Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Thanks

I apologize for anyone that does actually read this blog for the long break. Every time I thought about making an entry, I thought of something else. This has not been a priority even though I do like writing. My original intent for this post was to have a list of 31 items thankful for, one for each year I've been given on this earth. I don't know that I'll get up to that many, but we'll see where it ends up.

First off, I'm thankful for the sacrifice of God's son Jesus on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection. As I have said on here, sin is something I struggle with in different ways. I can't imagine going through life without having faith in God and looking to forgiveness when you know you have done wrong.

Second is the family God has given me, especially my parents. I know some in my situation whose parents have completely abandoned them and don't care what happens. We don't always agree on everything, but I am thankful of how my parents raised me and continue to sacrifice time and sometimes their own goals in order to help me. Some days are very difficult for them, especially my mom, but they are always there when needed.

Next would likely be the work God has given me. As I have said in previous posts, the work I have been given is often less than I would prefer, but at least there is some. Not everyone can say that, especially those with severe disabilities, but I do at least have something constructive to do most days.

In general, I'm thankful for this country I have been given to live in. Due to some of the assistance programs established one before I was born, I am able to live outside of a care facility and be a productive member of society. I am also able to freely practice as a Christian without fear of opposition to my beliefs. The last few years have seen laws come about that I don't agree with, but work is being done to turn those around.

That is where I will stop for now, but more may be coming in future entries. We will see when that entry shall be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November Ramblings

Sorry for the lapse in posting a new entry, but I haven't had a lot to write about since my last post. In the past few weeks, I came across a game called Farming Simulator 2013. It's a game that allows you to do various farming activities to earn money in order to continue to improve your farm and equipment. It will not be available for Apple computers for a few weeks, so I have been watching several videos on YouTube how people play it.

It looks like a game that will hit a number of my interests. The simulation aspect allows me to drive several different vehicles in a somewhat realistic manor and the budget requirements go along with my management interests. Thinking about my gaming past, this will be the first time in several years that I have gotten a completely new game. I have had several expansions to my flight and train simulators, but those just added to the experience. I'm looking forward to the new challenge and hope it will last me several years.

I have been feeling strangely lazy in the last few weeks as well. Spanish has seen little progress and work continues to be pretty slow. Fortunately, this week has been a little busier, so it will hopefully change soon.

That's really all I have at this point. I may put a thanks related article later this week, but we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Writing

Yes, you read the title correctly, I'm writing about writing. It may seem a bit ironic, but it is the subject I've chosen for this post.

Since this past May, I have been writing my own series of lessons in the church newsletter that I am the unofficial editor of. These articles are about how we need to base our thinking upon the Bible, God's word, instead of fallible man's ideas. They are based on the Foundations series by Answers in Genesis, but with my own additions and made for one page articles. Today, the fourth article, out of a planned six, was officially released.

The newsletter goes out every two months, so I've known that I needed to get the article written for quite a while. Unfortunately, I could not get in the right frame of mind to write it and finally made it about one day before it was printed. Since I wasn't in the "writing mood" for it, I struggled to finish the piece and did not feel that I did very well on it. Well, apparently I was wrong about that.

My last newsletter entry received one comment from a church member that it helped her thinking and encouraged further study. I was happy to hear that and that maybe my writing was helpful for people. Today's release though has already had three responses that they liked it, that makes for three times the comment from the last one. I guess it shows that what I think is poor work may not be the case for someone else.

It is my real hope that making these articles available for people will help them to better understand God's word and help to base their thinking from a Christian perspective. I know that my study in this area has helped me, so why not pass on the knowledge I've been given to others. The last two items in the series will be more difficult to deal with, hopefully they will remain a valuable resource for my readers if it is the Lord's will.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Days

The last 24 hours have lived up to the unexpected times portion of this blog's title. Just about this time last night we received one of those dreaded calls, the night nurse wasn't coming and a replacement couldn't be found. So mom, who just got over a bad cough/cold, and I stay up until 2:00-3:00 in the morning until dad gets up and takes over. He then stays until the day person arrives around 7:00.

Therefore, we're all tired on no nurse days and are very thankful when the next comes in. After a short night, I was greeted by an ever increasingly rare busy day. Part of the busyness was due to going out for a scheduled hair cut, but it still cuts into the day.

After about a two week hiatus, one of my business partners calls to check on progress for a particular client's site I've been working on. This site is going on Wordpress, a web platform meant for blogging, so the client can do their own updates. Unfortunately, I have had little opportunity to work on the programming side of these sites, so it's a somewhat steep learning curve. Of course the theme we're using is not programmed how I would expect making it all the more difficult. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll need to bow out on this project to another programmer who has more expertise in the area. I of course don't like losing work, but it's in the best interest of the client.

Last weekend, I switched a different client's web host to another in order to provide better reliability. They use their own server for email though and it was messed up due to the switch. I had to again go to an outside source in order to get it fixed. You would think that after twelve years of doing web development that I could do these things, but apparently not.

I'm sure it's partially due to being tired, but tonight's Spanish review lessons also didn't go well. Only scoring a 90-93% on material I've already covered is pretty pathetic, in my thinking anyway. With everything combined, I start wondering if I'm really completely competent or just a good actor. However, I know that's temptation trying to take hold, so avoid such thinking.

Tomorrow I'm planning to attend a networking event with other local business people. Hopefully it will prove to be productive and I can get my name more in circulation. I have also had a few potential site contacts come through in the past week, hopefully a few will turn into actual business.

