Oooo That Smell

Smells sometimes trigger a memory inside of us. Some people enjoy the aroma of a good Chardonnay. Others remember fondly the scented markers from their childhood. I am partial to the smell of fresh rain on hot asphalt.  

Today the rain began to fall. It was just long enough since that has occurred. However, it was not one of the warmest days. But the smell outside wasn’t of water on pavement. The smell outside reminded me of Disneyland. Heck everything these days reminds me of Disneyland.


Disneyland.  Best place ever. A place I want to go to right now because the rain is transforming into snow and back again near my home.  But in the early mornings at Disneyland, there is a smell emanating from the sidewalk.  A smell of freshly hosed off cement slowly evaporating in the sun as it crests over the horizon.

The scent of skanky-ass recycled water.

Ah Sh…ooooe lace

I have a habit that I developed back when I was a child.  No, not reading- although I really should read more.  It’s something I do right before going to bed.  Not that!  Jeez.  What I do is make my lunch and set out the clothes I’m going to wear the next time I wake up.

Now you may be thinking, “But Josef- aren’t you a grown ass man?  Why do you need to choose your clothes a day in advance?”  Here’s my answer:


I hate rushing around.  I also enjoy getting a bit of extra sleep.  That whole “brain functioning” thing doesn’t work for me when I first wake up.  It’s probably why on my days off that I spend my first day sleeping in and wearing pjs all day.  I never set out my clothes the night before.  Having everything ready makes life easier.  However, I still struggle with one thing.  Shoelaces.


Not the act of tying shoelaces.  I can tie those no problem.  It’s more the act of untying my shoes that I forget.  

I get home and my feet just come out of my shoes.  I never untie them.  My children are just as guilty of this.  Our mud room has shoes scattered throughout all with the laces tied up.


The worst part is trying to put them on again.  Guaranteed- I will always try and slide my foot back in without untying them.  A bit of wiggling and shimmying to get my foot back in…  Nine times out of ten it doesn’t work.  I end up unlacing the shoes.  So whatever time I thought I would save by not untying them in the first place is lost.  My wife and kids are just as bad.  I have no idea why.  It’s just something we all do.  

So frustrating that we do it almost everyday.  Tomorrow will be the same thing.  I’ll forget what I wrote tonight and do the same song and dance before heading out the door.

Shoelace.

Planning The Future


Where do you see yourself in ten years?  How about five years?  Next year?  What about next week?  Not everyone plans that far.  

Those questions are often asked by our employer or future employer.  It’s usually the only time we think about a prospective future.  Even if it is a lie just to get or keep a job.


But why only think about work when pondering your future?  Why not create a ten year plan, five year plan, or even a one year plan?  Such as plans for a vacation, paying down debt, education, or having kids.  How about buying a new home?  Or moving away to another city?  Most people are spontaneous with everything in life.  Usually only planning as far as six months ahead.  That kind of planning is often short sighted.  What are you doing for your life?


Starting to plan for the future is paramount.  You don’t want to have the past to be a dull story of “what ifs”.  The opening to a favorite film of mine describes it eloquently:

They all tryin’ to catch hold of one moment of time. To be able to say “Right now! This is it! I got it!” ‘Course by then it’ll be past. But they all happy, everybody havin’ a good time. Well, almost everybody. They’s a few lost souls floatin’ ’round out there. Now if ya’ll ain’t from the city, we have something here called a “the rat race.” Got a way with chewing folks up so that they don’t want no celebrating, don’t want no cheerin’ up, and don’t care nothing…

…Well the future, that’s something you can’t never tell about. But the past, that’s another story.

“The future is now.”

One Race Closer to Pursuing The Gold


About a year ago I shared a story and aspirations I have for my son.  Here is the link: My Son- The Future Olympian.  Today I am with him again as he is working hard competing in another set of races.  This time we are at the Richmond Oval on the outskirts of Vancouver.  This was the location where the Speed Skating events were held during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


Throughout the building there are inspirational images of the past Canadian athletes that partook in previous Olympics.  Seven years later- the facility is well maintained and busy.  The city has split the large oval into two separate rinks, and a dozen basketball courts. There’s a ping pong table tournament area as well as a sectioned off for a Cheerleading competition.  (Coincidentally, the Cheerleading competition that my daughter will be attending later today.)


