The Anatomy of a Check-In

There is one thing that every single guest who stays at a hotel must do: check in. The check-in will vary slightly depending on which hotel/hotel chain you go to, but I’ll be going with the working knowledge of check-ins I have done/experienced. There are a few things that you need to do before you even reach the counter:

  1. Check for signs. These may include “Must have I.D.”, “No Pets Allowed”, “No Checks”, etc. – These may be innocuous, but they will clue you in to some key points if you’re just walking in. There are very few things that are more annoying to a front desk clerk than getting most of the way through the check-in procedure to find out you don’t have a credit card and want to pay with a check when a sign clearly displays “No checks allowed.”
  2. Have your I.D. and Credit Card ready for inspection. – This step is done for your protection. We check photo I.D. against yourself and the credit card to prevent credit card fraud. It helps nobody for you to get offended when we ask to check the physical card and the matching photo I.D.

These are not the days of a handshake contract and cash for a room. Many hotels nowadays will allow cash payment… but you HAVE to have a credit card on file. It’s not that hotels don’t trust YOU. It’s more that they can’t afford to trust anyone. Gone are the days when you can sneak out with a hotel towel without anyone noticing. At our hotel, we inventory every item in the room before you check-in and after your check-out. If you damage the room, take any items, make long-distance calls, etc. – you will be charged “incidentals” and that is the reason why you’re required to have a credit card on file. Know this: You won’t be randomly charged, but you will be responsible for anything out of the ordinary you do to the room.

For example, just recently at our hotel, I had a gentleman who happened to leave with one of our green throws. This led to us charging him $45 for the throw. Of course, this is exactly what it costs us to purchase a new one. Anyway, a week or two later, he calls, furious about the $45 “over charge” that our hotel posted on his credit card. We researched the situation and calmly explained the charge and he denied taking the throw. Standard procedure for our hotel when something is taken is to bring in the Housekeeping Manager and General Manager to confirm with the housekeeper who found items missing. When I did further research, contacted all those involved, and called the guest back to inform him of this, he took about 3 minutes and then he let us know that he HAD found the blanket, his father must have taken it and he’d be sending it back to us. When it came through the mail, we quickly refunded the charge off of his card.

All of this to say, there ARE reasons why the hotel needs your information, even if you are the most trustworthy person around. It’s not about YOU, it’s about other people who might have less morals than you.

So to recap, for a smooth check in have:

Your payment and I.D. ready, and read any pertinent signs. This will make your front desk staff pleased with your knowledge of the routine and more amiable to you in general.

 

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A New Year… For Risk!

Well friends, I’ve been absent for a couple of days. Sorry about that, but I had some gaming to do! That’s right, it was Risk Night: Part Two. With a collection of 4 players, multiple pies and cakes leftover from the holidays, and a desire to win, we began.

I chose a much better starting place than Madagascar this time… Central Europe was my home for the game. With an unnamed Comeback Power, I was able to take over all of Europe on Turn 1, leading to an early lead. In fact, with the Enclave of the Bear controlling all of Europe, a fellow gamer Micah (who I believe is playing Die Mechaniker) expanded through America rather quickly. Joseph (who’s been running the Imperial Legion) was quickly thrown under the treads of Die Mechaniker as Micah expanded into South America.

I believe that Micah’s early aggression was due to Joe’s strong start in Game 1. Joe’s racial power is that he get’s to round up instead of down when recruiting troops. Sierra, well after winning Game 1, she decided to seize Australia and fortify. Khan Industries’ goal wasn’t conquest this game, but rather to survive the backlash of the last decade’s wars. So, with Khan as a relative non-factor this game it boiled down to the Enclave, the Imperials, and Die Mechaniker. The Imperials were quickly nearly wiped from the face of the board, so it was up to myself (the well-recovered Enclave) to duke it out with the powerhouse D.M. had become.

And duke it out we did. The straits between Greenland and Iceland ran red with blood and oil. It was a losing battle for myself though, because holding Europe was bringing in less troops than holding North and South America. It slowly ground into a numbers game (that wasn’t helped by horrible dice karma on my end) that resulted in D.M. pulling out a win.