I know last time I said this post would be about chairs, but this felt more like today's topic. Look for chair information coming soon, hopefully.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall

Autumn is in full force in Iowa, as much as I hate to admit it. A lot of people say that fall is their favorite time of year, and I can't blame them for that. Trees turn colors and show a very beautiful part of God's creation. Where I like to go out for rolls (walks), it seems like everything is new again with different color that changes on every visit. For me though, fall means colder temperatures, and a foretaste of what is to come, winter.

It also means an end to my barefoot summer. Last week I went out train watching with my parents and whore shoes all day. It was a grim reminder of the season change and I could tell my body didn't like it. After getting home, my feet were swollen and had several red marks from their experience. The outing itself was enjoyable though, especially exploring roads around the rails we hadn't been to before.

One of these roads had an old wooden bridge on a dead end rock road that went over the tracks. It was a great place to sit because nobody would care that you were there and it offered a bird's eye view of the rails. The only slight problem is that the approaches on both ends were rather steep. This meant that on our return trip over the bridge, the van bottomed out and got stuck. It was a minor problem that didn't take much to get out of, but it made for an entertaining excursion.

The bridge was just outside of Boone, Iowa, the home of the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. They were using their steam engine last weekend while we were in the area so we could hear when we were in the country. Hearing the lonesome sound of the steam whistle in the distance made it seem like we were back in the days of steam when the Union Pacific Challengers and Mountains would have ruled the tracks. If I can get dad's memory card the videos, with background steam whistles, will be on my YouTube channel.

Speaking of fall, I'm starting to think my health might be doing the same again. For the past few weeks, I haven't been able to keep my lungs completely clear for anything. My nurses have been having allergy trouble, which I may be as well, but it's very odd to be so congested for so long. This week, I've had a few times that I could hardly keep my eyes open. Today is Friday and I have been wanting to get this entry in since Monday. The leaking bladder problems have also returned, thankfully not as bad as last time though.

In my next update, I need to talk about what's going on with my wheelchair. That topic could likely take a few posts, but I'll try to keep it down to one. The next few days look to be warmer again, so I'm hoping to get out and get some sun, barefoot of course, while I still can. Until next time!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beginning to End and Back Again

In high school, mainly, I started to regularly read a portion of the Bible before I went to bed at night. This has been a habit that I've adjusted, but kept doing through the years. Last night saw the completion of another time through and tonight will have another start beginning with Genesis 1:1.

When I first started my reading, I only did one chapter a night. This is what I felt was a good pace and it stayed for a number of years. Sometime after high school, I went up to reading three chapters a night, and that has primarily been what I stay with. At that rate, it comes close to reading the entire Bible in a year. I do skip some nights though, especially when falling asleep, so it does take me more than a year to complete a cycle.

I haven't kept track, but this time through was likely my tenth or so complete reading. After all these years of study, you would think I would be an expert, but I'm not. I can recite much of the information and recognize several passages, but there are very few places I can give you the exact passage where something is found. For that, I often need to refer to a service like BibleGateway.com where I can search for a certain phrase. Unfortunately, one of my biggest problems is distractions, I can easily let my mind wonder away from what I'm doing.

This results in several verses being glossed over, but I can't remember what it was. Therefore, I may reread part of it again and possibly end up with the same problem. It's an area I continue to work on, but one that needs a lot of attention.

After my first few times reading from cover to cover, I started adding in a few requirements. A few times was reading every foot note that was referenced. Some of these did not agree with God's word, so they weren't always helpful. For this time through, I don't know that I'll add any requirements, but I will see how it goes and new things I learn!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Politics

Let me start off by saying that I am NOT into politics. I've heard many times than Iowa's first in the nation status for primaries is a great honor, but not if you ask me. To me, it just means we're the first state in the nation to get annoying commercials and phone calls. If a candidate had me do their web site, it may be a different story, but that has yet to happen. This election though, seems to be extra annoying, the worst since I have been of voting age at least.

The phone calls and TV commercials have been constant for nearly a month now and will likely continue to get worse until November. I understand that the candidates want to get their positions in the public's eye, but the negative ads are probably the worst. If you pay attention to the news, which I do, it's easy to tell the false information from the true. Unfortunately, they both continue to be told no matter how many news reports go out.

My biggest problem with this current election is that I don't care for either of the presidential candidates. One is very against what I believe in social issues, and the other is a long way off in economic and health issues. If the two were combined, I may have a candidate I'd like, but with politics, I wouldn't guarantee it.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, I have more relief from health insurance problems than I ever have had in my life before. That's not saying I agree with all of its points, but it has made a large improvement over what previously existed. Those that want to overturn it unfortunately won't say what would replace it. If we go back to insurance plans with lifetime caps and high rates, I'll be back to watching the time tick down until I'm without coverage. In Iowa, that means a mandatory sentence of life in a nursing home.

I understand the idea of having a democratic election and congress, and think it's one of the better ways of having government. Unfortunately, as one of our early presidents warned, forming democratic parties could mess everything up. He was unfortunately correct, but did not offer a solution if they did form. The next several weeks could be interesting, but I can't wait until November 7 when elections are done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vacation 2012

Two days ago, I dropped my parents off for a train trip out west. They arrived today in Sacramento and plan to spend about a week in the area before returning. My parents try to manage one extended trip every year and this one has been planned for quite some time.

Even though I don't go anywhere, it seems like a vacation for me as well. I get to try my own recipes, food experiments as I call them, and do what I want since I have more nursing hours. I don't much different that normal, but it is a nice break from each other.

In a few weeks, I'm planning to visit a friend of mine, Ken, in northern Iowa. He is a fellow quadriplegic, but does not have private insurance and was forced into a nursing home in 2000. To say the least, Ken's living conditions are not pleasant and he has a very poor quality of life. It's possible that I will one day end up with him, so I try to be a friend and visit and/or call a few times a year, but it's rare I remember. It's something I hope to work on in the coming months.

