Your Helmet Won’t Stop A Speeding Car…

I grew up during as time when the wearing of bicycle helmets wasn’t really a thing. And how could it be? I couldn’t wear a helmet while wearing earphones to my walkman, now could I? This was long before the advent of earbuds but honestly, as long as I was wearing a ball cap to protect my scalp from the sun and I was home before dark, my parents never imposed the wearing of a bike helmet. These days? Depending on the community you live in, the requirement of a bike helmet may be law. But there isn’t a day where I don’t see multiple people cycling in heavy traffic areas without a helmet.

It is what it is. Some people are more apt to follow rules and best practices than others. But the curious thing is, what purpose does a bike helmet serve? If you’re a young child and you happen to topple sideways on your bike, a helmet may save your skull from cracking on the edge of a sidewalk; no question. But whether you’re a child or an adult, you’re helmet won’t save you from any significant incident, such as getting struck by a moving car. This makes one wonder why it’s considered so necessary on most cases. And this post is about all of those little “rules,” not just bicycle helmets.

The reason behind certain rules and regulations isn’t always clear. And more often than not, it can seem unnecessary and perhaps even excessive. Especially if you find yourself on the receiving end of a penalty in relation to any of it. One good example is last week, when I was issued a traffic ticket for performing an “illegal” turn. I won’t get into the specifics of the ticket, other than to say that I definitely performed the alleged action, and the section of legislation does render it unlawful. So I really can’t argue the traffic ticket. But I couldn’t help but feel that I had done nothing wrong or unsafe and that being issued a ticket because of it was rather ridiculous.

The point behind today’s particular rant, is that even though it seemed perfectly safe and acceptable to me, doesn’t mean that it would be to everyone. In most cases, an incident likely occurred that led to that action becoming unlawful. By that logic, it becomes important for people to observe those laws and abide by them. Not only for their own safety, but the safety of others. At the risk of opening my comments section up to a plethora of argumentative points of view, this concept applies to a lot of rules, regulations and laws that are being enacted in response to the current state of the world. Some of them may seem unfair or excessive, but they all have the aim to protect and safeguard the population as a whole.

Most people can’t discern the difference between their “rights” and doing “what’s right.” The two often don’t go hand-in-hand and don’t always apply to one another. And sometimes, we need to abide by certain rules in order for society to continue to function normally. This is the cost of living in a modern society where we live in mass gathering of populated towns and cities. I’m quite certain that if a vehicle clips me while I’m out cycling, my helmet likely won’t do a damn thing to save me. Just like wearing a face mask “may” do nothing for me or the people around me. But I acknowledge two things: the first is that I can still observe my rights as a person while abiding by the rules. The second is that it costs me nothing, which tends to make peoples’ theatrics over most of these issues more than a bit ridiculous. this is why you’ll always see me do both those things, so long as it’s required of me. Food for thought… ☯️

The Vacation Chronicles, Vol. 5…

Alright, folks! Here we are… It’s the end of the road or rather, the beginning of the road back, I guess. It’s been a rough week on the North Shore, for a variety of reasons. Despite posting and messaging several people that we would be here during the first couple of weeks of August, our time here has been reasonably dull. We basically paid a small fortune so that the boys could play in various parks, which they could have done at home without costing us so much. But I digress…

This morning, and I sincerely hope I got the time change right (my blog doesn’t change time zones), we will be packing up the car and heading back to Saskatchewan. All good things must come to an end but in all sincerity, this trip wasn’t ALL that great. There were some good points, such as seeing my parents. I also got to briefly visit with the friends who chose to make time for me (you know who you are!) despite being either ignored or having excuses made by the ones I DIDN’T get to see (if you follow my blog, you also know who you are!).

I could go into further depth about the good aspects and what parts were the most heart breaking, but I’ll be chronicling our trip back on a daily basis and plan on writing a lengthy post covering the entire time here, once I’m comfortably back in my home basement. So basically, tomorrow’s post will be about today’s travel, and so on and so forth. The reason I’m doing it this way is that I’ve been taking tons of photos with my point and click and will have to upload them to my computer and see which ones are usable or not before writing the post. In the meantime, stay tuned for the next few days as I write about how gaining an hour at every border heading west is a GOOD thing… ☯️

I Dream Of Golden Arches…

I remember my very first job out of college. I had been studying computer programming for a couple of years and was short some credits in order to graduate. In the meantime, my father had suggested I should get a part-time job in order to cover some costs. This was entertaining to me, since I had tried to convince my parents to let me take a year off and work for that very purpose AND to decide what I wanted to do with my life.

