Month: February 2016
I love making big breakfasts. My family loves it when I make breakfast. I’m constantly trying new things. Sometimes I make deep fried hashbrowns, bacon and sunny side up eggs for everyone. Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese served with farmer sausage and country fried seasoned potatoes are another favorite. Recently I made an amazing baked egg in avacado served with warm salsa and bacon bits. In the summer with fresh vegetables and herbs I find myself making omelettes in a variety of fashions.
Ah, summer. I love making breakfast in the summer, sitting outside enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, and looking out into my wooded backyard. Fresh air, birds chirping, and lush plants make it such a pleasure to be alive. We live a few blocks away from the Krause Berry Farms and I am a sucker for fresh fruit. We make smoothies or put the fresh berries into sparkling wine at breakfast (if we don’t have mimosas mind you). But the best is fresh fruit on home made waffles with fresh whipped cream.
During our travels, we do our best to stay at hotels that offer breakfast. A few years ago we noticed that there was often these waffle irons and waffle batter available to make in the mornings at most hotels. Much better than stale donuts and toast. When we got home, we ended up buying a flipable waffle iron for us to use. It has gotten such a good work out, we bought a second one in order to make twice as many waffles in half the time.
Now, here’s a little secret I learned for making amazing waffles: Use a boxed cake mix. Chocolate cake waffles end up tasting like cupcakes. Even a lemon cake mix stays light and fluffy in the middle. Serve with some ice cream and fresh blue berries or strawberries for a wonderful summer brunch. Now I’m hungry…
This summer, feel free to come over for some brunch, I’d love to cook for all my friends!
I’m not successful in many aspects of my life. I’m not a financial mogul or have zero debt. I’m not well travelled. I don’t consider myself to be holding a career. I don’t really know how to measure success either. Perhaps success doesn’t need to be measured by numbers.
I have a job that pays me quite well. It provides me with enough money to live contentedly. I have a house with some property in a market that is out of control these days. I have a wife of fifteen years who cares about me. I have three children, all of whom are fantastic and generally happy. I also have friends. Friends who have been there for me throughout the years.
I am on a new journey lately of writing out my opinions and memories. I’m doing this as a way to share a more in-depth look into who I am with my friends. So, I began to blog. I write about 500 words/day to keep it an easy read. Maybe I’ll make money off my writing, or maybe I won’t. No big deal.
As most of you know, sharing on Facebook can be difficult. So, I made a page this past Wednesday devoted to the greatest man in my life-me. To my astonishment, within two days, nearly one hundred of my friends chose to follow and like it. I’m thinking some of you enjoy reading my thoughts, some of you just click “like” to shut me up, and some a bit of both. Also, if you like my writing, by all means share with your friends my little Facebook page (shameless self promotion Saturday).
Like most people, I decided to look myself up online (I do believe this is called ego-surfing) to see if people could find my page, as well as to see what was out there. Apparently, I’m not the only Josef Havelka who lives in the social media land. Most other “Josefs” live in European countries. One is a photographer/artist. Most of the others are just regular guys. I’m impressed that my name drew a few hits in return.
I’m going to leave you with a quote from a Josef Havelka:
“Either sit at home in the corner, cry over… what you screwed up and throw it on the other mistakes… Or start doing something, get up and fight, then you can say, I did… that’s why everything…”
It’s poorly translated, but hey, it gets right to the point. Sort of.
I am kind of a big deal. Ok, not really in the popular sense. I mean I’m sorta tall. But that counts, right?
I always stood head and shoulders above everyone. That’s probably the reason I use Head & Shoulders Shampoo by P&G when washing my hair. (If I do product placement, eventually I’ll get paid, right? Right?) I get the same questions every tall person gets.
“How tall are you?”
“Do you play basketball?”
“What’s the weather like up there?”
“Can you reach this for me?”
Over the years, these questions have been a regular occurrence no matter where I go. Sometimes it bothers me, most of the time it doesn’t. I just play along and smile awkwardly. I’m also pretty easy to spot in a crowd. Whenever someone of similar stature is within the vicinity of me, one of two things happens. Either we avoid each other like the plague and pretend we don’t acknowledge the other’s presence. Or we end up talking about how annoying it is to be singled out and talked to like freaks by average people. At one point in my life, my friends nicknamed me “Tall Guy”. I was never bothered by that, but the name faded like the friendships of that time.
Most people who aren’t my height don’t realize how they sound. If I spoke to a short person and asked if they were a horse jockey, that’d be kind of offensive. Or if I went up to a rotund person and commented about how big they are and asked if they did sumo wrestling, it might be considered really offensive . I have discovered that children are at least in awe of my height and genuinely excited and astonished by it. A boy in my daughter’s preschool at their graduation said, “I want to grow up and be tall like Random’s dad.”
For almost five years I worked as a manager at the local Chuck E. Cheese’s. The majority of kids were fantastic and fun to be around. If they asked me a question, I would crouch down to their height and talk to them like real people. I still do that if a child approaches me in public because of my height. They are genuinely curious and really happy to talk.
