Day zero so far:
My back is crazy sore and crack-y - when I left I had the mistaken idea that I could walk to weathervane for a light snack, then walk somewhere else for a meal, then hang out in a coffeeshop until it was dark and then take a cab back. Ha. So I brought my computer bag with me for the hike.
- Woke up, said goodbye to cats, grabbed poster box, backpack, and computer bag (with 2 computers, one for demo)
- Brueggers Breakfast, bus 1 to campus, bus 2 to airport
- Arrived nice and early, observed exasperated sigh from security people at how many gadgets I had to unpack from my bag. My job is done.
- Mix of wasting time playing Disgaea/DS and sleeping on plane, then nice inexpensive chartered bus to hotel with vaguely right-wing dude. Planted some seeds of doubt.
- Hotel: as usual, very nice in a bland way. I always feel that this kind of luxury is wasted on me - I'm as comfortable on a floor, in a sleeping bag, or on a couch as I am in a hotel. I did like the hotel in Palo Alto a few conferences back though - stone floors, everything was just perfect, and it also didn't feel like it was splurgy.
- Spotted local uppercrust types - this city actually has a stereotypical upper crust (Pgh's is very much in hiding), with a bit of a New England flavour. Also, no yinzers (the local poor are ethnically diverse rather than ham-faced mostly german stock, and nobody's of "ample" frame).
- Took a bit of a walk to try out Weathervane at a Southern Season. I probably would not have walked it had I realised it'd take me that long or that I'd often have to walk in the road or in the gutter. Still, good walk - saw some rabbits, lots of trees, a really weird/photoesque Blue Cross/Shield building, enormous and often very abrupt transitions between "woods", "ultra-sparse settlement patterns", "shopping mall", and "expensive living place". It's very weird to see a "almost-gated-community" in the middle of nowhere with half-burnt barns and stuff the nearest neighbours. Also, ended up pushing some random dude's dead-battery car a good distance to an auto place.
- North Carolina and Virginia are competing for "Worst Department of Public Works". Both of them tend not to label their roads, but North Carolina tried to up the ante, visible during my walk today, by having little stretches of sidewalk for 3-4 houses, ending in grass or brambles on both sides, almost like they were meaning to do a proper long sidewalk but wandered off due to senility after a few blocks. WTF!
- Arrived too late for the supermarket proper (no loss - this is a regular hotel, not a homestead-style one), went into the nice looking semi-attached restaurant.
- Judgement for Weathervane:
- Soup: Potato/Leek soup: Fail. Bland, unmemorable
- Wine: Had a Moscato d'Asti, it was good, and came in a cute (even if inappropriate for that kind of wine) glass.
- Bread: Oil, Pepper, complementary bread. Decent.
- Meal: Asparagus Risotto with Mustard-based sauce and unknown cheese. Fantastic. Novel and artful mix of tastes, and that sauce was grand. Good presentation too. Bravo.
- Dessert: Creme Brulee (sorry for no accents - using my windows laptop right now) - Quite good textbook creme brulee. Presentation was kind of confused - if you want to make it special, you add blackberries (or another appropriate fruit) or ginger cookies, not both.
- Service: Very good. I was very thirsty after a 3+ hour walk and despite drinking a lot of water, my cup was never empty for more than a minute. Food was served promptly, and they checked on me without being obnoxious.
- Overall: Good, although their menu options for vegetarians are quite limiting for meals.
- Had restaurant call me a taxi, had a ride back with a pleasant, quiet african-american lady with one of those talking map things.
It's a good thing things start reasonably late tomorrow.