Posts Tagged good mood

And now for something completely different…

I’m actually not a huge Monty Python fan, which is weird considering what a huge nerd I am and how much I love British stuff, but that line just seemed to fit in the title.

I wanted to talk about something that I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about on this blog. Mostly because I tend to talk about the stuff around me in my nerd life (TV shows, books, comics, movies, games, technology etc) and the people around me in my professional life (crazy guests).

In a little less than a month, I will be marrying the most wonderful and amazing woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I really couldn’t be happier or more excited at the prospect. We’ve been together 2 1/3 years now and look forward to many many more to come. Although, I have to say that work has been so exhausting for us both lately, and planning the wedding so stressful, that really we’re just counting down the days to the honeymoon! A week in Cancun is just what the doctor ordered.

No! Not that Doctor...but good guess

It’s really kind of hard to believe that only 2ish years have gone by since we met at a mutual friend’s baby shower (weird I know). Where she managed to not die of laughter when one of my friends insisted that I show her the Super Mario tattoo on my right shoulder and the Star Trek TOS command badge I have tattooed on my chest (T.A.R.D.I.S. tattoo on my left shoulder still pending).

After some Facebook stalking that seems to be the norm for meeting someone new these days, we had our first date. And then a 2nd date. And a 3rd. It really just spun away after that. We managed to pass – more or less pass – each and every little test that we put before one another.

We both finally understand all that stuff that people used to say about finding your partner. You know that stuff that when you’re bitterly single makes you roll your eyes in annoyance when spouted by your happily coupled friends. And yes, now we’re one of those disgustingly cute couples. We often call ourselves on it when we do something that makes us go, “Awwww.” Then we pause and one of us says, “We’re one of those couples that would have made us puke watching when we were single.” But it’s true, and yet that’s not what makes us great partners. It’s that we make each other stronger than either of us could be individually. Recently we were faced with the prospect of moving to Seattle for a new job for one of us. That job fell through, and we got more excited then maybe we should have, but at the same time it brought me to a minor epiphany one night when driving home. That the prospect of moving to Seattle for a new job would be daunting, even terrifying to the point of being paralyzed, if I was facing it by myself. It’s something I’d have a hard time even contemplating if I was single. Yet, there was really no fear at the prospect of doing it with her by my side. Because I knew that we’d be there to back each other up the whole time. It was just a small realization in the grand scheme of things, but it shifted my entire way of looking at challenges. We’ve already been living together for over a year. In most major decisions we think of them in terms of “us” and not in terms of ourselves individually.

This would be so awesome....

I really and truly love this woman who I’m going to be vowing to spend the rest of my life with. Even though she doesn’t like the Lord of the Rings movies. It certainly helps that she enjoys Doctor Who though! We don’t share every interest. In fact often times finding something to watch on TV together can be a bit of a struggle. We’ve found shows we can both agree on and when we don’t that’s what tablet computers are for – my Xoom and her iPad. In that respect we’re a house divided. I’m a PC/Droid and she’s a Mac. Yet we make it work! At the same time we push each other to grow and experience new things. I never would have come to know the glory that is butter chicken and naan if I hadn’t let her talk me into trying Indian food one day for lunch. And she probably wouldn’t have discovered how fun playing video games together can be if we’d never gone to PAX together. We don’t share every interest, but that’s OK, we know how to give each other space to enjoy our own interests and occasionally we push one another into trying something new that we end up enjoying more together. We challenge each other mentally and morally by talking about stuff that you can’t talk about in polite company, and we’re allowed to disagree with one another. We come down on two very different sides of the argument when it comes to corporal punishment/the death penalty. We manage to agree on most of the important things, except that if we have twins (which run in her family) I think we should name them Luke and Leia. Still trying to sell her on that one…

I know she tends to skim my blog, glazing over the nerdier things that don’t interest her as much. Come to the Dark Side of the Nerd my love. We have cookies. Don’t get me wrong, she has some nerdy qualities, she just doesn’t choose to fly her “nerd flag” high because she doesn’t feel she went through as many trials and tribulations growing up for being a nerd. But considering she played a drinking game in college – repeatedly – based around Presidential trivia I have few doubts about her nerd credentials. We’re just nerdy about different things at all. She’s a sexy librarian by day and a deadly ninja by night. I’m a mild-mannered hotel manager by day and intergalactic super-hero by night.  That’s like peanut butter and jelly baby!

I've always wanted flight to be my super power...

That pretty much wraps it up. In case the next couple of weeks run away from me, Happy Holidays everybody!

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My Desk

I’ve been meaning to post this picture for a while. This is just a quick shot I took tonight. It’s how you can tell just by looking at my desk that I’m a total nerd. All of these items have been gifts from my staff over the last year and a half, and they make me pretty happy. I just need a TARDIS to round out the scene…hmmmm

Clash of the franchises

Clash of the Franchises

I’m also going to try to put up a picture of me at work in my Halloween costume this year, because it was just so deliciously nerdy. I just have to slightly disguise some details. Anyone who actually knows me and reads this blog could figure out it’s mine, but I don’t want to make it too easy for strangers to be able to recognizes faces and places that’s why I don’t post many pictures that I take myself.

