Lending a helping hand.

Friends help friends- it’s the right thing to do.  Paying it forward is something I strongly believe in.  I’ve had friends there to help me when I’ve needed it.  Today was my turn to help out.

Looking good and ready to take on the move.

It was moving day for a couple of friends of ours.  Moving sucks.  No matter how prepared, or how packed up your stuff is; no matter how many friends are there, moving takes forever.  Some of us showed up to help out because it’s the right thing to do.  Others made excuses.

Getting help is hard.  No one wants to lift the hide-a-bed.  No one wants to load an appliance into a truck, knowing it has to come off at the next spot.  After moving, you are often lucky to still have friends.  Sure beer, pizza and BBQ are a payment of thanks.  But if you are the kind of person who moves every six months?  Good luck keeping friends.  

After a long day of moving boxes and furniture, everyone needs a break.  The remnants of your life are scattered throughout your soon-to-be-vacated house.  The next step is unpacking and starting your life in a new location.  Unpacking takes time.  (I swear that we still have boxes from when we moved over nine years ago.)  

Marriage, divorce, death, pregnancy and moving are the top five stresses in life.  None of those five stresses may are the most pleasant situations to be in.  Having friends who will help you through any of these situations is wonderful.  Finding humor in moving is a great way to make it through the day.  That, plus the promise of ice cold beers goes a long way.

I’m just glad I don’t own a truck.  I’m sure I’d have a ton more friends… Who would need help moving…  I’m content to lend what little muscles I have to help out.  Plus feed me beer.  Did I mention that already?  Yeah.  Beers are good.

The Summer Cold

Throughout most of the year I suffer from allergies.  I look at it as my body feeling bad for Mother Nature.  J/k.  Allergies suck.  But what sucks more than allergies is the Summer Cold.

Nothing like looking forward to your weekend, seeing that it’s going to be sunny and warm, making plans with friends, when your body decides to grab a virus.  I often confuse it with a bad case of an allergy attack.  It’s usually when I’m 2-3 days in with the sniffles that I realize I’m sick.  Now my days off are shot trying to recover.  

Did I mention before that I dislike sweating?  Sweating because of manual labor means you are accomplishing something with your hard work.  Sweating because of a cold or flu is just plain gross.  In the summer, being drenched in your own fluids as snot rolls out of your head is not how I want to go.  You may as well be taking the brain out of my skull and throwing it directly into the sun.  Summer cold sweats are the worst.

Usual winter remedies or comforts, like chicken noodle soup or hot tea, doesn’t work the same in the summer.  You pretty much just have to suffer through the cold virus until it passes onto the next victim.  This is the time that I do my best to try using mind over matter.  I think healthy thoughts and avoid focusing on being sick.  I’m not sure that it works, but it beats feeling miserable all the time.

I feel better already.


Nope.  It’s still here.  Ugh.

Air Conditioning

My home is nice and cool most of the time.  The trees shade it nicely throughout the summer months.  It also helps that this is a brick house as well.  We own one fan and have no need for AC.

I often forget that the rest of the world around us is in a heatwave.  I often leave my home in jeans and a hoodie, instantly regretting it as I turn the corner.  That’s when the AC comes on in the car.  Doing my errands, I rush out of my icebox on wheels and dart into my destination hoping for more artificial mountain breezes.  Suddenly my hoodie and jeans are a good idea since “Arctic Tundra” seems to be the level of cold required at Walmart.

I am relatively comfortable as I shop… Until I leave and the wall of heat smashes into me like a flamethrower.  I rush to my car only to realize as I sit down and burn myself on the seatbelt buckle, that my vehicle has now become a sauna. Whatever chill I had going on prior to my shopping is gone.  Instant sweat rolls out my pits.  My windows get rolled down and visible heat waves emanate out.  Some are even off my body.  

Gross.  Sticky.  Sweaty.  Uncomfortable.

I just want to get home again and relax under the trees.  I have to avoid the very back of my yard since it gets direct sun and has turned into Death Valley for most of the day.  The summer makes me become a homebody.  Fearing the scorched earth, I rest easy on my cool leather couch.  Peacefully wasting my day away, not wanting to venture back outside.

I Love to Laugh

Some of my most fondest memories involve laughing.  Jokes with friends or internet memes.  From listening to comedy albums to watching movies.  There’s always something funny being shared.

A good Monty Python quote can go a long way: “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.”  

Or a throw back fit a la Office Space when the printer at work is failing. “PC Load Letter?”   

Perhaps breaking out into Denis Leary’s song “Asshole” on a hot summer drive will help relive some tension.

Laughing helps make life enjoyable.  A good joke among friends or a giggle over someone’s Vine “Damn Daniel!” can really brighten your day.  

Go out there & have fun.

“Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true,

You’ll see it’s all a show,

Keep ’em laughing as you go.

Just remember that the last laugh is on you!”

Monty Python 

Cooling off

Last year I took my children to a local water hole to cool off from the summer heat.  It was a place that was shared with me about twenty years ago.  When I posted photos of us last year, some of my old friends got all excited and were like: “I remember that place!”

After sharing about the rope swing and the shady pool of water, more of my friends asked where it was so that they too could go with their children.  There’s no greater feeling of joy than sharing a little piece of paradise with friends.  Later, I saw photos of my friends and their children enjoying a cool dip on a hot summer day.  Today I brought another friend there to share an afternoon of doing nothing, but having fun.  Even our dog cooled off from the summer heat.

