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.

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…

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.

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?

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.

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.

Fire And Bubbles At Sunset

Our last evening at the campground was relaxing and filled with silliness. We watched the sunset over the mountains and the sky turning pink. I started a fire in the fire pit with the help of my son and we sat at the beach listening to some Queen.

My wife and daughter began playing with bubbles between our fire and the water. The sheer amount of joy they were having astounded me. They kept it up until it got dark and had run out of bubbles. We all enjoyed our final evening together.

Of course we also had our last bite of campfire S’mores for the summer. Another nice way to end the trip.

Two Bar Island

About three years ago my daughter and I used the rubber dinghies and paddled to the island that we could see from the campgrounds. It took us an exorbitant amount of time to get there… and back. The next day, my son and I went. Still just as tough. More so because I was sore from the day before.

Last year we got our kayaks. It cut the trip down to about twenty five minutes. So we came every day to the island. This year is no different. Except that last year I discovered a sweet spot that I can get two bars of service on my cellphone.

I don’t think the island has a name. So my wife and I were trying to come up with one.

Cell Island

20 Mile Island

Two Bar Island

Signal Island

Any suggestions?

Playing Around

Camping is filled with loads of keeping ourselves active. We have been spending most of our time at the beach and in the water. Flying a drone, tubing, kayaking, fishing, playing cards, and cooking over a campfire. These are what makes the experiences more and more enjoyable.

Plus we have limited cellular service. So we are using our phones to take pictures and listen to music. I sneak off to a little island by kayak in order to get 2 bars of service in order to blog each day.

Priorities, am I right?

Half A Day of Rain?

We arrived at our campsite mid afternoon and set up our home away from home. Then we enjoyed the evening by the water and fire.

The next morning at 4:30 it decided to rain. That lasted until about 10am. The weatherman was wrong about a week of sunshine. But the day became comfortable and we hit the water for some kayaking to the nearby island.

Good first day considering the unexpected rain.

Twenty Mile Bay 2020

This is our fifth year of going to Twenty Mile Bay to enjoy some camping at the end of August.

First off, the weather looks like it will be in our favor. Should be a comfortable week ahead with loads of sunshine. Honestly, we have been lucky every year we go. Not once has it rained. We did have one year of gusty winds- where our tent was trying to eat us. But it made for good kite flying.

The part I do not like is driving the logging road to the site. We drive about 45 minutes on nicely paved roads doing the speed limit. Then we have to drive about another 45 minutes navigating a rough path going up and down the mountain. With many parts only able to get one vehicle by at a time.

At least the check out time for the campsite is a few hours before the check in time. This means you rarely have oncoming traffic to negotiate around. Plus I like getting there at check in time to set up and start enjoying the trip.

Stay posted for lots of pictures coming soon!

Natural Born Killers

We love having family movie night in our home. Usually it’s a choice we all can agree on. But sometimes I show films to my teenagers that are uncomfortable to watch as a family. I want them to see moving picture shows for what they can be. Not just special effects or cartoons. But artsy.

Last night I put on “Natural Born Killers”. Besides the excessive violence, my teenagers didn’t quite understand Oliver Stone’s vision. I had to explain about the absurdity of the 90’s and the fascination with court cases and police brutality that went on. The worst part is that after 26 years since the film came out- it seems society is still obsessed with crime. And there are more cameras sharing today than there was when this film was made.

I know what you may be thinking. Why would you show your teenagers that film? Because it is an amazing film. It showcases a variety of music, film angles, and styles that look haphazardly thrown together, but in reality weave the tale. A perfect love story filled with society’s imperfections and obsessions.

Watching “Natural Born Killers” is like trying to understand what makes an abstract painting good. After a quarter century, the film still holds up. And is probably more relevant now by shoving the glamour of the lowest parts of humanity into your face.

It also gave my kids a chance to see many actors in a role that isn’t what they see normally. Juliette Lewis (Christmas Vacation), Woody Harrelson (Solo), Robert Downey Jr (Avengers), and Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black). All of which were the films that my kids recognized them from.

Of course right after the film, we watched “The Muppets”. I think the kids wanted to remember what life was like in a more simpler time. Nothing wrong with that. I love reminiscing and watching movies from my childhood.

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

Saturday Games

This morning our laundry line snapped after a dozen years of use. So I went to Home Depot and grabbed a new line and put it up. I also picked up a few 2×4 boards and some odds and ends for some other projects. Until shortly after lunch, we were all busy.

