Hughes Family: December 2014

Another year draws to a close. As as the old year goes out, gasping for life, it throws one last month-long party. As always I thought “Oh, surely things can’t get any busier than last month!” Wrong as always. It’s a running joke with no punchline. Here are a few highlights from December, my nemesis.

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Another birthday! This seems to be a recurring problem. Wake up! Here’s a blue birthday. Donuts at school. Presents from the grandparents. And then a trip to Texas Roadhouse (what is it with this family and steak?)  along with a  few more gifts. What do you get the boy who has everything? Cash. Cold hard cash. For games. But not cold hard games (digital goods- what a scam).  A nice birthday, but we weren’t quite done.

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A few days later we took Mike and some of his friends to play Laser Tag at Jack and Jill’s.  After the lasering and tagging we had pizza, cake and presents. Spoiled enough? Since these collages are getting much more “advanced” I have upped the resolution on some of them (like this one… but unfortunately not the next one).

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Behold the yearly graham cracker “gingerbread” houses. I crammed a lot of magic into this shot. Just like real life that day- lots of magic. Or maybe it was yelling… sometimes I get them confused. And this year one round of houses wasn’t enough. So…

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…we did it again! We had Fran’s sister and her daughter over for more faux-gingerbread house-making. This time I opted to make the houses in advance instead of letting the kids “help” (note the horrific mess in the last picture and compare it to the relative organization in this picture). Next year I hope we’ll try and make three houses each.

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The Hobbit: Battle of the Third Movie courtesy of Blade HQ, Megaplex Theaters, Zupas and Peter Jackson. I love our yearly work movie. Next year: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I will camp out to get tickets if I have to. People are going to get jobs at Blade HQ just to watch that movie.

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Ever heard of Cup Bop? Korean BBQ. They came and catered a work lunch for us (BHQ BBQ). I thought it was fantastic food and now I feel like some kind of weird stalker because I’m willing to drive for miles and miles to get their delicious Cup Bop cups. Last time I went  I dragged along Claire and Mike. They were not mighty fans of Cup Bop. I wept a little. Next time I will go alone. Shhh…just eat.

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We did Sub for Santa this year (to offset our selfishness). We got our family sort of last-minute and spent part of Saturday afternoon before Christmas shopping at Target (oh… wow… busy!). The kids got somewhat involved and I think by the end we were all feeling pretty good. Chloe, Claire and I wrapped most of the presents. Later as were dropping off the gifts the kids got into a fight. I may have yelled something like “Do you even know what the hell we’re doing here?!” It was a bad parenting moment. I was trying to force my kids to feel the spirit of Christmas and I was angry at them that it wasn’t working. Really I have myself to blame. I don’t know if our act of “service” will count, but hopefully some of our good intentions made it out alive.

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Christmas Even dinner with Fran’s Family. Delightful as always. As everyone knows I love to have parties / dinners/ events at out house so that’s where we did it this year. To be fair Fran’s extended family is pretty wonderful.

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Here is a picture for the ladies! Les bûches de Noël (Yule Logs for the English speakers).  The origin involves a King named Pierre. One day he decided to eat a log. He liked it so much he made a rule that everyone would eat logs for the holidays. Eventually a clever baker made a cake that looked like a log. People rejoiced and have eaten log-shaped cakes ever since.

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Christmas Day. It snowed during the night which was a treat (white Christmas – check). The family managed to pry me out of bed by 9:30 am which might be a new record. We had our traditional hot chocolate and croissants and then it was time for gifts.

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I’m not sure if everyone got what they wanted, but supposedly it’s the thought that counts. Sometimes I feel like we are too preoccupied with what we are getting as opposed to what we are giving or even what we  already have. I think we were able to keep things fairly simple this year (the presents here are from my parents and sister too) and we tried to incorporate serving others which is a step in the right direction. Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Dinner with my family. We had amazing prime rib and appetizers courtesy of my mother. And we had amazing green bean casserole courtesy of my Grandma. It was a pretty amazing feast (Did I mention it was amazing?). Afterwards the kids opened presents from my Dad’s sister. I have never seen a family have so much fun with balloons. Ever.

