I guess this weekend can be summarized with cooking and movie/TV watching as can most of the weekends lately. Well, that is perhaps not exactly true but there was a lot of movie/TV watching and some cooking.
The kids have stayed the entire weekend. I will drive them to Bellegarde in a couple of hours. Jonathan needed new shoes so we started off going to Balexert. At least me and Jonathan went to Balexert. The two small ones did not want to go so they stayed in the apartment. Apart from the shoes we picked up Moana on Blu-ray at FNAC which we watched while having lunch today. It was quite good although the two small ones insisted that we watched it in French. Not even telling them that it was “The Rock” doing the English voice for Maui managed to convince them. Grumble…
I made some nice minced meat steaks for lunch on Saturday. Classical Swedish style with potatoes, salad and green pepper cream sauce. Timothy complained about getting plain boiled potatoes of course. If it is not fried it is no good for him.
However, in the evening I had booked a table at Coq Rouge here in the village. They changed owners about two years ago and the new owners are trying to keep it a bit more posh than the previous ones. The food was quite good. I would not say they merit any Guide Michelin stars but quite good nonetheless. Of course Timothy was complaining that all the dishes had something in them that he did not like. Sigh. He always finds something negative to complain about these times.
For lunch today I tried to use the grill in my oven for the first time. Grilled lamb skewers with Mediterranean rice, pickled olives, pickled garlic and a set of BBQ sauces. There was about 1.2 Kg of meat on those skewers and it went down almost all of it.
Oh, I made a small English breakfast (featured image of this post) with sausages, scrambled eggs and a few other things this morning as well. English style breakfast is usually a bit of a hit with the kids. The only drawback is that I have to get up early to prepare. Okay, maybe not that early but a hell of a lot earlier than if I would have just served corn flakes and sandwiches.
Recently I caved in to my dark desires and replaced my old(ish) LED-LCD TV for a new and shining 55″ OLED one. A Philips 55POS901F/12 to be exact.
As usual I, as someone having grown up in a time when the TV-repair guy actually made house calls to repair your TV, am a bit saddened about the fact that I was replacing a well working piece of hardware just to get one with the latest bells and whistles. Well I wanted a bigger one than my old 46″ screen as well but still…
Anyway, I felt like sharing a few words about this new gadget of mine. Yes I call it a gadget since I can not really claim that a 55″ OLED TV with all its bells and whistles is one of life’s essential requirements (it is damned close though, I can tell you ).
I looked around for a while before I decided which model to buy. There are a lot of interesting models out there but I draw the line when you can buy a small car for the price of a TV set. That price level is just ridiculous for even the one percenters. You got to be in the 0.1% or be seriously fanatic about your home cinema gear to accept that kind of price.
I also ruled out the models with those silly curved screens. Curved screen is a hyped up marketing gimmick, nothing else. At the distances and sizes we are talking about for a TV installed in a normal home a curved screen is a big minus if anything. The guy who sits in the sweet spot may have some (debatable) benefit from it but every one else will be suffering.
The Philips brand was on the list quite early since I do like their Ambilight technology. It produces a wonderful relaxing atmosphere when watching movies in the evening and you can synchronize your Hue lights to it as well. So when Philips came out with their first OLED TV and it generally got very good reviews I went for it.
So, is it any good? The first thing that comes to mind is that the picture is simply stunning! When I bought my old Philips it was supposed to have one of the best picture on the market and up until I got my new beast installed I thought it was pretty damned good. I still is I guess but the OLED one is just wow. The color reproduction is just so much better than on any LCD screen that I have seen. On my PS3 I have a theme with a background of a post-apocalyptic city with lots of smoke and fires. On the LCD screen there where a lot of dark, almost black, smokey areas. On my new TV there are loads and loads of details in those areas. It is like it is a whole new image. The fantastic picture alone is worth replacing my old TV. There are also plenty of settings to adjust the picture, apply software corrections etc. etc.