That is about all I have to report for now. I will see if I find any noteworthy recipes by the time my parents return.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Change

This year's odd weather continues in Iowa. We had cool temps during the Iowa State Fair, and now we're starting to catch up on our rain shortage. It's a nice change from the 100+ temps we had in June and July, but I'm hoping it doesn't signal an early start to winter. We were very spoiled last year, so a bad winter this year would be an unwelcome difference, at least for me.

One month ago today, a friend of mine from CHAMP Camp, Jordan Stephens, passed away after a long struggle with Pulmonary Hypertension. Jordan was like me in that his mind was fully functional, but his body gave him limitations. He did have full use of his arms though, which allowed him to do his own cares and live completely on his own for a while. The last year we were both counselors at camp several people kept calling him Joel, so we switched name tags for a day. Every time we rolled by each other we would greet with our new identity. I don't think anyone else noticed, but it was another fun thing that happened during the week.

In the 19 years I've been involved with CHAMP Camp, both as a camper and a counselor, we have lost several of "our kids" as we say. I was closer to some than others, but it isn't anything unexpected when living with a major disability. Jordan's passing wasn't unexpected either, but I guess the part that got me most was that it wasn't known. I found out about his death from a fellow counselor on Facebook four days later. I was then able to find his information online and get it to the people in charge of contacting all counselors.

That email went out two days after I sent the information, and the day of his visitation. That meant that for those that didn't know until receiving the email would had to have literally leave the minute they got the message to be present at the visitation. I'm sure this was the not case for most people that knew Jordan, but it just didn't seem right to me for some reason. When my time comes, I would hope that my friends through camp would be informed with plenty of time in advance. I guess it won't make any difference to me, but it's still the thought that counts.

In other news, I finally let the learning temptation take hold and I purchased the Spanish learning software. I've had for a little over a week now and I've been progressing well. I made an Excel spreadsheet that allows me to average my percentage on the lessons and I'm staying around 95%. When I'm doing the different activities, it goes well, but I don't know that I could produce much just on my own. It is somewhat fun, but I'm wondering if I'll ever get to use it much. During my hospital stay in February, I did have one sitter who spoke Spanish, but that was it. Maybe I can incorporate it into VMT somehow, but I will just need to see if God has a plan for this skill He is giving me as well.

Next week Monday is the unofficial end to summer, so enjoy this week everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August Fun

There hasn't been much to report in the quad life, it has been pretty much business as usual. One change has been Iowa's weather, the heat has broken for much more seasonable temperatures and some rain!

One thing in Iowa in August is the Iowa State Fair. It's the last big event before kids return to school and is an event I always love going to. I can't exactly put my stick on why I like it, but I do. Getting to see much of the state's farm influence, animals and farm equipment, and just a day out of doors I guess. It's often too hot out to stay all day, but this year looks to be pretty nice. Hopefully I will report this year's fair findings on my next entry.

With the cooler weather, I'm also looking forward to another rail fanning trip this weekend. I haven't been up to the UP in quite a while, so that is my plan this time.

In other news, I finally broke down and got the Spanish learning software. I'm excited to get working on it, but I don't know that I'll get to use it much. Maybe I'll get to use it for work some, but I'm praying that learning will go well.

Until next time!

Friday, July 27, 2012

July Updates

I can't think of a unique post title, so it's just basic about this month. In high school, my main group of friends were all girls, five of them. My school's principal called them my harem and it kind of stuck. A couple months ago, one of my harem wanted my address for an invitation to her wedding, which I attended two weeks ago. Two others of my harem were participants with her.

For some of them, I haven't seen them since graduation over a decade ago. It was fun to see them, but since they were busy, I didn't get to talk with them very much. These women were in many ways the same, but we are going our different ways and persuing different interests. In school, there were a couple of them that I could have seen me marrying, but that was not God's plan. It's rare for quads to get married after injury, so I doubt it will ever happen for me, but it is good to see my friends going through life's milestones.

Reading is something I never got into, but I have been doing more of it in the past several weeks, while flying planes. One item has surprised me, and another has me inspired. The first is an article I read in Answers magazine, "The Barefoot Professor."  The magazine is part of Answers in Genesis and the main emphasis is how to trust in God's word and that true science helps to confirm it. The article was on the benefits of going barefoot, showing how our feet are designed, by God, to work and how shoes interfere with that. I know the benefits already, but was just surprised to see the article and that the "barefoot movement" had progressed so much that it's now in main stream magazines.

The second item is a big called "Outrageous Advertising" that I've had for a couple years. It shows how to use items you never think about to get noticed by potential clients. It has an unique approach that I sent out six test messages today. We'll see if it produces the desired results or not. My mother thought it wasn't in good taste, writing letters by mouth, but it takes odd approaches sometimes to get noticed. We'll see if the Wheeling Webmaster makes an impact, and gets more clients.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Research

If you can't guess by this blog's address and my photo, I'm a rail fan. Just like you might describe a sports fan, I like pretty well everything railroad related. As I've said on here before, I love getting out and sitting by the tracks on a summer day watching trains go by. Unfortunately, Iowa has been extremely hot this summer, so I haven't been able to go and enjoy my outdoor activities. Therefore, I'm doing indoor entertainment, which generally means something on the computer.

As you might expect, one of my computer programs is a train simulator. Since rail fans aren't always of the younger generation, rail simulators aren't widely available. My version was made by Microsoft around 2001 and hasn't been updated since. When I upgraded my computer last year, it meant I now had a system that wouldn't easily run my simulator. Despite going through detailed instructions, I couldn't get it to run. Since I haven't looked into other options yet, I'm down to my other simulator for entertainment, my flight simulator.

