flashing heart

trip advisor

For the past few years I have been lucky enough to do a fair amount of work-related travel. Some of it has taken me near (Gladstone) and some of it has taken me far (Manchester, UK). All of it has been interesting and a fair bit of it paid for by you and I, the generous taxpayers of Australia.

it is for the latter reason I have always maintained an attitude of general compliance with the rules and regulations of work-related travel, such as never consuming anything from the mini-bar (also, I cannot be arsed paying those exorbitant prices - and who can't be arsed going for a quick walk to buy chocolate?) and have always been conscious of how lucky I am to get paid to travel, and to be paid for the experience. Even when the hotel is some horrid tile-floored airport motel in KL with the most extensive buffet of positively awful food I have ever experienced in my life.


I mean, really: if the entire buffet is just basically meat-based foods of questionable origin, surely you'd think one couldn't go wrong with a bread roll? Right? But you'd be wrong: very wrong. After two attempts at the buffet and a cup of some kind of detergent-flavoured Kool-Aid, I returned to my tile-lined cold room and sat there wondering how long it would take me to actually walk to KL city itself.

The answer didn't come, so I flicked through a couple of snowy channels on the television and eventually found a reasonable hour to fall asleep for my flight the next morning.

This was way back a few years ago, and the work trip itself was great and awesome and very profitable, academically speaking of course. At the time it didn't occur to me to actually provide some kind of feedback about the hotel itself save for perhaps whinging about it on here. Since then, and for the past year, I have however been providing feedback via TripAdvisor, which I still maintain is a useful aggregator, despite its somewhat subjective nature and reports of its unreliability.

One method I have used to determine if a negative review on Trip Advisor is the result of one whingy bitch having a rant is to check how many reviews they have posted: just the one is fairly good indicator that they've made up a quick pseudonym and posted their comments in a pique fit of tantrum-itis really. Another surefire sign that the traveller in question wouldn't be happy in a pink fit is if their complaint is entirely unreasonable given the location of the hotel.

So for example, last year I chose to stay at the fantastic Park Hotel in San Francisco. Excellent room, excellent location, excellent service. In fact, the manager there was such a capital guy that when I left to embark on a trip to Death Valley National Park, I was able to leave my large suitcase there, free of charge, and use a room on my return for the day to clean up and get ready for an overnight train ride departing at 10pm that night, free of charge.

This being the case, I immediately booked in for my return few days in the Bay Area before departing from the US. Now; don't you think that kind of service deserves a mention, not only in this little corner of the blogosphere, but also on a ratings and review site?

That's what I thought: so I reactivated a dormant TripAdvisor account, wrote my little review, and have been writing and reviewing on there ever since.

  • Current Music
    The Waifs
flashing heart

all grown up


Surely one of the signs you're growing up is the acquisition of grown-up cutlery? Actual, expensive, comes in a fancy box not on a plastic stand like a picnic set kind of cutlery?

For some, their first set of cutlery was probably provided them by a mother intent on filling a Glory Box in anticipation of a future involving a husband and chillins to cook for, but all I ever had in a Glory Box was a couple of Hurricane glasses won in a drinking contest.

Speaks volumes really.

Perhaps the sign of growing up is the consideration of upgrading to grown up objects to replace or supplement things we already have obtained: I reckon I'm onto my third set of cutlery, and all have been paid for myself, save for the skerricks of handmedown kitchen utensils I was given in a post-kitchen cleaning moment. So the consideration of purchasing a set of knives and forks in addition to the utilitarian everyday ones I normally use is somewhat of a grown-up move.

For me right now that is: I know for many folks the sign of growing up is breeding and betrothing, but as those things are not likely to occur on the Lynda front, let's just say acquiring something of a grown up nature is limited to objects for me. Yes, yes: breeding and betrothing can ultimately be achieved by both children and morons and do unromantic fact involve acquiring objects, but let's not get into an intellectual discussion about that.

And yes: I have actually made very grown up decisions already in life: the purchase of motor vehicles, the successful application to an overseas university, several thousands of dollars on airline tickets, and the acquisition of a pet. Grown up decision was also required to undertake the commitment to a mortgage and then undertake to extract myself from said mortgage - both of which decisions were made sans partner and parents.

Actually, all of the decisions listed above were undertaken sans partner and parents. How's that for grown up?

