Crossing Tracks

Everyday I cross two sets of train tracks near our home. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now. Recently they changed one of the crossings.

They removed the stop sign and installed some lights. Needless to say that many of the local residents are having a difficult time adjusting. Since many have lived here for a long time. Even though I know it has signals and no more stop sign, I still slow down as I approach. Perhaps it’s the railroader in me exercising caution.

At the other crossing I sometimes stop and take a photo. There can be something beautiful about the skyline and the tracks that needs to be immortalized in a picture.

My Son is A Ghostbuster In The Making

I finished making my Halloween costume last week: Building My 2019 Costume. I’m really happy with how that one turned out. I guess it inspired my son to do his own build (With my help). After numerous costume ideas thrown around, he decided he wanted to be a Ghostbuster. Retro at it’s finest. Time to get going on it!

Of course we hit up Spirit Halloween to see what was out there. I love my son and I love Halloween… but forking over the kind of money this store is asking just for one night is kind of crazy. I did buy one piece to add to his costume. But the rest we decided to make together.

The Wand

This isn’t screen accurate at all. But it looks pretty awesome. It’s also the design my son wanted. A few years ago I had picked up two garden lights that had blue lightning effects. But because they used 8 “AA” batteries, I never used them in the yard. One of them I made into a “Steampunk Lightning Catcher that my daughter has used as part of her steampunk outfit for conventions. The other is now for my son to use as his Proton Pack Wand. I modified this one with a new rocker switch to turn it on, a metal grate and some “exposed” wires.

Proton Pack

The Proton Pack has been the most fun to assemble. Much like my Skesis head, I used pink foam insulation as the base. I cut the bottom of an ice cream tub for the “Cyclotron”. The top is from an old pressure washer handle and the rest is odds and ends from an old VCR and arcade parts I had laying around. A coat of black paint and some fairy lights hide most of the obviousness of what the items once were.

Ghost Trap

This is the piece we bought. As awesome as the Ghost Trap from Spirit Halloween is- I ended up using paints in order to weathering it. The result makes it seem more believable. So I used some techniques I’ve learned over the years. I think it looks good. But now I have to “age” the Proton Pack and the Wand in order to keep the aesthetics similar.

All that remains is the flightsuit and adding straps to the Proton Pack so our son can walk around. Not too bad for using stuff we already owned that was just gathering dust. Plus I enjoyed working with my son to build his props. I hope to do more like this with him in the future.

How are your costumes coming along? Do you love Halloween as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments!

Get Out There & Vote!

What are you doing reading my blog right now? Don’t you know there’s this election thing happening in Canada today? Go and vote! Then come and read my blog- I’ll wait.

Done voting? Excellent. I had thought about doing the advanced voting last weekend, but since I had a turkey to make- no go. This morning however- I was first in line at my local polling station waiting for the doors to open. That’s mostly because I finished a night shift and the polling station was a couple blocks away from our home. The timing was impeccable.

It’s going to be a rainy and miserable day in the Vancouver area. Not only will it be miserable because of the weather… but also because we are the last province to be counted. Many of the other provinces will have their numbers in and whatever the west does isn’t likely to skew the vote in either direction. But I have the opportunity to place an ❌ inside of a circle next to a name of some candidate I think will be best for my needs. So I chose someone.

And making the choice this year was difficult. I finally narrowed it down to two candidates and made my choice as I stared at the paper of names behind the cardboard cutout. Maybe you were better informed than I was. Maybe you just vote the same way every time. But a vote is still a vote.

Tell your family to vote.

Tell your friends to vote.

Tell your coworkers to vote.

Tell your neighbor to vote.

Tell the barista to vote.

Tell the traffic safety person to vote.

Tell a complete stranger to vote.

You get the idea. Make everyone have their voice heard today.

If you read all the way to the end before hitting the polling station- all I want to say is “Go Vote!

