CX-5 Zoom Zoom

About a month ago, my wife totaled her car. She was driving a well-appointed Ford Fusion that we bought right before our son was born to replace her decaying Honda Accord. I had a love/hate relationship with the Ford. I loved its features and room, but I absolutely hated the way it drove. It was a very quick car, but I could never get used to its handling or very abrupt braking. Truth be told, after I learned she was ok, I was happy the car would be out of our lives. So, we went car shopping and were within days of purchasing a fully-loaded 2018 Subaru Outback. I really really liked the Outback after taking it for a test drive and put a deposit down on a new one coming in off the truck in the color my wife liked (that I didn’t like, but I’m sure you know how that goes.)

On a whim, one Saturday last month, while waiting for the Outback to come in, we decided to stop into Mazda and take a look at the CX-5 and CX-9. Let’s hop off on a tangent here, really quickly. I love Mazdas. I have owned several. My first car was a ’96 Protege. I then owned a ’03 Protege, a ’07 Mazda3 hatchback, and my current car is a 2010 CX-7. I told my wife, after the accident, “We can finally get that new CX-5!” I had been trying to convince her for over a year to dump the Ford and get a CX-5. Ok, back to the dealership. The CX-9 is a really nice car. It’s huge and has three rows, but to get it loaded with all of the features I wanted would have pushed upwards of $45k.

Enter the CX-5. We test drove the CX-5 and my wife immediately fell in love. I knew the Subaru was off the table the second she sat in the seat. Her face lit up and we both remarked how the car drives exactly my CX-7. So, we drove a 2017.5 pin-striped Snowflake White Pearl Mica AWD Grand Touring CX-5 with Premium Package off the lot. Navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear heated seats(!), heads up display, Bose audio. Oh man. This car is sexy.

Oh Mazda, I can’t believe I was ever going to cheat on you with a Subaru. What am I? Some kind of Subaru-driving lesbian? Pssshhhh. (No offense to Subaru drivers, lesbians, or Subaru-driving lesbians).

Zoom zoom!

Breath of the Wild

I recently got a Nintendo Switch and have been spending hours and hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I am sucked into this open world and count the minutes until I am free to play again. I have played the majority of the Zelda series, including the Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time (swoon), Majora’s Mask (swoon), Wind Waker (swoon), Four Swords, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.

There’s something magical about Breath of the Wild, though. It’s the open world, ability to do just about anything you dream of, the slated DLCs, massive map, complex dungeons, weapons system, numerous side quests, cooking system, clothing upgradability, and the numerous shrines. I paraglided and mounted a wild horse without touching the ground! I love this game. I love the format of the Switch. Zelda is back!

My foray into Vinyl

My birthday is in a few weeks and my wife got me a Denon DP-300F turntable. I hooked it up in my bookcase, wired it to a new Insignia NS-STR514 Bluetooth 2-way receiver (which also supports FM radio), drilled some holes and ran some new Polk T15 bookshelf speakers. This setup is quite the upgrade from the basic wireless speaker we have been using. We were also playing music through the TV, but the sound bar doesn’t sound too great. I also intend to Bluetooth our Echo Dot to the receiver for Spotify playback.

I’ve bought a few records and intend to grow my collection. I’ve set up a wishlist on Discogs and hope to score some good deals on some wanted records. I’ve set up a subdomain with my collection and you can view it at vinyl.aeonn.net. I’ve also added a link to it in my sidebar. I really want to secure the John Mayer 180g records. I have Battle Studies thus far, but have to save up for the others. I intend to spend a lot of my “hobby money” on records, but some of them are so darn expensive. Continuum will likely be my next purchase.

Caribbean Beach Resort

Later this month, we’re flying into Orlando and driving down to Vero Beach where my parents bought a house last year. My dad lives down there full time. He is taking us to Crab Stop and the beach.

We’re then heading back to Orlando for a quick three night stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Check out the pool.

We’re only going to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT as we don’t think Paul, 19 months, will be able to tolerate a longer trip right now. We booked the trip last minute, so didn’t get any reservations for Be Our Guest. We really like the lunch there. We did get a reservation for Via Napoli for dinner at EPCOT and got FastPasses for rides. I am very excited to take the baby on rides like Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover!

We also got MagicBand 2.0s. I nearly completed my collection of the 1.0s, but never did get or want a pink one.

We’re ready to go!

2016’s End

It was a busy year.

