Data Hogs

A few days ago, my cellular provider informed me that we were about to reach our data limit. Actually, I was notified on July 20th and our data cycle resets August 3rd… I could not figure out how this was possible, since for months we barely hit our allotment. Between four iPhones, we share 12GB.

I checked our usage and found the culprits. Our youngest daughter had gone through over 5GB on her own in under three weeks. While our oldest had only used about 800MB. My wife had used 1GB. I had used over 4.5GB.

A story of two sisters who are very different data users:

Our oldest keeps her phone on airplane mode most of the time. She also has it set up to connect to WiFi all the time. She has conditioned herself to only go on social media when on WiFi as well which keeps her data usage low. She’s been doing this for a few years now- since her first phone.

Our youngest daughter has no concept of how much she uses her phone. She also doesn’t pay attention to whether she is on WiFi or not. This summer, she hasn’t been anywhere that requires her to be online. Turns out, while she was in our backyard sharing Instagram pictures and watching YouTube, she was never connected to our WiFi. She had been using data the entire time. And watching videos in full HD. I had to have a little talk with her about this and hopefully she will correct her behavior.

My wife works from home and hardly uses data. She likes to do comparison shopping in real-time when we are out. She does still play Pokémon Go and only checks social media when bored. I tend to use data far more frequently. I’ve always hovered around the 4GB range. But I use my phone for work quite often. Checking email, looking at maps, connecting with coworkers, that sort of thing. I also use social media a lot. That’s my crutch.

So for the past few days, I have shut off all data access to everyone. The biggest results I have found is that iMessage only works on WiFi now and Siri can’t figure out how to make a handsfree call when I drive. These are things I can live without for a couple more days. As we discuss as a family how to move forward with our shared data plan.

This could be interesting…

Please feel free to share any tips or advice on limiting our data consumption. I’m sure there are ways to still enjoy the cyber world…

Dad Days Of Summer

It was another warm one today. So I took the kids out to our yearly adventure at a watering hole up the road. Check out last year’s post: Life Is On Repeat or the year before: Cooling Off. Without knowing it, every year- almost to the day– I take the kids to Williams Park.

The water was a bit more murky this year than before. It’s because of the clay deposits nearby and underneath. You can see where other kids have played in the clay and made it messier. Not a big deal, as we are planning on washing off after anyways. I think it adds to keeping us cooled off.

This year, my son braved the rope swing and had a blast. We also brought my daughter’s friend and my other daughter made some videos of them jumping in. It was a ton of fun to be had. I also pointed out to the kids that next season of Riverdale was filmed here as well.

We spent about an hour at this side of the park. The water was cool and the area was shaded by the trees. We had the place to ourselves during this time until more people began to show up. Then not as much time on the rope swing was being had, so we dried off and headed for a short hike before returning to the car.

I love this side of the park. It’s usually not busy and each year, the graffiti changes. This year the art made me think of today’s title: “The Dad Days Of Summer“. I have been actively participating with my children this summer a bit more than usual. Mostly because I have a ton of time off in between when I work. If I can make the most of the precious few years I have with them before they grow up that’s my goal.

We leave every activity or location with a smile and a story. I want my children to remember the “Dad Days” and to be able to share these activities with their friends. I had very few growing up with my father, so making memories that last a lifetime mean the world to me (and my children).

My goal this summer is to stay cool and be cool. Joe Cool

Blame It On The Bossa Nova

Today has been a lazy Sunday. I rolled out of bed at noon to eat some pancakes. Afterwards, I put up a hammock in my backyard and proceeded to relax some more.

As I lay there enjoying the breeze and the sound of the birds chirping, I decided that I needed some background music. So I hit up the CBC Music App on my iPhone. I found that instead of my usual classical music, I chose to listen to Bossa Brazil. What a freaking awesome choice.

I closed my eyes and just drifted away for about 45 minutes. My yard had turned into a peaceful getaway where all my worries melted away. The day had gone full tilt lazy.

As I swayed back and forth with my eyes closed- I was reminded of the song, “Blame It On The Bossa Nova“. Except the version from the film “Amazon Women On The Moon” sung by Don No Soul Simmons. I’ve never listened to Brazilian music before, but today made me realize there’s an entire other relaxing world out there that I need to explore. Maybe one day my wife and I can travel further south to enjoy the culture in person.

