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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I could feel my brain have convulsions while watching Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

The last film I watched on the plane ride home from London was Pacific Rim: Uprising. Back in 2013, I enjoyed the original film a bunch. The science didn’t entirely make sense, but it was brought up minimally and I did my best to ignore how they could communicate so clearly from the bottom of the ocean, or how people in the “Shatterdome”  could miraculously see events transpire clearly while out of eyesight. 

We had giant robots fighting giant alien monsters. It was me on Saturday afternoons watching Godzilla movies all over again. 

I had planned to watch Pacific Rim: Uprising in the theaters, but I began to hear some rumbling about the quality of the plot. As always, I held off on judging. When the first reviews came out, they weren’t exactly glowing. I finally had the time to sit comfortably and watch the sequel this month, and no, I didn’t like it much all all.

Uprising takes place 10 years after the Battle of the Breach (the climax of the orginal film.) It’s now the year 2035,and there haven’t been any kaiju attacks. The mysterious alien precursors from another dimension (universe?) are still out there, plotting to take over and terraform our planet. You know they will soon send o out more giant monsters to conquer our world. 

Humans are stupid, but were smart enough to continue the Yaeger program. Humanity maintains many bases around the Pacific Rim with new Mark VI Yaegers. Gipsy Danger even has a follow-up model called Gipsy Avenger. In fact, there are many new Yaegers out there. The police have them and use them to apprehend rogue Yaegers being built and used by amateurs. We soon get introduced to a 15 year old girl who build her own working Jaeger. Uh, what? Shes a 15 year old whiz kid who built her own giant robot? We’re officially in fantasy land.

That’s it from me. I’m not describing this film any more. More things happen, they’re all various shades of unbelievable. How about when a rogue full-sized Jaeger shows up and attacks Sydney? They called it Obsidian Fury. Really? You immediately had to give it a “cool name”? Or let the 15 year old teenager with no experience into the Yaeger pilot program?

At many points while watching this film, I thought a teenager wrote it.

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

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I, Tonya

The 2nd film I watched on the flight home was I, Tonya. This is a 2017 film starring Margot Robbie as the titular Tonya Harding. Based on the life of former competitive figure skater Tonya Harding,the film gives viewers a glimpse into Harding’s life leading up to her infamous involvement with the 1994 scandal that left her main competitor Nancy Kerrigan injured.

Craig Gillespie directed this film, which I thought was done very well. The acting in the film is phenomenal. Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney brought these characters to life. Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding in her adult life, and Allison Janney plays her cruel mother LaVona. Sebastian Stan (who has plays Bucky Barnes in the MCU) plays Jeff Gillooly, Tonya’s ex-husband. Special mention goes out to Paul Walter Hauser who played Tonya’s inept and moronic bodyguard. He was great. 

Listen, I’m sure there was some whitewashing of Tonya’s actual story for the purposes of making an entertaining Hollywood underdog story. I’m not saying the real life Tonya was a saint. I did appreciate the viewpoint that this real life person was like many of us. Hard life growing up, struggled through it, attempting to make some measure of success. That’s an interesting story to tell, even if they aren’t perfect. It reminds me that I should think twice before judging someone. The people around us every day, whether it’s our friends, family, or people on the street, are with us in the same struggle. 

A little understanding goes a long way. Except Donald Trump. I’m done with him and his supporters. 
I, Tonya (2018)

I, Tonya (2018)

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I watched A Quiet Place (2018) and it’s an excellent and suspenseful film

On the plane ride coming home from London, I had an opportunity for quality downtime and I watched three recent films – A Quiet Place, I, Tonya, and Pacific Rim: Uprising. Two of these films were good. The Pacific Rim sequel was horribly not.

A Quiet Place is a 2018 film starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, a husband and wife team-up. Krasinski also directed the film. In the near future, somehow blind alien creatures invade the Earth. Although they’re blind, they have excellent hearing and extremely vicious. Much of the human population appears to be gone, with the surviving population hiding in total silence.  Evelyn and Lee Abbott have three kids and they live out on a farm, and occasionally venture into town for medicine and other supplies. Everyone uses ASL sign language to communicate, no doors are opened or closed, everyone is barefoot, and they follow sand-covered walking paths to get around.

Made for only $17 million USD, with a small cast and limited locations, the film deals with the horror of life in this scenario where death is dangerously close, as well as loss. It’s a well-done film and I won’t ruin it with details. It’s not a long film either, so definitely watch it when you can. I’m not generally into suspenseful or scary films, so take that into consideration.

A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place (2018)

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I watched Tomb Raider (2018) and Alicia Vikander is the best part of the film

During our flight to London, I watched Tomb Raider (2018), the latest attempt at bringing Lara Croft to life on the big screen. The film stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft from the new video game series beginning with 2013’s Tomb Raider video game. To give you an idea of how behind I am in my leisure video game playing life, I’m still playing through this 2013 game.