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We really didn’t want to have a party this year- there was just too much going on and the house was (is) still getting moved into. We did get together with the Browns (and Browns) for dinner. Then they followed us home for some small talk and a few games until the new year hit.

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Snow means sledding. I missed out on this one. It looks like they’re sledding on a trail. Is that allowed?

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But sledding on a hill (or trail) just doesn’t cut it anymore. Eventually you upgrade to being pulled on a sled by an ATV. Good times with the Ercanbracks! I missed out on this one too. A plot, perhaps.

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Determined not to be left out of the next round of sledding I decided I would need to make my own hill. The whole family gathered snow from the driveway, poured it in bins and hauled it to the backyard We made a small ramp feeding into a snow covered decent inside our trampoline pit. If you were brave enough to take the ride a concrete wall rewarded you at the base of the pit (no one got hurt). Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!

And then, like a flash, it was 2015…

Hughes Family: October 2014

Okay! Made it through October. Didn’t know if I would. Way to go me.

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We celebrated Chloe’s 3rd birthday! She is such a great addition to our family. As much as I love to see our kids grow up, those feelings are coupled with a profound sense of sadness and loss. I have known no greater joy than parenthood and I will always be “Dad” but my children will not always be my “babies.” Happy Birthday!

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Furniture shopping usually makes me feel sick. I strongly dislike walking around looking at things that might go well with other things. “Hey, this buffalo hide might draw colors from the stainless steel cactus and the human bone table to make them work together.” We have done more shopping in the last month than I can recall doing the previous year. Do you like this chair with circles? Fancy. Table? Rug? Ugh (we did not buy that chair).

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Once in awhile I must appease the gods of parenthood and interact with my children. What better place to do this than Nickel City? (yeah… maybe Disneyland). The children quickly became smitten by the ticket bug and exchanged many nickles for the chance to take on fate. Happily I was able to persuade them to play a few “real” games with me.

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If you haven’t been to The Museum of Natural Curiosity yet (at Thanksgiving Point) you’re missing out!

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The kids always have a blast at Cornbelly’s. Fran and I met up for dinner, but I wasn’t feeling well enough to hit the main events this year.

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We finally got to the keys to our new place! We had a few cabinet related issues that necessitated work even after it was “done.”  This is what our house looked like a couple days after closing. No sweat.

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Moving in! The guys at 7 Brothers Moving were excellent to work with. And after nearly a decade of love, feeding and education one of our kids can do useful things!

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We wasted no time in starting the landscaping (no time). A bit of dirt here, some curbing there, a few sprinklers, some fence posts, more dirt, a trampoline pit and maybe some grass if we hurry. Winter Shminter.

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Halloween 2014! Fran and the more agreeable kids dressed up like the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy. The older ones were committed to doing their own thing. Admittedly Claire made a cute vampire. I have no idea what Michael was- some kind of shadow guy in gym clothes (“I’m a morph, I told you!” “Okay, sure.”)

 

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Eating some Halloween breakfast (wearing costumes to school is a thing now- I don’t remember doing it when I was a kid). And then the long awaited Sabin Halloween Party! Each year the decorations get more elaborate, the costumes get weirder and the fun gets pushed past the maximum allowable limit.

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Here’s a couple of October parting shots. Mike got his Arrow of Light award!  Claire was asked to go to a recording studio to sing a French song for a Christmas album. Gabe has become an excellent RC car racer- he’s now working on becoming an excellent RC car mechanic. Chloe and I went shopping and she insisted on carrying the basket until it was literally too heavy for her to lift (cute, but inefficient). Awesome kids? Check.

Captain, I see November dead ahead! Should I drop the anchor?
There’s no point. It will just come to us.
Can we outrun it?
No… we’ll have to batten down the hatches and sail full speed ahead. Heaven help us.

