Archive for March, 2009

A Day
March 29, 2009

Most of my entries tend to be topical, but I’m beginning to wonder if day-in-the-life journal like slices might not be just as interesting.  Observe:

Arrive in a really truly awful, sour mood, the product of having three days in a row off.  I don’t necessarily dread going to work on a daily basis like some really disgruntled fucks, and I walked in today feeling stable enough, but there is something about the dichotomy of 3 work-free days butting right up against, and in fact being bombed to pieces by, stepping into an environment where total strangers can ensare me in their horrific problems because of the desk I stand behind.  Welcome to work!

Observe an awful Midwestern woman in Old Navy capri pants from 1998 (it was 36 degrees in Chicago today) check in with her husband, and yack on her cell phone through 3/4 of the check in.  Rude, but not totally deplorable in and of itself, but for when she hangs up, she says  “Oh sorry” and then procedes to announce how “So-and-so is gonna have to have an emergency C-section.”  Well alright!  Will you need concierge assistance?  No?  You’re already lined up at Maggiano’s?  Superb!  Have a wonderful stay…and oh!  Nice cankles, you big show off!  Love your footie socks, and white and pink running shoes!  Where do I bet the house that you watched Oprah and The View today?

Observe another check in, husband and wife, and watch the effete, but acerbic husband snap “Is it an east view???”  Front desk girl says “Hmmm, I think it’s a west view…” and before she can proffer “…but I’m sure I can change it”, Mr. Snappypants  pulls a right strop (as the Brits have so eloquently come about putting it).  “But I asked for an east view, I don’t understand”, and goes all unintelligbly mumbly like his best friend just told him he’s taking the top bunk in some very 6th grade scenario.  Nothing like watching a man melt into a pile of prepubescent whining.  In front of his wife.  He got the east view.

Then the parade of forgetful husbands and boyfriends starts.  An integral part of any weekend – requests for flowers, massages, and choice restaurant reservations, all at the last minute.  These requests are always to be expected, it’s part of the job, but there is something to the transference of responsibility that always bunches my panties in an impossibly tight wad.  Somewhere between forgetting the superficial needs and wants of the very beast (wife or girlfriend) dragging them around by the hair to endless shops on Michigan Avenue, and me asking them what kind of flowers said beast wants, the blame for them forgetting the bane of their existence, and perhaps remembering that bane, is transferred to me.  Hey man – I have no doubt your relationship is right pain in the erse.  Don’t take it out on me.  And don’t try to carry on 3 conversations while you bother me with a phone call to get you in at just the right spa at just the right time.  It’s bad enough I’m humoring your girly foo-foo needs as is.  For some reason, fulfulling massage appointment requests has become like a guy asking me to pick up poo for him, and then trying to instruct the way I do it.  Not the best analogy you’ll come across today, I know, but I figure – it’s the same face I’m making either way.

Lunch time!  And only in an industry as reality warping as hospitality do you call a meal at 5pm lunch.  What’s on the menu this evening, good sir?!  Ooooh!  Two choices of pizza – pepperoni, or chicken.  You heard me right – chicken.  This from the same kitchen that often adorns the same middle school style wet rag pizza with cut up hot dogs.  Mmmmmmm!  Also on offer: french fries, steamed broccoli and carrots, and salad.  I like to wet my gullet with water, or when I want to wild out – Nestea iced tea, but I could have Coke, diet Coke, or orange Fanta if I wanted to really round out my “Wet Dream Meal for a 13 Year Old Boy”.  If I were pretending I was at the municipal swimming pool snack stand, I’d mix them all together for a “suicide”.

Ok back to work.  18-24 year old kids start filing in for the function in the ballroom.  Some student organization that is evidently limited to priveleged little buggers whose parents hail from the asian subcontinent of India, and surrounding areas.  I can deduce this by the sparkling mauve and teal saris with white pumps (but it’s well after Labor Day my dear!), and the somehow even more bizarre attire adorned by the boys.  Somewhere between low-class-hotel-hoodrat-Christmas-party pimp garb (I should know), and whatever the hell is on the racks at Marshalls or TJ Maxx, has a brand name more exciting than Sergio Valente, and what an Indian college kid thinks T.I. and/or Justin Timberlake might wear if he liked to party and do 300 level calc.   By the way – love your sari!  Don’t love your protruding muffin top!

