I was trying to think of something clever to call today’s blog post. I thought of doing a Charlie Sheen “Schwinning” Or a Wayne’s World type: “Sch-Winn” I even thought of a cheesy rhyme “Schwinn for the Win” In the end I just went with what I went with- Schwinn.
It may be obvious, but I’m writing about a bike. A stationary bike at that- the Schwinn AD6 Airdyne. The reason behind our purchase was so that our son (and the rest of us) will get a full cardio workout. Cycling helps with his legs promoting muscle growth for his speed skating. This bike also helps with arm strengthening as well- thus pushing the cardio aspect.
The bike arrived early this morning. All 117lbs of it. The delivery driver was kind enough to get it in the door at least. He was also amused by the fact that I was playing a record in the house, considering it was a lot of trumpets playing. I signed off on the delivery and attempted to move the box. Nope. I wasn’t going to injure myself moving this thing.
Instead of me dragging the box into our living room, I pulled the pieces out one at a time. I lay them out neatly and double checked that everything was there and nothing damaged or missing. I then set to work assembling the bike.
Assembly was pretty easy. Once it was done, I tested it out for about five minutes. I could already feel my lungs and heart working harder. I’ve never been one to actively workout. But I do enjoy swimming and using stationary bikes when traveling at various hotels.
When I was younger we had an inground swimming pool that I used regularly. We also had a cheap stationary bike that allowed you to adjust the tension on a cord to make it a tougher workout. That bike stayed in our unfinished basement and was used mainly by us kids to fool around on.
The bike that I just set up in our home is going to be in the main living space. It’s fairly quiet and we can watch movies or play video games while one of us can use the bike. I’m hoping that it gets a lot of good usage in its location. I’m also going to use it and get buff!
Sometimes I overly express that people should be happy and take care of themselves. The truth is that it’s also totally okay to not happy. Look at my life. I’m a tall, thin guy who has trouble finding pants. And that sucks.
But music makes me happy. And something about music from decades ago is great for chasing away my existential blues. Those classic pop songs that you can sing along with.
Sometimes I wish I could write music. Music that others would sing for generations- even after the Hits no longer held the charts.
I also love discovering unique music at thrifts stores that was tossed aside. I’ll pick up all sorts of music from 1920’s thru to the 1980’s. Albums that no one knows or would ever need to know. They get play time now in my home.
Am I making people happy? I don’t know. Maybe in some inadvertent way. Buying an album at a thrift store ensures money goes back where it’s needed. Playing those albums brings joy to me and sometimes my family. That joy gets spread in the world to their friends.
On Monday I excitedly made a purchase online for something that I won’t be receiving until 10/10/2020. I’m one of the lucky 2600 “Founders” of the future gaming system- The Intellivision Amico.
Back in 1981 my father received an Intellivision for his birthday. That Christmas the family received a bunch of games. It was my first introduction into video games at the age of 5. I played the shit out of that system. Then my parents sent it out to goodwill along with our Colecovision when I was 13. I was okay with that, because it was Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo that entered my life.
At age 19, I picked up a used Intellivision with a bunch of games for $60 from a newspaper ad. My friends and I played for hours on end. I played the shit out of the system. We had so much fun hanging out playing games like SNAFU and Triple Action. I still have this system and play on it from time to time.
Anyway, this past Monday I laid down my $100 to secure my ability to be one of the lucky owners of the retro inspired system. This gaming system boasts the idea of playing games as a group again. Couch cooperative! Showing my teenagers about this system has them excited as well. Yes, girls and boy aged 13, 15, & 17 are excited to play games with dad!
That’s the sort of fun I love about video games. The Amico has potential to be a great system with many original and revamped classic titles that Intellivision fans will love and remember. I’m hoping for a good version of Astrosmash to be available.
So check out the video in which Tommy Tallarico shares his new vision of the Intellivision brand: Amico Trailer.
So many of us answer this question with our job or career. But is it really “What you do for a living?” Many of us push ourselves on a daily basis at our jobs. Causing unneeded and unnecessary stress in our lives. Your job does not define who you are. Nor should it define the level of respect you should be given.
