Originally, I was going to cover a backlog of topics I’ve thought about writing on for a few weeks. Those plans changed on Monday.
The Monday Evening Wreck
This past Monday evening was more eventful than I hoped it would be.
Our agenda for Monday was rather packed. My mother was coming up to cut our grass and help us paint. While she was cutting grass, we were going to go pick up the paint, grab a few groceries, get dinner for everyone, and then come back home to paint. When we were all about to pile in the van, my mother suggested that I drive her car. I tried to decline the offer, but she insisted. We hopped in her car and headed out, my wife, my son, and I.
Before we were even to the main road, we recalled that our Ingles card was at home and needed for some of the sales we were planning on taking advantage of. We turned around and quickly returned home. After grabbing the card, we once again embarked on our run for errands. Before long, we were waiting at the stop sign before the main road, looking for a chance to turn left.
For anyone who is familiar with Asheville highway, the road is comprised of 2 lanes going both directions, divided by a grass median with paved connections interspersed at intersections and driveways. Turning right is easy; turning left is not. In order to turn left, one must jump across two lanes of traffic and wait in the center paved area for an opening in the next lane. Typically, the stretch of road near our home is rather busy, so this can be a complicated ordeal.
There was a line of cars in the lane closest to me, with the lead car turning right. I didn’t see anyone in the passing lane, so I decided to take advantage of the delay and shoot across. It turns out there WAS indeed someone in the passing lane, visually obstructed by the line of cars in the slow lane. As soon as I saw her, I knew it was too late. I attempted to speed up and swerve in order to get my back end out of the road, but I wasn’t fast enough. She threw her hands up when she saw us, though I personally would’ve been gripping the wheel and trying my best to stop. On Monday, April 6 at approximately 6:30 PM EST, we had a collision with a small pickup truck.
Upon impact, we spun violently left and off the road. By the time we stopped, we had been thrown off the road into the grass median, spun a full 180 and some change (facing left of the road we had just come from), and the side airbags had deployed. What happened next was a blur. According to my wife, my first words were, “Mama’s gonna kill me.” I had to shimmy my way underneath the side airbags and get back to Cam, who was distraught. I grabbed him out of the seat and looked him over. My wife had already gotten my phone to call my mother and inform her of the dreadful news that we had destroyed her car.
In no time, my mother had gotten the keys to our van and driven to the wreck, just parking right at the stop sign. When I was calm enough to inspect the damage, I saw that we were fortunate enough to have been hit behind the rear door. If we hadn’t been so far up and she had hit either the front or rear door, I’m sure the damage to us would’ve been far worse. The back quarter panel and wheel were pressed completely into the trunk area. The back bumper was stripped nearly completely off. We opened the trunk to retrieve my mother’s belongings, but the trunk wouldn’t close back.
The ambulance finally arrived and we decided it best that my wife and son be checked out at the hospital, just for a precautionary measure. With the poor girl who died recently after having a wreck and undergoing an emergency cesarean section, the paramedics were on edge and wanted us to make sure everything was alright. They rode off, while my mother and I emptied out her car. We gave the officer our information and got in the van to head to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, I had recovered slightly from being so shaken up. My mother inquired at the front desk when we could go back, to which we were informed that we would have to wait until they were assigned a room. We called the insurance company and I detailed all the information about the wreck, as well as our contact information. When I got off the phone, I decided to check with the front desk ladies again. Luckily, they had just moved back to room 68 and we could go back to them.
The wave of relief that washed over me upon arriving at their room simply cannot be expressed in words. I completely broke down. We were all going to be ok. Having been cooped up for so long, Cam was ready to do some moving. He and I went for a walk, making rounds through the emergency center more times than I could count.
When the officer arrived, he gave me that dreaded blue slip. I had been found at fault in the accident for failure to yield right of way (which I have a sneaking suspicion the witness whose wrecker service we turned down had something to do with that). The ticket was 4 points and some cash, but that could’ve been worse. Furthermore, the state trooper told me numerous time that if I would come to the appeal date, he would help me out. He was a super nice guy, easily the most polite state trooper I’ve ever dealt with.
We kept making rounds until the transport guy came to take us up to the maternity ward. When we settled into room 214, we were informed that they would be running some tests that should last somewhere between 4 and 5 hours. The nurse had high hopes for all of us, and Cam had already been dismissed with some minor abrasions from the seat belt.
My uncle and cousin came up to see us, and everything was beginning to slow down. We were ok, and the hunger and exhaustion began emerging as the adrenaline faded. We picked up some hummus, yogurt, and drinks from the cafe downstairs. I made at least 3 trips to the EC area where we were parked and back to the maternity ward. On one of the walks back to the maternity ward, Cam could obviously tell I was not my normal self. Seemingly on cue, he just dismissed the whole situation with, “I’m fine” and threw his hands up like it was nothing. Once again, I lost it.
When a few hours had passed and it was getting late, Cam started to get fussy. It was well past his normal bedtime and his mannerisms were beginning to show that. My uncle had already left and my cousin offered to take my mother home, considering she no longer had a car. I went down with them so we could move the car seat into his car and make sure they got out alright.
The Pizza Delivery
As we took the elevator down from the maternity ward to the main lobby, we discussed the best plan of action. We couldn’t put Cam in my cousin’s car without a carseat, but we were physically closer to his car than we were to my van. Should we split up and he meet us over at the EC? He didn’t know how to get from the main parking garage to EC parking. During our discussion, a pizza delivery girl walked in with an enormous load: one big pouch and one smaller pouch, I believe she said 7 pizzas total. She was obviously having trouble moving the pizzas, but she was determined.
Once we decided to walk outside to the EC, load everyone into the van, and then drive over to my cousin’s car, we noticed that the pizza delivery girl seemed lost and confused. We asked if she needed any help, and she informed us she had no idea how to reach the heart center. I had noticed on my frequent jaunts to and from the EC that it passed right by an entrance to the heart center. We could go through the hospital to the EC and drop her off right on the way. My mother, being the natural navigator that she is, decided that my route was inferior to her and made a judgement call that we would be going outside instead of through the hospital. We offered our help to the girl, assisting her in carrying the pies to her destination.
Off we went, out the front door of Spartanburg Regional and toward what I was led to believe is the heart center. There was a slight mist in the air, gradually creeping up on a drizzle. We certainly didn’t want to be caught out with hot pizza in the rain, so our steps were hastened. As we rounded the first corner of the hospital, we passed by another entrance. According to my mother, this was not the heart center. Onward! Through more architecture, around a pond sort of water feature, and then we arrived at… not the heart center. “This is the Gibbs Cancer Center, where I come every year for my checkup,” my mother said as we passed by yet another doorway. I expressed to her several times my doubts in her choice of route. Having going by the heart center so many times in returning to the emergency center, I was pretty sure that THROUGH the hospital would’ve been a much more direct route.
Finally, after passing the cancer center entrance, we stumbled upon the entrance to the heart center. I still maintain that going through the hospital would’ve been more direct than the outside route we took. We walked up to the motion sensing entrance and stood like idiots, unable to open the door. We waved, we stepped closer, we tried everything we could to get it open. Eventually, we noticed the handicap entrance button and figured that would be our best bet. We pressed the button several times, but the door never opened. We perused the nearby area for a minute to see if there were any other open entrances, but our search was fruitless.
With all our options exhausted, the pizza girl decided she would call the customer and have them come down to get the pizza. She thanked us for our help and we continued on toward my van.
From the heart center, the emergency center is visible and not more than 100 yards away, but the entrance and parking lot are on a raised platform above the morgue. When trying to find a way to get up on the platform, we assumed there would be a stairway somewhere that would take us up, rather than trying to sneak in through the morgue or walk all the way around the EC complex in order to walk up the road entrance. The most likely area for such a stairway would probably be along the edge of the platform. We walked underneath, an area used by both receiving and… corpse removal, I suppose is the best way to put that.
Perhaps now is the best time to note, my mother has an extreme fear of dead bodies. Despite having a father, brother, and nephews who have all worked in the funeral industry to some degree, she’s terrified of them. Given that information, one can easily infer that she was rather uncomfortable with her current proximity to the morgue. Despite being so uneasy, she agreed with my cousin and I that it was likely the best way to find a path up to the EC.
As we made our way through the morgue and receiving area, some guy getting out of a food delivery truck slammed his door. With the acoustics of the covered area and the fact that the area was pretty much dead otherwise (no pun intended), the sound was almost deafening. My mother, determined that dead bodies apparently make loud sounds just before they reanimate and attack, nearly jumped out of her skin. Even after she noticed that there was no horde of zombies coming after us, there was an obvious hustle in her step.
Very soon after the zombie scare, we came across the stairway to the upper deck and made it to the van. I escorted everyone to the main parking garage and they went on their way.
Upon returning to 214, I discovered that the monitoring and tests on my wife were nearly complete and we would be able to leave soon. Everything looked peachy, she seemed fine, and all we would have to do is call her normal OB in the morning to see if they wanted to schedule a follow up visit. The nurse removed all the monitors and cables, and briefed us on the results. Exhausted, we left the hospital.
Given the recency of the accident, I didn’t get within 10 mph of the speed limit the rest of the evening. With my wife having not eaten since lunch, she was starving and wanted some fries. We went to the McDonald’s near the hospital… which turned out to be closed. Not so easily deterred, we headed toward the McDonald’s in Boiling Springs… also closed. We checked Sonic, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-a, and the OTHER McDonald’s, all of which were closed. Whatever, we have curly fries at home. So we went home and we made curly fries sometime around midnight.
Overall, this was a very humbling experience. I’ve learned to be thankful for every moment, as everything can change in an instant. I learned that you always wait extra time at a stop sign, even if it looks like the coast is clear. And though I already knew it, I was reminded that cars can be replaced; people cannot.
I am extremely excited for this emerging technology.
The first time I heard about USB Type-C ports was in a YouTube video or text post about the new Macbook. Initially, I thought it was some new proprietary junk from Apple. When I found that this was the new form of the universal USB port (redundant, I know), I was both intrigued and cautious.
USB and its variants are probably the most frequently used connection mechanisms today. They link up mobile devices, storage media, hardware like mice and keyboards… all kinds of stuff. We use them to charge things, to transfer data, and a plethora of tasks that have become both frequent and vital. At present, I have a mouse, keyboard, and signature capture pad plugged into my work desktop. In my messenger bag, I have my PSP, 2 flash drives, and an external hard drive. My phone is plugged into a micro USB port next to me. Back home, my PS3 controllers are plugged up with a mini USB cable. This sort of technology is all around us.
It struck me momentarily with panic to ponder how many devices would need to be replaced or how many converters I would need to purchase in order to make sure I can utilize USB Type-C ports for all my current USB devices. With the exception of the new Macbook and a few others, surely manufactures wouldn’t make a hard break from the current USB style to this new fangled technology. Then I recalled how the most recent USB upgrade was the move to USB 3.0, those blue ports you may have seen on newer computers and devices. To the best of my knowledge, the only exposure I have to USB 3.0 are a single port on my Acer C720 Chromebook (which also has 2 older generation USB ports) and my external hard drive. According to Wikipedia, USB 3.0 was designed in November 2008 and still isn’t completely prolific. And even with devices that do support it, 1) it’s backwards compatible and 2) they also support older style USB ports. Apple is just being Apple with the new Macbook.
Look at the 2015 Chromebook Pixel. Not only does it have 2 USB Type-C ports (so you can charge from either side, plug in 2 things at once, etc), it also has 2 of the old USB ports. I understand that Apple was trying to save space by only having 1 USB port, but most people aren’t going to be willing to make that jump so abruptly. They have to be eased into it.
Provided the industry takes things slow and doesn’t push USB Type-C onto everything without readily available converters (as in, include them with nearly every purchase of a USB Type-C device) and plenty of USB 3.0 ports to support older devices, I’m really eager for this transition. Though the current (previous?) USB style has a wide scope, there are plenty of hurdles with it. Micro and Mini USB devices have to have converters. The speed isn’t terrible, but it could be vastly improved with all the large data we move around today. And I, like I’m sure most people do, ALWAYS try to put a flash drive in the wrong way the first time. USB Type-C promises to fix these problems, or at least begin to improve them. That’s a very good thing, I think.
Apple Watch Edition
Apple is jumping into the smartwatch game and getting attention in droves.
At first glance, the standard Apple Watch doesn’t seem to differ much from the niche of other Apple products: similar to what already exists, but with a more premium, luxury presentation (and price tag). These numbers are off the cuff, but I think I’ve seen most Android-based smartwatches selling for something in the $200-$400 range, while the price tag for the normal Apple Watch is $550. More expensive, but it’s being advertised as a luxury device. This is nothing out of the ordinary.
What IS out of the ordinary is the Apple Watch Edition that has been recently announced. If I thought Apple was shooting for “premium” with the normal version, I was sadly mistaken. The “Watch Edition” comes in a variety of finishes and bands, but the most expensive combination costs $17,000. Seven. Teen. Thousand. (Yes, I know “seventeen” is one word. I’m enunciating.) That’s a decent car. That’s something like 30 of the standard Apple Watch. That’s more money than I believe I’ve ever had in my checking account at any given time. All for a watch.
Unless I’ve misread the news lately, there aren’t any performance or feature improvements for the Apple Watch Edition. It has the same internals as all the other versions, just with a fancy casing. I understand it’s human nature to want to flash wealth around, but really Apple? You can’t do anything more technologically savvy, nothing that makes the device better. You stick some gold on it and say, “Hey, pay us an exorbitant sum of money for something that does no more than this $500 device.” That makes no sense to me. Rolex vs Timex, I get. Apple Watch Edition vs Apple Watch… not so much.
Will this watch sell? Absolutely. There are a plethora of people who are a) dumb, and b) rich. But this is not for the casual iSheep that wants an Apple-branded everything. This is for the celebrity that wants to make a statement. This is for this business leader who wants to prove they’re better than you. Ah well, maybe I’m just out of touch with pop culture and lavish displays of wealth.
Note: Upon reading over this section again, I noticed that I come across as very critical of Apple and Apple users in general. Don’t think that I am opposed to the company or the people who use its products. Apple has made some fantastic products through the years, and many people are right to use them. If the shoe fits, wear it. However, I am very much opposed to sheep, people who do what they are told or what popular culture suggests without questioning why or making their own decisions. Look into your options, see what’s available and what works best for you. I suggest Android to people because that’s what I like personally, but I also advise them to at least look at Apple products. The latest flagships in either camp are some phenomenal devices. It’s just that so many people today assume that everything made by Apple is the best on the market, and that utilizing Apple products serves as a status symbol. Use what you like, don’t worry about what the person next to you uses.
Purchasing Land by Meter
Land is a great investment, but it isn’t always feasible on a tight budget.
I was speaking with a friend recently about retirement, investments, 401K, and the like. We discussed how everyone seems to advertise land and real estate are the best way to go. In the words of Stewie Griffon, “It’s good to have land.” Not everyone can afford to drop large sums of money on property, however. I only add 7% of my income to my 401K, which amounts to a little over $100 from every check. You can’t buy land with that sort of funding.
We pondered purchasing land on a much smaller scale. Instead of buying land by the acre or percentage of acre, why not buy land by meter? Depending on the area, a square meter of land could probably be purchased with pocket change. You aren’t required to buy massive areas for massive prices all at once, nor do you have to deal with complicated real estate lending to pay for the investment. Buy a few meters here and there, and over time you could have a pretty decent chunk of land.
No doubt, this is a complicated idea with plenty of problems and unanswered questions. Would the meters be connected? Could people specify exactly which square meter they want? What if multiple people are buying up land in the same area and end up cutting each other off with property lines? Would land have to be surveyed and assigned a value by meter, or could the average of an area be used?
Though I’m sure this sort of investment strategy would never be possible outside of theory, the sentiment still stands: if real estate is such a good investment, it should be available to more people with fewer hurdles. Perhaps the appeal of real estate is that it is more of an exclusive avenue for money management. Even still, I feel like the common man should be able to invest his money in any way he sees fit.
This completely exhausts my backlog of writing. I am now completely out of ideas. Luckily, only publishing weekly gives me plenty of time to come up with more, hopefully before this even goes public. Though I realize that this blog is more of my own personal thoughts, I welcome topic suggestions from others. Feel free to ask, “Hey Jake, how do you feel about [topic].” If I’ve got an opinion on it, I’ll give you my spiel. If I don’t have an opinion on the matter or don’t care about it, I’ll let you know.
To close, a bit of personal trivia about myself. I used to write 8’s with 2 individual circles. When playing Sudoku on Brain Age for the Nintendo DS, the game would often interpret my first circle as a 0 and clear out the box. In order to prevent this from happening, I began to draw 8’s with a single line, basically like a vertical infinity symbol. Over time that stuck, and I still use the vertical infinity method to this day. Now you know.
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