Celebrating Two Lives In One Day, In Two Very Different Ways

Today was the funeral service for my old friend Jeremy.  I wrote about him two weeks ago. Feel free to go back and read it in case you wondered who he was to me: Jeremy.  It was a lovely service filled with more friends than I could have imagined one person to have.  But here we all were, gathered together to say a final goodbye.  The stories and speeches were touching.  The photos shared showed a man full of life.  The hardest part for me was hearing his 11 year old daughter speak of her father.  The courage she possessed to speak about her loss and share a couple of stories was impressive as well as heart wrenching.

Seeing some old familiar faces was nice, but awkward.  I suppose that’s normal for a funeral.  You want to share good stories of your own life and what has happened over the years, but you slow it down and find there is no easy way to talk with those who you once knew.  Bringing people together over a loss is difficult.  But our friend, Jeremy, was a fun loving and out going person.  Smiling today seemed ok to do.  

May you be at peace my friend.

The other celebration of life today was the celebration of a new born child.  

This little guy is adorable. I almost didn’t return him.

Another friend of mine gave birth to one of the most beautiful baby boys I have ever seen. Not including my own son.  (I still have parental biased going on.)  Gage was welcomed into this world early this morning by his mother Jen, father Greg, and big sister Emma.  Mom was doing so well, they discharged her from the maternity ward late this afternoon.  Ok, maybe it was more like Jen said, “We’d like to go home now, thanks for helping with my baby.”
Originally I was going to head to the hospital immediately following the memorial service.  But because they headed home so quickly, my wife and I decided to stop by their home and take a peek before dinner.

Seeing two factions of what life is in one day is humbling.  It made me realize that life starts and ends rather quickly.  From an old friend of twenty years, to a baby not even twelve hours old- both will mean something special to me.  

You can go through life sometimes not realizing who you’ve touched along the way.  


I am physically and mentally exhausted today.  It’s from a lack of sleep.  Not that I haven’t tried- I came home from my nightshift and promptly went to bed.  It’s my friends forgetting that I am working nightshifts that seem to be the issue.  

The real world seems to be 9-5 Monday to Friday with Everybody Working For The Weekend.  But there are those of us who can’t or don’t.  That’s where the hardship comes in.  Most people sleep all night and forget that there are some of us who need to sleep during the day.  Even my friends and my family forget or have a tough time adjusting to the thought that I’m not as alert as they are during the day.

Working nights is tough but it also has its advantages.  It means I am free to make doctor or dentist appointments for anytime of day.  It means I can volunteer more for my children’s school activities.  It also means I can do shopping during the calmer times and not be stuck in lines and crowds during the after school/ dinner hours.  I’m looking at you Costco– I swear those are the worst times to shop there.

But in arranging appointments and time with the family, my schedule gets altered.  Following most nightshifts, I get home and try to fall asleep by 9am, waking up for dinner.  I’ll spend the evening with the family.  But other times, it’s a few hours nap, wake up & do stuff, nap, wake up to eat, maybe nap again.  My body is generally accustomed to this.  

But, I also have days like today.  A day where emails, phone calls and texts have interrupted me far too much to get even a decent nap.  “Turn off your phone Josef.”  I can’t really do that.  It’s the main communication I have to my wife, work and emergencies.  Most texts or calls I can ignore and respond to when I wake up. No offense to my friends, but sleep is kind of important.

Don’t talk to me anymore today.  I’m going to try and get a four hour block of sleep now.  Thanks.

Foggy Thoughts

These past few weeks have had me in a mental haze.  My mind is going off in a hundred different directions.  I lay awake going through numerous scenarios about “what if” and following each path through my mind.

It feels like I have been going to Blips & Chitz to play “Roy: A Life Well Lived” over and over again.  Trying new paths but always reaching the same result.  Born, grow up, date, get married, have kids, do job, receive “Greatest Dad Trophy”, retire, get cancer, die.  Is that really my lot in life?  How can I change it?  What am I needing to do to keep my lifestyle fresh and exciting?

Perhaps more vacations?

Maybe a new car?

Exercise?  (Hahaha sorry…)

What about a career change?

Or volunteer my time to some community cause?

Recycle more?

Read more books?

What lies ahead?

The answer is: I don’t know.  And I’m ok not knowing at this point.  I’ve been trying new things this year to find my own inner peace:

Connecting with old friends.

Making new friends.

Writing this blog.

Trying new restaurants.

Cooking new foods.

Learning new arts.

Changing my hair colors.

Repairing family relationships.

My journey is still ongoing.  I just need to let it take me where it needs to.  There is no right path or wrong path for me at this moment.  I need to stop worrying because everything will work out.

Bohemian Rhapsody 

I’ve been a pretty big Queen fan for many years, since before “Wayne’s World” made Freddie Mercury popular again in 1992… (I watched that movie a dozen times in the theater- I could recite it almost verbatim back in the day).  It was back in 1984, at the end of “Revenge of the Nerds” when We are The Champions played.  The song and feel good moment struck a chord in me at the young age of 9.  I was never going to be a jock.  I was a nerd.  That song set my life on a path that made me proud to like what I like.  

Ah, cassettes. Good times… good times.