The water isn’t chlorinated.  There is no payment required to enter.  There’s no fancy waterslide or waves.  Not everything in life costs money.  Today was all about just enjoying life.  Taking the time to experience nature and put down our devices can be very fulfilling.  My children even made some friends for the day and splashed around having a great time. 

Sure my phone came out to grab a few pictures, but hey, that’s what being a parent is all about.  I need to get some embarrassing shots for future use as well…

I love finding out about new places to explore locally.  A big thanks to all my friends over the years for sharing these places.  My children and I look forward to going around to these locations every time.  

Enjoy your summer!  And remember to stay cool!

The healthier choice

For the past week as I’ve driven home, my neighbor on the corner up the road from me is always outside.  At around 07:25 each morning he is standing at the end of his driveway.  At first I nodded acknowledgment as I drove past him, now I wave my hand and he waves back.  He’s around my age, but clearly not healthy.  Not saying I’m a pinnacle of health, but he is having his morning cigarette standing in his pajamas hiding behind the bushes.

I’m not one to judge why people smoke still in this day and age.  There are many factors that play into this.  I’ve noticed in certain cities, there is more smoking than others.  Most of the West Coast is smoke free- from Vancouver to San Diego, but Alberta has clouds of cigarette smoke that people need to walk through.  I remember Europe being like that as well. Some places are fully smoke free, while others still encourage a comforting nicotine fill.

2002. I looked thrilled to be a smoker.

I smoked steadily from 1994-2004.  I started in my grade 12 year of school.  I thought it was the cool thing to do (underage drinking was also). In BC at that time you had to be 16 years old to buy smokes.  What teenager didn’t think it was a right of passage to do adult things like drink, smoke and get tattoos?  Maybe it was just the people I hung out with then… But nearly everyone I knew smoked.

Western society snubs smokers and has been for some time now.  It’s no longer associated with a casual good time with friends.  Those ads and commercials ended in the 90’s some time.  In Vancouver, Benson & Hedges sponsored the fireworks every summer.  Not gonna lie, I enjoyed smoking B&H cigarrettes for a while.  Their marketing did work, at least on me and my friends.  Once Canadian laws started jacking up the prices and limiting the presence of tobacco companies, many people were feeling the effects of society telling them it’s not healthy.

Need help to blow out the candles? Maybe put away the cigarette first.

When my wife and I got married, we did our best to not have our pictures taken while smoking or even holding a cigarette.  We both knew that we wanted to have children, and that we wanted to be perfect role models for them.  We wanted them to be able to look back on mom & dad and not see unhealthy choices.  I have a couple photos of birthdays with my father having a cigarette next to a birthday cake.  Not an image I want my children to remember me by.

My wife and I both quit smoking around the same time.  I remember the exact day I quit. It was after a Halloween party at our house.  I had smoked nearly a pack and a half the evening before.  November 1st, I couldn’t breathe.  It felt like I had crushed my chest and punched out my lungs.  I couldn’t quite catch my breath for almost the all day.  I quit that day cold turkey.  I threw away the last of my pack of cigarettes.  I was done.

I’m glad I quit.  I haven’t had a craving to smoke again.  I know most people can’t do it the same way I did.  I also know that many have struggled for years trying to quit and just say forget it and keep smoking.  That’s just the way it is some days.  It’s not easy to quit.  Personally, I wish I had never started and hope my children never do.

Two days off isn’t enough.

Working a regular job is great.  I know when I’m going to work and when I’ll have time off.  But working straight nights messes me up on the weekend.  I try and swing my body back to sleeping at night for two days, when really I shouldn’t.

I’ll get home after my Friday night shift and go to sleep, but only for about five hours.  The rest of my Saturday afternoon and evening is spent fighting off sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion.  Passing out about eight hours after my nap is a regular occurrence.  Sometime falling asleep while watching a movie with the family.

The Sunday usually has me waking up early and making a large breakfast for the family.  Then we have a good day of hanging out with other friends followed by a nice evening with a couple of drinks. I get to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up on the Monday morning at around eight am.

Then repeat.

Then the frustration kicks in.  I’ll be awake for hours, then toss and turn trying to get some sleep before night one of my work week begins.  After that first night shift, I’ll get home and crash for ten hours or so trying to get my body back into the swing of nights.  Every week is like this.  But I really enjoy the night shift because there’s so much to get done and I can still squeeze in some time with the family for a meal or adventure.

Like most people who work regularly, two days off just isn’t enough.  A third day added on would be great.  I’d love to have a four day work week.  Although, switching my sleep schedule around from days to nights and back again halfway through the week would probably take its toll on me worse than what two days off does.

Anyhow, time to try and get a nap before my Monday begins.  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend!

A different kind of friendship

The other day I ran into an old friend from high school.  I usually run into him once a year, often in a place I don’t normally stop at.  A few days ago I ran into him at a convenience store that I used to walk to when I was a child.  It had been years since I was last there.  It just so happened that when I opened the door, he greeted me in the way we used to greeted each other regularly.  He got me first this time.  “Yer Dead!”

Took a break, and died.

It started in Math 11.  Whoever was in class first waited to yell out at the other one.  After high school if we saw each other at a party, the same greeting would ensue.  Sometimes one of us would yell it out in anger and point and rush the other one.  I’m pretty sure people figured out after a few parties that we were friends.  

