My Ski Buddy

I’ve already become lax in my writing duties, but I promise I’ve been busy and / or lazy since the new year dawned not so long ago.

But not really busy with anything house related, which is sort of the theme of this blog. Maybe that’s what has been keeping me away from the keyboard. That’s a (not so) good excuse at least.

Well, later today my brother and I will work to finish the trim carpentry in the basement, so I will share that with you in a near future entry. Plus I’ve got my latest job to tell you about. Meanwhile, loyal reader, I will share with you this random tidbit that may or may not be of interest.

I Don’t Wanna

Saturday my wife came home from our son’s skating class to inform me that he and one of his best friends made plans to go skiing on Sunday. This would be awesome, if we were actually a skiing family. Which we are not. I was a skier at one time, but fifteen years of marriage, family life, finances, hobbies, work etc. had taken its toll on participating in that sporting endeavor.

I used to ski every weekend from around age six or seven. The last time I skied was probably ten years ago.

The reason my son’s impromptu ski trip is a hassle is because we’d have to rent equipment, buy lift tickets, go out in the cold. I had visions of my son not wanting to go, AFTER I rented / bought everything. Add to all that my selfish reasons to not want to go such as my knee has absolutely been killing me for a month now (there’s something seriously wrong with it), selfish desire to pursue my “to do” list, and lastly going out in the cold.

Sunday morning I worked it out with my anxiety, that we would make a concerted effort to take the high road. While I asked occasionally of my son, whether or not he wanted to still go skiing, I tried not to persuade him either way. I used my hour of church time to look at the positives of the situation and pray to god that I found the strength to be a good dad.

Upon getting home it was basically time to go. We were meeting his friend and his friend’s dad at around noon. I was hoping my son would change his mind. Maybe we wouldn’t find all his ski worthy clothing. Maybe the wife would volunteer to go. Maybe my knee would literally pop out of my leg. Nope. We were going, albeit both son and father were each reluctant to some degree.

Fortunately for us, the ski “resort” is about five minutes from our home. It’s actually not even a mountain. Just the side of a river valley with chairlifts on it. In fact it may even be just a landfill; I’m not sure. Regardless, it’s what passes as a ski resort around here.

Being just his third time out, the bunny slope was our focus, so the rest was all sort of irrelevant anyway. He had taken two lessons in the years before this one. But I’d never taken him skiing.

The plan was for me to walk along and keep an eye on my micro skier; no need to get skis or a pass. I heard that’s what the other dad does when his son snowboards. There’s a short conveyor belt that takes the skiers and snowboarders up to the top of el bunny slope. We would follow along on foot if need be.

Upon arriving in the parking lot, my kiddo and I got out of the Toyota and walked up to the slopes to get “the lay of the land” so to speak. Seemed straightforward enough: lodge, snow, bunny slope, people skiing and snowboarding. I was glad to see they had a conveyor instead of a tow rope. Tow ropes are a recipe for skiing disaster for anyone other than maybe professional wrestling ballerinas.

The thing was, right out of the gate he said he would only ski if he could have ski poles. Logical me tried to explain that kids now-a-days learn to ski without poles (for what reason I don’t know). Then he said he wanted to snowboard like his friend if he couldn’t have poles. Well I have no idea how to snowboard. At least with skiing I could direct him, and feign at teaching him how to ski in a somewhat less damaging manner than snowboarding.

After a trip in and out of the equipment rental area, and me almost achieving my dream of being back on the couch drinking coffee, we negotiated an agreement whereby he would rent skis and poles, thus avoiding the whole snowboard thing.

The only other condition imposed, surprisingly imposed by myself, was that I was going to rent skis too.

A hundred and fifty dollars later, we were good to go.

Ski Day

It was actually a great day to ski, weather wise. And the crowd was pretty light.

I helped my little guy get his skis on, and rattled off some basics of skiing. Basically I said “snowplow” and “wedge” a bunch of times. He then proceeded to slide into a little dip culvert thing, and we had our first lesson on standing back up. Up down, up down a few times and then we were ready to head towards the conveyor.

Since I was on skis, it was easier for me to both show my son how to ski and also to keep up with him. Navigating the bunny slope was fairly easy. I spent our time there essentially skiing backwards the entire time, which is super easy to do with contemporary short skis. When he built up too much speed and started to go out of control (past me!), I was able to quickly skate up and catch him, slow him down or scoop him up. Or pick him and all his equipment parts up.

Surprisingly, my knee didn’t bother me at all that day. Whatever is wrong with it, it doesn’t hurt when I’m walking or skiing. It felt great; other than when I needed to get down to put little skis back on or pick up scattered poles. Then I cried like a little girl.

