Sunday, October 17, 2010

Road Journal 10/12/2010 – 10/15/2010

I went out to Battle Creek again this past week to attend some more meetings. These are the kind of meetings where I have something in my head that they need. So far, the most efficient way we’ve found to extract the nonsense is to have me brain dump onto whiteboard after whiteboard. I’d love to share my drawings but they are all proprietary to the customer and wouldn’t really make any sense here anyway.

Driving Out

I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the meetings, we had to drive there. We crammed everything into the car and left almost on-time. We really should have taken the van—it’s much more comfortable for long trips—but the gas mileage of the Fit is too persuasive.

After basking in the awe of the EZPass, we were on the turnpike headed West. It wasn’t long before we saw our first interesting sight:

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Look closer…

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What the hell is that? I didn’t get a very good profile picture of it but this should leave you curious:

It was also around this time that we popped in our first audio book, “Armageddon in Retrospect” by Kurt Vonnegut. We lasted about 15 minutes before the ramblings—however hilarious—were not the engaging material we needed to distract us from the backseat choir.

About halfway through we stopped in Perrysburg for a couple hours so I could meet with a client. Apparently the kids had a fun time playing outside and wandering around:

After my meeting, which went really well considering that the guy I met with put in his retirement papers that same day, we hit the road again. Except for the common stresses of traveling with young children, we arrived unharmed by early evening.

Checking In

imageThe hotel desk clerk was an interesting lady. Let’s just say she was very…open. While checking in she had deep conversations with Sarah, me, and each child (never mind that thing 2 doesn’t talk). Although she didn’t explain why her hair had ruby-red highlights, she did explain why she keeps a half-dozen pens in it.

She also explained that “everyone asks me why I have a Toledo phone number when I live in Battle Creek and I’m like, because my ex-boyfriend lived in Toledo”, much to our bewilderment.

I signed the papers, including a very threatening “you cannot smoke in this smoke-free-hotel (well you can, but it will cost you $100)” warning and got the keycards. We loaded up our giant wagon full of stuff and pushed it into the room, which reeked of cigarette smoke.

I went downstairs to ask about switching rooms.

     “Hey, hi! I was wondering if you might have another room we could try…306 smells like smoke.”

     “This is a smoke-free hotel!”

     “Yes I know…and yet the smoke…is.”

     “We’re completely booked. Let’s see, try 304. You didn’t…touch anything…move anything did you?”

     “No, nothing.”

Our new room was much better. Sarah figured out later that they were full, but she switched us with someone else who hadn’t checked in yet (next time I’m totally rearranging the furniture and putting confusing magnets on the refrigerator). The room was ok, and the internet was actually great (turns out there was a Shriners convention in town, which could be related to the good Internet). Here’s my hotel review:

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We ordered pizza from the place across the street. I asked for the hotel special (it was posted on the window) and the guy asked me how much it was since they had “like a million coupons out there.” I guess this is like the Priceline of pizza. My guess worked and dinner was delivered 20 minutes later. It wasn’t very good but we were very hungry so it was good enough. Here’s my review:

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Working

The next day saw lots of super fun meetings wherein I did all the brain dumping I mentioned earlier and the clients and I  enjoyed an awesome lunch at Arcadia Brewery. That night we risked public embarrassment by going out to eat as a family, to Don Pablos. Nothing too eventful there, which is awesome. We also walked through the soon-to-be-wasteland of Barnes and Noble. We picked up a sweet (i.e. hilarious) white-elephant gift from the $2 cart and wandered around the mall.

The following day was pretty much the same with a great lunch at Griffin’s and some more pizza for dinner (from the Pizza Hut this time).

On Friday I met with one of my clients for a breakfast meeting before heading back home. Restaurant breakfast is pretty much the best thing ever, and I’m learning that it’s seemingly impossible to screw up. Perhaps ketchup, salt, and tubs of sugar syrup cover all culinary errors?

On the way back things were going…poorly. The kids were really doing great considering the journey and Sarah was amazing (thanks for driving!)—the problem was me. My head felt like it was going to explode. I came down with something awful on Sunday and managed to beat it back all week during the business travel. I finally went to an urgent care on Thursday and got some meds, but it was too late for the ride back on Friday (this is why I haven’t been blogging this week—I’ve been sleeping 12 hours/day).

Urgent Care

(feel free to skip to the pictures at this point)

Urgent care is something of a misnomer. My care was neither urgently needed nor administered. In fact, the place was seemingly empty of patients but it took quite a while to be seen. I explained when I checked in that this was basically out of pocket for me since I have a high-deductible and the receptionist assured me it’d be $72—or $112 if the exam was extensive.

Someone eventually ushered me in and took my vitals. The doctor was friendly enough, though I didn’t get the impression he was really listening to me. Once he saw that I had a generic cold, he seemed to tune everything else out. He ran a three-minute strep test despite my not-firm-enough protest and disappeared for 30 minutes while I waited for the results. I waited while the nurses gossiped about their other patients, including one poor woman who they turned away because they, I learned, can’t set broken noses and hers was “seriously in the wrong spot.” It was completely inappropriate but very amusing.

A nurse eventually came in with my negative strep result and delivered internet sourced instructions for how to care for a sore throat. She gave me a script for antibiotics with strict instructions to use it only if I don’t get better in two days, and a script for Tylenol 3 w/ Codeine for the pain. I asked if there was anything else I could do because it really, really hurt.

     “Are you asking if you can take the antibiotics now?”

     “No.”

     “Because you can do that.”

     “….OK (what was that about…nevermind). But there’s nothing I can do to help me today, besides the Tylenol?”

     “No.”

     “And I shouldn’t take this with Nyquil because they both have Acetaminophen in them, right”

     “Uh…I guess not.” (?!)

So after 90 minutes gone for a couple of nurses or techs and a doctor to spend five minutes with me, I had a prescription that I shouldn’t/should fill and no real immediate relief. Oh, and my bill was $162 because of my “extensive exam” and unwanted strep test…only 2.25x what I thought it’d be. I won’t normally bend over for things like this but I was exhausted and in pain so I lightly protested and left.

And so, on Friday my body fell apart. I hadn’t been sleeping well at all that week—the pain in my throat kept waking me—but the trip back was a new level of awful. I filled the scripts but I think the pharmacist accidentally filled the Tylenol 3 prescription with migraine-inducing poison. Before Friday I had never had a migraine before, but on the drive back, wow. I was pretty sure my eyes and ears were bleeding.

Fortunately, as long as I drink lots of water, I’m in pretty good shape now. Thank you so much to my lovely wife for taking such great care of me.

Driving Back

One bright spot on the way back was our lunch break at a rest stop. We found a nearly empty dining room in which to eat our packed lunch and enjoyed a leisurely half-hour with the girls, who were in goofy spirits. Thing 2 has really taken to her doll babies and insisted on nursing one during the meal.

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And some water, too:

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Thing 1 enjoyed the sun on the trip back, and by “enjoyed” I mean “hated with all her being.” This was an uncharacteristic moment, shot through my head rest at a lounging thing 1:

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Home

Having saved up all their energy while in the car, the kids were bursting when we got home. They decided to spend most of it doing somersaults (note how she so appropriately claps for herself afterwards):

More giggling and silliness:

And a final tumble with a delightful “whoa!”:

We’re all back in one piece and order is restored.