Cars4Kids – Limitless Top Speed Race

I like to drive fast. Really fast. I love adrenaline inducing acceleration and speed. There aren’t a lot of good options for that around here. Sometimes I sneak a hair over 70 while I’m on the freeway. I’ve also been known to find abandoned roads and go a couple miles an hour over the speed limit. Imagine my delight when I learned about the Limitless race being hosted in Eagle Mountain UT. Your car. 2 miles. As fast as you want. Heaven!

Eagle Mountain Blvd- two large turns and then a mile of straightaway. Longer would be better but that’s still a nice stretch of road. A lot of participants- myself included – were hoping to hit 200+ mph. Utah elevation coupled with a hot day limited people’s top speed a bit and a 2005 Ford GT’s 192 mph ended up being the fastest of the day. My best run was my first and I hit 184 on my speedometer (178 on a radar gun). It was an interesting experience to drive with no fear of being pulled over on a nice straight stretch of road during the day. Still plenty of adrenaline too.

My family came along for part of the event but the heat got to the kids quickly. The spectator seating area was situated in some deep dust and positioned at the mid point of the road only allowing the audience to watch cars accelerate away after the road’s second turn. Understandably the fam bailed after the first run but it still great to have them there! Hopefully next year they find a way to improve the spectator experience a bit. Not to complain too much- Cars4Kids put on a really good event!

Cars4Kids is a local organization that sponsors car-related charity events. In the Limitless event drivers pay double their top speed and that money goes to the Utah division of the Make a Wish foundation. It’s a great way to help people while enjoying awesome cars.

Speaking of awesome cars- Dan, from What’s Inside, was testing out his Tesla Model X at the event. In theory his car should have hit 155mph before being restricted by a speed governor. Did he do it? Watch the video below to find out:

 

Porsche 2018 Photo & Video Shoot

I do a lot of cosmetic stuff to my car and so periodically it makes sense (to me) to grab a few pictures of these changes. Since I fancy myself an budding car photographer I took on this mission personally (and no… this is not my iPhone camera). I figure posting six pictures of my car should be plenty since I also cobbled together a video montage. I’m certain this kind of obsessiveness will delight whoever ends up with my car someday. In the meantime I’m slightly less sure it will delight the Internet.

Plain in many ways, but beautiful…

That backside. Nothing better.

She waits patiently. But when we get underway she’s a monster.

When something is this pure the gossip is hard to come by. [Huh? What does this stuff even mean – Ed]

Some say no one “needs” a car like this. They are exactly right.

Black wasn’t my first choice when I got the car. But it’s my first choice now.

I can’t help but sing the praises of this car just a bit. In many ways it’s a nondescript monster. The handling, power and precision are unmatched. It’s the only car I’ve owned that hasn’t left me disappointed (yet). I think it’s okay to splurge on one thing. This is my thing and it’s worth every penny.

Want to hire me to take pictures of your car or put together a fun little video? That would surprise me. That being said, feel free to drop me a line if you’re in Utah.

 

Sideshow Statues: Transformers & Star Wars

For my fortieth birthday I got myself statues from Sideshow (what else would a forty year old want?). Being an adult is awesome.

First up is this Boba Fett:

Next are three 80’s style robots (Optimus Prime, another Optimus Prime and Voltron):

It’s true that you can’t really play with statues. But you can’t play with toys you leave in the box either. At least I get to take these out of the boxes and display them! All of these are limited edition productions and are available from Sideshow.com at the time of this posting.

Netgear Orbi – Making a Mesh

We have long struggled with Wifi in our home. There are a few elements working against us: 1) We have 3.5 levels and a lot of space to cover. 2) Part of that space is an excavated portion of the basement where nary a wifi signal can penetrate. 3) Part of our space is a main floor office which, for reasons unknown, is wifi Bermuda Triangle 4) We need Wifi in our garage for various devices and this exterior area has been difficult to cover as well.

