Where is November 31st?

Holy smokes it’s the end of the month already.  Eleven months are behind us.  This is the last month of 2016 people!  There is no November 31st!  No extra day that you think you may have missed!  This is the real deal, like it or not.

I just want one more day this month.  I’m not ready for December.  December is going to be a busy month.  Plans with friends and family will fill every possible free moment.  The rush of hurrying from one place to the next as panic takes hold that there isn’t enough time to do it all.  At least there’s a month left to try and fit it in.

Only it’s not really a month.  It’s a little over three weeks, followed by one week, followed by a new year.  That’s the reality of it.  So get ready for the hustle and bustle in the stores and in the streets.  Get ready for the final two weeks of the year to be filled with children and sugar rushes.  Caffeine and late nights.  A burn out to end the year and hefty goals to start next year.

We all do it.  We all feel it.  We are all in it together.  May your December be safe and warm.  And remember- Eggnog goes really well with cinnamon whiskey (aka Fireball).  

Firenog.  The best way to make it through the season!

   Giving Tuesday 

Today is now known as “Giving Tuesday”.  It marks the start of being charitable this holiday season.  It’s no surprise that it follows the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Now that people have gotten what they want, the charities are asking for a bit of help.  Check out Giving Tuesday if you don’t know where to start.

I’m sure many of you already give in one form or another.  Be it volunteer time or money, each of us has something that we support and feel strongly about.  Strong enough to try and make a difference.  Cancers, diseases, mental awareness, animal cruelty, homelessness, schooling, hunger, poverty, the list goes on…  But not one is worth more than another.  

Remember to be a bit more charitable this year.  But do your research!  There have been many fraudulent “charities” and many others that claim to do charitable work but also profit from people’s good intentions.  Like taking advice from a celebrity about your health, you can’t always trust their Charitable Organizations.  Many famous people choose to be in the limelight to showcase how kind they are being but being commended for a selfless act in hopes to boost a movie or career is tasteless and tacky.  

If you choose to donate to a good cause, share the reasons why, not the monetary value you donated.  Not everyone can give $1, $10, $100, $1000…  if you do give money, feel good about it- not pressured.

It’s not always about money.  (But that is the best way to help).  We often donate old clothes and household items.  Our children volunteer time at their school for Pa-Moja.  I wrote about it back in January: What Makes My Kids Wonderful.  I encourage them to be actively helping others even in the smallest ways.

Everything and everyone has a purpose.  We are all just trying to get to the finish line with a clear conscience and a feeling of good will to all.  Or at least that’s my goal.

Cyber Monday

Much like Black Friday, I avoided Cyber Monday.  There wasn’t any great deals to be had this year on the items people really want.  Unless of course you wanted to shove a bunch of cheap crap for Christmas under the tree to make the giving look extravagant.  Sometimes the hype of sales and spending sucks people in.  

But Santa isn’t real.

My wife and I do our shopping throughout the year, so we do stockpile some items for the family.  Necessities are always bought and used as needed- new pants/shoes/school supplies.  But things like videogames/movies/toys and those items that are a bit more “luxury” are saved for under the Christmas tree.  But of course as Christmas nears, we still look and discuss if there are any last minute (a month prior is last minute for us) items we should get.  Like I said, nothing this Black Friday/Cyber Monday was on our list of must own.

So today, my wife and I went out to a mall that my wife has never been to, and I haven’t been to in probably two decades.  It was dated.  Like 1980’s dated and brought in a bunch of memories for me.  Weird memories of shopping with my mom when I was a kid just before Christmas.  (That’s for a different blog post).  There was a toy store that time forgot (or the leasehold did) hidden in the middle.  Guaranteed people walked by it without giving it a second look because it didn’t say “GameStop” or “Toys-R-Us”.  I was fascinated by the store as my wife and I wandered through it.  They charged more than it should on items I could find elsewhere for cheaper.  Yet somehow, here it was- 3 decades later still holding on.

But this mall has all the regular stores that a Canadian mall has- “The Bay” “Sears” “The Gap” and every other mall related store in between.  We decided to stop in the “Apple Store” because my wife was hinting that she was thinking of getting me the Apple Watch 2.  I was giddy with excitement and hurried along to enter the store!

I was ready to hand over money…

I like my iPhone.  My kids love their iPad Mini.  I really wanted an Apple Watch.  As we waited to be helped, I played with the newest Apple Watch 2.  It’s sleek.  It’s elegant.  It’s wearable tech.  It’s all those things that the kid inside of me really wants.  When the Apple employee came over, I had a slew of questions.  My wife did not.  (This was my thing.  She never cared much for it.)  He started by apologizing to me that they were out of most of the styles because people came in over the weekend purchasing products even though there was no Black Friday Sale on Apple merchandise.  Sales hype gets people in the mood to spend.  