When I first started working at the movie theater in 1999, we used to be assigned to do the “Front of House”.  On a busy Friday or Saturday night, a staff member would be scheduled to go from auditorium to auditorium and announce the film.  I loved this job.  I got heckled sometimes but was fairly quick with a retort that was G rated.  One evening, I saw my friend enter a show moments before I had to go in.  He never saw me.  I walked in a short time after him and began my spiel.  He was still looking for a seat when I called out in the microphone, “And Don… Yer Dead!”  It was a pretty good mic drop moment in my mind.

Last year he got me at the A&W.  I never eat at the restaurant, but was wandering in on my way the another store because one of kids needed a restroom break.  The lobby of the fast food place wasn’t super crowded, but when he yelled at me, everyone stopped to see what was going on.

It’s an interesting way to greet an old friend.  Even after 20+ years we still do it.  I’m glad that we have this to go on.  It brings back a flurry of memories between us.  We usually take a moment or two to talk about life before heading our separate directions.  We don’t call or text, that’s not what our friendship is.  

I wouldn’t change it for any reason.  It’s perfect in its own way.  Hopefully next time, I’ll get him first.

Don.  Yer dead.

He was hunched over the small pocket watch on his counter as I peered into the store through the dusty window.  The dingaling of the old door chime as I walked in broke his concentration.  His hands moved so smoothly as he covered his work with a dark cloth.  He appeared to be blinking to reset his eyesight to give me a visual once over.  Running his hand over his grey hair, he stood up and addressed me.

His voice chipped away at the air in a staggered tone, “So you finally made it.”  He knew who I was, there was no need to play games.  I was there to kill him.  The hunt was over.  Seeing the man behind the legend had me curious as to how he had stayed hidden for so long.  But he wasn’t hidden anymore.  Here he was standing before me.  Of all the stories I had heard about him, he was much thinner and older than I expected.  I tried not to smirk as I spoke the line I had rehearsed all these years, “Don.  Yer dead.”

“Straight to the point.  I admire that.” He replied, not sounding as decrepit as he did before.  And with a quick gesture of his wrist the room fell dark and I could hear all of the locks to the doors and windows bolt shut.  My concentration remained steadfast and directed towards him.  I only had one shot at this and I wasn’t going to screw it up.  My gaze never faltered as the skinny man before me began to morph into a giant gargoyle type creature.  Giant leathery wings sprouted from his back bringing more darkeness into the room.  His hands were distorting into something that resembled both eagle talons and cat claws.  

I could tell his head and face were changing, but because of his wings, I only could see a slight silhouette of his not-so-human features.  As I watched him transform, his elephant-like arm swung towards me.



His arm fell to the floor.  He was fast, but I was faster.  The copper lightning barrel I had strapped to my back was now in my hands charging for a second round.  He definitely wasn’t going to be an easy adversary.  I was going to have to slice him up piece by piece.  But that’s what I do.  My job is to track down and prevent creatures from island hopping through dimensional portals.  

Don has been one step ahead of me for many years now.  He damaged his inter-dimensional transportation device a few hundred years ago.  He almost had it working again.  It was sending off a faint signal that most would have missed.  But when my partner came here on a hunch and never returned, I knew what had happened.  I knew it was Don and I knew where to find him.  I also knew the most important thing of this hunt:

I knew that today- Don dies.

The Big One

The Big One is happening this weekend and as usual it will be earth shattering.  San Diego Comic Con is the convention that started it all 46 years ago.  It began small and slowly grew.  Then it suddenly exploded in the 21st Century and has continued to gain popularity among movie goers, comicbook collectors, videogame fanatics, actors, film studios, media outlets, and everyone in between.  

Over the past few years, SDCC has reached a new level of importance in the entertainment industry.  Tickets are sought after by fans for access to exclusive merchandise, film previews, actor panels, and seeing killer costumes.  This weekend, most of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feed will be filled with all things COMIC CON.  Saying that I’m jealous that we aren’t going to be there is an understatement.  However, seeing it through the eyes of those who I follow on social media is probably better for getting an all around feel of the con.  It saves me from waiting 4 hours to get into a panel at the fabled Hall H.  

As much as we go to conventions to sell my wife’s hats (Check out Ningen Headwear), SDCC would have us lost in a sea of vendors that are far too big for us to compete with.  For our little business, we make sure that we sell at Conventions that have an attendance of over 70k people.  That’s a fairly big number.  Our favorite Con: Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Calgary hit over 102,000 in 2015.  Not a bad number at all.  Except SDCC 2015 had 167,000 attendees.  I’m not a fan of crowds of that magnitude.  I am quite content to be able to view everything on my cellphone and still get excited over the news that will come from SDCC.  Ok, I am still jealous of those enjoying the show.

I do love the convention circuit and get depressed if it’s been too long in between shows.  This past spring we crammed in four conventions in just over a month.  That was a tad bit overwhelming.  We are lucky that our children have been attending cons with us for so long and started at such a young age.  They are used to the crowds and what a Comic Con has to offer.  The first convention I ever attended was when I was a teenager.  I went to a Star Trek convention with a friend from school.  It was a one day event and the crowd was probably about 6000 people.  

The struggle is real.

I loved it.  The costumes were classic Star Trek and Star Trek:TNG mostly.  Same with the merchandise being sold.  There was some other Sci-Fi memorabilia and trinkets for sale.  At age 14 I only brought $20 with me.  It was hard to decide what I needed to buy.  I couldn’t afford a tricorder and forking over $4 for a Star Trek Federation lapel pin was really difficult.  Most boys my age were hanging pictures & posters of girlsor cars on their walls.  The other big purchase at my first convention was a $12 six foot tall door poster.  It was sexy in all of its glory.  It was of the Xenomorph Alien breaking through the door.  I kept that poster for years as a fond memory of that introduction into a world that made me feel like I fit in.

