Spooky Season

Every year I get excited for Halloween. We’ve already begun decorating the front of our home. We have a few more items to set up inside our home at the start of October- in order to really get into the festive mood.

Last year’s Skesis costume is this year’s decoration.

However, this year I don’t have a costume idea. It’ll probably be some last minute idea or I’ll just wear a previous year’s outfit. Even though I now have a 3D printer and can step up my Cosplay game- I don’t feel like I have the time to get something built. Last year took me a couple of months to make. Besides, my printer is working non-stop lately and I’m already beginning to run out of filament!

Pumpkin from 2018. Took three hours to complete.

While I wait for more plastic to arrive, I will be trying to find a pumpkin carving idea. The kids are excited about carving pumpkins again this year. That’ll be another arduous task for me. I have a passion when it comes to carving pumpkins. Having spent up to 8 hours to get one done only to have it rot a few weeks later- it sees crazy to do them. But I’m getting faster, so I can also help out my teens with their carvings. I’m passing the crazy on to them.

When do you start getting ready for Halloween? What is your costume this year?

Let me know in the comments.

Audrey 3

I love musicals. I have shared my love of them with my family. In turn, they have grown to love them as well.

One of my favorite musical films is “Little Shop Of Horrors”. A great comedic cast that pulls it together in such a way that I couldn’t imagine anyone else performing the songs.

Over the summer, our middle child and I would play the soundtrack on Spotify repeatedly. I think we have memorized each and every song. Much to the chagrin of my wife… but it’s still fun.

Back in the spring, I planted a red cabbage in our back garden. Our oldest named it “Audrey 3”. It thrived nicely with the other vegetables. I harvested it this afternoon for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by how big it had actually grown.

About half of Audrey 3 will be enjoyed tonight with our apple and Brie pork loin. Otherwise, that’d be too much cabbage! And the results would be far scarier than a lean green mother from outta space.

Recipe Or Story?

Last night I was looking for a food recipe online. Every single time I clicked on a link, there was a ten page story prior to the recipe being shared. This seems to be the norm when people share recipes it seems.

Not only do I have to read a story about how delicious the homemade spaghetti on a cold winter’s Fourth of July at the cabin was, but I have to endure the pop up ads that take over half the of my phone’s screen. The same ad shows up repeatedly as I scroll endlessly to find the actual recipe.

After three hours of swiping down to the “20 Minute recipe” there still isn’t a list of ingredients. Just a shortened version with the back stories of how a specialty frying pan is made in Singapore or how to tell a tomato is ripened. The directions are smattered amongst these tales making it impossible to tell if this is still the back story.

Then I find the ingredients at the bottom of the page. A list of the basics, like salt and pepper, followed by whatever food corporation is sponsoring that blog. Why in the world do I need Hellman’s mayonnaise in my taco? Or some really obscure ingredient that makes no sense having in the recipe. Then you take the liver from the koala bear and sauté it in the sap from a gum tree of South Africa. Just like grandma used to make.

Once I substitute a few ingredients, I have to scroll back up to find the directions. The same ones that now have new pop up ads for Tylenol, because the website knows what a headache it was to deal with.

I know I wrote a recipe back in July, about Blueberry Flan. But my story was a single paragraph. Followed by a quick recipe. This is probably why I’ll never write food blogs. Besides, everything would be wrapped in bacon.

Unplanned Meal Additions

I’ve already finished day two of my four day weekend. Most of my time has been spent driving around for the kids. The other majority has been playing with my 3D printer and the props I’ve been making.

During all of this, I have been finding the time to make some decent dinners. My wife and I have been doing our best to get back into meal planning now that there is a set schedule for school. It sounds easy, but it really isn’t. My days off means I am the master chef.

I’m pretty bad at including vegetables in the meals. I usually just plan the meat portion and a side of potatoes, rice or pasta. This week I was behaving myself and adding in more vegetables. Last night was roasted cabbage and carrots. Tonight was pesto and tomato chicken.

For whatever reason, I never think of what vegetables to add. Perhaps one day I’ll get better at at. Until then, it’s roast beef and potatoes for Friday nights dinner!

More Trains?

It was only a couple of days ago that I wrote about being a Foamer. It just so happens that we ended up having another unique Diesel engine arrive in our yard.

