“Grab” On To Some Facts 🥋

I know I tend to post a lot about medical issues, problems in society and how to improve your life. This is mostly because, well… That’s the blog! It’s often hard to cover off topics about Diabetes, medical and physical health and the suffering of humanity without touching on some negative aspects.

As such, I’ve decided to keep it short, sweet and light today. I found this photo on another blogging site and it made me smile. I figured any practitioners of the martial arts who are reading may get a kick out of it as well:

I think this is pretty funny, and quite accurate. But just to touch on the actual art of Jiu-Jitsu for a moment, here are five facts about the popular martial art that most people may not know or possibly get wrong:

  1. Jiu-Jitsu is not Brazilian. Despite its popularization through organizations like the UFC, Jiu-Jitsu (or Jujutsu) traces its roots back to Japan. When you hear the term “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”, this refers to an adaptation of an older form of Judo;
  2. Jiu-Jitsu is not only a grappling style. Most forms of the martial art also use weapons and strikes. The idea behind the style was to be able to engage an enemy who may be attacking with a short range weapon, such as a short sword or stick. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu incorporates a number of stand-up techniques and it isn’t all about rolling on the mats;
  3. The name “Jiu-Jitsu” is a romanization spelling of the correct spelling, which is “Jujutsu”. And this term didn’t come into being until the early 1800’s. The term was used to encompass a number of grappling styles, empty-handed or not. In fact, one of the systems it covered was “the way of softness”, or Judo. This was almost two hundred years before Judo’s creation by Kano Jigoro;
  4. Jiu-Jitsu is at least partly responsible for the creation and development of multiple other martial arts styles, such as Aikido, Judo and Sambo. During its early existence, Jiu-Jitsu is credited with the creation of more than 2000 offshoots of the art. Some of these retained connections with Jiu-Jitsu while others have modified their techniques and differed their styles enough to no longer considering themselves a style of Jiu-Jitsu;
  5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is descendant from Judo. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most popular forms of the art, given how much exposure it has received in mainstream media and the propagation of its teachings. Although an extremely effective art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed after Judo was introduced in 1914.

Sure, maybe points #1 and #5 sort of touch on the same thing, but whatevs… It’s all good information, right? I’ve been doing the martial arts for long enough to know that there’s always something new to learn, and roots always go back further than what we assume is the beginning. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and find yourself a little something to help make you smile today. ☯

Cyber-Injuries Hurt Too…

Because 2019 hasn’t managed to get its full pound of flesh from me yet, I had an unfortunate incident with my computer of all things, last night. As I’ve often written about before, we live in an age where technology is no longer a luxury; it has become a part of the average home’s daily life.

But with that technology comes a number of risks, including new forms of crime that affect its users. Computer viruses, malware and worms are very real issues that can cause problems such as damaging and destroying important or sentimental data, identity theft and more.

Before I go too far into telling my story, I should probably explain some of the terms I just used. Unless you’re a programmer or have studied in the field, some of these may be foreign to most people.

A computer virus is a type of malicious malware that replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. These viruses can cause the corruption of data and files on your computer and can cause system failure.

Malware, specifically speaking, is a software that is intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer through its systems or network. Malware can be disguised as an executable file and will be introduced into your computer through those means and then take effect. Unless a virus, malware usually has a specific result in mind, which includes acting against the interest of the computer’s user.

Now that we have the terminology out of the way, on with the story…

As we’ve been busy, cleaning out old storage boxes and minimizing our belongings, my wife and I found three external hard drives that had been collecting dust. As my wife recalled, these drives contained movie downloads and music, as well as a number of television shows.

Since I use my MacBook the most, out of all my devices, I was ecstatic! I had just purchased a brand new external hard drive (2TB) and I was looking forward to combining the movies and TV shows that I wanted on it. I had already combined the movies I already had onto this new drive and a number of personal photos I had accumulated over the past ten years.

I worked diligently over the following few hours. Copying and filling the new hard drive, I would say it brought me into the late evening before I was finally all done. I was super excited and looking forward to watching some shows that were reasonably popular a decade ago, and this hard drive contained entire series of some shows!

