As I wandered out / On the streets of Miami / I said to meinself / This is some fancy town

It’s lunchtime here at the conference, and so I thought I would share with you some observations of Miami Beach jotted while I ate breakfast:

  • It is clear the resort’s business is dependent on the Snowbirds from New York. This is made clear by the fact that I get both the Miami Herald and the New York Times on my doorstep each morning. At a business hotel, you get USA Today.
  • I don’t know whether it is a New York attitude, or just crappy water in Miami Beach, but when you sit down at a restaurant and ask for water, the response is always “House or Bottled?”. When I say “House”, I always get a real weird look, as if to say “You drink that swill, ugh.”.
  • The restaurant in the morning is almost completely devoid of customers, yet there is numerous staff around: head captain, 3-4 waitcritters, busboys, etc. This could easily explain the high prices, especially if they are more labor based than food based.
  • However, even with such staff, service has been “eh”. Perhaps this is because every hotel seems to add an automatic 17% “discretionary gratuity” to each bill. Most people don’t delete it. Most wait staff realize this, and thus provide mediocre service.
  • Every morning I’ve had breakfast down there, there is this elderly man. He sits at the same table, and is known by all the staff. When he is done, they help him out where he sits in the lobby. A touching vingette.
  • There appears to be this whole notion of people coming down to Miami Beach for weeks at a time and staying in one of these resorts, with a meal plan and everything. I think this is an East Coast thing; I’m certainly not aware of it in Los Angeles.
  • There is pink and turquoise everywhere. Now I see why folks thought the original Flamingo in Las Vegas was based on Miami-modern.
  • You know, the ocean is on the wrong side….

[Can’t figure out where the title is from? Go here, and then search for “Miami”.]


Blown Away By The Power of the Internet

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It can be used for bad (witness the folks who get dumped via text messages), but it can also do miraculous things. For example, it has brought me in touch with numerous relatives searching my family tree: I’ve gotten to know whole new branches of my family, and will now be going to Nashville in late June 2007 for a family reunion. I’ve gotten to know more of the Weinbaum clan than I’ve ever thought existed. I know far fewer of my father’s father’s side, although I am in regular touch with a relative on MySpace (those of you in Davis might know him: Erik, who plays the bagpipes).

However, the Internet has just blown me away.

Not many people know that I had a brother, Erick. He was from my father’s first marriage, about 8 years older than me. I never really knew him that well (for how well does a 5 year old know a 13 year old). In 1969, he started school at UCSB (a law degree, I believe). This was the era of the hippies, and he dressed the part, with long stringy hair. Sometime while he was at UCSB, I have distinct memories of visiting him in the dorms, near Isle Vista, not long after the Bank of America burned. During the summer of 1970, while I was at camp, I received word that he had been electrocuted. This is a tragic shock (no pun intended) to our family, and I think changed people in many many ways we didn’t realize for years. Over time, we lost track of Erick’s friends. Some died, some drifted away. But I always wondered what happened to folks like his girlfriend or his college roommate.

About 15 minutes ago, while working on the family tree, I received the following email:

are you the daniel whose father was adrian and brother was erick? if so, i was his roommate at ucsb and have been wondering what happened to you and the rest of your family.

Whoa! Blown away time!

I just got off the phone with Andy, Rick’s roommate. He works at BJE Jewish Community Library in San Francisco. I don’t have the whole story, but evidently my brother was involved in some way in pushing him into religous studies. Amzaing the paths one lives takes. We spoke briefly; we’ll hopefully get together the next time he is LA.

The power of the Internet.


News of the Absurd: Indecent Exposure: Men Only Need Apply

According to the Los Angeles Times, a Riverside judge has ruled that the Indecent Exposure statues apply only to men because the law mentions someone who “exposes his person”, and is thus gender-specific. In doing so, he dismissed a misdemeanor charge against a Corona woman who was cited in May after parents of a neighbor boy said she showed him full-frontal nudity as he played basketball. The prosecutor said the decision to throw out the case will be appealed because another section of state law says that “words used in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter.”

Evidently, the woman had complained that the 14-year-old was making too much noise while playing basketball. She went out on her sundeck, disrobed, and threatened to do it every time he played basketball. The boy told his parents, and the parents called the police.

Although I can understand the parent’s logic, if this had happened when I was a 14-yo boy, I’d suddenly be playing basketball.


Very Civil Disobedience

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a protest this afternoon near LAX that I fear will snarl up my ride home. This afternoon, 1,000 to 2,000 marchers will gather in support of efforts to organize the mostly immigrant, nonunion workers employed at 13 hotels near the airport.

Here’s the interesting part. 400 will be arrested. How do I know this number? The Los Angeles Police Department has been involved at nearly every stage, advising organizers on how to proceed without endangering public safety. In fact, about 400 marchers have signed forms, in advance, pledging to be arrested; they have taken a mandatory class that has taught them how to remain calm even when screamed at or insulted. The driver’s license numbers and other personal information of those volunteer arrestees have already been passed on to the LAPD to expedite processing (although LAPD sent word that six of the volunteers should rethink their participation–though no official reason was given, the six may have outstanding warrants). Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel workers in Southern California, has arranged for parking, storage of the arrestees’ car keys, lawyers to defend them, crews to clean up after the event and vans to pick up the protesters from jail. Upon release from jail, expected within 24 hours, each protester will receive a meal (burritos and bottles of water) and a souvenir (their protest sign reading “I Am A Human Being”).

The Times is touting the unprecedented level of cooperation. Me? I just find this weird.


Odd Disney Discussions

Tonight, we had dinner over at ixixlix‘s with ellipticcurve. I don’t know what was in the food, but we had some weird after dinner discussions:

  • What Disney movies didn’t have heroines, and which heroines doesn’t Disney promote.
  • Isn’t Tinkerbell the little sexpot, shaking her boobs and legs all around. We had a discussion of what was emphasized more: Tink’s legs or ass. It was noted her flower dress looked like it was painted on. Of course, we then had the notion of a male princess in Tink’s outfit.

As I said, weird discussions…


Does Life Make You Want To Vomit?

Then buy “Barfo” motion-sickness tablets!

According to CNN, US Airways has announced plans to sell advertisements on its air-sickness bags. “They’re in every back seat pocket,” said spokesman Phil Gee. “We figure while it’s there, why don’t we make it multipurpose?”

The jokes just write themselves. The article gets better, though:

“Little things like that work,” said Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation consulting group in Evergreen, Colorado. “Barf bags have a lot of shelf life — people aren’t barfing as much in planes as they used to.”

According to Gee, the ads could be for anti-motion sickness medications or other products immediately on the mind of someone who reaches for one of the bags. But Gee said US Airways will look for a wide range of product advertisements to put on its bags.

So, what ads do you think should go on barf bags?