A playful, affable, bubbly middle aged asks for restaurant advice.  Sounds nice, right?  Nope!  No concierge who’s worked more than a year at their craft isn’t suspicious of affable, bubblye middle aged folk.  And my fears were confirmed when the pressed me for a place to go out dancing after dinner (“Because we like to dance!” – Oh!  I see the connection!  You like to dance, and so you’d like a reccomendation for a dancing club!) where “people our age” will be.  Greeeeeat!  Let me guess your age, which I’m perfectly capable and even adept at doing, but not crazy about fucking admitting to your face, and then find a club appropriately douchey, but cool enough for two 51 year old party animals such as yourselves.  I can relate to people who don’t want to rub shoulders in clubs with 21 year old assholes who slug Jaegermeister and yell “Whoo!”, but at the same time, don’t I owe the rest of the clubbing world some respect by not raining on their parade and sending some mid-50s borderline swingers their way?  And let’s be realistic – is there a “dance club” in Chicago that caters to 50 year olds and is cool?  Do you see the contradiction in terms?  Great, you do, but plenty of fun seeking fogies do not.  And they’re not shy about making it your perogative to seek out a place to shake their wrinkly asses to – what?  Van Morrison?  That “This is how we do it” song?  What the fuck do 50 year olds dance to?  And the best part is when – while I’m trying to suggest places – they go on about places they’ve been that aren’t cool enough, places they’ve been that are too cool, their 18 year old twin daughters, and the club they went to where some girls asked them for “X”.  How about you stay in your fucking room, order up some champagne or maragritas or whatever the fuck you drink, and watch Quincy or Trading Spaces.  Is that COOL?

oldandnotcool1

Trouble (something mildly entertaining) arises – it appears as though there are two separate and distinct parties in hotel suites.  This is strictly verboten!  My nosing around in this is derailed when two women approach the desk and one says “Ok, we need some suggestions” and extends her hand for me to shake.  Not necessary, thanks very much, but I’ll play along.  It’s around this time in the evening that I’m giddy and like to mold myself to guests’ (if otherwise cringeworthy) foibles.  “We’re from Green Bay” the handshaker proclaims.  I have to use every ounce of self-preservation to keep from screaming “SORRY!!!”, when the Madame Handshaker throws me a bone and says “I know, pretty sorry.”  You said it!  And no, I don’t know where to get fried cheese curds in Chicago now that Will’s Northwoods Tap is shuttered.  They ask for sushi and then an Irish pub.  “And are you working tomorrow?  Because if they’re not awesome we’re coming back to let you know!”  Lady – you’re from Green Bay, you have a perm, and I could feed you Van Kamps fish sticks deep fried in Labatt’s, and you’d be more apt to detecting it wasn’t Molson than it wasn’t good sushi.  Beat it.  But not without another handshake!  That’s right – hello and goodbye shakes.  That’s how they do in GB.

Back to the Troubles, and regretfully nothing to do with Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Both rooms with parties are being kicked out.  One is with the student event and actually APOLOGIZES on the way out.  The other is a group of middle aged and older women, presumably from areas further north than Mumbai, but still Southside by all Chicagocenric telling.  They didn’t quite as quietly.  But hey – a party is a party, they’re not allowed in the hotel, and they won’t be the last party to be expelled.  And what the hell do I care as long as it’s not me kicking them out?

Next up for the final hour of the shift: not one but two outside calls to place special orders for room service breakfasts for guests.   This is the “I Left Spoiling Your Forgetful Ass So Late That Flowers and/or a Massage Are Out of the Question” of insensitive reqeusts.  Well done!  And before you jump to conclusions, one of them was a women ordering for a man!  She was sending up a birthday cake.  With his breakfast.  At 7am.  Well done madame!  Shall I just right on the note “Hope you had a wonderful stay, and if you were any more important I might have gotten you champagne, or a cigar, or something cool, but instead, enjoy this stupid fucking birthday cake while the sun comes up!”

