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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tank Half Full

Lately I have noticed a trend by rental car agencies to provide a car with half a tank of gas, instead of a full tank.  One can only assume that this is an intentional act to take advantage of the consumer.  Good luck refilling the tank to the exact same level at the end of your travels.  It is much easier to fill a tank completely (starting with a full tank) than to estimate how many gallons of fuel you need to pump to get it to half a tank.  If you fill it with too little fuel, they will over-charge you for the difference.  I'm not sure what they do if you go over half a tank.  I doubt they siphon out the gas to bring it back down to half a tank.  I also doubt they give it to the next person with 5/8 of a tank.  Perhaps they fill it to 3/4 tank for the next person. 

What really has me curious, is how they can fill it to exactly half a tank?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Answering Machine Messages

Every week I need to call the office of ENT & Allergy Specialists of Virginia, to make an appointment for my son to get an allergy shot. Unfortunately, it is a lot harder than it should be.

This is the message I get when I call (703) 723-8727:

Thank you for calling ENT & Allergy Specialists of Virginia
Please listen to the following menu so that we can best direct your call
If this is a doctor's office or a hospital, press '8' at this time
If you are calling due to a life-threatening emergency, please hang up and dial 911
If you know your party's extension, press '9'
Please note, our office is closed for lunch between 12 and 1pm
If you would like to schedule an appointment, or change an existing appointment, press '1'
For information about our address, website, fax number, or hours of operation, press '2'
If you are a pharmacy or a patient calling regarding either a medication refill or prior authorization on a CT scan and would like to leave a message for our clinical coordinator, press '3'
If you need to speak directly with a clinical coordinator regarding surgery scheduling, pre-op and post-op questions, press '4'
If you would like to leave a message for the allergy department, press '5'
If you would like to leave a message for the audiology department, press '6'
If you would like to speak to the office administartor, press '7'
Please press * to replay these menu options

First of all, they have a full-time receptionist at this small office, who does nothing most of the time, so would it really be that hard for her to just answer the phone? They have a whole separate message that they play when the office is closed, but the above message gets played on all calls that come in when the office is open, even when the receptionist is sitting idle at the front desk.

Now, as far as the message is concerned, I would estimate that 95% of the calls they get are for appointments. Thus, everything shown above in red is a waste of our time. The first thing should be "dial 1 to make an appointment" and then they can put all of that other garbage that nobody cares about after that.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Foo Fighters Independence Day Blow-Out

The Foo Fighters put together a great Fourth of July event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the release of their first album. The all-day event featured many great opening acts, including Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Gary Clark Jr, Heart, Buddy Guy and LLCoolJ.  A rotating stage allowed the music to flow continuously, as each act's stage set-up was prepped on the back of the stage while another one was performing.

As much as I enjoyed the opening acts, the Foo Fighters were by far the best part of the show, putting on a full two-plus hour show encompassing songs from their entire 20 year career.  Questions as to how Dave Grohl would cope with his broken leg were answered by a giant ornate mobile throne that he explains was envisioned while he was recuperating  from leg surgery in the hospital.  Grohl milked the injury for all it was worth, repeatedly showing video of himself falling off the stage in Sweden, to the DC crowd's amusement. 

The concert opened with "Everlong", one of my favorites, and a great song, reminding me why Dave Letterman chose it for the final montage on his farewell show.  During one of the more powerful moments of the show, Grohl left his throne and walked to the end of the stage extension on crutches, to perform an acoustic rendition of "My Hero".  The last song in the encore-less set was "Best of You".  We ranted about radio overplay of this song in 2005, but a decade later it was a great finale.  As to be expected for July 4th, a fireworks show followed the concert.

The biggest disappointment of the day was the concert venue, RFK stadium.  Parking at the stadium cost an obscene $40.  The stadium staff did not seem prepared for an all-day concert venue.  The first set started at 1:30 PM, and by 4:00 PM trash cans were overflowing and the bathrooms were disgusting.  Long lines of people waited to get cash from the ATM's, because all stadium concessions were cash only.   Food and drink prices were jacked-up sky high.  The food was terrible, even by stadium standards.  Many of the food stands started to run out by ~7 PM (including all food stands in the upper levels).  This is especially obnoxious considering that no outside food or drink or readmission was allowed for an event that opened by 1PM and lasted past 10PM.