aloft Wedding Party

Last Saturday in Minneapolis, after spending the earlier part of the evening doing this:

Joey deVilla bowling

…and the later part of the evening doing this:

Bottle of Auchentoshan scotch

…I returned back here at around 3:00 a.m.:

Exterior of aloft Minneapolis

The lobby was still packed with people, many of whom were still dressed up pretty nicely. A quick look confirmed that it was a wedding party that didn’t want to stop, even though last call for alcohol in Minneapolis is 1:00 a.m. (it used to be that way in Ontario until the mid-’90s). They’d turned the lobby into their own private party, and the aloft management, as hip as they are, let them be. The tables were covered in boxes from Pizza Luce and bottles of beer.

I made my way to the elevator, but was stopped by a big grey-haired gentleman who said “Oh, no you don’t!”

“Pardon me?” I asked

“You just can’t wander through a lobby at three in the morning, with an accordion, without at least explaining what it is you’re doing!”

“I take it out a lot. Good things happen when I do,” I replied.

Aloft wedding 1

“That’s my son,” the guy said as he pointed to a young, shaven-headed guy in a dark grey T-shirt. “He just got married!”

“Congrats,” I said. “Would you like a song?”

“That is exactly what I want. Play whatever you like!”

And so I stayed for another hour, chatting with the bride, various wedding guests and relatives, and singing with the groom, who knew the lyrics to a lot of songs. We did The Clash, Black Eyed Peas, Britney, Cee-Lo, Stone Temple Pilots, AC/DC, Violent Femmes and Steppenwolf. People sang aloug — boisterously — and all the while, I could see the night manager at the front desk, smiling. aloft run an extremely cool hotel.

I made it to my room at 4:00 a.m.. A nice night all ’round.

Aloft wedding 2


aloft Minneapolis: A Nice Hipster Hotel

Front entrance of aloft Minneapolis

I don’t know Minneapolis at all, so I had no idea where to stay when I was planning my trip for MinneBar. I posted a question on Twitter asking for hotel recommendations and got two for aloft Minneapolis; one from Ben Edwards (one of the MinneBar organizers) and from @aloftMlps, the person or persons behind the aloft Minneapolis Twitter account. I’d never stayed at an aloft before, but I knew they were the hipper, more casual, less pricey cousins of W Hotels and was curious about them, so I went along with the suggestions.

@aloftMlps asked me when I would be checking in and out via Twitter, telling me they’d take care of the reservation for me. Better still, they got me the “Friends and Family” rate of USD$89 a night! Score one for aloft, and I hadn’t even set foot in the place yet.

Many alofts are near the airport, but the Minneapolis one is in the Downtown East area. As the cab drove into the neighbourhood, my hipster senses started tingling. This area is a former industrial zone, full of old factories and warehouses converted into offices, shops and places to live, new condos, and many other signs that spell the early stages of gentrification. Given that Minneapolis is on the verge of out-hipstering Brooklyn (just visit Uptown to see), it’ll be interesting to see what this area will look like in five years.

My room was on the third floor and split into two sections. The main section was the bedroom area, shown below:

The main part of my hotel room, as seen from the head of the bed

That’s a mini-couch or mini-chaise lounge below the TV set. The box on the left side of the desk is a “jack pack” bristling with power outlets, usb chargers and audio and video inputs of all sorts (composite, VGA, HDMI) so that you can plug your computer, video and audio players and have them play on the TV and in-room sound system.

Here’s the main section as seen from the other side of the room.

The main room, as seen from the foot of the bed

The bed and sheets were comfy. We’re talking almost-Hyatt comfy, and at a Four Points rate, that’s not bad.

You can’t see it very well in the photo above, but there’s a storage niche to the right side of the bed. That’s where the iron and ironing board are tucked away.

The smaller section of the room is the bathroom and closet area. It’s just to the left as you enter the room, with the passageway leading to the main section on the right. The closet doesn’t have a door; instead, it has a curtain:

Closet area of the room, featuring curtained-off closet, magazine rack, coffee maker, ice bucket and safe

Here’s the other side of the small area. It’s your standard hotel bathroom except for the designer sink (the sort that’s always in the bathroom of restaurants where they stack food vertically and do “sauce painting”) and the “spa style” shower with built-in dispensers for shampoo and soap.

That glow you see in the shower is actually coming from the main room. The shower has a translucent window facing the bedroom. It’s clouded enough so the show you get from the bedroom is PG-13 rather than R. It’s the kind of feature that makes this place a good one to spend the night with a “special friend”. I suppose I should go find one.

Sink and shower

Here’s another look at the closet, this time with the curtain drawn aside. No, the jacket doesn’t come with the room.

Another look at the closet, with the curtain drawn aside to show my stuff hanging in it

Here’s a closeup of the magazines, safe and other goodies. The “what’s going on locally” magazines are typical for a hotel; SPIN and dwell are not.

