sitting in a chair in the Imperial Hotel For someone who travels as much as I do, you’d think I’d be a better sleeper. I’m one of those people who checks into a hotel room and more often than not is back at the desk within 30 minutes asking if maybe there is another room. I try to be polite, I know it’s a little annoying. Sometimes the room smells funny and makes my throat itch, sometimes it’s right near the ice machine or the elevator, sometimes the wifi is broken, sometimes there’s a noisy party next door. Because I tend to arrive late, I usually get the worst room. Because I travel often, my trips overlap with other big events, often.

This time, for example, a hockey tournament in Marquette Michigan had taken up nearly every hotel room in the Marquette area, or so they told me when I asked for another room. I had hit the sweet-spot trifecta of ice machine noise, machine room noise [room next to pool pumps] and irregular rattley HVAC racket. Not only did this hotel not have another room [“I’ll even take one with a broken TV” I said, I hear this helps sometimes] there wasn’t even another room in the area. I called a few places just to make sure and they all told me the same thing. I took a few benadryls and made a little nest in the actually-quite-quiet bathroom. I’m not proud. I had to work the next day, and if sleeping someplace ridiculous was going to allow me to sleep, then so be it. I care about it being dark, quiet, and warm enough, I don’t care if I have to sleep on the floor.

After the next day of library talks I still had a few more days in the UP so I did a bit more calling. Turns out the Imperial Motel, a funky old-looking place across the street had plenty of rooms. Sure they didn’t have wifi, or a working sauna, or cookies at the check-in desk, or free breakfast, but the room was quiet and dark and warm enough and the nice lady at the front desk, who also lived there, said “Nah we don’t take hockey teams…” I cut a dashing figure running back and forth across the divided highway with my luggage after checking out of the noisy chain hotel but I happily spent my next few days there. I wrote them a nice review on TripAdvisor.

More on the Michigan trip once I’ve gotten some sleep [in the NEW SILVER BED] and settled in some here.

yay internetz & web-friends

So yeah I got a bicycle which has been mostly fun except like everything else with a computer machine inside it, it’s a little buggy and didn’t take photos of the most beautiful part of my nineteen mile bike ride on Thursday. Yes I said nineteen. No, this is not something you didn’t know about me, this is just a crazy anomaly where I went on what was supposed to be an eight mile ride and didn’t figure out until mile nine that I was still nine miles from home. What do you do?

I just got back from Sacramento and a flyby through San Franciso, talking to librarians about computers. I came home and waited in line behind a woman at the post office who sent something registered mail and was asking how she could tell if it had been delivered. The lady at the post office started out by saying “well you can type this number into the box at…” and wound up telling the lady “oh just call me and I’ll tell you” when it was clear that blahblahblahdotcom was not really a sensemaking phrase to this woman.

The airlines tried to send me to San Francisco, claiming it was the closest they could get me to Sacramento and gee they were sorry but it wasn’t their fault so no they wouldn’t pay to get me to Sacramento and yeah things are tough all over aren’t they? I sympathized because airline ticketing software makes library catalog software look sleek and modern. I got on the chatmachine and sent out a few plaintive wails to the friendosphere “um hey, how can I get from San Francisco to Sacramento at around midnight…?” and I had a ride before the lady came back with my boarding passes for my new suckier flight. Once I got to Chicago, I smiled and said “I’m a very nice person” to the gate agent of the (supposedly full) Sacramento flight and managed to get the last seat. I’ve been harboring a headcold for the past week or so, so despite feeling like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head while we were landing it all worked out pretty well.

Now that I’m home I can even breathe out my nose. My friend gets to be a superhero without even having to drive me anyplace [actually he was already my designated driver from Sacto to Frisco (hee) the next day; I met him when he came to pick me up at the hotel – Ashton you are a wonderful man] and I find sometimes my magical thinking can play itself out in the real world with decent results. I’m heading to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Wednesday. The UP is where I have gotten my second highest bowling score of all time. I am anticipating great things.

a week of 40

So I had plans to do a big birthday wrap-up thing here sort of like what I did when I turned 30 but time sort of got away from me. I guess this is not surprising. Here are some birthday highlights

  • I woke up to an online birthday card “signed” by hundreds of people. Whole thing schemed by my terrific boyfriend. Yay.
  • Pancakes for breakfast with my friend N@.
  • Drinks on the porch at Forrest and Kelly’s with my new bike and a lot of neighbors and friends.
  • Housewarming/birthday party of sorts at my house with a bunch of other people (mad props to Stan who managed to hit both parties). Super thanks to Andrea and Corey who helped a lot with set-up and cake.

Some photos are here, there aren’t many. Since then I’ve gotten started with travel/speaking with a trip to Potsdam New York Thursday for an all-day training type of thing (notes here) which was fun but exhausting. I hit the travel just right so I was driving home through Grande Isle County at around sunset and had some lovely peaceful views of Lake Champlain and remote Vermont.

Today I’m heading down to Boston to see Jim’s band play, maybe see some friends and my sister and stay someplace a little wrmer. My new apartment has heat included but that heat doesn’t come on until October 1 and it’s been dipping into the low fifties here. Hello electric sheets! Thanks to everyone who helped make my birthday special and wonderful. I feel truly blessed.

the internet got you a bicycle?

So the internet got me a bicycle. It’s both a long and a short story. Here is the bicycle.

What's the deal with the bike...?

It’s basically a purple bicycle with a cell phone and a solar powered battery charger. The cell phone has a camera and a GPS unit and is mounted behind the handlebars. The bike takes a photo a minute when it’s moving. It arrived today. You can see some videos of the people building them. There are 20 or 30 of them getting sent out to various people. You can follow the ybike tag on Flickr to see some photos, there’s not that much there yet.

The bike says Yahoo! on the side of it and at some level it’s a Yahoo! marketing project. You’ll notice that this appears to be my Sellout Week for whatever reason. Please note that while I get to keep the bike — a sort of cruiser-y type bike which is fun to ride but not very practical around here — I’m not otherwise employed by the Yahoo! machine. If I had to guess why I got this bike I’d say it’s because I know some of the Flickr folks, I take decent pictures and seem to understand the Flickr system, and I live in the most beautiful place on earth. Also it is my birthday soon. Really, I have no idea, but that’s different from it being random manna that falls from the sky. At some general level, the internet gave me this bicycle.

I had to promise to ride the bike every day. We’ll see how that goes. The last time I rode a bike more than three days in a row this decade I was at Burning Man. That said, I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in all decade, so this will be an interesting experiment. You can go friend my bike if you want to but as you can see from some of the recent photos, the photo stream isn’t that exciting, especially at night.

I’ll save my analysis of the panopticon and the erosion of personal privacy and my place in that whole equation for another day likely in the not-too-distant future. For now I’m just like “Hey purple bike!”