Monday, September 27, 2010

Renewal time

So I'm sitting here on the phone with yet another rep from some insurance agency. I used to do this call-around-compare-quotes thing every six months, but the last few years it's dwindled down to a spot check with one random company every year just to make sure our current company was still the best deal. However, today I am yet again making the rounds to try and lower our rates. Amazing what I do sometimes to try and save a buck. Ok, so I decided not to switch unless they could save me at least $50 every 6 months. Even still, so far, the best quote I've gotten aside from my current policy is $50 MORE every 6 months. Huh. All these companies who swear they can beat Progressive. Hasn't happened yet in the four years I've been with them. And you know for car insurance that's a long time to be with someone. But what I really want to know is how do the companies who charge $700 or more OVER my current 6-month policy stay in business? Is it simply name recognition? A family tradition? Or just that people started there and never bothered to shop around? I will say this, though. I never appreciated what my parents went through money-wise when we kids started driving. =)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Orlando at high speed

NOTE: Even if you don't want to read everything, at least scroll through the pictures. They're fun!

So I thought to do a write-up on what our kids did while we were in Orlando, but to tell the truth, I don't know! =) So here's Steve's and my whirlwind visit to Orlando for the 2010 Food Industry Truck Driving Championships.

1. We checked into our room at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort then the next day went and played at Universal Studios. We did rides, of course, like MIB; but more we watched movies in "4-D", were extras in a disaster "movie", and even got paid to give our opinions about a new series to replace something else that bombed (it's called Outlaw I think -- would NOT recommend it!). We would have been in the audience for a taping of Family Feud but we had to get back to Disney in time for Steve to take his written test. But at least we saw the actual time machine used in Back to the Future.

2. Steve took part in the hands-on part of the competition, i.e. pre-trip inspection on a truck with planted defects and then do the driving course. HOT. HOT. HOT. And HUMID. For all y'all not in humid situations, imagine how your bathroom feels after a nice steaming shower where you didn't open any windows or use a fan. And then add sweat. And heat radiating up from the blacktop when you actually are silly enough to stand in the sun. Yes, I had to go in the sun to get a decent video of Steve driving. I swear the heat came up from the ground and wrapped around my feet in their flip flops. The tops of my feet were in agony and I couldn't stand still after a couple minutes because my charcoal-colored shoes were literally burning even the bottoms of my feet. Ironically, my legs in their shorts were just fine in direct sunlight. Sorry, the only picture I got was of a judge who also happens to be with Steve's company. Later they were using hand towels to help ward off the heat.

3. We went to church and stopped by the Orlando temple on the way back (hey, it was directly on our route so why not?). That night there was an awards banquet where we found out that things were all messed up. Seriously! And it's not just because Steve didn't win a prize. =) He came close, though. With the points Steve earned, he was ONE point below third place. Considering these are the top drivers in the Food Industry, that's not too shabby (especially when you consider how big companies like Kraft and U.S. Foods are . . . and they only send their champions). But MAN! So close! Ah well, at least I sat in the right chair -- I got to take home the centerpiece! Okay, so I took home Mickey. =) And promptly gave him to Serene.

4. We stayed an extra day and went to Universal's Islands of Adventure this time. Wow. At least for the Harry Potter World and the Jurassic Park world. This park had various worlds in it, like Toon Lagoon (think comic strips), Suess Landing (yes, that would be Dr. Suess), Marvel Comics, The Lost Continent (think Sinbad-type stuff), Jurassic Park, and of course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It all was fun, but especially for Jurassic Park and Harry Potter, it felt like you could actually be in the worlds the movies showed, not just a set for a movie.

So here's a few of my favorite cartoons:

Here's one of my favorite Suess stories, The Lorax:Part of Marvel land (for those not up on Marvel characters as they are in the comic books, Steve is with Rogue and Storm while I am with Wolverine . . . and if I look like I'm trying to get away, I am! The guy grabbed me and pulled me in so tight I swear I'd hate to meet him up a dark alley!):

Part of the Lost Continent (with the restaurant voted best in theme parks inside):

Jurassic Park:

This is the small-version of Hogsmead that sucked you in when you were there. Wow. I knew I was in a theme park, but man, when I was there, it felt almost real. At least when I left that area I felt a distinct sensation of coming back into the real (and less exciting) world. Steve and I both loved the Dragon Challenge coaster, but the virtual ride in Hogwarts . . . well, we loved the walk through the castle as we waited in line (how many rides can have people saying they loved the line??) since it took us from the dungens up through many parts of the castle. And the talking and moving pictures were incredibly done! However, come the ride, both of us turned out completely and totally sick. We were supposed to be flying with Harry Potter around the castle area and such. I usually can stand virtual rides (the Simpsons ride in regular Universal was fun), but this one actually moved you while also doing the screen thing. OI. I'm surprised the picture they snapped of us on the ride didn't show me obviously trying NOT to display my breakfast. Next time I'd stand in line all over again to see the castle and then skip the ride. Crazy, huh? The last thing we did at Islands of Adventure was do our last shopping for gifts for our kids. And me. =) For the record, yes, I stood in line to visit Ollivanders and hear him help with wand-choosing. And now I'm the proud owner of a cute willow wand with a unicorn hair inside. Oh, and Lucinda, after visiting Honeydukes and such, I have to say even more WOW!!!!! about your efforts at our family reunion! Some of the items in the shops could have come right off that table you set up in Providence!