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Dateline: Orlando, June 8 — My M. C. Escher Moment

Every year there’s a big trade show for the “display industry” – plasma and LCD TVs and monitors, video equipment, huge screens you see in football stadiums and ballparks, and all the related stuff – called InfoComm. This year it was in Orlando, Florida, and the NEC Corporation invited me to do a book signing and talk there. The last stop of my book tour.

Upcoming media appearances

If you live near Asheville, N.C., listen for me on the Ken and Tammy Show on WOXL-96.5, Tuesday morning right around 9:00.


Something disturbing is happening in hotel rooms across America. The bars of soap you used to see — with faux-British brand names like “Crabbe & Whitford,” or whatever — have been replaced by spare white boxes with spare black lettering (inevitably Helvetica) saying something like clarity or refresh or rejuvenate. One word, lower-case, usually followed by a period.

Does anyone remember when the only soap in most hotel rooms was Cashmere Bouquet?

Dateline: San Diego, June 2 — The Best Day Yet

I’ve reached the point on tour where – and it comes every time, right around now – I stand at the bank of elevators in the lobby of a hotel unable to remember my room number. 1607? 511? 816? 907? I had to go back to the front desk and ask them. Not good.

Today was the best day yet, despite my inability to remember my room number (wrote it on my room card-key with a Sharpie). San Diego, which is one of my favorite cities. The weather is perfect. Back home in Boston, it’s pouring rain. I’m enjoying it here.

What’s with the $6 water?

Is anyone else as weirded out as I am by that single small bottle of Evian water (750 ml, which by my calculation is 25.5 lousy ounces) you find in so many hotel rooms selling for six dollars?

The solo genius

Whenever I talk to a group of businesspeople, I talk about the role of the individual in the corporation in coming up with creative, innovative solutions. I just stopped at a Starbucks to get a Frappuccino, and I remembered that the Frappuccino was invented by one clever employee at a Starbucks. It wasn’t a corporate invention. It was one woman’s idea (I think it was a woman), and it caught on, and after a while Starbucks’ headquarters heard about it and decided to adopt the recipe companywide. By now it’s got to be one of Starbucks’ biggest revenue-generators.

Mike Piazza

A piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the Padres beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-0. PNC Park was, according to the paper, a swamp. The conditions in the ballpark were the worst any of the Padres players had ever seen. The article quoted the catcher Mike Piazza: “It was unbelievable, really. The infield looked like the Everglades. I didn’t want to hit a grounder for fear that I’d ruin the habitat of some endangered species.”

Who said baseball players aren’t funny?

The Green Room

Just about every TV show I do, they show me to the “green room” to chill before I go on the air.

An airport story

Stopped at the newsstand near my boarding gate at the San Diego Airport to pick up a newspaper. They didn’t have any copies of Killer Instinct on sale (or none left, maybe?), but they had some copies of Company Man in paperback. I saw a guy reach for a copy, pull it down and look at it. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I’ll sign that for you if you want – I wrote it.”

He stared at me. “What do you mean, you’re Joseph . . .Finder?” (As usual, he pronounced it wrong. I wonder how long it took before people learned how to pronounce “Crichton.”)

Dateline: San Francisco, June 1

Who’s profiting more from America’s post-9/11 terrorist scare, I wonder – General Electric (manufacturer of a bunch of high-tech airport security machines, including the EntryScan, which looks like a futuristic time machine), or RubberMaid, which makes all those gray plastic trays onto which you now have to put your laptop, your suit jacket, and your shoes)?

A phrase you don’t want to hear in a hamburger place (though I did)

E. coli.”

Who or what is “Lodgenet”?

–- and how, for God’s sake, have they managed to capture every single TV set in every single hotel room in the country? Does it have anything to do with the One World Alliance?

The Perfect Signing Pen…

does not yet exist.

The classic, of course, is the Sharpie. They’re great for signing your name, but they’re too thick for writing anything more than a few words — legibly, anyway. They also tend to bleed through the thinner paper that publishers have been using in recent years. Sharpie makes an Ultra Fine, but that’s way too thin and scratchy.

On the radio in Seattle

Radio listeners in the Seattle area — or anywhere — can hear an interview with me on KUOW‘s “The Beat” sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 1.

Let me know if I sound too much like Frasier Crane…

Dateline: Seattle, May 31

Seattle. One day – but the perfect Book Tour day. Scheduled almost to the minute, lots of bookstores, great media.

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