7-6-14 Sunday (Butter My Butt)

On Tuesday, the 24th, my Aunt and Uncle cooked us an awesome meal.  T-bone steaks, baked potatoes, fresh broccoli, biscuits and a side salad.  Yum!

2014-06-24 005

2014-06-24 002

2014-06-24 001

On Wednesday, the 25th, I took my Aunt and Uncle to the airport.  I only had to get up 30 minutes earlier than I normally do for work so it wasn’t a big deal.  I dropped them off, came home, took a shower and got ready for work.

As you may remember, my birthday was on the 23rd.  Here’s what my zany friend Alix made for me.  She’s been obsessed with making goofy videos.  Enjoy.

Wasn’t that a hoot?  She’s crazy.  She used a picture of my friend, Carolyn and me.

2009-12-03 003 Mich

I keep forgetting to mention… DISNEY.  This years big vacation is for Disney in the fall.  Even though we lived 3 hours away from it, Jim has been wanting to go.  We haven’t been to Disney in several years.  What do I think?  Sure, sounds fun, count me in.  Jim worked on planning it our.  We were going to get a travel agent to plan everything but he didn’t want to wait and he wanted to coordinate it all himself.  So… that’s what he did.

We wanted to be able to stay on property.  We’ve never done that.  Our first choice was The Contemporary.  The one with the monorail right through it.  That place is way expensive.  A no go.  Jim looked at some other options, and some available deals.  We thought about staying off property.  Pros, cons.  What if…  Well, we settled on Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.  The price was OK but they had a meal package deal going and we signed up.  A free counter service, 1 free table service and 1 snack per day on Disney property reeled us in. Hey, we like to eat AND Disney food is crazy expensive. 

Disney sure goes out of its way to make the experience awesome.  We get customized mail, DVD’s to review, and eventually some bracelet thingy that I’ll mention again later.  I’m sure I’ll mention lots of Disney stuff later.

Grandma left the weekend of the 28th.  She wasn’t feeling 100% so she decided to skip her class reunion and head back to Georgia and then eventually home to Florida.

For July 4th, which was on a Friday, Jim and I took a half day Thursday to get a head start on the 3 day weekend!  Off to Augusta.  What an amazing weekend. 

We were having a great weekend and then Saturday, this happened:

2014-07-05 063

2014-07-05 064

2014-07-05 065

The right side tires lost a duel with a curb.  2 tires popped, $275 later.  One rim is chewed up a little on the edge.  We’ll worry about that later.

We got the RV cleaned on the inside.  I vacuumed, wiped everything down and then steam cleaned the carpets.  Here’s the last personal thing we removed.

2014-07-04 007

This was given to us at our send off party in August of 2008 by our friend, John Anderson.  It was sad to part with it. 

6-23-14 Monday (New Car(s))

OK, just deal with the boring text.  There’s a lot of great photos in this post!

276666040_1401213136After our recent trip to Augusta, we unpacked, and settled in.  I decided to look at the Pep Boys receipt.  I was surprised.  They charged for 32 ounces of R134A Freon at 3.25 per ounce = $104.  I thought that seemed high from what I could remember from my automotive biz days.  I went online to Pep Boys and found a 12oz can for $15.  Doing the math… I would need 3 cans = $45 Freon.  $45 vs $104.  I called the store.  I spoke with the service manager.  I asked for a $59 refund.  He turned me down.  I called corporate.  I opened a case.  Someone was to call me in 48 hours.  I called back after 4 days and bitched up a storm.  I was told it was escalated to district manager.  The next day I got a call from the service manager who said he would just give me a refund since no one called me back.  I’m guessing he was told to call me once it escalated to the District Manager.  Be careful out there!  Damn crooks.

Our Mazda 6 lease is up at the end of the month.  The plan was to turn it in and just use our free/clear Jeep.  For trips to Augusta we’d use the Rav4 but those seats kill my back and Jim also feels uncomfortable in it.  We scratched the plan and decided to hunt for a new car.  Jim has been reading his various car magazines and narrowed it down to a new revamped Mazda 6 or a Hyundai Sonata.  Jim sent out various leads to several Mazda and Hyundai dealers via dealership websites.  He laid out the deal we wanted.  Some gave prices and others wanted to see the car.  We have a lease-turn-in inspection report, why do we need to run around down to make a deal?  Anyone who couldn’t accommodate us via emails was crossed off the list.

