Friday, March 14, 2008


As I sat in my comfy armchair just moments ago, there arose quite a clatter. A huge THUD, something hitting the sliding glass door. We've had small birds hit it before, but this sounded like a beagle tossing a chop-block.

I arose from my slumber and went to see what was up. There was a 10-inch-long smear, with a couple of small gray feathers, some small insects, and a couple of seeds. Was an eagle projectile vomiting? I looked further, and I saw it. There was a mourning dove under a teak bench, about six feet away, wings still in mid-flap, stone-dead. Guts trailing out of it. Jilly the foxhound was slowly approaching it, as if she had outrun some prey.

The poor bird had gone into the window at full speed, and hit it so hard that its guts exploded onto the door on contact. Ew.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why I hate Avis

Well, first of all, I hate every company. So this shouldn't come as a surprise. A long time ago, Avis dragged me through a lengthy small-claims process for $1000 they owed me. They hired a sleazeball Long Island lawyer who thought he'd piss me off enough to settle. So I vowed never to rent from Avis again, after winning all the money I originally asked for.

But then corporate policy got in the way, and I abandoned my blood vow against Avis. Yet they always manage to give me a completely inappropriate vehicle. I want small, they "upgrade" me to a boat. Or they give me a car with a glove compartment full of Marlboro butts.

How bad is it? I've kept track for the past two years, and Avis has given me the following late-model cars:

Ford Poboy
Dodge Dump
Mercury Cutprice
Toyota Three-Runner
Pontiac Broodmare
Hyundai Mistrial
Buick Pontoon
Chrysler Le Bon
Toyota Corroda
Kia Spackle

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A tale of two hotels

I'm traveling on business this week, to Seattle and Denver.

The first stop was Seattle. Or actually, Issaquah. I've stayed at this hotel before, and it's close to the Microsoft office.

I decided to show off by having a nicely pressed shirt. I filled up the iron, turned it on, and started to press away. When I gave it a blast of steam on the collar, a couple of little brown dots showed up. A bit bigger than poppy seeds. I ironed a bit more, and I got a small brown streak on my collar.

Figuring there might be a bit of schmutz in the iron, I took it into the bathroom to clean it. I hit the Clean button, and a ton of brown gunk bubbled out, like the iron was blowing its nose and hit blood. Every time I hit steam, more gunk.

So that wasn't going to work. I took a couple of garments to the front desk for dry cleaning. ("In by 9, back by 5.") I got back to my room that night, and no clothes. I figured it didn't make the daily drop, so I didn't say anything. Went out the next day, came back, still no clothes. I went to the front desk. They told me to look in my closet, because the clothes were hanging up. No, that's where I looked.

I went back to my room, and as I got there, the desk rang my phone. They found my clothes and were bringing them right over. A minute later, a knock on my door. The manager was apologetically holding my clean clothes. She handed them over and asked "Did you not get these yesterday?"

Yeah. I got them yesterday, but then snuck them back behind the desk when no one was looking. That's what happened.

Yesterday I flew into Denver. I have meetings today in Westminster, north of the city itself. I don't like it in Denver. I can't breathe right. If I eat too much, I feel like I have a road flare in my chest the next morning.

Fortunately, my hotel solved that problem for me. I drove up the desolate toll road, E-470. (Which is also the EU code-name for caramel coloring.) I got to the hotel, which was built to resemble a castle. All the conference rooms are named after medieval shit, like the Sir Galahad. The onsite restaurant is called Jester's.

I didn't want to go out to eat, so I called room service. The menu was photocopied and stapled on my desk. I asked for the chicken. Nope, they're OUT OF CHICKEN. They do, however, have the castle special, roasted turkey legs. And the photocopied menu even suggests wine choices - the turkey leg goes well with a "Petite Strah."

I went into the bathroom to freshen up. It smelled like burning hair because of some past hairdryer accident. I turned on the hot water, and it came out as orange as a Snapple label. The TV remote, which is vaguely greasy, doesn't let you use the channel up/down buttons. You have to go to the menu each time, and then choose the channel you want to go to.

I didn't have the turkey leg; I had the marinated steak tips. This is why I always have the road flare. Like most of the world's great hotels, this one has an ad on the cardkey. I could've used it to get 10% off an order at Godawful's Pizza somewhere on 120th Ave.

I want to fly home early. No dice. A 6 PM flight from Denver would get to JFK at about midnight. Nope. Nothing between 1 PM and midnight, for unknown reasons.

So now I'm in my room, trying to figure out which surface smells least like a cigarette so I have somewhere to sit.