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Hughes Family: December 21, 2013 – December 31, 2013

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It’s funny how much delight frozen water brings to kids. I guess it’s also funny how much I loved snow as as kid and how much I dislike it as an adult. Next time it snows I’m going to go out and build an igloo with my kids.

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We had our annual Christmas Eve dinner with Fran’s family. Per tradition there was amazing food and log shaped desserts (bûche de Noël). After dinner we had a nice Christmas program and sang holiday songs. If I didn’t have such chronic anthropophobia I’m pretty sure these kinds of parties would be awesome 🙂

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This year we decided to open a few gifts on Christmas Eve. That was a tradition in my family (well… we opened all of them on Christmas Eve). I have proposed it numerous times but was always met with rejection (bordering on outrage) so I was really surprised that Fran wanted to do it year with no prompting on my part. We settled on opening presents from extended family members and it was quite fun.

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We try to make Christmas low key but special. We start off with some croissants, hot chocolate and patience (the only thing I want for Christmas is to sleep in).

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We take turns opening presents and then we spend the afternoon playing with them.

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We go to my parent’s house for Christmas Day dinner. Prime rib roast and green bean casserole! After dinner we hung out for a bit and bask in the holiday glow (or what’s left of it).

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After hearing how great it was over and over we decided to go see Frozen. The whole family doesn’t usually go out together for movies but Chloe is finally old enough that she mostly sits though movies now. All she needs is a giant bucket of popcorn.

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On New Year’s Eve everyone was hard at work helping mom makes cookies and brownies for the party (from what I gathered Claire was the only one who was actually helpful).

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Before the party we ate dinner with the Browns (and Browns). The only thing that could satisfy this hungry group was a Chinese buffet!

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And then we partied like it was 2013. We had a few friends over, played a new game, ate ice cream (cookies and brownies too), took a trip down memory lane and enthusiastically ushered in 2014 at midnight. All in all a fun day!

And with a mighty “thud” the year was over. Cam congratulated himself on surviving 2013 and promised everyone that he would “accomplish miracles” in the coming year. He smirked as he said it knowing his only real goal was to read four book and exercise twice. The books were a good bet.

Hughes Family: December 1 – December 20, 2013

December. The month we celebrate peace, joy and love but practice none of them. Each year I think “Man, last December was rough… maybe this one will be better” and each year one of Santa’s gifts is always disappointment. Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy the holidays but for some reason they just bring out the crazy in some people. I’ll have to throw up (literally) a post about my retail adventures when I have time. Despite December’s difficulty there are periodic pepperings of pleasure.

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The first real snow of the year. I wish I was still a kid sometimes- not that I can’t play in the snow as an adult, but somehow as a child you’re immune to the wet, cold and dirty. Sledding, snow forts and shoveling (so far I have only done last).

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Mike wanted to go to Texas Road House and get steak for his birthday. We obliged. They made him ride the saddle and to my great surprise he actually hopped on (after hiding under the table for a but)! I like to pretend it was the only way to get the birthday ice cream. Happy Birthday, Mike!

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The Sabins hosted their annual Christmas party and rented a cabin in Sundance! Fran and I made the sojourn and were treated to dinner, games and the traditional white elephant exchange. Thanks Sabins!

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Later in the month we had Mike’s Party: The Revenge. Round two involved a plethora of pals and Percy Jackson. He and his friends watches Sea of Monsters and ate donuts. Manly.
In honor of Bubs getting married we hosted another LAN party for him (I think this is seriously like the third one). We played, laughed, cried and ate until we couldn’t go on. And then, despite being bleary eyed and disoriented, we roused ourselves and played some more.

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What’s Christmas without tiny houses covered in candy? According to the tradition of our fathers we crafted little cottages from graham crackers and used various sugared sweets to decorate them. We let Chloe sprinkle her roof this year which was a good start. On the right is Gabe’s house.

