A Dumb Guide To Making A Smart Home

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Look, some dads are tech masters who are always on top of the latest thing, but I just hadn’t thought about home automation before. I had Alexa, and loved it, but I figured smart lights and everything would mean rewiring the whole house. But then I was part a “favorite things” gift exchange and someone gave me a pack of four smart outlets, and it was a huge “Oh, duh” moment.

To have a smart home, you don’t have to reprogram your whole house’s electricity…you just take remote control of an outlet. I downloaded the Smart Life app, plugged in one of the outlets and held down the button until it blinked.

smartoutlet

With my phone connected to the wifi, they synced up and were good to go. I grew up with frustratingly slow tech, and had to deal with computer virus hell in the 90s, so it’s still crazy to me how intuitive and quick most things can work now! I could plug in anything to this outlet: a lamp, the Christmas tree, a surge protector connected to all devices in the room, and control it all from my phone.

Anakin
(GIphy/)

Now, the next phase of any conquest is delegation. I enabled the Smart Life skill in the Alexa app so I could use it to control the smart outlets. Fun Pro tip: You can reprogram Alexa’s response word to be “Computer.” So for a while I could say “Computer, lights” and the lights would go on or off! It was basically like being a starfleet captain all the time. Word of caution though: you say the word “computer” way more often than you think you do. It’ll hear you, man. It’ll hear you.

Of course once I got started, I became hooked. I wanted to connect full rooms and the outdoor lighting. I wanted to control the thermostat and the garage door. I wanted unlimited power! So, my next step was buying several smart switches.

smartswitch

These work the same way the outlets do, but for the internal stuff, and even the nicer ones only run for about $20. They allow voice, remote and timed control of anything that isn’t plugged in – ceiling lighting and fans and so on. I installed them myself, but it’s a little more complicated so no shame in hiring a professional for this part. It was still way easier than the complete rewiring I’d always imagined, and setup with Smart Life was just as easy as the outlets.

Now I have 6 smart outlets and 4 smart switches on the grid. With Alexa, it’s super easy to create groups for different rooms, like: Family Room, Kitchen, Outside, or larger groups like: Whole House.

Alexa Groups

From here, I was basically set to go. Smart Home: Activate! But I tend to dive…deeper.

There’s a section in the app called “Routines,” and it’s key. With it, I schedule all of my groups to turn on and off depending on day and time. For example, the box fans in all our bedrooms (#whitenoise4lyfe) are programmed to turn off, while the lights all turn on just before alarm time every morning. This is usually enough to wake up my kids without an alarm!

 

Alexa Routines

All of the downstairs lights are on when my wife gets up at an ungodly hour for her workout. My outdoor lights turn on and off at the appropriate times. The customization possibilities are awesome. Routines can also be voice-controlled, and you can make your voice commands whatever you want by typing it in the app.

So when I say “Alexa it’s TV time!” she says, “Heck yeah let’s get this party started” and turns on the Family Room.

AlexaCommand

You can also use these routines to mess with your kids. When I ask “Alexa, who is the best?” she responds with “Joel is the best” and that is an airtight argument from an omnipresent computer controlling our entire lives. 

Now I have a Nest thermostat, a Roomba, and a Chamberlain garage door opener, all controllable through Alexa or by a schedule.


I was really impressed by how simple and easy it was to get all this up and running. The big takeaway for me was realizing that having a smart home wasn’t something that’s just for super rich people living in future homes. I know there’s more that could be done, and as prices on the tech come down, I’ll probably automate more stuff. Eventually, I will achieve the ultimate goal of an automated breakfast machine, like from Back to the Future III.

 

 

The Dad loves cool stuff, and we want to share it with you. We are a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program, so we may earn a fee if you buy stuff from links featured here. But this was a true story, and it happened mostly before that whole arrangement, so no bullshit. 

Dad Surprises Daughter by Revealing He’s Graduating From the Same University

Dad graduates from same school as daughter
(YouTube/FOX59 News)

Graduating is an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. Whether you’re graduating from elementary school or medical school, your hard work and dedication should be recognized. When 23-year-old Taleigh Loven graduated from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix with her bachelor’s degree in psychology last October, her dad decided to celebrate with her. This was no ordinary celebration, though – it was a surprise celebration that was several years in the making.