The other big reason that I wanted to replace my old TV was that I wanted a 4K capable one. I have already started to buy some of my new additions to my movie collection in Ultra HD Blu-ray. At least for the time being the Ultra HD Blu-ray’s always seems to include a standard Blu-ray as well so, given that I planned to upgrade to a 4K set at some point, it seemed logical to get some of the more visually extravagant movies at least as Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Unfortunately I have not yet upgraded the rest of my system (receiver and Blu-ray player) so I cannot yet comment on how proper 4K material looks on the TV. The missing hardware (including a Atmos/DTS:X setup) is coming soon though so I guess I will have make another post on this subject by that time. I do get Netflix’s version of 4K via the Netflix app on the TV though and it looks pretty good. However, as with all the streaming services, it is compressed as hell to reduce the bandwidth requirements. Even a standard Blu-ray has up to three times the bitrate compared to what Netflix offers. Also, the sound quality when streaming is plain Dolby 5.1 at best so I refrain from any in depth comments on 4K images for now.
I have played a fair bit of HD and SD material from Blu-ray, Netflix, Hulu and basic TV out of my Internet/TV box though and I have to say that the set is doing a pretty good job of it. The Blu-ray’s are magnificent when upscaled to 4K and displayed in splendid OLED colors by the TV. It has a function to “upscale” the colors as well by oversampling and it is doing a decent job of it. SD material is of course looking like … SD material. You cannot create information out of thin air so upscaling a 480p signal to 4K is a rather tall order. Having said that the TV is doing as good a job as can be expected. The image certainly do not look any worse than on my old TV and that is good enough for me.
The one drawback I see is that it is indeed not as bright as my old TV. Whether it was a sunny day or in the middle of night, I could still enjoy watching TV. I still can but the OLED screen is struggling a bit on a sunny day.
Okay, stunning image but what about the rest? Well I guess there are speakers built in. Okay, yes there are speakers built in but I have not used the built in speakers of any TV set for 15 or so years. I always feed the sound through my AV receiver.
The user interface and the remote I can say a few things about though. The remote(s) are somewhat disappointing compared to the slick metal remote of my previous Philips TV. They have a plastic feel and are just average on ergonomy. Actually, the cheapest of the two controls are the best one to use since the more advanced one has a stupid combination of track pad and arrow keys in the center which at the slightest touch decides that you wanted to do something completely different than what you really wanted. After setting up my Logitech universal remote the Philips ones promptly got delegated to the box-of-electronic-gadgets-that-I-probably-never-will-use-again.
Unfortunately the on screen user interface is about as dull as the interface on my previous TV. Philips should really hire some professional GUI designers. It does what it is expected to do but not really anything more. It also seems somewhat unfinished and inconsistent. Sometimes you gan navigate with the arrow keys and sometime you have to use the back button and it seems to be anyone’s guess whether or not back brings you back one step or all the way out. The user interface is simply unacceptably poor for a high end TV today.
Philips uses Android as it Smart TV OS and people that are better at reviewing has written enough reviews about Android on a TV so I am just going to say that I do not really like it. Dull user interface, not really that many apps that I actually care for and, as usual, it comes pre-loaded with a lot of crap (including a lot of useless Google apps) that I really do not want. Yes I do not have to use them but I have to scroll through all that crap when I navigate around in the OS.
Well there is probably a lot more I could praise or harp about but to me this TV boils down to one thing. Stunning picture quality and that is what I buy a TV for. The fact that the design looks good in my living room even when the TV is turned off is just a bit of icing on the cake. It is a shame that the remotes are a bit shoddy but I almost never use them anyway and neither do I muck around in the on screen menus that often so … I am a happy puppy.
After a pretty crappy week weather-wise we finally got a sunny Saturday. As usual the kids are here with me so it is really appreciated to have some nice weather today.
This Saturday I went for Creole/Cajun food for lunch. Actually I got inspiration for Cajun food when watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. I quite like Ramsay’s cooking shows. Unfortunately it’s the US version on a US channel so some hypocritical bible belter has fucked up the show by censoring the trademark language of Ramsay. Not only did they add stupid beeps to the soundtrack but they also pop up a bloody annoying gray blur over his mouth whenever he is using language for grown ups. Come on! What’s the point of buying a show that is specifically known for the lead character’s cursing and then fuck it up with beeps and blurs? Hypocritical assholes!
Anyway, Creole and Cajun on the menu for today it was. I found a nice recipe for some Creole seasoning which l rubbed on pork chops. After popping them into my cast iron frying pan I served them with a Cajun Mac & Cheese. Okay, I did make the Mac & Cheese a bit lighter than they usually are since I served it together with a good chunk of dead pig. I thought it was quite nice and the kids took healthy helpings so I guess it was to their liking as well.
