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.


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!).


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.


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 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).


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.

Movies Watched in 2012

I have dedicated this post to movies that I watched in 2012 (these had to be fairly current movies from 2012 year or 2011 to make the list). My goal in 2012 was 50 movies and I ended up watching 56. Not to bad. Same goal for 2013 except that I’m going to try and see half of them in the theater.

Rise of the Guardians, 7/10 – This was a fun movie with a nice twist on iconic holiday and childhood fantasy characters (Santa Clause, Easter Bunny, Sand Man, Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost). It’s fun to watch, but somehow it’s missing some heart. And it’s not really a Christmas movie, in case you were wondering.

Jack Reacher, 8/10 – I love a good old fashioned action mystery thriller. This is similar is some ways to the Mission Impossible movies, but the believability level is higher. Despite his quirks as a person, Cruise is still exceptional on screen.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 7.5/10 – As with Red Dawn, reviews for the Hobbit almost had me dreading the movie. However, I thought it was excellent. Sure, certain parts of the movie drag on a little bit, but the visuals are breathtaking, the acting is first rate and the story is timeless. the-hobbit-2012

Arthur Christmas, 7/10 – I thought this was a really original take on Santa’s Christmas Eve delivery escapades. I noticed that this mostly bombed in theaters, which is too bad. It’s fast paced, entertaining and is an excellent Christmas movie.

Lawless, 6.6/10 – Sort of like a western, but it’s actually an eastern with moonshine cowboys. Strong cast, good action but the story was a little empty for me.

Ted, 6.75/10 – Almost heart warming and not as crude as it could have been. Very entertaining, but not everything hit home for me.

Red Dawn, 7/10 – After reading reviews of this movie I my expectations were pretty low. But I really enjoyed Red Dawn. There are some questionable plot elements, but I didn’t have any strong issues with them. The bad acting I was expecting didn’t really show up. And I thought the action scenes were intensely enjoyable. Good flick.

Skyfall, 8/10 – This is good action right here. The first ten minutes of this movie will get your adrenaline pumping like nothing else I’ve seen this year (with the possible exception of Dark Knight). This movie is, more so that previous bond films, a thriller. It almost makes some previous Bond efforts seem silly and Craig is, without question, my favorite Bond.

Breaking Dawn, 7/10 – I thought this was a good ending movie to an interesting series. I actually enjoyed it. I don’t know what else to say.

Wreck-It Ralph, 8/10  – Sweet Nostalgia. This movie was a blast. Fun to watch, great plot (with a satisfying twist) with plenty to offer for kids and adults.

The Amazing Spiderman, 7/10  – This one surprised me by being better than I anticipated. Nice action good pacing. I’m still not sold on Garfield (not the cat) as Peter/Spider Man, but he was okay.

Mirror Mirror, 6/10  – Not too bad. Cute and fun, even. There’s sort of a “made for TV” feel to the movie that’s hard to shake. To her credit Julia Roberts is a pretty good villain.

Taken 2, 6.7/10  – I really liked the first one, but the second was definitely not as good. Liam is showing his age (I’m pretty sure they used a body double when he ran down some stairs… for crying out loud). I felt like there were some bad plot issues, but the story was fun and the action was acceptable.

Madagascar 3, 6.5/10  – Ridiculous non-stop in your face animated comedy, with an emphasis on ridiculous. A good watch, some great moments, but unmemorable.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green, 6/10  – I think this was supposed to heartwarming. Sadly, it came off as a little, well… odd (weird odd). All the acting was good, but the story was hard to relate to. Ah well.

Dredd, 7.5/10  – This was just good old fashioned entertainment. I didn’t have any expectations going in, but I felt great coming out. Gritty non-stop action makes my day.

21 Jumpstreet, 7/10  – Lots of funny stuff here. The movie seems to almost take itself seriously at times, and it doesn’t quite work.

The Pirates, 6/10  – Cute and visually appealing, but I didn’t feel like the movie connected with me.