These skating meets can be overwhelming.  The hardest part about these competitions is the waiting.  Waiting alongside racers from other clubs can feel intimidating.  Before the races, my son hangs out with his friends in the facility-  often playing on iPads, iPhones, or wandering around and even taking a break to play drop-in ping pong during lunch.  There is a special camaraderie in our skating club.  As the skaters are on the ice- the rest of the group cheers from the stands offering encouragement.


All of this waiting is for his two minutes of ice time.  During his two minutes of work- my son pushes his limits.  At his age, places don’t matter as much as his times for his age group.  So even if he comes in third out of five, his time may push him up another level for the next meet.  He wants to beat his personal best times. Sometimes he wants to improve his stance and form- so he focuses intently on that.   


When he gets on the ice- it’s him vs his own nerves.   He has a determination that shows up when he is on the ice.  As if he is the only soul in the arena.  The last person who can psyche him out is himself.  He has put himself out there and pushes his boundaries.

I’m proud of our son.

Time Waster


Recently I discovered the Facebook app on my iPhone allows me to play quick mindless games.  Some of them are throwbacks to the 80’s arcade.  Others are the crummy apps that got people addicted to their smartphones in the first place.  And some just don’t make sense.

I distracted myself this evening in a battle against my daughter as she tried to get higher scores than me.  And she did.  At almost every one of them.  Now I’m killing myself trying to get better.  It has also prevented me from spending time writing my blog.


It seems she is really good at these pointless games.  We played about a dozen of them.  Her on her phone & me on mine.  It surprised me at how quickly she mastered the games I played in my youth. What took me months and numerous quarters in an arcade took her merely minutes.


There was some good smack talk and banter going back and forth.  She has quite a sharp wit about her.  She definitely takes after her father in that aspect.  She is quick with a jab and can hurl an insult related to my inability to win.  


Clearly she has schooled me and left my reputation destroyed.  In a way I am proud.  It is time to pass on the torch.

It’s Thursday… Again.

Today is the day of the week that most people never care about.  Unless you decide to do a “Throw Back Thursday”.  But even that only last a picture or a quick share.

Thursday to me is my online reading day.  I catch up on news articles and blog posts.  Only since I started writing my own blog did I discover an entire world of writers.  Some of them like-minded, others inspirational, most very well written.


I really love keeping up with tech and entertainment news.  This week was filled with extra knowledge about the universe.  Plus more Star Wars announcements.  I get really excited when I discuss with friends who have also kept up with the news.  We speculate on the endless possibilities.  Like children excited about the unknown.  No fear, just hopes for the best of humanity.

I’m off to read some more and educate myself.

It’s Good

It’s only been a couple of months in my new position at work.  A lot of people are asking me how I like it.  I usually give the same response- “It’s Good.”  Of course only two months in it’s really hard to say if I like the j…  That’s a lie.  I love the job.  

I used to spend eight hours a day staring at a computer screen five days a week.  Now I put in twelve hour days, but limit sitting at the computer to a handful of times.  Maybe four hours total throughout the day.  The hours may be longer now than they once were on the days that I am at work, but having three days off is perfect.  


Not only am I spending less time in front of a computer, but I’m out on the ground more these days.  Doing lots of walking.  It seems my wife was right- exercise is good for you.  I still don’t do the Fitbit thing, but I have been secretly watching my step count.  What used to be under a thousand steps per day (some days only being around four hundred) is now three to four times that.  I have never felt better.  My muscles are happy and my body is feeling more energized.  I think on my days off I shall start to walk my dog more often.  Plus the weather is going to get nicer.

