The Changing Face of 2d Art

There are some amazing artists out there.  Some people and their art become famous and recognized around the world. Other people and their art never make it past the drawing board (so to speak).  Comicons are my favorite place to find one of a kind pieces and purchase from artists who may become the next Stan Lee or DaVinci.  Art is all about personal taste.  But once in a while, something just grabs you and you need to own it.

I was wandering around Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo before the doors opened looking at all the artwork.  One artist caught my eye, so I stopped to check it out.  As I was about to leave, one of the staff came rushing up with a few people and was all excited telling her companions that they needed to check out the art & the artist’s computer tablet as well.  This intrigued me, so I stayed for a moment longer, and I’m glad I did.

Not only was his art really good- but the artist himself created an app that brings the art to life when you looked through your screen at it.  The artist is utilizing augmented reality and it brings his art to life.  Fantastic selling feature!  It’s bringing how people view art into a whole new genre.  I have seen others try it a few times over the past couple of years; but never to the detail and care as this.  

Check out their website for more info at DPI Studios.  I hope to see more of Jaysin’s art as well as more artists adopting this idea.  

To quote Monty Python, “I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.”

Sleeping in

Sometimes you just have to sleep in.  It’s a great way to recharge after a long week. The comfort of your bed, the silence surrounding you, the knowledge that there is nothing pressing needing your attention.  The only time I don’t sleep in, even when I fully am able, is in a hotel room.  

There is so much to do and see in a town that isn’t your own.  My excitement and energy gets me up early.  For some reason, I also have a great night’s sleep when in a strange place.  Even if I don’t have anything planned until the afternoon, I’ll wake up early and lounge around in our room.  Then it’s a mad rush to get out the door.

I can’t wait until a trip is over, hit my own bed, and pass out.  I’ll wake up at the crack of noon.  Until that time, I’ll be an early riser.

I live in Beautiful BC.

I don’t think I’ll ever move from my home.  We live about 35 minutes away from Vancouver, BC.  Our home is older, but has character.  We have a large yard and lots of trees for privacy, yet we know all of our neighbors.  There are local farms that sell fresh fruits and vegetables within walking distance.  My wife and I have years of plans laid out for our home and property.  We are here for life.

The rest of BC has so much to offer in the way of sightseeing as well.  Recently, I explorered some of Golden, BC- about a seven hour drive from our home that sits close to the Alberta border.  Our previous visits to this town had us rushing through without ever taking a second look.  This time- I’m glad we stopped.  As we walked around the small town we read the plaques giving us tidbits of history and enjoyed the close up views of the mountains and the Kicking Horse River.


My advice when you travel: Take a few moments in an unknown town to see what the locals know all along about what makes their town special.

Years to come

As I have eluded, nay, outright stated- I’m on this planet to enjoy my life.  I’ve come to a conclusion that there is more to life than what I’ve experienced so far.  Some people call it a bucket list, I’m going to call it my “Sure, Why Not?” List. And this list keeps growing.  Sometimes I find myself doing something unique or new, then adding it to the list afterwards just so I can cross it off.

The road to a better life.

I also don’t have many regrets about my life up to this point.  Maybe a few moments of “what if?” but that’s about it.  Any time I’ve screwed up- I’ve accepted the outcome.  Any time something good has happened- I have tried to share the wealth (so to speak).  I don’t try and gloat about my accomplishments, although I’m sure it may appear that way, but I’d rather focus on the positive in my life than the negative.  There is no need to be a Negative Nancy when there is so much good in this world.  
Purposely portraying positivity is more than just alliteration, it’s a challenge.

Corporate promotion…

Last week, I was inspired to write today’s post by two talented bloggers that I follow:

First there is a friend of mine for many years who writes themattharding.  He shared an older post of his titled “The Missing Piece of the Puzzle.”

The other is Looking for the Good.  She discovered my blog when I started out a few months back.  I have since enjoyed her positive outlook on life and often look to her blog as a compliment to the style I am trying to portray in my own writings.  Last week she wrote “Happiness Is a Risk.”

Here’s my story about my journey in the work force post-secondary school:

Dude advice.

About twenty years ago, I thought that I needed to prove my worth in society by climbing a corporate ladder.  I had very little in the way of post secondary education and was holding down dead end minimum wage jobs.  I worked hard to prove my value to the companies I was employed at.  But pride in my work only made me a good employee.  The spring of 1999, I applied for a job at a multiplex theater that was about to open.  I made the “maybe pile” and not the 110 pile (110 was the No pile, just throw a slash between the one’s to understand). I was a second round pick, but worked my butt off to prove my worth.  I became a projectionist fairly quickly (after the union dispute was resolved).  I loved working at the movie theater and wanted to become a manager.  It appeared that it wasn’t going to happen after nearly five years working there.  A couple years later, I got a second part-time job.  This time at The Home Depot in the seasonal department for the summer.  In the fall of that year, my hours got cut back at HD & I was moved from the seasonal department to the windows and doors.  Because my hours were cut, I needed to find yet another job.

