There was a time when having a tattoo meant you were “hardcore”.  There was a time that employers wouldn’t hire you if you had visible tattoos and piercings.  Even facial hair or colored hair was taboo.  I went through jobs like that until 2007.  People telling you how to dress, what to look like, or what not to look like to just get a minimum wage job.

All of that seems to be shifting.  I know more adults with tattoos than those who don’t have them.  My part of the world has concluded that tattoos are a form of art and expression.  Tattoos aren’t limited to back alleys and prisons.  I go to Comicons and they set up tables in the vendors hall.  Some people get a celebrity’s autograph on their body, then the tattoo artist makes it permanent.  Others decide that a Megaman tattoo on their shoulder is a way of expressing their love of videogames.  

The line of acceptable dress or looks is getting blurred or is nearly erased at retailers because of this.  McDonald’s employees can be a little more free spirited these days.  Mostly because more people have and love tattoos.

I got my first tattoo in March of 2008 for my 32nd birthday.  I wanted a tattoo since I was 19, but could never decide upon a design.  Originally I wanted a Spaceman Spiff (Calvin and Hobbes) because I could relate to the imagination of the young boy. Instead- I pierced my tongue.  It’s still pierced and many people don’t even know it.  As I grew older, the idea of a tattoo fell by the wayside as I became a father.  Then it dawned on me.  Why not get your children’s names tattooed?  It’s a great fatherly thing to do.

It took me about a year to create the design that I liked.  Finally, I decided on the double helix with my children’s names in the ribbons.  I’m pro-science and evolution, so this design made the most sense.  Sure, I have a fondness for Star Wars and Muppets, but those may adorn my body some other day.

I have a single tattoo.  I’d like more.  My wife has three tattoos. She’d like more.  My friends have tattoos.  They want more.  Tattoos are an expression of ourselves at the time they are inked.  They are a history imprinted on our bodies to remind us why we got them.  Maybe the tattoos symbolize to us something deeper.  Or maybe it was a drunken mistake, but that still reminds us of our history- good or bad.

If you have a tattoo or don’t have a tattoo, it doesn’t matter.  Just go out there and enjoy your life.  It’s your body.  It’s your way of expressing yourself.


Over the past few days I have noticed that things are slightly askew.  Pictures, televisions, doors and windows.  Whatever it is that should be square is turned more rhombus.  Perhaps it’s the angle I’m looking at it, maybe it’s just offset.  I’m worried it may be my mind.

There’s a feeling of vertigo that comes with the visual.  As if my head is off balance and I’m ready to fall over.  Just before the tumble, everything snaps back.

And just like that, I’m back to normal.  Whatever my normal is.


Short post today. I need to prepare for my “Rules” exam tomorrow.

Working for a railroad, at least here in Canada, we have rules that we need to follow.  This ensures the safety of the employees and the general public.  We have an entire book filled with everything from Timetables to handbrake charts to understanding signals.  There are subsections in each rule.  When I first hired on at CN, our rules instructor made it very clear that almost every rule in the book is written “in blood”.  Meaning an injury or death caused changes in how we railroad over the past 100+ years.

Railroaders NEED Rules. We can’t live by “code” alone.

Every three years, I need to be recertified as a Rules Qualified Employee.  It’s stressful.  Studying and preparing for a job that I’m already doing is difficult.  After all these years, the way I work is second nature: mostly invoking common sense to stay safe.  But when sitting in a classroom doing the exam, wording the answers correctly is the hard part.  Even harder for me is writing out the answers to the Signals portion.  

Green means Go

Yellow means Slow

Red means NO! NO! NO!

Not even close.  There are variations on how the signals are displayed, Yellow over red.  Green over red over green.  Flashing yellow, double flashing yellow, it goes on and on.  There’s even letter plates on the masts that add to what the instructions are for how to use that signal.  I haven’t seen a signal in almost four years.  Remembering what they all mean is challenging to say the least.

Tomorrow I am going to rewrite my rules and hopefully be stress free afterwards.  But until then: Clear signals all the way.


I have a name.  Like most people- I also have numerous ID numbers as well.  Credit cards, driver’s license, work, rewards clubs, etc…  But I have a name that I was given at birth.

Josef Andrew Havelka

This name was given to me by my mother.  My first and last name were my father’s.  The middle name?  No clue why.  Originally I was to be called Michael after my uncle, but at the hospital when I was born, I wasn’t exactly healthy.  So my mother hurriedly named me after my father just in case.  I was also baptized a couple days later as a Catholic, just in case.  But 40 years later, “just in case” has defined who I am and who the world thinks I am.

Growing up, I was called Josef.  Unless my dad’s Czech friends were nearby.  They called me Pepik Junior.  Mixing Czech and English was how they talked about me.  I became accustomed to hearing the name.  Having never learning Czech, I could still tell what was being said.  My father never wanted us to speak his home language.  He kept that to himself in order to keep things from us as well when he spoke to his friends.  But I learned how to read into annunciation and body language.  I could tell if what was being said was kind, mean, sad, or sympathetic.  Because of this, I have become a good judge of character, often being able to sense people’s comfort levels with one another in social interactions.  I am very aware of how I am perceived as well, often hiding my true emotions.

