10% More Anal Leakage

I love to experiment with food. Baking and cooking make me happy. On my days off, I tend to take the time to create new meals for the family. Last night I tried something new.

We bought some of those large shell pastas the other day. I boiled them like I was supposed to. I also fried up some ground beef and stuffed them along with a chunk of cheese. Then I wrapped another shell over top. I was a little bit clumsy at times and ripped a few shells. But was over all satisfied with them. For the next step I decided to deep fry them in order to create a crunch and melt the cheese.

Deep frying them did exactly what I wanted. However, they each fell apart in the oil. So I had to pull the basket up and fish out the bits and put them in our dinner bowls. They were served with salsa and sour cream. Taste wise- the family enjoyed… mostly. The downside? These shells turn into little scoops that collected the oil from the deep fryer. So we got the occasional slurp of oil added. Nothing like drinking canola oil at dinner.

I suspect that each of us won’t be trusting a fart all day today. Those who know, know. Next time I might just deep fry the shells alone and then strain them before adding beef. Creating little scoops for our dinner. Sometimes you win at experimenting with foods, other times you carry a roll of toilet paper with you all day.

Thirty Year Old Clubbing

I went to see my father yesterday… He’s dead mind you- so I went to visit his final resting place. I had a moment just standing there… Talking to the air, asking for advice. Something I really needed. I brought with me a peace offering of sorts…

Besides the yearly beer, I also brought his golf club that I still had in my possession. The club was a “Big Bertha” that he had bought in 1991. Thirty years later, I still have the club. I was going to leave it behind yesterday at his grave, but I still use it at the driving range; and my son uses it on occasion as well. So it came home with me once more.

Funny thing… I also have my old man’s golf umbrella. Which I happened to use yesterday when I visited his grave. Rust patterns have emerged by the metal prongs against the fabric. Yet it is fully functional and kept me dry as I shared a beer with my father.

Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of things that remind you of someone who is no longer around. The thirty year old club and the umbrella (which is far older) mean something to me. I can’t part with the items just yet. Maybe in another thirty years…

Cusp Of My Seasonal Depression

November 25th, 2000.

That was the day my father died. He had long since suffered from the effects of cancer and chemotherapy prior to his demise. He was a smoker by age thirteen and worked in a uranium mine at one point in his life. Golfing is what kept him active. But he still drank and smoked quite regularly. At age 58, his body just didn’t want to go on.

Every year I go and pay my respects to my father. Some years are not as respectful as I should be. I have a lot of emotions that run rampant from mid-September until today. There are times that I absolutely despise who that man once was. Then there are moments I wish he was here so I could ask for some advice. This is one of those years that I really need him.

But he’s not here. And I can love or hate the man for all he did or didn’t do for me as I grew up. I need him today, but he’s not available to me. Just like many of those moments as a teenager when I needed him. I’m on my own trying to work out how to move forward.

My eyes are filled with tears writing this as my heart continues to feel broken and at a loss. But I know deep down, that November 26th of every year, things start to get better. That date is the start of my yearly healing.

And this year, that healing has its work cut out for me.

Update Needed

I have mentioned Google Home and automation tech a few times over the years. I’m extremely fond of how easy it is to use. Some of my favorite aspects are the schedules and routines. I have a few like “ok Google, Good Night.” And my bedside lamp goes on and Google says “Goodnight Josef.” Totally awesome.

This week, I added some plugs for the Christmas tree lights and created a routine that turns on every tree and plays Christmas orchestral music from Spotify. “Ok Google- Merry Christmas.” Pretty straightforward. Except that I wanted an icon for the trees that didn’t look like a plug or a lightbulb. But no such luck.

Instead I used the Kettle icon. It’s triangular and kind of works. But who uses a kettle or coffee maker on a smart plug? That makes no sense to me. Most of them have clocks and timers. It would be nice if Google updated their icons on the app to represent activities that make sense. Like turning on Christmas lights. Or the outdoor lights. A lightbulb or plug icon gets kind of lost in the app settings.

In the meantime, our nine foot tree is a kettle. That’s sort of festive… we like hot chocolate.