As we spoke, my interest in owning the watch diminished.  My wife could sense it.  The salesman could too.  The final thing that got me to realize that it wasn’t worth the money (to me at least) is that the battery has approximately 1000 charges and no way to replace it.  Roughly three years- longer if I only use the time display and none of the other functions.  Thanking him for his time, I walked away empty handed.  But I was ok with that.  My wife was a bit upset.  This was the gift she wanted to give me this year.

Spending $600 or more on me when I have a family and other responsibilities seems selfish.  Being able to say “I don’t need it” -and mean it- feels good.  Sure, now my wife feels she may be scrambling now for that perfect gift for me, but it’s better than getting something that I may end up feeling “meh” about later on.  The Apple Watch just isn’t what I want.  

I don’t know what I want for myself this holiday season.  All I really want is for my family to be happy.  It’s not about me.  It never was.  I’m sure one day, my wife will surprise me and blow me away with her thoughtfulness and extraordinary gift giving ability.  But as we left the Apple Store, she pointed out that I am very particular about what I want.  And shopping for me has never been easy.  

She still has a month to get me something that she deems worthy of “the gift” this year.  Good luck dear.

Sunday Funday

Today was a day of family, food and friends.  Along with Christmas decorating and video games.  

Next level Gingerbread house.

We started our day by celebrating my father in law’s 84th birthday.  Eleven of us went out to a brunch at the local golf and country club.  We pigged out.  I started with the omelette station and lots of bacon.  Followed by roast beef and the fixings.  Some seafood and appetizers entered my belly as well.  Then I grabbed a plate full of desserts- disappointing desserts.  Things that looked like chocolate, but ended up not being chocolate.   Eww. 

Tacky trees. More upsetting than not having a tree.

While we were there, we checked out the Christmas Trees that lined the halls.  Many of them tacky trees paid for and decorated by corporations and businesses.  It really took away from what the spirit should be.  So when we left, we decided to come home and start bringing our home into the spirit of the season.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Boxes filled with garlands, lights, nut crackers, wicker sleighs, hats, candles, trains,  glassware and stockings.  Everything very traditional looking and warm.  I played Christmas music through our home as we cleaned and opened boxes.  The whole family was involved this year.  Usually it’s just me doing the decorating, but now that the kids are older, they are really helpful and enjoy it.

We are ending our evening with another night of Mario Kart with some friends.  Junk food and laughter with a few curse words thrown in.  I enjoy opening our home up to our friends.  We often have people over around the holidays to enjoy some rich foods and relaxation.  As the winter solstice approaches, we hope to entertain more often throughout the season.  


Today I wandered up to the local elementary school to check out a Christmas Craft Fair.  There was a couple of my friends selling their handmade creations.  It was also a fundraiser for the school-as is usually the case-so I didn’t mind spending some time and money there.

Needless to say, there are some talented people out there.  I picked up a few different crafts by some amazing artists while I was there.  I know I don’t have the skill sets to create some of this work but I can fully appreciate the time and effort it takes to make things.  I am also big on supporting my friends and their amazing talents.  I do this every chance I get.

Then there is also crap.  Garbage thrown together by someone with little to no talent and priced really low in order to hopefully make a quick buck.  I hate to be so negative about it but a blind monkey with a glue stick and glitter could do a better job sometimes.  Don’t think you haven’t seen that junk either.  It’s worse when it’s junk and they think that charging outlandish prices will make it more valuable somehow.

Just because someone labels it “folk art” doesn’t mean it deserves top dollar either.  I’m not saying that taking the time to refurbish or upcycle something from trash isn’t a noble cause.  But charging someone $40 for a piece of scrap wood with “HO ME” painted on it is a bit overboard.  It’s also not my style.  For some, the idea of handmade means more than actually hand making something.

I’m all for handmade Christmas gifts.  We have craft supplies galore in our home.  Everything from beads to foamboard, scrapbooks to cardstock, candle making to fabrics.  We even encourage our children to make something every year.  They have painted ornaments, made cards and created their own art to give away.  

This also forces our children to really focus on their extended family.  I often discover more about what my children perceive of my inlaws or my family.  Some of it is very, very odd indeed.

Sixteen Years

Sixteen years ago today, my father died from cancer. Or rather what the cancer had done to his body.