As I grew up and hit Highschool- my name stayed the same for most of the years.  Friends almost always called me “Josef”.  The occasional shortened version, “Joe”, was thrown in from time to time.  But Joe was my father’s name, so I corrected them to call me “Josef”.  At the start of Grade 11 Chemistry, the teacher called out attendance.  He got to my name and asked what I preferred to be called, “Joe” or “Josef”.  I said it didn’t matter.  He then asked what my parents called me at home.  Without missing a beat, I told him my father calls me “Asshole”.

As I entered adulthood, I tried going with the name “Joe” but I’m not fond of it.  People do call me it, and I respond.  Some people call me “Joey”, “Jo-Jo” or “Broseph”.  In some weird way, I like to hear my name pronounced “Yoosef” by some of my European coworkers.  It reminds me of those days when my father’s friends spoke of me.  It reminds me of the smell of cigarettes, beer, and whiskey.  Along with the sounds of laughter and foreign accents.

All of that being said, the one thing that bothers my wife (far more than it bothers me) is when people spell my name “Jo”.  Her opinion is that it is the feminine shortened version.  I suppose she is correct.  But it’s only been the past few years that this has occurred.  I blame shorthand, lack of spell check, and a lack of respect for this laziness.  

How about everyone just calls me Josef?  With an “f” not a “ph” at the end.

Blood suckers

As I may have mentioned previously, ok numerous times, summer is nearing the end.  Thank goodness.  Spending extra time with my family and friends these past few weeks had me thinking- I’m sure glad those blood suckers will be gone soon.  

I’m talking about mosquitos.

Seeing the opening of Dexter a few years back, reminded me of those days back in my childhood, minus the murder stuff.  

When I was younger and lived in Edmonton, I swear the mosquitos were twice the size they are now.  But I was half the size I am now also, so it’s all relative.  We lived near some pretty marshy land where we went hunting for frogs.  The perfect location for mosquitos to be.  As we got “bitten”, my friends and I used to wait for the mosquitos to get a good amount of blood in them, then squash the buggers.  The splat smear was the best part.  The itching sucked.  No matter how much OFF! my parents sprayed on us, we still got bit.

Living in Edmonton in the early 80’s, I recall a fantastically bad Canadian children’s educational show called “The Hilarious House of Frightenstein“.  It was already in re-runs by the time I began watching it.  But there was a mosquito character that came down onto a foot, told a bad joke, followed by a boing noise.  Added bonus, bad costumes, crappy puppets, silly jokes, plus Vincent Price was the star.  It was filled with hippy psychedelic imagery.  Perfect for the 70’s.  I don’t remember much more than that, but I think I shall search out the show and see it in all of it’s glory once more.

Anyways, back to this summer: I’ve only been “bitten” about three times.  I hardly used repellent, so I think the mosquitos just don’t like the taste of me.  I hope this keeps up for years to come.

BC Ferries 

If you live in the Vancouver area, you have spent hours at the mercy of the BC Ferries Corporation. From lineups to buy tickets to lineups waiting to board (sometimes there’s even a sailing wait or two).

Spending money for the service to get to and from Vancouver Island is expensive.  That being said, in under two hours you get to see more of the beauty that our coastline has to offer.

I like to catch an early morning ferry, usually mid-week if possible.  No waits & no crowds.  It’s been a couple of years since we’ve trekked across the Strait on one of these vessels.

On a nice day, I enjoy walking around the outer decks with the wind at my face.  The scenery is a magnificent spectacle to behold.  As a child, I remembered on windier days aboard the ferry, I would lean into the gusting wind pretending to fight an unknown force.

Almost every trip I end up stopping at the brochure stand to see what I could be missing out on in this Province of ours.  Lots of it is touristy junk, but sometimes there is something I haven’t heard of or seen before.

Many a boat ride has consisted of playing cards as well.  I had an old deck that my mother returned to my son after our visit this week.  Ah yes, crumpled and fold cards with a missing Ace of Clubs card handwritten on a Joker instead.  The creases showing off what the cards are if you can remember each and every fold or tear.  But a hearty game of “Go Fish” always seems appropriate when crossing over on the ferry.

And of course there is the loading and unloading of the vehicles and passengers.  I’ve traveled many different ways on the ferry.  Sometimes by car, sometimes by bus, and other times as a foot passenger.  Each has its own quirks.  

But in the end, we all safely arrive at our destination, happy to see friends and family or happy to be on the last leg of the journey home.  The experience of BC Ferries is one that many in BC have endured or enjoyed.  Sometimes there’s a storm adding excitement to the tide.  On occasion there is a pod of Killer Whales swimming alongside of the boat.  

Look! I made my photo artistic and stuff!

No matter what happens, each trip is both unique and the same as the previous ones.  

Chainsaw Carving

In the tiny town of Gold River, BC there is a chainsaw carving competition happening. It has been going on for the past few years.  

Gold River’s iconic Penis Boot…

They set up in the only parking lot in the only shopping centre in town.  We went there a couple times today to check on the progress.  Maybe four other people were there… Not including the carvers or their families.  Small draw- making it more intimate with the carvers.

This morning the artists were preparing their pieces for the competition.  From 7am-7pm in the hot sun for three days, they will showcase their artistic skills and  talents.  After almost the entire first day, you can see some amazing progress.

I wish I had the talent these folks have to do such amazing art.  How they can take a large piece of yellow cedar and see life inside of it is far beyond me.  Using chainsaws of all sizes, art springs forward from nothing more than a tree stump.  Throughout Gold River, there are many sculptures and benches from previous competitions littered throughout the town (most available for purchase according to the Chamber of Commerce). 