Barter

My wife’s first convention of the year is coming up soon.  She is busy sewing hats, cosplay ears and headbands in anticipation of the show.  My wife doesn’t always enjoy human interactions, so she likes it when I go as well.  I am generally a pretty good salesman when I’m on my “A” game.  She makes the products, I sell the products.  Go teamwork!


But she also doesn’t like me going with her for one simple reason: I want to spend all the money she makes.  Like c’mon!  We are with my people!  I need all of the geeky t-shirts, board games, props, and one-of-a-kind artwork!  


She has come up with a brilliant solution to the dilemma I have introduced.  She trades with other vendors/artists.  Usually dollar value for dollar value items.  This makes for some savvy gift giving later in the year.  My wife is pretty good at bartering.  I think it comes from her time living in Turkey before we met.


I’m just worried that one day, she may try and trade me for something of equal value.  Like a skateboard or an oar.  She’s already tried to volunteer my services to other people.  It’s only a matter of time…

Mo’ Money

“I don’t know what they want from me.  It’s like the more money we come across the more problems we see.”

Thank you late 90’s for such a classic song lyric.

I don’t think I have those problems.  Simply because the mo’ money I come across, the quicker it disappears from my bank account.  Since I am aware that this happens- it’s not creating mo’ problems. But then the song wouldn’t sound as good if those were the lyrics.


Pretty sure if my wife and I liquidated all of our physical assets we would have plenty of money to spend… on buying stuff to replenish what we sold.  The fact that money doesn’t really exist anyways is a strange concept.  Money is just numbers used to add value to a product or service.  

Perhaps one day the term “money” will disappear.  Along with banks and corruption.  But I doubt it would happen in my lifetime unless Tyler Durden became a real person.


The first rule of Fight Club is You do not talk about Fight Club.  Even 18 years later, should that rule still apply?

This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.

Tom’s Diner

When my wife and I married we had everything planned out and budgeted.  We paid for everything on our own.  We also did it without going into debt. It was the one thing that we really felt was important in starting a new life together. Our food was selected, flowers paid for, center pieces were hand made, we even burned some CDs for our dances and special songs.  It wasn’t until the day before our wedding that it dawned on us… we didn’t have a song to walk into for our reception.  


One of our friends was doing the DJ work for us- so we looked through his list of songs.  He had suggested many that other couples had used.  But we weren’t like other couples- we weren’t going to enter to the Star Wars Imperial March.  On the night before our wedding, as we decorated the hall for our reception, we listened to part of his playlist.  The night was growing old and we still hadn’t chosen a song.  One last look into the DJ’s list and we found a song.  


“Tom’s Diner” was to be our entrance song.  

Besides it being a beautifully spoken word style song, it wasn’t a song that my wife and I had ever heard while together.  It’s just a simple observation style of song.  It’s a song about people watching.  It made me think of our coffee dates and late nights.  

It was a song that people would recognize but not fully know the words for.  So there was no fear of people singing along.    But every time I hear the song, it now reminds me of the first time we entered a room as husband and wife.

Today I was driving to work in the rain when the song came on the radio.  The last few lines brought joy to me.

“Oh, this rain

It will continue

Through the morning

As I’m listening


To the bells

Of the cathedral

I am thinking

Of your voice


And of the midnight
picnic

Once upon a time

Before the rain began


I finish up my coffee

It’s time to catch the train.”

A Day Off Means Home Repairs

Being a homeowner is both wonderful and a pain in the butt.  Is owning a little piece of property a wise investment?  Maybe.  For us it makes sense.  Instead of paying rent we are paying a mortgage.  Building equity up for future use.  However, in the current housing market, we can barely afford luxuries.  Like a new kitchen.  Today I had a honey-do list.  I wrote it for myself and added to it as I went.  


I headed into our furnace room to grab my tools and multimeter to check my stovetop only to discover yet another leak. It seems this house won’t stop dripping.  Good thing that the last time I had to make repairs on our pipes- I had bought some spare connections and pipes.  The fix took all of two minutes.  Now back to the first project.

The outer ring is heating up again, now to clean the stovetop.