Once I had all my copying done, I decided to access my new external hard drive and check it all out. I opened the folders and bought uo the TV shows so I could watch an episode.

BOOM! Nothing showed up. What the fu…?? This couldn’t be right. I had downloaded enough files to fill almost a third of the drive, it couldn’t be empty. Ran all the necessary checks… Yup, 2TB of free space! NOTHING was on my new hard drive. It had been wiped completely clean. The included installation software usually found on the hard drive wasn’t even there!

I ran an anti-virus program and sure as I shave my head, my system was infected. The result was that any external storage connected to my computer at the time was wiped clean. I was heart-broken. A lot of those files couldn’t be replaced. The anti-virus program was able to correct the issue and clean out the computer, but the damage had been done…

I guess the moral of the story… besides “don’t trust the mutual friend who downloaded the stuff for us”, is that in these modern times, we need to protect ourselves on the digital front on top of everything else. It’s been building for years, but technology has provided for a new frontier of crime. The worst part is that what happened to me doesn’t even provided any advantage to anyone; it simply disadvantages me!

As my wife conveniently reminded me, always make sure your important stuff is backed up. Run an anti-virus and always check the source of your downloads and data. As technology continues to progress, so will the problems attached to it.

There you have it! It isn’t quite my usual post, but it’s an important issue that a lot of people have to face in today’s world. The digital frontier holds all the same dangers as the real world; and many that are worse. ☯

I Need A New Attitude…

The title is from a song called “New Attitude” by Patti Labelle. For you newer generation folks who don’t know who Patti Labelle is, she’s an American singer who was quite popular in soul and disco music. In fact, she was the one who originally wrote “Lady Marmalade” before it was covered by Christina Aguilera.

But today’s post isn’t about disco music, it’s about attitude. The world is a living thing, and with that life comes evolution. Evolution of its people and how they behave in general.

As a child, I remember that the way we addressed our elders was important. Although respect was something earned, it was also given to those who had come before us. That was an expectation, but a reasonable one.

How we spoke to our parents and adults in general, was defined by a politeness and respect that simply doesn’t seem to be passed on to the newer generation. I know, I know… I’m becoming one of those old guys who complains about how “in my day”, things were better… But perhaps they were.

This morning I was sitting in a little coffee shop, working on my laptop. I have a table I usually always sit at, which is located next to the main entrance to the shop. This allows me a good view of outside and plenty of light if I happen to be reading instead of on my computer.

As I was working, a mother and young son came in. They were quiet as they entered but it seemed as normal a procession as one could imagine. They went up to the counter and ordered whatever they were there for and my attention was back on my work.

When it came time for them to leave, the mother was in the lead and she held a hot beverage. The son followed behind and held a pastry in his hands and was looking down at his phone. The mother pushed through the door and released it, thinking that the sone would simply catch it as he was following.

Instead, the son was still looking down at his phone and smack full-on into the door. The pastry crushed against him and he dropped it to the floor. He got angry and yelled at his mother: “Mom, what the hell?! Watch what the f&*k you’re doing! You hit me with the door!”

I was floored. This kid couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 years’ old and the attitude that poured out of him was almost palpable. I was about to stand up and tell this little urchin where he could store his attitude.

I was pleased to see, much to my surprise, that the mother spun around and explained to the boy that not only should he be watching where he walks, but that it wasn’t her fault if he had his eyes down. The for good measure, the mother took the phone away for the son’s use of language.

Well done, mother! Well done!

I’ll be the first to admit that this doesn’t apply to every child these days, but there seems to be an undeserved sense of entitlement. The attitudes and personalities seem to have developed over the past generation to the point where it’s almost ridiculous.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I had spoken to my mother that way, I may or may not have felt the sting of a wooden cook spoon against my backside. Although I’m not a fan of violence, I think kids these days need SOME way of learning that respect. ☯

Raise A Glass… To Your Vices.

