Girl Scouts World Thinking Day – Saturday February 17 2018

Lily’s Girl Scout Troop organized this year’s Girl Scouts World Thinking Day event at a local elementary school on Feb 17th. Each of the participating troops put together a table to educate on another country. They all had food, crafts, and other information. Lily’s troop learned all about India.

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Joel’s review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Date night on Friday night! We had planned to watch I, Tonya starting Margot Robbie at 6:45 pm in Princeton, but by the time we had dropped off all the children, we were too late to make it to the theater in time. Quickly researching alternative options while driving, we decided to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) at Montgomery Cinemas in Skillman, NJ instead.

Made it in plenty of time.

The film stars Frances McDormand (you know, the film Fargo), Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. It was written and directed by Martin McDonagh and takes place in present-day Ebbing, Missouri. McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother. It’s been seven months since the body of her teenage daughter Angela was found. Raped and murdered in a small Missouri town, with no leads and the investigation has gone cold. Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, she rents three abandoned billboards near her home, which read, in sequence, “Raped While Dying“, “And Still No Arrests?“, and “How Come, Chief Willoughby?


The townspeople are pretty upset by these billboards, but Mildred only wants results. The local police are even more upset, especially Officer Jason Dixon (Rockwell), a racist, alcoholic, and lots of anger management issues. The film’s plot turns around as these three key personalities butt heads, the townspeople caught in the middle, and Willoughby’s fatal medical condition.

The film was interesting, because McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell all bring a lot of life to their characters. Mildred herself starts as a sympathetic character, but she turns into a harsh one as the plot progresses. The final stages where Willoughby and Dixon end up by the end of the film are not where you would expect them to be. Not a perfect film, but an interesting one.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

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Joel’s review of The Big Sick (2017)

We watched The Big Sick (2017) starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano through Amazon Prime. I watched the first 20 minutes of it on the plane ride down to Houston in November, but never got around to finishing it. I’m glad, because my wife and I could now watch the entirety together.

It’s an interesting film, and too, it’s loosely auto-biographical — the film is loosely based on the real-life courtship between Nanjiani and Gordon. Kumail Nanjiani is a Pakistan-born comedian and is married to Emily V. Gordon, and they both wrote the screenplay. Kumail plays… Kumail, a Pakistan-born comedian living in Chicago, doing stand-up sets and driving as an Uber driver to make ends meet. His Pakistani parents (wonderfully acted by Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) want him to get married and get a real career at this point. A hilarious running gag through most of the film is Kumail’s mother inviting available women over to meet Kumail. Despite all this, he meets Emily at one of his shows, and they hit it off. They soon have imperfect relationship, but it works for them. Emily gets sick, and Kumail soon meets her parents, played by Hunter and Romano. Soon enough, you’ve got two people trying to figure out their lives, and pushed and pulled between both sets of parents.

The acting by everyone was great. The story in engaging. You get sad when Emily gets sick. The jokes are good. Definite recommendation.

The Big Sick (2017)

The Big Sick (2017)

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Scout Sunday 2018 at St. David’s Episcopal Church

We recently attended church at St. David’s Episcopal Church in nearby Cranbury, as they like to honor local scouts as part of “Scout Sunday.” Our church doesn’t have any scouts, besides Josh and Lily, so we’ve started visiting St. David’s for this. It’s a nice program, lots of folks in attendance, and very nice lunch afterwards in the fellowship hall. We also run into other scout families that we know from Cub and Boy Scouts.

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Lily at the 18th Annual Acolyte Festival of the Diocese of of NJ – Saturday Feb 10 2018

Lily spent a day at the 18th Annual Acolyte Festival of the Diocese of of NJ down in Trenton. She’s only 9 (almost 10), but spent a day with other kids and adults in various workshops. She also had members from our church St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, for company.

Weird to think that a 9 year old attended acolyte workshops on a Saturday in Trenton, but she’s a special kid. She had a good time, too!

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Celebrating my Dad’s 76 birthday and wishing life was a little easier

My Dad turns 76 this week, so the kids and I took my mother and my father out for dinner at Penang in Lawrenceville (Princeton?) They offer both Malaysian and Thai cuisine, and everything was very good.

I have to be honest and say the family dynamic this past year has been… rough. Let’s be honest that no family is perfect, but you try to make it work. In a perfect world, we’d all be happy, we’d see each other all the time, we’d vacation together, etc. It’s more like a sitcom where there are good days and bad days, good months and bad months. Some days you love your parents, and some days they drive you crazy.

What doesn’t change is that you still love them, and you respect them, especially when you don’t agree with them. As my parents have gotten older, I’ve tried to be more understanding of their situation as aging parents. It’s not easy, but I said I try. They aren’t perfect, but neither am I. My sister and I have often struggled to make them happy, even when it was very difficult for them to see the good things in the world.

In life, all you can do is try. Some days it works. Some days it does not. What can you do? Life is complicated.

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Sometimes you’ve had a really long day

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Snowy day

We haven’t experienced much snow this season. One heavy snowfall last month that was a good 5-6 inches. Glad the snow thrower started up.

After a recent snowfall, I went to take out the trash, and I thought the house looked nice in the snow.

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Lily and the Spelling Bee

On January 30th, Lily competed in a district spelling bee organized by the Hightstown Juniorettes, her first ever spelling bee. She spent the past three weeks studying words, and we were helping her practice. The day of the spelling bee, I took her to one of the local elementary schools for the big evening. There were about 16 kids competing, and Lily did pretty well for multiple rounds. Sadly, “speechless” tripped her up and she was out. She did earn some DQ and Southwest Moe’s coupons, and I hope she also learned that she can do well when she puts her mind to it!

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Ha! Swapped out old hard drive for new SANDISK SSD and it’s so much faster

A few weeks ago, we had a random power outage, and it seemed to have corrupted our kitchen PC. Not sure what happened exactly, but the hard drive came down with some serious drive errors. Even with a repair, it was slow and wonky.

Fed up, I rebuilt it with a fresh Windows 10 install, and it was still slow. At one point during boot up, I swear I saw drive consistency error messages. Maybe the drive was irreparably damaged. The kids primarily use it for homework and checking our calendar and tasks, so a non-functioning or slow machine doesn’t work.

I found a SANDISK 240 GB SSD hard drive for about $74 so I ordered it and it arrived late Friday. We don’t store any data locally, so this was an easy migration. I watched a video on how to remove the back off of a Dell Inspiron 24 3000 all-in-one PC, and it took me 20 mins in total from start to finish. Easy peasy.

What took longer was getting the PC to boot from USB. I used it only a few weeks ago, and now it wouldn’t boot. After spending 30 mins, I went back to look at the actual USB flash drive contents, and I was annoyed to find I had the wrong drive. Doh!

I found the right drive, booted up with no issues, and it was smooth sailing. Doctor, the operation was a success.

Now I’m installing software and other updates. Damn, it’s fast. And all this time, I thought the processor sucked. It was just the original clunky Toshiba 5400 RPM drive that came pre-installed.

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