As an adult, I used to play Queen all the time in my home.  That is, until my first daughter was born.  Before even reaching age two, she cried whenever I put Queen on so I stopped listening for many years in my home.  Even on cd, there were complaints in my car.  This was probably more due to the volume and dad’s *amazing* singing voice than the Queen songs themselves. 

Bohemian Rhapsody is a song that I have heard many times throughout my life.  I’ve rewatched live performances of Queen and wished that Freddie was still alive.  But since that’s not the case, his music lives on in recorded sound and imagery.  The Muppets even made a music video a couple years back as a tribute.  Everyone I know can sing this song… And sing the opera part, and sing the guitar & drums… Lots of singing and head banging.  But Freddie did it best.  Some say he could sing in four different octaves and was able to manipulate his voice in order to create the sound.  Quick link here.

Google. It’s like you’re in my head!

Earlier this month Google released a VR version titled The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience.  So, I downloaded the app.  I have watched and rewatched it numerous times already.  It is visually appealing and is so well done, that I wouldn’t be surprised if living artists try it as well.  Viewing it was reminiscent of watching a Pink Floyd Laser Show at the planetarium… Oooo flashbacks

What’s in the box?

I’m a big proponent of VR and have experienced many forms firsthand.  Now I am tempted to purchase a VR headset for my iPhone in order to truly immerse myself into that world.  Besides a $15 cardboard box from Google, real VR is actually kind of pricey.  VR still remains in its infancy as it jumps from being science fiction to reality.  Seriously though, try out the VR App of Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ll thank me.

Just try not to head bang too wildly, the VR headset may come flying off and you would come back to reality too quick.

Extra! Extra!

I am about to step out of my regular routine and add some changes to my life. It all began while I got drunk while remembering my friend who I lost recently (I shared my feelings here: Jeremy).  The night I found out about the loss, I went to karaoke with some other friends.   It was the second time this summer that I went to karaoke.  The last time I ever went was nearly fifteen years ago.  I just wanted to be surrounded by friends having fun.

Look at all that magic!

While at the pub, there was this stranger there that looked very familiar.  It just so happened that he was the boss of a friend who was with me that evening. I began asking my friend about this stranger trying to piece together something about this guy.  Eventually, I decided to wander over to this fellow to talk with him.  I was doing my best not to make a drunk fool of myself, because I wouldn’t want my actions to affect my friend’s work.  

Motivational image inserted to add visual content.

After an I introduced myself, I mentioned that I knew him from someplace.  He and I both agreed that we’ve seen each other somewhere over the years.  Neither of us could pinpoint it.  A few mutual friends,  both of us have lived in the same general area for a couple decades, but nothing that gave me the “Ah-Ha” moment.  We continued talking, still having no clue where we may have met, but we were having some good laughs.  In the end he asked me to join his company.  Good “first” impression I guess.

Yesterday I applied to work for his company.  I don’t know what kind of work it will entail, or whether I’ll get any work at all.  You see, he runs a talent agency: Aces Talent.  I applied to become an extra in film and movies.  The thought of doing something like this has never been on my radar.  Living in the outskirts of Vancouver, you just become accustomed to filming going on everywhere.  

I can do this…

I’m not an actor, nor am I pursuing that goal.  But for a few years now I have wanted to try doing voice over work.  This may just be the opportunity to explore that avenue.  Or maybe I won’t ever hear from them because they don’t need a pink haired skinny forty year old for any films.  Who knows.  

The only thing I can say is that I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone once again to see what life has to offer.

Decorating rules

In our home- my wife has set some rules in place regarding seasonal decorations.  Specifically Halloween and Christmas.  I have a tough time following them…

Nightmare Before Christmas allows decorations to stay out longer.

We are not allowed to decorate for Halloween until October 1st.  September is a busy month of getting the kids back to school and back into routines.  A distraction like decorating makes the kids, to put it mildly, stupid with joy.  They have a great time decorating, but completely forget about their homework and commitments.  The kids get upset if I start to decorate the house without them while they are at school.  It’s also probably because I leave the job of putting up spiderwebs to them…  That part sucks.

A photo of all my favorite people.

Rarely have we been home for Halloween in the past few years.  Usually we do a road trip to California and enjoy the beaches/ Disneyland in late October early November.  But because we will be home this year, I REALLY want to go big with my decorations.  I’m going to use the skills I learned from cosplay making and try to make our home extra spooky.  I’ve always been fascinated with set decorations and behind the scenes of movies from the 70’s and 80’s.  I have ambitious ideas, so I’ll need to tone it down a tad to get it done.  

In the meantime, my wife didn’t say I couldn’t decorate for “Fall”.  Time for me to channel my inner Martha Stewart and use those Pinterest ideas I’ve been saving.  

The other rule for decorating is that we aren’t permitted to decorate for Christmas until December 7th.  That is the day after my wife’s birthday.  Needless to say, I sneak a few “Winter” themed decorations out.  Our home is a beautiful brick house that brings forth a sense of warmth at Christmas.  Don’t tell anyone, but I actually prefer my Christmas Decorations to my Halloween ones.  This is because most Halloween decorations are too “cutesy” and I would prefer a bit more “Gothic” or horror style.

