A Galaga Havelka

I enjoy painting. I think I’m okay at it. I found that over the past couple of days I dove into my art for hours on end. I only noticed how much time was spent because I would suddenly be hungry.

The other day, my inspiration was an old painting I remembered from my childhood. Read about it here: Shelley. When I posted the image on Instagram my sister thought it was the original painting. (Just a side note: I am in no way trying to plagiarize the original art style for any type of profit. I just really wanted to recreate a memory.)

Yesterday, I finished a completely different piece. It was inspired by my poem I shared the other day, Machine and the original marquee for Galaga/Galaxian artwork. I have always been fascinated with the late 70’s/early 80’s arcade artwork. Something about the artistic styling being more lively and vivid then the pixelated games themselves. As if your imagination was needed to make those dots come to life.

I’d like to start on another piece. But I don’t really know what to do. I will just have to wait for inspiration to hit me. Like when one of the space invaders from Galaxian destroys my ship in an endless battle.

Google Nest Wifi

My wife had Google Nest Wifi delivered to our home today. I thought for sure it would take a long time to set up. I was wrong. It took under 15 minutes including unboxing.

As usual, I was excited to have new tech in the house. My kids are stoked as well to have Google Assistant at their fingertips from almost anywhere in the house. We can also play music through the speakers in the WiFi Points.

We don’t have a Spotify, Youtube Music or Google Music account. So there wasn’t any option to really “skip” or choose songs. But I was able to choose a genre or style. I started by requesting Queen. Then moved on to Ska. And wow, I really enjoy Ska, who knew?

I’d be more excited about the idea that instead of saying “Ok Google” I could say “COMPUTER” like I am living in the Star Trek universe. But at least there’s some music to enjoy, and I love tech, maybe one day we will be closer to the Star Trek life.

Shelley

A gift to my wife almost ten years ago.

Today I decided to do some painting. Not painting walls or doors this time, but rather something artistically inspired. For my birthday, I received some brushes and paints. Probably because I kept using our oldest daughter’s paints for ages and she was getting annoyed with it.

Two years ago, we were in Tokyo for the Cherry Blossoms.

I do enjoy painting. I love to share memories through my art. Usually I like to do scenes and scenery. Mainly of things that bring me joy.

Today I painted an image of a painting I used to see all the time as a child. My parents once owned an oil painting by an artist named “Shelley”. The original painting was large and cumbersome- at nearly 4 feet by 4 feet in size. I went through a bunch of old photos and pieced together the image I remembered so clearly.

I decided that I wanted this image hung in my home. Only on a smaller scale. After some research online, I discovered that “Shelley” did similar paintings, in the same fashion. With prices for the paintings ranging from $650-$1200.

Here is my painting inspired by “Shelley”. There’s something about the browns and yellows that I always liked on the original. As a child, I often laid on the couch staring at the painting. I understand why my parents sold the painting. It was rather large and clearly screamed 1970’s. It wouldn’t always compliment the walls or rooms of the houses we lived in. I think my parents got rid of it in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

The way the artist signed the painting we owned had a big impact on my written style. I usually write in capitals with straight edges on letters that would normally be curved. Such as the letter “S”. I also tend to use the lines to join the letter in my name like “EF” or “HA”. I only noticed this today when I began searching online for images of their art. It seems “Shelley” had a variety of signatures. But the one we had was the biggest impact to my development.

Does art inspire you? What makes good art memorable?

Machine.

In the dew soaked dawn

Grass stretched on for miles and miles

The life of the world was starting a new day.

The rebirth had begun… again.

From the dirt, the insects crawled out.

From the trees, the birds came to feast.

From the building came a machine:

Pushed by men

A box of wires and buttons invaded the earth.

Cabinetry of exquisite art and form;

Brought forth a new sense to the field,

Nature was no longer alone.

The men left the machine to stand tall in the grass.

It stood high on the plains.

Tall and proud as it once was,

A former God clearly visible on all sides…

Men had devoted endless hours to it.

These fields had become forgotten in the years past.

But the earth knew that the men would return.

The brief fling with the machine had taken its toll.

Man was becoming poor as his focus changed.

