Good First Day Of 2019

I had a good start to 2019. I woke up. Always a great way to begin any day.

Then I went to work. Which means I have a job that helps keep my family clothed and fed.

I finished reading a book. I love Felicia Day. She’s like my celebrity crush- sort of. More like a really cool friend crush. The kind where we could hang out and play Munchkin and then not talk for months. Anyways, I digress. I finished her autobiography. I also miss reading. Time to pick up more books.

I also played some old school video games. On a system I wasn’t going to buy. But it was a total impulse purchase just before Christmas. And I had fun playing the Super Nintendo games again.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a cheese fondue dinner as a family. We try and have it every New Year’s Day.

To end the day- I watched some tv with the family before bed. We watched some “Community” and “Parks and Rec” pointing out other shows that we recognize the actors from.

It was a good start to the year. I hope to have many more days like this.

What I Didn’t Get For Christmas

Sometimes you just don’t get what you want for Christmas. Of course Christmas is a time of giving; But receiving is pretty sweet as well. I’ve tried to drop hints to my family over the years. I guess my subtlety was overlooked– Most likely ignored.

I had a wonderful Christmas, as I do every year. With good laughs and lots of love being spread. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. However, maybe next year Santa could find room in his sleigh for one of these items I’d kinda like:

I have been wanting a large 3D Printer for ages. Maybe not that large. But still, I love movie replicas. I see this as a way of doing it as a hobby with the idea of making my own movie replica props. Full size Han Solo in Carbonite? Yes please!

Speaking of movie props, on my list is the Leg Lamp with crate from the film “A Christmas Story”. I have wanted this for nearly three decades. Ever since I first saw the film as a teenager. It screams Christmas to me. Yes, my wife has known I have wanted it but refuses to buy it. She’s kinda like Ralphie’s mom in that aspect.

See that watch Elvis is wearing? There’s just something about the design of a Hamilton Ventura wrist watch. I’m not a watch guy, but this is the piece I have always wanted. Forget Rolex, that’s way out of my price range, or the trendy 1980’s Casio calculator watch (I had one of those at one point as a kid)- a Hamilton Ventura is where it’s at.

I have many other things I have hinted at that are just regular items, like a sawzall or outdoor speakers, but this dad just seems to get ignored. Honestly, I’m okay with that. All of these items I’ve mentioned, I could just go out and get myself. That’s not what Christmas is about.

I am delighted with the gifts I did receive from my family. Many of them surprised me. From a jar of mustard to slippers, or a stuffed animal that shares my birthday, or a keepsake from our trip to Japan- my family knows the right things to give me that hits me in the feels.

For this, I am grateful and wouldn’t change a thing.

Christmas Video Games

Almost all my life, Christmas has involved video games. Either getting new systems or games. This year was no different.

We picked up a Switch for the family and the NES/SNES minis for my wife and I. Even though I didn’t want to last year. We also picked up a couple games to play. All afternoon and night yesterday had us playing as a family.

Even today, everyone has been gaming throughout the house. Lots of laughs and smack talk a-plenty. When I was younger, my family never played games with me. I did play with friends quite often. Which was great. I also powered through those endless games for hours on end.

As well when I was younger, we had one of those large wooden cabinet tvs that sat on the floor. Over the Christmases, starting around 1980, our home had consoles arrive that would require Channel 3 or 4 to work. Intellivision was our first one. A couple years later, we got a Colecovision/ADAM computer combo. At which point my father bought another tv. This time a small 13″ one that could go into a different part of the house so that I wouldn’t bother him as I played games.

Eventually, when we moved to a new home, that small tv ended up in my bedroom for a couple years. Until the Sega Genesis came into my life. We moved again, and then my parents bought themselves another tv and I was given the large old one. Which took up half my new bedroom. So I got a Futon bed to fold into a couch in order to play games more. Which meant I also never put it into bed form. Super Nintendo, followed by the N64 became favorites to play with friends as well.

Growing into an adult and having a place of my own for nearly the past two decades, I have changed TVs every couple of years. With technology constantly evolving, “upgrading” is one of my favorite things. This Christmas we upgraded our theater room projector. For about five- six years, we had a small 720p Epson projector. It got a ton of use. But as the game systems and games got visually better, it was time to upgrade.