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Here is my house (I always add an extra wing to give it the “daddy flair”). Fran’s house is next, decorated in a fine mix of blues, and then Mikes house and Claire’s house. Quite a cute little village.

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We did some ornament shopping at Hobby Lobby (man that’s a lot of ornaments). Our artificial tree died this year (after serving us faithfully for over a decade). We toyed around with the idea of getting a real tree. We bought this little guy at Lowe’s (they use these on Fran’s island) and I suggested we use that. But in the end tradition won out and we got another artificial tree (save the Earth!). 

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For our work party this year we went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. There were enough people this year that we got our own theater! We had Zupa’s cater the event and it was a blast. Great movie too. 

The rest of December will probably be a blur of events. Personally I’d love a quiet Christmas but that’s just not in the cards.

Hughes Family: November 1, 2013 – November 30, 2013

I knew it- this month has been crazy and the blogging has been sparse. I have been racked with guilt so I decided to bust out a November post. One I thing I realized is that with Thanksgiving so far toward the end of the month some of our traditional November activities – like the Christmas tree and gingerbread houses – will get pushed into December. As if it wasn’t busy enough…

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At the beginning of the month Claire got baptized! My religious issues aside,  I feel that baptism is an important right of passage and I was excited to be able to participate. Our family and friends came out and I think it was a good experience for Claire.

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I took the kids to see Ender’s Game (Mike had read the book and was especially excited). We went with my Dad & brother. I think we agreed that while the movie was good, the book was much better.

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Speaking of books- I recently picked up a Kindle Paperwhite. Wow- what a cool reader! I’ve been looking for a way to read in bed without bugging my wife and the Kindle has seriously changed my life. The screen looks great (speaking in reference to readability) and the backlighting is excellent. If you read a lot I’d recommend this without reservation. I polished off a few books last month to break it in- one classic and two pop culture quickies.
1984 – This is an undisputed classic. The future just doesn’t get any worse than this.
The Circle – Sort of a precursor to 1984. The story outlines how integrated technology and total lack of privacy had have devestating effects. Not great, but worth a read.
Divergent – Interesting, but I didn’t find it particularly gripping. Don’t know if I’ll finish the series.

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Fran has really made some incredible efforts to keep the kids from turning out like me (you know, sedentary). Gabe is still taking basketball lessons, Mike got “Most Improved Player” in football and he has also started wresting. Claire is still attending her gymnastics too! Nice work, Babe.

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I set up a new blog for Fran a few weeks ago. The blogspot blog was getting neglected so I migrated everything over to WordPress and set it up at FranHughes.com. This was I can move some of my posts over to her blog and then she can translate my posts into French (and add whatever she wants) for her Family. I really think they’re going to enjoy reading about my cars.

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And of course what would November be without a few delicious Thanksgiving feasts? My efforts to curtail calories were seriously derailed…

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And some random stuff. Fran got LASIK! The best part of the proceedure was the awesome protective eyewear. Claire got a cut. She stabbed herself in the leg with a kitchen knife and ran around the house bleeding. She needed a few stitches- another right of childhood passage. And I got a hard drive. Fran picked this up as Costco. It’s a two terabyte USB mini drive. After a decade I have finally backed up my computer.

Okay… did it. What a load off.

I think you can guess which one I am…

Hughes Family: October 16, 2013 – October 31, 2013

October is pretty much all about one thing… Halloween. And I guess that’s okay if you like Halloween, but it’s not one of my favorite holidays. Too much candy, crazy costumes, piles of pumpkins and enough Halloween themed events to make your head spin (which would be very appropriate, given the holiday). Ah well! I’m a party pooper… what can say?

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Fall is underway and winter is visible on the horizon. Leaves change, leaves fall, children are at play. Leaves gone, cold comes, inside the children stay.

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Chloe dressed herself up as a zombie quite a few times this month. Here are a couple of highlights from her newest game. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Mike received his Bear award.

