Monday, April 27, 2009

Random stuff

Bill Collectors suck ass. I am so fed up of seeing the same number come up on my caller ID, usually 2-3 times in the span of about 15 minutes. It is getting to the point of harassment. I want to be clear though, we are not late on major bills like car payments, mortgage, or being threatened with having any utilities, etc. turned off. The companies that are calling are these minor credit card companies constantly calling for $50 or so. They just need to chill the f**k out, I pay my bills in order, when the bills come in, they get put into the stack based on the date they are due. I'll get to it when I get to it, I am not forgetting about you (whoever you are), you are in the stack, you'll get paid, leave me alone.

I just got off the phone with Ed. It's always nice to hear from him and make sure he's doing ok. He let me know of his blog, which I am now following, but I am not going to post a link here. If you know him, call him up and ask him where it is. Good luck with everything Ed.

We're still waiting to find out when Barbara will be moved to Moffitt. There have been no major developments, so we are just continuing to wait and pray for her to be in remission.

I did the stick and puck skate with Shane on Saturday morning, and had a great time trying to skate in full equipment for the first time. I'm looking forward to doing that more often with him. I figure with a few more lessons, open skates, and stick and puck sessions, I may be ready to do the adult learn to play lessons. I still need to work on trying to go backwards though. I'm up to somewhere between 5-10 feet now, so little by little, I'll get there.

Murphy joined us for breakfast before skating yesterday. He brought the jacket that he found in a local thrift store. The jacket and Murphy both rock!

We are heading up to Universal this weekend for Lizzie's birthday. We are staying on property, which means we are not paying extra for the express passes, so we should have no problem riding the rides we want more than once. The hotel has what looks to be a very nice pool for the kids. I also have a character dinner and breakfast reserved for her.

I am borrowing the BarCharts iPod temporarily, so at least I have something to listen to at the gym. I'm also still working on what to do for Brenda for her birthday, she's not helping me. :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The week that was

Let me start off with a week ago Friday (4/10/09), Brenda was on her way home from seeing a patient, had just merged onto the Turnpike and hit a storage container that somebody had not secured properly. She was blocked in by the guy backing up on the right to pick up the container, and traffic on the left, her only option was to hit. Brenda is fine, her car sustained about $2500 worth of damage, and the guy who dropped the container will have to pay.

The following day, we went to Enterprise to rent a car. We didn't care what they put us in. The did not have the Genesis to rent (I don't think anyone does), so they put us in a Dodge Journey. Quite frankly, I don't like this car at all. I really am not sure what Dodge is thinking with the cars they are putting out. I mean fine, you get some of the "cool" factor with the Charger, Challenger, and somewhat the Magnum, but really most of their cars just suck. Last year in Chicago, we rented a Grand Caravan, on the inside it was mainly plastic, and the back hatch would not shut (we had to secure it with a rope). I rented a Magnum in D.C. last year and it just felt cramped. For this Journey, the set-up is weird in the sense that the A/C controls are pretty prominent to look at, but the radio controls (which would be used more often) are really far down, somewhat blocked by the gear shift, and not at all convenient to change unless you are stopped at a light for an extended time. On top of all this, the gas mileage on this car sucks (the web site says 25 mpg, I think that is false), I think it is worse than on my 7 year old Explorer. All in all, I wish Dodge luck in their bankruptcy.

Brenda stayed home last week which was nice for me and the kids. I just still hope and pray Barbara gets better soon. I think Brenda needed that time at home, but by the same token, I think she wanted to be with her Mom as well, and I don't blame her one bit. We only have two more Tuesdays until Brenda's semester is over, and at least that will take one thing off her plate temporarily.

