I’m liking my new Polar A370 – it’s useful and helping me to reach my goals

My wife was kind and thoughtful enough to give me an activity tracker for Father’s Day. Truth be told, I’ve been looking into the benefits of finally purchasing one. It’s taken a long time for me to come around, but I’m enjoying the benefits after only a few days.

In the past two months, I’ve been feeling frustrated with myself healthwise. Here I have been biking on the weekends and running at the gym, and my weight has been consistent. No pounds melting off. Still big-boned. I didn’t want to go back to tracking all of my caloric intake and exercise, because it’s a bit of a pain day in and day out, but I don’t have a choice anymore. I’m eating more than I think, and it’s undoing all of the miles I’m running and riding.

I also believe I need to eat healthier. My doctor has been gently encouraging me annually to work on eating healthier. In the past when I tracked calories, I worried only about the quantity of calories, and not the quality of the food. I didn’t try to eat nuts, vegetables, or fruits. I didn’t care too much about the nutritional value of what I was eating. Cholesterol levels or the kinds of fats I was eating weren’t things I worried about.

Blame on the ignorance of the young.

I’m not going vegan or going extreme. I want to be healthier following a more holistic process. More activity of varied types this year. More time dedicated to working out. Better quality food. More variety of foods – not just red meat.

For tracking my activity, I’ve been considering an activity tracker. I’ve been asking around for what people are using. What they like and what they don’t like. I preferred something that worked with my existing Polar H10 so I could see all my data in one place. I like accuracy. I wanted mult-use. I wanted a screen that gave me good information.

For Father’s Day, my wife gave me the Polar A370 tracker. It doesn’t just track my step count or tracks my heart rate. It integrates and pairs with my Polar H10 so whether I’m running, biking, or doing other stuff, I’ve got all of my activities recorded with some confidence in the accuracy of the metrics. The data gets consolidated in the Polar Flow app. Any exercise I record also gets pulled into the My Fitness Pal app where I am tracking my food intake.

It’s taking some adjustment to wearing a watch of sorts on my wrist again after all these years. I like leaving my phone in the gym locker now, pairing my heart rate monitor (on a chest strap) to the A370 and still tracking my exercise routine. That’s pretty cool. I wish it had built-in GPS, as the connected GPS where you use your phone is a little spotty. Also, I can’t simultaneously connect to my phone for GPS and connect to my Polar H10 strap. It’s one or the other when I’m biking.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day! It was a busy weekend to be sure. I was home Friday (sick/working) but after I wrapped up my last call around 5:15 PM, I went out for a solo bike ride. I was tired after a long week, but somehow rode 26 miles around the area. Unexpected but happy to accomplish that.

We spent Saturday cleaning out the garage and bringing out all our backyard patio furniture. We also purchased and set up a proper badminton / volleyball net.

I was up super early on Sunday morning for a 20 mile group bike ride with some guys in the neighborhood at 7 AM. I’ve ridden 46 miles in the past 48 hours. Good for me.

I got home around 9, then cleaned myself up. Before church, the kids made me a thoughtful card, and Nums gave me a Polar A370 activity tracker. I’ve been considering using an activity tracker for a while, but I was still working out the use cases.

(Btw, I’m wearing Lily’s fedora that she wore at Kaiya’s Bat Mitzvah last month.)

We went to church in the morning for the service and a “Dads and Grads” lunch. We went to Bonefish Grill in Lawrenceville for a Father’s Day family lunch. Nice lunch. Sitting across from my wife, I noticed that she is rather beautiful. 

In the afternoon, we did some shopping at Trader Joe’s and Lowe’s. We played badminton with our new set, and I potentially fixed some loose stone stairs in our patio (fingers crossed!) Later in the early evening, the kids went biking with their friends, and the two of us went for a walk around the neighborhood. 

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We saw Ocean’s 8 – good characters, not so interesting plot 

Nums and I went to see Ocean’s 8 earlier this month on a Friday night.

The film is a spin-off from Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy and features an ensemble cast, including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina. Produced by Steven Soderbergh and Susan Ekins. 

The film revolves around Debbie Ocean, the younger sister of the late Danny Ocean. She is paroled from prison, and hunts down her former partner-in-crime Lou to convince her to join her heist that she planned while serving her sentence. The job? She plans to steal the Toussaint, a $150 million Cartier necklace, from the Met Gala in five weeks, and use Met Gala co-host Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), a snobby actress, as an unwitting accomplice who will wear the necklace into the gala so they can steal it. 

