Firsties!

Being first doesn’t matter much to me anymore.  I used to love seeing a film before the general public.  Or picking up the newest videogame the day it got released.  Being first in line at a Black Friday sale (or in Canada: Boxing Day Sale) stopped being fun when I realized that I didn’t need to buy junk just because it’s cheap.  I’m not saying I like to be last either.  I also don’t think I’ve fallen into the trap of the “Fear Of Missing Out”.

My goals in life have drastically changed. Material possessions are fine and all- but I’m focused more on experiences.  I love meeting new people at Comicons.  People from different walks of life.  People of different ages.  Some who are more Star Trek than Star Wars.  A convention brings us together no matter what we do any other day of the year.  


For us the conventions are also a way of enjoying some family time.  We spend a couple of days driving to and from the cons.  We try and add a side trip to some new and different part of the journey.  My favorite so far was the extended trip through Death Valley and the Extraterrestrial Highway.


I would like to take a trip or two with just my wife over the next few years.  We don’t often get time together.  I think a weekend getaway is in order SANS CHILDREN.

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Happy Canada Day!

As much as I like most of my American neighbors: I am a proud Canadian.  Canada is celebrating 149 years of being a country this year.


A few years ago Molson Canadian would made some fantastic commercials celebrating the greatness of being Canadian.

I know this place is where I am,

No other place is better than.

No matter where I go I am,

Proud to be Canadian!
I am, you know I am, I am Canadian!

I am, you know I am, I am Canadian!

Come on!


I love this country where I am,

This land is where I make my stand.

No other heart is truer then,

The one we call Canadian!

Here are my favorite videos from back then:  CLICK ON THE LINKS TO VIEW THEM

Proud to Be Canadian
My name is Joe & I am Canadian

And of course, William Shatner is Canadian and proud of it: William Shatner is Canadian

I’m going to celebrate with my family locally by visiting Fort Langley, BC.  Be good to each other and have a great Canada Day!

MY NAME IS JOE AND I AM CANADIAN!

Fort Langley

Sad Songs…

Listening to my music on shuffle as I drove home this morning I realized that I have a large collection of sad songs.  This also includes Elton John’s Sad Songs (Say So Much) in the mix.  Not all of the songs are slow and subdued.  Actually, most are fairly upbeat and catchy.  Many of them focus on break-ups, apologies, or heartbreak.

Simple Plan’s “Addicted to You” entertains me at how they enunciate the words.

Puddle of Mud’s “She Hates Me” really gets going by the end.  So much bitterness is expressed.

“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt is lively in it’s portrayal of what breaking up in the 90’s was like.  I heard this song played by many a young lady over the years.  Gwen Stefani really did know how to reach her audience with her music.

“Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook has the listener sympathizing with the heartbreak of not getting the last chance to talk to Sylvia.

Cee-Lo Green’s “F**k You” is by far one of my favorite break-up songs.  It’s catchy and makes it a blast to swear along with.

Apology songs are a bit different in the fact that many times the artist really is apologizing.  Billy Joel’s a cappella “For the Longest Time” is an excellent example.  Or even U2’s “Sweetest Thing” is a beautiful song that Bono wrote to his wife.

Music can express many emotions.  Often we are drawn to a song because of the feelings it can illicit inside of us.  Artists express their most vulnerable side when they choose to write songs of this style.  I enjoy a good break-up song because it reminds me of the heartache and pain that people go through.  There are many more songs in my collection that are full of sadness.  Personally, I hope to never feel that again in my lifetime.  

Until then, sad songs say so much, so turn them on.

Sometimes…

Teach and learn

This past weekend it dawned on me that I have achieved my goal as a parent.


We were playing Settlers of Catan as a family and our middle child won.  It wasn’t one of those “Let her win” moments either.  She legitimately kicked everyone’s butt.  My favorite part of the experience was that she was a gracious winner.  No yelling “IN YO’ FACE!” And prancing around gloating.  She won, we congratulated her, we cleaned up.  


After our dinner, my daughters and I were practice shooting with the bow and arrow set we picked up last year.  This time, my oldest daughter proved to be better than the rest of us.  We had set up a bale of hay and some lawn flamingos as targets.  Our oldest daughter was hitting her target almost every time.  One flamingo was obliterated into nothing more than some plastic shards.

