Last weekend, we spent down in Texas at the Difference Engine World Conference.
I know, New Year's is a weird time to attend a conference.
We went anyway.
Itzl was totally impressed. He met lots of old friends and got to make lots of new ones.
We presented 7 different panels on various steampunk topics. The two most popular ones were the panel on the Art of Flirting with fans, gloves, handkerchiefs, and parasols - and a lovely gentleman in the audience very kindly shared some gestures using finger signals; and the one on Steampunk Manners (with tea).
Here, Itzl is alerting on someone's steampunk special effects "weapon" as we are entering a panel room.
The event was very small, but everyone there was awesome. We met some new people who will fast become close friends even though they live in Louisiana. We're planning a Firefly Night via Skype. And we've talked the couple into possibly being professors at OctopodiCon.
Here, Itzl is alerting on someone's cell phone as we are saying our goodbyes and packing out to head home.
As we prepared to leave on Sunday, we had to say good bye to everyone who was there (probably around 300 people).
We stayed in the Radisson on Meacham Boulevard in Ft. Worth, and the staff there was charming, delightful, and very helpful. We ate three of our meals there and the food in the restuarant was well prepared and delicious. The janitorial staff was so friendly and helpful as well.
All in all, it was a pleasant trip untill we stopped at the Applebee's in Ardmore. We were challenged about Itzl's presence even before we entered. Fortunately, I just happened to have one of the ADA cards with me and I gave that to the hostess that held us outside. She took that back to her manager, and they talked and looked at us and talked some more and finally let us in. Unlike the steakhouse in Wichita, KS that seated us in a closed back room right by the kitchens, they at least seated us properly. But they took their time taking our order. After they did, they took the orders of several people seated after us and served them their food before they finally served us ours. And when our food arrived, it was improperly cooked and cold. Not just cool, but cold as if it had been placed in a refrigerator before they brought it out to us.
This isn't the first time management behaved in a passive aggressive fashion towards me and Itzl, but it is the first time the food was practically inedible. I asked for my steak to be medium weel done and it was well well done and - cold. The potatoes were so cold they'd congealed, and the broccoli was raw as well as cold. Since it was still barely edible and it was late and I didn't want to go through several rounds of poorly prepared food (in my experience, the next round would be worse and then the manager would come and "speak" to us, and we'd be refunded our money - and have to find somewhere else open late on a Sunday evening or wait hours until we arrived home to get food), I chose to go ahead and eat it. My companions were appalled. One person's food was cooked almost correctly but was also cold, and the other person's was not just cold but vastly undercooked. She wanted it medium rare and they served it cooked even more well done than my steak - and cold. An hour later, she finally gets it back, cooked barely above raw (it still "bled")) - and this time it was luke warm. She decided to go ahead and eat it because we'd waited an extra hour for it and she was so hungry she didn't want to wait another hour for food that might be less edible.
It was really odd, too. We chose Applebee's over Two Frogs because in Oklahoma City and in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area, they've always treated us well. Two Frogs was an unknown, we were intrigued by the name, but not feeling adventurous. We wanted something we knew would be good. The difference between the treatment we received in OKC and the treatment we received in Ardmore was striking.
My friends want to write them and complain. I'm still on the fence. The service was slow and the food was at least mostly edible. It could just be that they had an off day - after all, it was New Year's Day and late on a Sunday both. I do think they should complain about how cold the food was, but I don't think it was because we had Itzl with us. Or not entirely. It's kind of hard to convince my friend who waited an extra hour for her steak to be re-cooked - she is a professional meeting planner and is convinced they served the food cold deliberately to indicate their unhappiness with having a dog in the restaurant.
I did manage to make her feel better by the time we arrived at her house hours later. Then Itzl and I went to pick Xoco up from her dog sitter (Xoco isn't socialized enough to be a real service dog, but she is an excellent back up for Itzl so he can relax at home), and then went home ourselves.
And as soon as I checked my email, I had compliments and comments about the conference, all kinds of good things, so the night ended happily.