Now it seems that the Geeks shall inherit the earth.  It is prevalent when looking around and everything is nerd based & mainstream.  SDCC is even hosting a Pokemon GO event in the coveted Hall H this weekend.  Perhaps we shall see a sighting of a rare Pokemon!  I’m also excited about the possibility of some teaser Star Wars and Marvel movie clips.

Expect me to be buzzing with joy all weekend, even if it’s just in spirit.  Enjoy SDCC 2016!

This is my hometown.

I was born in Nova Scotia and within a few months we moved to Ontario. A couple years later we moved to British Columbia.  We lived in White Rock and Richmond in the late 70’s.  By 1980, we moved to Edmonton Alberta and four years later we moved back to British Columbia and settled in Langley.

From age 8 I have called Langley my home.  For a little over thirty years I have watched it grow.  Throughout the years in Langley, we have moved to a few different homes in a few different neighborhoods.  I am currently in my sixth house and have been here for nine years now.  It also happens to be the house that my wife’s father built in 1972. This house has always been my wife’s home.  Sure she lived elsewhere over the ages (including a short time in Turkey), but this is where she calls home.

This was my first home in Langley.  It was built in the late 70’s, so it has some character to it.  It is by far my favorite house I have ever lived in.  It’s the only home I’ve lived in that that had a swimming pool.  It may not look it, but this home is bigger on the inside.  If I could, I’d walk through this house just to relive my childhood memories.

Just before the 90’s started we moved to a brand new subdivision.  We watched the house get built from the ground up.  It was the summer of my transition from grade 9 to 10.  My father allowed me to have a friend stay over for a few nights only to make us work laying out a new lawn in the hot sun.  It was a much smaller home than the previous one, but everything was new.   My mother was happy but my father was miserable.  This house was sold two years later and we downsized again.  This was also partly due to some financial struggles that my parents ran into.  My father was about to lose his job and they were going through a legal battle because of an accident my sister was in at age 12. 

Unimpressed Josef

This was our third home in Langley.  It was in what was eventually referred to as “The Complex Complex”.  It was about half the size of our second home, so most of our stuff ended up in a storage unit or donated.  I was entering my last year of high school and the school was now a two minute walk away.  Let the rebel teen years commence!  Lots of emotional struggles in this home and a lot of soul searching for me.  This home was a hub of activity and I made lots of friends and had lots of adventures.

After this home I did a lot of couch surfing, then lived in a cramped basement suite with three other people, moved to a crappy bottom floor apartment with a friend, then met my wife and lived with her in a large home with four others.


Our first home together where my wife and I began our family.  I’m sure I have better pictures of the house somewhere, but I really like the photo of us on our third Halloween.  This home was a chance for me to learn the basics of home renovations.  My “Martha Stewart” skills became apparent as well.

Our home.

This is our current home, albeit a picture from a few years ago.  Not much has changed on first glance, but lots has changed when you look throughout.  I love this house with all of its quirks.  Any time I think we should sell, I think about my personal journey to get here.  It is apparent that my wife has been a big influence on my life and has really pushed me to set higher goals but also be content with what we have.  There’s a healthy balance that I believe we have found.   I’m also pretty sure my wife would like to stay here for many more years to come.  

Langley is my home and I have enjoyed most of the journey to get where we are.  Our door is always open to friends to come visit.  No invitation is needed.  

Our home is your home.  Anytime.

Dentist: Six Month Review.

Tools of the trade don’t scare me.

I usually don’t fear the dentist.  Today’s visit is no different.  My dental hygiene is pretty good.  I brush regularly and floss.  Just kidding- I never floss.  I’m bad at that part and the dental hygienist lets me know every time.  At the end of my visit they toss in a dental floss.  I have a collection of unused floss at home, but I really should’t tell them I don’t want it.

Sticking the vacuum in my mouth sucks. #dadjokes

At one point from age 20-26 I couldn’t afford to see the dentist.  I also didn’t have any dental coverage from work either.  When I finally did see the dentist, I had zero cavities.  Lucky me!  However, I really needed my wisdom teeth pulled.  One had broken through my gums and was starting to rot.  Talk about pain.  A pain I don’t wish on anyone.  I don’t even want to write about it.

Today during my sonic cleaning, for the first time ever, the sound pierced my ear causing me to twitch.  My hygienist asked if I was in pain and I explained what happened.  She said that occasionally occurs.  It reminded me of a toy I bought sixteen years ago by Chuppa Chups.  It was a radio that you stuck a lollipop into and when you bit down, the vibrations sent music directly into your head.  Coolest toy ever!  It’s somewhere in my home, I think I’ll have to dig it out now.

My current dentist and his team of dental hygienists are really fantastic.  They have all taken the time to get to know us.  They talk about our trips to Comicons, my work schedule and what the kids are doing in school.  It’s a nice feeling to know that we aren’t just a dental claim through my insurance.  As a thank you I may just open this container of floss and use it.  Maybe.

Losing My Man Card

I have been told on numerous occasions that I need to hand in my “Man Card”.  I think it’s about time I did something about this.

My Man Card

So here it is my “Man Card”.  I never knew I had received it.  There was no ceremony or cigar smoking in celebration of becoming a man.  

Was it when I was about 13 and discovered that I became aroused at the female form?

Fond memories of Electric Blue.

Was it when I turned 19 and went out to the bar and drank everything in sight?  Ending my evening covered in my own vomit?  Not likely- I was drinking “Electric Blue Long Island Iced Teas” with umbrellas and pineapples.