It may be a conflict of interest, but there are several Sunday afternoons that I can be found flying a plane on autopilot while reading the latest Trains magazine. I almost get an adrenaline rush landing a jumbo jet perfectly in the center of the runway, on the glide path, and doing it like a "real" pilot would. Like every simulator I touch though, I want it to be as accurate to life as possible. The scenery downright stinks, but it doesn't change easily; therefore, I program real world flights to fly the skies with me.

Since 2008, I have been a member at flightaware.com. It gives live flight tracking pretty well all around the globe. I wouldn't want to guess how many days, or more likely weeks, I have spent documenting which aircraft, from which airline, go from airport to airport. The time of departure, arrival, and how many trips one plane can make between points. It's an unusual research project, but one that I have come to enjoy. Each weekend, I will program my new findings into my simulator, and off I go in some aircraft to a destination somewhere far away, or nearby. Probably my biggest frustration and not having every aircraft and airline to add to my simulated world. However, I have added a multitude of aircraft types than the default three by Boeing that are included.

The next time you see, or travel in, a plane, know that odds are good that a rail fan has seen your flight virtually and have it flying on a simulator some weekend.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 4

Yes, it's the seventh as I write this, but the fourth is still a relevant date. The fourth of July is always an anticipated holiday, it's summer's halfway point an one that seems to come in odd situations for me.

I don't remember the reason we were there, but my first memorable fourth of July was spent at Blank Children's Hospital. I was in "my" room and remember seeing fireworks in several places in Des Moines. I couldn't hear the boom, but at least I could see them. Our usual venue was at the dam near town with fighting traffic and trying to get a place to sit. This was new, but not the first odd celebration of independence.

A few years later I was again in the hospital on the fourth, but this time it was in Denver at a hospital specializing in care of spinal cord injuries. My lung had collapsed due to their care, so my stay was extended. Several patients were taken to the top of a parking ramp for a live band and to watch fireworks. At dusk the show began and we could again see several different displays at once. An added bonus was that active railroad tracks were also visible, so I trains, fireworks, and I wasn't the only wheelchair user around.

In college, one of my funding sources didn't cover nurses on days when I didn't have class. Therefore, my parents were with me and friends of our family came up as well. Watching fireworks from campus wasn't as fun as some years, but it was still fun.

The most recent Independence Day oddity was in 2010. After having emergency surgery while at camp in Ohio, I finally received my independence after two weeks in the ICU. It was a long drive home, but it was great to be free after so long in an unfamiliar place.

On July four, we celebrate our nation's independence from oppression from another government. It's a day that has a lot of memories for me and likely will continue to in the years to come.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

End of the Month

Today is June 30, the last day of June 2012. It means that we have officially had ten days of summer, that July is coming very soon, and in business circles, that end of the month activities are due. For my business, VMT, the last business day of the month is when I send billing out to my clients.

This activity happens every thirty days or so and is a ritual I love to get finished. However, this year, it has gone faster and faster every month. Not because I'm becoming more proficient at it, although possible, or because I'm using some new software, no, it's going faster because there is less to do. January started out the year very busy, but ever since then I have had a gradual decline in work so that hardly any existed this past month.

In some ways, I have been decreasing the work load through my own actions. A couple clients started using a Content Management System (CMS) this year. These systems don't require much, if anything, of web coding knowledge, so they are fast to update. Both clients still have me do their work, but the time needed has dropped. I have also made a custom CMS for another client that they will soon be using to do their own work. Finally, I'm too easy on some companies. When two different updates total 12 minutes, I can't see charging 30 (two 0.25 hour updates) to a non-profit. Therefore, I combined the two times into one.

To help end this cycle of declining sales, I purchased access to a marketing strategy course to get further skills in selling. The premise of this class is to five figure deals from new business, I don't expect that to happen, but the information is still relevant. One item the instructor says is to build a strong core, or home network, of people that know what you do as this tends to be a great source for week. That I completely agree with, the majority of the work I do has come through referrals from friends and those who know me due to SCI.

He also said to blog often, so that people can get to know your work skills, and to use email marketing for consistent reminders to clients. These sound good, and I've heard them before, but I guess it's down to doing everything in increasing numbers.

Therefore, it's maybe time to start a business related blog, and try to think of things to write, and keep trying to be social, and make sure people know what I do.  It is something to pray about and see where God leads me with this reinvigorated skill.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vacation

Most people look forward to family vacation during the summer or with many jobs, expect to travel on occasion. I like getting away from the normal routine and seeing the sites just like everyone else. Long trips requiring hotel stays are not very pleasant though. Hotel beds are not very accommodating for me and it's usually a night of little to no sleep. Therefore, I normally only take one vacation a year, and it's a working vacation no less.

Since the year 2000, I have volunteered one week every summer to CHAMP Camp. It is a camp for children that require respiratory assistance from a mechanical device such as a ventilator, like me, or something similar. Some kids are fellow quadriplegics and require a vent 24/7 and others are completely ambulatory and just need assistance at night. Other than two years during college, this has been my annual vacation, where I work harder than the rest of the year combined, and wouldn't miss it.

Tilting by my bunk in 2011
Through the years, I've become friends with several of the counselors and look forward to seeing how the kids' year has gone. For the majority of the campers, this is the one time of year they get to truly be children and not be "special" because of their extra medical needs. They get to do things they normally would not and have a rare moment to be free of their parents. This year's camp has six first-time campers coming and counselors arrived two days ago, except for one of the regulars, the one writing this post.

In December and especially February through April, my body had more trouble with digestion, including the hospital stay I posted on. These problems made me question if I could go, but I went ahead and signed up anyway. Then, six weeks ago, was my leg break. That was the final straw that made resign this year, there was no way I could put my body through the stress of being up so much doing my duties.