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Where I see myself going…

This isn’t exactly a new revelation for me, but I don’t want to be a Front Desk Manager the rest of my life. Only recently though, I’ve started to actively contemplate the myriad of possibilities arrayed before me. Given the climate of today’s job market, I figure I need to have a pretty good idea of what my goals are now and be looking for the next move. I’m still quite happy at my job, I’m not in a position where I’m dying to leave or hate coming to work every day. I still regularly learn new things in my position. However, if I wait to be restless and miserable in my current position, the act of trying to find the next move will be even more torturous, it would also make it much more tempting to leap at the first opportunity and not the best one.

The next logical step for me is a position as Assistant General Manager or a Director position at a property of at least equal, but preferably larger size to the one I’m at currently. I’d be fine with a Director of Rooms or Director of Operations type position, I think those would be a good next step. Also I’d love to get some experience in Revenue Management as that’s becoming an increasingly important position in the hotel world. The ultimate goal there is to end up as a General Manager somewhere. At the moment I prefer working at an independent (non-brand) property, but that could certainly change as advancement opportunities tend to be a bit more obvious if you get in good on the corporate ladder. The goal for me is to stay in high-end resort type properties as I just prefer the atmosphere at destination/vacation properties over city, business or convention hotels.

I’ve already started looking, somewhat passively, for this next move. It started because I took a guest complaint at my current job one day, resolved the issue for the guest, gave him my business card, and the next Monday I had a voice mail from the guest wanting to discuss a GM position with me. He was on the board for another local property that was looking for their next GM and was so impressed by his brief interaction with me that he wanted to see my resume. I got as far as the phone interview. Several weeks later I heard that the property had a new GM which was a bit crushing at the time. The entire scenario had gotten me excited to think I could skip straight off to a GM position from my current position. I knew at the time that it would be a giant leap forward, but the possibility provokes all sorts of dreams for me. I’ve since kept an eye out for other positions. My fiancée and I have discussed relocating to get out of the area that we both grew up in, so I’ve cast my net as far off as Seattle and San Diego at this point. I was briefly being considered for an Assistant GM job in San Diego, but such a massive relocation is somewhat of a deterrent to employers in this job market if they have enough local qualified candidates that can potentially start much sooner with less hassle. It’s still good practice at interviewing (just on the phone) and I feel like my resume is pretty well tuned too.

Beyond looking for my next job, it starts getting a little murkier when looking at the big picture of my career path. There are several options none of them necessarily being mutually exclusive to one another. I could theoretically go after one, two, or all three in some capacity.

I haven’t discussed this a lot here, but my family has a small Inn in the local area that my dad currently runs. My grandpa built and opened the place, and it’s always been a distinct possibility that I could succeed my dad when he’s ready to retire and be the 3rd generation Innkeeper. It’s not a sure thing because my family isn’t the sole owner of the property, but I think by the time that opportunity presents itself my resume and my family will make me a near shoe in. This possibility is fairly distant on the horizon (10 to 15 years) so I have to actively pursue other opportunities in the mean time.

My fiancée and I have already started discussing investment plans for the future, so that hopefully we can reach a point where we have sources of income other than our own labor. Right now the feeling is that we would like to own actual businesses instead of just investing in the stock market. One of the possibilities we’ve discussed is buying a small lodging property of our own, one that I could theoretically go and run if need be, but our first preference would be to hire management staff to handle day-to-day operations while we focus on other investments, our own jobs, or whatever. This is a little pie in the sky at the moment, as we need to develop some capital and likely other investments first, but I think could be a great plan for our long-term future. This could prove to be a really great asset if down the line I end up running my family’s lodging establishment as well, especially since it might allow us to invest in the family property and not just wait on what inheritance I might receive even further down the line.

Another possibility that I’ve been actively considering is developing my own business as a hired consultant for hotel development and management. We’re in the midst of rather hectic expansion plans at my current property, and after sitting in on a number of expansion planning meetings, I’ve realized that this could be a viable path for me. It’s a scary path though. It would at some point leave me being my own boss, which is nice. It would also mean less security and having to really develop my social networking skills and self marketing which I haven’t always been the best at. It could be really fun an exciting though. And to be realistic this could also become a pretty descent side business if I end up running my own property and/or take over at my family property. I know my dad has done some consulting for people and companies, and I could probably turn that into a nice little side business for myself. I like the idea of being able to go to a place and just focus in on particular issues or a particular problem, solve it or finish the project, and then move on to the next challenge.

It feels good to put all these thoughts out into the universe. My fiancée and I have discussed them all quite a bit. I don’t expect the universe to fulfill my hopes and dreams just by putting them out there, I know there’s a lot of hard work ahead. No one is going to make any of these things happen except me. I feel like the more I talk about it, and think about it, and work on it all though, the more likely I am to be prepared when an opportunity presents itself to move forward.

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You want to work in Hospitality?…Why?