Perfect timing that a new Chuck E Cheese’s was opening near our home and I got a job doing early mornings Monday to Friday repairing the arcade games.  I was now working three part time jobs, putting in about 70-80 hours/week.  I saved all the money I could and my wife and I put a down payment on our first house.  By spring I decided to quit working at the movie theater.  I left there being the highest paid part-time employee.  I knew they would continue to give me piddly little raises to try and keep me, but there was no advancement opportunities in the near future, so I had to leave.  I still had two other jobs.  Not only was Home Depot a great employer that was closer to my new home, but I was learning how to “adult” and home renovations were becoming my new hobby.

Within a few months of hiring on at Chuck E. Cheese’s, an opportunity came to become a manager at that location, so I took it.  I had to quit the Home Depot, but I was finally getting a salary and benefits.  $28,500/yr & no bonuses.  I was putting in 50hr work weeks still, but I had two little girls at home under the age of two and they loved my job.

I stayed as a manager for nearly five years there.  But again, no promotional opportunities, and the pay wasn’t meeting my needs as we just had our third child and we needed a bigger house.  I was chasing a goal I thought I needed which I knew couldn’t be achieved in a short time.  I began passing my résumé around and was mastering the “Art of the Job Interview”.  To me it was a becoming a game- say what they wanted to hear and they almost always offered me the job.  But it all came down to pay and promotion advancements.  I turned down almost every job.  It felt good to be able to do that, but it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be.

Summer of 2007, the other assistant manager at CEC got himself a job at a railroad.  Because we had become such great friends- he notified me of a job fair that was coming up.  I took the chance and went in, passing the exams and the interview with ease.  I got a call back within a couple of weeks asking if I could start ASAP in the training, otherwise I’d have to wait a few months for the next round of training.  I asked what the pay was.  To start in training, my pay was 2.5x the salary I was currently making.  After training, the money got even better.

I was now a laborer.  I did the job expected of me and I went home.  But of course, in my mindset of how my parents lived, I thought that I needed to still chase management opportunities.  So, a couple of years after being hired at the railroad, I applied for a management position.  However, during the interview I realized that I didn’t want it.  More hours, more stress, be more of an a-hole to the people I had become friends with; all for a bit more money.  I realized at that point I wasn’t wanting to work extra hours and that my family and friends had become my priority. The job I am doing pays me well enough and I had more time to be with my family than I ever expected.


As life has goes on, opportunity comes in many forms.  It may take a new direction or a change of pace to make you realize the path you need to be on.

Life is what you make it.  I’m trying to make mine fun.


I’ve always loved anime as can be read here: Akira. We’ve introduced it to our children since they were young.  There are certain storylines that I have really enjoyed.  I even debate “Subbed” vs “Dubbed” with people depending on the show (Subtitles whenever possible in my opinion).

Yesterday was a rainy day, so in the morning I played around with my android box and Kodi.  For those that don’t know, Kodi is a program that allows streaming of videos and music from around the world.  I was able to self-teach myself how to navigate it through my iPhone via an app.  It didn’t take long to set up and learn.  As I was browsing the music stations, I discovered Vocaloid Radio.  Essentially it was electronic dance music sung in Japanese.  After playing some J-Pop music through the house, my two youngest children came to me and asked to build their models they purchased last month at one of the conventions we were at.

Group selfie time


It seems that hearing the anime music inspired them to want to build their Gundam model bears.  I find it fascinating that music can bring forth ideas of where the music is from.  Japanese J-Pop brought my children thoughts of anime, mech robots and sushi.  If I played classical chamber music (personal favorite btw) throughout my home, it brings me thoughts of elegance and royalty.  If I play techno or disco, I am brought back to the nightclubs of my youth.

Music strikes emotional responses in everyone.  It’s one of the universal languages that everyone understands.  I don’t speak Japanese, Korean, German, French or any other language for that matter.  But I love listening to music, both modern and traditional, from around the world.  It brings me to these places without leaving the comfort of my home.

Today, I enjoyed some 80’s party mix radio and Depeche Mode radio.  I plan on exploring more radio stations throughout the summer.  First, I’m going to install some more speakers in my backyard so that I can enjoy gardening at the same time.

Until then, I’m off to discover some K-Pop, Reggae and Bossonva.

Back in my day…

When I was a child, I remember hearing adults say, “back in my day…”  I used to jokingly say it from time to time as I entered adulthood.  Now I have caught myself saying it more often and meaning it.

Society changes as a collective.  Our standards of how we want to live evolve.  Ten years ago, most people had no idea what a smartphone was.  Twenty years ago, most people weren’t connected to the Internet.  Thirty years ago, people used VCRs to record and watch shows.  Forty years ago, people used rotary phones with no caller ID or answering service or call waiting.  I’m pointing out technology because that seems to be the way our society judges its advancements. The latest and greatest tech gadget, now readily available for your two year old to use.

