Paper Isn’t Just For Airplanes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And On The 7th Day, No One Rested

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zen And The Art Of Toilet Installation

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

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

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

All that was left of my Buddhist throne!

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

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

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

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

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

Stuck back in its former glory!

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

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

25 feet of Pex tubing to run water to my toilet

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

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

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

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

Even A Smile Shows Teeth

There have always been those who would bring harm to others, either physically, emotionally or professionally. Although it may seem like a pretty cynical view, learning to acknowledge and understand that not everyone can be trusted is a significantly important way to protect oneself. I’ve come to realize over the years, through my personal and professional life, that trust is a dangerous commodity, albeit a necessary one.

It can be difficult to know who to trust. Even when a person is nice and welcoming, they can forget you in a heartbeat, or fail to be there when you need them. This can lead to the distrust of people in general. Meanwhile, even when certain people seem like absolute assholes or ignorant, they may give the shirt off their backs if they think it will help you out. It can make navigating the social world extremely difficult.

It reminds me of a story I heard from a character in a movie I watched years ago. The story always stuck with me, and I think it applies quite well to modern society. Here’s the story:

“Once Upon A Time, There Was This Little Sparrow, Who While Flying South For The Winter Froze Solid And Fell To The Ground. And Then To Make Matters Worse The Cow Crapped On Him, But The Manure Was All Warm And It Defrosted Him. So There He Is, He’s Warm And He’s Happy To Be Alive And He Starts To Sing. A Hungry Cat Come Along and Clears Off The Manure And He Looks At The Little Bird And Then He East Him. And The Moral Of The Story Is This: Everyone Who Craps On You Is Not Necessarily Your Enemy, And Everyone Who Gets You Out Of Crap Is Not Necessarily Your Friend, And If You’re Warm And Happy No Matter Where You Are You Should Just Keep Your Big Mouth Shut!”

– Electra, Assassins (1995)

The delivery of this revelation comes during a point in a Sylvester Stallone movie where there’s a lull in the action, and is meant as a mild comedic diversion in the middle of an otherwise dark movie about contract killing. It elicited a laugh from me, the first time I watched the movie. But I feel it provides an important lesson in the modern world as well. Trust, as I said, is a valuable commodity. And it can be extremely difficult and frustrating knowing when to share said commodity.

Although I may once again be showing my cynical side, we live in a world where a date gone wrong may result in claiming sexual misconduct, where online purchases can result in the money being taken without any goods ever being delivered and of promises made but never kept. It makes navigating through all the bullshit not only difficult but somewhat dangerous. It also makes friendships difficult to establish and maintain.

I’ve had so-called “friends” who have smiled and been nice and fantastic in person, but have either stabbed me in the back when I wasn’t looking or simply weren’t there to provide the basic elements of friendship when they were needed. One good example I can provide, is a friend who has good moral value similar to my own, expresses the existence of our friendship, yet time and again I’ve been stood up without warning when trying to meet with them or get their assistance with something. This person may be the nicest person in the world, but they still suck as a friend.

On the flip side, I have associates within my social circle (if I can really call it that) that are often loud, opinionated and rude. But during times when I was lowest, these associates will be the first to step forward and lend a hand. Like I say, it can be confusing. It would be nice to simply have people in one’s life that share common interests, goals and values and that you never have to second-guess. But that simply isn’t how the world works.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting in ANY way that one shouldn’t have friendships. Friendships are an integral part of a normal human existence; normal being an extremely subjective term, of course. But the idea is to protect yourself, especially during online interactions where you can’t ever be definitive about a person’s motives. Take your time with people and trust only so far as it allows the association to develop without putting yourself in a compromising position.

Last but not least, appreciate the friendships you do have. My inner circle is so small, it’s basically a dot. But I consider friendship to be a “quality not quantity” consideration. I prefer to have the friends whom I only speak to about once a month but that I can trust wholeheartedly, than the ones I hang out with every week but may be stealing the money out of my swear jar when I’m not looking. And trust me, that fucker’s full! ☯

Home Should Be For Rest

Listen, I’ve heard this argument for well over thirty years. There’s never been a satisfactory answer, at least not to me. But even when I WAS in school, it was a well-worn argument that apparently would never have any resolution. Should homework be included as a part of a child’s education? Should students be expected to perform school work and studies once they leave the classroom and go home? The answer to that question depends on which side of the fence you fall on.