I’ve worked in this industry pretty much my entire life. My family owns a small Inn and so this is pretty much the family business. I haven’t really known anything else. I thought about being lots of other things growing up. I think it went somewhat in this order, a Ninja, a Starship Captain, a Superhero, a Scientist, a Writer, a Lawyer, and then finally a Hotelier. Yeah, it was pretty much like that. Why couldn’t I have been a Starship Captain? All those hot alien babes out there waiting for me to show them my Captain’s Log. Sigh.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Where was I? Oh yeah. Anyways, working in Hotels is all I’ve ever really known. It wasn’t necessarily a forgone conclusion, but the probability was strong. Don’t get me we wrong, I love this business. I think about living in cubicle land and working a Monday through Friday 8 to 5 and I shudder a little. I would get so bored if I was stuck at one desk all day long except for the occasional meeting. I did that for part of my internship in school when I was getting experience in the accounting department at a large city hotel. The office had no windows! I’d got 8 or 9 hours without seeing sunlight. At my job now, if I get bored or feel like I’ve been at my desk too long, I get up and do a little “managing by walking around” As it is my GM tell me I spend too much time at my desk!

What prompted this post is that a large part of my current position is that I’m the primary hiring manager for my department. And since I work at a small property, means that I don’t have some unfortunate HR person that screens resumes for me. I have to read – OK skim – every resume that gets submitted for my department. I’ve fortunately filled the position we had open, but resumes are still trickling in. I’ve been told I’m a harsh judge or resumes, but I really don’t think so. When your resume says “Profeciency in Microsoft Publisher, Word, Opera Fidelo Express & other programsm” I can’t help but roll my eyes a little. And then you go into my “No” folder, usually with some commentary about why you’re failing (even if there’s no one around). I plan on doing a more in-depth post about my “Folder of Shame” as I some times call my No folder, and how some people make it in there. Before you say anything, I know this Blog isn’t typo free, but at least I know what the little red lines under my words means!

Having just gone through the flood of mostly garbage resumes that come in every time we post an open position, it does raise a question. Why does anyone want to work in the hotel business?

Yeah, I know it’s a crap economy out there and jobs are scarce. People pretty much apply for anything they feel they might even be remotely qualified. Often they apply over and over and over again. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing the same 3 or 4 names pop up every time I’m collecting resumes. Or people email, fax, and hand deliver their resume. One method of transmission is really alright. I went through the same struggle to find the job that I’m in now. I know what you all are going through. And for all my being a stickler about formatting, and typos, and including pictures of yourself (please don’t by the way), what I look for most when hiring is HOTEL EXPERIENCE. It’s really that important that it deserved to be in all CAPS. My most successful hires so far have all had prior hotel experience. I know it’s a catch-22, how do I get hotel experience to start with? I fell right into it. Basically you have to be lucky enough to find someone that’s willing to take a risk on you. Or you find one of the true “entry-level” positions at a hotel, and I don’t mean the Front Desk. Or you start out at the lower end of the industry and work your way up in service level. I’ve even found that other customer service experience like retail and restaurant work doesn’t truly cut it at the Front Desk. It helps, but not all the skills are transferable.

I met people in my program at school, the Hospitality Management program, that had zero experience in the industry. It blew my mind, and I quickly understood why we had required internships as part of the degree. Usually after the first one several people changed majors, because this industry really isn’t for everyone.

Let’s start with the Cons

  • Long hours
  • Sometimes having to be the party pooper
  • Late hours
  • Working weekends
  • Working holidays, sometimes all of them
  • Snotty/uppity/crazy/rude guests
  • Cleaning up other people’s messes, with a smile
  • Bursts of intense activity followed by long dull drags of boring nothingness
  • Weird sleep schedules
  • Getting to watch everyone else have a good time while you work
  • Getting blamed for stuff that you had nothing to do with

When you decide to work in the hospitality industry, you have all of these things to look forward to, and more.

Still there? Really? Why? OK, well there are Pros to this business too. It’s not all bad, but you have to be the kind of person that finds the Pros far more fulfilling then you find the Cons frustrating. And those closest to you have to accept some of the Cons as well. My fiancée still hates my work schedule, and I really don’t blame her.

  • Finding fulfillment in giving other people satisfaction and maybe even happiness.

Yup. That’s pretty much it. Probably the only universal one there is. There are other ones that apply to me only, but that’s the biggest one. If you can’t build your professional life around that singular notion then turn around and run away from this business as fast as you can! I’ve met people who have been in this business a little too long, that either never had that quality or had lost it, they’re usually bitter and angry people.

That being said, what else do I find fulfilling about this business?

  • Problem solving, every day I find I’m faced with new problems and challenges.
  • Being surrounded by beauty. I’ve generally chosen to work at properties that are destinations. Places that people save up all year to visit, and I get paid to be here.
  • Great stories. My coworkers, my bosses, my guests they all give me great stories to tell.

I’m the first to admit, there are way more Cons than Pros. I feel like the Pros are just bigger than the Cons though, and if you enjoy the Pros enough, the Cons don’t seem like problems most of the time. And really, the only way to figure these things out is to just do it in someway. There’s that Catch-22 again, because most people don’t want to let you do it unless you’ve already done it. When I see that someone has hotel experience on their resume, and they’re applying for a job with me, I know that they likely have already figured some of this out. I’ve seen people without experience that got a shot break down to actual tears by the end of their 2nd day of training. I don’t have time for that.

