3/16/13

Dinette Future.

I'm back from another session of Powershell training at the old home office in Scranton, PA and I have to say it was not the best trip of my life.  The flight out was delayed, as per usual with the new United/Continental mash-up, and once we finally took off I knew it was going to be bad when the pilot told us to "expect a bumpy ride" the entire way.

He wasn't lying.  The turbulence was the worst I'd ever experienced on this trip, and I never felt one of those little jets bounce around so much before.  I originally had the last seat against the wall back by the bathroom, but the flight wasn't quite full so I was able to move to a window seat directly over the wing.  I basically traded the smell of pee and a seat that doesn't recline for a view of the wing bouncing up and down like a diving board, so I'm not sure it was such a great idea.

The plane was making sudden dips from right to left and bobbing up and down so much that I was alternating between being pushed down in my seat and straining weightless against the seat belt.  It was so rough on the final descent that when the flight attendant came on the loudspeaker and gave us her "final approach" speech, she sounded like she was being punched in the stomach after every few words.  She said "Due to the turbulence, it's not safe for me to walk down the aisle, so please make sure your electronic devices are off and your seat backs are in their full upright position."  You could tell by her voice that what she was actually thinking was "We're all going to die."  It was also a blatant admission that both of those safety requirements have jack-shit to do with a successful landing of any kind.

We hit the runway a little hot, slammed on the brakes and coasted in safely.  I was never so glad to be on the ground in my life.  As we were leaving the plane, or "de-planing" as they call it for some unknown but surely ridiculous reason, I waited for the the old guy in the seat in front of me to work his way out of his seat. He shuffled down the aisle and then paused at the front where the pilot and the flight attendant were bidding people goodbye.  "I'm wondering if you can help me," he said to the flight attendant.  "Sure, do you need help with a connecting flight?" she asked.  "No," he said. "I'm just wondering if you could tell me where the nearest underwear store is."  I liked him immediately.

When I got to the hotel, I was once again pleased with the Hampton Inn's policy of giving not a single  fuck about the type of room I actually reserved.  They took my name and then told me that they had no more non-smoking rooms available.  The same thing happened to me last time, and even though I am normally pretty laid back, it was late, I was tired, hungry, and pissed.  I told them their no-guarantee policy was bullshit, and since I had no other choice, I'd take the room for a night, but I was checking out and going somewhere else in the morning.  They offered to spray the room for me, but I declined, knowing that would only make the room smell like a french whore who smoked three packs a day.

It was worse than I expected it to be.  Not only did the whole place reek like smoke, there was a connecting door to the adjacent room, and the person in there was smoking like it was their job.  I could actually see the smoke haze in my own room.  I rolled up a towel and put it along the bottom of the door, then spent the next five minutes jamming kleenex in the gaps around the rest of the door (sorry, housekeeping.)  It helped, but I still woke up in the morning with red eyes and sore lungs and an almost irresistible urge to burn all my clothes.

When I checked out I got them to admit what their policy actually is -- they are owned by Hilton, and they routinely over-book the hotel.  If you are a member of the "Hilton Club" and you want a non-smoking room, you get to bump poor bastards like me to the smoking rooms.  I have no idea what the requirements are to be in their club, but I think I'm going to have to look into it because the only other hotel within walking distance was something called the "Extended Stay America" chain of hotels.  I knew nothing about them, but I had to get out of the smoking room, so I called them and booked the next three nights sight-unseen.

If you've never stayed there, the best way to describe it is it's like staying in a dirty RV without the wheels.  You have a kitchenette, a bathroom, a bed, a desk and a chair.   People cook and eat in the rooms so the entire place smells like an old folk's home.  A combination of dirt, onions, air-freshener and cigarettes.  The rooms were slightly cleaner than the lobby and hallways, but unfortunately, even though the sheets appeared clean, the pillows and blankets smelled like dirt.  Not like outside dirt, but like sweaty body/dirty hair dirt.  I stripped it all off the bed in disgust and conducted a bed bug check just to be on the safe side.  Surprisingly, it seemed ok, but I was still pretty careful to keep my suitcase zipped up.

I could immediately tell what kind of place it was.  There are certain rules of thumb you can take to the bank -- two of which are the better the hotel, the higher the quality of the bathroom sundries and the quieter the toilets.  Extended Stay America doesn't even provide shampoo.  You have to bring your own, or hope they have some at the front desk.  So I knew immediately that the toilets were the ramjet, suck-a-towel-down-without-even-thinking-twice type, and those bastards will wake the dead.

I've stayed in nastier places while I was spending my own money, so I guess it could have been worse.  At least I could breathe the air without it burning my lungs, curry fumes be damned.

The training itself, I'm sorry to say, was hard for me.  I am a bad programmer, and that's the hard truth.  My brain just isn't wired that way.  A lot of it was just a more in-depth view of what we went over in the first half of the training last month, so at least I wasn't completely lost.  The worst part of this class was the language barrier. The instructor was extremely smart and a nice enough guy, but he was from Texas by way of downtown china.  He spoke what sounded to my uneducated ear like engrish with a heavy cantonese accent. So he would say something like, "partial furball feud" or "doe sign pennesee" and I'd have to take a minute to translate that to "powershell variable field" and "dollar sign parentheses,"   He would also leave out all the non-essential connective words.  It was strictly subject-verb-object with this guy.  Granted, he spoke english way better than I speak chinese, but it didn't make for the best training experience, even though you kind of got used to it after a while.