The paint scheme may not have been as exciting as the one from Central Maine & Quebec. But just for fun, I had one of our crews add the two of them together. Within a couple of days we will be sending the engines on their way. We would interchange them off to CP Rail for their crews to use.

When I first started at CN Rail, I had no idea how often the railroads interchanged engines with one another. Besides the two I most recently wrote about, I’ve been on engines from CN, CP, BNSF and SRY.. as well as a few others that only railroaders would be able to identify as from a foreign railroad.

It’s kind of fun to play with trains. Like being a kid again and just toying around on a much grander scale.

First Day Of Autumn 2020

By the time you read my blog today, it will officially be Autumn. I love the changes in seasons. Each season is exactly the right length.

Even though this year has felt like it has drawn on forever, we are entering the final quarter. The last hurdle to go until 2021. To me, autumn gets broken down into pieces. We have the first week of Fall, Thanksgiving, Halloween, then November leading us into December and the excitement of Christmas Holiday Season.

By the time the Winter Solstice hits, we will be looking back on this year as if it had lasted a decade. A lifetime of history making done in a single year. It’ll be a relief to look back on 2020 and have it all behind us.

What is your favorite season? Are you ready for 2021?

Foamer In Me

I enjoy where I work. Being a railroader is a unique job. You often experience some great moments that are just beautiful. I love taking photos of the world I live in. I’m a bit of a “foamer” but only of the really remarkable aspects. I don’t care for the intricate details about locomotives or cars. If it looks cool- I’ll snap a picture.

Check out: Crossing Tracks for two of my favorite shots of train tracks.

Or take a journey back in time to when I was lucky enough to be a conductor on a Steam Train. My wife still bugs me about how excited I was to get the call that morning.

Recently a rare engine rolled into town. This is only one of three of these locomotives in this paint schemes in all of Canada. I had never seen it before in my almost 13 years at CN Rail. Naturally, I had to take a picture. The grey and blue engine looked right at home with the grey and blue background.

I still find my job fascinating from time to time. It keeps the interest level up. I’ll probably be here for many more years to come. I’m just a bit of a foamer. You kind of have to be to work here for as long as I have.

Loving My Kids

These are my three kids. Even though they are teenagers growing into adults, they will always be my kids. This picture was from last Monday- the first day of “full time” school.

My family puts up with me during my tough emotional time from September to November. Yesterday they joined me as I went to the graveyard to visit my father’s resting place. We didn’t really talk about him while we were there. Which was okay. They were with me showing some emotional support. I just needed them to be there.

Afterwards we went out for donuts. We sat at a table in a small coffee shop and enjoyed ourselves. No talk about anything pressing. Just idle chitchat. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon followed by a home cooked meal.

It brings me joy that my kids can be so loving. I need it from time to time.

Playing 78’s

Today marks what would’ve been my father’s 78th birthday. Over the years I have not been too kind in sharing memories of him. This year I am going to do my best to share a couple of bittersweet experiences instead.

In the past I have gone to visit his grave and enjoyed a Molson Canadian beer in his honor. That was the beer of choice by my father. I remember the stale scent of Rothman’s cigarettes and beer emanating from his beard as I grew up. It was a very distinct odor on evenings and weekends that only my father possessed.

During the day, he would have the aroma of Halls Lozenges mixed in with the scent of Cigarettes. He always had a package in his car and would pop one in his mouth from time to time. They sat in the change holder near the car stereo. After unwrapping one of the square candies, he would bunch up the waxed paper into tight little balls while a song played on the radio. At the end of the song, he would place the tiny paper balls into the car’s ashtray. It was an odd habit, but one that was distinctly his.

I never knew my father to enjoy music the way I do. In September of 1981 he did buy a brand new stereo from Sears. Perhaps as a birthday gift to himself since he rarely wished to celebrate birthdays in group settings. The JVC LXI came in numerous large metallic framed pieces. A set of oversized 12” subwoofers, an amplifier, tape deck, radio and record player. I was with him when he purchased it from the local Sears in Edmonton. We brought it home and he set it up in the dining room on the china cabinet. Where it would remain until we moved.

I remember that once it was set up, he put on a record and I sat directly in front of one of the speakers to listen to the music. I was five at the time and just amazed at the magic behind how it worked. After a few hours, my father made me wear some headphones instead and turned off the speakers.

