Saturday, September 6, 2014

Speaking of ice and hotels

On my recent trip to London, for the days before and after the Worldcon, I stayed at my favorite grand old hotel there, the Savoy.  A superb hotel with lovely rooms and excellent service, the Savoy nonetheless barely understands the ice requirements of Americans--or, at least, those of this American.  As I've explained before, including in yesterday's post, I love ice and always seek it at hotels.  Thus, I had a problem at the Savoy.

I initially tried solving it simply by asking for ice.  They filled the room's lovely (and cleaned daily) metal ice bucket--but with seven admittedly large cubes.  Seven.  As if each was precious.

I tried again. 

Six cubes this time.

I pondered the challenge.  Six or seven cubes lasts one glass of Coke Zero, and then I'm out.  The Savoy clearly was not going to understand the amount of ice I want.

As is usually helpful, I tried to consider the situation from the perspective of the others involved, in this case, the hotel.  No one would need much ice.  Really, who needs ice?  Six or seven cubes is perfect for a mixed drink or two, more than enough for a guest and even someone a guest might be bringing back to his/her room.  You don't need ice in quantity for anything, really...

...except, perhaps, to keep champagne cold. 

Ah, I could work with that.

The next time I was leaving the room, I called for ice, but this time I said when I'd be returning and requested a couple of large buckets of ice.  They thoughtfully asked whether I would like two champagne glasses.  Of course I would, I replied.

Upon my return, waiting for me were two gloriously large buckets full of beautiful ice!  Standing on either side of one of them were two equally lovely champagne glasses.

Deep into the night, I drank my icy cold Coke Zero from first one and then, just for fun, from the other lovely champagne glass.

Oh, yeah:  I can work a hotel.

Savoy folks, if you are by some miracle reading this, I love your establishment, and I apologize for gaming the system, but given what the rooms cost, I don't feel too bad about it. 

And I'll definitely try it again, should I be lucky enough to visit there once more.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Things that piss me off: Ice bucket condoms that are too small

I love ice.  No soft drink, no glass of water, is complete without it.  So, when I settle into a hotel room, and each night when I return to one, I fill its ice bucket.  Inevitably, that bucket is a piece of plastic crap that the hotel never cleans, so for your own health you must first line it with plastic before filling it with ice.  The hotel kindly provides a plastic bag insert--an ice bucket condom--that you can use for this purpose.

If only the bloody things weren't always too small.

The bag is never quite big enough to both line the sides and bottom and also wrap over the lip of the ice bucket.  So, you stretch and pull and finally get it to kinda sorta fit--until the first ice cubes drop from the ice machine.  Then, either the edges of the bag fall into the ice, or you discover the bucket can now hold only a fraction of the ice it should be able to handle, thanks to air trapped around the bag.

This frustration is completely unnecessary.  Surely someone could make a healthy profit providing bags that actually fit these buckets. 

Alternatively, hotels could stock more ice buckets, ideally insulated metal ones, and actually provide clean ones each day--as many European hotels do.

No, of course they won't.  The firms that manage the hotels would rather torture us, presumably in the cause of a tiny bit more profit, with ill-fitting ice bucket condoms. 

That pisses me off.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

At PT, we don't test just technology products

Oh, no.  As this new episode of Now with PT shows, we can test some very different things.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two September films I can't wait to see

I have been a fan of Lawrence Block's for a long time, and I've long loved his dark Matt Scudder novels.  Now, one of them, A Walk Among the Tombstones, is coming to the big screen--and Liam Neeson is starring in it.

Back in the late eighties, I was a fan of the Edward Woodward TV show, The Equalizer.  Denzel Washington is starring in a reboot that looks awesome.

I'm psyched for both!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On the road again: DragonCon, day 6

Wake up.  Work.  Shower.  Work.  Check out.  Drive.  Work and eat lunch.  Ride--and work.  Get home.  Work.  Eat dinner.  Work.

That was pretty much my day, the final day of DragonCon for me, the day after the con officially ended. 

A few closing thoughts on DragonCon:

The crowds are amazing, as is their energy.  Though written SF is definitely not the top priority for the majority of folks, books and stories matter enough that every panel I saw had plenty of attendees.

The people who run the con came across as incredibly well organized.  I'm sure there were plenty of hitches behind the scenes, but from my perspective, these folks did great work.

The con organizers treated me very well.  I was happy with my panel selection, and they were always great to me.

On balance, I absolutely hope to return next year, assuming I can get a hotel room.

Now, though, it's time to unpack.

I hit the road again Sunday.

Oh, boy!

Monday, September 1, 2014

On the road again: DragonCon, day 5

After a little morning work, I tromped down the stairs--the elevators were jammed with fans who were checking out--to my one con activity of the day:  a panel titled, "Ask My Anything!"  The plan was that four other writers and I would answer whatever questions the audience threw at us, and that was pretty much what happened.  Almost all of the questions focused on topics related to publishing, both in the traditional ways and self-publishing.  The time passed reasonably quickly, and the audience seemed pleased, so I'd call the panel a moderate success.

After lunch, which I once again procured from the nearby food court, I walked a bit, did a little work, and had a lovely nap, a rare treat. 

Dinner was a decent Italian meal at one of the local Figo chains that just happened to be right near that Jeni's I'd visited earlier.  (Okay, so it wasn't all luck.)  Naturally, dessert was delicious ice cream.

Back at the hotel, the con, which officially ended late this afternoon, was barely present.  Here's a shot much like the others I took from my favorite people-watching spot in the Marriott's lobby.

As you can see, the crowd of determined partyers is a tiny fraction of what it was during the other nights of the con.

Tomorrow morning, I will catch up on whatever work has arrived and then head to the car before noon for the long drive home.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

On the road again: DragonCon, day 4

You can reach a nearby food court from two of the main con hotels via an enclosed walkway, so that place has done a banner business for both lunch and dinner.  I've taken lunch there each day, and I did so again today, choosing Aviva for the second time.  The food was once again delicious and fresh.

I spent a lot of time in the art show today, studying my two favorite paintings.  Ultimately, and after much thought, I spent entirely too much money on a bid for the piece that turned out to win the Best in Show award.  As luck would have it, I won, so a very beautiful oil painting is going to be riding home with me Tuesday.

In the late afternoon, I did a signing at the booth of The Missing Volume, my friend Glennis LeBlanc's store.  Glennis is always gracious at signings, even to authors who do not sell many books for her; I, sadly, am one of those.  I did sign books for a few folks and had a lot of nice conversations, so as signings go for me, it was a good one.

On the way back to the hotel from the dealers' areas, I stopped at a local CVS to pick up more Coke Zero for the room.  While doing that, I passed this sign, which I have seen before and quite like.

Click an image to see a larger version.

No, I did not order the Leeroy Jenkins, but I did smile at the name.

After some work, I headed out to a pleasant and tasty dinner at the nearby White Oak Kitchen.  The place is a very short walk from the hotel, and the food was good enough, but it just couldn't hold a candle to last night's meal or even the one at Bacchanalia a few nights ago.

On my usual walking and people-watching late-night tour, I spotted this woman showing off her Sharknado costume.  Nice concept. 

The crowds at the Marriott were definitely thinner than last night's, but the people-watching was still good, and excellent costumes were plentiful and easy to spot.

The energy remains infectious.  Though I always stand apart from the festival and can't even imagine how I might participate in any of it, I do enjoy watching and listening.

Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., I have my final event of the con, a panel with four other writers.  I have no clue how many folks will attend, so if you're at the con and reading this, come check us out!


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