Hakchi

Three years ago, Santa brought us the NES Mini and the SNES Mini. Christmas has always been akin to Video Games since I can remember. We played the games that were on the systems only a handful of times. After we moved, the Nintendo minis went on display in my kids’ room.

This week I decided that I was going to modify the SNES Mini. I did a bit of research online, or rather watched a couple YouTube tutorials, and decided to give it a go. I’m not going to link any of the information- as doing a modification like this is done at your own risk. But since we weren’t really using the systems, I wanted to try it out.

I spent a couple of hours downloading almost every single Super Nintendo game available. I also picked up a few Sega Genesis titles as well as some Gameboy ones. The controls on the system work similarly so it wasn’t that big a deal. I used an app called Hakchi CE to hack the system. This was one of the most straightforward things to do since my usage of Limewire and Musicmatch a couple decades ago.

Now there are 148 games installed on the SNES Mini. Each game works perfectly, each with artwork to keep it looking like the original games that the system came with. This is like hitting the jackpot of my youth- every game imaginable is available to be added to the library of titles. My favorite game ever on the Super Nintendo is also on here now- Metal Warriors. I’m hoping that my son will play it with me soon.

Next I’ll modify the NES Mini and put a bunch of Nintendo and Gameboy and Game Gear games on that one. There’s something to be said for nostalgia and gaming.

Have you done a mod on your NES or SNES mini? Let me know what features you like to use.

Panic Buying is Unnecessary

Due to the floods and slides cutting off Vancouver from the rest of Canada, a State of Emergency has been declared. This is affecting many of us locally. The biggest issue to happen is “Panic Buying”.

Until December 1st, the government has mandated that people only be allowed to purchase 30 liters of gas. For many of us, that’s somewhere between half to two thirds of a tank. More than enough fuel to get you around town for the week. Yet people lined up and bled the stations clean not following the orders. Jerry cans got filled and people went way beyond the limit.

Greed and hoarding also pushed people into clearing out the grocery store shelves. Again, no reason for it. Just fear and panic. People seem to forget that the only reason we run out is because of panic buying! The roads may be cut off for a bit longer still, and the railroads should be up and running in the next few days. Why can’t people eat what they have at home in the meantime?

If people just purchase what they need, then everyone can get what they need as well. Clearing the store shelves of food is ridiculous and it disgusts me to think that people don’t look out for one another. During panic buying times, we avoid shopping.

We keep about two weeks worth of canned and boxed goods in our garage on a regular basis. Our pantry is the size of a broom closet, so it doesn’t require much to fill the shelves. We always have pastas and keep our large freezer filled with meals to last for emergencies. Just like this one it seems.

Normally myself wife and I would be buying fruits, vegetables, and dairy products on a weekly basis. But for this week and next, we can enjoy frozen or canned vegetables instead to get our nutrients. Once people realize that there is no food shortage, perhaps they will calm down again.

Because in the end, it’s the “Panic Buyers” that are creating the shortage.

Bad Day Means Baking

I’ve been having some issues at home lately. Yeah, not every day is swimming pools and pumpkin patches. In order to take my mind off things I decided to delve into baking for the day. So I’m not going to share my plight, but I want to tell you about my baking.

I didn’t bake anything extravagant. In fact I chose to revert back to my youth. You know, comfort baking. I started with an easy recipe- Rice Krispie Treats. Maybe my misery allows me to take more care and effort, but these were doggone delicious.

Shortly after I made some peanut butter cookies. It’s a recipe I have done for years. Check out the recipe here: Cookie Baking. It is the first cookie I ever learned to bake. I have perfected the recipe over the years (8 minutes people! Don’t bake for ten to twelve.) Usually I don’t feed my feelings, but these past few days it seemed like a requirement.

So baking a bit early for Christmas made me feel better. It kept me occupied and distracted. Something I needed. Most of my family appreciated these snacks, so that part was worth it. I’m still hungry for peace of mind. Hopefully I find it soon.

Parenting Is Exhausting

It’s Saturday morning. I was awake far too early today. I went to bed shortly after midnight and tossed and turned all night. Suddenly it was six a.m. and the alarm was going off. Up and at ‘em. I had a commitment to my son to take him to skating practice.

