Always Two, There Are

Star Wars Day began a few years ago. “May The Fourth be with you.” Star Wars fans expanded it to include a few more days. I suspect that’s because the SW universe keeps expanding and there is so much Star Wars entertainment to enjoy now.

Today is “Revenge of the Sixth” and yesterday was “Revenge of the Fifth.” Sounds silly to some folks. But fans of the series know this to be true because of what Yoda said when speaking about the Sith (the bad guys for those not following Star Wars lore).

“Always two, there are. No more. No less. A Master and an apprentice.

I enjoy my fandom and the fun we have. Every one of us expresses our love of Star Wars in many different ways. From quoting movies to tattoos to costuming and prop making. Whatever the case may be- Star Wars is a lifestyle that many of us live.

What is your way of showing your love of Star Wars? How many days do you celebrate the franchise?

May The Fourth Be With You

Today is Star Wars Day. One of my favorite non-holiday dates. I generally like to celebrate with a viewing of a few of the Star Wars Universe films. Plus Star Wars related food stuff.

Later today I will be watching the first episode of the animated series, “The Bad Batch” that is released on Disney+. My son is excited about the show, so I want to share in his enthusiasm. I have not watched much in the way of any Star Wars animated shows, so this will be a good father/son bonding moment.

Like Darth and Luke joining forces to rule the universe as Father and Son…

What are your plans for Star Wars Day? What is your favorite Star Wars film/show? Let me know in the comments.

Disneyland Is Back- And We Can’t Wait To Visit

Back in 2009, we went on our first trip to Disneyland. We have retuned to the The Happiest Place on Earth numerous times. That first trip was by far the most memorable. And probably our most joyous.

The photos from our first trip are filled with fun. Those smiles from our children are still contagious. Each trip since has been equally as magical in different ways. We have loved every visit.

Last February we bought tickets for Disneyland. Our plan was to visit in the July of 2020. Alas, the world shutdown. Now there is a glimmer of hope as the Disneyland park opens once more. Only to California residents and in a limited capacity- but from what I’ve seen today, my heart yearns for a trip back there.

The tickets we bought will be honored at a later date. So we will hold onto the thought of traveling once more. Only the next time, there will be at least four adult Havelkas entering the park. They may not be children, but we will be young at heart once more.

Is a visit to Disneyland on your wish list once travel restrictions are lifted?

Finding Fanny Pack Money

Discovering forgotten money is a great feeling. Any denomination over a dollar feels like you won just the lottery. You can often find money in an old jacket, purse or a pair of pants. Once I found a twenty dollar bill in a jacket after buying it from a thrift store. That was a good sensation- essentially the jacket was free.

Last night I discovered three $5 bills and some loose change in an old fanny pack… A late 1980’s Fanny pack, with 1980’s money inside. A crazy blast from the past moment for me. I was excited like a kid again- reliving moments of when I sported a fanny pack. Hanging with friends, going to the corner store, wandering around Playland, carrying cassettes for my Walkman- all those memories hit me at once when I saw the contents of this satchel.

After this brief moment down memory lane, I put the money back into the bag and showed it to my family. I asked my three kids if any of them wanted the fanny pack- for some reason they each said no. I zipped it open and showed them the money.

They still didn’t want the bag. But the money on the other hand…

My son asked if it was fake money since he had never seen this version of a Canadian five dollar bill before. I told them they could each take one of the bills. I also said that if one of them had taken the bag, all of the money would have been theirs as well.

They didn’t seem to care- each of them was still getting some money for nothing and didn’t have to take a fanny pack. I thought for sure that one of them would have wanted it. But I guess The Rock can’t impress my kids enough to become fashion icons.

My Mistake s

I write a blog post every day. I do this mostly for me to just get out some thoughts and share my experiences. Because I have been writing for so long, I sometimes just post without proofreading my work.

I’ve posted grammatical errors, spelling errors, wrong photos, and even posts without titles. Sometimes I’ll catch my error as soon as I hit “Publish”. Then I scramble to correct it before anyone else sees it. Other times my wife will point out my mistake and I’ll get on it after the initial embarrassment passes.

On the rare occasion I’ll find a mistake months later- when I want to link back to it. Discovering a mistake that far along is the worst feeling. I appreciate that my readers don’t point out my flaws. Engaging with people over the content of what I write is far superior than someone pointing out my shortcomings.

Thinking back on it- over the past five years I don’t think anyone has made an observation on my errors. At least not publicly. Thank you for that.

And thank you for reading my blog for all of these years. Mistakes and all. I appreciate it.

The Code

Thirty five years ago today, a code emerged that changed the livelihoods of millions of children. No living room remained untouched by this magic. How it got originally got shared is unknown to this day. How it remained was a simple oversight when publishing the game.

