Lending a helping hand.

Friends help friends- it’s the right thing to do.  Paying it forward is something I strongly believe in.  I’ve had friends there to help me when I’ve needed it.  Today was my turn to help out.

Looking good and ready to take on the move.


It was moving day for a couple of friends of ours.  Moving sucks.  No matter how prepared, or how packed up your stuff is; no matter how many friends are there, moving takes forever.  Some of us showed up to help out because it’s the right thing to do.  Others made excuses.


Getting help is hard.  No one wants to lift the hide-a-bed.  No one wants to load an appliance into a truck, knowing it has to come off at the next spot.  After moving, you are often lucky to still have friends.  Sure beer, pizza and BBQ are a payment of thanks.  But if you are the kind of person who moves every six months?  Good luck keeping friends.  


After a long day of moving boxes and furniture, everyone needs a break.  The remnants of your life are scattered throughout your soon-to-be-vacated house.  The next step is unpacking and starting your life in a new location.  Unpacking takes time.  (I swear that we still have boxes from when we moved over nine years ago.)  

Marriage, divorce, death, pregnancy and moving are the top five stresses in life.  None of those five stresses may are the most pleasant situations to be in.  Having friends who will help you through any of these situations is wonderful.  Finding humor in moving is a great way to make it through the day.  That, plus the promise of ice cold beers goes a long way.


I’m just glad I don’t own a truck.  I’m sure I’d have a ton more friends… Who would need help moving…  I’m content to lend what little muscles I have to help out.  Plus feed me beer.  Did I mention that already?  Yeah.  Beers are good.

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The Summer Cold

Throughout most of the year I suffer from allergies.  I look at it as my body feeling bad for Mother Nature.  J/k.  Allergies suck.  But what sucks more than allergies is the Summer Cold.


Nothing like looking forward to your weekend, seeing that it’s going to be sunny and warm, making plans with friends, when your body decides to grab a virus.  I often confuse it with a bad case of an allergy attack.  It’s usually when I’m 2-3 days in with the sniffles that I realize I’m sick.  Now my days off are shot trying to recover.  

Did I mention before that I dislike sweating?  Sweating because of manual labor means you are accomplishing something with your hard work.  Sweating because of a cold or flu is just plain gross.  In the summer, being drenched in your own fluids as snot rolls out of your head is not how I want to go.  You may as well be taking the brain out of my skull and throwing it directly into the sun.  Summer cold sweats are the worst.


Usual winter remedies or comforts, like chicken noodle soup or hot tea, doesn’t work the same in the summer.  You pretty much just have to suffer through the cold virus until it passes onto the next victim.  This is the time that I do my best to try using mind over matter.  I think healthy thoughts and avoid focusing on being sick.  I’m not sure that it works, but it beats feeling miserable all the time.

I feel better already.

Achoo 

Nope.  It’s still here.  Ugh.

Air Conditioning

My home is nice and cool most of the time.  The trees shade it nicely throughout the summer months.  It also helps that this is a brick house as well.  We own one fan and have no need for AC.


I often forget that the rest of the world around us is in a heatwave.  I often leave my home in jeans and a hoodie, instantly regretting it as I turn the corner.  That’s when the AC comes on in the car.  Doing my errands, I rush out of my icebox on wheels and dart into my destination hoping for more artificial mountain breezes.  Suddenly my hoodie and jeans are a good idea since “Arctic Tundra” seems to be the level of cold required at Walmart.

I am relatively comfortable as I shop… Until I leave and the wall of heat smashes into me like a flamethrower.  I rush to my car only to realize as I sit down and burn myself on the seatbelt buckle, that my vehicle has now become a sauna. Whatever chill I had going on prior to my shopping is gone.  Instant sweat rolls out my pits.  My windows get rolled down and visible heat waves emanate out.  Some are even off my body.  

Gross.  Sticky.  Sweaty.  Uncomfortable.


I just want to get home again and relax under the trees.  I have to avoid the very back of my yard since it gets direct sun and has turned into Death Valley for most of the day.  The summer makes me become a homebody.  Fearing the scorched earth, I rest easy on my cool leather couch.  Peacefully wasting my day away, not wanting to venture back outside.

I Love to Laugh

Some of my most fondest memories involve laughing.  Jokes with friends or internet memes.  From listening to comedy albums to watching movies.  There’s always something funny being shared.