Eventually my son’s friend showed up and they were able to chat while riding up the conveyor belt, sharing skiing “war stories” as kids do.

It felt really nice to be back on skis. I had forgotten how much I enjoy it. It’s funny how little steps in life take you away, and make you forget things you once liked doing. I like the snow, the sights, just the whole skiing vibe. As a bonus I think skiing counts as exercise, so win win.

But the absolute best part was that I got to ski with my son for the first time ever. And we had a blast. He progressively got better with each trip down the hill. He was doing a good job, picking up the idea of snowplowing and stopping, and even turning by the end (to a certain extent). He really picked it up quickly, just like when he learned to ride his bike last year. He’s a quick learner. He was proud of himself, and I was super proud of him.

A few high fives were exchanged that afternoon.

Despite the cold, two and a half hours went by in a flash. Really the thing that forced us from the slopes was the increasing number of people. Ski school classes started, making it difficult for me to stay ahead of my guy.

We both agreed we’d had enough for the day. With that we picked up our gear, returned it back to the rental center, reunited with our boots from the storage locker and were on our way back home to mom, brother and hot chocolate.

It was a good day.

I’m glad we went. We were both glad we went.

I don’t know if my new ski buddy will remember that day, but I surely will forever. I’ve done a lot in forty plus years, but pretty much none of it is as valuable to me as getting to ski with him for the first time together. I don’t have to tell you how little things like those hours we spent on a bunny hill mean so much in life. For every story someone has or will ever have about accomplishing something at work, winning a prize or being honored for some nonsensical achievement I will have that afternoon spent skiing with my son.

A handful of days in your life you’re gonna shine like a g**damn comet. Do yourself a favor and learn to recognize them as they happen.

I’d like to think I’m learning that lesson. That day I was shining on the inside the entire time.

It’s nice to write this story down, so hopefully some day he’ll get to read it and understand; god willing, when he gets a little ski buddy of his own. But for me I didn’t really need to write it. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it memorized. It’ll shine on inside me for here on out.

 

-C

ski-day

 

 

 

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70MM

I went to the movies last night.

I don’t know if you know this, but I enjoy going to the movies.

A lot.

I like the emersion into another world, and the escapism from our own, if for only a couple hours.

Last night I went with a few friends to see Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie, coincidentally titled ‘The Hateful Eight’.

While I am a fan of movies, I am by no means a movie trivia buff, or rather I don’t remember movies verbatim like some people. So I won’t really give you a review that compares this movie to his others. Some of his movies such as ‘Reservoir Dogs‘ I could see again tomorrow and it would a new experience. And others, including ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2‘ I haven’t even seen. I suppose in a way this makes me a less than stellar self proclaimed lover of motion pictures, but I don’t really care. I still enjoy them. If anything my movie amnesia is a blessing: it’s always a new experience for me in a way.

The movie was classic Tarantino is all you need to know. Which is to say a healthy dose of incredible scenes, twists, bad language and bloody violence. I gave it an 8 on a scale of 1-10. I think ‘Django Unchained‘ was slightly better at a 9. ‘Pulp Fiction‘ a 10.

But that’s none of this is the point.

How we saw the movie is the point. Or rather how the movie was made to more precise.

The film was shot in 70mm which basically means it was shot analog in a digital world. Just like the “old days” so to speak.  Here’s an article from Vox that helps explain it, no need for me to regurgitate it. (How’s that for lazy writing?).

Here’s is the overview from the movie’s website:

The exclusive 70mm Roadshow engagement of The Hateful Eight pays homage to and recreates the grand film exhibition style popularized 1950s and ‘60s and that brought audiences to theaters with the promise of a special event. Taking place in the nation’s largest cities and grandest theaters, Roadshows presented a longer version of the film than would be shown in the films subsequent wider release, included a musical overture to start the show, an intermission between acts and a souvenir program. (Limited supply, first come, first serve at 70mm locations only.)

Ultra Panavision 70 refers to the very rare and exceptional format that Quentin Tarantino and his team used to shoot The Hateful Eight. Panavision’s unique anamorphic camera lenses capture images on 70mm film in an incredible aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Almost all films you see today are shot in ratios of either 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. So, to put it simply, Ultra Panavision 70 provides an amazingly wider and more detailed image.

Says Tarantino of this special event release: “The thing about the roadshows is that it made movies special. It wasn’t just a movie playing at your local theater. They would do these big musical productions before the normal release of the film. You would get a big colorful program. It was a presentation. They would play a Broadway show overture version of the soundtrack. If you’re going to shoot your movie and release it in 70mm, it’s really the way to go: twenty-four frames a second flickering through a projector, creating the illusion of movement.” 

