Happy Halloween from the Ipes!

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Our copy of Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Deluxe Limited Edition) has arrived and it is cool

This deluxe limited edition is beautiful. I don’t care too much for the little Funko figures, but the kids want them. The rest of it is all just so pretty. I love the artwork. Yes, part of the box got damaged in shipping (and plenty of folks are complaining), but I can deal with it.

This edition includes:

  • New remasters of all episodes in the series
  • Remastered versions of the full-length films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Mr. Freeze: SubZero.
  • The box set also includes audio commentaries by cast and crew on 11 select episodes, and a series of featurettes (find the full list below) led by a 60-minute making-of documentary titled The Heart of Batman
  • Seven lenticular art cards, a deluxe art book featuring art from the series
  • Three Funko mini-figures of Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn

I love the artwork. It seems a little tough to pull each disc out of the book, but I plan to rip each one and add to our Plex media library anyway. The discs are going to stay in the book long term.

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Our daughter Lily tested and achieved her 1st Dan black belt in Tae Kenpo last Sunday

Since reaching senior brown belt last year, both Joshua and Lily had been practicing for about a year on making it to black belt. Last June, with lots of practice in his regular forms, self-defense forms, and jo weapons forms, he passed and achieved his 1st Dan black belt in Tae Kenpo.  Lily needed more time, so we tentatively planned for a few months of additional practice so she could solidify her forms and her speech over the summer. Hmmm, in hindsight, her practicing over the summer wasn’t as effective as we had hoped. It was now October, and while her speech was a little shaky but okay, she was stil having difficulty remembering all of her forms.  After speaking with her sensei Master Brook, we made a plan to make the last week of October a concentrated week focused on karate. Happily, Lily was willing and motivated to make the time commitment. For the entire week, we would drop off Lily around 6 PM, and she stayed for 2-3 classes every night working on forms. On some nights, she took a snack with her as well. Josh also helped out by working with Lily on her forms and techniques.  We have great news to share – it worked! On Sunday morning, Lily tested and achieved her 1st Dan black belt in Tae Kenpo. She’s very proud, and it was a great team effort by everyone. To celebrate, we went out for dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant in Plainsboro.
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I have no money — all of my money is tied up in fancy garage doors

I think it was July or August when our main garage door broke. Specifically, one of the torsion springs snapped, and we’ve been unable to open the door ever since. I had a company come out to look at it We took a recommendation from a neighbor friend and called Precision Garage Doors. According to them, installing new springs would not be cheap, but our rollers were also original builder grade and should also be replaced. And we were somehow looking at almost $800. I pointed out that the previous owners had also left us a dented garage door. If I replaced the doors in the future, could we keep the rollers and springs? No? Argh. Well, we didn’t have time or money in August to deal with it. We had the big London trip coming up to pay for. Once we got back, we lived another month or so with the broken door. We spent time thinking about it, and decided that we should upgrade both doors, both garage door openers, and the rest of the setup. I never got a clear answer if we had to replace everything,  but I didn’t want to install temporary solutions that we could not build off of. We also had an opportunity to replace both openers with quieter belt-driven systems.  For the smaller single garage door, we opted for a lower end model that didn’t have all the whizz-bang features. We didn’t need that for a garage we only open occasionally.  So here we are in October with brand new garage doors and openers. We have brand new hardware for both sides, new LiftMaster garage door openers using belts (instead of noisy chains), and we splurged on windows and decorative hardware. My favorite features so far are that the doors now open when we push the button. A nice side benefit is that I also like how the sunlight streams through the windows and brightens up the garage in the morning. It isn’t important, but it’s a nice plus.
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The Ipes have assembled Lego Volton and we are ready to defend the universe

It took us a little longer to get it done than I expected, but I’m happy to announce that we assembled Voltron!

Seriously it took us two months on and off to finish building each of the five lions, with the large black lion completed at the end.  We finished the Saturn V in only a few days. Of course, we were on vacation at home for the Christmas holiday season end of last year. This time, we had camp, the London trip, the new school year, and work stuff keeping us all busy.  I don’t remember when we started, but 2,321 pieces later, we are done.

We ordered and received the box back in August. The kids put together the red and green lions first, as they are the smallest and easiest. They worked on the blue and yellow lions next. The yellow lion is unfortunately missing two small pieces under the chin, but Voltron still stands pretty well without them. I’ll have to order replacements for the purposes of completeness. The black lion took a few days on and off because it is seriously large. 

At 2,321 pieces, this was our largest and most complex set kit so far, but we got it done in order to save the universe. It’s currently on display in the Lounge, so feel free to come by and check it out next time you are around. And if you want some time to play with Voltron, we can also arrange that.

We’ve already started researching our next Lego challenge. Suggestions are welcome.

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I thought A Star is Born (2018) was an interesting film

I don’t usually get excited for film musicals. I can easily enjoy a live musical playing out on stage, but the on-screen versions often bore me. Notable exceptions to that rule include Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and a select few old films from the Disney library. Maybe it’s because I grew up on watching some of them on the Disney Channel.

I started seeing trailers for the latest remake of A Star is Born, featuring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and I dunno, it looked good. I mean, really good. This was surprising both to me and my wife. My wife especially thought I was joking around. I’m all in for quality films. 