Being tall can suck in other ways. Me personally, I have lower back issues. I also have a slight scoliosis. I often limp when suffering from my back pains or exhaustion. Because I’m also thin, buying pants has been a challenge most of my life until recently. I found out that people in the farming area like to buy pants that are slightly longer in order to go over their cowboy boots. Score for me that I can wear jeans that don’t look like I’m wearing capris!
Being tall is part of who I am. I get to look down on most of you and not in a egotistical way. Although being awesome is also part of who I am.
Being a Canadian we are blessed with pretty decent “free” health care, decent wages, beautiful scenery, and a reputation worldwide of being nice. There are plenty of other benefits of being Canadian, but our southern counterparts have many luxuries that we don’t. Don’t even get me started on Netflix differences…
We live a fifteen minute drive from our home to the nearest border crossing. It may seem odd, but I notice a difference as soon as we leave our country and enter the USA. The roads are wider, the trees are fewer, there’s more concrete, more billboards, better prices. The Canadian dollar took a bit of a dive recently, so the exchange rate isn’t worth the travel to find great deals Stateside. I’m frugal, so finding good deals is always the plan. The United States has a lot going for it, just like Canada, and often it feels that there are so many similarities that why aren’t we just one big country? Unfortunately, there’s too much to give up on either side to become one solid entity. I can still complain about what I don’t have, I can still have an idea of what “The American Dream” is, I can still admire from afar the luxuries that Americans have. Here is a short list of 15 Ways Americans Are Different Than Canadians that is a fairly accurate read.
The US is rich in history, both good and bad. Often times I know more about American politics than Canadian politics, but that’s okay. The way information is shared these days, I wouldn’t really call most news “news”. It’s more a ratings grab or shock value created by the media networks in order to get advertising revenue. Watching American TV up in Canada, I have learned that cellular plans are far superior in the USA. More coverage, better data, and cheaper. That’s not all- the cost of food, gas, and most merchandise can be less than half the cost we pay in Canada. Insurance rates, buying homes or cars, even eating out at a McDonald’s is far cheaper.
When we travel, I try and find any place with free WiFi. From the hotels we stay at to the coffee shops we stop at. WiFi is the lifeblood that keeps me sane. Sure, I’m enjoying my roadtrips with the family, but a quick downtime for my brain is also needed. These vacations make me appreciate what I do have back home. It’s always fun to daydream about never going back, especially when laying on a sandy beach in the winter months, but there is the reality that hits. It’s not likely to happen, so just enjoy the moment.
I love my country, but as they say, the grass is always greener…
Last Sunday night my family sat down to watch “The Wonderful World of Disney:Disneyland 60”. It started off with a wonderful ten minute tribute to Mr. Walt Disney and the creation of his park. Then the next two hours were filled with advertising for everything Disney.
Maybe my children didn’t notice or maybe I’m a bit cynical. But it was basically a two hour commercial for one of the biggest money making machines in the world. Nowadays, Disney can basically print its own money. The company owns Marvel and Star Wars! Why bother to advertise anyways?
Simple. The parks are always getting upgrades. No one would visit 1950’s Disneyland today if it had never changed. Disneyland had a tough time bringing in people during the early 90’s because it had become stagnant. Then Pixar happened. And the changes were inevitable. 20,000 Leauges Under the Sea became Finding Nemo. Astro Blasters with Buzz Lightyear was created. Woody showing up in It’s a Small World. The park began a new era. Plus California Adventure opened in 2001, thus expanding the park- although poorly attended at first.Sixty years in the making, Disneyland is a Theme Park that the world knows about. Many have visited. My family and I have made the 24 hour road trip there about once a year since 2009. I love the place. Every time we go, we experience something new and memorable. Simple things like eating at Ariel’s Grotto and meeting the Princesses, riding in the Lilly Belle around the park, or a ride in the front of the Monorail (and having the engineer more excited to find out I work for a railroad instead of me being excited that I was in the front of the Monorail!), enjoying a lunch near the water of the Pirates ride in the Blue Bayou Restaurant, finding new Hidden Mickeys, Jedi Academy, the first time our children were each tall enough to ride the bigger coasters, meeting all of our favorite characters, Trick or Treating in Disneyland, eating a fabled turkey leg, Dole Whip, and the list goes on.
This year we are going to Disneyland to see the Diamond Celebration before it ends. The Season of The Force is also going on. In a few years, we will attend in order to see Star Wars Land (ya, I’m a bit of a Star wars fan). Perhaps one day, we will stay in a Disneyland Resort Hotel and immerse ourselves in all things Disney. Or a night in The Dream Suite inside the park would be the ultimate experience. Hey, sometimes dreams really do come true.
Until then, I look forward to making memories with family and friends for many years to come.
The Great Outdoors
As much as I love technology, I’m also a fan of nature. My home is surrounded by trees and we will be growing another vegetable garden this year. In our last home, I spent four years pruning our two apple trees and kept the cherry blossom tree shaped like a weeping willow. It sucked to find out that the people who moved in there immediately cut the trees down. I’m not innocent here either- we cut down about a dozen trees the first year we moved into our current home as well. But those were for safety reasons. The trees were either too close to the house, almost dead, or were close to falling down anyways.
