It’s All About The Mood

Never, in the history of mankind has anyone ever calmed down after being told to calm down. Has this ever happened to you? There’s nothing I dislike more than being genuinely upset about something and having someone try and tell me to calm down. The same concept applies to bad moods. I’ve never understood why people feel compelled to assume that one’s bad mood is attached to an underlying condition. For example, have you ever tried assuming that a lady’s bad mood is because of a particular “time of the month?” How did THAT exchange go for you? You probably can’t answer on account of your wife/girlfriend/sister breaking your jaw for making the assumption…

This same concept can be applied to Diabetes. I know I harp on the pitfalls of Diabetes in a lot of my posts, but that’s because the list of symptoms and complications is almost endless. And mood swings are one of the worst. Although every person is different, there’s no denying that uncontrolled blood sugars will cause a change in one’s mood and emotional well-being. For myself, high blood sugars will turn me into the loveable care bear you all recognize into an angry grizzly hell-bent on destroying anything in his path. I’m usually the same before my morning coffee. But I digress…

There have been so many times in my youth when this phenomenon affected my position in life or my relationship with others. Since my blood sugar control was limited to testing about once or twice a day and treating when I “felt” a low, there were times when I was a mean grump and treated those in my immediate surroundings harshly. Most times I wouldn’t even be aware that I was being a total ass but that wouldn’t stop the damage from being done.

Eventually, some relationships ended and some were forever altered into something less special. I mean, who wants to be around a cranky bastard all the time, right? But I’ve had times when my increasing bad mood has caused friends to avoid me and relationships to be damaged or lost. And this is not even including the fact that badly controlled blood sugars will usually make you sluggish and lethargic, making people believe you’re lazy or unmotivated. There have been days when I would just sit there with no energy, while friends and associates would try and convince me to go do something, anything other than sitting like a lump.

Knowing what I know now (say THAT three times fast), I understand that the frequent testing of one’s blood sugars and proper control of one’s Diabetes could have prevented those symptoms and I likely would have had a much happier adolescence. Hindsight is a hell of a bitch. At least I understand and have a much better control now. Life in general is the only thing that makes me cranky now, hahaha… haha… ha (cries a little while laughing). ☯

Just For Laughs…

Sometimes, you need to just sit back, take a breath and have a laugh. I found this little gem while cruising the World Wide Web for something else and I couldn’t help but chuckle. I can totally admit that I don’t know the story behind what’s happening in this photograph, but besides making me giggle like a schoolgirl, I think it also illustrates a few important life lessons.

The first is that life is, in fact, a matter of balance. As my friend Daryl once told me, life is like a battery; some positive, some negative, all POWER. But the balance among all things is what’s important. The second lesson is that no matter how disciplined you are or how hard you’ve conditioned yourself, the world can sometimes be overwhelming and cause an overt reaction from even the most serene of people.

That being said, I should once again point out that I don’t know what the story is behind this photo. There was a story a few years ago about a group claiming to be Buddhist monks collecting donation money for a temple in Thailand. I think this was in New York, and the “monks” would approach arriving tourists and try to hit them up for donations. They would apparently become aggressive and even violent if people refused. That probably should have been a sign that they weren’t genuine. But the photo certainly gave me a laugh. ☯

Toilet Troubles

No, before you panic and scroll beyond my post, this isn’t about difficulties in the washroom! At least, not in the traditional sense… As most of you know, I make use of an insulin pump for my insulin delivery. I’ve been on pump therapy for over five years now, and recently upgraded to the Medtronic 670G. I’ve also started using Continuous Glucose Monitoring, which has presented its fair share of challenges, despite being a comfort now.

But my “toilet troubles” came in the shape of an issue I faced about two weeks ago during a change of infusion set. I had been doing work in my back yard and worked up quite a sweat. As a result, I decided I should grab a shower. But once I was in the shower, I remembered that I only had about 8 or 10 units left in my current reservoir and I would need to change my set up once I got out of the shower.

As any Type-1 Diabetic using a pump would agree, “naked” showers are a rare treat. For those who may not understand, a “naked” shower refers to one you get to have where you don’t have an infusion set attached to your gut and can enjoy the shower without the dangers of pulling the set out from washing. Having a shower line up with the actual change of one’s infusion set is rare, so I chose to rip the infusion set out while I was in the shower in order to reap the benefits.