I had one of the best weekends I have had in a while. Brenda gave me the opportunity to go out and ride with Joe and a couple of other people in a memorial/charity poker run. The weather was great on Saturday, and it was just nice to get out on the bike. At the end of the run I ended up with 3 Queens. We hung out for a little bit, but one of the guys we were riding with had to get to work, and we all decided to take off. Joe and I spoke with one of the organizers of the run, because we had no idea how long it would take them to figure out who won the run. Considering it was a biker thing, we figured it would probably be 10 or 11 at night, and there was no way we were hanging out. I asked how much the winner of the run would get and he said it would be 30% of whatever was raised, with the rest of the money going to the kids. So, I did what I thought was right and told the guy that if I won with my 3 Queens to just give it back to the family. It turns out about an hour later, Joe got a call and I had come in second. I would have won $120. Oh well, I hope that little bit helps the family.

The $120 could have gone towards my new iPod fund. Last Wednesday, I was at the gym and accidentally dropped my iPod in the toilet. After storing it in rice for two days, then opening it up and drying it over the weekend, it is 100% dead. I need to find a way to get a new iPod, doing cardio with nothing to listen to really sucks.

Yesterday, the kids and I had brunch with Johnny and Liz at the Olympia Flame diner and then went skating at Glacier. Overall, we all had a great day. Lizzie was a little trying in the morning before we headed out to do everything, but everything was fine after that. My skating is improving little by little, I've started to take 1/2 hour lessons during the public skate at Incredible Ice on Wednesday evenings, we'll see how it goes this week.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Well, thanks to the Canadiens and Rangers and no thanks to the Bruins and Flyers, the Panthers were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night. Over the past couple of days I have started to think, why do I care? I guess I have been thinking more about the bigger picture, and question why I put energy into a sports team that always seems to find a way to dissappoint in the end.

Cheering on a sports team is something that gives one a great escape for a couple of hours, days, months, however you want to look at it, but, once again, the outcome is out of an individual fans control. Just because I drink out of my Panther coffee cup, or someone else has their lucky lunch, each individual can not effect the outcome of the game that night.

While thinking about the idea of a sports team, and how that is beyond my control, I of course stopped thinking about the idea of sports, and started again focusing on other issues that are occuring, or have occured that are either in or out of my control.

For instance, one huge thing occuring in my life right now is something that really bothers me that I have no control over. No number of lucky coffee cups, or lucky lunches will have an effect, the only thing I can do is hope and pray. My Mother-in-Law is currently battling Leukemia. She has already gone through two rounds of chemo, and is getting her counts back up over the next week or two before moving to Moffitt in Tampa. I am extremely concerned, but the only thing I can do is let Brenda spend as much time with her while I stay home and make sure the kids are taken care of. I feel terrible that I have not visited her yet, but once again, it's more important for Brenda to be there. I have also signed us up for the Light the Night walk, which occurs in October. If anybody would like to donate or join my team at the walk, please visit I do appreciate the help and support we have received so far, the people at light the night said they would send Brenda information. Additionally, I just received and e-mail from Kathy putting us in contact with a friend of hers that has gone to Moffitt and come through with flying colors. I'm just glad that Barbara is such a fighter, so I'm hoping for a positive outcome.

Another thing that I realized was out of my control, was that I have a friend that was working through some things. The only thing I could do was be there and listen. I hope it helped, but aside from my control of listening, whatever they decided was their own decision. Right now, it seems like they made the correct one, and once again, I hope for the best.

I can't control the economy, but I can do my best to control what happens at my company. For instance, we are coming out with some great looking titles that cater more towards grades 5-8, and I like to think it's because we all agreed that this was a logical step for the company. By the same token, I didn't think that expanding with a new product in a new market that required deeper discounts was the best move for us right now, especially because the person requesting it could not show the research done, or the viability. I did agree to let them do a test as long as it didn't cost us too much money, but I still believe there are other places to expand without changing our business model.

