Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quick Ottumwa Photo Tour

This past Sunday, I took a quick trip down to Ottumwa to visit my parents (down and back the same day). On the way there, I stopped at the cemetery where my Rose-side grandparents are buried, which is west of town (near Munterville). While I've been to O-town several times since high school, I've only entered town from the west maybe once or twice before. So, I decided to grab a camera and snap some pics as I went (don't worry, I did keep one hand on the wheel the whole time, and didn't look thru the viewfinder. It was the point-and-snap-hope-you-aimed-well method of picture taking.)

So, without further ado, here is a very brief photo tour of my route. I thought this may spark some memories for those of you former Ottumwans who haven't been back in years.

You can click on any picture for larger version.

Where "old" highway 34 meets "new" highway 34 (it looks like I was playing chicken with the train, but really it was stopped).

That's the entrance to some new stores -- "new" Wal-Mart on my right, and the building you see is a Kohls. Menards is nearby, too.

Vaughn Motors is now here on Hwy. 34 opposite the mall.

Quincy Place Mall. What used to be Wal-Mart is now M.C. Sports.

We have Arbys!

Looking toward downtown.
Facing NE at the intersection of Hwy. 34 and what used to be Hwy. 63. When the bypass was finished, the "in-town" portion of the N-S highway was re-numbered as the southernmost extension of Hwy. 149, which ends here.

End of the Market St./Church St. exit, facing east. I've always been a fan of the sign with the blinking light that tells you if the other end of the Market St. bridge is blocked by a train. I've never seen one of those in any other town.

The "new" Bridge View Center (former Coliseum). You can see that [unknown to me until after I turned north] the Market St. bridge was blocked off due to construction. So I turned around at the Beach entrance.

"Hey Todd!!!"

I used to work admissions/concessions at The Beach. The yellow slide was added some time after 1997.

This is where Fareway used to be (Peter!), I was told it's now out on Albia Road, near the former Pamida site.

Turning left (north) onto Jefferson St. viaduct.

Tried to get a picture of my little league field -- the "National League." Sorry it's blurry.

Looking east/southeast -- Railroad bridge (now a pedestrian bridge).

"We'll all join in together, to root for OHS!"

Downtown from the bridge.

Looking west down Main St. at "The China Restaurant" (not sure if still called that). I always wondered why they didn't call it "The Chinese Restaurant?" Main is no longer a 1-way street.

"Voc-Tech!" -- The standard "band member" entrance. Note the doors on the far right are a little different. I'm guessing those are no longer unlocked all the time.
J.R. ... Richards???

Facing West on 4th street, at intersection with Jefferson. Catholic church to the right, Methodist to the left.

"Ghetto Gas" / "Sweaty Betty's" -- Looks pretty nice!

Continued up Jefferson to Pennsylvania, then I found out that this gas station, AND this intersection was blocked off due to construction!!! OK, time to find a different way up to Elm St. ...

Chris Ellis's old house.
Decided to head up Jay St. ...

Which is NARROW!

What street am I on? :)

 Heading North on Elm.

 Memorial Park (non-playground part). Looks perfect for leaning up against a tree for senior pictures!

This house is new ... old one was torn down.

Destination reached!

Friday, August 1, 2014

This is Made Out of Wood


The EPICness of the tri-level storage shelf.

OK, well, I need some affirmative action here. I'm not a big time woodworker of anything, so this is kind of like when your kid draws a picture. You're not expecting a Rembrandt or anything -- "it's really good! [for you]"

Debbi and they boys have been in Arizona this week, so this was my chance to use tools and leave hazardous chemicals laying around unattended for long periods of time.

Maybe it doesn't look like much, but it took me about a year and a half to build this. OK, full disclosure, I built about 60% of this 2 winters ago (Dec. 2012-Jan. 2013) when the wife & kids were gone, then it sat in that condition until just now I finished it off.

The longest part is applying a protective finish to each board before assembly (Minwax Polycrylic). So now it's mostly waterproof and should last about forever. This will be helpful if, for example, if you are grilling in the garage and the grill catches on fire and you spray a fire extinguisher into the area. Just if that were to ever be needed.

Apply to side 1, wait 3 hours. Side 2, wait 3 hours. Side 3, wait 3 hours. Side 4, wait 3 hours.

In use.

Move over, Al Borland..

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

They Rushed Me to the E.R. for . . . A Stuffy Nose?

Sunday evening (01/26/2014), driving home from church, I felt some shortness of breath. As a life-long asthmatic, this is not news. "Shortness of breath" is a daily event, but this was a tad worse than usual. I didn't
think much of it, settled in for a normal evening and slept fine that night.

I felt a bit of the same getting ready for work Monday AM, but nothing that would keep me from going to work. My job involves talking over the phone all the time, so shortness of breath and/or excessive stuffiness can be a real bummer. By 3 PM, it was coming back and clearly interfering with my ability to do my job. Again, nothing all that unusual, this kind of thing usually comes up 3-4 times per year. By 4:15 I called it a day, and decided to head home early (for those of you not aware, I usually work from late morning until about 8:10 PM).

