How Did We Get Here???

There are a few certainties in life. The sun will always rise in the East and set in the West. Things will always get better before they get worse and last but certainly not least, life always finds a way (Thanks, Jeff Goldblum!). Although life rarely cares about one’s plans, it throws a little ray of sunshine once in a while. My particular ray of sunshine came eight years ago when what I had previously thought to be impossible happened; I fathered a child. As a Type-1 Diabetic, there was statistically a one in three chance that I would be completely sterile as a result of Diabetic complications. Imagine our surprise when my wife and I discovered we were pregnant.

All things considered, I had my first sone a few years later than I would have otherwise chosen. A bit on the older side, sometimes keeping up with my kids can be a bit daunting. But the miracle of having had them overshadows all of that. The photo above shows Nathan and I, watching our first movie together only days after his birth. I couldn’t possibly imagine the future that this little lump of my DNA would bring. And here we are, eight years later, and that future path is still laying itself out before me.

It’s amazing how big he’s gotten and how far he’s come. And yes, that’s a significant amount of grey in my beard; I’m well aware. Nathan’s birthday was last Saturday. as is our typical tradition on that day, we had a “yes-day,” where we allowed him to choose his own cake, pick his own activities for the day and what we would be eating for dinner that night. Of all things, he chose a Christmas-themed cake for his birthday. His grandmother came to our house for the weekend, which was a fun addition. We started our day by sleeping in a bit, followed by breakfast hash and maple bacon.

Nathan opted for a couple of hours at an indoor trampoline gym called Get Air, which was closed due to occupancy issues. So, I took him to Klimerz, an indoor play structure that he usually loves. Not only did he play there for a couple of hours (before unfortunately having a little “boy accident”), he also made a connection with a young girl his own age. It was cute, watching him hold hands and run around the play structure with this young girl. It showed me that no matter what I do, the passage of time is yet another certainty in life. There’s nothing stopping him from growing up.

When we left Klimerz, I brought him home to tidy up and then we went to McDonald’s fr a light lunch and some playtime in their indoor play structure. Supper was chicken caesar pizza with stuffed crust, which is his favourite. After some pizza combined with some cake imbued with an over-abundance of red dye, he surrendered to the basement to play with the new gifts he had received as a result of his aging one more year. All in all, it was a good day to be an eight year old.

If someone had told me I would be a father, ten years ago, I likely would have laughed in their face. And yet, here we are… I have an eight year old son. I also have a three year old toddler but his journey is a different story. Sometimes life throws us on a path that we never would have expected. It certainly did, when it introduced this little bastard into my life. He adds excitement. That much is a guarantee. He had a great birthday, despite everything happening in the world. It’s important to forge our own path. Food for thought… ☯️

Weekend Wackiness

As I’ve often written about, we typically use the weekends to bring the boys somewhere fun to entertain them. This usually involves indoor play structures, jungle gyms and play places. I’ve taken to writing about these outings because it provides some balance and contrast to many of the posts I write about the negative effects and pitfalls of Diabetes. Watching my children play is effectively how I live vicariously. When I consider that most of my childhood involved being in hospitals for either myself or my brother, suffering through comas and complications, knowing that my boys don’t hav to deal with all that shit makes me feel a little bit better.

The downside to these outings is that although small children understanding “playing,” they don’t necessarily understand the cost that’s associated with all of these little outings. Last weekend, we brought the boys to a place called “Get Air,” which is an indoor trampoline gym. It has the potential to be loads of fun for a kid, so long as you can afford the special socks required and don’t mind paying about half a tank of gas worth in entry fees. But fuck me sideways, we paid for it. Nathan is at an age now where he can socialize and play with other kids without much concern. Alexander is a bit more of a problem…

Although three years’ old now, he still functions on the premise that once something catches his attention, it becomes the centre of his focus and won’t do anything else; no matter how much daddy paid for him to be DOING that something else. We paid for an hour of jumping time, only to have him focus on all of the fuckin’ dollar rides that we had no change for. Lovely. He got pretty pissy when we kept trying to steer him towards the trampolines, although he did mingle for the last ten minutes until we had to go. Then he got REALLY pissy. At least when I told Nathan we had to go, he didn’t object much. Especially since the plan was to take them to McDonald’s for lunch and further playing in their play structure.