I’m not going to sit here and lie saying that I don’t work or need money. Of course I need money. How else can I do what I do for a living? What I do is enjoy life. I share experiences with family, friends and followers.
But I also show respect to everyone I meet. My level of respect towards others doesn’t change. The level of respect people demand when they think they are in a “higher power” astounds me. That’s their choice to act how they do. But their job doesn’t define their characteristics.
So be mindful of how you treat others. And remember that what you do for a living should be just that- living.
January 27th, 2016. I began the first of my daily blog posts with this: Come Here To See All My Mistakes. Sure, you’ve read about those, but you’ve also read about my successes. Not to mention family and friends. Sometimes travel or home popped up. Occasionally I wrote about work.
Generally I wrote whatever came to mind when I pulled out my iPhone to write my daily diary. I appreciate you all for coming along and reading these. I know you don’t always want to comment. Nor do you always remember to read them. And that’s totally okay with me.
I sill want to thank everyone for watching my blog grow and change each and every day for FOUR YEARS. Crazy to think that I have diligently written 1460 days in a row.
We finally have Uber and Lyft in the Vancouver area as of Friday- sort of. It’s a bit convoluted. People who want to drive for a ride sharing company need to get a commercial driver’s license and have a newer, undamaged car. That’s all fine and dandy. I don’t mind that the driver should have those things. I’m all about safety. And saving money.
As for the areas? Haha. No pick ups out of the area they call “Region 1”. That means anything East is Surrey is left behind. Just like our home of a transit system. It seems the government put up a bunch of red tape for ride sharing.
So you can get around metro Vancouver. But there are no set designations at the airport. Nor do the ferry terminals allow for pick up zones. These would be the biggest money makers for the employees. Honestly, I loved using Uber in Los Angeles- it made life much easier to get to and from the airport. I’m writing tonight’s blog as I sit in the airport parking lot waiting to pick up my wife and son.
Has ride sharing been successful elsewhere- you bet it has. Will ride sharing get better in the Fraser Valley? I sure hope so, but I’m not holding my breath for it. It took far too many years to get to where we are now. Who knows when it will be a viable transportation option around here.
Today I took my daughters out for lunch. We stopped in at a local eatery that opened up late last year- Ramen Bella. We have been to a variety of Ramen restaurants in Seattle, Calgary and even Tokyo. Finally having a Ramen Restaurant nearby our home made me happy. So naturally we had to test it out.
They have some unique fusion styles of noodle soup. I enjoyed the Matcha Latte Ramen. Which is exactly as it sounds- and it had a side of lime.
My oldest enjoyed The Black ramen. It had a very dark shoyu tare broth seasoned with garlic flakes.
My other daughter opted for the traditional miso style broth. All of our ramen came with the same style noodles, sliced pork, and corn in the broth. We left satisfied with our meals and full bellies.
Supporting small business is always something I encourage. Trying new restaurants and sharing positive experiences is something else I like to do. If you live in the Fraser Valley- head out to Ramen Bella for a lovely meal.
I’ve always loved computer animation. Back in 1982 “Tron” came out and changed the film industry. Shortly after was “The Last Starfighter” in 1984.
Then in the 1990’s, one of my favorite artsy styles of the animation came out with a mix of music and creativity- “Beyond The Mind’s Eye” showcased the future of computer animation. Shortly after- some of the scenes were used in “The Lawnmower Man”. This was a couple of years before “Toy Story”.
The late 90’s had “The Matrix” making people question reality. Side note: In 2003 I picked up a metallic holographic style poster for the sequel and had it framed.
Back in 2010, we enjoyed Flynn’s Arcade in Disneyland. A throwback of the arcade from the 80’s film “Tron” and a segue into the sequel.
The art style of computer animation has come a long way in four decades. Seeing some of the older shows proves how far film has gotten.
I’m a fan of living life for the sheer enjoyment of it. I have never taken myself that seriously. I don’t think anyone else takes me too seriously either. How could you?
Some days I dress based on how I feel. Be it a superhero or a goofball. I don’t think I have one set look. Jeans and a t-shirt is my comfort zone I guess. But I can still dress elegantly when I want.