A bunch of folks got together for dinner at a local Italian restaurant for dinner, then went to go see the film nearby. 

The film is the latest iteration or remake, where prior films have starred Barbra Streisand &Kris Kristofferson, Judy Garland & James Mason. I am very impressed with Bradley Cooper – the guy  stars as Jackson Maine in the film, directed this film, and learned to sing and play guitar. Lady Gaga as an actress was also very good. Very talented woman.

Something else I liked about the film and the story without going into too much spoilers detail. The film doesn’t pull any punches. I felt it was authentic. It’s probably the best film I’ve seen all year.

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We went to Helium Comedy Club and saw Adam Ferrara perform

Two years ago, my sister & BIL bought us a gift certificate to the Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, PA. Really nice of them. Unfortunately, you know how it is, you can be so busy that you don’t have time to actually use those gift certificates and gift cards. Maybe you do, but we have a stash of them.

We recently sifted through the drawer, and found out the comedy club gift certificate was going to expire end of September. Yikes! We checked the calendar, and found a show that seemed interesting — comedian Adam Ferrara was performing the last weekend in September. We made plans to go out for dinner in Philladelphia, then see his 9 PM show.

We did try to get into our preferred restaurant, but there was a 90 min wait to sit at the bar and eat. To sit at the bar….. and eat. Are you kidding me? We ended up walking down the street to college pub that was decent but really loud. Damn kids. 😉

We killed some time, then went to the show. First time at Helium, and I have to say it was pretty nice. Very spacious, good seating. And good drinks.

Both the guy warming up the crowd and Adam Ferrara were very funny. I feel bad not remembering the first guy. 🙁  

Adam Ferrara was really good. Why haven’t I heard of this guy before? Apparently he’s an actor and comedian, and played various characters on Rescue Me, Nurse Jackie, and The Job. Hmmm. Anyway, like I said, he was very good. If he’s playing in your town, you should go see him. And he was nice enough to let us get a picture with him. I’m still a little miffed that we never got a picture with Roy Woods Jr. last May at Stress Factory.

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My cousin Tessin’s wedding

My 2nd cousin Tessin got married in mid-September. We had to run the usual errands that Saturday morning, including getting haircuts for the kids. We got it all done, but left later than planned. We got to the church in Ridgewood NJ and the wedding service was probably halfway over. Yikes. We sat up in the balcony for the remainder of the service.

After some family photos, we all piled into our various cars to drive to the wedding reception at the Mahwah Sheraton. We had two hours for cocktails so we got some coffee at the attached Starbucks, ate and drank, and made plenty of small talk with people. We also spent a lot of Tim catching up with my sister and her husband about their recent trip to Ireland for a family wedding.

The rest of the reception went as expected. Plenty of long speeches, dancing, waiting on line for watered down drinks. Recently, I was thinking to myself that we’re probably in the desert between weddings. Most of our friends and family have married, and we’re now in a long lull before people’s kids start getting married and we’re the uncles and aunties. Blech.

Then again, after this wedding, I remembered how involved a wedding can be. I think I’ll be okay for a while. 😉

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Newest additions to our 1st floor powder room – window shade and floating shelf

Last week after getting home from London, I finally got around to installing the new window shade (no cord) and a floating wall shelf.

The wall shelf was surprisingly easy to install. The shade took a lot of measuring and double checking and triple checking and leveling. In the end, it’s still not perfect to me because I hit metal while predrilling the last of eight holes in the window for the brackets. The shade is slightly off on one side but it’s barely noticeable. 

I may leave it alone until it bothers me in the middle of the night 11 years from now.

All that’s left is to change out the sink faucet, decorate the room with some pictures and art. We still want to change out the sink, toilet, and probably the floor too, but I think we can hold off for a while.

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Goodbye old laser and inkjet printers. Hello big honking new color laser printer.

I’ve been complaining about our printers for a while now. We all  have been complaining about our printers. They’re old. They’re wonky. They don’t respond when you send print requests. They weren’t good relationships for us. 

We bought the black & white HP LaserJet 1300n in 2003 to print engagement party invitations, and yes it is really 15 years old. I bought this HP Deskjet 3052 color in 2012 for Joshua’s 7th birthday party, making this inkjet over six years old. 

Girl, you need to leave this broke-ass printers and find a new man. I mean, printers. Man-printers. I think I lost the joke somewhere. 

We really wanted a good multifunction device (MFD.) Copier, laser printer, scanner, and it would be nice if we could print in color too. I thought a small-to-medium size office type machine would work for us, but there’s a sliding scale in terms of quality for scanning and printing, and initial purchase price increases too. You gotta set a budget and be happy with any MFD at that price range, because you can always get something better if you keep spending more and more. We figured a budget around $500-$600 made sense if we were combining devices, but operating costs had to be reasonable.

In the end, after months of research until we got fed up with current printer wonkiness, we pulled the trigger on the device that was the front runner all that time. The HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw. Yes, drink in all that sexiness.

It checks all the boxes for us, and the photo scanning and printing quality seem to meet our needs. We can even print from mobile devices too. I set it up over Friday night for all of our devices and we will continue to evaluate it.

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