Word Crimes (#tbt)

I am a stickler when it comes to proper grammar and spelling.  Every time that I’m about to post something on social media I proofread my thoughts.  Not only have I rewritten posts, I have also simply deleted them and written something else entirely.  If I do make a mistake, my friends are kind enough to point them out immediately.  As rare as this may be, I choose to leave the mistakes to show that I am human and not always perfect.

I have eased up on pointing out when others make grammatical errors.  I came to realize that some people either don’t care about making mistakes or just don’t understand how to use the English language.  I’m talking about people who have spoken and used English all their lives, not those who are trying to learn it in adulthood.  I have a forgiveness for the latter, since I know I’d be in the same boat if I were to go to a foreign land and learn a new language.

A couple of years ago, Weird Al released the song Word Crimes.  (It’s still a favorite of mine & I play the song all the time.)  When he released this song, Weird Al did something no artist had ever done before with a new album: Every day, for eight days straight, he released a new video for each new song he had recorded.  Not only did he release a new video each day, he released them on different media outlets.  This strategy worked in his favor.  Here’s the Wikipedia about the album:

“After Yankovic’s 32 years under contract, Mandatory Fun marks his first number one album in the United States. It received positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Yankovic chose not to release a lead single and instead publicized the album by launching eight music videos online during the first week of the album release through different video content portals. Among these, “Word Crimes” became Yankovic’s fourth top 40 song, making him one of few artists to achieve such a feat in four separate decades.

The album won for Best Comedy Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Yankovic’s fourth career Grammy. Due to the completion of his record contract obligations and the success of the video strategy, Yankovic has suggested Mandatory Fun may be his last traditional album, switching to more timely releases of singles and EPs of his songs.”

Four decades of music making the Top 40.  It goes to show that no matter what age you are, success is achievable through determination and strategy.

I am hopping that I haven’t maked any misstakes in this post.  You are welcome to point out my errors. Nuthin’ more embarrassing than using the wrong form of youre.

One Day…

When we first started attending conventions I was excited and scared to meet celebrities.  I would look from afar and try to sneak in a photo or two, usually the backs of their heads or some shit.  That fear has since subsided and I have come to realize that they are regular folks just doing their job.  Their job just happens to be witnessed and scrutinized by the public.  However, there is still one celebrity that I wish to meet, but I am still intimidated by- Mr. Wil Wheaton.

I may never get an opportunity to meet him.  I missed a couple of chances to meet him in the past, simply because of my nervousness in meeting new people.  At the end of April 2012- the main cast of Star Trek:TNG met for the first time in two decades.  Hearing them all together on stage brought back so many memories of my early teenage years. I still hold some hope in having a chance to at least thank him for influencing my teenage years when Star Trek:TNG was first being aired.  It was also the Convention that I began to use Twitter, and he was one of the first people I began to follow.  Watching “Wesley Crusher” on screen got me through a tough time in highschool where I wished to be anywhere in the universe but where I was. Now, years later, Wil Wheaton has inspired me to get my family playing tabletop games.  Every convention we attend, my children head to the gaming area to play games.  I have been told on numerous occasions how wonderfully behaved they are as well as how surprisingly good they are at teaching new players how to play tabletop games.

It may seem strange to mention gaming, but it was when just my wife and I went to Emerald City ComiCon in 2013 and the website/YouTube channel Geek & Sundry was just starting to take off.  G&S was set up in the gaming section.  I happened to wander over there and sat down to play Zombie Dice.  I played against four other people whom I didn’t know.  They were super awesome and explained the idea of the game to me- I ended up winning the round and was given an opportunity to return the next day to play a game against Felicia Day.  I had no idea that this was going to happen.  I had never met a celebrity in the past, and winning a chance to play a game against someone like that?  Wtf!  Cool!

I knew that both Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton were at the con, but had no idea that I’d be within the vicinity of either of them.  That night I went back to my hotel room and re-watched “Tabletop” episodes on YouTube to get an understanding of what games were possibly going to be played.  The next day I showed up to play my match against Felicia Day.  Nervous as hell, I gave her a gift from my wife and I sat there and lost.  Felicia Day wasn’t holding back and seemed to enjoy the game Munchkin!


I’m OK with this loss.  It’s not going to happen ever again!

After our game, she kindly posed for a photo with me.  Then Wil Wheaton came out to play a game with another round of lucky winners.  I faded back and was lost in the crowd now.  His confidence and kindness towards his opponents blew me away.  He monologued for a bit (pretty sure that was his way of dealing with large crowds, I don’t blame him) and then played his round of games.  This was the year that Geek & Sundry announced and began International Tabletop Day.  I was all over it!  We made up-cycled some trophies, set up tables, invited friends, & played games.

As the date grew near, I posted a few pictures on Twitter about what we were doing for the event.  Suddenly, it happened, the King of the Geeks re-tweeted me.  There I was, a guy in his late 30’s, going all “Fan-Girl” because Wil Wheaton shared my Tweet.


The Tweet that changed my preception.

Since this experience, I have gone out and met numerous Celebrities at these conventions that we attend.  All of them have been amazingly kind.  I don’t always ask for an autograph, often times I just talk to them about their past projects or upcoming shows.  I express my thanks for the work they’ve done and usually they pose for a quick picture with me or a handshake.  It’s a job & they work hard at promoting themselves.  Talking with people has now become a hobby of mine.  I guess I’m just the kind of guy that most people feel comfortable just blabbing with.  My children also love to come up to say hello to celebrities with me.  My son once told Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) that he had just met Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward).  My middle daughter enjoys cartoons from the 80’s and 90’s and really enjoyed talking with the voice talents of The Powerpuff Girls when we met them at Comikaze.