More often than not, when I’m talking about “back in my day…” I’m talking about how I experienced life.  We didn’t grow up with helicopter parents and bubble wrapped children (those that did that were the odd ones).  My parents let me walk out of the house, jump on my bike without a helmet and wander the neighborhood.  Sometimes I’d meet friends or other kids, sometimes I’d be exploring on my own.  My friends and I would wander up to the corner store and buy lotto tickets at the age of eight.  I could buy cigarettes by age fourteen for my father and no one asked for ID.  This never got my parents in trouble with the law for not being overly protective.  I could go on public transit with my younger sister and the bus driver never asked where our parents where.

If we made mistakes in life, it was a learning experience.  My parents never blamed other people for me being a dumbass.  It wasn’t my teacher’s fault or the people I hung out with.  I owned it & either I learned from it or I did something stupid again until I learned from it.

Now to get to my point- I am a parent of three children.  My oldest is a teenager and her siblings are close behind.  As much as I want to blame people for any mistakes my children make, I know that it is ultimately their own choices that they are making.  I try to give them freedom to discover the world around them and who they are as people.  Planning “play dates” or ensuring that the movies they watch at a friend’s house are PG isn’t offering freedom.  I know that if they want to go out and rebel that they will.  No amount of spyware or GPS will prevent that.  I’m worried that today’s society is overly protective and controlling.  The courts are forcing parents to be glued to their children until they are adults.

So, to my children- get out there and have fun. I’m not going to interfere in every choice you make.  But I will be watching- because “back in my day” I did the same stupid stuff that you are likely to do.

The Early Bird

I love where I live- the outskirts of the suburbs on the fringe of the farming community.  It’s peaceful and somewhat secluded, but still close enough to society that we can get where we need to go.  Trees and animals are everywhere.  Every other home has a large dog and we all greet each other as we walk around the neighborhood.  It’s peaceful and serene.

Home amongst the trees.

Today, I was called for an early morning shift at work.  Saturday mornings are doubly quiet in my neck of the woods.  There was a fresh rainfall over night and the world was glistening with water droplets.  The only sounds I could hear were the chirping of the birds as they awoke.  Their songs echoed a serenade that I have enjoyed many times before.

In my later years as a teenager, nearly every night in the summer, we gathered together and enjoyed bonfires.  We would head to a beach, or a campground or our favorite place that we called “The Dunes”.  A procession of cars would be lined up down a dead end road and about twenty or more of us would cross the train tracks and hike up the sand hills.  Armed with folding chairs, cases of beers, some firewood, & things to smoke- summer never felt like it was going to end.  Most nights we would leave around 01:00am or so, but occasionally we would pull all nighters.  On those nights, we would watch the sun rise and hear the sounds of the birds as they began to sing.  I vividly remember my friend saying, “Just listen to mother nature’s orchestra.”  

A bird in the hand…

Last year, a hummingbird
flew into our house and got trapped by the skylight.  With some effort and help from my wife, I was able to carefully capture the bird and release it back outside.  I held her gently in my hands and felt her heart racing against my palms.  It was a surreal moment, feeling like I belonged in a Disney movie, as I opened my hands and the hummingbird took a moment to realize that she was being set free.  I was one with nature at that moment.

Before the hustle and bustle of the daily grind- take a few moments one early morning (or really late night) and enjoy the sounds.  Hearing the birds in perfect unison, calling out to each other in stereophonic sound is fascinating to say the least.  Spring is in the air and summer soon to follow.  Take a deep breath and remember that there’s more to life than just work.

Deep Fry My Heart

Eating healthy is a great idea at my age.  Then why do I find joy in using my deep fat fryer?  I love all the amazing foods I can make at home that the pub will charge me a small fortune for. Denny’s has got nothing on me.

Deep frying food goes way back for me.  My father got a T-Fal deep fryer back in the mid eighties.  I was ten years old when I found out we could make fries like a fast food restaurant in our own home.  It became a staple of our weekend dinners.  My father mastered the art of deep fried potatoes.  His only attempt at being adventurous was when he made fresh mini donuts once- only once- and they were amazing.

When I was about sixteen or seventeen, I would borrow the deep fryer for parties at my friend’s houses.  They loved the spicy curly fries I would make.  That deep fryer ended up being passed on to me when my father passed away.  I used it nearly every weekend until it finally died a few years later.  

I was without a deep fryer for only a couple of months after that.  I shopped around for the biggest home fryer I could find.  The DeLonghi deep fryer met all my needs.  It was large, clean, and had a deep basket.  I have abused the hell out of this machine!

I have gone way past my father’s attempts at deep frying.  Sure, I deep fry French fries and potatoes like my dad used to make, only better.  My friends look forward to coming over to my house for a party because I will serve deep fried shrimp and deep fried pita bread (an excellent pairing for spinach dip).  But you don’t know living until you’ve deep fried a Mars Bar or gourmet bacon.  Pickles, zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms & sweet potatos taste so much better when battered and tossed in the deep fryer. This past week alone I have enjoyed shoestring French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks & jalapeño poppers.

