Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

My 41st birthday weekend

The Ipes dine at the *new* Steak N Shake in West Windsor

The Ipes dine at the *new* Steak N Shake in West Windsor

This year I wanted to keep my birthday pretty low-key. No big parties. No dressing up.  No big fancy dinners. No polite debating whether the 40-year-olds should go to a club, and see who drops out before we get to the sidewalk.

During the day, I was running around during errands, but the four Ipes met up for lunch — specifically, burgers, fries, and milkshakes — at the new Steak N Shake that somewhat recently opened up in West Windsor. Yes, you heard me. A Steak N Shake located above the Mason-Dixon Line. I can’t believe it, and they have the hats!

In the evening, the brave / fun people met up at Air Trampoline Sports on Rt 35 in Cliffwood NJ. We were going to dress comfortably, and act like kids again. For an hour, we jumped on trampolines, played dodgeball, and jousted like American Gladiators.

20170422_183752.mp4 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

While they also had a rock wall available, I decided to try to conquer this thing called the Walking Sticks, where you climb successfully higher on these wobbly podiums. It gets high, and you can easily lose your balance. You know what, I’m 41 years old. At this point in my life, the only thing I have to be afraid of in life is quitting. And I ain’t no quitter. Never have been. Never will.

Joel Conquers the Walking Sticks from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

After we all got hot and sweaty, we met up with our friends Lenny and Evanessa at Big Ed’s BBQ in nearby Old Bridge for endless all-you-can-eat ribs. My God, there was a lot of food.

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the Josephs

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the Josephs

On Sunday, I went to the gym, we all went to church, and had lunch at home. After lunch, we drove down to my south Jersey to watch my niece Abigail play soccer, then we hung out at the playground, and around my sister’s house. We later had dinner, had some birthday cake, then got on the road home.

Oh, in case you were wondering about birthday gifts…

  • a couple Amazon gift cards (always appreciated)
  • a new Polar H10 heart rate monitor for when I go cycling or working out while traveling
  • a new lens hood for my Nikor 55-200 mm lens
  • a replacement copy of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI on blu-ray, since no one knows what happened to my original set

 

This is how you celebrate being 41, people.

Spring time in Zuccotti Park

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Happy Easter!

Spring Break in Baltimore

Joshua's brand new bike for the trip

Joshua’s brand new bike for the trip

The kids had Spring Break for the week of March 9th, as did Namita’s niece Sophia. Namita decided (and I agreed to come along!) to drive down to Baltimore for a few days, stay over a few days, and let the cousins keep each other company. I took off that Monday only, and worked remotely Tuesday and Wednesday. The kids really wanted to go biking with Sophia, and I wanted to go biking there too on my day off. With only a few hours before we would be packing up and leaving, Joshua and I went to our local bike shop to trade in his old bike, and purchase a more grown up one.

We didn’t hit too much traffic on the way down Sunday night. Nothing fancy — we had a home-cooked meal  at their house before bed.

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Meeting friends in front of Rusty Scupper in the Inner Harbor

On Monday, I took the kids out biking in the late morning, and we covered about 5-6 miles riding around the Baltimore suburbs, hanging out in a local park, and grabbing some ice cream. In the later afternoon, I struck out on my own to make my way to the Inner Harbor using Google Maps biking directions. Let me tell, you, those biking directions should definitely be considered beta, because it took me through some awful neighborhoods without bike trails/lanes. Heck, at one point I ran out of road, and was left with a dirt sidewalk. The good news was that I didn’t get jacked. I have to say that I was amazed and appalled by how much abject poverty there is around and within Baltimore.

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Dinner at Roy’s, Inner Harbor, Baltimore

I rode all the way to the Inner Harbor, and met up with our neighbors Brian & Teo (and some of their kids) who were also vacationing in Baltimore that week. On the way back, I found the Jones Falls Trail, and took that as far as I could up through Druid Hill Park, before reverting back to dangerous streets. Overall, I rode about 24 miles that day. When I got back, I quickly showered, and the five of us went back down to the harbor area for dinner at Roy’s. After dinner, we walked around and all the way to Fells Point to meet up with Teo and Brian (and their respective families) to say hello.

Tuesday and Wednesday was about me working remotely while everyone else had fun. Namita took the kids out Tuesday for lunch, a bookstore, trying to see a movie, etc. I found an Orangetheory Fitness gym in Hunt Valley, MD, and took an hour class there after work. After dinner, we played Telestrations for the first time, which was fun.

Wednesday at the end of the day, I took the kids biking one last time, and we did some more exploration of the surrounding areas. In the evening, we loaded up the car, drove for a while, and grabbed dinner at a Waffle House somewhere along the way.

I wish I didn’t have to work while traveling. I would have enjoyed hanging out with everyone else, but what can you do sometimes. At least we had the evenings together.

Joel’s review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

I was a little surprised to learn Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation came out two years ago. Wow, really? It’s taken me two years to get around to watch this movie? Color me surprisingly busy to think about stuff like this for a while, all of a sudden remember that I wanted to do something, then act surprised that it happened.

In case you were curious….

