The first in a series of “Why is it so difficult to [insert thing it is difficult to do when staying long-term in a hotel on business]?” posts

So today I received an SMS text notifying me that a shipping firm had attempted a delivery to my hotel, but that the delivery attempt had “failed”.  Now I knew full well what the delivery was, an Amazon Prime purchase for an item that cost less than $10, but that I had forgotten to pack for this week – An item that keeps my chin and neck from growing hooples after shaving in the morning.  As innocuous a purchase as one can make, honestly.

More than a bit cross after receiving the text,  I stewed upon the matter for the couple of hours I had left at the customer site this afternoon, and immediately upon arriving back at the hotel, bypassed the hapless desk clerk and asked for the manager, asking in what I imagined was a reasonable tone (but was most likely an aggressive, accusatory tone, if we’re telling the truth here) why the delivery had been refused.

“Hotel policy”, it turns out, does not allow for guests staying less than two weeks to receive mail addressed to them at the desk.

My friends, I have never stayed in a hotel for two consecutive weeks, even on business trips to the same location that are three or four weeks in duration…I use my weekends to find a place (or a couple of places) I’ve never seen before, but have some interest in seeing, and find a hotel wherever is most convenient for me to stay while sight-seeing.  Sunday night I’ll check back in to my hotel near the customer site, where I’ve come to know the desk clerks, management, and most of the facilities staff by name.

“Policy” is as sorry an excuse as has ever been invented, IMHO.  “Policy” is no substitute for judgment, it is simply an excuse to avoid the consequences of bad judgment.  As the “policy” that foiled my delivery today is not the “policy” of the hotel group or even this particular branded chain member of the group, but of this hotel in particular, I fault the hotel’s management.  I see no reason to spend my money in any fashion which supports them, so this will be my last night here, tomorrow and Thursday nights will be spent roughly four hundred meters from this location at another branded chain hotel belonging to the same group, the management of which has assured me that they will happily accept packages for guests.

Not that I’ll see the package that was foiled today on this trip, it is no doubt back at the shipping firm’s distribution center, and I’ll have to call to have it routed to my home address so that I can pack the item for my first trip of next year.  Chin and neck hooples not being desirable while on a Cruise Liner, I’ve visited the local Target store and purchased an electric razor that will avoid them – At a cost of $47.00, rather than the $10 I could have spent.

Things don’t have to be hard.  Oh, they can often be difficult, but that’s to be expected, and difficulty can be overcome much more easily than hardship.  Spending so much time in hotels of late, I’m seeing much more of the former than the latter, and I see that it is going to amuse me to write about it.  For my fellow road warriors, I hope it amuses you as well.


My, some folks really didn’t like my post this morning on Germany’s proposed federal access to private data.  That’s fine.  I’m not one to argue…at my age I’ve come to accept that arguing, whether it be in meatworld or online is akin to scuffling with a pig, even if you win, you’ve been dragged down to the pig’s level.

I will, however, share some perspective that leads me to frown when I read of Germany in the newspapers or online these days, just so that you know where I’m coming from.  I’m a child of the 70’s, you see, but from 1972 – 1979, then again from 1981 – 1982 I was an army brat, living on-base in Hanau, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt, West Germany, raised mainly by my native German mother, as my father was more or less constantly in the field or on temporary duty away from home.  As a Company grade army officer myself, I spent a couple of years in Fulda, West Germany in the very early 90’s with the 11th (Blackhorse) Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), with an interval in Kuwait after hostilities had ceased following Operation Desert Storm.

I have two German Aunts (Tante Gisela and Tante Gerda), and two German Uncles (Onkel Ewald and Onkel Heinz), and five German cousins, all of whom have lived their entire lives in Germany, and all of whom correspond with my wife and I now and again.  My maternal Opa tried to escape serving in the Wehrmacht during World War II by moving his family (including my mother and her sisters) to France, but of course France was on Hitler’s immediate schedule for acquisition for Lebensraum, and he was drafted, trained (ironically, at GrosDeutschland Kaserne, later known as the U.S. Army’s Campbell Barracks, where my father was stationed from 1974 – 1979, and where I attended my freshman year of high school in 1978 at Heidelberg American High School), and subsequently sent to fight in der Ostfeldzug (the Eastern Campaign), then der Rußlandfeldzug (the Russian Campaign), where he fell, and was buried in an unmarked grave, never to be seen again.

