Josh’s 7th Grade Concert

I was running a little late, but I rushed out of work on a Wednesday evening and drove straight to the middle school to hear Josh and the 7th grade band play. It’s a large band, and there’s not a lot to photograph from our vantage point, but here’s a photo of Josh and his friend Kaiya.

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Our new Klipsch Reference R-26F speakers have arrived

After waiting an interminable… 10 days (that doesn’t sound that bad), the new front speakers arrived. Wow they’re big.

I unpacked them Tuesday evening, connected all of the wiring (including using banana plugs for the first time), and hooked them up. Wow they’re loud. Even without the center channel, watching (and listening) is a marked improvement. I’m glad we didn’t settle for a soundbar.

I also configured Spotify on it, and I like it. You control it through your smartphone app. If you have the tv on, the artist, album, and song title are apparently displayed. Now I have to wonder if we want to keep the Sonos Play:5 downstairs between the kitchen and family room, or move it elsewhere like the master bedroom. We no longer connect the Echo Dot to the Play:5 via AUX port anymore. Hmmm.

Here are the specs from the website:

  • Fills small to medium rooms with powerful, lifelike performances
  • Dynamic 1″ aluminum Linear Travel Suspension horn-loaded tweeter
  • Dual 6.5″ copper-spun high-output IMG woofers
  • Dimensions: 39″ H x 7.8″ W x 13.5″ D
  • Brushed black polymer veneer cabinet

Once the center channel arrives, and I hook it up too, I’ll need to properly tune them all. Still pretty exciting.

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Making our own Christmas card

In preparation for sending out our annual Christmas card, we usually go to JC Penney or other outside studio to take our photo. I swear to you, no matter what, we’re still reliant on bringing the photos back, and me fixing them further in Photoshop. All of this after spending all that money for a studio portrait.

This year, in the interest of time and money, we decided to bring the studio in-house and do it on our own. It’s definitely harder without someone standing behind the camera, but I think we did a nice job. Besides the final product, I thought I would also share a bunch of test photos, because they’re also interesting.

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An impromptu Wednesday night on Broadway to see Dear Evan Hansen

Although the Ipes maintain a well-curated family calendar, we do appreciate a little spontaneity now and then. Late Wednesday afternoon, Namita found two orchestra seats for the 8 pm performance of Dear Evan Hansen over at the Music Box Theateron 45th. Nums was willing to get the kids situated, grab a 6 pm local train to Midtown. Would I be interested?

An impromptu Wednesday night to see a Broadway show with my honey bunny? Hells yeah!

We barely made it on time because her train was late getting in, we had trouble finding each other at NY Penn, and our short cab ride up 8 blocks of 8th Ave rush hour traffic took forever. But we made it!

The show was very good, but it went long. By the time we finished, we had 15 minutes to cab it back to NY Penn and catch our next train back. Made that too. Now, since I hadn’t eaten yet, I was happy to eat leftovers close to 1 am when we got home.

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Our new Sony A/V receiver and Klipsch subwoofer arrived this week

I have some major/minor updates to share. I picked up the new Sony A/V receiver from Best Buy last Sunday. Although I have unpacked it, there was not much to do except stare at it, and plug it into the network jack. No speakers yet!

I’m glad it fit in the cabinet because it’s big and tall. It does radiate some heat, so I removed a shelf to hopefully improve air flow.

Tuesday night, I was disappointed to learn the subwoofer arrived…. and only the subwoofer. It seems Klipsch decided to separate each of the three items onto different UPS tracking numbers, and neglected to mention it. I rush home to find one subwoofer. I actually walked outside again to double check. Packing slip said one item. One subwoofer and nothing to do with it.

I called customer support the next morning, and yup, multiple packages, and they didn’t mention that. Grumble. Any idea when they would ship? Nope. Next day Klipsch updated tracking info with the two additional UPS tracking numbers. Estimated delivery – a week later on Dec 6th. Seriously?

I called customer support again and they cited getting slammed by Black Friday orders. And the speakers were coming via truck from Nevada. Double grumble. I don’t know if I like Klipsch quality, but I definitely don’t like their logistics and operations.

Remember I ordered a new center channel speaker? It’s been stuck in “Shipping Soon” status for days. No idea why.

Triple grumble. Don’t do this to me, Klipsch.

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Attending the ISACA NJ Recognition Dinner and Ceremony

It’s been a year since I earned my CRISC designation, but somehow I missed the original cutoff for the ISACA NJ chapter’s recognition ceremony. Really? I never even considered they might have something. Anyway they invited me and others to attend a chapter meeting up at the Renaissance Woodbridge (NJ) hotel for 30 mins of networking, the chapter meeting, dinner, 2 CPE credits for listening to a speaker, and recognition at a ceremony. I could even bring a guest.

On Tues Nov 28th, I drove up to Woodbridge after work. Namita had originally planned to come with, but we couldn’t find a sitter for the kids. Also, I figured it was okay for her to miss it, because she might be bored at an IT auditor function. I was running late, but somehow made it in time for dinner, and the speaker and the ceremony. I only missed the networking portion, and that was fine by me.