Speaking of foul language by the way. I’m writing this post on my tablet sitting in the living room in front of the TV where Cassandra is playing Grand Theft Auto. Holy cow! That game has some seriously foul language. I think my ears are starting to smoke.
The kids have been staying at my place since Thursday for a really long weekend. It is their first week of the school holidays so they are alternating between my place and my ex’s place. I took Thursday and Friday off to spend some quality time with them.
This time I tried to not have them vegetate in front of the TV all the time. It was not that much of an effort on Thursday and Friday since we had some stuff to do anyway. On the Thursday I took Jonathan and Timothy to the barber. Timothy did of course play Mr. Grumpy the entire morning since he never want to do anything that has to do with things like the barber, buying clothes and so on.
Yesterday we went to Balexert to buy some new clothes for Jonathan. He has become quite a fashion guy which I do not mind at all since he is going for the smart kind of fashion. We got him a new gray jacket and a shirt.
Since we were going to Balexert I planned in a lunch at one of the restaurants there as well. More specifically the Fiesta Mexicana. It was quite nice as always. I got something that they labelled as a “pre-peruvian” dish. Well, it sure as hell looked ancient with Tequila barbecued shrimps served in a huge bowl made out of volcano rock and with peppers, pimentos and other traditional South American things to go with it.
Today we are going to go back to Balexert after lunch to watch a movie at the cinema complex there. I finally got to get the kids to agree on a movie. Actually Jonathan and Cassandra gets together and agrees quite easily. Timothy however always finds something to complain about. That annoys me to no end.
Unfortunately what the kids chose was the new Power Rangers movie. Oh well, I hope it is better than the TV-series at least.
Yesterday I made some grilled chicken with wedge potatoes and salad, a half chicken per person, and the kids were so stuffed that despite me having bought dessert they did not want any. Oh my.
For tonight there will be tuna with pasta on the menu. I got some fresh tuna steaks from the shop this morning as well as some pieces of dead cow (beef fillet) for tomorrow lunch since it is the last day this time. We might get some guests tomorrow as well. Remains to be seen. I guess I have to binge eat beef fillet the coming days if not since I am sure as hell not freezing beef fillet.
Oh, by the way. There is no way the kids will let me get away with going to Balexert without a visit to Lolipop.
Well, as the title says, I spent the Easter weekend with the kids. Actually I am still spending it with them as I write this. We have half a day left of the weekend and then I am driving them back to Bellegarde. I took the opportunity to jot down a few lines while I was waiting for my meat pasta sauce to simmer away.
It has been a good weekend. Well, I think so at least. I hope the kids have enjoyed it as well. They look happy so … fingers crossed. Yesterday we had a traditional (Swedish) Easter lunch with Swedish herring, eggs, sausages, cheese and “charcuterie”. Afterwards we watched the last of the Hunger Games movies. Somewhat underwhelming unfortunately.
Poor Timothy wanted to install his birthday game on the PS3. He almost did not get to play anything since, as usual, the publisher had pushed an unfinished game onto the disk so the first thing it did was to download about 8 Gb of patches and stuff. Since I only have a 30 Mbps VDSL connection (they are in the process of installing fiber in the village thank good) it took well over an hour.
Now he is trying the game JJ gave him on his PC and that one wants to download 66 Gb. What the fuck!? That is about 14(!) DVDs worth of data. Seriously game developers, get your act together!
Well, I guess Tim has to practice the waiting game for a while.
For dinner yesterday we had some lamb shanks. It is Easter after all so having lamb at least one of the meals this weekend was more or less a foregone conclusion. I made six of them together with a Ratatouille like vegetable concoction and wedge potatoes. I got one of the shanks and my three kids downed the other five. I guess it was to their liking. There will be no recipe links this time since made all the meals inventing the recipes as I went along this weekend. After dinner we watched Batman v Superman. I am said to write that this movie was the worst pile of crap that I have watched in a long time. There will be a post about that one on my Books & Movies site for sure.
I did not manage to finish this post before it was lunchtime. Cassandra wanted me to create a PSN account for her so she could play a game that required a PSN account on my PS3 and that took some time. So I scribble down these last words while resting a bit after lunch. In a couple of hours we will take off for Bellegarde. Tomorrow is a day off for my ex so she will have the kids. They will come back to me on Thursday next week and stay until Sunday. Then we will see what we do the week after. The two small ones have another week of school holiday while JJ’s holidays ends next Sunday.