2010 Projects

First off, I’ve been busy. Really busy. Not kinda busy. Not sorta busy. Really really busy. However, all this time I’ve been secretly working on a slew of blog posts. I haven’t had the time to write out literary masterpieces for each one, but I’ve decided they must finally see the light of day (or whatever blog posts see). So, here they are!

2009 Has come and gone. All in all, a mighty fine year.

The Hughes Family 2009 Report: Nothing too major here. Everyone got a year older. Mike is now in school. He reads pretty well, he’s very good at math and he loves video games. Claire is taking gymnastics, she’s learning to read and she’s a little crazy. Gabe is a good natured, fun loving and I can almost understand him now. Fran holds down the fort with finesse and dedication. She’s been hard at work doing digital scrapbooking, home improvement projects and accounting for our company.

The Cam Report: 2009 was a good year for my health. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been doing much better (only a couple colds and a 24 hour flu). I found a little more balance last year (and it’s going even better this year). Not much progress on the weightloss  front (I just love ice cream… so much… so much), but I have high hopes for ’10. Nothing of statistical significance is coming to mind. Another year down.

 The BladeHQ 2009 Report: My company has gotten larger that I ever dreamed possible (don’t get me wrong, it’s still small, but I never thought I could make a living selling knives).  I am especially grateful that, for the most part, it seems nearly unfazed by the recession. We moved into a new facility this past year which has allowed us to continue our growth.

2010 has started off strong with a series of room modifications. I don’t know why, but I get obsessed with projects from time to time. Almost like I need to have more than I can do on my plate. My first goal was to finish up my office at work:

It’s still not quite done, but it’s come a long way. I have my toy filled curio next to the love seat. I found a gorgeous picture of the Justice League by Alex Ross (great artist, by the way). And I rounded out the decor with a matching desk & shelf set. I have a sweet Transformer poster that’s in the process of being framed too. Maybe one day I’ll get to use all this cool stuff (right now I work downstairs).

I don’t know how many people were familiar with my “man room.” It was a closest sized room in the basement where I went to relax. It had my piano, guitar, lazy boy, a television/dvd combo, books and miscellaneous hobby items. I would retreat there when the world encroached on me. In a nutshell, it was cool. But I gave it up for love…

Fran has long extolled the virtues of a mud room. A place where the kids can take off their shoes, hang their jackets and stow their crap. With the washer and dryer, our main floor laundry room was too small for much of anything besides laundry. But without the washer and dryer the room would be a perfect mud room. Where to put the laundry room then? Why in my old man room! And so…


I moved everything out of the man room and into the main floor office.  Just like the man room, but more open, more convenient, and much classier. So… not like the man room.  I’ve got half of the office and Fran has the other half. Truthfully this is a better set up. And then…


The old man room became our new laundry room. Not an easy process. We had a plumber run water lines into the room for the washer hookup. We had Holmes install a dryer vent run. My brother in law, Vard, came and added a 220v outlet. I laid floor tile (to replace the carpet) and Fran and I created a blue accent wall. Everything turned out excellent. In fact, things were going so well that we decided to carry the washing machine downstairs ourselves. Tip: Don’t turn a front loading machine upside down. The drum is often suspended by two heavy duty coil springs. Your drum will come of these springs. It took us about two hours take the washer apart and reseat the drum. All’s well that ends well though.


We now have a downstairs laundry room. That’s where they all used to be, right? Maybe we can rekindle the trend.  The new laundry room and the old one are identical in size, but we utilized the space a lot better than before. We still have some work left (cabinets & organizing) but we’re super happy with the result. And now we have a mudroom upstairs too.

Disney on Ice

This past Friday Fran and I took Claire to see Disney on Ice (Worlds of Fantasy) at the Energy Solutions Arena. We decided that she needed some alone time with just the two of us, so we left the boys with my parents (we’ll take them to a monster truck rally or something another time).  We sat right up in the front so she’d have a good view (having learned a lesson from our trip to the circus).

The show was pretty fun. First the gang from Cars drove around on the ice. Then we were treated to numbers from The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and finished with a Fairy finale. The choreography and costumes were all very good and I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed the show more than the circus.

Our refusal to buy $11 ice cream cones and $10 lemonade and cotton candy resulted in tears (much like the circus). As we left the show Claire announced “It’s not a good day!” Maybe we’re doing it all wrong- maybe part of the show is buying overpriced food and merchandise. But I’m not giving in just yet!  We did stop for ice cream on the way home. Thanksgiving Point has a nice little ice cream parlor and even on Friday night there’s never a long line.

As the kids get older it gets easier to go to events like these. We’ve got a few more planned in the next couple of months and we’re looking forward to them.  We may even attempt some movies. Oh yeah- it’s crazy time.