The infusion set includes a round piece of sticky adhesive material, fastened to a hard piece of plastic that hold the actual cannula that delivers the insulin. I decided to pull an NBA imitation and toss the infusion set over the top of the shower door and hopefully get it into the trash bin. Instead, I successfully managed to come up a bit short and it landed right into the open toilet bowl!

Once I was out of the shower, I stood there and tried to decide how I would get this discarded piece of medical equipment out of my toilet bowl. I judged that I didn’t want to take the chance flushing it, as I didn’t want to risk clogging the line. I’m also not one for submerging my hand into an open toilet bowl, despite how often I clean it. As a result, I needed something that could successfully grab the infusion set without contaminating say, a kitchen utensil or an implement that I would never feel quite right using again, regardless of how well I cleaned it.

My solution is that I ended up using two Q-tips to try and pick it out. I struggled for several minutes looking like some dark comedy of someone with paper chopsticks, eating leftover Chinese food out of the grossest carton possible. Plastic and wet adhesive are reasonably slippery when wet. Add in trying to grab onto them with wet cotton swabs and you’d have yourself $10,000 if this were the 1990’s and someone caught it on film and gave it to Bob Saget!

I did finally manage to fish the infusion set out and toss it in the trash, after several attempts. I’ve often given my son Nathan a hard time about closing the toilet lid, since there’s a small shelving unit with toothbrushes and my electric shaver hovering right above the toilet. Leaving the toilet lid up is often a recipe for disaster since Nathan is quite clumsy and has come close to dropping his brush in the toilet on more than one occasion.

I should have followed my own directions, as this could have been avoided if I had closed the toilet lid before showering. Of course, I could have simply kept the infusion set on a shower shelf until I got out too, I suppose. But it made for a funny incident and goes to prove that Diabetic problems are not simply limited to medical ones. ☯

The Answer is Only Important If You Ask The Right Question

Something that occasionally crosses my mind is how there will be a significant employment exodus in the fact that a number of industries have unfortunately discovered that some of the employees they’ve sent home are no longer essential. Months and months of having certain positions sent home without the benefit of a “work at home” plan have rendered some jobs obsolete. The flip side to this, is that all the people who are no longer able to work in their chosen industry will turn to many of the employment positions that were intentionally abandoned by folks who didn’t want to go out into the world during the pandemic.

Regardless what your position or chosen career may be, we’ve all found ourselves in a very specific position at one time or another. The position I’m referring to, is subjecting ourselves to a job interview. No matter how confident in your material you may be, no matter if you’ve worked in the industry you’re interviewing with before, the stress and anxiety that comes with sitting through a job interview can do a number on you.

Throughout my life, I’ve found myself on both sides of the table. I’ve been the interviewer and the interviewee. And especially in the past year, I must have sat through about a dozen interviews while I’ve been busy trying to “find” myself and I’ve learned a thing or two. So despite the fact it has nothing to do with Buddhism, martial arts or Diabetes, I thought I would share some of the gems I’ve discovered about interviewing.

These are a combination of things that have worked for me, as well as things that I’ve noted when interviewing others. So some of it might seem pretty obvious, but not necessarily to everyone. Here we go…

  1. Show up early: You would think this one is obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people are fine with walking in at the last minute. I’m not saying you need to show up an hour before your scheduled appointment and sit in the waiting area like some sort of psycho. But arriving fifteen minutes ahead of your appointment makes a good impression and can even be important in helping you deal with unexpected obstacles, like construction zones, finding an unknown address and being available in the event the appointment prior to yours ends early;
  2. Dress professionally, not for the job you want: I don’t care if you’re applying to work for waste management or if you’re applying to be CEO of a fortune-500 company… Dress properly. Dress pants, shirt and tie at a minimum. People always say “dress for the job you want,” but that’s total bullshit! Dress to the nines, no matter what the position you’re applying for. It shows your commitment to getting the job and your level of professionalism;
  3. Make eye contact and smile: You want to give your interviewer your utmost attention. There’s nothing worse than an interviewee who drifts off and has you repeat a question. Pay attention and listen. Actively listen;
  4. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know: If you’re asked a question and you don’t know the answer, then you should admit that you don’t know. Potential employers don’t like it when you make up some random shit. And you’re almost guaranteed to get called out on it. Employers much prefer someone that can admit they don’t know and are willing to look it up or learn, than someone who will phone it in by trying to lie or make stuff up;
  5. Use the power of “WE”: You want to be a part of that specific company? You want that job? Then include yourself! When asking questions or answering theirs, use “we” to start creating the idea that you consider yourself a part of that organization. What benefits do “we” have included? What schedule do “we” use? It creates the impression that you’re part of the company. You’ll be surprised at the effect it has;
  6. Study up: You can’t know everything, but if you apply for a specific job you should have some rudimentary knowledge about the industry you’re interviewing with. Applying to be an insurance broker? Maybe you want to study up on your Province’s insurance laws and regulations. Applying to be a government employee? Try learning some of the legislation that regulates the specific branch of government you’re interviewing with. This ensures that you can show some minimal knowledge in the job you’re trying to get;
  7. End the interview with a “thank you” and a handshake: No matter how you think the interview went, good or bad, be certain to thank your interviewer(s) for their time and provide a firm farewell handshake. This not only shows your commitment to professionalism, it shows your gratitude for the time that was taken to interview you.