Based on what I know of the game, the film is loosely based on the 2013 game. Loosely. In the film, Lara goes on a mysterious quest to the island of Yamatai for clues about her own father’s secret research into Queen Himiko and her abilities. She charters a ship and captain to where the island of Yamatai may be, gets shipwrecked on the island, but she learns that there are many people on this seemingly deserted island. They’ve all been captured and working as slaves for another mysterious organization called Trinity. Trinity is looking for Yamatai as well, but want to use the secrets of Queen Himiko to use as a biological weapon.

There are a number of secrets, mysteries, etc, but I found that stuff a little ridiculous in the film. I felt the best part of the film was Alicia Vikander as the young Lara, and the action scenes. Otherwise, the plot is a little unbelievable. For example, there’s a villain on the island leading the expedition for Trinity (portrayed by Walter Goggins). He has supposedly been on the island for seven years now, and is not allowed to leave the island (or see his family) until he finds the secret of Himiko. Really? Can’t go home to see his two little girls? That’s not how any of this works.

I don’t understand how writers can come up with this stuff.

Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider (2018)

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New pantry shelves, people. What a time to be alive.

Ever since we had to rebuild our pantry, we’ve been cramped up for space. I don’t know, we never liked the original wire shelving, but the pantry never seemed to have much capacity. Nums finally found some additional shelving. They’re just for cans, but it frees up space for more stuff.

Yes, exciting times around here. 🙂

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Saturday – Packing up, afternoon tea, and going home 

Our truly last day in London. We were busy spending Saturday morning packing our belongings, cleaning the suite, and grabbing last minute souvenir chocolates from the Tesco supermarket next door. We checked out officially, left our suitcases in the hotel lobby bell stand, then took the subway into London proper for our last big thing to do — British afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel.

We had tried to get an authentic afternoon tea that whole week, but times didn’t work out, and it can be very expensive. Saturday was it, but we got lucky and found this fantastic tea at the Ham Yard for a reasonable price. Good tea, good food, nice place. And the kids like tea!

That was it for London. We rushed back to our hotel to change into travel clothes, but our driver was running 30 minutes late. Argh. We hung out for a bit, then finally got loaded up and on the road to Heathrow. No issues with check-in etc, and even got a small snack at the hotel.

The flight home was uneventful, and we watched lots of movies and shows during the six hour journey. I watched three movies – A Quiet Place, I, Tonya, and Pacific Rim: Uprising.

We found a Lyft driver, and made our way home around 11 PM. The cats were happy to see us. It was good to be home.

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Friday – Our last night in London. Sadsies.

It was our last full day in London. No more London Pass, so we had a more relaxed day in mind. We promised the kids they could sleep in a little longer in the morning. We were up and out of the hotel around 11 AM, and we took the subway to Canary Wharf to meet some of my coworkers from the UK office for lunch at Chai Ki. Afterwards, we went back out into the core part of London to sightsee some more, and to check out the Forbidden Planet superstore on Shaftesbury Ave. Pretty interesting, but the comic book superstores in NY are much larger.

We had to get the kids some new nicer clothes for dinner, so we checked out Primark, and got them some new shirts.

It was our big last night in London, so we had dinner at the Darwin Brasserie at the top of the Skygarden. Very good food, and it gave us the opportunity to relax a bit and walk around the floor, taking in the sights. If you can’t get tickets to the floor via the open to the public method, you can make reservations at one of the restaurants up there, and get there that way. This is what Nums did for us the day before.

It was getting late, so we walked around a little bit to soak up a little more London. Our last stop was the famous Harrods store. We only had 20 minutes before they were to close, so we went straight to the food hall and bought some chocolates as souvenirs.

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Thursday – Day 3 of the London Pass and we did everything we could

Thursday morning and our last day on the London Pass for sightseeing. Maximum sightseeing enabled. We were in good spirits, recharged after an early night and jet lag wearing off.

We took the bus out to Notting Hill Gate to catch a Hop On – Hop Off buses to go around town. We eventually got off at Westminster Abbey, and took a self-guided tour of this massive cathedral. It was extremely impressive. We had no idea that British kings and queens of old were buried within the church. We could have spent another hour or more inside, but we had to keep moving. We walked out and got some Sichuan style lunch.

Back on the bus, and toured more of London. We got out again near London Bridge. Nums went to try to get tickets to the Skygarden (open to the public), while I walked the kids across the bridge to visit the HMS Belfast. Fascinating ship.

Around 4 PM, we didn’t have a lot of time left, so we hit up our last location through the London Pass — the Churchill War Rooms. This is a self-guided tour through the basement rooms at Whitehall where Churchill and the British government ran the British front during WW II.

It was early evening, so we made our way to the West End for our last event for the evening. We grabbed dinner at a Five Guys, then walked over to Queen’s Theatre and saw Les Miserables. 2nd row seats, and it was a great show.

While the bars and clubs were packed at 10 PM, we promised the kids to get some dessert at Wafflemeister, then took the bus back home. Nums never had dinner, so she and I walked to the 24 hour Tesco supermarket next door to our hotel, picked up some dinner for her, and we watched some TV. Vegging out isn’t a bad thing.

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