Most people who know me assume that my first job out of college was at my local McDonald’s restaurant. However, there was another… (does his best Yoda voice). I actually got hired by a local, big chain grocery store that had just moved and expanded its operations, meaning they needed more staff. I was hired as a part-time, overnight stocker. This suited me fine since my time in college had already saturated me with people and I could work the store during the hours it was closed without having to interact with folks much.

My shift started at 10 pm and I was about fifteen minutes early. yes, that’s right… I used to be early for everything, even back then. My “boss” was a battle axe of a woman who took no bullshit but flung plenty of it. I was immediately tossed out onto the floor to merchandise tons of product in a store I had never shopped in at an age where I had barely done basic groceries (I was 18, at the time). The next few hours were disgusting brutal, putting me through a ringer I should never have experienced. And that’s saying a fair bit, since I had been training with Sensei for years at that point and he doesn’t do ANYTHING lightly.

By 6 am, I was firmly convinced that this wasn’t the job for me, not to mention my blood sugars went totally haywire from working overnight. I advised my boss I wouldn’t be back and left the store. I remember feeling disappointed in myself as I had never quit anything in my life at that point. I suppose since I had only worked one night, I could consider it a trial run and not a failure. But that certainly wasn’t how I viewed it that morning. IN my despondent state, I walked away from the store and made my way into the downtown area where I stopped at the local McDonald’s to grab a breakfast sandwich. Nothing quite celebrates quitting a job like spending money you don’t have.

While I was waiting for my sausage McMuffin, I grabbed an application form and a matronly looking lady walked up and asked if I was applying. I told her I should, since I needed a job. She handed me a pen and said, “Please fill it out now and provide it to me before you leave.” I complied and gave her the application form before walking down to a gas station where my friend Guillaume was also working overnight and would be dropping me off in Dalhousie.

By the time I got home, the restaurant had already called and requested a call back. I did, and was asked to return for an immediate interview. I would only learn later that the gentleman who interviewed me was the franchise owner, himself. He hired me on the spot and the next week was a whirlwind of uniforms, training and development. Within a few weeks, I was working full-time hours. Within six months, I was promoted to shift manager. Within a few years, I was part of the second-level management that oversaw the restaurant.

You read a lot of jokes about “flipping burgers” and the demeaning nature of a low-paying, minimum wage job. But I’ll tell you something; working at McDonald’s for the years that I did taught me a number of things I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. Things like precision, speed, accuracy of orders, planning and organizing and teamwork. All of the social aspects of my personality that I had been lacking in high school and even into college had been corrected by the forced necessity of working amongst my peers in close quarters towards a common goal.

That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to see the current state of how these restaurants run. Where staff were motivated and driven to accomplish certain goals throughout their shift as well as get paid for their efforts, it almost seems as though the current generation is more focused on JUST the pay. Order accuracy and restaurant cleanliness have gone out the window. The state of most stores focuses on looking sleek and modern as opposed to focusing on the quality food that made McDonald’s the globe-dominating food chain that it was. Automation has taken away employees’ need to interact and converse with customers unless there’s a problem with their order. It’s kind of sad…

I bring this up because I’ve recently had the opportunity to dine and spend time in a number of different McDonald’s restaurants around the country and have noticed these trends. Although it was never unusual to have a restaurant here and there that was below the expected quality, it now seems to be the norm as opposed to the exception. I’ve carried all of the skills I learned while wearing the Golden Arches into my career. My work and management experience has served me well and inflated into a self-fulfilling prophecy of being the one who manages as opposed to the one who is managed.

This is food for thought for anyone who thinks that any particular job is beneath them or not worth doing. Besides the fact that someone has to do it, it’s important to recognize that there’s something to learn from any job that one does. And the skills and knowledge that you learn from these jobs can carry you forward and be useful in whatever career you pursue. And to the younger generation reading this, do better! If I get a sloppy burger one more time, I will totally super-size my complaint. Food for thought (totally an intended pun)… ☯️

You Are Not Your Appearance…

I grew up in a generation where appearance meant everything. Guy with long hair? You needed to get a haircut and get a job. Covered in tattoos? You were probably trouble and couldn’t be hired. Don’t even get me started on someone who happened to have piercings anywhere ELSE than in one’s earlobes. And only on women. Obviously. But times have changed and all lot of those statements are considered discriminatory against a person.

