Sunday, November 30, 2014

And So It Begins

Our plans to go take family photos in the mountains this morning were side lined by frigid temperatures. Without much effort, the boys convinced Kelly to start putting up some Christmas decorations instead.

He just yelled up from the family room, "You know how sometimes I go overboard..."
And so it begins.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Down by the Bayou

I learned a lot about life on my recent trip to New Orleans.

For example, reading a good book on the plane is a great idea. However, choosing something by David Sedaris will make you laugh out loud so frequently that you will seem like a lunatic. And, when your seatmate asks who the author is and shakes her head unknowingly when you tell her, saying, "You know, David Sedaris. The essayist? From NPR?" you end up looking like a pretentious lunatic.

Trying the food is a must. So I had my first Po Boy:
Which was delicious.

And my first beignet:

Which was really, really delicious.
And chicory coffee:
Which was not delicious.
And that everywhere I turned in New Orleans there were creepy clowns.
But most of all, I learned that no matter where I am, deep down I am a UTAH MAN!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Big Easy Chair

Over the years, I've stayed in a lot of hotels. Of course, some are nicer than others: the W in New York City was amazing; the Motel 6 in San Jose, not so much. Sometimes there are upside surprises at the less desirable locations, and sometimes the better known places disappoint.

This is a true retelling of my experience this week at the Marriott in New Orleans when, upon discovering my room lacked a chair, I made an attempt to remedy the situation.

First attempt: 

Me - (Calling the front desk) "Hi there, I don't seem to have a chair in my room, and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to send one up so I can get some work done?"

Operator -  "Oh, you're in one of the newly remodeled rooms, sir. The chairs are on back order."

Me - "Um, OK. So can I get a chair, please?

Operator - "No, sir,  you cannot."

Second attempt (the next day):

Me - (Visiting the front desk) "Hi, I don't have a chair in my room, and was told I couldn't have one. Is there a way I could please get a chair - I don't care what kind, something from the kitchen is fine."

Clerk - "Of course, sir."

Pleased with myself I headed back up to my room. Upon arriving I noticed a flashing light on my phone. I had a message.

Voice mail - "I'm sorry, sir, we are unable to give you a chair at this time."

Third attempt (about 10 minutes later):

Me - (Stopping at the desk on my way back to the conference) "For some unexplainable reason, I am yet again denied a chair. I cannot fathom what the problem is."

Clerk - "I'm really sorry, sir. When you asked, I just assumed that we'd get it for you."

Me - "Me too."

Clerk - "Apparently, we're not able to just get you a chair. The only person, who can really seem to remedy this is my manager, and he's helping some other guests."

At that moment, another managerial type walked by, and was stopped by the clerk, who explained the situation to him.

Manager type - "Let me take your name and cell number, and I'll call you with a solution. Shouldn't be a problem. I'm not sure why we couldn't get it to you earlier."

Me - "Nor could I. I literally worked on my knees last night. It doesn't have to be one of your regular chairs, I'll take a chair from a banquet room, or even the kitchen. Seriously, I don't care, I just need a chair."

Fourth attempt (about 3 minutes later):

Walking back to the convention center, my phone rings.

Clerk - "Hi, Mr. Katis. This is NAME from the Marriott front desk. Unfortunately, sir we are unable to get you a chair."

Me - "You have got to be kidding me. Why not?

Clerk - "I guess it has to do with lugging a chair up to your room."

Me - "Oh, that makes sense. I mean, after all, it's not like they lugged two beds and a credenza up there."

Clerk - "That's true. I do have a possible solution that my manager has suggested. We have a room that has come open in the other tower. It hasn't been remodeled yet, but it does have a chair. You could move into that room for the remainder of your stay."

Me - "Wait. I could move, but you can't move a chair?"

Clerk - "Apparently so."

Me - "I'm only here still tonight and tomorrow night. I've got my stuff all over. I'm not particularly interested in moving rooms."

