Don’t Fall Asleep While Reading This…

Naps are awesome. In many ways, I prefer napping over a nighttime sleep. If you think about it, going to sleep at night is a requirement. You’re basically forced to put yourself into a state of unconsciousness for seven to nine hours every night in order to maintain your health and keep from going insane. The how’s and why’s behind that can be a post for another day, but my point is that napping is a choice (mostly). It just fells cozier. And one usually makes the decision to curl up on the couch or lounger for an hour, or even a single bed, which is conveniently in your living room because you no longer have a room in the basement. But I digress…

There are a number of potential benefits to grabbing a quick snooze. According to an article I read on The Mayo Clinic‘s website, napping can help with relaxation, reducing fatigue, increasing alertness and improving mood and performance. Considering that many people find themselves stuck at home day after day in recent months, the possibility of adding naps into one’s daily routine is a definite possibility.

Given that my 6-year old son goes to school five days a week and we have an infant who typically naps twice a day, my wife and I have fallen into a routine where we usually join him on at least one of those naps. Problematically, it has gotten to the point where we experience pretty hefty fatigue towards the dinner hour if we haven’t managed to get OUR nap in, which can be a bad thing despite the benefits of napping.

I’ve checked with a number of different sources and leaned on all my usual go-to’s (WebMD, HealthLine.com and The Mayo Clinic) and they all pretty much make the same recommendations:

  1. Don’t nap for long durations: If you nap long enough for it to start looking like a full night’s sleep, it’s not napping anymore. Most sources recommend no longer than 30 minutes to an hour, with one post indicating no longer than 20 minutes. Screw that noise. And hour is normally my preference, otherwise I feel there’s no point;
  2. Don’t nap past 3pm: This is a tough one for me, because I have a tendency of sitting on the couch in the late afternoon and suddenly BAM! I’m out like disco. But napping past 3pm may interfere with the upcoming nighttime sleep;
  3. Nap in a restful environment: Ever try to nap in an airport while awaiting a flight? I have! It usually results in waking up feeling like a bag of smashed ass, coupled with severe bodily pain due to those uncomfortable termination seats. Travelling is one example of when one may not have a choice, but if you’re napping at home, be sure to do it in a calm, quiet, restful environment.

Having a nap can be a an effective way of boosting work performance and improving your chances of furthering your career. In fact, an article posted by the Japanese Times (I couldn’t find the damn article again in order to link it) explains that a growing number of Japanese companies are making possible for staff to grab quick snoozes at the office in order to help manage their health and improve productivity.

Of course, the average Japanese employee only sleeps about six and a half hours a night, so there’s that. But I certainly wouldn’t object to having a sleep pod in my office in order to close my eyes for thirty minutes over lunch. That would certainly help get me over my usual afternoon slumps. But the Japanese have turned to creating nap rooms and having sleep pods in their break rooms. Innovative bunch, those Japanese. I mean, hey, they created karate, so that was a foregone conclusion…

Naps are okay. They don’t mean you’re lazy and they don’t necessarily mean you’re lacking sleep. But they are a good way to plan ahead and stave off the effects of “expected” lost sleep, especially with things like shift work or getting up frequently with babies. But if you find yourself in a situation where you simply CAN’T get through the day without sprawling for a couple of hours, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor about it. Certain prescription medications will not only make you groggy but could potentially be interfering with your nighttime sleep, resulting in the requirement for a nap.

Consider also, that if you have a genuine sleep disorder such as insomnia, night terrors or depression to name a few, it can leave you feeling exhausted the following day. One should also avoid the boomerang effect where you don’t sleep well at night so you nap, which results in a bad nighttime sleep. Wash and repeat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wear out the baby so he’ll go to bed. Daddy needs a nap! ☯

Push, Improve, Self-Motivate…

I grew up around a lot of ‘roid heads who would constantly pound their chest and brag about their athletic prowess. The joke is that many if not most of them would go to practice once a week and call themselves an athlete. Considering that my home town is in Northern New Brunswick, that usually involved hockey. Hockey and I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship. Maybe it’s because they always thought they were the kings of the school. Maybe it was because many of them became bullies. Maybe, just maybe, it was because most of them made fun of karate but were still crazy enough to try out…