The Bourne Legacy, 7/10  – Renner is a suitable replacement for Damon in the latest installment. I liked the pacing in this movie and I thought that the performances were strong all around. I’m going to need to rewatch Ultimatum now (Legacy and Ultimatum take place concurrently). The ending on this movie was a little disappointing for me and left me with the “huh?” stuck in my mind.

Expendables 2, 7/10 – Could it be that they put too many action stars in this movie (also, where were Vin Diesel and The Rock… maybe they’re saving then for Expendables 3). Part of me feels like this was a movie they should have made 20 years ago. Still, the first fifteen minutes of this movie are so spectacular that I couldn’t help but go along for the ride (it’s almost nostalgic).

Money Ball, 6.5/10 – Maybe it’s just me, but I thought this was a bit on the dull side. Good performances all around. And everyone likes an underdog.

Gone, 6/10 – Not a bad thriller. Sort of predictable, sort of not.

Columbiana, 6/10 – A straightforward action-revenge movie. No real surprises here (as far as plot goes).

Three Stooges, 4/10 – Oh man… this is about as bad as movies get (I think on my rating system you get a “4” if I make it through the movie). Okay, to be fair there are a couple of funny parts, but this is the kind of ridiculous movie that hurts me in my soul. I appreciate the efforts of the new cast to try and act like the old cast, but eh…

Total Recall, 7/10 – The special effects in this movie are stellar. Visually the movie it a treat in every way (a lot like an updated Blade Runner). Plot wise, the movie shares elements of the original, but somehow lacks the twists and turns that made the original great. The updated movie is two hours of in your face action and, while not thought provoking, I rather liked it.

Journey 2, 6/10 – Mediocre family entertainment. Nothing great, nothing horrible and watchable with few regrets but nothing to talk about later.

The Dark Knight Rises, 9/10 – I thought the third installment was exceptional. If I had to pick a favorite director it would be Christopher Nolan. Nothing is perfect, of course, and there are some odd plot elements that I don’t really understand (watching it a second time actually helped). Great action, plot, effects, acting, etc all work together to create another great Batman movie.

Lockout, 6.5/10 – I like Guy Pearce and I thought he made a good action hero. Some bad CG here, but it’s easy enough to forgive.

The Darkest Hour, 6.5/10 – Reviews slammed this movie, but I thought it was okay. The invisible monsters (“cheap special effect”) didn’t bother me. The dialog was pretty bad and the plot of was formulaic, but this is watchable aliens-invade-earth action flick.

Abduction, 5/10 – Taylor doesn’t really come across as much of an action star. And the spies in this movie – if all spies were really this bad then… I don’t even know. Poor writing, so-so acting and kind of a pointless plot. This one must have been for the girls…

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 5.5/10 – I thought I knew what I was getting into when I watched this. Sometimes you see a movie and it’s clear why it didn’t do well at the box office. I don’t get Ghost Rider as a “hero” but I liked the ending of this movie (that’s not meant to be sarcastic).

The Grey, 7/10 – Dark and depressing. Showcasing some of mankind’s darkest emotions. Good action.

Underworld: Awakening, 6.7/10 – Call me nuts, but I’ve always enjoyed the underworld series. No exception here. Kate is a hot Vampire.

Contraband, 6.7/10 – Overall this is a good action movie. Some parts are a little hard to sallow, but if you can suspend your disbelief for a bit you’ll enjoy it.

Jack &Jill, 5/10 – Oh Adam. What have you done. Seeing Sandler play the female version of himself is exactly how you think it would be. Annnoying and gross. The movie has some sweet undertones and a few good moments of comedy but too much of it doesn’t work.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 6.5/10 – This was a fairly entertaining movie with a fun premise. Some fairly good action w/ a few pulse pounding moments. A couple of plot elements to keep the watcher guessing too. Yes in deed, this historically accurate documentary is thrilling.