In hindsight, I’m glad Namita didn’t come along, because the only spouse i saw there in attendance looked very bored. At the ceremony, we got called up individually, and got a mug, an ISACA-branded bag, and a little desk decoration (see below.)

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We bought new Klipsch reference speakers and a Sony A/V receiver

Up through the end of 2014, we have only ever had one TV. I mean, really, we had a small townhouse. In the new house, we found a need for another flat panel. We bought a budget Vizio TV for the Family Room in late 2014, which was good for the price. We also bought a new Tivo unit and a stand. It was all good, except for the terrible audio quality. We dealt with it because buying a new audio system was cost-prohibitive.

It’s been three years, and I have bided my time patiently. It’s time to upgrade!

First, I selected a new A/V receiver. It wasn’t a hard choice (unlike selecting a microwave) because I knew what we needed in terms of features – a friendly interface, support for two zones (for the backyard patio speakers), and some music service connectivity. I’ve had my eye on the Sony STR DN series for a few years, and the 1080 version was still well regarded. Sold!

I do love our Sonos speakers, and seriously considered the Playbar or Playbase. I could have combined receiver and front and center channel speakers for $700. However, there was one deal breaker – no support for HDMI. Can you believe that? All audio is through an optical cable, which doesn’t support DTS or advanced Dolby Surround sound. Also, many people have complained that their televisions would downgrade the sound to stereo when using either product. Not worth it to me.

Secondly, we needed speakers, and this was the harder choice. It was important to balance price and quality. In the mix of candidates included products from Klipsch, Elac, and Emotiva. Gauging the size of our family room, I could probably gave gotten away with large bookshelf speakers, but I was certain the cats would attempt to leap into them, and cause them to come crashing down…. often.

Our cats are annoying.

So, freestanding speakers for me!

Looking around for sales before Black Friday, I learned that Klipsch was running a sale on their website. Best Buy was also running a sale, but not the same products I was looking for. Half price if you buy their Reference R-26F floorstanding speakers and their R-10SW 300 watt subwoofer. I need a subwoofer anyway, so that was a big plus. Also, half off?

Alternatively, Best Buy was running a fantastic deal on the Klipsch R-28F speakers at a higher price point. Torn and slightly paralyzed by the thought of buying underpowered speakers vs paying extra for overpowered speakers, I scoured the forums for advice. Lost and bewildered, I finally called Klipsch customer service and asked their sales dept for advice. Based on the room dimensions and requirements I outlined, the rep recommended the cheaper R-26F speakers. The only difference between the 26F and 28F is slightly larger woofers on the 28F. Since I was planning to get a separate subwoofer anyway, the cheaper 26F speakers were more than fine.

What a relief!

After purchasing the R-26F and subwoofer bundle, I signed up for their mailing list, and got a code for 10% off my next purchase. Really? I went back to measure the tv stand, confirmed dimensions, and ordered the R-25C center channel, and saved $25 off the price.

 

Klipsch R-25C Center Channel

Lastly, I ordered 16 AWG speaker wiring, banana plugs, and a subwoofer cable (all Mediabridge) from Amazon.com. Everything should be here in about a week. Pretty exciting.

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An Irish lunch with Doug & Kathy

On the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, we drove up to Ramsey to have lunch with close (and sexy) friends Doug and Kathy. This was our 2nd attempt to eat at Shannon Rose, an Irish restaurant that’s pretty well known.

Although the food was so-so, the company was excellent. Whenever we hang out, the time goes way too fast.

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Hanging out at Shady Brook Farm

You know, Thanksgiving weekend this year has been pretty busy for us.

Saturday night after seeing Coco and running errands, we met up with a few neighborhood families to check out Shady Brook Farm in nearby Yardley, PA. It’s a quick 30 minute drive across the border. They offer ice cream and hot cocoa (for purchase), a Santa, s’mores kits (also for purchase), fire pits. They also have a Christmas or holiday light show that you drive through ($30 per vehicle.)

Afterwards we went to dinner at JB Dawson’s nearby in Langhorne. They were very accommodating for a group of 17 spread across three tables.

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Joel’s review of Coco (2017)

On Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend, we went to see Coco, Pixar’s latest animated film release. The film is unique in terms of theme, cast, and that it started active production in 2011 (Trivia alert!), setting the record for being the Pixar animated film with the longest production schedule. The commercials looked good, and I had heard some of the drama around the making of the film. I also heard that the filmmakers listened to the critics, made changes, and received accolades for not appropriating Mexican culture in an adverse way. I’ll say the end result was worth it. During the film, I wondered if the kids would like the film. As soon as the film ended, Lily loudly declared “Well, we are definitely buying this film.”

Here’s the synopsis from IMDB.com:

Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.

I thought I this film’s plot figured out before I sat down, but I had to say it surprised me. I enjoyed the animation style, the colors, the all Latino cast, and the respect the filmmakers gave to Mexican culture and values.

It’s a great family film, and Lily & I certainly recommend it. However, we don’t recommend the 20 minute travesty “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” which was awful and dumb. I expected another good short film before Coco started, but this Frozen-themed was no short. It was 20 mins of dumb. I heard that it won’t be playing anymore before Coco. That’s a good thing.

Coco (2017)

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