Costume Fun on Halloween

Posted by TechyDad on October 31, 2014 under Doctor Who, Holidays

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Halloween.  As a kid, of course, everyone seems to love Halloween.  You dress up in fun costumes, go around the neighborhood, and get tons of candy.  What’s not to love?  I still remember my mother putting makeup on my face to complete my hobo costume as I couldn’t wait to fill my sack with sweets.

In college, I still loved Halloween, but my love of dressing up was diminished because all of the costume shops seemed to only stock costumes for thin people.  Any costume I tried on, I would have trouble squeezing into.  Finding a costume that fit meant that this would be my costume for years to come.

In my adult years, costume makers seemed to have accepted that people came in sizes other than Medium and Small.  Large and XL costumes began to be more common.  Furthermore, with the birth of my kids, getting dressed up for Halloween became even more fun as I experienced the wonders of Halloween as a child through their eyes.

My costuming wasn’t all store-bought, though.  One year, when NHL was little, he dressed as a monkey.  I decided to complement his outfit by dressing as The Man In The Yellow Hat.  I did some shopping and got a yellow shirt and yellow tie, but couldn’t find yellow pants or, more importantly, a tall yellow hat.  I wound up compromising the pants by wearing tan (as close to yellow as I could get).  For the hat, I took a cheap hat and added foam blocks and yellow felt until it was a yellow hat.  Quite honestly, the outfit looked ridiculous.  Still, I made it myself and NHL loved seeing me in it.

Last year, I decided to dress as Matt Smith’s Doctor from Doctor Who.  I had the pants, shoes (well, as close as I was going to get to them), and shirt.  I bought a pair of red suspenders.  As for the bow tie and fez, well, I made those.  I liked it so much that it has been my Twitter avatar ever since.

This year, I’ll be breaking out my Doctor outfit for another year.  I’ll scan people with my sonic as the boys go trick or treating.  Then, as people ring our doorbell.  I’ll greet them with my small TARDIS and a bowl of candy.

No matter the occasion, I love dressing up and pretending that I’m someone else.  Someone who has grand adventures and doesn’t need to worry about such mundane matters like jobs and bills.  It’s like putting on a costume helps awaken the kid in me.

Who are you dressing up as for Halloween?

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Guardians of the Galaxy Deleted Scenes And The Upcoming Marvel Movies

Posted by TechyDad on October 29, 2014 under Comics, Geeky Pursuits, Holidays, JSL, Movies, NHL

This past weekend, we found some deleted scenes from this summer’s hit Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Here is Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, spending some downtime between beating up bad guys trying to solve a Search-A-Word puzzle.  I’m unsure if his mask is helping him find the words.  No cheating!

Star-Lord_Word_Search

This is the scene where Star-Lord falls through a dimensional rift and winds up in the Angry Birds Star Wars universe.  He has to battle Lard Vader before making his way back to his own realm.

Star-Lord_And_Lard_Vader

Ok, so these were scenes from a weekend Halloween activity and not Guardians deleted scenes.  Still the boys had fun and are looking forward to Halloween.

Speaking of looking forward, I just read the “Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3″ plan and neither I nor my boys can wait.  In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the rundown.

