Monday, March 28, 2011

And don't get me started on the service

Only five pillows on my bed?! And they call this a four star hotel...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Halfway decent v. Not that bad

Our check engine oil light has been flickering for a while, so I finally decided to get the oil changed before I left for Boston tomorrow.  (I didn't want the transmission to fall out on Child while I was gone.)

We just moved here to CA a few months ago and Child took the car in last time in needed an oil change, so I didn't have any particular place I liked.  I called the Valvoline Instant Oil Change place in Vista and the person who answered the phone sounded so sullen and short that I immediately decided to try a different place.  My second phone call was to Firestone Complete Auto Care, and the way the clerk there answered the phone was like night and day.  He was bright and cheery and suggested I look on their website for a discount coupon.  I immediately decided to go there instead.

Unfortunately, that was the highest point of the experience.  Not that anything went particularly bad, but there were several areas they could have improved.  Like all auto places, they tried to upsell me on several more services, but they went even further than most places by throwing in a credit card offer.

Of course my tires were bad so they wanted to replace those, as they always do, but the man who helped me (different than the one who answered the phone) seemed genuinely peeved that I didn't take him up on his offer.  "But I'm giving them to you at cost plus a buck!"

I understand it's a great deal.  I've bought tires before.  But regardless, I just don't have $250 in the budget to drop on tires right now.

The other annoyance was that even though there was supposedly only one car ahead of me, and I was assured that they would be done by 11:30 AM at the latest, I didn't walk out until 12:30.  That was 2 1/2 hours on my Saturday gone.  I expect that at a doctor's office, but changing tires and oil isn't brain surgery.  It shouldn't be terribly hard to estimate time-to-completion, especially if there's only one other car.  (Of course there were more--I could see them in the bay.)

Would I go back?  I really, really wanted to like them after the way that first man answered the phone.  But I've been to better places, and would probably look around first.  Although actually, now that we have a house (or will in a few days) I'm going to try changing my own oil.  It'll save money, and after the first couple times, I've no doubt I'll save time too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Peace Prize, here I come.  I have just solved world hunger.

All we have to do is send our daughter's booster seat to a country currently experiencing famine, and all their food problems will disappear.  At any given meal, it will easily amass three times the amount of food that was actually served at the meal.

As I tipped the chair on its side and shook it in preparation to sweeping the floor after dinner this evening, it produced:
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Bread
  • Cheerios
  • A cat
  • Orange
  • Granola
  • Potato
  • Apple
  • Plastic St. Patrick's Day clovers
Everything but the plastic clovers looked edible, and much of it actually looked better than many of the meals I ate as a college student.  I see no reason why the booster seat's particular capabilities couldn't be put to good use.

And who knows?  Maybe the living room recliner will come up with plan for world peace.

Love Unfeigned

In our men's group at church today, we had a new person show up.  He was obviously not your usual church-going type, and when he was asked to introduce himself, he said some things that made it clear he had some mental issues, probably schizophrenia.

Later in the lesson, the teacher asked a question and this man answered with a rambling response that ended with him saying he wanted to have a family, and how should he go about doing that?

Everyone in the room listened until he was done talking, and I expected everyone to do what I was planning to do: humor the man while maintaining a polite expression, then turn back to the teacher and let him guide the lesson back on-topic.

Instead, to my surprise, a couple of men in the class answered with very thoughtful, serious responses.  The marine with the grenade stickers on his truck explained that the man's first goal should be to make himself right with the Lord then blessings like a family would follow, while the silent man at the back of the room spoke up and gave encouragement for starting with the small things like coming to church.  Before the class was over, the man had been invited to a church activity, lined up with a ride, and shaken hands with half the class.

I was ashamed of my initial reaction of brushing off the man, while simultaneously rejoicing in belonging to an organization that built men like the ones who had just taught me a lesson.  Next time, I'll hopefully be a little more Christlike thanks to their example.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Robotic Rodeo -- Day 3 -- Murphey backs off

So after I blogged about day 0, 1, and 2 of the Robotics Rodeo, life intervened, and I never got to day 3.  However, when John mentioned that Davin mentioned that my blog post about 5D Robotics stealing some lady's bag from airport security was on the first page of Google results for "5D robotics," I figured I better tie up a few loose ends.

First, we returned the lady's stolen bag.  We had left my phone number with Delta so they could give it to the lady if she called them, which she did.  As it turns out, the lady was moving from CA to GA, which somehow equated to carrying a carry-on full of brand-new clothes and 50 garbage bags, but she wasn't particularly inconvenienced by the bag being stolen.  We promised we'd leave it at Delta on our way home, and they would see that it got back to her, which they did.  (After we spent ten minutes convincing the Delta employee we were in fact returning a stolen bag rather than looking for a lost bag of our own.)

Second, we almost ran over Boeing's robotics team.  They were standing in a small group making snide remarks about the clearance and overall appearance of the Segway robot I was driving when it accidentally swerved towards them.  They managed to scatter in time to avoid getting ran over by 240 pounds of steel and clawing tires, but only barely.  Fortunately we had the velocity capped on the robot.

Third, the demos went marvelously, and not just because our CEO didn't like my blog post about the previous day's disaster showing up on the first page of Google results for our company's name.  They actually went really well.  Antenna Products pulled out a wireless spectrum analyzer and found us a channel that was fairly free, so our radios worked much better.  We were actually able to demo our robots for some important people that Davin roped in, and the Segway representative only mistook one middle-school boy for a girl.

So all-in-all, it ended up being a positive experience.  We had sushi for dinner, John didn't get tazed even once on the way home, and we got the next day off work to catch up on sleep.

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Favorite Baby

Last night, Child and I were in bed.  Ash was sleeping in her bed beside ours.  Child and I laughed about something and in her sleep, Ash laughed also.  Child and I thought that was pretty funny.