In some ways, a lot of ways, that makes sense. If I get a tattoo on my forearm, it doesn’t change my qualifications or my personality. It doesn’t make me a different person or incapable of being a nice guy and paying attention to others in a meaningful way. Most markets have started to move towards acceptance (in small doses) where coloured hair and tattoos are less of an employability and acceptance issue.

The only issue I have is when people use these things as a means of creating an identity for themselves. I’ve seen and I know a lot of people who do it JUST because “it defines me, it defines who I am.” That right there is bullshit, my friend. If you colour your hair, get a batch of tattoos or start piercing holes in your body to define who you are, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. (Remember please, that this is an opinion post)

Keep in mind that there is no better definition of you than YOU. What you wear, how you adorn yourself and what decorations you throw up on your flesh doesn’t define who you are. And if you intend on permanently altering your body in such a way, it’s important to ensure that you do it for good cause and because it represents something important other than trying to define you as a person.

Let me offer up a personal experience. In mid-2000, I got my first tattoo. Against the advice of most common-sense people, I got some Japanese writing on my left pec muscle. This wasn’t just any Japanese writing, since we’ve read the horror stories about getting something you thought said “hope” when really it says “sweet ‘n sour chicken” or some shit. This was the kanji symbol for Uechi Ryu, the Okinawan style of karate I had been studying for over a decade at that point.

It had meaning. It represented something important in my life and it was a reminder of the commitment I had made to myself towards my training and martial arts. It didn’t define who I was, I didn’t splash the symbols large and prominent on my face, neck or forearms for every person to stop and either ask where I got it but likely to also smear at me like I’m some sort of trouble maker. Although that sort of discrimination has lessened over the past couple of decades, it still very much exists. But this is a post about oneself, not the world’s narrow views. Moving on.

My point in all of this, such as it is, is that I didn’t use some external detail to define me as a person. And neither should you. Like tattoos? Great! Get one because you want one and it means something to you, not because you feel it will define you to others. THAT’s the point. THAT’s the lesson. Who you are is who you are. Nothing you do or add will change that. It’s what you DO that can be changed. Your appearance doesn’t define you. There is no better definition of YOU than YOU. Once you come to recognize that fact, the rest is just gravy. Food for thought…☯️

Planning And Packing Are Key…

One of the big issues with having Type-1 Diabetes is the fact that I can never just get up and go somewhere. It’s not so bad if I’m just heading around the corner to the grocery store or running a quick errand. But even that will have a tendency to involve checking my blood sugars before getting behind the wheel, It can be a onerous process, especially if you’re headed somewhere that will have you out of the house for several hours.

I usually carry a small shoulder sling, which is basically a one-stepped backpack but smaller. No, it’s not a purse, you fuckers! And even if it was, we’re in 2022; I think we should be okay with it even if it was. But I digress. In this backpack I carry some fast-acting carbs on the form of jelly beans, a glucometer, a snack and a small travel-sized first aid kit. All of these things can be life-saving in the event of an incident involving low blood sugar or light injuries.

Things get even worse when I plan to be away overnight. And yes, I know that I promised I’d stay off the vacation posts until we started travelling back to Saskatchewan and I intend to hold to that. But one particular detail happened that directly relates to today’s subject matter. When we were planning this trip across the country, I made a point of purchasing and packing a small cooler pack intended to contain ALL of the Diabetic supplies I would nee in order to survive my trip away from home.

Although it isn’t uncommon for me to forget something, I forgot something rather important this time around; I forgot my CGM sensors. Now, some of you may be wondering why this is a big deal. After all, I survived for three decades before I started using the bloody things so a couple of weeks shouldn’t be a big deal, right? The problem is that consistent blood sugar control is a constant thing when one has Type-1 Diabetes and that control is all the better and tighter when I have the benefit of my insulin pump’s SmartGuard system to measure and maintain my blood sugar by testing through the CGM every five minutes.