I still don’t have the courage to try and make deep fried donuts.  That was something my father made.  I don’t want to sully my memory of the look of joy on his face as he bit into his first home made donut from scratch.  I know that they would taste delicious, but I also know that if I made them, they’d taste better than what he made.

Yes, that sounds cocky.  But I’ve made it a goal in my life to improve on all of my father’s recipes.  I have succeeded.  Learning to cook properly has made me who I am in the kitchen.  Funny thing is, as much as I love my deep fried goodies, I also enjoy the vegetarian meals we make.  I’m pretty sure my deep fryer will take a break this summer as fresh fruit and vegetables will be hitting our table.

But until then, I’m going to see if there’s any more ranch dressing left for me to dip my mozza sticks into.

Separation anxiety…

This weekend, our oldest daughter will be going away with her school concert band to perform.  She requested that my wife and I do not chaperone.  It makes me sad that she is at the age now that she doesn’t want anything to do with mom & dad.  I knew it was coming and could already sense that she is embarrassed by her parents (like most teenagers).  I dropped her off at school this morning, helped unload the suitcase from the trunk and offered to take it inside for her.  She refused my assistance and decided she could take everything herself.

She had her backpack on, her flute and music in one hand, & a suitcase in the other hand and was ready to head into the school.  I stood at the back of the car and as she turned to leave, I stole a hug.  At first she squirmed and tried to wrangle free.  But I held her a bit longer than usual.  I could feel her embarrassment slip away and she let me have a moment because no one was looking.  This phase in her life will eventually pass.  I know she cares about her family.  I remember acting in a similar fashion towards my mother at her age.


Father/daughter time.

Next weekend, my wife and I are taking our two youngest on another road trip.  Our oldest daughter will remain behind with her Oma & Opa.  With the end of the school year closing in, my wife & I knew that we couldn’t take her away from her studies.  Again, I feel that our family dynamic is changing, & my little girl is growing up (and apart from us).  I am saddened by this turn of events, but knew this day would come.  It will also make me sad when our other two children reach this stage in their lives.

I hate to admit this, but a little part of my wife and I are relieved to be traveling without our oldest.  Becoming a teen, our eldest child has made life for her siblings a tad annoying.  There is always a fight going on, bossiness taking over, mumbling under the breath, or a sarcastic answer being given.

The hardest part about parenting is letting your children grow up.  I love my kids and hope they understand why we do what we do as parents.  They need to explore the world and expand their horizons.  I just wish it didn’t come with the bad attitude.

Steal This Blog

One of the best books I ever read was “Steal This Book” by Abbie Hoffman.  I had to special order the book because the book stores refused to try and hold it on their shelves.  I’ve had the book in my possession since 1996.  It still looks brand new- spine is uncracked and the pages are pristine.  I’ve treasured this piece of literature since I first heard of it.


No one has stolen it from me yet.

If you haven’t read it, here’s a brief snapshot:  The book talks about urban survival by living without much or any money.  I learned a lot about how to be thrifty and still live a decent lifestyle.  The book came into my life at a time when I was couch surfing and fairly broke.  I recently saw it on my bookshelf and have decided to re-read it again and see if there are some new tidbits or tactics I can implement into my daily life.
The book was a huge underground success, but didn’t make much money because people would steal the book.  It’s even written in the book that you should have stolen it.  As much as stealing is a bad thing, sometimes corporate greed is worse.


Remember Napster?

System of a Down titled their third studio album: “Steal This Album” released in 2002.  As an almost perfect reference to Abbie Hoffman’s counterculture literature, System of a Down had a track on their album titled “Fuck The System”. Song stealing and sharing was very popular in the late 1990’s early 2000’s.  Unfortunately, many people didn’t see that what they were doing was a bad thing.  The songs all had radio play, and the musicians still performed at concerts.  

“Steal This Movie” was an indie film about the rise and fall of Abbie Hoffman.  Check the movie out if you want a glimpse into who he was.

I’m off to find a nice spot on the grass and read through my book once more.


I love living on the outskirts of Vancouver.  The weather is warmer, BBQ season is year round, and everything is green 90% of the time. Spring is here and summer follows soon after.  The biggest downside- allergies.

I’m allergic to dogs, cats, birds, and dust. I’m also allergic to all things that pollinate.  As much as I love the look of nature, I sometimes feel I should be locked away and given a lifetime supply of tissues.  There is nothing worse than stepping out of your home to enjoy the sun shining, hear the birds chirping & listen to the children playing only to have it all come to a screeching halt because plants are sending out their sex seedlings for my eyes and nose to intercept.


I swear people are out there shaking the plants just to make me suffer.  I just want to kill all the plant life and make them sterile!  Living on an acre surrounded by trees, my life is filled with a constant battle of allergy meds and staying alert.