I have a favorite tree in our yard. We call it the elephant ear tree. It is a tall crooked tree with large leaves (hence the name elephant ear tree) and it stands alone in the middle of the back of our property. The tree feels like Tim Burton himself created it. Throughout the rest of our yard there are firs, cedars, evergreens, vine maples and birch trees. None of them as majestic as the elephant ear tree (I have no idea what it’s really called).
Living in British Columbia is a real pleasure. As a family, we often find ourselves going for walks through various nature trails. We can see many amazing wonders within about a 45 minute drive.
There’s North Vancouver which had Lynn Canyon Park. Or head out to Chilliwack and see Bridal Veil Falls. Or head a little further east and visit the Othello Tunnels located at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Or if water is more your thing, check out one of the many Vancouver area lakes.
We found a little spot five minutes away from home to cool off in fresh water. We also hike into another spot that remains uncrowded. Our kids and dog love cooling off in the water and we spend a nice picnic relaxing.
We also have beaches in the Lower Mainland. My personal favorite is Crescent Beach in White Rock. During the week in the summer is the best time to go. Parking is free and there’s always a spot to sit on the sand. Plus there’s really good fish and chips that you can enjoy while watching the sunset.
It’s great to have so much to do and see so close to home. But even when we travel, we try and find sights that are awe inspiring. In Alberta, we drove to the Hoodoos. In Idaho, we drove out to Balanced Rock and Snake River Canyon. We stopped numerous times as we drove from Death Valley through Nevada where the sky, the desert, the trails, are all amazing.
The perfect smile. Almost everyone I know has had orthodontics done. Some people had to wait until adulthood to get braces, others like myself, had the joy of getting them as a teenager. The orthodontist from my teenage years is now the same orthodontist that my children are seeing.
Having straight teeth is aesthetically pleasing to see, but comes at a price. The price is a few thousand dollars. It is also years of pain as your teeth get forced into position that is somehow supposed to be natural. The human mouth works hard daily masticating food numerous times throughout the day. We also spend a large amount of time speaking, singing or yelling. We show our teeth to display feelings of happiness or anger. We are often so self-conscious of our looks and how we look to others that sometimes it prevents us from sharing our true feelings. I’m convinced that it’s all a ploy from Hollywood and dentists in order to make more money and make everyone look the same.
Even after getting braces and a perfect smile, people still refuse to show their teeth. Whether you have crooked teeth, straight teeth, yellow teeth, missing teeth, etc… your smile is your smile. I have a smile that shows off my gums and an overbite. But I don’t care.
After everything is said and done, if you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it… Clap your hands.
Crosswords and musicals
I always challenge my mind and brain power. Crosswords are something that I enjoy doing even though I’ve rarely done any on my own. My wife and I have being doing crossword puzzles since we met. The one thing I’ve noticed with newspaper puzzles over the years? They repeat answers. Which is good, since I know 100% that Aida is the Giuseppe Verdi opera. A fact I knew before these puzzles because I saw the opera when it came to Vancouver back in 1989.
It’s the only true opera that I have ever seen. Foreign language, outrageous sets, over the top performances, live elephants, and a fat lady singing. It was an experience to remember, and one that changed my life. I fell in love with classical music and stage performances. I received an Aida advertising banner from a friend of my mother’s and it hung on my bedroom door for years. A couple of years later, in 1991, I saw “The Phantom Of The Opera.” Musicals now ruled my life.
Over the years I have enjoyed watching musical theater. I’ve seen every Andrew Llyod Webber show that has come to town. I have almost all of them on CD (you know, those things that are physical copies containing music). But my favorite musical has to be Les Misérables. I’ve seen it performed twice at The Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver. I also enjoy watching the PBS concert DVD with friends and sing along. Especially to “Master of the House” that one is my favorite song.
When South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut came out in 1999, Matt Stone claimed in an interview that the film was inspired by Les Miz. I believe it. Even in it’s vulgarity, the South Park film contains some of the most catchiest tunes ever. Songs that are still fun to sing when drunk.
As I get older and my tastes change, I still have a soft spot for the familiarity of a good musical. Even Disney films that I re-watched with my children as they grew up bring me joy. Having an eclectic taste has allowed me to appreciate a good satire or a classical piece without judgement.
Now back to my crossword and finding a five letter word to complete this phrase, “Oh my god! They killed _____!”
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
As much as I love technology it also pisses my off. My hatred comes from the fact that bugs and failures happen far too often as technology gets older. This means that you need to upgrade more often.
If/when humanity gets integrated with technology, I would hope that this would be sorted out. I’d love to get an ocular implant to allow me to view the Internet without a screen. Or have nanobots injected into my blood stream to combat cancer or strengthen my muscles. These are all very strong possibilities in our lifetime. I fear that if nanobots glitch out, they could make a mess of people, taking over their bodies uncontrollably like the end scene from Akira.
