Patience 

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.

 

Selfie!

 
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.