Our home can be undecorated quickly.  Going from Spirited to empty in only a couple of hours.  I often leave out our Nightmare Before Christmas decorations from October to January because they cover both seasons.  

Me in a Pee-Wee costume infront of our Playhouse.

Today we are cleaning our home so that next weekend we can begin it’s transformation.  I find it odd that every time we decorate for Halloween, I remove all the real cobwebs just to put out the fake ones.

I’m perfect.  Or so it seems.

I love writing my daily blog posts. I have a few devoted followers who read and comment nearly every time on my Facebook Page.  That’s pretty awesome because it’s encouraging to know that there are people actually reading it.  I’m also pretty sure that there are “bots” that search out tags and instantly “Like” my posts.  That’s ok as well because that info helps me in deciding what tags to use in future posts.  

The tie says it all.

The only thing I’m not getting from any of this is advice or constructive criticism to help my writing become better.  This may be from the fact that people may think I will be easily offended or that I will disregard their opinions.  At this point, as far as I know, everything I write is perfect.

I’m a Spell Check fanatic and Grammar Nazi.  Only recently have I stopped really being “that guy” on social media.  I found people just don’t care.  That saddens me. If I am making a mistake in how I structure my sentences or use the wrong form of a word, such as strait or straight, please point it out to me.  My wife does it to me without any worries of repercussions- and we’re still married.

I’d also like more critiques on my work.  Some examples of what is good criticism:

Does the story flow?

Do the images used help in what I am portraying?

Are my facts correct?

Criticism that isn’t needed:

You suck.

I disagree because you suck.

Your story sucks and therefore you suck.

I am also on the other side.  I have friends /family who also create art and writing.  At times I REALLY WANT TO SAY SOMETHING, but I am unsure how they would react to my criticism.  I don’t want to hurt feelings, but I also don’t want to read or see garbage all the time.  (Just kidding about the garbage comment.)  If any of my friends who create works of art have a tough skin, or want my opinion on what they have created, let me know.  Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.  I try to not be an asshole when offering my opinion- but only if asked.  

Biting my tongue or deleting my comments before hitting “enter” has probably saved more friendships than I could imagine.

I would like feedback please.  If you aren’t comfortable with others reading it, by all means private message me or call me.  If you would like feedback (my opinion) let me know.  I’d love to help.  Whether you take my advice or not is up to you.  I have a certain style and it may not meet your standards.  That’s ok, because doggone it, people like me.


There is something beautiful about our planet.  From the plants and animals to the people and buildings.  There is so much life here.  Sometimes I forget to enjoy the simpler things as I seek out the extraordinary.  It’s human nature to miss the forest for the trees.  

Seeing the world from a different view.

But there it is.  Life.  The Universe.  And Everything.  All in front of me.  All around me.  All a part of me.  It’s startlingly impressive to be a part of this existence.  Of course I want to see more, experience more, and be more in this life.  

Finding out what it means to be here on this planet seems to be a lifelong journey with no destination.  To me, that is what life is about.  Experiencing the journey.

I’m thankful for all of the adventures I’ve been on so far.  I’m looking forward to the years I still have ahead of me and the musings I will share along the way.

Autumn Madness 

It’s here!  One of my four favorite seasons!

Yay Autumn!

Pumpkims from a few years ago done by my children and I.

I like autumn because it means Halloween is just around the corner.  I love decorating our home for Halloween.  I love carving pumpkins as well.  I have done some pretty intricatly carved pumpkins.  I have spent 4 hours doing just one.  I love it, it brings on a zen-like sensation as I zone out.

Our first Disneyland Trick Or Treat!

I love costumes as well.  That’s one of the main reasons I love conventions as well.  I get to cosplay.  Or I get to make cosplay for my kids.  I love it!

We have spent a few Halloweens down in Disneyland Trick or Treating.  I recommend it to anyone with children.  It is so much fun!  This year, we are not heading to California (sad Joe) but we will decorate and have fun at home for the first time in about five years.

The dilema is real.

What I don’t like about autumn is that it means the year is in it’s last three months.  Crazy scramble to finish projects, do those things you thought you had plenty of time to do nine months ago.  And I can’t tell what to wear.  This time of year is screwy.  So, zippered hoodies and jeans it is.

I also don’t like pumpkin pie.  There, I said it.  It looks like poop in a pie crust.  Same texture as a soft curly turd as well.

Nope.  Still not going to eat that.  Thanks.

But I will enjoy having beverages and a fire in the family room as I relax.  Especially Weaping Reaper by Dead Frog. Love that beer.

Cheers to cuddles on the couches and colors on the trees!  Enjoy the season everyone!

Sunrise After The Rain.

I just want to say “Thank You” to the sun this morning.  I had a few rough days recently, but there was the sun this morning- doing it’s daily thing.  It was a beautiful sunrise I experienced on my drive home from the nightshift.  

Yes, I understand science tells me that the sun doesn’t actually rise, but the term is one that has been used for eons.  It still doesn’t stop it from happening.  

The sun’s rays had shone brightly, showcasing so much of nature’s beauty this morning.  I had to pull over to capture the moment on my cellphone before it passed me by.

The light and colours were magnificent.  This was a sunrise- post rainfall, late summer sunrise- that I needed to see this morning.  There was the sun, shining it’s way through the trees, making life glisten once more.