Once at McDonald’s we managed to get some food into both kids before they disappeared into the play structure. Things reached a head when Alexander couldn’t make his way back down from the structure and my wife had to climb up there to get him. I could have climbed up but there’s a very real chance I’d get wedged in there somewhere. I don’t need the embarrassment of the fire department coming into cut me out. I mean, it would make for a great story and I’m not saying I’m fat or anything, just bulky.

Our afternoon closed out by going home and putting Alexander down for a nap. My wife and I decided on napping as well because, well… life, you know? Nathan doesn’t nap anymore and hasn’t in the past couple of years. I set hm up with some things to do and he decided to stay at the kitchen table while everyone else enjoyed family nap time. I awoke about twenty minutes in from low blood sugars. I corrected and was awoken another half hour later when Nathan wouldn’t stop humming and singing out loud. I swear, that kid likes to do everything he can to exhaust me to the point where I usually get more rest on Monday morning when I go back to work. ☯️

BrightBurn: A Review (Significant Spoilers)

in case it wasn’t obvious from the multitude of references I’ve made over recent years in all my posts, I’m a bit of a comic book nerd. Having started my collection in the early 80’s and never really stopped. I’m a child of what was referred to as the Bronze Age of comics, and was carried well into the “Dark Age” of comics before I stopped purchasing monthly editions. When I reached adulthood, I started purchasing collected works of certain titles, better known as graphic novels. Although not traditional comic books, graphic novels have allowed me to reminisce and read some of the storylines I lived through.

The Death of Superman storyline is a solid example. Green Lantern’s Emerald Dawn/Twilight and the Flash’s “Terminal Velocity” and “Dead Heat” are among my favourite storylines. Since the entire point of comic books is to read and escape to a reality where people can do amazing things, I’ve always been a fan of original and unique comic book series, as well as the visual media that’s all the rage these days. For example (and it may not be a popular opinion among my comic peers), I rather enjoyed the changes brought about by the New 52 take on the DC universe. Movies and television have only gotten progressively better, although you’ll never convince me that anyone is a better Superman than Christopher Reeve.

With some of that originality comes some ideas that step away from the norm, and they can often be quite interesting. This is where I landed on a movie called BrightBurn. Released in 2019, this is a movie classified as a “superhero horror film” and features a couple unable to bear a child who finds an infant in a crashed ship on their property. The couple raise the infant as their own, knowing that someday the ship that carried him may be revealed and they’ll have some serious questions to answer. As the boy gets older, he begins to exhibit certain abilities including invulnerability, heat vision and flight. Sound familiar? It should; that’s basically the origin story for Superman.

The difference in this instance however, is that BrightBurn (or Brandon, as he’s named in the movie) begins to respond to calls from the ship and becomes darker and more sinister as the movie plays out. After a brief and awkward chat with his father about the birds and the bees, he begins to stalk and watch one of the girls from his class, going as far as killing her mother when he’s told to stay away. When one of his aunts opposes him, he kills her husband and makes it look like an accident. His parents realized far too late that their adopted child is turning evil and get killed themselves. The movie doesn’t end well, with the child carrying on as he sees fit, wreaking chaos and killing at will.

Picture Superman growing up as the worst possible version of himself. Some graphic novels have taken liberties with what may have happened if Superman had landed anywhere other than a Kansas field to be found by the Kents. Elseworlds Comics has done a pretty good job of this. Superman: Red Son examined the possibility of Superman landing in Soviet era Russia. Superman: True Brit examines if he would have landed in England as opposed to Kansas. But none has quite examined this level of destructive evil in one possessing powers similar to Superman’s.

Picture a child with all of Superman’s powers, completely unhinged and willing to kill anyone who opposes him or questions his will. That nightmarish in the best of circumstances and this movie examines that exact premise. Between burning a hole through his father’s skull with his heat vision and dropping his mother from 30,000 feet before intentionally downing a full passenger plane, the thought of what this child will be capable of as he gets older and takes full stock of his powers is the stuff of nightmares, and they put it in a movie.

