Hilton #FAIL

I am attending a conference that is partially hosted by the Hilton hotel in Richmond. I am not overly difficult to please. Good communication and people following through with what has been promised and generally not making my life more miserable.[1] So, without further ado, here is the list of the Hilton’s lackluster service:


When I arrived, I followed the directions to the parking structure. It said for hotel patrons to park on P2, 3 or 4. Except that is not what the levels were called. For example, P2 was called Lower Floor 2 and Upper Floor 2. This was very confusing as there were more signs saying to park on P2, 3 or 4.

Three hotels share this parking structure. I finally found the Hilton side, parked and got out of my car. I dragged my luggage to the door and there was a sign saying that I needed to check in first and required a key card to get in. Very annoying.

Oh and the cost to park? $14 per night. Ridculous.

Check In

When I made my reservation, I was told I would have a Jr. King suite. I was happy with this. At check in I was told I could have a smoking Jr. King suite or a room with no double beds. I balked. I told her what I had been promised and she said they were full. After a few minutes someone else found a Jr. King suite for me. I was really unimpressed and it soured my take on the hotel right at the front desk. The clerk was not sympathetic at all.


The Hilton does not have wireless internet! They have an Ethernet cable. I hve nothing against an Ethernet cable except that my Macbook Air does not have an Ethernet port. Luckily I had an adapter. Plus they charge $8 a day for internet. I have not been charged for internet in many years in a hotel.

Air Conditioning

Even though I set the temperature to 15 degrees Celsius it was still hot in the room.


We live in a bilingual country. This hotel is located in a city where approximately 50% of the population is Chinese. On the card advising guests what to do if they want the sheets changed each night is only in English. It is a two-sided card and both sides are in English. Huge #FAIL!

Side one
Side two

The Good Things

The Room

I like the room. The furniture is great. The bed was also very comfortable.

Room Service

I had the best bowl of soup last night. It was tomato/chickpea and it was amazing.

[1] I may be a little sensitive due to a personal issue going on right now. I am already miserable.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I think our dogs are weird’ edition

We have had a lot of dogs over the years. We have fostered puppies, dogs that have never been in a house, feral dogs, sick dogs, behaviorally challenged dogs, incontinent dogs…well, you get the idea. I have to say though that the group we have right now are all downright weird. Here goes:


Piper looks like this when she is barking at dogs on the TV

Piper watches TV. She stands there with her little head tilted up and watches what goes on. If there is a dog or another animal she goes nuts barking and looking for it behind the TV. She even barks at pictures of dogs that come on when the Apple TV screensaver starts. I have never seen a dog be able to identify static pictures of dogs as dogs. Even if the sound is off when a dog comes on the TV she knows that it’s a dog. Watching TV is never boring with her!


Sawyer being intense

Sawyer is perpetually cold. He is always burrowing under something to get covered up. He also does not want to eat his own food. He prefers his food slightly used and chewed a little bit. He cleans up all the chicken bones when the dogs have chicken. He prefers to take something that has already been warmed up by another dog. This used to make Molly crazy because he would sit and watch her while she ate so he could have her leftovers. Then there are his ‘deviant’ qualities that involve ‘humpy koala’ but I will have to go into witness protection if I say anymore.


We have the only Newfoundland who does not swim and who hates water. He does his swimming on land. He also likes to occupy narrow passageways with his 150 pounds of beefcake. He is forever being asked to move because no one can get by. And for a dog who has been fed raw meaty bones his entire life, he hates to have to chew any meat off of a bone. He will sit there and stare at it instead of eating it.


Amazing picture of Zoe

So is not so much weird as she is singularly focused. This dog gets what she wants all the time because to not give it to her makes our lives so miserable it is just easier. Two days after he dental she was insane trying to get my pizza. I doubted she could even chew it so then I found myself giving her small pieces. What is wrong with me??

Ruby (AKA Tuber)

Beggin’ Strips!!!

Ruby is still relatively new to The Swamp. She is about as smart as a potato hence the nickname. Ruby will only sleep on a dog bed. This dog will not lie on the floor ever. She has to be in a bed. This is all fine as we have lots of beds around. Somehow she always seems to score one of the best beds in our room at night – even if she has to steal it. She is also a slave to ‘beggin’ strips.’ She will do almost anything to get one. One of her favourite little tricks is to run outside, then back in, and demand a treat. I think she thinks she is smart!