It feels a little strange writing about something that isn’t my usual forte, in terms of this blog. But given the state of the world and how the employment industry is going, knowledge can be an incredible advantage. being qualified for a position is only half the battle. Being able to PROVE you’re a fit for the job and being confident is the other half. ☯

Give It Some Style! ðŸ¥‹

If you don’t run in martial arts circles, all the terminology and the different forms of martial arts can be somewhat overwhelming. With more than a couple of hundred different styles/types of martial arts from all around the world, divided by style, type, school and sub-styles, it can all get a little convoluted. You have striking styles, grappling styles, weapons styles and uncounted numbers of hybrid styles. Without delving too deeply in how some styles are descendent from another and so forth, let’s focus mainly on the style I’ve been studying all my life: Uechi Ryu Okinawan Karate.

First, let’s cover off some basics so that we’re all on the same page. Karate is an Okinawan martial art, not to be mistaken with a Japanese martial art. Yes, yes, I know… Okinawa is part of Japan; a prefecture of Japan, in fact. For those who don’t know, a prefecture is a sort of jurisdictional division, like a country, Province or state. And although some descendent styles of karate were founded in Japan, karate owes its roots to Okinawa. Hence, the distinction.

Karate, or Karate Do as it’s meant to be pronounced, means “empty hand” with the latter term meaning “way of the empty hand.” The fighting style came about when the original masters returned from China where they had learned a number of different styles of Kung Fu. In the case of my style’s founder, he fled to China in order to escape the military draft. But hey, nobody’s perfect!

Originally, martial arts in Okinawa were referred to as Te, or “martial skill. Once the inclusion of Chinese Kung Fu came about, it was renamed Tode, or “Chinese Hand.” For the most part, Te was used as a fighting art for law enforcement and the rich and generally included the use of a sword or other edged weapon. Te is also way, WAY older than Tode. This is why the true origins of karate as I know it come from Tode.

Once karate made its way to Okinawa, it became divided by three separates schools or “styles” (although they never referred to them as separate styles): Naha-Te, Tomari-Te and Shuri-Te, after the three main cities on Okinawa. To some extent, every traditional style of karate, including the subsequent Japanese styles, can trace their roots to one of these three original schools. In the case of my style, (Uechi-Ryu) it got it’s humble beginnings in Naha, making it a part of Naha-Te.

In the beginning, there were no differing styles. Karate was karate and students from those three cities would train together with no discerning difference in techniques and style with the exception of small, cosmetic aspects. As specific “styles” began to emerge due to the inclusion of specific forms and techniques, most were named in honour or remembrance of their founders, which is the case for Uechi-Ryu, which was so-named by students after Master Kanbun Uechi’s death in 1948.

The only real distinction that could be made amongst the three styles were that Tomari-Te and Shuri-Te were pretty linear styles with Naha-Te being more of a circular style. But in speaking with some of the original masters way back then, most of them were surprised and even indifferent to the prospect that people were referring to their karate as “this style” or “that style.” For them, it was all just karate.

One of the things that makes me sad is that Uechi Ryu is not a mainstream form of karate like many of the more recognizable styles, like Shotokan, Kyokushinkai or Goju-Ryu. Ironically, Goju-Ryu is Uechi-Ryu’s sister style and is almost identical to Uechi-Ryu. Same katas, same circular blocks and movements, same original background. But this means that if you try to see Karate’s family tree, Uechi-Ryu is often not included.

