Grocery List for Solo: A Star Wars Story (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

At this point since the Star Wars Disney buyout, is it easier to just say you are a Star Wars fan in spite of the prequels and newer films/spinoffs, or just say that you are a Star Wars fan up to the ending of the original trilogy? In the case of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I am not really excited about it, I wasn’t too thrilled at the trailer, and I’m not certain that the story is needed.

The issue is that much of Solo’s solo story has really already been told, or at least enough so the viewer can figure out what Han’s past is. I believe that the same thing applies to Obi-Wan Kenobi, and seeing some of the things he went through in the prequels felt…unnecessary, like showing us information that we have already been told.

For those that haven’t figured it out, I’ve compiled a list of what you will see in the new Solo movie, and you can check them off.

__ Open with Han being raised by the Corellian Pirates as a child. Chances are, he had a Dad that didn’t pay much attention to him, and a mother who, I don’t know, gets killed, maybe both parents at once. Seems like newer Star Wars characters like Rey and Jyn Erso have this orphan backstory, so why not an older one?

__ At some point in time, he meets the Wookee Chewbacca, who hopefully does not have a wife and kids like he did in the Star Wars Holiday Special (which is still canon, right?)

__ Han and Chewie become mercenary smugglers, always struggling to make it.

__ Han meets Lando, and form a decent friendship.

__ Han and Lando have some kind of gambling contest, and, because of the “fair and square” agreement, Han gets the Millennium Falcon all for himself (and Chewie).

__ Han and Chewie do the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs. It will finally be explained how he did that, because parsecs are units of distance. Yeah, that joke has been done to death amongst Star Wars fans.

__ Han and Chewie meet Jabba the Hutt and make a deal with him that is quite risky with a smuggling operation.

__ While on their smuggling operation, the Millennium Falcon sees an imperial freighter and dumps his shipment. He does it because he is bored at that time, and he didn’t have a choice.

__ The film ends with Han and Chewbacca arriving on Mos Eisley, dodging and escape pod from a starship (the escape pod has C-3PO and R2-D2 in it, in case you are missing this point), because why not set this up? Maybe Han will say something like: “Whoa, who’s flying that thing?”

I honestly hope that I am wrong about these predictions, but they feel so obvious that you don’t have to be Ron Howard to direct a film like this. Whatever the case, hopefully Solo works.

Controversial: Boy Scouts of America Announce New Name

The announcement was made in October 2017 that girls would be welcomed into the Boy Scouts of America. Since then, people have wondered what changes that would bring about. Many questioned if the name would change, and what that might look like. The answer to that question came today, and we’re going to discuss it here.

Scouts BSA is the newly announced name for the older program for youth age 11 to 18. This program isn’t slated to start until February 2019, but the Cub Scout program(still called Cub Scouts) has already had some early adopter Packs sign up some girls this year. The BSA has created new brochures to draw in families, and they are going with the welcoming slogan:

Of course, not everyone is feeling the love for the changes BSA is making to the program, and I wanted to address some of the things I’ve seen on various sites today.

“What about Girl Scouts?”

Naturally, we’ve seen this question asked a lot. As someone who has youth in both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, I’m going to address this from what I’ve seen. Not all programs are alike everywhere, and your mileage may vary. I have seen my daughter start in Girl Scouts as a Brownie. She was enthused to have a place to meet with friends, make crafts, sell cookies, and even learn to cook. Our experience in this troop has varied over the years, and now she is a 1st year Senior. They become Seniors in 9th grade. Her current Troop leader works really hard at putting things together for the girls, and Kyrie learned many things under her guidance- including how to sew.

The thing about Girl Scouts is that much of the activities are done with what the girls are interested in. It doesn’t seem to me that the girls in our area are interested in high adventure activities, camping, backpacking, or building fires. When my daughter turned fourteen, she was allowed to join Venturing- the co-ed, high-adventure program for youth ages 14 to 21. Our Boy Scout troop that I was involved in with my son has invited them along on many adventures- rock climbing, skiing, backpacking, and more. My daughter has really enjoyed those activities, and Girl Scouts hasn’t kept up with her interests like Venturing.