This afternoon was a warm one with lots of sunshine. We chose to hang out in the backyard on our tree deck. We needed a break after a full morning of working around the house. Did I say it was warm? I lied. It was hot.

We played a couple of different versions of the card game Timeline. A great trivia style game that involves figuring out when events took place. I recommend this game to everyone. We always have fun playing it. Bonus- it’s educational!

We followed it with a few aggressive games of Uno. That is sure to tear families apart the way Monopoly does. Lots of yelling and accusations of cheating.

All in all a great afternoon with the family.

Bread

Bread is a big part of my daily diet. Toast, burgers or sandwiches- it’s a regular occurrence in my life. We go through bread products so much in our home that we rarely bother to make it fresh. It’s so much easier to just buy a few loaves each week and leave them in the cupboard.

Or on the counter apparently.

But the biggest issue I have is how to wrap or seal the bread bag once it’s opened. Our family has not come up with one style. Nor have I been able to find the culprit behind leaving the bag OPEN!

Unfortunately I taught my children how to flick snapped bread tags. So usually the tags are removed and found on the floor throughout the kitchen. Bad parenting decision from years ago. Do not teach your children this trick. Trust me. Your bread will stay fresher longer if those tags go back on.

How do you close your bread? Have you ever flicked bread tags? Let me know in the comment section.

Marriage In 2020

Yesterday our neighbors were having a wedding ceremony. It took place in the backyard of a newly built house. There was a small gathering of people there. The rest of their guests- well let’s just say they did a drive-by car parade.

My wife and I came home in the evening to see these signs placed down our street. It was a lovely gesture for the newly married couple. You don’t need big and flashy in order to get married. Sometimes simplicity is the way to go.

So congratulations to the newlyweds- whoever you may be. Since we haven’t met any of our new neighbors due to Covid-19… But at least they found love.

I Need A Hero

Last week I wrote briefly about Saturday Morning Cartoons. Those cartoons were generally pretty abysmal in the animation style and story telling. A comment was made about the show “He-Man” and looking back on that show (which was a favorite of mine back in the day) it was pretty bad. The character names were barely thought through. He-Man, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Man-E-Faces, Clawful… seriously no effort.

Over the past week I began singing a song from another 80’s tv show.

Look at what’s happened to me
I can’t believe it myself
Suddenly I’m up on top of the world
It should have been somebody else

Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it’s just me…

Yup. The theme for 1981’s Greatest American Hero. I saw that it was on Amazon Prime last week. So yesterday I attempted to watch the pilot episode. Oh Em Gee… not good.

Again, was no thought put into the premise of the show? The writers stole ideas from everything from the late 70’s/early 80’s.

First let’s start off with a teacher in charge of a group of “Special Education” students a la Welcome Back, Kotter. Follow it up in a few minutes with a visit from a UFO with a scene that looks like it came from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Suddenly we are in a buddy cop show. Then we top it off with Superman. Which the show references at least three times, including the fact that the female lead looks like Lois Lane.

People in charge of entertainment in the early 80’s were something else. Even video games in the early 80’s were bizarre- Frogger and Joust come to mind. Greatest American Hero is written as if the writer’s room threw darts at every possible genre and generated 44 episodes of a show that really has no place to be.

The best part of the show is the theme song. Enjoy the theme: Greatest American Hero

4,3,2,1 Amico!

A few months ago I mentioned how I put a deposit down on a “Founder’s Edition” of the upcoming Intellivision Amico: Mio Amico. I was excited for the chance to play some original“Couch Co-Op” games once more with my family. The system had a launch date of 10/10/2020…

Right in the middle of a console war between XBox and PlayStation for their newest systems. Probably not the best plan for a relatively unknown competitor in the video game market. The Intellivision Amico is not designed to be their competition though.

“At Intellivision, our mission is to use technology to bring family and friends back together by delivering simple, affordable, family-focused entertainment to everyone.”

Tommy Tallarico, CEO

The Amico is designed for simplicity. I like the idea of the system and the affordability of the games. To me this is like buying a cellphone and some apps that can be shared amongst family and friends on the tv. The graphics and gameplay demos for the games look great. Playing games in a group was always a favorite of mine.

As of late, with the pandemic and lock downs, we have been playing more games of this style on the Nintendo Switch. If you have kids or like the idea of games you can play and stop at your leisure- I do recommend the Switch.