For the remaining few years in Edmonton, my mother would put on her “Highland records” and sing her Scottish songs. Occasionally ABBA would be put on the turntable (I think that’s where my love of disco originated). I was never allowed to touch the records in fear that I would scratch them. As well, my records were only permitted on my children’s plastic record player- not the high end one that my dad purchased.

Looking back on that purchase, I realized my father didn’t do it for himself. He did it for my mother… and in a way for me. I became entranced by music that wasn’t just learning my ABC’s. I fell in love with all genres and memorized numerous song lyrics as I grew up. The only music my father would listen to was the radio on his commute. No cassettes or records were ever played by him in our home.

Nowadays, in my home, music is always being played throughout the house. I set up speakers in every room, and we play music that keeps us all entertained. The family sometimes argues over what to listen to, because they don’t always want to listen to disco… but that’s okay. We all enjoy the fact that music brings us together.

Perhaps now my father listens to his collection of 78’s in the afterlife. Keeping his emotions to himself like he always did. His bits of sharing while he was alive was minimal, but effectual. I always thought he liked Elvis because of the records he owned, but I could be wrong.

That’s my story about my father and how he inadvertently created my love of music. Happy Birthday Dad.

Friday’s Sideline

I can’t believe there is only 14 Fridays left in the year. There’s even a Friday the 13th coming up in November. But during all of what has gone on thus far in 2020- Friday happens to be just another day. No big plans ever get made anymore.

My Friday began earlier than normal. The smoke and hazy has been doing a number on my breathing. I feel like I did when I was a smoker- having to wake up with a “Smoker’s Cough” in order to start my day. Once I was awake, I just decided to get on with my day. Mostly obsessing over the 3D printer. (I did make chili at one point for dinner, but that was the extent of my other activities)

I like my new hobby. In a few days I’ll share with everyone the finished projects that I have been working on. I can also understand now why people own more than one printer- I have a slew of files saved and ready to be created. However, my big project- I plan on starting that in the new year.

Until then, I will be creating a few gifts for the family. Some will be sanded and painted, others shall remain unfinished and rough. Having a day to myself has been rather pleasant.

Writer’s Block?

I’ve been very late in posting my daily musings. It seems that I have a bit of “Writer’s Block”. I still manage to produce something, but it’s not of a quality that I am necessarily proud of.

I want to blame the September weather. But it could also be the hazy smoke from the wildfires that is causing grey feelings. It’s not just the look of the outside that is affecting me. But also the air quality. The smoke is making my asthma act up causing me to be tired from a lack of oxygen.

I don’t know if anyone else locally is feeling the same. I’m not usually this “Blah” in September, but there it is. Making me less than motivated to accomplish anything. This too shall pass.

Public Speaking

I can talk to people one on one or in a small group. But when it comes to public speaking or conference calls- I have a tough time. I spend ages writing notes and rehearsing what to say. I still end up with loads of “uh” and “ums” being spoken.

Today I had to host a call. Something I haven’t really enjoyed in the past and do my best to avoid it. Normally I’ll interject in the conference calls just to remind people that I’m there. I don’t like having the spotlight shone on me.

But I hosted the call without argument or trying to pawn it off on someone else. I have learned a few tricks over the years in order to keep the flow going. One of my favorite things to do is open the call up to questions or comments and wait just long enough that the silence becomes uncomfortable that someone will eventually speak up. I try not to call out people directly, but I will do it if I know they have the answer.

At the end of the call, I was told I did an impressive job keeping on task and keeping it just the right length of time. The flow was steady and I felt good to have it behind me, even though I was nervous. I just hope they don’t ask me to run it again for a few months…

I Know Nothing

It’s hard to admit when you don’t know something. Especially when you really should know something about something. Instead of nothing about something. Which is worse than knowing something about nothing.

I know a lot of nothing. But nothing has stuff to explore which in sense makes it something.

I know nothing. But I try and help. So that’s something.

Visual Trickery

Ever see an image online that drives you nuts? Like you broke your brain or something. Today I saw an image that did it to me:

Obviously it’s a goat. But I had to second guess myself.

I’m really glad that the one annoying trend from the 90’s hasn’t come back around. Those blurry “Magic Eye” images. I used to get headaches trying to see the hidden pictures. I never could see the schooner.

