Cold Days/Warm Bed

This past week has had me appreciate the comfort of my own bedroom. After feeling the below freezing temperatures against my face- and the wind chill factor pretty much as soon as you walk outside- it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

For me, I come home after a twelve hour day and immediately find my comfort zone. I change from my work clothes into pajamas. I enjoy a quick meal. And before sleep- I pour myself a cup of tea or coffee.

By then I am watching the clock and see that it’s almost 9. Waking for work is at 4:30- getting into bed is the next part of the routine. In the summer, the ceiling fan was on to circulate the air conditioning. In the winter, the gas fireplace in the bedroom goes on.

I close my door and let the room warm up. A quick bathroom break and brushing of my teeth ends my day. Now it’s time to get into bed and fall asleep. But alas, my phone keeps me awake a bit longer. At least until it falls out of my hands and lands on my face.

At this point I’ll call it a day. Usually I’ll turn off the fireplace. Sometimes I’ll forget and wake up with a feverish dream. That’s a fun experience.

But at least I’ll be warm. Not like the next day when I have to go back out to brave the weather at work.

The Bomb

Our oldest came by last weekend to hang out with my wife. While they were here, they made some hot chocolate bombs. Hot chocolate powder inside of chocolate balls. Easy enough to be made, not something I have ever tried before. But our oldest enjoys making them.

Last night I tried one. My wife heated up some milk and poured it over the ball. It was neat to see it dissolve and the chocolate aroma rose up from my mug. It was rich and flavorful. A nice warm drink to end a chilly Friday night.

I recommend you try one. Making them yourself is a nice touch and a great gift idea this season. I’m glad I tried one and will have another or two before Christmas.

Baking and chocolates are a staple of homemade confections in our lives. Do you enjoy making treats for the holidays? Let me know some of your favorites in the comments.

Iced

The past few days have actually dipped below freezing. Which is uncommon for the Lower Mainland even in winter. We are expected to have a couple of more centimeters of snow overnight tonight, plus some rain. This creates very icy conditions on the roads and pathways.

I may not be happy about the freezing temperatures. But I really like seeing the white dusting of snow on the ground and rooftops. at night it’s especially beautiful when those Christmas lights come on.

Two of my favorite decorations are hanging from our bedroom windows. We have a couple of clear acrylic snowflakes that look like water at the right angle. Looking through them at the outside world- they manipulate the image in a similar fashion like a kaleidoscope does.

As pretty as the snow and ice may be- it can cause havoc in our lives. I find myself extra tense walking around outside. Just hoping not to slip. Driving is equally strenuous. I leave space between myself and the car ahead, but other drivers take it as a cue to squeeze in. Not cool.

I take the good with the bad when it comes to this winter weather. Doing my best to appreciate the beauty that nature shares.

2022 Spotify Wrapped

Spotify dropped their 2022 Wrapped. Many of my friends shared their tastes on Instagram. A few coworkers shared at work their Spotify Wrapped. At home, my family also laughed and our two youngest were slightly embarrassed by their plays.

This year came as no surprise as to which artist made my top. Timecop 1983 was definitely my jam all summer long. I was more surprised at how many minutes I spent listening to music. Although, majority of it was when I was in the pool. So the music was played a few hours each day.

Now to listen to my 100 songs plus one and see if I like the playlist. I bet I’ll like most of it, as eclectic as it may be.

How was your Spotify Wrapped for 2022? Any surprises or songs that you are now sick of hearing?

Let me know in the comments.

Changed My Mind

No way home.

Last night I hit the road to go home. Only once I was out there- I stopped on the side of the road made a couple of phone calls. I turned around and went to a hotel instead.

After I checked in, I needed some dinner since it was past 8pm and I was a hungry man. I went to the restaurant in the lobby and had a prime rib dinner. The best part of the dinner was the roasted brussel sprouts. That’s right I said brussel sprouts were better than the meat.

The room accommodated me just fine. I had a clean bed and fell asleep knowing that I was safe and warm. My sleep was broken up as I was too hot, then too cold. And in the morning the coffee was terrible and barely palatable. But at least I didn’t get stuck in the snarled up traffic trying to get home.