Surprisingly many of these are more affordable than one might originally have thought.  As much as some have caught my eye, I cannot imagine owning one at this point in time.  We have one piece that came with our home, and he fits in perfectly.  

I am still in awe at the talents that people of the world have.  Plus the smell of chainsaws and fresh cut cedar really screams “The Great Outdoors” to me.  Which, btw, is a cinematic classic.

I’m a spelunker now.

We went exploring today.  It was different.  It was adventurous.  It was fun.  

My mother lives on Vancouver Island in BF Nowhere.  It’s a little town called Gold River.  18 kms away is the Upana Caves.  We were given a map in the town and tried our best to follow along.

The Upana Caves are a fairly easy trek.  We took the kids and our German Shepard on this hike.  Total time exploring and hiking was under an hour and a half.  The main challenges were the darkness and the dog.  For me, at 6 foot 8, crawling thru the caves met my muscles and joints with some pain after the fact.

Here are the pictures form our little adventure.  I recommend this to anyone who wants to start spelunking or who have children under the age of 13.

I’m now a fan of this outdoor activity.  I would do this again in a heartbeat.  I’m excited to try this in other countries and see more beautiful formations and natural wonders.  If you’re ever on Vancouver Island, with some time to spare, check out the Upana Caves.  

British Columbia has some amazingly beautiful locations, preserved without vandalism and garbage.  These caves were prestine.  No one carved their names or painted words.  I’m proud to live here, and love the respect given to our wonderful province and the beauty it holds.


There’s always someone who has to sell it and someone to buy it. I’m talking about kitschy stuff.

We travelled to Vancouver Island to visit my mother.  We left early from our home in order to catch the first ferry.  Made it on with 15 minutes to spare.  Score!  BC Ferries sells Kitsch with Canada and BC Ferries plastered all over their products at jacked up prices.  I have zero desire to spend more money than I have to to take the vessel on an hour and forty minute boat ride.  In fact, this trip I chose to stay on the vehicle deck and nap with my dog in the car.  This proved to be both good and bad.  By the end, my allergies were in full force and I was miserable.  Back to blogging about Kitsch.  

We got off the ferry and drove for about forty minutes and hit a little town called “Coombs”.  It’s a BC landmark.  Really.  Known for one thing.  Goats on a roof.

This little shop has expanded the town into more of these unique stores.  All specializing in selling Kitschy Junk.  Stuff that you see and say, “This would be the perfect gift for so-and-so.”  You spend the money leave the store and as soon as you hit the road, you regret the purchase. But now you are committed to giving this crap to your family/friend or coworker.

It’s just stuff.

What do you do when you are given Kitsch?  You say thank you.  If a family member gave it to you, you are forced to keep it and show it off when they stop by.  “I totally love it.  Everyone who sees it says how unique it is.” Loosely translated, “It’s a piece of crap that clashes with the rest of my home, but you seem to think it’s what I wanted.”  Kids giving gifts to parents and grandparents are prime examples.  

Stopping at my mother’s home, I see it everywhere.  Gramma likes dolphins about as much as a preteen girl it seems.

My mother has more stuff scattered throughout her home.  Many are gifts from people she knows.  Bought (or made) from local shops and artists.  She appreciates everything she has been given.

In the right setting, the Kitsch falls under unique and one of a kind.  But more often then not, it shows up in a donation bin or garage sale.  Stop the Kitsch!  Our landfills will thank you.  But hey, here’s the new sticker for my car:

Two weeks…

Crap.  Where is summer going?  We are in the last two weeks of summer vacation for the kids.  Seven weeks have already passed and it feels like we need to squeeze in more activities to end 2016 on a high note.

The start of summer was laid out before us with ideas and plans being made.  Some things we did, others were put by the wayside.  A last minute camping trip made it in last week- much to the joy of my children (and my wife was pleasantly surprised that she liked it as well).  But what to do with these fleeting days before the hustle and bustle of the new year (admit it, you feel like the year begins in September, not January just like I do) takes over our lives?

I’ve complied a list for myself- because I love lists and crossing things off.

  1. Read a book or two.
  2. Hit the beach early in the day.
  3. Take walks with just my wife.
  4. Enjoy some casual last minute meals with friends.
  5. See my family.
  6. Enjoy a nature hike.
  7. Take more photos.
  8. See more of British Columbia.

My list seems doable.  I should be able to accomplish my goals in a fairly stress-free way as well.  Here’s how I plan on meeting my goals:

  1. I love reading, so not watching Netflix before bed is how I will accomplish this.
  2. Just waking up and getting out the door before the crowds hit the beach.  Perhaps calling it a day by lunch will ensure this to happen.
  3. This is a no-brainer.  No excuses here.
  4. “Whatcha doin’?  Let’s meet up.” Done.
  5. I don’t see my mother or sister on a regular basis since they moved away.  Perhaps taking the initiative to do so and putting our differences behind us will help in achieving this more often.
  6. I have the shoes, I just need a little push.
  7. My iPhone is more than just Facebook and Pokemon Go.  I should take more pictures of life to remember the good times.
  8. This Province of ours is amazing.  Forests, mountains, lakes, beaches, people…  Getting up early and hitting the roads will help out.  Some money for gas and a map is all I need.