End of the night.  Lots more interesting shit happened I’m sure, but my trying to remember stuff to whine about is tempered by my gut instinct to forget as much as possible as quickly as possible.  Your loss, my gain.  Sorry.  And most inexplicably – I walked out with nearly $70 in tips.  Um….what the fuck?  In case you can’t tell from the insouciant swearing, this is Atypical with a Capital A.  That’s a good haul in tips for a week, let alone a night with close encounters of the Green Bay kind.  And no, that bitch didn’t leave a dime.

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Crazy Update
March 25, 2009

batshit

Well I promised I’d keep you posted on the batshit turdburglar requesting an audience with her Oprahness.  And this mental patient – possibly literally – is not diappointing.

Here are the details:  This Dutch-by-way-of-Luxembourg Big Bird looking woman checks into the hotel claiming to be a journalist/writer of some sort, and instantly starts requesting upgrades, freebies, and other various niceties.  Common enough in the hotel game.  But here, in the most accurate order as I can recall, is the timeline of her sejour (dates and times are not important – focus on the insanity):

  • Flies over from Luxembourg; “injures” hand and wrist midtransatlantic flight by getting it caught in a reclining seat.
  • Checks in to hotel, immediately arranges elaborate scheme to procure free movies, including The Changeling (pronounced – by crazy Luxembourians – as “CHAIN-gull-een”).
  • Requests admittance to a taping as regular audience member, concierge desk manages to get her in, then misses taping completely while readying 2 suitcases full of Luxembourgian trinkets as gift offering to Oprah.  Who does not accept gifts.
  • Starts racking up monumental bills (room service, international phone calls, cartons of cigarettes, etc), announces all charges will be taken care of by the airline’s insurance anyway, as they are liable for her injury.
  • Calls to ask when Easter is (which is curious, as her check out date is late March), then announces she’d like to change her check out date to June 5, and will be bringing her entire family over to join her as she….
  • Writes her book on the hotel.  The book’s title is synonymous with the hotel’s name, which apparently won’t pose any copyright or licensing problems.
  • Invents tasks to draw hotel bellman, housekeepers, and engineers to her room, at which point she ensnares them in her crazy web of indecipherable storytelling and egregious use of the term “super duper”, sometimes 3-4 staff members at a time.
  • Suggests we arrange lunch with Oprah’s best friend Gail so that the two can discuss the launch of  “O” magazine in Europe.
  • Goes to Walgreen’s and returns to announce she has spoken to the “managerial director” there (who I can only assume is a bewildered 17 year old with a hairy upper lip that restocks the disposable cameras) and has struck a deal to begin selling their travel size shampoos, lotions, and soaps in Europe.
  • Requests free internet access to show the kids back home their “new home away from home” since she’ll soon be a “permanent resident”.
  • Rearranges the furniture in her room, despite her crippling wrist injury, which has now “spread to her back” and requires a bellman to go to Walgreens to procure a tea kettle (nevermind there is no stove in our hotel rooms), hot water bottle, and carton of Marlboro Lights.
  • Requests Engineering come to the room to drill holes in the walls so she might install coat hangers for her many visitors.
  • Continually requests an audience with our General Manager, who is all to aware of her craziness, and avoids her like the plague.

The moment when I really stamped the Official Seal of Mind Blowing Fucking Insanity on her antics is when a shellshocked bellman returned from having delivered her cigarettes to inform me she requested someone bring her dish soap so she could wash the dishes and glasses in her bathtub.  If that sentence doesn’t make you at least smile, I don’t know what will.  How delightfully fucking batty!!!  She presumably decided that rather than be brought new dishes for all of her room service dining, it would make more sense (in her now goose bump inducing deranged mind) to fill the bathtub with water and wash them there.  And upon inspection by a housekeeping manager today, after some of the craziness boiled over into tears (more on that in an instant), the bathtub and bathroom sink were in fact full of filthy, tepid water and dirty dishes.  At which point it goes from funny to a bit scary.  But really – I’m getting paid so much that I for an instant feel guilty or self-indulgant laughing my ass off at all of this.

The tears – she called to announce that two employees burst into her room and demanded she “clear out”.  It turns out it was a diminutive room service attendant – accompanied by a security guard to ensure she isn’t turned into sausages a la Buffalo Bill by this nut – there to take the dishes.  From the bathtub.  She described in stupifying detail how it effected her psyche that she should be slighted in such a way, and it will most definitely have a negative effect on the book she is writing about us, and she was nearly wrankled enough to leave the hotel altogether.  In that case…….send up room service post haste!!!!