Bringing this back to sports, the last thing that I realize I can control is learning how to skate and learning how to play hockey. I want to do this for me, and to also allow me to let my son teach me something. I went to the open skate at Incredible Ice on Wednesday evening, and found out that the public skate is $6, but for $10, I could receive a lesson during the public skate and get a free drink at the end. I think I may try that out so I can learn to skate properly. Glacier also offers an adult learn to skate program on Tuesday evenings, but I have to wait until Brenda's semester is over before doing that. Once I can get my skating down, I plan to learn to play.

I don't have anything else, I have to take a shower and go to the doctor who once again will tell me I'm too fat(even though I exercise every day), which is one other thing I can control.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our Universal Spring Break Trip

Since I started with the whole Universal thing for an entry or two, I figured I might as well let you know how the trip went.

We started out by heading up to Orlando late Wednesday morning. After the 180 mile trek on the Turnpike with a stop for lunch, we first went to Downtown Disney, then went to the hotel. At DD, we bought Lizzie a new "Belle" doll, since she lost her other one. We also got the passholder pin, and saw a new store called "Tren-D." Tren-D is very similar to Vault 28 in DD in Anaheim. We saw the shirt that I got for Brenda in California, we also saw a dress that I told her I was considering getting for her, but didn't want to guess on the size. She tried it on and loved it, so we got it. When we got to the hotel, I could have sworn I specifically booked the Holiday Inn across the street from Universal so we could save on the parking expense. When we arrived at the hotel the desk clerk told me I was not booked there and I was booked at the Holiday Inn Express which was about 1/2 mile away. I was sort of upset but after re-looking at the confirmation, I realized I was incorrect.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn express about a minute or two later, and checked in without a problem. The room was nice enough, and big enough for the four of us. The room was a typical suite, two double beds, fold out couch, table, microwave, mini-fridge, and a coffee maker. The bathroom was kind of small, and the sink was out in the main room. One good thing was the wireless internet was free, so we were able to get on-line with Brenda's laptop.

I checked out the restaurants at City Place and made reservations at Pastamore, so we could have something to eat before going to see the Blue Man Group show. We got to the Universal parking attendant at 5:48, and saw that the rates were $3.00 after 6:00, but before 6:00 it was $12.00. When we pulled up, the attendant told us it was $12.00, we decided there was no way we were going to pay $12 for parking when it would be 1/4 of that in 12 minutes. So, Brenda told me to just valet. The valet rate was $20. I then proceeded to drop them off and just wait the extra 9 or so minutes to save the $9.00. I realized there were about 20 or so other cars waiting in line for the same thing. Once 6:00 rolled around, people started going through the gate. I didn't realize they were such sticklers for time at Universal.

I met up with Brenda and the kids at the restaurant. Brenda had already ordered some bruschetta and a glass of wine. Turns out, the bruschetta was the best part of the meal. Brenda got the pesto pasta with chicken (it was a very crappy creamy pesto sauce, and I'm not sure what kind of pasta it was), I got the Chicken Picatta (it looked like a very bad fried thin chicken breast with a little sauce on it and some pasta). The kids both got pizza. The portions were small, and they had no taste. I would not suggest going there if you have a choice when at City Walk. The bill with tip came to $81.50, it really wasn't close to being worth it.

We then went to the Blue Man Group show. There were some elements that were slightly different from their other permanent shows in Vegas and Chicago (I have not seen the NY show). The show overall did not disappoint, and the kids loved it, so if you have not seen them, you definitely need to go.

The first full day, we went to Islands of Adventure with express passes in hand. We first turned in our flyers that we received from the Super Bowl ads without a problem. We got our meal plan tickets as well. As an aside, the meal plan is only worth it if you purchase one adult plan, or one adult and one child. Since we purchased two adult and two childrens meal plans, we did not save any money. In addition, we paid extra for the refillable drinks. The meal plan allows you to go through the line as many times as you would like throughout the course of the day at one of three different restaurants. If you buy one for everyone in your party, you would need to eat at least three times during the day to make it worthwhile, unless you only buy one and the same person keeps going through the lines multiple times to get meals for everybody.