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

I’ve been in the retail business a long time. I’m certain that our customer service record is excellent (far above average in our retail field). But no matter how good your service is there are just some people you can’t make happy. Consider this customer email:


We are not very happy campers. It’s Friday, 15 minutes to 5pm and the Post Office still has not delivered this package.

We have been tracking this package and it sat in Coppell Texas for 2 days.

I would think with a blade this expensive, of a limited edition run, your company would provide “free shipping” that was substantially better than the U.S Post Office.

Now we face the weekend wondering where this order is at, did it get stolen in the process, or ruined, and what about the credit put on a card where no delivery has been made to the product ordered.

W. Ferree is an 87 year old veteran who’s been put through the ringer trying to patiently wait for this order to come.

It will be a very long, long time before we ever order again. It’s just not worth being treated this way. 

Ruth/Wayne. F.

Eastern State


Here are some facts for you to consider:

1. We processed and shipped this customer’s order the same day she placed it.

2. She selected (and got) 100% free 4-5 day shipping.

3. She had the option of purchasing USPS Express mail or FedEx shipping.

4. Every company on earth charges the customer’s credit card once an order ships.

5. Copell Texas is the location of a USPS mail sorting facility.

5. Her order was delivered about 15 mins after she wrote this email (it was signed for by her).

Here are some questions we had:

1. Why did she write us on Friday before her mail came when the tracking showed the package was “out for delivery?”

2. What would “substantially better” free shipping have been? USPS has been extremely reliable for us. She had other options she could have purchased.

3. Why would a customer think their package was “stolen” or “ruined” even though the tracking shows it’s in transit?

4. How does telling us the intended recipient is an 87 year old Veteran make any difference?

5. The recipient has been “put through the ringer?” Have these people never ordered anything online before?

6. “Not worth being treated this way?” Does she mean “great” or “excellent?” We just didn’t get it. Or maybe they didn’t get it…

Here is our email reply: 


Hi Ruth,

I have reviewed your situation and I think you are absolutely correct! The person responsible for packing and shipping your order has been terminated. They packed it and shipped it the same day we got it, but this is simply unacceptable. And I completely agree with you about shipping- if we are going to provide free same day shipping to our customers then it should at least meet their expectations in terms of reliability and speed. Our decision to ship through USPS has obviously caused you both a great deal of unneeded stress. I have called our postal representative and I gave them a piece of my mind! I let them know that it’s unacceptable to have a package sit in Texas for two days. I asked that the plant supervisor there be dismissed.

I would not be a happy camper either. The tracking shows that it will be delivered soon, but you’re right- it could have been stolen, damaged, or worse. My fear is that the postal employee on your route has the intent to deliver the item to the wrong address. Even though the item is enroute I think the best course of action is to speculate about what might happen. In fact, I will put a trace on the package. No one should be put through an emotional wringer like this- especially not am 87 year old Veteran. It’s only been five days, but you’ve been more than patient and I can respect your position.

In regard to the credit card charge. Though every company in the world charges a card once an item has shipped I am on the same page as you.  We should have invested the time to track your package (as we should for all customers) and charge you only once it has been delivered. I will send a note to our management department to see if we can implement this initiative. I think it could decrease the stress that most of our customers must be feeling (knowing that have been charged, but that their package could be lost somewhere while it travels to them).  

I would not order from us again. The way you have been treated defies description. Free same day shipping that does not meet your expectations is awful and you have my deepest apologies. As I said- the personal responsible has been fired. I showed them your email. They saw how you have suffered all week. They said if they had known the package was going to a Veteran with emotional problems then they would have tried to get it out before you ordered and would have used FedEx or UPS- anything besides our terrible postal system. Hopefully this will never happen to another customer. You should not have been treated this way- you are right. I am very sorry.


PS. I just checked the status and it looks like the item was delivered and that you signed for it. I can only assume that you have not gotten it. Everything else has gone so horribly wrong that I’m sure someone else has it and has forged your name. Please let me know!


Okay, we didn’t really send that email.  But I sometimes I wish that we could send this stuff. 

Here’s what we really sent:


Hi Ruth,

I just checked the tracking info. It appears that the item arrived there around 4:50pm.  

The order was shipped the same day it was placed, and arrived in 5 days. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, but I do feel bad that it didn’t meet your expectations. We have found USPS to be reliable and affordable.  

Hopefully Wayne enjoys the knife and finds that it was worth the wait. We are very grateful to our Veterans and the service they have provided to our country.

I regret that you feel that you have been treated badly. We try to provide good service.




