VidAngel vs. Disney – Federal Appeals Court

This morning I watched the oral arguments made by both Vid Angel and Disney in the federal appeals court. It’s available online for anyone who’s interested (in fact I’ll embed here on my blog):

For anyone not familiar with Vid Angel or the current situation here is a quick summary: Vid Angel is a filtering company that allows customers to purchase movies and stream edited versions to their homes. Disney, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 20th Century Fox Film Corporation and Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC are suing Vid Angel claiming that their filtering / streaming service violates copyright laws. Back in December of 2016 an injunction was filed against Vid Angel (and later upheld), effectively shutting down their service. Today was an opportunity for Vid Angel to argue against the injunction in court.

While I enjoy most of what the aforementioned entertainment companies offers (i.e. characters, parks, merchandise, etc) and understand the value of IP, I would really like to see the current injunction lifted. I think the issue of copyright here (especially in relation to the Family Movie Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is extremely complex and needs the full focus of the courts to be understood. In between now and when that court battle is actually decided I believe that Vid Angel should be allowed to operate. I strongly believe they provide a needed service, I don’t believe there is financial harm being done to the studios* and I believe the studios aren’t being fair to the end consumer.

* For those who think Vid Angel needs to get streaming licenses I make the counterpoint that what Vid Angel does is essentially a streaming version of Redbox (not illegal). However, Redbox has an agreement to delay some releases, which I think is an acceptable compromise. I will also point out that Vid Angel attempted to obtain streaming licenses and was rebuffed. I, and many others, would happily pay more for the ability to watch licensed edited movies, but if studios disallow filtering companies from obtaining those licenses then…

Based on the arguments I saw I would guess that the injunction will stay in place, in some form or another. As I already mentioned the law on copyright is difficult to interpret, (and also of note much of it was created prior to digital streaming technology). What makes me the most upset is that movie studios pretend that they are not violating our right to censor content we have purchased. It’s like throwing someone in a trunk, dumping the trunk in a lake and telling the person in the trunk they “are free to do whatever they want.” I want, no I have, the right to censor what I watch. Vid Angel provides the technology to enable that right to be realized and I genuinely hope the courts can see that there’s no viable alternative.

Vid Angel just announced there’s some “Good News” coming June 13th, at 7pm. Fingers crossed, but I’m guessing it won’t be anything too dramatic.

BONUS: Sony Pictures recently announced that they are offering cleaner version of some their movies. Predictably some directors objected- “directors” like Seth Rogen. Leave it to people in Hollywood to try force their morally bankruptcy perspective on everyone. Thanks for being  a dick, Seth.  If Hollywood wants to make crass garage that’s their right. If I want to edit their crass garbage that’s my right. At least Sony recognizes not everyone watching movies is a degenerate (exaggerated for effect, obviously). FYI:  anyone who says “Just don’t watch those movies” absolutely misses the point.

Blue Apron Spiced Pork Competition

Like many people (it seems) Fran is subscribed to Blue Apron. It’s a fun way to try out new “high end” cuisine. It doesn’t come ready to go though- you still have to cook it yourself. For a lot of people, like my wife,  that’s part of the fun. Blue Apron recently held a video contest where they invited people to film themselves cooking their Spiced Pork dish. We decided it would be fun to give it a shot. Even though we didn’t win (I still can’t figure out who did) it was enjoyable to film and edit my wife’s entry (although like all my personal videos it was a “rush job”).

Preoccupation with “Progress”

We hear memorable sayings about living in the moment, the “now,” all the time. It’s good, solid advice. I often catch myself saying things like “I’ll feel satisfied when…” or “After such and such I’ll feel better.” This mentality robs us of our ability to appreciate what’s right in front of us. It’s misdirects our focus and attention. It can rob us of our ability to live in the present. Of our happiness.

This post may feel like it’s headed somewhere substantial, but I assure you it will be as superficial as usual. Let’s talk about my car (which is really more of a metaphor in this post). I am perpetually fixated on what parts I’m going to get, what I’m going to do and what it will be like “when.” What’s up with that? I have done a bunch of cool upgrade and all I can do is think about the next one. There must be some emotional component at play I’m not in touch with (spoiler: there is).

Realistically the Turbo S has all the power you’d ever need in a street car. But there I am online looking at the COBB AP, Kline exhaust systems and an IPD plenum. Why? So it will go a little faster? I don’t even open the car up as it sits. I live in perpetual fear of being pulled over or crashing; more power has got to the last thing I need, logically speaking. I have had some bad luck with car upgrades in the past and, again logically assessing the situation, I don’t know why I’d want to void my warranty and risk catastrophic engine failure to achieve a higher trap speed in a quarter mile I won’t even run. Insane.

