Iced

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

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

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

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

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

Changed My Mind

No way home.

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

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

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

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

Trying To Get Home

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

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

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

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

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

2500 Daily Blog Posts

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Josef.

Black Friday Coffee Talk

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

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

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

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

A Man and His Bucket

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

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

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

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

Another November 25th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Volunteer Evening Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding New Social Media(s)

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

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

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

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

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

Just a Few More Minutes

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

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

11:34=Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Am Long Track Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

Go Theory!

VR Sickness

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

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

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

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

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

Freaking Virtual Reality Sickness.

Foggy Autumn Vacation

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

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

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

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

Wreathing

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

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

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

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

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

Can You Ever Have Enough Christmas Decorations?

Boxes of Christmas decorations have exploded in my home. It isn’t until I begin bringing them out of the attic that I realize how much we have. It may be time to downsize some of the decorations. It took me a good half hour with help to get everything out. That doesn’t include our four artificial trees and those decorations!

Bins and boxes filled our dining room table as well as the floor space around. Opening each box contains a new surprise. Sometimes it’s exactly what I was expecting inside, but most often it contains the unknown.

Since we changed our colour theme last year to silver, gold and blue- we now have an abundance of red and green balls and baubles. Lucky for us, it should fit in nicely in our basement. Downstairs has more earthy brown tones as the colour scheme.

I have been working on some new layouts to keep it looking uncluttered. I also kept the same design of the garland from last year. Of course this means having some of our cutesy decorations needing a place to live. We have so many stuffed toys that come out for Christmas. As well as a growing collection of Nightmare Before Christmas trinkets.

My family is surprised that I am so far behind in decorating. Good thing I have a week of vacation to do the displays and set up the house just right.

Let’s get decorated!

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Last weekend I experienced déjà vu. Not just a small moment. Everything about the weekend had a sense of me doing it once before. From work, to being at home, even at the bunkhouse in Boston Bar and traveling by train. The crews I worked with had a sense of familiarity and a redo of something once done.

I have had senses like this in the past. I’m not quite sure what to make of the sensation. Could it have been because I had a head cold? Perhaps because my equilibrium was off. Or maybe everything had shifted two inches to the right.

I also thought that I had written a previous blog title déjà vu. But I was wrong. Even though this feels eerily familiar. I’m a bit suspect about this simulation we are in. I’m not sure when it will end. But a software update is necessary. Not ready for a reboot yet. I don’t really want to turn my life off and on.

Am I the only one who experienced this sensation last weekend? Maybe the planets or the moon had something to do with it. Or else I’m just going crazy.

Light Dusting

Overnight there was a light dusting of snow that fell. The sudden drop in temperature and weather changes came as a bit of a surprise. Last week’s windstorm and torrential rainfall was already challenging. The snow and cold temperatures made me realize that I needed to wrap our palm tree in order to save it for next summer.

The brisk air and chilled sky made the city skyline in the distance a bit more visible. With a lovely mountain backdrop, it hardly seemed real. Especially to be able to see it from our backyard. I expect to see more snow on the mountains as the season gets colder.

Over the next few days it should be sunny, but cool. After I protect our palm tree, I’ll be putting up the outside Christmas lights before it gets really miserable outside. That way when December is upon us- I can enjoy the lights as darkness takes over most of the days as we approach the Winter Solstice.

Appreciating the season can be tough. Finding the moments that can bring you pleasure or working towards them is challenging. I like the end result and try my best to accept when I can’t control something- like the weather.

Slow To Get Home

Protecting work is a part of my job. But sometimes it can be a long, drawn out process. I was waiting for a train to go back on for 24 hours. I was originally expected to be a conductor in the early morning, but that never happened. In the end, I am heading back with a crew in deadhead service.

This is also in part because the roads are treacherous as well due to a snow fall and strong winds. Getting in a taxi was not the safest choice at this time. So I am glad to be traveling back by train. I am also with an experienced crew who is good at their job. I know they won’t feel intimidated by my appearance there.

Home is just a few hours away. My own bed and a good night’s sleep is well needed. I’m looking forward to my bedroom and the fireplace. The -5°C in Boston Bar is not pleasant.

Back To The Tracks

I mentioned the other day how I have been with CN for 15 years now (Read about it here:15 Years of CN). Over the last few years I have been in management and generally stay in the yard organizing the movements in and out of my territory. It has its challenges and I really enjoy them. Sometimes I’ll go back to my roots and get out in the yard and work with a switching crew.