Personally, I was always the kind of student who managed to get most work done within the confines of the classroom. YEs, I know! That sounds like bragging. And it probably is. My parents never really had to pester me to read or study or do anything that would be considered studying, because I usually did it on my own. But when I did get homework, I knocked it out of the park first thing.

But even in modern times, what does this say about our modern educational system? When I know that my son has spent seven to eight hours in the care of the school system, I usually feel that it’s inappropriate that I have to push my child to perform schoolwork outside the confines of his classroom. I consider that if I put in an 8-hour shift at work, I assume I can relax and unwind when I finally get home to my family. Familial obligations considered, of course. So why wouldn’t the sam be true of my son, who is only a child?

Honestly, my personal opinion is that if one’s lesson plan is properly drafted and executed, then students should be in a position where they need to do “school work” once they get home. This doesn’t include studying things that may be coming on a given day. For example, if my son has a spelling test at the end of the week, he can fully expect that he’ll be practicing that shit at home. But serious homework assignments should take a bench and wait for the following day, if the teacher hasn’t managed to fit it in to his or her full day of class.

Do you agree with this perspective? Let’s consider that some students have extracurriculars to consider. In Canada, many students will participate in dance, hockey or martial arts outside of class hours. If they spend an 8-hour day in school then head off to said extracurriculars, that leave very little time for homework. And extracurriculars are extremely important. They can help train and groom a perspective youth for the future. But by the time I usually got home from karate, I was ready for a hot shower and bed. Homework was about as far from my mind as it could get.

Nowadays, I deal with my 5-year old who complains that if he isn’t in school, he shouldn’t be doing schoolwork. I hate to agree, but he has a point. You wouldn’t be expected to put in a shit-ton of work beyond your 8-hour shift. So, why are our children expected to do schoolwork once at home? It’s definitely food for thought, because I’m straddling a sharp, splintery fence where this issue is concerned. I think there are some things that NEED to be passed on to be completed at home. But for the most part, home should be where kids can do what they do best: be kids. ☯

Best Of The Best

Listen, anyone who reads my blog regularly, knows that I’m not here to endorse any specific source or product. But once in a while, I feel it necessary to speak about particular books or films that have had an impact on my life, training or beliefs. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to re-watch a movie from my youth that had a definite impact on my choices regarding the martial arts. I’m talking a little movie called Best Of The Best…

Released in 1989, the movie follows the journey of five American fighters who are chosen to be part of an American Karate Team intent on competing against five fighters from the Korean team… In Korea! The team couldn’t be any different from each other, with a traditional Korean Tae Kwon Do champion, a dedicated karate practitioner who has a young son (sound familiar?), a chubby, hillbilly asshole who challenges everyone’s patience and even includes a caucasian Buddhist to add some flavour to the group.

I tried to find a promotional poster to share with the post, but there was nothing that was free or wouldn’t have cost me a ridiculous amount just to share, so I’ll satisfy myself with sharing the movie’s IMDB link here. IMDB is a phenomal tool for reading about a movie, but if you have Canadian Netflix, it’s on there right now and you should stop what you’re doing and watch the movie immediately! Starring Eric Roberts and Philip Rhee, the movie includes many aspects that I can relate to (minus competing, of course) in relation to my own martial arts journey.

This’ll be a short post, especially since I don’t want to provide any spoilers. But if you want a decent, realistic martial arts movie, Best of the Best is definitely the movie for you. It can feel like a bit of a slow burn at times, but the story is solid, the training is realistic and factual and the message is timeless. I’ve seen this movie almost a dozen times, and I never hesitate to sit through it when I see it cross my path. If you want a story of true martial arts prowess and dignity, pop a bag of Orville’s best and fire up your Netflix and watch Best Of The Best. If you love martial arts, you won’t be disappointed. ☯

Life May Move Fast, But Its Speed Should Be Slow

Anything one experiences in life should be taken slow. This isn’t without exception, of course. I could barely wait to put a ring on my wife’s finger and did so quite a period of time sooner than most other guys would have. But in terms of life in general, sometimes it’s better to take it slow. Consider a fine bottle of wine… Perhaps it’s a blend you’ve never tried before and maybe it cost a little more than you’d usually pay. Are you going to simply chug it down like a $9 bottle of wine cooler, picked up on the fly? Or will you take the time to breathe in the bouquet, sip it slowly and enjoy it?

“Life Moves Pretty Fast. If You Don’t Stop And Look Around Once In A While, You Could Miss It.”