In this day and age all we do is turn a computer or videogame system off and on to reboot the software. This usually resolves the issues. I’m not ready to get rebooted on a regular basis if something screws up. Already my body is deteriorating as I get older. Damage has been incurred to my body/mind (both accidentally and purposefully, mind you) and the idea of getting a reboot scares me.
Chances are, the next time I get shut down, there won’t be a chance of getting fired up again. So for now, I need to make sure everything is running at peak performance in order to prevent malfunction.
I don’t actively go out and do crunches, sit-ups, running or weightlifting. It’s never been my style. Kudos to those that are adamantly hitting the gym everyday. You have a drive and a passion to perfect your body. I can fully respect that.
For me, exercise is the yard work I do, it’s the gardening, home renovations, walking around my favorite stores, or conventions or Disneyland. I love walking. Most of the jobs I’ve had all my life have had me walking from place to place until recently. Now I sit at a desk and stare at a computer. What I found? I missed walking. Getting fresh air, seeing nature, and clearing my head. So, I take my dog for a walk more now than I ever did in the past. Not everyday, but when I feel the need- we head out for some time together. He likes it. I like it. I don’t need anything or anyone telling me I need more exercise. My mind and body are in sync and I go out as needed.
This past Christmas, I gave my wife a Fitbit because I knew she’d wanted one. To my surprise, she is still focused on it and how active she is. It has made her more aware of how many steps she takes in a day. The Fitbit has her setting goals of how many flights of stairs she needs to get done before midnight. When she is sitting at the table or on the couch, she no longer asks me or the children to get her something that she needs, she walks over and gets it herself. It may have been just as easy for one of us to bring it over, but now every step counts. My wife’s goals aren’t intended to beat the other Fitbitters she is friends with. They may have daily challenges between each other, but it’s not a contest. The way I see it, they are promoting a healthy lifestyle, with each other as a cheerleader coaching them every step of the way.
My wife thinks I should get a Fitbit to push me a bit more. As much as I love technology and gadgets, this one doesn’t appeal to me. Aside from my wife, the friends that I know who have a Fitbit, tend to not use it as much as they did when they first got it. Essentially like a treadmill being used as a clothes rack after the initial first wave of good intentions. Just gathering dust until the next resolution or need to look good because summer is approaching.
This is why I don’t go out and spend money at the gym. Or buy expensive exercise equipment. I know my limits. I know my human nature. I know I wouldn’t be happy being forced to exercise. I am healthy according to my last visit to the doctor a few months ago.
I enjoy walking on my terms. I just need to get some better shoes.
Sometimes I wish I were more artistic. I’m not very musical in any way, so that’s out. I am only just starting to write again, so until it really takes off, I’m not counting that either. Personally, I don’t think I can draw very well either, but my kids think I’m good at it. The thing is I enjoy trying out different art forms as a hobby. I’m sort of okay at it I guess.Back in high school I took concert band, electronic music, computer art, photography, photojournalism, electronics, art, and creative writing classes. I always enjoyed these classes, but also noticed that there are far more talented people out there than myself. Over the years, I have made friends with many talented artists, all excelling in their chosen passions. I am always willing to try new things, and love the challenge of learning new skills. Last year I began using Instagram and like most folks, fell in love with the ease of the website and app. Photography has changed drastically over the past few decades since I went to school. I must have a few hundred thousand pictures stored on my computer, and I take a few hundred every month on my smart phone as well. Getting the perfect shot doesn’t matter much anymore since it can be manipulated with ease. My days of yore when we would use a dark room have vanished. Film is obsolete and has been for years.
Manipulating images has been around since my teens. For computer art class, I believe the program we used back in high school was called “Corel Draw”. It was a program that showed me the basics of creating computer generated images. I have used that knowledge as a base for Photoshop. When we got our first digital camera back in 2002, I used Photoshop regularly to edit out “red-eye” and manipulate my photos to appear much prettier. I still have the folder on my hard drive called “To Be Photoshopped” that has been transferred onto my fourth computer since 2002. The photos are crappy because of the 1.5 mega pixel camera we used, but the memories are beautiful.Earlier this month, I used Photoshop in one of the most basic of its uses- I designed new labels for my wife’s hats. Nothing fancy, just updated the text in the image, but I enjoyed doing it. Today, I created a new banner for her to use at conventions. Again it was a simple use for Photoshop, but I enjoyed making it. Creating simple, but eye catching artwork/images is the part of my my wife’s business that I am pretty good at. She also let me re-name her business from “The Little Hat Shop” many years ago and create a website for her that she currently uses today. If it wasn’t for her business, we’d probably never have traveled to numerous Comic Cons and collected some amazing artwork from many talented artists.
I think I will continue to dabble in Photoshop for years to come. There is so much more that I can do with it. I’ve barely scratched the surface.
I’ll end today’s blog post with a collection of some of the artwork I’ve done for her over the years. Notice that even I’m getting better!