Learning the Twitter thing.



Anne Wheaton shared my tweet! I’m double special!


My daughter wanted to come with me last year to meet Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton at Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, where she (Anne Wheaton) proceeded to vandaleyes my shirt and gave my daughter some googly eyes to play with as well.

I feel that over the years, I have gotten so close to meeting Mr. Wheaton, but never quite made it there.  I’ve met his friends, family, & coworkers.  Meeting him just isn’t in the cards at this time I guess.  Perhaps when I’m 70, I’ll run into him and we will talk about the old days- when beer was beer and board games were played on boards, not drinks from a replicator or games on a holodeck.

Home cooking

We returned home yesterday afternoon from our vacation (more like a rather fun business trip) and my wife & I decided that we’d do one more meal out for dinner.  We unloaded the car and then hit our favorite sushi restaurant- Nikko Sushi with the kids.  It was like a celebration for a job well done at the conventions and another successful family road trip.  


Volcano Rolls. sooooooooo good.

Driving for two days means we often stop for fast food (In-N-Out Burger FTW) and neglect our fruit & vegetable intake (French fries don’t count according to my wife).  When we returned home, our fridge was only filled with condiments & beers thus requiring a quick run to get groceries.  The major staples such as bread, eggs & cheese will have to wait- we needed fruits and vegetables STAT.  Luckily we live so close to farmlands that we went to a local vegetable market and stocked up.  Time to eat healthy again!

It also appears that we brought back the nice weather from California so we will be grilling within the next few days.  I’m looking forward to making our own meals and I know my family is as well.  We make preparing mealtimes a family affair. The art of cooking is something I love teaching my children.  They ask about how to make stuff, why we do certain things to the food, and they often want to get in and help on the stove or BBQ.  They help set the table and everyone takes part in serving the food.  However, washing & drying dishes is the chore grumbled at by everyone.

I’m looking forward to our first home cooked meal tonight.  Ribs, roasted cauliflower and a spinach salad are on the menu.  We even have the next few nights planned out as well (BBQ pizza and smokies).  My mouth is watering thinking of all the home cooked meals we are going to make.  Summer is almost here, so I’ll be heading out this afternoon to prepare our vegetable garden for the season.

Good eats everyone!

The Twilight Zone

I spoke previously about how much I love road trips.  Yesterday’s journey was odd…  Probably because it’s the same road travelled as we’ve done many times before: Our children watched DVDs of a show we’ve seen previously.  We have the best restaurants that we’ve enjoyed in the past marked out on a map.  We stop in “Small Town USA” for gas and a stretching of the legs.  We even stay in the same hotels because of the comfort and service we like.

However, with this “sameness” has brought something I never thought possible.  A sense of déjà vu has overwhelmed me.  Not because of the locations or the route we used, but rather everything and everyone else.  My interactions with the cashiers at the gas stations seemed repetitive, as if we’d danced this game before.  Talking about spending time with family and not eating in restaurants because of the cost.  At another gas station I spoke with a couple about their vehicle and every moment felt like I was reliving something from the past.  Even the cars we passed and clouds in the sky all resonated a similarity to a journey we once had.


The end of our day had us staying in a hotel that we’ve stayed at before.  Getting there shared the same issues as we had before: wrong turns and the same parking spot (or so it seems).  I lay in bed still awake watching tv after everyone else had fallen into slumber.  I turned the volume down so as not to disturb my family, and proceded to watch the same shows I watched the last time we were here.  Right before my turn to pass out for the night- I ended my television viewing on a couple classic episodes of “The Twilight Zone”.  Episodes that I know I’ve seen.  Ones that I may have even seen the last time we were here.

My life is in rerun, but now I am aware of what is going on.  Question is- should I change it or just keep on repeating the same mistakes and consequences…

Geek or nerd.

I’m a bit of a geek & a bit of a nerd.  I’ve grown up knowing that’s who I am.  These past few weekends have been great.  Now we are hitting the road to return to our regular lives (just for a week, then more geeky times).  Here’s some quick highlights of my adventures diving deep into dorklandia:


Apple Infinite Loop


Googleplex. I found it using Google maps.


Silicon Valley’s first ComiCon


Disneyland’s Season of the Force.


A tall nerd hanging out at the Nerdist.


Best highlight of our trip- I met the king of nerds at the end of our visit.  The magic of the Internet finally had some physical locations and real people this trip.

Seeing old friends.

The memories of my late teens and early twenties were kind of a mash up of crazy adventures and avoiding trouble.  It’s odd to look back on your life and see how much you’ve changed and far you’ve gotten.  Sometimes all it takes is a flash from the past to bring clarity into your journey.  Last night I met up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in about 15 years.  He lives 2000 kilometers away from me now, but our schedules allowed for an evening of some one-on-one time.

There was the usual pleasantries & greetings- talking about life and what we were up to.  Then, the conversation went to discussing our different paths in life since the last time we saw each other.  We tried to figure out why we stopped hanging out, but couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason. Was it school? Was it friends? Perhaps it was moving to another area? Maybe it was a combination of all of these things.  