Thank you sun.  You brightened my day. 

(Wow.  Awful “Dad Joke” to end today’s post.  Sorry.)

Happy Birthday Dad.

It would have been my father’s birthday today if he didn’t die from cancer back in the year 2000.  Actually, I don’t think it was the cancer that killed him, but the treatment.  Maybe if he had gone to the doctor sooner, he could have been helped, but not likely though.  He would still be dead today…  he wasn’t the healthiest of people.  He smoked since he was a child and drank nightly.  His career had caused him all sorts of stress throughout the years.

I have written many negative thoughts about my father.  But not everything was bad.  Everyone else seemed to like him, so why didn’t I?  Because… I had to live with him.  He often spoke negatively about my sister and I to my mother- just loud enough that we could hear what was said while we kept in our rooms.  

But, he also worked hard to keep a roof over our heads.  He enjoyed golfing with his buddies 2-3 times/week.  His sense of humor would best described as sarcastic and racist.  Every other word out of his mouth was a swear.  Have defected from Czechoslovakia in the late 60’s, he learned the English language on his own which may explain the use of profanity.

He tried his hand at many jobs in Canada before settling on his career.  He worked in a candy factory and once owned a deli.  He went to school and became skilled in building and selling computers in the early 80’s/90’s.  By the mid 90’s, things came to a halt.  He “retired” early and blasted through his pension and savings within half a year- mostly spent on golfing and beers. 

He moved out after some regular fights with my mother.  They never actually divorced.  He began a courier business on the Sunshine Coast and it ended up costing him more than he was making.  My mother still visited him or he would come visit us.  It was during this time that he finally became aware that he was sick.  He sold his business after only running it for a couple of years, moved back into our home and began chemotherapy.  The next three years, we witnessed his slow demise.

During this time, my mother and him “discovered” religion.  (I was raised Catholic by my mother until about grade four, when it became more of a hassle to do the church thing.  So we stopped attending church.)  My father was also becoming frail and was taking some pretty strong morphine for the pain before finally passing away.

For his last birthday we had purchased a small stereo for him so he could listen to his old Czech records and some tapes of Elvis he owned.  He sat in his recliner that had become his permanent spot over his final year, a place where he slept, ate and let the world pass him by.  As he sat there, I set up his stereo for him.  In his frail, whispered voice, it was the last time he told me “I love you.”  He rarely said it and hardly showed it.  Two months later, he would be dead.

My dad was an asshole. But he was still my father.  Every year since his passing, I visit his grave for his birthday.  I bring him a beer and then I head to the Fort Langley Golf Course and have a beer for myself. I sit there silently and drink it.  It is a time of reflection on my past year and where I need to fix things in my life so that I won’t end up like my father.  

It is my yearly reminder that I can be a better man.  

Happy Birthday Dad.  The gift you gave me is knowing I never have to be like you.  That I can be a great father in my own way.  I wish you were still here just so you can see how it is done.


Today was the first day since I began my daily blog post that I was truly stumped with what to write about.  A bit of depression hit me at the end of this week, making it difficult to focus and come up with what to write about.  Yesterday’s blog post was one I had been working on for a while- so I just polished the edges and tweaked it to completion.

Today I decided to follow the advice from The Daily Post suggestion.  I often skimmed over these thinking, “what a good idea” for those days that I really don’t know what to write.  Today was that day.  The one word prompt PASSIONATE seemed like a great way to get me back on track.  Some people write poems, some write stories, I’m going to blog about why I am passionate about me.

Now you may be thinking, “Hey Josef, isn’t that a tad bit narcissistic?”  Believe me, I’m not saying I’m a God in any way.  What I want to portray is that I am passionate about my life.  I’ve always been a firm believer in the “Golden Rule” and that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  I don’t need to be religious to understand that this is the right thing to do.  

Working hard towards a goal often brings out my passion for quality workmanship. Whether it’s cooking a meal for my family or twenty of my closest friends, I am passionate about creating a tasty meal.  The same goes for doing home improvements.  I may not be the best carpenter or plumber, but I do the best I can and love the final results.  

I would like to say I am passionate about movies, but my passion only falls towards movies that make me happy.  Many films from my childhood/teenage years are the ones I am most passionate about.  (Can anyone say Star Wars?)  The same goes for the shows and movies that make my children’s eyes light up.  If we can’t stop discussing a show, I know that it will end up in our movie library.

Because of the passion I have towards a sci-fi and anime, I have become passionate about making costumes, cosplay & props.  I have been known to get upset at myself for cutting corners just to finish a costume.  I try and make it as accurate as possible; that is the challenge.  Making cosplay for my children has become almost a full time job.  They want the details to shine through, and because of their commitment to the characters, I do my best to make their costumes as close to perfect as possible.  I am always learning new tricks and secrets to improve what I make.  

Because of my passion for cosplay and costumes, we have been traveling constantly over the past few years.  These trips have all been road trips, with added stops and experiences on the way.  I have been passionate about bringing new and one of a kind experiences into my family’s life.  All of these journeys have shown me that I am passionate about educating my children beyond just the textbooks.  

I took a wrong turn.