When I take selfies with friends and family- I bring out some fun in their hearts as well. I love seeing people smile and express a bit more of their crazy side.
Even the few celebrities that I’ve taken pictures with have enjoyed that I don’t need to be uncomfortable or serious. The biggest constant in who I am is that I’m ever changing. Monty Python sang it best:
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true You’ll see it’s all a show Keep ’em laughing as you go Just remember that the last laugh is on you
Our puppy is growing old. I love him tremendously since we first met. We adopted him back in January 2013 to be a friend to our old dog- Chuppy. Little did I know that he would also be such an integral part of our lives.
He was such a goofball back then even at age four. This picture is from the day we drove him home with us. He has always been a perfect match for our family from the first day we met him.
As all dogs go- he is quite content to be lazy. But he also tries to stay energized when he knows that there is a potential walk about to happen.
He’s still a lovable goofball. Even as he gets slower and has difficulty keeping up. He wants to be a young pup- but his age is catching up. So Happy Belated Adoption Day Lex!
My favorite drink In The World is Irn-Bru. It’s a Scottish soft drink with a unique flavor. What is the flavor of Irn-Bru? I like to describe it as an orange cream soda.
I first had some in Scotland back in 1995 when I was 19. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. My favorite part about traveling in Scotland was buying Vodka and Irn-Bru at almost every pub. I brought some bottles home to share with friends. The soda didn’t last long as everyone enjoyed it. It took me a few years to find it here in Canada.
When I did find it for sale- boy was I excited! I bought it every chance I got because of the scarcity of it. Oh, and the cost was a bit ridiculous for a soda, so I limited my purchases. Paying $10 for 2 liters is a bit much or $4 for a small bottle. The problem now is that I introduced my kids to the drink, and they love it too!
Today I found a neat looking bottle of vodka that I had to own. And what better way to enjoy the vodka with than some Irn-Bru? Tonight I’m enjoying a vodka and Irn-Bru. It brought back some great memories. Perhaps one day I’ll share with my kids some vodka and Irn-Bru. Until then, this is my treat.
Today is the third Monday of the year. It is also dubbed “Blue Monday”. Last year I was having a string of bad luck (read about it Here: Blue Monday). This year has not been nearly as bad- knock on wood as they say.
However I am feeling more gloomy than usual. I’m not to sure as to why. I think it’s because I haven’t been distracting myself lately from the daily routines. Perhaps it’s the weather? Maybe it’s those bills that I don’t like. Chances are it’s an accumulation of everything.
I think tonight after dinner it will be time for a nice cup of tea and a book. Try and change up the routine of passing out to some show on Netflix. Shake up the monotony of life a bit.
Do you experience Blue Monday? How do you combat Blue Monday?
The other day I mentioned how we love to use our Fireplace. After discovering a better way to warm our home with it, I wanted to go the next step. Let’s cook!
I’ve also always loved Cooking with Cast Iron. The versatility of the cookware is amazing. I love having the ability to move the cookware to any type of cooking area. Be it stove top, oven, BBQ, or open fire- Cast Iron is fantastic.
Last night I chose to make dinner in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven while using our fireplace. I already had a warm fire going for a couple of hours. I moved the fire and embers to one side of the fireplace and lay a cast iron griddle across the grate on the other side.
I prepared an eye of round roast with a dry rub of salt, pepper and Montreal Steak Spice. I put that into the Dutch oven and let it cook using indirect heat. I kept the fire going on the opposite side in order to keep the heat at a continuous hot temperature. I ended up cooking the roast for approximately 2 hours in order to fully cook it. Once o removed the roast from the fireplace I key it rest prior to carving it.
While I kept the fire going, my wife and daughter worked on the side dish. Roasted Root Vegetables. This included potatoes, garlic, beets, and carrots mixed with olive oil and some rosemary stems. My wife cooked them on a baking sheet at 400° for approximately 40 minutes. The vegetables turned out amazing.