Parents sacrifice more than their children realize. My day to sleep in was cut short. The reason I was unable to sleep was my concern about another of our kids. But it should all be fine at some point. Parenting anxiety can be debilitating and you can feel at a loss. Sometimes, all you have is doing the best you can to make your children feel safe and cared for.

Being a parent of more than one child is extremely exhausting. You don’t want to burden them with issues or concerns, but you also don’t want to keep them in the dark. It’s mentally taxing.

So as our youngest is training on the ice, I’m going to take a nap in the car. I’d be here anyway since Covid protocol prohibits me from hanging out inside. I will get a little under two hours of rest if I’m lucky. Then the rest of the day it will be some family time with my wife and the two youngest. Mostly a distraction is required. Perhaps some video games, baking or a movie will be on the table. Heck, probably all three at this point.

No one ever said parenting was easy. And as your kids turn to adults, you still want to parent and help out. It feels like it will never end. Sometimes that’s a good sensation, other times it is the reminder that they aren’t toddlers anymore and are fully capable of looking after themselves.

Big Box

We had a delivery show up yesterday. As much as I want to open the box, my wife has requested we leave it until June of next year. Normally I can do that without issue. Just put the box in a closet and forget about it.

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly possible at this time. It’s a large, heavy package that required two delivery people to bring it into our home. Currently it’s home is in our bedroom. To try and ignore box, my wife placed a couple Christmas blankets over it. Once January comes around, we will have to do something else.

My suggestion is to open the box. But I highly doubt that will occur. For now, it will just taunt me every day.

Gut Wrenching Gutter Repair

Today our neighbor was getting their gutters cleaned. No, that sentence wasn’t meant inappropriately. They had a company cleaning their roof and debris from the gutters.

I had wandered outside taking out some garbage as one of the workers approached me. He asked if it was okay to use our deck to lean towards the neighbors roof. I said sure and we got to talking about the cost of doing my home. He quoted me around $300, but he already took a look when he was next door and said my gutters were fine.

I appreciated his honesty. He could’ve easily told me a price and I’d have not known any better. But since he was there, I asked if I could give him some cash to fix my one downspout. He agreed, and fifteen minutes later, my gutter was fixed.

Watching him climb the ladder that was leaning towards my house made me queasy. It was money well spent having someone else do it. Now the next set of rainfall which happens has a place to drain to.

I’m not afraid of heights, I’m afraid of falling.

Flooding 2021

British Columbia is feeling the effects of climate change and the destruction it brings with it. This summer was forest fires; which occurs every year it seems. However, Mother Nature isn’t done with wreaking havoc.

As you may know, there is a lot of damage being done because of heavy rainfall over the last few days. Places that we never thought would be hit, are now under water and mud. The Greater Vancouver area is all but shut off from the rest of the world. Our major routes in and out have been washed away.

There has been landslides before. Just not of this magnitude. Major railways are hit hard as well. Loss of bridges means that merchandise isn’t being moved. The delays will be felt for months to come for the rest of Canada as British Columbia is a major artery for import and export. The floods have finally been declared a State of Emergency.

Those of us who live here, please be on the lookout for your friends, families and coworkers. They may be affected differently and emotionally by these events. Sending “Thoughts and Prayers” on Facebook might make you feel like you’ve helped in the grief. If you really want to help, donating to the Red Cross is one of the most secure and reliable ways to do so.

City Christmas Lights

As the days remain darker for longer, I love the look of lights that fill the night. Especially as Christmas approaches, more and more people put up lights to brighten our lives.

I also love it when each city transforms their Main Street into a bright display of magic. The trees that line the sidewalks get adorned with glowing bulbs, lighting the street up in an almost daylight fashion.

I’ve always appreciated the spectacle that comes with Christmas and the season in general. When I was a child living in Edmonton, I would fall asleep staring out my window at the lights up and down the street. There was one lightbulb that I would fall asleep watching just outside my window. It was an old glass bulb that was red in colour. Over the years, I watched as the paint slowly chipped off.

Now we have LED lights that glow brighter for longer. There’s still a sense of awe, yet it feels even more artificial than it once was.

Do you like the look of Christmas lights as they fill the night?