Man On a Ledge, 6/10 – The whole premise of the movie is a little silly. And when you watch the movie the whole plot is hard to swallow. Nothing impressive here with regard to visuals, script or acting, but the movie still has it moments.

Snow White and the Huntsman, 6.7/10 – I heard this was a chick flick. No. It’s actually a pretty decent adventure/fantasy movie. I was surprised that Kristen Stewart didn’t reek of Bella . This is an entertaining twist on an old classic.

Prometheus, 7.4 /10 – While not billed as a prequel, it’s pretty prequel-ly. I thought the visuals, pacing and action was great. This is a movie you will think about. The story has some pretty big plot holes (i.e. Human like creates (creators) came to earth and seeded the water with their DNA and then – after millions of years – human life evolved. Periodically these creators visited earth and left obscure road maps to a planet where they were developing weapons (aliens) to kill humans (because now they want their creations dead?).  Actually, just read this.

This Means War, 6.7/10 – The premise isn’t really anything new and the execution here is a little over the top. But overall it’s a good time.

Men in Black 3, 8/10 – I had read some negative reviews about MIB3 that had me worried a bit, but I really enjoyed myself. As far as time time travel flicks go I’d say this can hang with the best of them. Tommy Lee Jones is looking a little scary, but Will Smith looks as good as always.

TinTin, 6.5/10 – Visually this was a great looking movie. I loved the animation and the incredible detail that everything had. Even though parts of the movie were incredibly intense, somehow as a whole the film kind of dragged for me.

Battleship, 6.5/10 –  Visually very impressive. So many plot holes and unanswered questions that it made my head spin though. We’ve all seen the plot before and the acting here was so-so.

The Avengers, 8.5/10 –  This movie was an absolute blast. I saw it in 3D and then 2D (for both experiences). I felt like the 3D made parts of the movie silly and diminished the enjoyment, but the 2D version blew my mind. I enjoyed the way the plot allowed the Avengers to fight each other (mini versus battles). And there were moments of brilliant comedy that entertained both times. Great special effects, great characters, great movie.

The Muppets, 5.5/10 – Ah, it was a musical! Most of the humor didn’t connect with me. I love the muppets, but this movie just sort of dragged on and on.

Wrath of the Titans, 6.5/10 – Visually impressive (almost a rush), but sort of an empty movie.

Hugo – 7/10 – I really enjoyed the film visually and I thought the story arc was excellent.

John Carter 7/10 – I don’t understand why this performed so badly (in terms of generating revenue). I thought the special effects were excellent and the movie (while a little too long) was engaging. I suppose it’s probably a marketing issue more than anything- I really had no idea what to expect going into the movie.

Hunger Games 7.5/10 – This is about what I expected. Good overall cinematography (some shaky cam stuff), decent acting, fairly true to the source material and very enjoyable. Nothing mediocre but nothing spectacular.

Warrior 8.5/10 – Yeah, this is technically from 2011, but near the beginning of the year the lines blur a bit… great movie. I thought it was a great story, well acted and it had a great pace. Sure, it was full of cliches, but it was like a better version of Rocky.

We Bought a Zoo 7/10 – I thought this was a really thoughtful movie. Loved the actors (Maggie Elizabeth Jones was especially endearing) and the story.

Safe House 6/10 – I can’t put my finger on it, but something about this movie didn’t work for me. It wasn’t quite a thriller, it wasn’t quite a mystery, not quite an action flick… I don’t know. Nothing bad, but nothing good. I hope there are some really good movies this year…

Chronicle. 6.5/10 – I’m actually super impressed with what they were able to do with $12 million. I’ve never been a huge fan of the “found footage” type movies (Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, etc) but over all this was well done. In a word: disturbing.

The Debt. 7/10 – I don’t really like spy movies all that much but I enjoyed The Debt. I liked the plot, the acting and the pacing.

Drive. 6.5/10 – I thought this movie had a lot of potential. When you step back and think about it the plot borders on the verge on pointless but there’s something raw and captivating at the same time. Clearly the “drive” referred to to by the title has very little to do with driving, and everything to do with the protagonist’s (but is he a protagonist?) drive to protect. Supposedly the movie has some very graphic violence, but I was able to see a slightly edited version so I can’t comment on that one way or another. In a word: Okay.