Hopefully next year I will be able to return to my regular role, but I have a lot of healing and improvement to do first.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Learning

This time of year, I start getting the urge to be working toward more education. Colleges are doing more recruiting trying to get last minute students, so I see more online advertising about them. The urge lasts until around mid-fall and generally dies down again.

It would be fun to be in school again, having goals to work toward, regular assignments, and a diversion from mindless games. Unfortunately, as most people, the cost of higher education is the primary reason why I don't pursue my desire. In my first time in college, right after high school, my parents paid the tuition with an IOU on me for the cost. I did get my Associate's Degree, but that unfortunately doesn't go very far.

After graduating, Vocational Rehabilitation, the state agency that's charged with helping person's with disabilities find work, basically deemed me worthless and will not help me fund education or anything else toward employment. I've been told by some that grants and scholarships are bountiful and easy to obtain. Unfortunately, I doubt these people have tried for such funds, while many may exist, they are extremely hard to get and often don't pay very much.

Unfortunately, my current situation means it is very unlikely I will be able to get a BA or beyond. One thing I am considering is language learning. In high school, it was very hard to do, but that was partly due to lack of ambition and other subjects I was working on. Software that is available now is much more my learning style and I have more of a drive to continue. Maybe someday this blog could have a Spanish translation, if anyone actually read either version.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sometimes

The last few weeks, or months, have been very busy at my father's employer. These are times when tempers are short and somedays nothing can go right. Yesterday was one of those days, as well as last week.

One of yesterday's problems was making supper. My parents could live off of nothing more than sandwiches, but I need more protein and nutrition than a sandwich can provide to stay healthy. The complaints went that I should eat more at lunch so we wouldn't need to eat much at night. Unfortunately, this is when I'm, sometimes, busy and want to get finished quickly.

The other problem is expense of medical care. We private hire about half of my assistants that get paid out of pocket and reimbursed by insurance. Unfortunately, insurance is slow at paying and the costs continue to increase to keep it. With these and more problems, I keep wondering when it will be time to move to a care facility.

In Iowa, there is only one place that will take people on a ventilator, and it's not a very good facility. Programs exist to allow persons with disabilities to live on their own, unfortunately I have not seen one for someone with my needs.

Moving to a nursing home and using Medicare and Medicaid would greatly ease the financial burden on my parents. It would also allow them to do what they please without having to take care of my needs. Unfortunately, the care I would receive would not be as good as it is now and I would be about three hours away from my family.

At the end of this summer, I am considering making this change. It would be difficult at first, but I think better for everyone in the long-term.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

It's Friday evening before a three-day Memorial Day Weekend. Saturday, tomorrow, is also "Your Day without Shoes" promoting the benefits of going barefoot. I'm hoping to be able to go out Saturday, but that will depend on the weather and timing of possible rain. I posted tomorrow's event on my Facebook profile, we'll see if I get strange, or any, reaction to it.

Me with my paternal grandparents in 2010.
This Monday is Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, and a weekend when many families go camping. I wonder how many people actually remember the reason for the holiday though? My paternal grandfather served in Korea, but he talks very little about it. If I had been able, I often think I would have joined the Air Force, or some other military branch, after high school. That was not the case though, so I try to remember those that have gone in my place.

I am definitely guilty of going through Memorial Day without giving a thought to the reason we celebrate it. It's often a day I'll go train watching or spend in front of my computer playing games. Veterans like my grandfather came home to a country that did not truly appreciate their service and often just went home and were possibly greeted by their spouse. He at least didn't have the trouble of Vietnam soldiers of getting spit on and called bad names, but it was still very different than today's returning soldiers.

May we all truly remember the cause for celebration this coming Monday. As we enjoy our freedom to do as we please, let's remember how we have that freedom and those who have, and are, fought for it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Healing

It has now been two weeks since I broke my leg. At this time two weeks ago I was getting settled in my intensive care room at the hospital and wondering what would come next, how was life going to proceed through the next day?

Since that night and coming home, I can tell my body is working on healing. I become tired much more quickly than I usually do and I can't keep going all day without taking a break. I have also been having trouble staying comfortable. The longer the day goes, the more I need to have fans and slow down my tasks. For work, or getting much accomplished, this is not a very good situation.

Thankfully, I am also noticing improvements as the days pass. This is the first evening I have felt energetic enough to do much other than just watch movies on my computer. Granted, I did take a rest this afternoon, so that likely has something to do with it. This Thursday I have an appointment with the surgeon that worked on my leg. It will be the first time I've been out, or up in my chair, since coming home. My assistant, and I, are a little nervous about putting my leg through the stress of lifting me, but I pray that it will go well.

Also since coming home, I have been having a number of bladder issues. I normally straight cath (look it up if you're confused on the term) three times a day and have no trouble. Unfortunately, I've had a few days, like today, that I needed it done more frequently and had trouble with leaking. I'm starting to wonder if my medication for bladder control is no longer working. I tried a different one a few years ago, but I had horrendous headaches as a side effect and had to switch back. Hopefully something new is available now, but I will see.

Before the leg incident, I had planned on making this a complete "barefoot summer" after my school talks. I normally go barefoot most of the summer, but I generally went with flip-flops or sandals while at doctor's appointments or hair cuts. This year, I'm hoping to skip footwear altogether, I thought there's no better way to promote going without footwear than doing so myself. This week's doctor's appointment will be the first test, to see if my nervousness or feet win out. The leg that had surgery was covered in antiseptic soap, leaving my skin, and toe nails, an odd shade of orange. At least my fellow patients in the waiting room will have something strange to see. A man in a wheelchair, barefoot, with one foot showing orange toes, let the stares begin!