You dumb bastard. It’s not a schooner… it’s a Sailboat.”

“A schooner IS a sailboat stupid head!”

I hope those “Magic Eye” pictures never return.

Mothra!

Over the past few days at my work in North Vancouver, we have seen an influx in moths. And they are everywhere.

At night, they take over the lamps and lights. During the day, the moths just hang out on everything white. My car often has a dozen of the little critters on it.

The smoke and the moths makes it feel like an invasion taking over Vancouver. It’ll be nice once the moths begin to disappear. This year has been the worst so far for the moths.

Even Arthur, our moth mascot, found love after an entire year hanging out and ran off.

A Day Devoted To My Teens

I spent the morning going for a drive with my oldest to her new school. It was a chance for her to practice driving on the freeway without much traffic. It also gave her an opportunity to figure out a course/the time and the distance for her commute. We had some good bonding time together.

Then we hit up IKEA to pick up a new desk for my son. He built his IKEA desk with my help. We laid out his room in a more functional manner. He wanted to change up his room to be more “teenage boy” instead of Star Wars themed. I told home we can paint the furniture black, but I had worked hard on the walls and refuse to paint over them. So he is stuck with just removing a few decals and living in a grey bedroom.

That meant giving the bunk beds to his 16 year old sister so she could put her stuffies on display. My wife discovered some bins in our son’s closet that had old costumes and toys from the much younger years. Our middle decided to wear one of them. She is becoming one with the toys…

It was a long day of growing up and pursuing the inevitable changes. But also a good chance to reflect and have some fun.

More 3D Printing

Yes folks, I am obsessed with this 3D printer. Sorry as well that I’m so excited about the stuff I’ve made. To be honest, the first few things weren’t for me.

After the First Fails and Finished mask straps, I went on to do a longer print. This next print took a little over 9 hours to do. It used 95 grams of plastic- about $3 to create. It is a cotton swab holder for my wife’s make up use.

Next I printed a couple of items for my coworker’s Tesla. This took about three hours to create. Now it is on to more important prints!

Having a 3D printer seems a bit extravagant. So naturally I went with a Bruce Wayne idea: a couple of Batarangs for my first movie prop. Fairly easy file to print. I’m in the process of doing the sanding, followed by primer, then more sanding, followed by primer, etc… until it is finally completed.

I’m not just a nerd anymore.

I’m Batman.

Hot Nap

It seems like our part of the world has decided that summer isn’t quite over. The last few days have hit record high temperatures hovering around 30°C. The night shifts were extremely comfortable to work in.

This past week I have been sleeping during the day. Avoiding the heat outside that hits you like a wall when you open the door. Hot naps are the best. They create some amazingly vivid dreams. But trying to sleep in the heat like a normal person? I don’t know why it is so difficult.

Do you like hot sleep? Or do you try and stay cool at night?

I Don’t Want To Miss It

The world for our children has been on pause for half a year. Any other year, they would’ve returned to school by today. They may only be sort of starting by the end of the week, but it clearly won’t be the same as it has in the past.

1st Day of School 2017

Today our oldest attended a virtual orientation. Tomorrow our middle goes to school for an information session about the new protocols and on Friday our youngest does the same. Every year, my wife likes to take a photo of the kids in our front yard getting psyched about the first day back.

Today, we didn’t do that for our oldest. She is in post-secondary school and is more adult than child. But I still want my wife to take photos of the other two. It’s a tradition I want to keep alive even in these uncertain times.

2011 Walking to school.

Did you still take first day of school pictures this year?

Working Stress-Free

Sometimes a night at work can be relaxing. Having a purpose and doing a job can help alleviate the stresses of the world.

All those crazy emotions of home life are put on pause during the hours at my job. I’d like to think that life away from work is calm and peaceful, but it isn’t always. The worries of returning to school during a pandemic are highest in my home. Like many other parents, we are just waiting to see how life plays out.

So I take solace at my job. Where precautions have been taken since the beginning. A job I have done for almost 13 years. A place I know all too well keeps me calm.

3D Printer Part 3: Wanting More

My list of possible 3D builds keeps growing. My family and a few friends have some requests that I plan on making. I also plan to do some 3D prints for donating to people’s betterment.

