Friday, December 31, 2004

End of the year views

Wow, last day of the year - changes for me coming up.
Ever since my boss gave me that Monday morning pep talk - the half hour yell fest terminating in "did you see yesterday's want ads - it wouldn't surprise me if on Wednesday or Thursday and fired everyone in IT but me" that motivated me to get my resume rewritten - I have been getting my resume in order. It ended this morning in my getting a written job offer, and thus my handing my boss later this morning a "hereby submit my resignation" letter. He just put his head on the desk and then said "well, you have to do what's best" and made no counter offer or questions on where I was going or nice to have you here - he didn't even talk to me for the rest of the day. So I am now officially unemployed. Starting the new job Monday (next year) at 8.
I spent the day installing some software that I have been working on for weeks (I'm a programmer). I tried yesterday, but kept getting errors, again this morning more errors, finally late morning it went in OK. This is an internal web program that gets hit by about 200 computers, it tests OK on my machine and ran fine for ten minutes, but then fell apart - probably when enough people hit one bad spot I couldn't figure out how they were getting to. But I changed it and it worked, then after running about three hours I installed a script part that depended on the first changes. This is the script that our phone operators read when people call in to cancel their new accounts. Kind of an official way to talk them into staying. This round is prompted by a lawsuit and a Federal Trade Commission investigation, had to be done by today and our CEO had to send off a certified affidavit to the FTC that the new words and options were in place.
I spend three hours with two of the new guys explaining what I was doing so they could take it over. And our CEO has lots more script changes coming down on Monday, so somebody will be busy learning the stuff I've taken six months to learn and rushing to get it done while being yelled at because it really had to be done by the 31st (today) and they were late. Glad I am no longer getting yelled at there.
So, hopefully a lot less stress and more time for fun stuff. At least no more 50 hour weeks plus "oh yeah, we're all coming in Saturday too to catch up". Off to a bank, with two week vacation a year (instead of 5 days), regular holidays (instead of 4pm Christmas eve and take Christmas day off) and regular 9 to 5 hours. I hope it is as good as it sounds.
On to what's happening in Vegas this week -
Started out last week with a cold spot -

our courtyard fountain demonstrating an early morning freeze up. Down to 27 one night. Back to mid 50's in the daytime.
This week was lots of rain - it was cloudy and small rain almost every day, but on Wednesday it really poured.

as our back yard shows. Vegas gets about four inches a year, so this does not happen too often. At least it was warmer at night - 41 when we got up this morning. But it is cold in the surrounding mountains. Driving home yesterday this is what it looked like around sunset to the west

as I drove past the loverly Wynn that was recently discussed. Further along, on the bridge over 15 it looked like this

about a 45 minute drive up to the ski resorts in Mt. Charleston, but as you can see snow down pretty low - probably the 2000 ft level. Vegas is around 1,100 ft above sea level. Last year we had the snow on New Year's Eve - sorry, I don't know how to link back to my post and photos then. So here is what the trees across the street from our house looked like a year ago

supposedly the first snow here in ten years - four inches - and one of our little dogs loved it. But of course, gone by sunset at the end of the day.
The strip is supposed to be the biggest party of the eve tonight, next to Times Square. But here you can get beer - one place in the middle of the strip has five cent beers, lots of drunks and lots of fights. So stay to the ends if you go. And supposedly the biggest fireworks display in the world - both for the new year and the start of the LV 100th birthday. I'll be staying home, probably asleep by then.
I am on to new adventures for the new year - new job, upcoming new grandkid, hopefully other things too. Best wishes to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Day before Christmas (almost)

On the day before Christmas (well, day before the day before) I wanted to get in some of my Christmas sites for you to enjoy before they are gone, or you are sick of the holidays.
One of my daily stops is Anna's Little Red Boat, a delightfully written log of goings on around England. While the Boat is not a holiday related site, Anna's recent story about her mouse adventures are written while she and her sister put up their annual holiday advent calendar, Meg & Anna's 'Tis the Season. Please go there, and take the time to answer any questions that might pop up - you will be rewarded. Be sure to start on day one and proceed forward. On day 7 is a delightful song of the season by the two sisters, and is becoming my favorite thing to listen to when my day needs brightening. Since I am concerned that the site will disappear with the season, I hope Anna isn't too annoyed with my grabbing the song and posting it here for all to listen to forever (at least until this blog goes). Meg & Anna's Do They Know It's Christmas? I just love it. For those of you in a Christmas mood, here are some more Christmas Favorite Songs. I had to download them for additions to my seasonal Ipod stuff. I've been listening to #7 for a few repeats now, another uplifting tune. If anyone knows where to get 'Wearing Women's Underwear' please let me know.
For those of you in a sick of holiday mood, and still not satisfied with the overwhelming mandate received by our fine president, here is another individual displaying his attitude toward Homeland Security. Lots of work here.
Met my daughter for lunch at the Fashion Show Mall a few days ago. She bought an Ipod for her husband - hope he doesn't read this before Saturday and find out. Went there with my wife on Sunday for some of our own shopping. While there we got to see some of the fashion shows that the mall is named for. I am fascinated with gadgets, and the runway that is used by the models is just dramatic. Music rises, and up from the flat mall floor rises this little room, with a long runway in front. The runway is similar to what you see in real fashion shows, about three feet high, eight wide and a hundred or so feet long. At the end of the runway is a little room (well, not so little) from which the models emerge and disappear into. Inside are changing rooms, and stairs down for new ones to come up from. Here is a shot of the thing starting to descend after the show.