Micah got to sign the board as a winner and founded a major city (though the name escapes me currently). The rest of us all ‘held on’ and founded minor cities. I’m pretty sure after the powerful Comeback Power I received for getting wiped off the face of the board, players have been more reluctant to decimate a civilization.

Anyone else playing some Risk Legacy in the New Year? How’s your game developing?

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Favorite Memories

Today, I take a detour from the gaming/novel-writing/hotel world that I live in and take a moment to reflect on times gone by and times to come. That’s the true essence of New Years, not just out with the old, in with the new. We can always look forward, but those of us who look to and learn from the past are far better equipped to confront the challenges that lay before us. I find the sweetness of happy memories can help through even the worst of times.

Like when I think of my Papa… I have a multitude of memories that come to mind, but of the most prominent there are two. They are both from when I was quite young. I remember that my grandpa was stubborn and set in his ways since I was little. That was a good thing too, because every day at 5 am we’d go to the Golden Chick and he’d buy coffee with his buddies. I remember that, because every day he’d buy me a biscuit to eat and he’d dab a dollop of honey onto the biscuit for me. I wasn’t helpless, but any time I caught him not looking, I’d have that bear bottle of honey and be getting every last drop of honey I could (until I got caught, that is). That old man learned to watch me like a hawk, though some mornings he just didn’t care.

The other memory happens to be the first (and last) time I had my name signed on his paddle. We were playing hide and seek and I was looking for him. Well, I checked behind trees. I checked behind bushes. I even checked in his wood shop. That old man was nowhere to be found. Well, I’m standing there in the doorway to his wood shop and I say “Damn it, PaPa where are you at?” It just so happens that that old man was far more nimble than anyone gave him credit for, because right after uttering those words, here he came… descending from the rafters of that shop as if from on high to deliver judgement. Of course, I quickly knew I was in for it. We laughed and laughed about it years later, but I remember being more bewildered than frightened at the time.

I have a ton of good memories, ranging from singing along with Dwight Yoakum with Dad as a kid to spending many an hour bonding over a broken truck. We all have those good memories that will help pull us through. What about you, do you have any funny memories that stand out above the rest?

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Keep On Rolling

Well, this daily writing has helped get the creative juices going again. I’m also seeing some interest in what I have to say, which is a nice reward. I’m all for incremental growth… the first day, it was a hit because it’s a hot topic, but then things settled down into more normal numbers. The first day, I saw 17 visitors here, then it dropped (and stayed) down in the single digits for most of my first week.

The last two days of my first week being a ‘blogger’ turned good double-digit numbers. Yesterday, I even broke 20 views. It’s exciting to see 20 views in a day when I’m just starting out! Now, I’m going for 30. I’ll keep ’em coming if you keep reading.

Numbers aside, I thought I’d toss out a little short story today. I’m planning on adding romance to my novel, and I need to try my hand at writing romance before I set it to paper:

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Unsettled

The walk from Bridgeton to Armot was a nice trek for anybody – two days on foot or a good day’s ride on horseback. Elliot stole a glance at his traveling companion, hoping she didn’t notice. At 5’4″, Wendy was just under Elliot’s height. Her luscious red hair, glinting with flecks of blond throughout and her green eyes entranced young Elliot from the moment their gazes met. “Her eyes… If I don’t stop looking at her eyes, I’m afraid I’m going to drown in them,” El thought to himself. “It’d be the most pleasant death I can imagine,” he quickly amended to himself as he again tried to catch her looking at him.

Wendy knew what Elliot was doing, of course. She was enjoying this cat and mouse game. They had been on the road for a few hours and Elliot couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. And why not? Wendy knew exactly what was going through his mind. Wendy saw her opportunity and stumbled, quickly reaching out to grab his arm. Elliot, ever the gentleman quickly grabbed her, rescuing her from an embarrassing tumble. When her hand lingered on his arm, El couldn’t believe his luck. A thrill sent shivers down his spine, but he gently extricated his arm and gallantly saved himself from the embarrassment of blushing by saying “You’ll want to watch where you’re going Miss Wendy. Your father sent me out here to protect you from bandits. He’d have my hide if I let anything harm you, ma’am.”