I’m always saddened by the fact that it happened one month before Christmas. That was his favorite time of year and he always made a bigger effort for the family at this time. I miss the old bastard.

It seemed as if he were only around for birthdays and Christmas.  However reflecting back- he held our family together in some weird way.

Josef K. Havelka, made an impact that spans onto a new generation of the Havelka Clan. They only know him through the stories from my memories.  On occasion, he is still missed by me, and by my three children (who never met him, but always ask me to share stories).

I am like my father in many ways. I know I am an asshole with a kind heart like he was. That makes me proud to be his son because he always called me an asshole as I grew up.

It’s always strange visiting my father at his final resting place. I show my respects, but I’m not sure what kind of relationship we’d have if he were still around. I often struggle with making the good memories come forward when I think of him.
One memory that comes to mind is when I was in grade one- my father told me that if someone is bugging me, to tell them to fuck off. That doesn’t go over well at a Catholic School. I got in trouble, and my father just smiled about it.  

That moment empowered me as well as set my father free from ever giving parenting advice again.

Goodbye dad, again, sixteen years later.

Love, your only son,
Josef A. Havelka.

Ps. The “A.” in my name stands for Andrew, not Asshole.

The Yearly Pilgrimage 

It’s upon us.  The US Thanksgiving followed by Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

The sales ideology has slowly spread into Canada.  More and more stores are offering deals on many things from clothing to electronics in order to compete with our southern cousins.  It really is the first (or last) big push to drive sales before Christmas.  Door crashers and limited time offers for this weekend only.

I admit to being involved in this as well.  However, the one or two items I researched or desired did not truly grab hold of my attention, let alone my money.  Simply because of two things that I decided to process prior to tomorrow taking hold.

  1. Do I really need it?
  2. Is it worth going into debt for it?

After answering both those questions with a NO, it occurred to me that the hype was pulling me in too much.  I don’t need stuff to make me or my family happy.  If we don’t get something that isn’t a necessity we will survive just fine. Even if an item is a good deal, does putting it on credit or dipping into my over draft really going to save me any more money?

I’m not telling you how to spend or save your money.  If you’re like me and have a family, sometimes the pressure of supplying a fantastic Christmas or birthday can stress you out.  But it’s not all about how much you spend or how much you receive.  It’s about sharing joy. Joy that can come from a simple hand made item and a hug.  Joy that you see in the eyes of the ones whom you love.  Joy is what you make it out to be.

So remember if you partake in Black Friday deals, you are helping to boost the economy.  You are probably also saving money on those electionics and toys.  And whomever is on the receiving end of the gifts will probably be grateful in some way.  Just do your best to remain calm and kind to everyone else out there this weekend.  

My Mental Alignment is Off

It’s been hard to pinpoint exactly what’s different this year compared to other years.  Usually by now we would have had a fun Halloween out of town followed by a few weeks of calm then preparation for the next big holiday.  Every other year my range of emotions run on full throttle.  Not this year.  This year is out of sync.

Admittedly, around now I’m usually a grump.  My wife and children barely enjoyed my company in the past during this time of year.  Except for our annual trip to California- where I would go full tilt in the other direction and be the greatest husband/father ever.  

Anger and frustration would normally build up in me from late September until late November.  (Minus the two week vacation in the middle.)  But not this year.  This year it didn’t happen.  The anger, the frustration, the vacation, the feeling of relief that I made it through those two months.  Why do I normally go through that range of emotions?  All because of my father.

My father’s birthday happened to be on September 19.  He died November 25th, 2000.  Since his death I have always cycled through memories and emotions over the course of these two months.  But not this year.  This year it didn’t phase me.  This year, the emotional hold my father had on me didn’t appear.  Only now, as my emotional cycle would normally be drawing to an end, do I realize it didn’t happen.  In a strange way, I needed it in the past.  But this year, I’m ok that it didn’t happen.
However, this year feels like it’s just slipping away from me.  The last few weeks remain.  Decorations need to go up.  Gifts need to be wrapped and given out.  Dinners with family and friends are on the horizon.  In previous years, I’ve been looking forward to it all.  But because of the lack of my negative emotions this year, the positive emotions don’t feel like they will be coming in as strong.

Maybe I needed this break.  Maybe my mind just needed to calm down.  Maybe it’s all for the best.


Unicorns and Magic

I’m sick today.  Nothing I am doing is making me feel better.  Soup, tea and sleep are all I have at the moment.  Worst of all is that I work the night shift in a few hours.  So no cold medicine.

