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04 February 2015 @ 07:26 pm
View from an Austin Hotel Room  
The weekend before last, I flew out for a one day workshop on AI and Ethics as part of the American Assocation for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference. I will probably blog about that in more detail soon, but I've suddenly ended up on the radar of Liverpool University's Corporate Communications unit (I think because of my two appearances on Radio Merseyside making soothing noises about the imminent rise of the machines) and so they want me to run something past them first for potential publicity generating reasons.

Those following along on Facebook got a front row seat of my 4am discovery (I had jet lag) that all my flights home had been cancelled since they went through New York JFK and the resulting conversion of a crisis into a minor irritation when, in an entirely unexpected fit of competence and efficiency the departmental purchasing team managed to get everything rebooked onto a wonderfully empty British Airways flight. The minor irritation was was the 8 hour wait to check-in at Austin airport and the frustration of knowing I had just purchased a special "Priority Pass" card that would have let me spend those 8 hours in a first class lounge if only I had been able to get a boarding card and get through security to reach the lounge.

Anyway I took some photos from/of the hotel. They were terribly apologetic that they had no bedrooms left with a kingsize bed and so, instead, I would have to be put in a room with two double beds and a view of the river. I'm not entirely sure why they felt the need to keep apologising about this.

The view of the river

I was particularly impressed by the way the interior of the hotel was arranged around a central atrium that gave you a view of all the floors. I can't think why more hotels don't do this because it was very pretty, though I suppose, not so nice if you suffer from vertigo.

Interior of the hotel.

The workshop was interesting, and certainly worth attending. It would probably have been more sensible to stay the whole week and go to the conference as well but I have another paper deadline looming.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/141038.html.
fififolle: Ben Miller - thermometerfififolle on February 4th, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC)
The flats in Manchester have an atrium like that! But I am certain they are not as nice as that hotel!!
You certainly had a bit of an adventure. And you're famous! Excellent :D
louisedennislouisedennis on February 4th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure appearing on Radio Merseyside twice exactly counts as fame, but given how surprisingly few scientists are actually prepared to talk to journalists, I think that definitely makes me a useful resource in the eyes of corporate comms.
fififolle: Spooks - Dimitri Tariq Shark Wrestling?fififolle on February 4th, 2015 09:08 pm (UTC)
a_cubeda_cubed on February 5th, 2015 03:00 am (UTC)
Actually lots of scientists are willing to talk to journalists. They do it once, see the distortion of their work and views that happens and give up talking to journalists.
a_cubeda_cubed on February 5th, 2015 03:10 am (UTC)
On the way back from the UK to Japan after a short Christmas visit my flight (with $DAUGHTER who is three and a half) from Manchester to Frankfurt was seriously delayed. Given that we'd got up at 4am (having stayed at an aiport hotel) to get the am flight, this was unpleasant. Our flight finally left Manchester after 11am. At Frankfurt there was a large queue at the airside Lufthansa service centre and they ordered (well, strongly requested) that all EU US and Canadian citizens go through the immigration and check in at the normal counter. I already knew we'd been re-booked onto an ANA flight in the evening (this was about 14;00). I should have realised that this wasn't sensible for me, but having been awake since 4am with about 4 hours sleep I wasn't at my best and complied with their instructions. That left me with lots of hand luggage and a tired $DAUGHTER looking at waiting until 17:00 when the ANA check-in desk re-opened. We had business class tickets so could use the lounge if we would only get our boarding asses. Luckily someone in the "special assistance" Lufthansa office, even though it wasn't their job, really helped out and hassled the ANA office to come down and open up their desk to give us our passes. She did ask if I could check in online, but I couldn't get the Frankfurt aiport wifi to work.

Watching the sun come up in the lounge in Manchester and go down in the lounge in Frankfurt was not a fun way to spend the day, but at least I had lounge access (actually since I do stupid amounts of travel I would have had access even without the business class (airmiles-booked) seats). $DAUGHTER was actually brilliant about all this and actually enjoyed some bits immensely like running around the lounge with a slightly younger German/Chinese boy for half an hour.

If stuck in a similar situation again, consider whether there's any way to do online check-in. I did that at the UK on a flight last year, too. I arrived a couple of hours early at LHR T2 having done everything with the day I could reasonably do to find the check-in desks not yet open. They had free Wifi so I was able to use the wifi on my smartphone to check in and get the boarding pass.
louisedennislouisedennis on February 5th, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
I had pretty good internet at the airport, thanks to the ability of my phone to set up a personal hotspot. However, sadly, the last minute re-booking meant I had no reservation or confirmation number (in fact I didn't even initially know the airline - while exhibiting surprising competent and efficiency purchasing still managed to convey that air of mild disorganisation that characterises regular interactions) so online checkin was impossible. I emailed purchasing asking for a booking reference so I could check in but they said there was no option but to wait because of the time it took references to go through the online booking systems (I'm not sure if I entirely believe that but I was running out of steam by that point).
wellinghallwellinghall on February 5th, 2015 07:21 am (UTC)
The St David's hotel in Cardiff has an atrium like that, and is very fine.
morganfmmorganfm on February 6th, 2015 10:04 am (UTC)
*waves cheerfully* hello! welcome to the place I've lived my entire life. The even crazier thing is I went to (junior year) prom on the top floor of that hotel last year. Just thought I'd give a shoutout considering it is quite a marvelous coincidence :)
louisedennislouisedennis on February 6th, 2015 10:24 am (UTC)
Wow! Someone actually in Austin!! Various people on Facebook were saying I should have dropped in to see them while they were around, but since one was in Houston and the other in Dallas I felt they were being a little optimistic about logistics.

This was my second visit to Austin and it seems like a really nice place. Though this time around I really was just in and out.
morganfmmorganfm on February 6th, 2015 10:40 am (UTC)
Lol the funny thing about living in the middle of Texas is that since it's so big, hearing someone is in the state at all, much less near the middle, sounds like they're right next door. Anywhere else is oceans away, but if you're in Texas, you might as well stop by while you can hahaha ;)