Hazmat suits and viruses

virusIt is like a headline from one of George A Romero’s zombie apocalypse movies, where the slightest infection will cause the end of mankind.  A virus will spread across the Globe eradicating life as we know it.

Or at least that is how the #fakenews and CDC make it sound, as we are half way through the flu season.  Actually, it is a scary thought that we have a season for illnesses.  Normally a season is associated with something positive, but flu season is the devil’s work!

vi·rus
ˈvīrəs/
noun
noun: virus; plural noun: viruses; noun: computer virus; plural noun: computer viruses
  1. 1.
    an infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, is too small to be seen by light microscopy, and is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host.
    “a virus infection”
    • an infection or disease caused by a virus.
      synonyms: disease, bug, infection;

      datedcontagion
      “the child caught a virus”
    • a harmful or corrupting influence.
      “the virus of cruelty that is latent in all human beings”
  2. 2.
    a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.
    synonyms: worm, Trojan Horse

    “a computer virus”

For years we have not received the flu vaccine.  It is not linked with religious or political beliefs, but merely a parent not believing a potion will help us fend off the evil bacteria.  I think we are simply making the viruses stronger, and this year seems to prove my doomsday theory.

The flu strain is stronger this season and people with or without the flu shot are getting hit.  And getting hit badly.  In too many cases it has resulted in death, which I feel very sorry about.  We should say goodbye to family members as they get ill with a known virus.

But, this is a man made virus and we have to invent stronger vaccines to combat it.  This will have a negative impact on our bodies and it is a losing battle.  Just like in War of the Worlds, we will eventually succumb to a small bacteria, leaving the planet to microbes.

We have been extra vigilant these weeks to protect the kids.  Cleaning everywhere, covering while sneezing, washing hands, and avoiding people who might be a little ill.  Just to make sure our kids did not contract a virus.

outbreakA few days ago our son developed a fever.  Nerves kicked in and we monitored closely.  My wife brought him to the doctor, and she confirmed that he had contracted the dreaded flu. Good news (if that is possible) is it was not the evil stronger strain of the virus, so he would not be as affected.  Nevertheless, we went into post-apocalyptic mode.

We pulled the hazmat suits out of storage, dressed the entire family except him, and started the quarantine exercises with these simple steps;

  • No-one touches him
  • He eats alone and uses disposable cutlery
  • No-one enters his domain
  • No-one kisses or have physical contact like hugging
  • Room has to be sterilised
  • No school or social activities
  • Total isolation from the rest of the World

…if we get to more severe phase, then food is shoved under his door.

3 days went by and he was showing signs of improvement.  Fever had dropped after 48 hours, he was drinking plenty of fluids and not side effects such as vomiting encountered.

Day 4 showed excellent progress and he will absolutely go back into civilisation Monday.

I really hate when my kids are sick.  There’s very little I can do for them, except kid painkillers and antibiotics.  And of course rest and fluids.  It is a waiting game.

The real challenge is the aftermath.  Will anyone else in the family contract the flu?

Is this the end?

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  Matthew 24:7

I need Doc Hudson too

emotionsIt is strange how some movies can make you think and seriously review your own situation.  These hidden and less than subtle messages hit you straight in the ticker.  They really make you ponder about life itself.

It happens rarely, probably because I mainly watch movies with less important or real-life connections. But when it happens, it occurs when you least expect it and during the less obvious movie titles.

For me it happened when watching the iTunes release of ‘Cars 3‘.  So, only a few days ago really, but might as well have walked into a glass-door as it hit me completely off-guard.

Spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen the movie, or might not even be familiar with the stories of ‘Cars‘.  Yes, it is a Pixar animated movie, with many laughs and overloaded with feel-good moments.  No spontaneous singing like most Disney movies, but a good family movie.

Nevertheless, Lightning McQueen has lost his driving mojo and seeks out the track where his great coach started his career.  There he meets Smokey, who tries to help Lightning, who really isn’t sure what he needs help with.  He’s looking for the reason he loved racing and how he gets his mojo back.

Suddenly I realised, when watching Smokey talk about how much Doc Hudson loved to train and mentor the younger Lightning McQueen.  It was as if he was talking about me and my life.

I need that father figure and mentor, to put a hand on my shoulder to tell me I’m doing a great job, or gently guide me into making a change.  These little conversations that helps me shape into becoming an even better father, husband, brother and friend.

Since my father passed away, I have had a void in my life.  Not that we were super close or hanging out daily, but just with him being there for me.  He listened, talked and guided me.  It may not have helped me getting a better career or make more money, but I became a better person.  It also motivated me to enjoy things in life.