The medicine I’m talking about is the kind that is sold over the counter, and brings with it sensations of floating.  NeoCitran and NyQuil are fantastic for taking you away from the illness and off to a land of crazy dreams or dizzy spells.  Neither of which are conducive when you work for a railroad and have to instruct crews on where they need to be going.

I’m pretty sure that this sickness will pass in a day or two.  But in the meantime Kleenex and blankets and self pity are making me feel better.  Or worse.  It’s always darkest before the dawn, right? (Night shift pun).  I could always call in sick to work, but then I’d be moping around regretting the sleep I had during the day.

So, now that I have eaten my soup and written my blog, I am off for a quick nap.  Except the heartburn has arrived.  

Ugh.  Complaining is tough.

Monday Money

Saving money is tough.  My work offers shares to the employees.  I take advantage of this and use it as a savings/emergency fund.  It’s a great way for me to pay off lump sums towards bills or entertainment.  However, I do wish that I could just leave it alone and let it accumulate for my family’s future.

So how does one save money and pay down debt at the same time?

There are many at my work that use the funds from our shares/stocks and move it around into other stock.  My knowledge of those markets is poor to say the least.  My other fear is that I’ll take a few thousand dollars and lose it all on a gamble.  Since I don’t play lotteries or go to the casino, gambling isn’t in my nature.  So quick gains like that won’t happen for me.  Even though I listen regularly to the Financial News, they say hindsight is 20/20.  So how do I get my money to make me money?

I really despise having credit cards.  There is no set interest rate. I’ve had cards at 12%, 18%, even as high as 28%.  So for every $100 of accumulated debt I would be paying back $128 if I can’t pay off the entire balance for a year. This is the rut that most people fall into.  You pay only part of it down, but the interest goes on top of the accumulated interest and debt.  Making your debt grow.  At first it starts off small, but then it can get overwhelming.

I got my first credit card in 1996 at age 20.  It had an $800 limit.  As soon as I got it in my possession, I used it.   I bought a brand new Nintendo 64 and a bass guitar.  I do not own either of those things anymore.  It took me years to pay off that debt.  But it started a cycle in my spending habits.  Rack up debt, freak out about not having money, get a windfall of some sort, pay off debt, plan on never doing it again, get a new card, rack up debt…  But why?

My wife and I try to teach our children abut saving money.  They have each earned money and saved for months/years to get something they really wanted, then start the savings process all over again.  But why can’t we follow our own advice?  I really don’t know.  Sometimes it’s just the convenience of pulling out a credit card to buy gas or groceries.  Other times it’s the sudden unexpected cost of a repair or incidental.  But rarely is it a spontaneous purchase of a luxury item.  We save up for those.

But if saving for a new iPhone or TV is easy to do, why can’t we live without that for an extra year or two and get our finances in control?  That seems to be the age old question.  The balance of want vs need.  The idea that life won’t really pass us by if we just wait a bit longer.

We’ll just keep trudging along, trying to gain a foothold in this crazy world, much like everyone else.

Usual Suspects

It’s been over two decades since “The Usual Suspects” came out.  So if you haven’t seen it, don’t read today’s blog.  That’s my spoiler warning.

This afternoon we had some friends over to watch “The Usual Suspects”.  For a film that is over 20 years old, it still holds up.  Especially since I was the only one who had seen the film previously.  I am still not convinced of who Keyser Söze really is.  All we have is a tale woven by a man named Verbal Kint explaining the events that lead up to the final crime.  We as an audience are following along by a guy who claims he is not a rat.  Two quotes from the film make me doubt who is the real Söze.

Who is Keyser Söze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Söze. You never knew. That was his power.

The description of the man behind the plan tells a tale of his origins.  Further on in the film, Verbal Kint talks about what made Keyser Söze so hard skinned and borderline evil.

You think you can catch Keyser Söze? You think a guy like that comes this close to getting caught and sticks his head out? If he comes up for anything, it will be to get rid of me. After that… my guess is you’ll never hear from him again.

This line from Verbal towards the end of the film isn’t to mock the police about how close they’ve come.  It is to tell them that no matter what, Verbal will be found and killed.  

As the film draws to an end, Verbal is walking down the street and his crippled movements vanish.  He gets into a car and is taken away.  Wow, Verbal is Keyser Söze.  I disagree.

Kobayashi is the real Keyser Söze.  He plays on the fears of all the criminals.  He is emotionless as he is held at gun point but continues to prove the power of Söze.  The female lawyer is shown meeting with him and later in the film Verbal is told that she is found dead in a hotel room.  