By the time I had improved and progressed enough that I was starting to teach newcomers, I had the pleasure, cough, cough,… I mean the responsibility of showing these bulky bastards why karate may not be for them. Not all of them, mind you. Just the ones that were known to be bullies. Sensei had no tolerance for that shit and I had even less, especially since I had at some point been the object of their bullying attention. But I’m digressing pretty bad, since the subject of today’s post isn’t bullying. I’ll save that one for another day. Today’s post is about calling yourself an athlete when you go to a one-hour practice, once a week. That thing.

Karate, and in fact martial arts in general, is a very special creature in terms of the kind of commitment you need to provide. If you show up to karate once a week for a one and a half hour practice and then call it a week, you may CALL yourself a martial artist but you’re a far cry from what that term really implies. One of the most important aspects to learning martial arts properly is showing up for every class. Early. And every time.

I remember a particular summer, I think it was 1995. I was 17 at the time and had my own vehicle (self-purchased, thank you very much). It was a particularly hot summer afternoon and a few friends and I decided to grab a swim in a location known to us as the south-east forest. There was a cold river with running water, which was perfect to fend off the summer heat. We had gotten there in the late afternoon and had a blast. Swimming, laughing and joking around, it was the very picture of what a teenage summer should involve. Then, I checked the time…

I noticed that karate class started in about an hour and a half. It would take about a half hour to get home and grab my gear, followed by fifteen to twenty minutes of travel time to get to the dojo. Pair this with the fact I always tried to be in class at least thirty minutes early to stretch, warm up and assist white belts, it made for a sudden urged panic to leave the river and get going. My friends were not impressed. In fact, the girl I was dating at the time was visibly angry at the fact I was cutting the pleasant outing short, just to go to class. The worst part is she was in karate as well. Go figure.

Consistency and commitment are key. This applies not only to karate but to all martial arts and in fact, any sport or hobby you choose to undertake. When I moved to Regina and joined the local Kenpo school, I made a point of attending every class even when it felt tedious, the classes may have been boring or not in keeping with what I wanted to be working on. And that’s what it takes to be a martial artist. You have to be consistent and show up. Every class. Every time.

I have no regrets. I know that a lot of the people I knew spent their free time out with friends, drinking and partying, enjoying their youth before the rigours of adulthood dropped a weighted veil across their eyes and stunted their freedom. I chose to spend my evenings training and building myself up. In a lot of ways, I believe that had I failed to do so, I might have succumbed to Diabetes a long time ago.

Sensei’s classes had a very specific way of running. Students would show up thirty minutes before class, stretch and warm up. Then, the class would be two hours. TWO HOURS! No water breaks, no washroom breaks, no checking your damned cell phone! Your ass was grass from 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm. Some beginners were permitted to leave at the one-hour mark, but all the same restrictions applied, regardless. When class ended at 8:30, many of us would stay in class for at least another thirty minutes, asking questions and practicing techniques.

The most committed of students spent a minimum of three hours in class, three times a week. This was paired with jogging, cycling, weightlifting and practices on the beach on our own time. We were true knights of the martial way. It was glorious. Hey, that sounds like it would make a great movie intro. But seriously, it’s a far cry from the students I see these days that walk into the dojo a minute before opening of class, finishing their Tim Horton’s coffee and chatting on their phone, muscles cold and lagging as they start. It’s a sad state of being. You gotta be committed. Every class. Every time. ☯

Fanconi Syndrome

Okay, so I’m going to take a slight break from harping on Diabetes today. Instead, I’m going to focus on something that was a primary concern for my late, departed brother: Fanconi Syndrome. When I mention this condition, most people have no idea what I’m talking about. And to be honest, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I researched it and came to know a little bit about it. I still don’t know the specifics, but I know enough to understand how it relates to my brother. And here’s what I know…

Fanconi Syndrome is a condition related to renal failure. It involves the body’s inadequate reabsorption in the proximal renal tubes of the kidney. There are several underlying reasons why this would occur, INCLUDING renal failure (which was my brother’s issue), a side effect of another disease or adverse drug reactions. Despite this, Fanconi Syndrome can be acquired but it can also be congenital or inherited from a parent who carries the gene.