Look, I enjoy my occasional cold beer on a hot summer day like anyone else does. I would be lying if I said I Didn’t occasionally enjoy a nice black spiced rum when I write. But how do we know if our enjoyment stems from craving or addiction?

I have written previous posts on the effects of alcohol on the Diabetic system, so I won’t go into great detail about it again. I’ll simply point out that alcohol can have some negative effects, such as lowering or increasing blood sugar.

Alcohol is processed by the liver, the organ generally responsibly for the release of glucose when signalled by the body. But if the liver is busy processing all the alcohol from the keg you just tapped, it may not be able to respond accordingly and your blood sugar could drop.

The flip side is that depending on the type of alcohol you consume, there can be an increased amount of carbohydrate. For example, the average can of beer contains between 12 to 15 grams of beer, depending on the brand and type. So if you consume 3 or 4 cans, you’re taking in 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and it becomes important to take insulin accordingly. Certain “pure” alcohols however, contain no carbohydrates until you mix them with something. These include spirits such as whiskey and rum. Most of them lose their carbohydrate content during the distilling process.

Now that I’ve covered off the Diabetic aspect of it all, let’s discuss booze in general. I know a lot of people who consume alcohol recreationally. In fact, humanity has been consuming alcohol as early as 5000 years ago, with the introduction of drinks like Sura and Mead. Some studies have revealed we may have started even earlier than that, but as usual, I digress…

My goal today is to share the story of my first drink. I was 23 years old and in Okinawa. No, that’s not a typo. I genuinely never had alcohol until almost my mid-twenties. I often tell folks I was 21, but since I was born in 1978 and went to Japan in 2001, well… you do the math!

Given that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, I imposed quite a number of restrictions on myself from a young age. Alcohol was one of them. Even throughout my teen years, I never really partook. Part of the reason was because I was generally a designated driver for friends. Another reason is because I had the opportunity to see the foolishness that ensued from said friends after drinking. I figured I wanted no part of that.

By the time that 2001 had crept around the corner, I had still never experienced the hooch. And in all honesty, I never felt I had missed out on much. But in October of that year, my karate instructor and myself along with a couple of other students travelled to Japan and onward to Okinawa.

The trip was long and complicated. We switched flights a number of times through Canada and the United States before finally crossing over the Pacific. After making a number of smaller bunny hop flights, we started the final flight that would take us from New York to Narita, Japan. It was a long, overnight flight that lasted the better part of 14 hours.

During this leg of the trip, Sensei came over and sat next to me to discuss some of the finer points of custom and tradition that I would be dealing with. Part of these customs included the fact that toasting and consuming alcohol, such as Sake and beer, would need to be observed.

When Sensei saw the look on my face, he explained that he understood that I had never drank before and that if all I did was have a sip during toasts and such, that would be adequate. He did go on to explain that custom dictated that refusing an offered drink would be construed as an insult to the host’s hospitality and that at my age, there should be no issue with accepting.

And no, before any of my readers start reading into this as a form of peer pressure, it was far from anything close to that. Had there been a genuine medical or religious reason behind my aversion to alcohol, he would have totally respected that. But I figured it would be fine.

During our initial few days in Tokyo, we visited a Japanese dignitary that Sensei was acquainted with. True to Sensei’s word, the man’s wife served us all beer. Oddly enough, it came in a plastic bottle. I had never seen that before It was Asahi or Orion beer. I can’t recall which one, as I had enjoyed them both while overseas.

Anyway, I don’t have any illusions of being a genius. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I feel I’m intelligent and level-headed enough to approach most situations rationally and with a touch of common sense. Once the bottle was placed in front of me, I held it up under my nose and took and experimental sniff. I glanced at Sensei, who glared at me and shifted his eyes to the bottle as if to say, “Quit f%&kin’ around and take a sip…”

So I did. Hey! It wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it had a touch of carbonation similar to soda. What was the big deal? So I started to drink it. I drank it as though it were soda. That’s where I went wrong. So very, very wrong…

I had that beer finished within fifteen minutes. Bearing in mind that this was the first beer I EVER drank, this wasn’t so smart. Remember that common sense I mentioned earlier? Gone.