Ice Cream Man

Yesterday as I was leaving for work, the familiar childhood tune of “Turkey In The Straw” was echoing through our neighborhood. Living in a very spread out neighborhood filled with acreage- it can be heard for blocks. It is also rare for the ice cream truck to come by. This happens maybe two or three times in the summer.

A few minutes later I was in my car driving. At the stop sign, I saw the ice cream truck stopped in front of my neighbors. A mother and her kid were walking away, and then a boy was walking up with another boy beside him. This other boy was my son.

So I pulled over and walked up to them. My son looked guilty as if I had just caught him doing something he shouldn’t. As I walked up, the other boy’s father also walked up. He told me that Theory is a really great kid and that the ice cream was their treat. Which was mighty neighbourly of them.


Besides going to see what my son was up to, I knew who the ice cream man was. No, it wasn’t Freddy Krueger…

Back when I finished high school, I would work four afternoons a week as a gas station cashier. An older fella worked the graveyard shift. This was Nelson. I would see him at turnover and we didn’t have much in common since he was twice my age at the time. We were both let go when the gas station changed ownership. I went off to eventually work at a variety of jobs. Where as Nelson went to be an ice cream truck driver. The year was 1996.

We spoke briefly, mostly exchanging pleasantries and a bit of idle chitchat. I felt bad for this 61 year old guy driving a truck with faded paint and signage. So I ended up buying some overpriced frozen treats for the rest of my family in order to support this former coworker. Sure, he looks kinda creepy with his coke bottle glasses and missing teeth. He’s also been delivering ice cream for ages, listening to the same tinkling of bells, and dealing with children; he must have lost some marbles along the way. I swear it’s the same truck I saw him driving when he first started the gig.

If you stop at an ice cream truck in Langley and see the old guy with greasy black hair and 1980’s glasses, rummaging through his old Viking freezer for the $4.00 bar your kid so desperately wants- make sure you say “Thank you Nelson”.

His smile will be genuine because he really does love his job.

BC Day

When you live in an amazing province in one of the greatest countries, it’s hard to not be proud. With today being BC Day it’s just one more reason to celebrate living here.

I love sharing my adventures around the province here on my blog. With thousands of photos and hundreds of stories told, I didn’t know what to share. Instead I’ll be watching my friends as their share their photos and follies on Instagram.

So get out there and enjoy this wonderful province of ours. It’s no wonder they call it Beautiful British Columbia.

Sunday Morning Cartoons

Yesterday I briefly mentioned Saturday Morning Cartoons. There were always a new series of cartoons being added into the roster on tv. From Muppet Babies to Gummy Bears- the shows we’re constantly changing. The next day of the weekend never changed.

I disliked Sundays very much because of tv. When I was little I attended a catholic school. But we rarely went to church. It just wasn’t something that my parents enforced. And as a kid, I never really asked to go. So I was at home trying to find something to watch on tv.

There wasn’t much selection on a Sunday as most early morning programs were religious based. But I managed to find “The Mighty Hercules” followed by “The Smurfs”. When you only have a handful of tv channels to pick from, the selection was pretty sparse.

These two shows were my go-to on a Sunday until my father took over the tv for golf, cooking, and “This Old House”. During that time I would retreat to play Lego or use our tiny tv to play Colecovision and Intellivision. Playing video games that just never ended. A looping of memorizing the pitfalls and perils in order to see how many hours you could spend playing these games. The games became very easy.

Easy like Sunday Morning. No selection available- you just watched what was on.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Back in the 80’s, Saturday morning cartoons were the best part of childhood. I’d read thru our TV guide and set my morning ritual watching about 2-3 hours of shows. Once 10 am arrived, it was time to get outside and play. Until then, rotting my brain in front of a tv was the thing to do.

This morning, I went on YouTube and found some episodes of “Kidd Video” to watch. I watched the first episode while eating my grilled cheese sandwich. For the second episode, I curled up on a beanbag chair with my ALF blanket.

There was some great commercials as well that someone uploaded with the first episode. Targeting kids with a variety of toys and Spaghetti-o’s. The show made no sense, and the ads made little sense as well. All the while trying humor to fill the gap of confusion.

Some things need to be left behind in the memory banks. Shows like this do not hold up. Even though it was more entertaining to make fun of the show with my son.

What did you do on a Saturday morning during your childhood? What do your kids do on a Saturday morning?

Let me know in the comments.