As to what exactly happened that I forgot AN ENTIRE FUCKING BOX OF SENSORS ON MY DESK is beyond me. All I know is that by the second day of our journey, the current sensor expired and when I tried to swap it out I realized I had none in my cooler pack. There it was; I was thousands of kilometres from home with no CGM. Okay. No problem. No biggie. I won’t cry about it (much). I figured I would continue on the road and pick up a box at whatever pharmacy I came across while travelling. This has been my practice with things such as insulin and test strips. Hell, I’ve even schmoozed my way into getting free glucometers that way, which is why I have a spare one in the car, now.

But continuous glucose monitoring sensors seemed to be an unfortunate exception to my travelling habits. My first attempt was in a small town outside of Ottawa called Arnprior. I asked the pharmacy technician if they carried Medtronic products. She had no bloody clue. She got the pharmacist for me, who had no idea what Medtronic was. He tried looking it up and I even spelled it for him. He confirmed he didn’t carry CGM sensors. I could see Freestyle Libre sensors behind him, but I intended to use this ONLY as a last resort. The pharmacist added insult to injury by saying that if any pharmacy in town carried something, he made a point of carrying it as well so it was unlikely I’d find what I was looking for in Arnprior.

Alright. Okay. That’s all VERY weird. From a pharmaceutical standpoint, I would have thought that names like Medtronic would be pretty common and well-known. Apparently I was wrong. I left the pharmacy and we continued to travel until we reached a small town in Quebec where we bunked for the night. I didn’t look for a pharmacy that night, running my pump on manual mode. When we finally made it to Dalhousie, I attended the local pharmacy and dearth with a pharmacist I had graduated from high school with.

Besides the pleasure and nostalgia of dealing with an old friend, I was surprised to hear that she also had no idea what Medtronic was. What the hell…? Did no one else in the eastern half of the country use an insulin pump? I was taken aback but I finally relented and asked to purchase a Freestyle Libre, otherwise known as the “poor man’s CGM” to get me through the next little while until I could get my hands on sensors from somewhere, She did me one better and gave me a sample pack she had received from the distributor when they came out with the Freestyle Libre 2. I was set.

I’m obviously running on the Freestyle Libre 2 at the moment and taking advantage of the immediate ability to scan the sensor with my phone and get an immediate sensor glucose reading but it’s obviously not the same as having my Guardian CGM and SmartGuard taking the reins. It illustrates the importance of ensuring I pack properly and don’t forget anything. Having my wife double check my bag can also be a good idea.

Although I should be used to travelling with Type-1 Diabetes, one can never be too careful. And I learned an important lesson that even thought I USUALLY run to a pharmacy if I run short of something, it doesn’t mean every pharmacy will always carry what I need. I can promise and guarantee that I’m going to be more cautious and hug my sensors tight when I get home. It makes the planning and organizing of any trip all the more important to ensure there’s no disruption in the proper care of my Diabetes and blood sugar management. True story. ☯️

In Order To Make It Easier…

People say that you need to be motivated in order to accomplish one’s goals. I respectfully decline. I think you need to simply take a first step. The success of that first step will provide the motivation later and said motivation will help fuel one’s drive, which will in turn ultimately push you towards push you towards your goals.

Many people will fizzle out early in their goals and believe it or not, that makes a lot of sense. This happens for a variety of reasons and that’s why I wanted to use today’s post to offer up a short list of things that can potentially make reaching one’s goals difficult. Here we go…

1. Set realistic goals: This one should be simple… Actually, it dawns on me that I say that a lot but it should. A goal should be something simple and realistic. For example, if my goal were to become an astronaut, someone would need to splash me with a cold dose of reality. After all, I’m in my 40’s and nowhere near the shape I need. Not to mention that I have this little thing called Diabetes. For these reasons and many others, I would never be able to become an astronaut, making it an unrealistic goal. Diabetics may go into space at some point in the future but it likely won’t be in my lifetime.
2. Even if you set deadlines, take your time: Whatever you set goals about, it’s important to remember that you’re a human being with basic needs and requirements and you deserve to do things properly. Deadlines can be great, especially if there’s a reason for them. Someone wanting to lose a particular amount of weight so that they’ll fit into wedding attire is a good example. It’s better to do something slowly and properly then rushing it and potentially risk your health AND your results.
3. For the love of light, take breaks: Being on a deadline or having specific goals can actually be pretty stressful, even if you’re motivated. Don’t forget to allow yourself some breaks form your endeavour somewhere in that mix. If you’re on some specific weight-loss diet, allow yourself that small cheat meal. If you’re on some fitness journey, take break days. In fact, it’s been proven that people who allow themselves an indulgence here and there during diets will have better success and breaks days are a must in order to allow muscle recovery and better fitness results.
4. Don’t be discouraged, especially by others: This is a big one and a personal pet peeve of mine. Making it worse than the usual pet peeve is that I’m guilty of it, myself. If you’re eating a particular diet or trying a particular fitness routine, it can be hard to stay motivated if someone is telling you it’s dumb or it doesn’t work. My offence is that I’m a firm disbeliever in fad diets. The only genuine way to cut through fat is to burn more calories than you take in. And certain dietary choices piss me off, which is why I unfortunately belittle them when someone else mentions them. This is a horrible practice and one that I need to stop (and I’m working on it).