I am sorry to all of those who got caught in the snowmageddon that hit us. I hope everyone was safe in the end- as frustrating as it may have been.

Trying To Get Home

First Snowfall of the year! You know what that meant! Getting home will take at least three times longer than usual.

Leaving work didn’t look that bad at first. But where I started we didn’t have quite the snowfall compared to when I drove eastward to get home. Snowmageddon 2022!

Much like everyone else commuting- it’s not looking good. Red routes everywhere on Google Maps and crash warnings. I’ll take my time. So I figured I’d write my blog as I wait for my car to warm up and check the traffic.

If anything goes sideways- I have extra clothes and a blanket in my car. I also have a couple snacks and water. Not that we ever get traffic snarled that bad, but who knows; it could happen.

Be safe out there folks. This snow always catches people off guard, even with repeated weather warnings!

2500 Daily Blog Posts

I have been writing a daily blog for myself for a long time now. In fact I just realized that I have been sharing my thoughts and stories for 2500 Days in a row!

Somehow I still manage to make the time for writing something out. The funny thing was, today I had no clue what to write about. So I was curious as to how long it had been since I started blogging. I made a goal to write every single day. Every single day. No matter what. I wrote out a story of some sort.

I’d like to think that I’m sharing a personal part of myself with all of you. I hope that it has brought you closer to understanding who I am as a person. Seeing what makes me tick. Enjoying my excursions and travels. Laughing at my ridiculous misfortunes. Perhaps even a quick tug on the heartstrings as I shared a sorrowful event from my past. Whatever the story may have been, I have enjoyed writing it out.

Will I stop writing these blogs? I am unsure. Doing these have become such an integral part of my mental processing that I wonder if I can stop. Writing clears my head. Sharing makes me feel like a part of society. Having feedback makes me a better person.

Thank you for joining me on this journey for nearly 7 years! You are the best!

Love, Josef.

Black Friday Coffee Talk

So… I ended up doing Black Friday shopping for an unplanned purchase.

I was up early and about to make myself a cup of hazelnut coffee. As I lifted the glass carafe off the hot plate, it exploded. Shards of glass and scalding hot coffee went all over the place. My pants, our counter and floor were enjoying twelve cups of coffee all at once. After dropping some towels down to soak it up- I hit the road. I didn’t even bother to change my pants. If I wasn’t going to drink the coffee, at least I would enjoy the aroma.

I showed up at Walmart in the pouring rain. No one else was there, but I knew they opened at six. So fifteen minutes prior, I went to the doors. Standing beside the sign for where the lineup began, I realized that Black Friday isn’t really as good as it once was. No big crowds, no lines, nothing. Just before the doors opened only four more people showed up.

I will say, I got a new coffee maker for half price. That’s a win. It’s also nicer than our old one and will be easier to use. Hooray for morning coffee and a good deal.

A Man and His Bucket

As I mentioned the other day, my family and I are volunteering at our club’s first speed skating meet at the new rink. There is plenty of volunteer positions that were available. We had so many volunteers sign up, that a few positions were being shadowed as well. Which is all sorts of amazing.

My position kept me busy all day. After every race I had to give out two buckets of water to the track stewards. This happened about once a minute. I even had to refill my large bucket a few times. I had no idea how busy I would be. I thought I would just be sitting around for most of the meet. I was hoping for just a fun name tag and hanging out for free food.

I actually enjoyed my position rinkside. The kids who we’re volunteering on the ice were my bosses for the day. I took guidance from them about what they would need besides buckets of water. I had a bucket of snow, a fire extinguisher and a trowel at the ready in order to repair any chunks that occurred periodically when a skater fell.

Even though our son wasn’t skating, it was a great experience being a part of the meet. This club is run far different from our previous club. Even though the club was fairly organized ahead of time, we still had a few hurdles to overcome before the races began. But it was in all intents and purposes a great competition.