The roast also turned out perfect. Inside of the dutch oven was quite a bit of liquid, so we made a gravy for dinner as well. For a first time using our fireplace to cook with, I’d say dinner was eligible for a repeat occurrence.
That was the question I asked back in August 2010 when I first discovered them at a convention. Eventually we bought a few of the crafting sets and learned how to use them. It was an easy process and soon we branched out and began to focus on some other creations.
What are Perler Beads?
Perler Beads are small plastic beads that you lay beside one another to make an image, followed by melting them. There are clear plastic plates with tiny pegs which you use for the projects. They are about 4 inch square. Using tweezers to place the beads in formation- eventually you get an image.
Most of this craft is counting and separating coloured beads. Once the image is done- you use a wax style of paper and iron gently in order to melt the beads together. We liked to melt them only slightly to keep the the image, while I have seen other melt them flat, thus “bleeding” the beads together.
Today I discovered a set of coasters I had made years ago. Perler Beads are perfect for recreating 8 Bit or 16 Bit video game characters. Artistically- I found each image needed a bit of “shading” to make the images pop. By “shading” I used a colour that was similar but a tad bit darker. Greens, blues, red, yellows, etc.. all popped around the black frame.
Our kids used the coaster video game characters as templates and made numerous magnets which they would sell at conventions in order to earn some spending cash at the shows. They also made Hello Kitty hair clips and keychain Mine Craft tools which were very popular.
My favorite that I have made to date, also happens to be the largest. We bought an oversized plate and I filled it up with beads to create a Jack Skellington for the film The Nightmare Before Christmas. This particular creation took me about 5 hours and 3500 beads to complete.
Making Perler Bead creations was a fun family hobby when the kids were younger. We still have a metric shit-ton of the beads in all sorts of colours. After discovering my original coasters- I have a feeling that the kids may want to start making them again once more.
Or I could be terribly wrong and our kids will go on to be teenagers and grow their social lives. But I still like crafting and may return to it soon.
I love our wood burning fireplace. It gives off a great ambiance to the home. Recently I tried to figure out– How do you build a good fire in a fireplace?
With winter in full force for the first time in years, we have been using our fireplace to heat up our home more often. Here is what I was taught to do when building a fire:
Crumplesome newspaper and place under the grate and on the grate.
Place wood kindling lengthwise with the grate. Put on two pieces of wood on top.
Put two more pieces of wood perpendicular to the first two.
Ensure the damper is open.
Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
Light the paper under the grate.
Enjoy the fire.
I have been lightning fires like this for decades. I found that I kept adding wood and burning faster thinking Ineeded flames to create heat. The other day I discovered a new technique and it really made the house much warmer.
Essentially you build the fire upside down compared to what I had been doing for years.
Start with two or three large pieces of wood and lay them lengthwise and tight together.Lay three more pieces perpendicular on top of the first layer. Again making sure it is tight.Now add the kindling on top along with crumpled newspapers.
Ensure the damper is open.
Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
Light the paper and kindling that was stacked on the top.
Enjoy the fire as it burns from the top down making more of a hot ember base.
The six or so pieces of wood burn slower and last much long than the old way. Going for ambiance- I’ll still light a fire my old way. But with negative temperatures- heat is the priority.
Here is a video that I found that explains the new way: Perfect Fire. I’m in no way connected with the YouTube video- I just found it very helpful and wanted to share.
I love living in the country and the lifestyle that comes with it. But one day we will move and I’ll have to enjoy a gas fireplace instead.
Are you keeping warm the winter with a wood burningfireplace or do you prefer gas?
Yesterday the kids had a snow day from school. I also had a rough time trying to get out of our neighborhood to go into work, so I ended up having a snow day as well. The downside to that is I’ll be making up my work day but my kids won’t have to. So what did I do to my kids? I made them work in the snow!
Our driveway and back deck needed shoveling. A couple of times. I also had the kids gather up firewood in order to keep the house warm. Understandably there was a fair bit of grumbling to be had. But I made them some pizza bites and hot chocolate for lunch.
By the afternoon it had cleared up somewhat. It was now just very windy and much colder than before. Our little cul-de-sac and nearby side streets were still being ignored by the plows and salt truck. The kids don’t have a sled or any nearby hills to enjoy but they wanted to go outside.