We spoke about the hardships, the challenges, the choices, the successes and failures we each endured over the past few years.  No judgements being passed, no pissing matches, and above all, no bullshit.

Stalking sounds so harsh…

We also spoke about old friends, trying to figure out what they were doing now.  Almost like gossip, but more just sharing the good things that were happening to those we once knew.  

The strange thing is, as we spoke, it felt like we were close friends who still spoke everyday.  (We are in constant contact through Facebook, but that’s no replacement for a face to face meet up.)  We laughed and joked like we did years ago.  At one point we said the same sentence at the same time- as if our brains reached into the backs of our minds and pulled from our memories our old personalities.  

It was real and it was fun.  I look forward to seeing him again, and hopefully it doesn’t take another fifteen years.


This growing old thing is painful.  After being on my feet for about seven days straight, walking about 20,000 steps everyday, my feet are angry at me.  I don’t walk that much on a regular basis anymore.  That’s about 18 km per day.  I have two more days of this to go.  I’m at the age that I need to make sure I am wearing good shoes or I really suffer.


Ain’t nobody got time for that.

It may sound strange, but walking around is my favorite thing to do.  It clears your head, it’s easy exercise and you get places.  I try and walk a few kms almost ever day around our neighborhood.  It’s a time for my wife & I to talk and keep our relationship in order.  

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

 Back to my complaining about walking ten times more than usual – I have days where I hurt so bad, my slight limp becomes extremely obvious.  The pain begins in my feet and works its way through my heels to a burn in my calves & thighs and ends with a lower back pain.  Over the past week, at the end of each day, I take off my shoes and deal with my little tootsies throbbing for a few minutes.  My heals calm down and my thighs relax.  But the back pain causes me to bend over and makes me about as sexy as the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Advil has become my new best friend.

I am now looking back on my life and realizing that I should have done more exercises to help my back.  I’m a fairly tall gentleman and should probably look into Yoga to help my posture.  But I’d look pretty badass with a walker…



We have been going to the same hotel in Los Angeles over the past few years.  So much so, that the clerk at the front desk recognized us immediately and offered us an upgraded room at no charge.  Loyalty has its perks, but we like using this hotel because of the value and location.  The area it’s in has been changing for the better over the past few years.  The Hotel Solaire is a gem that stands out in the neighborhood as a sign of good things coming.

We are loyal to many small businesses back home as well.  We have been frequenting Nikko Sushi since just before our first child was born 14 years ago.  The staff there know us by name, and talk about how much our children have grown.  If we don’t show up as a family, they look concerned and ask about the rest of us.  They appreciate our business that we even get a bottle of wine from them every Christmas.  We appreciate them because they are a small business and have excellent quality food and service.

We also attend the last Drive-In Theater in the Lower Mainland every summer.  The Twilight Drive-In is also family run and is a short distance from our home.  Our kids look forward to the movies every chance they get.  We have also gotten more people going to their location every year.

Loyalty to small businesses goes a long way.  The benefits come back to you as they recognize you and treat you like royalty.

Reality TV

I love traveling because I get to watch bad television.  I usually watch the shows about houses and home makeovers.  House Hunters, Love it or List it, Property Virgins, Flip or Flop, and pretty much anything of that style.  I watch it for the inspiration of what I could make my home one day.  But after viewing all of these shows on a regular basis, I came to realize that the term “Reality TV” is a lie.


I got the blackout Bingo!

Not only are the houses staged, but the majority of the problems and situations are as well.  Here’s our $8000 kitchen upgrade with all new everything.  What?  You found that our plumbing isn’t to code?  After the $4000 repairs, we better just paint the cabinets instead of replacing them. As well, how many times are these regular people (actors really) coached behind the scenes about how to react or what to say?  I really like the open floor plan, but the vaulted ceilings are about three inches too high. Most of the shows have the same premise every episode and the same dialogue.  I’m not so sure about house number 2.  We are going to be over budget if we still do what you want, here’s plan B.


Did not expect squirrels.

Unfortunately these shows are labeled as “Reality” because I bet there are a few takes made for the scenes.  It also seems like the conflicts are set up or known about ahead of time.  All of this is so that the people on the shows can have their 15 minutes of fame to share with their families and the rest of the world.  For me, it’s a guilty pleasure to watch while away from home.

Heck, maybe one day I’ll do a show and you’ll see me “act surprised” about the added expense of something I had no idea about…

Late night, early morning.

Vacations are rough.  It’s no joke that people need a vacation from their vacation when they get home. The hardest part is cramming in a few full days over and over again to make the most of your experience.  Sore feet and long lines are a small price to pay to have fun in the sun for a few days.  Vacations can be calm and relaxing.  They’re also a great way to experience life.  I’m cutting this blog post short, since I’m up early and we have a full day ahead of us.

Disneyland!  Yay!

60 Years of Magic!


Waiting in line, so that I can wait in second line, then wait in another line so that I can wait in a line for a two minute ride.

I love Disneyland.  Specifically California Adventure.  They have alcohol.  And you can wander the park enjoying a drink while you wait in line.  They also have Fastpass.  A great way to enjoy rides throughout the day without too much hassle.  (Tip: remember to check the bottom of the ticket for when you can get your next Fastpass!)  And for those of you with small ones- Switchpass.  We totally used that option our first trip.  We’ve come to master the art of enjoying the more popular rides two to three times while it’s busy without much waiting.  We squeeze in the rides with a five/ten minute wait while we wait for the main rides.