I spent the year doing this stuff:

Life:
My son had his first birthday and my daughter turned 14! We are definitely still budgeting. I placed 108 orders on Amazon in 2016. I baked a lot of bread and continue to do so; however, my house is so cold in winter that it takes a long time for my doughs to rise so I am looking forward to spring. We became members of the Saint Louis Zoo, got a yearly pass to Grant’s Farm, and became members of the Magic House. We’ve renewed all for 2017. I upgraded(?) from a Billet Box to a Reuleaux RX200S and am using a Smok TFV8. It lives up to its name as the cloud beast. I also have been using The Sauce LA‘s juice and like their Open Road, Caramel Waffle Cappuccino, and Get Your Kicks.

Travel:
My daughter and I went to Los Angeles and saw the sights. We visited Galcos (and got a slew of sodas), Disneyland, and Catalina Island where I let her illegally drive the golf cart. She wrecked it and I caught it on video!

My wife and I took our kids back to Port St Joe, FL. We rented a cabin ($100/nt!!) and spent a lot of time at the beach. We saw the Milky Way at night and caught both a sunrise and sunset. I bought binoculars, Nikon 8249s, and watched the ships out on the ocean. It was a fantastic trip and I look forward to booking the next and going back. I would love to buy a piece of property and potentially retire there. We tried to get into Indian Pass Raw Bar, but the place was packed so we ate at KrazyFish in downtown Port St Joe. It was great.

Tech, Software & Gaming:
My iMac crashed on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, I was able to completely restore all of my data with Arq. I have since configured it on all of my machines and my wife’s Mac. Data loss is not an option! My Amazon cloud drive is currently holding 1.2TB from all machines.

I am still playing The Long Dark. At 2015’s end, I had 253 hours logged. I am shocked to say that I ended the year with over 750 hours played. That’s approximately 1.36hrs played per day. I do not play it every day, and sometimes go weeks without playing. When I do play, it seems to be an all-day binge! As of now, I have 796 hrs on record.

I also spent the year playing The Flame in the Flood, FTL: Faster than Light, Sid Meier’s Civilization V, and Prison Architect.

We still have the dedicated HTPC running Plex, Sonarr, and CouchPotato. We upgraded our AppleTV to a gen 4 and tried DirecTV Now. I will likely cancel if they do not have Roku support soon.

TV:
Alone
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Atlanta
Black Mirror
Divorce
Planet Earth II
Stranger Things
The Night Of
Westworld

Music:
Beyonce: LemonadeWiki
Chance the Rapper: Coloring BookWiki
Chris Stapleton: TravellerWiki
Frank Ocean: BlondeWiki
Kanye West: The Life of PabloWiki
Ray LaMontagne: OuroborosWiki

Books:
I’m still using my Kindle Voyage & Calibre to read. I started re-reading the Harry Potter series. Have you seen these covers by Olly Moss?

Pizza

Pizza is my holy grail. It is hard to make good pizza. I’ve had some major flops, but am getting better with practice. I made FWSY‘s Saturday white over the weekend and set some dough back. Ready for some pizza porn?

Dough pressed down in the middle. Keep the edges puffy.
Dough

Stretching with knuckles
Stretch

Stretched.
Flattened Dough

Dressed. Garlic, butter, and a little olive oil. Fresh mozzarella topped with black pepper.
Dressed

Cooking. That oven spring! Probably needed more stretching or needed less dough.
Cooking

Done. This pizza was for my wife. She loved it.
White Pizza

Slight leoparding on the bottom. I’m very happy about that, but would like to see more. Maybe I need a different stone.
Leoparding

Here’s my pizza. Nearly the same as above, but with some vine tomatoes added in. Mine was left in too long, I think.
Tomato Pizza

Pretzels

The recipe I used calls for baking soda water. These turned out pretty well, but I hear a lye dip will give better crust and color. I’d substitute whites for yolk next time.

Puffy dough after an hour rise.

Shaped. I’m not the best pretzel shaper, but these look ok.IMG_4940

Hot out of the oven. Looking good. Looks like the single and double twists look the best. Got one good triple twist. They need mustard!

As Adam Early in the Morning

As Adam early in the morning,
Walking forth from the bower refresh’d with sleep,
Behold me where I pass, hear my voice, approach,
Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,
Be not afraid of my body.

-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

I’m working on a reddit puzzle and it brought me around to Walt Whitman. I read Leaves of Grass one summer between my sophomore and junior year. I think I may need to read it again. Good stuff.