So my ties to Deutschland are deep, and relatively old, I vividly remember Willi Brandt’s tenure, and as a High School Senior in Frankfurt, had many a scuffle with Turkish Gast-Arbeitern (the 70’s and 80’s models for today’s Syrian immigrants, they were a much smaller group, but just as fiercely resistant to assimilation, and their poverty led them to prey on my peers and I as we bused, Strassenbahned, and U-bahned fearlessly from one town to the next, some many kilometers apart).  With the U.S. military presence now mostly gone from Germany, and the social and economic changes that have resulted from our departure, I’m sad to say that today’s Germany is barely fit for my bride and I to visit every five years or so, even though we are both able to don German clothing, assume our respective fluent Pfalzich and Schwabisch accented German, and absent demands to see our passports, pass entirely for native Germans.  The Berlin Christmas Market (ahem) is a must-destination, as well as the hometowns of my relatives and hers, and of course the ghosts of Frankfurt’s former U.S. Army housing and the old Abrams Complex (where still stand my old alma mater, Frankfurt American High School, now the Philip Holzman Schule, and the I.G. Farben headquarters building – My father’s office was located in that building, and I spent a bit of time on TDY at V Corps myself while I was in uniform).

For all our ability to blend in, our last trip to our mothers homeland frightened my bride so badly that she’s loathe to return, even to the tiny towns where our relatives reside…Even to our beloved Berlin, where we spent many three-day passes after a long ride on the duty train as a young married couple with a young son.  The new generation of Islamic immigrants are, simply, unmanageable, my cousin’s daughters, who are adult German citizens who have lived in Germany their entire lives won’t go to the tiny downtown areas of their villages without a male escort.  Those same Islamic immigrants made such rude gestures to my bride during our last visit that old and busted up as I am, I came near to unleashing my Texas half and dealing some blows (whereupon I’d likely have been beaten, stabbed, and killed – My wife, as always, persuaded me to put “The Bull” back to pasture and “let’s go, you old bastard”).

This situation, along with much of the social and economic change in Germany over the past twelve years is directly attributable to Frau Merkel, and the situation and changes aren’t for the better.  Add to that Frau Merkel’s tight relationship with Russia’s Putin, and yes, I admit it: My mother’s homeland is no longer on our top ten vacation destination list, and unlikely to make that list again before I shuffle off this mortal coil.  So forgive me, if you will, my frowns where news of Germany is concerned, from where I’m standing, they are well deserved.

First the Google IPO, now this

I’m virtually certain I was among the first couple of thousand users of Google, I discovered it quite by accident in 1997 (laughably, via a Yahoo search for “search engines”), and replaced Yahoo with it immediately.  Of course, when Google’s IPO came out, I was cash strapped, and didn’t have the confidence to take a loan in order to fund a stock purchase – Had I done so, I’d have been long retired.

Likewise, I was an early adopter of Bitcoin, struggling through tutorials on blockchain technology and tentatively making a few online purchases from stores in Germany that carry goods my bride uses to create her fantastic German dishes (we are both 1/2 German by ancestry, on our Mother’s side, German ancestry is quite common in Texas, and both of our fathers married German ladies while stationed in what was then West Germany, to boot).  The stores offered significant discounts to buyers who used Bitcoin rather than credit cards, significant enough to march through the painful  learning curve for obtaining and using cryptocurrency.

At the time, BTC were trading for around $1,500 / 1 BTC.  While browsing around this morning I note that the price as of this moment is $11,700 / 1 BTC.

Imagine.  If I’d simply purchased 5,000 or so Satoshis and just let them sit, I’d be a millionaire several times over by now.

Thus I demonstrate that I am never to be consulted for investment advice.  I’ll be working until age 65 (which is not that far away – under a decade, anyhow), or perhaps age 75, all due to skepticism.

And with that, December is booked

We’ve had a Christmas vacation scheduled for several months now, the annual visit to my son, daughter in-law, and grandsons (this year and most likely next year in Colorado, at the home of the 4th Infantry Division, subsequent years, who knows?  The lad has fifteen years at the minimum before retirement, and more likely twenty-five, so opportunities for travel will abound as we chase him and his family around the world).

On top of that, my lovely bride scheduled us for a week in Panama City (FL) starting December 15, a week of timeshare use we’d have lost had we not booked it.  Our home resort is in Gatlinburg, TN, but honestly – There isn’t a week’s worth of activities in Gatlinburg for folks our age, and Panama City, even in Winter, at least affords me the opportunity to lounge in the hot tub at the resort with a club soda and bitters, watching the B-52’s fly overhead and trying furiously not to think about my army time, but about just how far I’ll walk down the beach in the evenings and what’s on the menu for dinner each night.