So on Black Friday, we ordered a new projector online. Since we had such good luck with Epson, I wanted to stay with it. Our new projector shows images in 4K. We weren’t expecting it to be such a large machine. However, the entire family agrees that the quality in the images is incredible. Especially when shown on a 106″ screen.

It was strange today to play on the big screen and then take the Nintendo Switch out into handheld mode for the same game. Going from 106″ to 6.2″ would seem incomprehensible in 1980.

What memories do you have of video games? Do you still play them? Have you upgraded your tv or stereo to match the quality of modern systems?

Never Too Busy To Pause For Life’s Moments

Life can get pretty hectic. Especially towards the holiday season. Kids concerts, last minute gift shopping, year end work deadlines… Throughout it all, you need to remember to pause for a bit and just enjoy life.

It’s also tough to not want to compare your life with someone else’s. All those fun photos and memorable moments they’re having. Kinda wish I was doing the same sometimes. But my life is pretty darn good when I look at it. I just need to focus on what matters most to me:

My family.

They’re really good people who have stories to share with me. I need to remember to give them the attention that I give my social media feed. Sometimes I need to be an ear for them to talk to. Other times I just admire them without their knowledge. Catching those “Ah-Ha” moments when something clicks. Or seeing the kindness they can show others without being prompted.

Those are the moments I don’t want to miss. I just need to hit pause once in a while and enjoy.

Richmond

Yesterday we were in Richmond for a Speed Skating Competition. Richmond is heavily influenced by the Asian community. While we were there we decided to have a bit of a “FLASHBACK” of our trip to Tokyo.

First my wife and I went to the T and T grocery store. We picked up some milk tea and some mango mochi as a treat for the kids while they were skating. We went with another skater’s parent who was rather timid in wanting to try any of the foods there. I guess not everyone is as adventurous as we are when it comes to experiencing other cultures.

After skating, my wife took the family out for dinner to an amazingly authentic Japanese BBQ at the Gyu Kaku. Where we grilled our own food and stuffed ourselves silly. From spicy tofu to beef tongue and eggplant- everything was delicious.

After dinner we wandered around Aberdeen Centre looking at the shops and taking selfies just like tourists. We had a lot of fun goofing around.

It was a good way to end our Saturday.

Indoor Footwear

When I come home I take off my shoes. Only to put on slippers. Indoor footwear? Why? I guess to keep my feet warm. I don’t really mind walking around in socks or barefooted. But slippers are just a way of life. And we go through them rather quickly. About every three or four months, we need to get new ones.

I like owning slippers. My slippers wait for me at the side of my bed. The fuzzy comfort for my feet as I roll out of my nice warm bed. I always get at least one pair of slippers at Christmas. One year, my daughter gave me three pairs. She figured that way I wouldn’t run out before the next Christmas.

My wife has slippers that my children often steal. Even though they each have their own, they find it fun to take their mother’s slippers and walk around in them.

Recently, I picked up some “back up” slippers. They are hung under our stairs near the front door just in case someone in our family forgets their slippers upstairs. I also bought them because they reminded me of our trip to Tokyo.

Our hotel gave us each a pair of slippers that we were told we could keep. We received new ones Every Single Day. So we ended up with a pretty good stockpile of white slippers. My wife and I plan on giving them out when guests come over. Even just for dinner. We are going to offer slippers to make our home feel like a comfortable place they our guests can feel like it’s their home.

I’m looking forward to getting a new pair of slippers for Christmas. I should probably go out and buy a pair for my wife also. The kids are slowly killing hers.

Halloween Decorations

Now that we are back home from our latest vacation, it is time to decorate for Halloween. The kids seem to enjoy this. Our son gets right into it and wants to put out everything we have. He even tries to add things that aren’t quite Halloween, but that he thinks would look good.

We have a bunch of things from when the kids were younger. So lots of plastic decor and more not-so-scary items. We don’t put those out as much. We also have a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas knickknacks that stay out all year. For me, decorating each year is about making it different from the last. I try not to have too much store bought items, but rather use what we have around that is old and battered.