Wendy gave a coy smile and thoughtlessly wet her lips, as if from nervousness. She enjoyed the way Elliot quickly averted his eyes and scanned the perimeter. This was going to be too easy. “Oh, my father is very thoughtful, but he can’t protect me from myself,” exclaimed Wendy. Then with an impish grin, she asked “And who, dear Elliot is going to protect you from me?” Elliot, clearly not sure where this was going, rested a hand on his sword and said “Miss Wendy, I have no idea what you mean. If I were you, I wouldn’t fret. I’m strong and a good hand with a blade – I can deal with any threat on the road.”

Wendy smiled as they rounded a corner and she saw the familiar path leading off the road. Running ahead, with a smoky look over her shoulder, she called back “Better watch out then, because we’re not on the road now.” As she disappeared into the trees, Elliot began to have an unsettling feeling that Miss Wendy wasn’t as innocent as she would have him believe. Pieces began to fall into place, and as Elliot followed her into the woods, he wasn’t sure what he had in mind if he caught her.

As the twigs slapped him in the face and vines pulled at his boots, Elliot’s thoughts troubled him. “Her father will kill me if he ever finds out something has happened to his daughter – whether it’s danger or…” and he couldn’t finish that thought, though the image was vivid in his mind. That blondish-red hair and those eyes burned into his memory. His honor would, and had prevented this very situation from happening, though then it had been a maid and a loft that he had saved himself from. This time though, there was a frantic desire, a need to caress that lovely, lovely hair while drowning in those eyes.

Rounding the corner, he found Wendy with her dress pulled up enough to dangle her feet in the water of a little bubbling brook. Her shoes and stockings were kicked to the side and she demurely batted her lashes at him. “I’m sorry I ran off like that. I’ve made this trip a few times and I found this little alcove on one of those trips. It’s so nice and quiet, you wouldn’t even be able to hear someone scream,” she said in an apologetic tone. With her remark making his mind roam into forbidden territory, he bent down to drink from the stream. After rising back up and finding her close beside him, he replied “Just please don’t do that again, Miss Wendy. Remember, your father will kill me if ANY-thing untoward were to happen to you.”

As Wendy leaned in to press her luscious lips against his, she mumbled, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about him.” With that, she reached up and twined her fingers through Elliot’s thick brown hair and kissed him again. To his credit, Elliot tried to resist… which had led to her getting a better grip on his hair. Soon though, his feeble protestations faded and he enthusiastically returned her kisses. He found his broad hands roaming up her back and soon found that beautiful hair flowing through his fingers.

He pulled back to catch a breath and looked into those beautiful, purple eyes. He leaned back into the kisses and had found Wendy atop of him, putting pressure on him. Elliot was sure that she could tell how she was affecting him, but something was nagging at him. He just couldn’t get enough of those beautiful purple eyes and that luxurious raven hair. This alcove was so dark and secluded, things were sure to be leading to a very interesting place.

As Wendy pressed herself against him, she leaned down and said “Now. Now is the time.” Elliot had misinterpreted her, for he wrapped his arms around her and moved to undo the belt that was at her breeches. With a flaring pain in his back, Elliot thought breathlessly “Not now!” It wasn’t until Wendelian was pulling the dagger from his back and standing from the soon-to-be corpse that she leaned over and whispered “I told you that you needn’t fear my father. Know in your dying moments that we drow don’t take kindly to strangers killing our mothers or daughters.”

The ebon-skinned elf reclaimed the glamour of a red-haired human, complete with sun dress, boots, and stockings and calmly strode away from the secluded alcove and dying adventurer.