So I should imagine the decision to purchase, or not to purchase will ultimately come down to this: when, what colour, and from where. I am quite blessed that I not only get to make this decision myself, but that this is just about the biggest decision I need to make at 9pm on a Friday night. I'm pretty sure there are people somewhere having far better conversations about waaaaayyyyy more important things. But this is what we have here. And that's OK.

For now, I am focusing on the fork...and knife and two spoons.
  • Current Music
    crackle of the fireplace
flashing heart

desolation peak

From the fab folks at the Beat Museum, which I happily visited in San Francisco, paying my respects to the Beats and their ilk, comes this missive and opportunity:

In 1956, at the behest of Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac spent a summer as a fire Watcher up on Desolation Peak in the Cascades at the Canadian Border praying to Mount Hozomeen. Jack was deep into his study of Buddhism and the book Desolation Angels was the result. One of the reasons I've always loved the movie Beat Angel so much is because it focuses so much on this period and this location.

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered last week that the US Department of Interior has a job posting up on their website where any US Citizen can apply to live in one of these shacks for $14 an hour and look for smoke, just like old Jack did in 1956.
This is for real. Click the link to see what it's all about. The posting ends 1/25/11 so check it out right away. If I wasn't spending 24/7 running The Beat Museum I'd be applying for this myself!

"Ooh! Ooh! Me, me! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!"

Funny thing about the job, and the fact that the Kerouac museum is spruiking it...is that Desolation Peak is pretty much what broke Kerouac's spirit. The name and location sum up quite nicely the effects of isolation on an alcoholic depressive...so I'm presuming those qualities will not be looked highly upon in the interview process.

  • Current Music
    ani di franco I think
flashing heart


After only a very vague consultative process, which largely consisted of a committee of one deciding it was cold and something needed to be done about it, the following item has been added to the warmth-making appliances in my abode:

It has of course been promptly claimed by the Monster for his own use. Which is fine by me: I'm probably more flammable than he is. It doesn't actually make a crackling sound, and I did not stoop so low to acquire (read: have the money to buy) the model with the remote control, but it is toasty warm, and looks just the real thing, sans asthma-inducing smoke and the need to acquire firewood.

It should be forthwith a very heart (and feet) warming Winter.
flashing heart

what the what?

Now, this would be good for the laffs.

But ten minutes later when you're trying and failing to find room for it in your pocket...there'd be a bit of a problem, I'm afraid.

  • Current Music
    ABBA - who am I to judge?
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mad organisational skillz

It may just be my not-so latent OCD, but I feel the need to organise some things in my life. First on the list: computer files. Stupid little documents all strewn about the hard drive higgedly-piggedly. This will not be as big a task as organising my photograph files, which are not only skewiff but also duplicated all over the place, so I will attack the former task before embarking on operation Photographic Evidence Clean Up.

Everyone else does this kind of thing, don't they? Or do they just plan to and never get round to it? I am hoping it won't be the same kind of debacle as Let's Burn All the CDs onto the Hard Drive, a task which lasted all of two weeks before I got bored with the whole process and moved into something else.

A really super nerdy part of me wants to take time off work and just get really organised - for what, I am not sure: the Apocalypse will surely obviate any need to practice the fine art of tidiness. And if the ramblings on Facebook are any indication, some people really do think some kind of Apocalypse is coming.

Regardless, the imminent demise of our species will just have to wait until I have sorted out these damn duplicates.
  • Current Music
    Nina Simone
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oh yeah

What the hell is up with Livejournal these days? It just took me the better part of ten minutes to upload an image off of my hard drive - and that's after giving up this time yesterday because it just wouldn't work. All I got was a bizarre error message which may or may not have been in Russian. What gives, Livejournal?

I have been contemplating giving up the Livejournal ghost for a while now, and may well follow in the retro-pump clad footsteps of one girliejones who has departed these shores for the land of WordPress...

In fact, if I could figure out how to transport all the content here to somewhere else, I would.
  • Current Music
    grumbling from behind the keyboard
flashing heart

James Squire

Far out this is good beer:
Two pints of Amber Ale at a strangely upmarket Irish pub in the middle of Central West Queensland is just sufficient to quench my thirst. That, room service and some silly movie on the TV in a swish new hotel/motel out here makes for quite the good work trip night off.

Things could definitely be worse.
  • Current Music
    low telly soundtrack