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Cornbelly’s! The kids love their annual visit to this backwards celebration of corn stalks and hay. There’s always plenty to do- slides, mazes, paintball, wagon rides…

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hot chocolate, caramel popcorn, the corn box (like a sand box, but with corn!) and so much more. The adults usually hit Cornbelly’s as well but I was sick this go around. Next year!

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The Sabins held their annual Halloween party- it keeps getting bigger and better each year (eventually they will have to move to accommodate this party). In addition to the usual outrageous decorations and exciting activities our generous steam punk dressed  hosts provided a Waffle Love truck and Rachel took family pictures of the attendees! Our little one was very grumpy and this year we retired early, but come 2014 we will be back with an unholy vengeance.

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This year the kids decided to buy some fancy higher end pumpkins. The ghost pumpkins were really cool, but this green one (Mike’s) turned out to have skin that was about two inches thick. It was so difficult for me to carve that I ended up not even doing my own pumpkin.

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I think all the kids had fun going out trick or treating. This was the first year that Chloe really understood what was going on (although she didn’t really notice when all her candy disappeared). Mike and Claire ate everything you see here, while Gabe opted to trade out his candy for cash (“I don’t want to get sick” he wisely said).

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Fran gets pretty festive for Halloween. Nail decorations and special spooky treats abound-pumpkin shakes, ghost toast, swamp smoothies, seaweed octopus soup and dry ice beaker brew (I wish I could cram more pictures in here, but there’s only so much room).

It’s funny to me that the month of November isn’t overshadowed by Thanksgiving. I guess it’s just not that cool of a holiday (it’s certainly got nothing on Christmas). I leave you with the text of this wonderful internet meme that I’ve seen a lot lately: Black Friday – Because only in American do we wait in line and trample other for sale items one day after giving thanks for what we already have.

Did Someone Call 911?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Virginia) I got a Christmas gift that forshadowed my destiny. It wasn’t anything cosmically significant, just a “If you only knew” sort of thing. The gift was a Gobot (the poor man’s Transformer) named Baron Von Joy. This “friendly robot sports car” just happened to be a Porsche 911 Turbo (930) and the Gobot quickly became one of my favorite toys. In fact, I still have him sitting in my office at work.

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A few years later my Dad introduced to me to Condorman (Disney, 1981). I must have watched the movie dozens of  times and my favorite part was (and still is) when the Prognoviach start chasing Woody and Natalia through Yugolavia. Five black synchronized Porsches (four of them 911s) zipping through canyons in hot pursuit of Condorman left quite an impression on me. You can watch the Condorman Porsche scene on YouTube (it’s in German, but you won’t really miss much).

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When I started my company in 2002 I actually taped a picture of a Porsche 911 Turbo up on my wall to motivate me. This was America and I knew if I worked hard one day I would own a 911 (ironic that I was fixated with a German car? Possibly… if only the definition of irony was clearer). For the last decade I have browsed eBay on a quest for, among other things, the perfect Porsche 911.

Last year I came across this black 911 and I must have been in my “anything black and red is awesome” stage because I briefly considered buying it.  Luckily I was distracted by a Camaro (the one that got away) and ended up going that route instead. I put the Porsche out of my mind. They were too expensive, underpowered and snobby. Yeah.

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But my current cars helped me realize a few things. For starters I was getting tired of the color black. If you car is dirty, scratched or chipped nothing shows it like black. My silver Acura RSX always looked good. My next car should be silver. And all rear wheel drive cars made me long for something with better traction (remember, I like driving in the canyons). My next car was going to have to be AWD. And the Camaro is so slow…  I needed something with some real power, something that could run a ten second quarter mile.  My next car was going to have to be fast. And then I found it: A fast silver AWD Porsche 911 Turbo.