On my next entry, I'll try to say how the excursion went, as well as my doctor's approval.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Promotions

There are many items I work to promote, Christianity, my business, and barefooting. For work especially, I need to be a salesman, promoting my services to businesses and individuals. However, as I read on one business site, nobody is born a salesman. This is especially true of me.

In the past, I have done phone calls and door to door visits trying to sell my services to potential clients. Unfortunately, none were successful, and my business growth has only come due to God's grace through word of mouth and businesses I already work with. Since work has been slow, again, lately, I've been reworking my personal web site.

This site promotes all the above and more, but I'm currently working on a small expansion of the barefooting section. I would love to see more parents around me let their children, and possibly themselves, go barefoot more often. Places where I see their kids, like church, are great places for kids to go barefoot. Sadly, as my fellow barefooters would agree, this is an extreme rarity.

I would love to contact these parents through Facebook, email, or face to face conversations about the benefits of letting their kids go barefoot. Unfortunately, living in a small town, I'm too nervous to do so. Will they I'm a pedophile, or have some strange foot fetish or something? I do love to see kids' bare feet, but because I know the life long benefits of it. With summer coming, it's a great time to get into barefooting with no school or cold weather to worry about.

Maybe I'll get up the courage to talk to some parents, but it will take a leap of faith to do so. I should start by practicing work promotions first, but we'll see.

Have a great upcoming week my non-existent readers, and, go barefoot while contacting me for work.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Respect

This week has been a lesson of respect, or lack of, from those around me or that I do business with. A few days ago, I was woken up by my main night nurse talking to the oncoming day assistant. It's rare I get a full night's sleep, but if I do sleep, it's usually best in the morning. Therefore, I have a written rule that morning shift change conversations be done in another room, but within ear shot of me. This night nurse has read and signed to abide by this, and other, house rules.

I therefore reminded her of this rule so that they could continue talking elsewhere and hopefully not have it happen again. The nurse responded in a very annoyed tone of voice, but stopped talking at least. This assistant is old enough to be my mother, but in the years she has been working for me, she has always shown little to no respect of those younger than her. After a number of other problems, I'm afraid she won't be lasting much longer as one of my assistants.

Several months ago, one of my longer term web clients purchased another business, web site and all. A few weeks ago, they approached me about some needs they have on the other company's site and wanted an estimate on the work. I was scheduled to meet with the parent company's, my client, representative today, but she canceled at the last minute yesterday and rescheduled. Through a series of emails with the representative, she said they were considering a few web development agencies for the work. Along with this information, she made it sound like they had never planned to have me do the work and were surprised I had more clients than them. After several hours of prep work and lining up a meeting room, this was an unexpected and annoying find.

The more I interact with the outside world, I see more and more how little respect someone like me receives. No, I can't control anything below my head, stand to look at a person face to face, or shake their hand. Those are parts of it, but the general population has the notion that if you're in a wheelchair, your mind doesn't work and you aren't worth spending time on. I had thought that at least with long-time clients this would not be the case, but unfortunately, I was wrong.

Tomorrow will be my third school I have gone to this year. Kids are much easier to work with than adults, at least second through fourth graders. They haven't built up the automatic response to disabilities that adults have and they are genuinely curious about how I go about everyday life. The last school I was at, this past Tuesday, one student guessed my occupation exactly. In the eight years I've been talking at schools, that was the first time it happened.

I often wonder if these children will remember any of my teaching when they are adults. Many adults could use some instruction as well, but they are not anywhere nearly as accepting to, in their minds, strange instruction. Hopefully as my classes reach college and beyond some norms will change, but they unfortunately have a long way to go.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trains

This year so far has been very warm compared to usual. It was a nice change, but I still didn't get out on my own very much. Fortunately, this past Saturday was decent weather, I had a nurse, and both parents had their own plans. Therefore, I was finally able to get out and go to the tracks for some rail fanning (watching trains).

I like going rail fanning with my father, but it's much more fun when it's just my assistant and I. Depending on where we go, I can get out of the van, get sun on my legs and feet, and enjoy being out. For the past several occasions, I have also gotten into putting trains on video and then post them to my YouTube channel. My camera is pretty basic, it's one I got for free for doing a multitude of online surveys. It won't be creating anything worthy of an award, but it does the job.

For some reason, it's a challenge to get my father to film trains. His preferred method of rail fanning is snoring in the van's front seat, so a video would require a conscience effort. I think it's mainly just a different style of preference, and age.

Last night was an unexpected pleasant evening and meeting at home. Two ladies from church came to discuss a project we're working on and I was up in my chair wearing a button shirt, khaki pants, and barefoot. To my amazement, my parents never said a word about my feet and I was allowed to keep them bare all night. It was a nice change, hopefully one that will stay at least until next winter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kids

Last week was my first school talk of the year, 2nd graders at Pella Christian. This class had a student that knows me well, Nia. I spoke with her after church on Sunday to not answer questions, but I wasn't quite sure how she would be. She did very well, and asked more questions than I expected her to. However, she said later it was to try to get the other kids to ask questions.

This was my first speech while using my pacemaker. I think it went well with explaining what it does for me, but I'm not sure yet. I did hear through the grapevine yesterday that another kid in the class liked having me, so I did make an impression on one at least.

One item I would like to work on more is promoting going barefoot for the kids, but I don't know that it would fit. These talks are just on disability awareness, so it would be awkward to work it in. My next talk is scheduled for the "TOMS day without shoes" day, but I asked and the school doesn't participate in it. I don't agree with the philosophy of giving shoes to children that don't have any. It would just be a convenient way to work in going barefoot.

