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January, 2014:

NR Continental Map is Working Again

I’m not sure when this started happening, but the Podcasting Plugin by TSG was interfering with my GeoMashup plugin. Since I have a lot more geo-tagged posts than I do podcast posts, GeoMashup is going to win. The map is back; enjoy!

The Time Out podcast is on its own site and wasn’t affected by this conflict. :)


Hotel Report: Ramada Inn-Mall of the Americas, Minneapolis, MN

Stuck overnight at MSP due to a maintenance issue with our plane, I and several others were put up at Delta’s expense at the Ramada Inn-Mall of the Americas. The Ramada wasn’t at the Mall but a block away, and if I had reached the hotel earlier I might have ventured to explore.

The full-size beds were firm and serviceable. The window-based heater kept the room toasty despite the Minnesota winter on the outside of the glass. Outside, the hotel’s Bobcat kept the parking lot driveable.



Hotel Report: Candlewood Suites, Williston, ND

The Bakkan oil boom in western North Dakota has resulted in a crop of new hotels, the least expensive for HAL being the Candlewood Suites.

Candlewood Suites are one of the extended chains in the IHG group, so they will only come into your room and make the bed a couple of times a week. They do pack a lot of gear in the room, though:

Panorama of Candlewood Room

Panorama of Candlewood Room

Four outlets are available at the desk. The Ethernet wall port was much than the wireless internet, which made me pick a different SSID for different parts of the hotel. The TV was about 60 channels, most of which were HDTV. The queen bed was firm yet comfortable. The combination heater/AC wall unit worked well.

The bathroom tucked behind the aspect of the above picture had good room, and the controls were easy to user. I had no problem getting water at good pressure and temperature.

The fitness room and laundry room were combined, and it was a little hard to run when someone got a little heavy on the fabric softener. The fitness equipment was well maintained, including two ellipticals, a recombinant bike, a treadmill, and a stationary nautilus. The washer and dryer were free to use; bring your own chemicals.

The hotel has no restaurant of its own but refers you to the one at the nearby HomStay Suites. Movies can be borrowed for two nights from the front desk for no charge, and the galley was well stocked.

At $160/night, one might expect a lot of IHG points, but the Candlewood only awards 5 points per dollar spent, where most IHG hotels will award 10. Most of the other hotels run $180-220, so if I were to return to the Bakkan it would probably be back here.


Hotel Report: Hilton Columbus at Easton

For a birthday treat we used some of my hard-earned HHonors points and took the kids for a couple of nights at the Hilton Columbus at Easton.

Our room was nice, with two beds. Unfortunately they were not two queen beds. I had the choice while making the reservation of two beds or a king bed and a queen hide-a-bed.

The desk sported two outlets at the base of the lamp and another at the wall. Another outlet was hidden behind the nightstand. We were surprised to discover our room had no microwave or refrigerator. The Wi-fi kept cutting in and out.

The bathroom was quite spacious. The furnished shampoo, soap, and repair kit were from Peter Thomas Roth. The water temperature was slow in reacting to the controls.

PoolsideThe heated pool, hot tub, and fitness room were nice and large. The pool had a chair lift to help people in. The fitness room had a full set of dumbbells, a stationary bike, a rowing machine, four treadmills, and three elliptical machines.

The restaurant let us take a to-go package to the room, and we were able to grab yogurt, bacon, cinnamon roll, pecan bun, and various Danishes. Cereal was available, and there was an omelet cook. Room service delivered a nice and rich chocolate lava cake. The accompanying vanilla ice cream was quite creamy, but it already showed some melt in the bowl by the time it got to our room. The sports bar did a nice job on our order of chips and cheese–no cheese sauce here.

Hilton at NightThe staff was professional and friendly. The restaurant maĆ®tre d fetched me a fork, after she asked if I was a hotel guest. When the dining room didn’t do chips and cheese, they cheerfully referred us to the bar. The $10/night valet was worth not hunting around for a parking spot. Housekeeping visited us several times during the day, giving us additional towels and taking our take-out trash.

Rooms here start at $160. Being within walking distance of Easton’s restaurants and shops is part of the value. Access to the hotel is quite easy through the entrance.


This Skill Get Marketable Later

My daughter with autism, when she realizes something is missing, will not ever, EVER let it go.

Her buddy MarioWhether it’s her buddies Mario or Toad, a sock, her glasses, etc., she will remind and remind and remind you that it’s missing, until you find it. If she thinks you’re going to ignore her, she’ll escalate.

This isn’t the quality of hers that is most convenient to her parents today, but maybe it could be a quality she can use to market herself someday. :)