I also love hearing about places and events going on around us.  If you have anything to share, please let me know.  Or if you want to meet up, shoot me a message.  These are the last few days of sunshine before autumn enters and the busy life kicks in.

The Tragically Hip

Last night I watched a truly Canadian event.  The Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, performed their last ever live concert in their hometown at Kingston’s Rogers K-Rock Centre.   As most Canadians and fans of “The Hip” know the lead singer, Gord Downie, was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.  The demand for concert tickets for the final tour was high and sold out within minutes.  Public outcry was met with relief from another Canadian Icon- CBC. 

CBC: As Canadian as ever.

CBC broadcast it to all of Canada commercial-free: on television, radio and their digital mediums.  The show ran for nearly three hours.  This is a first to my knowledge in Canadian history.  The show was viewed in bars, restaurants and homes throughout our great country.  

Our Country’s Leader.

Most Canadians took a break from the Olympics and their busy lives to watch the show.  Even our Prime Minister was in attendance at the show.  It doesn’t get much more patriotic than that.
It surpassed viewership to another favorite Canadian Event: Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I was never the biggest fan of “The Hip” but like many Canadians, a couple of albums were among my collection.  In 1992, I had on repeat “At the Hundredth Meridian” from the album Fully Completely until I learned all of the lyrics.  I remember owning it on CD, and my sister owning it on cassette because I never shared my music with her.  It is my favorite “Hip” song.  


I found out watching this show that I knew more “Hip” songs than I realized.  By the end of the concert, I was singing along.

Watching them perform their final gig was heartfelt and tearful knowing it would never happen again.

Just amazing.

Much respect to the courage it took the band and the lead singer to do one final tour.  The Tragically Hip gave Canada some amazing music and beautiful lyrics.

“No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”

Olympics Summer VS Winter

As the Rio Olympics approach the final day- I have yet to put on and watch any events.  For me, Summer Olympics aren’t as exciting to watch as Winter Olympics.  I understand that all of these athletes are the best that each country has to offer.  And years of training leads to these moments.  There just isn’t anything in the summer games that grabs my attention.  Winter Olympics is just, I don’t know, faster.  Hockey, luge, skating, skiing- it just moves.  The hits are harder, the excitement is stronger.

Cool snow sculpture we saw at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Sports aren’t my thing at the best of times.  But, I’m more likely to turn on a tv to watch sports in the winter vs the summer.  The summer is a time for patios and being by the poolside.  The winter is a time to stay warm and gather round to enjoy each other’s company.  Oftentimes leading to a game on the tv.

As I mentioned before, my son loves doing speed skating, and we have high hopes for him one day.  Maybe 2022 Winter Olympics?  I could only hope.  That being said, I fully support all the athletes, their families, the coaches, and hometowns who want to see them succeed.  This year, the Canadian Women are doing extremely well in Rio, and that’s great to see.  

I enjoyed when Vancouver hosted the Olympics.  It was well received with a beautiful backdrop, and showed the world that we have what it takes to continue to host any major event. Vancouver hosted Expo ’86 thirty years ago and that originally put us on the map for the world to see.  

I could hardly contain my excitement!

During the 2010 Olympics, my wife and I were lucky enough to go to watch the Freestyle Downhill Ski Jump finale.  The energy was amazing to see an event firsthand.  I would watch another event any day, no matter the event.  

On a final note: As always, Go Canada!  

Camping Pt.2: Family

Yesterday I wrote about a couple of my previous experiences camping as a young adult.  As fun and memorable as those camping trips are, those days needed to remain in my past.  I am now on to creating new memories, only this time with my family.  

2014: A single night of camping.

A couple of years ago, I took my kids out for a night of camping just to see if they liked it.  They did.  We all wanted to go again, but it took me two years to convince my wife to join us.

The SUV packed full with kids and dog ready for camping.

Earlier this week, I had changed my work schedule and got a “three day weekend”.  From Monday-Thursday morning we hit the road and said farewell to our luxuries.  No electricity, no running water, no internet.  We still had our cellphones for music and photos- we aren’t savages- so I’d like to share some pictures of our trip as well as my thoughts.

An SUV in the wild? Beautiful BC.

We drove about two and a half hours from our home.  The last hour or so was down a 33 km logging road which included a few wrong turns.  But we made it to our destination at 20 Mile Bay by dinner.  We set up our tents and made our little piece of home in the seclusion of the wilderness (albeit still a Provincially run campground).  The campground had 50 sites, and we booked a double site on the south end.  No one was near us until the last evening.  The solitude and peace was just what we needed.

20 Mile Bay is right on Harrison Lake.  A beautiful lake that I’ve been boating on with friends in the past.  The bay itself is just that, a shallow bay with warm water that looks out into the rest of the lake.  For the three nights we spent there, we only saw a couple of other campers.  It felt like we owned the lake.  It felt like paradise.  

During the days we cooled off in the water.  The kids got along famously.  Our dog enjoyed a dip as well as all the new smells in the air.  My wife and I put our chairs in what felt like the middle of the lake and read our books.  We went for walks around the lake with our dog walking calmly beside us unleashed.  I even taught my children how to use a slingshot and skip rocks across the water.

In the late evening, we enjoyed a campfire along the beach.  We roasted marshmallows, some getting burned like they usually do.  We added a packet of coloring to the fire, making green, blue and purple flames.  The children were at peace and we talked.   The night sky was clear our entire trip and we saw more stars in the sky than we usually do at home.