Of course Disneyland gets everyone hyper.  This is where I need to have patience.  I need to remember that I was young once, and I was overwhelmed by all the excitement.  The kids are walking around everywhere, going on thrill rides, and sometimes eating junk food.  This affects their moods.  It affects my mood.  I know it affects me, so I need to control how I react.  After about eight hours, I know that we all need to stop and recalibrate.  It’s also a perfect time to grab a turkey leg and an adult beverage.  This makes my trip a little more calm.  Time for mom & dad to goof off (a bit).


Father/son time

I do my best to have some one-on-one time with each of my children on a regular basis.  This past Sunday, I had a great day hanging out with my son at Silicon Valley Comic Con.  We had the opportunity to dress up in a Cosplay that worked for the two of us.  It was a last minute idea, since I hadn’t found a Cosplay for myself prior to the show.  I put it together in about three days before we left for the Convention, so it was pretty cool that I got it done.  We went as Rick and Morty.


You’re a real good kid, you’re a real character.

We looked the part of Rick and Morty.  The costume itself was pretty simple.  (Making our props was the challenge.)  We walked together throughout the day and had a ton of fun.  We were stopped and asked for photos all the time as people recognized our costumes.  I decided to push my comfort zone for this cosplay and did my best to act the part of Rick the entire day.  Staying in character for an entire day is challenging.  I really enjoyed yelling MORTY in the crowds if my son ventured away. He also did a good job acting nervous like Morty, and posed for pictures without much of a fuss. I was also randomly stumbling and bending down to put my arm sound my son was a great feeling.  He’s turning ten in a couple of months, and is already starting to grow up not wanting his parents around all the time.

He may not realize it now, but I know that the years of him allowing me to show him affection in public are coming to an end soon.  I am hoping our father/son time keeps going over the next few years.  I love the little guy.  He’s a good kid, but he already knows that.  I only have one thing left to say:

Wubba Lubba Dub-Dub!

Convention Carny

Have I told you I love Conventions?  My family and I have been attending “Cons” for a few years now.  We love them.  I love talking with people: both when I sell, as well when they are selling.  Artist Alley and start-ups are some of the greatest people you will ever talk to.  They are passionate about what they make and sell.  My wife often finds herself bordering between artist alley and vendors booth when working Conventions. (I wrote Running a Home Business a few weeks ago about my wife starting up.)  There are however, pros and cons (no pun intended) about working convections.

Pros of working a Convention:

  • You get to attend the convention.
  • You get to show off your stuff.
  • You get to make some money.
  • You have a place to network.
  • You meet neat people.
  • You have somewhere to put your stuff as you check out the convention.

Cons of working a Convention:

  • Not sure if you will make money.
  • Crowds.
  • Having to justify your products and pricing to complete strangers who don’t care how far you’ve travelled or how much you spent getting there or how many headaches you are dealing with trying to design, and create your product.
  • You have to be nice (to make money).

The days leading up to a convention are stressful.  Do we have enough products? Are we going to sell anything?  Why are we going in the first place?  Why does everyone who has never seen my stuff, hate it before I display it? (That’s a bit extreme, but the anxiety is there.)  Once we are there, the fears subside.  The stress is lifted and the games begin (literally). 

There is no feeling like selling in person.  I love it.  Talking up a sale for a product you can believe in, and seeing the joy in your customer’s eyes is the greatest.  On the flip side, having a complete stranger tear you down and try to undervalue what you (or someone you care about) has made- hurts.  It’s like a kick in the gut, and it takes every shred of dignity to remain calm and keep your smile.  But you do it, because when 35,000 people are passing by you-one person better not ruin your day.

After a day of selling out of town, you return to your hotel, motel, Holiday Inn (say what? Sorry, rap song flashback) and you meet other vendors.  You share stories of great sales and curious customers.  You make new friends, and life is good.  You realize that this is what it’s all about.  Making connections with others.  Becoming friends with strangers.  Promoting your business without effort.

I am a convention carny.  It’s a bizarre lifestyle.  But damn, is it fun.

    Button Mashing

    I will be the first to admit- I suck at most videogames.  I love playing them.  I rarely win.  Put me in a First Person Shooter, and after a few moments, I’m usually the bait.  Probably because I run full force into the middle of the game, guns blazing and not aiming at anything but the ground.  Playing a racing game, and my thumb is on the gas the entire time.  I often can’t judge the upcoming turns and end up off the track.  Add weapons into the game?  Chances are I’ll blow myself up.  Fighting game?  Hahahaha.  I button mash with the best of them.  When my daughter was aged four, she could beat me at my Mortal Kombat 4 upright arcade game.


    Check out those graphics!

    I generally succeed at puzzle games.  Tetris, or gem matching style, even Pacman and side scrolling Mario Bros is more my forté. Maybe it’s the 8Bit simplicity.  Maybe I just never matured in my gaming.  Maybe I can focus on the repetition easier than figuring out the next move.  Maybe it’s the pretty colors.

    I began playing videogames in 1981.  I was five and played my first arcade game.  I was visiting my mother’s friend for a weekend and we went to get a pizza.  As we picked up the pizza, there was a lone arcade game near the front door.  I was awestruck by the colors, lights and sounds being emitted.  She saw my interest and gave me a quarter to play my very first Pacman.  Later that year, my family received our first home gaming system- The Intellivision.  Since then, I’ve kept up with the newest systems, and the latest tech.  My family has far surpassed my skills at gaming.  But that’s ok, I enjoy watching them and hearing about the adventures they have.  My son loves talking videogames almost as much as playing them.


