Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bait & Switch Weather

My Toes Are Cold...

We rolled back in here to our little Island a little before 3 PM yesterday and the temperature was 74 degrees F.

Sorry, but I just have to gloat a little.

You got to love it if you live here and have spent the past week running around with a jacket and long sleeves in foreign places--it was 27 Thursday morning and 40 when we left Vinings yesterday morning.

We ended up wandering over to our local watering hole about 5 PM in my short shirt sleeves to meet my real estate friends Bruce and Ski, and then we promptly ran back home to hide from eating out for the zillionth time in the past week.

I actually skipped dinner because I'm so full of grease and pasta and meat that I think I could hibernate until April and not eat another bite.

That's the only bad thing about traveling is the inability to just eat a little something--every plate seems to contain 1-1/2 to 2 times as much food as I'd ordinarily eat, so I end up dragging styrofoam boxes back to the hotel and then stinking up the place microwaving stuff in the middle of the night when the munchies set in.

If I stayed gone a month I believe that I'd have to buy a forklift or at least one of those stupid "mobile chairs" to move me from the sofa to the car and hire a legion of "home caregivers" to manage my blood pressure/colesterol medicine and wash the hidden folds of my bloated carcass.

Any way, I woke up about 1:30 having gotten my obligatory 6 hours worth of sleep and had cooled off a bit. I cranked on the heat and checked the weather channel, and it was 34 DEGREES OUTSIDE.

What happened to my order of tropical weather?

I absolutely have to wander over to the "job site" and get a few hours of work done and take a look at the schedule for the next couple of months. I've reluctantly decided to break down and hire myself some help in the roofing, electrical, and plumbing department because I'm getting pressure from potential buyers that don't want to wait until the return of Christ to move in.

Some people just don't appreciate fine art craftsmanship the fruits of inate lethargy.

Friday, February 01, 2008


On The Road Again...

Cliff's notes for the day...sHrillary, Obama, McCain, Romney...

Read some news stories and make up your own rants this morning, I got to go.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Laundry Lint In My Hair

And A Smile On My Face...We're Going Home

Four cities, seven nights, I believe that's enough for now. Plus, I've run out of things to do away from home that are more important than the things I have to do at home and in Brunswick. When we arrive back on our little island tomorrow afternoon our car odometer will read almost 1,100 miles higher than when it started. a week ago.

Downtown Atlanta was as I remembered it to be in January, full of wind and cold and busses and hurrying people, and I really don't miss any of it even after nearly five years of absence (19 years if you count the last time I worked downtown.)

Meanwhile, my realtor's been begging for a key to my new front door so he can show a potential buyer my construction monstrocity, and I have numerous other tasks to get back in the middle of since I can't seem to make them take care of themselves by themselves while I'm away.

This time tomorrow night I'll probably be asleep on my own sofa...

I can hardly wait.

Live From The Chilly City Of Vinings, Georgia

Mass Transportation On Horizion

I'd like to wrap my hands around someone's neck this morning--if I could find the man responsible.

But I'm sure that I won't be able to find him because as far as I know LAWYERS don't work at 8 AM in the morning, so those same legal scholars certainly won't be found crawling around dingy basement laundrys at that early hour.

The good news is that my request was finally answered about 4 PM yesterday after begging since September for the opportunity to make a site inspection of the accident scene I've been working on with my consulting friend. I find it difficult to do this kind of work using second hand information gathered by people with more education than I have but less actual experience getting their hands dirty on construction job sites, so today I get my remedy to that situation.

The bad news is that for some reason--most likely carefully considered rather than coincidental or accidental (excuse the pun)--they are demanding that I be there in the hotel lobby at 8 AM to join a group of professionals who will witness the dismantling of the nearly year old damaged tank.

The problem is, in order to get from the Atlanta suburb of Vinings to Peachtree Street smack dab in the center of downtown, while at the same time not having to have Pat and Missy the Turbo Pup make two round trips with me to traffic hell, I have to ride not one but TWO mass transit systems.

Both a Cobb County Transit Bus and Atlanta's MARTA Subway/Rail System will be involved in my epic journey, and because of the early hour, and calculating in an appropriate amount of time to cover traffic delays....

I have to leave the hotel at 6:15 AM.

Who in their right mind came up with this schedule?

The offices these people work in don't even open at that hour. I bet you can't find the lawyer near his phone until ten AM at earliest.

Even if you drive into the city, you have to park in a $15 parking deck three blocks away and walk to the hotel. Thankfully for me the Peachtree Center Subway station has an exit at the hotel's back door.

The big deal here is that if you are late and miss the entry procedure, you might as well just go back home because they won't let you enter into the bowels of the building--or so I'm told.

So any way, do the math with me.