Finally, I am passionate about my writing.  I have been on a personal pilgrimage to discover “my inner voice” since the start of the year.  Some of the stories I share about my life or experiences are humorous.  However, I haven’t been able to portray humor in a way that feels right.  Sometimes it feels forced other times it feels predictable.  Some of the stories I share are my way of talking about how wonderful life is and how much I am enjoying the moments I have on this planet.  

But my most read stories that I have written are my saddest ones.  The ones that show a vulnerable side to me.  The ones that, even as I write them, I have brought myself to tears.  These are the stories that people can relate to.  These are the stories that I pour my soul into and work really hard to perfect.  These stories may be sad, but are passionate nonetheless.

Thus concludes today’s blog post.  PASSIONATE.

Social Standing

We all have a few circles of friends.  Work friends, old friends, school friends, bar friends, etc.  I have noticed that over the years, the people we hang out with fall into a few categories.  Kind of like the characters in a Dungeons and Dragons mission.  Only instead of a wizard, a cleric, a fighter, a rogue and a ranger you get a slightly more modern grouping of people.

The modern Wizard is more the person who shares old stories of an almost magical feel.  “Remember that time we got so wasted?  We thought we were bears and rummaged through that trash bin looking for pizza!”  This person lives far too often in the good old times.

Instead of a Cleric you have an individual who prays for everyone and they believe everything that happens is god’s will.  It’s a bit naive, but they are generally the nicest in the group who always have something awful happen to them.

A Rogue is more of a romantic.  They are often the ones dating and searching for “True Love”.  Every other month there is a new love interest that they are showing off.  These people also have the hardest break ups.

A Fighter is still a fighter. Oftentimes they are starting a fight among the group or with other groups. These people are the ones who enjoy creating drama and being confrontational. More commonly known as an asshole. Every group needs an asshole- they often say what everybody else is thinking.

Then there is the Ranger.  The leader that the friends look up to in order to find out what’s going on or what the plans will entail.  

In each group there is an individual (or two) that just doesn’t quite fit in.  These people are like the lost sheep just following the herd.  But there they are making things all awkward and stuff.  Trying to be the funny one, or the asshole, or the romantic.  But not quite hitting the mark, kind of like the tv show ALF.

In each of the groups of friends that I have, I am often showing off a different personality.  More often than not, I think I’m the awkward one.  Sitting on the sidelines trying to be humorous or offering ideas of what we should do.  “What?  No one wants to do laser tag?  I guess that’s ok.”  Only to have the idea mentioned a few weeks later by the Ranger and everyone jumps on board.  

God I hate that guy.


I lost a friend this week.  We are the same age and share many of the same friends.  He had a charisma about him that made everyone happy.

He was passionate about his children, his dog, baking, zombies, Halloween and his Jeep.  He was nicknamed Rambo or sometimes Jeremy The Jeep Guy.

He loved his Jeep. It was often parked at odd angles or shown off in his pictures.

I met him as a teenager back in high school.  He was a strong tall guy.  At age 19-20, I would run into him at China Beach (the local nightclub) because he was a bouncer/waiter there.  The first time I went there, he came running up to me and lifted me up and put me across his shoulders.  He walked around the club introducing me to everyone who worked there.

Zombie walk with his puppy Bud.

Throughout my early 20’s, I would meet up with him at Denny’s for late night coffee and food.  Jokes and smokes every time we met up.

At one point, his children and mine both attended the same elementary school.  At drop off we would talk about school and parenting.

A day on the lake enjoying life.

Summer 2015, he came out with me and some friends for a day on the lake.  Tubing, beers and good times.  It was the last time I saw him in person.  This August he turned 40.  Much like I did when I turned 40, he was taking stock of his life.  He shared pictures and memories on Facebook over the past month.

One of the many images Jeremy would share over the years.

Over the years, we were always in contact with each other.  Back in the day of emails and MSN Messenger, we often spoke.  With Facebook, we often commented on one another’s posts.  We even messaged each other fairly regularly.  I even sent him a message on Thursday afternoon asking his opinion on buying a Jeep.  I found out later that night that he had passed away.

Maybe we only saw what he wanted to show the world.

The pictures I shared here are from his Facebook.  It showed a man with a kind heart and a struggle that not everyone saw.  We are all too busy with our own lives that we miss moments that could make a difference in someone else’s life.

He was there whenever I needed a laugh. He entertained me with his philosophy. He was a great parent and a good friend. He will be sorely missed by the hundreds of people whose lives he had touched over the years.

May you be at peace Jeremy Erlandsen.

Can I finish this time?

The other day, I decided to start painting the doors to our bedroom closet and ensuite bathroom.  Not a big deal, right?  We don’t exactly have a large bedroom.

Almost 9 years ago, we began to renovate our master bedroom.  Doing a little bit at a time.  Ripping out the shag carpet (that went into the bathroom as well.  Um, gross) and tearing down the plastic beige blinds.  Years later, we removed the closet that ran the length of the wall and moved out bed to that location instead.  I then began building a closet beside the ensuite bathroom on the wall opposite our bed.  That way, our tv and my wife’s dresser would have a place to go.

