Archive for reception


Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2012 by javedbabar

The new owners of the Lucerne Valley Hotel were forward thinking. They wanted to get ahead of the regulations and the competition, so embarked on a programme of sustainable renovation focussed on recycling and energy efficiency. Grants from The Authority made the project viable.

They began with structural adjustments. They removed non-load bearing walls and replaced them with expansive windows. Their passive solar strategy would allow more sunshine to enter the building, reducing both lighting and heating bills. Appropriately angled overhangs were constructed so the sun didn’t boil guests in summer.

They added extra insulation to retain both heat and cold, according to seasonal requirements, and sunk pipes filled with refrigerant into the ground to create a geothermal field. On the roof they added solar-electric panels, solar hot water tubes, and a small wind turbine. In the basement were a methane digester and wood pellet heater, plus stations to recharge the hotel’s electric cars. They were confident of a Class One Superior Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER).

The Energy Auditor had many good things to say about the Lucerne Valley Hotel. However, he said that he could only give them a Class Two SEER. Water – more than sun, wind, methane or wood – was the hot topic these days. The province sold most of its fresh water to America. What remained was a valuable commodity that must be preserved. The Energy Auditor’s report said, “Overall, a credible performance, but evidence of much water wastage. If this can be addressed within thirty (30) days, the establishment will receive a Class One SEER.”

The new owners were keen to gain this Class One rating. They planned to make it their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) at the heart of all marketing activity.  It would boost the current message of “Lucerne Valley Hotel. Your home is our home, that’s why we treat the earth right.”

TJ was asked to look into the matter. He wondered if it was possible to create a completely sealed environment where all water was recycled and reused. He looked at the logistical methodologies of Bedouins and astronauts, who seemed far apart but shared the same respect for water. To both it meant life or death, so they conserved and reused all fluids possible.

How would this translate to the hotel? He explored the categories of water running through hotel systems: blue (drinking), grey (washing), brown (soiled), green (nutrient-rich), light (ionized), and heavy (irradiated) waters. How best to combine them into a hydrostatic system?

The staff and guests added complexity. Each had different human/android proportions with particular humidity and hydration needs. Sealing water into a hotel super system may seem strange. People would feel rusty inside, which was a common psychological/technological condition. And too much focus on water wasn’t right. Humans were evolving into robots. Why make them devolve into fish?


Konia Phone

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2012 by javedbabar

It was a surprisingly peaceful morning and TJ was snoozing. This was the advantage of being twenty percent android – your meatware could sleep while your software remained alert. No one could accuse you of sleeping on the job. Sure you were resting, but at the same time you were ready for anything.

An unfamiliar girl approached the reception desk. She wasn’t one of the Lucerne Valley Hotel’s guests; her face would have rung a bell. With no introduction, she said, “Have you bought any phones today? Any Konia phones in pink covers?”

TJ shook his head, but she continued, “Mine was stolen from my handbag last night during a pub crawl. I’m going around all the hotel bars to see if bar staff saw anything, and hotel shops to ask receptionists if anyone’s been trying to sell one.”

TJ knew that Konia phones were very good. Handsets cost a thousand dollars each.

These Turkish phones had patented features allowing you to communicate more fully than you could with normal phones. Their WHIRL technology utilized full spectrum analysis; as well as relaying voice and physical features, it picked up non- audible frequencies and electrostatic charges, giving a more complete communication experience.

All hotels ran small courtesy shops to buy and sell their guests’ unwanted items. There were a few phones in the Lucerne Valley Hotel shop –– but nothing over a hundred dollars. If there had been a Konia phone there, he would have bought it himself.

TJ said, “What’s your name please? Marie? Okay, if the phone was stolen around here, they won’t sell it locally. They’ll send it elsewhere. Most likely they’ll package it with other stolen phones and send them to provinces with comms restrictions, where they’ll sell for double the normal price. It’s very unlikely that your phone is still in town.”

Marie was disappointed. She went away but returned in the afternoon, and then at night, saying, “I came just in case. I can’t sit at home with no phone, alone.”

Poor girl, thought TJ, I wonder if it was taken at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. He scanned last night’s CCTV. He saw Marie and her friends come and go from the hotel bar, with nothing seeming abnormal. But he also saw his colleague Juno behaving strangely, fiddling with something as she exited the changing rooms.

The next day she had a new Konia phone with pink cover. He said, “Nice phone, Juno, where did you get it?”

She said, “Never you mind,” but later admitted that she’d bought it off a girl who needed $100 to pay for drinks last night. It had already been unlocked and jailbroken, and the girl had downloaded its WHIRL software through her head plug. It was the software that had real value, rather than the phone, which was in truth much the same as others.