Tinker, Taylor, Solider, Spy. 6/10 – Not a bad way to kill a couple of hours. Maybe not the best way to start off the year… It’s kind of like an old fashioned mystery. Some parts move slowly, but by the end everything comes together pretty well. Not a movie I’d own.

Hughes Family: December 17th, 2012 – December 31st 2012

We have survived 2012! At times it seemed like we weren’t going to make it… And yes, I’m half kidding when I say that, but parts of this year were rough. As I have mentioned in the past the holidays are always extra stressful but we found time for a little relaxation and celebration (as we seem to every year). Here’s a quick (really quick) rundown of the last couple of weeks.


We started off the holidays with some apple cider. That got us all in the mood to party.


We headed north on Christmas Eve for dinner with the Lotts and Watsons. I wish I had some better pictures of the meal- it was incredible. That log looking thing on the right there is sort of like a cake (in case you were curious).


Here we all are together. One big happy and very full  (in a physical sense) family. Some of us look better than others. Some of us intend to fix that in 2013 so they aren’t the one who look weird in net year’s pictures. 


We ended up with a white Christmas! Before I got up the family was outside playing in the snow. 


I worked my way out of bed about 9:30 (a wonderful gift from my family- sleeping in on Christmas). We drank hot chocolate and ate croissants and then…


…the chaos began. Actually it wasn’t too chaotic. We tried to keep things low-key and more organized this year. Here are a few pics of the kids with their gifts. 


The kids made Fran and I adorable coupons! Some of them were good for “100x”! I think it will be hard to redeem them…


I hope our kids look back with fondness on our Christmases (I have a lot of happy Christmas memories from my childhood). And maybe they could even take a moment to reflect on what Christmas is really about. 


Christmas dinner was spent with the other Hughes family. I love Christmas meals!  (I gained nearly ten pounds in the last two weeks).


There has been a lot of snow lately (not just on Christmas), so naturally the kids did some sledding.


And I spent a lot of time shoveling the snow off our driveway.That’s a a big job, in case you’re curious. But this right here- that’s a photograph of satisfaction. It snowed another six inches about an hour later. I was not able to get a good shot of the disappointment. 


Fran got the kids a new playset for Christmas and it was installed a few days after Christmas With four kids she figured it was time for something a little bigger and a little sturdier. I think it looks nice (I haven’t actually seen it in person yet).


On Friday we went to see rise of the Guardians. It was a cute twist on classic holiday icons. It’s not quite a Christmas movie though. 


And Monday we hosted our annual New Year’s Eve party. Here are the party goers (we have lost some people over the years and, for the record, we miss them). 


These days we start the party late and all indulge in ice cream sundaes and witty banter. We play games, we reminisce, we share our fictional resolutions and have a good time (even the kids). 

I told you it was going to be quick. I’m a bit behind, so I had to cut some corners (I feel really guilty about it… not so guilty that it will move me to any kind of action though). That’s it for 2012! I’m sure there will be some spillover in a few upcoming posts, but it’s over. Gone. Done. No going back now. Bring on 2013.

Hughes Family: December 10th, 2012 – December 16th, 2012

Sickness has overwhelmed our family these past couple of weeks. Fran almost never gets sick, and she’s had something plaguing her for nearly two weeks. I had something a few weeks ago that lasted a couple of days. I thought I was going to get off lucky, but sadly that was not to be. I woke up one night and my little girl’s nose was pressed firmly into my mouth. As I sleepily wiped the snot off my lips I recall thinking “That’s not good.” Shortly thereafter I got one of the worst colds I can remember. It’s been about ten days and I’m finally starting to feel better. And that’s about it- we have spent the last two weeks fighting off winter maladies.