Wet Weather Pool Draining

I got home from work this morning and made my way towards the pool shed. The torrential downpour of rain over last day or two had caused our pool to be rather full. So it was time to drain some water out.

The process is simple really. Just turn off the breaker. Then rotate the handle on the pump to “WASTE”. Turn breaker back on. Wait about ten minutes inside the pool shed (keeping dry) until the water is back to normal levels.

I’ve had to drain the overflow of our pool a few times already. This morning was probably the worst yet. Our pool cover should be about six to eight inches above the water. Not touching like it can been seen here. (That bubble looking thing in the middle is the cover resting on the water.)

Needless to say, I will be keeping up with the runoff more frequently as the rain hits. I’m not in the mood to have to deal with any type of flooding in our backyard. Especially if it can be avoided by spending ten minutes every so often to drain a bit.

I’d much rather be enjoying swimming on a hot summer day than standing in the rain making sure the pool doesn’t overflow.

Rain In Vancouver? Preposterous!

I love living in the Lower Mainland on the outskirts of Vancouver. There is plenty to see and do. Lakes, nature trails, mountains, shopping, restaurants, and plenty of local activities that go on. On a nice day, Vancouver, the outlying cities and towns, are green and lush almost all year round. But it rains. Especially in November. You know- just like the Guns ‘N Roses song…

Everybody needs some time on their own.

And when your fears subside

And shadows still remain

I know that you can love me

When there’s no one left to blame

So never mind the darkness

We still can find a way

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever

Even cold November rain

One day it will end, but today feels like the day it begins. This week is a 100% chance of rain. Today sunrise occurred at 7:21. I woke up and it was already a deluge of water falling. Large blobs, not drizzle like the weather app states. Big, heavy, rainfall. No sun. Just grey skies dumping water.

So I’m going to stay indoors for the day. I’m also going to put on the fire, finish my artwork from yesterday (read about it Here: Up-Cycled), read a book, and take a nap. Those activities make me happy in the rain.

What do you do on a rainy day?

Up-cycled IKEA Boards

When we first moved in, my daughter needed a new bed frame. So I dismantled her old IKEA bed and saved some of the pine wood slats. Back in July I used some of the wood and created some Shelves for our kitchen. Today I created some art with six more of the boards.

I removed the fabric and staples that was holding the slats together. Then I gave the wood a quick sanding to remove the varnish and grey marks from the old metal frame. I bought a 1×2 pine board, cut out a couple pieces for each sign. Then I screwed them in the back to hold the boards together.

I coated the wood with white paint. I also blended some blue and sliver to make it look like ice. My daughter found a nice font online that looked like handwriting. So I wrote out “Merry Christmas” in German and Czech. I used our old projector and traced the image out.

Afterwards I painted the letters with the blue metallic paint. Once this paint dries, I’ll finish the signs with some more art in the blank spaces. So far I’m really happy with the results, but it’s getting late. As well, I still have six more wooden boards that I could use for future projects.

I’d like to think that by up-cycling I have gone back to my family roots. As well- writing in Eastern European adds to the homage and traditions my wife and I wish to share with our kids.

Do you ever up-cycle to create art?

Veselé Vánoce! Frohe Weihnachten!

Flowers For Happiness

My wife had a bad day. So I did my best to make her have less stress in the home front. I did the grocery shopping early this morning. As I was out, I looked for some craft supplies for her. I also picked up a few more Christmasy items.

Before coming home, I grabbed a bouquet of multicolored roses for her. This is the first time in our new home that I have bought flowers for her. I used to pick some up from a kind lady on my drive home. Today however- I hit up a florist.

The flowers did in fact bring a smile to her face. The goal was accomplished.

No More War Stories

Today is Remembrance Day. A day to honor Veterans who served in war. I am a first generation Canadian, so this doesn’t have the same emotional effect on me as it does many others.

My grandfather had a story. He was randomly chosen and placed in a concentration camp. He got out and was extremely abusive to my father and my grandmother.

My father had a story. He lived in Czechoslovakia and was forced into the military by age 18. He worked on helicopters. Then he defected, leaving a wife and child behind.

I don’t have a story to tell as I consider myself a pacifist. I will not go to war. I don’t want my children to join the military either.