I could go on about even more of her off the fucking wall antics, but I’ll need shock therapy if I’m forced to relive another moment she’s put me through.

Tomorrow is supposed to be eviction day.  I regret that I’m off, and won’t be there.  I’m tempted to – for the first and only time in my life – voluntarily report to work just to soak in the madness.  I can only imagine the scene that will be wraught upon those who are chosen (read as: draw the short stick) to ask her to leave.  Should be some real fireworks.

Once again, I’ll keep you updated.

The Crazies
March 20, 2009

123

Working at a desk in a hotel lobby in Chicago affords me no solace or protection from the nomadic, wandering, batshit crazies of our great, but partially-off-its-fucking-rocker city.  On the contrary – there is something wholly inviting to crazies about some poor schmuck posted behind a desk, like someone virtually assigned to listening to their hairbrained bullshit.  I sometimes feel like I’m in a Ziggy cartoon at a window with a “COMPLAINTS” sign above it.  And mind you – I’m not even talking about paying hotel guests, who are far enough detached from reality.  I’m talking about the legions of babbling, sociopathic spazwits that saunter in off the street, and despite not dropping a fucking dime in the place, act like they own it.  There are varying degrees of crazies:

  • The largely benign but still 100% creepy stalkerish guy that walks through my hotel’s lobby at least once a day, who used to do so to get a gander at a girl that stopped working there 3 years ago.  He has a bizarre gait, an offputting stare, and the waistband of his pleated jeans is somewhere in nipple territory.  He is creepy to be sure, but from what I can tell harmless.
  • The greasy guy in MacGregor skin tight polyester gym teacher shorts and tucked in button down dress shirty (buttoned only to the navel) that used to stop in once every few months at my last hotel to pick up a White Sox schedule, and chat up whoever was working.  Also largely harmless, but 1. his gag inducing get up left nothing to the imagination, if in fact it is your wont to imagine what greasy Puerto Rican heroin addicts that live in transient hotels wear under their MacGregor gym shorts, and 2. stopped to talk.  Everyone likes a crazy from a distance.  No one likes to talk to one.
  • The old lady who used to stop in about once a week at my old hotel to use the yellow pages.  Harmless, right?  Well consider she had no nose, and smelled of piss.  You read that right – she smelled like she had boiled her clothes in steamy urine, and that wasn’t even her most distinctive feature.  She had no nose.  As in, where her nose would be, she – most days – had a bandage, and – special days – had a scabby indentation with two misshapen holes.  Not anyone you want hanging around the concierge desk while paying customers are busy ruining your day.  And this uppity, dusty old cunt would occasionally work up the audacity to ask to use the phone and make calls on the hotel’s dime.  Where would she get the gall?  From the stupid fucking former colleague of mine who one time actually capitulated to her request, and gave her the precedent from then on to bother us with a demand to rub her greasy, scabby face on our phone.  She once famously provided us with mimicry fodder, when being given the bum’s rush by a less patient colleague, cried out “Tsk!  Fresh!”
  • The crazy bitch who was dutifully escorted to my desk this evening by a scornful bellman (what did I ever do to him?) that greeted me with “And my father was beaten to death and I have eaten in the restaurant and….”  I’m quite well, thank you!  How does this evening find you?  It was a humpty, bespeckled, mussy haired mess that wanted a copy of her father’s Honorary Discharge certificate.  I’m not totally dispassionate (yet), so I told her I’d make the copy, but mostly because I wanted her to stop going on at breakneck speed about how her father was beaten to death around the corner for the $5 in her wallet.  Made up or not, it’s bad for business.  And apparently in my purview at the decent samaritain’s office.

I’ll try to add more to the Crazies List as I blog on, but I was motivated to get the ball rolling tonight because I know a batshit turdburglar when I see one, and we have a real cracker in the hotel right now.  A paying guest no less.   She was essentially just a longwinded, twitty self-proclaimed Dutch journalist from Luxembourg until she suggested – during her 40 minute verbal diarrhea session – that the hotel somehow arrange a dinner for her and Oprah Winfrey tomorrow night.  Nevermind that the rest of the monologue was about getting free movies in her room and various ski resorts she eats at for free in the Matterhorns, she figured that having just landed in the USofA for the first time just a few hours earlier, and toting along total absence of any legwork, research, or connections – dinner with Oprah tomorrow night could very well be in the cards.