Getting discouraged, he decided that since we go to Augusta so often, we’d check that area as well.  He filled out an online form for Taylor Hyundai in Augusta and instantly received an out of office email (strange, I know) from Todd Torchia that directed us to David Nabel and Paul Schaefer in his absence.  Funny thing?  I’ve worked with all three of these guys in Florida!  It’s a small world!  The following weekend, the 14th, we were again in Augusta.  We went into Taylor Hyundai, got a great deal and drove away with a 2014 Hyundai Sonata. It’s a pretty blue-silver and seems to change color depending on the lighting or angle. The seats are comfy!  It connects to my phone and streams mp3’s or Pandora.  I love it.

2014-06-14 008

It’s got a back up camera…

2014-06-22 004

Also this week, we picked up the fender.  It looked awesome.  Jim installed it.

2014-06-15 0102014-06-15 0072014-06-15 008

During the next week, Jim’s Grandmother, uhhhhh, Grandma, came for a visit.  I won’t reveal her age but she’s up there.  She drove from Fort Myers, FL to Atlanta to see Jim’s brother's family, then some other relatives in the area.  While vacuuming Grandma’s mini van, they discovered the passenger front carpet was wet.  Unsure if it was a water leak, a/c leak, or heater core leak, she made it over to Charlotte to see us. We discovered coolant leaking at the front of the van, under the radiator.  We brought it to the dealer and they diagnosed it as needing a heater core AND a radiator.  $1900.  To fix or not to fix?  After much deliberation, a new vehicle was sought.  Jim did the research.  Grandma is very very short and needed something she can see over and reach the pedals comfortably.  90% of the vehicles out there don’t make the cut for her.  They settled on a Honda CRV.  It’s a great fit for her.

IMG_2780

Next trip for Grandma?  A high school class reunion in Pennsylvania.  No, really.  Grandma had some sort of cold and went to the doctor twice while here.  She decided to skip the reunion and just recover.  She’s staying with us longer.

In the meantime, on the weekend of the 21st, my uncle Joe and Joyce fly in from NY to help Joyce’s brother, in Charlotte, with some issues.  We had a full house but had a great time though.  On Monday it was my birthday so the 5 of us went out for Sunday brunch to pre-celebrate with mimosas and Bloody Mary’s.  There were major issues with our orders which resulted in a total visit time of 2 hours!  The manager comp'd all of our meals… we just paid for alcohol. Monday’s actual birthday dinner was at Olive Garden.  Funny, when we walked in, they were singing happy birthday at a table and someone commented on how they were going to tell the server it was my birthday.  When we were seated and the server came over for drink orders, I told him it was my birthday.  I just burst their bubble.  During the visit there, including mine, there were 6 Happy Birthday songs sang by staff at various tables.  I guess the OG is a popular birthday spot?

OK, now to catch you up on photos:

miniAbove: My work wife, Jessica’s Mini Cooper.  I couldn’t stop laughing at the MINI’s HUGE speedometer.  Look at that thing!

2014-06-08 001Above: Walmart.  This place gives me so much material.

2014-06-08 002Above: Dasher buried his head during a recent trip.

2014-06-14 004

Above/Below: While at a Mazda dealer, we were waiting for the salesman to work some numbers.  This was the keyboard on his desk.  There, he fixed it!

2014-06-14 005 

The end.

6-8-14 Sunday (Transporting Boobies)

5/23 – 5/26 = It’s a holiday weekend!  Jim and I both left work early to get a jump start a the long weekend.  We made it to the campground by about 5.  During these temps, it’s normal for the interior of the RV to be at about 90°.  We forgot to call ahead and ask a friend to get the a/c running for us.  By the time we unpacked, the temp was at 84° and then the power went out.  It turned out to affect several sites.  It looked like it was going to take a while to repair.  The temp climbed quickly.  Dasher was already panting (unusual for him) after a walk and never had the chance to cool off.  We took Dasher and headed out for dinner.  We locked him in the car with the a/c running while we ate dinner.  I’d text a campground friend “do we have power” from time to time.  We killed some time by touring some local neighborhoods and took a long walk at a marina.  When we returned to the campground at about 8:00 still no power.  One of the owners was at a store buying a new part.  We took the golf cart and drove around the campground.  It wasn’t till about 8:30ish that we finally had power.  We showered and headed out to socialize. 