Until one day it all ended.

The machine, like so many others, had been cast aside.

Some men found homes for similar machines.

The machines were stored away in basements,

Hidden from their families; but still shown to close friends.

The hums and tones emanating into the dungeons that were now home,

As the lights shone forth from the device to mesmerize…

Forgotten, was it all.

The memories, the mistakes, the pastimes…

The last of the heroes to man,

Had been dragged to its final resting place.

There alone in the blazing sun,

Its circuits, wires and lights to die off.

No protection from the sun, the rain, the snow.

Never to be played again.

Through the songs of the insects and birds,

The field breathed a sigh of relief.

Never again would man enjoy

Galaga.

Spring Break Staycationing

The past few days I’ve been staying at home. Wednesday was the last time I ventured out. I had booked vacation time for this week because I knew the kids would be home for Spring Break. I did not know COVID-19 was going to be so widespread, thus requiring people to stay home.

It’s tough to feel cooped up that’s for sure. I’ve seen a lot on Instagram of people making the most of the situation. Many others are doing the same thing I’ve been doing for “Spring Break.”

Originally we were going to do some day trips around the Lower Mainland, and I was planning an overnight excursion to Victoria. Instead, I have taken the time to do touch ups to our home that are long overdue. Loads of yardwork, painting and decluttering. But visible progress has been made.

I’ve also enjoyed the extra time we are having together as a family. Making meals and having fun. I’ve been actively spending extra time with each member of the household. And not just making the kids do work, but actually having quality parenting time. I think a break amongst the hard work is necessary.

How are you coping with seclusion and physical distancing?

Sushi At Home

I’m enjoying this at home meal making. Tonight I made homemade sushi. I’ve made sushi at home previously, so I wasn’t afraid to have another go at it. I’m also getting better at making sushi.

I also cheated a bit this time around. I used a Sushezi. It’s essentially a “Sushi Bazooka” that pushes out the rice/fish mixture. It makes the sushi rolls so much faster than when I roll my own. Unfortunately they are much larger than regular sushi rolls.

The family enjoyed the dinner and scarfed it down in record time. Much faster than when I was making it.

How are your cooking skills these days?

I Made Pasta!!! Eat It.

I’ve always wanted to make my own pasta. So I decided that while I’m at home avoiding the world- this is the best time to try it. I even had a helper who enjoyed the rolling out of the pasta.

A couple of years ago I wrote about my discovery of my father’s old pasta maker: My Place Is In The Kitchen. It promptly was put in the back of a cupboard to be forgotten about, until today. I think it was because of playing the video game “Overcooked 2” recently that inspired me.

I decided to try my hand at making spinach pasta as my first ever attempt. Mainly because my wife bought a metric shit-ton of spinach, and no one was eating it. Why not make a green pasta with a white sauce?

Our middle daughter was a fantastic helper as we rolled out long strands of pasta. She also brought her Pop Vinyl from the film Ratatouille so that he could watch over us.

Who knew making pasta was so easy? And delicious. A glass of wine and a side casear salad made for a great family dinner. Making the pasta took the better part of an hour. But it was some good quality time spent with my daughter, and I’d do that any day.

Temporary/Permanent Garage Shelter

Back in 2016 we bought a temporary shelter for our Honda Element. I put it up along the side of our home near the carport. And there it stood… until today.

We’ve been using it as extra storage for things like camping gear and outdoor Christmas decorations. I’ve also used it as a workspace for when I needed to set up some sawhorses and do some painting or building. It’s been extremely versatile. So we didn’t really want to get rid of it.

Instead, two of our children lay out the cover on the lawn and scrubbed the green film off the outside of it. I disassembled and reassembled the frame in its new location. The other side of the house. Which is a great location for this shelter.

We have a “dead space” on the side of our home that we have tried to utilize. We’ve set up a fire pit, a sitting area, even an herb garden- but it never lasted. Mostly because it is out of sight. So it’s a great spot for the temporary shelter. We moved the camping stuff, Christmas stuff and some other stuff that we don’t need out in the open. It’s a perfect storage spot.

It also made the front of our home have nicer curb appeal. Our daughter can park off to the side if she wishes. We can also access the backyard much easier once more.