Was it when I got married at age 25 to my best friend and start a journey alongside her?  Probably not since most people think that my wife has my balls in her purse now.

I’m a real man.

Perhaps it was the following year when I became a father for the first time.  I doubt it though because I helped design and paint the nursery and constantly changed diapers.

Maybe it was when I turned 33 and became a railroader.  Does this mean the women who work for the railroad are manly?  But again, I received no fanfare.

Rocking the pink hair.

Somehow my “Man Card” appeared in my wallet.  All my male friends have requested it back.  Please take it.  It hasn’t done me any good.  Being a sexist bigot isn’t really my thing anyways.  

I prefer to be a caring soul who enjoys arts and crafts with my kids.  Or a glass of wine on the deck watching the birds and squirrels play in my yard.  Sometimes lending an ear to a friend who needs it instead of telling them to suck it up is more my style.

So please take my “Man Card” and stop asking for it.

Pokemon GO isn’t bad

So…… Pokemon GO finally made its way to Canada yesterday.  Yup, I’m trying to catch ’em all.  I know there were people here who jumped the release and have been playing for a little over a week.  That’s fine, I understand the FOMO concept, and the desire to yell out “FIRSTIES!”  If you don’t know anything about the game, I’m not about to explain it, just skip reading today’s post.

Cigarettes are bad

I like the game.  Part of the fun is taking pictures where the Pokemon appear.  Since the game is still in its infancy, it has crashed on me as I try and take a photo.  Now I only try and capture a fun image.  Since we live out in the country, there aren’t many Pokemon, Pokestops or gyms nearby.  And our cellular data craps out in certain areas.  Poop.  But, we have activities that our children go to in more major hubs filled with locations.  

I ditched my Fitbit the other day only to have two days of walking around looking for Pokemon.  I’ve done nearly 30 kms of walking.  I barely did one when I wore the Fitbit.  My wife is happy that this has gotten me active again.  Gotta Catch ‘Em All!  Pokemon!

Since its release nation wide on a Sunday, I met numerous other people wandering around the churches and parks.  I met people of all ages walking around.  Some adults my age (40ish) were curious about the game.  The kids and teens were friendly and helpful as we shared tips and strategies with one another.  There was an abundance of people outside on the first day! This game could help destroy obesity and help in bringing the population back to a healthy state. 

Don’t Pokemon and drive!  Besides it being effing dangerous, here in BC the distracted driving laws are costly to your pocket book.  Sure, the game is free, but paying a few hundred for a traffic ticket isn’t on my list of money well spent.  Since our youngest children don’t have cellphones yet, as we drive, my wife and I have let them hit the Pokestops and catch Pokemon for us.  Score for the parents!

I was around and in my early 20’s when Pokemon first came out on Gameboy.  In fact I still own it.  I obsessed over the game.  I even watched the cartoon (yes I was 20 and watching a child’s cartoon) regularly and got to know all the Pokemon names.  This new game brought me back to the fun I used to have.  

Just when you think Nintendo is down and out, BOOM, back with a vengeance.  The IRL Pokemon capturing and searching is another way Nintendo leads the way in the videogame industry.  The phenomenon has captured people of all ages in under two weeks.  

After a day and a half…

Go ahead and post your internet memes of hatred towards those playing the game.  In my two day experience playing it, I met other like minded people who enjoy the game & I have gotten more exercise than I would have on a regular day.  I for one will be playing this game for the rest of the summer trying to upgrade my Pokemon and catching everyone I can.  I’ve already killed the battery on my iPhone twice in under a day.

Get out there and enjoy the world, whichever way you can.  #gottacatchemall

You’re Only Old Once

Last night I stopped in at an old friend’s fortieth birthday party.  He had laid out a big feast and invited a bunch of his friends together for food and fun.  It was also a Toga Party, which I thought was a joke when I first heard, but it was true.  I showed up with my pink hair and a videogame shirt.  Standing out as much as I usually do.

Approaching the party it felt like being a teen again.  The party was held in the backyard of his parent’s place.  The same place we had spent many summers drinking, smoking and goofing around.  I drove there on autopilot, taking the shortcuts down the roads I used to take.  Walking in there were familiar faces I hadn’t seen in two decades.  

Somehow life just happened.  Years had gone by and as much as we all changed, we somehow remained the same.  We shared memories and tales of events and the people we once knew.  We shared what we knew of the lives that weren’t there.  It was a great feeling of friendships and follies that we once had.

In our discussions we came to the realization that we never really grew up.  We are still those young adults, but with more experience behind us.  40 is the new 33.  But even at 33, we never grew up.  

Finding a couple of hours in our busy lives to meet up is challenging.  I wish that I could have stayed longer to catch up, but life has a way of happening.  We all live close by (within about thirty minutes of each other) but will probably struggle to meet up again soon.  If I don’t see them sometime soon, I hope to meet up for another milestone birthday.  Perhaps where we can discuss Fifty being the new Forty.

More Excuses

A little over a month ago I wrote that I was going to write short stories every Saturday.  I wrote two and they weren’t even back to back weeks.  Today is Saturday and I don’t have a story. All I have is excuses.  Excuses of being awesome.

I know I shouldn’t be down on myself.  The goal I set was for me.  I’m not disappointed that I didn’t write a short story this week.  The week was full of my Anniversary, a Union meeting, nightshifts and my daughter’s birthday.  Not a typical week by any means.

200! Not too shabby for being a nobody.