    Tall guy in a virtual world.

    This weekend, my kids and I have had a chance to experience VR.  The artificial worlds are fully immersive and bordering between cartoon and realism.  As I played around in this world, part of my mind knew there were strangers watching me wander around waving my arms and moving my head.  Gaming controls are no longer buttons, but your movements. Your goggles and headset block out sense of the real world.  I could easily spend hours immersed away from reality.  But as these VR games get more intricate, my button mashing skills won’t help me.


    Next Gen Gamer.

    I am at the point in my life that I may have to admit that it’s time to pass on the torch. The next generation gamer is my son. May he mash the buttons of VR and succeed.

    Back to reality.

    Pee-Wee Herman

    My childhood was filled with strange and wonderful television shows. Most memorable was the character “Pee-Wee Herman”.

    I first saw him on Superchannel when I lived in Edmonton.  It was 1981 or 1982, I was around five or six at the time.  It was Paul Reubens’ first TV special devoted to his character, Pee-Wee Herman.  Most of the adult jokes went over my head, but it was so much fun for me to see a grown man in a suit acting as a child.  All the adults at that time in my life appeared super serious and well in control of reality.  Then Pee-Wee showed up on my television.  Quirky, strange, and wishing to fly.  My little mind was shaken up:  Adults have dreams?

    Years later, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” came out.  I was ten years old when I saw it on video.  I rented the film numerous times from our local video store.  I could probably quote to you nearly every scene. I also became a huge Tim Burton fan.  Later in my life, I even dressed up as Mr. Herman for Halloween.


    “Exhibit A: A photograph of the victims…”


    “Exhibit B: Another photograph. What’s missing from this picture? It’s just me. WITHOUT MY BIKE!”

    “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” became my regular Saturday morning routine from ’85-’90.  I watched and sang along to the theme song every week.  After watching each show, my friends and I would try and make each other say the secret word of the day.   

    The secret word of the day is “Cool”.

    Fast forward from the early 90’s to 2011.  “Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway” was released.  My memories came rushing back.  I showed this gem to my children (It allowed me to explain the safe way to use our deep-fat fryer through visual effects).  Paul Reubens was back.  I started following him on Facebook and Twitter.  A fun and crazy world opened up in the virtual world. My childish humor came back; I can joke with my children, and they joke back.  Then Netflix did something crazy.  They announced a new Pee-Wee Herman film. I was excited.  Soon after, a release date was announced.  The perfect gift for my 40th birthday.  Unfortunately, I was going to be in a hotel when it was released, hoping for a strong enough wi-fi.  A few days on the open road is worth a lifetime…  I waited up until 00:01 March 18, 2016 to be one of the first to watch “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday”.   


    Best 40th Birthday Gift Ever! How’d they know my name was Joe?

    Something strange and special about the film resonated with me.  It was quirky, unrealistic, laughable, and fun.  I could never expect anything less.  Father Time has been exceptionally kind to Paul Reubens: he still looks and acts like an oversized, naïve child stuck in an adult body. Thank you Pee-Wee Herman.  You haven’t changed a bit.

    “You look really busy. Let me let you let me run.” ~Pee-Wee Herman

    Another reason to drink?

    St. Patrick’s Day.  The reason to drink (in excess) according to Wikipedia: Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.  Most people in North America dress in green with clovers and leprechauns, and drink cheap green beer thinking that’s how you should celebrate.  Not many people look at the religious background of St. Patrick (very similar to the lack of understanding the traditions behind Christmas & Easter) when celebrating March 17th.  

    As I’ve grown older, finding a reason to have a beer or two has changed.  A birthday of a close friend, weddings, & funerals are top of the list for a reason to get a bit tipsy.  The occasional rough day at work sometimes calls for a stiff drink as well.  


    What time is it?

    When I first came of age to be drinking, any day was a reason to get hammered:  

    • The sun is out, let’s go drink at the beach!  
    • It’s raining, let’s drink at the bar!  
    • It’s lunch time, grab a pitcher of beer to wash it down.  
    • I woke up hung over, perfect reason to start drinking early.
    • I woke up drunk, might as well keep drinking.
    • I got a new hair cut, let’s drink.
    • It’s five o’clock somewhere, let’s drink!

    I’m not telling people not to go out drinking.  I’m simply stating that I have done it, and I’m over it.  Life has many turning points.  (Like becoming legal drinking age and using that to your advantage.)  A big turning point for me was when my children came into this world.  It wouldn’t be fair to my wife to look after three kids and a hungover adult every weekend.  

    Happy St. Padme Day!

    I will raise a glass later today and wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Go ahead and have fun, but please be safe and smart tonight.

    Josef: Unplugged Since I just turned Forty, I'm going to "Unplug" from social media for the rest of the month.  I'll still be writing, and WordPress will still post for me on Facebook and Twitter, so you'll still be able to see my life and thoughts.    

    Even Vader needs a break from Social Media.

      Only once before have I taken off from social media.  I found it hard to not want to just pick up my iPhone and take a quick peek.  I managed to last an entire month, which was my goal.  This time around I just want to have a chance to clear my head, enjoy my surroundings, and get more inspiration for my writings.  

    The Champ!