During Taleigh’s celebration, her dad Mike Loven walked in wearing a GCU alumni shirt. Understandably, his family was baffled. Mike had never been one for keeping secrets – in fact, when his diploma showed up in the mail, Mike’s wife was convinced there had been some sort of mistake.

“The confusion was a lot of fun. I don’t keep secrets,” Loven told “Good Morning America.” “[My wife], she thought GCU had sent my daughter’s diploma and accidentally put my name on it.”

Though Mike is successful in his career as the owner of a staffing company, in 2016, he realized something was missing. He started school in secret while both of his kids worked towards their own degrees. You know the trick where kids stick a comic book inside the book they’re supposed to be reading for school? This impressively sneaky dad basically did the opposite.

“They thought I was working on a spreadsheet for work when in reality I was working on a spreadsheet in an accounting class,” he explained.

Mike studied, completed assignments, and took exams over four and a half years without his family catching on. While working full-time and going to school, Mike maintained a 3.99 GPA and finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics.

“During the time that he was working on his degree, he carried the load for us as he has for my entire life,” Taleigh said. “His selfless act shows a glimpse to his character. Words truly cannot express how proud I am of him.”

The Rock Shares Touching Tribute To His Dad on the First Anniversary of His Death

The rock shares tribute to late dad on anniversary of his death
(Instagram/therock)

Dwayne Johnson has always been vocal about how influential and inspirational his dad was to him, both career-wise and in his personal life. When Johnson’s dad, legendary wrestler Rocky Johnson passed away unexpectedly last year, the world mourned with him. The Rock regularly mentions just how much his dad meant to him, sharing memories and life milestones he wishes they could celebrate together.

On Monday, The Rock shared a touching tribute to his late dad on Instagram, marking the one year anniversary of his death. “When we’re breathin’ that breath…it means we still have a shot,” he wrote. “We all know loss.. we’ve all been there.. then it’s our job to rise and live as greatly as we can. My old man was a trailblazing bad dude in the game for our cultures.”

“He passed away suddenly, exactly one year ago. The show must go on.”

The video Johnson shared on Instagram was a moving compilation of memories. We see clips of Rocky completely in his element, dominating in the ring and smiling proudly as if there’s no place he’d rather be. Throughout the video, The Rock discusses the pain of losing a loved one and the beauty of life as a whole.

 

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A post shared by therock (@therock)

“The cycle of life,” Dwayne Johnson explains, “It’s painful, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s powerful, it’s a kick in the gut.”

He continues, “It can knock you down, it can knock your ass out – but you know, you rise. You get back up … you live as greatly as you possibly can.”

Johnson goes on to discuss how the death of a loved one is a jarring reminder of what life is all about. When you lose someone you love, you’re reminded of how fleeting life is. It forces you to look at your priorities, to continue living stronger and better simply because you still have time.

The Rock smiles sadly, remembering something his dad used to tell him. “For those of you who know my dad, you know he’d say, ‘you tell them I taught you everything you know – but I didn’t teach you everything I know.’”

We see Dwayne saying a somber final goodbye to his dad at his funeral, a scene immediately juxtaposed with an old clip of the pair embracing in an enormous hug.

Johnson concludes with a toast to his own dad, and to everyone who’s ever lost someone.

“Hope we’re making them proud – the show must go on.”

Soak Your Aching Dad Bod In This Zero-Hassle, Inexpensive, Inflatable Hot Tub

inflatable hot tub
Amazon

A hot tub sounds great in theory but it’s pretty easy to talk yourself out of one. You’re a dad, you’re practical. For starters, hot tubs are expensive and all dads know money doesn’t grow on trees. Plus, they’ll require maintenance that you’ll be responsible for, and you already have a backlog of home projects. Plus, hot tubs take up a ton of real estate.

But what if I told you there’s a low maintenance one you can get for a steal – that you can just deflate when not in use? Your wallet and your dad bod will both approve.

At 77” x 77” x 28” this Coleman SaluSpa inflatable hot tub is large enough for up to 6 people. It’s equipped with jets (this is not a freakin’ kiddie pool!), massage and heating systems, and water filtration. The water can even reach 104 degrees. It features solid construction and extremely durable material that ensures there are no safety issues. It even comes with a pre-tested pump and a ground fault circuit interrupter that trips at 6mA.

Oh, and the set-up is a snap and it’s easy to drain.