It started with a broken element on our stovetop.  I disassembled the stovetop and was going to use my knowledge of circuitry to test the continuity.  As soon as I took it apart, I could see the problem. The coil had a small break.  I made some phone calls to find a replacement part, but it seems that the stovetop is no longer made or parts are available.  Next best thing for a temporary fix?  Move the burner coil so it touches again just past the split.  No idea how long this fix will last, but so far so good.


Since I was in the kitchen and had my drill out, I decided to do a temporary fix on our fridge door.  The metal bar across the bottom shelf had snapped at the clip.  Zip ties to the rescue.  Two holes drilled and another quick fix is completed.  Before putting away the drill, I remembered that we had a loose outlet and tightened it up.

I really wish we could go out and buy a new fridge and stovetop, perhaps some new cabinets or remodel the entire kitchen.  Our finances just don’t have it in the budget at the moment.  We have many other things we want to spend our money on.  Travel and education are top of the list.  (As well as paying down some debt.  But that’s not fun.)


Wisdom shared from Red Green:  “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”  

Luckily for my wife- I’m both.

Time Well Wasted

Ugh.  Wasted my time this evening because I was late for an event.  I agreed to take my son to his speed skating practice at what I thought was his usual time.  Except they had cut it short and had announced it weeks ago.  My fault for not checking the calendar tonight.


I have no excuse for being late.  The calendar that my wife and I rely heavily on had it written in.  We write my work schedule, no school days, appointments and all of the extracurricular activities.  Even though today was his regular skating practice, it wasn’t at the usual time.  In essence- we showed up, he got on the ice and five minutes later was done.


Now my son and I have some extra time to spend together.  So we wandered across the street from the ice rink to the Cineplex.  We made it just in time for the start of The Lego Batman Movie.  

Good end to an otherwise potentially frustrating evening.  

Shhh… the film is about to start.  Setting my phone to vibrate.

Graffiti IS Art

I have a certain love of good graffiti artwork.  I always have.  Working for a railroad has allowed me to view up close some very talented works of art as well as just plain old vandalism.  There is even graffiti that I must photograph whenever possible.  That is because it features my son’s name: Theory.


Most of the art I have seen in the past few years is on rail cars.  Those cars cycle around the country and sometimes into the USA.  There are times that I will see the same car on more than one occasion.  It is like a traveling art show.  Some artists who paint on railcars have also been known to hop on and off trains to travel to other destinations, √† la hobo style never staying in one place.


Over the past month and a bit I have been working in downtown Vancouver.  The railroad runs through dark areas and past back alleys.  The graffiti I see in those areas differs from what I see on the rail cars.  Probably due to the fact that there are numerous other artists spreading their visions.  Many are just sharing a word or a quick image in great detail.   I have become quite prolific in being able to decipher the words written out.  


I have watched documentaries about the art form and even begun incorporating and emulating their techniques.  My fascination with graffiti has spilled over into my cosplay making abilities.  I love using spray paint to add depth and character into what I make.  Seeing shading techniques used with just colour draws my attention.  

Even though graffiti is considered vandalism, I hope those urban guerrilla artists never stop spreading their message.

That Wasn’t Good.

So last Friday I wasn’t feeling great and took a day in bed.  Reflecting back on it, I had a day of depression.  Me.  A man who is always chill.  The guy who is ready to be nice to everyone.  The dude who abides.  

I had a bad day.

My bad day began the day before.  It really shouldn’t have, but it did.  I started my days off by taking a nap post night shift.  I was supposed to meet some friends and a coworker for a beer later on Thursday evening.  However, my coworker was called into work and my friends had forgotten/ or had difficulty making it out due to weather.  I struggled on and went out for a beer by myself.  Talk about taking one for the team.


Having a beer by myself wasn’t a big deal.  I made a plan and I stuck to it.  However, as I was out, I got really irritated by a few women that were at the brew house.  It wasn’t their fault.  They just spoke really mean about the people they knew and did it in a loud voice.  *Lucky* for me I was sitting at the table next to them minding my own business- but eavesdropping on them without much choice.  It made me sad that all they wanted to do was complain and share hatred about their lives.