It may sound like as if I do not enjoy life, but that is not the case.  I love my family and friends, but I need to get acknowledgement and support.  I need a mentor that will help me grow and take on the next obstacle head on, or perhaps even help guide another person through their life challenges.

Professionally, I think I have lost my way a bit, and simply needs that fatherly guidance to help me make the right decisions, and help get my confidence back. It’ll come back I know, but takes a little longer than I had hoped.

Life decisions are hard some times, and having a mentor and father figure really helps in those situations.  Job sucks at times, but it is how you deal with those situations that makes you a better and wiser person.  Look at Gandalf, he really had a tough time and yet looked positively at things 🙂

I often look to the sky, obviously imagining that God’s Kingdom is up there, smiling at my dad.  I silently whisper for his help and guidance, and often get some signs.  But, I would do anything for a hug from my dad.  I miss my Doc Hudson!

dochudson

Winter is Coming with a Body Slam

signThe winter had been pretty mild.  We’ve had a fair share of freezing my butt of cold days and nights, and some days my eyes froze.  But, nothing severe like 2-3 feet of snow in 12 hours or a sudden avalanche from the nearby mountain.

Deep inside my rather shallow body, I had a suspecion that we would get absolutely creamed and dumped on.  We couldn’t just get a mild winter with a few inches of snow.  I needed to use my snow blower, and at least 100 lbs of road salt (from my 1000lbs stash), to proudly be able to say “winter is coming!“.

When they decided to consult with a rodent, the annual groundhog day, I was not surprised when the furry critter predicted another six weeks of winter.  He too knew winter was coming.  I must admit, asking a small furry dude to predict the weather is rather odd, but hey, stranger things happens.

It was rather pleasant when we had a 62F winter day, and I could drive with the windows down.  Little did I know that winter was indeed coming.  The weather guys did warn the population, but when you sit in a t-shirt, listening to Shakira, you can’t really take them seriously.  Surely winter is over!

Later that evening, snow did cover the night sky, and temperature dropped.  By 4.30am we received a call from the school, saying school would be closed – followed by a number of emails and text messages.  All stating “winter is coming!“.

dayaftertomorrowEarly morning and first light, showed how busy Mother Nature had been.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of snow, and it did not look like stopping.  It just kept coming and coming.  As if Mother Nature wanted to make a point “it ain’t over until I say so”.

Mid afternoon the snow finally stopped, although a rather brisk breeze kept blowing snow around.  Winds were howling and my eyeballs got frostbites when I peeked out the door.

I knew I had to deal with it.  I prefer not to engage in cardio exercises when it is this cold, but when you have a 200 feet driveway, and it is not electrical heated, someone has to clear it.  AND, that someone is obviously me.

All three kids had “sudden” symptoms of fever or coughing, and informed me they were unavailable for child labour.  My wife had to work (new job and trying to impress the boss) and my loyal brown Labrador was pretending to be paralysed.  All in all, a sorry bunch of heroes.

I dressed up for my arctic experience and started my 30″ snow blower.  This beast could take on anything; jaw crunching snow eaters and strong caterpillar track.  We were going to conquer this together.

clarkThe size of the task became apparent when I opened the garage door in best Clark Griswold style.  The snow was about a foot deep, and had completely erased my landscaped garden and driveway.  It was there somewhere.  I just had to find it. … mission accepted!

Snow was flying all over as my snow monster was eating through all the snow, trying to find the surface.  We were in this together.  The red paint was gradually being covered with snow and icicles, and so was my beard.

2 hours later and I had cleared the driveway.  Well, there was still a thin layer of snow on the tarmac, which at this point was starting to freeze.  A few times I almost lost my footing, but mostly recovered while letting out a few yelps.  It was manly yelps in case you wondered.

As I was preparing for one final turn, a small pivot with my snow blower, my legs literally disappeared underneath me.  It was like watching a movie in slow motion, and felt even slower.

I made a few graceful attempts to recover the inevitable, only to suddenly lift off the ground and body slam into the ground.  Not a hope of bracing the fall with my arms, as I for some reason decided to hold on to the bloody snow blower.

The wind was knocked out of my chest, and as I laid there looking at the tarmac, I melted the ice with my breath.  I couldn’t even call out in pain and was stuck for several seconds.  It was pretty clear that body slamming 200lbs of Scandinavian bacon does some impact, and the pain quickly shared that observation as I could feel a shooting pain in my chest.

I’m not a doctor or expert, but it was obvious that I had fractured or bruised a rib or two.  But, in true manly spirit, I got up, and continued my work … at least for a further 23 seconds.

