nathanjw: (work)
When I mapped the location of my hotel here in Calgary, I looked at the grid and figured it looked nicely city-like. It would seem that I missed a couple of levels of zoom, though. Good thing I opted to rent a car. I did manage to see hay bales and a nice long train within a mile of the airport, though.

The hotel is kind of... concrete and hulking. There was a car in the parking lot with what looked like just-married ribbons on it; the idea that someone is either getting married here or honeymooning here is kind of depressing. Also, while it makes perfect sense for a parking garage to have height-limit barriers, it makes less sense for the top deck (at ground level) to also have them, seeing as there are no other things to bump into. Perhaps it's a weight limit/truck deterrent by proxy?

For no apparent reason, I'm on the "Club Floor". As a result, I have a fully-stocked minibar. Still a rip-off, and the beer includes scary Canadian brands I've never heard of (Kokanee Glacier Beer?). Also, wouldn't it make more sense to have the mounted bottle-opener somewhere near the minibar and its bottles (inside the console, maybe), rather than in the bathroom? There must be some traditional reason to have it there; I've seen it in other hotels and I didn't think it made sense there, either.

Charging separately for wired and wireless internet access - both of which are available in the room - feels like a scam, especially since they give you a password to re-login to their system.

As I drove through the strip mall/auto mile between the highway and the hotel, I was starting to despair of the possibility for food that was at all different from home. Burger King? Chilis? Come on, how about some local tacky chains, at least? However, at the last minute I spotted "The Cattle Baron - Alberta Steakhouse", which seems like it will do nicely for a sort of local color.
nathanjw: (fuzzball)
I'm on the tarmac in Boston, where we've been for about two hours now. The captain reports that United has centralized the weight and trim calculations for their flights, and that computer is down, so we can't take off, and worse, neither can any other United flight. A quick look around seems to confirm this - any United flight that was supposed to take off between about 9am and now seems to be in the "NOT DEPARTED" state on United's web site. There's no ETA of any kind, though the captain promises not to keep us trapped on the tarmac if this persists.

So if you're flying today, and especially if you're flying United, expect collateral damage.

... just as I'm finishing writing this, the captain says the computer is back up, and it'll be about half an hour before the backlog clears.
nathanjw: (Default)

  • - Total mall-ville. Local directions are relative to Ikea, Starbucks, and TGI Fridays.
  • - Most roads don't have sidewalks.
  • +/- Hotel provides "trolley" bus service to go 0.4 miles from here to the major mall.
  • - Local indoor mall is 100% predictable.
  • + Local outdoor mall is only 80% predictable.
  • + + Brewpub in local outdoor mall has both good food and good beer.
  • - - - Maryland still permits smoking in bars.
  • - Wayfinding from mall to strip mall to hotel is nearly impossible. Especially after the brewpub.
nathanjw: (Default)
Okay, the right answer to "What do I do Tuesday night in San Jose?" turned out to be Corteo. It was great. I had good seats in the VIP section, without paying VIP prices, and I made a new fan out of the consultant we're working with here. I loved the mininal nature of the Cyr wheel. I got to volley the tiny baloon-supported woman into the air as she drifted near my section. It was all stunning, in good ways.

I want my funeral to be like that.

Afterwards, however, things went downhill. Finding a taxi to get back to our respective hotels was more difficult than it should have been; the first one we'd called didn't show up at all, and the second one (which we called from a different company about when the first didn't show) was 10 minutes late arriving and only showed up after I noticed the light rail a block away and started plotting to take that (which would get us to his hotel but not me to mine). Upon arriving at my hotel, my cardkey didn't work. That was a bad sign. Due to some miscommunication, I'd originally been booked for one night, but extended it this morning; something about the cardkey system didn't reflect that [*]. Once I did get into the room, I discovered that the stuff I'd left behind - clothes, a book, toiletries - were missing. The front desk thinks that housekeeping wouldn't normally do that, even if they did think I was checking out, but they also didn't find them in the lost and found. They now have to wait for the day staff to arrive to ask them what happened. The only things I would really miss if this stuff disappears are the boots, but it's still quite annoying.

I could use a beer. Sadly, the hotel bar had last call while I was waiting for the desk to tell me if they knew where my stuff went.

Oh, yeah, and there were business meetings today. I guess they were okay.

[*] Are hotel room key systems online, with the doors wired in to a central system? Or are they merely timekeepers, and the cards contain the allowed dates for the room? Or something else? Knowledgeable people, inform me!
nathanjw: (Default)
Today is a great day to be a telecommuter. Unfortunately, it's not a great day to drive to the airport on the tail end of rush hour. 35MPH was "take your life in your hands" speed on I-91. I saw half a dozen cars that had run off the road in one direction or another, and my wipers got a serious workout every time someone changed lanes in front of me and covered my windshield with brown goop. The economy parking lot at the airport wasn't plowed, or if it had been, it got another four inches of snow since then. I skidded into what I hope turns out to be a legal parking spot, and the shuttle was having a difficult time getting around as well.