– Ferris Bueller

All things in life involve a balance. The same can be said for the speed at which the world turns. The REQUIREMENTS of life come at you pretty fast. Getting to work on time, paying your bills and making sure your kids get on the bus. All the more reason for the PREFERENCES of life to be taken slowly. Enjoy your meal and take time to chew. Taste and enjoy that ethnic food you’ve decided to try. Shed a few tears at the sad scene in the movie you watch with your significant other.

As Mr. Bueller indicated in one of my favourite movies, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” life can come at you pretty fast. It’s important to stop and smell the roses once in a while. Whether it’s choosing to read a book, slowly enjoying a glass of wine or simply taking an hour to play on the floor with your kids without looking at your phone, it can make a difference in the level well-being you experience in your daily life. ☯

Staying Alive, It Isn’t Just A Catchy 70’s Song…

Last Sunday, I wrote a post about Halloween and how my wife and I chose to allow our children to celebrate by indulging in treats at home as opposed to putting them at risk by wandering from house-to-house (here is last Sunday’s post, if you didn’t read it). I felt the post was well-written and was clearly categorized as an “opinion” piece, but some felt that my opinion was wrong, perhaps even presumptuous. And people can, by all means, feel however they wish to feel about my opinion. It doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. However, it raises something of an important issue that I’d like to address today.

There are a lot of thoughts floating around about what the next best step should be in regards to the current pandemic. Some people believe that we need to lock ourselves down tighter in order to mitigate the COVID-19 issue we currently face, while others believe that we need to loosen the noose a bit and try to start living normally again. In order to examine and open a constructive discussion on this topic, I’d like to start by sharing a post that an ER nurse apparently wrote. I got this from a friend on FaceBook, and I have no source for it, so you need to take it with grain of salt. But here it is:

“Anyone out there who can tell me what our end game is with the COVID-19? What is the magic formula that is going to allow us to sound the all clear? Is it zero cases? The only way that will happen is if we just stop testing and stop reporting. Is it a vaccine? It took 25 years for a chicken pox vaccine to be developed. The smallpox inoculation was discovered in 1796 the last known natural case was in 1977. We have a flu vaccine that is only 40 to 60% effective and less than half of the US population choose to get one, and roughly 20,000 Americans will die of the flu or flu complications. Oh, you’ll mandate it, like other vaccines are mandated in order to attend school, travel to some foreign countries, etc. We already have a growing number of anti vaxxers refusing proven, tested, well known vaccines that have been administered for decades but aren’t necessarily safe! Do you really think people will flock to get a fast tracked, quickly tested vaccine, whose long term side effects and overall efficacy are anyone’s best guess? How long are we going to cancel and postpone and reconsider? You aren’t doing in person school until second quarter? What if October’s numbers are the same as August’s? You moved football to spring? What if next March is worse than this one was? When do we decide quality of life outweighs the risks? I understand Covid can be deadly or very dangerous for SOME people, but so are strawberries and so is shellfish. We take risks multiple times a day without a second thought. We know driving a car can be dangerous, we don’t leave it in the garage. Many speed and don’t wear seat belts. We know the dangers of smoking, drinking and eating fried foods, we do it anyway. Is hugging Grandma really more dangerous than rush hour on the freeway? Is going out with friends after work more risky than 4 day old gas station sushi? Or operating a chainsaw? When and how did we so quickly lose our free will and give up our liberty? Is there a waiver somewhere I can sign that says, “I understand the risks, but I choose a life with Hugs and Smiles, and the State Fair and go to Church and go hug my Mom in her retirement home? I understand that there is a minuscule possibility I could die, but I will most likely end up feeling like crap for a few days. I understand I could possibly pass it to someone else, if I’m not careful, but I can pass any virus onto someone else. I’m struggling to see where or how this ends. We either get busy living or we get busy dying. When God decides it’s your time, you don’t get any mulligans, so I guess I would rather spend my time enjoying it and living in the moment and not worrying about what ifs and maybes, and I bet I’m not the only one.”

– Unknown ER Nurse

Like I mentioned at the beginning of today’s post, I got this from a friend’s FaceBook page and I wasn’t able to locate its source online. Maybe one of you will have better luck and if so, please free to name the source in the comments. But I think it’s important to give that paragraph a careful read. Look at the two-sided message it provides and how there are significant contradictions involved. A lot of what’s written in that quote is shared by many member of the public.