We had some rain this weekend.  On Sunday it poured and poured and, oh yeah,and poured.  Once the rain subsided we saw several police cars in front of one of the sites.  Once we did the nosey neighbor thing, that’s when we got the full story from the other onlookers.

One of the RV park residents has his camper down on the lower level near a drainage ditch.  When it rains a lot, the ditch fills up to the top and sometimes floods the lower level a little.  Well, apparently he didn’t have his awning pitched right so water built up and sagged the awning.  He had to move his convertible Jaguar out of the way and while doing so a wheel slipped off the edge of the embankment and devoured his Jag.  In it went.  He could barely get the door open to get out.  Water rushed in.  He got the window down (unsure of the exact details) and was able to force the door open.  The current carried the Jag several lots down. Only the antenna was visible.  As the water subsided, the roof peeked out.

jag1

jag2

The owner wasn’t very happy… as you could imagine.

During the week, here’s how a trip to Walmart went:

2014-05-29 002

That was on line in front of me at the service desk…  Ewwwww.

5/27 – 5/29 = The following weekend was pretty laid back.  We went to Augusta as typical.  We attended a potluck cookout.  The host made a huge brisket in his smoker.  It was so good.  We brought baked beans with ground beef.  It was yummy.  Lots of food and extra awesome friends to share it with.  We also picked up the RV after having some battery and generator repairs done.  Next we brought it to a fiberglass repair shop for the shower/tub to be repaired.  Another guy took a fender to duplicate for the other side (broken off) where he’ll fabricate a new one.

On the way back from somewhere, this is what we saw:

2014-06-01 004

Weekend #3 (June 6th – 8th) off to Augusta we went yet again.  We picked up the RV from the fiberglass guy.  He did and awesome job!  You can barely see where he refinished it.

2014-06-07 005

Next up we took it to a Pep Boys to have the dash a/c looked at.  It was low on R134A although they couldn’t find a leak.  This worries me.  The R134A had to have went somewhere.  Maybe it’s a very small and slow leak?

5-18-14 Sunday (Discounting Poor Service)

On my last post I griped about my job’s method of dispatching work.  Before I even published that post, they changed it for the better.  Naturally, I had already put so much time and energy into explaining bitching that I didn’t want to delete it so… I rolled with it. Fortunately, they made the process must simpler and I’m much happier.  After all, that was the goal, right?

If there was a weekend of/for something, this weekend it would be discounts.  So let’s call it, the Weekend of Discounts.  Jim bought, traded, stole, fabricated, mastered, or whatever, the use of several Groupon discounts and Restaurant.com certificates.  Ready for the dining reviews?

gus'

Friday 5/16, Gus’ Sir Beef.  Yeah, that’s the name of it.  It’s a dumpy looking place so we were hoping to find that hidden gem amongst the ick.  Verdict?  Not so much.  The service was slow which is worse when there’s hardly anyone in there.  I had the fried pork chop which was OK.  One of my sides was the mashed potatoes with gravy and I thought the gravy was terrible.  Jim had the hamburger steak which had too much pepper on it.  There was 2 different gravies on his plate.  One like I had on his mashed which he said was OK and another on the meat.