Girl Scouts is a great program, but it seems like the Boy Scouts programming may have more of a draw. The Eagle award seems to be more prestigious than other awards in other programs. I’m not certain as to why that is. I always hear about Eagle awards, and I very rarely hear about Girl Scout Gold awards. I doubt that girls joining Boy Scouts will make the Girl Scouts program go away. There are many girls who enjoy what they do in Girl Scouts.

“Boys need to be taught to be boys”

What does that even mean? Girls have been coming on troop activities with us for many years, and our boys are not less boy because of it. BSA isn’t focused on teaching boys how to be boys anyway. They teach leadership skills, team work, and overcoming obstacles.  These are things both boys and girls can learn. They also learn life skills- things like cooking, first aid, personal management, physical fitness, and more.

Girls are going to be their own troops, though, so I don’t see that they’ll be interfering with the safe spaces of boys. On our backpacking trips that have the Venture crew girls along for the ride, the girls do their own thing, and no boys have had to carry their stuff for them(a ridiculous argument I heard today).

My daughter’s first backpacking trip

“Why would you let your girls go camping with boys?”

People seem to think that some bad things are going to happen when you put members of the opposite sex in tents in the wilderness. Let me start by saying that girls and boys aren’t sleeping in tents together. I’ve been on several trips with Boy Scouts and girl Venture crew members. They slept in separate tents in different areas with leaders nearby. I kept a watchful eye out. Again, girls did their own thing and stayed away from the boys for the most part. Two deep leadership in Venturing requires at least one adult(over 21) female to be present. There is no hanky-panky going on. Scouting is co-ed in most countries, with the U.S. being one of the last to get on board, for many years. All the abuse stories I hear seem to come from the U.S., and always involving men. Yet, girls joining scouting seems to be the problem that is signalling the end of times to some.

I, for one, am looking forward to the new changes, and I hope that I’ve shed some light on why this isn’t a terrible thing. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on this controversial issue. Respectful comments will be approved by us, so please remember the Scout law that includes “friendly, courteous and kind.”

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand for Quick Wireless Charging

Photo credit:Anker

Here we go with another product review from the company that is popular in charging of mobile devices. I recently reviewed a different Anker wireless charger, and  Anker has given us another great product on the market that will charge multiple types of phones quickly and conveniently. This is the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand.

What’s Inside

When you open up your box, you’ll find the items in the image above- the 7.5 stand, a USB to micro USB 3.0 Quick Charge cable, and the 3.0 Quick Charge wall adapter. This adapter is what I was looking for in the last wireless charger we were given, as it truly brings speed to your charge.

What’s to Like About PowerWave 7.5 Stand

The design of the stand puts your charging device at an angle for easy viewing- whether you want to place your phone vertically or horizontally. This is particularly good for the iPhone X with it’s facial recognition, so you don’t have to pick up your phone to look at the screen. There’s also a PowerWave 7.5 Pad, which might not be as convenient.

The PowerWave 7.5 will work for multiple types of phones that are able to be wirelessly charged. It charges up to 7.5W for Apple devices, and 10W for Samsung. The charging speed is about as fast as the charging cord that comes with Apple phones. A little faster for Samsung devices, though. Still good if you don’t want to be dealing with wires constantly.

The base has an internal cooling fan to prevent overheating which isn’t too loud, but you might hear a slight whirring noise. I think one would have to be extremely sensitive to sounds to be annoyed by it.  It also delivers a powerful current able to charge through cases- even thick ones like OtterBox.

Want to buy the PowerWave?

The price tag for this product is about $49.99, which is a pretty good price for what you get. The Anker page directs you to buy at Amazon.

Thanks to Anker for sending us the product to review for free in exchange for our fair and unbiased review. No other compensation has been given.

