Watch a few scenes from the classic 1983 movie National Lampoon's Vacation and beyond the belly laughs, you'll wonder how so many bad things could happen on a vacation. What's that you say? You've had a few rough times yourself? Well, welcome to the club.
My wife and I just returned from a vacation in Hawaii. While most things went smoothly, it got off to a rocky start. When we landed at the Honolulu airport, we proceeded to the rental car desk. We had booked a terrific deal through the Expedia web site. At least, we thought it was a good deal. The paperwork (my legal proof) says $155 a week for our two week rental. That's a total of around $310, if I'm not mistaken. After all, I did pretty well with my high school math.
The small print on our printed confirmation says “taxes and fees are included”. It’s right there in print! So, maybe I'm crazy, but what is your definition of the word included? Before I could even drive a car, I learned something very important. If an advertisement says batteries included, I don't need to spend my weekly allowance on more Duracells.
However, here's the hitch. When the car rental desk finished the paperwork, they wanted 50% more than the original agreement. Fifty percent is a bunch! So, I questioned the charges. I explained to the rental car agent that Expedia quoted me a rate significantly less. He paused and then offered, "We always have a problem with them." Oh, good, was my thought.
"Do you still want the car?" the agent asked. "Yes", I replied. "But, why would they (Expedia) quote me one price and you have a different price?" He said, sadly, that it happens all the time. While other web sites can be an occasional problem, the agent's opinion was that Expedia seems to be the worse offender.
"Would you like to speak to them right now (meaning Expedia)? I can let you use our phone to call their 800 number. Would that be acceptable?" I said sure. What did I have to lose? Well, what I lost was another thirty minutes of my first night in Hawaii. Expedia never answered their customer service phone line. Not once. Why should I be surprised?
Wanting to get on with our vacation, I offered to take the car and work out the problems with Expedia later. Honestly, the rental car agent and his manager were amazing. They were very sympathetic to my problem and offered an instant 10% discount just for my initial pain and suffering. My problem was never with the rental car agency, but rather Expedia. I expected them to be truthful in their advertising and their printed rental agreement. Am I crazy?
During the following days, we tried repeatedly to reach Expedia customer service. Finally, I reached their representative. I began telling my story, with the simple explanation that the word INCLUDED means just that - included. The gentleman on the other end of the phone put me on hold repeatedly. Each time, he said he had to check with the rental car company, his supervisor and others concerning my dilemma. Sometimes, he was gone for a dozen minutes. The entire conversation took more than an hour of our vacation time. In the end, I hoped we could resolve the problem to our satisfaction.
Finally, we began what clearly was his best effort to stiff me on the difference. He tried to place the blame on the rental car company. "We have no way of knowing THEIR charges" was his offering. This, of course, is entirely false. Airport fees and taxes are a set amount of your rental car bill, not a secret formula kept in a vault somewhere in Georgia. Thank you to the rental agents for later reminding me of that fact.
Long story short, he handed me off to his supervisor who dug her heels in and kept cutting me off during my review of the issue. It finally ended with the Expedia rep saying, basically, "Better luck next time!"
Guess what? My next time WON'T be with Expedia! Buyers beware. As the rental agents advised, "It's always better to book directly with a hotel, rental car or airline." You're far less likely to encounter any rude surprises.
I'll remember that. And, hopefully, you will too.
Tonight is the drawing for the Powerball Jackpot. At last check, the winnings could be over 600 Million Dollars! Does anyone really believe there’s a well-kept secret to picking the winning Lottery numbers?
Well, there are a few good angles. Experts tell us, it’s more likely that you’ll have the entire jackpot to yourself if you play numbers that aren’t on the calendar (numbers above 31), because people tend to choose family birthdays and anniversaries. So, unless you want to share the money, that might be a good move.
Which is more likely to happen? Should you choose the numbers yourself or just buy a Quick Pick? Believe it or not, the winners are spread almost 50-50 between the two fields. So, there’s no real advantage either way.
So, what secrets do you employ when you play? I’m reminded of the story told to me by a longtime friend. My friend liked going to the horse races, but we didn’t win money very often. On one particular trip, a person said they had a method for selecting winners but it involved something similar to meditation. My friend said, “Why not?” and gave it a try.
