, 6 – Mr. and Mrs. Smith minus anything that made that movie enjoyable. Some funny moments but, for the most part, a solid dud.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, 6.5  – A Peculiar movie with some confusing undertones.

Pete’s Dragon, 6 – Fairly painful remake.

The Accountant, 7 – Enjoyable with a nice twist at the end.

Storks, 6.5, – Cute, but I found Andy Samburg as annoying as ever.

Ben-Hur, 6/10 – Unfortunately this movie fails to excite in the way the original did. However, I liked that the new version was less about revenge in the end- that was a nice touch.

Sully, 8/10 – Slow paced, but thoughtful.

Deepwater Horizon, 7.5/10 – This is an intense & often gut wrenching movie.

Passengers, 8/10 – This movie got blasted by critics but I thought it was a pretty good sci-fi story with some interesting philosophical questions.
passengers-jan-17

Magnificent 7, 7/10 – A solid remake, however not magnificent.

Porsche 991 Musicar Tweeter Upgrades – Dynadio Esotec MD 102

I love car mods. And I especially love car stereo mods. My car came with the Burmester Stereo option (a step up from the Bose which itself is a step up from the factory offering). Overall I have been very happy with the Burmester’s performance. However, having pulled out various components I knew there was some room for improvement. When Musicar began offering their custom tweeter upgrade – built on a Dynaudio Esotech MD 102 platform – I knew I had to try it.

The speakers and custom mounting bracket are first class quality. Installation is straightforward and, with the exception of one tricky clip, quite painless. The MD 102’s are definitive upgrade over the Burmester ribbon tweeters. Vastly improved sound fill, elimination of the piercing harshness that plagued the ribbon tweeters at high volumes and, overall, a higher level of detail. Don’t get me wrong- the Burmester tweeters are excellent. But the Dynaudio tweeters are exceptional.

Check out my install video with some additional thoughts & testing:

Everyone universally agrees that this upgrade is a “necessity” for those with factory or Bose stereos. But I’d recommend it as a solid upgrade to anyone with a Burmester system as well (worst case it’s easily reversible). I think I mentioned in my previous 6-month review that the Burmester didn’t give me the tingles. Well I got some now. Thanks Nick & Musicar!

All that being said, part of me now feels like a shark that’s smelled blood. I’m shopping around for possible subwoofer and amplifier upgrades. Sigh. I think it would be fun to be able to listen to all the stereos I’ve tweaked with over the years. I’m sure I remember some being much better than they really were.

The Lego Millennium Falcon (The Big One… Finally).

I truly hate to be the bearer of bad puns but… My ship has come in!

That’s right kids! 7541 pieces of Lego goodness. 

I have been trying to get my hands on the new Lego Millennium Falcon since they launched in September (I was actually in Disneyland the day the were available for preorder). Long story short: no dice. I kept my feelers out hoping to run across one, and I even had a special place on top of a shelf reserved should I find one. However, as Christmas approached things began to look hopeless.

But then I ran across an ad on KSL. Falcon for sale at cost. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even though I was half certain I was going to be robbed and beaten I reached out and, thankfully, the deal went down and Christmas was saved (for both the buyer and seller- but I’ll spare you the gory details).

Epilogue: There is now a Lego Millennium sitting happily on top of my shelf. Eventually I will have the courage to start building it with my kids.

The Hughes’ Hues (And Other Bad Bulb Puns) – Philips Hue

I’ve done it! I’ve embraced new technology that someone else didn’t convince me I needed. I wasn’t badgered by an ad, accosted by solicitations or even gently harassed. I just woke up one day and decided that there must be a better way. And there was. This is my story:

I’m really just a guy who didn’t want to put up Christmas lights on my house. They have blown off for two consecutive years. The installers damage our gutters, shingles and often the lights themselves. I  didn’t want to deal with the hassles again. But I didn’t want to be a complete Christmas looser either. I had planned to get some colored bulbs and pop them into my eve lights. But then I remembered that there were some cool wifi lightbulbs that changed color. A quick Google search later and I was pretty sure my adventure would start with a box of Philips Hue Lights.

Installation info: Really straight forward. Plug your bridge (this links with your lights) into your router. Install the bulbs, make sure the power is on, download the Hue app. Link with your bridge. Search for the bulbs (app setup). Sometimes you need to enter in the bulb’s serial number for the Hue app to find it. Then start changing colors!

After the novelty wears off you’ll want to set up some rooms and then you can link bulbs to those rooms. You can adjust bulbs individually or all together. You can also apply filters called ‘scenes” and set up your own color pattern and save it as a scene.

Other features include timers and routines allowing you some basic automation tools. At some point you can start to play with Hue Labs were you’ll discover your lights can do just about anything you want. “Dance for me! Dance!”

So bottom line? I Feel good about my decision to do the absolute minimum to elevate myself above the Christmas grumps like Scrooge and the Grinch. The lights work well and they are a ton of fun to play with. I can’t wait to change the colors to pink for Valentine’s Day, Green on St. Patrick’s Day, Pastel colors for Easter, and any other obnoxious things I can think of 😀

Porsche 991 Steering Column in Leather. Thank you, Nick Murray.

Let me guess? You had standard steering column trim and you felt great about it. But then you watched one of Nick Murray’s YouTube video and found out that you needed a leather steering column to be happy. It happened to me too! I tried to ignore the feelings at first but every time I hopped into my car there was this plastic part staring back at me. I finally bit the bullet, ordered the leather part and installed it.

My experience and the installation process are detailed in the video below. In summary: it took nearly three months to get this thing installed, despite the fact that the actual installation was fairly easy. For the most part I’m happy with the results and I agree with Nick that the leather on the steering column makes a nice visual difference. As with almost everything I buy for my car I can’t say “it was worth it” and sleep well at night.