Just finished the West Coast workshop tour, sharing the shock and awe of BCIs with hundreds of eager students, doctors, professors, and the occasional freeloader. Perhaps shock isn't the best word choice with a technology that only passively reads brain activity, but fatigue is even more permissive than alcohol, and a more socially acceptable excuse.
We had to stay in hotels in San Diego, LA, San Diego again, Irvine, San Fran, Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle. Astute readers who know American geography, like my Austrian homeys, will note this is not quite a straight shot up the west coast, but we have to accomodate the hosts' schedules. The hotels were typically four star hotels, some new, some not. Dr. Nick Anderson, who was on the tour with me, noted that our only problems were with the older hotels. I admit that words like "historic" and "quaint" did sound appealing. Yes, the antique (-looking) marble columns Austrian crystal chandeliers in the Historic Hotel Whitcomb did dazzle, thought their little museum to their own history was too pretentious even for me. The moldy smell and stained carpets were enough to drive Nick and Elizabeth away. I tolerated it, and other signs of unrenovated fading glory, but agreed with Nick's decision to stick with newer hotels in the future. Despite over five years of traveling flaneur, I still have much to learn. And share. Old = warning flag.
And here's another helpful lesson. Mozartkügeln aren't just handy for charming mothers (and, periodically, daughters). In all of the hotels, I tried a new trick when checking in. Go for the female staffer, if possible, and mention that you have Austrian chocolate if they give you a free room upgrade. It sounded absurd to me too until it worked at every hotel except one. I'm in a suite now, and got a King's Suite at the Palomar on Wilshire Blvd. Said suite was so snotty that they had a room service menu for dogs:
It has four items. They include a veggie plate and "fruit delight" with blackberries, blueberries, and sliced apples. Mmmmmm. Sounds delicious. I could go for one right now. I think that dogs, even near Beverly Hills, prefer meat. They probably prefer the turtle I put above the menu, which they might deem more edible even though it is made of towels. Yes, the whirlpool tub was graced with a turtle made of towels, meaning that the maid was paid to assemble cloth origami every day. Great room overall. Not a bad upgrade for a piece of chocolate that cost me less than a dollar.
The keys seem to be that Austrian chocolate is both unexpected and foreign. Austrians are not typically known as chocolatiers. I doubt a bribe of American chocolate would have worked in the states, even good chocolate. I bribed the Vancouver hotel with California fudge, and that got me a big room with a great view.
Of course, there's always the null hypothesis - chocolate and charm are irrelevant. Maybe I got the room upgrade just because I asked, and because we typically arrived late and usually stayed for only one night and they had the room available. But this would imply that I wasted a bunch of chocolate and a blog post for nothing, so fuck you. The upcoming east coast tour will also be graced with a little night music called Mozartkügeln.
Three pictures in front of the warg rider statue in front of Blizzard Entertainment, last week. One picture is with Nick Anderson.
Three pictures from 2009, with Anton Nijholt and Guenter Edlinger. Note the (cheaper) Mozartkügeln I'm holding.