Thursday, November 19, 2015

Huntington Park, San Francisco

This is a nice little park to work from.  It's on the top of Nob Hill, across from Grace Cathedral.  The folks who hang out here are just locals .. half of them walking dogs, the other half just taking a little walk/sit in the park.  And it's basically devoid of crazy people.  Maybe the significant uphill hike keeps the clientele select.

There's motorcycle parking right there on California.

I didn't notice any parrots, but there should be at least a couple.  There is no heart sculpture.  The cathedral bells chime conveniently to remind you of what time it is.

Washington Square, San Francisco

This is a sort of fun park to work from, because it's right there in North Beach.  No big coffee places right there on the square, but you could always walk up to Caffè Trieste or something.  Plenty of people hanging out, and stuff to watch.  This all adds up to a super-noisy location, with people and traffic joining into a pretty good din.

Curiously, there's a public restroom right there in the park.  Not sure if that recommends it or indicates you should avoid it.  For what it's worth, no one was shooting up the last time I was there.

It has plenty of parrots.  It does not have a heart sculpture.  There is a church right next to it, so you have chimes to remind you of what time it is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spin Laundry Lounge -- Portland, OR

I love this place.  It's super clean.  It's well lit.  It's open until midnight.

Did I mention you can drink beer while your laundry is going?  I thought I mentioned that.  There's a full-on Café in this joint, with beer, wine, soda pop, sandwiches .. you know, Café stuff.  There were even people in the Café who weren't doing any laundry.  Just hanging out at the laundromat .. like you do.

Did I mention that soap is free?  It seems like on half of my trips, I totally forget to bring soap with me.  So I walk in, and the clean well-lit attendant asks me what I'm looking around for, I say "soap" and she says, "oh I have it.  It's free.  Let me know when you're loaded."

Did I mention that the machines will text you when they're done?  Yes, really.

I'm usually staying a couple of miles from this place when I'm in Portland, but I'm happy to pay for a Car2Go to get there and back.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Suki's Bar & Grill -- Portland, OR

This would have been a review of the Travelodge Portland City Center, but well, you know how that goes.  They'll put an extra coat of paint on the place, but not patch the holes in the walls, so you get that weird "painted crater" look.  Instead of using spackle while repairing around the towel rack, they used silicone, because, you know, that'll hold up under any sort of weight.  They don't leave chocolates on the bed -- they leave cigarette burns.

But I was going to talk about Suki's Bar & Grill, which is downstairs.  You're used to calling something the "hotel bar," but here you need to flip it around and just call the upstairs establishment the "bar motel."

So here we are, nestled between freeway ramps, and really not in a real destination.  Yet, somehow this bar has plenty of patrons. The awning even warns you off ... "Comedy Karaoke."  Nope, still got customers.  And a fascinating bunch each night.

Monday night football, and the place is full of enthusiastic (but polite -- this is Portland) fans from both sides.  How do you fill a Portland bar with an equal number of Minnesota Vikings and Santa Clara 49ers fans?  This town doesn't even have a football team.  Maybe that's what makes it possible.  I don't know.

Tuesday night was pub-quiz night.  Clever, too.  Do you know what type of doctor Dr Huxtable was, on the Cosby Show?  In light of recent news, it makes a kind of gross sense.  Also, no one cheated (honest folks -- this is Portland) sneaking a google on their phone.

Wednesday through Saturday are Karaoke.  So far it's hard to tell where the mixed bag of participants come from.  Wednesday was all the standards like Journey, Sonny & Cher, Toto.  Thursday somehow ended up being half girls'-night-out screaming versus guys doing really awful country songs.  The performances are all enthusiastic (but safe -- this is Portland) and remarkably in tune.