A good Monty Python quote can go a long way: “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.”  


Or a throw back fit a la Office Space when the printer at work is failing. “PC Load Letter?”   


Perhaps breaking out into Denis Leary’s song “Asshole” on a hot summer drive will help relive some tension.

Laughing helps make life enjoyable.  A good joke among friends or a giggle over someone’s Vine “Damn Daniel!” can really brighten your day.  

Go out there & have fun.

“Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true,

You’ll see it’s all a show,

Keep ’em laughing as you go.

Just remember that the last laugh is on you!”

Monty Python 


Cooling off


Last year I took my children to a local water hole to cool off from the summer heat.  It was a place that was shared with me about twenty years ago.  When I posted photos of us last year, some of my old friends got all excited and were like: “I remember that place!”


After sharing about the rope swing and the shady pool of water, more of my friends asked where it was so that they too could go with their children.  There’s no greater feeling of joy than sharing a little piece of paradise with friends.  Later, I saw photos of my friends and their children enjoying a cool dip on a hot summer day.  Today I brought another friend there to share an afternoon of doing nothing, but having fun.  Even our dog cooled off from the summer heat.

The water isn’t chlorinated.  There is no payment required to enter.  There’s no fancy waterslide or waves.  Not everything in life costs money.  Today was all about just enjoying life.  Taking the time to experience nature and put down our devices can be very fulfilling.  My children even made some friends for the day and splashed around having a great time. 

Sure my phone came out to grab a few pictures, but hey, that’s what being a parent is all about.  I need to get some embarrassing shots for future use as well…

I love finding out about new places to explore locally.  A big thanks to all my friends over the years for sharing these places.  My children and I look forward to going around to these locations every time.  

Enjoy your summer!  And remember to stay cool!

The healthier choice

For the past week as I’ve driven home, my neighbor on the corner up the road from me is always outside.  At around 07:25 each morning he is standing at the end of his driveway.  At first I nodded acknowledgment as I drove past him, now I wave my hand and he waves back.  He’s around my age, but clearly not healthy.  Not saying I’m a pinnacle of health, but he is having his morning cigarette standing in his pajamas hiding behind the bushes.


I’m not one to judge why people smoke still in this day and age.  There are many factors that play into this.  I’ve noticed in certain cities, there is more smoking than others.  Most of the West Coast is smoke free- from Vancouver to San Diego, but Alberta has clouds of cigarette smoke that people need to walk through.  I remember Europe being like that as well. Some places are fully smoke free, while others still encourage a comforting nicotine fill.

2002. I looked thrilled to be a smoker.


I smoked steadily from 1994-2004.  I started in my grade 12 year of school.  I thought it was the cool thing to do (underage drinking was also). In BC at that time you had to be 16 years old to buy smokes.  What teenager didn’t think it was a right of passage to do adult things like drink, smoke and get tattoos?  Maybe it was just the people I hung out with then… But nearly everyone I knew smoked.

Western society snubs smokers and has been for some time now.  It’s no longer associated with a casual good time with friends.  Those ads and commercials ended in the 90’s some time.  In Vancouver, Benson & Hedges sponsored the fireworks every summer.  Not gonna lie, I enjoyed smoking B&H cigarrettes for a while.  Their marketing did work, at least on me and my friends.  Once Canadian laws started jacking up the prices and limiting the presence of tobacco companies, many people were feeling the effects of society telling them it’s not healthy.

Need help to blow out the candles? Maybe put away the cigarette first.


When my wife and I got married, we did our best to not have our pictures taken while smoking or even holding a cigarette.  We both knew that we wanted to have children, and that we wanted to be perfect role models for them.  We wanted them to be able to look back on mom & dad and not see unhealthy choices.  I have a couple photos of birthdays with my father having a cigarette next to a birthday cake.  Not an image I want my children to remember me by.

My wife and I both quit smoking around the same time.  I remember the exact day I quit. It was after a Halloween party at our house.  I had smoked nearly a pack and a half the evening before.  November 1st, I couldn’t breathe.  It felt like I had crushed my chest and punched out my lungs.  I couldn’t quite catch my breath for almost the all day.  I quit that day cold turkey.  I threw away the last of my pack of cigarettes.  I was done.