Debbie and Lou assemble an interesting cast of characters to perform the job – someone who can get materials, a jeweler, a pick pocket, etc. While the plot is somewhat derivative of the prior Ocean heist films, the best part is having all of these actresses on screen. It’s definitely female-focused, which is unique and interesting. I wish the plot was more interesting. 

Ocean's 8 (2018)

Ocean’s 8 (2018)

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I attended the 3rd Annual Vendor and Third Party conference in Midtown for two days and learned a lot

Earlier this month, I attended the 3rd Annual Vendor and Third Party USA Conference with a few of my colleagues. I don’t usually attend industry conferences so this was a treat. I earned 15 continuing professional education credits that I need in order to maintain my certifications. It was also a good opportunity to learn from other 2nd line risk management colleagues in the region are doing to manage vendor / outsourcing risks. 

The conference was held at the Crowne Plaza hotel just north of Times Square over two days. I took the train into NY Penn both days, then the #1 subway train to 50th St, and walked two blocks. Not a bad commute. The conference fees included a hot breakfast, lunch, and snacks. They even had a social / networking event at the end of the first day so attendees could mingle and connect and speak to some vendors as well.

Bonus – at the end of the 2nd day, I had drinks and dinner with some friends at Capital Grille downtown. Pretty good two days.

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Memorial Day Weekend 2018

The Ipes spent a pretty enjoyable Memorial Day weekend relaxing and doing all sorts of things. The kids weren’t marching in the town parade this year, so we even got to sleep in on Monday!

On Friday night, we had planned to make s’mores but we didn’t have enough firewood. We ended up watching television together. 

On Saturday, we attended Kaiya’s Bat Mitzvah, where we had a fun time. You can read more about it here. After we came home, I went to the gym so I could work off some of the food at the Bat Mitzvah! 

Sunday? I think we went to church, relaxed in the afternoon, then Nums and I went to a neighbor’s house in the evening (sans kids) for a 40th birthday party. 

Monday was relaxing, some cleaning, and we went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story. Afterwards, we finally had our s’mores.

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Mazel Tov, Kaiya! It’s a Bat Mitzvah!

Joshua’s long time friend (since they were two years old) Kaiya celebrated her bat mitzvah over Memorial Day weekend. It’s our first second bat mitzvah ever! I think we’re on a roll here.

We attended the religious service at 10 AM at the Congregation Beth Chaim Synagogue. We carpooled another of Josh’s friends to the synagogue. Kaiya and another girl were both being celebrated that day. Around 12 noon, we drove over our carpool of kids to the Holiday Inn for lunch, dancing, etc. It was a full program. The nicest part of all was when Kaiya invited the four of us up while she lit candles. I forget the name of this particular ceremony, but it was personally heartwarming to be considered part of their extended family.

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We went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story opening weekend. It’s not perfect, but it’s fine. Stop panicking.

We went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story opening weekend back at the end of May. The film’s production had a slightly troubled history. Lucasfilm dismissed original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller due to creative differences (never a good sign) and Ron Howard was brought in to salvage the film. There were also rumors of necessary reshoots after principal photography was done. Still, you try to have a little hope. I’ve stated before that the Star Wars universe is rich with stories – between the Skywalker saga, the books and comics of the old Expanded Universe, the various animated series, plus the computer games. I’m good with bringing many of those stories to the big screen, or new stories from all sorts of characters from the corners of that galaxy. Tell a good story with interesting characters and you’ll do well.

Alden Ehrenreich plays the title character of Han Solo beginning with his early years on Corellia, a brief stint in the Imperial Army, and as a smuggler. The story tells it’s new canon origin story for how Han met Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and fell in love (?) with the Millennium Falcon. People may complain about origin stories or prequels, but I’ve never had a problem with them. Again, if it’s a good story etc, you should enjoy it anyway. The actors playing some of these beloved characters may never look exactly like the original actors, but I think there has to be a reasonable attempt.

The film begins with Han (Ehrenreich) and his friend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) on Corellia. They’re both members of a street gang composed of kids stealing equipment and pick pocketing, but both hoping to escape. Han eventually escapes by joining the Imperial Army, but he eventually meets Chewbacca and they strike out on their own. Along the way, they meet another gang led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who are trying to perform a heist from a speeding train on a mountain top.

Later, we’re introduced to other criminal organizations such as Crimson Dawn. There are no Jedi or Force users. Just regular people trying to hustle any way they can to survive. Sometimes you’re working on your own. Sometimes you’re part of a gang. Always hoping to score credits. The jobs / heists in this film don’t work out so there’s some of your drama and plot twists. 

