First Attempt At Foam Pumpkin Carving

I love to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I often spend hours searching for designs and creating my pumpkins. I have been doing it for years now. Check out the links below to view some:

Pumpkins 2020

Stranger Things

Pumpkins 2018

Pumpkins 2017

Pumpkins pre-2016

I recently carved my first craft foam pumpkin. I always wanted to do a more permanent pumpkin that I can display yearly. Since I can spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours carving a live pumpkin, why not have it last longer than a single season?

My wife requested that I do not do a “Fan Art” pumpkin. She wanted me to try and do something more classic and still a bit detailed. So I chose to make an owl- my favorite one as well. The Burrowing Owl. Owls are Halloween, right?

I used a black and white image online as the basis for my owl. I’m about 85% satisfied with the results. I can see what I can do differently next time. But since I have not worked with this style of pumpkin before, I’d say not bad for a first attempt. Next will be to see how it looks with a small LED light inside.

Have you worked with foam pumpkins before? Or do you prefer the real thing? Let me know in the comments or feel free to share pictures of your detailed pumpkins. I love to see what others create.

25 Years of ID4

Every year on the Fourth of July we watch the movie “Independence Day”. It’s a tradition that I have kept up since I can remember. I first shared our story five years ago: ID4. My wife and kids all look forward to it each year. I can’t believe the film is a quarter century old now.

This is a great sci-fi film which borders on impossible at times. The characters and interactions more than make up for the fluff that this movie has to offer. Heck, after 25 years a lot has changed. Even the US Military has sort of, partially, kind of told the world that there is such things as ufos.

As American as A.L.F.

I have always wanted to believe that there is life out there. Hopefully it isn’t as mean as the aliens are in this film. Perhaps as a race we can come together and accept diversity as a way of life. Only then do I think we will meet alien life forms. Hopefully they are also not like A.L.F.

Happy July 4th to our American Cousins!

Towel Day 2021

Remember your towel today! It’s International Towel Day. Here’s a brief description:

A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

That time I met Howie Mandel

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite science fiction series ever. We named our first born daughter Random because of it. I have even dressed as Arthur Dent at conventions in the past.

I will be bringing my towel with me all day. Just like I do Every Towel Day. It’s a sign of being a nerd. A true nerd.

On Track Photos

I love taking pictures of the artwork on rail cars. I enjoy how an image can tell a quick story.

I also like taking my pictures with a bit of an artistic flare. It’s amazing how lighting and backgrounds can change the feel of the image so easily. Not to mention the filters that smartphones and apps have available. An original image can change completely given the appropriate filter.

Taking pictures of inanimate objects is easy enough. Especially if the art is worthy of a photograph. Catching the right light and angle is also important. Rule of thirds, leading lines, framing- any of the photographer’s special gambit of artistic flair is made easy using railroads and rail cars. I have been doing it for years in order to perfect those skills I learned in high school photography almost thirty years ago.

I appreciate Instagram for being able to showcase and see some fantastic images. There are a lot of talented photographers out there who make a subject jump out at you and make you feel emotion.

I’m feeling contented and courageous by sharing my pictures regularly. I hope you all enjoy seeing the art from my point of view that others have painted. Feel free to follow me on Instagram and see more pictures of rail cars and my life.

Life’s Like A Movie

Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing. Keep pretending.

Seven thousand four hundred and eighty days. Or twenty years, five months and twenty four days. That was when I proposed to my wife.

We had gone out for dinner, then an evening stroll in Fort Langley. We stopped at a coffee shop and sat on the patio, at which point I popped the question. On the sidewalk right next to us they were filming a movie.

We married on July 10,2001 in Fort Langley at a small church on a Tuesday. Across the street, they were filming “Air Bud 4”. The production company stopped filming and stood at the door and watched us get married.

This past weekend, my wife and I walked through Fort Langley once more. This time the little town had changed into the setting of “Sonic The Hedgehog 2”. Fort Langley became a town called Green Hills. My wife and I went “full tourist” and took a bunch of photos.