Our last night there, a campfire ban was put in place by the Province.  So we sat around our table and played cards in the evening and enjoyed some hot chocolate. This was also when we received new neighbors at the site next to us.  

Happy Campers!

Ugh.  These new arrivals almost ruined our experience.  They were the epitome of “White Trash Glampers”.  Travel trailer got parked, the guy immediately fired up his chainsaw (what????) to cut a log to balance the trailer, the dirt bikes unloaded, tarps and lights strung out, the generator went on, the young kids (two of them under the age of five) dumped their toys everywhere around the beach and site, the mother constantly yelling at them while the kids fought, and their dog got tied up and yelped all evening into the early part of the night.  As it grew dark, the noise level increased and their friends also showed up with a travel trailer and in the darkness attempted to set up as well. Absolute chaos and pandemonium was happening next to us.~END RANT~

As we sat at our table playing cards under the light of a single Coleman lantern, with our music on at a level just loud enough that we could still talk and sing without yelling.  We were glad that we had a couple of nights without these people.  The next day, we packed up to head home.  Each of us working together talking already about our next trip.  My wife has now become a camper and it looks like we will do this trip again.

Our little spot of paradise.

Camping Pt.1 TBT

I started camping in my mid to late teens. Pretty much since driving became a regular pastime for my friends and I. Once or twice every summer, we would pack up for a weekend away. 

My first time camping with friends, I drove a buddy’s car down some logging roads on our way to finding a campsite before I even had my drivers license.  That was thrilling and nerve racking at the same time.  But it was freedom.

Later that summer, my mother allowed me to go off with a friend by Greyhound bus to his hometown.  Once we arrived, we were off to a huge camping experience titled “The Rebirth of Mother Earth”.  It was a crazy weekend filled with a lot of firsts.  I learned what a sweat lodge was and shared my first peace pipe with a bunch of First Nations and came away fairly high.  Probably the tobacco and herbs in it, I dunno I had never smoked anything prior to that weekend.

I spent the majority of the weekend bombing down dirt roads in the box of my buddy’s “borrowed” Toyota pickup getting flung around as he fishtailed down the back roads…  That scene in Toy Story where Woody gets nailed by a toolbox in the Pizza Planet truck?  I swear someone at Pixar was completely inspired by my idiocy- that scene was happening to me over and over that weekend.  You’d think we would’ve moved the toolbox at some point.  Bruised and battered- it didn’t matter, it was fun.  Later that trip, I learned how to make gun powder and we fired some home made cannons.  “D” cell batteries can fly across a river pretty darn good.  I also went cliff diving for the first time.  Nothing says “Peer Pressure” than trying to show off to girls in bikinis at age 16.

As we got older, beer and girls would accompany us more often as well. There was always great stories to share after a trip. Some drunken escapade, someone deciding peeing on the fire was a good idea, some emotional dramatic break up, or some crazy scars and burns. Good times. Good times.

But that all suddenly ended. Friendships changed, summers were filled with working weekends, and the idea of being dirty for a couple of days wasn’t appealing any more. Years went by and the idea of “roughing it” went out the window. Marriage, mortgage, & monsters became a way of life for me.  

Ah, responsibility.  The realization that “I’m too old for this shit.” kicks in.

Hangover Cure

We had a little get together to celebrate our anniversary back in July.  We were lucky that the weather held up and got to enjoy the backyard.  There was good friends, good food and lots of laughs.  With these get togethers there’s also some drinking involved.

That night I only had a couple drinks.  But I kept feeding my wife and a few of our friends some pretty stiff drinks.  Needless to say, there was some talk of being hungover the next day.
We aren’t getting any younger, so drinking in excess is not a good idea.  It really hasn’t been a good idea since having children.  Dealing with babies or toddlers while nursing a hangover is not an ideal way to adult.

Joining the world of “adulthood” at the legal drinking age is pretty much a rite of passage.  You go out and party on a Friday, regret it Saturday morning, sleep the day away, and head out drinking on the Saturday night.  Your mind and body can take the abuse.  Pretty sure I’ve had weekend benders that killed my brain cells and lungs.  Although remembering what I did wasn’t really important at the time.  Thank goodness cellphone cameras and social media wasn’t around.

I’m not a big fan of getting myself into the hangover state any more, much less getting stupid drunk.  A couple beverages after a rough day can take the edge off.  No need to induce a hangover on my days off just because I can.  I’m all growed up now.  The best cure for a hangover is not to drink.

Violet Hair

When I was a late teen, I would dye my hair.  Usually blonde, but occasionally a natural red.  About 12 years ago, I did a dark black and I looked awful.  That’s one colour I will never do again.  

Working on my Nerd Cred.

I mentioned my blue hair a few months ago that I did for a Rick & Morty Cosplay.  Then I decided to go purple to try out a new product.  I loved the color & it lasted for quite some time.  It has since faded to a pink/yellow hybrid.  Slowly, my bleached hair is becoming noticeable these days.

Do you find it… wisible… when I say the name… ‘Biggus’… Dickus?

I don’t mind having pink hair.  People at my work have begun to accept that this is what I do and offer me advice on my next hair colour.  In fact, it’s now starting to go beyond just my coworkers suggesting colours.  The other day my boss brought his six year old daughter by for a few minutes.  She was shy to talk at first, but upon seeing me she began to talk about hair colours and what she wants her hair to look like.  She thought it was neat that I did this and said that I need to go bright red to match my work colours.

