July 17, 2006

BlogHer... and plotting the trip to San Jose.

Are you going to the BlogHer convention next week? I'm on a panel on day two, which is described like this on the website:
Political Blogging:

Same shit, different day? What did political blogs accomplish in 2004, besides bringing down Dan Rather and selling tickets to Farenheit 911? Will poli-blogs and hyper-local citizen journalism sites really make a difference in 2006 and 2008? Are bloggers better off trying to influence their own communities or sway the masses? Lisa Williams talks with Jarah Euston and Kety Esquivel, Courtney Hollands, Lindsay Beyerstein and Ann Althouse...bloggers representing all types of blogs, and with a range of opinions on what they expect to achieve with those blogs.

Any advice? I've got to say that if I weren't on this panel, I'd be more interested in one of the other panels going on at the same time. I'm really not that interested in politics, and I usually like to keep it at arm's length. But that will kind of be my topic. Political blogging is not just for politicos, and being not the political type is an angle on politics that can work in blogging. It drives the really political people to distraction.

This is going to force me to leave Madison, which I've been avoiding for the longest time. I've spent a lot of time looking at maps. Yes, of course I'm driving. I love my car and I love to drive across the western landscape. It's a long way to San Jose, and please don't mention that song, which is hard enough not to think about when you're going to San Jose. And the person in the song is just trying to get to San Jose from L.A. How hard is that? What a loser!

Plotting my route, I kept my eye on two things: the green dotted lines representing the scenic drives and the one motel chain that made it absolutely clear that they have wireless internet in every room at every location. Do you know how many chains brag that they have high-speed access ... in the lobby? My favorite example was one that showed a beautiful woman in a bathrobe sprawled across her bed, smiling with delight at her laptop. Some lobby that must be.

In the past, I've driven long distances and just figured out where to stop as I was traveling, which can cause some trouble, like the day I drove all the way from Madison to Salt Lake City and then thought I might as well go on to the next town. If you don't know how stupid that is, look at a map. [ADDED: Speaking of being driven to distraction!]

So, I've picked my stops, which I hope will keep me from doing foolish things and free my mind for the true aesthetic and spiritual experience of crossing the landscape. I'm taking three days to get to the destination and somewhat longer driving back, which will include a stay at a very posh resort. So I'm driving a big loop, for a total of well over 4,000 miles, with stopping points in two places on the way to San Jose and three places on the way back to Madison.


Ruth Anne Adams said...

Are men allowed at this estrogen-fest?

Will you walk across the lobby to meet Arianna Huffington?

Will Dylan Wednesday be the high point of your drive?

al said...

We generally stay in Hampton Inns while traveling (sitting in one in Times Square right now) and they have always had wireless in the rooms. Even in nowhere, PA.

Enjoy the drive. Going west is so much more enjoyable than going east like we did this year.

Ann Althouse said...


At first, I thought the "estrogen-fest" was me driving across the desert...

And I am really looking forward to having the satellite radio on this trip. Last time I drove across the western desert, the radio dial just scanned all the way around over and over. Or kept stopping at the same place, where, weirdly, Cher was always singing "Believe." It was kind of like "Groundhog Day" ... I mean... with all that repetition... and all that Cher.

Ann Althouse said...

Al: That wasn't the chain I chose. I note their website says: "high-speed internet access in all rooms, wireless internet access in the lobby and meeting rooms." Pretty good.

Matt Drachenberg said...

I'd confirm the wireless thing. We planned our last trip based on that claim, but they forgot to mention the $9.95 per day charge. Last time I'll ever stay at a Marriott.

Ron said...

We are all indeed looking forward to some 'posh resort' blogging. Wireless work near the mud baths?

bearing said...

Sounds fun.

What kind of car?

Bruce Hayden said...

Sorry, won't be attending this year. Somehow my invite got lost in the mail.

Do you have a route yet? If you are going for speed, I would think that I-80 all the way across would be the way to go. If you do, keep it under 10 over across Wyoming if you don't have bucking horse plates (the rest of us call them cowboy plates). It is hard to do, but they run a lot of speed traps for the tourists there. I always thought that it was because of my "greenie" (i.e. CO) plates, but I got one with Utah plates too.