In both instances, I had taught them the basic skills to achieve their goals.  With the tabletop game I had explained the rules previously and offer some tactics to help them out.  With the archery I explained the dynamics of how to hold the bow, how an arrow flies, and how to aim.  

Now I know I said at the beginning that I’ve achieved my goal as a parent.  Mostly this is true.  I always want to see my children succeed.  I pass on my knowledge or help them in gaining the knowledge required.  For example, all three of my kids are amazing at piano.  They have gone on to do RCM exams and pass with honors.  My oldest has even written a few compositions this past year for Grade 8.  I can play the beginning of “Jingle Bells” with my right hand.

I have much more to offer my children.  At some point, they will start to teach me.

“Sports” Day

Elementary schools all around end their year with Sports Day.  A day of running around outside, wearing team colors, and earning points.  This year at the elementary school my children attend, the students made up the games.  To quote Drew Carey: 

“The rules are made up and the points don’t matter.”


The term “Sports Day” is loosely used.  Except for the amount of running, most of the games are straight out of a frat house (or maybe frat houses use these games).  The kids love it.  There is so much energy and screaming.  The favorite station this year was “Freezies at the Oasis”.  No activity needed- just line up and cool off.

Freezies with friends.


In the previous school that my children attended- I volunteered my time to help out.  At this school, the middle school children ran the stations.  This gave me a chance to follow my son around and cheer him on.  I have no idea what the rules are most of the time.  Most areas involve water somehow.

Hanging out at this year’s Sports Day reminded me of a short film from Expo ’86 (yes, 30 years ago in Vancouver).  I was in grade five when I saw the film Rainbow War at the Canadian Pavilion.  At the end of the film, people were asked to vote for their favorite color by pressing a button on the sides of their seats.  Red, Yellow & Blue were the choices. Before we left the theater, the results were shown.  I have no idea what the poll was used for.  Kind of like I have no idea what the rules at Sports Day are.

Rainbow War


A Rainbow Sea of children.


All the events ended at lunch.  So it was more a “Sports Half Day”.  We ate burgers and hotdogs while the children calmed down.  The afternoon was followed up with a movie shown in the theater for the kids to cool off and relax.  It’s a great way to end a school year from the doldrums of sitting in a classroom.

Take a break

I was having a fairly productive afternoon.  The sun was out so I decided to paint the trim of our home.  Up and down the ladder.  Painting, sweating, cursing, getting sore.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the results.  I also put it off for over a year so it was about time to tackle the job.

I may be tall, but i still need a ladder.


My wife left with our daughters to go do some summer clothes shopping at the VV Boutique while I slaved away.  My son stayed to keep me company/annoy me.  He was getting bored.  Really bored.  I was getting bored going up the ladder and down the ladder.  So I made him a deal.  At 3pm we would have a freezie and hang out for a bit.

3pm came and I was still up the ladder.  He was bored.  I looked down and realized that even though he was in my general vicinity, we weren’t having a great day together.  I told him to go get the Nerf Guns and that after my break, I’d have a battle with him.  Bad decision.

Ready for a Nerf Battle!


After about five minutes of running around the yard, I realized that I am far too out of shape.  Every time I paused for a moment, an onslaught of foam bullets hit me.  He was having a great time.  His laughter and joy made me glad that I took a moment to allow him to kick my ass.  We only battled for about 30 minutes, but it was by far the best part of my day.

Taking a break to be with him means a lot to me.  He’s growin up quickly and I don’t want to miss out on the fun.

Let’s Make Some Noise!

We need the word of the day to come back.


My wife hates it when I scream.  Sometimes I’ll blurt out my comments really loudly at inopportune moments.  I’ve been known to just screech out profanities when absolutely nothing is going wrong.  I enjoy making loud noises.

yipyipyipyipyip


At work, right before I answer the phone, I either sing “Who could it be now?”  Or I scream profanities, then calmly pick up the phone and speak to the caller.  This is my little stress reliever since we don’t have call display (21st century people, come on now) and I have no idea who could be on the other end.  

No, there’s nothing wrong with me that I know of.

Sometimes I add sound effects to my daily activities.  Pouring a coffee needs jet sounds.  Pressing the buttons on the microwave needs explosion noises added.  Walking down the hall requires extra creak noises from my mouth.  Running in the mall totally needs me to make gear shift and engine noises.  Life is too short to stay quiet.