Although I agree that we need to start working on developing some level of normalcy within your society, what that “normal” will look like may not be what we’re all expecting or hoping for. Do I agree that we face risks of danger and imminent death on a daily basis? Absolutely. But most of what’s written in that quote is a matter of choice. We CHOOSE to operate motor vehicles. We CHOOSE to drink, gamble, smoke, use recreational drugs and have unprotected sex.

But nobody should CHOOSE to take unnecessary risks and potentially catch COVID-19. Even the comment on strawberry and shellfish allergies is a bit on the ridiculous side, and isn’t a choice. It’s an allergy one is either born with, or developed. That’s a far cry from allowing yourself exposure to a life-threatening virus. There’s nothing I want more than to travel back to New Brunswick and see my family, but in doing so, I risk endangering their lives. People are of the unfortunate belief that COVID-19 “isn’t all that bad” and that “it’ll pass.” Yeah, sure. It’ll likely pass, but it’ll change the world and how we do things before it does. It already has.

Folks, you need to realize and understand that getting COVID-19 isn’t like getting a bad cold or flu that you’re likely to recover from. It carries serious risks, and even a healthy person can succumb to it if it isn’t taken seriously. Everyone is tired of quarantine restrictions and self-isolation. I, for one would like to walk down my street without worrying if that jogger who’s panting heavily will spit Corona particles into my face, or worrying about what my child may be exposed to while in school.

This pandemic is far from over, and there are steps we all need to take to help mitigate the damage. It isn’t about a “minuscule possibility” of dying, it’s about protecting ourselves and the ones we love. That’s what it all comes down to. I don’t do politics. And I generally don’t follow trends. But I also know common sense, if such a thing exists, when I see it. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Wear the mask. Don’t go out into large crowds unnecessarily. Don’t expose your family to things because you think you need to “either get busy living or get busy dying.” That, in and of itself, is a defeatist attitude and humanity deserves better. ☯

Ownership, Like Cheese Sliding Off Your Cracker…

There’s a certain level of pride in ownership. Think about it: you have a few buddies who come over to watch whatever sporting event you’re into, and one of them comments on your television set. Next thing you know, you fall into a self-indulgent monologue about where you got it, how much you paid for it and the size and features of the screen, before one of your buddies finally stuffs a beer into your hand and reminds you the game is about to start. A person usually can’t help it. Pride in one’s belongings is a normal instinct, albeit self-indulgent and unnecessary.

Last night, someone broke into my family’s vehicle. This is the third time in as many years that this has happened. Speaking from a professional standpoint, there’s not a hell of a lot one can do about something like this. It’s a petty crime with little to no evidence, which means there isn’t anything for the police to go on. I know this from experience. From a personal standpoint, I consider it a violation of my privacy and an invasion of my home. Although the vehicle may be parked outside, it’s my property ON my property, and no one has any right to access it without my consent.

So, why do these people do it? I wish there was an easy answer… From a humanity perspective, I’m certain there are some who are simply seeking out cash money. That certainly seemed to be the case with my vehicle. I opened the driver’s door this morning to find my glove box and dash compartment sitting open and papers strewn all about. Even some of the menial electronics I had in the vehicle, such as a dash cam, were left untouched. This leads me to believe that they hoped to find coins, at the very least. But we keep nothing of value in our vehicle.

There are different schools of thought, in relation to a crime like this. Some people believe the best course of action is to simply leave the vehicle unlocked, allowing persons unknown an unhindered access to the vehicle so that they ca see there’s nothing inside and move along. Others, such as myself, believe that there’s no value in accommodating criminals in order to make their process easier, regardless of their reasons.

There is a enough suffering in the world without intentionally causing more. Besides the inconvenience of having to clean everything up, I spent the morning drop-off explaining to my 5-year old son why someone came into our vehicle and made a mess, even if the vehicle didn’t belong to them. What’s more is the sense of random strangers being inside the vehicle where I transport my children adds an unwanted sense of reality to the violation.

I find myself in a position now, where I am considering taking added security steps in my home including a camera system or a car alarm system. Despite the fact that keeping one’s doors locked should be enough to inform any person that they’re not welcome, the way of the world seems to require more. The worst part is the sense of anger I feel towards these persons, and the potential actions I may take if I were to ever catch them. I don’t want to be that kind of person. But one can only take personal violations for so long. ☯

Just Something To Make You Smile

Some days, I like to let my head cool down from all the reading, research and long-winded writing I do, and simply post something funny, inspirational or cute. So, here it is! I found this online and it made me smile, so hopefully it does that for you as well.

Some of the important lessons of life can come from the most unlikely sources, even if all they do is make you grin like a fool. ☯