With a guard at every corner, so no one walks by and gets caught. A tree of the season on top, after sliding down it's just a flat floor again. And this year Cadilac rented prime space inside to show off their new cars.
One of the shows was comprised of local firemen, advertising a calendar with profits going to charities. Boy, I am impressed with the muscles on these dudes. The second show, one every half hour on weekends, was the standard skinny models and slinky clothes stuff. I don't know where they learn that 'fashion walk' - looks like they are stepping on snails or something. Does somebody really think that's sexy or something? But on this show they had fog - up from the floor came drifts of fog across the stage. Really nice affect. Wish I could have one at home.
I bought one thing for myself - something that is unnecessary across most of the country but unusual here in LV or down in San Diego -

yep, fake snow. Really looks like the real stuff, but warm and plastic - how perfect for LA. Don't know what I'll do with it, but I just had to have a box of snow, even faux stuff.
For all, a merry season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

More Wynn

Sorry about not posting recently. I've been inundated at work and working at home, and this site has not gotten any attention. But I did take some more photos of my drive to work and home again.
In a recent post I put up a shot of Wynn's new hotel/casino, and have received some comments on the building and the name. Wynn's has not opened for business yet, but the building the way it is has been built in about a year - that doesn't count all the planning and development and up front time. But it does show what money can build in a short time. Our new city justice center is less that a tenth this size, and took over two years to build. It was 'finished' two years ago, and the city has been suing the contractor ever since. People are just now starting to move in, and it is already looking like it will be overcrowded before they even officially open. That's a government job.
But this is private, and a casino. Original plans called for it to be named La Reve. For some reason the financial backers thought that having Steve Wynn's name would attract more people, and so it was changed. Rumor has it that the showroom inside, built to hold another Circ du Soleil show, will be named Reve. We'll see.
But, this is what I see going in to work in the morning.

This is looking east right at sunrise on a cloudy Monday (day before yesterday). It's on Desert Inn just before going over the I15 freeway. From the left is the Wynn, the TI (formerly known as Treasure Island), the Venetian and far right is the Mirage. (I think that's right, or else close). These buildings represent less than 20% of the rooms on the strip. As you can see, Wynn's looks to be the tallest and widest. The others are build as triangles or squares, Wynn's is one big flat plane, which dominates the skyline here. The low spot to the left of Wynn's is the Frontier, one of the older places on the strip.
Driving home at night westward on Desert Inn, just past the trolley station where I took the photo last week, is the Wynn from the east.

Also showing what I consider to be another symbol of Las Vegas, the ever present tall construction cranes.
Getting right up near it just before going underneath the Strip,

It really looks big, and this isn't even very close. Because of the design from the front it looks like the tallest, widest building on the strip.
Right across the strip is the Fashion Show Mall, and next to that is the smaller, older Frontier. Right behind the Frontier is where Donald Trump will be putting up his tower. So you can walk down the strip and have Wynn on one side and Trump on the other. Should be interesting. For now Trump's is only talk, in the planning stages. We'll see what he puts up.
Just to provide something different, here is the trolley station built right over Desert Inn, looking east, just past the Wynn and the Desert Inn golf course behind it.

As you can see, Nextel is the big sponsor. The dark rectangle to the left, just behind the red light, is one of those big TV display screens. It usually shows Nextel commercials, but for this shot ended up being dark. Right behind the station is the LV Convention Center, which also is built over Desert Inn. You can see part of it just under the trolley building in red brick. The stations look nice, even if the trolleys are not running yet.
My drive to work each day is about five miles. Takes between 10 and 25 minutes, depending on the lights. I usually leave home around 6:30 or so. Just passed the winter solstice, so I guess it will be staying light longer from here on in.
Due to be cold tonight, down around 31f, high around 52f. Not very warm, but nothing near Rochester NY where I went to school. Looks like the east is getting a nice white Christmas this year. Good for them.
That's it for today - no great news, no great shots, just raising Wynn's name, as he has done. Oh - at night, since the hotel is not open yet and the rooms are dark, the name Wynn is lit up in white - so you can see his name floating in the dark over the strip. Very dramatic. But my camera doesn't wok too well at night, so just imagine it.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Rodeo in town again, more monorail status

The rodeo's back in town - cowboys in the streets and the convention center parking lot full of horse trailers. Haven't seen anything from the hard Rock - last year they got in trouble for their 'Buck all night' billboard and advertising campaign.