      Ten years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, my wife gave me 24 hours of solitude as a gift.  I had requested a full day of no one around.  Just me.  As loving as she is, she packed up the kids and took off overnight.  Never before had I felt so lonely.  It took all my effort not to call her to say goodnight to her and our children.  As strange as it may sound to want 24 hours of solitude, I grew as a person.  It made me realize that I need people in my life.  I need people who I care about to be around.   I care about you all and I hope that you all care for me as well.  Thank you again for all the birthday wishes, text messages and phone calls.  You guys rock.  See you in April!

    Level Up

    Hooray!  It’s Tuesday!  Some of the most important things in my life have happened on a Tuesday.  I was married to a fantastic woman on Tuesday July 10, 2001.  Our third child was born on Tuesday May 16, 2006.  On Tuesday March 15,2016- I turn 40.

    Level 40.


    I’ve also had very memorable birthdays.  My thirteenth birthday, there was a scavenger hunt set up in my home.  It ended with my mother surprising us with our first trip to Disneyland.  Since then, I love taking my family there on an almost yearly basis.

    On my seventeenth birthday, I took my younger sister on the bus heading into town.  She got off to visit her friend and I continued on to the mall.  Around dinner time, I came home to find out she had been hit by a truck trying to cross the road and was air lifted to the hospital for emergency surgery.  My parents and I spent the rest of that night not knowing if she would live.  Seeing her post surgery, all bandaged up with tubes and monitors connected to her, was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Luckily she survived, but life was somehow different for everyone in my family after that.


    I’ve survived 40 years on this planet.  Here’s some interesting things about my birthday: 
    My Zodiac symbol is Pisces.  To quote the first Zodiac website I searched: “IF YOU ARE BORN ON March 15, you are Piscean that likes a challenge. Yes indeed… your competitive nature puts you on top of your game. You work hard and play hard but your image is important to you. Pisces, you are concerned with how others see you although you are very warm and likeable person.

    As the 15th March birthday meaning suggests you are one of the nicest people anyone would want to meet and trust me; they do want to meet you! With all that you aspire to be, you know it holds a great responsibility to be a leader. You, Pisces, are just the person for the job.” 

    My Chinese Astrological animal is the Dragon.  Here’s a little excerpt about the “1976 Fire Dragon” I found online: “With the influence of the Fire Element, the Fire Dragon is the most energetic, passionate and dynamic of the Dragon types. At times, the Fire Dragon is truly fearless in their pursuits and their passions are nearly impossible to derail. With a high self-esteem and confidence, the Fire Dragon is often known to be dominant in social situations, which may explain why the Fire Dragon is amongst the most feared signs in the Chinese Zodiac. Luckily, the Fire Dragon is concerned with doing good over evil. With their fiery disposition, the Fire Dragon is a natural leader and can inspire others with ease. While it may not be as easy for the Fire Dragon to make friends, these qualities can lead directly to group or individual achievement. The Fire Dragon is willing to take on any challenge alone and at times, would probably prefer to reach their goals alone.”

    I could read into both of those and take away what I want to hear, but I don’t believe the stars in my zodiacs dictate my life.  I was baptized Catholic within days of being born, because of medical reasons told to my mother at the time of my birth.  At the time, she was feared I wouldn’t survive.  Two years later, I underwent a lung operation and have been pretty good ever since (aside from my asthma and allergies).  I would say that I have never really practiced any kind of religion.  I do consider myself a kind hearted Atheist.  I feel that the Golden Rule is an excellent way to live life. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Sometimes it’s a hard rule to follow, but it seems the most sincere way to live life.

    Thanks to everyone who has been on this journey of life with me.  I appreciate all of the kindness that has been shown my way over the years.

    Last Day of 39.

    Getting older has never really been a big deal for me.  When I was a kid, I honestly didn’t think I’d make 35.  I figured I’d be dead because I was just being dumb and stuff.  Now I’m on the eve of my 40th Birthday and it’s nice to know that I have made something of my life.  We had some friends over for a dinner the other night and it was great.  Everyone has busy lives, but I love that they took the time to visit with me (and bring gifts).

    I have no plans for my “Big Four Oh” tomorrow.  Just a regular Tuesday filled with regular errands.  My children are home for Spring Break, so I’m hoping for the chance to sleep in and get served breakfast in bed. Hint-hint.  Turning 40 doesn’t have the same feel as turning 19 does.  Those were the years of partying it up and not caring about the outcome.  The aftermath of my 19th birthday had my father washing my face and chest down in the bathtub because I had thrown up all over myself.  Then he put me to bed and let me sleep it off.  He may not have always been there, but he did some pretty memorable stuff for me when it mattered.


    The extentant of my golf lessons.

    My childhood birthdays were the usual things: pool parties, pizza, movies, sleepovers, and videogames.  Having fun was always the plan.  That has become my goal again.  I don’t need to get drunk to have a good time.  I just need fun people around who also like fun.  

    As I approach my next decade- I hope to look back with pride on my years as a parent.  Especially since they are going to be teenagers throughout my next ten years.  

    Mickey is always down for a good time.

    Thank you to everyone that has touched my life….  I’m off to dye my hair blue and start my midlife crisis.


    Epic Meals

    I love having people over for dinners.  It takes a lot of effort to plan out an evening with friends. I have found a way to gather people over and enjoy a night of food.  Sometimes it is a Deep Fried Super Bowl Extravaganza.  This time it’s Epic Mealtime Meatloaf.

