Murphy paid a nice visit on the day I left for Austin to attend a two-day seminar at Wizard Academy. While packing, I grabbed the black vibrating travel alarm clock only to find it refused to tell time. No problem, time for a battery change. Click, click, clack, clunk. Nothing. Still refused to show its face. Strangely, however, the light worked.
Grr. Maybe bad batteries… it had happened before… when new batteries played dead and stayed that way. Another set. Click, click, clack, clunk. Same results. Great. Not like a there was nearby store that sold these. Good thing, we contacted the hotel and requested a room with accessibility equipment.
Walked in my hotel room and looked around to see what kind of equipment it had — rarely do two hotels have the same set up. Captioned TV, check. Visual fire alarm, check. Even a doorbell at the entry. Alarm, not sure. It had two settings: buzz or radio alarm. I didn’t get my hopes up as buzz means two things — vibrating buzz and audio buzz because the user doesn’t want to wake up to music.
I turned on the alarm for a few minutes after the current time to test it. The clock’s face blinked as it moaned without a vibration. Panicked for a minute. Idea. I turned on the alarm on my Sidekick for the time I need to get up, which buzzed when it went off. I also talked to Paul and he said he’d buzz me when he woke up.
I slept lousy both nights. First night, I was awake before 6am. Second night, I was awake, went back to sleep, awake again and it was 10 after 6am. Paul buzzed me a few times and I never felt it. As much as I hated the other alarm clock’s strong vibrations, the experience was a lesson on why it need to be powerful (and I am not even a deep sleeper).
I checked with the hotel on the first night about the alarm and got confirmation that it didn’t vibrate (there was a part hanging out like it was supposed to attach to something, perhaps a vibrating part).
This was the first time I traveled with my Sidekick and boy, it made life easier! The hotel had a shuttle to pick up people from the airport. Most of the time, hotels wait for the traveler to call before sending the shuttle. Just about every airport I’ve gone to has a phone center for all the nearby hotels so you just pick up the phone that goes to your hotel and it rings there. No dialing.
Instead of searching for an employee and feeling like a helpless person, I paged Paul and he called the hotel. It took no time for the shuttle to arrive as it was an airport hotel. Record time from getting off the plane to entering in my room.
Second problem. Room service. That means dialing a couple of numbers to order. I did my usual, went to the front desk and gave them my order. Easy, but not a good feeling. I know it’s silly to feel this way, but I don’t like to do things differently from the norm especially where my hearing is involved. Dinner arrived with no problems. The food was eh, though.
Third problem. Check out. The process is simple — the receipt arrives under the door on the day you depart. Confirm the charges are in order and then… call and let the hotel know everything is cool. Again… I go downstairs and let them know. I stayed at a hotel where you could check out through its TV. That was sooo nice.
Funny, there was a blurb in The Dallas Morning News [might require free registration] Sunday edition about deep sleepers who use the vibrating alarm to help them wake up. So why don’t we see more alarms like this in the hotels? They don’t cost any more than a regular alarm and work both ways (sound or vibrate).
The room is also for people who use wheelchairs as many things were lower so they could reach it. I’ve stayed in a similar room, but one thing is new — the shower. I thought it had no shower at first, but realized it had no base (flat like the rest of the bathroom floor – see grainy photo on the right from Sidekick camera). I couldn’t imagine how I was going to shower without flooding the bathroom. It didn’t happen, but I put the towel mat next to it to be on the safe side.
The Sidekick didn’t work at the Academy, but neither did most cell phones. However, the Academy had wi-fi, so I connected my laptop to it and stayed connected with the world outside of the Academy. The hotel had Internet connection, but not for free. The wi-fi in the lobby cost $12.99. The Internet connection in the room cost $9.99 for 24 hours. You could connect free if you use the hotel’s computer in the business center. I never made it there, so I don’t know what it offered. I did use one day of the hotel room’s Internet connection (the day I arrived as I was in the room from 3pm till next morning) and it worked well.
Howard from Future Now who stayed at the Omni reported wi-fi was completely free at his hotel. Lucky stiff. AND the hotel had Peet’s Coffee! We were stuck with plain ol’ hotel coffee. I had Peet’s by mail order before, but never been to one of its stores.
Austin Begstrom airport has three wi-fi options, but none were free. One was T-Mobile, which was my Sidekick’s provider, but I couldn’t access it with my T-Mobile ID. C’mon, I only needed it for an hour, the company couldn’t let its customers access its wi-fi for a short time? Yea, yea… gotta make money.