You know the code. Even if you weren’t alive in 1986, you know of the code. Konami’s Contra Code was shared so quickly by word of mouth you’d think the code was in the instruction manual. Or that the Internet was already around…

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, START

All the weapons, thirty lives- helping to make beating an almost impossible game attainable. Every boy I knew talked about the code. It was the secret that the world knew. It has been ingrained in our minds since then. It has appeared in numerous video games and other pop culture references according to the Konami Code Wikipedia . I bet even Tesla has added it in their cars somehow.

Happy 35th Birthday to the greatest cheat code ever! May the memory of getting Nintendo Thumb be the reason I cannot forgot you.

Telestrations

This afternoon my wife and I picked up our two youngest kids from school and headed out for an early dinner. As I have mentioned previously, I like to support local and small businesses. Tonight we took the kids to The Raving Gamer.

My wife and I have been to The Raving Gamer a few times ourselves. We enjoy the atmosphere of eating and playing board games. It always gave us a chance to try some games before purchasing them.

Tonight, we were the only people at the Raving Gamer. That is mostly because of the COVID restrictions in British Columbia. No indoor dining permitted. Outside in the parking lot of The Raving Gamer is only one table for four and a few tables for two. Not exactly a “Patio” compared to mainstream restaurants. But it serves its purpose allowing patrons to still enjoy a meal. As you can see, the food was appetizing and tasty.

Just before our early dinner, we played a game called Telestrations. Where you get given a word and have a minute to draw it out, then the next person guess the word, the next person draws the word and the person afterwards has to write what they think the word is and so on until it gets back to the original player. Like a game hybrid of telephone and Pictionary.

The game was fun for the four of us. I would like to see how much more creative it would turn out to be for up to twelve people playing. During the few rounds we did play, we laughed pretty hard. We all wanted to play more of the game, but know that it would be a fun party game with more players.

It was definitely a game we would recommend for larger groups. Obviously once Covid restrictions are lifted.

Are you supporting small businesses these days? Or perhaps playing games during the pandemic? Send me some recommendations for either of those. I want to still enjoy life and share experiences with others.

Find The Spiritual Side

Today is 4/20. A day that many people indulge in marijuana and just chill out. I think it’s great- even though I am not a pot smoker. I say it’s great because smoking a bit of pot tends to allow people to reach a different level of enlightenment. I honestly feel the world needs more enlightened people. I’m enlightened AF as the kids say.

For example: Ten years ago today, I took my four year old son to the Center of the Universe. Eight years ago, my daughter and I met a childhood hero of mine-Elvira. Meeting Elvira changed my daughter’s view of women being powerful and still remaining feminine. Seven years ago, my son was an honorary “Lego Master Builder” at a convention volunteering his time helping kids. Six years ago, we were in Golden, BC on our way to yet another convention. Four years ago today, my wife and I stopped in Weed, California at 4:20 to honor a friend of mine I had lost.

Sure, some of the memories I just shared seem insignificant to many. But each year on this day had a lasting emotional and mental effect on my life, and that of my family’s. All of it positive in some fashion. Most of it unintentionally spiritual.

Perhaps I’m just looking for answers. But aren’t we all? Isn’t that why people spark up a doob? To get spiritual? Or get lost in thoughts? Maybe it’s to become one with the universe. Far out man.

Whatever the case may be for people smoking the green on 4/20, just remember to have snacks nearby. And if things get outta hand, or you need a tripping buddy- there is a new helpline for you. The Fireside Project. Call or text +16234737433 for free emotional support to help you through a trip.

As always, stay safe and have fun!

Jar Lids: For Every Event

I forget that my wife is five years older than I am. Many of our interests growing up were different. Our upbringings were also different, but it also shared many similarities. Sometimes I find stuff of hers that I just didn’t know existed. Such as an old hobby of hers.

I do know all about cross stitching. My wife has made some beautiful Christmas stockings for our family years ago; as well as a couple of pieces she made for our kids. I knew she was talented in that aspect. She has immense patience when doing a task like that.

However, I did not know that it was a thing in the late 80’s to make cross stitch for jar lids. “For Every Event” no less! I suppose if you’re crafting, why not make jar lids for your canning as well?

The designs are rather simplistic. They remind me of Perler Beads or old computer video game animation. Very squared off and somewhere along the lines of being 16bit.

This makes sense to me. I miss seeing creative people at conventions making cross stitch fan art. I wonder if they started with “Jar Lids For Every Event” first? Perhaps these crafters started with something similar to understand the basics.

I have a feeling my wife will be getting back into this hobby once we move. What other reason would she have for leaving this on our table for me to discover? In fact, I may just have to take up the hobby as well.

I’m pretty sure we have a stash of jars that need decorative lids for our new home.