    A few years ago, the YouTube channel, EpicMealTime was a fun channel to watch.  I watched them turn fast food, bacon strips, & Jack Daniels Sauce into glorious food concoctions.  One of the greatest was Fast Food Meatloaf.  It has inspired our third meatloaf extravaganza.  We have people begging us to make it again after trying it.  Here’s our Epic Meatloaf:


    20 lbs of ground beef.


    Batch number one getting mixed.


    Batch number two getting mixed.


    12 Jack In The Box Bacon Cheesburgers for filling.


    Placing the burgers on a bacon blanket.


    Let’s fit those burgers in!


    The burgers needed a nice shredded cheddar cheese blanket.


    The last of the meat goes on.


    Ready for the oven.

    Now to start our nearly 30 lbs of meat cooking.  In the meantime we are preparing 20 lbs of mashed potatoes as a side.  Our kids are so excited, they are helping to clean the house for our guests.

    I’m off to get the Tums as our dessert following this meat coma.  Mmmm meat.

    My son- The Future Olympian

    As parents, most of us strive to make our children’s lives better than our own.  We get them into good preschools and hope they make lots of friends (but only the good ones with parents that are as like-minded as ourselves).  Then we push to get them into the right classroom with the right teacher, and sometimes even a better school.  We enter our children into after school programs, music lessons, sporting activities, and buy them electronics so they aren’t left behind by society.  We do all of this because we think it’s the right thing to do.


    You have to start somewhere.  Learning how to balance on his speed skates.


    And it is- for the most part.  As they get older, they start to push back.  Their schedules dominate your own social life.  Suddenly, years go by and you wonder to yourself if you are doing the right thing.  Giving up is so much easier than arguing or forcing yourself to drive out of town.  Suddenly, a moment hits you like a ton of bricks.



    First place all the way.

    There is your child superseding your expectations.  All those arguments, all those hours, all coming to fruition as they lead the pack.  You jump up and realize their potential is still there as you cheer them on.  Now, more than ever you want to boost your child up and help them reach for their goals.  All those future hours and arguments don’t matter, because at this exact moment, they are number one in your eyes.  Nothing will take that away from them, or you for that matter.

    My son, the future Olympian.  I still have dreams for him and I hope he strives for the same goal.  The choice in the end is his.  I am proud of how far he’s gotten in just five years.  I don’t know where he will be in five years, but I’m willing to put forth the effort and support him in his decisions.


    How he’s grown over 5 years.

    Fast food

    When it comes to fast food, something about convenience makes me happy.  I only have a couple of favorite burger places.  But these are located in the United States.  British Columbia doesn’t offer up the same value or quality when it comes to fast food.  I’m not saying I don’t eat from these places, far from it.  I “treat” myself about once or twice a month to McDonald’s or Wendy’s. It’s not really a treat, it’s more that I’m hungry and need something in my belly.

    Declaration of Delicious. Americans don’t take their politics seriously.

    We, as a family, don’t make a habit of going for fast food. My children have never asked for Happy Meals. But on our road trips, I have mapped out all of our stops and the kids get excited as we approach our next location.  Only a fifteen minute drive from our home in Canada to the nearest Jack In The Box.  I usually buy myself an Ultimate Cheesburger when we go.  So tasty, and bad for me…  I love that they have American Dr. Pepper on tap.  Yes, there is a difference between Canadian and American Dr. Pepper.  We also buy a box of churros to share for desert.

    But the best fast food burger restaurant in the West Coast has to be In-N-Out Burger.  I have included on our road trip maps, the locations of the restaurants and exactly how long/far they are from place to place.  Every time we go, the line up is out the door.  We wait patiently.  This is our treat.  The burgers are fantastic and worth the wait.  In-N-Out also had a travel kitchen.  Once a year, over the past few years, it has journeyed into Canada.  They come up to our hometown of Langley, BC every September for the Langley Cruise-In.  Guess what?  People line up for hours for the one day they come here.  The smell of the food fills the air and reminds me of exactly why we enjoy their burgers.

    Soon we shall be indulging in their food as we journey on our road trip to our conventions.  Perhaps a chocolate milkshake will be purchased as an extra treat if we all behave in the car.

    Having fun

    I like fun.  Who doesn’t?  There’s entire industries devoted to make products to help in the enjoyment of fun.  My favorite form of fun is gaming.  Mostly playing board games aka tabletop games.

    I’ve always enjoyed board games.  As a child, my friends and I had week long battles of Monopoly fueled on candy and cola.  As a teen, a few of us played Risk in a Tim Hortons until 4am, again fueled on caffeine and sugar.  A few years ago, my wife and I began attending Comic Cons.  

    In 2013, we attended Emerald City Comic Con where I spent the majority of the weekend at their tabletop gaming area.  It was in a secluded area of the Con where not a lot of people went to.  I learned, and played, numerous different games.  Somehow, I ended up winning at a game I’d never played before (Zombie Dice) and won the opportunity to play a game the next day with the Queen of the Geeks: Felicia Day.  I went back to my hotel that night and binge watched TableTop season 1 in order to try and learn Felicia Day’s gaming style.  The next day, I played Munchkin against her and a couple of other people.  We all lost to her.  But, it was here that I fell in love with gaming again and knew I would have to bring it home to my family.  


    She tells it like it is.