Our garden piano for example has begun to crumble and really take the shape of what I wanted. Place a pink rope light behind the keys, a couple fake skulls, and a blue flood light and it creates a near perfect scene.

A few more finishing touches and our home will be perfectly spooky. Today I am putting up our large banners that cover our windows and create quite the visual outside. In a week or two, we will carve the pumpkins!

What are some of your favorite decorations to put up? When do you start?

More Than Just Rides

Disneyland is great fun. Over the course of three days, we hit probably 90% of the rides. Which is a big portion of our trip usually. We utilize the FastPass option frequently. Disneyland has a MaxPass option for an additional $10/day per person. We didn’t feel that was of any value to our trip. A few extra steps to go get a pass won’t hurt me.

Besides the rides, we love meeting the characters. Our first trip, the girls met all the princesses as they dressed as princesses. We’ve also met numerous Disney characters over the years as well.

This year is no different. We took the time to meet a few characters (not including the cockroach from Wall-E). Each and every moment so far has been filled with jokes and laughs.

Another great aspect of Disneyland and California Adventure is the shows. We stop pretty often for the short side shows on the streets.

We also like taking in some stage shows. Disneyland goes all out and is a leader in how to create these entertainment experiences. This year we enjoyed “Frozen.”

Of course fireworks, parades and other nighttime shows are wonderful to watch.

We find some great moments by trying to experience everything. We have become a true “Disney Family” and love each and every moment in the parks.

Portofino Aneheim

Back at the end of January/ beginning of February 2009, I was getting laid off. So we took that opportunity to go to Disneyland for the first time. I was told on the Wednesday that on the Friday I’d be laid off. So we went onto the Disneyland website and booked tickets and a hotel starting the Sunday.

That Saturday morning, Mickey and his friends called our house and the kids answered the call. Their ages were 2,4 and 6. They lit up! Immediately after the call, we packed our minivan and hit the road. We drove straight through for 26 hours taking turns driving.

We arrived at the Portifino Inn and Suites. It was perfect. Separate bedroom for the kids and only a short walk to the park. This our third time returning to stay at the hotel.

The rooms are spacious and moderately priced. Like most hotels near Disneyland, this one boasts a parking lot pool. It’s the perfect size for a quick dip to relax.

There’s only two things that would make this place one of my favorite hotels.

First, breakfast.

Unfortunately there is no breakfast offered. Nothing more than the in-room coffee is available. I’d worry that if there was breakfast offered- it’d be subpar. So maybe no breakfast is a good thing, especially for the price we pay.

Secondly, better WiFi.

Just like German WiFi- it’s the wurst. It drops constantly and has trouble connecting. Walking up to the hotel or at the pool- it works great. In the rooms, it sketches out. Having teens- (and myself) this is life ending! But we are trudging through.

We like staying at this hotel. Even with a couple of flaws. For a place to rest my head and enjoy some downtime- this place is perfect.

The Void

We always do something unique for every trip we take to Disneyland. This year we hit a place called “The Void” in Downtown Disney. We played though “The Secrets of the Empire” which was Star Wars based.

I wish I could’ve taken photos inside. The VR was more than just wearing goggles. You go in and harness up with a helmet and vest. It was pretty intense. Not only do you see a 360° view of everything, there is so much more. As you turn your head, the sound is full 360° as well. Your other senses also get assaulted. You feel the heat and cold as you actually move through the levels.

Yes- you walk around!

There are smells and scents as well depending on where you go. And you grab at stuff, interact with buttons, and shoot blasters! The storyline reacts to what you do.

My wife and I teamed up while our kids went off on their own. The interactivity in the VR world was incredible. It was a ton of fun. While we were doing it, we were fully immersed. By the end, it was all too real. Afterwards, my wife felt her fear of heights was almost real even though we were planted firmly on the ground. It was sensory overload, but worth every penny.

What we experienced was amazing. Worth the cost and such a wicked memory was created. If I could share what I saw- you’d be amazed. Even though it was about thirty minutes of play, it felt like a full movie. An interactive movie.

Absolutely crazy.

Check out The Void for other adventures.