But I-80 is brutal, as you probably know. Pretty much all of both WY and NV are desolate. If you can do it, and have the time and energy, try dropping south to I-70 (I-76 SW down to Denver and then head NW to SLC from Green River, UT) or going north to I-90 is much better. Or just drop S. from Cheyenne to Loveland, CO, then up to Estes Park, over Trail Ridge, and pick up U.S. 40 at Granby, which takes you into SLC, where you can tie in with I-80 again (and it lets you drive by Hayden Spire AND the town of Hayden).

Bruce Hayden said...

bearing: TT

al said...

Ann - the room I'm in has a CAT5 connector on the work desk. First time I've ever seen that in a hotel room. The wireless may be new to this hotel as the hotel description only has wired in the rooms and wireless in the lobby.

We've got a country inn planned for tonight that is supposed to have wireless as well. We'll see - assuming the wife lets me turn on the laptop.

Ann Althouse said...

Of course, the worst thing is if they say they have it, but then they don't have it. That happened to me here, and believe me, I will flip out if this happens. I will revile the chosen chain as loudly as I can via blog.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

While you're 'Inn' the 'Hampton's, please give my best to Paris and all the Hiltons.

I stayed at an AmericInn last week in Wisconsin. Free WiFi in the room. This is a change since last year's stay.


SteveR said...

"Wireless internet"... sounds so simple doesn't it?

I have a wife and three daughters (two teenagers), my life is an estrogen-fest.

PatCA said...

Well, you could talk about your theory that it's okay to talk about studies/polls on women as long as they say something positive about women. And how that is stultifying the political discourse.

Maxine Weiss said...

The major drawback for working at a University:

The best scenic drives ...are in the Fall.

Doing this now.....you are going to encounter some weird weather.

Winds, freak thunder storms, humidity, triple-digit temps....Hurricanes?

Much milder climate during the Fall, or even Spring.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

The western Desert is brutal this time of year.

You haven't lived until you've driven the Mojave in .......early WINTER, or late Fall.

The way the light hits the Mountains and the open expanse is completely different in Nov/Dec.

If you can, try to schedule a drive during that time.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

Residence Inn by Marriott, for me--because they have full-kitchens.

I don't go online during vacations. It wouldn't be a vacation, if I were tethered to a computer.

But I couldn't live without a full kitchen to do my own cooking....which I don't consider work at all.

It is exciting, traversing the Desert, like a nomad, or the ancient Israelites.

I hope you're renting a Town Car, as they've got the best air-conditioning and cruise control.

That, and be sure to have Medhi's 'Instrumental Fantasy', or something new-age-y (Yanni) CDs

.....for hypnotic Desert driving!

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

Last time I did the desert drive, I went through Death Valley in August. It was thrilling!

As for fall drives, they are easy to do here in Wisconsin, any weekend or afternoon, so working at the University is not a problem. Here's my collection of fall foliage drives easily done in a few hours around Madison. Hell, a drive around my neighborhood is a foliage drive. Or I can look out my window...

Anyway, a hotel room with a kitchen? How vile! It's bad enough that there is a refrigerator grinding away in the mini-bar. Now, I like having a mini-bar, but there's no way I want a sink in the room where the bed is. That's not good for sleeping. There's probably some Feng Shui theory for why that's just so wrong, but I don't need the theory. It's clearly wrong.

As for New Age-y music for hypnotically encountering landscapes, there's the Visions channel on the XM Satellite radio, so it would be silly to buy any of those CDs. It's not like there's an extra-special one you need.

Frank Borger said...

I've been visiting the Bay area since 1971 on business and or pleasure. Last time was 5 years ago when I visited San Jose for 2 weeks learning my present job.

The beaucolic San Jose of the song (as opposed to LA and San Francisco,) is long gone. It's much more like "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

There's a large pine cone on top of the CRT monitor as I type from there, but the pine's that produced it is probably dead by now. It and about 6 others were in a line between 2 between two parking lots, and obviously had no way to obtain rainwater.

My boss visited here for the first time in 4 years and described the seasons in San Jose as "There are two seasons, green and brown."

Anthony said...

Did you post the route map? I'd be interested. The first time I drove out West I went the southern desert route -- in a 1975 Buick 4-door, gaaaaah -- which was indeed quite beautiful (in June, I went via San Jose to Seattle) .

When I've driven back to Wisconsin since, I've done the 90/94 route. Note: If you're planning on taking 90/94 back, avoid the southern route, unless you like 500 miles of frickin' "Wall Drug" billboards. Christ, those are annoying.

