What Does $1000 Look Like?

Recently I finished a set off doors for our home. I’m really happy with the results. But it got me thinking about how $1000 can look differently every time. With each and every purchase or experience being worthwhile.

I treated my wife to a night out on the town at a spa and hotel. We needed that time off. Wedgewood Hotel and Spa

We bought tickets to Queen for the five of us. Such an amazing show. Queen

We now have a back up generator for when the power goes out. Like it does every year… sometimes for days on end.

My son got a pair of Long Track Speed Skates. Chasing that Olympic Dream! Fastest Ice

We bought a couple of kayaks and accessories. Gotta stay in shape as we grow older. Kayak Adventure

That’s all from this year. In the past- a thousand dollars bought three iPad Minis, or a video game system and accessories, or tickets to Disneyland, even a new mattress…

Like they say, a thousand here and thousand there- pretty soon it adds up to real money.

I’m starting to feel broke. Maybe it’s time to slow down on the spending. The kids need a post secondary education. A thousand bucks might buy a couple of textbooks.

Jim Henson

For some reason this past weekend I have spent hours watching YouTube videos devoted to the life of Jim Henson. A full barrage of documentaries. All of which I found informative and inspirational.

Jim Henson and all of his works resound with me. There is an air of magic about the shows, movies and tv specials that sprout childhood memories inside me. I grew up enjoying anything and everything Muppet related.

I’ve shared with my children the beauty of Fraggle Rock, Muppets, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal to name a few. I think they have grown a fondness of everything Henson as well.

Kermit the Frog was an inspirational character through all of his performances. Jim Henson brought him to life and made him feel real. Even though I knew someone had a hand stuck in the back of the puppets, it didn’t make them any less real.

It’s not just the puppeteering that I love, but also the music. The songs are a bit hippy-dippy at times, yet very catchy. Rainbow Connection is one of my all time favorite songs ever.

I’m glad that someone like Jim Henson came around and changed the world. Now to go and watch The Dark Crystal before the new series comes out.

N

A little bit over a year ago, our oldest daughter got her Learner’s License. She has practiced driving a few times every week since then. Mostly driving my car because it is an automatic. She has also driven our 2003 Honda Element which is a manual transmission. We kept that vehicle because it has been extremely reliable and had we traded it in- we wouldn’t get much money for it. It’s also a safe vehicle for her to drive around in.

Today she went in to get her “N” to begin being a Novice Driver. She successfully passed the road exam. Now she will have more freedom to drive without mom and dad overseeing her every move. Just look at that teenage smile!

We insured the Honda Element today for a full year with her as the primary driver. The first thing she did for the car? Set her radio stations.

Having an L for the past year meant she wasn’t permitted to have music or the radio playing while she learned to drive. Earning an N gives her the opportunity to enjoy driving. She will be more independent now. I also gave her some training this evening on how to change the tire in case she ever gets a flat.

So there it is- another milestone in a young person’s life. It feels as if we just took off her training wheels yesterday. Except that was a fight. She had no desire to learn how to ride a two wheel bike… but that’s a different story.

Congratulations Random!

Internet Rabbit Hole

When the Internet first took off in my life it was… slow. With emails and text based websites being all that was available. By my mid twenties it was getting faster. This brought on FLASH animation and a genre of uselessness. As animation got better and the Internet expanded, actual videos were beginning to surface along with YouTube.

Yearning for faster download speeds and better quality images also happened. Upgrading computer video and sound cards became a frequent habit. With these upgrades came “The Void.” The bad habit of viewing anything and everything sucking you into a Rabbit Hole which was hard to break free from.

Long nights and obsessive behaviors took over. Mouse clicks and search engines. Wasted time. Sharing links in order to have your friends follow suit. Then came Smart Phones. Take the addiction with you…

Maybe I’m a bit cynical looking back on the advancements. Some of it is uselessness showcasing as “informative”. I’ve found that if there’s something you want to search out, chances are it’s in the World Wide Web. From bits of song lyrics to the benefits of eating dirt, or building an oversized Nerf Gun to buying a deed to some land on the moon. There’s is a vast uselessness available to be consumed.