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It met all my criteria and then some. It was listed with power output of 780 horsepower and 830 ft/lbs of torque. Black wheels and carbon fiber exterior and interior accents really set it apart visually. And it had a Kenwood stereo with two custom mounted JL Audio amplifiers (my favorite)! Initially I wrote it off as an impulsive pipe dream. Even thought it was an extremely good deal it wasn’t exactly cheap. Plus the car had a lot of aftermarket modifications that I didn’t really know anything about.

I tried to ignore it for a few days but the car haunted me…. I started doing a bit more research. The car was modified by Evolution Motorsports (EVOMS) in Arizona with their EVT 775 system. The 775 is the approximate horsepower the car puts out. An AWD 775 HP car? Tempting, to say the least! EVOMS is a well respected company, the work was done in October of 2012 and the car only had 11,500 miles on it (3,500 since the modifications).

As I was imagining myself cruising through the canyons with the sun roof open it hit me: Would I even fit in the car? A sun roof can chop off precious interior headroom. In fact that was the very reason I had to buy a Camaro with no sunroof. Maybe I would never own a 911 afterall. I found a local company selling a 2008 911 Turbo and they graciously allowed me to sit in the car and check clearances (not a bad car itself!).

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In some ways it would have been simpler if I hadn’t fit. Alas, there was plenty of headroom and cabin felt spacious to me despite my 6′ 4″ frame. And then I noticed a 5th gen Camaro with a sunroof sitting in the corner of the same showroom. I was able to verify that the Camaro has definitively less headroom. I was going to be fine in my new 911 Turbo.

Yes, I did what any rational person in my situation would have done. I bought the car (uh… um… okay). I didn’t want to have another experience like the supercharged Camaro that got away (I seriously missed it by minutes).

The company that I purchased it from (Expo Motorsports in Texas) was attentive and treated me well. The car had a few issues that were not disclosed- that was very annoying. There were also few typos on some of the paperwork (slightly annoying) but they got everything processed quickly. They also arranged to have the car shipped directly to EVOMS (for free) where it arrived safely after only two days.

My initial contact with EVOMS was excellent. I wanted to have them look the car over and make sure it was in good mechanical shape. They scheduled an inspection, answered all my questions, helped me select a few additional parts (tires, new Brembo slotted rotors and a replacement front splitter) and aligned and adjusted the car’s suspension to my preferences.The service level was beyond reproach.

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Most of the car checked out fine, but there were a couple of issue. The car needed a new sport chrono gauge, new TPMS sensors and there was a parasitic power drain when the car was off. Unfortunately the drain was nearly an amp and that’s simply too big to ignore (turns out it was a bad comfort control module). After ordering in a new part, a little more testing and tweaking the car was ready to go. I am extremely glad I had it sent to EVOMS – it would have been aggravating to have the car arrive with the issues I mentioned.

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Originally I had wanted to fly out to Tempe and drive the car home (I love a nice long drive), but my schedule ended up pretty full and so I decided to have the car shipped to me instead. It took awhile to find a shipper but eventually the car arrived here in Utah safe and sound.

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My initial impressions of the 911 are excellent. The handling and driveability is superb.The car is also very fast (from a stop up to about 60 mph definitely faster than the Vette). Once I’ve gotten the kinks worked out and have driven the car for a few weeks I’ll do a more formal review.

Here are a few pictures from the dealership:

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Fun Technology, a Couple Projects and Some Cool Junk

There’s been a lot of little projects to do lately and it’s hard to keep up (this doesn’t even include anything my wife wants me to do). So naturally I figured the best thing to do would be take pictures of the stuff I’m doing and then pop it on a blog. Then it’s like I did it twice. I can’t figure out how this can possibly help me, but maybe it can help you.

One of the projects was remounting my TV in the office (still working on that office makeover!) and hooking up a Bluray player. The catch was I didn’t want any visible cords (power, HDMI, etc).

Mounting the TV is was straightforward. If you’re got a medium sized TV then I suggest a low profile mount like the one I got.  It will keep the TV close to your wall and you can slide the TV left or right if the centering of your mount has to be off.