Since my brother’s biological father was never in his life, I’ll never know if the fucker was responsible for that aspect of my brother’s suffering. There isn’t a whole lot one can do to treat Fanconi Syndrome. Majoritively, it’s treated with medications that replaces the lost elements through one’s urine, including bicarbonate. And since my brother suffered complete renal failure at birth, he kind of faced a chicken and the egg situation.

You can certainly lean on WebMD and Healthline.com for more specific information. I simply wanted to touch on it, since associates of mine asked the question. And it gives me a break from writing about Diabetes, which is always nice. ☯

Pardon Me, Can You Pass The Gas?

Once in a while, I like to tackle subjects that most people seem to believe are taboo or off-limits. While I don’t tackle the most extreme of topics, I tend to cover subjects that some consider shitty… But the truth is today’s post is about something everyone does: Passing gas. In fact, NOT doing it can lead to health complications, including abdominal distension, painful cramps and even reabsorption of gasses into your circulatory system, resulting in the gas being expelled through your breath. Yeah. Gross.

Whether on an elevator, in a cramped room or an office setting, passing gas can be awkward, embarrassing and is mostly considered rude. But one of the most embarrassing and often avoided environments is in a workout setting. In the gym or the dojo, especially in yoga class, passing gas is considered a big no-no. But this is one the places it’s likely to happen the most. And here’s why…

First and foremost, there are lot of reasons behind why flatulence happens. In general, it’s a natural part of the digestive process as gas tends to build up during the breakdown of food. There can be some bodily issues that cause excess flatulence, but this is generally the main reason for it. When you work out, there are two issues that can cause excess gas. Heavy breathing during an intense workout can cause you to swallow air. This air is then expelled through the digestive tract in the form of flatulence. If you’re lucky, it may only be a burp. But let’s be honest; who’s ever lucky? The second issue is that all the stretching, twisting and exertion will cause excess air in your system to be squeezed out.

Another aspect is that proper exercise will cause your digestion to work as well. So it may simply be good old fashioned gas. And the last detail to remember is that heavy weightlifting causes the damage and breakdown of muscle tissue in order for them to rebuild, bigger and stronger. And much like any breakdown process in the body, it will create gas. There are plenty of other reasons, but I’ve probably grossed out everyone enough for this week. So feel free to hit up WebMD, HealthLine.com and Men’s Health for more information.

The important thing to remember is that unless you’re intentionally crop-dusting someone, passing gas is natural, normal, happens to everyone and is a necessary function of the human body. There’s no getting around it. So don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to burp or pass gas during your next heavy workout. ☯

Paper Isn’t Just For Airplanes…

I remember my first job. I was just a kid, not even old enough to drive. I had started collecting comic books, which weren’t cheap. That being said, I realize that they cost a fortune today by comparison. But I was starting to come into my own and wanting things that my parents felt shouldn’t just be given, but earned. So, I did what any fastidious kid in my position would do: I went to Service Canada and not only looked for a job but enlisted some help in drafting a resume, despite the fact there was next to nothing on it.

Decades ago, applying for a job required some personality on one’s part. Walking into a physical location, smiling and shaking hands before handing over the coveted document that would lay the baseline for the employer as to WHY they should choose you was the key element in not only securing an interview, but ultimately getting the job. That first interaction would allow a potential employer to see who you were as a person, even before sitting you down to ask questions relating to the job. Oh, how times have changed…

That first summer led to me acquiring a job digging trenches for sewer lines. Yeah, you read that right! At twelve years of age, I was shovelling dirt as a summer job. The labour laws of the time were, shall we say, a touch less strict. Considering my parents had just discovered my involvement in karate and I had to start paying my own way on things, I couldn’t afford to be choosy. And it was excellent exercise anyway.

That first job led to a permanent part-time job throughout the school year where I worked for the catholic church collecting used bingo cards every Thursday night. Except for getting the occasional bingo dabber stain on my fingers, it was pretty easy work and earned me ten dollars every week. That may not seem like a lot, but it paid my monthly karate tuition and kept me in comics.