Juno kept the phone for a week but then “lost” it for insurance purposes, and to avoid being sued by the manufacturer for intellectual property theft. That was the problem with being part android. They could get inside your head and see what you’re up to.


Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2012 by javedbabar

There was smoke in the hallway. TJ ran out from behind the reception desk to locate its source. Why had no smoke alarms been activated? Were their sensors faulty?

He saw that the smoke was coming from the machine room. He punched its door code and entered. Juno shuffled into a corner, not sure whether to act naturally or try to hide. She managed neither, and just looked scared and guilty.

“I was just checking some readings,” she said, with smoke rising from a red glow beside her foot. She had tried to extinguish her cigarette, but in haste missed it. “What are you doing here?”

He said, “Juno, you know that smoking is forbidden in the Lucerne Valley Hotel. You can do it outside if you want, but not inside, and never in the machine room. Are you crazy? What were you thinking? I will have to report this in my duty notes.”

Juno looked even guiltier, though less scared. She took a step forward and said to him defiantly, “Smoking is my choice; it gives me pleasure. Anyway, you come in here to drink. I’ve seen the microbrewery settings.”

TJ was taken aback. It was true, he sneaked in most nights, but how could she know that? She didn’t have any access codes, or at least she shouldn’t. Denial was worth a try though, so he said, “No I don’t. Don’t try to shift the blame. You’re the one smoking, not me.”

She took another step forward and said, “But I’m not the one drinking, am I? And it’s not just the microbrewery; you’ve also played around with the MoonshineTM machine.”

She’d also got him here. Twice a week he indulged himself, distilling drinks on the hotels’ multispirit machine – usually fine vodkas and botanical gins, but also rare whiskies, sometimes fifty years old. That’s why he didn’t mind graveyard shifts, sipping away the night.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s forget about the smoking. But don’t do it again, and especially not here. How did you manage anyway? No alarms went off.” She indicated a piece of duct tape across a sensor. He said, “Ahh,”” and then, “Come on, let’s go.”

She didn’t move, and said, “What are the codes to the servers?”

He said he couldn’t tell her.

“Why not? You better!”

“Look, I can’t tell you. I’d get into a big heap of trouble.”

She raised her eyebrows and said, “Not as much as you would for drinking on the job. The mixing dates will show up on the MoonshineTM machine. There’s no records of my smoking though. I win.”

He gave her the codes. He wasn’t the only one who had them, and could say that it was someone else.  Juno logged in and explored staff profiles, starting with their android mix.

“You liar TJ! You said you were thirty percent android. You’re only twenty!” She examined management salaries. “What? You earn ten grand more than me? What for?” Then she looked up guest records – who had enjoyed what in the holographic rooms. “That Mr Jewell! That’s disgusting! A man of his age!” She studied the robo-chef menus. “What kind of food do you like? Japanese? Sushi? Okay, let’s break all the rules! I’m choosing forbidden foods. We’re having whale blubber starter, dolphin main, and jellyfish dessert.”

TJ said that he didn’t feel hungry. She said, “Come on; let your human side live a little!”

Managed Transition

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2012 by javedbabar

TJ was on the graveyard shift at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. He heard steady footsteps down the front stairwell, accompanied by a cane tapping. It was an elderly person, probably Mr Ramzy. He wondered why he didn’t take the elevator. It would have saved his arthritic legs.

The footsteps and tapping continued for longer than expected. As TJ looked up from prolonged curiosity he saw Mr Ramzy at the bottom of the stairs, adjusting his tie knot and sweating slightly, which gave his amber complexion an unearthly sheen. Was he feeling sick? Why was he coming to reception at three a.m.?

“Good morning Mr Ramzy,” said TJ. “What brings you down here at this early hour? I hope everything is all right.”

“Bah! Nothing is all right!” said Mr Ramzy. “At my age you are always thinking about how things were then, and how things are now, and how much better they were in the old days.”

“Which things do you mean, Mr Ramzy? Everything, or just some things?”

“Well, this place for example. I remember the days when the Lucerne Valley Hotel had the best bar for miles, full of fine vodkas and whiskies, and rums and gins; when you’d never leave here without whipping someone’s ass, or having yours whipped, in a darned good fight; there were bowling lanes on that side” – he indicated the new toilets and baby changing facilities – “where I once hit ten strikes together! There were crazy bingo sessions where you won cabins, horses, even women; and a brothel upstairs that they called the United Nations, on account of all the exotic girls there, and let me tell you, not all of them were girls!” He winked with exaggeration. “And of course the bank that we all hated, and cheered when it got robbed, but which lent us money to get through harsh winters, and while we waited for our gold strikes and oil strikes, and when the cows died.”