After only having a couple beers while I was out I decided it was time to go home.  At home, I ended up drinking another beer and calling it a night.  But the thoughts of how mean these ladies were talking about their “friends” stuck with me as I fell asleep.  That third beer made me bitter.


I woke up the following day feeling like crap emotionally.  So I stayed in bed and proceeded to sleep off and on throughout the day.  But the bitter pit stayed in me.  It took me the entire day to shake it off.


People can have a profound effect on one another.  Knowingly or unknowingly. I don’t know why I felt so bad after hearing these strangers talk.  But I did.

Drowning out the negative is difficult to do.  Moving forward I will continue to try and remain positive- both in how I live and act.  Perhaps my little bit of positivity can make the world a better place.  

Valentine’s Day

What?  Another day to spend money on cards and candy?  Say it ain’t so!

Through gifts, phone calls, or on social media, today is when loads of people share their love.  It is wonderful to see it.

Hey.  I have someone whom I love very much.  I don’t need to buy her a card or waste money on flowers today.  But I did anyways because I realized that she’s amazing and I don’t always show it.  


Usually we don’t do more than just saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” to one another.  But today I decided to spend frivolously to express my feelings.  I even bought balloons and flowers for my daughters as well.  They are all my special ladies and I love them all very much.

So to whomever makes your heart flutter, remember to tell them every day, not just today, how much they mean to you.


To all my friends, have a wonderful day filled with love and kindness!

BC Family Day

Today was BC Family Day.  It was put in place a few years ago in order to give an extra day off for everyone.  Most of the other provinces have had a similar stat day in February.  However, because BC has their day on a different week, some people aren’t happy.


It’s a free day off for most people.  Or they get paid time and a half to work.  But instead of appreciating that the government has allocated another day off, many have chosen to complain.  Complaints are mainly having to work because the rest of the country does.  There is even a petition to have it moved to line up with other days off.  I agree that this would make more sense.  But to complain that you have a day off or being paid extra to go into work baffles me.


I have to work on most stat days.  But my work will offer up an extra day off later in the month to make up for it.  That doesn’t bother me, in fact I prefer it.  I spend a lot of time with my family as it is.  I don’t require the government to give me a day off to do so.  I kind of enjoy being with my family.  They’re pretty nice people and we have lots of fun together.


I also don’t like crowds.  So having a long weekend means long lines at the border, the ferry, or on the road in and out of town.  Now I’m getting grumpy thinking about that.  Find your happy place Josef…

Anyways, however people spent their Family Day Weekend I hope it was fun and safe.  Even if you did have to work.

Determination & Motivation

I am determined to post in my blog every day.  No matter what.  Since I hit my one year goal of writing every day, the momentum has begun to slow down.  I’m losing sight of what it is I wanted to accomplish with my blog.  What I wanted to was get better at writing.

I realized last week that determination and motivation sometimes go hand in hand.  Even though it isn’t always necessarily that case.


Last week we had a few days of snow.  This is rather unusual for the Vancouver area and surrounding suburbs.  Our little side street did not get the luxury of being plowed or salted.  This made the snow become rather thick.  Even as vehicles drove down our street, all it did was compact it down making it more slick.  Over night last Wednesday it rained.  It made a slushy mess, but there still remained about a foot of snow.

Now, my neighbor across the street is a nice gentleman in his 80’s.  Every morning at 7:50 he and his wife leave for breakfast.  EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  They’ve done it for years.  YEARS.  I can tell if my children are late getting up for school if I see him backing out of his driveway in the morning.  They meet up with old friends at our local Co-Op restaurant every day.  My wife and I have joined them on occasion (more by accident because we are hungry and didn’t want to make our own breakfast).

Frozen water.

On Thursday morning he was backing out of his driveway and got his truck stuck in the middle of the road.  I went out to help him dig it out.  My wife came out as well and was speaking to his wife.  Turns out it was her birthday that day.  They weren’t going to do anything special for her birthday.  They just wanted to head out for breakfast.  After ten or fifteen minutes, we managed to get his truck back into his driveway.  He thanked me.  So my wife and I headed back into our home.  He did not.