Getting interviewed was always a nerve-wracking experience. Sitting across a desk from a potential employer who would ask you all sorts of questions that, although professional and pertaining to the job, could often seem a touch on the personal side and maybe even invasive. Some interviews that I’ve sat through have even bordered on the rude side. For example, wondering if you’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offence for which a pardon has not been granted is a pretty standard question for an interview and/or on an application form. But having a stranger verbally ask you, “Have you ever committed a crime? Ever? Tell me!” can be a little unnerving.

But there’s no better feeling than having an interview go well, getting to know your potential employer as they get to know you and allowing you the chance to explain why you’d be a fit for the job. That smile and handshake, followed by an affirmation that you’ll be a great fit or a phone call later in the day indicating the same thing would make it all worthwhile. But this doesn’t seem to be the standard of how things are done anymore.

These days, walking into a physical location and asking to see a manager is a futile move. If and when the manager is available, they’ll usually tell you to go online and apply on the company’s website. Very few places carry paper applications and even fewer bother with accepting a resume. All that stuff is done online. It takes away the human aspect of introducing oneself and shaking hands (although such things are currently a no-go anyway).

Once you’ve completed the online application process, you’re general faced with a structured interview that contains pre-scripted questions. The problem with this is a that such interviews, especially panel interviews where you’re questioned by multiple interviewers, also takes the human aspect out of the interview and really don’t allow a potential employer the benefit of getting to know the applicant. In truth, how can you hope to know if an applicant will be a good fit for your company without getting to know them?

The job industry is made all the more difficult by the fact that even your basic, minimum wage jobs that only require a hand and a heartbeat still require an exorbitant number of hoops to be jumped through. Having a decade or more of experience in a related field is still treated with suspicion and scrutiny and most of the time, it may be for a job that’s below what’s financially required of one’s household since, as is usually the case, everyone starts at the bottom.

Gone are the days where applying in person and having a positive attitude were enough to get you a chance. Should you be unfortunate enough not to be tech savvy or knowledgeable on the use of computers and navigating the workforce online, you either need to throw yourself on the mercy of someone who knows how or find yourself wanting. Although technology has brought us a long way towards progress, it’s also harmed us in others. ☯

When The Baby Becomes A Little Man

Nathan and I, a week after his birth

In 2014, my wife and I performed something akin to a miracle. We gave birth to our son, Nathan. Born in the early morning hours of November 26th at Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current and named Nathan David Peter Cook, he came along on the promise of defeating yet another obstacle that Type-1 Diabetes had presented in me. His birth was a long process, having started the previous day. But when he finally arrived, he proved that even a chronic condition such as mine can be overcome. He not only represented a piece of myself, but hope.

Nathan and I in 2015

Although not necessarily proven, men with Type-1 Diabetes with usually face fertility issues, altered and damaged DNA as well as neurological damage; all of which can make the conception of a child difficult, if not impossible. I had lived through most of my 20’s confident that I would never sire any children, even if no doctor in New Brunswick would help confirm my fertility until “you and a stable partner have been trying to conceive” for some time, first. Total bullshit.

Nathan and I in 2017. Funny how our hairstyles reversed over two years.

This was a problem because since I HADN’T met the woman of my dreams yet, I also wasn’t ready to conceive children. But many (if not most) adult relationships can be defined by the decision and/or the ability to bear children. Such information would definitely be an asset when establishing those potential relationships. A fact that made it all the more heart-breaking when I couldn’t get the help I needed to secure that information.

When I met my wife and the subject of a family was considered, I was lucky enough that my wife was understanding and knew what she was getting into. A lesser woman wouldn’t have understood and wouldn’t have been as accommodating as she was. She has a strength she isn’t aware of. But that lack of awareness is what makes it a strength, I suppose. We were happy with each despite the prospect that we likely wouldn’t have children.

Nathan and I in 2020. All attitude, just like his daddy!