After weeks of debate, I finally went ahead and applied for CHAMP Camp. I did mail the director that I may have to back out yet, but hopefully not. I still have mixed feelings about going, but this year should finalize most of my concerns for future years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In the Beginning

I have thought about a new post for the last few days, one relating to past and current events in my life. However, after watching a video I have from Answers in Genesis, my post has changed to this version.

For the past few years, I have followed AiG and studied from several of their resources. Due to these studies, I have developed a sense of urgency to teach the accuracy of Scripture, starting with the first book. Also in the last month, my church newsletter, which I help produce, has new people working on it and has become more informative in nature. While developing it a few weeks ago, I felt an urge to produce a series of articles teaching the accuracy of Scripture and how we can trust God's Word in every area.

This is what I again felt tonight with this video. God has given me the ability to learn and write, and this is what I will do. With so many different needs in the world, it is a small way I can contribute. Look for more on this in the coming months.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...and God saw that it was very good. Man sinned and caused the consequences we see today in all areas of life. Through God's son, Jesus Christ, we all have forgiveness of our sins. Through His word, we can learn about the past, and the future, if we look and see how that Word fits in every way what we see around us.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recovery

I returned home from the hospital just over a week ago, but I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do for eating. About half of what I eat settles well, while the rest isn't so certain for a while. I do like food experiments, but this isn't what I have in mind for such experimenting.

To top it off, my main night nurse called in sick this past Saturday and won't be back until at least next week. Thankfully, the only night that wasn't covered was Saturday, so not nearly as bad as previous experiences have been. My current nursing is very good at rearranging schedules so they get everything covered. It meant a couple late nights training people, but at least my parents didn't have to stay up late.

In my last post, I mentioned I had plenty of time to think when I was in the hospital. One item that ran through my head was CHAMP Camp. Last year was my tenth year as a counselor, that means I have been going as a counselor longer than I went as a camper. I enjoy working with the kids, and that camp is now held closer to home, but is it time to stop going?

Last year, I bunked with the administration people due to space constraints. I hardly got to work with the campers and felt like an outsider when I did go to one of the kids' cabins. Without any other nurses available, dad is my only choice for a day person. He likes it okay, but not like I do, and it takes away his vacation time doing something he basically doesn't have a choice about. The past few months have also been hard for me, my body has really started to show its quad age and is taking more work in areas I didn't expect.

When I left the hospital, I had concluded not to do camp at least this year. However, now I started recruiting a new camper, and I'm asking this child's mother to trust a lot of what I say. For that, I almost feel obligated to be there and show her I'm there to help her son. So, I'm back to thought and prayer to see what to do.

Today I contacted the schools I speak at to get scheduled for this year. With these past few months of physical trouble, mentoring a new family, and hearing of others, I'm somewhat looking forward to these talks more than usual. Thinking that these kids may someday encounter someone else like me, or even sustain an SCI, makes me feel more obligated to tell them it's okay, I just do things differently. I know that God will work differently in each child's life, but making a positive contribution is something I have long sought, and will hopefully find. Recovering from life's speed bumps is a challenge, I keep praying that I'm doing God's will and not just my own.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sped Bump

I have been blessed with a strong immune system, high energy level, and an active life. Most days, and weeks, I'm doing something all day long, work, entertainment, something. However, on occasion I'm reminded to slow down and not take my gifts for granted.

Last week Monday, I woke up with some congestion, as I had for a few weeks, and an uncomfortable stomach. Checking into paperwork, I had my nurse relieve me of unwanted pressure, also called taking a dump. As a quadriplegic, this is something I have no control over and need to have someone else do my duty so to speak. Unfortunately, this nurse hadn't helped with this in a while and it took much longer than usual. By the time she was done, I could hardly breathe due to congestion and was exhausted, at 8:30 in the morning.

Throughout Monday, I kept switching between my vent and DPS due to feeling bloated and tired. Monday night into Tuesday it continued to get worse. At several points on Tuesday, I wished I could throw up, but my body can't do this very easily and I never did. That night continued to get worse and I had pain in my belly.

After an unproductive visit to my GP Tuesday, my parents and I went to the ER in Des Moines. After several hours, they shoved an NG tube down my nose to my stomach and everything started improving. The next three days were spent in the hospital waiting to see what would happen and possible surgery at any time. Thankfully, surgery wasn't in God's plan and I was able to come home yesterday. I am still pretty tired, but thankful to be home.

During my time in the hospital though, I saw God's care several times. I had a few times that I needed immediate suctioning, with my O2 dropping quickly. Thankfully I was given experienced nurses during these times that knew how to suction without guidance from me. I have had times when nurses thought they knew what they were doing, but needed much coaching to get it done.

I was given lots of time to stop and think this past week as well. More of that will be coming soon, but I'm thankful to be back to nearly normal once again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Work

I'm an independent web developer, meaning I'm on my own. My bosses are my clients, I work for them, and nobody else. This means some days I have more work than I can shake my mouth stick at, and others I barely have enough to bother waking up for.

Lately, my work load had been more of the former than the latter. Fortunately, I did get an unexpected project today that resulted in more work than I thought, but it's already complete. At this moment, I don't know of anything that I'll be doing tomorrow. Therefore, I posted in one of my networking sites, Linkedin, on how to improve my marketing efforts.

What I have mainly done is word of mouth marketing, friends or contacts give me a name, or give mine, and then I have a site. This has worked well, but I want to be able to do more. My peers suggested that I define a particular market, find out where that market is active, and pursue it. Many suggestions also say to stay in a particular industry, like schools, churches, or perhaps railroads. I don't see being able to stay interested in just one topic hough, I like a variety of subjects to explore.