Happy 102nd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

This picture was taken two years ago on Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday. Who could have imagined that the beloved author would still be alive today? From Ramona and Henry, to Ralph S. Mouse and his motorcycle, to the older teens experiencing their first crush, Mrs. Cleary has instilled a love for reading in many of us for generations. Today, schools across the nation celebrated National D.E.A.R.(Drop Everything and Read Day) in honor of this great author.

Beverly Cleary may have struggled in her early years learning to read according to her website. She could sympathized with struggling readers, as she started out in the low level readers’ groups at school. In third grade, she was encouraged by the librarian to write books for children when she grew up. She wanted to write the books as she would later describe as,  “From my own experience and from the world around me.”

As a result, she has written books for kids such as:

Henry Huggins– her first book published in 1950

The popular Ramona collection- of which there are 8 books!

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

FIFTEEN

Dear Mr. Henshaw

and more!

She was even asked to write some books based on the show Leave it to Beaver, and she wrote three of them- Leave it to Beaver, Beaver and Wally, and Here’s Beaver!

Her books are cherished all over the world, and have been published in over 25 different languages. She has received many awards and honors over the years including three Newbery awards for Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984, Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982. In 2008, the Fernwood Grammar School she once attended  was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School.

As a child, I couldn’t get enough of the Ramona series and the books about Henry and his dog, Ribsy. I also enjoyed Dear Mr. Henshaw as a teenager.  What was your favorite book? Let us know in the comments.

 

God is not Missing from our Schools!

A friend posted on her Facebook page today:

“No one can remove God from schools.
You are in charge of God’s involvement in school, extracurriculars, holidays, or your job. If you believe – He’s there. If you want to pray- you can pray. No one is stopping you- the individual.
You don’t need a PA announcement to make it official. You don’t need a group to lead the prayer or a loudspeaker to make it a public event.
No one has taken God from schools without your permission.
If you feel God is missing- that’s on you – not the government, the school board or your neighbors.
If He is missing – where did you leave Him?”

There are many things about Christianity right now that get my hackles up. This is a major pet peeve of mine. In the aftermath of a tragedy, people are saying that things like this happen because “God isn’t allowed in schools.”

So what they are saying is that God isn’t omnipresent? Got it.

What they are really saying, though, is that they are upset that they can’t say a public prayer over the intercom or have the class read the Bible every day. These are the things that are supposedly keeping God out of our schools. They want coaches to lead prayers at football games and allow kids to tell their peers they are going to hell during lunch time, because that makes everyone want to become a Christian, right?

Let me pose this question: If God allowed all these bad things to happen in schools because supposedly he isn’t allowed in schools, then why did He allow 26 people to be shot in a Texas church? Was He not there, either?

People think that it’s all cute to pass around ridiculous memes like this, but all it’s doing is making Christians look more ridiculous.

If you want God to be in schools, then teach your kids how to give Christ-like love. God does not need a public speech or prayer to be included in our schools. For more on that, read my previous article about Praying in Public and the Stink it Causes.

 

Review of ToughTested Jolt All Purpose Jump Starter

If you have ever been in an area where no one is around and your car breaks down, you might need a device like the one I’m about to review. It’s called the Jolt by ToughTested, and it’s a flashlight that can charge your phone AND jumpstart your car!

Now, ToughTested makes a lot of products from chargers to Powerbanks, solar products and headsets + more. Their products seem to be geared to those who want heavy duty stuff. This flashlight is no exception. It’s very heavy duty- the metal strong enough to break windows.

The bottom of the flashlight opens to reveal an input(5V/2A) to plug in the micro USB cable(included). It has the output(5V/2A) to use to charge your phone/tablet/or other micro USB item. An led indicator lights up to tell you how much battery life you have left. It charged my Samsung Galaxy S7 fully and still had 40% left.

 

The 12V output is where you connect the included jumper cables. These items, and also a little USB car charger comes in a handsome carrying bag with two zippered compartments to separate all the items.

The jumper cables have instructions connected to the cable that say you need to have over 3 lights to jumpstart your vehicle, so you will probably want to make sure that it is charged every time you go out.