It seems that my next colour choice is going to be red.  Pretty much like Ronald McDonald red.  It should be an easy change from the current cotton candy pink my hair is.

WordPress 200

I’ve been enjoying using WordPress for a few months now.  It’s fairly easy to use for a beginner such as myself.  Wordpress offers a convenient app that I use 90% of the time.  This is mostly due to the fact that my cellphone is hardly ever out of my reach.  It’s great to be able to pull out my iPhone, jot a quick draft, save it and set it aside.  I like the PC as well when I’m trying to edit a more important (to me) piece.  I am impressed with being able to save on the mobile app and crossover to the PC and vice verse.  The save is almost instant allowing for me to switch over with ease.

It started slowly, but I am receiving more badges for my accomplishments and that’s very encouraging.  I’ve also been receiving feedback and compliments from other blog writers.  These strangers, out of the kindness of their hearts, take the time to read and respond to my musings.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be welcomed into this online universe of creativity.  After a “Like” or comment by a fellow blogger, I usually take the time to read what they have written on their blogs.  This has drawn me to many subjects and ideas that I otherwise would have overlooked in my daily life.  Making my internet browsing a more fun adventure these days.  Like getting sucked down the rabbit hole…

Wordpress has many more features available that I can utilize.  I have only really used the basics- write a post add an image or two and maybe a website link.  This week, I am going to try a few more features and hope that they work in my favor.  If not at least I can write movie quotes and post pictures for my own enjoyment.  

Thanks again to all who follow me and have left me feedback.  I feel like I don’t say that enough.  I even have a Facebook page all to myself where I share these blog posts and the occasional image or link to other bloggers.  Feel free to “Like” that page as well for up to date musings: Josef A. Havelka

Oh Behave.

It always astonishes me to watch how people parent.  I like to think that I’m a fairly good father.  My wife does a pretty darn good job in her role as mother also.  We don’t spoil our children with buying stuff while we are out shopping.  Nor do we shut them up with electronic devices in public.  We also don’t brush them off when they are talking to us, but rather engage them in conversation.  We don’t condone interrupting when some else is talking, but rather wait for their turn to speak.  On top of it all, they each have chores to help out around the house without expecting an allowance.  

We also discipline them if needed- this can vary depending on the situation.  We have grounded them, put them in a corner, even cancelled play dates.  Last year our daughter lied about doing her schoolwork and even though she passed the class, we still put her in summer school to teach her that laziness has consequences.  Parenting sometimes means tough love and sticking to the punishment you enforce.

The other day, I was watching a very pregnant woman while she was dealing her two daughters at Costco, both of whom were under the age of three.  She sat them at a table for lunch and proceeded to cut the food for them.  The entire time, her girls sat quietly and politely.  They used manners and didn’t squirm or fuss.  The pregnant mother didn’t look worn out or stressed.  I got up from my table to leave and I walked over to her to tell her how her girls are beautiful and well behaved.  She looked up at me and smiled thanking me.  

I love seeing good parenting out in the wild.  I think more parents need to be complimented for a job well done.  As a society oftentimes we take for granted a well behaved child.  It is easier to point out the mistakes and errors of parents in public than to acknowledge a child’s good behavior.  

When I was a manager at Chuck E. Cheese’s I saw a multitude of parenting styles and children’s behavior.  Some good, some bad.  It was hard to tell if these children always behaved in a certain way, or it was the atmosphere of the restaurant that influenced them.  I used what I say and experienced in how I would raise our children at home.

When I brought my children there, they always used manners and respected other people.  Sure, they got to go to The Chuck’s a couple times per week, but they were always well behaved.  After leaving that job, my children never asked to go back- they were as done with the place as I was.

Being a good parent takes patience.  Next time you see a parent with a well behaved child, let them know that they’re doing a good job.  The joy of parenting can start with a compliment from a complete stranger.

Aw dang.

In my infinite wisdom this evening, I stubbed my big toe as I began up the stairs towards my bedroom.  I stumbled uncharismatically in hopes of not landing on said toe.  I was successful in my not-so-graceful-toe-saving-recovery by reaching out to the bannister.  I stopped myself from falling.  Needless to say that hand was holding my cellphone.

The post of destruction.

Perhaps if I had turned on the lights to the stairway before I entered this could have been avoided.  Or maybe I should have been focusing on where I needed to go, not what my next plan was tonight.  My carelessness allowed my mind to wander for that brief millisecond.  My iPhone paid the price.

Why did I have to crack my screen (again)?  I wasn’t even looking on my iPhone at the time.  After the last screen break, I put on a new flip case to protect it.  That worked excellent for the past nine months; except tonight.  I was carrying my iPhone with the flip case open.  I don’t normally do that anymore (unless looking for Pokemon).

Why am I so stupid?  Arg.  We have good health care up here in Canada- my toe wouldn’t have cost me a dime to fix.  In fact, if I was off work for more than three days due to an injury, my extended medical from work would kick in.  Sure, it doesn’t pay as much as working.  Plus the fact that I’d have a broken toe.  It’s still a stupid mistake I made tonight.  But I’m not stupid because I cracked my iPhone screen (again).  I’m stupid because… 

I tried to take a screen shot of the cracked screen to show you…

“Why isn’t this picture working?” 