Just look at how much these people are enjoying it.

inflatable hot tub
Amazon

Buy here for $530

“Love this tub. I’ve had it two months now. Electric bill barely budged $10 a month even the first month when I filled it with 39 degree water and it heated for 4 days straight !! I set it up pretty quick, maybe an hour but I was in no rush. Filled up within 20-25 min tops,” one reviewer wrote.

“Honestly, I have never been in a hot tub or spa in my life but I was looking for something to cool off in on hot summer nights instead of a pool. We had an in-ground pool for many years and all I ever did was sit on the stairs in the evening and have a few drinks. I figured this might be the “equivalent”, and it was! I absolutely love it. It’s not a big “Hot Tub” with all the bells and whistles but that’s not what I wanted. This is perfect for relaxing soak and the bubbles are much better and more powerful than I expected. LOVE IT!,” one reviewer wrote.

BTW, you can use this hot tub in the winter. It just takes longer to heat up. 

“For the price, nothing comes close! After playing in the mountains, a hot soak in minerals is amazing. The bubbles are relaxing, not a therapy jet. Have been using it in Denver in winter (with a thick cover to retain heat). 2f/hr heating times, drops about ~10f overnight (is 20f at night here). Super, super happy with this tub. Easy setup and maintenance. Cleaning filters has been easy, and we’re using bromine tablets and soaking salts. I -may- have overclocked it too, a searing 110f soak is possible ;)” another wrote.

Buy here for $530

33 Space Facts For Kids That Are Outta-This-World Interesting

Space Facts For Kids
(Getty Images/Flashpop)

Your kids probably love outer space, right? Even kids who aren’t science-oriented seem to have a fascination with the universe. Hey, we don’t blame ’em — you don’t have to be an astronaut (or a wannabe astronaut) to appreciate the vast and mysterious expanse above us. There’s just so much out there. Even with just your own set of eyes, you can see some pretty cool stuff. You didn’t need a fancy telescope to find 2020’s “Christmas Star” or marvel over the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017.

Whether you’re sitting through another cartoon space adventure, working on a science project, or just simply want to earn points as the coolest dad on the block, some weird info about outer space can be a great contribution. Does your kid know what an astronomical unit is? Or have they wondered what it’s like on the moon? We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting and quirky space facts for kids we could find. Share ‘em as you see fit.

Space Facts For Kids
Canadian Space Agency/Giphy

Fun Space Facts For Kids

1 Mercury’s craters are named after famous artists, musicians, and authors (there aren’t any named after Disney characters yet, but there is one named Disney!).

2. Mercury is shrinking due to its fault scarps, which we discovered in 2016 thanks to a purposely crashed spacecraft.

3. Neither Mercury nor Venus have moons.

4. While most planets are similar to Earth and rotate around a north-south axis, Uranus rotates on its side.

5. Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Betcha thought that record belonged to Mercury, eh?

6. Litter is everywhere, including space. Thanks to our constant quest to know more about our solar system, there are now-defunct satellites and out-of-service spacecraft scattered throughout our galaxy.

7. If you combined the mass of all other planets and doubled it, that object would still be smaller than Jupiter.

8. Mount Everest is only the tallest mountain on Earth. Mars’ Olympus Mons is more than 10 miles taller, making its peak nearly three times as high.

9. Jupiter is also the “owner” of the galaxy’s most active moon. Its moon, Io, has hundreds of volcanoes. They are in an almost constant state of eruption due to Jupiter’s gravitational pull.

10. On Neptune, one year is equal to 164.8 Earth years. In other words, you won’t live long enough for Neptune to complete even one rotation around the sun.

11. Neptune’s moon, Triton, orbits the planet “backward.”

12. Uranus’ blue glow is thanks to its atmospheric gases.

13. The Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers write more than 15,000 research papers.

14. While it seems like we’re on a never-ending space quest to find water on Mars, we do know that ice exists throughout our solar system — including on our own moon and even in shadowed Mercurian craters.

15. The first food ever eaten in space was applesauce.

16. The sun is 4.6 billion years old.

17. Did you know that technically the color white isn’t a lack of colors, but all colors mixed together? This phenomenon accounts for why the sun appears white to us.

18. You could fit more than one million Earths inside the sun.

19. The sun is made of roughly ¼ helium.

20. The distance between Earth and the sun is called an astronomical unit.

21. Did you know the sun makes its own orbit? It takes roughly 225-250 million years to complete one orbit around the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

22. When the sun runs out of hydrogen, it will begin expanding and devour Mercury, Venus, and Earth. Don’t worry, though! Scientists believe we have another 5 billion years before that happens. Even your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren won’t see this happen.