Well, despite being overcome with various infections we did manage to do one thing last week. The built our graham cracker houses. Each house is painstakingly assembled by hand from square crackers. Only the finest royal frosting and candies are incorporated into the designs.


This year Fran and I worked on a church together and surrounded it by four smaller houses (one for each kid).  Not all of the candy made it onto the houses. The kids ate so much junk that an hour into our project they were compelled to rip off their clothes and start bouncing off the walls (literally).


We still have to add a sugar lake, but it’s a cute start. I dig our little villages. Maybe next year we will try gingerbread again. 


Hughes Family: December 3rd, 2012 – December 9th, 2012

On Monday we celebrated Mike’s Birthday again (to be fair, that was his actual birthday). He requested two chile verde burritos from Mi Ranchito (he happily ate them for several meals). Fran made a sweet potato cake but the platter it was sitting on in the oven shattered (from the heat) embedding the cake with tiny glass fragments. It was also hard to get the cake off the broken platter and it fell… a couple of time. But we popped a “9” candle on top of it and sang anyway. Then it was on to the presents. I would venture to say that Mike has very nice parents and extend family.

One funny thing that I wasn’t actually going to share: One of Mike’s presents was a Lego Batman figure (kind of like a robot). He put it together and seemed pretty pleased. I told him that I thought it was really cool. He looked at me and said, “You want to buy it?” I asked, “Why do you want to sell me your birthday present?” “Because,” he replied, “I’m all about the money.” Oh dear.

During the week Cam attended a documentary premier about the Garifuna people. It was filmed and edited by Ben Petersen, one of cam’s coworkers, while he was attending BYU.  Ben did an outstanding job and you can see a trailer of his video below.

March 3, 2013. UPDATE: Ben has made his documentary available to watch on YouTube now. This is it:

One of Mike’s birthday presents was an Xbox Kinect. Now, before certain people accuse me of getting him this because it was present at a certain party… Mike had asked for a Kinect months ago, having used one at a friend’s house. I just want to say for the record: Wow, this is a cool toy. There was just nothing like this when I was growing up. We played a bit and it’s a blast (more games incoming). As per some unspecified parental guidelines somewhere I recorded my kids using the Kinect to they could laugh at themselves twenty years down the road.

And this is the year the Hughes family will not be the shame of the neighborhood. We used SilverLeaf Landscaping for our lightning needs and unhesitatingly recommend them- we are thrilled with the results. Fran picked red, white and green for the house lights. I have no idea how to take a picture of this so you get this crappy photographic abomination. But we didn’t  stop with the house. White lights on the juniper trees…

…which have this nativity nestled between them. The pine tree in  our front yard got done up in red with larger white bulbs. And green for the peach tree (and that’s an angel sitting next to it). Yes indeed, we are going to run these things 24/7, 365 days of the year. Yahoo!
And we finally managed to finish decorating our Christmas tree!  Although it won’t really stay finished for long. I’m pretty sure there was some kind of ornament war going on this morning when I came downstairs. However, there were no survivors left to question. I look forward to the day when our tree will be left alone and we can upgrade to something nicer and decorate it with a bit more flair.

Hughes Family: November 26th, 2012 – December 2nd, 2012

It’s two in the morning. I need to get to bed. But I really want to bust this post out. For some reason this reminds me of college. I’d often be up late at night faced with a paper deadline. My intent was always to finish it as quickly as possible; rapid mediocrity was the goal. But I could rarely pull it off… I wanted to do my best. Luckily there are no real blog deadlines. No need to fight against the sweet siren song of my pillow. I will work on this tomorrow.

[The next morning] And just like that I’m back.

Work is getting busier. We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve, but each year we get slammed harder than we expect. Of course, we’re still light years ahead of where we were just a few years ago.  I used to sleep at work during the holidays!
A couple of months ago Fran moved out of the office we used to share. It’s taken awhile, but I have finally replaced her with a couch, two pictures, a shelf and a plant. Cumulatively they talk about as much as she did (which is to say when she was at work, she worked). No going back now.

