Friday, November 5, 2010

Refrigerator Life Lesson

The following series of events might make you laugh, but more importantly it's a lesson I painfully learned, and am hoping that you do not have to duplicate.

Last saturday, I cleaned our refrigerator. I seemed to have bumped the temperature control to the off position, which actually is the "off" switch for the fridge and freezer. I don't notice until an hour later, and then turn the control back to 5, where it was before. No harm done, right? Wrong.

A couple hours later, I have a craving for ice cream and when I pull it out of the freezer, it's soup. Uh oh. So I put a glass of warm water in the freezer, and checked an hour later to see if it froze. Nope. I check the fridge and it's at room temperature. Oh crap, the fridge just died, I thought. It's dead silent. I unplug the fridge, plug it back in, nothing. I reset the circuit breaker, nothing. Plug the fridge into another outlet, nothing.

Heather and I go to Sears and buy a new fridge. We also buy a deep freeze to save anything that hasn't thawed yet. The stuff in our fridge that's still OK goes into our mini-fridge downstairs. I unplug the fridge and wait for the new one to be delivered on Monday.

Monday comes, and the delivery people can't install the fridge because there's no water shutoff valve for the fridge. I checked in the basement and couldn't find one. We may have one, but the previous owners finished the basement (which we're grateful for) and likely covered up the valve in the process. So they put the new fridge in the garage and turned it on. They also happened to plug the old fridge back in. Why? I don't know.

Later, I get home from work and guess what, the old fridge works! Are you kidding me?!?!? It died, and was resurrected on the third day. Ice is being made in the freezer, and the fridge is the same temperature as it is outside.

So now we are faced with a dilemma. Return the new fridge? We mulled that over a couple days and decided not to do that, because we'd have to pay the delivery fee and restocking fee (over $200), not to mention that our old fridge has been alive for over 10 years and it could die in the near future. So as soon I can get a shutoff valve installed, the fridges are trading places and the deep freeze is being returned.

So what's the lesson? If you must fool with the temperature gauge on your fridge, only adjust it one "tick" at a time, according to the owner's manual. And if something all of a sudden stops working, stop and think if there's anything you could have done to cause the problem. Yes, all the common sense stuff, which I seem to lack every now and then.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mexico update

I report to Riverview in less than 3 hours for the trip. Everything is packed and ready to go. Should I try to sleep for an hour or two, or should I stay awake? Decisions, decisions. Please pray that the flight goes well and I stay calm - I haven't been on a plane in 3 years and I usually get pretty anxious.

I will not have access to my phone or the internet the entire time I'm there. However, Back2Back is going to be posting photos two or three times throughout our trip, and they will be available on their website for you to view.

If you want to see the photos, go to Back2Back's website ( and enter Photo Code # 14907 into the “View Trip Album” box at the bottom left side. This code is required in order to view the photos.

Back2Back will also be blogging throughout the week, although I'm not sure what the frequency will be. You can check that out at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Most of you have heard about this already, but I want to share just in case some of you haven't.

I'm leaving on Saturday for Monterrey, Mexico and will be there for a week. I'm going with a group from Riverview who is partnering with Back2Back ministries. I'll be staying at the B2B campus and although I don't know all the specifics, I'll mostly be helping with construction projects and traveling to (some or all of) the ten orphanages in the area.

I've only traveled out of the U.S. a couple times, and that was just to Canada. I've never been in a third world country or a place where the majority of the people don't speak English. I've also never been to a place that hot (average temperature next week is 100 with lots of humidity). I'll be forced out of this comfortable shell that I've lived in for so long. However, none of these concerns will stop me from going. I am convinced that God wants me to be there. So far, He has lined up everything so that I'm able to go (fundraising, time off from work, etc), and I hope and pray that He will use me to make a difference and change lives down there. I ask that you pray those same things as well. Also pray that our team will stay safe, healthy, and be able to work together for God's purposes there.

When I get back, I hope to share a little about the trip along with some pictures and possibly a video. Thanks for your prayers and support thus far.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paying too much

Think you're paying too much on your bills? You probably are.

This is beginning to sound like a dirty scam, right? I couldn't pull off a scam if my life depended on it!

No matter if you own a home or rent, you can actually lower your monthly payments on some of your bills. Some examples are cable, internet, phone, trash, and heat. Did any of your bills go up recently? You don't have to accept it.