For me- I mostly want to do movie prop replicas. There’s something profound about building and owning a piece from a film. To me it feels as if I am a part of something bigger.

It also hits the nostalgia feels. I mean, honestly- who wouldn’t want a Proton Pack to fight ghosts back in the 80’s? Or open a can of shaving cream to find dinosaur embryos? Or find out who really shot first when you hold a Han Solo blaster?

I worry that it’ll be a rabbit hole of unfinished projects and a desire to own bigger and better printers. From the forums I am on, it seems that is the way of the 3D modeler. I have already been obsessing about getting another print going. I just need to wait for my spools of plastic to arrive.

I always love creating and making things to display and show off for fun. I shall accept my fate for my new found hobby. I only hope my wife and family also accept this burden I have bestowed upon myself.

You have been warned! When I obsess about something, I beat it into the ground. Just like a new song that I like. It falls into repeat for weeks on end. Or perhaps this will be similar to my love of disco. A variety of fun dance moves and love songs.

From Fails to Finished

Yesterday I set up a workspace for the 3D Printer I received the other day. Actually, my wife allowed me to use a small corner of her studio where she makes her wonderful hats. Check out her website- Ningen Headwear for some great winter hats!

I spent a good couple of hours leveling the bed, installing software on our computer, and getting a couple of designs ready to print. The first test design was a thank you to my wife for use of her space. She had made some face masks and wanted one of these to try out. It was technically “Headwear” related- Surgical Mask Strap. I figured it was an easy print and wouldn’t take very long.

Boy was I wrong.

After about half a dozen failed attempts just starting, I eventually got a print that was not at all what it was meant to be. It was missing some layers. Back to the Internet and YouTube to figure out my issue. Turns out I hadn’t set the proper parameters for my brand of printer.

A couple tweaks and we had a successful first print! Followed by two more successes! I could really get addicted to this feeling of accomplishment. But now I am out of my spool of plastic. Time to wait for the Amazon order to arrive. During that time, I plan on getting some more files downloaded and ready to print.

I see how this could become a love/hate relationship with a 3D printer.

Spotty Wifi

Today it seemed that our wifi suddenly went spotty. No reason at all. It just decided to crap out and reconnect. I love being connected to the world, so those three minutes were really tough. There were also tough because they happened a few times.

Since getting Google Nest wifi we have rarely had issues. We also upgraded our internet plan a couple of weeks back in order to get us faster speeds and connect more devices. So it was strange that our wifi was choosing not to connect.

Restarts all around! All devices and routers. Seems like our problem was just as simple as Turning it off and on again.

Yay! Time to stream more shows!

It Wouldn’t Keep Still

Today was one of those really busy days off. To quote Mrs. Premise: “Busy? I just spent four hours burying the cat.” It feels like all I’ve been doing is hardly making a dent on my projects. Just making more of a mess. Like trying to bury a cat that won’t keep still.

But I’m done for the day. Time to finish up making dinner and vegetate in front of the big screen and watch some shows. It’ll be some relaxing family time tonight in the theater room. Although I’m sure our oldest will be preoccupied with her new iPhone 11.

But some days I’ll take what I can get. Especially as the kids get older.

Most Liked

Facebook loves to share “Memories” when I log in. I’m sure many of you see yours as well (if you still use Facebook). Sometimes I love seeing the old photos or bizarre status updates I once did. I can’t even remember the last status update I did… I also removed all friends a year and a half ago, so no point to update into thin air…

Today Facebook shared with me- my most “Liked” photo of the year 2009. It’s a cute picture of the time my children made a train out of cardboard boxes for me. Having deleted 400+ friends, how many “LIKES” would you say this picture received? 200? 100? 50?

FIVE.

My most “LIKED” photo of 2009 had FIVE likes. For the entire year of 2009. One of which was my wife. I’m not saying this is the greatest photo ever of 2009. But for a person who had a few hundred “Facebook Friends” you’d think that I could get a higher number on any of my photos.

In the end though, looking for satisfaction through other people’s opinions doesn’t equate for the sheer happiness that this photo brought to me personally. My joy isn’t measured in numbers from other people clicking a thumbs up for me.

Its part of the reason I don’t try and sell myself or this blog. Sharing personal stories is for my mental well being. And in the end- that matters most.

Feel free to like and share today’s blog.