You can check out Uechi-Ryu’s full background by reading the Wikipedia entry, which I have to say is pretty accurate and complete. But today’s face of karate differs quite a bit from it’s humble beginnings two centuries ago. Many popular styles of karate are simply hybrids or combinations of previous or traditional styles. The aforementioned Kyokushinkai, for example, is a hybrid combination of Goju-Ryu and Shotokan karate. And new schools and styles seem to emerge with every passing decade. At the end of the day, karate is karate. A punch is still a punch and a kick is still a kick. Finding the style that works for you and that you can commit yourself to is the key. But knowing the roots that started it all will open the door. ☯

Fumio Demura

I just got through watching both seasons of Cobra Kai, which are now available on Netflix. The series follows the exploits of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel Larusso, respective antagonist and protagonist from the 1985 original “Karate Kid.” This time around, Lawrence is the focus as he struggles through a failed marriage, an estranged son and bringing back his Sensei’s failed karate dojo, which is Cobra Kai. It’s a fantastic martial arts series, focused on karate. I can’t wait to see what Season 3 will bring.

It got me feeling nostalgic for the original Karate Kid movies, which included two sequels and a rebirth with “The Next Karate Kid.” You’ll noticed I haven’t mentioned 2010’s remake of the The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. Although it was a decent movie, it’s based on Kung Fu, not karate and was basically a slap in the face to the original. But through that nostalgia, I started researching and falling down the YouTube rabbit hole and discovered some interesting facts about the film series, including the involvement of Fumio Demura.

Fumio Demura is a well-known martial artist who studies Shito-Ryu karate and kobudo. I came to find out that Demura played the stunt double for Pat Morita’s “Mr. Miyagi.” This came as a surprise to me, since I knew of Demura through his books. Demura wrote a series of books in the 1980’s covering a number of weapons used in Kobudo. Since joining Kempo Karate in 2016, I’ve slowly introduced the bo staff and sat into my training regimen.

Since there’s a limited amount of coaching time on weapons in the dojo, I decided to order two of Demura’s books, Bo: Karate Weapon of Self-Defence and Sai: Karate Weapon of Self-Defence. In these books, Demura covers a number of basic concepts for both weapons and includes several photos and diagrams. They’ve been helpful, despite the fact that I don’t focus heavily on weapons.

It was cool to read about his involvement. We’re all aware that movie actors use stunt doubles, but it was neat to find that one of my favourite movies included a stunt double that I’ve read and studied about. If you study karate or kobudo, I highly recommend you search “Fumio Demura” online and see what you can find. Any of his books are definitely worth a read. ☯

As If Life Weren’t Hard Enough…

It’s my opinion that life has more than its fair share of difficulties. It’s no secret that the world has its fair share of suffering and occasionally loves to spread it around. This is why it’s always shocked and surprised me when individual persons seem to make and effort to increase another person’s difficulties and struggles or cause suffering in others. Isn’t life hard enough? It would seem to me that there are enough battles to be fought without people intentionally causing issues for one another.

If I take my own personal situation as an example, one person’s failure coupled with lies that they likely hoped would exonerate them, got me caught up in a whirlwind of unnecessary disciplinary action that’s turned my work and personal life upside down for the past two years. It’s been one of the hardest periods of my life and has made it difficult to live normally, including emotional roller coasters, occasional estrangement and closing myself off and even missing the birth of my second child.

I just recently heard of a similar situation happening to one of my best friends, and it sets a fire under my posterior. I know that the internet as well as the world in general, absolutely loves making jokes, memes and poking fun at the likes of “Karens,” “Kyles” and “Chads.” And it’s no secret that I often comment on “snowflakes” and the over-sensitive nature of recent generations. It seems that with the passing of recent decades, people have become more and more sensitive to menial actions and things.

I remember a job I held, about twenty years ago. Yes, I’m THAT old! Let’s move on, shall we? I worked in a call centre for a Canadian courier company and I absolutely hated it. Part of my assigned duties included taking incoming calls from people who were trying to track their parcels. On top of the fact that people are ridiculously impatient and were usually pissed when they phoned in, I dealt with one of the few times where my bilingualism was a hindrance; because I took shit from people in both official languages.

It got to the point where my gut would kill me with every shift I went on. At one point, I chose to discuss my concerns with my supervisor, who promptly explained that I wasn’t in any physical danger and that of course people would be pissed about being unable to locate their package. I was told I needed to stop being so sensitive and to quit worrying about the words others were using. Then I was told to get the hell back to work. Oh, how the world has changed…

Can you imagine if someone spoke to an employee that way now? The blowback would be significant. In fact, this is also a slippery slope amongst the employees themselves. With everyone having become so sensitive and getting offended about everything, it seems to take very little to get someone in serious trouble, even when the subject of that trouble is ridiculously menial. Now, I know what you’re thinking: if an action or comment sincerely bothers someone, then it isn’t menial.