Another November 25th

It’s been 22 years since my father’s passing. Today marks that day. Every year I try and get out to visit his grave- either on his birthday in September or today. My tradition is to have a beer and pour half of it out for him.

Usually I stand there and talk out loud as if he were able to hear me. I share the hood and the bad about the family and what’s going on. Even though he never meet any of his grandkids, I still tell him about their accomplishments. I have been doing that for years now.

I have tried many different means of remembering my father. Growing a beard was my personal favorite, but my family hated it. I mean they absolutely loathed that I had facial hair. So this year I chose to wear my father’s rings in a necklace around my neck every day. After today, I will put the rings back in storage until next year.

Although my father and I didn’t always have the best relationship, there are times that I have looked back and seen similar parenting struggles. Knowing how he acted during those times helped to shape how I react now. Sometimes the same, other times a polar opposite.

I do miss him. And I am about twelve more years away from tying his record for being around on this planet. I hope to surpass that time, and if all goes well- I will.

Goodbye dad. Only one month until Christmas, which was your favorite holiday.

Pre-Volunteer Evening Planning

Tonight was a regular speed skating practice session at Theory’s club in Poco. He went there to skate and work out as usual. But the parents were there to discuss the upcoming Saturday meet.

There was plenty of talk about how to organize the meet. Like where people need to be, when they need to be there, where the coaches need to stand, etc… We also moved our club’s mats from one rink to another. (Mats are used along the outside as padding because the skaters can go pretty fast and if they slip- they need that padding to prevent injury.) The reason we moved them to another rink is because this one has stadium seating for the spectators!

Even though our son isn’t skating at our club’s meet- he is volunteering as a track steward. My wife and our middle are also volunteering in their own ways. But me? I wasn’t going to volunteer originally. But I decided that I needed to be a part of this club and as much as I support my son when he is on the ice- I also need to support him off the ice (as well as the rest of his teammates).

My role this Saturday is “Water Bucket”. Super glamorous I know. My wife finds it very humorous. I wanted to be called “Water Boy” but alas- “Water Bucket” is my official title. I promise to be the best Water Bucketer around! Now it is mostly because I am excited about the food that the volunteers are getting. And it’s not donuts and pizza this time around. I have heard the menu! Not gonna lie- there’s a bit of selfish reasoning behind my volunteering.

In all seriousness- there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that many kids don’t see. They are there to skate and do their best. And the parents in the crowd are there to cheer them on. Hosting a skating meet has a lot of background activity that keeps everything flowing. Even my job as a water bucket helps to keep the ice slick. Which is kind of a big deal.

If is wasn’t for my role- those kids could wipe out pretty gnarly. No one wants that. Good thing I’m the water bucket!

Spend or Save?

In a few days it will be the Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday. As usual many of us are searching for deals to be had. This is the time to do one last push for those big ticket Christmas items.

But is it necessary? Do you or the person you are shopping for really need what ever is on sale? Have we gotten so wrapped up in “savings” that we overlook the “necessity” of our purchases? I know I have bought many things just because it’s a “deal you can’t miss” or “won’t last long” even though I didn’t need it. Some things I have bought over the years and never even used. (Don’t judge me. I know you have too!)

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to search online for stuff. I already have a plethora of items in my Amazon cart over the past few months. Those are the items that I’m “contemplating” or waiting for a deal. I have even removed items after they have sat for such a long time because I just decided to change my mind.

I do have a few things I am hunting for. But the deals need to be worthwhile. Like really worthwhile. Who knows. Maybe by the end of the weekend I’ll have spent nothing.

Hahahaha. Yeah, right… I’m a sucker for a deal.

Finding New Social Media(s)

Since before Elon’s purchase, heck even before Trump’s presidency, I was rarely using Twitter. I started strong and thought it was a fantastic forum of ideas, news source, and quick status updates. But after a couple of years, I shied away and discovered that I really enjoyed Instagram better.

I do have a Facebook account, which I open periodically throughout the day. Not much going on in that world. I’ve joined LinkedIn, Discord, TikTok, I even joined Google+ way back when and thought it had potential. I was wrong. Those Google Hangouts were more annoying than they should have been. I have a MySpace account lost in the ether someplace as well.