Round trip to Vinings (ignoring my earlier travel exploits) = 11 hours
Round trip from Vinings to downtown = 3-1/2 hours

Total travel time = 14-1/2 hours


One to THREE hours (although they've said to plan for an all day event) ...a ratio of four to one.

Oh well, I asked for it I guess, but I don't want to hear any complaining when I send in the invoice for my time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pseudo-Fancy Hotels, Three Dollar Bagles, And Other Stuff

Georgia Here We Come...

Have I mentioned that I consider myself to be somewhat of an experienced traveler?

Well...I am.

That said, these days I am also a PRACTICAL traveler since I've been around some of the world and spent longer than just a few nights here and a couple of nights there.

Thinking back, I've probably spent the better part of four years of my 48 year long life sleeping in motels and hotels of various descriptions, not to mention the occasional Bed and Breakfast and some Condo's and rental Beach houses in Florida and South Carolina.

Today I truly believe that I've seen it all.

For instance, on a whim back in the 1990's when I was on my way to being rich and famous (in my mind) I once payed to stay a night in the "Presidential Suite" of a Hyatt Regency--a space the size of a small house that had a living room with a baby grand piano and up to three separate bedrooms on two floors.

Since I hadn't gained much weight then, I only bought one bedroom, but it's bathroom was the size of the average Holiday Inn room. You could have played basketball in that place.

Only trouble was, the idiots running the hotel apparently hated to have to actually prepare their expensive room for a guest or guests staying but a single night, and as a result when we arrived we found clean linens and bath, but the living space dusty, dead flowers in various vases spread around the space, and left over sticky cocktail glass circles on the piano and bar cabinetry.

No problem...a quick polite comment down at the front desk on our way out for drinks and dinner would certainly remedy the situation.


When we arrived back later (and I mean later) that evening, NOTHING had changed.

Needless to say when I called the front desk I was less than gracious, but even then the manager on duty seemed to feel the need to treat me like a "dog turd found floating in the soiree punch bowl", apparently because I had paid cash and only wanted one night's usage of his expensive property.

I don't know who he thought I was since I didn't bring a tuxedo. I don't know what he thought was going on in my room for one night (which was none of his business by the way), but I thought it reasonable that the imbecile could at least provide the room as advertised since I paid full price and the last time I checked CASH was still legal tender in most of the United By God States of America.

Any way, shortly he arrived at my door in a huff to personally remove the plants. He then reported that the house keeping staff had all gone home and the earliest he could have the balance of my objections remedied would be after 9 AM the next day.

Checkout was of course at 10 AM, and as a result I've never set foot in another Hyatt Regency in the past 13 years.

I wanted to wipe up the dust and stains with his shirt collar, but I resisted since I found dusty piano filled accommodations to be vastly superior to a free night in the local jail.

While I'm thinking about it, I have a similar story about Pontiac automobiles...but I digress.

The thing that is currently pissing me off is when a hotel "Franchisee" decides to take what is normally a friendly, reliable name brand and tarnish the image with petty BS like excessive charges for things that are normally free.

The place we're staying here in Knoxville is a good example.

Let's call them Brand xxx "Select" (I'll let you guess the "Inn" name), but apparently the only thing "select" about them that I've found is that after taking $149 plus tax per night and $50 in the form a non-refundable pet deposit for two nights in a "pet friendly" room, that they then "select" to put you and your "pet" on a floor with only ten rooms, in the basement, adjacent to the boiler room, laundry, and employee lounge housekeeping.

Then they force you to buy even the most meager of snacks out of the gift shop or restaurant.

Ice is free, but there are only over priced soda machines on each floor, no to go to the lobby gift shop and pay $2 for that--IF they're open (which they're not right now at 3 AM.)

And another thing.

Not only do they not want you and your "pet" walking through the common interior spaces of their "Select Inn" on your "Holiday", but you also have to put up with the constant din of the employees hooting and hollering in the hallway outside your room and some sort of contractors rumbling around with various forms of power tools, materials, and demolition debris.

In my opinion, any reputable manager would have closed off this entire short basement floor for the duration of the work and put their "guests" and their "pet" in a room on another floor of the partially occupied hotel.

To be fair, I have to mention that there has been the slight advantage of not having to ride the elevator to take Missy the Turbo Pup outside, but still...

I originally wasn't going to let things get to me, but this morning when I went downstairs to grab some coffee and a snack before my meeting, I found that my only options were:

A) A lovely $9.00 Breakfast Buffet (but I'm not that hungry)

B) Gift Shop Cheetos (but I don't want to get that much fatter)

C) A Bagel and a little plastic tin of Cream Cheese off the Restaurant a la cart menu

Being the light eater and frugal traveler that I am, I chose option "C", but then after retrieving my bagel myself from the aforementioned "lovely $9.00 Breakfast Buffet" display of pastries and cereal, the cash register and the woman operating it had the audacity to charge me THREE DOLLARS.