And although you may be right about that aspect, it doesn’t mean the other person deserves to have their job jeopardized or their lives affected because you can’t handle a comment or action. And that’s the problem. It seems that these days, all it takes is an uttered complaint for a person’s life to be completely turned upside down. People need to realize how their comments and actions can be destructive to others. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, people need to quit being snowflakes and complaining about everything. There’s enough suffering in the world to deal with, without people doing it to each other. ☯

For The Longest Time…🎶

My eye injections came and went yesterday, as they do every 8 weeks. I’ve written about this before… I receive injections of a prescription medication called Lucentis. In case you’re just now joining the show, Lucentis is used to treat a condition known as Diabetic Macular Edema, which involves the accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the eye. Lucentis dries up the fluid, reducing the swelling it causes and overall improving my vision. The condition is basically permanent, and requires scheduled in-hospital injections every two months or so. All caught up? Good! Moving on…

As I recently posted, I sold my car. There were a number of reasons behind this move, but it was for the best. As such, our home is now down to only one vehicle. This shouldn’t be a problem in theory, since I grew up in a household with only one vehicle and I turned out fine (as my jaw twitches imperceptibly). But the timing of this eye injection appointment came at the worst possible time. My son Nathan started his first full week of 1st Grade yesterday.

My wife and I had concerns that if something happened, such as a bathroom-related accident or heaven forbid, he coughs at school, she would have to go get him. Something not so easily accomplished if I have the vehicle up in Saskatoon while she’s stuck down here, juggling a cranky infant and trying to find a way to pick up our five-year old. Boring and routine as my eye injection appointments had become, I decided to branch out and go on a little adventure. I took the bus…

The time, at the city bus stop

It turns out that Regina does have a bus line that runs from here to Saskatoon and back. Since my appointment was at 3 pm, I could catch a bus from Regina to Saskatoon at 7:30 am, arrive around 10:30 am, walk to the hospital, get my injections and catch a return bus at 6 pm. Sounds reasonable in theory, right? Since the bus terminal is a little over 5 kilometres away, it would take a little over an hour to walk there. And waking the entire family just to drop me off and come back home is a definite no! Especially since once you wake an infant, you’re pretty much screwed.

I checked the city bus schedule, and the bus that ran downtown passes in front of my house at 5:40 every morning. When I woke up at 5 am, the temperature was only 4 degrees Celsius and there was a chill in the air. So I dressed with a thermal shirt and my wool fleece shell, wool hat and gloves. I packed a t-shirt and a light Under Armour jacket for the later afternoon. I was quite glad I did, since I made plans to hop on the city bus during this frigid time.

An empty bus in the early hours of the morning

The bus was running a few minutes late, which in retrospect I wish I could say was reasonable and I understood. But my chattering teeth demanded justice, and since there was no one ON the bus, I couldn’t quite understand why the delay. But there’s no telling what the route may have been like, up the road. So I left it alone, paid my fare and sat down.

I was immediately greeted by the conductor’s voice over an intercom asking me to put on a face mask. Of course… Good ol’ COVID-19… I didn’t see the point, since the driver is wrapped in what is effectively a plastic bubble and I was alone on the bus. But fatigue and lack of caffeine rendered me silent and I slipped on a mask. I overestimated the time I would require, since this was my first time getting to Saskatoon this way. I arrived in the downtown area at 6 am, an hour and a half before the departure of the Saskatoon bus.

I’m Batman!

I walked along 11th Avenue in Downtown Regina feeling like that one lonely hospital patient who wakes up during the apocalypse. The streets were empty and quiet, except a couple of city buses, and there was even a token grocery bag floating by on a light morning breeze. Since I was far too early and uncertain what to do with myself, I decided to fix one problem and stopped in at a Tim Hortons, which conveniently opened at 6 am. It was a downtown location without a drive-thru and isn’t open 24 hours like most locations.

I sat down with my coffee and a Wheel of Time book and let the hot cup of caffeine breathe some life into me. About half an hour later, I was asked to vacate my seat as the location had a “no more than 30 minutes” policy in relation to their lobby. I was a little miffed, but it didn’t surprise me. It’s become the way of the world for most businesses. I half-heartedly objected, but I packed up and shuffled on. I made it to my intercity bus stop at 6:40 am. Now, we wait…

Mmm, coffee…

There was one other gentleman (besides the bus driver) waiting at the stop, and upon seeing my coffee cup, asked if I would watch his bags while he walked to Tim’s to grab one of his own. I was a little taken aback by how trusting he was to allow a stranger to watch his bags, until I realized he probably assumed I had nowhere to go since I would be taking the same bus as him.