There you have it. Proof that our customer service is superior until the bitter end. Did she reply? Nope. Sometimes people just want to be unahppy. Hopefully she can find something wrong with the knife so she gets a chance to complain again!

The Sound of Music

I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing about my car projects. So here’s another one! In past posts I have mentioned various stereo upgrade projects (head unit, amps, sub). But the stereo wasn’t complete…until now. I finally replaced my stock speakers (mids & tweeters). Overall, I am extremely happy with the cumulative results.


I picked JL Audio ZR-series component speakers (ZR-650CSI for the front and ZR-525CSI for the back) based on reviews I’d read and because I have liked my JL Audio sub so much (the ZR series speakers produce very clear and accurate sounds). The original speakers in the C6 are these monstrous 10″ paper things. Nasty. I has to make adapters to fit the JL Audio 6.5″ set. I used 1/4″ oak ply covered with foam. Same thing for the tweeters.

The speaker install was pretty painless. The hardest thing would have been running new speaker wire but Sound Warehouse had done that last year. Getting body panels off can be tricky, but the C6 Vettes are pretty straight forward.


I decided to put the front crossovers in the doors. Instructions will tell you never to  put them inside the door, but there’s a right way to do it.  I mounted them in the side impact foam- they are perfectly safe from water and dirt.  I mounted the rear crossovers behind a carpeted body panel in the trunk section- safe and accessible.


With the panels back on everything looks great. I mounted a component set in the back and my only concern is that I may have mounted the tweeters too high. I might consider moving them down a bit if I can’t get it tuned just right. Speaking of tuning- Jim helped me tweak the setting on the amps and crossovers. We pumped out some Enya and tingled. When your stereo makes you tingle you have a winner.

Below is the total rundown of my project. The labor time listed includes fabricating parts, carpeting, installation & testing/tuning. I’m not going to discuss price, but you’ve got everything you need if you really want to know. The bottom line is that I’m thrilled and I feel like it was worth the time and money I put into it. The stereo is finished. Now it’s time for the engine. Maybe. Probably. Yes, Definitely.

Pioneer Avic Z1 head unit with the Sirus/XM radio, blue tooth and iPod modules (install by Sound Warehouse).

JL Audio ZR component speakers: 650CSI in front and 52sCSI in back  (custom front speaker plates & install by me, 12 hours).

Kenwood XR-4s amp  for the mids & tweeters and Kenwood XR-1S amp for the sub woofer (custom amp rack by Justin & me and install by me, 8 hours).

JL Audio W6 10″ sub (custom sub box by Justin & me and install by me, 7 hours).

PAC Steering wheel control interface (install by Jim & me, 1 hour)

Wiring for head unit (RCA cables from Lightning Audio), subs, and speakers by Sound Warehouse

Love is in the Air


Each February Lehi City puts together a program called the “Celebration of Marriage: Legacy of Love” It’s held at Thanksgiving Point and we’ve been going for a few years. It’s proven to be a fun date activity and I always leave having learned something important. We try invite a different group of friends each year- people we can see are really struggling with their marriages (I’m kidding! I’m just kidding…).  This year we went with the Browns, Sabins, and Jobes.

The first presenter was Dr. Liz Hale. She discussed “Going the Distance: Happy vs. Unhappy Couples.” Her premise: The answers might surprise you. The next presenter was Ron McMillan. He covered his bestselling book Crucial Conversations. Both were excellent, but truthfully I felt like I got more out of Ron’s presentation. Something about how he describes anger developing from the gaps between our expectations and reality really resonates with me. I also enjoyed his perspective on how we can have crucial conversation (conversations with high stakes & strong emotions) in a safe controlled way.  Ron was also a speaker at last year’s seminar.

If you ever feel inclined, Lehi’s Celebration of Marriage is open to anyone and everyone and I’d recommend it without hesitation. In addition to the speakers you also get dinner & dessert (hold your horses! Tt’s not free…you gotta pay).  I’m sure not everyone walks away with something great, but I know that Fran and I do.

Yet More Car Stuff

It’s true. You’ve heard right! I have done more stuff to my car. No one cares and I get that. But I care. It’s fun for me to post these little enhancements on my blog. And you never know- they might actually help someone who’s putting in the same stuff. If you decide to read this, fine. But I’ll just be upfront: this will probably be very boring and mildly technical. And naturally I’ll give you the “these pictures don’t do the mods justice” disclaimer. They are puzzle pieces of a much larger picture.  Once the puzzle is done I’ll wow you with some full body shots. Yeah, you can’t wait. I know.

Guess what I have on my steering wheel? Anyone? Stereo controls. It’s been bugging me for a year: steering wheel stereo controls that don’t control my stereo. But it’s okay now. I’ve remedied the situation with the PAC SWI-PS steering wheel control Pioneer stereo interface.