TJ said, “This place? Really? It sounds so wild!”

“Yes, it was a wild place, but it was in a small town far away from everything, so The Authority left us alone. But during the PC Revolutions,” – there had been six of them in all: PC1 (Personal Computers), PC2 (Political Correctness), PC3 (Personal Corporations), PC4 (Party Components), PC5 (Purchase Costing), PC6 (Pacific Cities) – “they kept making demands to change this and that, and it’s a wonder this place survived at all.

“To be honest, it’s not much of a draw now, just pastel rooms like everywhere else and an average restaurant and themed cocktail bar, but I come for the memories. I credit the owners though, who went through two hundred years of changes in twenty years. It was a managed transition from bush saloon to modern hotel. I just wanted to talk to someone about it. I’m going back to bed now.” He tapped his way up again.

TJ was intrigued by the hotel’s past, so plugged himself into the main system. He accessed archived memory banks and found earlier versions of himself. His twenty percent android self was unchanged of course, but his human self had been a prospector, an outlaw, a banker, a soldier, a fur trader and a barman. He thought about the implications. He had surely at some point served drinks to himself.

Triple Vaccination

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2012 by javedbabar

The man in the white jumpsuit flashed his badge and said through his mask, “Good morning. We are agents from The Authority’s IT team.”

TJ knew this stood for Immediate Threats. What were they doing here at the Lucerne Valley Lodge? Their sister organizations were ST (Sustained Threats) and UT (Unknown Threats), the three organs collectively referred to as ITSTUT, which he’d always thought sounded stupid.

The agent continued, “There has been a virus scare; we require you to take immediate action. Step One is to seal all exits. Step Two is to inform all persons. Step Three is to undergo vaccinations.”

TJ said, “Is it a physical or a virtual virus?”

“I’m afraid we can’t say for sure, so everybody must have a triple vaccination.”

“Physical and virtual, what’s the third one?”

“It’s a control vaccination,” said the agent.

“What’s the purpose of that?” TJ was thinking ahead. He had a full hotel tonight – a corporate group, local and global tourists, and drunks from last night. He’d have to explain to all persons why they couldn’t leave and must have three treatments, so he may as well get the lowdown from the Man.

“It’s a balancing treatment,” said the agent. “I am unaware of the technicals, but I have been told that it’s important. There is no refusal option.”

“Erm, okay. I’ll do as you say.” TJ made a hotel-wide announcement. He instructed all staff to report to their departments and all guests to return to their rooms. The IT team would work through the building, treating everybody.

“Thank you for your compliance,” said the agent. “Well, let’s start with you. What percentage android are you? Twenty percent? Okay, good, but I thought you would be more, as you have a very good way with people. I’ve made the adjustments. We’ll start with the Physical. Are you right-handed? Please roll up your left sleeve.” The agent rubbed a sterilizing wipe across TJ’s inner arm, just below the elbow, and using a small needle, injected a blue solution.

“Now, the Virtual. Are you plugged in? You’re not? Good, can you please turn around for a moment?” He inserted a cable into the back of TJ’s head. The software update patched into his meatware in a few seconds.

“Finally, the Control. Take this with a glass of water, or a rare whisky if you prefer.” He handed TJ a yellow pill and winked. “I’m sure you have access to the multispirit machine.”

TJ knew the real purpose of the pill. It was to reach the areas that software couldn’t access. It was an unconscious fix. You believed you were better, which was half the battle, or the Authority somehow convinced you you were better, and who knew what else besides?

Executive Floor

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , on July 23, 2012 by javedbabar

TJ hadn’t slept well and needed extra charging, so plugged himself in again this morning. Extra electrons were always welcome.

He expected it to be a busy morning at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. There was a corporate group here for the weekend on a Revisioning Retreat, domestic and global tourists, and folks from last night too drunk to make it home, who were always troublesome when checking out, wanting discounts and whatnot. They pretended not to have consumed anything from the minibar, when in truth they’d cleaned it out. Such behaviour was an unfortunate relic of a past marketing campaign saying that “the party never stops at the Lucerne Valley Hotel”, and offering All You Can Drink weekend stays. The Authority had eventually put a stop to this, along with Wild Wednesdays’ exotic dancers and animal shows.

He received a call from the second floor. “Hello, this is Mr Mason from 214.  I have a complaint to make. I am an executive with Global Power Systems, yet I am not on the Executive Floor. Why is that?”