I’m proud of the fact that I am still doing a daily blog post.  It’s also nice that I receive “Likes” and comments that encourages my writing.  Even today’s excuses one makes me happy because it means I’m still making an effort to write every day.  Besides pushing myself to do a short story once a week, I need to figure out how to reach a broader audience.  I know that there are millions of people out there missing out on my awesomeness and they don’t even realize it!

No more excuses.  I need to get back on track and write some short stories.  

Next week…

July 15, 2016

14 years ago today, our first child was born.  She was born five days after our one year anniversary.  My wife promised me a year without children and I guess she was right.  The shock of finding out we were about to become parents hit me pretty hard and fast.  We were in the doctor’s office and given the results.  The nurse had to ask if I was ok because apparently the color flushed from my face rather quickly.  I quickly came to grips with my new future and have really enjoyed having children.  Random Katarin, our oldest child, has been pretty amazing over the years.  Today, I would like to share some facts about her.

The rare “Smiling Selfie with Dad”.

Random Katarin Havelka

  • Loves Doctor Who-favorite character is the TARDIS 
  • Been playing piano since kindergarten & recently finished her Grade 5 Royal Conservatory exam with Honors
  • Has been playing flute for three years now and is wanting to explore more instruments

Her first ever real “Cosplay”. Meet Samantha Butterfly.

  • She loves cosplay and has been to numerous conventions and has had hundreds of photos taken of her characters
  • She loves videogames as much as her mother and is very good at them
  • She loves movies as much as her father and often shares with me facts and tidbits about films
  • Loves eating sushi

Reading time with her little sister.

  • She loves to read.
  • She has become an awesome big sister to her two siblings.
  • She has a great sense of humor and often does silly voices with me
  • She enjoys baking for people

Her name in show.

  • She was named after the daughter named Random from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” book five.
  • She loves fashion and designing cosplay for herself

Being silly for dad.

Random has become a wonderful young lady.  She is full of life and has a promising future ahead of her.  I miss the times when she was swaddled up in a blankie and would fit in one arm.  I am lucky enough that she often comes up and hugs me for no reason.  Sometimes it happens in public!  Sure, I embarrass her- that’s what fathers are meant to do.

In the end she knows I love her.  I would do anything for her.  I hope she continues to grow (just not much taller- she’s cresting six feet!) and succeed at all her endeavors.

I love you little girl.  Have a Happy Birthday!

    Cartoons For The Young & Old

    I grew up watching cartoons.  Back in the 80’s it was “Scooby Doo”, “GI Joe”, “My Little Pony”, “Jem & The Holograms”, “Transformers”, and “The Real Ghostbusters” that filled my viewing time.  I continue to watch cartoons with my kids and appreciate the humor that can be found in newer shows like “MLP:Friendship is Magic”, “Teen Titans” or “Phineas and Ferb”.  My wife and I fell in love while dating as we watched “The Powerpuff Girls”.

    Back in my late teens I discovered an animation festival that changed my attitude towards cartoons.  It was a traveling show that came to Vancouver once a year called Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.  A bunch of my friends and I went to the show and laughed.  We laughed a bunch.  So much so that we made it a tradition to go see the show every year for the next four years or so.

    Obviously, things have changed in cartoon viewing since then.  Adult Swim has one of my favorite shows- “Rick and Morty”.  I also enjoy “Archer” and “Robot Chicken”.  These shows push the boundaries of acceptable jokes but still remain on a higher level of intellectual humor when you really pay attention.  From “Family Guy” to “The Simpsons” cartoons are more mainstream than ever now.  Often poking fun at themselves and pop culture.  Even YouTube has made it easier to share more profound or even disturbing cartoons.

    I’m not saying all disturbing cartoons are funny or worth watching.  But sometimes a gem shines through and really sticks with you.  There was one short film that I absolutely fell in love with.  Every so often I go online just to watch it again.  I recommend you enjoy the film.  It’s maybe PG rated, so it’s not the worst of the animated shows I’ve mentioned.  It is shown like a nature documentary and is cute in it’s delivery.  

    Here is the link, please enjoy: The Hidden Life of The Burrowing Owl. On Vimeo 

    Let’s skip this topic

    As I have been writing this blog for a few months now, I am trying to focus on everything positive that I have experienced in my life.  Sharing with the world some of my accomplishments and heartfelt gratitude has been my goal.  Of course my life hasn’t been all milk and honey; peaches and cream; unicorns and pixies…  I’ve had some bad moments as well.

    Of course most of the negative stuff comes pouring into my mind when I need to sleep.  

    Yesterday I lay in bed thinking…  


    About almost everything wrong that has happened to me or that I’ve done.  

    I’m not sure if sharing these stories is what I want to do at this point.  I’ve touched briefly on a few negative experiences already, but I don’t want to pull myself down that path.  My Father’s Day post put me in a bad place for a few days emotionally.  I know I should write more about some of my hardships to express the journey I’ve been on and the obstacles I’ve overcome.

    All I can tell you is I can’t wear yellow flip flops.  I associate them with a horrible experience from when I was about four years of age.  I have not worn flip flops since. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I bought myself a pair of blue flip flops.  I tried them on in the store while wearing socks and thought nothing of it.  I got them home and decided to break them in without socks.

    I lasted only a few minutes.  The feeling of the foam under my foot coupled with the rubbing of the plastic between my toes made me nauseous.  My heart began to beat faster and my mind went to a dark place.  A place I associate with yellow flip flops and a forgotten/ blocked out part of my childhood.  A story that I have only shared with a couple of people in my life. One that I’m still not ready to share with the world.

