Missed tolls

On a trip last week, I had forgotten that the last two highway miles were going to be on a toll road. On the exit ramp I realized that I had no change with me, and that there was no attendant at this plaza. What to do? I don’t travel on toll roads much, so I got paranoid that they were going to snap a picture of my license plate and hunt me down (I do work in the security industry, after all). Then I noticed a small sign that said I could pay a missed toll online. I zipped on through, relieved that a missed 60¢ toll wouldn’t land me in jail for a month.

The next day I went online to pay the missed toll. After at least five minutes of typing in credit card and license plate numbers, looking on a map to figure out which toll plaza I had ripped off, and pondering which 15‐minute window of time it had been, I was in the clear. The law was off my back, but was the effort worth it for either the state of Illinois or myself? The combined total of the website development and maintenance costs, American Express’s transaction fees, my time, and my 60¢ surely didn’t cancel out. However, a clear conscience has some value.

Enough with the cinnamon

I’ve stayed at a particular Holiday Inn Express a few times over the last two years. It’s a respectable place to stay: it has everything I need for a comfortable overnight business trip, and extra niceties don’t pile up the bottom line at checkout. Things like breakfast, Internet access, cookies when I check in, a refrigerator, exercise facilities, and decent coffee.

Sometimes there is a newspaper waiting at my doorstep in the morning. This would be nice, except usually I am not interested in it. I would prefer they didn’t assume everyone wants one, so as to not waste paper. Better would be a small stack of a selection of papers in the lobby, free for the taking. That would let patrons choose the paper they are interested in, or none at all.

But the thing that sticks in my mind the most relates to their “trademark” greasy cinnamon rolls. I can understand that providing these cinnamon rolls is their gimmick, but the hand soap and shampoo that they provide also smell strongly of cinnamon. Not real cinnamon, either, it’s the artificial, Red‐Hots kind of cinnamon. That’s where I draw the line. Next time, I’m going to remember not to open the freebie toiletries and just stick to my Irish Spring.

2008 in states

I visited 8 states in 2008. Not as many as in past years, but better than nothing! 

Creating the map was pretty simple, using a quick and dirty tool I wrote to take advantage of the Google Chart API.