Successful Staycation

It’s back to work for the night shift this week. I’d have to say though, my staycation with a to-do list was more than successful. Here’s what I had planned:

  1. Finish my costume.
  2. Fix the tile and tap in shower.
  3. Fix the sauna heater.
  4. Get the Honda Element serviced.
  5. Decorate for Halloween.
  6. Do some baking on Saturday.
  7. Make turkey dinner on Sunday
  • Numbers 1,4,5,6 & 7 were completed. Number 2 is almost done- I just need to buy a small amount of grout and seal it and my shower will be useable once more. Number 3 I am still avoiding. Don’t judge me…
  • However I did end up doing a few other projects that weren’t on my initial list.

    1. I installed a new stovetop.
    2. I painted the trim between the sunroom and the living room.
    3. I helped my son build his costume.
    4. I was involved in speed skating more.
  • Overall I think I was fairly productive with my time off. Now to get back into the work routine and utilize my days off as rest days once more. I just hope I remember how to do my job…
  • Making of My 2019 Costume: A Skesis

    During my life I have always loved costumes, Halloween and cosplay. The biggest attraction for me is making the costumes myself. For about a decade we were attending a variety of Comic Cons where we were able to have fun and showcase some costumes. I have written about costuming a few times including a couple of weeks ago where I shared photos of previous outfits: Get Those Costumes Ready

    I also hinted at how I was going to push myself and this year’s outfit. Here is my work for this year. I spent about twenty hours building it. After this Halloween, I’ll probably use it as a prop for decorations in the future.

    I present to you, my Skesis build. MmmMMMmmm

    It started years ago when I wanted to build a Skesis outfit for Calgary Expo. The only downside was we didn’t have room in our vehicle to transport such a large piece from provincial to province. With five of us in the SUV and a metric ton of hats to sell at the show (My wife is still making hats, but we aren’t traveling any more for it. You can still buy online at Ningen Headwear FYI) we didn’t have room for extravagant outfits. My love of The Dark Crystal returned this year when Netflix did a prequel series. It was time to make this costume.

    Research became a quick obsession. Viewing others who had made this costume, searching images, watching behind the scenes footage- you name it and I looked for it. I had to settle on what was going to be feasible in my spare time and what I could afford- my budget ended up being $30. Seriously. I had a lot of the materials readily available from previous Cosplay, thank goodness.

    It started with some designs and foam. Foam insulation boards glued together and a roll of foam floor mat. My artistic ability is mediocre at best. My hope was that doing some of it and taking a break periodically would inspire me. Advice from my family was also key.

    Making the inner framework was a challenge. I needed it to be sturdy and light weight and fit me inside. PVC tubing and a couple of straps are the basic inner workings. I used a heat gun to mold and form the “outer shell”. I also suffered numerous hot glue gun burns to my fingers throughout the entire process.

    Once the foam for the head was dry, it was time to cut out the shape of the head. I mostly used an exacto blade and craved off laters if foam. I used a Dremel to smooth out the edges and add some facial features. The head still seemed blocky at this point. Adding teeth and ping pong ball eyes helped a bit.

    To get the features more realistic, I formed a thin layer of sculpting clay around the head. Once it was dry, I used acrylic paints to get a good base coat of colour onto it. The features were beginning to POP but it was looking far too cartoon like.

    Getting advice from my daughter, I added some dull fading to it and was throughly pleases with the results.

    After spray painting the back shell with black and red, I hot glued it to my fingers the frame and began to add fabrics. Old bedsheets, curtains and sheer material have given this guy some life. I’m happy with the results so far. All that’s left is to try walking around in it. I should be able to see through the black sheer, but this thing might weigh more than I’m expecting.

    I enjoyed the process along the way. I know some things I’d do differently if I were to make this again. I also know that it can look pretty good as a stationary piece later on.

    Hopefully this Halloween, I can get some candy for all my hard work!

    Too Busy Being Busy

    I’m busy trying to fit everything into my day that I can, that I have been neglecting my blog. I keep putting off writing until I can find a solid half an hour to an hour to write. I’ve been falling behind on writing some genuinely good blog content.

    Having quality content draws in more readership, right? Or do I need keywords and tags? At night when I’m in bed, I’m browsing my phone and reading some of my older blog posts to see what was successful in regards to traffic. Reading my blogs by going through the Facebook link, or having my wife read them, I think I’ve skewed some of the numbers. Especially for my older content. I feel I’ve read some of my more popular ones numerous times. Or did I make them popular by rereading them?