Visually I’m super happy with my car. I love the black wheels, the carbon fiber accents and the ’16 styling in general. And yet… I look at rear diffusers, I consider putting in different door sills (With lighting? Yes please!), carbon fiber side view mirrors, a spoiler swap and maybe painting that rear valance… maybe I’ll just trade it in for a 2017. Again, I’m so fixated on going another round I can’t even appreciate what’s just been added, what’s right in front of me. All to common, I think.

So the question is “Why?” Is it the “more” mentality that seems to drive this generation? Is it the fear of missing out on something better? Other people have this stuff and they’re happy, right? Or maybe it’s just a hole – and emotional void – that I try to fill by dumping endless stuff into. And as I explore my feelings I begin to realize that I loath things. Not all things are bad, of course. But things are demanding. They need other things. They need your time.

Thinking about what’s next for my car isn’t limited to upgrades and modifications. No, it extends into worrying about what the next problem will be. It involves thinking about that little speaker buzz I couldn’t find, the clicking noise I imagine I hear, the fear that my boost level will drop, the transmission will fail, the car will literally fall apart. To what end? Every drive should be a chance to enjoy the car’s capabilities and performance but part of it inevitably ends up as a worry session. An opportunity to try and predict the most negative future I can imagine based off of fear. Fear controls. Things control. Somehow they have to power to grab our attention and shift it.

Things often distract us from what’s important. Every moment wasted thinking about my car is time I could have writing, reading, learning, spending time time with family, friends. Don’t get me wrong- a hobby is fine, probably even healthy. But when a pastime consumes you and tricks you into giving more time that it deserves and removes you from the now then you lose and everyone around you loses.

As I mentioned my car is a metaphor; you can substitute the idea of a car for anything, really. I chose a car because it’s clear to me that my car gets more than it’s fair share of my time. I see people who become obsessed with all kinds of things (some, like me, are not limited to just one thing): work, money, food, interior decorating, home improvements, Facebook, video games, health and exercise, travel, art, toys and phones. There are no end to worldly diversions.

So I’ve recognized a problem. What’s next? Far from being preachy this post is simply an exploration of my own feelings. None of these ideas are new to me, but I wanted to put them somewhere. I don’t have advice to dispense. After I finish this post I’ll probably look at carbon fiber car parts, see what’s new on Facebook and think about home improvements. Alas.

After I wrote this post I actually did a Google search for “living in the now” and found this TED talk. I’ll just put this here for later. Maybe what I’m really blogging about (saying) is that things can be an obstacle to our happiness. Duh. But it’s more than that. I’m also trying to convey that things can take us out of the moment. And being out of the moment can diminish our happiness.

But won’t being content and living in the moment rob us of our motivation? Maybe I’m misconstruing vision and progress as an obsession with material goods. Eh.

May 1, 2017: An Update- For the record I find that I become hyper-fixated on my car when I have something very stressful looming over me, as I do right now. 

Rocky Mountain Raceway: The Revenge

The mods were installed, the race tune was dialed in and I had plenty of practice runs under my belt. It was time to go back to the Rocky Mountain Raceway for a “real” quarter mile run. It was time for revenge.

Anyone who knows my history can attest that my quarter mile goal has been to run in the 11’s since I saw the Fast and Furious (judge me if you must). I’ve had numerous cars theoretically capable of running in the 11’s but somehow things never panned out. My fastest official time was a 12.1 @ 131mph run. I was sure this time would be different…

I bought some Sunoco 260 GT Unleaded 104 octane racing gas (I picked this up from Keller Strauss in SLC). I knew I’d also need a helmet and I found this Snell 2005 compliant beauty for $30 on KSL. Go Speed Racer!

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My Vbox said I was a shoo-in for a 10-something quarter mile but no one believed me (I bet a friend a steak dinner I could do 10.9 or less). I actually called Rocky Mountain before I went up to make sure there wasn’t going to be an issue if I ran in the 10’s. The track manager said he thought that would be unlikely but told me to “bring your car up and go for it.” Admittedly I started to have some doubts. My priority going in became to test the Vbox results against the actual track time.

Jim and I got to RMR around four in the afternoon and were some of the very first cars in line. That meant that we would run as soon as the races officially started- around six. My family was on their way up but wasn’t going to be there in time for my first run. Since it was warm out and the DA was around 6100 I figured it would be my slowest quarter of the day so it wouldn’t be a big deal. No tricks on my first run- street tires, same tire pressure I came up with, no ice on the intercoolers. I was focused on testing out my Vbox. My turn came up and I was off:

Below is my time slip (a close up and then the full slip). I ran the Vbox concurrently during my quarter mile run and the results were shockingly similar. More than a few people became Vbox believers that day. I was pretty happy I’d hit a sub eleven given the time of day, my mediocre 60′ time and the altitude handicap I was facing. It was a solid first run… sadly it was also my last quarter mile run of the night.