I am not putting down those who served. My generational story is about the fact that war creates emotional turmoil. There are lasting effects that cause mental distress. Generational emotional abuse. I’m doing my best to not be like my father. And I know my father was doing his best to not be like his father.

As a society, we should offer more mental support to those who need it. Especially veterans who experienced trauma. Our government needs to help them.

Bear Creek Park Lights

Since moving from Langley and into Surrey, my wife and I have been doing our best to explore what this new city has to offer. One of the best things about Surrey is the parks. They are bountiful and beautifully maintained. There is a lot of green space to explore. Last night we wandered around Bear Creek Park and enjoyed the ambiance.

The City of Surrey had set up a walking path of Lights and Nature. Tickets are free and available at Bear Creek Park Lights. Currently they are set for 200 attendees every half hour. The event is currently scheduled to run from November 5th to the 19th.

The walk itself is about a half kilometer. Which took us about twenty minutes as we stopped for plenty of photos. It wasn’t busy mind you on a Tuesday night. Normally there are food trucks, but this year they said you could bring a snack, just take the trash with you as it is a park. I microwaved a couple bags of popcorn and we snacked as we wandered the park.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable and we had a good time. I’d recommend it to anyone for an evening out with family or friends.

Creepy Santa: Resurrection

We have a Christmas tradition where we hide a Santa statue in different locations. We do this to scare (and annoy) one another. Sometimes it’s a Revenge tactic and is very thought out. Most times, it’s not so clever.

Creepy was also the first Christmas decoration to escape the attic this year. He is on the loose and ready to shock us with his presence, not presents.

This year, Creepy Santa is starting to check out our new home; finding different spots to hide and provoke each of us. So far he has found a closet, the hallway, two bathrooms, and the living room. Nothing too out of the ordinary. I’m sure the fun will come as the season progresses and our family starts to get irate with Creepy S watching over us.

The Bedroom: A Comfortable Reading Spot

I have been enjoying reading once more. Now that we are essentially settled into our new home (almost FIVE months), I am finding comfort zones. Our home is starting to feel more cozy by the day… And not just because of our Christmas decorations.

When I read, generally it’s in bed right before I go to sleep. Right before we moved we had an ENDY mattress delivered. I can’t believe that my sleep has improved so much over these past few months. This was probably the best investment in our health ever made. What ends up happening however, is that I fall asleep very easily about a dozen pages into my book.

On the other side of our master bedroom is a little sitting nook by the balcony doors. I have sat here numerous times on Zoom calls and to read. My wife has also utilized this spot. It is a perfect setting for relaxing and daydreaming. Getting lost in the fantasy world of a good novel is throughly enjoyed.

Our family members each have spots that they enjoy as well. Obviously the teenagers favor their bedrooms. But I am doing the same. Your bedroom is a place of solitude where you can feel at peace. It’s the great location to read a book.

Do you read in bed? Or do you have a favorite spot that you find comfortable? Let me know in the comments.

Time Change

We gained an hour of sleep today. But we lost an hour of sunshine at the end of the day.

I’m not a fan of that swap. As much as I love sleeping, I enjoy daylight a whole lot more. I am also empathetic to those who suffer seasonal depression. Today is the day that it really starts off those feelings. All because of an unnecessary time change.

To those who are hating this time change as well, we need to get the government to address the issue. British Columbia is waiting for California, Washington and Oregon to change the rules. Each of those are waiting on each other. Like a Catch 22 stuck in a vicious loop of idiocy. It doesn’t cost anything to cancel the “Fall Back” so why is it still a thing?

No more time change! Save the daylight savings time! I like daylight.

Interior Christmas Decorations 2021

Today we worked on decorating the inside of our home for Christmas. I know it’s early in the season, but we have a busy schedule until Christmas that we are utilizing the days off we have ahead of time. With a new home, it meant trying to find the feel for where everything will fit.

Previously in our other home I had made some Hand Made Decorations, specifically garland. The last house was a brick home and Eastern European in style. So I incorporated a red, green and gold theme in all of our decorations. I also had multicolored Christmas lights woven throughout. Today, I took it all apart to start over.