As with most people with airborne alergies, I suffer from asthma as well.  
Asthmatic problems aside, breathing is a favorite hobby of mine.  I kinda need to do it to live.  But seriously, why must I be a mouth breather for most of the year?  Bugs often attempt Komikaze missions straight into my mouth.  Some are successful.  Ever taste a flying ant?

I’m off to find a corner and sulk.  At least no one can tell if I’m crying because of misery or allergies.

TV Watching

Like most people my age, TV has been a regular part of life since being born.  However, how we watch TV has evolved and is still evolving.


Program your own TV.

Picking up the remote and flipping channels has become a thing of the past.  Everything is “On Demand”.  Netflix paved the way for people to marathon through TV shows.  Watching 4-5 episodes (or more) of a show in one sitting is becoming the norm.

Back when I could barely afford cable TV, I enjoyed downloading TV shows on my computer.  YouTube had just started, so I found myself spending hours on my computer watching two minute clips at a time, wasting away the wee hours of the night. I discovered many channels that created a “one hit wonder” (can we say Numa Numa– holy crap that’s ten years ago!)  Now, you get only a few seconds to become an Internet Celebrity. (Damn Daniel).

I still stay up way past my bedtime, watching a screen or two until 3am.  I am often watching some sort of streaming video service.  I enjoy being able to watch TV shows on my time, not the time slot that we used to have to wait for.  I’ve also started to cut out shows that don’t grab my interest.  I don’t see the point of watching a series just because everyone else is.  Or, if a series has suddenly “Jumped The Shark”, I quit watching.

About a month ago, I had an opportunity to try out different Virtual Reality devices.  On one of the devices I watched a short film that was created by some former Pixar animators.  Wearing the goggles, the viewer is immersed in a new environment.  There was full 360° viewing capability.  When you focused on the main character, the story moved forward.  If you looked around to check out the environment you were in, the story would suspend and wait until your focus returned.  If you followed the main sequence of events, the movie went fairly quickly.  I love technological advances and this blew me away.  Something unique has been created and could be the future of video watching.

Stay tuned…

I like being liked

It’s a good feeling to know that people like you.  I just returned to work after my vacations and was treated with sincerity and kindness.  My coworkers were genuinely happy to see me again, asking questions about where I was, and why I left for so long.  It’s funny to think that my presence was actually missed. 

Today, one of my coworkers is retiring.  She handed me a business card as I left.  She’s not working somewhere else or starting a home business.  The card was her way of saying goodbye to everyone she knows from work.  It wasn’t a Hallmark greeting card in any form.  The sentiment was genuine and came from her heart.  Here is what it said:

“What made it all worthwhile are the people I worked with.  Thank you for your kindness and for the laughs.  Take care and keep in touch.”

A lot of people really liked her and she will be missed.  She was often there with a story of “the good ol’ days of railroading” from way back when.  All of the changes to how things were once done will slowly slip from people’s minds as more and more people retire.  Our work environment is in a constant state of change.

When I get closer to retirement, I hope that I too will be able to leave my work with a smile knowing that what I did impacted those around me.  Hopefully it will be in such a positive way as my coworker has done over the years.  I may be liked now by my coworkers, but I don’t want to become the bitter old guy who everyone hates to be around and can’t wait until I finally retire.  There’s no need for that.  I think I can stay positive throughout my career.  Only time will tell.

I like being liked.  


Supporting Small Biz

I’m a strong believer in supporting small businesses.  I find there is more attention to detail when someone has more at stake than just making a few dollars.  Many of my friends are super talented, so I’d like to share with everyone some links to their products/services:

I’d like to start with Elemental Illusions.  Here is a talented lady who makes amazing leather masks/dragons in her spare time.  She attends conventions in Alberta regularly.  Her daily grind is being a teacher in Alberta and raising her twin boys on her own.

Next is a husband & wife team from Salt Spring Island who have made it their full time job to create amazing glass art pieces.  They travel across the continent to conventions & craft fairs and have earned themselves a devoted following.  Check out Bling Squared to learn more about their process and perhaps pick up some “Cute Glass”.

Changing it up a bit and bringing it closer to my home: Here is a young lady who has made it her passion to bring amazing vegan food to the people of BC.  Follow her on Facebook to find out where she will be next so that you can sample some of her goodies.  You won’t be disappointed with Gypsy Food Trunk!

Take a break in the evenings and sing your heart out with 1 Epicnight Karaoke.  They set up at numerous locations throughout the week in Surrey and Langley.  Singing relieves stress!  Plus it’s an opportunity for you to showcase your skills.

Looking for an online giggle based on the struggles of parenthood?  Check out How Baby twice a week.  I was once Lindsay’s boss at Chuck E. Cheese’s and I’m glad she has kept up with her art- she is extremely talented.  You can also find this artist attending anime conventions and Comicons.

Speaking of babies, be sure and check out Geekling Designs for geeky clothes to dress you and your baby in.  Made and shipped out by a couple with two daughters at home who understand what it’s like to be nerds with children.