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Instead of Ethan Hunt being the only person disavowed and having to run around looking for a mysterious arms dealer, the entire team has been disavowed. Which I think happened at least twice with this series. Look, I gotta tell you — after all these years, these films are frankly getting a little repetitive. Ethan Hunt and/or the entire team is on the run after being betrayed, and the villain is an nefarious arms dealer.

The plot is okay. The action is okay. The acting is the usual. I don’t know, folks. It wasn’t the most exciting story, and it was really similar to the previous films. No big deal.

Movie_Mission_Impossible_Rogue_Nation (2015)

Joshua’s 3rd bicycle

Last year, I noticed that Josh’s 2nd bicycle (last purchased back in April 2013) was looking long in the tooth for him. We bought it when he was only eight years old, and now it looked way too small on him. We waited until this Spring season to see how tall he was, and to ensure we bought a good sized bike for him.

He did initially select a simple black cruiser model that was a little plain Jane, but we ended up finding a more interesting looking Schwinn Frontier 26-inch mountain bike for him instead. It’s got a durable steel frame, a suspension fork up in the front, dual handbrakes, a triple crank, and 7 gears in the rear. Yup, he’s gonna learn how to adjust his gears now, right around the same time I myself learned back on my old 10-speed bike.

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2017 CMB Karate Demo Team performance at the Wells Fargo Center (2nd time!)

Last April, the kids performed with the rest of the CMB Karate demo team at the Wells Fargo Center. Last year, it was on the concourse next to a Kia Optima on display. Nice, but it obviously would have been cooler to perform on the hardwood in the actual arena.

This year, they did! You’ll find Joshua on the far right, and Lily in the middle.

CMB Karate Demo Team “Space Jam” performance at the Wells Fargo Center – 04-08-2017 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

**UPDATE** The Sixers organization recently published a much better (and closer!) video of the demo team performance. Check it out!

My sister was able to take some photos as well.

Joel’s review of La La Land (2016)

Namita and I attempted to see La La Land a month or two ago, but the kids were extra special ridiculous that afternoon so we had to cancel movie nights for everyone. “No movies for anybody!”

It took a few weeks later for us to forgive them, and we still wanted to La La Land, a 2016 musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. We found a day, theater, and a window of time where La La Land and the Lego Batman movie we’re playing around the same time. Game on!

The film is about an aspiring actress and a somewhat down-on-his-luck jazz musician who meet up via serendipity in Los Angeles, try not to fall in love (but do), and try to get their careers going and make their individual dreams come true. 

I know it win a number of industry awards, and was even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Award. I gotta say it was interesting, but I didn’t think it was anywhere close to being Best Picture worthy. The story also suffers from a number of plot holes which are necessary for the predictable story beats to occur. I don’t think the film is supposed to be all that realistic anyway. It’s a vehicle to tell a particular story featuring its cast, and to have its song and dance numbers.
Visually appealing (and the music is decent), but the story is meh.

La La Land (2016)

Saturday Date Night at Midori Japanese Restaurant in Princeton

After a long day of shuttling the kids around to their various events around NJ, Namita and I enjoyed a little romantic time for ourselves that night. As a gift from my sister Julie and her husband Robbie, we got treated to a dinner for two at Midori Japanese Restaurant in Princeton (though I think it’s really Skillman, NJ.) The restaurant is a little far from us, and it’s BYOB, but the food was absolutely excellent.

Afterwards, we walked over to YoFresh Juices & Smoothie Bar, Frozen Yogurt & Bubble Tea Cafe. It’s been a while since I’ve had frozen yogurt, and it certainly hit the spot.

Have you ever had a vacuum cleaner emergency, and had to run out to buy an emergency vacuum cleaner? Just me?

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Dyson Big Ball Animal+Allergy

Have you ever had a vacuum emergency, and had to run out to buy an emergency vacuum cleaner? Because I did one fine Wednesday night. Our amazing handy dandy Electrolux Precision Brushroll vacuum cleaner, purchased less than three years ago, was having issues. The power button was either always stuck in the ON or OFF position. I’ve been fiddling with it, took it somewhat apart, and fixed it temporarily. Now, it was acting up again, and the woman who cleans our house now was really struggling with it.

Now it’s Wednesday, the vacuum cleaner is still misbehaving, and won’t turn on unless you crouch down and hold it in the ON position. After work, I rushed home, and then ran out to our nearby Lowe’s to buy a Dyson Big Ball Animal+Allergy vacuum cleaner before the store closed. We had a Dyson in the past, and it was pretty good, and lasted about eight years.  This one has about 47 different attachments, and 512 mini cyclones, each one dangerously close to escaping and terrorizing the world.

So far, it’s been pretty good. I don’t quite know what happened with the Electrolux. It’s an interesting vacuum cleaner with a cool brushroll cleaner (that easily cleaned the brushroll of hair), but I didn’t think the overall unit was durable. I had two attachment things that hold the actual two attachments on the vacuum break on me. Also, the cord was rather short.

The Dyson seems pretty good so far. And that’s all I’m really gonna expound about regarding a vacuum cleaner.

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