Since his birth and my refusal to leave his side at the hospital, Nathan has stuck to me like glue. He’s been my shadow and has quietly followed my every move since the doctors put him in my arms. Although he drives me nuts on the best of days, he has a spark of life that reminds me that there are more important things in life than perfection. There are more important things than money, accomplishments and time. As he’s often told me himself, “you can’t say no to love.” And the only other person who could show me more unconditional love than his mother is Nathan.

Today is Nathan’s 6th birthday. It seems as though that semi-sleepless night in late 2014 was a lifetime ago. Since then, he continues to amaze me with his intelligence, his stubbornness and his wantonness to seek out nature and absorb everything he can. Never lacking a question, the entire world is his classroom. Although not practical from a “structured” educational perspective, I know that his curiosity will never waiver. It will carry him far. No matter my failures, he is my greatest success, my greatest accomplishment and my best hope for the future.

We recently had Nathan tested for Type-1 Diabetes. My greatest fear is that I would have passed my condition on to my children. Believe me when I say that there is no greater feeling than knowing that his metabolism and immune system are clean and he shows no signs of Diabetes, Above all else, this is likely the best gift I can give him.

As you read this, Nathan is at school, likely bragging to everyone who will listen that today is his birthday and repeating the number 6 until people are sick of hearing it. When he gets home, he’ll be greeted with cake, gifts and his choice of favourite supper (he chose shepherd’s pie). I don’t know what the future will bring; I’m no oracle or prophet. But I know that if Nathan continues on his current path, he’ll no doubt forge a way through life that no one else has considered. And I can’t wait to see the outcome, should life will it so. Happy birthday, son! ☯

And On The 7th Day, No One Rested

One of the biggest aspects of my own core beliefs is that I have a profound respect for other people’s religions and faiths. I mean, as long as your personal faith and/or beliefs don’t bring harm to others or yourself, I’ve always lived by a standard of live and let live. Even if and when they conflict or contradict my own. It makes sense that not everyone sees things the same way, right? But how does one consolidate their beliefs, religious or otherwise, when they conflict with the requirements of the modern world?

The best example I can give, takes me all the way back to the early 2000’s. I was management, third in charge of a location, which for liability purposes I won’t name. But part of my responsibilities included the hiring and discipline of the staff. It was a trying position at times, and I didn’t always enjoy the conversations I had to have with employees, especially given the fact that some of those conversations were dictated by upper management and the owners.

One of the senior management attended a local church, where the youth congregation were invited to apply and based on that manager’s recommendation, most were hired and made up a significant portion of the part-time staff. And although I’m not a big fan of this type of nepotism, I’ll be the first to admit that the staff we hired were quite fantastic. Always on time, worked hard and seemed inclined to make a good name for themselves.

But one of my other responsibilities also included scheduling for a staff of almost a hundred. This task was often made all the more difficult by the fact that many of our part-time staff were involved in extracurriculars like sports, committees and hobbies. Trying to provide them with the three or four shifts a week they required while navigating those extracurriculars often proved challenging. Sometimes I found myself having to tell one of the part-timers that a big part of being a responsible person was deciding their priorities and choosing between work and outside activities.

For the most part, it was a smooth conversation, with both parties coming to some sort of consensus even when that consensus meant they’d be parting ways with the company. But one young lad made a point of providing an extremely tight availability and absolutely refused to work on Sundays. When I explained to him that as a high school student with limited availability, Saturdays and Sundays were integral to ensuring that he got his three shifts, it was an unhappy medium, because he demanded three shifts a week but refused to work on Sundays as it was “God’s day.”

As I was raised in a French Catholic family, I am very aware of the fact that scripture states that on the seventh day, God rested. That being said, the modern world makes very little convention for such observances, nor does the business world accommodate one’s belief that a part-time employee with a limited availability can be choosy about the days he works. And why would he? Buddhists have a number of “observed” dates throughout the year, but I’ve never refused to work on any of them.

This put everyone in an awkward position. Although it was just the beginning of the new millennium, this was my first taste of millennial entitlement as a leader of staff. It would go on to be a phenomenon that would become all too common in most workplaces. It was also a very fine line to walk. Disciplining or correcting someone on the basis of their religious beliefs is a dangerous thing, both inside and outside of the workplace. But despite having signed an employment agreement indicating that he’d work the hours that were given, the employee missed a couple of Sunday shifts in a row.