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If you finished the video above then you heard the track staff telling me I’d be limited to 1/8 mile runs. That was very frustrating. RMR’s posted rules for midnight drags only state that the car has to be under 135 mph. As I mentioned I had called the track manager to make sure there were no surprises. He said “if” I ran a ten something under 135 mph they’d work with me. I was assured they wanted everyone to have funand show the audience a good time.

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Apparently an elapsed time (ET) under 11 seconds requires additional safety measures (which another track employee said he wouldn’t ever do to a car like mine). I found the situation extra frustrating because the guy telling me I was too fast was the same guy I’d talked to when I called the track (I cut the video short because it turned into a bit of an argument). I could have easily dialed my car back and saved a faster run for later. That would have given my family a chance to see me race a quarter mile. But there was zero recourse- it was 1/8 mile or nothing. He wouldn’t even let me slow the car down and said if I did the quarter again I’d be banned. Ah well. I had my Vbox so I wasn’t too bummed.

Later I decided to run in the 1/8th so my family could see me drive something:

Taking my foot off the accelerator after and eighth mile felt like castration (okay, I don’t really know- but it felt bad). On the upside the track had become very slick- I’ll explain why that’s a plus in a sec. Let’s get the facts out there: On the street my 60′ time is consistently around 1.6 seconds. Even though I was one of the first guys on the track at RMR my 60′ time was nearly 1.8. Track prep at RMR doesn’t seem to be much of a priority. By the time I ran my 1/8 mile (maybe an hour later) my 60′ dropped to over 1.9 seconds. Had waited to go “all out” until later in the night my time may have been worse than 10.84 due to the track degradation.
All things considered I had a lot fun. I got to hang out with Jim, meet some new (and very interesting) people and see a lot of sweet cars. I ran a quarter in the tens, made an awesome video and confirmed Vbox accuracy. My family got to watch me do an 1/8 mile run and I got to spend time with them and many other friends while we watched the drag race. Overall a great night.
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I’m at a little bit of a loss now… Without access to the track I’m not sure how much faster I’ll make my Turbo S (side note: how the hell are these forum guys running 10’s and 9’s on their local tracks with no safety equipment – no NHRA certification or something?). I don’t see a point in making my car too much faster for the streets. Maybe it’s time to build a “real” racecar. Whoa- almost forgot. I tried that already. Hopefully I’ll think of something.

Movies Watched in 2015

44 movies total, 22 in theaters. An admittedly weak effort for 2015. I really hope I can step up my movie watching game in 2016.

Minions 7/10 – Adorably strange.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 9/10 – There was a lot of hype around this movie and, really, I felt like it lived up to most of it. I could have done without one particular gut wrenching scene (you might say it left a hole in me) but its impact is very effective.
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Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2 7/10 – A good wrap-up to the series.
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Peanuts 7/10 – Essentially they have taken the best moments from various Peanuts movies and cobbled them together into this feature length production. For me it was a walk down nostalgia lane. They animation remains very faithful to the animated classics.
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Tomorrow Land 7.5/10 – Certainly a little preachy, but justifiably so. There are some great “save the world” monologues in this one.

Spectre: 7.5/10 – Somehow James Bond seems to get less and less refined and more brutal. There’s a lot to like in this movie, but not a lot to love.
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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: 6.5/10 – Not nearly as good as the first movie. I’m going to have to go ahead and admit that I didn’t follow the reasoning behind a lot of the plot. Good action and pleasant visuals though.
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Pixels 8/10 – I don’t care what any of the critics said. This movie was a ton of fun. It induced nostalgia in the same way as “Wreck it Ralph.” Is it silly? Absolutely. But the visuals are fun, the comedy is mostly on point and I love the premise. A win, as far as I’m concerned.

San Andreas 6.5/10 – After a car crash scene in the beginning of the movie I had super low hopes for the film’s CGI. But I was  pleasantly surprised by the rest of the movie’s visuals. The plot holes in this thing are a 9.5 on the Richter Scale though. A fun disaster  film when you’re feeling mindless.