Three years ago, my wife left for a Convention in Edmonton, so I told her I was going to install the flooring that we had purchased years prior while she was away.  She was gone for four days, so I chose to paint our room as well and finish her closet.  I was hoping to complete the bathroom, but I was pushing myself too much and became sick with a cold.  So I had to call it quits sooner than I wanted.  That’s where it remained.  

Next week my wife leaves for the same Convention in Edmonton with our daughter.  I am hoping to finish the bathroom and the baseboards in our bedroom.  Last night I decided to take the unfinished doors off and paint them.  I also cut out the spot for the handles.  My ambition is strong.  My drive is there.  My wife hates leaving the house to me because she returns and I have managed to change something without her knowledge or input.  She knows that I am finishing the ensuite this time around and nothing should surprise her.

This may be the first home renovation that gets completed 100%.  That is my goal.  I don’t want to go an entire decade trying to compete it.  Time and money have been major factors in the incompletion.  This month, neither of those should affect me.  All I need is the drive and the passion to get the job done.

Why do I keep old paint cans?


Everyone has an opinion on things.  Some of the best discussions I have had with people is when they can discuss rationally their point of view.  Here are my opinions.  No facts or info backing up what I prefer.  Just my opinion on which is better.  Feel free to discuss.

Bad Movie….

Dogs are better than cats.  My dog is super loyal and just plain amazing.

Coffee is better than tea.  Coffee is the go to wake up beverage in my household.

Toilet paper needs to go over towards the front.  Not flap behind.

Star Wars is better than Star Trek.  (Simply a more action packed universe.)

I’m not even going to begin this debate on man vs woman.

There are plenty of other things that people fight over.  Beer vs wine.  Hot dogs vs hamburgers.  Or stronger opinions that have caused riots: Anti-vax vs Vaccination.  Hillary vs Trump.  Home school vs classrooms.  Or even hands on learning vs textbook learning.  God vs everyone else’s God(s) vs Atheists.  Evolution vs Creationism.  

All of us have an opinion on something.  Sometimes our opinions are so strong that we don’t ever accept that we may be wrong.  I am willing to have a healthy debate with friends or family as long as there isn’t animosity being brought into the talks.  

Unless we are talking about Lord of the Rings.  Harry Potter is far superior.  End of discussion.

First Aid

Today I was re-certified in my First Aid Level C.  It’s something that my work requires of me to have valid every three years, just like my rules.  Besides needing it for work, I feel that it’s kind of important to just have it as well.

I don’t ever want to have to use it.  But if it is required in an emergency, I will gladly step up to help.  I’m not the kind of person who enjoys someone else’s suffering.  Nor am I the type of person who could sit idly by and pretend it isn’t happening.  Helping others just seems like the right thing to do.

Today I found the class to be very informative.  I also learned some things that I had either missed the last time, or the info completely dissolved from my brain.  It also seemed that there were changes over the past couple of years about how we should react in an emergency.  When it comes to retaining knowledge, they say if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Not using my First Aid skills is ok with me.  Like I said, I really don’t ever want to have to use them.

At any rate, I feel confident in my skills.  I passed the final test quickly with 100%.  I almost feel like going out into the world and announcing to everyone, “Don’t worry!  I know First Aid.”  I guess I kind of am since I’m blogging about it.

Learning First Aid, recognizing emergencies, and how to deal with situations has been ingrained in my life since I was a child.  My mother was a nurse by trade, so we often had medical books around the house.  During elementary school swimming lessons, we learned some lifesaving basics.  Most of my jobs had the basics of First Aid taught, or allowed people to take a course on behalf of the company.  I always took advantage of any schooling or courses that would be offered up.  (I also know a ton about doors & windows, lawn care & BBQs thanks to Home Depot’s extensive training that they offer.)   

Having my First Aid up to date is important to me.  If my work didn’t offer it to us, I would likely still keep it up to date.  I’m also very proud of my friends who have chosen the path to be First Responders, paramedics, firefighters or police.  It’s not an easy line of work, but I am glad they are choosing to be there when needed.

Do you hear that?

Do you hear that?  That is the sound of the inevitable back to school.  It is the sound of Silence.

My home.  My neighborhood.  My tranquility.  All of it peacefully existing.

No sounds of children playing.  No tv or videogames.  Just…. Silence.

The children are only just beginning their school year.  They will return home each afternoon with new knowledge and homework.  Some days they will moan and groan claiming a horrible disservice is happening to them.  They are suffering the hardship of being educated.

Today, at home, I am enjoying The Silence.  Even the animals have calmed down.  No birds chirping.  No dogs barking.  Everything is at peace with the world.  Like a sigh of relief has passed through the neighborhoods as children pause for the day in their desks.  With the teachers preparing for the year ahead, they keep the classrooms calm.

Time to relax.  Who needs summer vacation when you can enjoy the autumn peace?

So you hear that?  It is the minutes slipping by to the next summer vacation…

Proud of where I work…

I have a pretty darn good job.  It’s a fun job.  It’s a well paying job.  It’s a job that my family is proud to say that I do.  Every year my work puts on “CN Family Day”.  Today the sun was out and it was a beautiful day for hanging out in the train yard.