Tech Review: Beolit 12

Beolit 12

What is it?

The simple explanation is that the Beolit 12, by Bang and Olufsen is a dock for your iDevices. It allows you to play music via Airplay or USB. About the size of an old-fashioned lunchbox, the Beolit 12 delivers incredible sound.

How does it work?

It works via Airplay or USB. Music can be streamed via Airplay from a computer or iDevice or you can plug in your device’s USB cable directly to the Beolit 12. It also sports a rechargeable battery that is good for 8 hours which makes the Beolit 12 highly portable. The Beolit 12 has a substantial heft to it but it is easy to pick up by the leather strap that goes across it diagonally. If you plug in your iDevice it will charge it, even on battery power.

The Macworld review cited difficulties with plugging in the power cable and looping it over a peg in the rear compartment. I did not have any issues with this – perhaps it just needs smaller hands.

Why should I care?

The sound!!! The sound is why you should care. If you are an audiophile you will absolutely love the crystal-clear sound delivered by the Beolit 12. You can turn it all the way up and it does not distort or lose clarity. To quote Macworld: “The Beolit 12 can get hilariously loud – as in, ”I need to go into a second room before I turn the volume all the way up” loud.”

I first read a review for the Beolit 12 in January. I lusted after it until close to my birthday. Deb found one and I got it 2 weeks early. I absolutely adore it.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

The Beolit 12 is not for the faint of heart. You are looking at $1000 CDN for this fabulous piece of speaker hardware. It is worth every penny. In addition to its fabulous sound it has a great visual aesthetic. Clearly this is something you buy because you have to have a fabulous dock. As music is my sanity it is a great investment in my self-care.

The Good, the bad and the ugly – Radium 2012

I tried to write this yesterday but I couldn’t put a cogent sentence together to save my life!

The Good

Podollan Inn – Salmon Arm

We have stayed at this hotel before. It is awesome for people with dogs. They have some rooms that have direct outdoor access, which is fabulous for getting the dogs out to pee.[1] Plus the floors are ceramic tiles so no worrying if there are accidents. We also had a fully fenced little patio area. The Podollan was also extremely understanding about the mudslide. They agreed to hold our room and not charge us if we had to cancel at the last minute.

RCMP/CVSE in Golden

Every available piece of road was blocked with trucks. They were on the side streets and the parking lots.

We arrived in Golden on Wednesday evening and couldn’t get through because of the mudslide. At first we thought we might go the long way but that was also blocked by a washed out road and some precarious inland ferries. So we waited it out. We were pretty much at the front of the line to get out of Golden. This was a great place to be as we could get up to the minute information if we wanted. I found the CVSE, RCMP and the flaggers to be extremely polite and helpful – as long as people were nice to them. At one point they started letting trucks through to the weigh scales – except for one trucker who had hassled them the day before. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the last one to get out of Dodge!

At the road block in Golden waiting to go


We went out for dinner with some very old friends in Calgary. We had an excellent time even though we waited 1.5 hours for a table![2] It was nice to have lots of time to sit and chat and reconnect. We also had some interesting discussion about the false intimacy that can be generated by Facebook.[3]

Piper and Sawyer

What can we say about these 2 dogs? They were amazing. They spent over 12 hours in the car on Thursday and didn’t complain at all. I have never seen dogs behave this well. They are rock stars! Sawyer also had a great time with my sister’s new puppy. After about 2 days he was looking for some Gigi repellant!

Mountain Restaurant – Lake Louise

I had the best freaking burger ever at this restaurant! If you are ever in Lake Louise go there and have the Mountain Burger. Oh my god!

The Bad

Park Inn in Golden

By the time I started to find a hotel in Golden[4] all the good ones were gone. We ended up at a no tell motel with dog breeders beside us. They smoked a lot of pot, which I confused for the smell of cat pee. I spent the night there with a tiny bit of sheet for warmth and Sawyer up my ass. It was fun!

