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Nine bucks later, I have a replacement Super Nintendo controller…

August 9, 2009, 9:20 AM

I finally confirmed today that one of the controllers on my Super Nintendo finally went bad. It was a shame, too, but such is what happens sometimes. I bought that controller new like eleven years ago, so it had a good run, giving me plenty of Super Mario-type fun. And then once I confirmed it was the controller and not anything else, I moseyed over to the computer, hopped online, and ordered me a new one. The joys of the Internet.

Meanwhile, does anyone know if the various USB video game controllers work with VirtuaNES? While I’ve certainly gotten some proficiency playing vintage games using the keyboard, as a rule, you can’t play vintage games with the index, middle, ring, or pinky finger. No – vintage video games are played with the thumbs. And maybe then I can really get going when it comes to Doki Doki Panic. After all, Wart is waiting.

Otherwise, the staff retreat at the Bolger Center went quite well. We did a lot of stuff, and really bonded as a staff. Meanwhile, I, as the Senior Office Manager, was in charge of logistics. I think I packed about half of our workroom into the back of my Sable and schlepped it all over to the Bolger. You really don’t realize how much a station wagon will truly hold until you have half the office loaded into the back of it, and luggage in the back seat. But it’s times like this that I’m glad I got a station wagon to replace the Previa rather than something else. You can’t load a mid-size sedan quite as well as you can a station wagon. Imagine if I had my sister’s car. The supplies would not only be in the trunk, but also in the back seat, which meant that I would have had to make a second trip home (on the other side of Montgomery County from the Bolger) to take my luggage.

Meanwhile, the accommodations left a little to be desired. The rooms were small. Believe it or not, the room I was staying in was smaller than my Potomac Hall dorm room, and that includes the space occupied by the Bolger room’s bathroom. The bed was small, too, as it was barely a double bed in there (I’m used to a queen-size bed at home). And then the mattress was kind of firm, too. I don’t know what it is about firm hotel mattresses, but most hotels seem to have really firm mattresses. And due to the room’s small size, there was no nightstand, and the desk chair bumped up against the bed when actually in use.

It’s funny… the Bolger Center was originally built as a girls’ school, and when I saw the size of the room, I was like, “How small were the girls?” Seriously, this was small, and I cannot imagine people actually spending extended periods of time in these rooms. Take a look:

That's the bed, kind of in a little section all to itself. As you can see, there's no room for a nightstand, which meant I had to put my alarm clock and a book on the floor.
That’s the bed, kind of in a little section all to itself. As you can see, there’s no room for a nightstand, which meant I had to put my alarm clock and a book on the floor.

And this is the rest of the room. In a word: small.
And this is the rest of the room. In a word: small.

Bolger also had a bit of an epic fail when accommodating a group that opposes bottled water:

Every room had a bottle of Nestle bottled water in it. Even more so in the fail department when Food & Water Watch actively opposes actions taken by Nestle.
Every room had a bottle of Nestle bottled water in it. Even more so in the fail department when Food & Water Watch actively opposes actions taken by Nestle.

Meanwhile, the fire alarm situation was rather interesting. Each room had not one, but two strobed fire alarm devices in the room:

Fire alarm devices in my room at the Bolger Center

The white device in the upper left of the photo is a Gentex smoke detector with strobe. I’d known about these for a long time, but had never seen the strobe version in person before. That is the room’s smoke detector, and as far as I can tell, isn’t connected to the full alarm system. Then the red device is a Wheelock speaker strobe from roughly the mid-1990s based on the appearance of the strobe. Yes, the Bolger had a voice evacuation system, and this was the case throughout the entire complex. I thought about how neat it would be to see both devices in action, but the thing is, if both devices are going, you’re really screwed. Both strobes going means that your individual room is on fire, plus the building’s fire alarm system has been activated. That might be a good time to open the window and take a flying leap.

Then this was the pull station configuration. They had "lift" pull stations, and a notice next to them instructing would-be heroes that the alarm does not automatically call the fire department, and that the fire department must be called separately.
Then this was the pull station configuration. They had “lift” pull stations, and a notice next to them instructing would-be heroes that the alarm does not automatically call the fire department, and that the fire department must be called separately.

This kind of made me wonder. For the first two days of the retreat, this was the graphic annunciator for the "A" building, and it indicated a trouble condition on the system. Then Tuesday evening, it was covered over by some insulation. No idea what was going on there.
This kind of made me wonder. For the first two days of the retreat, this was the graphic annunciator for the “A” building, and it indicated a trouble condition on the system. Then Tuesday evening, it was covered over by some insulation. No idea what was going on there.

Then after each day of the retreat, we had dinner and then hit the bar. The Bolger Center had a bar, which I would describe as “average”. They had pool tables, they had ping pong, they had darts, and they had an outdoor seating area. I enjoyed three margaritas on both Monday and Tuesday nights. What surprised me was how many people were more than willing to buy me a drink. Of those six margaritas, I only paid for three, as my coworkers picked up the tab for the others. I even had to decline offers of drinks, as three was about enough for me for an evening. After all, this was a business function and I had to be in good condition for the next day’s activities. Plus I don’t like being really drunk. A bit buzzed, sure. Blasted to the point where the alcohol starts talking, no. Plus it’s more fun watching other people be drunk and act silly than to actually be drunk myself. It’s great entertainment.

So all in all, I had a great time at the staff retreat, where it was like living in a fantasy world for three days. However, at the end of the third day, I was exhausted. I had to pick up a missing part for a MacBook power supply on the way out on Wednesday, and by the time I got home, I was ready to drop. Seriously, I barely got my luggage in the house when I fell asleep in my computer chair. I was that tired. But it was worth it, because we had a lot of fun.

Web site: The Bolger Center's Web site. See, they don't show you the little tiny rooms that most people get on their site, instead opting to show off the deluxe rooms and the suites.

Song: Meanwhile, I was surprised about how much attention I got when I wore my Strong Bad t-shirt on Monday. Turns out that one of our people is a big Homestar Runner fan, specifically of Teen Girl Squad. How cool is that! I'm more of a sbemail kind of person myself, but Teen Girl Squad has its moments. Made for an amusing joke, from Strong Bad Email #168: "We need to activate the doomsday device. GET THE LEOTARD!"

Quote: Meanwhile, it's amusing... after, "Do the rooms have individual bathrooms?" (they do), the question I got most was whether we would be doing the trust fall exercise. You know the one - where one person falls, and expects the other person to catch them. We didn't do the trust fall. Seems somewhat cliched. Plus, what happens if you get paired up with someone who has an axe to grind with you? Next thing you know, you're going down, expecting your partner to catch you, and *thud*. "Oh, I'm sorry. Did I do that?"

Categories: Fire alarms, Video games, Work