So how do you do this? Just call the company and negotiate - that's it. I lowered my monthly payment on 3 bills in the last week, just by calling and negotiating:

Trash -
Last year, my promotional rate of $45/qtr ended, and learned that I was going to be charged $60/qtr, not to mention all the hidden fees. A couple days later, I found a local company that was only charging $36/qtr flat. I called my trash company and threatened to switch, so they matched the rate that the local company was offering.

Last week, I got a letter saying that my rate was going up again. I called the local company and asked if theirs went up too. Nope. So I called them back and asked them to match the rate again. They did.

Cable and Internet -
My promotional rate ended last year and my bill jumped an extra $30 a month. My co-worker has the same cable provider and the same thing just happened to her. She threatened to switch and the bill dropped. So I called and tried doing the same thing. I didn't complain as much as her, but they still offered to drop my bill by $10 a month and threw in a free DVR.

Heat -
Ok, so I didn't actually call my gas company to complain, but I got a letter in the mail today stating that my bill was going to be at least $30 lower through the end of the year. The only way to explain that is, they knew they were next. Nevermind the fact that oil prices are at their lowest in 8 years.

I would strongly encourage you to question what you are paying for, because let's face it, we could all stand to save some money. For at least some of the things I mentioned, you can probably get similar service from someone else, and it might actually be cheaper.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Clearing the air

I don't do New Years resolutions, but if I did, one of them would be for my blog to be less boring. No one wants to read boring crap. This means I will have fewer, more meaningful (hopefully) posts.

Having said that, I've gotta do one more lame post to resolve the last one that I did. Then I'll be done (again, hopefully).

So, what ended up being wrong with my car?


After a week of trying, the mechanic couldn't get any violent shaking to happen. Not even a little. We both concluded that the probable cause was snow and ice buildup that temporarily caused the suspension to freak out. He wouldn't accept any money from me - real nice guy.

During this week of waiting, I had an interesting development. If my car had a major issue, would it be worth it to dump more money into fixing the problem when I already know that my engine will slowly deteriorate due to the excessive oil burning, possibly before I get done paying off the car? Or, would I be better off putting that money into a different car? The idea about getting rid of my car began snowballing in my head.

A couple days later, after checking out a couple dealerships, I ended up trading in my Corolla for a brand new 09 Pontiac Vibe. A couple words might come to mind, such as "whoa," "frivolous," "unnecessary", or "expensive." Well, turns out the payments on the Vibe wouldn't be that much more expensive than my current car payment, plus I had been overpaying on my student loans. It was peace of mind, ending the stress and worry about how much oil was in my car at any given time. Plus, it's an awesome car.

If I can give you any advice, it's this:

If you plan on buying a decent car, decent being something less than 5 years old or something over $5K, don't buy it from a stranger. You have no idea whether or not they're lying to you. Even if you get the car inspected (which I didn't - another lesson learned - yes Heather you were right), mechanics don't always discover all the potential issues. Buy it from a place that's going to give you a warranty. If I had a warranty on my Corolla, even as small as 3 months/3,000 miles, I wouldn't be writing this right now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Muh Muh Muh Myyyyyy Corolla

My car has caused me a great deal of emotional pain since I bought it back in January. Now it has taken a turn for the worst.

I was driving home from work today, and about halfway home, I began feeling a lot of push back and struggling from my accelerator. I was still a few miles away from an exit, so I dropped down to about 55 until I could get off. I did a quick check around the car, checked the oil, nothing blatantly obvious. I drove the rest of the way home via backroads, and every couple minutes, my car continued to shake, putt, and struggle to accelerate.

Early indications show that my car has one of the following issues:
- Bad spark plugs (least likely - replaced those a couple months ago)
- Clogged fuel filter (not likely)
- One of my pistons, rings, or cylinders completely took a dump (more likely)
- Blown head gasket (most likely)

I'm bringing my car to a shop on Monday to have a compression test done and assess the damage from there. I have one and a half years (at minimum) worth of car payments left. I have no idea how I'm going to pay for the potential thousands of dollars in repairs. I can't afford another car and make two car payments.