Enjoy Lakeside views while dining in our Lakefront Restaurant.Saturday 5/17, lunch at the Lakefront at the Hilton.  We had to spend x to use the Groupon.  We ordered an appetizer.  Chicken quesadillas.  These were tasty.  Next, we both had Philly cheesesteaks.  We didn’t finish them; we took the leftovers home.  They were more like roast beef sandwiches that would have paired nicely with au jus.  I think it was because the meat was so thick.  They definitely weren’t Philly’s.  They were tasty.  Service.  Bad.  The server only had 4 tables.  He never checked to see if the food was OK.  I ran out of beverage.  Etc.

main_photo_1Saturday night dinner.  The Diamond.  This place is kinda “divey” but it was real good.  I ordered the fried pork chop (giving this fried pork chop thing another try) and it was delish.  Mostly.  Mostly?  Well, every once in a while I’d get this pickle taste.  I like pickles, just not with other food.  There were no pickles on the plate so I thought maybe some juice got on the plate somewhere?  At the end of the meal, I notice a pickle slice stuck to the bottom of a pork chop and mentioned it to the server.  She said that they use the same fryer to fry pickles and it must have gotten stuck.  Makes sense but it kinda ruined some of my meal.  Jim had the Diamond Boy and said it was good:

diamond boyWe’ll be back! 

On Sunday we ate Lakefront Restaurant leftovers, caught Spiderman 2 at the theater and made dinner at home. 

I haven’t done this in a long time:

DIH - Animated More like weekend in our history:

This weekend in 2009 was spent in Bisbee, AZ.  We explored old downtown, a copper pit, Jim tries to escape the US. Read about it here.  The next day we took a ghost tour, saw creepy statues.  Read about that here.  And finally, the day after we explored a mine, I tried out the crapper.  Read about that here.

5-9-14 Friday (Rants O’ Plenty)

Work has been a little more stressful lately.  We’re busy and management feels as though the automated work dispatching part of the system isn’t working well.  When ready, we click a button to get the next task which could be to review an appraisal, review title, underwrite a completely new file, etc.  This system prioritizes tasks by age, importance of the task itself, etc, etc.  So my issue?  Well, we’re not hitting the magical button but rather are being bombarded with reports.  Tasks that are old report, incomplete report, new loans to underwrite lists, etc.  So now we’re presented with lists of things to do and it feels pressured. I liked working the way the computer dispatched them.  I was oblivious to how far behind we were.  But… I still love my job and that’s the important part, right?

As typical, we went to Augusta this weekend (5/9 – 5/11).  It was a relaxed weekend, no looming projects, nothing pressing.  Friday night when we arrived we freshened up and hit the bar for a few drinks and some socialization.  Saturday we shopped.

Lunch at Red Robin.  We spotted this in the parking lot.  I love it!

 2014-05-10 010

The weather was scattered showers.  Very little rain which was a plus. 

This weekend we saw a deer (well, it was a blurry run-by).  In the evening, we were talking with some friends when a fox walked slowly through the golf cart’s headlights.  It was nice to get a long look at it.  Jim spotted a huge lizard on a tree behind our RV.  I didn’t have my regular camera handy so I used my phone.  With all the zooming, I didn’t get a real clear photo.  I think it might have been a chameleon. 

2014-05-10 009

There’s always an abundance of rabbits here so naturally we saw them several times.  Oh, and ants.  Yeah, we have a trail of them in the RV so we’ll need to spray before we leave for Charlotte.  I love the wild life, but you can keep the bugs.

We went out for Chinese with Jeff and Paul and as always had a great time. 

Rant Cloud Animated - Slow

Now for the credit card rant

After Red Robin, we continued shopping and I received an email from Discover.  Suspicious activity, blah blah.  The email shows me 3 transactions.  Walmart from Thursday (yeah I went there), the Red Robin purchase, yeah OK, and on the same day another Walmart.  I called Discover and it was for a Walmart in the Atlanta area.  Maybe the times were so close that they thought it impossible to be in Augusta and Atlanta so quickly?  They issued me a new card.  Ugh.  So many things go to that card.  Humans make me sad.

The thing with credit card theft is no one cares.  The credit card companies reverse the charges and the vendors eat it.  It’s sad.  No one goes after the perpetrators.  So who pays for all of these charge-offs?  I’m sure, we, the consumers.

Now for the doctor’s visit rant.

So Monday (5/12) I have a blood pressure follow up with the Physician’s Assistant, Mr. Karimi.  My appointment was for 7:30am.  I arrive at 7:30am.  At 7:50 I finally get escorted to the scale for check in.  I’m not in a great mood at this point.  How does the doctor’s office run 20 minutes behind so early in the morning?  Then to top it off, I have to step on a scale, ugh.  Moooooo.  So off to the exam room I go.  I wait and I wait and I wait.  I eventually hear Mr. Karimi in the room next to me and his patient won’t shut up about Christianity and the Jihad.  Dude, shut him up, schedule a coffee date with him, and get your ass into my room. 