This video doesn’t exist
So they pulled out our old inflatable boat and bombed up and down our empty street in it. They got the idea from me when I was talking about a bad snow storm from back when I was about 19-20 years old. I talked about my sister’s boyfriend at the time who had a 4×4 truck and he dragged me in a sled up the street doing about 60km/h.
Our kids did something similar, but not at the same speed. Much, much slower. Their fun only last about 30 minutes because of how cold it was. But their ingenuity and joy made me happy for them. I opted to remain warm.
How do you spend your snow days? Do you stay warm inside or get out and have fun?
Who makes the best winter hats? Clearly I’m going to tell you it’s my wife! She has been making fleece hats for almost fifteen years. So she knows a thing or two about what she’s doing. She’s the definition of a “Mompreneur”.
As a family, we’ve had so much fun because of her small business. From sporting these great hats to attending a Multitude of Comic Conventions. Nowadays, my wife and I are far too busy to attend those shows, but she still makes hats from her online store- Ningen Headwear.
So while your stuck at home and despising the weather- surf the Internet and check out Ningen Headwear . My wife would be happy to make custom colored hats to keep you warm this winter!
When I was a teenager and for a few years afterwards, I enjoyed going to concerts. Over the years, much of my musical tastes have varied to a point that I’m not sure I love one style only.
I attended shows in small venues to outdoor weekend long extravaganzas. The 90’s were filled with great shows and the music industry was booming thanks to cd’s and radio. All before mp3s or streaming.
The other day I found an old photo album of mine. Inside I discovered a page of ticket stubs. Concert tickets and show stubs ranging from comedy to magic, or gothic to alternative music. I can remember each person I attended these shows with. I loved the experiences and keeping these ticket stubs was a great reminder of these shows.
Nowadays tickets are mostly on your phone, with no way to keep them. Perhaps a screen shot? Or saving an email? Having a physical stub is a tactile item that I personally used as a memento. I also cannot believe the difference in show prices. A show cost $25 or less in the mid-90’s. Last year I went to see Queen in the nosebleeds and it cost $160! And no ticket stub!
Ya, I’m old. And I love music. I’ll gladly pay 99¢ for a song now. Or search out old records at the thrift shop. But concerts are a thing of the past for me. Because without a ticket stub, did it even happen?
Oh man. It’s been cold in the Vancouver area lately. An unpleasant type of cold. The kind of cold that only the rest of Canada experiences. Hey Winnipeg-come get your weather, it appears to be lost.
For the first time ever, the water on our downspout chain froze. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen ice formed from our roof or eaves ever. It’s not right!
Someone can come and take this snow and ice away any time now. Our two days of winter are over. I really hope it doesn’t last much longer. Not experiencing snow and ice is the main reason we stay living in the Lower Mainland.
Here in British Columbia, homeowners have been receiving their 2019 property assessments. According to news reports, it sounds like values have decreased slightly across the Lower Mainland.
In my opinion, I’m hoping the trend plateaus now. The decrease doesn’t bother me since we bought our home almost 13 years ago. Sure, I want to see the value increase- that just makes me “house rich and cash poor.” Every so often, I search for other listings in the Lower Mainland- future prospects for houses or neighborhoods. The “ideal” home for us once our children become adults.
Only, I don’t know what our kids will do in the future.
Will they move out or will they need their own suite to live in? Or should we look at a home that eventually our kids can take ownership of? Or do my wife and I just look out for ourselves and downsize?
I don’t know at this time. So that means- we will stay put for a few more years. And it doesn’t matter whether the assessment of our property increases or decreases. What matters now is- what will our property taxes be?
Besides the awesome news that our son will be competing at BC Winter Games (read about it here: 2020 Skating Journey), we received some other news yesterday as well. Our daughter Darwin is also attending! However, she won’t be skating competitively, she will be there in a different role.