The film was widely received as a failure, with the potential for BrightBurn’s universe to be expanded upon before scoring quite low with critics and audiences alike. I don’t get it, because I thought it was creepy as hell and an interesting and refreshing take on the superhero genre that shows that power doesn’t always land at the feet of those who will do good with it. It’s a decent watch, if you’re looking for something with a bit of creepiness mixed with super powers. I thought it was good and I would certainly watch it again. ☯️

If You Can’t Block The Noise, Cancel It…

I’ve often written about how hard it can be to find moments of silence within one’s day to meditate or even just to let one’s head cool after a long day’s work. This is especially true if one has a family with small children who want your attention once you finally walk through the door. That’s where noise-cancelling headphones come in. Just to be clear, I don’t mean earbuds. Earbuds have got to be the stupidest damn thing I’ve ever used. At least headphones from the 80’s and 90’s would muffle some noise but earbuds don’t do much (at least for me) other than get jammed inio one’s ears and push earwax further. But I digress…

On my last birthday (which was September 11th, thanks for remembering), I decided to do the responsible thing and look for something that could count towards a birthday gift from my family that I could use for work, at home and for fitness. I landed on wireless headphones made by JBL, their Live model 660NC. I didn’t land on these easily. In fact, I looked up a number of different headphones from a number of different locations in order to land on a set that I felt would provide me with what I needed. After travelling the city and searching online, I landed on JBL, which ironically, is the same brand of Bluetooth speaker I’ve been dragging around with me for years.

I finally landed on purchasing from a local retail outlet and found the set I wanted. I was lucky enough to find them on special. According to BestBuy’s website, “Featuring adaptive noise cancelling technology, they avoid the interference of unwanted ambient noise to deliver loud and clear audio. Easily customize the settings and features of the headphones in the My JBL Headphones app.” Although a bit pricey (I paid a couple of hundred for mine), they would prove to be a life saver in terms of daily life and bring some much-needed peace in a chaotic and noisy world.

When purchasing this product, you get a USB-C charging cable for easy recharging, an audio cable for those devices you can’t connect through Bluetooth, and a nifty carrying case. The cushioned ear pads fit comfortably over the ears and block out all ambient noise, with multiple settings available through the JBL app, which I also downloaded and seems to work great. I use the headphones at work when trying to concentrate, I use them for workouts (some routines require some alcohol-based cleaning afterwards) and I even use them when doing dishes or chores around the house to block out noise and allow my head to cool.

Sometimes I listen to green or pink noise to allow my head to cool. Sometimes I listen to music or even binge-watch my favourite shows on my favourite streaming service. The benefit of having wireless headphones is I can wander and get things done without worrying that the cord will pull my phone or device off whatever surface it’s laying on. It’s definitely a good alternative for those who live in an environment where blocking out the noise is necessary or needed. Although the JBL LIVE660NC works well for me, the important thing is to find a set that fit well over YOUR ears and provide the benefits and features that you want. ☯️

Movember Update

Alright folks, here we are! The middle of November. On October 30th, I posted that once again this year, my team and I would be raising money for Movember, which is a registered charity aimed at men’s health, prostate and testicular cancer as well as suicide prevention. I know some folks find it odd that I would be lobbying for such a charity, especially since I have Type-1 Diabetes AND November is generally considered Diabetes Awareness Month. But the truth is, I raise awareness for Diabetes all year round with my writing and through discussed education with others. No, the month of November is when I can take four weeks ot attack something else that’s near and dear to me.

Decades ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was long enough ago that I didn’t fully understand the situation. Hell, I had no clue what a prostate was, let alone the fact that I had one. When Movember came out, I decided right away to start participating. The best thing is that I was always part of a team that gathered together to raise funds as a group, which always made things easier. For the pst two years, I’ve gone it alone along with a few people at my work. Although we tend to donate ourselves in order to participate in moustache growth, we depend on outside donations in order to reach our very modest goals.

All we’re trying to raise is $500 and let’s be honest; you guys don’t come on my blog to be solicited for donations. But you should also recognize that I’m not typically one to solicit as a general rule. But this is a great cause and despite the fact that we’re only halfway through the month, we’re also only at about halfway of our total goal of $500. I know times are tough and everyone has their hand out, these days. But honestly, any little bit will help. Hell, if you can only donate $5 or even $1, it all goes towards the ultimate goal. This is where I ask for some help…

Please visit the Movember website. Once there, you’ll find a button at the top right corner that says “Donate.” Click on it and select “Find a Person or Team” and type in my name (Shawn Cook). There, you can donate anonymously or put your name and information in, should you need a tax receipt. It couldn’t be simpler. Prostate cancer is reasonably avoidable, provided men get themselves examined and checked on a regular basis and take the steps for self-care. I know this post will go to my Facebook as well and given the number of friends and followers I have, my hope and expectation is that at least some of you will step up to the plate. Help me help others… ☯️