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.

Take Out Day

Since it was my daughter’s birthday yesterday, we wanted to do a nice dinner for her. Usually we get Nikko Sushi for any celebratory meals. But our daughter wanted to try something different. Due to current health restrictions in British Columbia, we had to order take out.

It also happened to be “National Take Out Day” as well! We picked up some slushies from a corner store, some Indian Food from Taj, and an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.

Besides samosas, my family doesn’t eat a lot of Indian food. We did buy samosas, but we also had coconut chicken curry, butter naan bread, and paneer. It was delicious. I am impressed that our kids are always willing to explore tastes from other cultures.

17? Ugh. As if

The ice cream cake was a delicious end to the meal. Our daughter has been enjoying 80’s/90’s movies all her life and went with a “Clueless” inspired cake. We watched the film afterwards for a good laugh. (Wow, there are a lot of stars that were up and comers from back then! Thanks IMDB for helping me to recognize them.)

Did you enjoy some take out yesterday? What did you have?

Do you like Indian cuisine? What would you recommend we try next time from a restaurant?

Let me know in the comments.

Swimming

I love to swim. Almost every time we would travel, we tried to stay in a hotel (or motel) with a pool. After a long day of conventions/skating/Disneyland- it was a good way to relax before bed.

Oftentimes we would be the only people in the pool. It was as if no one else enjoys swimming. Or perhaps they just don’t like us. We are a bit of a strange family- pretending to be dolphins or zombies. That may have had something to do with having the hotel pool to ourselves.

We also enjoy swimming in the ocean, lakes and other natural spots. My wife used to call our kids “Water Babies”. We would hunt down places to swim whenever possible. Hawaii and California have beautiful beaches, and British Columbia has some fantastic lakes. What’s not to enjoy?

I always enjoyed swimming. For about half a decade during my preteen years- my family had a house with a pool. I swam regularly in it, even though I think my parents felt otherwise. I mean I also played a lot of video games and locked myself in my room watching television… But my exercise was to go swim. And I was good at it. I hope to be swimming regularly once more in our new home.

I do find it odd that last June I mentioned about buying a home with a pool: Pool of Thought even before we listed our house for sale. One year later we will be living out this desire. Our own private oasis in this world. Inadvertently I guess I had created a Vision Board and achieved the goal. Imagine what I could do if I set my mind to a goal?

Do you enjoy swimming? Do you hunt out hotels with pools when you travel? Let me know in the comments.

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.

My Original Profile Picture

Recently Facebook reminded me of my first “Tagged” photo. It also happened to be the photo I used as my profile picture for the first year or so on Facebook.

As you can see, it is of my father’s gravestone marker. Anyone who I befriended at the start of my Facebook days would have seen this image. Obviously I took this picture and tagged myself in it.

Fourteen years ago, I didn’t take selfies or share many pictures. In fact, my first smartphone was the iPhone 4 in 2010. Any photos I did share were from a one megapixel digital camera. I had to upload The images onto our computer, then filter through them (because the display screen on the camera was tiny- there was now way to tell in a picture was good or great). Most of my photos were of my kids as well.

So there wasn’t a profile picture of me that I was content with. Not with the age of “Showing off Instant Perfection” starting…

Yes folks, it’s still going on. We all want to share the best part of our lives. Most of the time I think it’s great seeing the individual successes. But I also know that it can be mentally taxing on each and every one of us. Myself included- for both.

So instead of trying to create the perfect profile picture with a low end digital camera- I used a picture with my name. It also served as a reminder of my father and the difference in our parenting styles.

Plus it is a bit morbid seeing your own name on a tombstone. I find that stuff amusing.

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.

My Top 5 Colecovision Games

I love retro 80’s video games. However, Atari was never my thing. I have always favored the Intellivision, but a close second is the Colecovision. Both of which were superior to the Atari in all aspects.

Aside from my opinion about which home console was best in an era “Pre-Nintendo” I also had 5 top games that I loved playing on my Colecovision.

Antarctic Adventure

A forward scrolling game where you jumped over holes, caught fish and avoided seals. The idea was a timed trial race around Antarctica. I completed this game numerous times, but still recall the “boing” sound as you bumped into seals.

Cabbage Patch Kids

This is a side scrolling “Pitfall” style game that gets harder as you go. I remember playing for hours on end, mastering each sprite location for the perfect jump. With only three lives to give- I don’t remember if there was an ending to the game.

Zaxxon

This was a space side scrolling game. The difference was that it was more of a 45° angle side scrolling- which proved tough to judge obstacles. The sound of the thrusters buzzing was classic.

Frenzy

This was a top view maze game, where you ran from room to room killing monsters and robots. Simple and a good way to burn off frustration.