The bus ride itself was uneventful and I took advantage of the fact that I could still see clearly to do some reading. We arrived on 2nd Avenue in Saskatoon at about 10:30. My appointment was about a 15-minute walk away and was scheduled for 2:55 pm, so I had some time to kill. This is where I discovered something important about Saskatoon: their downtown core has nothing! Oh sure, there are office buildings and businesses, a couple of convenience stores… But I was looking for a place to hunker down for a while and get out of the chill. The nearest place I found was a restaurant that only opened in half an hour.

My chariot awaits

I made my way down to Midtown Plaza, which is a two-story shopping centre I knew would have a food court and hot coffee. I got there fine, despite some douche-canoe’s attempt to grab my backpack (a story for another day) and enjoyed my second cup of coffee of the day and did a bit of reading. I got bored pretty quick and after a couple of laps of the stores in the centre, I walked over to the hospital. I figured I could sit on the bench outside the main entrance and relax until my appointment.

By 12:30, I was starting to get cold and decided to try and get inside. The hospitals are pretty controlled at the moment and for the most part, you can’t even get inside unless you have an appointment. My name was on a list but they obviously didn’t have an appointment time as they told me to go right in. I got to the Eye Care Centre and checked in, since I didn’t assume they’d let some random person lounge in their waiting room.

The first thing the employee at the admitting desk said was that I was booked in for 2:55 pm and that I was too early. I played it off as though it was a mistake and said, “2:55? Not 12:55? That’s my bad, I must have read the appointment slip wrong. Should I just sit and wait then, or do I need to leave and come back?” Since I had arrived on a bus and had nowhere to go, she agreed to let me sit in the waiting room and she would “put a note on my file,” which resulted in my getting in early and being seen by the doctor almost right away.

I should have felt guilty at being passed so far ahead of schedule, but considering the times when I WAS on time and still had to wait an hour beyond my appointment, I took the win and left the hospital just shortly after 1 pm. Now I had a different problem. I needed somewhere to go for the next FIVE HOURS!!! My bus was only scheduled to leave at 6 pm.

I spent the afternoon randomly walking around the city and looking at different shops and things. I walked by the river and I even did a few more laps of the mall. Considering my vision was impaired and I couldn’t read, I was pretty limited so I ended up sitting on a bench at 2nd and 23rd Street and settled in for a long wait for the bus that would take me home. At one point, some city worker (or at least I assumed he was, since he had an orange vest on) tried to tell me to move along since that particular corner had signage stating that loitering was not permitted. I explained why I was there and was basically left alone afterwards.

At 5:30 pm, I walked to the actual bus stop and was checked in for the trip. At 6 pm, which was supposed to be our departure time, we were advised the bus was running at least 15 minutes late. Of course, it is! When the bus finally arrived, loading and check-in for everyone had us leave a half hour later than our scheduled departure. At this point, my head and my eyes were killing me and I was too tired to care. As long as somebody drove the damn bus and got me home.

When I got back to Regina, I stepped off the bus and started walking to wards the only city bus route that ran up to my street. As I walked, I checked the online bus schedule and realized that the next bus would leave the stop I was heading towards at 9:15 pm. It was 9:13… I was over a block away, but I ran. I had to reach that bus, otherwise I would be stuck waiting an hour for the next one. The downtown mall was closed and so was the Tim Hortons I had used that morning. If I missed the bus, the best I could hope for would be a local pub, which wouldn’t be the worst thing but I ultimately just wanted to get home.

My saving grace is that there were four buses lined up to use the stop, and the one I needed was last in line. I had never been so happy about a delay in my life. In actually, a delay had CAUSED the panicked rush. If the intercity bus hadn’t left Saskatoon 30 minutes late, I would have made it to the stop in plenty of time. But the bottom line is I made it, got on the bus and sat quietly, all the way home. I walked into the house and took all of ten minutes to unpack a couple of essentials before unceremoniously crashing on my bed.