Today is just peace. My own personal paradise. Absolute perfection. I’m blaming the Bossa Nova for life being grand.

Get Out of Town!

I finished work today in North Vancouver. Being that it was a Saturday, my drive home was pretty good. (Better than it was earlier in the week during Rush Hour.) Seems like my desire to get out of the Vancouver area was different than most other people. Tons of people were heading into Vancouver at 6pm.

The Honda Celebration of Light is happening at 10pm tonight. It’s the 28th year of the fireworks display. In my life I have been 5 times. None of which have been in the past 17 years. Meaning I haven’t taken my kids…

From 1990-2000 it was called the “Benson and Hedges: Symphony Of Fire”. I liked it back then. You could smoke in the bay and wait for the show. A tobacco company sponsoring a fireworks show makes sense to me. In 2000 the Canadian government passed a law forbidding tobacco and liquor companies from sponsoring events. (Vancouver lost the Molson Indy shortly after as well because they couldn’t find sponsorship.)

But these fireworks survived. They were sponsored by a bank for a brief period, now by Honda. With an expected crowd of over 400,000 on a hot summer night, you bet your ass I won’t be there. Crowds and heat don’t make me happy. Driving or skytrain with stinky crowds make me more angry. Especially with the fact that so many ruin it by getting belligerently drunk.

But if it’s your thing- enjoy! I’m going to hang out close to home and cool off with a cold beverage and be belligerent online like a good samaritan.

Buy It, Use It…

All our lives we spend seeing commercials. In magazines, on tv, on the Internet, in movies, on billboards, just about everywhere. Sometimes advertising is subtle like a small logo on a short sleeve shirt. But it’s there. We’ve all seen it, even if we don’t acknowledge it.

I love it. I love the way advertising gets into your everyday life. Something about how it manipulates your choices through simple imagery. Old logos are some of my favorite things to search up online. I love seeing how they change and develop over the years. Or even vanish.

Sometimes companies like going back to a former look to grab the nostalgia feelings inside of us. Not gonna lie- it works. If only for a brief moment. A couple months ago I had to buy Clearly Canadian because of the retro feels.Sometimes I come across a logo and I have a tough time pinpointing the company. A logo I may have seen numerous times or one that is in the depths of my memory. Then it can be a bit more difficult to find online when using words to describe the logo. Take this for example:

Running man logo—- stick figure logo— upside down speared poop emoji with arms and a leg logo…

Turns out I remembered it being “Ocean Pacific”.

In the end, all that happens is we find “favorite” products. Coke vs Pepsi. McDonald’s vs Burger King. Honda vs Ford. iPhone vs Samsung. Whatever your “tastes” they’ve all been manipulated one way or another. I think it’s brilliant.

And even though I know I’m being targeted- I’ll still buy stuff. I am a consumer whore. And how!

Stick Village Maker

Our daughter has been spending time in our backyard being creative. She reads, writes, and draws while enjoying the fresh air. I’m proud of her for keeping her creative juices flowing. I also think she is quite talented. She loves to share her stories and art with everyone.

Sometimes when she is sitting on the lawn and at a loss for inspiration- she builds what she calls “Stick Villages.”

At least four of these “villages” have cropped up in our yard in the past week. She finds small branches and stabs them into the lawn. It’s cute and fun. I don’t mind if more of these show up in the yard.

The best part of all of these “Stick Villages” is she has to clean them up because she is the one who mows the lawn. So in the end, she gets to destroy them like a giant.

Dad and Darwin Bike Barntson

My wife and I got our Honda Element serviced and back on the road today. Since it was my day off, I decided that I was going to take the car for a bit of a longer drive to work the engine back in. I asked our middle child if she wanted to come with me. So we packed our bikes into the Element and headed to Barnston Island.

We parked by the “ferry” and unloaded our bikes. We packed a couple of water bottles, donned the sunscreen and made our way to the 9.8km bike ride. (Took us 1hr and 4min to complete btw.)

The ferry ride is essentially a tugboat and barge that brought about 5 or 6 cars across with us. Once we got across the water, we took a right and planned our trip. This little island has one road that loops around. Okay- the plan was easy. So we waited for the four cars to go past us and we began our ride.