Over the past few days I have noticed a trend in people going to other platforms as they abandon Twitter. First I heard about Mastodon. A few days ago I heard about Hive Social. So I created an account for each. Honestly, all of the social media accounts are starting to look very similar in fashion.

Feel free to search me out on either platform. I have gone with the user name JoeyWanKenobi this time around. I will continue to have the majority of my social media use to be on Instagram. But it’s neat to see other platforms.

Who knows, maybe the time will come when people get tired of social media and will want to meet up in person once more…and not just for a hashtag or instagrammable moment. Until then, can’t we all just get along?

Just a Few More Minutes

Waking up is tough sometimes. Hitting snooze is pure evil and has been my undoing over the years. That strange nine minutes extra makes no sense. What makes even less sense is how I set numerous alarms now, yet I still hit snooze on each one.

I set my first alarm as the one that I would like to wake up to. Then a back up, and another back up, a warning, and finally the “now you’re late” one. That one is rare for me to get to. But it happens. Setting three or four alarms and hitting snooze on each of them at least once is probably not good for my sleep.

11:34=Hell

But I am worried that if I just set one alarm, I’ll miss it or instead of hitting snooze, turn it off on the first try. So after four decades of waking up, I am no better off than I was as a kid with my first alarm clock. That red glow of the led numbers haunted me to sleep.

Anyhow… I destroy a perfectly good sleep by waking up some days.

I Didn’t Do Much… But Christmas Is 35 Days Away

This past week I was on Staycation. Honestly, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I enjoyed time with my family, had a lot of days of just Darwin and I. While my wife and youngest went out to Calgary, I watched his races on the live stream. Which were probably better than being in person as the cameras were ice side. Plus I wasn’t in a cold rink.

Normally if my wife leaves for a weekend, I get antsy and start some major project. Not this weekend. I did take some extra Christmas lights and put them around our gazebo. I mixed the red my wife wanted and the white that I wanted and am pretty happy with how it looks.

I had told my wife last week that I only wanted to put up two of our four artificial Christmas trees. Before they left, she asked that I don’t put up our living room tree until the start of December. I did put up one of the trees we have- I put it up in her office. She was happy went I sent the picture to her. It means we will be putting up a third tree in our basement now.

My wife doesn’t like the idea of downsizing our trees. So moving from four to three really isn’t so bad. We did three trees before. That generally works better for us. One is our elegant tree, one is the kids tree (all those handmade and silly ornaments collected over the years), and our third is usually just the ornaments we like, but they don’t quite go on either of the other two trees (yet we cannot get rid of the ornaments). A fourth tree is just too much. Mostly we just had lights and it would be outside

I enjoyed my time off. Now it’s back to the grind. At least until my next week of vacation at Christmas.

I Didn’t Do Much… But Christmas Is 35 Days Away

This past week I was on Staycation. Honestly, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I enjoyed time with my family, had a lot of days of just Darwin and I. While my wife and youngest went out to Calgary, I watched his races on the live stream. Which were probably better than being in person as the cameras were ice side. Plus I wasn’t in a cold rink.

Normally if my wife leaves for a weekend, I get antsy and start some major project. Not this weekend. I did take some extra Christmas lights and put them around our gazebo. I mixed the red my wife wanted and the white that I wanted and am pretty happy with how it looks.

I had told my wife last week that I only wanted to put up two of our four artificial Christmas trees. Before they left, she asked that I don’t put up our living room tree until the start of December. I did put up one of the trees we have- I put it up in her office. She was happy went I sent the picture to her. It means we will be putting up a third tree in our basement now.

My wife doesn’t like the idea of downsizing our trees. So moving from four to three really isn’t so bad. We did three trees before. That generally works better for us. One is our elegant tree, one is the kids tree (all those handmade and silly ornaments collected over the years), and our third is usually just the ornaments we like, but they don’t quite go on either of the other two trees (yet we cannot get rid of the ornaments). A fourth tree is just too much. Mostly we just had lights and it would be outside

I enjoyed my time off. Now it’s back to the grind. At least until my next week of vacation at Christmas.