Respect and parenting
My wife recently said to me that she doesn’t want our son hanging out at a certain house because of the lack of respect shown to the mother of the house. I am in complete agreement. As a parent of two girls and one boy, I have found it important that my children treat everyone equally. They are allowed to have a difference of opinion, but need to be respectful of other people’s opinions and ways of life. My children are taught that they have choices and how they act reflects upon who they are in the eyes of the world.
It is always difficult to teach kids respect. Often times they are learning from the world around them. The kids in the playgrounds, their cousins, teachers, coaches, television, and movies often influence their minds. It can be overwhelming growing up and witnessing the opposite of what your parents tell you is right from wrong. My wife and I try and have adult discussions with our children when something comes up. We’ve talked about religion, volunteering, acts of kindness, bullying, sexual orientation, racism, sexism, hate, lies, fears, death… Pretty much anything the kids have asked us about, we haven’t shied away from discussing and that has proven challenging.
No one said being a parent is easy. It starts when they’re born and you’re just making sure they’re fed, clean, & safe. It becomes more challenging as they get older and their world becomes bigger. Soon you’re seeing that not all parents and their children are the kinds of people you want to be around.
As much as I want to tell someone how to parent in the style that I’d approve of, it’s not my place to do so. It’s not my place to tell people to believe or not believe in a god. Nor is it my place to tell someone to vaccinate their kids. Those are choices that parents make based on how they were raised. I am mindful that not everyone shares my parenting style. My wife and I sometimes butt heads as well on certain topics. One of the things we agree upon though, is that men and women should be treated as equals.
In our household, everyone does their share. Chores aren’t divided into his or hers responsibility. Games and movies aren’t strictly segregated for boys or girls. Treating each with respect is paramount. Making sure our children are courteous and kind, all the while understanding that not everyone in this world behaves the same, is challenging to say the least. We’re doing our part to bring out the best in our children, even if it means we have to tell them they can’t hang out with certain people.
Reading because of writing
I began writing again about three weeks ago. It brought back a flurry of emotions and ideas which I wanted to share with the world. It also renewed in me a love for reading. A couple of days ago I picked up a new book, opened it up, cracked the spine, and began indulging in its filling. It’s delicious to be reading again- it feels like it’s been far too long.
I enjoy reading sci-fi (not pronounced skif-fee as I remember hearing it at a writer’s conference from a person who had no idea what Science Fiction was. WTF?) and I recently started a novel titled: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. We received this book from Lootcrate (use promo code SAVE10 for 10% off if you want to join). We’ve been Looters since it began a few years ago, trust me- it’s awesome. So much good geeky merchandise now fill my home and bring me joy. Anyhow, this book is well written and I don’t want it to end. It has a perfect blend of futuristic ideas and retro pop culture references.
However, my favorite genre has to be biographies/autobiographies. I enjoy reading about the lives of people and the stories they wish to share. It brings them to a down-to-earth level that we can relate to. The struggles, the hurdles, & the obstacles they overcame to get where they are today (or were in past tense, as the case may be). It all started when I read Mankind: Have A Nice Day! Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks back in 1999. I was really into WWE at the time, and it was a fun way to become a part of the fandom. I’ve also had an opportunity last year to see Mick Foley at Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo do a panel where he shared more about his life. He is a very humorous man and quite the story teller.
Besides reading “Ready Player One“, I am also in the middle of reading NPH’s “Choose Your Own Autobiography“. It’s written in a way that you can read it from cover to cover or by choosing the next path in his life, as the title indicates. It’s an interesting idea with a throwback to the 80’s books of the same style. Choose Your Own Adventure was one of my favorite series growing up. It was like a mix of reading and role playing games rolled into one. As a child, it felt like I had control of what happened next to the characters. These books had excellent re-reading ability that I haven’t seen since.
The biography about Steve Jobs simply entitled “Steve Jobs” is a fantastic look into the life of one of the world’s most influential men of our time. Most people know who he is, so I won’t go into any depth or detail about it. I read it a couple years back and will probably pick it up again some day and re-read it.
Another great biography that I’d recommend is Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up. Not only is he a great comedian, but he also plays a mean banjo, so pick up his album “The Crow”. It’s not a comedy album, but rather a bluegrass style in collaboration with some other great country artists.
Perhaps it’s my enjoyment of these biographies that has inspired my writing style as of late. Most of my posts are about me and my thoughts. This allows me to share with the world who I am in a way that makes the most sense to me.
The old adage is “write what you know”.
I know about me- now you can too.
Being a couple
My wife and I have been together for many years now. We’ll be celebrating fifteen years of marriage this summer. I knew right from the beginning that we were meant for each other. On our first date we chose our wedding day and stuck to it. It may sound sappy, but every second I’m away from her, she’s in my thoughts.
As soon as I’m about five minutes away from her in my car, I call her. No joke. If I’m hanging out with friends, I’ll message her secretly about how much I love her. She brings a certain magic into my life.