At Islands, we started by going to Spider-Man and stood in the regular (10 minute) line so we could use our express passes later. After Spider-Man, we went to the Pteredon flyers in Jurrasic park, because we thought the kids would like that. The problem with that ride, it has three "flyers" which are two seats each, and the entire ride lasts 1m10s. So, even at that early part of the day, there was still a 45 minute wait. From there, we went back to Dudley D0-Rights ripsaw falls, Shane loved it, but Lizzie was not quite tall enough. So, Shane went twice, once with Brenda then once with me. Since we were already wet, we then went on Popeye and Bluto. Once again, the comparable rides are better at Universal, you get much wetter at Popeye and Bluto then you do at Kali River Rapids. We then decided to have lunch. After lunch, we tried to get the kids on the Jurassic park river ride, since they like water rides, they just didn't want to do it, probably because of the fake dinosaurs, go figure. Brenda then went on Dueling Dragons, and took the kids to the Seuss area. When they left, I went on both sides of Deuling Dragons. I like "fire" a little better because you seem to get weightless, where "ice" has more twists and turns. Either way, they are both good. We went on the Cat in the Hat, and the train ride. Brenda took the kids to the Seuss playground, and I went on the Hulk, twice. When I got back, Brenda went. We then grabbed something else to eat just to try and make use of the meal plan, then went on Spider-Man again. From there it was back to the hotel to relax for a bit, grab a light dinner, then go to sleep.

Friday, we did not purchase the meal plan, but we did get express passes again. The day started out kind of rainy, but once we got in the park, it wasn't bad. We went to Universal, we started on Jimmy Neutron, which was actually a kind of cool ride. It is a "movie" ride, where you sit in seats in a car that bounces around and moves to the movie, kind of like Star Wars at MGM, or The Simpsons. After Jimmy Neutron, we went to Shrek, then Twister. From Twister, we started watching the Blues Brothers show, then I took off to ride the Mummy. When I was done, the show was too, so Brenda rode the Mummy. After that, Lizzie and I did the Disaster Movie ride. For some reason, Shane did not want to go, so he and Brenda stayed outside. We then rode Jaws and grabbed lunch. After lunch, Lizzie insisted on getting her picture taken with the shark, so we did that then rode Men In Black. Shane and I then rode the Simpsons, when he told Lizzie about it, she decided she wanted to go as well. So, Brenda took Shane to the Curious George water park, and Lizzie and I rode the Simpsons. When I met up with Brenda and Shane, Lizzie already had her bathing suit on, and they played around there for a while. We then got them dry and rode ET. After ET, we used our express passes to ride Jimmy Neutron and Shrek again, then went back to Islands to ride the Seuss rides again. Spider-Man had a 45 minute wait, so we decided to skip it. We had reservations at Margaritaville and had dinner there. After a couple of Margaritas, and a Cheeseburger in Paradise, we went back to the room.

We drove home Saturday to get Shane home in time for his hockey game. Overall, we had a great trip, and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

By the way, I had posted riddles Shane had to answer during spring break. I'm reposting the riddles with our answers and the correct answers. Shane came in 2nd in number of correct answers for the class.

What is green and sings?
Our answer: Michigan J. Frog
Correct answer: Elvis Parsley
What do you call a cow on a roller coaster?
Our answer: Milk Shake or Beef Jerky
Correct answer: Milk Shake
What did you use yesterday but made today?
Our answer: Time
Correct answer: your bed
What can go up the chimney down but not down the chimney up?
Our answer: umbrella
Correct answer: umbrella
What is more astounding than a counting horse?
Our answer: a spelling bee
Correct answer: a spelling bee
What goes up and down but stays in one place?
Our answer: Temperature
Correct answer: escalator or elevator
What keys are too big for your pocket?
Our answer: The Florida Keys
Correct answer: The Florida Keys