He is the man who picks up Verbal in the car at the end as well.  Verbal was his right hand man, assisting in the orchestration of the crime.  Even the police sketch appears to be a mix of the two men.

Verbal is picked up by Kobayashi.  Perhaps to be killed, as he described to the officer earlier.  Verbal knows he can’t escape, so he just accepts his fate and gets in the car.

That’s my take on a film that came out around the time of other great plot twist movies.  Many of those films heavy in dialogue, really having to tell the story instead of show it.  It’s always fun to see the reactions of friends who have never seen them.  

Rewrites and edits

Holy smokes.  Writing is tough.  Even when I write a grocery list, I can get worked up.  I want it perfect.  My list is based on what store we are hitting, and which aisles in the order we go through them.  Alphabetizing the list is just crazy talk though.  And to-do lists are equally as important.  I’m constantly adding and re-writing my lists.

Speaking of edits… Angry social media posts, texts or emails should always be curbed for a bit before you hit share/send.  Those things are very difficult to undo if you happen to write something you will eventually regret.

Writing my blogs, that’s something else entirely for me.  I am trying to share with the world some insight into who I am.  I’m trying to peel back the layers, and expose my inner self.  I’m essentially trying to look good naked- figuratively speaking.  

Through edits, re-writes, erasing and reviews I finally polish off something that I’m proud to share each day.  A little bit of my life gets the limelight so to speak.  Giving a little bit of myself to the world.  

But not before my wife proofreads it.

I’m Late!

This week has been a very varied work week for me.  None of it my being a part of my regular sessions.  It also threw off my regular blog postings.

So now, for probably the first time since I began this journey, I am rushing to finish before the day ends.  Of course tonight would be the night that all the road construction is happening.  As well as my car trying to give me a good scare making strange noises and not wanting to accelerate.  But I made it home safely. 

Now with under ten minutes to go until the end of the night- I still have no thoughts on what to blog.  No memories that have sprung to mind that I need to share.  No good vibes to pass along.  Nothing about my family that I can squeeze in quickly.  Just a solemn and peaceful evening.

To all who may have been waiting for today’s post- have a good night and sleep well.  Tomorrow I will figure out what to post and try and get it in earlier.

Good night everybody.

Daily Drive Dammit

Yesterday my Honda Element gave me a scare.  It decided to lose power while I was on the freeway.  I pulled over.  Shut off the car, then started it up and drove off.  But it happened again.  I pulled over, shut the car down, cursed and swore, started it up then began driving, keeping my RPMs low.  That seemed to do the trick until I got to work to diagnose the issue.

The internet is my friend & foe.

I had some time before work and searched everything possible on the internet about what could cause this.  Holy worst case scenarios Batman!  I was looking at possible hundreds of dollars in repairs…  Without a diagnostic computer, I thought I’d  have to take my car in to get serviced ASAP.  Lucky for me a fellow coworker was able to assist me.  We plugged in a reader to my ECU and with his handy app on his phone, we read the codes.

What does it all mean?

Turns out to be the O2 sensor.  Lucky for me, I already had an appointment to get that replaced on Monday.  So I called the mechanic and was able to bring it in today.  

After dropping off the car, they found more issues.  Big surprise. Hashtag sarcasm.  If I want to get the repairs done, I might as well say goodbye to my hopes of buying a PS4 for Christmas.  Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do since I need this vehicle to get around.

But really, for a vehicle we’ve owned new since 2003, it’s been pretty dang good.  With 277,280kms of driving it has been one of the best daily drivers ever.  Major repairs in the past have been a new clutch and muffler.  That’s it really.  We’ve done the brakes twice and installed new tires as needed.  Fluid changes on a regular basis has kept the Lego Mobile running.

After forking over money for today’s repair and knowing there’s still more to do- it makes it difficult to want to trade it in or sell it.  Especially if I drop another $500.  I’m known for my car.  People have waved and yelled at me over the years (both good and bad mind you).  I do love the Element in the way that one could love a car.  I would like to have my children learn to drive in it, so we shall see if it stays in our possession for a few more years.

Heck, if I lived closer to work, I’d ride my bike.  Just kidding.  That’s crazy talk.


I often see in my children their potential to do something great with their lives.  I then begin beaming with pride at all of those “what-if” scenarios.  Architect?  Musician?  Olympian?  The future is wide open.  My wife and I push them to do their best at whatever it is they are working on.  The results thus far have been rewarding.  Both to us as parents, and the look of satisfaction on our children’s faces.