Whether your goal is to improve your overall health, undertake a new sport or workout routine or just to get healthier, goals will help get you there. Being smart about it and recognizing how your progress can be helped will go a long way towards helping to ensure that you cross that finish line. Having a partner in certain goals can be helpful, as well. After all, we tend to push harder when we have a workout partner, Either way, taking steps to ensure the success of your goals will lead to better health, better well-being and better Diabetes management. Food for thought… ☯️

The Vacation Chronicles, Vol. 4

Well, here we are! We’ve made it to Dalhousie, New Brunswick and checked into our hotel in one piece. We will now be here for approximately one week before starting the trek back west in order to go home. Our fourth morning actually started pretty well. We awoke in a little place called St. Apollinaire, Quebec. I had done laundry the night before and I think everyone got a reasonable, albeit short night’s sleep.

We got on the road and drove through a fair amount of rain for a while but it didn’t dampen our spirits (see what I did there?). We made a number of stops along the way, including a chocolatier and several Tim Hortons. We reached the New Brunswick border at about mid-afternoon, local time…

If any of you have been following the vacation posts through all four days, you’ll notice that on the first day when I reached the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border, I took the time to stop the car, pose for an actual photo and was damn proud of it. When we crossed into Ontario, I snapped a quick photo without getting out. Crossing into Quebec, there was no godly way to stop without causing a collision but at New Brunswick, I was in full-blown “fuck it” mode and snapped a a pic while rolling at about 100 km/h. Y’all can believe it’s my photos or not. My exhaustion and I couldn’t give a shit. But I digress…

Upon arriving in Dalhousie, my mother met us at our hotel and we unpacked the vehicle. Once that was done, we made our way down to Pizza Delight, a staple of New Brunswick eateries, and had a semi-decent supper before making our way back to the hotel. Nathan decided to spend the night with Grammy Cook, which suited us just fine. Since it was early and we had nothing planned, I opted for a quick drive where I paid a special visit…

I always make a point of visiting my brother’s grave, every time I go home. On this occasion, I chose to go on my own. It was quiet and peaceful and I could see fresh dirt from a shallow grave dug for the interment of my uncle’s ashes on my grandfather’s grave. A heavy thunderstorm kicked up while I was there, adding to the macabre tableau of a bad 80’s horror movie of the unwitting victim being caught alone in a grave yard. Since none of that actually happened, I was instead focused on this creepy little foreboding…

This is my parents’ burial plot. As you can see, neither of them is occupying the space. The dates for my brother are filled in and he’s buried right next to this plot. Despite the fact I won’t be buried here, my parents had my name engraved on the stone and it always creeps me out a bit to see my name on a grave stone. It’s just one of those things, I guess. All this being said, you can’t beat the view my brother has, from up there…

All in all, it was good to get home and great to see my mother. My children will get to see my father as well, and we have plans to visit the southern part of the Province for a day or two so that everyone can see some of the beauty and history contained within the Province. IN the coming days, I’ll be posting regular, good old Diabetic/martial arts/health posts. I figure I can take away break from all the vacation talk, especially since I would like to retain my followers, and pick up on the trip once we head back next week. Once I’m home, I’ll be able to draft a composite post on all the fun we had while we’re here. Stay tuned…☯️

The Vacation Chronicles, Vol.. 3

Our third day of the odyssey that is crossing our country as a family started off as one would expect… With someone waking me before my alarm! We were lucky enough to find a motor inn, last night but even with my alarm set for 6 am, some wretched little bastards were running the halls at about 5 am, waking me well before my alarm went off. Here’s to day 3! But I digress…

I started by cleaning up and getting dressed. Nathan was out like a light, so I helped myself to an energy drink and loaded all of our stuff into the car. It was about 6:20 by this point, so I texted my wife, who responded that she was up and they were making coffee in their room. I tried waking Nathan by gently shaking him, but he was out! I shook him, smacked his bottom and pinched the skin behind his ear. Nothing. This kid was giving a coma patient a run for their money.

