Thursday, July 3, 2008

Finding Information Online -- The Family Soap Opera and Teachable Moments

Yesterday was a teaching tool time in two weird ways:

Saga #1 -- My car started making crazy, metal chattering noises half-way through my drive to UCLA. It had made some muttering noises the day before, so I had taken it to my local shop. 20 minutes later they had found nothing after checking all the hoses and belts. I've had this car for 8 years and 165,000 miles. I knew something wasn't right, but they patted my head nicely and told me not to worry. So the next day when it started getting mad and making these metal-on-metal rattling noises, I was worried despite having no warning lights.

So with my government-insisted headset on (which I've been using for years already), I called my husband on the cellphone to find the nearest dealer to my location. I didn't want to get this car on the freeway.

So my husband gave me an address -- and nothing was there. No car dealer service people, no sign. Lots of car dealers -- just not this one.

So I called my husband back. Where did he get this information? It was from an online site that had all the car dealers in this area. So I asked him to go directly to Chyrsler (yes, a Chrysler) and look at their site. I got an indignant response -- why would their information be any better? With my car chattering away, I sweetly responded that they would be responsible for updating at least their own information, and this other site had no such motivation and no reason to believe that they would stay valid...

End result -- finally found them on my own 1-1/2 miles later while husband was still defending his original online site. Car will be in the shop for quite a while with possible engine or other malady. Three technicians already stood over it clucking for a while, agreeing I shouldn't take it back on the road. Got a mediocre deal from Enterprise for the rental car, as they saw I was in need...should have booked online.... :)

Saga #2 -- I had asked my responsible 15 year old (not an oxymoron) to check out roundtrip train fare from LA to Washington DC for a possible vacation. So yesterday I asked for the results. She had procrastinated as she didn't know how to get started. Last night, I spent some time with my oldest daughter at my right elbow and youngest at my left showing them (a) how to find Amtrak and use the website to look at possible trips (yikes, quite expensive for the right to sit up and sleep for 3 nights) and (b) while we were at it look at how to register for Comic-Con in San Diego this month.

They were surprised for the latter that some tickets were sold out and their procrastinating actually cost them opportunity. So from this endeavor, they learned how to investigate options on a service/sale site AND they learned that a stitch in time saves nine...or something like that.

Not sure what my husband learned from my car incident. I think I learned to instead say a sweet thank you, then pull over to the side of the road and use my Blackberry and offdeck search with Google or Yahoo myself.

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