On Tuesday Mike got his Wolf award! Fran is his Den Mother and I know she works hard to keep all the cubs on track. It’s possible Mike might actually enjoy the scouting program though. I wanted to attend the meeting, but I had made plans to see Skyfall with my Dad and brother (before I knew about the meeting). Overall I thought Skyfall was excellent (8/10).

Friday was the Sabin’s Christmas party (SCP). Everyone who’s anyone attends the SCP. Here’s a shot of our lovely hosts, Jason and Rachel… Jason is kind of holding her, I guess. I’m not sure really sure what’s going on. And here’s me and some of the boys. Fran isn’t going to like the picture of her I posted. I have no idea what hanging out of her mouth, but I love her.

Party goers played games, ate delicious food from Rubios and the evening culminated with the white elephant gift exchange. The gifts ranged from slightly thoughtful to comically obscene. I’m sure the full scoop will be provided by Rachel later this week. I don’t know why they do it, but a big thanks to the Sabins for another fun party.

Saturday brought another party- Mike’s ninth birthday. We rounded up a few of his friends and headed over to the Lehi Jack & Jill’s. First up: Bowling. Kids love bowling. I think for them it’s like a chance to break something over and over without getting in trouble. The kids turned out to be better bowlers than the adults (excuse: kids had bumpers).  I think Fran will be okay with this picture of her. She was an excellent party coordinator.

After pizza and cake it was time for Laser Tag. I really like the Jack and Jill’s setup and it’s nice to see what you are shooting (visible beams). Once again the kids the kids beat the adults (excuse: gun issues and uneven teams). After laser tag we opened presents and returned home exhausted.

On Sunday we ate at my parent’s house (sandwiches… I love sandwiches!) and reveled in their cool nativity (I used to play with pieces from this same set when I was little). When we got home we were able to get the tree up, but the only thing that got decorated was Mike. Maybe next week…  if we have any energy left.

Hughes Family: November 12th, 2012 – November 25th, 2012

Whew! A blog post that encapsulates two weeks of the Hughes Family madness. Impossible you say? Consider this: We didn’t too much! Every year, around this same time, something called the “holidays” start. Many people spend time with their families and others relax and participate in the ritualistic festivities of the season. But here, in the retail world, we feel the need to capitalize on the frenzied deal seeker’s shopping rampage. We work day and night to bring sales to the hungry masses. We take the cash from their outstretched arms and give them “deals” and the “hot” items. There is no rest for us during the holidays. No, there is only tireless effort and piles of cash… (tiny piles, but we make them look bigger by putting larger denominations on the top). In all seriousness though, it’s quite exhausting.

This was the guys last get together of the year (ha ha… Tom will pull another one out of this magical last minute hat). We ate at Leatherby’s up in West Valley. The most memorable part of the evening was when we decided it just might be possible to win the iPad dangling in the Fancy Cutter II machine. Sadly we weren’t fancy enough.

A few days later it was off to Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 with the Sabins. I’m pretty sure Jason and I were the only guys present. The theater was packed from to to bottom with swooning women of all ages. The Estrogen was so thick that I could barely see the screen.  I just want to publicly thank Fran for going to see it with me (yeah, part of the estrogen was mine, what of it?). I thought the movie was a good conclusion to a fun series.

Anyone ever heard of Jillian Jiggs? Jillian, Jillian, Jillian jigs, it looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!” Jillian is an adorable little girl with a hyperactive imagination that leads to chaotic adventures. She loves boxes.  “I’m mad about boxes, boxes are fun! No one will guess who we are when we’re done.” And our kids love boxes too. Normally around this time of year our church has a drive in movie (the kids decorate boxes like cars and sit in them while they watch something). This year there was no drive in so the boxes we had set aside became tiny houses,  bobsleds (down the stairs), battle armor and eventually ended up as part of a giant fort. And, incidentally, our house sometimes looks like it’s been lived in by pigs.

