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January 21st, 2003

Metropolis Hotel

Last night I took a 10 p.m. one-stop plane out to San Francisco. The plane did not reach its final destination until 1:10 a.m. I read Mrs. Oliphant's The Perpetual Curate when I was not sleeping, and made good progress on it. For some reason, Victorian comedies about rectors and curates appeal to me. If I had lived in Victorian times, perhaps I would have been a preacher, but I think it far more probable that I would have been an attorney in any era, rather like having the mummy's curse.

When I do business travel, I advise priceline.com a day or two before my journey how much I am willing to pay, and how many stars I insist upon. This time, I "bid" seventy dollars to stay in a "boutique hotel". The taxi pulled up this morning to the Metropolis Hotel. It has an un-prepossessing exterior, with one of those modern metal doorways that could signify either a hip boutique hotel or the entry way to the wholesale fish distributor. I suppose I would have, in a quiz, guessed accurately as to which one, because wholesale fish distributors usually insist that the doorways be cut symmetrically. Inside, the decor was very stylish--kind of post-modern, post-comfort, quite charming. As I checked in, the desk clerk explained to me the many benefits of staying here. They are not insubstantial. I get free access to the business center, with computer use (one desktop), a copy machine and a fax machine. I get free croissants every morning. I also have unlimited 24 hours a day access to the "holistic wellness room", a meditation facility exclusively for the comfort of the guests. My room is a cute little kinda European size boutique room, tastefully appointed and comfortable. I thought that I had been shorted my soap and shampoo, until I noticed that they were hanging from a mesh sort of tea bag on the towel rack. Everything is tres chic, but I am very concerned that the TV may not get UPN, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is showing a new episode tonight; I'd hate to miss that show while trapped in a lair so interesting it must be very good--or very evil. Perhaps the First Evil is pretension.

I noted when I got off the elevator that my floor was entitled "Wind". I am not used to staying in floors which have names. When I came down to breakfast this morning on the stairs, I noted that each floor is designated "earth", "wind", "fire" or "water" or some such. I feel at one with something, but I am not sure that something is the universe. I love San Francisco.

Today I have business meetings all day. I cannot think of a greater contrast than with the Hotel Metropolis. My fellow guests seemed to be conventioneers from Canada, whom I strongly suspect of choosing this hotel based on the priceline.com "put me where it is inexpensive" approach. I must check out that meditation center tonight.

dim sum, dim one

A long day of business meetings, after the rainy day walk down the hill this morning to my meetings. Lunch alone at a dim sum restaurant--not very good at letting my "yes" be "yes" and my "no" be "no", resulting in getting more food (albeit incredibly tasty food) than I needed, and an accompanying hefty bill. Dinner at a deserted hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant, eating a hearty rice plate with five spice chicken at a fraction of the price of lunch. The wall on the business center has a character from an Asian alphabet I don't read, as well as the quote: "Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose...Leonardo da Vinci". I'm not sure if talking at meetings a lot is my inner purpose, but who knows? I must watch Buffy now.