We have a few sets of matching coffee mugs to start our day together. We also have matching t-shirts that we have been known to wear out in public. One day, we may even wear matching jogging outfits. I’m pretty sure that won’t surprise our friends.
I found the one person who I can sit on a couch on any given evening and binge watch Netflix with. That is what we all strive for, companionship. My wife and I have created a wonderful life together. She is by far the best friend I have ever had.
The two of us are a couple of goofballs and I know that we will spend many more years together. That makes me happy. She makes me happy.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Build me a Lightsaber
You read that correctly. Don’t buy me a Lightsaber. We have three Force FX sabers currently. Don’t get me wrong, they are awesome and I’m still on the look out for a Mace Windu Force FX saber. But a custom, not mass-produced, killer looking hilt with a vibrant color blade would be fantastic.
So, I would like one built for me. There are amazing artists out there that can do this.
The first site I ever heard of for custom Lightsabers was Park Sabers (this was like back when the Internet was invented). These guys were making Lightsabers for people before Hasbro’s Force FX.
If you want to build one from scratch, head on over to Custom Saber Shop and piece it out. More thought may be required, but check out some of those cool parts!
Some of the most amazing custom built Sabers are at Ultra Sabers.
There is one amazing artist who makes some crazy “unstable blades” and some fantastic leather work. So, be sure and follow Vader Head on Instagram.
Now that I’ve pointed you into the right locations… My birthday is coming up soon. So, maybe a gift idea?
Spoilers suck. We’ve all been a victim to this phenomenon at one point or another. And it sucks. The worst part? It’s usually a “friend” that posts such things without a care in the world.
Personally, I haven’t gotten to a point in social media that makes me want to “unfriend” a person because of spoilers- but it’s been damn close. Why people feel the need for ruining a show or movie or sporting event is beyond me. There is a certain etiquette that reasonable people should follow when posting something. Write in big letters: SPOILERS before you proceed to get hated on.
If people ask for “no spoilers” perhaps show some respect and don’t be a dick. Sure something dramatic just occurred on a popular tv show and 85% of your friends are watching it at the same time, but the other 15% may not be able to until later on, so don’t post IMMEDIATELY THAT SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED. Yes, it was shocking. Yes, you want to express your feelings. Yes, others feel the same. No, not everyone has had the chance to feel that emotional roller coaster you just went through.
This brings me to the other side of the coin. If you are on social media- there will be spoilers. There is no one to blame but yourself if this happens. If you don’t wish to unfriend someone, simply “Block” or “Unfollow” them temporarily before they have a chance to ruin anything. I’ve had to filter my newsfeed from The Nerdist because they have been known to spoil many shows before they are even aired.
Posting spoilers is the new “FIRST COMMENT” from when the Internet began. I don’t care if you saw the video before anyone else. There’s still no need to be a douche and brag about it.
If it’s been a week and the next episode is about to begin, spoil away. People have had enough time to catch up and it’s probably already been ruined by someone else.
Finally, unless you know that your friend is watching the show at the same time as you, don’t text them spoilers. That is real-life unfriending behavior. All that being said- if you post spoilers, I’m going to judge you for being a dick.
All my life I have taken naps. It’s something I look forward to every day. I may have even posted about napping on Facebook on the odd occasion.
It all started when I was younger. Like most small children, I was afraid of the dark. This caused me to stay up really late with a light on. After school, I’d come home and nap until dinner. This continued on into my teenage years. My parents gave me cable TV and I’d be up most of the night watching infomercials and bad TV.
I’ve always loved being awake during the night time. The lights on the sides of roads, the neon signs, the contrast of lights from buildings in the darkness.
Now as an adult I work shift work. I was pretty much made for it. Over the past few years, I have worked on-call: pretty much 24/7. If I’m not on-call, I like to work straight nights.
Working on-call means I could be called into work any time of day. Now I nap any time of day or night. It may sound strange, but a nap at 2am is surprisingly refreshing. Most of my life is filled with short naps and going out enjoying life in between.
I’ve even mastered the art of passing out within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. I’ll wake up just as quickly. In my home, I’ll take my naps on one of three different couches, or in my bed or in my son’s unused bunk bed. Napping in my car is also known to happen. I’ve gone to work knowing that I’d be working again in a few hours, so I’ll even put an air mattress in the back of my wife’s Pathfinder and pass out.
As an adult, naps keep me sane. Sometimes the weight of the world requires a rest. Other times, I’ll feel like I’m getting sick, and sleep in order to revitalize my body. Those who know me, know how much I love napping. I’ve done it at my friends’ homes, on their boats, and in their backyards. It’s a part of who I am.
Anyways, I’m going to head off and take nap number two of the day.
Do not disturb.
Making a home.
Just a short drive from our home is a new housing development. Recently I wandered through five of these new million & a half dollar houses. They had all the modern features you’d expect: stainless steel everything, outdoor kitchens, huge media rooms, a bar, heated garages, vaulted ceilings, open floor plan… & no yard.
These new houses were filled with high end furniture and staged to give an illusion of being lived in. After wandering these houses, it occurred to me that it isn’t what I wanted in life. New may seem nice. It’s fun to show off and pretend like you have your shit together, but who are you trying to impress?