Did I mention she had her hand in a homemade bandage and arm in a homemade sling because she had somehow managed to crush it in her reclining airplane seat on the flight over?  Or that she mistook a bellman for the manager of the hotel?  Or that she suggested that it was said bellman’s instructions to talk to the concierge about getting all over her in-room movies for free?  Or – and here’s the kicker – that the geniuses that run the hotel have reduced her room rate by 50%, are comping her breakfast for the duration of her (painfully long) stay, and are genuflecting every chance they get because she could possibly write an article for a publication in FUCKING LUXEMBOURG?  Who are the crazies here?

I’m off tomorrow (thank sweet fuck), but this nutter is around for about 5 days.  I’ll keep you posted.

St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago
March 18, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

or

Let’s Put Green T-Shirts on Over Long Sleeved White T-Shirts & Celebrate White People!

or

Erin go Brah! [sic]

I feel bad for the continental Europeans who approach my concierge desk and ask “where to go for St. Patrick’s Day”.  It’s a question with no good answer.  The honest response would be “it doesn’t matter – you’ll be crammed into a shitty bar with drunken assholes where ever you go.”, but no concierge can offer that up.  And the continental Europeans seem to have fluffy visions of bucolic auld Uncle Cormac sitting by the fire, regaling us with tales of idyllic Olde Eire, singing 500 year old Irish folk songs, softly stroking his shilleleh.  Instead they end up waiting in line for 30 minutes to get inside Celtic Crossing (a respectable enough pub on any other day of the year) to stand shoulder to shoulder with dickhead day traders in disheveled office wear and double-barreled-t-shirt sporting college grads, both equally ready to celebrate their unabashed Whiteness by getting blindingly drunk.

And let me be clear – I have nothing against blinding drunkedness.  But there is something about St. Patrick’s Day that makes white people want to just lose all control.  And I mean really strive to “raise the roof” and get fired up and yell “FUCKIN WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” and drink til they puke, and maybe piss themselves, and then quite possibly stumble into the gutter.  And feel free to make your Irish/drunk joke here, but St. Patty’s Day clearly has so little to do with anyone’s Irishness.  Make no mistake, this is a chance for all white people to make up for not yelling “FUCKING WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!” enough on New Years Eve, or really let out all their raw aggression over the A-Rod steroid saga or having to be on time for work so seemingly effortlessly.

Please – as an Irishman – it’s fucking embarrassing enough to be Irish the other 364 days of the year, as to want to make it a real humdinger on the day Human Resources rolls out the shamrock vinyl tableclothes and glittery green leprechaun hats.

And in case you’re not in Chicago, let me tell you what your uniform is – if you’re not coming to Cubby Bear straight from work at Joe Perillo BMW, that is:

  • The aforementioned green t-shirt over long sleeve t-shirt.  This is mandatory.  Perhaps you have your Big 10 school’s sweatshirt over it, but it better be on underneath, or you have some fuckin explaining to do, brah.
  • Jeans.  Several brands of denim will do, but extra points for Abercrombie & Fitch.  Of utmost importance is the fit – slightly baggy, but they must be too long, and severely worn in the back.  In fact they must have an arc of about 2″ in amplitude worn completely away from innumerable days of trudging along to accounting class with your bros, and even more nights of slugging Jaegermeister in various Lincoln Park bars, and acutely frayed edges.
  • Nike “shox” are the preferred footwear, but naturally all manner of distressed leather boots with comically rounded toes are accepted.
  • Flair.  Gotta have flair – flashing LED powered Guiness buttons, green beads, green and white striped top hat, green wristbands, more green beads – whatever.  Just tons of shit on.  Remember – this is essentially Mardi Gras, but without all those people who aren’t white and don’t like to hurl obscenities.  And Chicago is packed to the fucking brim with white people who like to hurl obscenities that would make sailors with Turrets blush, and those are just the girls.

Erin go Brohem!

Fur
March 1, 2009

Google "man fur".  I dare you.

Google "man fur". I dare you.