Bob got his tractor out.


He was determined to go for breakfast with his wife on her birthday.  Even though it was their daily routine and they could have skipped it for a day, the snow wasn’t going to stop them.  Out came his tractor and he began clearing a path on our street in order to get his truck out.  His determination to go for breakfast was astounding.  Perhaps he was a bit motivated by the fact that it was his wife’s birthday that day.  No need for them to miss seeing their old friends.  

After he cleared a spot in front of his driveway, he cleared the road in front of our home.  My good deed earlier was reciprocated.  My motivation to help him was just a neighborly thing to do.  His motivation to get out of his driveway was to enjoy his regular breakfast routine.

Even though I may not always be motivated to write, I am determined to write each and every day.  Much like the determination my elderly neighbor has to go for breakfast every day.  Some days there a bit more motivation involved.

Navigation 

I never knew the luxury of having GPS Navigation in my car until last month.  I have had a smart phone for a few years, so bringing up Google Maps was easy at that point as long as I had a passenger in the car.  Otherwise it was a matter of memorizing all of the turns.


Even before owning an iPhone, I would use Google Maps or Map-quest on our home computer prior to leaving our home and print off directions.  In fact, we still have an envelope at home, with our first road trip to Disneyland.  It has notes and markings of what exits to find the best In-N-Out Burger and the easiest routes to the Holiday Inn Express locations that we have used as well.  Heck, we take it with us no matter what anyways.  It’s like a tradition when we do a California trip.


As I was cleaning out our 2003 Honda Element to store it away, I found an old Map Book shoved under the seat.  I don’t remember the last time I used it.  I do remember having it back in 2000 when my wife and I met.  It reminded me that we also have a file folder in our filing cabinet of old maps from my childhood in Edmonton and Vancouver.  It’s like an obsession to not throw away these maps. I guess I could repurpose them into something off of Pinterest.


Perhaps one day the technology will just scan our brains and know where we want to go.  Or maybe we just won’t need to travel anywhere and everything will be through VR.  Who knows.  

I am surprised that in under a decade we have moved from hundreds of years of paper maps to having access at our fingertips.

I Got Nothing…

Today was a first in a long time.  I have no ideas about what to write for my daily blog.  I have a few that I am working on in my drafts, but I don’t want to publish them quite yet.  They still need some tweaking.  So here I am with nothing to write about.


Some days you just can’t get it together.  All day I lay in bed.  Laziness abound.  I put my phone on silent and tried to sleep the day away.  No real reason to do it.  I just had no plans for the day.  I got out of bed about an hour ago and prepared breakfast for tomorrow, so I got that going for me.  Hopefully tomorrow has a head start.


Perhaps tomorrow I’ll blog about the breakfast.  But today I have nothing worthy of a Friday evening read.  I am going to cut it short.  Just go about your business.  There’s nothing to see here.  Move along.

Turning Japanese 

I mentioned briefly in a previous post about wanting to travel to Tokyo to see Disneyland.  More like I wrote numerous blog posts about our adventure.  I also mentioned that I wanted to learn Japanese before we go.  Maybe I only mentioned it on my Facebook, but hey those are most of my readership anyways.

So I first went on a search to find some classes nearby.  No real success.  Next I decided to search online for advice on learning Japanese.  Many sites recommended numerous apps.  This lead me to downloading one that seemed perfect for my beginner brain.


And because I downloaded it on my Apple ITunes account, it is now shared with my children on their devices.  Now the competition to learn is on!  We began with the basics of numbers and pronounciations.  The other night at the dinner table we were yelling numbers at each other in English and Japanese.

For a free app it has brought us such joy.  So I decided to pay for the full app.  Not only did it unlock the Japanese lessons, but now we can learn the basics of other languages as well.    Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Mandarin are all included for the low price of $27.99.  That is essentially the cost of a text book.