I would have been concerned, if not for the steady breathing and the low snoring. I finally yanked his blanket off and sat him up. That got his attention! He petitioned my communist treatment for a moment before stumbling off to brush his teeth and curl back up into a blanket. It took serious effort to keep him from going back to sleep. That’s what happens when one stays up half the night on one’s Nintendo Switch. Some lessons need to be learned the hard way,

We piled into the car and took note of the current thunderstorm ravaging the neighbouring town and sped off before the rain could touch us. We drove for all of about twenty minutes before hitting up a Tim Horton’s coffee and grabbing a few cups with some muffins to get us on our way. If this would have been the worst aspect of our day, it might have been the best day of our trek. But it wasn’t…

We were only a short ways down the highway in Ontario when we realized that the main highway crossing the Province towards Ottawa (Highway 17) is only a single-lane highway, loaded with semi trucks, camper trailers and general fucking douchebags who don’t know how to drive. Can anyone guess how long it took for my Zen composure to start cracking? Less time than it took me to finish the coffee I picked up. But once again, I digress…

We made it as far as Arnprior, Ontario before Alexander made it very clear by his screaming that he was done being in a car seat. I realized that morning that I packed everything Diabetes-related that I needed with one exception… I had no Guardian sensors to go with my CGM. We parked at what was the only McDonald’s restaurant in the city so the boys could play while I went across the street to see pa pharmacist.

Imagine my surprise when he said he had no idea what Medtronic was! Needless to say, he had no CGM sensors, either. Turns out the McDonald’s play place was still closed due rto some remnant of the pandemic that the manager was too lazy to deal with. Nathan was very much less than understanding and sulked his way back to the car, Cranky and despondent, we made our way back to the car and carried on.

Crossing into Quebec

We had originally planned to make our way into Ottawa’s Byward Market and have an early supper at Zak’s Diner, one of my favourite eateries in the country. But by the time we would have made our way into Ottawa’s downtown core, found parking, ordered and ate and got back on the road again, we would have burned a solid few hours. As it was, we made our way to Levis, Quebec and booked a room at a very nice Econo Lodge for a load of laundry and a good night’s sleep.

Now, I’m off to my first free, continental breakfast of the trip. We should be making the last six to seven-hour treat to New Brunswick and into Dalhousie, where we’ll check into our hotel and enjoy an actual week without ridiculous travel to exhaust everyone. Maybe a little R&R will get us all back in a better mood. Maybe my mother will appreciate seeing her grandchildren and WON’T bring up how often we visit. Maybe I should shit in one hand and wish in the other to see which one will fill up first… ☯️

The Vacation Chronicles, Vol. 2

So, Sunday was our second tour of duty… umm, I mean, our second day of transit across the country to go visit my family in New Brunswick. I learned something interesting… Ontario is split in half, time zone-wise. Half the Province shares it’s time with the same zone as Manitoba and the other half shares the same time as Quebec,

The reason I bring this up and why it’s important, is because our smart phones didn’t seem to jump an hour ahead automatically when we crossed into Ontario. This struck me as odd and I adjusted the in-car clock accordingly. When we all crashed, I set my alarm for 4 am because I thought it would actually be 5 am in the area of Ontario we were in. I was wrong. So fucking wrong…

Fast forward to Sunday morning and I awoke a few moments before my alarm went off, as is my custom. My phone displayed 3:48 am, which I thought was actually 4:48 so I slipped into the washroom, brushed my teeth, got dressed and gathered my things. I was going to duck out to the convenience store to grab some energy drinks and coffees for my wife and mother-in-law.