My favorite part about walking around, was seeing the details added to the set. Things that no one would ever see. The background story of a fictional town hidden all around. As if Green Hills was a real place.

Movies have always been a big part of my life and I enjoy them tremendously. Movies can whisk you away for a couple of hours into an imaginary storyline. My life with Lee-Anne has been magical since we first met.

The eye of the mind makes a movie. And my movie has been nothing short of awesome.

Summer Graffiti

As the sun continues to shine, my work days have gotten a bit brighter. Even the rail cars are getting into the spirit.

I spotted a “Lilo and Stitch” graffiti painted car outside the window today. It made me smile at the abilities of some vandals. The recognition of a cartoon character on either side of a tag is becoming commonplace.

Seeing “Lilo and Stitch” reminded me of our trip to Hawaii seven years ago. As well as our trip to Tokyo three years ago. Which got me thinking about all of our vacations to Disneyland. I really do enjoy my time with my family as we make memories.

So if a graffiti vandal can make me happy, then I really don’t mind seeing their crimes. Especially on rolling art canvases that travel the continent.

Raunchy Musicals

I love musicals. The way they tell a story through song and dance brings me joy. My mother took me to a few Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals back in the day. I enjoyed the experience of going to the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver to watch the shows.

However, I have an unusually soft spot for raunchy musicals. “Chicago” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” are classics and relatively tame when you consider some others.

Recently, my sixteen year old daughter introduced me to “The Book Of Mormon”. The subject matter and lyrics are definitely offensive. But humorous nonetheless. I knew of this musical, but I missed out on it the last time it came around. Once shows start happening again- I hope to catch this one live one day. Perhaps I should show her “Cannibal! The Musical” by the same creators.

Because my daughter has a twisted sense of humor, like her old man, I am trying to find “The First Nudie Musical” from 1976 for her to watch. The last time I saw this film was in 1988. I don’t remember much about it and only saw it the one time. However, I do recall laughing quite a bit at the film. Perhaps that was partially due to the uncomfortableness of starting puberty.

Nonetheless, raunchy musicals push the envelope of people’s comfort and explore the deviancies and taboos of the world. I guess that’s what makes it art.

Do you have any musicals of that nature that I should watch? Let me know in the comments. Catchy songs are always good as well, even if they a more vulgar.

A Picture Is Worth 1000 WordPress Followers

Hooray! My little blog has hit 1000 followers! This milestone is pretty big for me since I don’t actively advertise my blog. That’s mostly because I’m not selling anything. I’m just writing anecdotes and stories about my life.

I cannot express enough all of the gratitude I feel towards everyone. Having followers who “like and comment” on my blogs brings me to a positive place. Writing daily has been a great relief for my worries and stresses.

Another hearty THANK YOU to everyone for following along with my stories and opinions.

Express 999

I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to the 999 followers of my blog on WordPress. I know that there are others out there on Facebook, Twitter and via email who receive my daily musings as well.

But the 999 on WordPress? I can count on one hand the people who I have met in person who follow me on this site (and yes, I follow myself as well). The rest are strangers who happened to find me and decided that what I say is important enough to follow me. That’s pretty cool.

I have also interacted with those that seek to write a comment to me. Some of whom I would consider to be an “Online Friend” now. Having only met through WordPress and a few lines back and forth. Yet a kinship is formed, even for the briefest of moments.

I appreciate all the followers. Heck, even the Bots. Someone out there took the time to write an algorithm to search out keywords, and they stumbled upon me.

Seriously though- a hearty “Thank you” to everyone who follows my blog. I appreciate you.

Fool! Not Today, Excalibur.

Today was pretty weak for April Fool’s Day jokes. There wasn’t much in the way of big ones. Nor was there any good ones shared by my friends.

This is likely due to the fact that we are still struggling through a pandemic. Many of us are more adept in keeping informed and sharing real stories. We have become skeptical over the past year or so.

Life just went on being the way it is. Excalibur did not get to yell “FOOL!” at me today. However, putting up his image makes me want to watch some anime again. Soul Eater would be good for a rewatch.