And let me tell you, The Money just isn’t on either list. There’s money to be made in this business absolutely, but you have to work and fight and claw your way to it unless your last name is Hilton or Marriott or Four Seasons (OK maybe not that one). I’m on a track to get to that money, but there are easier ways to get there. I’ve seen them, and if you aren’t interested and a little bit excited by the prospect of that one big Pro, then you should go for those other paths to money. Then come back and buy a hotel once you have it. You can pay someone like me to run it for you.

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Things I’m excited about right now…

So there are a number of little things that I’m excited about to different degrees that I wanted to share with you all.

Season 3 of Glee

I love the first season of Glee. I was hooked from the very first episode…well OK from this moment onward…

And I won’t lie, while I enjoyed season 2, I didn’t enjoy it as much as season 1. There were some truly great episodes of TV in there, but I discovered two things. While I agree with many aspects of their social agenda, they got a little heavy-handed with it in season 2. Secondly, and last night’s season premier drove this point home for me, their song choices can really turn me off to an episode. I’m not as big a fan of their Broadway songs when they do them.

However, I’m still super excited for season 3 of Glee. Last night’s episode hit a lot of great points for me that felt more like season 1, but it still wasn’t a home run. Was it just me or did it seem like half the episode went by before anyone sang anything? I really think it would have been better if they’d found a way to knock our socks off musically in the first 10-15 minutes.

That all said. I’m a Gleek. I’m still willing to give it a chance every week. Not in small part because of…

Lea Michele

Not everyone loves Lea Michele or her character Rachel Berry, but I’ve been a little smitten with her since the first episode. I’ll admit, her character can be a little annoying, but more often than not I just enjoy her antics. I know it’s her last season, and that’s sad. I think the show can go on without her though.

And oh yea…

Heather Morris

I think Heather Morris is the best thing to come out of Glee. Period. I know I put a “.” there, but it deserved extra emphasis. Her character started out as a back ground cheerleader that they brought in mostly to fill some space in the back ground, because she’s sexy and she can dance. But damn if her character Brittany hasn’t become one of my favorites in the whole show. Her wonderfully moronic little one liners are some of my favorite moments in the series. That and it’s just great to watch her move. Especially in those little cheerleader skirts. Sigh.

Jericho Season 3 Graphic Novel

BOOOM!

Did you watch Jericho when it was on TV? No? Well don’t feel too bad. Not many people did, that’s why it got cancelled. Twice.

That’s a rare honor really. The show was pretty much cancelled after season 1, but it’s one of the few fan driven movements to save a show that actually paid off. We got a 2nd season out of CBS (thank Science it wasn’t on FOX).

I really liked the series, and I don’t think it’s cancellation was due to being a bad show. I think it was a tough premise to sell at the time, too close to 9/11 still, it bummed a lot of people out or scared them. Nuclear blasts destroying most major American cities just hit a little close to home. I think if it had been on a network like SyFy or AMC the series might have survived to grow some real legs though. Alas the series ended on a horrible cliff hanger…or so I thought.

It’s one of the few series I’ve been able to introduce my fiancée to on the sly and have her actually enjoy. She and I don’t always share taste in shows, so I take it as a little challenge to secretly pick something I think she might like when she gives me full control over the TV. I pick something I think will manage to suck her in when she’s not paying attention, with the hope that when the episode ends she looks and me and goes “What happens next?” or “Can we watch another?” Jericho did that to her. Victory!

Anyways, my inspiration to introduce her to the show came from stumbling upon the graphic novel for season 3 of Jericho in a book store not long ago. I hadn’t heard about the series being continued in comic book form, and almost did a little dance in the store when I did. Joss Whedon has used this medium to great success (in my opinion) to continue Buffy, Angel and Firefly in comic book form after their respective series were cancelled. Considering how season 2 ended, I had shoved Jericho into the dark part of my brain where I put TV shows that end with loose ends. I can’t think about them too much without going into some horrible unfulfilled recursive loop. So knowing that I might actually get some resolution is just wonderful.

Tears of the Sun

On that very same trip to the bookstore I discovered S.M. Stirling’s latest book “Tears of the Sun” is out in the Emberverse series. I’m excited about its release, mostly because I’ve read and enjoyed so many of the earlier books in the series that I would feel incomplete if I didn’t read this one. However, I have to say, I was a little bored by the last book “High King of Montival” and so far TotS isn’t shaping up much better. The hero’s in the series are just a little too perfect now. They’ve stopped making mistakes or having flaws, and that’s just disappointing and a little boring. That and S.M. Stirling has developed this horrible habit in his book of having his characters finish sentences and thoughts for one another, over using the phrase “as if he could read’s mind’blah blah blah'” No really, it happens a lot now. He does it especially with characters that are friends or family or close allies to show that the two people really know or understand one another, but he does it all the fucking time and it’s just lazy and stupid. That said, I aggravatingly love the world he’s created for his characters, a world that exists in the rotted out skeleton of our own. I just wish he wasn’t making Mary Sue’s and Larry Stu’s out of every single character, and use the same lame litterary technique to have them all relate to one another. I’ll still read the book. I’ll probably even enjoy parts of it. So there you have it.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who has had an amazing season! It’s almost over now, but hot damn it has been a fun ride. The 11th Doctor Era has really come into its own with a truly distinctive flair of story telling. Not only is the cast and characters totally different, but the visual style and writing is totally unique from earlier seasons. Every episode is an amazing rollercoaster ride. This week’s The God Complex was a masterful work, it certainly didn’t hurt that the story took place in a twisted hotel. With a room to terrify anyone and everyone, but what was in the Doctor’s room!?! What really earned the Doctor a spot in this entry is after this season, I’m dying to see what the finale has to hold for us.