She applied for and was accepted to take part in BC Speed Skating’s Young Officials program. That means as a young official, she will receive officials’ training and will officiate at the Games (primarily as track stewards), as well as serving as athlete mentors to the skaters competing at the Games. This is a perfect position for her since she was once a cheerleader and has always supported our club in many aspects. She is a junior coach a couple of times a week and has volunteered at numerous meets throughout BC.
Young Officials also get to travel and be with the athletes throughout the Games. My wife and I will be attending as spectators during the BC Winter Games. We will be hiding in the audience as our children take center stage ice. This event is exciting for us all and kind of a big stepping stone for the future of our children.
Thanks for reading this proud parent post. Be aware that many more are still to come!
Last night my son asked me if I knew how to yo-yo. A couple years back I donated some Puzzles and wooden yo-yos to him. He never really cared for the yo-yos before but loved the puzzles.
His fascination with the yo-yo kind of started a few days ago when we were watching a collection of Vine videos on YouTube and one of them involved Tom Smothers aka “The Yo-yo Man”. This clip is from back in the 80’s- which was around the time I used to watch “The Smothers Brothers” when the show was revived in 1988-1989. That was when I became interested in the yo-yo but it never blossomed into much.
It wasn’t until the late 90’s that I really fell in love with yo-yo. Put it up there with hackysack as useless but fun pastimes which I excelled at in the mid 90’s. So I naturally jumped at the opportunity to show off some of my lame dad skills to my son last night.
I started with showing him the basics of the yo-yo. String, wax and the wooden classic yo-yo. My son took my “well loved” green yo-yo and I used my more pristine red one. I showed him some basic tricks like “sleeping”, “forward pass”, “walking the dog” and “around the world”. It’ll take me some more practice to dust of my other skills to get back to things like “rock the baby”.
Hopefully my son enjoys this useless pastime like I did. Looking online, there are plenty of YouTube videos teaching people how to yo-yo. I even found a video available on Amazon of Tom Smothers on VHS!
Did you ever enjoy this simple toy? Or did you get into some professional style ones? Let me know in the comments.
I find the biggest downside to winter is warming up my car. I can deal with snow and even ice. I just hate waiting for my car to get warm and de-fog.
This morning I decided to sit in my car and write this blog as I waited for my windows to clear up. I did my best to wait for complete visibility, but I’m cutting the blog short so I can start driving as the rest of my car warms up. My seat warmer works really well and I just feel like getting going.
Sometimes my humor is a bit, how should I say this, bizarre.? Worse yet, it rubs off on people and they run with it.
Meet Arthur: The Office Moth.
He became an office mascot by accident. Back in the summer, we had an infestation of moths at my work. Naturally, I killed a few. But one stayed, um, “stuck” to a whiteboard. He remained there for ages and no one cleaned him off. Instead, a coworker made a Tinder profile for him because he seemed lonely squashed there. Shortly before Christmas, the artwork began.
Arthur became a tree topper for our Christmas tree.
And on New Year’s he celebrated with a party hat and balloons.
My coworkers and I have talked about the next stages of Arthur. How we are looking forward to Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and evening Easter. (Maybe Arthur can pull a Jesus moment and come back to life!)
But in all seriousness, it has made for some lighthearted jokes around the office. It helps to ease the stress of how crazy work can get.
Oh yeah, he got his name from “The Tick” which is filled with zany adventures which fit perfectly with our Office Moth artwork.
Lately I’ve had coworkers tell me I’m doing a great job. That makes me feel good, but also self conscious- which I find very odd. That’s because I often like to boost myself up mentally and emotionally. This usually entails me telling others that I’m great. Which has my family looking at me like this:
My kids and wife call me out on this All The Time. Now, I don’t go around saying them at I’m better than them. I just say that I’m great at what I’m doing. Two different statements. But an assumption is being made that I’m trying to put them down in order to boost myself. Which is not true.
I figure that in life you do need to promote your own ego a bit in order to have a healthy self image. And sometimes the only person who will pat you on the back is you. So go for it! Tell yourself them at you are pretty great! You never know when you’re going to hear it from someone else.
Besides, the more you state that you’re great, the more others will feel that way too about you. Which may explain why my coworkers feel that way about me.