Today I took a train as a conductor from North Vancouver to Boston Bar. This is because we have been short workers as of late and the workload has felt like it has increased. So out came my old notes from when I first hired on. Pages upon pages of assistance that made my first trip back on the road a smooth sailing.

Now I am in Boston Bar with the other crews in the bunkhouse. It has had a severe upgrade since I last stayed here. Nicer rooms with a Smart TV. So far, everyone I have run into has been jovial and nice. The crews are respectful and I feel that I have been equally respectful towards them over the years. This doesn’t feel like management vs union. More like we are all in this together- working towards a common goal- move the trains safely.

Now comes the part that was always tough- waiting for a call for the train ride to return home. The call may be in a couple of hours, but could be up to half a day wait. Uncertainty is tough. But that’s how the railroad works. For now, I’m going to get some rest and wait to see what happens.

Soup’s On

There are some days that you just need a warm bowl of soup. I enjoy making a soup stock/bone broth, cutting fresh vegetables, adding some meat and letting it simmer. It produces a warm, hearty flavor and emanates a heavenly smell that fills your home. Such a beautiful thing to enjoy on a cool autumn night.

Sometimes, you need it quickly as well, but don’t have all day. Tonight, I made chicken noodle soup. From a packet inside a box. The smell wasn’t the same as making soup from scratch. But I did have a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup after about ten minutes. I grabbed some plain crackers from the cupboard which I crumbled a handful into my bowl.

It was exactly what I needed tonight. A quick bit of warmth in my belly. Convenient and easy.

Bedroom Fireplace

I never thought of having a fireplace in our bedroom as being something I needed. But once we bought this home, I am beginning to wonder how we lived without it. Especially last winter as well as right now, as we are entering the same seasonal chills.

I’m not about to say that having a gas fireplace in our bedroom isn’t a luxury. Far from it. Having a fireplace in any room brings forth warmth and comfort. But to fall asleep with the flickering flames and heat is wonderful. Even better today is that I was chilled last night having to work outside. Ending a night shift with a warm fire to fall asleep to is a total luxury.

I hope you are finding ways to stay warm and enjoy your slumbers. I am off to sleep with a cozy fire on.

15 Years of CN Rail

Folks, I have been with CN Rail for 15 years so far. The job has had many ups and downs. Lots of changes as well in my career. From starting as a conductor, to being a union representative, to Yard Coordinator to my latest role since 2016 as Transportation Manager.

CN Rail has been one of the best and most random jobs I have ever had. I fell into it by accident because of a former coworker at a different job. I can honestly say that without that initial suggestion to apply- my life would not be where it is today.

I have put in crazy hours which has earned me a decent pension, share matching, and salary bonuses. Not all of it was easy. I still struggle sometimes at work if things are not going as planned. But I have a great team that I work with and they make coming into work all that more pleasant. The results of owning the home I have, putting the kids into better schools, vacationing as a family- all of that is because of this career.

I will be putting in at least 25 years of service before I retire from CN Rail. I may stay longer if life requires it. But for now I can say that an end date is closer than my start date was.

Feel free to check some of my previous posts about CN: by clicking on the links below:

10 Years

Steam Train

CN 100

Proud of Where I Work

Autumn Walks For Health

Over the last couple of days, I have been enjoying a nice autumn walk with my wife. Yesterday was a 5km walk and today was about 3km. What’s different this time, is I’m the one asking to go on these walks.

I’ve been asking my wife to go on these walks because she stopped doing them. Summer was busy and her routine got disrupted as she went from one job to another. Getting her out again has been helping her in processing and clearing her thoughts. I have been doing my best to be a sounding board for her while we get some exercise. she has been noticeably happier these past few days as well.

Admittedly, even though it’s been cool outside- the views and sunshine have made it worthwhile to get out. The crisp air has helped with breathing and getting the heart rate going. Our pace has been quick and steady, really making the heart and lungs work.

I have also wanted to get a bit more mobile as work has had me fairly stagnant. Either sitting in a desk or driving a vehicle around. I have not been as active as I once was when I first hired on 15 years ago. As I get older, I really should be more active, eat healthier, and cut back on alcohol. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

I hope the weather stays nice- even if it’s just for a bit each day. We can squeeze in a walk during those times. I like holding her hand and discussing our lives.