At that point I did what all men does.  I walked to the porch, sat down and waiting for anybody in my family to notice me and give me some sympathy.  That failed, and after 12 minutes of self indulged suffering, I went back to spray salt on the fecking ice.  That’s how you deal with it.  You spray salt on that shit.

Now I’m praying and hoping that winter is truly over.  I’ve had enough of this white stuff.  Winter did come! Mother Nature kicked my arse, and big boys do cry.

wintercame

Buying Bleach Like Heisenberg

Not too long ago, when the shitter was full, I had a somewhat interesting shopping experience at Walmart.  Not the usual People of Walmart experience, but a sense and purpose of criminal mastermind experience.  Perhaps inspired by Heisenberg.

acidcleanupAccording to CSI, you can clean up body fluids using bleach.  A lot of bleach.  It not only kills majority of the germs and bacteria, but clears the scent of a horrible crime … in my case it was killing the odour of human feces which had dripped and gushed over me and the floor in the basement.

Anyway, I had to clean up the basement, and needed cleaning supplies.  So, I ventured to the local Walmart to stock up; buckets, mops, bleach, bleach, bleach and air freshener. Didn’t meet many suspicious and interesting characters, but it is always a surreal journey down each isle – especially when you witness a Hasidic Jew inspecting the new line of hunting riffles.

Within a few minutes, my filled with 4 large bottles of bleach, a mop, 3-pack of air fresheners, disinfecting wipes family sized box and of course scented candles.  You can never go wrong with candles.

The cashier had an interesting look on her face, trying to perhaps understand why I would buy these quantities of bleach.  She was a little disturbed to say the least, especially when I paid in cash.  Perhaps she remember the scene in Breaking Bad where they try to dissolve a body in the bath tub with acid.  Everybody knows to use plastic containers for that!

All the way my car, I was looking over my shoulders, expecting to be tackled by the 7-ft armed security guard, while screaming in a fetal position due to the pain of the taser.  Was I going to be a victim of my shopping needs?

noseclipI made it home and started the cleaning process.  Hours later my basement was shining, smelling like a hospital, and my hands were smelling as if I had completed a few autopsies and bathed in bleach … I should’ve bought latex gloves.

Looks as good as new!

School Lunches & Grey Hairs

Having three kids keeps you busy.  Very busy.  There’s always laundry, homework, showers, cleaning up toys and rooms.  And, then you of course have the other daily / weekly routines such as sports, friends and shopping.

It never was an easy adventure to be a parent, but it is amazing how much we can accomplish while sleep deprived. Whoever said having kids wouldn’t change you was completely disillusioned and I doubt he ever participated in the awesome responsibilities.

That brings me to my next topic – school lunches.

I bloody hate seeing all the these ridiculously perfect families on social media, who have oodles of time, and patience, to create the perfect lunch boxes.  Seriously, who have time to prepare mini sushi look-alike lunches, design cuddly sandwiches shaped like cute lions, serve small fried dish consistent of slightly fried vegetables, neatly sliced, mixed with fresh caught salmon.  Are you bloody serious!

Instagram, Facebook and other social networks are devil’s spawn.  How on earth can people find time to have these awesome creations?  I wish I could make my kids’ school lunches that fantastic, but I rarely find time to make my own.

My wife and I work 8.30 – 17.30 jobs.  We have to do the daily chores, play with our kids, do homework, and prepare the various meals.  There’s little or no energy left to spend designing next day’s lunch menu.  Kids will get the usual suspects; left-over food, peanut-butter jam, ham-cheese, chicken-cheese tortilla or other combinations.

We refuse to give them money for school lunches, as those are not healthy at all.  At least our lunches have fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, and their snacks normally consist carrots, tomatoes, or pretzels.

That said, in recent weeks we have really made an effort making the school lunches more appealing.  It is important for the kids to open their lunch boxes, without fears of being laughed at or accused of eating items that looks like they are from another planet.

My latest creation was Lego shaped egg muffins.  Not the boring Eggos like in “Stranger Things‘, but little delicous egg muffins made with spinach, ham, cheese and eggs.

lunchI found our Lego baking shape and made a few awesome Lego shaped muffins.  And I must admit, and kids were not bribed, but they loved them.  It was probably the shapes, but I also hope they tasted nice.

These suckers were created out of normal parenting hours, after 10 pm, which is normally the time we start drooling on the sofa.  Actually, that happens around 9.13pm.

It’s tough being a parent, but I would not change it for anything in the World!

We parents do need to demand better school lunches on all schools.  It is not right that kids get pizza, fries, ice cream, sodas, chips etc.  This only encourages shitty food and increases the risk of childhood obesity.  Demand better food in schools!

Jamie, help us!  We need to start the food revolution … again.