I have no idea what Friday will bring.  But I'll be here to find out.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sydney G. Walton Square, San Francisco

Okay for a bit, but not the best spot for "working from park" for more than an hour or so.  It's sort of interesting if you'd like some distraction.  The bike messengers seem to come here to take breaks.  And there's also a mix of professionals, or yuppies, or something.  And one or two folks with a hustle about selling stolen/pirated items.  So, a nice mix of people to watch.

But none of the benches have backs.  And it's noisy with all sorts of machinery.  And it's pretty much in shade all the time ... which was great during that super-warm week the other day, but probably makes it two-sweater weather on normal days.

It does, however, have parrots.  And there is also a heart sculpture.

Pier 1, San Francisco

This is a great spot for the "working from park" days.  And there's motorcycle parking right at the base of the pier.

There are benches with backs, which makes it easy to lounge a bit while you type away on your laptop.

There is a Starbucks right at the head of the pier, but you're also right next to the Ferry Building, so you can pop in there to the Peet's and grab a "Black Tie," if you're into the whole cold brewed thing.  (Be advised, the barista was some scuzzy guy with dreads and a home-made apron, the last time I was there.)

No matter the microclimate on the particular day, the bench arrangement is great.  The ones at the very end of the pier end up in shade after about 2 PM.  The ones up the sides of the pier seem to be in sun just about up until it goes down in the west.

Sadly, no parrots.  Many seagulls.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Kurukkiru Hand-Cranked Shredder

If you travel as much as I do, you accumulate receipts and papers that you need to destroy .. but you're miles from a shredder.  Too many secrets!

This little guy is the Kurukkiru by Nakabayashi.  It's a hand-powered shredder, with a mouth that's wide enough to fit a third of a US Letter page.  Which is to say, more than enough for register receipts (pictured).  And for whole pages, tri-fold them, tear them in thirds, and feed those into it.

No batteries means it's light.  Bright green means it's cute.  I keep it in my large bag.  As soon as I return to my hotel room, I can destroy evidence the same day it's made!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Watch House -- London, England

This is a very cool little coffee place stuck inside, well, a watch house.  It was right on the way from my hotel to the office .. but I would have walked a couple blocks out of my way for it.  I don't know what they do differently with their coffee, but the Americanos had an amazing crema on the top.  No idea how they did it.

The place fits three tables or so, with maybe seating for seven people inside.  A clever touch is that they've got hardwired USB ports in the walls, right there, so that as you sit and enjoy that Americano you can charge your phone up.  No problem, no adapter needed.

Hand & Marigold Free House -- London, England

This could also be called the Goldilocks Pub, because it was "just right" in terms of size and atmosphere and attitude.  North of here, you're closer to the Tower Bridge area, and those bars are a little snooty -- catering to the after-work professional crowd.  South of here gets a little scummy.  This is right in the middle, down a side street.

You definitely get the "authentic British pub experience," here.  A bunch of old guys arguing, well, who knows what -- likely sports teams, or politics, or old movies.  Meanwhile, on the other side, there's a Tuesday night poker game starting up.  Couples wander in, spot the piles of board games on shelves in the back, and have a beer while playing a quick game of Clue.

This is the perfect place to sit after work and have a beer.  If you want to be alone, no one minds.  If you want to get into the discussion with the old men, we come on over.  Just right.

Hampton Inn Bellevue -- Bellevue, WA

Note to self: Definitely a good choice next time.

Definitely a place for business folk.  There's a nice big desk right in the middle of the room, so you can work yourself into an early grave.  Or you can move over to the little sofa and work yourself to death over there in a more relaxing manner.  It was nicely located to be able to get around the area, as long as you have a car.

Super 8 Berkeley -- Berkeley, CA

Note to self:  Actually, yeah, not bad at all.

You know what you expect when your corporate travel site puts you at a Super 8.  This one was special though.  The management or staff or whatever seemed to actually care.  It was more like a family-owned roadside motel than a Super 8.  Yes, definitely a Super 8, but the little touches added an attention to detail and homeyness that was really sweet.  And if you don't mind a little walk, BART is right up the street.