“I am sorry about that,” said TJ. “The Executive Floor is filled with members of your delegation. All twelve rooms are taken, so I had no option but to put you on the standard floor.”

TJ was fully charged now so unplugged himself. There was a beep on the phone line, some interference between systems.

Mr Mason said, “But why am I the only one not on the Executive Floor? Is it because you think I am less important? Production, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Technical and Legal executive are all on the Executive Floor. Do you not feel that the NTR department deserves similar consideration?”

It was good that he was calling down, rather than coming down in person. TJ’s face would have betrayed him. Faced with a list of thirteen names and only twelve rooms, he had decided that the Non Tangible Resources executive was the appropriate person to demote to the lower floor. Wasn’t it reasonable to assume that a less tangible department would have less apparent status?

Mr Mason continued his lecture. “Do you know that the areas we deal with – personality fit, multi-cultures, marital status, childhood experiences, intellectual and practical education, psychological balance and psychic skills, are the superglue that holds the organization together? We make it possible for staff to work together harmoniously. Without us, Global Power Systems would be a completely dysfunctional organization. We integrate individuals into…”

TJ realized that the guy was really upset. He needed to do something, so said, “Excuse me, Sir. Sorry for interrupting. Putting you on the standard floor was only a temporary measure while we made up our rooms. Our Super Premium suite is now available. Why don’t you stay there and host drinks tonight for all the other departments?”

“You’re good,” said Mr Mason. “Very good. If you ever want a job in NTR please let me know.”

Without Walls

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Mr Jewell was a patient man. He didn’t mind waiting while the receptionist completed his telephone conversation, who indicated that he wouldn’t be long.

It sounded pretty serious though. “Look, I’ll say it again. You need to sort out these building envelope and interior wall issues immediately. There’s been nothing but problems over the past few days. And don’t get me started on plumbing! I’m saving that for next week’s moan. I don’t care if your staff is out on other jobs – they should come and finish this one first!” He put down the phone, shaking his head, and looked at Mr Jewell.

“Sorry about that,” he said. “We’ve had major renovations. The whole place was redone and nothing seems to be working right. We’re relaunching the Lucerne Valley Hotel for our one hundredth anniversary, and at this rate we’ll be lucky to see the hundred-and-first.” The receptionist took a breath, adjusted his tie, and said, “Mr Jewell, how may I help you?”

He knows my name, thought Mr Jewell, maybe I should know his. He was about to ask, but noticed a badge clipped to his tie, saying TJ. He said, “TJ, I have a small problem with my room. It has only three walls.”

“Only three walls? How terrible! I’m so sorry, Sir. You may have overheard my conversation – there’s problems with both interior and exterior walls – which is it? Exterior? Dammit! They’re harder to fix! Still, that isn’t your business. I’ll take care of it for you. What about the ceiling – okay? And the floor? I’ll get it done right away. So sorry for keeping you waiting.”

Mr Jewell was impressed by his urgency, but didn’t want the poor guy to pop a transistor, so said, “Look, it’s a pleasant summer’s day. It’s not a problem right now. Hell, even if I had windows I’d have them wide open! As long as you’ve fixed it by tonight I’ll be happy. It may get cold, and noisy, with all the drinkers going home. I would be obliged if you took care of it by, say, nine o’ clock.”

“No need to wait that long, Sir,” said TJ. “It’s only a matter of a few adjustments.” He began pushing buttons and swiping objects on his touch screen, while muttering to himself. “Room fourteen is empty, maybe I could take its wall tonight. Agh! That doesn’t work. I’ll reboot the room. Okay, okay. Agh! Still no wall. Mr Jewell, I’m sorry, I can’t fix your room, so I’ll upgrade you to a Premium suite. Agh! There’s an override. Okay, let’s try Super Premium.” He punched in a code. “There, it’s done. Top floor, Mr Jewell. This lift takes you straight up there. I hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

Mr Jewell went straight up to the “room”. It confused him however. This one had no walls at all; there was a bed, furniture and en-suite, all sitting out in the open! Was this his punishment for complaining?

He called down to reception. TJ answered and said, “Ah, Mr Jewell! How do you like your room? What? No, no, not at all! Please enjoy the fresh air and scenery during the day – you have great views of Mt Alba and Lilly Lake – and when you’re ready to turn in, simply slide the switch from Transparent to Opaque. If you’re in the mood for entertainment, slide the switch below it to Movies or Holograms. I’m afraid the Horror Holograms are disabled at present. We’ve had too many guests screaming.”