Clerk - "I'm not sure what other option there is, sir."

Me - "Move the chair from that open room into mine?"

Clerk - "Unfortunately, apparently we're not able to do that, sir."

Me - "This is ridiculous. You're the Marriott, not Motel 6. You know, I don't mean to be 'that' guy, but I'm a columnist. What kind of story do you think I'll be writing about this? I don't mean to be angry with you, I recognize it's not your fault, but this is absolutely ridiculous."

Clerk - "I agree with you, sir. It is. If you'd like, I'll keep trying since you don't want to move rooms."

Me - "I'd appreciate that. And, again, it doesn't have to be a standard room chair, any chair will do."

I wonder if the person in accounting from whom they obviously procured my new chair moved into that unoccupied room.

Friday, November 14, 2014

You Want to Be a WHAT??

The other day Niko came home from school and announced that at the young age of 8, he has found his life's passion, and knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up! A balloon animal sculptor. Yeah, one of those guys at kids' parties, at the farmers' market, wandering around street fairs, who twists latex balloons into the "shapes" of animals.

Here's Niko explaining some of his work:
I don't want to stifle his creativity - or even a career in the arts, but let's face it: balloon animals are one step above miming!
 The artist with some of his creations - that's another hippo hanging on the door handle...
That's "Funny Bob"
I suppose if he does pursue the whole "making balloon animals for a living" goal, there's one thing I won't need to worry about: teenage pregnancy.  'Cause the kid making animals from balloons, sure ain't making time!
 Not so amused Dad...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not Quite Gracie and That's OK

Remember how I publicly chastised Kelly for letting Niko get Spike the bearded dragon? Well, truth be told, I'm no better. Sunday, I decided I needed a reptile of my own - someone to keep Gus's snake company. This would be Pericles (get it Herakles and Pericles?).
It's odd, because I've always been one of those guys, who thinks pets should show affection and love you back. You know, like another mammal does.

 Notice the cool skull design on his head.
Truth be told, I've been missing my dog Gracie something terrible lately. Maybe it's because we adopted her in November. Maybe it's because my office seems so lonely without her snoring away behind my chair - a chair I still look behind when pushing away from the desk.

I'm smart enough to recognize that I'm not ready for another dog. Any new pup would find it hard to fill Gracie's paws. So, perhaps Pericles fills the void I've had with Gracie not longer around while allowing me to feel as if I'm not betraying her. 

So, welcome Pericles. May our time together be mutually beneficial.
 Why, yes, that is a snake in my pocket.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

But You Didn't Say...

Niko has been all over the idea of getting another pet. I've been all over the idea of him not getting another pet. Somehow he managed to convince Kelly that the prospect of a kitten or a puppy wasn't such a bad idea. I, however, did think it was a bad idea.

So this morning I took off to run a couple of errands. As I left, I very firmly told Kelly and the boys, "NO KITTEN OR PUPPY!"

I returned just in time to see Gus and a couple of his buddies carrying a large glass habitat. Kelly waved meekly, and said, "You didn't say anything about a lizard.

He (or she) is a bearded dragon. Niko has named him Spike. 
Next time I'll be more specific.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The World Keeps Spinning

Thirty years ago while volunteering on a Congressional campaign, I met this guy who told me he had admitted himself into a mental health facility after having a "nervous breakdown." The cause? Ronald Reagan's election in 1980.

I relayed this information to my father, who deemed it "ridiculous." He assured me that no matter which candidate won, the world keeps spinning.

A year later my own name was on the ballot. On election night, after all the votes had been counted, I had lost by 303 votes. In the morning the sun rose, classes continued, the world kept spinning. Later that day, Dad asked me how I felt about losing, and I admitted, "Relieved."

Every election since, no matter whether my man or woman wins, I always remember my dad's sage advice: sometimes the Democrats win, sometimes the Republicans win; decent, hard-working candidates triumph, and self-serving idiots do too.

No matter what the result, the world keeps spinning.