Internet Ronin said...

Depending how you come out here, you will probably be passing right by me. Maybe I can convince some friends to tie a banner to an overpass: "Althouse: Blogher!" Wonder how long it would last, or if we would get arrested by someone who thinks "blog" is a cuss word!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Maybe you should schedule a real politico-type "whistle stop" tour. Althousians by the scores would come out for it. They'd probably even bring your coffee.

Maxine Weiss said...

There are two CDs you must have. You aren't driving thru the desert without 'em.

1. Medhi "Instrumental Fantasy"


2. Ronan Hardiman "Anthem"

I don't know if Satellite plays them. New age music can be cloying, but not those two, above. Try to find and download to see if you like.

I know what I'm talking about.

Nothing kills a hypnotic, spiritual, Desert drive faster than the wrong music.

That, and faulty cruise control.

It is essential!

I almost planned a road trip to Phoenix/Arizona last August, but chickened out because of the heat.

Scottsdale is beautiful, I hope your "posh Resort" is the Phoenician. But, the Phoenician is lovely to wander and meander even if you don't stay there!

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: You have not guessed the "posh resort." Try again! Not that I actually want people to know where I'm staying until I've left. I'm not even staying at the official BlogHer hotel. I'm way too secretive!

Internet Ronin said...

One good reason NOT to announce how you are going and where you are staying is he who insists on commenting despite the fact that his comments all disappear. Who knows how many others there are like him out there. If barking dogs don't bite, that one isn't the problem.

Troy said...

Since you're going to an estrogen-fest you have to drive through the Grand Tetons.

Whoever mentioned Scottsdale... She may as well drive through Jackson, MS on the way.

Believe it or not cheap-ass Ramada had great (fast!) wireless in Flagstaff, AZ in every room.

Maxine Weiss said...

Big Sur?

The Post Ranch Inn?

Now that's Posh !

And with the Post Ranch Inn, you can't just go there.....I think you actually have to stay there to meander the grounds. Sniffle.

Hearst Castle?

That's always fun!

When you say "resort" I hope you don't mean "Spa"....one of those places where they put all those seaweed wraps, like a mummy, and then dunk you in goop. Although, it would be fun for you to blog that experience.

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

"Who knows how many others there are like him out there. If barking dogs don't bite, that one isn't the problem."

That reminds me. I'm bringing my emotional support dog. And by emotional support, I mean he has razor sharp teeth.

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: Since deleting every comment of yours isn't getting through to you, I will tell you plainly. I consider you to be harrassing me. If you comment again, I will write to Blogger to see what I can do about it. Do not comment again, even to respond to this.

Anthony said...


Sanjay said...

Professor Althouse, if you can make it up to Berkeley I will comission Mariam for a sitting somewhere on campus and you can get a live portrait done.

Maxine Weiss said...

Well, if they can put wireless into bomb shelters in Haifa, they oughta be able to get it into every hotel room, in the U.S.

Ann, you just better be prepared if your air conditioning goes out driving through the Mojave, in these record triple digits.

Plus, you aren't supposed to run the air conditioning on an upgrade.....which I always do...but then again, I don't travel in the heat of summer.

Do you know how to change a flat tire.....in 120 degree heat ???

Peace, Maxine

garrison said...

A road trip, very cool! There is something transcendent about flying low over the western landscape. I wonder, what would Walt Whitman drive? Sometimes the road to happiness is paved with concrete. As they say in the movies,
Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarattes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Sanjay: Ixnay on the Erkleyba. Our good hostess was once accused of being a resident woman of ill repute there.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne is definitely the commenter with the most encyclopedic memory of all the references in this blog! Yeah, "Berkeley House Whore" -- those were the days.

PatCA said...

Sounds exciting. Sort of a blogger Kerouac moment.

LA has beaten the crap out of my love of driving. Trains are my thing now.

russmunki said...

Whoever said San Jose has two seasons - green and brown - is right on the money. I lived there for fifteen years. Unfortunately, the green season only lasts for about 3 months.

Professor Althouse, if you get half a day to explore the area around San Jose, try driving into the coastal mountains along Hwy 9, and see the redwood trees in Big Basin State Park. It's a great drive, and it will take you to a gem of a park.