Uselessness is one way to describe it all. But it’s also entertaining. Going online sparks the imagination and encourages us to travel, eat healthier, and exercise more. I can’t imagine a world without the Internet. Nor can I imagine an Internet world that is heavily policed and controlled- but I know it is. Someone, somewhere is saving us from ourselves while still manipulating what we purchase.

I think this blog post spiraled out of control. Time to end it. Until tomorrow when I’ll likely discuss my life again.

Camping is Planned

British Columbia has some of the most beautiful forests and lakes in the world. People love to go camping as well. Getting away from the busy life and enjoying nature is revitalizing. Many of the popular campsites book up quickly in the Spring for the entire Summer. These are the easy access sites with full amenities.

For the past few years, we go camping at a spot that’s a bit further out at a place called Twenty Mile Bay. It requires about an hour drive down a logging road. Not the kind of drive that most small cars could do which makes it more secluded and private. It’s also the kind of place where you pack in/pack out all trash thus keeping the campsite pristine.

The only downside is that we can’t book a spot that far in advance for this camp ground. We only get 30 days ahead of time to book a spot. The other day we missed our opportunity to get our first choice spot. However, we did get to book our favorite double site spot. We are looking forward to our regular summer break on the lake. This time we may have a friend join us with his family adding to the adventure.

Have you enjoyed camping in BC? Any favorite spots? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to explore more of this beautiful province.

Scrolled Life

Sometimes I scroll through the photos on my phone to find a great image or two for my blog. My days off or vacations are filled with tons of pictures. As I slide the bar along the bottom of my pictures, I see the images forming a film strip “Stop Motion” of my memories.

I must’ve spent a good hour last night “Rewinding” through my memories. When I got my first video iPod back in 2006 it did the same thing but with the click wheel. Back in 2006 this feature reminded me of a scene from The Last Starfighter. I love how life imitates art in many ways.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was using tablet computers back in the early 90’s. Nowadays everyone has one- even kids. I love how humanity keeps moving forward in their tech. Even back in the late 80’s I remember news reports of electric cars and the constraints that came with them. Now these types of cars are everywhere.

I’m waiting for VR and augmented reality to be more prevalent in our lives. Perhaps one day I’ll be scrolling through my memories by waving my hand in the air.

Or the chip implanted in my brain will project from my mechanical eye and show my memories in a hologram form.

Whatever the future tech holds- I’m sure I’ll be happy with it and it’ll all be the new normal.

Food Court

Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done in years. I bought food in a mall food court. Maybe it was planted in my head because of Stranger Things Season 3. Maybe it was because I was hungry after my dentist appointment and I needed food. In reality, it was the nostalgia of the life I had prior to kids and being a Mall Rat.

So I hit up the Orange Julius for a bacon cheese dog and an original Orange Julius beverage. I let my kids have a sip of this drink that screamed sentimentality in the recesses of my brain. It was my go-to food break back in the day when I wasn’t buying mall sushi.

The reason for our visit to the mall was for my 15 year old to meet up with some friends from school. One of those friends is moving away next week, so they wanted to hang out. My son and I wandered the mall together and after a couple of hours, we returned to the Food Court and hit up another vendor. This time New York Fries. I was never a fan of their French Fries, only ever eating them maybe twice before. But my son wanted some poutine, so we grabbed some. We found out later that my daughter and her friends had done the same thing.

When I was a teen/young adult, the mall was the place to meet up. Even if it meant walking laps around the mall and not buying anything but a 25¢ coffee in the food court just so you weren’t kicked out for loitering. The mall I was at yesterday seemed quiet.

Perhaps Shopping Malls are a dying breed. Maybe they’ll make a comeback. Only time will tell. All I can say is that I can go another 20 years before I have another Orange Julius and it wouldn’t bother me one bit.

Unassuming Funday

My day yesterday was filled with meeting up with friends while in Calgary. It was fun and magical in many ways.

First was a lunch with a friend of ours we originally met at the Calgary Expo eight years ago. He and I shared stories of our kids, work and caught up on life. It was different this time around because we weren’t at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo having a weekend of laughs in between sales. It was a condensed, pleasurable, laugh riot meal.