I would like to request one or more of the following from you:

-Please pray that I would trust in God's sovereignty over the situation, and that He would provide for the potential costs involved.
-The name of a mechanic who is willing to do the necessary work as close to the cost of parts as possible.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2 shows in 2 days

I've been pretty tired the past couple days, but that's not because I haven't been able to sleep. I chose to sacrifice sleep for the benefit of seeing two amazing shows in two days. I'll give you a recap:

Monday night - Weezer and Angels & Airwaves @ The Palace

I went with my brother-in-law Wayne, who's a huge Weezer fan. I like Weezer, but not enough to own any of their music. After we paid the undesired $15 parking fee, we went down to the floor (which cost extra, but well worth it) just in time for A&A. I was expecting a slower, spacier version of Blink 182, based on what I had been told. They at least managed to meet those expectations, but if I never hear another A&A song again, I wouldn't be bothered at all. The drummer was really good - I do have to give them that.

Weezer was awesome. They started with "Jonas" and got everyone (including me) pumped up right away. They played over 2 hours, covering all the hits off all their records, including a bunch of stuff from the new record, and even did a cover of Oasis's "What's the Story Morning Glory." I was impressed how good everyone was at their instruments, and each other's. Rivers (sporting the mustache) and Patrick switched instruments on multiple occasions, and everyone in the band got a chance to sing their own songs. This is probably nothing new to the rest of the Weezer faithful.

They also had two encores. For the first one, they handpicked about 20 weezer fans to play with them, which included a slew of acoustic guitarists, a clarinet, tuba, and bassist Scott's dad on saxophone. They played "Island in the Sun" and "Beverly Hills" with the group, ala jam band style. They played two songs in the second encore, with the last one being "Buddy Holly," a perfect ending.

Tuesday night - Sleeping at Last @ Calvin College

Sleeping at Last hardly ever goes on tour, and when they do, they can't bring along the string section that plays on their records. Instead, they bring the next best thing - a MacBook Pro - to cover the string parts. Tonight, however, they recruited people from around the area and formed an 8 piece guest string ensemble to play with them. Four violins, two violas, and two cellos.

They played about an hour and a half, and the strings played about half of the set. I got goosebumps every time they entered the songs. The show tonight was in the chapel, which has very open acoustics and required the band to play quietier. Not a bad thing - it actually made the music feel more personal. By far, it was their best show I've seen them play.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I've only golfed twice in my life. This coming week, however, that number will double. I've decided to take a part in two golf scrambles, the first one coming tomorrow. Since the last time I've attempted to golf was over 5 years ago, I hit the driving range yesterday to see what I should expect out of myself. Let's just say that, a lot of these were mine:

And so were a lot of these:

(The first white post in the distance was the 100 yard marker. I took the picture from where I was hitting)

To the other 3 people in my foursome: I'm sorry in advance. However, I did win the award for longest putt the last time I played.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I've been thinking about taking up jogging for awhile.

This idea originated a couple years ago when, for a month or so, I had an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. My doctor ran a EKG and found something "abnormal," so they sent me to the hospital in Owosso so that they could run a stress test. I had to run on a treadmill with a bunch of cords and stuff stuck to me, during which the doctors kept pointing at my overweight stomach. After the test was over, I was out of breath, and they concluded that I was severly out of shape and needed to start exercising.

Finally, about 3 weeks ago, I decided to start jogging. Based on the experiences I've had so far, I have a few suggestions for anyone that is thinking about starting. I'm not reinventing the wheel here - you could probably google "how to start jogging" and you'd probably get the same suggestions - but this is just my personal experience:

- You need a warm up/cool down period, at least 3 minutes for each. That's a given.
- You need a good breathing pattern. What's working pretty good right now is inhaling every 4 steps, then exhaling every 4 steps. If you don't develop a pattern, you get side cramps. I've gotten some of those and they put a damper on the remainder of your jogging session.
- You need a routine. Pick a time when you're going to jog, and stick with it.
- Start by doing an even amount of jogging/walking. If you have lamp posts, walk to one, jog to the next. We don't have street lights in our neighborhood, so I started jogging for one minute, then walking the next.
- Set a goal, but be patient, and don't burn yourself out. I'm up to 2 minutes of jogging, one minute of walking. I'd like to run a few 5Ks next year, but I'm nowhere near that point yet. It's going to take me awhile to get there, but I'm not in any hurry.

I hope that helps. If you have any running ideas for me, or if there's something I'm doing that I shouldn't be, please let me know.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beijing Restaurant Prepares

My friend Ty told me about this restaurant that was nice enough to translate its name for all the English-speaking tourists in Beijing. Unfortunately, they used an internet translator instead of someone who actually knew English. This is what they came up with:

I'm still laughing. I wonder if I could get some core dumplings there.

Read more here: