- September 30, 2017
- Posted by: Phil Block
- Category: Lights of the Lakes, Photography
Lights of the Lakes Hell Week II
During the week of September 11–16, I set an all-time record for the most shows presented in a single week: six. Read all about Hell Week I in this post. Hell Week II was the week of September 25–29, 2017.
Tuesday – Harbor Chase of Shorewood
On the last day of our unusual September heat wave, I headed out for one of my geographically “closer” destinations, this time Shorewood, just north of Milwaukee. My host was Harbor Chase of Shorewood. I had high hopes for this place, as my son Dale did a promotional video of Harbor Chase for his employer, Direct Supply, a partner in developing this senior living facility. It was threatening rain on the way down, but only a few drops hit the windshield on my inbound trip.
When I got there, my first negative sign was parking—there were only eight places in front of the building, and they were all taken. Harbor Chase is right on Capitol Drive, a busy highway. Street parking was not an option. I went in and asked the rather unfriendly receptionist about parking, and was given a plastic card which activated the door to their underground parking lot. After I unloaded my gear and set it just inside the front door, I drove to the back of the building, found the entrance, and drove into the underground parking area. After parking, I had to hunt for the elevator to get back upstairs. It was not marked. Strike two.
When I got upstairs and was preparing to set up, I found my contact, Donna Imme, who immediately asked me if I’d sent in a W-9 and an invoice. Yeah, I did, Donna, a month ago. After this question, my hopes for getting paid as expected on the day of my presentation started to dim. Another blow.
I was directed to the “Bistro” which is basically a bar and gathering place on the main floor behind the reception area. I looked at this site and my heart sank a little, because I prefer to present in a separate area free of traffic and noise. Not gonna happen today. And there was no way to dim the light coming from the large windows in this area.
My next challenge was to find a table to use for my laptop. I always ask for a table and an extension cord, but this request seems to be ignored most of the time lately. I started hunting for something to use, and found a rolling bedside tray table in the exercise room off the lobby. I asked the receptionist if I could use it, and she told me that the exercise area was managed by another company, implying the answer was “no.” But since the room was not in use at the time, she reluctantly told me that I could use it. Another step in the wrong direction.
While I was setting up, fairly loud muzak was emanating from speakers in the ceiling. It bothered me, but thankfully they turned it off during my presentation. Noise continued to be a problem here, given the public location. At one point during my show, some loudmouth construction workers were talking so loudly at the reception desk that I had to turn up my sound system to try to drown them out.
The show also started about fifteen minutes late, as the staff was slow in bringing in the residents who were going to form my audience. Most were in wheelchairs or used walkers, but this is typical at assisted living facilities. Only about ten people, all but two of them female, watched the show.
One of the guys who said he was a retired psychologist, was really into himself. His ego apparently had no bounds, or at least any I could discern. When he saw my Mac laptop, he started telling me his life story as an early contractor to Apple; he knew Steve and Woz, had the first-ever service contract with Apple, etc. He also had to mouth off about his collection of valuable early Apple hardware, etc. I told him that my son Dale had done a video on Harbor Chase, and he had to top me by saying that he knew Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, who made videos for NPR. Big F’in Deal! Thankfully, his cell phone rang; a call from his daughter that he had to take. He left to talk to her, and didn’t come back until after the show was underway. It happens often that someone at the senior facility comes up to me and wants to talk. They must be lonely for contact with anyone from the outside world. I don’t normally mind, and try to politely engage them in conversation, but often they interrupt me during setup, when the time is ticking away and I need to get ready to do the show.
Today’s show ended around 5:00 pm. After breaking down my gear and loading it into the car, it was time to head for home, around 5:30 pm. Rush hour was underway; I couldn’t avoid driving in it, and it was raining now. No further problems, though; another show in the bag. When I got home I was pleasantly surprised to find a check in payment of my invoice for this show. Just before I left Harbor Chase, I asked Donna Imme if she had a check for me. She said it would come in the mail from their corporate office in Sarasota. Typical “check’s in the mail” line I’ve been hearing often lately. Glad it didn’t!
Wednesday – The Crossings of Lake Geneva
The next day, I headed out again, destined for Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. With coffee and another McDonald’s sausage biscuit in hand, which served as breakfast on the road, I headed down I-43. Two hours and a pit stop at Racine for gas and a Kwik Stop donut later, I arrived in Lake Geneva, a half hour early. I stopped at the local Walmart and killed some time there before heading over to my first stop, Geneva Crossing Senior Community.
Arbor Village of Geneva Crossing – Assisted Living Residence
When I got to Arbor Village, I entered and was immediately greeted by Shelly Mutter, my contact. She said I was to present in the dining room, which was at that point still full of seniors eating tacos. I sat in the lobby, took out my laptop, and connected to their wifi. I used the time to catch up on my emails and quote another show. Shelly went back to eating her lunch, which I had interrupted, with three other staff members.
After the dining room emptied out (all except for one man who sat at his table staring off into space) I began to carry my gear into the room and set up. This stressed out a young housekeeper, who was still sweeping taco shell crumbs up off the floor and wiping tables. She was upset with me, and even went and complained to her supervisor about the intruder, but I didn’t care. I had to get set up to do a show, and needed to stay on schedule. The housekeeper finally finished up and left. I was all ready to go with time to spare.