*long pause as brain clicks back on*  

“Oh wow.  I am stupid.” -Me only moments ago.  But now you can see what my home screen looks like.  I’m going to go have a beer and use my iPhone as a coaster now. Dangit.

Regular Oil Changes.  Aka: “What else can we trick you into spending your money on?”

It seems that you can’t go anywhere without someone trying to take some of your hard earned dough.  I understand that businesses need to generate an income.  I understand that there are costs involved for putting on a show or an event and you need to charge an entry fee.  I understand taxes, levies, and interest rates.  I get it.  But it annoys me.  Some of the worst places that try and take my money are automotive shops.  

I go in for an oil change at $40.  That’s all I want to spend.  An oil change is all I need.  Just put the cheapest oil you can find in.  Put in vegetable oil for all I care.  I came here because I just don’t want to do the oil change myself anymore.  I don’t want to hear about transmission fluid levels or cleanliness.  Don’t tell me I need a new air filter because there’s some pixie dust and the wing off a fly stuck on it.  

Stop trying to use scare tactics by telling me that my brakes are at 10% less than they once were and that if I don’t look into getting new ones soon, my family will perish in a horrible accident as we careen off a cliff into the abyss.  Or that I should replace all the belts and hoses because they’re six months old already.  I never asked for a full inspection of my vehicle.  I asked for an oil change and my free newspaper while I wait.

Finally, don’t up-sell me on some fancy carwash that smears the dirt and barely cleans my windshield.  I have children who will do that for no charge.  Please stop trying to squeeze another dime out of my wallet.  

All I want is an oil change… and maybe an air freshener now since you’ve made me feel guilty for not succumbing to your sales tactics for the past twenty minutes.

See you in 3 months or 3000kms so we can do this dance all over again.

Maybe I don’t like you.

Yesterday I went to work.  (Like I do most days that I’m required to if I want a paycheck.)  For the most part, I really like the job and the people I work with.  During my shift yesterday a coworker said I do a pretty good job and asked me if I like my job on a scale of one to ten.  Ten being “Best Dream Job Ever” and one being “I wake up everyday wanting to shoot myself in the face.”  After some thought, I said I’d put my job at a 6.5-7 on most days.  

However… Occasionally there is someone I work with whom I just can’t stand.  There are only a select few actually.  Not bad considering there are a few hundred people that I deal with regularly including customers, supervisors, and people in other departments.  Working in an industry that has varied shifts and on-call workers is a blessing some days.  This means oftentimes I won’t be stuck dealing with those that I don’t like.

Back to yesterday- because it was the most recent situation.  I showed up to work to get the turnover from the fellow before me.  I trained him last year and he’s really good at his job (patting myself on the back here!).  He tells me that he is always thinking throughout his shift “What Would Josef Do?”  He always has the start of my shift set up for success.  When I turnover to the next Yardmaster, I do my best to leave them in good shape as well.  You never want to be “That Guy” who sucks at their job.  Trust me.  Those people get their names scrawled on bathroom walls… because hey, we are grown ups here.

Sometimes I think I need to keep my opinion to myself about which coworkers I like and don’t like.  But that can be difficult when you just need to get it off your chest.  I was talking with my fellow Yardmaster yesterday as he was finishing his shift and I was about to begin, I let it slip, nay outright mentioned, a coworker that I hated working with.  He laughed and said to me that that person earlier in the day mentioned how much they enjoy working with me.  Dammit-all-to-heck.  

I am usually overly kind to the people I can’t stand.  I knew I did this.  My wife has pointed it out to me as well.   It’s a fault I have.  Unfortunately it means that they think I enjoy their company.  

Trust me, if I liked you and wanted to be your friend, I’d treat you like shit.  Ask any of my close friends how nice I really am.

Repair or replace it

We have owned our Honda Element new since 2003.  It’s the only car we’ve ever bought brand new. It’s been through a lot with our family and watched us grow.  It’s been a part of our family for 13 years this month in fact.  As wonderful as it is to buy a new car off the lot, we would never do it again.  Over $35,000 spent once it was paid off.  The vehicle may be worth $2,500 for trade in value now.

I love the car.  We have put nearly 265,000km on it with the only major repair being a new clutch.  But repairs are about to start costing more than its value.  All of the wear & tear, nicks & scratches have come from the use & abuse we have put it through.  The Element has endured rather well.  This vehicle is a great commuter car for a tall guy like me.  It’s a 5 speed manual transmission with a four cylinder engine.  It’s fun to drive and has a bit of pep to it.  The repairs are mostly cosmetic and I should get them done at some point anyways.

Cracked taillight from when I backed into a pole.  D’oh.

Cracked windshield from years of highway driving.

Muffler held together with wire.

My oldest is only a couple of years away from getting her license so I think we will keep this mini SUV for her to use when the time comes.  I don’t think we will ever get rid of the car.  It should last us for many more years. 

 If Honda still made the Element, I would consider buying another one for myself.  It’s hard for me to find a new vehicle for myself since I haven’t driven a car since 2003 and SUVs aren’t exactly the most fuel efficient vehicles out there. We ditched our minvan five years ago for a Nissan Pathfinder (another fantastic vehicle btw) and I don’t think we could justify buying another large truck or SUV at this time.