My two oldest came home with excellent report cards this week.  All “A’s” and one “B” this semester.  After telling them how proud we were with their grades, we did the inevitable- we asked how they thought they could improve that one grade from a “B” to an “A”.  Not that they needed to improve it.  They are already getting really good grades on a regular basis.  

It takes hard work to get those grades.  My wife and I are constantly reminding them about homework and practice.  Sometimes I worry that if we weren’t doing that, how good would the grades be?  We try not to hound the kids and make it miserable to get the work done.  Just friendly reminders, daily, every day, like a broken record.

Even though our kids are school smart, they astound me with moments of stupidity they portray in everyday life.  As if the part of the brain that makes them function is on the fritz.  Today for example, my middle daughter couldn’t figure out how to plug a Zip drive into the USB and then how to open the files on the computer.  It’s something she’s done before in the past, but today- she needed guidance.  She is also the only member of the household who seems to get paper jammed in the printer…  

Tonight our oldest daughter was asked to wash dishes and make dinner.  She couldn’t figure out how to scrub a pot using something besides the wash cloth.  She then asked how to drain the water from a pot so that we could enjoy perogies.  Our children spend a lot of time in the kitchen with us.  I’ve even tried explaining how and why we prepare foods the way we do.  But it just doesn’t stay with them.  

How will they survive in the real world when they move out??  Don’t you dare tell me they are living with me forever.

But in all of their wisdom and stupidity, they are great kids with lots of potential.  Opening up their eyes and minds to gather knowledge is the challenge.  Like throwing cooked pasta at a wall- sometimes it sticks and sometimes it falls to the floor.

Philosophy of Me

If you’ve been following my daily blogs, you’ll notice that I try my best to portray something positive about my life.  A part of me feels that there is too much negativity in this world.   If I can share just a small ray of sunshine or a glimmer of joy on any given day- then I feel I have accomplished my daily goal.

Taking the red pill.

Let me be honest with you for a moment.

Every day isn’t always sunshine and moonbeams.  Sometimes there’s a darkness.  A really crappy, pull you down from your happy place, bury you so deep that you have to dig out of the muck, darkness.  Those days I just want to curl up in the fetal position and sleep until forever passes me by.  Lucky for me, I sidestep the darkness and peer around the corner and try to tell a story or two of something uplifting.  

Tilting at windmills like Don Quixote.

I mention this because at one point in my life I was on antidepressants.  Which is really better than the self medicating/ intoxication I was doing to myself.  But I wasn’t thrilled to be taking a different set of drugs to alter my mental state.  It changed me and I could sense the change.    I became emotionless and I hated that more than being depressed.  It made me realize that I didn’t need the pills- I just needed to be more positive.

Oh cat, it soon shall pass.

That may sound like hooey, but it’s true.  After six months of being on the drug and not drinking, I stopped taking it.  Once I started making goals for myself by becoming more kind and supportive to those around me.  Then my life got better.  By sharing the good, I received the good back.

As well, not gossiping or falling prey to rumors: either told to me or about me, meant my life has less conflict.  I was able to start a long and happy life.  I want the same for my friends and the few followers I have.

If my writing brings a smile to your face, please share it.  If it makes you think a bit differently about how you interact with others, please let me know.  

Comfort vs Style

This past weekend, my wife finally agreed to changing out our theater room seating.  We used to have a large L shaped leather couch that we have since moved into our family room.  In its place, we put our white love seat and couch as a temporary sitting arrangement.  Those couches we have had for nearly twelve years and they don’t suit our home any more.  So it’s time to change it up.

Our theater room used to be a formal living room.  But we hardly used the space when we first moved in.  My wife and I decided (mostly with my convincing of her) to make it into a theater room.  We have enjoyed many years of family movie nights, video games, and sporting event finals.

However, since changing the style of seats the comfort level has been lacking.  The kids fight over where to sit and how to sit.  Even I am uncomfortable as I try and curl up beside my wife on our love seat.

At Vancouver Fan Expo of all places, my wife “discovered” some new seating possibilities.  To say that I am irked is putting it mildly because for years I have suggested it.  However it took her trying it out without me around for her to suggest it for our home.  Now, she is seriously looking into the idea.

FINALLY, we may be buying bean bag chairs for the room.  Check these bad boys out at Yogibo.

Okay, it may not seem very grown up or whatever.  But hear me out.  These aren’t just your run-of-the-mill Walmart bean bag chairs.  These are of a higher quality and come in more sizes and colours.  The layout and configuration of our theater room can be in constant change.  My wife and I are now discussing how many to buy, which styles and what colours.  We may end up with a rainbow assortment at the end of all this.