He was lucky in a way, because the first time he missed the shift he had called in the previous day to say he wouldn’t be coming in. I say that he was lucky because he got me on the phone. Any other manager likely would have told him to show up for work or he’d be fired. I, instead, asked him why he wasn’t coming in. I got the “God’s day” reasoning and told him that he had agreed to work any hours given to him and that church services were also held during evenings and many staff members adjusted to make it work. He made it clear he simply wouldn’t work on Sundays. Well. Fuck.

I’m a firm believer in picking my battles, so I simply documented the absence and reported it to the Store Manager and replaced his spot with someone who wanted a few more hours. The battle wasn’t worth the outcome for a 3-hour shift on a first occurrence. But the following week, he got scheduled a Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday shift as per the availability of being a part-time school student. This time, he chose to test his luck and simply didn’t show up for work on the Sunday at all. That’s when shit got real…

This time, he skipped out on a shift overseen by the Store Manager, who wasn’t having any of it. Our staffing levels were based on projected sales calculated from previous weeks and years, so if we had 5 staff persons scheduled to work, it was because we were expected to need those 5. The Store Manager contacted this employee, who responded with his usual rhetoric about it being a Sunday. The Store Manager advised he would take care of this one, personally. I was grateful for that.

So in all honesty, who’s the asshole here? Is it the employee for providing an availability and then reneging on it? Or is it the employer for failing to respect an organized religion’s day of observance? Is it considered a bit much for that day of observance to be every single week, or was this youth right in his thinking that no one should work on “God’s day?” While I’m here, I apologize if putting “God’s day” in quotation marks offends anyone, but I’m of the opinion that EVERY day is God’s day. But the very fact I the need to apologize for it is the very point behind this post.

There’s nothing wrong with having faith, so long as you’re faithful. So where does the concept of faith fit into the modern world, specifically the working world? There should be room to accommodate a balance of both, right? I’m using the platform of this story as a means of asking for your opinion. If you have thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments. ☯

Zen And The Art Of Toilet Installation

As I’ve previously written, I recently had my basement demolished and the foundation walls braced with steel beams. This was a costly project, but a necessary one. We’ve tried to sell our house twice, with the market deciding to take advantage of us without the benefit of buying us dinner first. We took the house off the market when we realized that almost every potential buyer was commenting on the state of the foundation and the house was more likely to sell with a braced, unfinished basement. I wrote about the excellent work done by Grasshopper Construction here.

One of the big issues we faced because of the basement renovations is the failure of our under sink drinking tap. This is a filtered tap used solely for drinking water. We’ve switched the filter with replacements the previous owner had left for us, but it turns out that the type and model of water filter under our kitchen sink no longer exists. As a result, my wife and I went to Home Depot and found an alternative to replace the outdated filter we currently had. The filter failure occurred when the construction company shut off the water to move piping in the downstairs area and the filter emptied out. Since then, the water’s been clouded and undrinkable. And here we are.

Further to that, I had requested that my downstairs toilet be put back in place when the project was completed. I was assured that it would. It wasn’t. I found myself in a position where I had to replace my upstairs drinking filter and get my toilet re-installed. I phoned in some local plumbing companies, but the estimated costs turned out to be between $550 to $850. This was on top of the fact that I had the toilet, had the water filter system, had all of the hardware they would need to install everything. I couldn’t understand why it had to cost so fuckin’ much.

All that was left of my Buddhist throne!

After a few estimates that ranged in the high hundreds, my wife and I faced the possibility that we would be leaving things as they were, since we simply couldn’t justify the cost with everything being as it was. But considering my level of stubbornness, I couldn’t let things sit as they were. Sure, there were no walls downstairs for the toilet I was trying to get back in place. That was a small detail I could circumvent by throwing a small area rug and buying a couple of Chinese screens to allow for some privacy. But our drinking water was a different story.