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As I said, a SHORT story. What do you think? Leave some feedback on how I can improve the romance writing. Did it pull you in? Did you need to check and see if someone was too close to read? Did it bore you?

Now that I’m picking up readers, I’d love to start getting some comments! 😀

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Growing Up

I find myself in a not-so-unique position. I refuse to grow up. Oh, I go to work. I pay the bills. I live the humdrum grind of everyday life. But inside of me… inside of me is a child that refuses to die. This is the kid that grew up loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is the kid that was so polite that he’d hold the door open at the post office so long that his mom would have to yell at him to get to the car. This is the kid that found joy in the little things: Shorts, cowboy boots, and a massive metal tow truck toy were all I needed.

That kid, that’s the one that hides for awhile when things are going tough, but pops back out to remind me not to grow up. I was thinking about the gifts I received this Christmas, and I realized – the kid’s still kicking. I can take joy out of the smallest of things. It always makes me smile when Loki, our cat, will always come lay on my chest any time I lie down on the bed. It’s something small and yet it can make my day. Hell, the cat starts purring before he even gets to the bed… it’s like the rodent likes me. *I know cats aren’t rodents… I hate cats though. I am and always have been a dog person. (Though Loki is a good rodent. As is Arthur, the cat we semi-adopted from a friend. But I still hate cats.)* 😛

I enjoy the gift of giving, whether it’s my time, my things, or my self. There is no more rewarding feeling than being able to feel satisfied and fulfilled with the little things in life. Of course, I may be a brat about the giving. Take this Christmas for instance… I was strolling around Hastings Entertainment Store for a gift for my girlfriend with my little nephew. My nephew LOVES Spongebob. Adores the annoying little yellow guy. Well, we’re walking around and he sees this 3 pack of Spongebob themed games: 2 card games with the sponge on it, Spongebob Bingo, and Patrick/Spongebob checkers. It was love at first sight. He wanted it SOOOO badly, and this was the last one in town. Being the joker I am, I pick it up, and this kid is like a cat with a laser pointer – he’s following it anywhere it goes. I asked him, I said “Kobe, you like Spongebob, don’t you?” To which he replied, “Oh yes Uncle Mikey, oh yes I do.” The kid is all innocence and niceness at this near juncture to Christmas (though he’s usually a good kid anyway, just more so around the holidays). I then drew him out and said “Well, I think I’ll get this for my niece in California, she loves Spongebob too.” You’d think I’d deflated the kid, literally. When he gets sad, he gets sad with his WHOLE body. He slumped and tried to put on a good face (poor kid!), so I “let” him carry it all around the store. He’d think I wasn’t looking and he’d look at it so admiringly. Long story short, he totes it all around the store and then I have him carry out the bag with the gifts in it, where he keeps on stealing covetous glances to the wonderful Spongebob prize.

Come Christmas day, we went over to my mom’s house to share the presents and when he comes to our 3 presents (we had wrapped each game box as it’s own gift), he dug right in. Upon revealing the first package, he lit up and in ignorant bliss exclaimed “SPONGEBOB BINGO! Uncle Mikey, this is just like the one you got for your niece in California.” Everyone hid smiles and kind of chuckled (since everyone but Kobe knew of the gag). Come to box #2 and he yells “WOW! SPONGEBOB CARD GAMES! Uncle Mikey, this is just like the one you got for your niece in California.” By this time everyone else was having a hard time not bursting out laughing. He opens box 3 and sure enough “WOW! SPONGEBOB CHECKERS!!! Uncle Mikey, this is just like the one you got for your niece in California.”

I said to him “Kobe, Uncle Mikey MAAAAYYYY have been fibbing to you when he said they were for his niece in California.” At this point everyone bursts out laughing, having contained it too long. The kid goes from the biggest smile to a disbelieving glare as he realized I “got his goat”… then he laughed and asked if I’d play Spongebob Checkers with him. We did. He had his revenge… the kid is cutthroat at checkers. While my mom spent a lot more on his gifts than I did, I was able to give him a gift he really enjoyed in a way that gave everybody a chuckle.