    Geek and Sundry hosted the gaming area at Emerald City in Seattle.  Wil Wheaton and his cohort, Felicia Day were there at this event, and they promoted the first ever International Table Top Day.  It was a way for people everywhere to share their favorite board games with each other.  To celebrate the first year, we held games at our home and invited friends over and made trophies for some ridiculous categories.  It was a lot of fun.  We had such great weather that we moved some of our games outdoors.


    The Doctor teaching me Wasabi.

    Since then, our gaming collection has grown.  Our kids have mastered all of our games to a point that they teach others at the numerous conventions we attend.  We play games at home and often get into arguments over which game to play.  Today, the power is out and we are all at home for the day.  Now to decide if we will play Munchkin, Ticket to Ride, Zombie Dice, King of Tokyo, Exploding Kittens or one of the other obscure games we own.

    This year’s date is set!

    I’m happy that my family likes to play TableTop games.  We are looking forward to this year’s International TableTop Day on April 30th. If you need to brush up on how to play some games, or just want to have fun watching celebraties play, head over to TableTop on YouTube for some good laughs.

    Since I’m not at work on the railroad today, it’s time for me to get off my iPhone and kick my family’s butt at Ticket to Ride.

    Don’t Dream It. Be It.

    Ah, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  

    A musical experience I saw at the start of my pubescent life.  There it sat on the shelf of my local video store in the rent one, get one free section.  My mother had given me her video rental card long before I chose to rent this film.  I had seen numerous horrors, comedies, ‘B’ movies, & cult classics prior to renting this film.  None of these films left a lasting impression the way “Rocky Horror” did in my young life.  Sure, I’d seen films with sex and violence before, all without my parents knowledge, but never one this good.

    Oh Andy…

    I sometimes referred to TV as my third parent- much to the chagrin of my mother.  I was about eight years old when I was given a TV in my bedroom back in the early eighties.  It was originally for my Colecovision.  I even had a set of rabbit ears and would manipulate them in order to watch four different channels.  It was an art to figure out the right angles to get the best reception.  But for my tenth birthday, my father ran cable to my bedroom.  I now had 12 channels and no need for the rabbit ears anymore!  An entirely new universe of late night tv watching with the sound turned down low, (so my parents wouldn’t hear it) had now begun.

    A couple of years later, my father had gotten a new VCR that could record more channels, so I was given the old one that they had since ’81.  It still worked great, like most things that were made in the 80’s, and I started to rent movies every weekend from our local store.  Back then, everywhere was renting out movies.  Gas stations, grocery stores, and these shitty little dingy shops (before Blockbuster came around in the 1990’s sometime) all carried videocassettes of the latest films.

    The summer following my grade nine year, we moved into a new house in a newly built subdivision.  There was a video store that had just opened up a few blocks away from our house as well.  There was something different about it compared to all the other places I’d ever gotten a movie from.  This one had older films.  Stranger films.  And they constantly brought in new ones.  Not just new releases, but new to the store.  Because we had moved at the end of the school year, I didn’t have any friends living nearby, so I walked or rode my bike to the video store nearly everyday.  I’m guessing my parents felt guilty or something, because my mother must have given me a few hundred dollars that summer to rent movies or videogames (I had upgraded to a Sega Genesis that previous Christmas) any time I wanted.


    The lips that haunt my dreams.

    Then I found it- “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  (Originally I rented the film because I knew of Tim Curry from the movie “Clue” that I had rented earlier that summer.) It was magnificent.  There were jokes, violence, boobs, singing, & men in drag.  Everything  a 14 year old boy could want in the privacy of his bedroom.  There’s no good way to dissect what this film was about.  Was it about discovering sexuality?  Was it about the constantly changing music scene in the 70’s?  Or was it really about finding oneself in this crazy universe?  

    I can’t answer any of it.  The one thing I walk away with from the film that really means something to me is:

    Don’t just dream it.  Be it.

    Don’t judge me.

    Suffering is Optional 

    “Suffering is optional.” 

    I was 25 when I first heard this phrase at a training course I took back in 2001.  It was the only rule the teacher had for the class.  He said that if we needed to use the washroom, to get up and go.  If we were getting stiff just sitting around, we should stand up and stretch.  If something was confusing or we didn’t understand the lesson, we should ask.  Above all, if we didn’t like the course, we could just leave.  There was no point in having miserable people filling a room and wasting everyone else’s time.

    Is it?

    “Suffering is optional.”

    This simple phrase means so much to me these days.  There’s no need to be stuck in a crappy job just because you need a paycheck.  Go out and get a new job.  Why keep friends around who make you feel worthless?  Get closer with the ones who put the same value on your friendship as you do with theirs.  You feel a pain somewhere in your body that you’ve never had before?  Go see a doctor- we are all getting older and our bodies need maintenance too.

    “Suffering is optional.”

    I have found that over the years, if I’m not happy with what’s going on in my life, something needs to change.  I don’t like feeling miserable.  I don’t want people around me who feel that if they are suffering, everyone else should as well.  I also know that I’m not going to be the best at everything I try to accomplish.  Hard work and perseverance don’t mean the end result is worth achieving if you’re miserable along the way.  I’m not saying give up because something isn’t easy.  I’m saying that it’s how you deal with pain or frustration is what matters.  Everyone is dealt a raw deal from time to time, but it’s how you overcome these obstacles that matter.  Sitting in a corner, feeling sorry for yourself and stewing over all the things you could have done differently is a natural reaction.  At some point though, you need to stand up and face the challenge or walk away and stop suffering.  The choice is all yours.


    “Suffering is optional.”