I solicited the help of a local neighbourhood FaceBook group, despite my aversion to social media, to help me find a local plumber. They came through quite nicely and I had a number to call. But I was afraid of how much even a local, independent plumber would charge to install something that I already had in the house. I turned to a rather unlikely source to try and learn how to do the work myself: YouTube.

Once I removed as much as the old wax gasket as possible

I watched a number of videos on how to repair and install a toilet bowl from home. I watched about how to properly install bolts on the phalange, properly place the wax ring and properly piping and sourcing water to my toilet. I made a list of all the items I needed and made my way to Home Depot, where the helpful staff were able to help me get all the items together and I left the location, pretty confident I would be able to circumvent hundreds if not thousands of dollars by doing the work myself. After all, there’s nothing I can’t learn, right?

I started by scraping away the remnants of the old wax gasket around the phalange where the toilet sits. Let me tell you, it’s unpleasant work and I can see why plumbers charge so much. It’s rather disgusting. But I got it all scraped away without removing the bag the construction company stuffed into the drain hole, so I didn’t have to deal with any unpleasant smells. Nathan was there to help and bring me tools. I followed up by dragging my toilet near the location so that it would be ready.

Stuck back in its former glory!

The fastening bolts on the phalange were still in excellent shape, so I didn’t have to remove them and install the new ones that came with the new wax ring. I placed the new wax ring and squeezed it in place before lowering the toilet onto the base and twisting it slightly to make a tight seal with the new wax ring. Once this was done, Nathan and I tightened the bolts at the sides of the toilet, ensuring the toilet would be securely fastened to the floor. I ensured the proper placement of the wax seal and the level of the toilet by sitting on it with a level keeping correct measure while I worked.

Everything went according to plan, I fastened a water valve to the toilet, attached per tubing from the valve all the way top to the ceiling and reached the water line dedicated to the toilet, only to discover that the cap that had been placed on the pipe wasn’t threaded and I couldn’t remove it. I contacted that local, retired plumber I mentioned an had him come check it out. He agreed to make the proper connection (which was the only piece I was missing) and install my upstairs water filter.

25 feet of Pex tubing to run water to my toilet

At the end of the day, I reinstalled my toilet and my water filter with only minimal intervention from a retired plumber, paid $40 in parts and $100 of off-the-books money to my retired plumber and now have a fully functional toilet downstairs, as well as a source of clean drinking water for my family and I. Considering this was barely an 8th of the total cost of a “professional” plumber, I consider myself blessed to have taken the steps I did. It’s one step closer to getting my basement back to its former glory.

By end-of-day on last Thursday, I had my toilet back to it’s former, running glory and a brand-new filtered source of drinking water for my family and I on our upstairs sink. I have a deep well of respect for people who work in the trades. I understand that they have to study and train, and mostly even apprentice for many years in order to work independently in their respective industries. But considering most sources were trying to charge me nearly a grand to install items I already had in my possession baffles my mind. The $100 I paid to the gentleman who came and helped me seemed like a Godsend by comparison.

This Buddhist’s Throne, in all its former glory!

I’m not a plumber. I could never do what they do, especially when it comes to things like toilets and anything sewer-related, but give me a break! Why gouge people so badly? I was able to save hundreds upon hundreds of dollars by doing the majority of this installation myself. Just goes to show that you can do anything if youngenuinely set your mind to it. ☯

The Possible Light At The End Of The Tunnel…

I was sitting in my living room last Wednesday, basking in the aftermath of a solid supper of two jalapeño cheddar burgers. I’m totally kidding. Not about eating two burgers; I totally demolished those! I’m kidding about the fact that I was basking in anything but pain. The jalapeño burgers were painful to eat, digest and think about. But I digress… Shortly after supper, while I was in the living room with my wife and infant son, I received a text from a friend of mine.

Now, one might be inclined to ask, “But Shawn, don’t you ALWAYS get texts from friends?” First of all, shaddup! Second of all, texts rarely have this level of importance or solicit as much of a reaction from me. This text message contained a link to an Edmonton CTV article indicating that there is a possibility that a cure for Diabetes may have been discovered. No, that’s not a typo. You read that right.