All that to say… That’s the kid in me. He enjoys being able to laugh and play jokes that don’t require somebody to get hurt. It’s the kid in me showing he’s still kicking. The kid in me keeps pushing me to write my story. HE wants it to be told. HE doesn’t want it to die. The kid in me, HE doesn’t accept lame excuses.

“I’m too tired to work on this.”

“Well, go to bed earlier.”

“But I can’t go to bed earlier, I’ve got X to do.”

“Then do X later.”

“But I have Y to do then.”

“Well, do Y then X. Or X then Y. Write some on your book now.”

“If I work on it, will you shut up and go away?”

“Yes.”

*Work on it for a bit, then play some Skylanders.”

“Why don’t you go work on your book.”

“AAAARRRRRGGHHH! Leave me alone!!!”***

You know… the same kind of thing when a kid learns the most fantastic and annoying word in the English language: “Why?”

***Please note, this is just a dramatization. I do not actually suffer from multiple personality disorder. I argue with myself quite often, but I call this “thinking”.***

Any way, as I sit here, I realize that to truly grow up, you have to hold on to the child within yourself as you create the new you. We are constantly changing and evolving as people. Whether it’s something as mundane as a favorite (or least favorite) food changing or as drastic philosophical and moral alignment shifts, we need to find a way to hold on to what we were and incorporate it into what we are. I truly believe this will make for a more complete and well rounded adult.

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Christmas Swag

Well, things have been tight this year, so the gifts weren’t abundant. You know what, though? It turned out to be a more meaningful and awesome Christmas because of it.

Here’s the list of gifts I’ve received as of yet (some are coming home with my brother from my mom and dad, so this will need to be updated):

  1. T-Shirt (Cookie Monster) from my nephew – I loved this one, because he has a matching Cookie Monster hoody and he loves hanging out with his uncle.
  2. Gift Card (Prima Pasta) from my wonderful girlfriend – This was a really thoughtful gift, since she really hates most Italian food. Something about tomatoes… But for her to go and get this for me is a promise that I get some Italian food (which I LOVE!!!). Thanks dear for the great gift!
  3. Skylanders for Wii – This is a gift “from the cats” to “us”. We had seen this game months ago, but we really didn’t see it in our budget to get this high-dollar, hot-selling game this year. A guest at the hotel I work at was so impressed by the service I provided gave me a $50 Wal-Mart gift card, and since we hadn’t gotten anything really big, my lady and I decided to spoil ourselves and get this game. Whereas we would have spent about $70, we ended up only spending $20 on the game itself (and we LOVE it… lots of fun)!
  4. Risk Legacy – This was an early Christmas present to myself. I loved it as soon as I got it out of the store as you can see. (I’ll continue loving this for awhile to come, too!)

So as you can see, I definitely got quality over quantity. Each gift I received had thought behind it. Also, since it’s been such a tight financial year for everyone in our lives, it means a lot that they would get us the gifts they did.

What kind of swag did you receive this year?

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The Awakening – Sample Chapter Excerpt Idea

Will looked around. The magic was singing within and around him. The street thugs were still looking through the alley for him, having not located his hiding spot yet. Ironic that he could probably level most of the state of Nevada with the power of his mind, but these thugs were still unwounded after chasing him. If it weren’t for the new Techno-nets installed on the outskirts of the city, he could have used mystical bonds to imprison the thugs without harming them.

The Techno-nets were a brilliant idea, created by Caleb*. Caleb had the idea that N-waves might be an answer to the odd M-waves that appeared on recording devices after the Awakening. The effects were somewhat similar to radio interference… powerful magicians could still get ‘signal’ but their power cut in and out continuously. Will found himself waiting for the humming of the magic within to match the power singing around him, desperate for the pulse to end before the thugs found him.

