Sunday, August 26, 2018

Barely Found

With the increase of online sales, physical store locations are disappearing. Ottumwa is a town that has experienced this and has seen closure of K-Mart, Target, Younkers, and more over the last decade. The most recent is a clothing retailer called Herberger's that had their final day open today.

Over a month ago, this retailer was having sales on everything in the store, including the shopping carts. My parents thought this could be handy for bringing groceries in the house, so they purchased one. However, they couldn't take it home until closer to closing date. The selected cart was labeled and we waited until the appropriate time.

That day was this past Wednesday. We took an evening ride to retrieve our cart and enjoy the late summer weather. Upon entering Herberger's, we were greeted with vary merchandise remaining and well used empty shelves and display racks with price tags to purchase. The hunt for our own half-size cart began with going all around the empty store. Dad checked every possible candidate, even discreetly looking at carts the few customers were using.

After nearly 30 minutes, and recruiting a cashier, our target was found stuck between empty shelves filled with display hooks. Dad and the cashier started removing the contents while I sat nearby. My parking spot was in a number of complete and partial mannequins, all stark white and naked.

A child sized figure was propped up to my left about my eye line facing me. I no longer had any curiosity on if mannequins were modeled to a particular gender as all was plain to see. In front of me were adult sized props, but only the bottom half. The back of all them were facing me while our prize was retrieved. While the front is generic, the rear is anatomically correct.

I sat for about five minutes getting mooned and flashed with a multitude of thoughts running through my head. Most ideas went around prank possibilities at camp or unique ways to hang my clothes. However, the price on the smaller figure was much more than I wanted to spend for entertainment.

Living the quad life, I never quite know where I may find myself during a day. I'm hoping this week won't include getting mooned, but I guess the possibility exists.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Break Week

The last few weeks have somewhat felt like running a marathon, but while still sitting. I preached the last three weeks at three different churches and spent the last two Thursdays at the Iowa State Fair. Today is my first week off and it feels good and boring at the same time.

On July 29, I preached at a small church in Ames, IA. I hadn't ever seen the church before, but I did make sure it was accessible. Dad and I arrived about half an hour before the service started to get setup and unknown to me, they built a ramp so I could get on stage. It felt a little strange at first that I could easily be seen, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

August 5 was another congregation, but this time in town and a building I was familiar with. They also built a ramp so I could access the lower part of their platform. It was a little more comfortable since I preached on stage the previous week, but still felt odd. This was my first time preaching at both churches, so I used my somewhat introductory message of using the tools God has given us, such as wheelchairs and diaphragmatic pacemakers.

Two gospel booth volunteers
My final week on August 12 was at my home church. This was my second time to give the message to my congregation, so it required a new message. In addition to me preaching, dad also covered the service opening and congregational prayer. On top of that, I didn't have a nurse on August 10 or 11, so I preached after two nights of little sleep.

Just as I started, a wave of exhaustion hit me but thankfully a few sentences in I was given a boost of energy. I preached on how to respond to a world of suffering and received several notes thanking me for it, so tiredness must not have shown through.

Between preaching, I volunteered at the Ark Encounter booth at the fair August 9 and 16. The other volunteers can easily hand out gospel tracts, but I have to stop the person, direct them to my hands, then how to pull out a tract. This was my third year and I feel like I gave out more tracts and talked with more people than previous times.

It was a challenge preparing sermons and coordinating with multiple churches among everything else. I started to get in a routine though and it started to get easier. Today is a nice break, but I hope I'm able to do more before winter comes. I'll see what happens the next few weeks and follow God's plan for the preacher quad life.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Human Please

A while back, two rare occurrences happened at once. First, I went inside a fast food restaurant. It takes a fair amount of time and effort to get in and out of the van, so I normally just stay in and use the drive-thru. The second rarity is that the restaurant was McDonald's. I may eat from McDonald's once a year, if even, making it a very odd event.

Upon entering, I was greeted by two large vertical touchscreens with the words "order here" stenciled on the front. This was my first encounter with such a device and I noted a problem. They require hand
control to use. Further inside and to the right, I saw a bored late teen woman partially leaning over a register. After all my party had used the restrooms, I drove over to the lady to order my chicken nuggets.

She took a fair amount of time to enter our information and seemed unfamiliar with the process, but did manage to get it correct. The only wheelchair accessible table was near the entrance directly beside one of the kiosks. As I ate my food-like substance, I had a good view of the order process. Families and individuals would line up, poke at the screen to make selections, look confused, poke some more, and complete the order.

Payment was done with a credit card in a slot or by tapping it out through a smart phone. The only human interaction was when picking up an order, and it was very brief. I was there for about 30 minutes and didn't see any other customers order through the person at the register.

As demand grows for high wages at entry level jobs, this is how corporations respond. I see the same with the increase of self checkout lanes at mass retailers like Walmart. Fewer employees are required, and therefore less payroll needed, and the consumer is made to do the work of staff.

I refuse to use these new systems and always use a checker or person at the counter. Even if I received the employee discount for the work, I wouldn't make the switch.

Living the quad life has constraints, especially when real world interactions are inaccessible. I'm thankful God has provided me with caregivers that act as my hands and feet, but I still like being as independent as possible. This interaction, and meal, confirmed why I don't visit McDonald's and let me see the changing world I hadn't experienced. I'll look for more human interaction this week and at other food options.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Time Constraints

It has been over a month now with my new sitting routine. When in bed, I sit for 45 minutes and spend the next 3-4 hours flat. It's a routine that is helping, but doesn't allow time to get much done.

Along with the short sessions, I only sit for 3-4 times a day. At most, that gives me a total of three hours a day that I can easily get anything accomplished. It hasn't been much of an issue, but I'm starting to feel the restraints now with a more active month ahead.

Last week, I sent out a quote for redesigning one of my clients' web sites. They opted to wait on it until later in the year, and I was almost relieved to hear the response. Extra work is always good, but I don't know how I would be able to get such a project complete. Even a simple site that would take a couple days normally would be drawn out for months with my routine.

I'm in my three-week sprint of preaching in three different churches. It's a challenge to get planning complete for each week and everything sent to different people coordinating worship services. I'm trying to do more while flat, but I need to be careful.

In May, I noticed my jaw was popping on occasion when I ate. It was pretty rare, but still annoying. Unfortunately, it has drastically increased the past few weeks and now nearly every meal consists of my mouth grinding and popping. Thankfully, it doesn't happen when I'm just using my mouth stick, but I'm guessing the increased activity while flat is contributing to it.

This week, I had my regular check-up with my doctor for the pressure sores. He made a few changes in my meds for the main wound that will hopefully increase healing. I'm also scheduled to see my regular doctor about my mouth and maybe make progress with it.

Living the quad life has it's challenges, but I have seen God's hand in everything through the years. It may be time to look again at voice recognition options for some activities, but I'll wait to see. A busy week is ahead and I look forward to what the days may bring.