November 7, 2005

Our Florida vacation is over. Hard to believe that we even got to go and now it is all over. We are totally ready to leave Florida though – we have had plenty of this weather and the theme park environment and the crappy hotel. We are going to miss all of the amazing food but it isn’t enough to make us want to stay. And, more than anything else, we really miss Orea and Mr. Humphries.

For those of you who have been listening to the SGL Podcast and were interested in learning more about the citrus fruits in the Orange family – you can learn more about them at Bouguet of Fruits. Here you can learn about the three types of oranges which include: sweet, sour and madarin aka tangerine. Very interesting stuff. Keeping SGL educational. Even more interesting is what you find when you start looking into the larger fruit families. The Prunus (plum) genus includes many of our popular fruits like cherries, peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines. But even weirder is when you realize that the rose family contains most of the fruit that we eat! How weird and interesting is that?

We had to be up early, early, early this morning. 4:30 am wake up call. That was not fun. We were up until after midnight last night so that we could get the final podcast out as well as getting ourselves checked in for our flight. We didn’t want to save anything for the last minute and by getting those items completed we were also able to pack up the laptop and all of the electronic paraphenalia so that none of that had to be an issue this morning. I definitely appreciated that although I might have appreciated the sleep more.

We were packed and ready and out the door in plenty of time but discovered that our limo (read: Towncar – I have no idea why it is called a limo) had not arrived. The limo company only allotted two hours from our pickup time to our flight time and we were not very comfortable with that before and now that the limo was not there on time we were even less comfortable with it. We called the limo company about four times and didn’t manage to get a hold of anyone there. The hotel desk clerk came outside and talked to us and said that it was really common for taxi and limo companies to scam people down here which was extra likely because we had paid for our shuttle ahead of time. So we gave them until 6:05 am (we had planned on them being at the hotel ten or even fifteen minutes before they were scheduled to be there) before we called a Checker Cab. The taxi arrived in about two minutes. We didn’t know whether or not we would be able to find a cab so early in the morning with such little notice but he was right there and zipped us right over to the airport. Eventually the limo company did get back to us and apologized and said that their driver had gotten lost and was not able to find our hotel. Of course, the driver didn’t call us to ask where it was either. Had anyone gotten on the phone and talked to us we would have been fine waiting another ten minutes. But we didn’t dare wait to call a cab because we couldn’t get anyone at the limo company on the phone and for all that we knew we had been scammed or, more likely, just forgotten about. Or our driver was totally lost and would never find us. The limo company claims that they are not charging us for the service this week. If that really happens then we will be that much better off. Altogher that will save us almost $70! So, although that mix-up was stressful and unfortunate, we don’t have any extra money right now and that will really help.

We arrived at the airport at 6:30 or so and were able to get right into the terminal and enjoy a relaxed McDonald’s breakfast. We were ready to just relax for a few minutes after worrying for the last forty minutes that we were not going to be able to catch our flight. But now we were fine and no longer had to worry about getting to our plane. Pheww. We don’t have to switch planes so once we were on we knew that there really weren’t any more worries about getting back home.

Our flight on AirTran was on time, a little ahead actually, and went very smoothly. We scored one of the new planes that has complimentary XM Satellite Radio service. That is really cool that they do that. It is a marketing tool for XM but AirTran sure doesn’t have to give it away for free so that is a really nice service. To be even nicer they also give away free headphones just in case you haven’t brought any with you. Both Min and I had our headphones with us but we thought that that was really cool. Once again I am really impressed by AirTran. Independance Air declared bankrupcy this morning and as much as I am sad that that had to happen I am happy because AirTran is doing such a good job that I really don’t like seeing them having any extra competitors.

We arrived in Rochester about a quarter till noon without incident. Boy are we happy to be back in New York. We even miss the nice brisk weather. Dad was waiting for us in the airport by the baggage claim which made getting our luggage even easier. The only bad thing that happened on our flight was that my main piece of luggage on its maiden voyage was crushed in flight and is now deformed. We aren’t able to assess the amount of the damage yet but hope that we will be able to repair it. It is so tough to have luggage actually survive a single flight these days. I almost feel like I should just fly with everything in a ziplock bag so that I can just throw it out when I am done with it.

Oreo was waiting in the car for us in the parking lot and was very happy to see his parents although I am pretty sure that we were a bit more happy to see him. He had gotten sick while dad was in the airport waiting for us. We think that he might have remembered that the airport was where we left him last week. Or he might just have been nervous. He is so sensitive.

Dad took us home so that we could drop off our stuff and then we hoped over to the Omega Grill to have some lunch. Dad had been over there all ready this morning and they had two of our pictures from our Flickr page posted up on their milk refridgerator right out front. You know you eat at a place a lot when they put your vacation pictures up where everyone can see them. It is the pictures of Min with one of the chipmunks (either Chip or Dale but we never know which is which) and the picture of me with Pluto.

Speaking of pictures: here is a great picture of Eric fishing in Dansville. He was out there fishing with his brother-in-law and he caught this delicious bass and sent me this picture so, of course, I was unable to resist posting it up here on SGL. Doesn’t Eric look a little too much like our current president in this picture?