Too late. At that moment, a thug with a knife scar below his left ear wearing blue jeans, a KISS t-shirt and black vest yelled, “Hey, there’s the witch! We’ll get the $5,000 from him, certain.” With a wicked grin, the Scar growled “They only said alive… they didn’t say anything else about the condition. Be careful not to kill him guys.” With a sinking feeling, Will realized the group of ‘thugs’ that had been chasing him had the look of professionals. As the first fist fell, Will began to hopelessly defend himself. Will was no small guy, nor was he unskilled in fist fighting, what having to stick up for himself being a nerd all those years. It didn’t matter how skilled he was though. Unless he was Chuck Norris, there was no way he was going to stop 5 guys from roughing him up and tagging him, especially since one was bringing a taser to bear.

As the beating continued, Shocker pushed his way forward and let the volts flow through the bleeding wizard. The fleshy smack of flesh striking flesh repeatedly filled the alley-way. If anyone saw, they quickly realized that this was a “Not My Problem” situation and quickly proceeded forgetting it ever happened. The rise and fall of fists slowed and stopped altogether when Scar yelled out “McKinnely, get over here with the detector! We need him alive, and I don’t want him coming around before we tag ‘im!” The ragged form of Will rose and fell with labored breathing as a mouse of a man stepped into the alley. He was 5’0″ if he was an inch and the little glasses he wore didn’t help the image of a rodent. He extracted a gun-like object with a long metal syringe and began traversing the alley toward the beaten mage.

Four of the thugs each grabbed an arm or leg and Scar roughly grabbed the limp form by the head and jerked back on the hair, exposing the throat. Ian McKinnely moved foward and inserted the metallic tag into the syringe gun. As McKinnely touched the needle to Will’s skin, the T-net pulse ended.

With a surge of mental effort, Will stopped playing opossum (though it wouldn’t have been hard to truly sink into the velvet embrace of unconsciousness) and created an electric shield covering his entire body. The five thugs in direct contact with Will quickly fell slack from losing consciousness. Will had had enough presence of mind to avoid a voltage high enough to force the thugs to hold on even tighter.

As the electricity coursed from his body, Will prevented it from reaching McKinnely since he didn’t want an errant convulsion to cause the syringe to pierce his skin. With his fading resolve being bombarded by the bruises and hurts caused him, Will reached out and crushed the syringe gun. There was unfortunate collateral damage, since McKinnely’s hand was still gripping the gun. With a wounded yelp, McKinnely passed out. Will quickly scrambled up and started limping his way towards the end of the alley.

Beaten, bruised, and exhausted, Will slowed and turned back where he had just come from. “I’m not the same as them. I’m not careless. Damn it, but I don’t want to do this,” Will thought to himself. After quickly dragging the thugs into a pile, Will drew a quick shield circle to keep them in. He turned to the crumpled form of Ian McKinnely and pulled magic from the diffuse power all around him, coalescing it to fit his will. With a slight glow as the power bent to his command, the bones that had been crushed by his magic began to fall back into place, whole and healthy once more.

The healing drained both the healer and the patient. Will had pulled life from himself and his patient to give new health to the injured limb. Will sagged visibly and McKinnely turned an ashen shade of grey, while remaining unconscious.

Wanting to hurry and leave before another T-pulse activated or any more government goons came chasing after him, Will fled the scene. “Fled” might have been a slight exaggeration… Will drunkenly stumbled from the scene, gathering many a questioning look at the fresh blood and bruises that covered every visible part of him. His hair was sticking up wildly from where Scar had laced his hands through it to jerk back Will’s chin. “All in all,” Will considered “it’s been a good day.”

*Caleb was Will’s best friend prior to the Awakening. Jealous of Will’s new power, Caleb stopped hanging around Will. After the mystical rampages immoral dictators let loose, Caleb honestly felt it was his duty to aid in any way he could. His actions and beliefs are pure, though the seed for them may have been planted in his initial jealousy.

I’d like any positive or negative feedback on this if you feel like it. This will be an excerpt from a later chapter in the book. The government has put out a contract on mages and Will has been put in the cross-hairs.

 

After reading a chapter excerpt from the novel I’m working on, would you be interested in reading this book?

(polls)


			

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