We went about a quarter of the way before our first pause. We stopped in some shade on the side of the road. We dismounted and chugged back some water. While we were there, the first car in about twenty minutes was driving up to us and slowed down. A kind elderly man rolled down his window and asked how we were doing. I told him we were just stopping for some water. He smiled and drove off. Our only interaction with the residents was very kind and super friendly.

At around the halfway point, we were in direct sun with hardly any shade available. We stopped to get the obligatory photo of the Golden Ears Bridge. The same bridge we went over yesterday on our way to Golden Ears Park for our hike.

Once we returned to the end of the route, we were out of drinking water and feeling the heat. On the ferry, it was just us and another family of cyclists. Back on the mainland- we packed up our bikes into the Honda Element and cranked the AC to cool off.

We had a great ride and I would recommend this bike loop- it’s easy to get around.

If you know of any other family friendly rides, let me know! We are always on the look out for adventures.

Golden Ears Park

Today we went for a hike at Golden Ears Park. I haven’t been to this park in almost 25 years. It’s still just as beautiful as ever.

We followed the East Canyon Trail to the water falls. It was straight uphill for about 2.5km. Then we followed some BC Park signs down to the falls. The water was nice and cool, so we took a quick stroll through it to a shady spot and had a picnic lunch.

After our lunch, we waded around in the water a bit more admiring the views. It was peaceful and calm with hardly anyone around.

We returned to our car down the Lower Falls Trail. This was a straight and easy walk instead of an uphill hike- like we did on the way towards the falls. We stopped occasionally to take some pictures of the trees as the sun began to set.

Exploring the Lower Mainland on the outskirts of Vancouver is something that we try and do. Today’s 5km hike/nature walk was exactly what we needed as a family. Even our pooch was worn out by the end.

If you know of any other easy to moderate hike in the outskirts of Vancouver, feel free to share with me!

Grilled

I love to cook. It’s a passion of mine. I love to experiment with foods. Both healthy and otherwise. We also have an abundance of cooking equipment. From a vegetable steamer to a deep fryer. Slow cooker to a BBQ. We have numerous cast iron pans, a wok, a pasta maker, mixers, and even a couple of fondue pots.

Today we are using a Dazey Nutri Broil Smokeless Indoor Grill. I found it at the local Value Village a few weeks ago for $10. It was brand new and never used. We are going to use it outside- because safety! I’ve never used an indoor grill before. And who knows if this will even work. Best to try cooking outside.

These first pictures are from a couple of months ago on Easter Sunday while we were on vacation. Our trip to Tokyo has inspired tonight’s dinner.

I have prepared an abundance of beef and pork for our meal tonight. Since we are grilling some meat up, I thought why not try cooking as a family. We took turns flipping the meat and serving it up.

Dinner was a success. The grill worked wonderfully. Time to prepare for a meat coma! Beer obviously went best with tonight’s dinner, so I bought a large can of Asahi to share with my wife.

We sat around the outside table and grilled the meat. It was 90 minutes of talking and laughing as a family. I think we may have to do this more often. I love that we all reminisced and planned future vacations over a lovely meal.

Artsy Joey

I’m not artsy, but I try. I have some talent I guess. I really enjoy writing. Mostly memoirs and opinion pieces. Hence this ongoing blog about the most important thing in my life– me. — I mean— family and friends.

I like to construct things, mostly if there are some guidelines or instructions. I really enjoy making things that remind me of something wonderful. Like Disneyland or our trip to Tokyo. I also enjoyed making prop replicas for the cosplay for our kids.

A few years ago, I made an art piece for my wife’s birthday. It was a pencil sketch on a canvas of our favorite spot in Disneyland California Adventure. I drew it from pictures we had taken from our vantage point. It’s one of the few pieces I’m really proud of. It’s almost perfect.

Creating perfection is my biggest flaw. If it’s not perfect, I don’t want it shared. Today was one of those days. I worked hard on a chalkboard piece for fun.

Now as our guests arrive, they can log into our WiFi network. I used a chalk board and did my best to write on it. Those days of fawning over Pinterest paid off. Side note: I used the same font as I did on Ningen Headwear.

It may not be perfect, but it is fun. Time to paint some pallets and short 2×4 pieces to build up that “Country Sheik” look.