Over the course of the day, I walked about 15 kilometres in total. I got cold, then I got too warm. I was found with too much time on my hands and I was at the mercy of someone else’s driving. And as those of you who know me are aware, if it goes faster than I can walk, I just as soon be the one driving. I had a person attempt to steal my backpack, watched some “colourful” people shouting and acting erratically in the street, and experienced the pulse of the neighbouring city.

Do I regret taking the bus instead of the family vehicle? Let’s consider the pros and cons… On the pro side, the cost of my transit was less than half of what I would have paid for my usual hotel room. Once you factor in meals and fuel for the vehicle, I saved a few hundred dollars. Although not an earth-shattering amount, that makes a savings of just shy of $2,000 after a full year. Not too shabby. I also didn’t have to drive and could focus on scenery and reading for a change.

The cons? I had a lot of downtime on my hands with nowhere to go and nothing to do. That’s partially my fault as I overestimated my timings since it was my first time travelling this way. But COVID-19 also take the majority of the blame, since I really had nowhere I could go to simply grab a coffee and chill. In pre-Corona days, I would have sat with a coffee and read for a couple of hours.

I’ll definitely need to fine-tune my timings and work something out, as I don’t plan on spending HOURS outdoors during the winter months. Will this be my new normal? Probably. But the savings involved can’t be ignored, neither can the biggest pro of them all; the fact I was able to sleep in my own bed that night. ☯

A Shout Out To My Style

I just finished writing a post some days ago about different styles of karate and how I often regret that my own style, Uechi-Ryu, doesn’t get more attention when the original Okinawan styles are listed. In fact, if you look at most “family trees” of karate, Uechi-Ryu is rarely included, despite being Goju-Ryu’s sister-style and comparable to Shotokan and a few others.

That’s when I came across this YouTube video posted by Jesse Enkamp. Enkamp is a reasonably well-known practitioner of karate who has studied in Okinawa and in Sweden under the tutelage of his parents, who are karate instructors. As quoted from his website, Enkamp is “a best-selling author, entrepreneur, traveller, athlete, educator, carrot cake connoisseur and founder of Seishin International,” which is a fantastic line of martial arts apparel featuring karate gis.

He also has a YouTube Channel that I recently subscribed to, and he has some really great perspectives on karate and martial arts in general. We different on some of the perspectives, but as the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.” It’s unclear as to what style Enkamp actually Studies. This is because he claims he studies karate and not so much any specific style. I can’t say I entirely agree with his way of thinking, but he has pretty good reasoning behind this concept.

Regardless, he recently posted a YouTube video entitled, “The Best KARATE Style For Self-Defense,” where he talks about a traditional style of Okinawan karate that winds up being Uechi-Ryu. I had a pretty good idea that this was where he was headed (since the kanji symbols for Uechi-Ryu were in the title), but it was nice to have someone outside my system actually show some love for one of the best circular systems of Okinawan karate ever founded.

Enkamp’s YouTube entry on Uechi-Ryu

I don’t usually share or link YouTube videos as I consider someone’s video submissions to be theirs and theirs alone. But like I said, this one hit close to home and got me excited that someone was ACTUALLY talking about Uechi-ryu. This just goes to show a style is never really dead, so long as there are people willing to talk about it.

And Jesse, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll like and follow my blog as I follow your YouTube channel. We karate practitioners need to stick together. ☯

An Itchy Throat Can Be Trouble…

If you’re anything like me, having Type-1 Diabetes has the lovely effect of having me catch just about every little sniffle, bug and/or flu that may come floating my way. With an immune system that doesn’t seem to know enough NOT to attack the insulin-producing cells of my body, it stands to reason that whoever is manning the immunity train in my body is drunk at the wheel. This is one of the reasons why the upcoming season is one of two of the most difficult seasons for me to get through…

The autumn season has always been the most difficult for me, despite the fact it’s one of my favourites. The temperature turns colder and inclement weather becomes the norm. These weather phenomenons have the effect of making you sick more often. Unlike the common misconception, it’s not the cold itself that causes you to become sick but rather the fact that cold viruses travel better and spread faster when temperatures are cooler. Not COLD, but cooler. There’s a bunch of extra fun stuff, like colder temperatures making your sinuses less likely to block a virus and your immune system being less effective in the cold. But I’m not a doctor and I digress… Moving on!

Normally, none of this is a problem and I suffer through the colder seasons the same way as the rest of the world does… By cranking the heat and bitching about it. Some colds and illnesses have required me to take the occasional sick day, although this has been pretty rare. But the advent of COVID-19 has changed a great many things, and having a cold is no longer a simple thing.