    I should put more thought into my daily musings. But lately I haven’t had the time to proofread and do rewrites. A quick “once over” and then I hit publish. Just like today’s post. I’m going to work on taking the time to write something tangible.

    Tomorrow.

    Take The Compliment!

    The toughest critic on you is yourself.

    I love creating art. I think I make decent art things. But I’m also hard on myself and find all the flaws where I could have done better. What’s worse is I enjoy showing it off to people, but I don’t take compliments very well.

    My art of choice varies on my moods and the seasons. I’ve always been crafty and creative. This time of year I enjoy carving pumpkins. I can’t wait to get my hands on some and let the creative juices flow! I’m also excited about showcasing my costume. I’m a bit worried that the more I talk about it, the less it will be amazing when I show it off.

    I don’t want to show it off quite yet, but I also want some advice on a few parts of it. Argh. Silly brain isn’t being helpful. I’m sure people will tell me it looks good, but I want better than that!

    Ack. Argh. Ugh. Just take the compliment Joe. It’ll be fine.

    My Friend in Hong Kong Shares Her View.

    The world is always changing and oftentimes faces new struggles. We hear tidbits in the media about the rest of the nation or even other countries and think to ourselves, “I’m glad I live where I do.”

    But when people you know are in those places, you get concerned. Be it a natural disaster or civil unrest- you get feelings of anxiousness and worry about their wellbeing. That’s when you need to hear it from the source about how things are going.

    I have an old friend who is currently living in Hong Kong. Yesterday she shared what is going on with the protesters, how it started and some history behind everything. It opened my eyes as to what is really happening from a first hand view.

    Read about it here: The New Normal in Hong Kong.

    I don’t usually share stories like this, but it’s affecting a part of my world and not just this friend, but those friends who care about her as well. I hope that getting the facts out will help in an understanding of what goes on elsewhere in this world. If even for the few minutes it takes to read the story.

    So please, take the time to get a behind the scenes understanding. And if you wish to read more for her life in Hong Kong, check out Kayo Chang Black

    Success is Sure

    I’m a fan of Mark Twain. He is the sort of person I wish to be one day. Or at least what I imagined him being: An old guy sitting in a rocking chair on a porch spewing out wisdoms. With big hair and killer fashion sense. The sort of man that most ignored while alive, but seek out the wisdom once departed.

    Recently I misquoted Mark Twain. I wrote, “To succeed in life, you need two things: Ignorance and confidence.” Which is a close variance on his original quote as seen in the image above.

    In many ways I am on a road to success with my writing. I am confident in my ability to write. And completely ignorant to the fact that not everything I write is worth reading. But I still manage to write. It’s just a matter of figuring out how I wish to measure my success. Is it monetary? More followers? Comments?

    I’ll probably never know if I’m successful because the game keeps changing.

    Trying To Be A Better Man

    Today would’ve been my father’s birthday. Over the years I’ve been trying different ways to remember the good in him. Which has been difficult when the bad memories were more impactful. From September 19 (My father’s birthday) to November 25th (the date he passed away) I’m not a pleasant person to be around at home. I’ve been consciously making different choices in my life to try and be a better person each and every day.

    For two years in a row I grew a beard. It made me look like him. I was thinking of making it a tradition, but last year my family pushed hard and made me feel bad that I grew facial hair. I’m not sure why, but I’d rather not have bitterness thrown at me from those whom I care about. So no beard planned this year.

    Last year I did “Sober September” and this year I’m trying as well. I had a couple of beers once this month and felt instant shame in myself for being weak. The reason is my father drank heavily and I worry that the trait runs deep in my genes. Especially when I look back at most of my Instagram posts and see a lot of beer in my hands.

    Obviously I’d love to say that I am in control of my drinking, but am I? I come home from work and would like a beer with dinner. I have days off and want to see friends which generally brings up drinking. Maybe this year I’ll try not drinking from September 19 to November 25th. Do the complete opposite of what my father would do. Maybe only then can I push the negative out of my mind and bring out the positive memories.

    I sure don’t want to end up like him- sour, angry and dead by age 58. That doesn’t appeal to me. I want to be a better person.

    I know I’m a better person. I just need to remind myself from time to time.