23. There are more stars in space than grains of sand on Earth. (If you want to fact check that, you better start counting.)

24. The first woman in space was Russian astronaut Valentina Tereshkova.

25. There’s no wind on our moon.

26. Because of the lack of wind, our astronauts’ footprints will never disappear.

27. Combined with the sun’s, the moon’s gravitational pull creates our tides.

28. No matter where you are on Earth, you’re always seeing the same side of the moon.

29. We know more about our moon than our oceans. It’s true! We’ve mapped 100 percent of our moon’s surface. However, we’ve only explored about 5 percent of the ocean floor.

30. Sure, you know about black holes, but what do you know about white holes? Despite having never discovered one, scientists know it’s mathematically possible they exist.

31. The center of the galaxy reportedly smells like rum and tastes like raspberries. Um, yum! Wondering why? Well, that would be thanks to the chemical ethyl formate, which gives both their distinct smell and taste. It was recently discovered in a gas cloud near the center of the Milky Way.

32. “Outer space” is only 62 miles away. That means you’re closer to outer space than Disney World is to Miami or Los Angeles is to San Diego.

33. Space is completely silent.

Heartwarming Doritos Ad From Mexico Features Son Coming Out To Father

Doritos Mexico's heartwarming ad
(YouTube/Doritos)

Name one TV commercial you remember, and I’ll bet you had an emotional reaction the first time you viewed it — whether it made you laugh, smile, cry, or all three.

It’s no secret that some of the most memorable advertising somehow pulls at your heartstrings. Case in point: the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Apple iPad widower, or the Mac Daddy of them all, the Sarah McLachlan SPCA ads (you’re welcome for that earworm btw).

However, there’s a new player on the list of corporate emotional manipulators, and it’s one you may not expect: Doritos.

Over the holidays, Doritos Mexico launched a commercial that’s since made waves for all the right reasons, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.

It features a divorced father with a college-age son who brought a friend home for the holidays. However, he soon suspects his son and the male companion “are a couple and they do not dare tell me,” so he goes to Reddit for advice on how to break the news gently that he knows… and, more importantly, that his love is unconditional.

The ad — which is based on a true story — ends with a simple, subtly sweet exchange between father & son… followed by the viewer’s own visceral ugly-crying (or maybe that’s just me?).

With everything going on in the world today, it’s the virtual, inclusive embrace we all need right now, albeit from an unexpected source. (Then again, as the saying goes, “If you can’t get a warm, bosomy grandma hug, fill the spiritual abyss with a chips commercial!”)

Here’s hoping it makes its way to U.S. airwaves soon.

Watch the full Doritos Mexico ad (in Spanish with English subtitles) below.

Kevin Smith Thinks HBO Max May Revive Batman: The Animated Series

Batman: The Animated Series Returns
(Warner/DC)

Say what you want about DC’s handling of Superman, the Justice League, and their movies in general, they’ve never once wavered from their commitment to Batman. Barely a year goes by without Batman making news one way or another, and this year is no different.

There’s a new movie in the works with a new take on the character, a new cut of Justice League fans are hoping fixes the last version, the return of several former actors reprising their roles in the eventual Flash flick, a new comic series featuring a black Batman, a new HBO Max show set in his universe and now a new cartoon as well, picking up where the beloved Batman: The Animated Series left off.

On their Fatman Beyond podcast, legendary geek/director and the man behind the He-Man revival recently set the batcorners of the internet aflame when he discussed a rumor the HBO Max is developing a follow-up to the legendary Batman animated show from the 90s.

“The rumor is that HBO Max is looking at making a Batman: The Animated Series sequel, that they want to continue that forward,” Bernardin said before his co-host began gushing.

“I’m not involved, but I too have heard this and I’ve heard this from very reliable people,” Smith said. “When I heard it I freaked out, and I heard this…I would say a month before you just said it. I think that’s real, I don’t think that’s a rumor, I wouldn’t say ‘Set your watch to it,’ but it’s an idea whose time is not only coming, I think it came, and it’s smoking a cigarette. I think that’s gonna happen. How fucking amazing would that be because you can just literally pick up and keep going. It’s not like, oh we gotta explain why everyone’s older, it’s fucking animation man so you can go right back to those amazing fucking stories.”