Crimson Peak 7/10 – A good effort by Mr. Del Toro. The movie starts off really well and the viewer even gets told exactly what to expect but it’s really a clever misdirection. Ultimately that leaves the ending twist a bit disappointing. But there’s there’s a lot to like here and the acting is exceptional.
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The Martian 7.5/10 – It has been so long since I’ve seen a movie (a month and a half!). I’m kind of shocked. Hopefully I can make up for some lost time. This movie was an interesting one to start with since I had just finished the book. I wonder what I would have thought of it as a “Martian virgin.” Regardless- it’s a solid space adventure / survival story and it’s visually and technically entertaining (although you really miss a ton of interesting scientific details if you haven’t read the book). A good romp on Mars.

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 7.5/10 – Tom Cruise has still got it.
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AntMan 7/10 – Much funnier and lighter than I had anticipated. I enjoyed the visuals (reminded me a little of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids). I do think, in some ways, this movie illustrates how ridiculous the Marvel universe is getting.
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The DUFF 6.5/10 – And then I asked myself… “Am I the DUFF?”

Paddington 7/10 – A bear that talks? Great family film- good message about love.

Inside Out 7.5/10 – Cute. Explains a lot.
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St. Terminator Genysis 7.5/10 –
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St. Vincent 6/10 – Ah Bill… why’d you do it. Why was there a good person in you.

Jurassic World 6/10 – I wanted to suspend my disbelief but the problems with the plot kept dragging me out of my chair and beating me senseless. Watching Alphamale Starlord ride his motorcycle next to his Raptor pack was amazing.

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Jupiter Ascending  6/10 – There’s quite a bit to enjoy here, but I think there were some bad casting choices that end up hurting the movie. Heaven help me but I love Sean Bean in everything.

Mad Max: Fury Road 9/10 – What a rush! It was everything I never knew that I needed a movie to be. The movie is so in-your-face that it’s just mind blowing.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron: 8/10 – I had a lot of people tell me that I reminded them of “the sarcastic robot.” Perfect. My plan is working.
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Ex Machina: 8.5/10 – The robots will kill us all one day. You could almost call this movie a horror film. I think it’s thought-provoking and, for the most part, very well done. I think they made a mistake with the ending, but that’s because I like ambiguity more than definiteness.
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Big Eyes: 7/10 – Very enjoyable story. Tim Burton pulls off the creepiness in just the right way.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: 7/10 – Really refreshing to see a movie that didn’t need foul language, poop jokes or over the top sexuality to make it fun. Make no mistake though- this is low brow-humor but it’s guilt free. Rooting for the hapless underdog with a heart of gold is always a good time.
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Into the Woods: 5.5/10 – Yeesh. This was bad enough that I’m going to go see the original play in attempt at closure. Hollywood musicals can be okay, and while I really like the story a lot of this production was a miss for me.

Wild: 7/10 – Refreshing and inspiring.

Horrible Bosses 2: 6.5/10 – Fun at times. Captain Kirk is a funny villain.

Sabotage: 6/10 – Graphic in a needless way. A “whodunnit?” mystery with the answer as plain as day.

Furious 7 : 8/10 – This movie knows how ridiculous it is- that’s why it works so well. It’s over the top, visually assaulting and the stuff that every guy dreams about. Two and a half hours of crazy. RIP Paul.
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The Judge : 7/10 – This is a touching movie about pride and redemption. Throw in some good acting and you have a solid way to kill time.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb : 6/10 – Cute but overly absurd.

Insurgent : 6/10 – Most of the movie is fairly plodding and the performances are unengaging (weak script writing for certain). Still the movie has it’s moment of interest toward the end.
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BirdMan: 8/10 – The cinematic elements are clever, the acting is excellent and the story is thought provoking while being ambiguous. The decay of a man and the attempted reclamation of dignity.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: 6.5/10 – This is a cute movie with an uplifting (although somewhat unrealistic) message.

The Imitation Game: 8/10 – Exceptional. Embellished for the big screen but still an incredibly compelling story both emotionally and intellectually.
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Kingsmen: 7/10 – Over the top. Almost campy. Absolutely the next level of James Bond.
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Into the Storm: 6.9/10 – The special effects were top notch. The story was just a vehicle with no substance.

American Sniper: 7.5/10 – I thought Bradley Cooper did a great job as Chris Kyle. I definitely enjoyed the movie more than the book. No opinion on the politics here.
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Taken 3: 6/10 – This whole thing feels pretty tired. I didn’t like the recasting of Stuart of his metamorphosis into a crime lord. Kind of a mess and disappointing given how fun the first one was.
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Lucy:6.5/10 – The movie’s hook felt a little weak but as a whole it was okay.

Box Trolls: 5.9/10 – Someone had warned me that this was boring. There were some visual effects that I enjoyed, but the story was hard to get into.