Vibrant Mediocrity

If I’m not taking pictures of my family and friends, I am usually taking pictures of food or nature. Skylines and trees are my personal favorites.

Sometimes I take a photo “just because.” It could be a picture of a movie title or a unique object. (Sorry… side quest… is it “a” or “an” before the word “unique”? Let me know in the comments if I was correct, and why.) The other day I took the following picture:

It is not one of my better pictures. But the colours and shapes on the kitchen counter bring me joy. Here are the reasons why:

The green glass bowl– I have always loved shaped and coloured glass. The wavyness of this bowl is fun. There’s even a little matching bowl inside.

The red apples– Apples are my favorite fruit. These were nearly perfect apples as well.

The blue canister– It holds fresh ground coffee. Need I say more?

The silver canister– Holds our sugar for coffee and baking. For the little sweetness needed in our lives.

All of them lined up in our kitchen awaiting their turn to be used. To me, the colours just pop. I could’ve used a filter, or adjusted my angle. Each item is as vibrant in their emotional impact for me as are the colours. I ended up overlooking the art aspect of how to take a good photo.

This picture is a Vibrant Mediocrity. And that’s okay as well. Giving it a title like that turns it into art.

He’s Hip. He’s Cool. He’s 45.

March 15th. 03/15. Multiply the numbers together and you get 45. That’s right folks. It’s my birthday today. I’m turning 45.

Back when I was 16/17 the tv show “Kids in The Hall” did a skit. Check it out here:He’s Hip. He’s Cool. He’s 45. I remember it being goofy and ridiculous. Because people who were 45 weren’t cool.

And yet, here I am. 45. I don’t see myself as hip or cool. I am however, a father, a husband, a railroader, a geek, and an all around nice guy.

I have no plans for my Birthday today either. I’m not wishing or hoping for an extraordinary gift from anyone. I’ll probably get a few texts and phone calls from friends and family. That’s all I really need.

And maybe a nap. Naps are cool.

Want My Wood?

My father-in-law enjoyed woodworking for many years. Once they moved out of this house, we had a lot of the pieces remaining for future use. But as most hobbies go, you end up with more than you require. And the hobbies take a spot on the back burner.

Since we are coming up on the last few months before we move, it was time to tackle the wood collection. There was large and small “cookies” cut from trees all stored in the upper part of the woodshed. I didn’t want it to get thrown in the fire, so it was time to start giving it away.

About one tenth of what we have.

My wife’s brothers came by over the last couple of days to collect a few pieces that they wanted. One of their friends also came by and he took a few big pieces. (We are getting a fresh Turkey for Easter out of the deal!) Later this afternoon, a few people locally are coming by to collect some pieces. Next week, I will be contacting a few other local craft/woodworkers and see if they could use some pieces.

Considering the wood has been here for decades, it’s all dry and in great shape. I used a few pieces a couple years ago and Painted them for decoration in our home. I’m not a wood worker, so the rest isn’t for me. I want it to all go to good use, and I’m sure my father-in-law will be happy to know it’s getting used the way it was intended.

If you are local and want to grab my wood, give me a shout.

The Day The Music Died

February 3rd, 1959. I was not alive for this event. But a part of me knows that the music died that day, and you can sense it… Sixty-two years later.

As I have mentioned in numerous blogs, I have an appreciation for all types of music. Music from certain decades- just feel the way that era should feel. A plane crash that took the lives of three Rock N Roll stars is exactly how the style of fifties rock music felt like it ended.

When I was younger, I loved listening to the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. I often discussed the meaning of the lyrics with anyone else who wanted to debate them. But not many really knew the song. Kind of tough to be a 13 year old who dove into the meaning of lyrics while others just wanted to be the first to hear the latest top 40.

However, my first high school girlfriend called a radio station and dedicate the song “American Pie” to me one Sunday afternoon. This was back in the days of being on a corded telephone for hours talking about anything and everything with one another just so we could hear the sound of each other’s voices. (No you hang up…) I remember that day because she abruptly got off the phone with me, then a few minutes later had called me back and told me to tune into a radio station. There was the announcement with the dedication followed by the song coming over the airwaves to me.