Don’t think it makes a difference? Step onto public transit, like a bus or a train, and cough. Take a quick look around and take stock of how many people are giving you a look akin to thinking you carry the bubonic plague. The past year has fostered the belief that a cough means COVID-19, and I’ve seen people avoid, walk away and even become aggressive against others who may have had nothing but a dry throat or the common cold. This is a concern for me, as I’m the one in my family who faces the front lines to do groceries and run errands so that my family is the LEAST exposed.

There are a number of things that you can do to mitigate these issues, including washing your hands frequently, coughing and/or sneezing into your elbow and avoiding places where people gather in large numbers. You’re probably thinking, “But Shawn, aren’t those things we’re supposed to be doing anyway?” Ah, very good, Grasshopper! These are things that you should have been doing, even in pre-Corona times. Considering my immune system and the fact I have year-round sinus issues, my throat often gets dry and sends me into the occasional hacking fit, which has always been fine.

Now, it’s a guaranteed way to clear the crowd in front of me, since most people associate coughing to COVID-19 and not the fact that I’m simply an idiot who can’t seem to breathe and swallow his own saliva at the same time. So, let’s discuss the newer steps that should be taken. In addition to all of the above, staying home when you’re sick is also expected/required, depending on your area’s laws and policies. The next is the wearing of a face mask. And we’re gonna talk about THAT one…

Depending on what source you lean on, the effectiveness of face masks have been disputed since the beginning. Some people fall on the side of wearing them and others feel they’re useless and make no difference. Considering that hospitals and first responders have been using them for decades, you’d think the message would already be clear. But people aren’t always so great at getting the message. Some areas are starting to require the wearing of a mask as soon as you step out of your home, which in some respects may be a little over the top. I certainly don’t want to start wearing a face mask when I’m cycling, for example.

But even here in Regina, many businesses, including large-scale retail chains, have made the wearing of a face mask mandatory in order to enter their locations. Since people LOVE to be unique, many people have opted for wrapping their face with bandanas or wearing custom, homemade masks as opposed to purchasing masks at their retail locations or medical outlets. Although this is fine, not all masks are created equal, and there are significant problems with wearing a mask that falls short of what’s required.

According to an online article posted by ScienceDaily, any facial coverings that you wear “need a minimum of two layers, and preferably three, to prevent the dispersal of viral droplets from the nose and mouth that are associated with the spread of COVID-19 […]” This means that if you wrap a repurposed layer of an old t-shirt around your face, you’re not preventing much. Some studies have shown that although two layers of thick cotton or other recommended materials obviously prevented the spread of droplets from a cough or sneeze much more effectively than a single layer, three is the optimal choice.

Wearing a single layer can actually makes things worse, as the single cotton layer will cause what’s called “aerosolization” of droplets and make them easier to spread. So if you’re being a jack ass and simply wrapping a single-layer bandana over your face so that you can get into your local Walmart, you’re definitely defeating the purpose. It doesn’t help that most people are aware that the wearing of a mask doesn’t necessarily protect them from the spread of COVID-19 but is intended to prevent THEM from spreading their own germs.

This gives them a sense of entitlement where they feel they don’t need the mask, since it doesn’t help them anyway. This concept is right up there with people who don’t believe in vaccination. It’s about society as a whole and not necessarily just for you. It’s become a sad state of affairs when you see people yelling and arguing with retail employees because they refuse to wear a mask. Medical workers and first responders have to wear that stuff for eight to twelve hours, sometimes more. Wearing a face mask for twenty minutes while you get your favourite brand of cheese puffs and your tube of Preparation-H should be the least of your problems, snowflake!

We’re a long way from the end of this pandemic. So it’s important that everyone does their part in order to help get us past it. Even I’ve jumped on the face mask bandwagon, with my custom Batman mask! The best recommendation I can personally make, is to wash your reusable masks frequently. Most people don’t realize that you’re exhaling into that thing for long periods of time and your breath is expelling bacteria into the material. Failing to wash your masks frequently can result in causing other health problems.

There are worse things in the world than the proper wearing of a facemark when you go shopping or run errands. And it’s important to know the symptoms and recognize them, in yourself and in others. For example, sneezing and sniffles are NOT symptoms of COVID-19, despite the reaction people have when someone sneezes in public. Although some would argue it’s for good reason, we’ve developed a paranoia against any and all symptoms, which doesn’t bode well for my weakened immune system throughout the colder months. It’s gonna be a long winter…☯