THREE DOLLARS for a dry bagel that I was in too much of a hurry to heat in the self serve toaster, a little tin of cream cheese, and no plastic knife with which to smear my bagel (or stab myself in the eye.)

Recovering from my "Sticker Shock" and taking charge of the situation, I still managed to have a good meeting after smearing the cream cheese with the handle of a spoon that I stole from the cereal bar and eating only half of my THREE DOLLAR Bagel.

Then there were the "Coupons" provided with a smile at the front desk to all of us "frequent travelers."

All I have to say is that you would have to have or otherwise be a NY lawyer to read and interpret the fine print on their "Free Breakfast", "Complementary Drink" and or "$5 off" coupons.

Last night since it was raining and we didn't want to go out, we finally managed to use one at dinner, but I hurt myself running back to retrieve the little package of paper and my glasses so I could avoid embarrassment caused by tendering the wrong "Coupon."

Just to get even, I'm tempted to go down this morning to the restaurant with the "Free Breakfast" Coupon, load up a couple of plates of food and toss a bagel on top of the pile, then walk out with my bagel, little plastic tin of cream cheese, and one of their fake silver knives.

That will teach them...

Now it's on to Atlanta to look at some exploded metal, eat at some favorite restaurants, and visit with some old friends.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Earmarks Smearmarks

The Status Is Quo...

I'm happy to report sorry to say that I fell asleep about five minutes into the live broadcast of last night's State of the Union Address.

I believe that the meditation and Yoga is working--allowing me to live normally rather than ignoring parts of what would be an otherwise good life wasting time worrying about politics.

I did wake up here early and sneak a read at the transcript of the President's Address, and FOX News is about to replay it so I'll let it drone on the background while I finish up some work getting ready for what is supposed to be a full day of meetings in Knoxville.

The one thing I did hear President Bush mention before I dozed off was his intention to issue an Executive Order instructing government agencies to ignore Budget Earmarks that were not debated and voted on in Congress.

Oh BOY!!!

Actually...Big Deal would be a better response, because the wasted money will still be spent. It will just be done at the discretion of a lower paid bureaucrat rather an elected Politician.

I don't know about you, but I feel better already...NOT.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Torturing The Big Orange Students And Fans

I'm An Insensitive Visitor

You'll be happy to hear that we made it to Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee, and now I'm walking around the area surrounding the hotel walking Missy the Turbo Pup and visiting the lobby Business Center wearing my blue and gold Georgia Tech jacket...because...

I know that nuthin' SUX like a big ORANGE!!

(this is so much fun...more exploits later...)

Carolina On My Mind

Where's James Taylor When You Need Him...

Well, we're back on the road again later this morning, with what is technically a 3-1/2 hour drive from Greenville, across the narrow western part of North Carolina, and on to Knoxville, Tennessee ahead of us for a Tuesday morning appointment.

Of course, unless your butt is on fire and the only fire extinguishers are for sale in Tennessee or you're driving an ambulance on the route, I believe that it would be a complete and total shame to actually cover that distance in a time frame using less than most of a day, in the process averting the wasting of numerous opportunities to make detours to out of the way places and enjoy the views along the way.

The landmarks, topography, and scenery are just too good to do things in a rush, but the only problem for me is actually deciding what to do and where to do it. We want to be somewhere interesting by lunchtime--possibly Asheville--but then Hendersonville using back roads I'm familiar with rather than interstate is tempting and Bat Cave and Flat Rock also beckon.

Then again, a detour over toward Maggie Valley could be possible, although I think that might be a bit too far out of the way requiring backtracking to attain the final destination.

Any way, downtown Greenville has been a pleasure to visit and see the improvements made since I was last here about eight years ago, and Pat and Missy the Turbo Pup are holding up well under the multi-city itinerary.

When it's all said and done, my little pup will have visited Mississippi (where she was born), Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee in her short little 14 month life, and enjoyed every minute of it.

She's a real little four legged trooper...I wish she could share the driving duties.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Check It Out...

The NY Times actually published something I agree with!

Obama Rama


I took a refreshing break from thinking about politics yesterday as we traveled across South Carolina, so I have to admit that I was stunned when we turned on the TV after dinner last night and found out that by turning out and voting at nearly the same rate as Whites, the SC African American population had handed Obama a huge victory over sHrillary and Edwards.

An EMBARRASSINGLY one sided victory.

I half expected FOX News to break in with a story about lighting bolts and laser beams suddenly erupting from every orifice of sHrillary's body.

I don't really give a rat's ass one way or the other, but I will point out that this is a perfect example of how voter indifference can and will effect the outcome of an election. I haven't seen the participation figures for the primary, but I do know that when only 50% of the eligible voters show up in the general election every four years in November that our leadership actually really isn't "Elected"...

...It's DEFAULTED, and that's just WRONG.