Needing to celebrate something special?  Have Mosaic Party in Kelowna help you out.  Classy and elegant decorations as well a professional attention to details.  If Kelowna is a bit far, at least check out the cookies that she hand makes- Sugar Bee Cookies.

This summer, make sure and take the family out to the Twilight Drive-In.  This is the last Drive-In theater in the Lower Mainland.  It’s privately owned and operated and not part of the big chains.  My family and I love the fact that you can see two-three movies in one sitting.

Loretta Braun: She is a fantastic piano teacher in the Langley/Aldergrove area that has been teaching my children for over eight years now.  She has also become a close friend of ours.

Here are a couple other friends who are just starting out that you may be interested in as well:

Ice ‘N’ Fire: They sell scented candles with a beautiful ring hidden inside.  Not only are you supporting a small business when you buy from them, but they also donate a part of their sales to charity.  Goodness x2!

Knottie Things: She is just starting up, and made a lovely crocheted Toadette for my daughter.  Be sure and follow her on Instagram to see some of her amazing work.

And of course, there is my wife (whom I’ve promoted numerous times before) at Ningen Headwear.  She works from home and hand makes all of her products in her own studio on the side of our house.  If it wasn’t for her business, we’d probably never have traveled or seen as much of the world as we have over the past few years.

I know there are plenty of other people who have a small business that they are working on getting off the ground. I meet plenty of artists and crafters at the conventions who are extremely talented and deserve recognition. So, get out there and support your local small businesses!

April 15th, 2016

Twelve years ago today our second child was born.  She has become an amazing little person over the years.  Since it’s her birthday, I’m going to share some information about her (proud parent moments to be precise) about who she is today.

Darwin Petra Havelka:

  • Nicknames include “Dar-B-Cute” and “Darweena”
  • Middle child/ younger sister/ older sister.

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  • She loves Hello Kitty ever since getting a pair of HK shoes at age 2.
  • Kawaii is also a favorite of hers & she is starting to draw in that style more often.


  • Cheer leading is her passion.  She loves being a part of a squad, and is always pushing herself to become a better & stronger cheerleader.
  • When she finds something that she likes- she obsesses about it.  Over the past few years -aside from Hello Kitty- she has fallen in love with Jem & The Holograms (The 80’s cartoon), Zero (the ghost dog from The Nightmare Before Christmas), Toadette (From the Mariokart/ Mario Party games), Totoro, and Sailor Moon… To name a few.


  • She is constantly dressing in cosplay and acting out the parts at Comicons.
  • She is a straight “A” student.  She is a perfectionist & has been known to beat herself up if she loses even one mark on an exam or project.
  • Her kindness and generosity has earned her many friends that love being around her.
  • She is a great listener and is often helping people out to make them better at what they are trying to accomplish.
  • She is very inquisitive about how the world runs, often asking questions beyond her age range (sometimes uncomfortable for a parent to answer).


  •  She loves her first name, and I could never picture her with a different name.

Darwin has been growing up into a lovely little lady.  She seems to have taken the best qualities of both her mother and I, thus creating a personality that draws positivity into the world around her.  She also knows how to lay on the guilt and has figured out the soft spot in my heart.  I love the little monkey (Monkey happens to be her Chinese Zodiac as well) & the world is a better place having her in it.

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Happy Birthday Darwin!


Life and memories.

“What is human life? The first third a good time; the rest remembering about it.” -Mark Twain

Over these past few months I have been sharing thoughts and memories about my life.  I’m writing to get my creative juices going.  What I’m trying to do is publish a more positive outlook on life for others to enjoy.  (That’s a lie, I’m writing for my own selfish reasons.  I want the world to acknowledge my existence.)

Last week/weekend, my mother was in town to visit and look after my children while my wife and I went to Emerald City Comicon.  When we returned, we were sitting down for dinner and my kids began asking questions about my childhood.  Gramma shared stories of my terrible twos and troublesome threes.  My children laughed at the stories of my misadventures. 

I shared a story of the first Godzilla film I saw (Godzilla vs Mothra), detailing where I was, when it was, and what the weather was like outside.  I even remember that after the movie, another Godzilla film was starting, followed by reruns of the old Spiderman cartoon (a giant plant creature was wreaking havoc on the city). During this time, my mother was busy ironing and then making lunch.  It was 1978, and I wasn’t even three years old yet.

I also shared a couple of other stories from those days, and my wife was rather surprised. She questioned how I remember things that happened when I was two years old. Honestly, it never occurred to me that people would lose memories or that regular events never stuck with them from a young age.

Most people share stories of greatness from their high school days.  Or briefly remember playing Nintendo for the first time.  Looking back on my life, I’ve done quite a bit, and enjoyed most of it.  

If Mark Twain is correct, then the first third of my life isn’t over.  I’m still having a good time and I haven’t stopped living just to remember what I’d done.  If my math is correct, I’ll be living well into my mid 100’s at this rate.

Make. Good. Art.

