Sunday, February 25, 2007

Long Beach, cont'd

The Courtyard Marriott in Long Beach gets a solid thumbs-up, four out of a possible five stars. Here's the breakdown:

Check-In: A-plus. Only 68 seconds elapsed between the moment I entered the lobby and the moment I exited, key in hand. No waiting line.

I timed the whole process on a Timy. I'm sending the audit tape to Francesco Cattaneo at F.I.S. tomorrow, along with a hot poker and instructions to shove both the timing tape and the hot poker up his useless Swiss ass.

Shower: A solid "B". Water pressure is fantastic. Nice big shower head, located overhead rather than the despised sternum-high location. The bowed-out curtain rod (for additional maneuvering room) was a nice touch. However, I never give a rating higher than a "B" for a shower that's built in a traditional-sized bathtub. The whole thing is too small. In order for a shower to earn an "A", it must be at least 5' X 5', and the shower head must be a minimum 6'4" off the floor, since I'm 6'2". If I can palm all four walls without moving my feet, the shower is too damn small.

I wonder if there is one shower in all of Europe that would rate an "A". The Euros may have designed the Airbus 380 and the Ariane rocket, but they have zero engineering expertise when it comes to shower technology. Perhaps that's why they all reek.

Morning Beverage Availability: A-plus. There's a local java place across the street. I got my usual half half-caff, half decaf, with a twist of lemon.

Just kidding. I don't like coffee. I drink tea.

Starbucks is about 6 blocks away, but I don't like Starbucks. Starbucks serves a brand of tea called "Tazo", which tastes like dirty socks. If I have no other choice, I'll go to Starbucks for tea, because at least the water is hot and clear. Nothing worse than drinking tea where the hot water is run through a coffee-maker, and tastes vaguely like coffee before you even insert your teabag. Bleccccch.

I always carry emergency backup teabags in my briefcase. Sometimes, like last night on the way out of Santa Clarita, you find yourself stuck at one of those huge gas station trucks stops, and they have nice clear hot water but a lousy selection of tea. I still have a bunch of TeeFix tea bags I bought in Kitzbuehel a few weeks ago in the pocket of my ski jacket, which I was wearing. Surprisingly, Austrians drink a lot of tea, and Austrian tea is damn good. So I bought a cup of hot water and used my own tea bag.

This season, my Precision Timing partner Ted Savage and I bought nifty red Spyder jackets for our FIS World Cup timing crew. I insisted on zip-off sleeves, which make the jackets a lot more useful (in my opinion). Well, before the Tour of California, I had worn mine maybe twice. During Lake Louise, the weather was too damn cold for a ski jacket (-37C!!) so I wore my coach's coat, and then during Kitzbuehel, it was 50 degrees and raining most of the time, so I mostly wore a raincoat. But since this gig started, I have worn my Spyder jacket, with sleeves zipped off, at least 12 hours a day, every day. It's pretty filthy, so on Monday night when I get home, that puppy is going into the washing machine. After I take a nice long hot shower in one of my squash-court sized showers, of course.

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