This Ultra Panavision 70mm Roadshow presentation of The Hateful Eight is an experience that hasn’t been had in over fifty years.

As part of that ‘Panavision Super 70 Roadshow‘ put on by Tarantino and the Weinstein Company, viewers could see the film in it’s original 70mm format at select theaters throughout the country.  Lo and behold our local Valley View Cinemark was the only theater in Ohio showing the film. I actually learned about this unique experience from someone I met at a New Year’s Eve party. But I was under the impression that the road show was over. Turns out it wasn’t (today 1-7-16 is the last day to see it in this format here). So we scrambled to see the film as god (Quentin) intended, in all of it’s wide aspect glory.

It was a grand experience.

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‘The Hateful Eight’ movie poster from IMDb.com

 

Snap, Crackle, Pop

I didn’t know what to expect crowd wise, but I have a natural aversion to being forced to sit up close to the screen. I like to sit in the middle and preferably away from any other example of humanity.

I bought my ticket ahead of time to assure entry, and we arrived in theater by 8pm for an 8:20 show. Taking our seats mid row, halfway up, there were about a dozen other people already there.

Uniquely this movie has no previews. No commercials. Nothing but a black screen until the movie starts. It was a refreshing change. As people filtered into the theater a low dim of conversation provided a nice change of atmosphere compared to today’s digital commercial ridden pre-movie onslaught. There was anticipation in the air. The modern era of movie theater experience has worked to numb that idea of anticipation, and here it was in all its glory again.

The theater did in fact fill up despite it being the third or fourth week of the roadshow. But this is what was remarkable:

The theater filled up from the center outward.

People sat next to each other.

I should say strangers sat next to each other.

I’ve gone to a lot of movies, and the rule I’ve found is you pick a seat that presents a comfortable viewing angle, but also far away from other movie goers. Lest you want to endure two hours of being near other humans with their talking, phones, sticky pop cups and overflowing buttered popcorn.

Not so. These were people who were here for the sole purpose of seeing a unique movie experience. Social norms be damned. As if to say – I don’t care if you smell, I paid my money and I’m sitting next to you because I want to sit in the middle.

Promptly at eight twenty the theater darkened and with a subtle click-click-click the projector started. A real freaking projector. In an otherwise homogenized, sensory numbing world, here we sat in a darkened theater with real people, eating popcorn, wide eyes staring at a screen like children on Christmas morning.

You could see imperfections, dust and and blips in the image projected on screen.

It was glorious.

Snap, crackle and pop from the soundtrack and equipment.

Then we were immersed into an incredible wide screen snowy white landscape, never to be seen or heard from again. Or at least not until the end of the movie.

This was an experience.

Halfway through the three hour experience we were treated to an intermission to stretch our legs and take a bathroom break.

Afterwards we mentioned amongst ourselves that this was a nice touch. It’s a shame more movies don’t do intermissions anymore.

None of us had a problem with the length of the movie. It essentially takes place in one location and other than violence, it is pure dialog. I never found it to be monotonous or boring. I probably could have sat there for another two hours without knowing.

My mind was transported.

My eyes and spirit were affixed on Hollywood magic.

Mr. Tarantino himself could have been on the screen plucking a chicken in a snowy field for an hour and I would have watched. That’s not to say the format overpowered the movie, or the movie was bad, it’s just that…it was almost like a time machine. Something so pedestrian and taken for granted like wide format 70mm was brought back again. It was special. It was seeing grand art as the artist intended.

It was pure unadulterated visual and emotional crack for any lover of cinema.

We’re going to see ‘Star Wars’ this afternoon. And it will be fantastic. But it won’t be the same. And actually I’m not sure I need to see ‘Star Wars’ in any way other than digital light fantasy and surround sound.

Maybe the point is, movies aren’t just magic, they’re also art. And as such maybe we need to get back to creating the art of movies in a variety of ways and mediums, just as a painter paints and and sculptor sculpts. The same goes for viewing them as well.

I hope roadshows such as this 70mm one become more of the norm instead of the exception.

I believe people want to be transported to another time and place, after all isn’t that the point of movies as an art form.

Seeing this movie, this way celebrates everything I love about cinema.

-Chris

 

 

 

 

BR30 LED Update

I went to Home Depot and bought nine more LED BR30 bulbs for the ceiling. I went with the 650 lumen ones they had for sale at around $9 each. These are the ones I didn’t have a chance to test in my LED light bulb test. 