The simplicity of that act by her made my day. We listened to the song together while on the phone- two youngsters with no money sharing a precious moment together. I realize now how impactful the song was on that day for me; and how impactful the lyrics truly are in regards to the tragedy that occurred decades prior.

Rock N Roll was generally songs about love and romance. Losing three of the most iconic legends at the end of the fifties changed the face of music going forward. In fact, the following year brought in the wave of boy bands spearheaded by “The Beatles”. In my opinion, their style may not have taken such a grip on the world if it hadn’t been for the plane crash in 1959.

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” helped solidify what Rock N Roll was in the 1950’s and supercharged an entirely new generation of music in the decades to follow. The loss of their lives, as tragic as it was back then, marked an exact point in music history. A point in history where Rock was about to change. A moment that the world will forever remember in one sentence…

The day the music died.

Five Years Of Blogging

Well folks I made it this far and you have joined me for the ride. I am about to crest my five year mark of writing every single day. I cannot believe that I have been blogging now for 1825 days in a row.

I have diligently written every day for these five years- no matter what. I have written about movies and music (I’m not an entertainment blogger) and enjoying small businesses (I’m not an influencer). I even write about family (Not a parenting blog) or when I was on vacation in other countries (Nope, not a travel blog).

I just write for the sake of writing. Sometimes what I share can be inspirational. Most often it is to remind people that life is good and memories are worth sharing. Many people can relate to my experiences it seems, which can make for pleasant interactions with my audience.

Generally speaking, I don’t have thousands of followers. But of the almost 900 people that do follow and choose to interact with me, I will respond to every comment made. That always makes me happy. Last year in 2020, I had over 14,000 views on my site. That seems like an astronomical amount of strangers visiting my ramblings. Especially when I look at my stats and see that people all over the world read about my life.

I just want to say a hearty “Thank You” to all my friends and followers out there. I’m sure some days you think to yourself, “There’s Josef’s blog, showing up in my newsfeed again.” While other days you may look forward to seeing what I have in store.

I’m still Making It Up As I Go

I plan to keep my momentum going and will continue to share my thoughts each and every day. Please keep reading, sharing and interacting with me.

Love, Josef Making It Up As I Go

Lava

The word “LAVA” is so much fun. When you say it, your brain naturally goes to the idea of Volcanoes and oozing hot magma. Even the word “magma” is fun to say. I’m also enjoying “Lavazza” coffee these days. How fun is that? It’s like I’m pretending to have lava coffee!

When I was in grade 1 (…damn this story is starting waaaaaaayy back when…) I would take out a book about volcanoes from the library every week. Most kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or the Old Testament, that whole Catholic school thing; but I liked volcanoes. Plus every tv trope involving kids and science fairs naturally had a model volcano that made a mess. I remember trying to paper mache my own volcano and made a mess in the basement before completing it.

As well, when I was growing up, I also always wanted a Lava Lamp. In the late 80’s it wasn’t an easy item to find for a decent price. Many lamps cost around 100 bucks in 1987 dollars- so around $230 in today’s money. Not something reasonable for an 11 year old to afford back then.

Fast forward to around 2004… I was in the middle of my five year career at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Where I was in charge of the prize wall- and was permitted to take a prize or twenty home for myself. I took full advantage of this for my kids. They got a lot of toys. But the one that I loved most for me was a Lava Lamp telephone.

We have not had a “landline” in years in this house. In fact, my lava lamp phone was put in storage and forgotten about long before we removed our home phone. This “editing/ purging” kick meant my kids discovered the phone once more. Our son had never seen it, or at least doesn’t remember it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to part with it. So it gets another shot at being plugged in for fun.

Do you like lava lamps? Or do you have memories about volcanoes you wish to share?

Let me know in the comments so I can share them from my secret volcanic lair!