Therefore, after thinking and praying this weekend, I think it will be best to go with a business size instead of industry. This fits with a diversified interest group, but finding out where to market to will be harder. God has brought me along well so far, I just need to remember to continue to rely on Him and not try to go on my own. Within the next few weeks to months I hope to report a busier work load.

In other news, I spent some time last week researching multiple ways to control a computer without your hands. It was for a young boy who recently became a quad, but also for self interest. I have been noticing my mouth gets sore much faster lately than it used to, so a time may be coming that I need to adjust my system. Fortunately, several methods exist for mouse control, but most are lacking in adequate keyboard function. We'll see what's available in time, but I think the mental adjustment will be more difficult when the time comes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Friends

What does it take to be a friend, what are the requirements? I'm sure it's different for everyone, but I'm also certain there are some basic requirements. Whatever they are, I know that I do not fulfill them very well, more likely I'm about as far from the needs as a person can get.

Unfortunately, when someone has a disability, they usually have few friends that don't share similar disabilities. The more severe and obvious the difference is from the "normal individual," the worse the situation becomes. Growing up, I had very few people, not including relatives and people I had no choice to be with, that I would call friends, mainly just one through grade school and junior high.

His father worked with mine and he lived only a few houses away on our dead end street. At first, he was forced to come over by his parents, but we did find similar interests, as most young boys do, and we remained friends for several years. In late junior high and high school though, we had different interests and grew further apart. He and his wife now live about an hour away, and we do see each other on occasion, but mainly just by happening to be doing the same thing at the same time.

During the time this first friend and I were starting to go our separate ways, another boy and I were starting to become friends. Tom's family moved to town when we were in late junior high. Since we went to the same church, school, and were only a year apart, we found ourselves sharing space frequently. Especially in high school though, we both developed our interest in technology, and loved seeing my mom come home to the family computer in many pieces with us "fixing" it.

Also in high school, I had my harem, as the principal called my group of female friends I hung out with. Most of them were regulars on the honor role and I could usually act like it, and I actually did get there a few times in college. One of these ladies was the one I prayed that God had planned as my soulmate, but that proved to be wrong as she met her husband in college. As I still have some feelings for her, I don't ever see her, or any of my harem, not that it has been more than a decade since high school.

Tom and I still get together frequently, usually 2-3 times a week, or when his wife allows is more accurate. Unfortunately, he lives half a country away, and has no intention to ever return to Iowa. He and I play an online game called Starcraft, one that we started playing together in high school. While it is fun, this is all we now do together. I have him on my staff with my company as well, but mainly as needed, and that can be more often than not. Tom and I have been friends for years, but I feel like I'm not doing my part to maintain the relationship, that we are growing further apart.

There are other people my age, relatively speaking at least, that I converse with, but all are fellow gimps, a couple exactly like me. These people I consider more friends by necessity, not ones I think we would make if our situations were different.

So, here I sit on a Sunday evening with my IM program open, six people listed, but none online or talking. For those I do talk to, I want to work toward being a better friend this year. I'm not very sure how to do that yet, but hopefully it's easier than I think.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012

We're just over a week into 2012, how has your year been going so far? I can't mine has been all that out of the ordinary. On New Year's Eve though, I did have a bit of a victory, I was actually allowed to go barefoot during our celebration! In some ways it kind of felt weird, being the only barefoot person there, but I reminded myself that is what bare footers generally experience, and there wasn't any reason not to be barefoot. However, I only got away with it by agreeing to a comprise.

The next Saturday, so two days ago, we had a party of sorts for my grandpa's, mom's father, 84th birthday. Since it was mom's side of the family, I had to wear shoes then. I had somewhat planned on it anyway, but mom didn't need to know that. So, a victory of sorts, but not one that I see lasting unfortunately.

For most of my life, I have been surrounded by medical people and a lot of various items that go along with day to day living as a quadriplegic. Due to these reasons, I have a booklet that describes in detail how to do my multitude of cares. The current instruction set was last updated when I was in my late years of high school, so, due to some asking by my current caregivers, I started to redo my book last week. The current version is 13 pages long, I'm now up to 30 pages on the new version.

I realized that things were changing with age, but you don't fully grasp it until you put it down on paper. In some ways, it's partially me being more thorough and knowing the problems I have with some of these routines, and what some nurses come up with. Now that I'm nearly complete, I wonder what I'm missing and new items will come up after training someone with it.

A few hours ago, tomorrow's day nurse called in that she was sick and the backup lady can't cover it, so it will be the first shift of the new year without coverage. The weather this winter has been very nice and warm, for Iowa at least, so it has been nice not having calls off for snow or ice. Last week I even went running errands in just flip-flops, and barefoot outside! If I had a bucket list, that would likely be an item I could cross off, go barefoot outside in January in Iowa.

For about three years now, I've been doing the reading plans on Bible Gateway. It's pretty simple, pick a plan and you will read through the entire Bible in a year. During the last two years, I have been reading through with a fellow quad friend from Florida. It has been interesting working through his questions and seeing the Bible, something I'm very familiar with, through new eyes. This year we decided to just do the New Testament as he, and I, want to look more in-depth at that section of scripture. It has been nice only reading one, or less, chapter each morning instead of three to four, but I'm not sure I'm getting much out of it yet. The later books will likely be more learning, but I haven't got my head into the shorter reading I guess.

In my last post a few weeks ago, I was working on getting my diaphragm pacemaker fixed, well I'm still working on it. Finally today the referral paperwork went through, so now I'm waiting for approval from insurance before I can make an appointment. I'm nearing a month now that I haven't been breathing, so hopefully it will be fixed soon.

Until next time.