This is going to be beneficial for our trip.  My children and I are going to each learn a language.  Firstly, we are having fun with Japanese and my kids are beating me at their knowledge retention on the numbers alone.  


What I am going to do over the next few months is to take each lesson and try to learn it the way I remember being taught how to learn French in school.  Start with numbers, months, greetings, etc… just to learn the basics.  I’m hoping that this will give me a strong foundation to survive a few days in another country.

Plus, you’re never too old to learn something new.  I’m going to keep working on making myself a better person as I continue to age.

Pizza Snack

As a teen I really enjoyed Pizza Pops.  Mmmm Exploded microwaved food product.


I still enjoy one from time to time.  Usually at work.  I have to hide them from the kids.  Otherwise they are gone instantly as soon as the box is unloaded from the groceries.  I do my best to never buy them when the kids will be around.  I’ll take them straight to work and hide them there.  But then my coworkers have been known to steal them.  Ugh.  It seems everyone likes Pizza Pops.

Even though they are a simple pleasure, sometimes being a frugal shopper has me trying other similar products.  Last night for example, I had some “Bagel Bites: Pepperoni Pizza” flavor as a snack at work.  The box of nine cost me a buck.  So why not try out a cheap late night snack?

They were the worst. 

The instructions said to microwave on high for 2 minutes and 20 seconds in their patented “crisper tray”.  So I did.  And the cheese still wasn’t melted and the nine mini bagels were still partially frozen.  So I moved them around in the tray and added another 45 seconds to the cooking time.  Now the cheese was melting and sliding off of half of the bagels and the rest were still partially uncooked.  The ones with with melted cheese now also had dried out rock hard bagel edges.  I removed the “cooked” bagels and heated the rest for a few more seconds.  


As I waited for the next batch to melt a bit more, I touched the top of a bagel bite and it seemed an ok temperature.  So I took a bite and burned my mouth.  For F**KSAKE!  Stupid pieces of sh!t. But now I’m far too hungry to care and ate the rest of them anyways.  Seriously, 3 minutes in the microwave is far too long to wait anymore.

Moral of the story?  Stick with Pizza Pops.  At least they admit that they explode in their advertising.

My Pen!

A couple of months ago, a coworker gave me an amazing pen.  It was a blue gel pen.  It wrote like silk across the paper.  It almost got to a point that I didn’t want to type anymore.  The pen was that amazeballs.  


I guarded it with my life.  I would use it at work and quickly it would be tucked away in my pocket.  The pen became a part of my daily work clothes.  I never even let anyone borrow it.  The way the pen wrote was majestic.  I could never let anyone else experience its liquid beauty.

Before I left for work yesterday, I was joking with my daughter about my pen.  She knew how much I loved it.  She also told me how she would steal her friends’ gel pens whenever she could.  So I pretended that I thought she had stolen it from me.  She couldn’t keep a straight face.  Even though she never took the pen (it was well hidden) she couldn’t remain serious enough to prove to me that she hadn’t stolen it.  I left for work having her think either a) I was crazy or b) She was crazy.  I still had my pen.


But last night it died.  It appeared that it ran out of gel.  I was saddened by this and a bit surprised at myself.  I was going to miss My Pen!  Usually when a pen dies you just throw it out and grab a new one.  Or if you’re like me, you put the dead pen back into the mug of pens and then grab a different one.  On a rare occasion, I will huck the pen at something (usually out into the hall at work or at the computer screen) in frustration.

But this wasn’t frustration.  Nor was it simply put the pen in the trash or even the “communal work pen mug”.  It was genuine sadness at the loss of such a beautiful instrument.  I could never replace its grip or fluidity.  I will mourn my gel pen for… moments to come.  I just need to come to grips with the fact that it’s gone.  

Snow Day?


Last night we found out that the schools would be closed for today.  This extended the children’s weekend by a day.  Not really a big deal for us since my wife works from home and I don’t work until this evening.  We made the children go to bed at a normal time last night.  Then we allowed them to sleep in.  I think they needed it.