I learned quite a bit in spite of myself, but I'm very glad to be home.  Talking about the jet toilet in my 2nd hotel room reminded me of another post I have almost ready to go (so to speak) about the auto-everything trend in bathrooms.  So that will hopefully be showing up here in the next few days.  My boss and his boss are both in town next week, however, so there's no gaurantee.  The way I figure it, I'll either have no time at all to write, or I'll have all kinds of unexpected time going forward.  Wish me luck.

ps - I have a prize worth tens of dollars for the first person to guess what the cantonese-engrish title on this post actually means.  


36 comments:

  1. I've never flown before, and I am not really looking forward to the first time I have to.

    Also, my guess for the Engrish title: Dynamic Power Flow?

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  2. Continental sucked so much ass to begin with, I don't see how they can possibly be worse now. The weather, however, sounds like the reason I try not to fly. Honestly, how long a drive can it be to Scranton?

    The title:Donut Freebies. Or Do Not Freebase.

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  3. I refuse to fly any more, partially because of a similar flight from somewhere in TX to Baton Rouge on NY eve when I realized that I seriously preferred that the plane crash instead of making yet another loop around to the runway.

    The next feature?

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  4. Die in that future?

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  5. Oh my god! You visited my backyard and I didn't even know it! Hope you enjoyed your stay here -- as much as humanly possible because it is Scranton after all.

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  6. Sounds like loads of fun! Bouncy airplane rides are what I live for! And a smoking room? Just means they can't tell if you smoke dope in it, right? HAHAHAHA I know all about everything in this post, thanks to 15 years working for the federal government. NOBODY gets you worse hotel rooms than the feds. I swear at least once I was in the boiler room in the basement on a broken rollaway bed since they had filled up all the other rooms with full price paying guests!

    And as for the title? I thought you were redecorating your breakfast nook! I thought I was going to get a lesson in interior design, Virgil-style. Boy, was I surprised!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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  7. Don't know if for sure.

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  8. Nobody will ever guess this. It's too hard. I'll even give you the second word. It's how he pronounced the word "filter"

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  9. Do Not Filter?

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  10. I actually like turbulence, reminds me that I'm flying. Yeah, the wife thinks that I'm missing a few screws too...

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  11. Maybe he was talking about a filter for his dinette? everyone needs a good filtered dinette now and then.
    next time you're in Scranton, let me know, I would love to buy you a beer or a vodka martini, even.

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  12. Do not filter?

    You really should skip the hotels and just camp out.

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  13. Well then, don't ever stay in a cheap hotel outside the good ol' USA. I've experienced that smoke and dirt in hotels in Europe and Asia, but in rooms not much bigger than a closet, with the extra added attraction of paper-thin walls, thereby adding claustrophobia and noise to the mix.

    Internet filter?

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  14. data filter or dialog filter

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  15. Scranton! You should have stayed at the MicroTel in Dickson City. Clean, new and no smoking at all. Oh, and it's cheap and only a stone's throw from the Archbald Pothole State Park. Yes, we actually have a state park for a pothole here in NEPA.

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  16. You just reminded me why I hate traveling now, though I used to love it. I must be getting old because crummy hotel rooms and turbulent flights are on my Do Not Do list now.

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  17. Dynamic filter?

    I like turbulence - it makes me go to sleep really fast, probably to avoid sheer terror.

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  18. I am so glad I have yet to have a flying experience like this.

    I had no idea donuts needed filters!

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  19. Hi: Always happy when you lay down a blog entry once in awhile. It is too bad that unpleasant experiences lend themselves to the best humor. Speaking of crummy hotel rooms - last summer I landed in an Extended Stay Hotel with the feature of a toilet that didn't flush, no other room and not a lodging within a 100 miles. Man my girlfriend pees a lot. I (being the stronger of the two of us) had the job of filling up the trash can with water and dumping it down the toilet. It came down to toilet paper in a separate bag and only the "solids" needed the bucket. Fortunately we are nurses and used to dealing with the elimination end of life. One time an aide told me there was a stool sample in the utility room and I said "thanks - is there a spoon in there?" The entire nurses station was laughing so hard they couldn't breath. For those who don't know what I'm talking about - stool sample is a pile of shit (yeah, real shit) that I, as a highly educated and paid professional, need to spoon into different vials and containers to be tested by other highly educated and paid professionals. Stick to computers, at least they don't stink, except metaphorically. PS: my friend managed to get a free stay in one of their hotels to make up for the inconvenience of no toilet. All's well that ends well. Better luck next time. lorraine

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  20. Hotels in Europe are much worse. Tiny and cramped and lit by a 40 watt bulb. One elevator for every 1000 people.
    I'm glad you're back in your pissing, moaning, bitching mode. It feels like old times.

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    Replies
    1. This was one step up from a hostel

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    2. You figure Miriam? I've lived in Europe soe 30 years now, and as long as I don't go under 2 stars, I've had no problems. I did get hit with bedbugs in a three star in Quebec City this last October though.

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  21. I had an Indian instructor for C+ whose accent took a couple weeks to get used to. We had to turn in a programming assignment weekly: mine always worked, but they were kludge. The last time I did serious programming was in high school, because there were no commercial programs (daaated), but it's just not my thing now.

    The whole 'upright seat back' thing is for the unsuccessful landings.

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  22. My guess for the first word in the title: 'cmdlets'

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  23. I *knew* nobody would get it. It was the way he said .Net. I'll make the next one easier, I promise.

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  24. i get dinette as dot net, but I'm guessing (hoping..) that future is just future?? lol

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  25. Okay, I get how "dinette" is "dot net." but i'm guessing (hoping...) "future" just means future?

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  26. I"m late to the party, but maybe "wi-fi coming soon"

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