Pressure Washing Zen

My daughters were hard at work the last couple of days using the pressure washer I had recently purchased. Today, I was going to clean just a small area. Five hours and two large decks later, I finally had to stop.

I completely forgot how therapeutic pressure washing can be. The vibration of the wand, the gentle hum of the machine (because you should always wear ear protection!) and the way the water works to remove grime. A soothing visual of immediate changes occur. Sometimes the sun hits the mist and a glinting of rainbows appear.

The final result brings a sense of pride to your work. A clean area to enjoy nature once more. Cleaning therapy, who knew?

All That Hard Work Will Make Our Home

Today the sun was shining and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day to clean the yard and the outside of our home.

Our son took on the task of adding some paint to their old playhouse. We use it as a garden shed now, but it can easily be converted back for play should young kids ever live here again.

Our middle child pulled out the lawnmower and gave the first mow of the season to the backyard. We have about half of our acre that needed a mow. The rest is mostly trees and bushes.

Our oldest enjoys pressure washing. With all the trees and dampness in our area- a lot of green shows up on cement and such. A deep cleaning at the start of the season will make for a good spring and summer.

At the end of the day, it feels like we’re only part way through. We’ll get there soon enough. And then we can relax enjoying nature and our home.

Planning For The Solitude

With everything going on in the world today, I have made a plan to keep our children busy. Go Joe!

Today I headed out and hit up the Home Depot for a pressure washer, some cleaning supplies, tools and paints. A $1000 later and I have enough projects to keep us busy for quite some time.

I also made a point of getting my haircut, an oil change and to pick up some old records. Those last three were in order to support small businesses during this tough time. With everyone rushing to buy toilet paper and pasta sauces, remembering that those small businesses rely on us now more than ever. These small businesses are also taking precautions to ensure healthiness. As well, I did my best to avoid touching stuff and sanitizing frequently.

Starting tomorrow, I don’t plan on leaving my house anytime soon. I am on a week of vacation that I was already planning on just staying home. We have enough food to keep us fed for nearly a month. But that’s how we have always been. We keep our freezer and pantry stocked at all times. Of course this could all change if required.

Like if I run out of beer. But I got a decent stockpile of cheap beer to keep me going.

Seriously though, I plan on not going out any more. Every place I went to today was pretty empty. And no one was rude or panicked. Let’s keep it that way please.

Cancel Those Beer Plans

I’m not one for going out on St. Patrick’s Day as it is, which is fine. It’s a fun type of celebration for many though. From plastic leprechaun hats to green beers- people love to have a raucous of a time today.

With today being St. Patrick’s Day, it would normally be filled with people going out and having a good time. But due to the recent pandemic, it is recommended that people stay away from large gatherings. Sadly this may mean no green beers in the pub. The world needs a touch of good luck, but we seem to have a No Leaf Clover kind of day. Hopefully things get better before they get worse.

If you are still going to celebrate with some beer- do it safely from the comfort of your own home. Maybe Skype or FaceTime some friends instead. Practice that new buzz term- Social Distancing. As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy Social Distancing already. So, here’s my virtual clinking of a glass to you-

Cheers!

Inspired Art

Yesterday was my birthday. And while it wasn’t what you’d call a “Milestone Birthday” it was still memorable and caring.

Going to work wasn’t special that’s for certain. A couple coworkers wished me a happy birthday, which was nice. There are was no “Office Cake” which I am glad about. I’m not much of a sweets fan. At home, I did receive a cake. Sort of. It was an oversized cream puff that reminded my family of our trip to Tokyo a couple of years ago. But the cake wasn’t the gift. The gifts was my daughters handmade artwork they felt symbolizes who I am.

My youngest daughter painted 28:06:42:12 on a canvas for me. (On the back is a lovely paragraph written with uplifting comments by my daughter. That brought a tear to my eye.) For the past decade I have posted that image on Instagram or Facebook as a countdown to The Ides of March- March 15- my birthday. Many of my connections and friends see it as a “Donnie Darko” reference. Which it is. But I’m also a bit self centered and love to make people think about what the countdown is for.