I’m glad I quit.  I haven’t had a craving to smoke again.  I know most people can’t do it the same way I did.  I also know that many have struggled for years trying to quit and just say forget it and keep smoking.  That’s just the way it is some days.  It’s not easy to quit.  Personally, I wish I had never started and hope my children never do.

Two days off isn’t enough.

Working a regular job is great.  I know when I’m going to work and when I’ll have time off.  But working straight nights messes me up on the weekend.  I try and swing my body back to sleeping at night for two days, when really I shouldn’t.


I’ll get home after my Friday night shift and go to sleep, but only for about five hours.  The rest of my Saturday afternoon and evening is spent fighting off sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion.  Passing out about eight hours after my nap is a regular occurrence.  Sometime falling asleep while watching a movie with the family.

The Sunday usually has me waking up early and making a large breakfast for the family.  Then we have a good day of hanging out with other friends followed by a nice evening with a couple of drinks. I get to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up on the Monday morning at around eight am.

Then repeat.


Then the frustration kicks in.  I’ll be awake for hours, then toss and turn trying to get some sleep before night one of my work week begins.  After that first night shift, I’ll get home and crash for ten hours or so trying to get my body back into the swing of nights.  Every week is like this.  But I really enjoy the night shift because there’s so much to get done and I can still squeeze in some time with the family for a meal or adventure.

Like most people who work regularly, two days off just isn’t enough.  A third day added on would be great.  I’d love to have a four day work week.  Although, switching my sleep schedule around from days to nights and back again halfway through the week would probably take its toll on me worse than what two days off does.

Anyhow, time to try and get a nap before my Monday begins.  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend!

A different kind of friendship

The other day I ran into an old friend from high school.  I usually run into him once a year, often in a place I don’t normally stop at.  A few days ago I ran into him at a convenience store that I used to walk to when I was a child.  It had been years since I was last there.  It just so happened that when I opened the door, he greeted me in the way we used to greeted each other regularly.  He got me first this time.  “Yer Dead!”

Took a break, and died.


It started in Math 11.  Whoever was in class first waited to yell out at the other one.  After high school if we saw each other at a party, the same greeting would ensue.  Sometimes one of us would yell it out in anger and point and rush the other one.  I’m pretty sure people figured out after a few parties that we were friends.  

When I first started working at the movie theater in 1999, we used to be assigned to do the “Front of House”.  On a busy Friday or Saturday night, a staff member would be scheduled to go from auditorium to auditorium and announce the film.  I loved this job.  I got heckled sometimes but was fairly quick with a retort that was G rated.  One evening, I saw my friend enter a show moments before I had to go in.  He never saw me.  I walked in a short time after him and began my spiel.  He was still looking for a seat when I called out in the microphone, “And Don… Yer Dead!”  It was a pretty good mic drop moment in my mind.

Last year he got me at the A&W.  I never eat at the restaurant, but was wandering in on my way the another store because one of kids needed a restroom break.  The lobby of the fast food place wasn’t super crowded, but when he yelled at me, everyone stopped to see what was going on.


It’s an interesting way to greet an old friend.  Even after 20+ years we still do it.  I’m glad that we have this to go on.  It brings back a flurry of memories between us.  We usually take a moment or two to talk about life before heading our separate directions.  We don’t call or text, that’s not what our friendship is.  

I wouldn’t change it for any reason.  It’s perfect in its own way.  Hopefully next time, I’ll get him first.

Don.  Yer dead.

He was hunched over the small pocket watch on his counter as I peered into the store through the dusty window.  The dingaling of the old door chime as I walked in broke his concentration.  His hands moved so smoothly as he covered his work with a dark cloth.  He appeared to be blinking to reset his eyesight to give me a visual once over.  Running his hand over his grey hair, he stood up and addressed me.

His voice chipped away at the air in a staggered tone, “So you finally made it.”  He knew who I was, there was no need to play games.  I was there to kill him.  The hunt was over.  Seeing the man behind the legend had me curious as to how he had stayed hidden for so long.  But he wasn’t hidden anymore.  Here he was standing before me.  Of all the stories I had heard about him, he was much thinner and older than I expected.  I tried not to smirk as I spoke the line I had rehearsed all these years, “Don.  Yer dead.”