We have gone every year since 2008.  My children love going.  The company offers up free swag, door prizes, candy, popcorn and catered lunch.  There are balloon animals, face painting, bouncy castles and train rides.  The train rides are on small trains and a full size passenger train that goes up and down the yard.  There is an engine on display for people to walk through and learn about how it works.  The diesel shops are open for people to see.  Also at the CN Family Day are police, fire and ambulances on display.  Even the local model train clubs come out and everyone gets to play with trainsets.

Taking a tour of the locomotive.

Look at those smiles!

Bouncy Castles!

Every year- one or two of my family members walk away with a door prize.  My son even won a mountain bike one year.  My kids brought some friends with them today.  It was neat to hear my children talk about the rail yard and trains.  It seems that my children honestly like my job and have paid attention to what I do.  Their knowledge is pretty accurate and they are proud of their dad.  That makes me happy.

I was a conductor on the Royal Hudson back in 2010.

I’ve even had some one of a kind moments that I would never have experienced elsewhere.  One day I was called to be a conductor for a steam train because no one else was available.  I jumped out of bed and was so excited.  It was the one and only time I have been the conductor on a steam engine.  Even the supervisors all wanted to ride in the passenger car that day.  It was a special run specifically brought down to Vancouver for a photo shoot.

Our ticket to ride the Lilly Belle in Disneyland.

Since becoming a railroader, my family has taken many trips to see rail museums and ride on trains.  Even in Disneyland, the engineer on the Monorail was more interested in my job than I was with his.  He made us stay up front for two trips just to talk trains.  That same visit to Disneyland, my son mentioned that I worked for a railroad so we got to ride in the Lilly Belle passenger car.  The Disneyland employee gave us a private tour around the park and discussed the history of the passenger car.  In Edmonton, we were given a private trip in an exclusive remodeled passenger car because I talked railroad with the fellow running the train.

Full size Thomas.

To say my job has perks is an understatement.  I love what I do.  My kids love what I do.  CN has become family to me since the beginning of my hiring on.  

Today was another successful CN Family Day.


The smell of the atmosphere inside the arena.  The sound of skates clacking and screeching on ice.  The laughter and screams from the children echo around the building.  Welcome to Friday Night Speedskating.

This is the first of many evenings spent at the arena.  The building isn’t like the ones I remember going to for skating.  Those old arenas had a strange ammonia scent that filled the air as the zamboni cleaned the ice.  I miss those old buildings of cedar wood with large ceiling heaters covered in dust.  The smell of sweat and cigarettes lingered in the air.  The arenas often found in the industrial parts of town.  In fact, one of our favorite Speed Skating meets is in such a place.  

But this building is far superior.  There are numerous rinks, a couple of viewing areas on the second floor.  Plenty of televisions on the walls and extremely well maintained.  It’s located on the edge of a well established suburb with nice homes nearby.  Close to the industrial part, but not in the middle like they once were.  I will be spending many Wednesdays and Fridays here with my son until Springbreak.

My son loves to Speed Skate.  I wrote about him a few months ago in My son- The Future Olympian.  Speed skating gives him exercise and keeps him active.  It’s a supportive but also competitive environment.  There are lots of other local skating clubs.  My son has made friends at many of the skating meets as they cheer each other on.  It’s a great feeling to hear your son’s name chanted through the stands.  He may not always get first place, but he sure doesn’t give up.

Here I sit writing my blog in between his warm ups, drills and practice races.  I suspect I will write more about speed skating as the days go on.  

So, as long as he loves it, my wife and I will continue to support him.

Go Theory!

Why is life so busy?

Last weekend was a long weekend.  But this weekend is when everything is happening around our town.  Specifically today.

Today in Downtown Langley is the Good Times Langley Cruise-In.  It is the 20th year of this volunteer run event that attracts car enthusiasts from all over.  It is also the only day in Western Canada that you can enjoy In-N-Out Burger.  Their Mobile Truck is often sold out early in the day with lineups that last a few hours.  

But if waiting hours to possibly not enjoy a burger, then heading to the Fort Langley Food Truck Festival is a better alternative.  Food, food and more food.  All in the oldest part of Langley.  Pretty much on the opposite end away from the Cruise-In.

Living in farm country keeps us fairly segregated from large crowds.  Since we didn’t want to go to either of those events today, we walked up to the JD Farms Fall Festival.  It is put on by the owner- who also happens to be the Mayor of Langley.  I enjoyed the food samplings, the live entertainers, and the kids had fun hanging out with their friends.  It was more low key than any of the other events.  Since it was close to our home, a kilometer away, we decided to enjoy an afternoon walk together.  

It was another nice peaceful day in our little slice of paradise.

Day 3…

Day three of returning to school.  My children are experiencing “homework” again already.  It’s like a disease that went away for a bit, but is back in full force- taking over their free time.  They have begun the after school routine of emptying their bags and telling us about their day.

So far, so good. 

The homework is being completed immediately following the after school snack.  Our routines are a bit shaky, but have a familiarity about them.  Of course, the sun is still out and seeing old friends has caused some daydreaming and drifting away from the pages. 

May the calculators, textbooks and pens flow from the hard work.  Let their brains absorb knowledge and wisdom.  I just hope they understand what is asked of them, and they don’t need me to help.

Big Announcements

Sony announced some stuff.

