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Unlikely Truth I Learned Working At Hotels

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From my years working in the hotel industry, I’ve had some pretty bizarre, crazy, terrible and wonderful experiences. I had a guest buy me a bottle of very expensive wine because he noticed I was having a bad day. I had a couple yell at me and try to get me fired because I couldn’t give them a late check out. But over the years, I discovered a startling fact.

I’ve worked in nice luxury hotels where the lobby sparkled in dazzling whiteness. I’ve worked from dingy motels to the best of hotels. Well, maybe not really. But pretty close.

Non-hospitality experienced people don’t know the difference between a motel and hotel. So, I’ll tell you now. A hotel is luxury. A motel is affordable. Hotels come with clean rooms, pleasant staff and great breakfast. Motels come with all of that but the word ‘clean’ is loosely defined. Motel 6’s standards are way lower that of the Hilton. But people stay in motels because it’s the best they can afford.

A surprising realization hit as I was working a late shift at a motel. Poor people seemed more genuine and kind than the rich. Or was that just me? When worked at a Best Western years ago, the people who visited were always nice. They’d chat with you. Always have pleasant things to say and compliments. Sometimes you’d the grumpy ones but that’s just how customer service is. Usually I’d get guests who were staying in town for a wedding, college or some event. They were people who could afford the luxury of Best Western.

Years later I worked at a motel part time and the customers were different. The guests were usually from in-state and not hundreds of miles away. They were poor but also more giving. The conversations they held seemed more genuine. Sometimes I’d get the stinky old drunks but they’d always leave me more of a tip than the rich lady with a dog. The bums who just wanted a place to warm up for ten minutes held more of a real conversation than the soccer mom touring colleges with her daughter.

I never realized how more real bums or people living in poverty are than the ones who make $90,000 a year. When they speak to you, it’s as if you’re a friend they haven’t seen in a while and welcome gladly back. I’m not saying that the wealthy aren’t genuine or super nice. I’m not saying the wealthy are mean and nasty. When I worked at more luxurious hotels, I met plenty of awesome people who made my day special. But the contrast between those people and the guests at a motel are striking.

Review: House Of Cards Book

 

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“All members of Cabinet are referred to as Right Honorable Gentlemen. There are only three things wrong with such a title…” – Michael Dobbs, House of Cards

I must admit, like most Americans, I hadn’t heard of Michael Dobbs or his award winning book series until Netflix released their take on the trilogy starring Kevin Spacey. When I first picked up the book and opened to the very first page, I was hooked. After seeing Netflix’s House Of Cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find it different. Much of the same characters are there but with a different twist.

Unlike the TV show, the book opens with Mattie (or Zoe to those familiar with the show) and not Francis. The story is set in the UK and deals with a Chief Whip in the British government. After not receiving the deal he’d been promised by the current Prime Minister, he decides to abandon all loyalty and punish those who’d betrayed him. He blackmails the weak, manipulates those around him, uses the media and even resorts to murder. His personality is snobbery mixed with charm and several pounds of cunning intelligence. By the end, two key characters are killed off and a Prime Minister replaced with Francis himself.

If you’re thinking this might be like the TV show, you’ll be either surprised or disappointed.

Key Differences

American Politics vs. British
The British government is a whole different breed an the American establishment. If you have no idea how the British government works, you won’t need to worry because this book won’t confuse. At first, I was bit a lost but after a few chapters I found my way. In the TV show, Frank is terribly liberal but with no ideology whereas Francis is a conservative with high expectations of reward.

Mattie vs. Zoe
In the show, I thought Zoe was a bit stupid and very vane. Mattie possesses more of a conscious and stronger morals. Zoe, other on the hand, is willing to do what it takes to get what she needs. For example, using her body to manipulate Frank.

Claire Underwood vs Elizabeth
In the show, I absolutely loved Claire. I very much missed her absence in the book. Francis is married to a woman with almost the same personality and conspiratorial evilness as Claire but she doesn’t take much part in the story. It isn’t until the second book that we see more of her.