    This is where my brain went yesterday.  It didn’t allow me to get the much needed sleep I wanted.  My day turned from happily driving the kids around to tossing and turning wishing the memories to go away.  Wishing like hell that it was all ever just a bad dream and not reality.  Coping and hiding.

    I just want to skip today’s story that ran through my head for hours yesterday.  

    So I am.  

    Time is on my side.

    My home is filled with clocks.  As I write this post I can hear three of them ticking away.  Nearly every room in my house has a clock.  Most of them are analog.  None of them run on gears or wind up mind you.  In some of these clocks, the batteries have died and I’m too lazy to replace them.  

    Our microwave and stove have digital clocks.  My children each have a digital alarm clock in their rooms.  I threw my alarm clock away a couple of years ago.  Our bedroom now has no clock.  Since the abolishment of our VCR, our living room doesn’t constantly flash 12:00.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  We also haven’t watched tv the way it was intended for a few years now. No need to plop on the couch at 8pm anymore since we haven’t had cable tv for years.

    I like our clocks.  It’s a bit strange that we have so many.  Sometimes I think about filling an entire wall with clocks.  But unless they were all synced up, my ocd would freak out.  I’d also love to own a real grandfather clock or a cuckoo clock.  Perhaps one day we will.

    We have a small collection of pocket watches as well.  My kids love them.  I have two cheap wrist watches that I used to wear, but this Fitbit thing has been on me 24/7.  (Which I’m going to take off now since I’ve realized that it isn’t accurately counting my steps or floors.  Probably something to do with being 6’8″ and having a long stride.)  I’d love to buy myself a fancy wristwatch.  There’s a guy at my work who has a nice collection of wrist watches that I’m a bit jealous of.

    Having time or finding the time is a constant struggle that most people face. Honestly, if it wasn’t for having to go to work and my children in school, I’d probably not care too much about what time of day it is.  Whenever I have a few days off or I am on vacation, I don’t like to wear a watch.  I end up being awake at the crack of dawn and pass out late in the night.

    Time is on my side.  But I have to run now.  I let too much time slip by as I wrote this.


    I worked in kitchens a few times throughout my career. Working in a fast food burger joint at age 16 taught me that people are assholes and expect first class dining on a shoestring budget. I have nothing but the utmost respect for McDonald’s employees when I see them working hard.  For a brief time when I worked at the movie theater, I worked in the kitchen (which was similar to a pub) and learned what a real dinner rush was. People had limited time to enjoy their meals before a showtime, & other staff members also had limited break times.  

    My best experience working in a restaurant was Chuck E. Cheese’s. I loved the kitchen- I mastered every aspect of it. Ordering produce, preparing dough, rotating stock, and getting creative in my own personal pizzas. The staff began to beg me to make pizzas all the time because I made every bite count. I diced vegetables and spread them evenly. Or I marinated the chicken with Italian dressing for a bit before using it.  I’ve always loved cooking.

    Last night we had some people over for a little BBQ to celebrate my wife and I being married for 15 years.  I made deep fried pita bread for the spinach dip my wife made.  My wife had marinated the pork kebabs that I grilled up.  I made my “fancy sandwiches” and my wife set up cupcakes with edible butterflies on them. Part of being married for so long is that we can complement each other’s styles of foods thus creating a caring and fantastic feast for our friends.  That’s not something you can learn in a restaurant.  Sure, you can learn what foods pair well with which wines, but putting love and care into your food is something you feel.

    Sometimes at dinner we ask the kids to list off the ingredients they can taste in the meal.  More often than not, one of them will answer “Love” is an ingredient.  After last night’s dinner for our friends, I believe it to be true now.  My wife and I put “Love” into what we cook on a regular basis.

    To quote a song from The Kids in the Hall: 

    I guess you want to know what’s in this pie.

    Well… there’s two cups love, a cup and a half of understanding,

    A tablespoon of good old-fashioned compassion,

    Sugar to taste,

    And you know what? The ovens are our hearts

    This is what 15 years does…

    On Tuesday July 10th, 2001 my wife and I got married.  The friends and family we invited out numbered around forty five including our wedding party.  We were married in a 100+ year old church that heated up like a sauna that day so the doors remained open.  As our ceremony began, a film crew from across the way stopped and gathered by the entry to watch.  

    After the ceremony we went and had our wedding photos taken by a friend of ours. It was a lot of fun.  Our reception was in a small Legion hall that we had rented and decorated with balloons and streamers.  The photographer’s soon to be husband was our DJ.  My father-in-law bottled his own wine and we had an open bar.  The bartender was a friend of mine who had just finished bartending school.  We had the main table with the wedding party set up in a U shape in front of the stage where the MC was.

    There was only four round tables set up in the hall for our guests.  The tables were labeled “Truth Beauty Freedom Love” from Moulin Rouge.  For our wedding we spent about $5,000 on everything.  We have a videotape of the festivities that we’ve never dusted off to rewatch.

    Fifteen years of marriage has been a fun ride.  From having three children together to traveling around the continent- our lives are full of adventure. We’ve been on train rides, plane rides, hot air balloon rides, limo rides, flown a plane & driven a train.  We’ve started a business, met celebraties, made new friends and had numerous one of a kind experiences.  Most of it on a budget or nearly free.

    Our children have excelled in school, become excellent little musicians and are the kindest souls you will meet.  Our friends have even fought over our children in the hypothetical case of my wife and I becoming deceased.  My wife and I have no idea how to parent- but people look at our children and seem to think we are doing it right.