All it took was a salesman to flirt with my wife to make this happen.  😉  Just kidding. It took my wife finally trying out a bean bag chair that wasn’t cheaply made.  As much as I’m all for couches and regular furniture, I’m kind of excited about the change and basic silliness of it all.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress…

I’m Batman

Today we enjoyed the last day of Vancouver Fan Expo.  My son and I took advantage of trying out the PlayStation VR.  We played a brief demo of Batman:Arham VR.

After my son finished playing, I took a go at it.  

The graphics were phenomenal.  I was surprised at the seamless way it played.  My movements were mimicked perfectly. At one point during the demo, I felt like I was in the Bat Cave.  The sights and sounds were 360° all around me.  With the Bat Suit on, a mirror showed up in front of my vision.  

I was Batman.

I am wowed beyond belief at the way technology has advanced.  Even in the short time from our first VR testing back in the spring- read about it here: Button Mashing (March 2016).  Especially with the constantly changing gaming industry, stepping out of bounds is a high risk for any of the companies.  Sony nailed it.

The experience was surreal.

I walked away after knowing that for about ten minutes, I was truly transported somewhere else and I was someone else.  I was the hero that Gotham deserved.

Now back to my life.  I’m just a regular Joe.


This weekend at Fan Expo Vancouver, there is a Lego area.  They always come to this convention.  And every year, my ten year old son spends pretty much the entire weekend there.  I’m totally cool with that.

Setting up the display he was asked to make today.

He is enjoyed by the staff & volunteers who work the floor in the Lego area.  My son has become quite the talk of that section of the convention.  Over the years we have been told that he is courteous and helpful all weekend with the other kids who stop by.  This year is no different.  

Yesterday a family showed up at my wife’s table to ask if Theory was our kid.  They wanted to express their thanks for what our son had done that day.  It would seem that Theory was very patient with their six year old autistic child and taught him how to build and just have fun.  They were unable to get their son to focus long enough for almost anything and tried to get him into Lego.  They told my wife that our son opened up new horizons for their son and they were extremely grateful.

As well yesterday, the staff at the Lego booth were super excited to tell my son that one of the seven  “Lego Master Builders” was going to be there on the Saturday.  My son for a moment was also super stoked, but soon realized that he and the Master Builder – Robin Sather- have been hanging out every year already.
Robin and Theory get along really well.  They think the same and love just building.  They have spent hours together at previous shows just talking and building.  The creativity just flows.

His 2015 design (that was also stolen after going on display) 2015 Fan Expo.

Who knows, maybe one day my son will be a Master Builder too.

Flu Shot

Today’s adventure was getting shot in the arm.  My wife took the kids and I to our family doctor and got our annual flu shot.  My twelve year old daughter asked the nurse “why do we get it in our arm?”  The nurse told her she could get it in the thigh or buttocks.  I said to my daughter that I’ve had a needle in the bum before.  Quick as a whip she said, “you’ve also had a finger in the bum.”  Thanks for reminding me about my physical last year.

Back to the flu vaccine-  I don’t exactly have the best immune system as it is.  I had an upper lobe of my lung removed at age two.  I suffered from numerous ear infections as a child and chest colds growing up.  Asthma and allergies have manifested throughout my adult life into something rather troublesome.  So a flu shot helps.

In 2008 I didn’t get a flu shot.  That fall, I was so sick, I ended up in the hospital and off work for three weeks.  Suffice to say it wasn’t just a case of “The Man Flu”.  I had never felt so horrible in my entire life.  I even lost a lot of weight- I don’t exactly have much extra weight to give away as it is.

Better to have modern medicine available than living in the dark ages.

After I tell people about getting the flu shot, I hear things like:

“Why would you do that? It doesn’t even work.” 

“Flu shots are a waste of time. I’d rather let my own immune system do the work.”

These are the same types of people who come to work sick and spread viruses everywhere, but will gladly take a “sick day” to extend a weekend. They are at every office or job. You know who they are.

The flu shot makes sense to me.  My family gets theirs as well.  Same reason we keep up with vaccines- it’s that whole “herd immunity” thing.  Sure, a shot in the arm hurts a bit- but in less than five minutes we showed up, sat down, got called in and were each given the flu vaccine.  Nice and easy compared to the feeling of death steamrolling over me for days on end.  That isn’t on my to-do list this winter.

So go out and get your flu shot.  Or don’t. It’s your choice.  Just remember that at 2am in the middle of winter, you will be wishing that a store was open and you could buy some over the counter medicines to combat the virus.  Why not just do an ounce of prevention ahead of time?

