Sunday, October 5, 2014

Linden Street Brewery -- Oakland, CA

Easy to get to, and a nice place to get a beer before finding brunch.  Before brunch, because sometimes they have food trucks here, but then they don't, so you get a beer anyway while you load up Yelp.  Still trying to find that ramen guy ...

Brown Sugar Kitchen -- Oakland, CA

The claw!
Quick, enjoy it before there's a two-hour line of hipsters out the door!  The wait isn't a problem if they're recycling things across the street with that awesome claw, though.  Also, next time get, like, a million of those biscuits.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Madison Supreme Laundromat -- New York, NY

The place was fine, people were interesting to watch, and no one minded a guy with a helmet and a laptop.  Forget it Jake.  It's laundry time.

Holiday Inn Wall Street -- New York, NY

Note to self: Just dandy.  Do it again.

As long as the place is tidy, tall enough for me to get a nice view of the street,  and in a nice location, I'm good.  I mean, the zip code starts things out on a good footing already -- I'd probably be fine in a pretty slummy spot -- as long as I'm in the city.  Probably.

The place could use a little more Ramen, and some laundry, but it's in a great location.  I actually got to do runs up both rivers.  Reminder for next time -- the path up the East River isn't long enough for a full run.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chevy Malibu (2014)

Redux: Stop the madness.

You know the feeling.  You look at the selection of cars and realize "oh great, it's down to just the American cars."  Does anyone actually *want* to drive one of these?

This thing handles like you expect.  You have no idea what the tires and the road are negotiating beneath you.  The handling feels like a video chat -- you move your hands but the steering doesn't see it for half a second.  A bouncy house and a fish had a baby and put a tinny engine in it.

It has cute bells and whistles .. but all the interactions with them are nonsensical.  Here's a sample of the goofiness.

You can pair up your phone and play music through the car's audio system.  Great right?

But the next time you start up the car, it seems to have forgotten all about that.  It just switches on the XM radio, tuned to whatever your first station preset is.  It doesn't even remember which XM station you may have last listened to -- it just switches on the first and starts blaring.  Before your stopover, you were grooving to Caro Emerald -- as soon as you start the car back up, you're listening to John Tesh.

Can you imagine if your first preset was a Country station?  Think of the children!

Nissan Maxima (2014)

Redux:  Look for one of these, next time you have a choice.

Maybe it was the luck of the draw, but mine had really nice stuff.  It had an automatic climate control that could *subtly* bring the temperature down after a day in the sunshine.  It had keyless ignition and entry.  And the remote lock/unlock doesn't do that stupid thing where it makes the car honk at anyone standing in front of it.

I think my favorite thing was that switching from automatic transmission to manual push-button causes it to shift down one gear from what the automatic had it in.  That's *exactly* what you use that for!  You're either trying to get more kick, or you're trying to engine brake so the fuzz doesn't see your brake lights come on.  Obviously, a manual driver had a say in how this feature works.

Nice handling, shifts when it should, and the engine has zoom without gobbling gas.

The only issue I had with it is that there's no "accessory port" (lighter) near the dashboard.  So if you're hanging your phone in the general dashboard region, there's no place handy to plug in and charge.  Not a deal breaker in the slightest.

Hilton Garden Inn -- Greenbelt, MD

Note to self:  Yep.  Nice chill place, with laundry and everything.

Honestly, I like any place with instant Ramen.  It was summer in Maryland, so the Lobby was so air-conditioned-cold I thought it was going to snow.  Ramen is a nice way to take the edge off that.

This review is identical to the last one, because this hotel is virtually identical to the one in Fredericksburg, VA. Honestly, it was totally spooky to check-in, because it's exactly the same layout, with only a couple of differences, like the color of the chairs' upholstery. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I checked my calendar to make sure I hadn't somehow unwittingly booked the same hotel twice.

Hilton Garden Inn -- Fredericksburg, VA

Note to self:  Yep.  Nice chill place, with laundry and everything.

Honestly, I like any place with instant Ramen.  It was summer in Virginia, so the Lobby was so air-conditioned-cold I thought it was going to snow.  Ramen is a nice way to take the edge off that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Travelodge LAX South -- El Segundo, CA

Note to self: never, ever let Concur suggest a hotel for you again.  Ever.  This isn't a motel, it's a business school study in ROI.

Class, suppose for a moment that I own a motel.  I can spend forty dollars to replace the stained carpet, or I can spend thirty dollars making the tile in the bathroom actually have grout holding it together.  Given that my average room rate is the going rate in the area minus fifteen percent, which option do I choose, to optimize my future profit?

Answer: websites only care about your published price relative to the nearby options.  Game it.  Make up the difference by charging for parking.  And stop paying for the Internet uplink.  Free wifi just means you can connect to it .. we never said it was connected to anything.  Midterm complete.

Hotel Bijou -- San Francisco, CA

Note to self: sure, why not?  It's in the tenderloin, but at an alright corner, a block from Powell Street Station.  And it's really adorable how much attention they put into the movie theme.

Sure, there was that morning where there were hypodermic plungers right there in the passenger loading zone .. but they didn't have the needles in them.

I think what tips me in its favor is the way that someone spent a TON of attention making the place have a theme.  It's really sweet, and makes a difference somehow.  Every room has a movie name.  And they have that crazy little movie theatre off the lobby.  No, really.  How cool is that?

No laundry .. but the First Coin laundry up the street was fine.  Especially if someone's bringing you an Americano.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Days Hotel Oakland Airport -- Oakland, CA

Note to self: This is a reasonable cheap-o Airport motel by the Oakland airport.  Book it.  Get a room that's not on the first floor.  They have laundry.

Don't let the broken ice machines, flaking metal doors, or bullet-resistant glass put you off.  It's a cheap room; you can wander a half block to the AM-PM for ice and cold beer; and the "wine country" around here has some really great flavored muscato wines.  But honestly, it's a fine place to stay.

Is it wrong that I have "favorite" cheap-o hotels?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Westfields Marriot Washington Dulles -- Chantilly, VA

Note to self:  Never stay here again.  It's a nice enough middle-tier hotel, but the hotel bar is one festive parade of douchebags.  Maybe if they had floats and confetti it would be okay.  Here's a sampler from just Wednesday night.

Guy pays for a twenty-nine fourteen tab with two twenties.  He pockets the five and five ones, and leaves the eighty four cents.  His watch says he earns more than most of us.

Guy is drunk and stumbling around striking up conversations with strangers.  He sits down at a table with a couple who are having dinner together and starts talking.  He hits on the bartender.  When he goes to leave, he slurs "can you get me off, now," instead of asking for the check like a civilized person.  I'm told he is a regular, and this represented relatively good behavior.

Eleven thirty or so, a thirty-something guy struts into the hotel with a woman who looks like she's around sixteen.  His smooth dark tan says he hasn't worked a day in his life.  He has a wireless bluetooth speaker in his pocket and begins to play music on it.  Asked to cool it (it's louder than the TV) he says "there's a party in my pants."  Then announces to the bar that he'd like to "buy a drink for everyone here except this guy."

There's a nice wooded running trail near the hotel, but on balance it's not worth the blood pressure increase.