Needless to say, I came home to my place and felt partly defeated. My home is from the 70’s. We bought the house in 2007 and have done many changes to it. It has gone through many upgrades and renovations over the years. It has character. It’s not a cookie cutter design, it was custom made by a bricklayer- and it shows. Because it was custom made in the 70’s , I’ve run into many problems. Electrical and plumbing are high on that list.
I love doing home renovations. Walking through the new housing development, I got some ideas to update my home. Most of my knowledge comes from personal research (mostly on Pinterest) and my time spent working as a sales associate at Home Depot. During the slow times there, I’d wander to the different departments and ask questions. I learned that the staff at my local Home Depot are extremely knowledgeable in their given departments. I also learned, don’t ask for help on a weekend, it’s always busy. Go in mid-week during the day and you will be able to truly learn something of value. There are also plenty of great how-to books and seminars available.
Over the years, I learned the hard way that you need the right tools for the job. Never cut corners. I take pride in the work I have done around my home. The hardest part I have found is finishing my projects. I’ll get about 90% done, and stop. It’s the little finishes that I need to do: baseboards, or hiding wires, or adding that little bit of caulking.
Here’s the thing: I’m not building my home to impress anyone. I’m building it because I enjoy what I do. My home has a yard. A yard that my kids and dogs have made good use of. A yard that I enjoy looking at and hanging out in.
As much as a new house would be nice to own, I’d lose my little bit of tranquility. I’d be bored not having a project to work on. I’m not ready to do that. My home is a place that we welcome friends and future friends to visit. You’ll find unfinished walls, dog hair on the furniture, and smiles on our faces.
Just remember to bring the white wine and beer as we fire up the grill this summer and create memories that will last a lifetime. That makes my home worth more to me than a million bucks and I’m not ready to sell.
Getting my thoughts out
I’m often finding myself sharing my writing in the late evening or even overnight. It’s currently 1:15am as I work on this entry. I’ll be continuing upon my awakening. This entry will most likely be posted by noon after some revisions.
My writing style is simple. What I write about is whatever comes to mind. I’m currently on a mission to write everyday, because I’m worried that if I miss one day, it’ll become easy to miss a second day, and another… My inspiration comes at random moments throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll be in the shower, other times I’ll be scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, but often times I’m driving. The ideas always seem to start while I’m in my car listening to news radio and driving the same stretch of roads doing my daily commute. Funny thing is, I don’t have the same commute every day. Most mornings I drive my children to the Fine Arts school about fifteen minutes from our home. Afternoons, I pick them up and bring them home. Then they get driven all around our town for the various after school activities.
My work commute has me driving between two different locations, depending on where I’m needed. Some days I drive towards the North Shore where I see the mountains and the river and have the joy of being stuck in traffic for an hour or so (we can talk about road rage some other time). Other times, I drive to a location near the river under a bridge, tucked at the bottom of the hills. My commute to work can take place any time of day, afternoon, or night. I’ve done all of these drives numerous times over the years. Even though I travel around, it’s always the same routes, which causes my mind to wander. It’s during these drives that ideas come to me.
The ideas start on these journeys, but often times it is when I get home that the ideas get completed. My home fills me with joy. There’s an air of tranquility here that is needed to finish my thoughts. When the sun is out, there are beautiful trees with various animals scampering about to focus on. If it’s late at night or dreary, I can sit by my fire with a drink and focus on the stone wall & wood beams to bring forth inspiration.
I don’t know where my musings will take me, but I am enjoying writing them and sharing with everyone. My fears from a couple weeks ago of whether my writing is worthwhile have subsided. The energy and excitement of getting my thoughts out keep me going. I have drafts ready in case one day I won’t be sure of what I should write. I am using the mobile app of WordPress to have handy as thoughts bounce through my mind.
Getting my thoughts out is my way of sharing with the world my love and appreciation for everything and everyone.
In my early twenties, I was once described as a “sprinkler” because I spread out my time with many different people. A few years later, it seemed my friends had whittled down to a select few. My life had mellowed out when my children were babies/toddlers, but I seem to be making friends again at record speeds.
Meeting new people is fantastic. I love hearing about people’s lives and experiences. Sharing knowledge and stories makes us all better people. I find that with every person I meet, my life gets better. My biggest problem… I am terrible with names.
Not just the names of people I just met, but also of people I’ve met numerous times. I used to feel bad about not remembering names. I’ve flat out said to people, “I don’t know who you are.” I’ve even tried, “I’m sorry, your name escapes me.” Most people just say their name again to me and I say something along the lines of, “That’s right!” As if the person telling me their name just discovered it themselves as well. I don’t feel bad about asking any more.
Then I realized that I’m a tall skinny freak. I stand out in a crowd. Most people who have met me remember me because of my personality. I never take life too seriously.
I make friends through friends. There’s a reason the first friend is a friend. It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon when you trace out how you met people. Each person I meet and choose to remain friends with, is one more life that now expands into mine.