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (5/1/2015) – This one already has a great teaser trailer out. (Update: Right when I posted this, a “Special Look” went live also showing some of the heroes trying to lift Thor’s hammer.)
  • Ant-Man (7/17/2015) – It will be interesting to see what big adventure this little hero will have.
  • Captain America: Civil War (5/6/2016) – In the comics, the Civil War story arc started when Iron Man advocated for a law requiring all superheroes to register with the government (and have their secret identities exposed).  Captain America, meanwhile, was against this and the two (as well as the superheroes on both sides) clashed.  Sure enough, I’ve heard Iron Man/Tony Stark will be in this movie.
  • Doctor Strange (11/4/2016) – According to rumors, Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Sherlock Holmes from the BBC’s Sherlock) is being asked to become the Sorcerer Supreme.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (5/5/2017) – JSL is already asking about trailers for this and was disappointed that he’ll likely have to wait two years for one.
  • Thor: Ragnarok (7/28/2017) – Ragnarok is the Norse concept of the end of days, but in the comics (according to my Wikipedia search) it dealt with a cybernetic clone of Thor being made when the original was thought dead.  Will we see Thor and Evil-Cyborg-Thor duke it out on-screen?  And what will this mean for the state we left Asgard in at the end of Thor 2?
  • Black Panther (11/3/2017) – Another favorite superhero of ours.  He will be played by Chadwick Boseman (whose previous works I haven’t seen).  Interestingly enough, Chadwick’s IMDB page says he will also appear in the Captain America: Civil War movie.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 (5/4/2018) – Finally, the Infinity Saga comes to a head.  We’ve been seeing the Infinity stones here and there and I’m sure we’ll see more before this movie comes out.  What really struck me is that this is Part 1.  They are going to do this right and take their time with the story.  My best is that Part 1 will conclude with Thanos getting the final Infinity Stone and the heroes looking like they’re beaten against his tremendous might.
  • Captain Marvel (7/6/2018) – There are many incarnations of Captain Marvel.  I’m hoping they opt for the Carol Danvers one.  It will be nice to see a powerful woman kicking some bad guy keister.
  • Inhumans (11/2/2018) – The Inhumans are a society of individuals with fantastic powers that keep hidden away from “normal” society.  They aren’t really fully human but aren’t mutants either.  Their leader, Black Bolt can’t speak.  Well, he can, but his voice is so powerful that a mere whisper of his could bring buildings crashing down.  He’s definitely the strong, silent type.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 (5/3/2019) – This is the conclusion to the Infinity Saga.  Expect heroes from many movies, not just Avengers, taking part in the final showdown against Thanos.  Just picture Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther fighting alongside Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot.  It will be quite the team up.

Where the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes from here, I don’t know.  On one hand, I can’t wait to see it all.  On the other hand, by the time Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 rolls its final credits, NHL will be almost 16 and JSL will be almost 12.  Maybe I can wait after all.

What upcoming Marvel movie are you most excited about?  What superhero would you love to see made into a movie?

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My First Perler Bead Earrings

Posted by TechyDad on October 27, 2014 under Aspergers, Autism, Crafting

Soon after I started making Perler Bead creations, I wanted to do more than make simple geeky figures.  I wanted to make something that could be worn around.  I started off by making an Autism awareness puzzle piece tie clip.

autism-tie-clip

With this done, I noticed that they could make good earrings as well.  All I needed to do was get some earring hooks from the craft store and hang one of the puzzle piece edges off of it.  I asked B if she wanted me to make her a pair of puzzle piece earrings.  While she liked the puzzle pieces, she was concerned that they would be too big.

After experimenting with some parrots (not-autism related – just a pair of small parrots that still might be turned into earrings), I decided to try making some Autism awareness puzzle piece hearts.  First, I "sketched" out a heart shape using black pieces.  Next, I slowly replaced the blacks with blue, red, yellow, and purple.  Then, I filled in the shape until I had a complete heart.  Finally, I moved pieces around until it looked more like puzzle pieces interlocking.

After ironing, it was ready to be made into earrings.  I was prepared to do this part myself, but a friend offered to help as she had all of the supplies, has made earrings before, and enjoyed doing this.  I believe she wound up doing a better job than I could have done.

And so, B now has a very nice pair of Autism awareness earrings to wear. 

autism-heart-earrings

Now comes the question: What should I make next for B?  Any suggestions?