In an effort to be a dutiful wife to the host, as soon as I had taken my last sip and the bottle touched the table, it was taken away and a fresh one was placed in front of me. I glanced at Sensei once again, who gave me a look akin to a disgruntled father. I took this to mean that refusing the second would be as insulting as refusing the first. And even though that assumption was correct, there was a catch. But I’ll get to that.

So, I kept drinking. The process repeated itself a few times until I had consumed 4 bottles of beer in roughly a 1 hour period. Uh oh… Houston, we have a problem! I started to feel a touch of disorientation and almost felt as though I was moving even if I wasn’t. My “no big deal” attitude was quickly replaced by an “oh, shit” attitude when I came to the realization that I was drunk. For the first time. In Japan. In a dignitary’s house, no less.

All of a sudden Sensei slaps his thighs and gets up, announcing that it was time to go. I sat there, flexing the muscles of my legs experimentally. One of the other students sitting next to me happened to be a guy I graduated with from high school. He had a drunken look on his face but was likely accustomed to the effect and was dealing with it, no problem.

He glanced at me and asked what was wrong. i told him I thought I was drunk. Bear in mind that I wasn’t demonstrating any signs of being drunk. My speech wasn’t slurred, I wasn’t swaying in my seat… Everything was based on the feelings and sensation happening inside.

He said, “You don’t look drunk.” I replied that I knew that. He also said, “You don’t sound drunk, either.” I took a deep breath and responded, “I’m aware of all that, but I’m quite sure that if I try to stand right now my legs may not support me.” He was good enough to help me to my feet and guide me out the door.

The dignitary, his wife and sons were lined up at the door to see us of. We made quite the pair, each with an arm around the other, stumbling out the door. Way to make a first impression in Japan…

I felt reasonably like crap for the next few hours, and Sensei got a great laugh out of it. When he came over to talk to me about it and ask how I felt, he also asked me why I decided to drink quite so much. I explained that I felt I couldn’t refuse any of the drinks. He agreed that this would have been an insult. The detail he failed to mention BEFORE the outing is that I could have nursed that one beer for the entire hour that we were there and it would have been fine. In fact, having a bit of beer left in the bottle would have been better, as it tells your host that you’ve had enough and they’ve satisfied their guest. this would have been a great detail to know prior to going out.

Looking back on it 18 years later, it’s great for a laugh. And I’ve often used it as a good story for people in relation to drinking and its effects. But at the time, I remember having a bit of a feeling of invincibility since I never really experienced a hangover. That’s when I reached the point back in Canada, where i overdid it. I no longer have that benefit.

Everything in moderation, folks. Although some people view alcohol as a poison on the body (and by some definitions, it is), there’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink with friends. It becomes a problem if you start needing that drink to help you go to sleep, combat certain pain or anxiety or if you’re drinking at radically inappropriate times (at work, first thing in the morning, meeting your future in-laws, etc…)

Be sure to reach out to the appropriate resources, should you feel that you fall under that category. Sometimes life slips away on us, and we don’t necessarily realize we have a problem until it’s pointed out to us. There are tons of easily accessible resources online that be searched within seconds and your medical practitioner would also be able to help. ☯

Growth Is Painful

I often write about how life is tough. Of course it is, right? Where would the challenge of life be, without the constant obstacles that consume our daily lives. If everything was handed to us on a silver platter, we’d get slow and lazy and never reach for the stars. With that thought in mind, it becomes paramount that we meet those challenges head on. There really is no other solution.

Mandy Hale once said, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” Powerful words. Like with most quotes, the meaning behind the words are certainly up for interpretation, but the obvious meaning here is that life in general and all its challenges WILL hurt; but not quite as much as staying rooted in that pain without trying to move forward.

The only thing worse than working hard your entire life and not having it pan out is having it pan out and then it all gets torn out from under you. But those challenges aren’t meant to break you; they are meant to help you grow stronger. Sometimes we are living a situation that’s toxic to us, even when we don’t realize it. Some people I know personally, are even in a life that makes them unhappy, yet they persevere in that life.