We had an electrician come and install a plug behind the TV (I cleverly cut the plug off in the picture below, but you can see a tiny corner to the left of the TV mount). I drilled a hole in the bookcase (I recommend a hole saw and a correspondingly sized furniture hole cover to make it look nice) and then another in the wall by the TV mount. Make sure your hole is clear of any mounting parts! It’s pretty easy to push cables through the walls (even with insulation) but you can run a guide wire (something like a hanger works) and then attach your cables to that and pull them through if you prefer.

Then hook it all up! Voila! Everything works and there are no visible wires. I guarantee it will make you feel fancy.

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One of the things I was hooking up was a new Bluray player: The Sony BDP-S390. So far almost everything about this player has been excellent. Picture quality is superb, responsiveness is excellent and the video streaming capabilities all seem to work flawlessly (I use Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and Netflix).  The player feels a little cheap, but aesthetically it’s compact and pleasant to look at. My only gripe is that the S390 seems to have a hard time with wireless signals. One bar from a router that’s about twenty feet away (in general I have been disappointed with wireless features on Sony products). In any event, I feel mighty cool streaming Pandora through my Bluray player to my TV. And also slightly silly.

I have needed a new router for a long time and seeing as how I was having connectivity issues with some devices (not just the new Bluray) I decided to take action and buy a new router: The NetGear R6300-100NAS. I selected this based on my desire for a higher end router and customer reviews. Setup was quick and simple with only a few hiccups (i.e. the router had trouble downloading it’s firmware update). Fran and I instantly noticed that while browsing our pages loaded much faster than before. The router has only been in place for a couple weeks, but so far so good (our old router needed to be reset about once a week so we’re already doing better than before). And the Sony Bluray now has two bars of connectivity (for anyone curious this equates to about 5 mbps while streaming video). I have also enjoyed NetGear’s Genie router program (fake parental controls- yeah!).

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For my next trick I replaced the screen on Mike’s iPhone 4. A friend suggested I grab a new screen off eBay and give it a shot. So that’s what I did. The screen was $30 shipped (I can recommend zydisto). To see what the replacement entailed I watched a YouTube tutorial. All told it took a couple of hours, but was pretty straightforward. I turned it on and everything worked, no problem (good screen quality too). I felt like a total stud. It seriously lasted days.

The video I linked to is good, but it’s not perfect. A couple of tips if you’re doing this yourself: 1) Use a magnetized screwdriver (my repair kit included one- priceless). 2) After your remove the iPhone screws lay them out in some way that will help you recall where they go. 3) You can pull the camera out with the CPU. 4) Transfer the mesh from the old iPhone ear speaker to the new one. 5) Make sure you have good lighting while you work. 6) Don’t panic.

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And here’s something totally different: For Christmas my wife got us a Vivint security system (we previously used Stone Security but by the end we were underwhelmed with their service). Vivient has some really cool features such as this handy iPhone app (powered by Alarm.com). With the app you can arm and disarm your system, you can see a realtime history (i.e. “Garage door opened/closed  3:30pm”) and – if you’ve shelled out the money – you can see real time video, lock and unlock doors remotely and even control your thermostat. Our kids set off the alarm the other morning and I’m pleased to report their response time and communication also seems to be excellent.  Vivint looks like the real deal!

For Christmas I gave myself some new JL Audio amps for my car (“They’re just what I wanted! How did I know?”). I like my Kenwood Excelons okay, but I don’t feel like they are driving my speakers hard enough and the sounds seem colored. There’s no guarantee that these will work better, but they look mighty cool. Later this month I’ll modify my amp rack and try these out (I’m sure there will be a post on that).

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I guess that’s about it for this post. The other other project I wanted to mention involves the entire run of 24 (thank you again, Mom & Dad!). Great show. And I’m going to watch it all while I’m on a treadmill. Six thousand five hundred minutes of pulse pounding adrenaline inducing Jack Bauer style action. That’s going to be brutal and awesome at the same time. Just how I like it.