Miscellaneous Game Night
My D&D Game night has moved to Fridays for a variety of scheduling reasons, but several of the table members still had Tuesdays free. So we’re starting a fresh tradition of having a non-D&D miscellaneous game night, where we get together and play nerdy games. The two newest games for our group being “Munchkin” and “Zombies!!”. Both games are original, unique, and totally nerdy. I highly recommend either of them. In fact as I write this, I realize I should probably add a page to this blog for nerdy games I recommend.

Munchkin is a card game great for any D&D player that doesn’t mind poking fun and their own beloved game. It takes the D&D power gaming extremism to ridiculous and hilarious heights. The tag line for the game is “Kill the Monster, Steal the Treasure, Stab Your Buddy in the Back.” and that pretty much describes the game in a nut shell. I picked up the basic set of Munchkin a few weeks ago, and we’ve only played a couple of hands, but at this point I’ve picked up just about every expansion of Munchkin, and might do the same for the spin-off series. It was just that much fun. I know this isn’t a new game. I know it’s been out there for a long time now. But it’s new to our table, and I’m sure there are other groups out there that haven’t ventured into its shallow depths yet. It’s a great game for your D&D table to play at the beginning of the night while you’re waiting for people to arrive, or a great game to play at the end of the night when you’re just looking to wrap things up. We’ve only gotten 3 people playing at once so far, but I’m looking forward to getting a much bigger table. The box says a maximum of 6, but now that I’ve added the expansions to the base set, I don’t see why that needs to hold true.

Zombies!! is another game that’s been out there for a while, but that I’ve just recently discovered and our table already loves. It’s a hybrid card/board game. You’re playing a group of human survivors in a city over run by zombies. You’re on the run, desperately searching for supplies and the elusive helipad where a rescue chopper awaits. The game works off of two very distinct decks of cards, the Map cards which each player draws each turn and lays down. This forms your board for your human survivors to move on and the map of the city you’re stuck in. This way, every time you play the map is randomly generated. I think it fairly represents the desperate sprint through a city for survival, where with all the monsters, horror, and adrenaline you don’t really know where everything is, even though it could be a city you know well. The other deck of cards are special action cards that let you get bonuses of various sorts, and sometimes screw with other players in the race to the helipad. We’ve only played with the basic set so far. I’ve purchased the first expansion, but we haven’t incorporated it yet. To be honest, my only complaint about the game, is they could do a better job of spelling out the rules for us. Even as regular table top gamers, it’s taken some work to really figure out the mechanics of the game so that we know we’re playing right. Often this has required us to go online and check for errata or the game’s FAQ. I guess you could call that the learning curve, and I just wish the rules were a little bit more clear from the get go. Other than that we love the game and I think I’ll probably invest in the other expansions of Zombies and maybe even into the two spin offs, Humans!! and Martians!!.

Anyway, this wraps up this post for the day. I probably could have broken it into several smaller posts, I know there are several disparate topics here, but that’s not really my style to split stuff up. It just makes my search engine results way more confusing for people….

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No more hanging out with Vince and the gang

So long old friends...

I know not everyone loves this show. In fact most people I encounter either love it or hate it. I’m in the love column, and this morning I watched the final episode of season 8 and the entire series. I guess it did everything a series finale should do, because I still wanted more. I guess if anything I felt 8 episodes was too short for the final season. It felt a little rushed and I wanted more time to say goodbye. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there were any naked breasts in this season at all. What the hell? This season could have pretty much been on any network. There’s a reason it was always on HBO! Language, nudity, and adult situations damn it.

And maybe I’m most upset that Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) got through another season with her top on. Audible Sigh. I won’t lie sometimes I select a show just based on the hot ladies it has on it. I’ve more than once considered starting a weekly segment about the incredibly hot celebrities out there that often grace the background of my desktop computer at home. I’d call it “Hotness of the Week”. Just not sure if I want that to be a focus of this blog, but this blog is about me at the stuff I like. And I do like looking at them. Also not sure how that would fly with the fiancée…It isn’t like it’s some big secret… Philip DeFranco gets away talking about “Guy Shtuff” as he calls it all the time, and he’s basically just video blogging. Anyways, just some brain thoughts I’ve had…back on topic…

Over all Season 8 just felt like Season 7.5 since both were so short, even by HBO series standards. It was good old Entourage fun, and I subscribe to the notion that the series got out before jumping the shark, although I know there are those out there that wouldn’t agree. There’s always someone on the internet who won’t agree with such a subjective assessment. The characters grew and developed over time and that was awesome to watch. Once you got attached to all of them, they were like your friends. That’s what made watching all their disasters and shenanigans so much fun!