Ms. Marvel: A Review (Spoilers)

During my youth and even now, I’ve been an avid reader of comic books. Often seen as a touch childish by many, it’s a guilty pleasure that allows a person to escape into the wonder of possibility and answer the question of “what if,” as it relates to superhuman and their powers. I was always partial to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, which unlike the watered-down MCU film adaption called Infinity War (Which was the second Infinity Gauntlet book, BTW) was a rich storyline loaded with hundreds upon hundreds of characters and sub-plots.

The MCU has done a fantastic job of bringing the comic books to life, starting with 2008’s Iron Man. Although there have been a number of movies and shows based on Marvel Comics in the decades before (Hulk and Spider-man being two of my favourites), the MCU brought comic book heroes into the modern age and rejuvenated the industry. Now that the primary storyline has reached its zenith, the MCU has released a batch of series on streaming services; some good, some bad. One of those is a rather short series based on Ms. Marvel. Let’s discuss…

Contrary to what most non-comic book readers would think, there have been several iterations of Ms. Marvel in the comic books, started all the way back in the late 1970’s. The first to bear the name was actually Carol Danvers, or who MCU followers know as Captain Marvel, from the 2019 MCU film. The current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is the fourth to take up the name and is the subject of today’s post. Released on Disney+ just this past summer, Ms. Marvel is a short-lived series with only six episodes in its first season.

Although entertaining, the concept of how Kamala gets her powers is a bit convoluted and muddies the flow of the story a bit. She inherits a Bangalore from her grandmother that was left for her by her great-grandmother. After putting it one, it begins to emit a glow and Kamala is exposed to an unknown energy that appears to give her superpowers. These powers fully surface during an incident at a comic-con where Kamala went dressed as Captain Marvel and saves a fellow peer’s life.

From there, the story goes on to see Kamala and her family returns o their home country, examine her origins and discover that she is actually a descendent of the djinn (yes, THOSE ones), which is why the bangal only works for her. Some time travel and family history gets mixed in, there, before Kamala returns to the US where she fights her enemies and tries to save a fellow peer with similar powers from being captured by the government. The season ends after only six episodes with Kamala running off into the night, powers aglow.

The build-up was significantly slow and I feel that there would be plenty of room for character growth, perhaps some deeper delve into how her energy powers actually work. On the one hand, it was a campy, entertaining few episodes that gave me something to watch while I do dishes at night. On the other hand, the story was too short, with only six episodes and no clear indication whether the show will continue or be cancelled.

To have it cancelled would be a shame, considering the character potential and further storylines that could be explored. And I’m a little disappointed at only six episodes. I mean, seriously, they could have maybe had Kamala square off against two enemies in season one, instead of just the one. This could have stretched it out to an even dozen episodes. But what do I know? I’m just a grizzled old comic book reader. Watch Ms. Marvel at your leisure. Although short and sweet, it has the potential to be entertaining. ☯️

Lucky 13…

13 years ago, I was sworn in as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I received my badge and swore my oaths before being stationed here in Saskatchewan to protect the people of Canada. It was a gruelling 26 weeks of intense training, including being up before dawn, training and studying until midnight or later and doing it all over again. I walked onto the academy grounds at about 185 pounds and graduated at 165 pounds. It was intense and I acknowledge that not everyone makes it through. I have to admit that there were times where even I thought I wouldn’t make it, and we all know how stubborn and tenacious I am. But I digress…

One of the things that helped make it bearable, is my pit-partner. I remember arriving at Depot late on a Sunday evening. beds within the dorm were already assigned to us by name and I found my pit right away. Some scrawny, shy-looking dude was sitting in the pit next to mine. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t remember his name. Long story short, he mustered out within the first week. I’m, not sure why he left, I just know that he wasn’t terminated. Light knows we were too early in the program for anyone to get terminated. The following week, I was greeted by my new pit partner who would go on to have a significant impact on the next six months and my success in the program: Blair “Mambo” Mombourquette.