It’s The End of The World As We Know It

And I feel fine.

That’s pretty much the extent of my opinions on politics south of our Canadian border.  It’s also pretty much my feelings regarding Canadian politics.  I don’t tend to discuss or get into heated debates with friends, family, colleagues, or coworkers over any of this.

Voting and politics in general is emotionally rough.  There’s always a winning side and losing side(s).  My social media blew up over the past 24 hours.  I even shared some images and links myself.  I admit that I got caught up in the moment.

Thanks Wil.

But in the end, we are all in this together.  So “Don’t be a dick!” when sharing your views or opinions.  Healthy debate is much more civilized than name calling and fear mongering.

What Were The Skies Like When You Were Young?

I don’t think I remember what the sky looked like when I was younger.  In the past few years however, I’ve looked onwards and outwards more often.  The beauty that this world has to offer stretches far beyond the horizon.

This morning had another beautiful start.

This morning I paused for a moment with my son as I drove him to school.  I admired the sun as it was coming up, but he didn’t care.  It was just another day to him.  I thought about my youth and how I was always seeking the next moment, never indulging in what lay before me.  I still do that instinctively.

The sky over Nevada 2015.

Last year we took a more scenic road trip back home from California.  Through Nevada, the roads stretched on forever, sometimes meeting with the sky.  It has been my favorite drive to date.  The flow of the roads and the lay of the land- I just went with it.  

Sunset in Hawaii, April 2012.

The same sky that I have looked at and ignored for so many years has shown me more than enough beauty that I am ashamed to have missed it in the past.  Now- every trip we go on, I take a snapshot of the every changing landscape.  Absolutely breathtaking.

Storm clouds on a drive home from work.

Sometimes even the worst weather can share with us a glimpse of wonder.  Our daily grind keeps our heads down focused more on each step to the next goal.

Sunset along the river just north of our home.

At the end of the day, as well as the start, the earth turns and showcases the light bouncing around from the sun.  Not every sky is clear.  Some are dotted with clouds.  Other days there are streams of colour, bursting all around us.  

But we forget.  We forget to enjoy the moment.  We forget what it’s like to stare off into the sunset.  We forget that we need to let go and allow the alluring sky to take hold on occasion.

Not everyday is a rush to get to the next location.

Sometimes, you just need to watch the clouds roll by and remember what the sky was like when you were young.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

Happiness is hard to come by.  Maybe it’s seeing an old friend.  Perhaps it’s coming home from a really good day at work.  Could be enjoying your favorite meal or hearing a song that sparks emotions.

Searching out happiness is an ongoing journey.  Sometimes it just happens and you had no idea it would.  Other times, what you think will make you happy really doesn’t.  I’m looking your way money and material items.

Remember to take the time to relish in the moments of bliss that come by.  Go out and have a laugh.  Enjoy the company of an old friend.  Happiness is contagious, share it often.  You’ll be glad you did.

Raise it right

Being a parent is difficult.  We are often sharing advice with friends about raising children.  We are all on the same path- hoping our kids learn to be a productive functioning members of society.  This journey is a difficult one.  No matter what stage of parenting you are at, there is always someone you turn to in order to figure out what to you should do.  

From the first sense of “I better do everything I can to just keep this living creature alive” to “these monsters will be the death of me” to “I can’t wait until they move out”- raising kids is a crazy game.  Plenty of other parents out there are doing their best, just like us.

Doing the right thing when raising kids isn’t always easy.  We try and show them the pathway to a good life but of course, they don’t always listen.  I know I didn’t listen to my parents when I was a teen.  But it’s my mistakes that I want my children to avoid.  

However, mistakes are inevitable.  It’s a good learning experience for everyone.  As long as we grow and try to change our behavior to improve ourselves, then mistakes are good.

I have friends looking at mine and my wife’s parenting style.  Sometimes we are doing the right thing, other times, we are guessing just like the rest of you.  This weekend I had breakfast, lunch and dinner dates with friends.  We spoke of our lives and inevitably we began talking about our children.  I have noticed that the struggles are similar in many ways.  We all love our kids but they make us crazy when they don’t listen.

As much as it pains me when my kids are hurt, I pick them up, brush them off and let them try again.  Watching them break rules is aggravating when you have to dole out punishments.  We can’t always be the good guy.

I’m proud of all of the accomplishments our children have done.  When they succeed, I feel like we’ve done something right as parents.  

At the end of the day I just hope that when our children look back on their lives, they appreciate what we did to guide them.