The article, published on November 17th by CTV News Edmonton, opens with a bold statement in its first line, “Scientists at the University of Alberta say they may have discovered a cure for Diabetes.” Apparently, their new process has already cured Diabetes in mice and the research team is hopeful that they’ll eventually be able to test it on human test subjects. You can read the article for yourself here.

The lead researcher is Dr. James Shapiro, who is a well-known rockstar in the Diabetes community as the creator of the “Edmonton Protocol” some twenty years ago. This protocol involved injecting Diabetes patients with insulin-producing islet cells in order to allow their bodies to produce and regulate blood sugars without daily injections. This was a fantastic breakthrough and an amazing step forward in Diabetes treatment. I had even looked into it myself, when it first came out.

One of the big problems is that the protocol doesn’t work for everybody. There are conditions that make the patient receptive to the treatment, and even for those who can get the treatment are usually stuck using anti-rejection meds for the rest of their lives in order to keep their bodies from rejecting the injected cells. Dr. Shapiro and his team have apparently found a way around this obstacle.

According to their new claims, the research team have somehow found a way to turn a patient’s own cells into islet-producing ones, circumventing the need for all the anti-rejection meds and side effects that accompany the Edmonton Protocol. Their current research has shown that they’ve been able to reverse the effects of Diabetes in mice to the point where the Diabetes is effectively cured. If successful in human trials, there is a very real possibility that we could see a cure for Diabetes within our lifetime.

Just reading the article brought tears to my eyes. After all, finding a cure for Diabetes is the “hopeless hope” of every T1D. And I’d be lying if I said that I even remember what life is like without Diabetes. But it’s gotta be better than this. Watching the video made even more misty-eyed (Thanks, Kristen!). As is the case with most scientific research, funding is the main issue. Dr. Shapiro requires additional funding for equipment and research in order to perfect this new treatment.

The video that accompanies the article discusses a man, whose son has Type-1 Diabetes, who has decided on a goal of raising 22 million dollars by 2022. He made a pretty good point; if every Canadian with Diabetes donated simply $22, Dr. Shapiro would be well beyond the funding required to make this work. With over 400 million people with Diabetes worldwide, it would really suck if there’s a cure on the horizon but no one could get it because of funding.

Between drying all the tears the article caused, I tried finding where one can donate for this specific cause. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything so if one of you does, please include it in the comments so I can share it and pass it on. Diabetes has taken up such a large portion of my life and has helped mold me into the person I am today. I’ll admit that I would likely feel a bit lost if I suddenly found myself clear of it. But I’d adjust. Definitely. Read the article. In case one link wasn’t enough, HERE! ☯

When Winter Becomes The Workout

I had a bunch of fun last Thursday when Nathan and I went outside to clean up the snow that had fallen the previous day. We had a heavy snowfall, which resulted in a few inches settling nicely on my driveway, vehicle and sidewalk. Homeowners are responsible for clearing and cleaning the stretch of sidewalk in front of their property or risk being civilly liable, should someone not understand that snow and ice on concrete is fuckin’ slippery. Go figure…

The point is, I started by using my newly-purchased snowblower to eliminate the two inches of loose, powdered top snow. But I still had to get in there and scrap away all the nice, packed stuff that sat underneath. My sidewalk was an absolute disaster, since people have been walking on it for days and a lot of the snow got packed down. I spent the better part of an hour, scraping, lifting and tossing heavy chunks of packed snow.

In light of the fact that I had been at it for an hour, I counted it as a workout. Why not? I had been stretching, twisting and lifting heavy weight for an hour. I’m inclined to think that this is pretty close to the definition of a workout. I wouldn’t want it to be my usual, of course. But it makes me feel better about not having time to log a traditional workout.

There are a lot of “chores” a homeowner can perform that can be intensive enough to constitute a workout. So if the winter blahs are starting to get you down and you just can’t quite seem to find the energy to do a traditional workout, turn that frown upside down by using the chores you’re forced to perform as a means of maintaining your fitness. Just be sure to keep an eye on your blood sugar levels and remember that despite the colder weather, hydration is still important. ☯