My wife disagrees with me.


One day all will be silent- I won’t make a sound.  But until then… You know what to do every time somebody says the secret word.

SCREAM REAL LOUD!

DOS Grampa.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I would be doing “Short Story Saturday” on my blog.  This is my first short story.  Please enjoy.


Looking over his shoulder I said, “Next type in the command line RT 90 FD 20 RT 90 FD 20 RT 90 FD 20 RT 90 FD 20.”  A moment after he typed in the keystrokes, a small green square appeared on the monitor.  He glanced up at me with bemusement.

“When did you learn this?”

“Back in 1982- I was about six years old when I was taught the basics of DOS and how to use the turtle to draw images and shapes.  Most of the computer monitors were either black and green or black and orange in color.”

Leaning in, I typed a few more commands and more images took shape on the old monitor.  I straightened up and went on to tell more of my youth, “Even the early computer games were all text based and had limited commands that they could understand.  The Internet was but the dreams of science fiction.”

Looking down at him, I could see in his eyes that he had more questions than I would have answers.  Feeling a tap on my shoulder, my wife spoke that dinner was ready.  “Time to put it away.” I said, “dinner time.”

“Thanks Grandpa.  Same time tomorrow?”  I smiled and nodded, rustling his hair.

I removed my VR headset, put down my gloves and wandered over to the dining room where dinner waited on the table.  My wife turned to me asking, “Did you have a nice visit with your grandson?”

Six months earlier, our ten year old grandson had visited.  He and his father had set up the VR gear in our living room in order to keep in touch while they went traveling.  “It was great. He’s growing up so quickly.  It’s nice to know that I can still teach him a thing or two.”

My wife smiled.  It was a smile that I programmed in from both old pictures and my memory of her.  She was a never-aging replica of the woman I once loved.  As real as this one seemed, I could never forget who she was when she was alive.

What’s Best.

Yesterday was the last day of Grade 8 for my oldest daughter.  This morning, her and I sat down and talked over a cup of coffee about the past year.

At the end of grade seven last year, a big decision was made about our oldest daughter’s future.  We needed to send her to a high school.  She was on a wait list since kindergarten to enter a choice Fine Arts school.  We got the call for her to audition and come in for an interview.  Mom and dad were super excited and happy.  Eldest daughter- not so much.  But she auditioned (under some protest) for drama and music and was invited back to major in both departments.  She left both auditions happily and was excited for most of the drive home each time.  However, by the time we got home, she had put up the “wall” and was adamant that she would not be attending this school.  A few months of emotional battles ensued.  Mom and dad “forced” her to go to this awful, horrific school.  Mom and dad weren’t listening to her wishes.  Mom and dad were about to ruin her life.  Mom and dad made a promise to her. At the end of the year, we would discuss sending her elsewhere if she was still unhappy.

The year has ended.  As promised, I sat and spoke with my daughter this morning about her first year of high school.  I wanted to hear what her thoughts were on the past year and what she would like to do the following year.

Being right isn’t always a feel good moment.

She said those words that every parent knows to be true.  “Dad, you and mom were right.”

Teachers

For those of us that have children or teach children- the end of the school year is upon us.


THANK YOU TO ALL THE TEACHERS!

I imagine it’s not any easy job being a teacher.  Heck, being a parent of three children isn’t easy sometimes.  I couldn’t imagine a classroom of twenty to thirty kids being a cakewalk.  I am grateful for the hardworking teachers out there.  They deserve our praise more often.  Our children’s intellect and opinions are molded by these adults.  The future of our children is driven by the teachers, not the politicians.  I’ve seen teachers with budget cuts go and spend their own money in order to teach properly.  That is a devotion that I am proud of.

THANK YOU TEACHERS!

Finding ways to educate children can’t be easy.  Strict and rigid styling a of the 1950’s doesn’t work.  Teaching children to take tests doesn’t work.  I don’t envy you when a bored child loses focus and you have to reel them back in.

ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM (for now)

After all is said and done, be happy that you made it through another year of educating small minds.  I know most of you will be busy cleaning up from the year or getting ready for the next year.  Some teachers will go on to teach courses over the summer.  The job doesn’t end.  Thank you for all the hard work you put in.  Enjoy whatever freedom you squeeze out this summer.