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11:52 a.m. - April 20, 2006
A Travelin' Man and His Hotel
One good thing about conferences is that you stay in these big hotels that cost a lot of money, and you get to expense almost everything.

However, you know, for the money you (ok, your company pays) sometimes itís just not really worth that expense.

The room Iím in right now is pretty big. Itís got a nice king size bed (yet no one to share it with Ė sigh Ė well, I mean I COULD be sharing it with someone, but Liz is back at home, and well, my transporter beam is on the fritz!) and comfy chair, a desk, a TV, and a nice size bathroom with a neat shower.

The desk is one thing that could be improved. I hate hotel desks. I always seem to bang my knees into them, they never have enough plugs near them for all of my electronic devices, and generally, theyíre justÖwellÖnot very user friendly or aesthetically friendly.

Itís a very nice hotel, with a business center, meeting rooms, and a restaurant and a bar, and a shopping center right next door to it.

But really, what do I need in a hotel?

For one, I need a bed. At home, I sleep on a queen size bed. Ok, I sleep on 1/3 of a queen size bed. Liz doesnít sprawl out over 2/3 of it; we normally have two cats on our bed as well. Butch likes to sleep on a pillow but Sundance, if heís in the room, will hunker down on the bed, and you feel bad if you have to kick them out for any reason.

So, I really donít need a huge bed. I love all the pillows, though. Pillows are the best. I usually sleep with two, and with a bed like this I can always roll around towards another one.

I like the maid service Ė heck, who doesnít want someone else to clean their room for them. But I get a little embarrassed and frustrated.

For one, the maid always seems to come at an inopportune time. At conferences, we tend to duck back into our rooms to check email, relax a little bit between sessions, call people, etc.

The maid usually comes to clean when Iím changing clothes, or in the bathroom. Because Iím the only one in here, I donít shut the bathroom door, and when I hear that knock knock knock on the door, I have to shout REALLY LOUD and say not to come in, and come back in 20 minutes or so.

Plus, I try to keep my dirty clothes corralled, but I always seem to miss a sock or even my boxer shorts, and I really donít think the maid wants to see that. So I feel bad when I see that Iíve been sloppy with my clothes for her.

The temperature controls in hotels drive me berserk. You can never, ever find the exact right temperature setting for your room, and if you should stumble across it, invariably in the next couple of hours the conditions will change and itís a mad scramble again to find the perfect setting. This of course, will change, AGAIN, in two hours.

I swear that you need a micrometer to find the exact right setting, otherwise itís futile.

Then, there are the meeting rooms, which for some reason are always TOO cold or TOO hot. You either need a jacket, or the ability to change into a t-shirt and shorts from your business attire.

Yesterday during the general session it was freakiní FREEEEEZING in the room, and there were almost 100 people in there. Argh. I was chattering my teeth at times. Why, oh, why canít they get the temp right?

The hotel bar could be a good place, but invariably, it isnít. The drinks are overpriced and if you are lucky the service is OK.

Last year, in Vancouver, we were blessed (cursed?) with the waitron from hell. She not only was slow, but she had an attitude. And what was worse about it was that we were the ONLY PEOPLE in the bar area that were sitting at the tables and not the bar. We were her only customers.

But she just ambled over there with her, ďI should be a model, but Iím slinginí drinks for stupid Americans,Ē attitude, and about 30 percent of the time got the order wrong, or forgot someoneís drink. I ordered a beer and I saw it sit there for perhaps 5 minutes, waiting, unattended, alone, yearning to be drunk before she finally went and got it.

The bar here is OK, but man they are really gouging it to you. We noticed this big time at the reception we had last night. A Bass Ale shouldnít cost you as much as two Taco Bell meals, should it? I mean, really. The ballpark was cheaper, and the beer was BETTER.

There are no nearby liquor stores either where you can purchase liquid refreshments. And thereís no refrigerator, either, just a mini-bar that you dare not open under penalty of death by your business office, so the best you can do is just put some beers in the ice bucket and try to keep Ďem cold even if you DID find a liquor store. But I just said there were none nearbyÖso that point is moot.

I do like traveling, I really do. I do like meeting the people here. We had a fun, fun time at the reception, at dinner and drinks afterward. I showed them my inner geekness (Wonder Twin Powers! Activate!) and we laughed and laughed and laughed. I even showed my chivalrous side, as one of the ladies in our party was staying at a different hotel four blocks away and it was suggested TO ME that I walk her back, in case there was danger.

Well, given that she probably could have taken out any muggers faster than I could, I donít know if it was totally warranted, but yeah, I did my part.

So, the people here are what make me happy. As for my accommodations, Iíd be happy in a Comfort Inn, or a Hampton.

Besides, you get free breakfast there. MmmmmmÖ.breakfast!


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