Nearly four years ago, Neil Gaiman gave a commencement speech at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and it went viral.  Every so often I look back and watch the speech in order to draw more inspiration from it.  Watch it here

I love the arts.  From books to film to drawing to handmade creations- people are talented.  I’ve always wanted to write since being in high school.  It has taken over twenty years for me to be courageous enough to pursue this endeavor.  Choosing to post in my blog everyday, has been a way of putting myself out there.  Some days only a dozen people read what I wrote.  Other times 1200 people read what I have written.  I’m not successful, nor is that my goal.  I am writing for my pleasure.


Two stories of art in our front entry.

We have seen great art by attending all sorts of Comicons in Western North America.  Our collection started small with a few postcard sized art work (that’s all we could afford at the time) to what has now become a beautiful array of imagery in our home.  Each artist we have purchased from was sitting at their table, selling their art, & still drawing while talking about their passions.  There is a certain amount of courage it takes to be able to showcase and sell your beloved art.  My wall is happier than it ever was.  People enter my home and something will catch their eye, and they’ll ask where we got it from.  Our wall is almost filled, so we will be expanding to the other three walls as time goes on.

Not all art is two dimensional.  We have made purchases of clothing and crafts as well.  People who take their time and put attention into the details- show pride in what they have created.  It makes me happy to own a part of their handiwork and showcase it to my friends.

The art I create is my art.  I’m choosing to share it with the world.  Good or bad, I created it and I am holding it out there saying, “Look what I can do!”

Perhaps one day I can give an inspirational speech based on my journey.  But until then-

Make.  Good.  Art.


“Nobody moves and nobody gets hurt.” –cliché

This phrase means more to me now than any old western or hold-up movie since starting work in the railroad industry.  I orignally heard someone say it during my training.  What I thought was just a humorous quote, truly meant more as my career went on.


We work in an unforgiving environment.  From the engines to the box cars, from the hot blistering sun to the freezing cold winter nights, from trying to read our lists to using the radio to speak with crews- there is so much to remember.  It all comes down to working safely.  We rely on each other at work.  Working 8-12 hour shifts, we all want to go home at the end of the day to our families and friends.  If you haven’t been onto the tracks before- stop and assess the situation.  If you don’t understand what is being requested of you- ask again.  Don’t make a move if safety is in question.

“Nobody moves and nobody gets hurt.” 


In response to the 3-day Quote Challenge (Day 3)

I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge:


The Running Garden

Vandale on Sports

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day


In this day and age, most of us live connected to the Internet on a regular basis.  It is an integral part of our daily activities.  From getting directions to a restaurant, posting pictures of our meals to Instagram, sharing the location on Facebook, then tweeting about how great the food is #greatservice #freewifi.  

As much as I have a data plan on my cellphone, I still prefer to use wifi whenever possible.  Especially traveling out of the country.  Roaming rates on a Canadian cellular plan is astronomical!  Not using my cellular while out of the country means I usually only take my iPhone out to take pictures.  That means I’m spending more time enjoying my travels than tweeting about enjoying my travels.  At the end of the day, I connect to my hotel’s wifi and see what’s new in my other life.

We use the same hotels on a regular basis, so often times we have connected without searching for the host or re-entering passwords.  I’m not sure what to think of this.  Good that we like the hotels, bad that we are there so often we connect immediately.

We returned home for less than a week from our road trip to California before heading out again to Seattle.  During this time, it was nice to have the comforts of home, but it was a mad rush to get ready for our next convention.  The other hardship was my home internet decided to flake out.  Not having time to troubleshoot, my frustration level was increasing.  We are home now for a few weeks, so I am trying to see where our issue is.  Is it the router?  Is it the modem?  Most likely it’s the 30 year old cable running through our home that is dropping the signal.



I would like to work on this soon because my wife’s business relies on her ability to have access to the Internet to reach out to her customers and keep her business current.  For the kids and I, it’s for entertainment such as Netflix in the evenings.  Time to put on my IT hat and figure out the problem.  Or just call my internet provider and get them to fix it.



Swag.  Conventions are full of vendors giving away swag.  But the term has lost it’s meaning these days.  

The term “SWAG” originally meant “Stuff We All Get”.  It was coined a few years ago for the Hollywood elite when “Swag Bags” were given out at events and they had exclusive Louis Vuitton and Cristal Brut merchandise inside.  The term and the merchandise has trickled down to those of us who barely afford a ticket to Comicon, and have come to realize that “free” means “advertising”.  The SWAG being offered these days is a leaflet or bookmark promoting whatever the artist/vendor is selling.

I understand it.  Advertising is only a part when it comes to making money on any venture a person starts out on.  Working for my wife at these cons, I have seen it all.  I’ve even come home with it all.  No, I’m not coming home with a $2000 piece of jewelry in an LV satchel.  I’m talking more about free buttons, free lanyards, free bookmarks, free crap.  My kids love getting free stuff.  I’m done with it.  I walk the con floors and have to say “no” when someone wants to hand me free SWAG.