I asked him, “So, what happened?” And he replied, “You wouldn’t believe it! We won almost every time. In fact, we won so often that it got kind of creepy. So I quit!” When I asked my friend to explain the method, he declined.
I guess we’ll never know the real secret to winning. But, that won’t stop us from playing, right? Good luck. I hope that one of us wins the big jackpot tonight. If you win, I’ll let you buy me lunch.
On a recent visit to Oahu's north shore, my wife and I came across a great little shop called The Soap Cellar. In addition to fragrant and colorful soaps and candles, the shop has numerous gifts and items that can trigger conversations of times long ago. I wouldn't call The Soap Cellar an antique store. But, you will find some real gems from the 1960's or even earlier.
The one piece of nostalgia that caught my attention was the clock radio (pictured above). Technology has definitely changed, though not always for the better. I remember having my first clock radio during my teen years. However, I don't recall having anything quite so charming. Perhaps, this item belongs next to other memorabilia at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank or a similar museum of pop culture from decades past.
Did you ever have a clock radio, walkman, or (ready for a laugh) record player that brought endless hours of happiness? Was it difficult to say goodbye and throw it away or give it to the Goodwill? I'm guessing there a few of you headed out to the garage right now. There must be a favorite piece of nostalgia tucked away in some dusty corner. Happy hunting!
For another look at what makes Hawaii beautiful, read my blog below about great Hawaiian sunsets and seascapes.
Returning from vacation is always tough, especially when you've spent a couple of weeks in paradise. But, it's easier when you can bring some memories home with you.
My wife and I are back from a two-week vacation on Oahu in Hawaii. The weather was near perfect. As the old saying goes, the worst day in Hawaii is still better than most days somewhere else. We had a great time - sightseeing, hitting the beach, reading a bunch of good books and just relaxing and watching the sunset every day. However, the highlight of our trip was visiting an art gallery. Does that sound a bit strange?
Since our first visit to Kauai many years ago, we've been in love with the seascape paintings of renowned artist Roy Tabora. The way that he captures the magic of the islands is mesmerizing. If you ever have the opportunity to experience Roy's paintings up-close, you'll understand what I mean. The water glistens; you can almost feel the breeze and his sunsets are as beautiful as the real thing.
Born into a family of famous painters, Roy was reportedly holding a brush and creating pleasant surprises by his fourth birthday. Roy Tabora has made the short list of remarkable artists that can make paintings come alive as crowds gather around his work. He can often be found near the sidewalk entry to his gallery on Waikiki. He loves it when guests enter the gallery and watch over his shoulder as he works his magic on the canvas. And, don't be shy to ask a question. My wife asked Roy, "How do you know when to stop?" Roy replied, "I always quit right before I mess it up."
Roy Tabora has two galleries on Oahu (one on the main street in Waikiki and one on North Shore). In addition, Roy's work will be available at a new gallery on Kauai within the next few days. His story and artwork are also revealed in a published book that's available called TABORA: An Artist's Perspective. Guests at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort on Oahu have the pleasure of enjoying an awe inspiring 9-by-12-foot, oil-on-canvas painting of Roy's that adorns the hotel lobby.
If every picture tells a story, Roy Tabora has written an entire library of best sellers. Enjoy the view!
America's sweetheart actress Reese Witherspoon was reportedly arrested this weekend alongside husband James Toth in a DUI incident reported Sunday by Variety and TMZ.
The truth is rarely reflected in the initial reports of an incident like this one. So, we'll just have to wait and see what Reese herself has to say about it. Currently, her publicity team has no comment.
Okay, help me out here. Is the proper term Garage Sales or should they be called Yard Sales? I guess it depends on where the pile of merchandise is stacked. Nevertheless, Garage Sale mania hit my neighborhood today.
As I left the house for work this morning, I could barely get out of my driveway. And, we weren't having any part of the block sale. In fact, many people were double parked. Do you think I missed any good deals?
With full disclosure, we've had a couple of garage sales in the past two decades. That's not a lot, right? And, we scored a nice little profit and discarded some ancient (and often broken) items. However, I still don't understand the big attraction. What is it they say - one man's trash is another man's treasure?