In order to get internet to the nether regions of our home I had previously set up three separate networks (Seriously? How sad that your nerdy friends didn’t rescue you…). The basement & excavated area had a NightHawk X6, the office had its own NPowerLINE Wi-Fi 1000 and the upstairs had a separate NightHawk X8 which also covered the garage. Things mostly worked but the setup made it hard to share printers, seemed to confuse devices (they often switched networks or disconnected altogether), made it hard to lock down the internet (i.e. parental controls) and made certain aspects of home automatic difficult to use if you were on the “wrong” network. I knew I needed to eventually fix the problem (Sonos connect amps with 3 networks? Uh… no) but there was so simple one router solution. I dreamed about having some kind of mesh network but my ability to set one up was much too limited to undertake a project like that. And so I waited. Until one day…

ca

…Netgear released the Orbi. Billed as a “mesh network” system (slightly misleading) the Orbi consists of a Router base and satellite nodes. The base establishes a link with each satellite and they create a relatively seamless “mesh” network (it’s a hub and spoke system but as far as your devices are concerned it’s all the same big network).

I opted for the 3 node system which is billed as covering 8,000 square feet (I don’t have nearly that much space, but you can’t have too much Internet, I say). I positioned the base in our mechanical room next to our cable modem- that was the easy part since I didn’t really have a location choice. However, you have to position the satellites within reach of the base so I had a few placement mishaps on that end. Eventually I ended up with a node in the basement by the excavated areas, one on the main floor across from the office (inside the office was a disaster) and another in the center of the upstairs (in a bedroom).

Side note: Our network “infrastructure” was a complete mess (“So wait- you have a router plugged into a switch that goes into another router and then into your modem?”). When I installed the Orbi I took the opportunity to organize and simplify things quite a bit.

I spent a lot of time wandering around making sure that every nook and cranny of the house had acceptable internet. Speeds are much faster now and, based on a few days of use, much more reliable / stable. We may benefit from an additional satellite in the future (it looks like people are using up to four satellites) but I think for now we’re covered (nerd pun!).

We were hoping to implement Disney’s Circle, which was offered with the Orbi system. However, there is an Orbi firmware issue and the current stable version is not compatible with Circle. No word on when that will be remedied. It’s really too bad because the Netgear parental controls aren’t great (they suck). That being said we can still use the Orbi app to turn internet access to devices on an off which seems like it will be useful.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Orbi system and feel like it’s been a great (and desperately required) upgrade. Hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here on out.

Update: 4/13/2018 – Having now had the Orbi system for a week I can say that computer connections periodically drop for no apparent reason. I’m wondering if it has something to do with the computers switching to a different satellite. It may also be an issue related to Parental Controls that I tried to set up (it was a mess- I turned them off but I’m wondering if I left something misconfigured). Such hassles.
Overall: 8/10 (dropped connections)

Update: 5/23/2018 – The Orbi system has turned into a bit of a liability. Nodes randomly lose base connection and Internet. Devices attached to the network are randomly booted. Internet speeds are wildly inconsistent. I can’t find documentation or information to remedy these situations. I think we’re moving back to our old routers. Sigh.
Overall: 4/10 (suckville)

Sideshow Statue: Batman vs. Superman

Let’s be serious for a minute. Batman is, far and away, my favorite super hero. I loved the comics, I loved the animated TV shows, I manged to cobble together some love for a few of the movie franchises. Recently Dawn of Justice pitted the Word’s Greatest Detective against the Sun-Powered Boy Scout. Say what you want about the movie, but I felt like they finally nailed the costume. This is the kind of costume that a picture doesn’t do any justice. Owning a picture of this would be an embarrassment. In cases like these you need a lifelike statue to showcase this level of excellence (I’m not sure if I know how to be serious). And so I present to you, Batman:

If you decide to get one use this link and I can get some referral points: Magical Buy a Batman Statue Link
I have no illusions that anyone will click through this link and buy this guy, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s seriously a great figure.

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: 65 Movies total, 25 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.

Blade Runner 2049 [Theater] 8/10 

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.

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.