I know that there are fairly credible rumors of a movie coming out, but the script hasn’t even been written yet, so who knows how that will pan out. If you loved the series, this was a decent enough finale. Not so much “goodbye” as “see you later” (hopefully). If you didn’t love the series, well then you won’t much care that it’s over.

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There and back again….

Alright so the only thing Hobbit like about me is my somewhat hairy feet, but I still love that title.

Last weekend my lovely fiancée and I went on our much-anticipated trip to Las Vegas. It was her third or fourth time, and my first. Over all it was an astounding experience. The two greatest highlights being, watching my fiancée win a $2,200 jackpot on the penny slots and the absolutely mind-blowing experience of seeing Garth Brooks live. I have some notes at home on my Xoom of some traveling/Hotel stuff that I’d like to talk about in a later post. I don’t have them with me at the moment, so I thought I would just talk about the trip tonight.

We flew out last Thursday night, and that brought a certain degree of madness with it, because of the power outage in San Diego which had cancelled a number of flights and people were running around trying to find new flights that would bring them close enough to San Diego to drive the rest of the way. The flight to Vegas was one of the louder more boisterous ones I’ve ever been on. I guess that’s to be expected right? I got to blow my fiancée’s mind though when I insisted that we sit in the Emergency Escape row. This was a South West flight and we had pretty good A priority boarding so we actually had the option. She had never sat in the emergency row before, but I’m quite tall, so it’s something I do whenever I get the chance. She hadn’t realized just how much more space there was. So much so that she snapped a picture with her iPhone and uploaded it to Facebook before our departure. We got into Vegas around 11:30 at night. We checked-in to our room, ran upstairs and dumped our carry on bags and went back downstairs to the casino to start our gambling.

I love Vegas

We stayed at New York New York, and over all the best part of the casino was the Party Pit, the little area of tables (mostly Black Jack) where they have a stage in the middle and hot cage dancers up on it. I knew at that moment, that despite the ever-present cigarette smoke, I was going to like Vegas! I didn’t snap the picture above, but that’s a pretty accurate representation of what I found. And I only have a mild case of whiplash from all the girls on bachelorette parties running around in low and short cut dressed. Apparently Halloween is the holiday when every girl gets permission to Ho it up, but Vegas is the city where ever girl gets the same permission. I’m not complaining. I love that city now!

The fiancée showed me how to play the penny slots. And by the end of the evening I was $80 up, which was nice. Too bad it didn’t stay that way. Vegas ended up keeping $240ish from my bank account, but that’s what I had gone into it being comfortable loosing.

We had massages the next more which were so-so. Honestly, New York New York isn’t exactly known for their spa, but the Spa facilities set my expectations pretty high for the massage itself, and it just didn’t live up to the expectation. Nothing worst in a masseuse then cold hands. And I know they’re in the middle of a dessert and it’s fraking hot outside (it was 90 degrees when we got off the plane at 11:30!), but the room doesn’t need to be freezing cold either, that probably contributed to the masseuse’s cold hands. Over all the whole service was just very rushed, her hands were moving at a frantic pace. And I couldn’t tell if that was just her “style” if she was phoning it in or what. I was talking to the Spa Director at my property and he said that there are a lot of half assed massage schools in Vegas where they just crank out massage therapists like any other trade school. It was a very weird experience for me, because I’ve had so many great massages where I work, and from a large variety of therapists. At first I just thought that maybe I wasn’t shutting off my manager brain and I was being too analytical about it. In the end, I did ask to speak with the spa manager after my massage. She came down and not wanting to be one of “those guests” I prefaced the conversation with my business card and saying “I’m in the industry, you don’t have to do anything for me, but I feel like you need this feedback.” I told her how the facilities were spotless, the Reception staff and Locker Room attendants were great, and then I gave her my big but about the massage itself. I prefaced the whole thing by saying she didn’t have to do anything for me, and so she didn’t do anything but thank me for taking the time to give her the feedback. It was a very practiced and easy customer service response on her part. And afterwards I felt better for having at least gotten it off my chest. Next time we’re in Vegas I want to try the spa at one of the places that are more known for having a mind-blowing spa. I already have some suggestions from my Spa Director who says his favorite place in the world is Vegas.

The fiancée and I spent out afternoon gambling and getting lunch. At one point I topped out at about $125 up after hitting the black jack tables (minus the dancers because of the time of day), but that all got sucked back away. I was across the casino watching another $20 drain away into a penny slot when the fiancée called me. I could barely hear her over the noise of the casino finally she’s like “Can you just come here. I don’t know, but there’s something wrong with the machine I think.” I got there to find flashing lights, and her machine’s screen announcing her $2220 jackpot and asking her to please wait for an attendant to come give her her money! It was a really cool experience even though it didn’t happen to me. We drew the attention of a couple of onlookers, the general sentiment being “I didn’t know a penny slot could give out that much!” and “How did you do that?” Really? Like we can replicate it with an exact series of steps? I’m pretty sure if we could, we’d never ever leave Vegas. We’d be professional penny slot players!