Then lo, serendipity…My IHG rewards program sent me an email this morning informing me that I a) have enough points to use for a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas on a Royal Caribbean Liner, and b) will lose those points if I don’t use them this year.  What to do?  Well, as a 1099 contract employee, that was an easy answer; the fifteenth through the twenty-second are booked, the twenty-third through the the thirtieth are booked, and Ubuntu Linux has a calendar better than the old UNIX cal command for use, so I went ahead and booked that Bahamas cruise for the eleventh through the fifteenth.  We’ll arrive back just in time to drive across the state to Panama City for our week there.

Naturally I presented this as a Christmas gift to my bride, not as a “Hey, I’ve got these points I’m gonna lose if I don’t use ’em…”, my Mother raised cretins, not fools.

So it turns out that this will be my last week of work for 2017, and even though we 1099 types aren’t paid for days we don’t work, I’m quite happy with that.  January is a new fiscal year for several of my customers, so it is bound to be a nightmare, I’d just as well take half a month to recharge my aging batteries, it’s been two years since our last vacation together anyhow.  The Casino in Freeport has always been good to me, Panama City is like home away from home, we visit that resort so frequently, and my daughter in-law is actually a very good cook, not to mention I haven’t seen the grandsons since the youngest was born almost two years ago at Fort Bragg.

I shall attempt to post while vegetating, but at the very least, there will be pictures.

Home, home again…

If Pink Floyd’s “Time” from DSOTM comes to mind upon reading the title of this post, our minds are in tune.  I’m a bit less far West than usual this week, working in my beloved home state of Texas rather than in California – It’s lovely here this time of year, and I’m eagerly anticipating a Whataburger for lunch.  My first Whataburger in some five-odd years, and my first outside the strictures of my heart-healthy diet meal in four months…A real treat.

We got the house cleaned up quite a bit this past weekend, and finished our interior Christmas decorating, it’s a bit melancholy missing all this for the week:

But I’ll be jetting home on Friday, in order to start the exterior Christmas decorating over the coming weekend.  We don’t discuss work here, and nothing has aggravated me as yet this week (Ha – It is 7:21AM on Monday, the week is yet young, and I’ve a wonderful propensity for becoming aggravated – I am un-medicated, you know), so blogging is likely to be light.

Enjoy the first week of December, myself, I’m much more fond of it than the last week.

Browsing Amazon over the morning’s third coffee

Via Little Fears, I’ve found my next diversion from obese, ill, rude, inebriated, over-medicated, or all of the above fellow passengers on my frequent red-eye trips – A mini-tome on arachnophobia.  Longtime friends know that I fear no man or beast on this earth except for spiders, the mere glimpse of which has me hopping atop a chair like a 1960’s sitcom mother who has just spied a mouse.

If anything is going to save the Little Fears from awful punch lines, it is not Shadow eating a sandwich. In Spiders, Great British groaners are the order of the day as the assembled Little Fears make their way through 94 tales of hospitals, food, steps, night sight telescopes and revenge. Rabbit eats a password book; Spider goes to the hospital; Fish multi-tasks; Lady observes X; Sprite has a chain reaction. Written and posted with scruffy illustrations daily on These brief vignettes (50 to 100 words) chronicle the continuing adventures of the Little Fears. With only a sense of whimsy and a deep love of old British comedy, Spiders will make you groan, cry and laugh until a bit of wee comes out, in a truly original, unoriginal, work of art and fiction.

British humor?  Yes, please.  And color me gobsmacked at the variety of other little tomes available from Little Fears as well.

Sometimes “A Clockwork Orange” reference is just what’s needed…

And the Onion is happy to oblige:

LONDON—Pushed out of power as the damning charges mounted, Alex DeLarge was forced to step down Wednesday as leader of the Droogs amidst allegations of sexual misconduct. “In an unfortunate development, we have been forced to remove Mr. DeLarge from his post due to the startling accusations of sexual impropriety that have come to light,” said Droog member Georgie, explaining that although the group had systems in place to swiftly address such allegations, it clearly did not adequately follow those procedures. “Even though these acts took place decades ago, it does not excuse Alex’s heinous and unforgivable actions. This is not at all what the Droogs stand for.”