Gone Girl: 6.9/10 – Clever at times and certainly disturbing. Nothing that rocked my world, though.

The Captive: 5/10 – Well, that wasn’t the best way to kick off the new year. What a bizarre movie. Implausible, uneventful and unfulfilling. It’s almost like someone thought cutting it up and placing out of chronological order could fix things. Uh… no.


2014 Movies
2013 Movies
2012 Movies
2011 Movies
2010 Movies

Hughes Family: February 2015

February came and went in much the same way it always does… begging for more time, making desperate promises- that kind of thing.

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We were so American this year. We hunkered down and watched the Super Bowl in all of its ballesque glory. Mike is a mega-football fan and rooted enthusiastically for the Seahawks so we rooted along with him (“Just… stop talking! Be quiet!” he told us multiple times). A good solid game.

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Every since we went to Nickle City Gabe has been talking about the Transformers game they have there. I decided we should go back and see if we could finish it off. By the time we were done Gabe’s could barely lift his arm and we were $10 deep but we polished it off. Then I showed Gabe who was boss with a game of air hockey. And of course he won some tickets and bought crap. Love this little guy.

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We went to Walmart to get Chloe a real bike (to replace one of those scooter-bike hybrid abominations). Chloe is so particular about what she wants. After carefully going through all the bikes (including test drives) she selected one with the Eiffel tower on it (how fitting).

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Fran and I took a trip to the Hale Center Theater to see “Barefoot in the Park.” It’s always fun to get a little culture at a live play. I really enjoy live performances because there are no cuts- it’s like a movie with very long takes. Actually it’s better than a movie- there’s a heightened intensity and additional skill required when there are no second chances. Maybe it’s time to get season passes.

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For Valentine’s Day we did something a little different this year: Ramen! We made a bunch of different variation and even whipped up some scallops for good measure. We finished off our meal with some chocolate dipped strawberries and sparkling cider.

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What would winter be without snowmobiling (quieter?). This year we headed out toward Heber to a little place called The Aspen Moose (it’s located in a  gated community called Timber Lakes). Overall it’s a nice place to stay for a few days, but the Daniel’s Summit lodge is much nicer. Snowmobiling trails are comparable although I liked the Timber Lakes trails a bit more as it was easier to ride through trees and the landscape was more varied. 

Hughes Family: January 2015

January was a blur. There’s no other way to describe it. I feel like we did a ton of stuff, but the photographic evidence doesn’t seem to support the claim. Maybe the best thing to do is just pretend it was a relaxing month. January was like a slow motion massage.

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What better way to start off the 2015 than with a little skiing? Fran, Catherine, Randall and the kids (most of them) hit Sundance for a day of snow and fun. One of these days I’m going to go skiing again. Green diamonds all the way.

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The beginning of the year is the perfect time to make poorly thought out resolutions. “Be healthy” Vague and yet impossibly difficult. Lots of veggies and lean meats? Check. Good thing these kind of resolutions only last a couple of weeks!

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Gabe is playing basketball again! We put in a quarter court (is that a thing?) in our side yard and he and Mike play all the time. I actually played a quick game against both of them. I am really out of shape, but I crushed them. Keep practicing kids!

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Per French tradition Francoise made “la galette des rois” (the cake of the kings). In addition to being delicious there is a hidden treasure in the cake. Whoever finds it while eating is the king! This year I was the lucky guy so I got to wear this sweet crown.

 

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How is this even possible? I swept up an amazing pile of trash. And then a few days later I swept up another pile. Our kids just seem to dump trash and food on the floor wherever they go. This isn’t “haha” funny to me either.  I feel like it denotes a serious lack of respect and consideration. What can I do? I know… just keep sweeping.

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Even taking into account their messes I feel like I have wonderful kids. I spent some time with Gabe playing on the SNES and working on a few projects- he’s quite the little builder. Chloe is enrolled in dance class and loves it. Claire is turning into quite the little chef and can make cookies completely on her own. Mike is an adept strategist and it’s fun to play games like Pandemic with him. Yes, the rewards of parenthood often outstrip the costs.

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We’re working on landscaping! The HOA here in Ivory Ridge has been fantastic. They have completely ignored everything we have asked and our repeated submissions. I don’t understand why the HOA hasn’t been turned over to the community or why no one who actually lives in Ivory Ridge is part of any decision making process. We are just plunging ahead. I don’t see why they wouldn’t approve our beautification efforts but nothing surprises me anymore.

As I said, the visual documentation of what I experienced in January is lacking. Perhaps that’s due in part to being gone for a few days at the SHOT show. Perhaps I need to take more pictures. Or perhaps my brain just makes stuff up to hurt me.

 

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…