Doing this review, I learned a little bit about portable jump starters from this site which suggests that you don’t leave your portable jump starter in your vehicle- especially if it’s extremely cold. The article also suggests that the jump starter might not help you if your battery is completely dead, or has very low cold cranking amps. So it’s a good idea to bring this in out of the cold, and make sure that it is charged frequently. Maybe

We haven’t tested this out on a car battery, but will change the review when we have the chance to do so. So far, it’s been proven to be a nice bright flashlight with 1,000 lumen, and there is supposedly a waterproof level of IP63, however, the safety instructions say not to expose the product to rain or water.

Speaking of flashlight, I couldn’t figure out how to get the 5 different modes going (low, medium, blinding, seizure-inducer (or strobe), and SOS mode). My 14 year old figured it out for me, though. Just press lightly on the power button after you have turned it on, and it will rotate through the modes. I would suggest that the company send a little more detailed instruction book, but the jump starter cables do have good instructions on how to work them connected to the wire.

Here is a video showing the product at work…

All-in-all a nice product to have in case of an emergency. It does have a big price tag of $189.99, but the portable jump starter article that I linked does say that the best ones are more expensive, so maybe that’s a factor.

Disclaimer: ToughTested sent us this product for free to review in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Yubico Yubikey 4 Security Keys Provides Extra Security for Passwords

In a world where computer hacking and phishing seem to be commonplace problems, web users need some added security in their pocket. The Yubikey 4 series by Yubico can help solve this dilemma in a simple little device that attaches to your keychain or lanyard.

In reviewing this product, I got a bit of an education on internet security. Today it’s easy for people to get hacked, and sites like Google are suggesting 2FA (or Two Factor Authorization). This key will provide that 2FA without the extra hassle.

This handy little key is super secure and easy to use. You simply plug it into your device, and tap the button (which is NOT a biometric reader).  You can use it to log into Windows, Google, Facebook, e-mail, and all kinds of other sites. This can give your laptop some extra security if someone comes across it in the public, they won’t be able to get access to anything on your computer (unless you have left the key in it).

It looks like this little key could get easily damaged, but it can withstand being run over by a car, and even make it through the washing machine (although, we didn’t test this on our sample we received at CES this year).

At $40 for the USB-A form, the pricetag on this little key might seem steep for some, but for those who want and need that extra security, it can be well worth it. There are other forms you can get that serve the same function, but can be used semi-permanently in your device. The most expensive one is the USB-C nano, and that is $60. It is meant to stay in the port.

You can find this and other Yubikey products on their website, and even on Amazon.com.

CES 2018 with ShowStoppers

For those of you who are not in the know, CES covers many places in Las Vegas including the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands/Venetian Convention Center Areas, and much more. Not only that, there are after-parties to attend, such as the CES Unveiled that I covered two days ago.

Among the most famous of these after parties is Showstoppers, and this one usually requires some kind of special invitation. Here are some of the companies that I had the opportunity to see.

I realize that this photo is a little blurry, but it gives you a good idea of what one of these after-parties are like. Note the elaborate backdrop in one of these casinos, which was the Wynn. Then there are the booths set up, and I didn’t get any good shots of the great cuisine.

Here’s another shot of the room. It really is awesome to be there.

Always glad to see that my old friends at Beyerdynamic are up to their old and new tricks. I don’t remember what the name of this particular headphone was, but I sure as heck want to report on it.

Glad to see that JLab was also on the scene with their headphones.

I always like what Supertooth has in stores, and they are getting into that wireless earbuds game with the TW1.

My friends at Jabra had some great stuff on display, and they never stop with their awesome.

Here is a bag that will give a loud alarm if you attempt to break in to it. It is an idea that really should have happened a long time ago.

This is a combination of a game with an app for something really interesting known as Beasts of Balance.

Speaking of games, I loved this handheld for mobile devices from Gamesir, and hopefully will get to report on it soon.