They look virtually the same, light wise, as the Philips light bulbs I had tested. They are energy star certified, use less energy and I can’t really tell that they are slightly less luminous.

The wife likes their sleeker shape as well. The Philips I tested earlier did have a little ridge / lip along its face which she found distracting. These “new” ones look just like an old school incandescent bulb.

That takes care of all the dimmer lights in the house. I did by an LED approved dimmer at the Depot as well. Still on the fence if I want to test it or not. If I test it, it would just be out of curiosity because these new bulbs work fine with the old dimmers. The cost of the new dimmer is $21.

Lastly, I moved the incandescent bulbs that were above the fireplace, into the kitchen – so now the wife is happy to be able to finally see again in the kitchen. Over time I’ll replace those with LED BR30 bulbs as well. Likely the GE Reveal bulbs because of their superior color rendering ability.

-c

 

The LED Light Bulb Review You Need to Read

Okay, you need to know one thing about me…okay two things about me, for today’s post: 1) I love buying things, 2) it’s virtually impossible for me to buy anything without over analyzing it.

When we built this house, almost four years ago, we had a ton of 6″ ceiling light fixtures installed. To this day I’m not even sure why, but we did. They are everywhere in the main floor’s living spaces.

Twenty non-dimming, and ten dimming 6″ BR-30 light fixtures in the family room, dining room, hall and kitchen, to be exact. That’s five for every man, woman and child.

The dirty fact is: half of them are burned out because I want to replace the incandescent bulbs with LED’s. But I can’t replace them with LED’s until I complete some mind numbing amount of research.

My wife literally asked (begged) for light bulbs for Christmas.

If you go to cut veggies in the kitchen, better bring a flashlight.

Alright, so why do you need to read this review? Because you probably have some recessed lights in your home. You also probably enjoy saving money in the long run, which switching to LED bulbs will definitely do just that. Most importantly, I’m going to hopefully save you the trouble of researching bulbs yourself.

burnt-out-lights

Lights on different circuits? Nah, just burnt out light bulbs in the hallway.

Bulb vs. Integrated Trim

One quick note, for recessed lighting you can purchase either just a bulb, or an integrated bulb and trim for you 4″ or 6″ recessed cans. I wanted to do this, I absolutely hate the 80’s look of our 6″ cans, but didn’t for two reasons. First I couldn’t find ANY useful reviews of bulbs with the integrated trims. Secondly the cost of the integrated style can be up to twice that of a regular BR30 LED bulb. With our need for new bulbs being immediate and our budget being microscopic, I had to forgo the integrated bulbs.

Philips-BR-30-trim-lights

These integrated trim LED light bulbs are slick, and go a long way to eliminate that annoying old school 6″ recessed can look, but the cost is a bit prohibitive when you have thirty cans to outfit.

A Note About Our Dimmer

Our dimmer is whatever the electricians put in when they built the house. I really need to replace them with something a little higher tech to get the most out of our LED bulbs and their dimming capabilities. So keep this in mind as you read.

kitchen dimmer

Our old school, non-LED friendly, dimmer in the kitchen.

Green Creative Titanium Series 4.0

I was attracted to the Green Creative bulb because of it’s sexy as f*ck good looks, and the great review it received on CNET (click here to read for yourself). I order my sample bulb directly from EarthLED.com and received free shipping with my order.

Green-Creative-BR-30-LED-bulb-review

Green Creative LED BR30 light bulb, with it’s beautifully cool flying buttress like supports, and smooth plastic cover

The looks of the bulb and the packaging didn’t disappoint. It’s a shame to hide them away in a recessed ceiling can.

Installed, the bulb gives off a super bright, warm glow similar to an incandescent on steroids. It’s definitely the brightest. Where the bulb fell down was with our dimmer. It didn’t really dim at all. But as with all the bulbs, I really need to test with a new dimmer, designed with LED’s in mind. There was a slight flicker when the bulb was dimmed all the way. Noticeable, but not bothersome.

GE Reveal BR30 LED

Once again, I relied on CNET (click here) to throw the recommendation my way for the new GE Reveal BR30 LED bulb. I found the best price on Amazon.com, and ordered up a sample bulb for $16.99. They’re actually closer to $15 as of this writing today (12/30/15).

GE-BR-30-LED-bulb-review

Blue stripe accent and curvy body of the GE Reveal BR30 LED bulb.