Batman: The Animated Series originally ran from 1992-1995 and features what some fans consider to be the definitive versions of both Batman (as voiced by Kevin Conroy) and The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill). The cartoon also introduced Harley Quinn, who has since skyrocketed to become one of DC’s most popular characters (and who has her own show on HBO Max).

The rumor that a new version of Batman: TAS might be coming has fans rejoicing for yet another take on the Dark Knight. Check out Smith and Bernadin’s glee at discussing the rumors:

 

Liam Neeson May Play Frank Drebin in New Naked Gun Movie

Liam Neeson Naked Gun
(20th Century Fox)

With all the remakes and reboots of classics that continue to be in development, there is one genre that never really seems to get recycled, and that’s comedies.

There have been a few attempts, like the Ed Helms version of Vacation, and a reboot of Fletch, coincidentally another Chevy Chase series, is currently in the works, with Jon Hamm (but it will adhere more closely to the series of novels than the movies). And now another classic comedy that, coincidentally, also once had Ed Helms attached may be coming soon: The Naked Gun.

The Ed Helms casting never made sense to me, because one of the things that made Naked Gun work was the fact that Leslie Nielsen wasn’t known as a comic actor, aside from his hilarious performance in Airplane!, which was also a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker joint.

Thankfully, there’s a new name being bandied about, and he’s far from a comedian, despite how hilarious The Phantom Menace is: Liam Neeson.

Yes, I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.

Neeson revealed that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, with whom the Taken star has collaborated on A Million Ways to Die in the West, Ted 2, and several of his TV shows, has approached him to headline the Naked Gun reboot.

“I’ve been approached by Seth MacFarlane and Paramount Studios to maybe resurrect the Naked Gun films,” Neeson said while talking to People about his latest action movie, The Marksmen.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this idea. McFarlane himself floated Neeson as a comedy star once before.

“Generally with dramatic actors they do kinda like the idea of coming in and doing a comedy to show they can do comedy,” McFarlane said back in 2015. “Liam is great with comedy. I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen his Ricky Gervais sketch? Liam is awesome.”

He even expressed his desire to relaunch the Naked Gun with the tall Irishman.

“My dream at some point would be to do an entire movie with Liam where he does a Leslie Nielson Naked Gun kinda thing. Because he’s so good at playing against the comedy and therefore he’s hilarious. He just really knows what he’s doing.”

This is all just chatter for now, but if they do end up remaking the Naked Gun, Neeson strikes me as a great choice for Lt. Frank Drebin.

Father Figures: Tired

“My husband is the best dad in the world, but even great dads get tired!”

– Sidney Gregory

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

“I’m Sending You Strength,” Ryan Reynolds Reaches Out to Fan Battling Cancer

Ryan Reynolds Video
(Twitter/CadenFanshaw)

Having a kid forced to fight cancer seems like one of the cruelest things a family can face, so anything that can bring a smile to the kid’s face must feel like gold. Ryan Reynolds came through in a big way for a young fan in that situation, sending a video message to an 11-year-old boy with Hodgkins Lymphoma and Crohn’s disease.

Ryan Reynolds is a class act, and exhibit A in how to act if you’re a movie star. Whether it’s helping a lonely kid on his birthday or sending love to a sick kid, Reynolds is there (along with the many hilarious things he does as well).

In this case, the boy’s mom had recently shared on social media that they were having a hard time, but watching the Deadpool movies was one of the things getting them through. So Reynolds sent a personal message of hope to the kid.

“Brody, it’s Ryan Reynolds, I just heard a little bit about your story and I wanted to send you this video and let you know that I’m thinking about you and I’m sending you tons of love and I’m sending you strength, whatever strength I’ve got.”

He closed the message with praise for the boy and expressing his hope they can meet in person someday.

“Man, you have a ton of people in your life that love you so much. I know you’ve been going through it, I know it’s been a challenge, but you’re just the man for the job Brody. So I’m sending you lots of love. I hope I get to meet you in person one of these days.”

His mom was over the moon, telling a Canadian news outlet that her son’s jaw hit the floor when he saw the video and kept saying “I feel like I’m the movie star.” She said when they are having a hard day, they love watching Deadpool to cheer up and that they’ve been watching the clip nonstop since he sent it. They had put the call out earlier in the week, after a hard week of chemo.

Ryan Reynolds, coming through, yet again. You can almost set your watch to how awesome Reynolds is on a daily basis.