Wednesday Weirdness

The internet is a strange thing. Just when I’m wondering just what to write about, I happen to stumble upon some weird stuff that’s going on in this world of ours.

For example, let’s say you were looking for a job. Let’s then say that you were out walking the beat going door to door looking for work from anybody who might be hiring. Then you realize that you’re getting turned down very quickly. You can’t figure out why. And then the police are called.

Wait…what??

That’s what happens when you try to find work while being stark naked.  Yeah…seriously.

Then while just randomly going from website to website, you stumble upon a picture that not only makes you chuckle but also gives you pause…

Have you ever visited Hawaii? Have you ever dreamed of vacationing there? Maybe even having a small home within walking distance from a beach?  What if you made $20,000/year and didn’t want a mortgage…do you think you’d be able to fulfill any of those dreams?

Johnny Sanphillippo is a man who is living that dream, having spent 13 years building a dream vacation house on Hawaii while working as a housekeeper. How did he do it? Watch this video. Just wait until half-way through and you see just how perfectly awesome his small home now looks…you’ll wonder why more people don’t do things like this:

I didn’t watch the Oscars, but I’ve only heard about one thing since last Sunday night: Angelina Jolie. Primarily her rail-thin arms and how she’s gone from being uber-hot (OMG…Lara Croft, people!!) to being Skeletor-esque.

The other item that went from hot-button topic to internet meme was her leg. Her right leg, in fact. She had a beautiful dress that had a long slit up her right leg and she wanted to show her leg off a bit. The problem was that the dress wasn’t a mini-skirt or anything, so she had to stick her leg out a bit in order for people to see it.

Like this…

And then later on stage like this…

Well, in a day and age where planking is apparently popular, people have gone ahead and taken the idea of “Jolie’ing” and have run with it. Most of the photos on Angelina Jolie’ing contain people of all shapes and sizes exposing their right leg for the world to see and (presumably) smile in amusement.

I, for one, thing they all look ridiculous. However, there are a few photoshops floating around out there that have made me chuckle:

The internet is a weird place, indeed.

Cruisin’ To The Caribbean!!

It’s official…Sunshine and I are headed down south once again and will be cruisin’ the Caribbean in less than three weeks!!

Crazy, isn’t it? It was just two weeks ago that I was lamenting over how much I missed the time spent on a cruise with Sunshine last year. It was such an incredibly amazing time, yet it still wasn’t 100% us…the cruise was designed to help my dad temporarily forget the passing of my mom and simply get out of town. So while we enjoyed every last second of it, it was a family cruise with intentions of not leaving dad alone.

This time it’s all about us.

Our ride.

Circumstances fell into our lap one week ago that allowed us to stop dreaming about going and actually making it a reality. So now we’re booked to sail on the Carnival Legend out of Tampa, Florida on March 18th. We’re going on a trip through the Western Caribbean (we did the Eastern Caribbean last year) and couldn’t be more excited to make the most of our journey.  Here’s the itinerary…

– We’re arriving in Tampa on the 17th: St. Patrick’s Day. Even though the cruise doesn’t set sail until 4pm on the 18th, the possibility of missing it because of delays with our flight made us book to fly down the day before. Last year we scheduled to go down to Miami the day before and had to scramble because weather canceled our plane. We didn’t get in until midnight, so if that had happened on the day of the cruise we would have missed it. Because we’ll have the entire afternoon/evening free, we’re not sure yet what we’re going to do (if anything). I think we’ll probably just lay low and relax until it’s time to head off to the ship.

– We’ll be picked up at the airport on Sunday the 18th at around 12:30pm by Carnival and will be transported to the port (of course, our hotel offers a free shuttle to the port, as well, so at least we’ve got options). The ship doesn’t leave until 4pm, but after last year we know that this is the perfect opportunity to explore the ship and try to get our bearings (we were lost on the Carnival Glory last year for the first three or four days). Once we set sail, the fun TRULY begins!

– The first day will be one at sea. I have no doubt that Carnival will have a ton of activities planned for everybody. Last year we attended trivia contests and other games and had a fantastic time doing it. We’re the type of people who don’t like to just sit on a deck soaking in the sun when we could be making our own fun somewhere (although lazy sun-drenched moments are totally in the cards…lol). We won’t know what’s planned until we’re there, but I’m sure it’ll be a great day.

– On March 20th, we’ll be in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Because we don’t have any official excursion booked, we’re not in any hurry…which is good because it could take up to 90 minutes to disembark as there is no dock, only boat tenders taking passengers from the ship to the shore. I’m hopeful that the weather co-operates because Grand Cayman is supposed to be host to one of the most amazing beaches in the world, Seven Mile Beach. It looks like a beautiful location.