I like making new friends. But it can be awkward to say, “Hey can I get your contact information so we can hang out sometime in a non-sexual manner?” Facebook has made this awkwardness a bit easier. Although, awkwardness has its benefits. It makes situations more memorable. I live for the memories made with new friends. It brings an air of excitement.
I’m off to go make some new friends. So until next time, be sure and share some wisdom with somebody new.
I’m the first to admit, I don’t care much for sports. You won’t catch me doing anything much more athletic than five pin bowling or maybe darts. Sometimes walking is more than enough exercise for my week. So, I don’t much care for watching sporting events.
Today is a big day in the NFL. It’s Super Bowl 50. Parties and drinking and food and friends and commercials. I’ll watch the commercials. That’s the time companies really put up the money and make ads worth watching.
I’m a geek at heart, but I’ve noticed over the years that the line between jocks and nerds is closing. Many people who watch football also watch superhero movies. Baseball players love a good craft beer. People who play videogames also enjoy hockey. Fun fact: In the early 80’s, Intellivision was the first video game company to secure the rights to major sports leagues such as NHL, NFL, and PGA to name a few.
I will watch an end game to whatever big sports thingy is happening. Stanley Cup final game, Olympic Gold Medal, World Cup soccer final, WWE Wrestlemania, even Super Bowl. I don’t have a team to cheer for. I don’t follow the stats of players. But the energy in a pub, home, or even live at the game is something to marvel at. It sucks you in and you just want to cheer for a good play or ooooo at a hard hit.
I’m not going to diss fans of sports. I feel that way about Star Wars. I know tons about that universe.
Running a Home Business
My wife has a small home based business. She creates fleece hats and hair clips in a small studio off the side of our home. Shameless promotion here: Ningen Headwear
Her business started about eleven years ago as a way of making some extra money while our children were toddlers. My wife attended craft fairs and sold on eBay from 2005-2010. Etsy showed up in 2009 and she began selling there. From that point on, she made numerous contacts and began focusing her products towards a specific genre. We attended our first Anime Convention, and thus began a new way of life.
My wife’s business pays for our trips. We incorporate vacation time with the Comic Cons. As a family we love the Convention Circuit. The kids are often dressing up in Cosplay, having photos taken, meeting celebrities, meeting fantastic artists and just having a good time. It doesn’t feel like work when we are there. But building stock and merchandise, that feels like work.
Last year I finally completed my wife’s studio. Up until this point, our dining room and spare bedroom was where she worked 11.5 months of the year. We only ever packed up for the two weeks at Christmas to make it feel like a home again. Now she walks out the door and enters her own world. She puts in full time hours but it feels like part time pay. That’s the cost of running a home business. No one tells you it will take twice as much time for half the results.
In my spare time, if I’m not doing housework or general home repairs, I try and help her. I don’t know how to sew. I don’t know how to measure and cut fabric. I do know how to update her website. I know how to sit at her embroidery machine and thread it (thank you movie theater experience for that!)
My wife’s home business isn’t going to make millions. But it does make her happy. My wife makes her customers happy as well and their feedback is phenomenal. That’s a job satisfaction that comes with taking pride in your work. Her business also keeps us traveling. Which allows for us to spend quality time together. That is worth more to us than any amount of money.
Running a home based business isn’t easy- but it sure can be rewarding.
I live for technology. The iPhone in my hand, using the free wifi offered inside of a building, as I write this while watching my kids skate just blows me away. There are numerous other people here (including small children) with laptops, iPads, smart phones, wearable tech, all accepting of it as a way of life. I don’t see it as a dumbing down of our society. Sure, I could put down my phone, have a conversation with a stranger, maybe even pay attention to my children, but why? We don’t live in the dark ages any more.
I had my first computer and learned how to use BASIC by around age six.
A few years later at age thirteen, my computer could connect with other computers through a dial up 2400 Baud Modem. It was already a step above the film WarGames.
By age seventeen, I owned a pager. No reason for it, I just wanted one. It’s now in a landfill somewhere is my guess.
Then I got a cellphone. It had snake on it. That was about it. But it was reliable. I’ve gone through about five or six different models now, replacing it every four to five years. Technology has come a long way and I love every bit of it.
I’ll be the first to admit, technology has been sneaky. We willingly allow GPS to track our moves through our devices. There are cameras just about everywhere watching our every move. Drones, GoPros, smartphones, dashcams, who needs Big Brother when we do it to ourselves? Sure you can argue about privacy, but if you’re doing something wrong, the law won’t care about your privacy.
I’m not afraid of what the future brings. I’m sure more good is on the way. Perhaps one day there will be ocular implants instead of screens. Perhaps one day there will medical advances through nanotechnology. Perhaps one day there will be a way to keep our consciousness alive in a virtual reality setting. Perhaps there will come a time where we plug in like the Matrix.
As long as the bugs are worked out, sign me up for Josef V2.0 and allow me to see where the world goes. Technology doesn’t scare me. I fully embrace it.