The family decided that our new colour scheme for the main floor was going to be silver, gold and blue. I saved all of the gold from the previous garland. I bought a bunch of shatterproof silver ornaments (read as plastic) to add to the garland strands. Much like before with the perfect amount of outdoor Christmas lights- I had the perfect amount of garland as well.

Hanging the garland above the windows and doors was time consuming but well worth it in the end. That aspect of our home looks elegant. We have been slowly putting out some of the other decorations, doing our best to make it feel natural. Having our teenagers help was great as well. They brought their own touches and opinions to the design.

We have an abundance of red and green ornaments. Next week we will be putting them on the outside of our home. Mostly on the wreaths and a tree. We will also add those multicolored lights to match the outside lights.

I love decorating for Christmas.

Jump Start The Christmas Decorating

Yesterday I was in the attic above the garage putting away the Halloween decorations. I figured that while I was up there I might as well bring down the Christmas decorations.

My wife happily dove into the boxes in order to see what we owned. We both sort of remember everything, but that was also laid out in our previous house. It was time to see how to create a new layout for our current home.

Today, I took advantage again of the break in the rain. Turns out the amount of exterior Christmas lights we had on our old place will fit nicely on our new home. Since we will be here for years to come, I thought it was best to add hooks and clips.

Before the night rolled in, I was able to get the majority of the lights up. There is one peak remaining to do. That is the highest and most terrifying one. I may have to “Phone a Friend” in order to get these last 25 lights put up. So far, my wife and I are enjoying the way it looks. Very festive and gingerbread-esque.

Are you ready to put up your outdoor lights for Christmas? Or do you just leave them up all year long?

Gutters, Rainbows, and Fireworks

The autumn rain was falling periodically today. Between the rainfalls I decided to clear out the gutters of leaves and debris.

Our last home didn’t have gutters the way most houses do. Instead it was a flat roof with slopes to the drains. Cleaning these gutters was easy. I just put on some gloves, climbed a step ladder and scooped them out. In the spring, I plan on giving them a hose out as I check the shingles on the roof.

I also enjoyed another break from the rain as I drove to get the kids from school. The sky cleared up in the distance and the sun refracted beautifully off the remaining droplets in the atmosphere. Seeing the rainbows against the autumn colours was amazing.

I’m ending my day by watching fireworks from my bedroom window. Diwali is being celebrated. I really enjoy living in such a diverse country such as Canada. Especially on the outskirts of Vancouver. Those celebrating have a clear night to enjoy the festivities. I have a front row, million dollar view of the action. What a day.

Life is good.

No Harm In Asking

This evening my wife and I went out to buy an artificial 9 foot Christmas tree for our home. Michael’s Craft Store had one on sale for half price. Instead of $500 it was $250. We hit the store, browsed a bit, then grabbed the tag that told us to take it to the cashier in order to get the tree. When we got to the cashier, she scanned the tag, but when she called to get the tree was told that they were out of stock.

Our cashier offered to check other stores for us. So she called the next nearest one, but they were also out. She also looked online for us, but again, no luck. Defeated, my wife and I left the store. We took it upon ourselves to try calling around at some stores that maybe I could get to and run a few other errands tomorrow. Again, no luck. Everywhere was out of stock. But one store made me think about a solution because they had mentioned what happened there.

Why not buy the floor model? So I called the store we had just left and asked. Within minutes, I was told “Yes”. They were even going to pack it back in the box for me. FANTASTIC! I was back to the store shortly thereafter. I going to get the tree my wife and I wanted! No more hunting around.

As I was driving back, my wife suggested I ask for a discount since it was the floor model. Hey, no harm in asking? It got us the tree already. When I got to the store, the cashier who was helping me earlier and her manager were packing up the tree for me already. I thanked them and “Dad Joked” that they could set it up for me at home after. They agreed to do it if we fed them. Banter went well, so I threw in the question, “Since it’s the floor model, how about adding a discount?”

“No problem. How about 10%? I’ll take it off at the till.”

Boom! Discount applied! But it gets better…

The 20 year old manager was unable to figure out in his head what 10% off $249 was. So he said, “How about I do $200 for the tree instead? Will that work?”

Um, yeah. Thank you. Ill gladly take 20% instead. Today’s lesson: no harm in asking. And math isn’t everyone’s strong suit.