However, there are people who walk the halls of the convention floor, and stockpile whatever free stuff they can.  Even business cards.  At the end of the day, I guess the term SWAG holds true, but the value isn’t there anymore.  

Perhaps the term should be “Shit We All Grab”.

Trying new foods

Over the past few years, I’ve decided to really broaden my horizons when it comes to food.  I’ve been sampling more authentic cuisines from around the world.  At home, I like to play and experiment with foods that sound appealing.  Vegetables have been in my diet for about 15 years now.  Before that, everything was meat and potatoes or fast food and greasy.  I still go back to that on occasion, but nowhere near the extent of my early twenties.

Some major experiences of authentic cuisine include Pho a couple of years ago, Shawarma last year, last month was a dinner of Southern made gumbo and Po’ Boys, and Ramen noodles for the first time last night.  I’m not talking about Mr. Noodles.  I’m talking about a full bowl of pork, bamboo, garlic, fresh made noodles & a soft boiled egg that was peeled after the first boil, marinated in soy sauce, and boiled again!  It was freaking amazing.


My wife is impressed that I’m willing to try new foods without sticking my nose up at it.  She should be.  When we first started dating she made whole wheat muffins for me.  I sat down for tea and muffins with her and choked down an entire muffin.  It was awful.  Turns out the whole wheat flour had gone bad, but since our relationship was just starting, I was being kind and eating everything.  Also, I wanted to impress the girl (Everything I did seemed to work, we have been married since 2001).

I am glad that I’ve broadened my horizons when it comes to food.  It makes me proud to know that my kids love trying new foods as well.  I have no regrets about waiting to try new foods.  It just seems that lately happens to be the right times and the right places.  I’m loving the experiences and hope to keep trying new foods.

All done.


A weekend away.

It’s sort of like a weekend away…  We are out of town without the kids.  I won’t be at my regular job as a Yardmaster, but I will be working for my wife’s company.

We are at Convention number 3 of this year in less than a month.  Number 4 will be the end of April…  We are going strong and pushing our limits of confined spaces (hotel rooms and road trips).

This weekend is just my wife and I.  It’s our time together without kids, maybe taking in a pub night after the con, maybe going to sleep early without having to shush talking children.  Whatever we decide, it’s a bit of adult time.

This is what the fridge at a convention without kids looks like:


Is 24 beers enough for the weekend away from the kids?

We are in Seattle and enjoyed our first dinner at Blue C Sushi.  Amazing rolls, brought past you on a conveyor belt, and you pick what you want.  I recommend the Spam roll.  It surprised me at how delicious it was.


Spam Sushi from a conveyor belt. Must be high class!

Romance may be in the cards for the weekend, but I think we both just need a breather (even though it’s still a business trip) from our everyday routine.


Closer to Home

We are getting ready for Con number three of the spring season.  Emerald City Comicon has been a roller-coaster ride for us over the years.  We had a great first year, terrible second year, and a great third year.  The convention circuit is fickle.  The company that runs Emerald City Comicon changed at the end of last year’s con so we had to jump through some new hoops and re-think our merchandise layout.  Every convention is different, and each presents its own challenges.  Some conventions, we are in the Artist Alley, sometimes we end up in The Vendor’s Hall, at WonderCon we were at The Dealer Tables.  Emerald City Comicon is a great convention, don’t get me wrong.  It’s huge and fun and there’s plenty to see and do.  It has become so large in fact, that they have added an extra day and expanded the gaming area into the hotel next door.

We do this Convention because it is fairly close to home.  We have taken the kids with us, but have since decided not to.  Seattle is an expensive city to visit.  My wife and I are taking a weekend to ourselves this time around.   Today is our crazy packing day.  We’ve been home for only a week and are ready to go back out again!  I love helping my wife out with her business.  She makes her products and I do the sales (generally).  It’s a good way for us to travel, meet people and generate some extra income.

As usual, I am promoting her business.  She doesn’t like to self-promote, so I try and get her out there every chance I get.

Banner 2016

If you can, take a moment and “Like” her page on facebook & follow her on Twitter.  She shares her adventures and pictures on Instagram as well.

And if you wish to purchase or request a custom hat, contact her through her website: Ningen Headwear or through her shop on Etsy.

We hope to see everyone at one of the next couple conventions!  If you’re at Emerald City this weekend, stop by and say hello!

Faded dragon Thanks2015

Social Media

Recently I took a few weeks in March and avoided social media.  Prior to that, I would go on seven or eight times a day to see if anything new was on.  But since “returning” I find there is no desire to pick up my iPhone and check constantly.


I still see the advantage of social media.  It is a great way to share stories, photos, and information.  I am still going to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope.  There are other apps and media outlets that I have since stopped using, but somewhere there is my account if I decide to return.  Maybe one day you will find me posting again on Vine, Ello or Google+.


Virtual me.

Until then, join me in wasting all of your free time on Miitomo!  Thanks a lot Nintendo.