TLA Journey IV: The Return

April 15, 2007

After getting up at 6 AM to attend a meeting at 8 AM, Diane and I returned home from the Texas Library Association Annual Conference at 11 PM. As you may guess, we had quite a long day driving from San Antonio to Fort Worth. It probably shouldn’t have taken more than four hours to get back to the Metroplex, but we finally hit Dallas around 6:30 after starting our drive at 11 AM.

As you may recall from the second posting, we ended up parking the car in a garage across the street from our hotel. Getting the car, along with paying for the room and gathering luggage, posed the first challenge. Diane waited for one of the attendants at the hotel in the room while I went to the lobby to pay. As I finished that, Diane and the attendant arrived in the lobby with a cart holding our luggage. I ran across the street to minmize delay, more or less shadowing another valet hustling for a car.

After going the wrong way in the garage initially, I turned the car around and arrived at the exit booth to pay. The cashier asked if I wanted to add it to the room or pay separately. Since I had already paid for the room, I said that I would like to pay for parking separately. When I got out my credit card, the cashier informed me that they could only take checks and cash. This surprised the hell out of me, though I finally noticed the three yellow signs that more or less said the same thing as the cashier. Yeah, as if anyone would notice those in a rush (especially with the intense level of activity around the hotel entrance), and as if someone would just happen to be carrying $63 in cash, and as if I would just happen to have a checkbook. So, I had the parking garage charges “billed to the room,” which required me to haul into the hotel and pick up the receipt for reimbursement.

After hauling into the driveway in front of the hotel, I handed Diane some extra change for the new attendant helping us, ran into the hotel, fetched the parking receipt, and got to the car just after the attendant loaded the final piece of luggage into the car. Diane got in the driver’s seat, and off we went… but not before waiting for a series of cars to pass in front of the hotel. Meanwhile, some taxi kept honking at us to get out of the driveway. We pulled out when we had a chance, slowed down at a corner, and got more honking from the taxi. Fortunately, we turned right, while Travis Bickle kept going straight to honk at more people who don’t understand that time is money.

As I think about it, the whole prospect of any downtown venue not accepting “plastic” seems rather antiquated, especially considering the ubiquity of credit and debit cards. However, people need to park, so the parking garage probably has little incentive to change its policies to make things convenient for customers. The same goes for the convention center, which requires vendors and groups using the Internet in the exhibit hall to pay a fee for wireless or wired access. In addition, I know that quite a few people expressed displeasure about the charge, as well as the quality of service. I don’t know the details about the challenges that people had to face, but it seems ridiculous in this day and age not to offer free Intenet access in convention halls. (From what I understand, this problem is actually quite widespread.) Unfortunately, I suppose the convention centers can charge since they’re the only place in town that can accomodate such large conferences as TLA. However, it seems important that someone call the convention centers on this problem. With our concerns about access, perhaps librarians and information scientists could lead the way…

Since we had breakfast early, Diane and I stopped at New Braunfels Smokehouse about half an hour after leaving San Antonio. We ran into two colleagues who happened to stop there as well, so we ended up “talking shop” and recalling anecdotes from past conferences. After we left, I noticed that my car’s “check engine” light came on. So, we pulled into the first Toyota dealership we could find (in south Austin), and had the car checked. After an hour, we learned that it might have been a problem with a sensor. However, the service associate also said that if the light came on again, it probably means that the catalytic converter needs replaced.

Sure enough, the light came on about an hour later, though the service associate had told us that we would be okay for the drive back to Fort Worth. I started feeling a bit fatigued, however, so we pulled into a Starbucks in Temple, where I got a low-fat caramal macchiato and Diane got a low-fat latte. That kept us awake for the rest of the drive to the Metroplex.

A little after 7 PM, Diane and I finally made our first planned stop: her parents’ house in Plano. We came there specifically to pick up Arabella, who had gotten a summer trim and looks about half her size. We had dinner at Black-Eyed Pea with Diane’s father (her mother opted to stay home because she wanted to stay with the dog and didn’t want to eat late), came back to the house to pick up Arabella and her stuff, and took off to arrive in Fort Worth at 11 PM. We managed to get everything unpacked, but the day’s activities (and probably the week’s activities) finally caught up with us around midnight, and a full night’s decent slumber awaited us.

Hopefully, I shall write about my insights on the sessions from the conference. Look for those sometime this week, if I can get caught up…

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