Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The RV Rolls On

Rob H. coined my vehicle the 'RV' for Randy-Van. I've had my caravan since my parents handed it down to me in October 2001. Its been a terrific vehicle. It had a lot of problems when my parents bought it in 1997 but since then its been a work horse. When I took it over it had about 140,000 miles on it and yesterday it reached a milestone that many vehicles never see...200,000 miles! The pictures below depict the exciting moment as it unfolded. Can you feel the anticipation?

Like I said, the van has been terrific for me and has been as low cost as possible. Last year I paid a very low rate for insurance since its an old vehicle, changed the oil 3 times, and had 2 tires replaced. Besides for gas those were my only costs. But, looking at the life of the van even the normal running of it adds up. For 200,000 miles here is what I estimate the van has cost me and my parents for just the essentials:

Gas - $13,000
Oil - $1,700
Routine Fluid Flushes - $2,500
Insurance - $7,000

Transportation is not cheap.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Great Date

Yesterday Erin and I did one of our "monthly dates" where one of us does all the planning and kind of surprises the other. We haven't been doing them every month lately but Erin made up for that. We went to John Ball Zoo for a while in the afternoon.

It was freezing so not many people were there. I think the animals were lonely because almost every one of them was super lively. The snakes were all active,

The llamas followed us around and one of them would look right at us and start chomping his teeth with a silly grin.

The bear came out and started clawing at a layer of snow. After working on it for awhile he piled up the snow he had just scraped off and brought it back into his cave probably to sleep on.

But the best was the tiger. He was in the back of the park and NO ONE else was around. As soon as he saw us he came over and would get up on his hind legs and put his front paws on glass window. It was pretty sweet.

Later in the evening Erin tricked me into going to Meijer with her for about an hour. When we came back Dave's car was in our driveway and I asked Erin why he was there. I knew something was going on but didn't fully grasp it until I walked inside. SUPRISE! Well no one jumped out but it was a surprise to walk into a house full of a bunch of our friends. Erin had planned a surprise poker party for my birthday! She did an impressive job of keeping it a secret and we had a very fun 16 person poker tournament and DDR party.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cottage time yet?

Jason and I went to the boat show at the Devos place tonight. It got me wishing for Memmorial Day. This summer Jason, Darren, Evan and I are going to make a sweet tubing DVD. Just wait...

Pictures from the last week:

Dave and Ron are up to something

Erin's first completed scrabbooking page

A dozen roses in the snow

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fondue for Two

Erin and I celebrated valentine's day on Monday this year because she has to work on the 14th. I was a good husband and got her the flowers she deserves for being such a great wife and then we went to "The Melting Pot" for dinner. It was quite an experience.

The Melting Pot is a pretty upscale fondue restaurant. Their "Valentine's Special" was a cheese fondue, salad, and dinner for 2 and cost $125 plus tax and tip. We didn't want to spend that kind of money but Erin really wanted to try out the restaurant so we decided to split a cheese fondue and a chocolate fondue. Each serving is quite large and that turned out to be enough food for both of us. We ate our cheese fondue which was pretty good and then we excitedly moved on to the chocolate fondue. They bring a plate of things to dip and then heat a bowl of chocolate right at your table to dip into. After our server brought the plate and chocolate he walked away and almost immediately Erin noticed a hair on our plate. If it were just me I'd have taken the hair off and continued but it upset Erin so she tried to find our waiter so we could at least get a new plate. I realized that if I ate some of the food off the plate I'd be making out well because they'd have to bring us a fresh one. Erin didn't like that idea but let me eat a couple pieces while we waited for our server to come back. It turned out to be a very good thing that I did. After a few minutes we got his attention and showed him the 3 inch blond hair. He of course apologized and walked away with the plate. About 3 minutes later he came back, put a plate down in front of us, and told us as far as he could tell it was a cat hair and he didn't know how it could have gotten on there. He then asked if we had a cat. Dumbfounded we said no and just kind of stared at him. He apologized again and walked away. As we looked down at the plate we saw that 2 pieces were missing and realized that he had brought back the exact same plate, minus the hair. This definitely upset Erin and I just thought it was outrageous that he wouldn't take the blame for the hair and then gave us back the same plate!

Erin found the manager and told her what had just happened. She quickly had another plate made for us and took 1/2 the price of the dessert off. Shortly there after the waiter came back and said his manager had just told him that "the kitchen had just put the same plate back out for us" and he was very sorry. WHAT?! HE had brought that plate to our table after the hair discovery, not the kitchen. To top it off the bus boy came around before we had paid our bill and cleared everything from our table. We were sitting at a 6 person table so our stuff was spread out and he had to climb all the way in the booth. Then he started making small talk because we had to uncomfortably sit there while he bussed our table while we were still there. He told us not to take it for granted that we "had someone" for valentine's day. We kindly chuckled but he wasn't done. He shot back "seriously, don't take it for granted." The kid was probably 17 years old.

Very interesting dining experience to say the least.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Corporate Kickbacks

This week I'm taking a class on site with about 14 other engineers from my company and about 6 sister companies from Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, and the UK. I just sit in class and listen to an instructor talk about "layers of protection analysis" all day. I'm the youngest person there by 10 years so I'm just expected to learn, not lead or anything. But the best part is that everyone goes out to eat every night and of course it is all paid for. Tonight there were 15 of us and the average meal was $50. Not a big deal for the high-rollers amongst you readers but pretty cool for a guy like me. Erin even got to come last night and had a nice time meeting my coworkers.

The new 42" TV is all set up now and I just tried out my new progressive scanning DVD player. Traditionally (the one other time) I test out a new system by watching the highway sequence of Matrix Reloaded. AWESOME.