Closeup of the magazine rack, beverage shelf and safe in the closet

The 1950s-style alarm clock beside the bed was my favourite hipster detail in the room.

Closeup of 1950s-style alarm clock

Here’s what the lobby looked like on Friday night from the bar. It was happening:

The lobby and front desk, as seen from the bar

…and there was a DJ spinning some pretty good mashups. I give her bonus points for the Polaroid leggings:

The Friday night DJ, spinning tunes in the lobby bar

Here’s the bar as seen from the far side of the lobby. It seems as though the designers wanted to make the lobby a place where people — well, aloft’s intended audience, anyway — would want to hang out. I like it — during the day, it’s got a sort of “cafe” feel to it, and at night, the feel become more lounge-y:

The lobby bar, as seen from the far end of the lobby

Here’s a closer look at the bar:

The lobby bar, closer up

I didn’t get a photo of the re:fuel cafeteria on the other side of the lobby. It’s a self-serve deal that’s open 24 hours and features sandwiches, salad, soups, drinks and snacks. It’s decent and convenient. To the side of re:fuel is a hotel shop that has stuff you may have forgotten at home (toiletries and all that) as well as stuff you might not have even though of (mini-board games, for example).

The staff were friendly and helpful, and as you’ll see in a later post, tolerant of late-night accordion-driven carousing in the lobby.

All in all, I enjoyed my stay at aloft Minneapolis. I’d gladly stay there again!


Bathroom Graffito of the Day

Bathroom graffito:

[Seen in the men’s room at Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis on Saturday night.]


In Transit

Me holding an Air Canada safety booklet and the Shopify Employee booklet

I’ve been travelling quite a bit this week. On Monday, I moved to Ottawa for the summer, spending the better part of the day on the road in miserable weather. My first week at Shopify was a short one, running only from Tuesday through Thursday because I spent all of today in transit, flying from Ottawa to Minneapolis by way of Toronto. I took the above photo earlier today on the Ottawa-Toronto leg. (I will have to write about the Shopify new employee handbook sometime; I’ve never seen anything like it at any of my other workplaces, or at any of my friends’ workplaces.)

As I write this, I’m in Minneapolis, getting ready to go to the MinneBar pre-party to catch up with my fellow BarCamp Tour representatives as well as a number of Minneapolis-based friends. The actual MinneBar event takes place tomorrow at Best Buy Headquarters, after which I’m sure some form of mayhem will ensue. I’ve been shooting pictures like mad on my new camera (a Canon PowerShopt ELPH 300 HS, and it’s a pocket dynamo) and along with the photos will a lot of blog entries.

Speaking of blog entries, my article That’s Not OCD, You’re Just a Slacker racked up 79,000 hits on Global Nerdy yesterday and 47,000 today thanks to StumbleUpon. The comments have been quite interesting — the photo on which the article is based might as well be a sort of Rorschach test based on the variety of responses.

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


Where to Stay in Minneapolis (May 6th–8th)?

minneapolisCreative Commons photo courtesy of Sri Dhanush.

I’m helping out with BarCamp Minneapolis, a.k.a. MinneBar, which takes place on May 7th. The event takes place at Best Buy’s headquarters out in Richfield, and we out-of-towner helper-outers are staying downtown. If you know any good and reasonably-priced hotels in an interesting but not sketchy part of downtown, please let me know in the comments or drop me an email!

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

Life Work

Plagiarism, Inc.

Photo: Jordan Kavoosi and two-coworkers, shirtless with the words "EWC - No homework" painted on their chests. "Whould you buy an essay from these guys?"

“Sure, it’s unethical, but it’s just a business,” says Jordan Kavoosi, who runs Essay Writing Company, one of those places where students who don’t want to write essays or term papers can have someone else do it form them. "I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved."

Plagiarism, Inc. is an article about Kavoosi and his company located in the Apple Valley suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. It’s an amusing read, what with Kavoosi’s somewhat sleazy line of work, the even more sleazy way he treats his employees and the generally sleazy way in which comes across in the article.

Screenshot: Essay Writing Company's site's home page

Here are the answers to the question “Why use an essay writing company?”, which appears on Essay Writing Company’s site:

  • Essay writing can be very time consuming. The research that goes into it can be a bit overwhelming. The complexity of your assigned research paper may even discourage you from completing it. This is where can help.. We can save you a lot of time and effort by taking on the task of creating a professionally written custom essay for you.
  • No matter how complex the writing assignment or a close due date, our teams of academic writing specialists are highly qualified and capable of providing you with a research paper that will make the grade.
  • Notice the difference between a normal essay and a professionally written essay.
  • Let our academic specialists provide you with a custom essay that will get you the grade you need. This will allow you the chance to continue with your life and spend more time with your friends..
  • Our professional essay writing company will do all the research that is needed for your assignment.

The real answer is much simpler and needs only one bullet point: “Because you’re unethical and lazy.”

Found via Jeff “Coding Horror” Atwood.