This was the chair in our room. We didn’t move it. Sawyer like it there.

Smitty’s in Golden

We had breakfast there on Thursday morning. Our server was great. Her name was Fiona[5] and she was very helpful. She was the one who told us the long way was blocked. The food however was atrocious. The bacon was inedible. The pancakes tasted like chemicals and were underdone. Even the dogs wouldn’t eat some of the bacon.


My mother has developed this helplessness thing. She seemed to do nothing for herself and asked in this little voice for people to do things for her. She was relentless. It almost seemed like she was waiting for any of us to sit down just to ask us to get up and do something for her. My sister had to not only contend with her but her husband doing basically the same thing. We are really starting to understand why she is losing her mind.

The Ugly

Mother again

Watching my mother smoke with oxygen on was horrible. Even one of her friends/helpers made her take the oxygen off. I am not sure why she is doing this but it is most disturbing and dangerous! Even though she wears it all the time and has a saturation of 95 she still says she feels crappy. She also does not breathe through her nose so I am not even sure she is getting any benefit from the oxygen. When I drove her home from Radium she would go minutes at a time without breathing through her nose.

[1] Not that I ever have to do this…Deb always does.

[2] It was our fault because we were late for our reservation.

[3] A subject of an upcoming blog no doubt.

[4] We were in Lake Louise.

[5] We like Fionas after watching Shameless!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘dogs are having a great time’ edition

–       We are at my mother’s for the annual trip we do. My sister has a new mutt puppy who is so incredibly sweet. She and Sawyer and have been tearing up the yard playing chase; Sawyer loves to run and Gigi has never met a chase she didn’t like. The problem is that Gigi wants to play all the time and poor Sawyer, who is not an overly active dog, can’t seem to get any rest to save his soul. He tries to run down to the bedroom occasionally for respite. Secretly though, he is enjoying himself immensely!

–       My brother-in-law loves to watch boxing. I don’t get it and I find the noise offensive. I now have my noise-canceling headphones on and I’m listening to music.

–       Piper is also having a mostly good time. Maya[1] attacked her like a little viper last night when she came in. We have really clamped down on Maya today and she has responded well.

–       My sister is mostly holding it together. I just agree with her and all is fine. She really is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Both her husband and our mother will not allow her to sit for any length of time. They treat her like a slave. She is volcanic in her behavior and no one is ever sure what might make her erupt. When she does go she spews vitriol everywhere and you just try to duck and not get hit.

–       My mother really cannot stand the dogs. She doesn’t even want them to play in her general vicinity. I asked her if she liked watching them play and she said no. I don’t get that. I love to watch the dogs play; sometimes it is better than TV.

–       The one thing I really don’t understand is why my mother is smoking while she wears oxygen. She complains about feeling crappy all the time and doesn’t get that she is causing herself all these difficulties. People can live a long time with COPD as long as they don’t smoke. She is not eating so when she catches something she literally has nothing to fight with. It worries me but I recognize there is nothing I can do about it. She is depressed and really has no interest in carrying on. She has never had to cope with any kind of health issues before and she is really not up for it.

–       The best part of this trip will be getting to see some really great friends in Calgary on Tuesday. We are going to the Cactus Club for dinner.


[1] The maltese we got for my mother late last year.

Stephen Harper is Killing Canada – the ‘what is wrong with collective bargaining’ edition

Seriously, what does Stephen Harper have against collective bargaining? Why do they keep bringing in back to work legislation without letting the process take its natural course? I can see why governments might want to do this after a prolonged strike or lock out situation but less than a week? Give me a break!

The CP Rail workers have been legislated back to work today. Apparently their strike was costing the Canadian economy $540 million dollars a week. How could the government know this less than 3 days into the strike? The union was even letting commuter rail traffic that uses its infrastructure clear passage. No one was really being inconvenienced all that much.

Contrast the recent CP Rail back to work legislation with the Caterpillar strike in London earlier this year. The American management of Caterpillar wanted employees to take a 50% wage cut. When the union would not capitulate, Caterpillar then decided to close the plant and move the jobs to the US. Where was Stephen Harper then?

Stephen Harper is killing Canada is a new series here at The Swamp. Here is the first entry.