    We’ve owned a house for nearly a decade now that has truly become a home.  It’s filled with knickknacks, artwork, toys, family and love.  We love our neighborhood and the peace that our home brings us.  Sharing the fun of our journey in person, on social media and through my blogs has been a blast.  

    From our 6th Anniversary.

    Without trying to sound cheesy, but it will, I would marry the woman next to me in a heartbeat all over again.  Our paths joined a little over sixteen years ago.  We have risen above the many challenges thrown our way.

    We must have known it was going to be, because on our first date- we set our wedding day and stuck to it.  (Or else I was about to start dating a crazy lady…)

    The secret to our happiness?  It’s probably is a combination of mutual respect, communication, hardwork, and silliness.  Lots of silliness.

    “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

    -Moulin Rouge


    In our home it feels like feast or famine.  We just did our big shopping trip for the month.  Thanks Costco.  Our fridge and freezer is so full, that I don’t want to disturb it by eating any of it.  It was like a game of Tetris fitting all the food in.

    We will be prepared for most of the month, if not the summer for the base of our meals.  The only food we will continue to buy will be milk, bread, fruits & vegetables.  Two days ago, the fridge was so empty that all we had was condiments and a can of beer.  It was like living the bachelor lifestyle all over again.  Except that we didn’t have Mr. Noodles in our cupboards.

    Having three kids home during the summer means they graze.  Snacking is common place, but they also pig out during dinner.  The biggest hurdle is to make sure that we only buy healthy(ish) snacks.  Fresh fruit vs “fruit snacks” or water vs colas.  It’s not really a difficult battle if we don’t buy the junk food.

    However… I love potato chips and ginger ale.  Buttered popcorn and deep fried cheese sticks.  Fried eggs and ham inside a grilled cheese.  I love unhealthy foods.  I do eat vegetables, fruits and yogurt, etc.  and 5 out of 7 days we eat a balanced diet. 

    But my go-to is salty junk food.  Wrapped in bacon.  Deep fried.  With a side of ranch.

    Cards for every occasion…

    Birthday cards, wedding cards, Christmas cards, graduation cards, Mother’s Day cards…  As much as we all give cards to one another for a special occasion- they are bloody expensive.  Buying one from a store like Hallmark, deciding to support a small time business or some quaint etsy shop- buying a card costs butt loads of money.

    I have never forgotten a birthday or special occasion for my family members.  Those people are all kinds of important to me.  But I feel bad hitting the dollar store for a card to express how I feel.  But they just get shoved into a shoebox or drawer after being on display for a of couple days.

    I know we have all the stuff to make cards at home.  We have a closet full of scrapbooking supplies as well.  My children even received card making kits as gifts.  I just don’t have the time to invest in painstakingly cut and stamp and glue a card.  The sad part is, what I would make would be better than what my wife could make.  She says that I’m definitely the “Martha Stewart” in the relationship.  She’s 100% correct.

    My anniversary is this Sunday (expect me to blog about it) so I was out shopping for a card. 

    Nope. Not this one.

    Still not quite the thought I wish to express.

    After 15 Years, this is pretty close.

    I have never given my wife a humorous anniversary card.  I spend hours in the store reading over each and every romantic card.  I also make sure the colors or the imagery is just right.  For the first few years- I made sure that the card was purple & silver to match our wedding colors.  Then for a while- I made sure the card would contain the most written scripture because I wanted to get the most value for my buck.  

    Not this year though.

    I think I found one that is perfect for her.  She will enjoy it for a few days until our daughter’s birthday.  At which point this card, that I spent hours searching for, will get placed in a drawer to be forgotten about for months on end.

    Now to just not screw up my signature when signing it…

    The Buddy Bench

    At my children’s school, near the playground, is a bench.  It’s called “The Burns Buddy Bench”.  You sit there if you need a friend.  I’ve seen kids feeling left out take a seat at the bench.  Within moments another child sits beside them.  Soon they are off and happy again.  It’s a fantastic idea and really makes all the children feel included.  As an adult I still need a buddy from time to time.

    I was going through the photos on my iPhone today when I came across the photo I took of the bench.  I forgot that I had taken the picture a few weeks ago.  I originally was going to write about what I’ve witnessed with the kids and childhood friendships.  

    Today though, it made me think of a couple of “buddies” I have relied on recently.  I have been feeling a bit frustrated because of work lately and it carries over into my personal life.   

    Post Nighshift Breakfast date.

    My one buddy is a friend named Russ who I met at work years ago.  He does essentially the same job as I do- but has done it longer than me.  He understands exactly the frustration that we go through on a regular basis.  We often share stories together after a shift ends.  I’m really lucky that I can talk with him so openly (Aka: Our bitch session).  A couple of years ago, we even went on a roadtrip to Disneyland with his family and had a great time.

    The other buddy I have relied heavily on is my wife.  We have been inseparable since we met sixteen years ago.  The longest we were apart was for two weeks when I went away for training one time.  Beyond that, it’s been less then 72 hours at a time.  Even that is rarely happening.  We talk and text daily.  I could go on about her for days on end…  I’m very lucky to have her in my life.

    Me and my buddy Mickey Mouse.

    I have numerous other friends who are there when I need them as well.  A quick text, phone call or visit makes me happy.  Sometimes when my friends are alone on the bench, I end up being the buddy who sits beside them to cheer them up.

    Having a buddy when you need it is a wonderful feeling.  The world needs more Buddy Benches.