My older daughter chose to go simplistic with an iconic “Running Man” image from Intellivision. The kids know I’m excited about the Amico system coming out this fall. Naturally this image means more to me than most folks. It is a great piece of imagery in my opinion. A change of colour and size symbolizing growth over the years.

I love that my children feel that my passions and joys can bring inspiration to their art. And that they want to relive those passions in art they give me. That is the greatest gift- knowing I’m a muse to my children.

2020 44

March 15,1976: A self proclaimed hero was born in Halifax Nova Scotia. He came screaming into the world not knowing what was in store for him. Except naps. Lots of naps. Little did he know that his adventures would continue to the other coast of the country.

Here he is, 44 years later. A hero to his family, friends and coworkers. His superpowers include hyper kindness, magnified positivity, ultra attentive listening, and height. All of which he tries to showcase regularly. All of which makes him more than just a man.

He has a loving wife and kids. A good job with good pay. Friends who reach out and show that they care as well. Looking at his life- he should be happy. And he is. Today is his birthday and it marks one more revolution around the sun. One more notch on his superhero belt.

I couldn’t feel super if it wasn’t for everybody in my life. Thank you everyone for always being gracious and fun. that’s the best gift I can get on a daily basis.

Bloody Weather Doesn’t Feel Like Spring Break

The weather today was frustrating. It was sunny but windy. I thought it would be an alright kind of day, but it was really cold. A funky kind of cold that chills you to your core. I’m at home now after wandering around with my wife and still shivering. What in the world?!

The day ended with the sun setting over our backyard- gleaming with beauty. As it grew darker, I also became tired. I’ll be retiring to my bedroom early tonight. No family movie night for me.

Our kids have two weeks off from school to enjoy spring break. And with my vacation starting on Wednesday, I’ll spend more quality time with them at that point. Considering the fear of the COVID-19, we’ll probably get “cabin fever” by the end of their break. And if the weather doesn’t get warmer, pretty sure we’re going to be vegging in front of the tv a whole lot.

Stay Home- Early Start To Spring Cleaning

Next week, I have a week of vacation. We won’t be going anywhere due to the things going on in the world. So I’m going to get a jump start on Spring Cleaning! Or rather- I’ll make lists and get the kids to do most of it!

Except for today. Today I took advantage of a couple of hours of decent weather and filled six yard waste cans. No kids, no hassles, just me and the front yard. The wintertime always make the yard look bleak.

But when spring hits- Hoo boy. Our yard gets green and full of life. Which is good because the growth helps to hide the weeds and fallen branches that we neglect to pick up. Rarely do we need to buy any plants as it all comes back each year. Super awesome!

The fresh air and a bit of solitude will do the family some good. We’ve been busy with speed skating and graduation planning that this Spring Break is needed. No big plans, but some quality time outside (weather permitting of course) or we dust and wash the windows and floors inside.

Something to pass the time instead of just saying that we are avoiding the world.

Meh or Blah?

So… places of large gatherings are shutting down. Perhaps it’s over precautionary, but that’s probably for the best. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how gross things can be. Spending a decade or so at various comic and fan conventions- you realize how valuable hand sanitizers and Lysol are. Crowds of people sharing germs, constantly touching things. Rather disgusting.

Prior to those conventions, I spent five years working at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Colds and flus were rampant among guests and staff members. Honestly, I think it boosted my immune system working there. Still, the place was wiped down and disinfected constantly.

Soul Eater

Sporting events, conventions, and Disneyland are being closed to the public. None of those places want people to fall ill or even worse. Completely understandable. You wouldn’t want your business to be the epicenter of an outbreak… I wonder how it’ll affect our vacation plans this summer when we wanted to hit up that magical place once again.

Maybe we won’t go… Only time will tell. If our trip gets postponed it may mean more time hanging out locally in smaller settings. Or just staying home.

Has the COVID-19 hampered your travels?

Is the world freaking out for no good reason?

Catered Ads

Doing internet searches can have an unwanted side effect. The bots track what you search and cater “Ad Preferences” online. These bots are supposed to be clever and track your ip. I’ve run into something unique though on our home internet.