It’s time to talk about fur coats.  It’s still cold in Chicago, so let’s like really let’s just all sit down and really talk about fur coats.

I’ve long wanted to write a blanket diatribe about how absolutely anyone that wears a fur coat is a complete and total shit eating idiot.  But I know too many people that wear fur coats to condemn the whole tribe of them.  But I mean, come the fuck on, people!!!

Let’s get one thing straight.  I don’t have fur coat hang ups because of how the animals are raised or killed.  Would I prefer it if harmless creatures, especially cute fuzzy wuzzies, weren’t sacrificed only to make people look so fucking stupid?  Sure.  But they could slaughter all the minks and chinchillas in the world by dropping them off the tops of tall buildings and then running them over with steamrollers driven by drunk drivers, and it wouldn’t offend me as much as seeing an asshole husband and wife team of gigantic, wookie-like fur coats.

Let’s clarify another thing – I don’t give a shit how warm a fur coat is.  Pissing in your pants might keep you warm (if only for a minute), but it’s only slightly less tasteful than wearing a fur.  Especially if you’re a man.  Does that go without saying?  No, I can’t assume it, as long as there are so many manfur wearers out there.  Know this, man who wears a fur coat – I promise you the only other people not laughing behind your back at your fur coat… are other feather haired, overly tanned, jewelry adorned dickheads that drink Disorano On The Rocks and check out younger babes (35-40, for instance) at Journey or other suitably has-been-lame-ass-80s-acts-that-still-tours shows, while the wife knocks back Miller Lites, and your preteen kids are back home in Jersey or Ft. Lauderdale selling exstacy to pay for aftermarket tinting and body kits for their ’92 Infinity coupe.  I’m sure your second home, the ranch house in Scottsdale or Naples is very nice, screened in pool n shit, and close to many titty bars.  Just ease up and I’ll get you into Ruth’s Chris.

What is the novelty?  The cost?  Is it fun just to walk around in The Emporer’s New Clothes based strictly on the potential price tag you’re showing off to…….well to who???  Again, the only people the like fur coats are other boobs that wear them, and I’d ballpark the demographic of fur wearers who bought theirs at a hefty discount, secondhand, or bartered for it as part of a meth/’79 Cadillac deal at about 80-85%.  (And to be clear – I’m talking about the white people!  Black people tend to be of the ilk that has the chutzpah to actually somehow be able to pull off the look, that otherwise makes mere mortals look like shitballs.  EDIT: I just saw a picture of Kobe Bryant in a manfur.  Let me rethink my position on this.)  The other 15% who paid retail price for their fur are too busy lighting cigars with hundos, and too drunk on single malt scotch and xanax to bother noticing anyone elses fur.  But in some perverse way that somehow makes them sound tasteful, so forget I said that.

Speaking of perverse, there are essentially two images coursing through my (petite) mind while I write this rant: Image 1. David Puddy walking into Joe Mayo’s party with his man fur on.

Not Joe Mayo's place, I know, but cut me some slack

Not Joe Mayo's place, I know, but cut me some slack

Image 2. The two older women I personally know and like who wear furs.  They are not trashy, they’re not Ft. Myers Beach snowbirds, and to the best of my knowledge, they have nothing to do with the crystal meth trade.  What’s their excuse?  I do not know.  I’ve even adorned one of their furs as a random act of absurdity, but it affored me no insight, no empathy.  It just tickled my nose and made me want to want to put a bottle of $12 merlot on ice to eat with a steak from Outback while listening to Barry Manilow in the back seat of a fully loaded, velour interior conversion van.

Toys
March 1, 2009

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So when I started my shift today everyone was abuzz about a story a bellman was telling.

A couple calls down from their room at 8am.  They want some aspirin.  The bellman takes some up to the room.  The woman answers and the bellman dutifully asks if he can get them anything else.  The man, out of sight, presumably laying in bed yells he wants some toys.  The bellman asks what kind of toys?  The man answers “exotic toys”.  The young, cool, unflappable bellman, thinking a little too savvy or perhaps naive, asks toys like Kid Robot, or those other designer Japanese toys?  The man bellows “I just want to shove a dildo up her ass.”

At 8am.  The punchline – is that what he was bringing the aspirin up for?

You just can’t make this shit up, and this is why I have a blog.