What’s A Unico?

Hello Kitty

Our middle child has been a huge Hello Kitty fan ever since a pair of shoes was put on their feet at around age two. Darwin went to a Hello Kitty Super Cute Friendship Festival a few years back. We even went to a Hello Kitty Cafe in Tokyo in 2018. We still buy Hello Kitty gifts and that will probably never stop.

But even after sixteen years of enjoying everything Hello Kitty and Sanrio- Darwin discovered a character that they knew nothing about in the Sanrio universe. No, not Dar-Chanrio…

This evening I put on an anime film from 1981. I remember watching it with my little sister when I was a child. As the film credits began- the old Sanrio logo appeared. Darwin was shocked to have not know of this movie (or it’s sequel). Immediately an internet search was underway.

After a dive into the official Sanrio and Hello Kitty sites, no mention of Unico is made. But a search of Wikipedia and a Hello Kitty fan page showed this cute unicorn is indeed a piece of Sanrio’s past.

The discovery of this character was a bit mind blowing. It was almost turning into a “Mandela Effect” moment as there was no record of Unico on the official websites. In all honesty, the first film was nothing special. We will probably watch the second one in the future. I don’t think anything Unico will enter Darwin’s collection.

But I could be wrong.

Can Am Long Track Day 1

As always, I love to write about my kids. Specifically when they are working hard to accomplish something important to them. This weekend my son is in Calgary (again) for a Long Track competition. Today, he was on his own at the rink because I’m still at home and my wife was working remotely from their Airbnb.

All day long I had the Calgary Olympic Oval YouTube live feed playing. I was able to watch him skate on our big screen. Due to a slight delay to my phone- I was able to screen grab his races without missing the starts.

I sent the results, along with the videos- to my son, my wife, and his current coach. In the group text, there was great feedback and discussion about the races. His coach is also here and not in Calgary. However, there is a BC coach who has taken on the roll to assist skaters from our province in person.

I have heard from numerous sources that our son is “very coachable”. He listens to the advice and goes out and works hard to get better. As always, I’m really impressed by him. He got a personal best on one race and took a strong lead on another.

There is two more days of these races ahead and I am looking forward to seeing him in action all weekend.

Go Theory!

Gone Again

My wife and son have left for Calgary this weekend. Theory will be skating all three days at the Calgary Olympic Oval. This is one of the few times that he gets to put on his long track skates. Unfortunately there aren’t any rinks nearby that allow for him to practice. So his ice time is limited on those style of skates.

Our son took a picture of our home from the plane.

This time around, my wife decided to fly with him instead of the road trip. I don’t blame her since driving through the Rockies in summer is far different than driving in inclement weather. On the fun side of things- my son took a picture of our home from the plane as they passed over. That’s really neat.

I’m relieved that they made it safely to their destination. I was kind of spying on them with the “Find My iPhone” app. In the new year, we are sending him off on his own to fly to a competition. I will 100% be spying on his progress when that time comes!

I’m the meantime, I will be watching his skating from the live feed on YouTube. I think he will get some personal bests since his training on short track speed skating has been intense for the past few months. I wish him the best of luck!

VR Sickness

For the first time in a few months, I was playing around on my wife’s Oculus headset. I really enjoy the immersive experience that comes with it. Specifically seeing the scientific and space exploration. Those sorts of things aren’t readily available to most of us. Participating as an onlooker from the comfort of your home is the next best thing.

Having cleared a space for me to enjoy our VR, I ended up going barefoot on our super soft rug. This was an unusual sensation, especially when I was floating around the International Space Station at one point.

After about an hour or so of toying around the virtual world, I began to feel queasy. It was probably the Star Wars roller coaster simulation that did it to me. Then I moved on to trying a game, but nausea was too strong. I had to log out.

This was the first time I ever felt that way from VR. It reminded me of when I worked at IMAX some twenty plus years ago. My boss explained that the rollercoaster film that was made required a focal point for people to stare at in order to alleviate motion sickness. I think that was where I went wrong on the roller coaster. I was too busy looking around the virtual environment that my brain sensed movement elsewhere even though I was sitting on the couch.