My wife works from home for an online company called Shopify. She is what they call a “Customer Success Guru”. She is often looking at people’s sites in order to assist them. This has created an adverse effect to our home internet. We are getting ads “catered” to us that have nothing to do with what we are really interested in. It also happens on our phones/ iPads when we connect to our house WiFi.

Now instead of just scrolling and ignoring regular ads, we have ads popping up in Facebook or Instagram that are completely whacky. I never knew there was so many plush toy, jewelry and led lights that people could buy. But the sex toys and lawn furniture had me worried that I was spending too much time looking at porn.

In the end, it’s kind of interesting that the online computer world doesn’t know what my interests are. Just some strange logarithm trying to cater sales to customers but failing miserably.

Panic Purchasing? Butt Why?

Oh man. There is a lot of panic in the world right now. Especially regarding COVID-19. Unfortunately paranoia is causing folks to be a tad bit irrational.

On Saturday morning in my hometown of Langley, a video was taken of people rushing into a Costco to buy toilet paper of all things. The media has been reporting of the scarcity of the butt tissues for some time now. As if a lack of shit tickets is the cause of the virus outbreak. But people love to spread misinformation on social media causing panic thus creating a real shortage now. It’s a strange catch-22 that we entered over the past couple weeks.

Yes the virus is real and over 100,000 people in the world have been diagnosed with it. There are 5 million people living in British Columbia- 32 of which have the virus; and 4 of those have overcome it already. Less than 0.0000064 of BC’s population has the virus.

I’m not going to compare these numbers to cancer or the flu. I’m just trying to figure out why toilet paper and racism is taking hold of our society. And I’m at a true loss to explain it.

But if the world runs out of toilet paper, maybe it’s time for purchasing that bidet I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now. Washing my bum was a pleasant experience while traveling in Tokyo.

How is your toilet paper supply?

Are you stocked up?

Spread ‘Em!

My go-to breakfast of choice is the one, the only, the crowd favorite- TOAST!

Powdered Toast Man-
The Breakfast Superhero!

Okay, maybe it’s not the greatest breakfast in the world. But it is so easy to make. Slice of bread goes in the toaster, toasted bread comes out. It’s one of life’s little miracles. And it’s a regular staple in my home.

The most pertinent question remains for said toast. What do you put on it? Jam? Jelly? Marmalade? Butter? I’m a big fan of most spreads. Strawberry jam, citrus marmalade, or even Nutella!!!

My usual is peanut butter and honey. I love how the peanut butter gets a bit melty and super smooth. Spread some liquid honey on that and I’m in heaven. It’s the simple pleasures in life that make me happy. I’m easy like Sunday morning.

What is your spread of choice? Are you a jam or jelly type? Or perhaps you like the toast dry? No judging here!

Women’s Day 2020

Previously I’ve mentioned how amazing some of the women in my life are. Including last year’s International Women’s Day. Every year, I become more and more proud of my wife and daughters.

My wife is a shining example of a great woman. She is loving and caring towards all of us. Many times she is sacrificing her time in order to benefit the family. Without her, I could not imagine a life as wonderful as I have now.

Our oldest daughter is working hard towards finishing high school. Twice a week she is a junior coach for our speed skating club. She also works for 1 Fish 2 Fish– a fish market in Langley. She works with a bunch of other women, all of whom are fantastic customer service representatives and extremely knowledgeable about seafood. They are led by another great lady who has run the business for two decades now.

Our middle child also does junior coaching at Langley Blades Speed Skating. Last month she went to Fort St. John BC Winter Games as a Young Official. She was an amazing asset to the team and loved volunteering her time there. She also pushes her abilities at school with great success.

These are the three women who matter most to me. I’m proud of their individual success stories. It’s also good to see that they are strong, assertive leaders. Our daughters will continue to grow and prosper over the years.

What women are you proud of in your life?

More Than Expected

When I started this daily blog Four Years Ago, my goal was to share about my life and experiences. I use my blog as a way to capture memories and hopefully influence positivity. I was happy and content with friends and family reading up about our lives. But something much more expansive occurred.