Hopefully within a couple of years, a “new to me” vehicle will grace my driveway.  But until then, I should probably get the oil changed regularly and fill the tires with air as needed.

I am a writer.

Yesterday’s blog post pretty much wrote itself.  I’m a sucker for nostalgia and love sharing stories of my youth.  I’m like a forty year old going on ninety.  The old man forcing his stories of glory on anyone within earshot.  Luckily for most of you, I’m only writing my stories down and you can choose to read them or ignore them.  I am hoping you read them…

One reason I started sharing via blogging is because I don’t tend to talk much in large social settings.  I enjoy listening to others weave tales and share experiences.  It’s their time for the spotlight.  Some people need an audience that they can see and gauge their reactions and what story to tell next.  Sometimes there are too many storytellers and they all want to talk and be the center of attention.  When that happens, no one listens.  Except me.  You can always count on me to listen.  My silent smile means I am thinking of ways to have you killed… In a glorified horrific manner… For a story.

I am an avid people watcher.  I sit back and watch the interactions between my friends.  It astonishes me how quickly I can figure out emotional connections (good or bad) just by watching.  I don’t judge.  However, I have predicted fallouts, breakups, dating, and new friendships.  When my friends share personal details of their lives with me, I keep it to myself.  Usually when I speak of a mutual acquaintance- I stick to the basics.  Like when I last saw that person, where we were, what their job may be, how their family is.  I try not to spread negativity.  

If I’m out in public, I will judge strangers on their behavior and how they act.  Not always how they interact with me.  Most of the time it’s how they move through this world.  What’s their backstory?  Why are they where they are?  Where are they going?  Human interactions are a curious thing.  

I enjoy being overly kind and friendly to people I don’t know.  I don’t need to get angry at a cashier because the price came up wrong.  Or throw a fit and demand free food if my order is incorrect.  I’m quite happy to just wait while it gets corrected.  During that time, I’ll create a back story in my mind about the person’s life, leading to the distraction of the mistake.  

I’ve always been a writer.  But sharing my stories has been the hardest part.  I’m very selective about what I speak about.  Oftentimes I just throw in a joke or two in order to remain a part of the social circle. My friends are great people and I’m really lucky to have them… If only they knew how many times they’ve died inside my mind.

Transforming my childhood

I was ten years old when Transformers: The Movie came out.  Today marks the 30th Anniversary of its theatrical release.

I love sharing nostalgic moments from my youth.  This film is one of my favorites.  There are lots of people who were devastated watching this film.  I wasn’t one of them.  Killing off beloved characters changed the way I looked at life.  Sure, my heroes fell, but new ones arose.  Reading back about why the movie killed characters and how Hasbro was wanting a new toy line introduced makes sense from a marketing standpoint.  Heck I bought into it and that Christmas, my gosh did I receive a bunch of new toys.

The summer of 1986 and the release of Transformers on the big screen mattered to a child of my age.  I was jealous of my friend who saw the film opening night at our local multiplex.  I was forced to listen to plot points, spoilers and new Transformers.  A female Transformer?  A Weird Al song in a film?  Death and destruction by a planet?  Megatron revamped into Galvatron?  My brain was exploding with anguish and frustration.  I begged my parents to take me to the film.  My mother took me to a matinee later that weekend.  Most likely to shut me up and get it over with.

Photo courtesy Cinematour. The theater has since been torn down.

Willowbrook 6 Cinemas.  Anyone who grew up in Langley during the 80’s & 90’s remember this place.  Lineups ran around the outside of the building under the red canopies.  Parking was limited so people often parked across at the mall.  The term “Blockbuster” made sense back then.  

Inside Willowbrook 6 were six small theaters that held a couple hundred people in each.  There was one long concession stand and a couple arcade games & pinball machines along the walls near the washrooms.  The theater seats sucked by today’s standards but were cushioned and squeaky.  The floor was a sloped, painted cement which allowed for spilled sodas to find their way from the back of the auditorium to the front.  At the end of the shows, under your shoes were a goopy messy- sticking to popcorn and candy as you left to return home.

I spent many more years attending movies here.  As I grew up, I went with friends or on dates without having parents tag along.  I also learned the art of sneaking into “R” rated films or seeing multiple shows in one day.  Most of my DVD collection is of movies I saw from my youth.  Jurassic Park, Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story, the list goes on.  But Transformers, that film meant something to me that most of my friends also experienced.  We all lost someone dear to us.

But I saw death as what it truly was: the ending as well as the beginning of a journey.  People die (or in this case robots) and the rest of the world goes on fighting.  Losing Optimus sucked.  But there wasn’t anything terrible about it.  The film moved on & so did I.  I still love the movie and will be watching it later today.  The big named voice actors, the killer soundtrack, the action- it is 1980’s animated movie magic at its finest.  

Excuse me while I try and find my old toys and make them watch it with me- similar to how my children bring their toys to watch films as well.  As if there is a life inside these inanimate objects just wanting to burst forth.  All the feels…


Today in downtown Vancouver, throughout the crowds of Anime Convention attendees and cruise ship patrons, I felt lost.  It was a rare day today where all I did was float through it.  I made the motions of being in public, but wasn’t really all there.  It felt like I was partly awake and partly dreaming.  I don’t often have days that end with a realization that it is over.  It’s a strange sensation to be there and not.

The day is ending.  The hours had passed me by without realizing it.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be around more.