My sister suggested seeing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in SLC on Wednesday. We decided that would be a fun date and opted to bring Mike along.  More on that in a second. On the way to the Energy Solutions Arena (the event location) we stopped to eat at one of Fran’s favorite places, Hong Kong Tea House. I think this restaurant has actually made the blog before.While I have enjoyed other meals there immensely I felt like the food was only okay this time. Perhaps I was simply preoccupied by the fact that I had parked the minivan with three feet of the vehicle’s front extending past the actual parking zone. A few cars behind us another ride was enjoying it’s new boot for the same crime. However, we were able to escape unscathed.

Then it was on to the show! Quick Tip – if you’re going to anything at the Energy Solution Arena grab the six or seven dollar parking (just suck it up). It’s right across from the building and you will avoid almost all the traffic when you leave.
So anyway, in we went. The first few songs were fantastic and the accompanying light show was awesome. And then the show turned into a rock opera. Singing? I had no idea. I’m one of those guys who’s heard “Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Instrumental)” and thought the whole show was going to be just like that. Ha. No. Personally I felt like most of the singing was mediocre, but the story was entertaining. And at the end they busted out a whole series of truly epic songs and all was well. My ears rang for a whole day.

Here’s a scene from the show. No one has ever filmed it before, so don’t bother looking on YouTube for something better (if you think I’m serious then my heart bleeds for you).

On Thursday we went to my family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Erin and her part of her family had come down for the Orchestra but they stayed for the food (and possibly for some of the company… though that seems unlikely).

There was a ton of delicious food. Turkey, ham, green bean casserole, potatoes, corn, stuffing and abut four pies. Dinner at the Hughes house doesn’t end when you’re full, it ends when your esophagus fills up.
After dinner everyone who could still move played a round of “Beyond Balderdash”. A great game and a good time for all. Maybe we’ll do it again next year. Maybe.

Later that night I ventured out with Mike to watch some of the Pre-Black Friday chaos. I had been down to the Provo Best Buy earlier in the week and snapped a picture of people who had already been camped there for days (silly nuts).  Our AF Best Buy had  a line that nearly wrapped around the whole building. Mike asked me what kind of deal could be so good that people would stand out in the cold for hours and hours. I didn’t know. I was one of these people last year. I didn’t buy anything. Awkward.
Black Friday creep pushed Walmart’s sale to eight and Target’s to nine.  Mike and I didn’t make it out until around ten. There was still a good deal of chaos but we had missed most of the great deals and maiden adrenaline fueled frenzy. We returned home empty handed. The highlight of my night: The line in front of Shoe Carnival.

Come to think of it I didn’t end up buying anything over the weekend. I was probably too tired from selling things. Ah well, I’ll get to my shopping sooner or later. There’s still plenty of time to Procrastinate.

2011: A Brief History of My Time

Well, here we are in April… So much has already happened this year that it almost feels silly to look back at 2011. Well, heck. It is silly. So the best thing I can think to do is just bury this post under another post. And come on- who really cares what I did in 2011? Still if your’e reading this (I expect my family to, but anyone else who has ventured in here gets my “You So Crazy Brave” salute) you need to know that I did write most of this last year. I just never got around to finishing it. So with much regret and embarrassment here are some 2011 highlights and… uh… stuff:


I’d say that 2011 was  a banner year for the Hughes family. All the kids are doing well, Fran is doing great, I’m feeling good. Work and home life have stabilized and, for the most part, life is running smoothly.

Fran is my rock (a soft sexy rock). She runs our household with enthusiasm, unparallelled organization and a somewhat manic passion. She’s still working at BHQ part time as well (she likes it- don’t let her tell you otherwise). I don’t like to gush but I feel very blessed to have Fran as my wife. Last year we added a fourth child to the brood (yeah “added” – like buying another plant). Chole is like an angel. She wakes up smiling, she bubbles all day and her smile melts any heart. Gabe has become a moody, picky, life of the party four year old socialite. Claire is a mess-prone, sweet-natured, selfless six year old and she’s a ravenous reader. Michael is a manipulative, scheming, logic-loving  eight year old with an irrepressible passion to win. I know every Dad thinks it, but I have the best kids in the world (they do seem to be slightly skewed toward the evil side though… in a twisted way it almost makes me proud).