On the way home I debated with myself the merits of going to see a doctor. While my condition was a little worse than a normal asthma flair up, it wasn't much. However, knowing that I was missing work anyway, it was probably as good of a time as any to go see a doctor. The last thing I would want is to sit around all day, then need to miss MORE work later to go to a doctor. So, I went on to the urgent care in Ankeny.

After waiting quite a while, I got in to see a nurse practitioner eventually. She listened to me breathe, and agreed with me that my heart was beating a bit harder than normal (this is also common with an asthma flair up). As a precaution, she ordered a chest x-ray and an EKG.

Both of those done, (now I've been at urgent care for nearly two hours) I resumed waiting in the little room alone for about 30 minutes before hearing anything at all. Then a doctor came in (noteworthy that it was "the doctor," not the nurse practitioner this time). He asked me all the same questions that the nurse and the nurse practitioner asked me. There was a lot of hemming and hawing around, and finally he said, in essence, that he was concerned because the EKG showed a "funny looking blip." That, plus a family history of heart problems led to him calling the ambulance for me. The purpose was to take me to the emergency room so that they could run some blood tests that they don't have the ability to run at urgent care.

Whoa ... wait a minute. Seriously? Other than some minor breathing issues, and some fatigue, I actually felt normal. No hoarseness, wheezing, sore throat or anything like that. Can't I just go home and have my wife drive me there? No, I can't let you drive home. Why? Well, although the odds are very small, the "funny" EKG reading could be caused by several things, and one of those things is cardiac arrest. Another very small possibility is that you have a blood clot in your lung. Well, what else could it be? It could be - and probably is - something much more minor, like just a bad reading (ie, a "false positive"), or a staph infection could cause this kind of result, or certain kinds of viruses can, or a variety of other rare (yet minor) things. But essentially, you're saying that I MAY be having a heart problem or blood clot right now (tiny chance), and for that reason I can't drive and I need to go to the ER immediately? Yup.

Well, the Ankeny Fire Department isn't far from urgent care, so I really only had about 5 minutes to use the bathroom and call Debbi to tell her the very brief version of what's going on (poor wife!). Then, 3 paramedics came into the room and asked me all the same questions the nurse, NP, and doctor had asked me. "Do you think you can walk to the gurney [10 feet away] under your own power?" "Well, I can just walk to the ambulance perfectly fine, actually." "We're really not supposed to let you do that."

I've never ridden in an ambulance before, but I have to imagine that this was the most laid-back ride of the week for those guys. The guy in the back with me didn't even bother to do an IV. He asked me all the questions yet again, and added, "are you feeling any anxiety?" "Well, I AM NOW!!! I came in for a stuffy nose and now I'm riding to the ER in an ambulance!!!" They took another EKG in the ambulance, and this one was perfectly fine ... no "funny blips." [Oh, and also got to have the privilege of getting an "L" shape shaved into my chest to attach the probes. Yea!]

Long story short, I was greeting at the ER (Methodist Hospital) by a nice nurse and a nice PA who went over all the test results so far, and took a 3rd EKG, hooked me up to a heart monitor, and ordered a bevy of blood work. So, in the long run, I described my symptoms to (1) the nurse at urgent care (2) the nurse practitioner at urgent care (3) the attending doctor at urgent care (4) the paramedic who came in first at urgent care (5) the paramedic in the ambulance (6) the nurse at the ER, and (7) the Physician's Assistant at the ER.

The final diagnosis with the blood tests was a bad reading on the preliminary EKG. She explained to me that the EKG only takes a snapshot at one point in time, and, just like any machine, it can mess up. The 2nd two EKG readings were clear as a bell, no problems whatsoever. The heart monitor was fine too. In fact, she was able to tell me, you have definitely never had a heart attack, you're definitely not having a heart attack right now, and you definitely don't have any blood clots. The official diagnosis was "Upper Respiratory Infection with Asthma Flair and Shortness of Breath." I was given a prescription for Prednisone and sent home right away. Debbi got there about that time to drive me back. Thanks to Aunt Pam for watching Ben & Joe while she was coming to meet me.

I'm feeling fine this AM other than a little fatigue and still some chest tightness and shortness of breath. I will have a follow-up with my regular family doctor in about 1 week, just as a precaution.

An funny observation is that the ER I went to (Methodist Hospital) is about 1 block from where my work parking garage is. If I had just walked into the ER, I could have driven myself home, saved the ambulance ride, saved Debbi having to come get me, and saved us from having to go get my car from urgent care this AM (Tuesday). Oh well.

My take on the whole thing was that this was nothing more than "just incase" prevention mode. Once a doctor sees a reading on an EKG that indicates ANY chance of a risk, he just can't send you home no matter how tiny that risk is. On one hand, I appreciate the abundance of caution. On the other hand, the whole exercise seemed very pointless.

I have a friend who works at a hospital. After I summed up the events of the night, his comment was, "defensive medicine is the bane of efficient/affordable healthcare."

Just before I left the ER, holding the monitor wires that were hooked up to me.