Then vs. Now
When the book was published in the 1980’s, politics and technology was different. Things vastly changed when the web connected everyone and the middle east became more a threat. In the book, the Soviet Union is mentioned whereas in the show education is a key part.

I could go on with the list but I believe most of you can see how the story varies from the show. Which of course it would. One is British and written in the 1980’s and the second is American and filmed today. I have started reading the second book and will report on it soon.

Review: The Indispensable Heroes of Guards! GuardS

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When a book dedicates itself to fantasy’s expendable Red Shirt Army with the witticism of a P.G. Wodehouse novel, you know you hold a diamond. When I given Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! to read, I was a little weary to give it a try. The dull artwork of a strange looking dragon on its cover wasn’t eye catching. The summary on the back was about as appealing as a very moldy ham and egg sandwich. But, encouraged by my friend’s enthusiasm, I trudged on like a good soldier and opened the book.

Six words in, I knew I was infected.

Guards! Guards! is full of clever sentences that get right under your skin. It opens in a fictional place of Terry Pratchett’s own imagination called Discworld. Our unlikely heroes are the Night Watchmen of Ankh-Morpork who dedicate themselves to alcoholism and never running too fast lest they actually catch a criminal. It’s these four characters Vimes, Colon, Nobbs and Carrot drew me closer to the pages. I felt as though I were a part of their crew.

The plot begins when an incompetent secret brotherhood schemes to replace the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork with a puppet king of their own. In order to accomplish their evil deed, they summon a dragon using a stolen magical book and that’s when the mayhem starts. It’s up to Captain Vimes of the Night Watch and his rag-tag team to stop this dragon and restore order. My favorite character out of this crew was Carrot. Having lived his entire life in the underground caverns of the dwarves, Carrot discovers a whole new world when he steps foot into Ankh-Morpork. He volunteers with the Night Watch which we are told nobody would ever think of doing. His naive yet bold nature reminds me of myself when I moved out of my parents’ house and discovered the life of a city girl.

The voice and style of Guards! Guards! is marinated in Pratchett’s love of good British farce. A ridiculous cast of characters find themselves tangled in improbable scenarios and complications. The heroes and villains are silly enough for us not to take seriously yet so thoroughly well done they seem almost tangible. Our antagonist, the Supreme Grand Master, is a whimsical parody of an egotistical maniac driven by his hatred of humanity’s stupidity. Lady Ramkin, a potential love interest of our protagonist Captain Vimes, is overweight, hazardously confident and sharply eccentric with her fondness for dragons. The story is full of action and spotted here and there by extreme cuteness such as the scenes with the swamp dragons. Also, hidden in the text is a treasure trove of references to Hollywood films.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes a great read.

Shooting Blanks

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I’m trying to finish up a chapter. I know what should be in the chapter but I can’t find the sentences at the moment to do so. I’m on a very tight deadline for my book. In two months, maybe less.. I need it done. Which is a scary thought considering how little I have actually done. Today was a long day at work and my eyelids feel droopy. Half of me is considering brewing some coffee and chugging a cup of dark espresso. While on the other hand, I really just want to crash.

It’s interesting how movies and books are so BS. In TV shows or films, the hero of the story will chug a cup of coffee while working hard on the project that will save the world. Even though he has work in the morning and most likely get no sleep… That doesn’t faze our hero. He runs on zero sleep and gallons of coffee. If only!

There are actually people in this world who only need 4 hours of sleep. These people astound me. I envy them. All the things I could do with the extra time. I once knew someone like that. She’d fall asleep around midnight and wake up at 4am refreshed. She didn’t have work until 8am and would use the free time to teach herself coding.

Lately, I’ve been drinking way too much coffee. It’s not healthy and I’m trying to lay off. I’d usually drink it to stimulate my mind which helps me to write. But then, I’d have difficulty sleeping and would wake up all groggy. Not fun. Coffee and Cigarettes. The addictions of the world.

Tonight, instead of writing. I’m on here shooting blanks. The idea of coffee is a deadly temptation.