Speaking to friends who have seen the film, they either liked or hated Ehrenreich as Han Solo. He worked for me personally. Actually, I was pretty happy with the cast in general. I found elements of the story itself a little lacking, but not deal breakers. I think if it had a bit more development time, they could have made a better product.  It’s an okay story supported by a good cast with a lot of charm. I hope they make additional films with these characters, but spend more time on the plot.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

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I watched Deadpool 2 (2018) over the weekend — the sequel is not as good as the 1st film

On Saturday night, I went with two other guys to see Deadpool 2 (2018), the sequel to the R-rated 2016 action comedy superhero film from 20th Century Fox in collaboration with Marvel. My wife and I were supposed to see it with friends, but we had a family emergency to tend to, so she was unfortunately out. 🙁

The first film was a surprising, irreverent film and fun. While it’s always difficult to catch lightning in a bottle twice, you always gotta try. This film was alright though, but I didn’t find it as enjoyable as the first. Mild spoilers ahead.
The plot isn’t about saving the world, or finding a MacGuffin before the bad guys do. Cable (played by Josh Brolin) is portrayed in the commercials as the villain, but he isn’t the villain. To summarize – there’s a kid named Russell with the mutant ability to harness fire (he refers to himself as “Firefist”), and Cable wants to kill him. While Deadpool has been making a living as an assassin for hire for two years since the events of the first film, he is still in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin.) 

Events happen. I won’t get into it. 

For specific reasons later on, Deadpool decides that he is going to save Russell from certain death. At one point, he even assembles his own band of mutants (“X-Force”) to help him save Russell. The film is somewhat different than the Fox Marketing Department has portrayed it as, which is fine of course. The story is small. It’s not about saving the world. Only saving a kid. While the film has its moments, the pacing seemed off. At little moments here and there, I found the jokes to be a little dumb or the story dragging. There’s one scene in particular during the climax that is initially “Whoa!” that then drags on for 10 minutes it feels like. Again, I think it’s pacing.

Overall, I don’t consider it a bad film. But at the same time, I would strangely say it isn’t a film that you have to rush out to see. Want to see it now? Go ahead. Want to wait for the home release? Sure. It’s entertaining but not that entertaining. It’s just fine.

Oh the mid-credit scenes are funny though.

Deadpool 2

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Lily and I went on a field trip to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ

Lily’s 5th grade class went on a field trip to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ. Now, I’ve never been there before, but I know Nums and Josh have gone on a field trip prior. I’ve seen the statures around the Hamilton area. Never had an opportunity to go before, so why not now?

I agreed to be a chaperone a month ago, and I’ve never chaperoned one of the Lily’s field trips before. Pretty sure I’ve been on one of Josh’s though. I took the day off from work, but still had some calls in the morning. I ran out the door after 9 AM to grab some coffee and a bagel, then made my way down to Hamilton. Driving another route through Hamilton, I found so many other statues and other large artwork. I had no idea there was so much other Grounds for Sculpture art all around the area in Hamilton. Pretty neat.

I was one time to the place by 9:45 AM, but the place doesn’t open until 10 AM, the gate was locked, and no one was around. I hung around 15 mins, then the doors opened. I parked and waited another 10 mins for the buses to arrive. I found my group of four kids, got a map, and we wandered the place with an unstructured itinerary We only had to find some time for lunch, and meet back for the bus by 1:45 PM.

We walked the grounds, and I found it to be an interesting place. Lots of cool sculptures. We found a cafe and we ate our bagged lunches. We also found other groups of kids and parents and wandered the place. We had seen everything by 12:30 or so, so we hung out leisurely for a while until it was time to check out the gift shop and then get the kids on the buses.

Good time overall.

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Blondie’s “Dreaming” is one of my favorite 80’s pop songs

When I met you in the restaurant you could tell I was no debutante
You asked me what’s my pleasure, “A movie or a measure”?
I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreamin’
Dreamin’ is free
Dreamin’, dreaming is free

I don’t want to live on charity
Pleasure’s real or is it fantasy?
Reel to reel is living rarity
People stop and stare at me, we just walk on by
We just keep on dreamin’

Beat feet, walking a two-mile
Meet me, meet me at the turnstile
I never met him, I’ll never forget him
Dream dream, even for a little while
Dream dream, filling up an idle hour
Fade away, radiate

I sit by and watch the river flow
I sit by and watch the traffic go
Imagine something of your very own, something you can have and hold
I’d build a road in gold just to have some dreamin’
Dreamin’ is free
Dreamin’, dreamin’ is free

Dreamin’, dreamin’ is free
Dreamin’, dreamin’ is free

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