Once we had her money firmly in hand (she let me hold it a little bit). We went off to a bar for a celebratory drink. Then up to the rooms to get ready for the concert.

I’ll say more, but I’ll just preface the story by saying, Best. Concert. EVAR.

Garth Brooks is a consummate show man and entertainer and from the very moment he walked out on that stage he was electric. I didn’t do very much research into the show before we went, but it’s literally a one man show. He doesn’t have a band out there with him. It’s just Garth, a guitar, and a couple of bottles of water. The theater is incredibly tinny (maybe 1,500 people?) which is an incredibly intimate experience when you’re dealing with such a seasoned performer. Before he “retired” he was playing packed stadiums and blowing people away. In a space that small, you could just feel every body in the theater quiver at the same frequency as his guitar strings. And he’s out there incredibly casually, just some black boots, jeans, a checkered button up shirt with a T-shirt underneath, and a ball cap. It’s like he came out to play the stage at his favorite dive bar. The first half of the show is Garth talking about his life and growing up and the music that influenced him most on his path to becoming a performer. He sprinkles the show with stories and little covers of songs that were meaningful to him from other artists or highlight the story he’s telling, and you laugh a lot throughout the show. It’s almost stand up comedy between his little bits of music, but it’s more like you have a good friend who’s great a captivating a room with funny anecdotes. Then about half way through the show, he dives into his own catalog of music and it just cranks up to 11 from there. At least half the audience is singing along, either out loud or just under their breaths. And then comes the most amazing part, he turns up the house lights and takes audience requests and questions. He only took about 4, but that’s mostly because every song has a whole story around it for him to tell. I’m not ashamed to say that when considering all the songs of his that I just love, that I froze in a moment of pure overload and couldn’t even attempt to stand up to be one of those 4 requests because I had no idea what I would say if he called on me. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know about that part of the show before hand because I would have been contemplating it for the last 2 months since we bought the tickets.

Anyways, it was an amazing experience. If you even half way like Garth Brooks, go and see the show because you will not be disappointed.

The rest of our trip was kind of a whirl wind. We went out for a very late dinner with one of my fiancée’s friends from high school. He lives in Vegas now and he showed us around a little bit. We wandered around the Venetian and Palazzo Hotels. The concert was in the Wynn and that was an absolutely beautiful hotel. All 3 of them impressed me far more than New York New York which I just found a little cheesy. How can you even compare the New York New York to the Venetian especially the freaking canals through the hotel? Really? Although the price probably reflects that….

I think that just about wraps up our trip. The flight home was quiet and uneventful. We got back exhausted and a little forlorn to not be away somewhere adventurous together. We’re already plotting our possible return trips. I want to see David Copperfield next!

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Being Nerdy

I’ve been thinking about this post off and on for a week now. Mostly prompted by my own Birthday and the introspection that inspires in me, but also driven by having finished the second season of the Penny Arcade Web series. The season finale talked a lot about Jerry and Mike (the creators of Penny Arcade) and their experiences in school being “nerds” and what their adult life is like. It’s something Wil Wheaton has talked extensively about on his blog. I figured it’s time that I give it a whirl.

 

Nerd Pride


I didn’t have a good time in traditional schools growing up. I’m a tall guy, and I was always on the taller side for my age, but I still got picked on a lot. I didn’t feel like I was bigger then anyone that’s for sure. Even as a kid (I mean like 8 years old here) I liked nerdier things, I thought Star Trek the Next Generation was the most awesome show that could ever be on TV. I got hooked on the X-Men animated series on Saturday mornings on Fox and that inevitably lead to collecting comics. I was one of the smarter kids in my classes, but I always had a hard time socializing and making friends. I was shy and awkward socially even before girls really entered the equation.

In Middle School I discovered Tolkien and from that D&D. At lunch, my friends and I hung out in our home room and played Chess or Magic the Gathering. I sucked at Gym Class especially at running (asthma) or anything requiring hand-eye coordination. In 8th grade I proudly came to school in a Starfleet Uniform with full Klingon make up and thought it was just the coolest costume ever. Not everyone agreed. I wasn’t getting beat up on a daily basis like some people who talk about getting bullied. Generally it was just mean jokes, pranks, and isolation. The things I thought were “cool” just weren’t that cool to my class mates.

My first two years of High School sucked pretty consistently. I had a pretty tight small group of friends. But it was a big school and people thought I was an easy target. Probably mostly due to my lack of confidence. I got in some fights, that mostly resulted in teachers breaking it up before a clear victor could be established either way, but they were also pretty unskillful on my part. I changed schools for my Junior & Senior years to a much smaller and smarter school. It wasn’t a true charter school, it was basically a great big experiment inspired by the Dot Com boom, and was very technology focused. We had a computer at every desk. By and large this place was heaven for me, and it was the first place that I had a large group of friends. A lot of the students there had escaped other school where they had been having similar experiences as myself. This was the Nerd school, where the people who would have qualified as the “cool kids” at my old school were in the vast minority. It was the first place where I really started to learn that being a nerd was not only alright, it was a good thing. I flourished there, and when I identify myself by which High School I went to, I identify as a student from there and mostly forget about the other place.