Growth at BHQ has just been incredible. I’m floored by how well things have gone, how much progress we’ve made and how far we’ve come. I really feel like we’re hitting our stride now and our momentum is going to take us further than we ever dreamed.

I believe we owe a large portion of our success to the BHQ team. We have incredible people who are dedicated,  responsible, innovative and who have exceptional attitudes and directed focus. I wish I knew them all better- it’s gotten to the point where I simply don’t have the deeper one-on-one relationships I used to have with all of my employees. But I am grateful to all of them. Go Team!

In late 2011 we acquired the unit next to us giving us some much needed space for products and supplies.

We changed the upstairs layout to accommodate more people (Mr. Ping Pong table was replaced with additional desks). We added a sound stage as where we film videos for our YouTube channel (KnifeHQ).

The storefront is a thing of beauty. In store customer traffic increased a good deal in 2011. We have really high hopes for 2012 (read: we want our store to break even!).

The packing & customer service centers continue to grow as does the warehouse. They said we’d never fill it. They said we were crazy. Now they say “Can we work for you?”


On a personal level things are good. Sometimes I feel like there’s too much going on, but on the whole I think things are pretty balanced. I have fallen off the health bandwagon a bit, but I’m sure I’ll muster up the strength to climb back on. Having a new baby has made exercise very challenging. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but I assume it’s because child rearing occupies an additional portion of my wife’s time and, in turn, my time.

At this point I really only have two hobbies  left. Blogging and my car ( I could actually see myself as a full-time blogger one day. Cam’s blogging service. And speaking of cars… it’s almost time to go car shopping!

Fun Holiday Stuff

Halloween: The kids always love to go out on Halloween. I feel like our neighborhood is pretty safe and so we let the two oldest go out and about with their friends. Fran took out the littlest  two this year. I stay home, watch some TV and hand out candy (and eat some of it… a lot of it…).

Christmas is always a little stressful since I work in retail. But we always find time to get the tree ready, drink hot chocolate and make gingerbread houses. Well, this year we opted for graham cracker houses. They were easy to build, just the right size and each kid got their own house to decorate.

And I think there was a New Year’s Party in there somewhere. With a new baby I don’t remember a whole lot. I think we played ImagineIf and ate ice cream. It’s all a blur. If you were at the party (was there a party?) thank you for coming!


One nice thing about staying in the same house for a long time is you can really settle in. Rooms get organized in just the right way (after much trial and error), you have time to paint accent walls, decorate and really figure out how to live in your house.

Our workout room got a much needed makeover. We rearranged the treadmill & rowing machine in a much more efficient layout. We also got a larger TV (built in wireless is an amazing feature which I’d recommend to anyone) – possibly justified since we spend so much time in this room.

Speaking of efficient layouts… We had a room in our basement that was kind of a disaster. In the center was a pool table and then there were two couches on either side of the room. Some bookcases in the corner rounded out the debacle. Stacy to the rescue again (she did our bedroom).

Sometimes it just takes a different perspective to figure out the best way to allocate space. With the pool table shifted over we were able to create a nice sitting area. We also added an electric piano for the kids to practice on.

The book shelves fit perfectly along the side wall and aren’t visible as you enter the room anymore.  Stacy painted the room with a very light grey color and hung a large world map & mirror (both from Ikea) for decoration.  We have dubbed our newly reorganized room “The Study” (where, oddly enough, Uncle Plum was murdered with a candlestick).

And there’s tons of other stuff that I simply don’t have time to blog about (robot revolution, my trip to Venus, the time the sun went nova and killed us, etc). Looking back 2011 was a pretty darn good year. No regrets. Hopefully 2012 will be even better.

Posted by Cam Hughes