Bradley's terminal A looks very nice right now. I had time to admire it while I waited for my extra-special security screening, probably a result of having purchased this ticket at 9pm yesterday. My computer can see two strong wireless networks (BDL and AMX), but neither one seems to connect anywhere, so it's GPRS for me [update - it's just very, very slow to hand out an address]. Supposedly, my 12:00 flight has only been delayed to 12:55pm, but the fact that there are people still waiting for 7:15, 8:30, and 10:35am flights is not encouraging.

I'm going to be in and around San Jose, and may have Tuesday evening free; anything I should be sure to do?

(I need a better userpic for grumpy , snowy, and/or work-related situations)
nathanjw: (outdrink)
I'm in Baltimore at the 2005 American Homebrewer's Association national conference. It's a blast. Good seminars, good beer, good people. I have become known as "the guy who takes notes", though the way the badges are printed leads people to address you by first name a lot, as if they know you, so I've spent a bunch of time trying to determine if people addressing me have or haven't met me before (last year, or at Boston festivals, like the woman from Rogue who is pictured on the chocolate stout ). The venue is a lot more crowded than last year - in Vegas, a 700-person convention is in the noise (we were about 20% the size of the adjacent casino-chip collectors conference); at the Holiday Inn here, it's a real problem. As usual, the conference makes me feel very young and costal (since so many of the attendees are middle-aged and midwestern); in addition, Baltimore makes me feel very white. It's interesting. The panhandlers here in the Inner Harbor are almost, but not quite, as aggressive as the ones in San Francisco.

Yesterday and today I went to seminars on Brettanomyces, brewer/government relations, yeast flocculation, dry hopping ("Randall is Pliny's bitch"), farmhouse ales, and an 18-way vertical tasting - the same wort fermented with 18 different (Belgian-style) yeasts. Last night had the professional/craft brewer's festival, which was okay but not as over-the-top as last year. The highlight was some two-year-old World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head. After the pro night there was a bus tour to a couple of local microbreweries, includign Brewer's Art, which was an interesting blend of a brewpub, upscale restaurant, and hot basement dance club. The bus never arrived to take us back, so I ended up walking back to the hotel with the guys from Wyeast.

Tonight had the homebrew club festival. The club festival was totally insane, packed to the gills, and full of weird beer. The most exciting setup was that of the Maryland Ale and Lager Technicians (MALT), who had a pale ale on tap by itself, and then the same pale ale forced through four different kinds of hops (Amarillo, Simcoe, Fuggles, and Hallertauer). Randall the Enamel Animal has clearly left its mark on the beer scene.

The art/schwag auction was dominated by the Flying Dog memorial beer for Hunter S. Thompson signed by Ralph Steadman. I bowed out at about $200, and it eventually sold for $300. Someone could probably make a nice profit by flipping that on eBay, but I would think it's just too cool to sell.

And now, lists of too many beers but not enough pictures )
nathanjw: (Default)
I'm taking a couple of vacation days to come into town, from tonight (wednesday) through saturday night. Here's what's on my agenda so far:

  • NERAX (wednesday and/or thursday evening)
  • Dinner with my grandmother (early thursday evening)
  • Steer Roast (friday evening)
  • Pick up MacOS X 10.4 (friday or saturday)
  • pika 35th reunion (saturday evening)

Other than that, I'm just bumming around, hitting the old haunts, and so on. Anything new and must-see or must-do in the last six months? I seem to be booked for dinner, but does anyone want to meet up for lunch? (comments, email, phone, whatever)
nathanjw: (Default)
This isn't a very good picture, but it still seems like a great icon of Silicon Valley to me.


nathanjw: (Default)
Sharps disposal bins in airport and hotel bathrooms: Friendly accomodation to the self-medicating, or paranoid fear of junkie-infected needles?
nathanjw: (Default)
The Beer Advocate bus tour of beer spots in western mass has hit a snag. After a fine start at Anam Cara, with a post-breakfast Steel Rail Pale Ale, the bus broke down on the Pike and we're cooling our heels at the scenic Ludlow rest area.

The no-longer climate-controlled bus is getting somewhat unpleasant, but the replacement bus is supposed to be here Real Soon Now...

We were supposed to hit the Northampton Brewery for lunch and a tour, People's Pint for a tour and a drink, and Moan and Dove (across the street from our new place!) for a spectacular beer-filled finish. It's not clear what we'll have to cut.

Norfolk

Aug. 12th, 2004 10:47 pm
nathanjw: (Default)
I'm in Norfolk, VA for a business meeting (my company HQ is down here). It's not very exciting, really. The highlight so far might be discovering that the hotel has both a Gideon Bible and a Book of Mormon. New and exciting trends in hotel missionary theology!