Cozumel is our port on Day Four. From what I have heard, this Mexican city will be a great shopping stop for us…similar to what Puerto Rico was for us last year (which we loved). There is also apparently a great tourist attraction called Chankanaab State Park, which got some rave reviews from Cruisin’ Tam…so if we have the time and haven’t shopped ourselves to death, this is certainly a place for us to visit (I’m told the beach is pretty awesome here, too).

– The next stop is Belize.  Originally, we weren’t sure if we would be able to book an excursion here as we don’t really have the funds for a $100+ visit to some Mayan ruins. However, once I read about the possibility of going cave tubing, Sunshine and I put that activity squarely in our sites. I mean, when other time in your life will you be able to sit back and say that you WENT CAVE TUBING THROUGH THE JUNGLES OF BELIZE!?!? And for only $45 each? Seriously…awesomesauce.

– The final port we visit is Roatan. This is a city in Honduras that I’m totally unfamiliar with. And really, other than the beach, I’m not sure (YET!) what this port has to offer. Of course, I thought the same thing about Grand Turk last year…and that turned out to be one of my favorite experiences.

– The last day sees us spending it at sea as we travel back to Tampa. Again, I’m sure Carnival will keep us more than happy as we make our way back home.

– Once we hit land on the 25th, we high-tail it to the airport so we can catch our flight back home.

To say that we are fortunate would be an understatement. We are blessed. Positive attitudes and positive thinking can breed positive results. This trip is the epitome of that.

Can’t wait!!

My 8-year smoke-free anniversary

On February 23rd, I will have been smoke-free for eight years.

Wow…that’s really something else. It’s actually hard to believe that it’s been that long. Seemed like just yesterday when I was still puffing away on my lunch break instead of actually eating something.

I started smoking when I turned 16. This was back in the 80’s and it was a completely different culture than it is today. You could still smoke on the high school grounds. Heck, you could even go down to the corner store and buy cigarettes for $0.25 each (yes….they sold single cigs back then). It seemed like pretty much everybody was doing it.

I was always a bit of a nerd and was never really one to be considered “cool”. My friends…especially the guys that I wanted to hang out with…were smoking. They probably only smoked to “look cool”, and back then we didn’t know any better. That’s just how it was.

I started by having a couple of puffs…coughing up a lung…and then trying another couple of puffs. I didn’t really care for it, but I got to hang out with “the boyz” and I felt like I was actually fitting in (self-esteem has always been an issue with me).

I’ll never forget my first full cigarette. It was a Mark Ten. It was disgusting. The bell rang as I finished it and I immediately went to class. In a matter of minutes I turned green. I excused myself from the class and went straight to the washroom, at which point I proceeded to throw up so hard that I passed out.

You would think this experience would have scared me off cigarettes forever. Nah…not a chance. I didn’t want the cigarette to beat me. I needed to win. After just a few more days, I was a “regular smoker”.

In the years that followed I became a pack-a-day smoker (and not the 20-packs that Americans are used to…but the Canadian 25-packs…and KING sized, at that). Sometimes even more than a pack depending on the day and the situation (I could go out to a club and smoke a pack in an evening). It was brutal just how bad I became. I started to time by how many cigarettes I could have (ex: driving 30 minutes would be three cigarettes if I hurried). I would sometimes smoke so much in the evening that I would start to gag and cough and my chest would feel like a brick fell on it. Instead of calling it a night, I would get mad at my body for not allowing me the chance to “enjoy” my cigarette…so I would chain-smoke until I got through an entire cigarette without coughing. OUT OF SPITE.

I loved to smoke. LOVED it. After a big meal…in the car…after sex. It was the perfect end to any day and was the best way to start my morning. I was 100% totally addicted to cigarettes and I didn’t want it any other way.

When I met my ex-wife, she wasn’t too keen on the fact that I was a smoker. But at the time, it didn’t matter. She liked me for me and my “bad boy” image (ugh…I was such a tool). Anyway, we dated for a couple of years and she knew just how much of a smoker I was. She put up with it…the bitter cold when I would roll the window of the car down a crack in the middle of winter, the rolling of the eyes when I would go outside in the middle of a thunderstorm just to inhale smoke, the kissing of the ashtray…she dealt with it.

But then came the moment that changed my life: she told me that she wouldn’t marry me unless I quit smoking.