“Straight to the point.  I admire that.” He replied, not sounding as decrepit as he did before.  And with a quick gesture of his wrist the room fell dark and I could hear all of the locks to the doors and windows bolt shut.  My concentration remained steadfast and directed towards him.  I only had one shot at this and I wasn’t going to screw it up.  My gaze never faltered as the skinny man before me began to morph into a giant gargoyle type creature.  Giant leathery wings sprouted from his back bringing more darkeness into the room.  His hands were distorting into something that resembled both eagle talons and cat claws.  

I could tell his head and face were changing, but because of his wings, I only could see a slight silhouette of his not-so-human features.  As I watched him transform, his elephant-like arm swung towards me.


Szzzrrrrrackkkk 

Thuwunk

His arm fell to the floor.  He was fast, but I was faster.  The copper lightning barrel I had strapped to my back was now in my hands charging for a second round.  He definitely wasn’t going to be an easy adversary.  I was going to have to slice him up piece by piece.  But that’s what I do.  My job is to track down and prevent creatures from island hopping through dimensional portals.  

Don has been one step ahead of me for many years now.  He damaged his inter-dimensional transportation device a few hundred years ago.  He almost had it working again.  It was sending off a faint signal that most would have missed.  But when my partner came here on a hunch and never returned, I knew what had happened.  I knew it was Don and I knew where to find him.  I also knew the most important thing of this hunt:

I knew that today- Don dies.

The Big One

The Big One is happening this weekend and as usual it will be earth shattering.  San Diego Comic Con is the convention that started it all 46 years ago.  It began small and slowly grew.  Then it suddenly exploded in the 21st Century and has continued to gain popularity among movie goers, comicbook collectors, videogame fanatics, actors, film studios, media outlets, and everyone in between.  


Over the past few years, SDCC has reached a new level of importance in the entertainment industry.  Tickets are sought after by fans for access to exclusive merchandise, film previews, actor panels, and seeing killer costumes.  This weekend, most of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feed will be filled with all things COMIC CON.  Saying that I’m jealous that we aren’t going to be there is an understatement.  However, seeing it through the eyes of those who I follow on social media is probably better for getting an all around feel of the con.  It saves me from waiting 4 hours to get into a panel at the fabled Hall H.  

As much as we go to conventions to sell my wife’s hats (Check out Ningen Headwear), SDCC would have us lost in a sea of vendors that are far too big for us to compete with.  For our little business, we make sure that we sell at Conventions that have an attendance of over 70k people.  That’s a fairly big number.  Our favorite Con: Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Calgary hit over 102,000 in 2015.  Not a bad number at all.  Except SDCC 2015 had 167,000 attendees.  I’m not a fan of crowds of that magnitude.  I am quite content to be able to view everything on my cellphone and still get excited over the news that will come from SDCC.  Ok, I am still jealous of those enjoying the show.

I do love the convention circuit and get depressed if it’s been too long in between shows.  This past spring we crammed in four conventions in just over a month.  That was a tad bit overwhelming.  We are lucky that our children have been attending cons with us for so long and started at such a young age.  They are used to the crowds and what a Comic Con has to offer.  The first convention I ever attended was when I was a teenager.  I went to a Star Trek convention with a friend from school.  It was a one day event and the crowd was probably about 6000 people.  

The struggle is real.


I loved it.  The costumes were classic Star Trek and Star Trek:TNG mostly.  Same with the merchandise being sold.  There was some other Sci-Fi memorabilia and trinkets for sale.  At age 14 I only brought $20 with me.  It was hard to decide what I needed to buy.  I couldn’t afford a tricorder and forking over $4 for a Star Trek Federation lapel pin was really difficult.  Most boys my age were hanging pictures & posters of girlsor cars on their walls.  The other big purchase at my first convention was a $12 six foot tall door poster.  It was sexy in all of its glory.  It was of the Xenomorph Alien breaking through the door.  I kept that poster for years as a fond memory of that introduction into a world that made me feel like I fit in.


Now it seems that the Geeks shall inherit the earth.  It is prevalent when looking around and everything is nerd based & mainstream.  SDCC is even hosting a Pokemon GO event in the coveted Hall H this weekend.  Perhaps we shall see a sighting of a rare Pokemon!  I’m also excited about the possibility of some teaser Star Wars and Marvel movie clips.

Expect me to be buzzing with joy all weekend, even if it’s just in spirit.  Enjoy SDCC 2016!