Website is Updated and Running

My website is up and running at the moment. But I must admit… I’m deeply dissatisfied.

Originally, I had started out using Wix as my website. I liked it because I could customize it easily to how I wanted it. Even though it did have some short comings such as not being able to add my WordPress blog to it. Then, Wix announced my one year was up and I had to pay again. Since the credit card they had on file was now deactivated, they could not charge me. So my site was shut down and held hostage until I paid up. I was annoyed. Very irritated with them. I looked at how much it would cost me to get it up and running again. Their price was about $150/year. My eyes bulged. Ridiculous amount.

Is this the norm for websites? Why so costly? I asked a friend if there was an easier/more cost effective way. He said not really. I then did some research and decided upon WordPress. I already had a blog with WordPress and it was only $99/year. So I chose WordPress and paid up.

Unfortunately, I came to realize WordPress’s greatest downfall. It is absolutely HARD to customize one’s own site. I hate it. I know enough HTML5 to get me by and CSS too. But I don’t understand it enough to actually build and design an entire website. I usually use web builders for that. So I decided to look up some web builders and discovered Moonfruit. It was easy and efficient. After spending hours on Moonfruit I realized I wasn’t even sure if I could integrate my Moonfruit creation into my WordPress site. Headache after Headache.

In the end, I went back to WordPress and just clicked on a theme I liked the best. I do not like my website in it’s current state. It looks… I very much dislike it and I really don’t want to spend HOURS and DAYS figuring out how to tweek it. Dammit. It should be easier than this.

My dream would be a simple yet savvy looking front page that has some information about my book, my bio and my latest blog entries. I’d like to customize the background to an image I like. I want my logo in the top left corner and I’d like to have a very smart looking menu. I want it easily accessible on a tablet, phone or any device. But I do Not to waste painstaking hours trying to figure out how to go about it. It’d be nice if someone came up with an easy web builder that could be used for any site. But that’d be too easy, wouldn’t it? For now, I suppose I’m stuck with this clunky thing.

Website Down

Quick update everyone. My website is down at the moment. Apparently my subscription with Wix expired and they never told me. They also happen to want me to pay $149. I think this happens to be an outrageous price so I will not be renewing my site with Wix. Instead. I’m transferring my domain to WordPress. They are less expensive and a much better platform. I will keep you all updated.

TTFN

Ta Ta For Now!

It’s Shambles… but Progress!

Today, I walked through the infuriating heat that has taken hostage my city to the college library. In the morning, the weatherman in his forever cheery voice announced the temp would reach the 90’s by this afternoon. Yet, the sun was scorching this afternoon and it felt as though I’d stepped into an oven. Anyone who lives in the South and is reading this… these words are probably going through your head, “90! That’s nothing. You west coast folks are pussies.”

Your criticism is just. But note, we’re not use to stepping outside and finding our skin slowly melting off our bodies. But all complaining put aside, the day turned out to be very productive. I reached the library to find it somewhat vacant. Only a handful of summer students and staff populated the area. I set my stuff down and hooked up my laptop in my usual spot in the book room. I conveniently had it all to myself 🙂

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WP_20150610_001I plugged my laptop in, opened up Word, turned some music on and got to work. I wasn’t able to write much but I was able to break through a wall that’d been keeping me stuck for the past days. You know the moment when you’re fingers start to itch to write and you know whatever you write next will be magical? That’s how I’ve felt since yesterday. I was completely swamped with work yesterday and didn’t have the time or energy to write. As soon as some free space opened up, I grabbed my gear and headed off to a place with free wifi.

Currently, my book is in near-shambles. What I mean by that is, it’s currently a jigsaw puzzle. Certain pieces aren’t where they’re suppose to be and require some direction as to where they should be placed. Those few scenes were my barrier and my writers block. It’s the hurdle I conquered today and I’m feeling good about my book’s direction. There’s still a ton of muscle work and heavy lifting that’s going to be required but I’m confident of the direction I’m headed.