Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Great Wolf Rates High

Several weeks ago, I went with the family to the Great Wolf Lodge, just outside of Cincinnati. With apologies to Roger Ebert, I’d give it four out of five puking kids.

Great Wolf is a hotel with an indoor water park, featuring attractions for all ages. It is costly, but a big hit with kids. Kid-friendly touches include a room within a room, complete with bunk beds and a television. A role-playing game with a wizard’s theme is another great diversion.

But the main event is definitely the water park. At any given moment, Kim and 6-year-old Clark played basketball in one of a half-dozen pools, while 12-year-old Trent and I nearly lost our lunch on one of the park’s mondo water slides.

This brings me to the innovative puke-scale rating. Not surprisingly, pizza doesn’t mix well with undulating waves and death-defying slides. On four different occasions, teenage lifeguards shut down Great Wolf’s wave pool to clean out offending organisms.

In case you’re wondering, the lifeguard who spots the lost lunch must remove it. No one could be blamed for literally looking the other way. Not these guys and gals. They took their jobs seriously, donning protective gloves and removing regurgitated remnants.

During one such cleaning, we returned to our room. Apparently determined not to be outdone, Clark complained of a stomach ache. Thankfully, the moment passed.

That’s why I can give Great Wolf only four puking kids. It nearly earned a rare five-puke rating, but it wasn’t to be on this trip.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raising the Roof!

Charlie Brown has kicked the football. The Washington Generals have won the game. The Independent candidate has been elected.

To put it another way, score one for the underdog.

After six months of nearly continuous turmoil, State Farm has decided to pay for my roof. I’m truly grateful. I just wish it had been sooner … and a lot easier.

For those of you scoring at home, the final tally looks something like this:

· One letter to the editor
· One Department of Insurance (DOI) complaint
· One file too thick for my filing cabinet
· One memory card full of photos
· Two engineering reports
· Two letters to lawmakers
· Two cars moved to another insurer
· Three fish sandwiches eaten during a consultation with a friend/attorney
· Eight or nine roofers’ opinions
· 10 bitter blog posts
· Numerous sleepless nights
· More sympathetic lunchtime conversations than I can count

After all of this commotion, I ended up exactly where my neighbor did, except State Farm cut him a check right on the spot.

The only conclusion I can draw from all this is that the process is designed to frustrate. Those with the least resolve and resources get run over like road-kill. The rest of us – those too stupid and too hard-headed to give up – can eventually be heard.

Thank you to my friends, family and neighbors for their support. Thank you to everyone who took their time to climb on top of my house.

Now it’s time to celebrate … by literally raising the roof.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Curse of the Colorful Guy

It’s a lot easier to give people directions to my house now. It’s the only one in the neighborhood with bright orange French doors.

They weren’t always so eye-popping. In fact, they were quite muted, but they were also leaking. I summoned my dad over to take a look. He spent hours repairing them and left a note with very specific instructions, “pick up white semi-gloss oil-based paint.”

“White,” Kim reminded me, as my son and I prepared to leave for the paint store.

Somewhere between home and the paint store things went horribly awry. White seemed too boring. A colorful guy like me craves more. I decided to go with terra cotta to match the bricks. “Clay pot” seemed close enough. And why not go full-out glossy?

Ever the good soldier, Dad painted my doors completely in glossy “clay pot,” which will henceforth be known as “burn out your retinas” orange.

My wife hates it. My neighbors can’t leave their houses without sunglasses. My dad refuses to invest another six hours in the project. Finally, if I ever try to sell the house, my pool of buyers is now restricted to the colorblind.

I know what you’re thinking. “It can’t be that bad.” If you saw a picture, all your doubts would be removed. I’d attach one, but I’m afraid the results would be more damaging to computer networks worldwide than the conficker worm.

There is this piece of good news, however. You can now see my house from outer space. Just be sure to cover those retinas first.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Getting Stuck by State Farm

State Farm is running another commercial as part of its “get the car wash and the rinse” series.

In this one, several people buy popsicles from an ice cream truck. The stingy ice cream man gives everyone their popsicles, but withholds the sticks. Hilarity -- and a mess -- ensues.

I guess it’s clever enough, but maybe I'm not a good humor man for expensive advertising campaigns after having my roof claim denied.

The message of all this advertising is State Farm doesn’t cut corners like its competitors. Of course, you wouldn’t know it by me. I do, however, agree you’ll never have to worry about sloppy popsicles. After all, State Farm will always stick it to you.