The Highlands of Geneva Crossing – Independent Living
I arrived at the nearby Highlands facility about 3:15 and was met by Jan, my contact there. She showed me to the room where I was to present, and I began bringing in and setting up my equipment. I had trouble getting an image from my laptop to the projector (and had also had, and overcome the same problem earlier, at Arbor Village). I decided to swap VGA cables, which (mostly) solved the problem. I could now see my a computer image on the screen. After I started the show, however, I noticed that a slice of the landscape-orientation images was cut off on the left side.
My audience, all female except for one man, was great—one of the best ever. They were alert and very interested in lighthouses. Much better than the Arbor Village folks! This morning, I wrote in my journal:
I didn’t get home until after 8:00 pm yesterday following my trip to Lake Geneva to do two Lights of the Lakes shows. I had an unscheduled stop at the Apple Store in Bayshore to buy a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI adapter for my MacBook Air. I’m going to try this with my projector, as I realized on the way home from Lake Geneva that I needed this adapter to hook up the Mac to my projector. I had problems connecting via VGA using my longest VGA cable, and I’m damn glad I had another one in my bag. Problem is, it cut off part of the projected image on the screen. A small problem by itself, but something I could accept, as the second cable saved the show.
My second show yesterday was at an Independent Living unit at Geneva Crossings. The audience, all female except for one man, was one of the sharpest and most appreciative I’ve had on the senior circuit. As a result, I enjoyed giving this show more than any other in recent memory. The first show at Geneva Crossings was given at the Assisted Living unit. That audience was much less responsive.
The unexpected but convenient stop at the Apple store in Bayshore Towne Center resulted in the purchase of a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter for my MacBook. I’m going to see if HDMI works better than VGA when connecting to my projector. Maybe that’s a better solution.
Again, from my journal:
On the way home, there was an amazing sunset. It was like watching a movie, and went on for about fifteen minutes. After my stop at the Apple store, I stopped at Culver’s in Port for a late dinner. Instead of my usual fish sandwich, I had their special of the day, the Reuben Basket. Thanks, Linda Tapio, for mentioning that you love of this item. I remembered you as soon as I saw it on the billboard in front of the store.
Friday – St. Joseph Residence, New London
Finally reached Friday, my last “work” day of Hell Week II. Up at 5:00 am and on the road by 6:00 am, headed for New London, WI, today’s destination. The drive was just over 100 miles and took two hours, aided by my first-time use of a new GPS unit. I finally broke down and got one of these gadgets, after getting frustrated trying to find my way around Janesville using just my phone’s GPS.
On the way, I stopped for at the McDonald’s in Lomira for an Egg McMuffin and orange juice breakfast. Wanting to get a quick start, all I did at home was make coffee to get me going. Food helped fuel up the old body, as well.
Today brought my second Lights of the Lakes double header of the week. First Lake Geneva; today New London. The morning show started at 9:30 am at St. Joseph Residence.
St. Joseph Residence
I reached St. Joseph Residence, a Catholic long-term care facility, around 8:15. Thankfully, they had a rolling cart (most of these places do) which allowed me to get all my gear inside in one trip. The activity room was on the second floor here, so up the elevator I went to find the large room. There was a huge TV set near the front, and a guy in a wheel chair was watching some morning show. I had to ask my contact, Tiah Gretzinger, to move him so that I could set up my equipment.
I was told to expect maybe a dozen or fifteen people, but over twenty folks eventually arrived for the show. They ranged from attentive to appearing to sleep through the program, with many somewhere in between.
After leaving St. Joseph Residence, I had to drive 1.3 miles north to Washington Center. This was unusual for me, because most other facilities where I’ve done shows have the various buildings closer together on the same campus. Not here.
Having about a half hour to spare, I headed into downtown New London and grabbed a light lunch. On the way back I had to go around a fresh traffic accident on Schwano Road. A big truck and a minivan driven by an elderly lady had an unfortunate meeting, from the looks of things.
The Washington Center is an circa-1930s school which has been converted to apartments. The residents here live independently in their apartments, although the Center provides meal service. I set up for the show in what looked like a old parlor. At one end of the room was a fireplace. At the other end was a walk-in safe. Given the safe and the fact that this room was close to the building’s entrance, maybe this space had once been the school office area.
About ten residents attended the second show, which started at 1:00 pm. One of the ladies told me she had been a school teacher and had taught here when the building was a school. Another lady said she had been a student here.
At the end of the show, after the Edmund Fitzgerald segment, an 80-something lady told me she had worked at what was then called the Wisconsin Mutual Life Insurance Company, headed by CEO Edmund Fitzgerald. She said that as an 18-year-old employee, she brought the newspaper to Mr. Fitzgerald’s office every morning. It’s fun hearing the stories these elderly people tell.
After the show, I packed up and headed for home. Fatigue was setting in by now, given the early start to the day and the 200+ miles of driving necessary to reach the destinations. Morning traffic wasn’t bad on I-41, but afternoon traffic on the return trip was heavy. I’m glad I was able to get off at WI Route 28 and take the back roads the rest of the way home.
Well, there you have it: five shows this week. And this is how I relax in “retirement”?