I’m pretty fuming now; it’s 8:15.  So I’ve already been waiting a total of 45 minutes.  I go out into the hall to some assistant woman and vent.  I tell her I need to go.  I’ve been here a long time.  Yaddi, yaddi, yaddi.  She politely ushers me back into the exam room, telling me she’ll look into it or whatever she says in a ultra polite to make you forget that you’re mad tone and closes me back into the exam room.  Slick. Mr. Karimi wraps it up, says goodbye, a door opens, closes another opens but wait, it’s not mine.  It’s across the hall, but I can barely hear what’s being said. 

Finally, he comes into my room at 8:25am.  It’s a wonder my blood pressure checked out OK.  I finally got to leave at 8:35.  An hour later.

Now for the piglet rant.

So, I work at a large complex that has several sections and is occupied my several tenants.   Allstate, AXA Equitable, Aon Hewitt, etc.  The campus is owned and managed by Beco.  On a break, my work wife, Jessica, and I walk past the management office and see someone holding a 6 week old pig.  Really.   We chit chatted with the lady (Missy) holding the pig and it was going to be used as a “zonk” prize for a “Let’s Make a Deal” type game they were having at a meeting tomorrow.  Jessica and I told her we didn’t like that idea.  What if someone doesn’t want it, what if… etc, etc.  She agreed and didn’t know.

20140514_163851Above: Piglet with the owner’s English Bulldog, Kingsley.

20140514_163847

We went back to our offices and I emailed BECO.  “Please reconsider using that pig as a loser prize. That's not advisable.  What will happen if that pigs is gifted to someone who doesn't want it?”  In the meantime, coworkers rallied me into going back to the management office to complain.  The rest of the story can be told by the owner’s email response to me and my response to him.  Copy/paste, here we go.

“We’re animal lovers and compassionate about their wellbeing.  It’s highly unlikely that anyone will actually take the piglet, so we prearranged with the breeder to reunite the piglet with its Momma after the event.  Thank you for sharing your concern.”

I replied (here’s where the story lies):

“Thanks Chris. Some how I became the spokesperson.  When a coworker (Jessica) and I spoke to Missy earlier she said she didn't know.  We expressed our concerns and Jessica gave Missy her phone number and said if the person didn't want it she'd find a home.  Missy agreed.  Another coworker, Deb, passed by as Missy went into the office.  We told her what was said to us and eventually that spread at our business.  Deb and I were chosen from our office to inquire again and explain our concerns. 

Once again Missy appeared.  I explained why we were concerned stating animals should never be given as prizes.  What if someone doesn't want it?  What if someone takes it but gets home and their mother, father or spouse says no and they set it free?  What if the spouse throws it from a car window (just happened to a kitten that a friend is a foster parent for)?  If they changed their mind would they know how to get in touch with someone to give it back?  Details like that.  Missy kept asking what my concern was.  Over and over.  Frustrating.

Finally Mercedes comes out and the first thing out of Missy's mouth is "they're afraid someone is going to throw it out of a car window".  To watch Missy handle Kingsley and us, you'd think you pay her a lot of money, she hates her job, but just muddles through.   Missy ROLLED her eyes to the guard at the desk (Deb spotted it while I spoke to Mercedes, I didn't see it) 

Anyway, Mercedes was friendly, bubbly and sincere assuring us that someone had a farm and plans were in place.  Our thoughts were "enough said".  We were content with the answer.  That's all we wanted to know.

Your answer differed a little from Mercedes but has the same gist.  Please make sure that if someone does take the pig, they have a place to bring it if they change their mind.” 

A day later I received an email from Mercedes. 

“Just wanted to follow up on our conversation from yesterday and to reiterate that here at BECO were all about the animals. Although Pinky the pig liked his big city living for one day, he went back to the farm a few minutes ago and is safe and sound. Attached are some pictures so you can see him happy at home.”

photo 1

/end rants