They are outside playing in the snow and burning off energy.  I’m guessing it will be an early night because they will be exhausted.  I’m also happy that our oldest enjoys shoveling the driveway.  We pay her $5 every time she does it.  If she asked for more, we’d probably agree to it.  (She really needs to work on her negotiation skills.)  Two feet of snow isn’t easy to shovel…


Unfortunately, I don’t get a “Snow Day” from my work.  Trains still need to keep moving and customers need to be serviced.  I don’t mind.  Keeping products moving is vital to everyone’s way of life.  There are customers relying on those goods to make it where they need to get to.

I first began working for the railroad in winter of 2007.  I experienced firsthand working in the snow and cold overnight.  It never deterred me from doing my job.  Quite the opposite.  It made me appreciate the warm spring and summer months that much more.  

So I’m bundled up and off to work.  A chilly night lays ahead with more snow forecasted.  Perhaps a 2nd Snow Day will occur for the children…  but the trains need to keep moving.

SuperbOwl

I mentioned last year around this time about how not into sports I am.  Don’t remember?  Read it here: Sports.

This year I ended up working on Super Bowl Sunday.  Which doesn’t mean much to me.  Except that I was unable to partake in drinking or deep fat fried food.  I did catch the end of the game and enjoyed a beer.

Super Bowl reminds me of how much I love owls.


That’s right.  Owls.  The greatest bird of prey ever.  I even shared a link about Cartoons that involved “The Hidden Life of The Burrowing Owl.”


Owls are the best.  You could even say superb.  If I could have any pet bird, an owl would be it.  I love Burrowing Owls.  Great Horned Owls are pretty amazing looking as well.  Those are my top two.  

We have barn owls in my neighborhood.  I’ve enjoyed watching them hunt over the years.  It’s so amazing to watch them attack rodents.  I can’t stand rats and mice.  I think we need to adopt an owl to rid our property of rodents.  Because owning a cat is just silly.


Owls would dominate over cats any day.  Plus they are much cuter when they kill rodents.  Ever witness an owl shred apart a rat?  Cats are too busy playing with their food.  

I really want an owl now.  I would name it Bernie the Burrowing Owl.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation about why I like owls.

Cooking with Cast Iron

I love cooking.

I love cooking with cast iron skillets.  

My wife and I have had some cast iron frying pan skillets for nearly two decades now.  For the most part they are holding up as strong as our marriage.  But the 12″ one that we use the most of was in dire need of some TLC.


My father taught me how to care for my cast iron pans years ago.  He taught me how to season them and wash them.  I’m not going into this since it’s easily searched out online.  I love the versatility of the pans.  From oven to stovetop to campfire.  Cast iron has been a strong contender in my cooking regime.  However, after years of use and love, our one pan needed a re-surface and then seasoned again.

I wasn’t sure where to begin.  Of course I could fork over $40 and buy a new pan and toss the old one out into recycling.  But today there was a bit of a snowfall, so I needed an inside project to work on.  This was as good a time waster as any.


As noted above, I had a couple of bad spots.  Mostly my eggs were catching here.  I also didn’t want black chips scattered throughout my food.  So out came my Dremel.  With some trial and error, I began to sand away at the frying pan.


As I went, I had to rinse it and feel how the surface was doing.  Overall it took me about 45 mins to get it down to the shiny silver part of the pan.  I wasn’t trying to make it super smooth.  Otherwise when I seasoned it, the lard wouldn’t take.


It may be hard to tell from this image, but I am really proud of how the pan “cleaned up”.  It was still porous but no more large chunky pits and craters were visible.  Next came the seasoning.  I prefer Crisco lard over oil.  It is my go-to for baking, deep frying and cooking.  Something about lard makes for a cleaner all around oil base.  In using lard I was also in more control of spreading it around with a paper towel.  Once that was done, into the oven it went.


I am writing my blog post as I wait for the pan to set for about an hour in the oven.  It’s looking good so far.  

The true test will be cooking on it tomorrow.