Eric Millen fishing in Dansville, New York (NY)

After lunch Dominica and I just went home and pretty much crashed. We had some new DVDs that were delivered by Amazon while we were gone and we had some new British television to watch so we took Oreo down to the basement and we watched the first disc of Grace and Favour which is often referred to here as Are You Being Served? Again. Dominica has to work tonight and is very tired so she took a nap from about 6:00 until 10:15. I spent the afternoon working on the computer getting caught up with all of the stuff that I have fallen behind on. Boy is it nice to have rock solid Internet access and a desktop machine again.

I have a lot of stuff to do this week but not as much as I had feared that I would coming back from a week away. I am scheduled to be in Buffalo all day on Thursday for the big Microsoft event where they are giving away all kinds of awesome, expensive software. Unfortunately the event is all ready sold out and a bunch of people didn’t register in advance and aren’t able to go to the show now.

Sometime either today or tomorrow SGL should reach 600,000 words. The Old Testament of the King James Bible is just 602,585 words. Only one or two days until we pass that point. That is a pretty major milestone.

Dominica went into work at 11:00 this evening and discovered that she had been taken off of the schedule at work. Just before we went on vacation she had put in three weeks notice – she didn’t want to give two weeks notice when we were all ready scheduled for a vacation week so she gave them an extra week to help them deal with it. And she wasn’t even definitive about leaving the hotel at that point. She only put in notice that she couldn’t be regularly scheduled anymore after that point but she could definitely be on call and could help out with training and might be able to do part shifts to help get new auditor(s) up to speed. We really fealt that we had put a lot of work into making sure that the hotel wasn’t getting screwed over at all and in fact fealt that the hotel was really getting a much better deal since they were really overstaffed and couldn’t handle all of the people that they have there now. The worst thing was that there was no message left in any form for her. No telephone call or voice mail while we were away. No note at work. Nothing. Just taken off of the schedule without any notice. Now that works out really well for us because Dominica starts her new job on Wednesday and has paperwork stuff that she has to do tomorrow to get ready for it and she has class tomorrow as well so having any hotel work was going to just make things a lot more difficult. So we are happy that she doesn’t have any more shifts there to deal with. Especially since those shifts would not be at the same time as her shifts with Fujifilm. Swing shifts are the worst. She really needs to be well rested and relaxed so that she is able to get up to speed on her new job as quickly as possible. It is her career switching job so it will be a lot different from anything else that she has ever done. Not a good time to be working two jobs. So the Lord is definitely watching over us. We just wish that her manager would have talked to her first about this instead of just taking her off of the schedule without any notice.

Dominica managed to wake up her manager at home and was able to talk to her. Apparently she just didn’t bother to communicate at all and hadn’t taken her off of the schedule to be malicious but another employee had come back to work and needed hours and it seemed like the best way to take care of everything. And that is true. If only there had been a note or, better yet, a telephone call sometime in the last ten days – preferrably right after the decision to go that way was made. It would be nice if we were able to make plans from time to time and not live by the seat of our pants at every possible moment. Why can’t anything ever be easy?

Speaking of problems: I got another screwed up notice from Associated Healthcare. I really am getting a feeling that we are going to have to go to court over this one. They never bothered to call me back after I had spoken to them a few weeks ago and now they send me a late payment notice for an amount of money that is yet a new, made-up amount. Never once have they sent me a statement with all of the line items on it nor have they ever sent me a “final” payment statement. And, to bend things in my favour, I just recently found the original paperwork for the contract that states that everything should have been paid off by the insurance company by May. So I don’t plan on paying them a penny now. I was going to give them a few hundred and write it off as a big health insurance mistake but now I know that the entire thing is a scam and I am going to make them really sweat. It is unfortunate that companies like that are able to do so many unethical and illegal things so easily to hurt me but I figure that if I don’t stand up to them then fifty other people will get steamrolled by them. That seems to be their business plan. They get your information and then charge you for things that you never agreed to but the paperwork is very ambiguous so you never know exactly what is going on. They wait half a year before sending a bill and send tons of overlapping and unconnected bills and never return calls so that you can never figure out what is going on and never get to speak with anyone. Then they tell you that you should have dealt with it right away and since you didn’t they try to scare you into paying their made-up fees. This is probably just a fallback strategy for times when overcharging the insurance company doesn’t work out like in my case. At least I got on before it went too far. But it has gone pretty far all ready. If I am smart, and I seldom am, I will get a lawyer involved tomorrow instead of waiting for them to tell me one thing and then bill be for another. They keep stalling trying to get me stuck. It is really obvious that they think that there is some benefit to stalling and I need to make sure that they are not able to do that any longer. What a pain. But what do you expect from a company that is willing to have its regional offices in Warsaw and Mount Morris?

Dad is coming over at 9:00 in the morning to pick me up so that we can go and get breakfast. Dominica started getting another migraine at work tonight so Oreo and I had to run some Excedrin over to her. Oreo was really nervous about leaving the house and wouldn’t let me drive without climbing onto my lap. He is really scared still and isn’t sure that we are back for good. He doesn’t take change well.

The SGL Podcast has episode nineteen posted tonight so get over there and check that out. Thanks for listening everyone. We are really doing well.

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