The bulb is pretty pleasing to look at, and has a blue stripe accent which is a nice touch. The bulb gets high marks for color rendering, which I cannot measure with other than with my eye, and I can say it appears to deliver. Everything looks clean and colorful, but not to cold. All the bulbs I tested are definitely close to that 2700K range, so no problems replacing your old bulbs with these from a “mood” standpoint. The GE also wasn’t as glaring white as the Green Creative. Seems like this would be a great bulb for the kitchen or the art studios.

Where it disappoints though is with dimming. It doesn’t dim very far down with our old school dimmer.

Philips 9.5w LED BR30 Indoor Flood w/ WarmGlow 

Alright, the Philips was recommended to me by Tom my electrician. Normally I rely on online reviews, but he spoke highly of the bulb so I figured I’d give it a go and include it in my impromptu kitchen test.

I ordered one bulb from Amazon.com, with my free shipping the cost was $11.19 plus tax (not sure why it’s showing so much higher in cost today 12/30/15…shop around for the best deal, unless they’ve discontinued the bulb)

Philips-BR-30-LED-Bulb

I’m a fan of Philips’ industrial design on most of its LED light bulbs, this BR30 is no exception

Philips-BR-30-LED-Packaging

The Philips packaging was refreshing because it was all recyclable and renewable kraft corrugated material. This is what packaging should be.

The packaging on the Philips bulb was fantastic. I was so happy to see they created a simple to make, and open corrugated box to house the bulb in. Too often, mostly at retail, LED bulbs and other products are encased in hard to open plastic clamshells. Not so with this bulb.

With skepticism I installed the bulb in the kitchen. And wouldn’t you know it…the damn thing dims brilliantly with our old school dimmer. The bulb is warm looking at full blast, and then does this cute trick as it dims down: it gets warmer. Where as the other two bulbs only went down about 50% and were both white looking when dimmed, the Philips bulb performed basically just like an antiquated incandescent light bulb that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing.

The Philips is rated at 730 lumens, compared to the other bulbs 650 lumens but I’m not sure I see a discernible difference with my well trained eye. If anything the other bulbs are brighter over achievers, and this Philips is generous in saying 730. Regardless, all three bulbs are plenty bright enough for any home or application.

dimmed-bulbs

Here are all three bulbs dimmed down all the way. Green Creative is in the foreground, Philips in the middle and GE in the back next to a turned off incandescent bulb.

lights-full-bright

Same three bulbs turned all the way up with incandescent bulbs way in the back by the cabinets.

Winner: Philips

The bulb we chose is the Philips bulb. The GE was our second choice. Our decision is based on overall look and feel when the bulbs are at 100% and when they are dimmed. All three bulbs will save us money, and other than the GE, they’re reasonably priced.

In fairness I should try them with a new dimmer, and I will. In the meantime I feel confident that we can migrate to the Philips LED BR30 bulbs for our home.

I will actually use the sexy Green Creative bulbs in my art studio because I like the look and I don’t need to dim anything.

And I may still use the GE’s in the non-dimming kitchen or studio areas for best color rendering.

The Other Philips Bulb

I was at Home Depot today and noticed they had a slightly different Philips WarmGlow bulb for sale that looks interesting and presumably performs as well as the one I tested. If in fact they discontinued the Philips bulb I tested, then this one at Home Depot may be the route to go. It uses less energy and is Energy Star certified. (Our winning Philips is inexplicably not Energy Star certified).

other-Philips-BR-30-LED-bulb

An alternative Philips bulb I saw at Home Depot with WarmGlow technology, costs less and uses less energy.

the-other-Philips-BR-30-LED-bulb-at-Home-Depot

The back of the Philips BR30 WarmGlow bulb I saw at Home Depot.

Here’s a chart I threw together to compare the bulbs I looked at.

Light bulb test-01

You can download and print it here: BR30 LED Light bulb comparison

Okay kids, there you have it: my LED light bulb comparison. Hopefully I’ve saved you some trouble in deciding which bulbs to put in your home. Whichever one, or “ones”, you choose, you can not go wrong with this group. What’s most important is that when your incandescent, AND florescent, bulbs burn out: REPLACE THEM WITH LED’s. These bulbs will save you a ton of money in the long run, add value to your home (in my opinion), and because the use less energy, they reduce our reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels.

Speaking of energy use, it’s imperative that you get your home energy use down to the bare minimum to make it easier to transition to renewable energy. Eventually all of us (or our children) will have to make the switch from non-renewables. Why not make that transition as simple as possible.

One last note, these bulbs last over twenty years. Just think, the bulbs I’m putting into this house right now may very well be the last light bulbs I ever have to change.

That means one less thing on my “to do” list, and more time to write (or eat and drink).

Cheers!

 

-Chris