Blair was the right combination of pit partner; equal parts sarcasm, comedy and strength of will. We quickly became friends and started enjoying every weekend hanging out together off base, as well. I even got to meet some of his family who lived in the Regina area, which would come to impact my life in a significant way as well. All in all, Blair made the basic training experience enjoyable and I often feel I may not have made it through, had I been paired up with anyone else. As is the RCMP way, we parted ways once we graduated. I got posted to Saskatchewan and he went on to be posted in Manitoba and subsequently, Nova Scotia.

Although I managed to visit him once at his initial posting as I travelled from New Brunswick to Saskatchewan, all these years have passed without us ever seeing each other. That is, until last Sunday. Blair flew out to British Columbia so that he and his son could drive across the country, back to Nova Scotia. They stopped in Regina with intentions to stay the night, last Sunday. I picked them up and we grabbed dinner at a local restaurant, shared a few drinks and reminisced about the “good ol’ days.” There are few precious opportunities for such things in life, so it was good to remember some of the good times, the training and the fond memories.

It was nice to look back and share some time with someone who was there. Out of all of my troop, there are really only a few that I got close to and that I believe would understand everything I’ve been through. Blair is one of those people. I have some photos of us, buried somewhere in my old barrack boxes. A good blogger would probably dig them up and include them here. Honestly, I think I’m just going to enjoy the new memories, mixing with the old. Sometimes, the good memories are all we truly have that makes us rich in this life. Food for thought… ☯️

Movember 2022

That’s right, folks! There’s only one day of October left so I’m pitching for donations to raise money for Movember. I did this last year and my work colleagues and I were able to raise over $500 for this fantastic initiative by growing our moustaches and asking for donations from friends and family. This year promises to be even more fun as I’ve agreed to grow out ALL of my facial hair, including a full beard as well as growing out the hair on my head.

So for those who may not be in the know, what the hell is “Movember?” It apparently started in 1999 when a group in Australia came up with the idea of growing their moustaches for charity. By 2003, Movember was established as an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s overall mental health.

Movember is a registered charity in Canada and raises funds for a cause near and dear to my heart, considering my grandfather had prostate cancer. Besides participating actively as a donator and growing my moustache, I’m hoping that some of my loyal followers out there will see their way into donating as well. Even if only $5 or $10 dollars, any and all donations are appreciated and help.

So how can you donate? Well, the easiest way would be to visit the Movember website, clicking on “Donate” at the top right corner, select “Find a person or team” and enter my name (Shawn Cook). From there, you can click on the donate button and follow the prompts. Easy as that. There’s often a stigma out there that mental health isn’t an issue with men but I can tell you for a fact that this is inaccurate. We need as much help as everyone else. Help me keep men from dying too young. What you grow will help save a bro. Thanks for reading. ☯️

Just Read It…

I found this online a few days ago and I just had to share it. I forget where, it might have been on my facebook feed from one of my friends. There’s no branding to it and I honestly can’t remember, so let’s just enjoy the moment. Peace is important and in fact, integral to a happy life. Whether it’s world peace, peace in one’s own life or peace in others. ☯️

Jingle Hell, Jingle Hell, Snow Is On The Ground… 🎵

If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that fate conspires against us. For about a month now, I’ve been discussing with my wife how we need to empty and store our vegetable planters, buy some shovels and dig out the snow brushes in anticipation of the coming winter. My wife also needs a new pair of winter boots. One of the big things I’ve really needed to get done is to rake up all the leaves on the lawn so that snow doesn’t layer itself on top of them and make a huge fuckin’ mess that will need to be cleaned once spring comes…

I woke up on Sunday morning to find a blizzard occurring outside my kitchen windows. Considering NONE of the list written out above has been accomplished, it poses a bit of an issue. We usually spend Sunday grabbing groceries for the week, running errands and taking care of whatever’s needed in anticipation of the coming week. Since my snow brushes are buried somewhere deep in my garage, there are some challenges. Plus, our snow shovels are either cracked, broken or too small for clearing some of the wet, heavy snow that fell yesterday.

Despite the fact that it’s the month of October, winter is here. It’s one of those things where, during the summer we complain that it’s too hot out and once snow starts falling, we tend to think it’s too cold out. We’re never happy. But there are benefits to either season. The summer allows outdoor activities and travel. The winter allows my kids and I to pelt each other with snowballs. Win-win. There’s a distinctive beauty to a quiet snowfall. Too bad that beauty involves shovelling, wearing thick clothing and slippery roads. Balance, right? ☯️