She didn’t want to be married to somebody who would be dead long before she was. And then it hit me…she wouldn’t actually marry me unless I quit. She wasn’t bluffing. So I quit on February 23rd, 2004 and proposed on February 28th. At the time, I thought it was the perfect way to make me quit: I’d lose what I thought was the love of my life if I started up again.

As the marriage QUICKLY deteriorated, I began to resent her because she made me quit something I loved to do. Of course, that was just me finding another reason to blame her for something, but I think the feelings were still there and were real.

Once we split up, I had just started a new job and was sent down to Houston, Texas for four weeks of training. I was just craving cigarettes incredibly at this point, figuring I could now “be free” of her chains and shackles and do whatever I wanted. You could smoke anywhere in Houston…restaurants, bars, elementary schools (although I may want to double-check that last one)…and the cigs were soooo cheap. I mean seriously…three packs for $10? It’s $10/pack up here in the Great White North. How could I turn that down??

But then the realization of the situation set in. I had already quit for 3 years. I was feeling healthier…my daughter was happy to know that I’d “be alive longer” (her words)…I could shovel snow and not feel like I was going to die after three minutes…I could actually taste food better now. There were just so many reasons to NOT smoke (don’t even get me started on the cost factor).

So I didn’t…and here it is five years later and I’m still smoke free.

I’m happier. I’m healthier. I’m the WORST pain in the ass to anybody who does smoke…because all ex-smokers know that they’re the worst critics of those who still do smoke.

Addiction is a brutal thing, but if you truly know that quitting is the right thing for you to do, you’ll know how to quit and make it last. I’m just very thankful that I’ve been able to do just that.

Photographs and Memories

I spent the majority of yesterday going through hundreds and hundreds of photographs that my family had collected over the years. Album after album…photo after photo. I picked out the best photos and scanned them onto my computer; the idea being that I would burn them to disc and give copies to the family so that there wouldn’t be multiple boxes of photographs collecting dust in a basement somewhere.

Overall, it was a good day. I had been building up to yesterday and preparing myself for the worst. Thankfully, the day ended up being a lot more pleasant than I had anticipated. I smile numerous times as I recalled fond memories from the multiple photos.

I stumbled across a few pictures that I thought I’d share.

One of the coolest photos I found was my mom's graduation pic. Mind you, it wasn't the actual photo and was just one of the proofs, but still...I had never seen this pic before. I think this is 1961, maybe 1962.
Back in December 1981, my family was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Hong Kong with some friends who were originally from there. While only 10 years old, I went on this month-long journey to both Hong Kong and Taiwan. I only wish I had been able to fully appreciate the trip at the time like I know I would now. This picture was taken during a hike in northern Taiwan.
This one is a little bizarre. During one particular trip to Florida (which we did a few times when I was younger), we went to Cypress Gardens. The theme park was built around a large lake and they had "ski shows" for people. In this particular instance, they had a number of superheros performing in a water ski show (Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, etc). As a kid with a Spiderman shirt on, I couldn't wait ot get a picture taken with a couple of heros after they got ot of the water (hence their lack of shoes).
This is my mother and I at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. Gotta love the car.
As I've mentioned here in the past, I had a difficult time completing my university education. It took me three schools and eight years to finally get my university degree. This pic is from June 1998 on the day I finally graduated. I had completely forgotten that I took this particular picture.
This is one of the most amazing pictures I've ever seen, and it just happens to be of my mom and my grandmother on mom's wedding day. It's just a beautiful, unique photo.
Okay...this is why you should NEVER cut your own child's hair. EVER. Seriously...look at my head!! Can you imagine the ridicule I would have received from my friends from going out in public looking like this??
I'm just guessing, but I think this picture is circa 1997. I don't think my glasses are big enough.
Turns out this is my parents' engagement photo. I had no idea this was even still around until yesterday. I even found the newspaper clipping from the announcement.
This pic just proves to me that my current weight condition isn't entirely my own fault. I mean, dude...you want to make fun of MY weight?
This was me about ten years ago. Almost current-day CBG, but not quite...
I had no idea that at one time back in the late 80's, I apparently tried out to be the newest member of Spandau Ballet.
Finally, this photo is a bit sad. This is 2010 and was the final cruise my mom went on with my dad. She had twisted her ankle badly at the airport and ended up in a wheelchair for the entire cruise. Here she was brought up on stage (along with dad) for some kind of dance number. It's sad knowing that it was her final cruise, but this picture is also kind of nice because you can tell she's having a great time. And at the end of the day, that's how I choose to remember her. A woman who enjoyed life.