I wouldn’t say college was the same experience, but my nerdiness was a lot more acceptable there. People generally took me for who I was. Sometimes that turned into friendships, not always but it never really turned negative either. Being the smart kid is encouraged in college. The teachers aren’t “the enemy” at least not usually. No one is really resistant to that awesome process of learning shit. That isn’t to say we always enjoy the subject, but we’re also not teenagers in High School anymore at the peak of our instantaneous rebellion phase.

Well that covers school, but what about the real world? I won’t go so far as to say that nerds rule the world, I don’t think we do. But we do really well for ourselves out here. I’ve found ways to turn my nerdy nature to my advantage in business. For instance, I use to play around with Excel for fun, usually for D&D related purposes. I taught myself more things about Excel then most people learn in a semester long class about Microsoft Office or people who use it every day, but under utilize it because they don’t even think to push the boundaries of what the software can do. One of my nerdier aspects is that I’m very aware if not hyper aware of myself and where my position is in the terrain around me, especially socially. It’s made me very introspective. I use that trait regularly in customer service to examine people and situations I encounter. I can jump in and tackle a problem in the moment, but I’m also very good at stopping afterwards and looking back to see how the problem could have been avoided, or how I could have handled it better.

There’s a web & media campaign out there regarding bullying which has drawn increasing media attention lately. The It Gets Better Project it’s mostly about giving the victims of bullying hope for the future, that it gets better out in the real world. It’s a great message, and I approve, but having been one of those kids, I had parents and counselors and teachers say “it gets better” to me, and that didn’t do me a whole hell of a lot of good at the time. I gave me hope to keep struggling on, but it didn’t stop the bullying then, and it doesn’t now. I appreciate the movement and the effort, I just wonder if it isn’t attacking the problem from the wrong side. But then that’s probably another blog post.

So anyways, as an adult I’ve learned to fly my Nerd Flag high and proud. I’ve started going to conventions and I’m not embarrassed of my nerdy tattoos or nerdy hobbies. I’ve also come to realize that almost everyone has a little nerd in them about something, at least most passionate and successful people do. It’s not always about the things that most people would consider Nerdy, but the guy that can tell you all the stats of every member of his fantasy football league is nerding out about football. The GM of my property can talk for hours about architecture and construction methods, he’s a construction nerd. My beloved fiancée, doesn’t choose to embrace the nerd label, but she loves American history, she’s even played a drinking game based around naming the US Presidents. In the end, I love being a Nerd, even though it hasn’t always been an easy path to walk, I wouldn’t have it be any other way.

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Upgrade

This morning my 6 month project to upgrade our credit card processing system and our Hotel PMS software (Property Management System) comes to completion (hopefully). The PMS is essentially the hotel’s nervous system, without it we really have very little idea what’s going on around us. It’s been an incredibly long and bumpy project. You’d think you could just call up the vendor and say “Hey, I want this software. Here is some money please install it. Thanks.” Nope it’s really not, especially when said new software interfaces with credit card processing in a way that we had never done before at my property. The new version should really be a great step forward, and it will be an interesting challenge to “kick it old school” and run the Hotel office on essentially pen and paper for 6 hours. Anyways, AutoClerk Version 8 here we come! See you later Version 6 and thanks for all the fish!

In other New Stuff news for me. I finally got myself a new computer monitor at home. The old one has been slowly dying for over a year now, so I finally broke down and went to buy one yesterday. I probably could have gotten a slightly better deal if I had bought online and waited for shipping, but I got to hang out with one of my friends in the process of going shopping for it and his almost 2 year old daughter who I hadn’t seen in about a year and a half. I’ve known the guy since we were in kindergarten, but really had very little idea what kind of parent he was going to be when his girlfriend first got pregnant. Fun fact, my fiancee and I actually met at the baby shower for his daughter. Anyways, he’s really turned out to be an amazing dad, and I hope I’m able to measure up when that time finally comes around. All in all it was a pretty great way to spend the afternoon. And the new monitor is just so damn pretty…it’s part of the reason I sat down to actually write a blog post. That and I had been meaning to do so for several days now.

Have a great day everyone.

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My Cafe Press Shop

So I had almost forgotten that over a year ago I set up a Cafe Press Shop with some Nerd shirt designs I had thought up. OK so I had totally forgotten until I got an email this morning informing that my shop had sold something. For the first time. EVER. That was kinda cool. Cafe Press was super fun to use, a great way to express your creativity and sometimes earn a couple dollars, but I never really got around to setting up all the SEO and meta-data type stuff so that the shop would really work well. That was of course before I had this blog. I figure I should at least link the two together now. And maybe I’ll get around to it, because really, if I could get some shirts to sell, it might be a fun little chunk of change. I’m not schilling for my readers to go buy stuff to “support this blog”, I don’t think I’ve earned that quite yet. However, if you like nerdy shirts (mostly D&D related) then you might find something you like, in which case the shirts are there if you want one. I think I also set them up as buttons and bumper stickers and stuff, so there are a couple of options at different price points.

Anyways, here’s the link: Kaos Wizard’s Swag

I’ll probably make a separate “Page” for it on the main blog too, just so it’s easy to reference back to.

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