R2-Tree2

As I mentioned previously in Shattered Memories, we have numerous trees. One of which has the ornaments the kids have made over the years. We never really had a topper for it. Putting a Santa hat or a top hat on it to try and finish it.

This year, I 3D printed a new topper. It was a fun one based on my favorite fandom- Star Wars. I decided to paint it in traditional Christmas colours- red and green with a hint of dark gold.

Our middle daughter had been waiting for over a week to put the tree topper up. Each one of our kids gets to put the topper on a tree. We rotate which tree every year. The kids’ tree was hers this year.

Now it is completed. And looking good thanks to the 3D files from Mr Baddeley’s Printed Droid.

Happy Life Day everyone!

Bye Boba

Yet another original Star Wars actor has passed away. Today was Jeremy Bulloch- the original actor who played Boba Fett.

Back in 2012 I had the honor of meeting him at the Fan Expo in Vancouver. It was one of the local convention shows that my wife had a booth at selling her handmade hats. (Need a winter hat? Check out Ningen Headwear) I also remember it clearly because it was on a Sunday and the celebrities were literally across from our table looking bored.

So I took my six year old son over to meet a few celebrities. First we met the original Batman and Robin- Adam West and Burt Ward. Those two were sitting together and had a riot talking to my son about being superheroes. After about ten minutes of talking to Batman, we side stepped to talk with Mr. Bulloch.

My son’s reaction was to tell him how we had just met Batman and Robin. Jeremy’s reaction was perfect. The two of them talked about the old Batman show and how bad guys never win. My son knew who Boba Fett was, it’s not like I hadn’t instilled the love of Star Wars at a young age. But it really is different when you never see his face (compared to West or Ward).

Like I said, all three of these gentlemen interacted with nothing but kindness to my young boy. That truly made them heroes in my eyes that day. No fan theories or questions about getting into a costume or what it was like to work with other actors. Just a couple old guys playing along with a kid that they didn’t even know.

But those few minutes with Jeremy Bulloch were as impactful in our lives as Boba Fett’s original five minutes on screen. For that, I wish to say thank you sir.

Digital Art

I follow some very talented artists on Instagram. I am thoroughly impressed by how creative people can be. I also love to share these artists with others.

Sharing a link is one way to show love. But stealing a “Screenshot” of the images- that makes me feel guilty. It’s one thing to copy and paste a meme, but hours of hard work by an artist- that doesn’t seem right to share without permissions.

So in this day and age- how can you “own” digital art? One of the artists I follow- Beeple – sold some amazing pieces of digital art this weekend. And made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it. Crazy to think that selling the digital signature of the original piece is a way to celebrate visual art. But here we are- the digital age.

This is the note that was shared on Instagram- a reminder that people can still be humbled by the outpouring of love for their art. I also appreciate his devotion to creating art every day. New art daily for 13 years. To me, that is impressive. Perhaps one day I can afford to purchase one of his images and own the digital signature of it. But until I can afford to drop six figures on something that isn’t tactical and tangible- I shall just enjoy his works of crazy ass art.

More Star Wars/Marvel News

Just the other day I was thinking how I miss going to the cinema for the blockbuster films. Marvel and Star Wars dominated my viewing experience in the years past. With Covid precautions in place- most mainstream releases were put on hiatus or simply went straight to a digital release. But not many came from the House of Mouse.

Yesterday came some big announcements. Read about Star Wars Here in case you missed it. The Star Wars universe is huge with endless possibilities to branch out in many directions. I for one enjoy the live action shows; my kids also enjoy the animated shows.

And then there is the next Phase in Marvel you can read about Here. I know of many of the comic book ideas and characters, but I never really read any of the stories.

My excitement level is increasing and there are plenty of shows to look forward to. All of these shows/movies shall be arriving over the next couple of years. It looks like it will be at a pace to keep most consumers wanting more.

What are your thoughts on Disney’s announcement yesterday?

The Death of Darth Vader

In honor of the passing of Dave Prowse- the actor who wore the Darth Vader costume in the original trilogy of Star Wars films- I wanted to re-share some lighthearted images. Originally I had shared these over the years on my social media. They are of Darth Vader being not so Darth.