The outside of our motel in the middle of the fucking night…

They woke up before I left so I explained what I would be doing and although they mumbled that it was the middle of the night, they agreed they would start getting ready and preparing for the day. Once I realized everything was still closed, I made my way back. Our motel was the kind of place that locks all the doors at night and key cards get you into nothing but your room. We had to make the difficult choice of getting on the road without caffeine. It would be well over two hours before we’d manage to grab coffee. No animals were harmed…

We made a few stops along the way, mostly focused on stretching our legs, getting fuel and letting the boys run around freely. One place was particularly charming, called a “Trading post” and had authentic antiquities strewn on the property and inside the store itself. We all took the opportunity to use the washrooms, especially since the washrooms were genuine, honest-to-goodness outhouses! Pictures are worth a thousand words, so please see the following photo…

The outhouses… For true!
The big rocks that the boys climbed near the outhouses.

The day dragged on tediously. Such is the way on the open road. Nathan was once again pretty good, keeping to himself and playing with his devices. Alexander was a little less understanding and would screech and cry to voice his displeasure. Some of it was caused by the sun in his face. All parties in the vehicle managed to sneak some naps while I drove. I have to admit that despite my caffeine intake and crooning to the music, my eyes started to droop and I was getting sleepy.

Eventually, we came to the area that lines Lake Superior and my wife had managed to grab some photos. She sent them all to me and I chose the one that showed the view as spectacularly as possible. Check it out…

Lake Superior

Once we managed to stop for another break and we were hammering hard towards our destination, everyone helped themselves to another nap and I over-caffeinated. Our end destination was Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Once we got there, we stopped at three different hotels and were told by all of them that they were completely booked. Apparently, there was some bullshit bike tournament in the city. I couldn’t believe that all of those hotels were completely booked. I’d never seen the likes of it.

Since we couldn’t book a room anywhere, we wound up deciding on supper instead and pushing onto Sudbury, which was about three hours away. We chose McDonald’s because it would allow the boys to burn off some steam in the play place as we ate. Unfortunately, there are several McDonald’s in Sault Ste. Marie, and not all of them have parks. We went to three of them before landing on the right one.

We enjoyed a meal and decided that we would keep our eyes open for a hotel, motel or motor inn along the way to Sudbury. We stopped at three further locations, all booked! What the fuck was this bike tournament all about, that it managed to book up every accommodation to an hour outside the city. Total bullshit. We ended up in a small area called Iron Bridge and found a motor inn that provided us with a couple of rooms. Here’s hoping for a good night’s rest before starting day three! ☯️

The Vacation Chronicles, Vol. 1

Alright, so this post represents our first day of transit across the country to go visit my parents in New Brunswick. Last Saturday, the entire household woke up early in order to pack the vehicle, have a quick bite and get on the road. It went exactly as how you would imagine it…

First and foremost, I made a pig of myself on stuffed-crust pizza, the night before. This means that I went to bed with a swollen, bloated stomach and yes, more so than usual. Shaddup! I barely got any sleep, which sounds about right considering I had to drive for ten to twelve hours the following morning. Nathan was up all night on his Nintendo Switch instead of sleeping, which meant he was a cranky piece of shit until he was in the vehicle and could go to sleep. Heaven forbid, he actually sleep while he was in bed…

Packing was the usual adventure that my household faces while travelling, which included the overpacking of a number of items, misunderstandings about where and what we would be using and how, and leaving the house 30 minutes later than originally scheduled. We made our way to a local gas station to check our tie pressure, only to discover it didn’t open for another half hour. Sprinkle on one item that we had to return home for, and you have yourself a Cook family vacation…

So long, Saskatchewan! Hello, Manitoba…

The first leg of our journey went as well as could be expected, with Nathan putt cold in the back seat with his grandmother and Alexander entertaining himself accordingly. We had snacks, fluids and the adults were getting caffeine into their systems. Despite a rocky start, it was working out to be a well-rounded first day. Once we crossed into Manitoba, we made a couple of stops for washroom breaks and further caffeine, as well as fuel. Nothing out of this world.

Unfortunately, as with all things in life, the peace couldn’t last. Alexander decided he had all he could take of being in a car seat and began screeching at the top of his lungs. We stopped at a gas station just outside of Winnipeg for about twenty minutes to allow him to stretch and run for a bit. I took the opportunity to once again fill the gas tank. Thank the light that gas prices have gone down a touch.

I didn’t stop to pose for this one…

By the time we crossed into Ontario, it became very clear that despite the dry, summer roads, we were significantly behind and wouldn’t reached our expected first stop until almost 11 pm, local time. This is a problem as the boys are usually in bed well before that time, despite the fact it would only be 9 pm, Saskatchewan time. We stopped at a McDonald’s in Dryden to have some supper, and it allowed the boys to blow off some steam in the play structure. We got on the road with intentions of making as much headway as we could.