Apple announced some stuff.

Nintendo announced some stuff.

It all had me wondering, do I need it?  Of course not.  Do I want it?  Maybe.

That’s where it ends today.  Maybe.  Maybe purchasing a new tech gadget or game would be fun.  But is it something that I need immediately on the date of its release?  Not really.  (I wrote a couple of months ago about Firsties and the “Fear of Missing Out”.)  Do I have disposable income that could buy it? Yes and no.  I could very easily buy something else or go somewhere with that money.  Or I could spend it on my children.  That is the most likely event.

Today was day 2 of the new school year. $428 was spent as we walked in the school door on school fees. We had already spent money on back to school supplies before the first day.  This spending doesn’t include the after school activities that are still to follow in the upcoming month.  Children are bloody expensive.  But paying for their education, activities, and traveling with them is the best investment we have ever done.  

My time and money mean more to me when I see my children’s accomplishments and achievements.  So this fall instead of getting a new iPhone, I’m planning on upgrading my children’s education.

And maybe buying an Apple Watch 2.

Call Centers

I was woken up at 3am this morning.  Not by my alarm.  Not by my children or my wife.  But by a text message on my cellphone.  The text was so urgent that it had to be sent at 3am.  I woke up fearing the worst.  And it was.  The text went to my wife’s phone moments later.  Both of us woke up and stared with disbelief.  Here is the screen shot because, I just can’t…

Who the hell texts an advertisement to a random phone number at 3am?  Not only that, but we are on the “Do Not Call List” and have been for years.  DNCL is the best thing to ever happen to our society.  Having the ability to block phone numbers on my cellphone is also handy. Sorry mom… 

Of course, the rules for DNCL are able to be manipulated by businesses, although many don’t want to get a bad rep.  If I get a call from a number that I don’t know, most of the time I’ll answer it.  But if the person doesn’t respond immediately or I have to say “Hello?” a second time this hearing the computer click to an operator- I hang up and block the number.

Later on in the day I got my new credit card in the mail. (No, I’m not sharing a picture of it with my DOB plus the three numbers on the back).  And I had to call to activate it.  So, I did.  I’ve done this dance a few times and I know the person on the other end is just doing their job.  Today, “Nathan” answered my call and expressed his pleasure to assist me.  I expressed my pleasure to be speaking with him and told him to call me “Josef.” He was clearly caught off guard and amused.  He told me after verifying who I was (really? My date of birth and postal code and you know it’s me?) that I had to listen to a pre-recorded cardholder agreement.  When it was over, I asked him to replay it because I wasn’t paying attention.  

He did his spiels & after each one asking if I had any questions.  So I asked what time it was.  I asked him if he had the extended coverage.  I told him I didn’t want it because I hate paying bills and that this was how the credit card companies nickel and dime me to death with interest rates and fees that I can “Cancel anytime” only I’d probably forget and keep paying it.  

Yes, he was laughing throughout our interaction.  I was monotone with my answers and ridiculous questions.  I had him on speakerphone and was surfing the Internet while we spoke.  It was a total of ten minutes of my day.  I had no reason to have fun.  Nor did I have any reason to be a jerk.  

I decided that after this call was over, that I would call my cellphone provider about a deal they were advertising.  Again, the call was brief but amusing as I spoke with “Amanda” about my cellphone plan.  She was super pleasant and helpful, even telling me not to bother changing my plan since my current one is up in a month and at that point I can get a “Loyalty” plan(?) and a new cellphone.  Score!

My day and hopefully theirs ended on a good note.  All because I was nice and they were nice as well.  They don’t have easy jobs.  Sometimes I want to get angry at a situation, but it’s not the person answering the phone’s fault.  Staying calm and having some fun is better than ruining someone’s day.

The Flamming Lips

If only I could text the telemarketers with humor to get rid of them.  Except, that would only prove that their auto robot texting reached me.  Those evil natured robots would share my number in the Matrix and I’d be bombarded with more early morning texts!  Noooooo!

Labour Day

As Labour Day draws to an end, I look at what it means.  Today is a day to appreciate the eight hour work day and the five day work week.  Brought to us by Unions.  Unions brought Canadians The Canada Pension Plan and Maternity (Parental) Leave.  Unions continue to fight for fair wages and livelihoods of people.  Whether you work for a Union or not- somewhere, somehow, what you enjoy today was brought to you by a Union. 

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  The teachers are unionized and have fought for better class sizes and more assistance in the classroom.  A couple of years ago in BC, the school year didn’t start on time because of the battle between the Teacher’s Union and the government.  People were angry at both sides that their children were caught in the middle.  An agreement was reached and educating the children went on.

Where I work, we have a pretty darn good Union.  I’ve been a part of a Union before, but I never really saw the benefits- probably because I was too young and lived paycheck to paycheck.  Now, I fully appreciate what my Union has done for me.  Both before I joined as well as since I’ve joined.

Maybe today’s blog post sounded a bit preachy.  Maybe you agree with me.  Maybe you just want to enjoy another three day long weekend.  Whatever your Labour Day entails, remember not to wear white after today.  Time Magazine explains that one…

Hey, if you love working, check out the episode of Adam Ruins Work.  You’ll thank me because it’s a funny show…