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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jamestown, NY

I am currently in Jamestown, NY, the city of my beloved friend, esteemed colleague and notorious blogger BJB of NakedReligion.

It's snowing. The inch+ an hour kinda snow with the wind whipping it all around. I walked from my hotel to a coffeeshop and my wool trenchcoat was completely coated with snow and as my eyes watered the tears froze on my face. Seems like home.

I'm staying in a great BestWestern. For $65 a night I get in room high speed access, cable, indoor pool, workout room, continental breakfast, refridgerator and a very nice facility. I'm very pleased.

I don't have a good mobile computing setup yet. My good laptop, a Powerbook Wallstreet edition, I partially backed over with the car a couple years ago. It still works albeit I have to hook it up to a monitor because the screen is cracked. My other laptops a Powerbook 100 and a Powerbook Duo 270C are too old. They don't have ethernet or USB and now are just toys.

So I resorted to grabbing one of my old iMac's — an original Rev A 233mhz with 64 mb of RAM, a 4 gb HD and OS 9.2.1. I have Explorer 5.0 and Netscape Communicator, each of which freeze up when you go to certain sites and can't read articles with certain coding. Oi. So perhaps I can blog.

Chambers of Commerce

When I go to cities on business, one of the things I have to do is go to the Chamber of Commerce to get a phone book and other pertinent information. I never understand why CoC's don't put the perkiest, smiliest, friendliest, cutest professional person in their city as the office receptionst. You know the type. You can hear them smiling on the phone. They crave human contact and are so very glad you called or stopped in. They're the kind that should be church receptionists but that's for another blog.

My routine experience is that you walk in to talk to the person and they have this dour look on their face and tone of voice that says, "What the hell do you want and why are you interrupting my very important work?" I even use my warmest, most flirtatious, disarming smile — which if you've seen me isn't really that pretty but it generally works — but it gets no where with CoC receptionists.

Beyond their lack of warmth, they generally lack relevant information and seem to think of themselves as a tourist bureau. I get a free phone book. That's it. In recent times I've asked ...

"Do you have a list of area churches?" One office gave me a list that was typed in that old Courier typewriter font, from the 1980's and would have been a poor list even at that time. Another gave me a bad copy of an old list that was printed in their newspaper. Another didn't have one. Today I got, "It's all there in the phone book."

"Do you have a list of media outlets?" All of them look at me queerly and ask mean what I mean — all of them. Is that a difficult strange question? One office gave me a several year old list with addresses and phone numbers — no fax, no email, no contact name. None had an exhaustive list. None had any internet resources. None had a clue where to get a good list. Today I got, "It's all there in the phone book."

"Do you have a Book of Lists or Business Journal?" One office gave me one from the mid 1990's. Another didn't have one. Today I didn't bother ask. I knew the answer.

If this all isn't bad enough, what about their locations. Today's was in a good visible place downtown but they didn't think it necessary to shovel their parking lot or walk. Another city had a nice office on the outskirts of town. Another had their's on the upper floor of a dirty old bank building with many surveilance cameras and signs warning you that you're being watched as you entered into the first floor with this eery desolate feel. It had absolutely nothing on the outside of the building that would have let you known it was in there. I got the street address from the phone book and drove up and down this little dead end street with a strip club on one side and a mafia run "cafe" on the other and couldn't figure out where it was until I called somebody I knew in the town. Another city had theirs in a nice place with a small sign out front, an unclear entrance and it was unclear where to go once you entered the door that might have been the right one.

All that to say, my experience with several upstate NY CoC's is that they are mostly useless and they feel that the most important thing they do is put out stacks of tourist brochures. But instead of just pissing and moaning about it I'll try to bless them and give them my church and media list after I create them, and I might even give it to them on CD so they could possibly manipulate the data for a mailing list or to be updated. What a novel idea.

Comments on "Jamestown, NY"


Blogger Rick said ... (4:17 PM, January 25, 2006) : 

you wrote
I even use my warmest, most flirtatious, disarming smile — which if you've seen me isn't really that pretty but it generally works —

I know it always melts *my* heart...

; D



Blogger jay baehr said ... (10:10 PM, January 27, 2006) : 

Sorry I skipped out on you. I have some real good reasons stockpiled away to cover me. Be prepared to hear them next time we connect.


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