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Do As I Say Not As I Do: Bad Habit Edition

Posted by TechyDad on October 24, 2014 under Parenting

bad_habitWhen you’re on the Internet, it can be easy to hide your bad habits. A photo of food is never accompanied by a video of the person chewing it with their mouth open.  Selfies rarely show the person reaching in their nose to "scratch the inside."  Pictures of your house don’t show the stack of papers that’s been sitting since 2008 but that you’re definitely going to clean up this weekend.  In short, the Internet makes it easy for people to put forth idealized version of themselves.  It makes it easy to look at someone online and think that they are perfect.

What isn’t often discussed are our bad habits.  We all have them.  I’m definitely no exception.  I know of plenty and I’m sure there are plenty of annoying things that I do without knowing it.  NHL, unfortunately, seems to have picked up on one of my bad habits.  And I mean "picked" literally.

For the longest time, whenever I was stressed or found myself with nothing to do, my attention would turn to the cuticles and skin surrounding my fingers.  I’d see the usual assortment of tiny pieces of skin that virtually everyone has.  Most people would ignore these – they don’t hurt and if you leave them alone, they tend to just go away.  I wouldn’t though.  I’d pick at them to try to get them "looking right."  All too often, I’d pick so much that I’d wind up bleeding.  If I got the urge to pick my nails and tried not doing it, either by attempting to ignore the urge or by sitting on my hands, I’d just feel more and more compelled to do it until I gave in.  My father kept warning me not to do it, but I just couldn’t stop.  It was as if a powerful force were pulling me to do this against my will.

As I grew up, I learned to hold off on my picking, but the habit never fully went away.  I even resorted to keeping a small pair of scissors or a cuticle trimmer with me since these could make a cleaner cut (and thus not have a risk of bleeding) over picking it myself.

Lately, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend.  NHL has been picking his nails also.  I’ve tried to give NHL alternatives to picking.  If he feels the urge to pick his nails, I told him to, instead, press along the edge of the nail instead.  This will give the sensory input that will help quell the urge without the risk of bleeding.  Unfortunately, for all my warnings and recommendations, NHL steadfastly continues these actions.  Now I know how my father felt all those years ago.

I’ll continue to try to help NHL break his bad habit, but perhaps there are just some things that are out of a parent’s control.

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Bluetooth On The Go With The Kinivo BTC450

Posted by TechyDad on October 22, 2014 under Review, Technology

BTC450If I want to talk on the phone while driving, I’ve got to carry a Bluetooth headset along with me and remember to keep it charged.  If I want to listen to music from my phone in the car, I need to plug the phone into the speaker with a wire and control the music with the phone itself.  Neither situation is optimal.  Enter the Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit.

The BTC450 consists of three components.  The first is a power plug that goes in your car’s cigarette lighter.  This provides power to the entire unit as well as giving you a USB port to charge your device.  The second part is a plug that goes into your stereo’s auxiliary input.  The third, and perhaps most important, component is a small button.

Button

This button might be small, but it is quite powerful.  It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and routes audio from your phone to your car’s speaker system (via the aforementioned auxiliary input plug).  It also acts as a microphone so the people you are talking to on the phone can hear you.  Pressing the button can both begin or end a phone call.  Finally, two small buttons on top allow you to skip ahead or go back while listening to music.  No longer do you have to pick up your cell phone while driving (a very unsafe thing to do), just press the button.

Of course, all of this wouldn’t be worth anything if the audio quality wasn’t good.  In my testing, the audio coming from the speakers (routed from the BTC450) was very good.  The people I called initially reported that I sounded muffled, but I repositioned the button/microphone and they said that I was coming in much clearer.  The button comes with adhesive to affix it on your dashboard for easy access.  I positioned it on a spot on my dashboard without the adhesive, but if you do stick it on, I’d recommend trying it out before using the adhesive.

Overall, this was a very nice way of enabling Bluetooth access in my car.  Considering that the BTC450 only costs $39.99 (affiliate link), it is quite an inexpensive method of adding Bluetooth to your car as well.  This is definitely a device that will get plenty of use every time I go for a drive.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit to review.  The opinions expressed above are my own.  No compensation (other than the product) was provided.

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