As a Star Wars fan I always wanted to dress up as Darth Vader. I figured I would be a perfect fit since I have the height. Previously I was Obi-Wan Kenobi, maybe it’s time to join the Dark Side.

I’ve also had my kids grow up on Star Wars. On our trips to Disneyland- they each got to enjoy a lightsaber battle against a evil foe- Darth Vader included. Here’s a video from 11 years ago: Darwin vs Darth Vader.

Reflecting on the impact that a character has had on my life is important to me. The actor behind the mask (both literal and figurative in this case) is also part of the remembrance.

Thank you Dave Prowse for your actions as an iconic sci-fi character. You will be missed.

Generational Music

Mama said don’t give up, it’s a little complicated.

I like the song “High Hopes” it has a good beat and I love the lyrics. Our oldest daughter doesn’t always like the fact that I enjoy the music she listens to. But then again, she has been known to enjoy the music I once liked. At one point, my wife had a good bond with our daughters over Katy Perry.

Our son had become obsessed with Green Day: Dookie a couple of years ago when he discovered it on an old iPod of mine. He also has a penchant for comedic songs like I do. So we bond over it.

However, it’s our middle daughter who loves every style of music the same way I do. She also listens to it like I do- in a very eclectic manner. Moving from classical to pop, etc. Her taste in music is similar to mine so we often sing along together. The only exception is she has a closer connection with my wife’s taste in music than I do. Our daughter has snagged the old records and cassettes of my wife’s and plays them regularly.

Music is meant to be shared. I wish sometimes that I was talented enough to write music. Maybe one day I’ll monkey around with it- I always had high, high hopes…

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering?

Again, I was stuck trying to write my blog tonight. I was thinking to myself, “It’s the same thing I do every day…why can’t I just come up with something to write?” That’s when it hit me- Pinky and the Brain are so funny.

They try and take over the world every night. But it was never the plans that amused me. It was the crazy off putting comments that Pinky would blurt out as an answer to the nightly question: “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

I just took a break from writing this so I could watch nearly 7 minutes of responses. I seriously snorted a couple of times. If you loved Pinky and The Brain- check out Are you pondering what I’m pondering? Most are ridiculous (and dated jokes) but some were cuckoo crazy.

Even though I didn’t take over the world tonight, I enjoyed the silly hijinks of two lab mice once more.

Hudsucker Proxy

Sometimes in my blog I like to share films that I enjoy. I don’t do any write ups or dissection of the films. Just that I enjoy them and why. Today I am writing about a favorite of mine that I really enjoy watching in the winter. That’s because most of the film is set around New Year’s and the idea of new beginnings.

The Hudsucker Proxy is set in the early 20th century. It has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever enjoyed. The sets are Art Deco, the timeline is flawless, the jokes are quick and perfectly timed. What’s not to love about the film?

The simplicity of the underlying story and the characters that drive the film make it relatable and a joy to be a part of. I enjoyed the film so much, I made a Cosplay of the lead character a few years back. It was such an obscure costume, that when I wore it to three different comic conventions- maybe ten people understood it.

If you haven’t seen the film, please check it out this season. It is a great movie by the Coen Brothers. Check out one of my favorite scenes on YouTube: Hula Hoop.

Creatively Growing Up

Last night my daughter Interviewed me for a school project. She took painstaking measures to create the perfect lighting and backdrop. I took her direction as best I could without asking too many questions. I also did not offer any advice or “butt in” in any way.

It was tough to be a parent and just let her do it on her own. Like the first time your child walks to school alone or rides a two wheel bike without you holding the seat. You want to hold their hand, but the pride you feel when they have accomplished something on their own is far more gratifying.

I’m not going to lie, it was challenging for me to let her be creative and run the show. It was her project and her vision. In the end, she got the footage she desired and is off to the editing portion within the next week or so. Maybe she will let me see the final product. I promised her I wouldn’t critic it. No idea if she believes me. But I believe in her.