Before dinner, we went to the Skyline Luge again. This time we brought my wife and met up with some other Speed Skaters from Langley. It was a laugh riot, again! My wife really enjoyed it and in the end was upset that I had already done this earlier in the week without her.

Afterwards, we went to visit our other friends again (these were the ones we met up with earlier in the week at Gorilla Whale). This time we met up at the their home. We were introduced to a large stuffed shark that tried the devour two of my kids. Later we fooled around with the Occulus Quest. The first quality VR to not need a big computer or extra wiring. It has a life span of 2hrs, which we fully used up.

It was also great to see my wife immerse herself into the game system. My wife hadn’t tried any VR like the rest of us did three years ago when we went to Silcon Valley (read about it here: Button Mashing). Unfortunately, now she wants one. We’ll see what happens in the future- maybe the excitement will wear off.

Or maybe she’ll be escaping into a whole new environment.

Skyline Luge

Tuesday was originally going to be a write off. The weather in Calgary was so unpredictable- first was rain, then sun, then rain, then sun. All within a few hours. I wasn’t going to let Mother Nature beat me! So at 3pm we headed out in hopes that the rumor of “Don’t like the weather- just wait 15 minutes.”

It worked. The sun began to come out. So we were on our way to a fun filled destination.

Skyline Luge!

Much like the Mountain Pipeline Coaster that we experienced last week in Revelstoke, this was a downhill experience that we had to try.

Like the Skyline Luge slogan says- “Once is never enough.” We had to go down a second time. I will also say, this was a better value and more fun than the Mountain Pipeline Coaster. Though not as fast.

Afterwards, we checked out some of the sights from the Calgary Olympics back in 1988. Calgary has kept the venues as being very useful decades later. Besides the Kart Luge, they’ve made Mountain bike paths and a zip line for use in the summer. As well as keeping the outdoor winter sports active. It’s the sort of thing that many other countries should look at and benefit from. I was thoroughly impressed.

Calgary keeps on beating my expectations of what I think a city should be.

Calgary Zoo

Just like Drumheller, it’s been close to ten years since we’ve been to the Calgary Zoo. It’s my favorite Zoo in Canada. (But my favorite that I’ve been to in the world is Ueno Zoo in Tokyo). The Calgary Zoo is up there as an amazing place to visit animals from around the world. The Zoo employees also mention after every sale or interaction- “Thank you for supporting wildlife preservation” which made me happy.

As you walk into the Calgary Zoo, the Penguin Exhibit is immediately to your left. When we first came here ten years ago- it was under construction and I vowed to return in order to see it. I’m glad I did. The Zoo has made an incredible interior enclosure that is temperature controlled where you have to walk into an Air Lock to keep it cool. (Also, I think I have an affection towards birds that I never knew about. I get giddy and excited when, in the past, I have met penguins, owls and rescued birds from inside our home.)

After the penguins, we wandered the first half of the Zoo, where we saw tons of animals native to western Canada. Then we were off to “Africa” for more exotic experiences. We had fun along the way making silly poses and making bad puns about the animals.

Since we started our Calgary Zoo experience at opening, we were able to pause for a moment to feed our own beasts. My wife and I sprung for a brunch in the Zoo for the five of us- and we stuffed ourselves silly. The food and service was well worth the extra splurge.

After brunch, we entered into the Zoo’s Butterfly pavilion. We were lucky enough to have a couple moths and butterflies hang out on our hands long enough for some photos. There was one that didn’t mind traveling between each of us, and our son passed it gently on to another visitor. It was serene inside the exhibit and well worth the wait to have a unique butterfly experience.

After the butterflies, it was off to the “Panda Passage” for more cuteness overload. We love these bears. so much so that we had to but some cute panda stuff from the gift shops.

Our day was super successful with a ton of great memories made. We took far too many pictures for me to share here as well. We saw so many animals in fantastic environments. Not cages- but enclosures replicated after their “homes”. All of the staff were knowledgeable about the animals they were near and the zoo was well kept. From what I could see, I think these animals are treated like royalty.

Make sure if you make it to Calgary- you visit the Calgary Zoo. You won’t be disappointed. Especially if you love the animals!