Gaining and earning “Followers” is a great feeling. Strangers have become friends- offering “Likes” and “Comments”. All of which have been positive and endearing. When I receive a new “Follower” I check to see what they blog about. Many times I end up following them as well. Everything from DIY to travel blogs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Thank You for reading! I appreciate it. I hope that you find some solace in reading about my journey on this planet. And of course, always feel free to share my stories with others as you see fit.

Bingo!

19 years ago I needed some extra cash in order to pay for our upcoming wedding. Working part time at Colossus wasn’t making me enough money to start my new life. Since my wife and I didn’t want to do anything extravagant- starting that new life would cost us under $5000. But we still needed a bit of money.

So I got a job as a Bingo Caller. I worked Friday and Saturday nights for three months making some damn good money. And I was really good at the job. Spinning plastic balls every three seconds and calling out the numbers with my modulated tone made me a fan favorite. A favorite to the gamblers that were there every weekend.

I don’t gamble. It wasn’t because of being a bingo caller that I don’t gamble. I just never felt the rush. I’ve bought lotto tickets, tried casinos, and even did bingo on occasion. I’ve had some small winnings. ($50 in slots and $250 in luggage one time.) I don’t look down on anyone who enjoys gambling. It’s just not my thing.

But Bingo Players… they are a strange breed. The “Regulars” has numerous dabbers and rows of good luck troll dolls. 30-50 cards at a time. Their ability to scan these cards as quick as I called numbers- every 3 seconds. A game hardly lasted five minutes before someone yelled “Bingo”.

My job had me sitting on stage. The audience was silent as I spun the balls around to show the camera. After a brief moment, I called out the number shown. At which point, the gentle dabbing on the players’ cards went on. Like working in a library until someone yells “FIRE” “BINGO!” Then the crowds moans and groans. My name gets cursed.

Trust me, at the end of the night- people would literally come up to me and tell me how much they hated me for not calling their numbers. Some would come up and tell me how they loved coming in the nights I worked because of my pleasant demeanor. The place was so bipolar.

I hated that job, but after my wedding I didn’t need the money anymore. So one Friday night, two weeks after my wedding, I quit on the spot before my shift was to start. It was the most satisfying career move I ever did.

Throwing in the towel is sometimes gratifying. Quitting a toxic feeling job made me happy. Money isn’t always the answer. Job satisfaction is more important to me. I also emotionally grew from that job and learned my limitations.

Where Are The Words?

There’s nothing worse than trying to get your thoughts out and you stumble upon your words. You just sit there, struggling to say what you need to say. Feeling like your stupidity is exposed.

Then people try and come to your rescue. They try and complete your sentences or thoughts. Sometimes they’re right, most of the time they’re not. But your words just won’t come out, so you accept theirs as the ones you wanted to say.

Afterwards you wonder- what’s wrong with your mind? And is this a regular occurrence? Am I getting stupid as I get older? Are other people really that much smarter than me?

Yes to all.

But that’s okay. Being stupid means that the expectations can be lower. Time to embrace the dumb! You can call me “Slow Joe” from now on.

Feeling Cornered

The sun was shining extra bright this morning. It added a glow through the windows into our home. This glow brought me joy. So I took a couple of pictures. Pictures of corners.

I miss photography. There’s nothing “special” about this photo of our window looking into the backyard. But it is filled with artsy attributes. Leading lines, rule of thirds, and natural framing. Plus there’s sunshine adding to the natural lighting. A feeling of happiness was brought to me post-night shift.

Because I worked a night shift, it was time to go to bed. In our bedroom the blinds were closed and the bedside lamp was on. So I took another photo of the corner of this room. This corner is directly above the lower floor where I took the first picture. Again, I took a picture of leading lines and rule of thirds. Only this time before I went to sleep, I manipulated the photo with some Instagram filters.

The different effects are neat and really change what the camera sees. Of course, I’m only using my iPhone for these images. I still love photography and enjoy taking artsy style shots from time to time. I just can’t bring myself to purchasing an expensive camera in order to take amazing pictures. So I have to settle on what my eye sees, what my phone can capture, and what quick manipulation an app can make.

Do you enjoy photography with your smartphone? If you want to see more of my pictures, follow me on Instagram at BinaryDigit01.