April 11th, 2015

Great Wolf Lodge, Fitchburg (New England)

Last year, we were home February break and traveling April break. This year was basically reversed. Last year, we had company February break and took a short trip out to the Danvers DoubleTree with the indoor water park and it was moderately fun. This year, the Fitchburg hotel with an indoor water park (used to also be a DoubleTree, but is now a Great Wolf Lodge) seemed like fun. Since it is about 25 miles out from us on Route 2, and thus a half hour drive, we did not actually opt to sleep there. But you can't get a day pass, so we got a room anyway. A., R. and I had dinner at the buffet restaurant right when it opened. A. did not eat hardly anything, but she is picky and she had a cold so we weren't surprised. R. and I had beer and, subject to allergy limitations, tried a lot of what was on offer. It was perfectly acceptable. R. said the breading on A.'s chicken nuggets was pretty mediocre. But the salmon was tasty and the potatoes were fine and they made me a salad without cheese so I was happy. Also, Sam Adams Seasonal (summer) on tap so no complaints from me. From there, we went up to the room because A. was objecting to water park (she has a cold). A. and R. went down to the bowling alley and tried that for a while. It was apparently fun. I read a new textbook I bought on project management (don't worry -- you'll be hearing plenty about that later). I found reading in a room that wasn't in my house surprisingly enjoyable. I should probably do that more often.

A. messed up T.'s wristband. Oh, wristband! The hotel doors have RFID locks. You can get a card or a wristband (it's the kind you get at concerts and swimming facilities and stuff like that -- cheap). The wristband can be authorized for hotel charging or not. The wristband is waterproof, so, like Disney's Magic Bands, you can basically go play without your wallet or keycard. Nice!

There are a bunch of games and stuff in the lobby that we didn't do (arcade, they sell a wand like at Universal Studios and have some games you can play with it, etc.). I met the sitter in the lobby when she dropped off T., then T. and R. went to the water park. It was fun, altho basically all these things have basically exactly the same slides so if you've done one, you know how it works. It closed at 9 and we all went home. The kids were cranky because it was late. They usually go to bed by 9 and they weren't down until 10.

This morning, T. was, when do we go to the water park!?! A. was like, I wanna watch TV. A little while later, she starts making this weird burping noise and next thing you know, she's vomiting. Ugh. She didn't eat anything or go to the water park and there's no way you get sick from bowling, so I'm pretty sure this is just drainage from the head cold. But obviously, we stayed home today. T. and R. went to the water park where I assume they are having a good time.

Many things remain for us to explore at Great Wolf Lodge (the ropes course, for one, and I still haven't even been in the water area), and it is, as noted, a half hour drive from our house, so I feel confident that rainy winter days will find us there on occasion going forward. They did a great job renovating an older hotel, and the theming is about as good as anything you see outside Disney. They do character breakfasts, story telling, magicians and all sorts of related things.

Krugman: Bab5 pic and headline reference about GE and shadow banking

I'm no Babylon 5 fan. I found it pretty excruciating to sit through, and I sat through marathons of that show because my friends were fans. But, you know. It's later; most of the pain is forgotten. But enough memory remained for me to get the references here.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/11/a-victory-against-the-shadows/

Krugman argues that the reason GE is spinning of its GE capital unit and associated business (they are keeping the finance stuff associated with manufacturing) is because in its current incarnation, GE is a Systemically Important Financial Institution for Dodd-Frank purposes and thus subject to a lot of oversight that it would prefer not to have to deal with. So it's getting rid of the parts that triggered that designation. Krugman asserts:

"what GE is in effect saying is that if we have to compete on a level playing field, if we can’t play the moral hazard game, it’s not worth being in this business. That’s a clear demonstration that reform is having a real effect."

I think he's right. Altho I _also_ think that this kind of restructuring of GE has been a long time coming, as for a decade or more now people have been complaining that GE's stock price does not accurately reflect, well, whatever it is they think is good about GE. I'm betting the SIFI designation helped Immelt make the case for something that he'd been wanting to do for a while anyway.

ETA: His post on wearables is good, too.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/apple-and-the-self-surveillance-state/

"I think wearables will become pervasive very soon ... so the ubiquitous surveillance net can see them, and give them stuff."

Nothing there about ApplePay and the Watch, but a lot of the rest of the points are there: not having to wait, reproducing an elite/wealthy experience for more people, trading off privacy against service, etc.