My Pioneer Avic Z-1 was ecstatic (“For me? Really? Oh wow. I don’t know what to say!”).  All I had to do was wire the PAC unit in and control away! After I got the car’s center console removed I had second thoughts (deja vu, right?).  After attending several years of trade school to become an electrician I began the project. First off,  I just want to say that I found the instructions for the PAC system unnecessarily confusing. They provide three different sheets of instructions (programming info, stereo harness diagrams, and car / PAC interface / version info). If you’re going to install this little guy just use the online instructions.

I got the PAC unit wired into the car’s original stereo harness just fine but I had a heckuva time finding a 12 volt power source that was tied to the ignition system. Jim to the rescue! Jim’s knowledge of electrical systems surprised me (and possibly him too) and he proved an exceptional ally as we waged war against the mess inside my car. We found a suitable 12 volt source and a ground and had the PAC interface working in nearly no time. The Z06 steering wheel has a  larger “1-6” button that the PAC really doesn’t accommodate. I’d recommend mapping the “mute” function to it (a very handy function). 

After all the excitement with my stereo I decided to take a break and tackle an easy problem.  When you work on a car sometimes you need the hood up (to pull a fuse, run a wire, charge the battery, etc). The Z06 hood has a small light that comes on when it’s open. The light never goes off.  I used to pull out the bulb, but then I had to put it back in. Out, in, out, in. What a nightmare.  I decided to put in a switch. Now when the hood is up and I don’t need the light I just switch it off. Best thing ever.

Well, except for black anodized custom painted aluminum engine caps…  I’m trying to get a black/red color scheme going for the engine. I bought these black aluminum caps and then painted the vehicle markings on them myself. They actually turned out really well.  Vanessa loves them. Remember, Vanessa is the car. Who’s crazy?

Anyway, it was finally time for a wideband. In a nutshell a wideband is a sensor that will tell you the air/fuel (A/F) ratio of the exhaust. With that information you can determine if your car has too much or not enough fuel. I bought HP Tuners awhile back and now I’ll be able to [more] safely use it.

The wideband installation was a job. I purchased an Innovate Motorsports LC-1 kit (which so far I would recommend). It comes with a gauge to display the A/F ratio. Cool! But that meant that I had to switch out my two gauge pillar (which has fuel and boost pressure gauges) with a three gauge pillar. No sweat, right? Advice: When switching out gauge pillars don’t try to make anchor pin holes in the same spot as the old gauge pillar. Just pull out the pillar trim, drill new holes, wire everything up, attach the gauge pillar back to the trim and put it back in.

Getting under my car is tricky so I took my her to Vince (of Lung Automotive). I had him weld in a sensor bung and then run the LC-1 control module. He poked the leads out through the shift boot which seems to work really well. Thanks Vince! And once again Jim came to the rescue and assisted me with the wiring portion of the project. Advice: The instruction manual for the LC-1 notes that there are two wires which have to be soldered together. It’s not kidding. Crimping won’t work. You have to solder them. Jim proved to be an adept soldering iron handler as well. It would have been difficult to achieve such exceptional result without his help. Thanks again Jim!


The gauge itself is pretty basic (I might upgrade to the XD-16 if the wideband proves to be useful). It’s a bit bright  and the constant flickering as the A/F changes seems like it’s going to get annoying. Maybe the gauge will need a switch like my hood light! I know a guy…

And finally I decided that I’d upgrade my pedals. In retrospect I don’t really know why. The clutch and brake portions of the upgrade are just cosmetic overlays, but the whole accelerator is new. Advice: Don’t try and unhook the wiring harness on the accelerator without being able to see what you’re doing. You should be able to get both of the bolts (13mm btw) out and remove the pedal with the harness still intact. Then you can pull the pedal out and see how to unhook things. It’s a super tricky harness (with good cause).

And finally, it was time to say good by to Mr. AcDelco. That’s my old battery. It served me poorly for the last year before finally giving up the ghost this past winter. It’s actually very difficult to find the correct battery replacement for a 2007 Corvette z06. In fact I couldn’t. I ended up getting a DuraLast with similar specs (same cold crank amps- very important). It fit…sort of. Justin helped me purchase and install the battery. It’s seriously a two man job. The battery is located in a compartment in my trunk and I have my amp rack and every speaker wire sitting on top of it. What a pain! Advice: If you have you battery inside the car like I do and you end up getting a replacement that’s not quite the same as the original remember to make sure the new battery is vented.

Well that blog post was almost as much work as actually doing the car mods. Next up, I’m going to finish my stereo and then start working on my new engine (LSX block). 1000WHP ready or not, here I come.