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.