RIP: Radio Shack

Gone are the days where you could at least hope to find what you needed at Radio Shack. Even if you had to pay a ridiculously high price for a component, you could at least find some of the things you needed to build a project. But, not any more.

I went into my local Radio Shack today to get a stereo plug for a mic connector that I want to build. The lady at The Shack looked at me like I was stupid when I told her what I wanted (1/8″ stereo plug that I could solder my own wires on to). She took me over to the extension cables. At least she was in the right aisle of the store where the plugs would have been in the past. Trying to be helpful, she stood in my way to find this thing herself that she really did not understand. She would have been more helpful if she would have just let me look instead of assuming I was the dumb one in the conversation.

After digging around a while I realized there were very few products for build it yourself projects.

I left with the comment that I would just have to go online and get what I needed and in doing so try to put Radio Shack out of business. She joked that my leaving the store to buy online could, very well, be their demise.

While Radio Shack is probably doing well in their new business, they are no longer a friend to hobbyists who want to build their own equipment. *Sigh*

Take time to learn your tools

Receptionist phoneYesterday (Thursday) I got a phone call from a doctor’s office I called on Tuesday. The receptionist was calling me back to confirm that my doctor would take my wife as a new patient even though he is currently not taking new patients. This was good news.

The receptionist asked to speak with my wife to get all her information. Since I am clueless as to my wife’s address, phone number and birthdate, I relinquished the phone to her. The conversation included my wife having to give her Social Security number 4 times. Address, phone number and birthdate 3 times. This was because the receptionist (who schedules all the appointments) was having trouble with the “new” computer system.

In my phone conversation with the receptionist on Tuesday I had to go through similar antics. After giving all of my information once, she had to ask for it again. I think I probably went through the whole battery of questions 3 times.

Since I am an existing patient and they have a new computer system I can understand that the receptionist would want to verify my information in their computer. But the data from the old computer system did not get pulled into the new system. So she was having to input it all for the very first time. That seems poorly implemented.

Here’s the rub though. If the system was “new” on Tuesday and all this receptionist does is schedule appointments and input data into the computer, shouldn’t she be better at it after 2 days of use? I can’t imagine having as much problem inputing data into a computer after 2 days as I did the first day. My suspicion is that the system is not “new”, as in, this week, but “new”, as in, the last week or two.

One would hope that the doctor knows how to use his tools before he starts working on you. Shouldn’t other professions be trained in their tools too? I know data entry may not be as life-critical as a surgeon’s work, but you should be able to accomplish such a simple task with at least 2 full days of practice. This isn’t brain surgery; it is data entry.

I try not to be harsh on older people who are trying to learn new technology, but if you have a tool that you are supposed to use for work, you should be able to adapt to it pretty quickly or maybe look at a different line of work. I have no idea how old the lady is in the doctor’s office, but I have never seen anyone in there older than maybe 50 except for one nurse who I am sure is not the data entry specialist.

Lack of ethics loses customers

Last week I was telling my wife about a bike shop I had visited once before. I was really impressed with the staff there because they were interested in learning about me as a potential customer more than they were interested in selling me a product. The one time I had been in the store previously they did not have what I was looking for. However, they took the time to teach me a couple of things about bike maintenance and explained where some good local bike routes were. I was very impressed.

My first visit with them was over 6 months ago. I was back in the area last week which is why I brought up the subject of the bike shop to my wife.

We had an opportunity to drop by there this week while looking for an adapter for a 1-1/4″ bike rack to fit in my 2″ hitch. This is something that is typically included with a new bike rack. I bought mine used off of Craig’s List and it did not have the adapter.

The man in the bike shop suggested that I go to Wal-Mart and tell them that I bought the rack from them and have them pull an adapter from one of their in-store displays. I told the guy I did not buy the rack from Wal-Mart. He said, “It doesn’t matter. They rip people off all the time, they might as well get ripped off occasionally.”

That type of mentality shows a lack of character. It doesn’t matter what a person thinks about another company or individual, they can’t suggest that stealing from the business is justified because that company isn’t fair. This tells me that the man in the bike shop would probably take advantage of me if it easily benefitted him.

While the good experience I had when I first stepped in the store carried enough weight to send me back there, the lack of character and ethics will keep me from ever going back to that store again. Be careful what you say to your customers, it could cost you many dollars in the future.

Bicycle Museum of America

Me riding a big wheel.Thursday we spent a couple of hours at the Bicycle Museum of America. We saw a sign on I-75 advertising the museum and took a detour from our traveling. The museum is not right off the interstate like we had hoped, but we had a couple of hours free that we could spend there.

We were greeted by a friendly hostess. She shared with us some of the history of the museum and its pieces before we started talking about the bikes themselves. Much of the collection was bought individually at auction when the Schwinn family had to sell off their bikes.

There was a good 15 minute video that we watched to help get us started in the history of the bikes. Then we spent more time than we had available browsing through the collection. The hostess and a volunteer were there to answer our questions. They both seemed very knowledgeable and willing. When I asked about a specific bike brand (Bianchi, my bike) the hostess went into their warehouse to bring out a sample from them. The showroom does not have enough space for them to show all their bikes at once. Therefore they constantly rotate bikes in so there is a different group of bikes each time you go. The main ones are always on display, but many secondary bikes are rotated. We are talking about hundreds of bikes on display at once.

In the parking lot of the museum is an extra treat. The Erie Canal passed through this town and one of the locks is right there beside the parking area.

I did some recording at the museum. I have not had a chance to listen to it, but if it is any good I will share it here.

Deep fried chicken relieves stress better than Yoga

Chicken packageWe had lunch at Burger King today. Our son had the Chicken Fries. When he was finished eating he read the packaging out loud. It reads:

Face it. Life can be stressful. But not when you have some lightly battered premium white-meat chicken by your side. Just grip, dip and go. Wasn’t that easy? Take that, yoga class.

Essentially Burger King is saying that to relieve stress you are better off eating deep fat fried chicken that has 53% of it’s 390 calories coming from fat than to do a yoga class. And if the fat and calories were not enough, they provide 41% of your RDA of sodium. They are trying to convince us that getting almost half of your sodium in one meal (that does not count the fries or anything else with your meal) is less stressful, and presumably better for you, than doing a round of exercise that is perfectly designed for stress relief.

Am I the only one that has a problem with this?

I know that fast food joints are not known for their promotion of good health, but to say that you will be more stress free and, implying, healthier by eating the Chicken Fries than exercising seems irresponsible.