First Day of (Online) School: It Begins…

Though my youngest did great in 9th grade last year at the local public school, wrapping up the year with a darn impressive 3.93 GPA (way better than I did in high school, I’ll tell you that!), K- wasn’t enthused about going back for 10th grade. It wasn’t the social experience that was the obstacle as it is for many teen girls, but rather the ratio of solid and engaging academics vs busy work and…Read More

The Road to Adventure with the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

I’ve owned Toyota vehicles for years and years, starting back with a dorky gold Tercel hatchback I purchased in 1984, my first new car. Indeed, every time I’ve looked at other car manufacturers I’ve felt a tiny bit guilty, though Toyota is the most successful car company in the world and can probably survive without my purchases. My most recent Toyota was a 2007 Highlander, which served my family really well for a decade before…Read More

Film Review: Domino

Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as a tough cop in Denmark? With Melisandre (Carice van Houten) as his partner? If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones this sounds like a great pairing and a really interesting setting for a cop thriller. And, to some extent, that’s just what Domino is, and while this direct to video release doesn’t stint on talent or production, the fundamental story is pretty darn weak. Don’t be confused by the 2005 film…Read More

Is Gender Neutral Parenting Possible? Is it Desirable?

Earlier today I skimmed through an article about how raising girls changes a father’s views on gender identity that explored the concept of gender neutral parenting which made me ask myself if it’s a good idea or not. Parents.com comments on gender neutral parenting that “some think it’s a great way to encourage a child to embrace his or her true identity, others believe it will confuse the child and alienate [them] socially.” For many…Read More

Film Review: Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa

We all know Leonardo da Vinci as one of the great inventors of the Renaissance, a creative genius who was probably one of the smartest individuals to ever grace our planet. But what about when he was just a kid? Was he a fun-loving adventurer constantly fiddling with new ideas as he explored the hills of Vinci, his beloved Italian hometown? The family film Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa offers a vision of how…Read More

Got a Mazda Upgrade: CarPlay and Android Auto!

When I bought my Mazda CX-5 in 2017, there was quite a lot I liked about the vehicle and its huge array of smart safety tech. The one surprise, though, was that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto weren’t already baked into the entertainment system. Keep in mind that CarPlay showed up in all the way back in May of 2014, so that was plenty of time for Mazda to add it to all their vehicles….Read More

My Son Gets a Job at a Local Restaurant and It’s Great…

Gotta say I’m mighty proud of my two older kids at this moment. To start out, my oldest daughter Ashley (22) has been working as an admin assistant to a restaurateur in the local area and is making good money on an incredibly flexible schedule. She does almost all of the work from of her apartment or here at my house (lots of scanning and paperwork). Definitely a good gig that offers her the ability…Read More

Film Review: Apollo: Missions to the Moon

It’s hard to imagine that it was way back in 1969 that man first stepped foot on the moon and that our last mission to our lunar companion was in 1972. Since then the moon has just sat in the sky, untouched. Imagine how much technology has changed and improved in the intervening 47 years, and yet the most recent footprints on the lunar regolith are from NASA astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. The…Read More

Film Review: Child’s Play

I’ve written before about how scary dolls can be – most notably my review of Dolls a week ago – and I’ll reiterate that there’s something inherently terrifying about animated an otherwise inanimate object. It can be played in a touching and amusing way, as the Toy Story franchise reminds us with the splendid 4th installment out this summer, but it can also be scary as heck, as Annabelle keeps trying to demonstrate. That gets…Read More

Two Weeks with the Great Husqvarna 430XH Automower

I don’t mind mowing my front and back yard. Too much. I mean, I’d like to think that it’s a chore for my kids, but their schedules and a general lack of enthusiasm for the task means that while the front might be mowed every few weeks, the back yard can get to be as thick and unwieldy as a jungle between mows. Which is why when I had the chance to work with the…Read More

Film Review: Toy Story 4

By any measure Toy Story 4 is a splendid movie, full of heart, humor and with a strong and engaging story. In a summer of mostly bleh, predictable sequels it’s also that rare film that improves on its predecessors, delivering one of the best and most touching cinematic experiences of the year. But Toy Story 4 is a lot more, because it serves as a reminder to film makers – especially in our modern, visual…Read More

Summer with College Kids is Quite Different!

Ah, I remember heading off to college after my high school graduation. That summer I continued my job at the local hardware store, working basically full time and earning some good money to help pay for my college expenses. Indeed, my boss offered that if I deferred college they’d put me on the fast track to management in the organization, a pretty nice offer for a punk 18yo. But I stayed my course and headed…Read More

Film Review: Dolls

There’s something deep seated and primitive about the belief in the supernatural power of dolls. From voodoo dolls to the golem of Jewish mysticism to more recent evil dolls like William Goldman’s terrifying ventriloquist dummy in Magic to Chucky from Child’s Play and creepy Annabelle from the horror series of the same name. Evil dolls with malicious intent have become somewhat of a horror trope they’re so darn popular. Which is why the indie horror…Read More

What Is It With Cellphone Usage In Public Venues?

I spent the afternoon working at a favorite coffee shop today and instead of listening to music, as I usually do, I decided to just enjoy the ambiance of the café crowd. Then I was fairly appalled to have the guy sitting next to me jump on a call. But he wasn’t just chatting on his iPhone, he had it on speakerphone. Even worse, he didn’t know how to use the darn speakerphone mode, so he…Read More

Film Review: Men In Black: International

There’s a certain amount of whimsy that runs throughout the Men In Black series. The story posits that aliens have always lived among us and that humans long ago created a secret organization to keep things from descending into chaos. The “Men In Black” manage aliens who visit or move here to Earth. They all dress identically, with narrow black ties, white dress shirts and black suits. As part of their standard kit, they also…Read More