The meetings have been OK. We're discussing a lot of Business Process, trying to address some of the problems that have been created as the company grows from twelve people and one group to thirty people, three groups, and a management layer.

Dinner out on the company dime is always nice, though; our CEO has good taste in restaurants. Dinner was interrupted by the *&^*&^*^&* weekly 9pm conference call (which will be done soon!), but it was otherwise a very nice night at "4 5 6 Fish".
nathanjw: (Default)
The people that wrote the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide, or other similarly sick-minded folks, should put out a book titled "101 ways to kill a man with a plastic knife". It would be a bestseller in the "secure zone" of airports nationwide.
nathanjw: (beer)
I just finished three days at the American Homebrewers Association National Homebrewers Convention, aka "Beer and Loafing in Las Vegas". I'm writing up a few notes while the midday heat fades a bit before I hit the road soon for the next adventure - driving out to Mojave, CA for the X-Prize qualifying launch tomorrow, but here are a few remarks and pictures.

The structure was remarkably like other conventions I've been to, with informational seminars during the day and more social/party events in the evening. It's hardly unheard of to have beer at the evening events, but at this one there was frequently beer *during* the sessions - either given out as part of the talk to make a point, or simply brought in from the always-flowing taps in the hospitality suite, stocked 24/7 by various local clubs.

The evening events were a pro-brewers night, like any other beer festival except with the attendees asking harder questions; a club night, also festival-style but with the crazier brews and booths and tap systems that clubs had brought (jalapeno dopplebock! key lime mead!); and the awards banquet, which had a long, overly-sappy memorial service for a brewer who died last year, but was otherwise pretty good. Rogue kept the beer flowing that night, with a lot of people getting into the west-cost strong IPA styles.

I learned about and tasted commercial spruce beer, drank pulque, gushed at the authors of my favorite books, bought some new ones, met people from lots of different clubs, and even managed to stop groaning at the club names:

  • Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF), San Diego
  • Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP), Maryland
  • Society of Akron Area Zymurgists (SAAZ), Ohio
  • Urban Knaves of Grain, Chicago
  • Maltose Falcons, Los Angeles

... just for starters.

I learned a bit about water chemistry for brewing, tips for researching historical styles and ingredients, heard a lot about yeast handling and oxygenation, and saw many cool gadgets, some more useful than others:

Homebrewers know how to repurpose technology )

One of the cooler talks went into a lot of history and wacky research, like the use of chromatography on archaeological samples to determine the composition of ancient beers. He also has a book.
The author series continues )

The demographics of the event were about what I had expected. Mostly middle-aged men (there were a dozen or so people under 30, out of 775 attendees), with a few spouses in attendance, some of whom were more enthusiastic about the beer than others. Many midwesterners, then west-coast types, then everywhere else, which probably just reflects the conference location. Almost exclusively white; I met the one black person there, pro brewer Michael Ferguson of Barley's Brewery here in Nevada (he calls himself "the other black brewer", the first one being Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. Apparently we hit it off, because he signed a shirt for me and I have his email address in my notebook, but that part of the evening is a bit fuzzy.)

We had several arguments about whether the age/race/gender arrangements we saw here reflect homebrewers generally, or AHA members, or people who can afford to come to a conference in Vegas, or what. Out of the 90 medals awarded for the competition (the world's biggest; 4443 different beers submitted), 86 went to men and 4 went to what looked like husband-and-wife teams. I asked a few people if a woman had ever won a medal on her own, and while everyone could name a few female brewers who were good and prolific enough, nobody could recall any winners.

More later about the hotel, the lousy food, and general impressions of Vegas.
nathanjw: (Default)
2.5 days of a conference in Boston. About half of it was cool, but it kept me from getting any real work done, and I had get up at 6:30 to get there on time.

Flying from Boston to Norfolk via Atlanta (excuse me? geography?).

20 hours of work meetings - or maybe just one very long meeting - in 2.5 days. Meetings started every day at 8am, had a "working lunch", and went until 6pm. Short break, large dinner with the same people from about 7 to 10, then hanging out at the hotel bar with coworkers. That part was fun, at least, if exhausting. No net access on the trip - probably good for the meeting, but annoying otherwise. Having more than half of a software company out of touch for three days doesn't really seem like a good plan. The meetings were productive, though, and I think we all have a better idea of what we're doing, and how hosed we're going to be.

Had a delayed flight back from Norfolk to Atlanta (fortunate, since our race to the airport was delayed by a dump truck that had smashed into the mid-road barrier and removed a large chunk of concrete) and missed a connection there. Five minutes is not enough time to deplane and cross six terminals. At least they didn't lose my luggage when they rebooked me.

*thud*

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Nathan Williams

May 2017

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