I like reading books as much as the next guy. I often visit used book stores. But, beyond that one item, I'm not into making Goodwill a regular stop on my way home each day.
So, if you are a champion of Garage Sales, what is it you like about them? If you tell me that you bought an old pair of pants with $500 in the pocket or you scored an overlooked Rembrandt, maybe I'll reconsider.
Recently, someone asked me if I had always wanted to be a radio deejay. Pretty much, that's true.
Let's be honest. Most kids dream about growing up and becoming firemen, astronauts, ball players or super heroes. But, at some point, you realize that firemen have to sleep away from home, cook their own meals and work long days. As for the other three jobs that I've listed above, it's even more unlikely to happen. The odds are really against you. But, mountains were meant to be climbed.
People told me that radio wouldn't be easy. In fact, one well-known personality tried to talk me out of my dream. He thought he was doing me a favor. Boy, am I glad that I didn't listen to him. Don't let anyone steal your dreams.
Radio has been good to me and I'm so blessed to be where I am. This week marks the 30th anniversary of becoming full-time at KOST. I joined KOST 103.5 for weekends, back in October of 1982. That was just a few weeks before the official launch of the latest KOST music format on 11/15/82.
A few months later, I was invited to join the regular KOST full-time staff. So, I left my job doing a morning show and programming a great radio station in San Diego. It was a difficult decision, because I loved the people that I worked with in San Diego. However, it has turned out to be a good move. Was I lucky? Maybe so. But, I think you are at least partly responsible for making your own good luck.
Life is about choices and the journey. I pray that you make the right choices and enjoy your journey. So, my friend, what do you want to be when you grow up? Dream some really big dreams. Then, go out and make them happen! I'll be cheering for you.
This weekend is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. Tens of thousands of music fans are on scene to enjoy the shows. In addition to the stars on stage, you might see a few familiar faces in the audience.
Friday's crowd reportedly included Danny DeVito, Leo DiCaprio, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Victoria's Secret models Miranda Kerr, Whitney Port and Alessandra Ambrosio. Also, spotted in the crowd was Hilary Duff. I saw Hilary once at the Starbucks near our radio station in Burbank. It was one of those rare moments where I knew her face, but my brain just couldn't come up with her name. Forgive me. I guess I didn't watch enough Disney movies or listen to her debut album back in 2003. However, one thing is certain. She was absolutely beautiful as she sat there sipping her coffee.
A few weeks later, I spotted Alexis Bledel (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Gilmore Girls) walking outside a popular eatery. She looked casual, athletic and (again) very beautiful. But, for a few brief seconds, I couldn't come up with her name either. Maybe, that's why we have legendary one-name celebrities like Oprah, Elvis, Madonna, Adele and Bono. It's hard to forget such unique logos, even for the lukewarm fan.
So, have you ever experienced a similar moment? You can always do what I did at Starbucks. I turned to the barista and said, "Hey, isn't that ... (pause - not mentioning the name) over there?"
He smiled and replied, "It sure is!" Thanks for the help, dude.
Here's the deal. It's just Monday afternoon and we've already had a crazy week. So, let's reel off some random thoughts for the day. As always, your comments are welcome at the end of the column.
Sad news this morning that former Disney "Mouseketeer" and Beach Party movie princess Annette Funicello has passed away at age 70. Annette had been out of the public eye for many years. Funicello, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987 and became a spokeswoman for treatment of the disease. For many, she was a huge part of our childhood memories.
Do you believe someone is messing with our weather? Today, in southern California we're experiencing extremely high winds and temps in the low 60's. Meanwhile, a blizzard is moving in on the northern middle of the country. Heavy snows in April? It makes you wonder, what kind of summer will we see later this year?
Casey Kasem's west Los Angeles home went up for sale this week. The asking price is 42 Million Dollars. However, the buyer gets eleven full bathrooms. Which begs the question, "Does anyone need eleven full bathrooms?" Maybe, in a hotel.
If you were hoping to buy the above property, we might have the solution for you. Powerball launches today (April 8th) in California. It's already media frenzy with news people and cameras at locations statewide. Speculation runs deep, as many say the addition of California means an eventual ONE BILLION DOLLAR jackpot. If the odds mean that you are likely to win once or less, that's the jackpot that I want. Have a great week!