Electrica Meccanica had their Solo Car on display inside. I am told that they drove it in, and this fully electric vehicle is so skinny that i believe it, don’t you?

This particular robot by Somnox is one you can sleep with. Yes, that sounds a little bad, but it has this comfortable breathing thing going on that reminds me of snuggling next to a dog on a lonely night.

Here’s some Tough Tested products that I hope to review here in the near future.

Uh, here’s a robot. I saw a lot of these at CES this year.

Nothing I like more than some interlocking triangles that can literally brighten up a room.

Yes, that is me, petting a duck. Aflac had this display where they are creating these toy ducks to help kids with cancer. I will report on that later, but I was so glad that I could pet this duck. After years of feeding them bread and never touching them, I finally had my chance. There are some things that technology cannot provide, as nature does.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide for Christmas 2017

Well, if you are like me, then you probably are wondering why you put off your Christmas shopping so late in the year. For those that are wanting to get that perfect gift for the holiday season should check out these items. Some of you will recognize this as my Black Friday Gift Guide, but I added a few things that I have recently reviewed.

How about Headphones?

Let’s start with Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 Studio.

You might want to get some when you sleep with the Soft-Tones Pillow Speaker. You can also try the SleepPhones by Acoustic Sheep.

There are models that are wired and wireless from ZAGG’s iFrogz.

You can get some great earbuds from 1More with the Dual Driver LTNG ANC In-Ear Headphones.

Also, Outdoor technologies has a good pair, along with some Bluetooth earbuds you can read about here. Speaking of Bluetooth earbuds…

Need a pair of Bluetooth earbuds?

I would suggest the Jabra Elite 25e for wired action. For wireless action, check out the New Elite Sport, also from Jabra.

The SleepPhones have a wireless version.

Oh, did I mention the iHome Fit (iB71), because that exists too.

Then there is the MOXYO Mission Wireless Earbuds.

There’s a Computer Accessory for you!

I recommend the IOGEAR Compact USB-C Docking Station with PD Pass-Thru and the Thunderbolt 3 to Dual 4K DisplayPort Adapter.

Then there is the OWC Thunderbolt Dock 3.

J5Create has several types that you can read about here and here. There’s some more J5 accessories available here.

You should see what Accell is making.

Need a Case for your Smartphone/Tablet?

UAG has some great ones like the iPhone 8/7 like the Monarch and PYLO, as well as the iPhone X.

Go with brands like Patchworks!

Something really unusual is this thing from Vibes Audio.

Now Toast gives you some good cover as well!

Catalyst also has several of them for the iPhone X and Apple Watch.

BGZ Brands also has the Lander Moab case for protection against the cold!

There are also some great ones from X-Doria. This might not be a case, but I recommend Armpocket for when you take your phone out on the road.

Speck has some really terrific cases, and you can read about the ones for Samsung and Apple.

Oh, you should also get yourself a screen protector, like the type made by Invisible Shield.

Then there are the ones from Nomad.

There are also some from Bodyguardz.

If you want a Folio case for your iPad, check out these two from ZAGG.

Also, UAG has your Google Pixel covered with these cases.

Looking for a gift for a gamer?

There is the Crusher Wireless from Skullcandy.

There is the Custom Game for Beyerdynamic. Then there is always the SteelSeries Rival 110.

There is also the Logitech G433, a 7.1 Wired Surround Gaming Headset.

Chargers are always needed!

There are ChargeHub X3 and X5.

Check out the Kodiak Plus 2.0 from Outdoor Technology.

It is similar to the Nomad 3-Port Hub, Powerpack, and the Charging Cables.

You can also go wireless with your charging thanks to the Mophie Wireless Charging Base.

Check out the RapidX DualX and X5 Rapid Car Charger.

I wish this one is available, but it is the Fingerpow.

Then there is the myCharge AdventureUltra and AdventureMax. Not only that, there is the myCharge Adventure JumpStart.

You can also go solar with the PowerKeep 12 and 36, as well as the Powerkeep Wanderer.