Pepper II

Kind of Pac-Man esque. You avoid this creatures as you zippered up sections of a maze.

All of them were a great way to spend hours playing. Trying to beat high scores, how far you got, or times. Simple and cartoony. Pretty sure these games would be easy to beat nowadays.

Timex T80

Back in the early 80’s my father had a wrist watch. I don’t remember what brand it was- either a Casio or Timex. I do remember the watch being digital with faux gold. He was really happy when he got it, showing it off to my mother and I. I was maybe five years old at the time, but I remember the feel of the metal strap and how it flexed.

Forty Years Later…

My wife bought me a Timex T80 for my birthday. But not just any Timex T80- the Fortieth Anniversary Pac-Man wrist watch T-80.

Timex came out with this watch last year to celebrate Pac-Man’s 40th Anniversary. This Timex T80 is a great combination of style and class. When I unboxed the gold watch and placed it on my wrist- I felt like my father did forty years ago.

I’m not a watch person. But the watch looks great and feels fantastic. I always wanted a Timex like this one. It was the perfect gift for me. My wife also remembered that I loved Pac-Man.

Besides a great retro look… my favorite bit of this watch is that it plays the Pac-Man theme when you press the top button!

In Stereo

As I have mentioned in a few blog posts- I enjoy listening to music. When I was a teenager, we moved numerous times. Eventually my parents gave me their old stereo and speakers instead of throwing them away. I put them to good use until I needed to upgrade. At which point, I bought a new receiver and subwoofers. I was seventeen at the time and spent about $400 of my hard earned money on enjoying music. I also added my own art to speaker boxes since the “faux wood” look was already passé in the 90’s.

Now, twenty-eight years later, I’m finally letting go of them. Many of friends from my youth may remember these items as I used them for years as I went into my early 20’s. Those 12” subwoofers were great for house parties and rocked the neighborhood loudly. The receiver was a simple “Stereo Sound” with options for output to two or four speakers. Or turn one set off. Pretty fancy for the time.

As stereos and speakers evolve, oversized speakers like these are cumbersome and not necessary for good quality sound. I have a set of surround sound speakers from about six or seven years ago that give off an incredible experience. Yet even those are becoming outdated.

Letting go of these speakers is like saying goodbye to a part of me. It hurts a bit inside- but a photo and a short story are a better way to enjoy them instead of having them sit in storage for many more years to come.

The Internet Reacts Quickly

A few hours ago, a container ship (roughly as long as the height of the Empire State Building) got stuck in the Suez Canal.

The implications of how it is affecting the world economy hit almost immediately. Prices of gas has already shot up. Following soon will be the price of merchandise and goods. This vessel is preventing another 100 ships from going through the canal. It’s absolutely insane how quick the market is reacting to the news.

In true Internet fashion, the public’s reactions are humorous and just as quick. My favorite is the Austin Powers reference seen here. At the end of the day, no one is hurt and the ship will get moved. But the humor is far more appealing to most of us compared to the frustration of how much products and gas will cost in the coming days.

All you can do is laugh at the situation. I cannot wait to see what else comes from the talk show hosts and comedians today.

Green Food

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, so my wife decided to have some fun with our foods. We added a bit of food coloring to a couple of our meals.

Our pancake breakfast was a colorful way to start the day. This breakfast is always a family favorite no matter what colour we make them. The skillet cooked flapjacks were delicious.

Dinner however…

Dinner was unsettling.

My wife made fried chickpea patties, which are always good. We had a basic romaine lettuce salad on the side. Our other side was rice with a mushroom sauce. The mushroom sauce was dyed green and was most unappetizing looking. That made it a bit more difficult to enjoy, even though it is something we have had in the past (only in its normal state).

One of our kids described the sauce as ogre snot. The other said it looked like Nickelodeon slime. Unfortunately the colour changed how the meal tasted in my mind. I’ve had issues with foods in the past based on texture or smell. Never colour. This was a first for me.

Note to self: do not dye cream of mushroom soup ever again.

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.

Maskne

It’s been a year of following guidelines and wearing masks. I never had issues from breathing through a mask. But I have on occasion developed some acne from mask wearing.

The term that I’m sure you’ve heard is Maskne. A combo of mask and acne. I have only gotten a couple of pimples on my chin since the pandemic began, so I’m happy about that. I generally have clear skin.

I did however discover a zit inside my nose yesterday. A ZIT INSIDE MY NOSE. What the heck? Why? And why does it hurt so much?

I had to stick my finger into my nostril and press my nail against it to pop it. I popped the zit by picking my nose. It hurt so badly I was crying. Yup, I am a sexy man. Sorry folks, I am spoken for. My wife is extremely lucky.

How is your acne behind the mask going? Any fun stories like mine?