No more games for a bit, as I have had to take a chewable Pepto Bismal and lay down. I’m not even going to turn on the tv. In fact, after writing this quick blog, my phone is also going away as I recover.

Freaking Virtual Reality Sickness.

Foggy Autumn Vacation

This is one of those rare vacations where I didn’t have much planned. Setting up the Christmas lights was really about it. Everything else I am doing is just the routine of our lives. Grocery shopping, speed skating practice, meeting up with friends… that sort of thing.

During my downtime I am watching some tv and playing video games. No big household projects or crafting this time around. I just want to relax. And I’m getting to do exactly that.

Last night I soaked in the tub, read a book and enjoyed a glass of wine. This morning I have been staring out the window amazed that the fog is so thick and just doesn’t want to lift or burn off. Yet somehow our view is still just as stunning without being able to see much. As if we are floating in the clouds.

That’s kind of how I feel about my week of vacation. I’m enjoying it, yet not much is happening that is exciting. This staycation is precisely what I needed. No hustle, just floating through. A chance to watch the world and appreciate the beauty it holds.

Wreathing

Over the years we have made numerous Christmas decorations and wreaths. The wreaths are probably my favorite. This year we added two new ones.

The one on the right I had made about four years ago- Wreath Making on the Cheap. The Jack Skellington one was in the process of being made for a couple of years. Both are now hanging up on the doors to my wife’s office. Inside her office is a shrine to The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ll share that in a future blog.

The wreath on our front door was completed last week by yours truly. Since our home is going more “elegant” it required me to take the red and green off of it. This one has a bunch of “picks” that are gold, silver and white in colour. Honestly, these were small decorations that we had sitting in a box and saved for years. Now they have a purpose.

I’m a fan of making decorations and homemade ornaments and such. Last year two of my favorite pieces were made: Upcycles Boards.

Do you make your own Christmas Decorations? Let me see in the comments. I love being inspired by others.

Memories From Facebook

Seeing my Facebook memories is pretty much the only reason I go on the app these days. The old status updates help to remind me of where we’ve been and what we went through to get where we are today.

These updates about our former house make me happy with our decision to sell and move into a new house. When we went through those hardships, it sucked. It was tough to get ahead when we had that home. As much as we wanted to update and change the house- something would happen. We would go two steps back and have a headache on our hands.

Not having water or electricity is a thing of the past now. We don’t experience either of those issues anymore. Our current house is also looking like the roof will last for another ten years- so that expense won’t affect us anytime soon.

I like that I can look back and remember the frustrating times and how we got through them. I’m happy with our new home without having to update or repair at this time.

Lights!

With the help of a friend today- our outside Christmas lights went up. I’m really happy with our new lights. I’m also glad that my friend Greg did the hard part.

I have a healthy fear of heights. Or rather a fear of falling from heights. Greg brought his harness and locked into the roof anchors. Afterwards he did tell me that it was kind of frosty in the one side and pushed his comfort zone as well.

I like the look of the lights. There is one spot that I’m going to correct tomorrow. Can you guess which location that is? It’s the one dark spot on the upper peak. That’s where the two strands of lights connect. I can leave it for the night. Because it’s cold and dark.

A big thank you again to Greg for his help. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the lights done without him. Now it’s starting to feel like Christmas.

Dragon Hats

Back in 2007, my wife began to make fun winter hats. Specifically dragon hats. Over the last couple of years, she hasn’t put much time into her online business. Family, career, moving, etc… has taken over.

Roaring since 2007

Over the last couple of days, I have been wearing one of the hats she made for me. I have had nothing but compliments on it. I know that my wife has a bunch of hats premade, and I’m trying to get her to post back on her website in order to get noticed once more.

Over the next couple of weeks, my wife is planning on setting up her sewing studio once more. Stay tuned- we may just get to see some winter Dragon hats. Just remember the name- Ningen Headwear. I’m sure that I will post more details once she gets started!