We wound up travelling to a small town called Ignace, which is actually a French name. We booked a cheap room in a seedy motel that looks like something out of a bad 70’s horror movie. The night’s sleep was fitful and shitty, but at least we got to wake up early and do it all over again. It’s roughly 3,500 kilometres from our front door to my mother’s. With three days of travel plus the fourth day where we need to arrive and check in, we need to achieve a minimum of 1,000 kilometres a day in order to ensure we’ll stay ahead and arrive on time.

Life rarely cares about one’s plans. You’ve heard me say this, before. Know who else doesn’t care about one’s plans? KIDS! Kids don’t give a shit about one’s plans. My folks better enjoy their time with these two little monsters. I think I’ve aged ten year and it’s only the first day. The next couple of days should be interesting… ☯️

It’s Not Me, It’s You…

Today marks my family’s second day on our epic journey across Canada and I’m clearly aware that I can’t spend fourteen straight days posting about the trip. I mean, I COULD… But the idea is to maintain a readership, not scare them all away. With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’ll be posting about the trip every few days, after photos and material have been gathered in order for share my thoughts on the trip. With that in mind, let’s get on with today’s post…

Sometimes, navigating society can be pretty difficult. You’re probably think “d-uh,” right? Beyond societal expectations and personal hopes of acceptance, there’s also the little detail that we’re all individuals. Although this should be hailed as a good thing, it also means that each and every one of us has our own thoughts, beliefs, perspective and personalities. The downside to THAT is that we don’t always mix well with those aspects in others, which ultimately leads to us not playing well with others.

Picture this; you’re working with an individual who has been tasked with a project. You’ve been asked to look into that project and determine its status as well as verify the quality of the work. During this verification, you notice that some aspects of the project aren’t quite up to snuff with how it was requested. In a casual and conversational setting, you mention this in passing to the individual working on it. You walk away happy that’s you’re able to clearly discuss this matter and look forward top seeing the updated project.

Some time goes by and you come to realize that you’ve received no updates. Curious and somewhat confused, you reach out to the individual in question and discover that not only have they not updated the project, they’re displeased with “how you addressed them” and don’t wish to communicate with you. You’re utterly confused. You run the scenario in your head and can’t understand what you might have said that could have been interpreted as offensive.

Here’s the thing; you likely didn’t! There’s an old saying that goes something like, “I only control my words, not how you react to them…” I have no idea where the saying stems from, but I’ve heard different versions at different points throughout my life. And it’s pretty accurate. With some people, you can be absolutely sweet as sugar and they’ll still get pissed off at you and think you’ve offended or disrespected them. In most instances, there isn’t much you can do about that. It’s not a “you” problem, it’s a “them” problem.

Now, I used a workplace example for this scenario but it can and does happen in one’s personal life, as well. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as missing a comma in a text message and it changes the tone, causing the recipient to take it offensively, regardless of whether it was intended that way or not. For most, this requires the ability to allow room for clarification of the interpretation rather than getting all snowflake-ish about it. But this isn’t always possible and if you’re the one overreacting about something, you may not be amenable to taking that step. Changing one’s perspective can be difficult.

And ultimately, one needs to ask oneself, even if you didn’t MEAN to offend or disrespect someone, does it genuinely make it any less offensive to the other person? If someone makes a joke or makes light of something they consider comedic but happens to be something personal and sensitive to the other, their feelings are genuine even if you didn’t mean to harm them. It’s pretty easy to sit behind a keyboard and say that one should apologize for the harm, even if it wasn’t intended as such. But this practice can become an exhausting and futile exercise, especially when dealing with individuals in one’s life who become offended and hurt at absolutely everything.

At the end of the day, there’s no easy answer to this scenario. It’s simply one of those things that a person needs to accept and recognize requires some give and take from both sides of the conversation. For the offended party, it’s important to recognize that allowing yourself to have an open perspective on what the intent of the message or action is, is important to proper communication and to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings. For the one relaying the message or performing the words or actions, be willing to view things through the recipients lens and accept that even though you may have done nothing wrong, it doesn’t eliminate the suffering that may have been cause. Food for thought… ☯️