The M-EDGE Packlight, Tech Sackpack, and 8000 mAh Power Bank are also worth it.

Then there is the Bobine Flexible iPhone Dock.

Need to Boost your phones’ reception?

I would recommend the Wilson Drive Sleek Signal Booster for cars.

How about a Bluetooth speaker?

There is the iHome iBT77 Speaker as well as the iBT374. Then there is the iAVS1 for the Amazon Echo Dot. There is also the iPLWBT5 for the Apple Watch and your smartphone.

Oh, there is also two from Outdoor Technology, the Turtle Shell 3.0 and Buckshot 2.0.

Need a keyboard?

Check out the Matias Wireless Aluminum Keyboard with Backlight.

Cherry also has the MX Board Silent and the G80-3850 MX Brown 3.0.

I also had a fun time with the Snakebyte Key:Board Ultra.

Got a musician on your list?

I’m going to recommend two products from IK Multimedia with the iRig Mic HD 2 and the iRig Keys I/O 25.

Like taking pictures with your smartphone?

Get yourself an Olloclip Pivot!

How about something for a biker?

No problem. Get the SmartHalo.

Want something for the kitchen?

Look no further than the Gourmia GTA1500 Digital Electric Air Fryer, Griller, and Roaster.

You might want to check out the Bedol Squirt Water Clock.

How about a GPS device?

Seriously, check out the TomTom GO 52 Navigation Unit.

Traveling for the holiday?

I recommend the eGee Touch TSA Smart Travel Lock.

Also, there are two great backs from Cocoon Innovations that I will recommend. The first is the Graphite 15-inch brief and the second is the TECH 16-inch backpack.

What a more connected home?

If you want some automated bulbs, check out Sengled’s Classic Kit A19.

Speaking of home, you can do some home improvement with the TapHanger

Speck Christmas, Part 1: Presidio CLEAR, GRIP, and GRIP + GLITTER for Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

It’s been since the beginning of the year since I reviewed Speck products, so I was quite pleased to be reviewing some of their products for the newer products like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and the Note 8. These are the ones with Presidio in their name, presumably after that famous neighborhood in San Francisco.

Speck Presidio CLEAR for the Samsung Galaxy S8

Well, it’s pretty easy to see why this is called the Presidio Clear, because this case is…yeah, I don’t really need to say it.

The Presidio is made of some transparent Impactium, and I’m very certain that I can’t find that on the table of elements. Still, if you want to give your Galaxy S8 some protection from eight-foot drops, I would go with this guy, who keeps it pretty clear as well.

The Presidio Clear is also designed to be very scratch resistant, so should you require protection of this type, I would suggest going for it. You can get it on the Speck site for $19.97, but that might be a holiday discount as it is regularly $39.95.

Speck Presidio GRIP for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

I’m going to do two reviews for the price of one, because there really isn’t much difference between the Presidio GRIP for the Samsung Galaxy S8 as there is from the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Unless we are talking about size here.

Like the CLEAR, the GRIP is easy to see how it got its name. See how ribbed it is on the sides? Good luck trying to accidentally drop your device when it is wearing one of these.

Oh, and it also has an Impactium Shock Barrier on the inside, and I’m considering calling whoever assembles the Table of Elements and adding it. You can add the Presidio GRIP to your Samsung Galaxy S8 here discounted to half-price for $19.97 or your Galaxy Note 8 here discounted to half-price for $22.47.

Speck Presidio GRIP + GLITTER for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Okay, before I talk about the Speck Presidio GRIP + GLITTER for the Galaxy Note 8, I should bring up something that I should have brought up when I was talking about the GRIP.

That is, it has two layers of Impactium, and it is military grade drop-tested at 10 feet (3 meters). Like the GRIP, it is very soft, and it has the ribbed sides for non-slippage.

So, it is a great case, and it comes with glitter! It sparkles under the light like a vampire, the Twilight kind. You can pick it up on the Speck site for about $49.95. I don’t think there is a discount going on this guy, though.