And why do we do this? Usually it’s because we’ve become so accustomed to the lifestyle we’ve become entrenched into that we’re almost frightened to move on to something that could potentially be better for us.

So let that strength grow. If you’re willing to step up and fight, you’d be surprised how far you can reach. It won’t always be easy, but who ever said life was meant to be easy, right?

In reading some things I previously wrote, I was reminded of this tonight. Sometimes the effort required to fight through all these challenges seems overwhelming. I hate to be THAT guy and quote Bruce Lee, but he once said something that significantly applies to this. He once said, “Do not pray for an easy life.pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

Remembering What’s Important

I remember attending a local college, back in New Brunswick in 1996. I was young, naive and foolishly thought that I should take a year off from studying before going off to college. My thinking was to work and accumulate some money before diving headlong into more schooling. My family disagreed.

Being as that I was so young and naive at the time, I went along with it, but I wouldn’t discover until years later that I could have, and should have followed my instinct and taken a break. I was studying computer programming and burned out in my second year.

Doesn’t sound much like me. Even now, as I write it out it doesn’t seem like something I would allow to happen. But it happens to the best of us, sometimes.

I was reminded of this today because I was cleaning out some old stuff in my home office and came across something I had printed out during my first year of college. Once I read it, I couldn’t believe that I had managed to keep it for 23 years. But I thought I would share it here, as it allows for an important message about life.

Some of you may have heard this story before, but here it is:

A professor stood in front of his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar slightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous YES.

The professor then produced two bottles of beer from under the table and poured their entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things such as family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions. And if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you were to put the sand into the jar first, there would be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

It’s important to pay attention to the things in your life that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your spouse and children. Visit with your parents. Take time for your health. Treat yourself to dinner. Play another 18 holes.

Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the professor’s students raiser her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked that. The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beer with friends or family.”

To Be Good, You Must Do Good.

I had an interesting interaction today that got me to reflect on how we behave in modern society. If you ask the average person if they believe that they are good, the safe bet is that they’ll say yes. And on the face of things, they would probably be right. Most people don’t go through life being inherently bad, but some often do bad things.

So what does it take to be good? Karma teaches us that what we suffer through in life is a direct result of our actions. Essentially, if you do bad things, bad will come to you. But what if you do nothing bad? My question to you tonight, dear reader, is simply this: What if you do nothing at all?

Edmund Burke once wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.” I could quote several other people, as most historical figures who have fought the good fight have one and/or many quotes similar to Burke’s. The point is simply that doing absolutely nothing is tantamount to doing bad things.

I sold an item to a couple today. All part of my recent journey towards minimalism. They didn’t even bother to negotiate price or anything, and they showed up promptly and on time. My kind of people. I find there are far too many people that I deal with that seem unable to keep a scheduled appointment. But I digress…

In speaking with this couple, they explained that the item I was selling to them was for the woman’s mother. The item wasn’t even for them, it would be for someone else. The woman paid me the agreed amount, I helped them load the item and they went on their way.

I can be the first to admit that I can sometimes be a tad too trusting and I stuffed the cash in my pocket without bothering to count it. Once they were gone and I was back inside my home, I realized that the woman had provided an additional five dollars. I messaged her immediately and explained that if she provided her home address, I would drop the excess cash to her while I was out running errands.

I was taken somewhat aback at the woman’s reaction. She was incredibly grateful and provided her address. I dropped the money off, and she messaged me further thanking me profusely for dropping the money off.

It only seemed natural to return money that didn’t belong to me, but I realized from the reaction I received that it would have been totally expected to simply keep the extra cash. And this is also bearing in mind that the woman didn’t even seem to be aware that she had overpaid.

Although this example is a specific one, I think it speaks to where we’ve grown as a society that we expect so little from others. It isn’t all that hard to do the right thing. Sometimes, it comes as nothing more than a small gesture, but it can make a positive difference. As Suzy Kassem once said, “Stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone.”