My wife's been invited to a holiday get together at Gilley's Vegas next weekend. But by then the real cowboys should be all gone. She has been volunteering time at Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and they are having a little party. Gilley's is part of the chain that offers 'real Texas' atmosphere, sawdust on the floor and a mechanical bull in the center of the room. I think it's the place that John Travolta supposedly went to back in his movie on cowboys, after Saturday Night Fever dancing died away he caused bull riding to come into style with that movie. Just checked the Internet Movie Database - John Travolta was at the Houston Gilley's in Urban Cowboy, not the Gilley's Dallas. Looks like there isn't a Houston Gilley's any more - just Dallas (and Vegas). On TV shows the only ones that ride that thing are well endowed young women wearing small halter tops that seem to pop off while bouncing. Maybe I should look forward to going.

The monorail is still not running.

A news article this morning discussed how the downtown area really wants the proposed extension from the strip up to downtown, but it can't be built without federal money. Estimated cost of three miles of monorail line, and associated stations, is 485 million $$ (US). Lots of bucks for a strip of concrete in the sky. But that's two strips side by side, and the trains to go on it, land acquisition, station sites, etc. The city is looking for $442 million in funds from elsewhere, and $43 million raised from local taxes. Problem with federal grants is that in order to get bucks for an expansion they want to see that the existing stuff is working OK, and ridership averages 50,000 per day. But our monorail has been down since September. Heavy ridership numbers expected for New Years Eve and the Consumer Electronics show in January.

But, the speaker today discussed how bad the monorail is doing, and how it might not be a good idea to open early just to catch the New Years Eve crowd. Open early? Come on, a wheel fell off, along with some other stuff back in the summer. If they can't fix the trains in three months so that the don't fall apart - and they are new trains, only ran for a few months after a year of testing - somebody else should be running the place. Right now the monorail is owned by a private company, funded partially by the strip casinos that wanted easy transportation, and denigrated by the cab drivers that lost ridership. Bus service is so bad there is no competition there.

I Don't know why anyone would use the monorail now - it just runs for three miles down behind the hotels east of the strip. I guess you would get on if you didn't want to walk and look at the lights, and had a specific casino you wanted to jump to. Or people staying at the hotels and just going to the convention center. The big ridership I think would come when they do the airport connection. Then those millions of people that fly in and out would be able to get to their hotels directly without hassling with the taxi stuff. Paris and New York and London and other big cities have trains that go from the airport to downtown. Our monorail would go from the airport directly to the big casino stations leading right down into the hotels directly. And if you could also go downtown, to see the fancy stuff there, then it would help that area greatly.

All it takes is bucks. And competent people that can fix problems and keep it running. But, I'm not an employee of the transportation company and don't really know what's going on. We just see news stories of 60 pound tires landing in parking lots.

Sitting at my computer listening to NRJ Radio - the French pop radio I like. I also listen to French Lazy Radio - had it on, but they have a lot of gaps in the music, sounds like they don't have enough of a budget to handle the site hits for too many listeners. Thought I would look at the site, and I came across a picture of their studios -

Looks like a setup in somebody's garage or spare room.
Contrast this to NRJ (from their almost live webcam)

Looks more like a real radio station. The number of commercials sound like it too.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Well, it's been a while since I've been out with my camera during daylight hours. This afternoon I went for a short walk around the neighborhood where I work and took a few shots of the houses and streets. I've been asked (you know who you are) for more photos of houses and different neighborhoods around town.
This area is between Sahara and Charleston, near Maryland Parkway. It's about 2 miles east of the Strip, and the homes were probably built in the 60's. Most of the houses are well cared for, but there are a few with cars in pieces in the front yard, and stuff scattered around. I guess it's on it's way down rather than up. I don't know the home prices, but I guess that it's around $120,000 for a small three bedroom one bath.

Not much to say about these. This is looking east, you can see sunrise mountain in the distance. Mountains all around. The ones to the west are all covered in snow. Christmas skiing at Mt. Charleston.

You can tell from the size of the trees that they've been around a while. This one has had a second story added on back, and a nice little house or something, in addition to the circular driveway around the palms.

But these are probably typical for the older areas of Las Vegas. Concrete block, originally one story unless added to. No garage or carport originally.
And a few blocks away, on the corner of Sahara and Maryland, is a small strip mall. I think it's interesting because of it's name - not something fancy or with the corporate name, but

just A Mall. Looks like any other corner in the country, gas stations and power lines.
Driving home I head west on Desert Inn, the only east - west cross street that has a tunnel under the strip rather than having to wait at those long traffic lights. One major street just east of the strip is Paradise Road. The intersection of Paradise and Desert Inn is where the Vegas Convention Center sits, and the biggest monorail station. DI goes under part of the convention center and under the monorail station - it's all elevated to avoid traffic. I usually sit at this intersection for several light changes before I get through. Today I ended up near the front during one cycle, and shot these through the windshield.

Overhead is the monorail, in front is a new condo tower being built. The city symbol should probably be the tall cranes, which can be seen all over putting up new buildings.
To the left of DI is the old Desert Inn resort and golf course. Steve Wynn bought it and is constructing his Wynn resort. The big cranes are down now, and it should be open soon.

It's a nice golden shape in the sky.
And someone asked for another picture of me. I know I've had a shot of me in my pool last summer, but here is one at work.

Like that messy desk? After all, it's Friday afternoon, and for some reason we don't have to work tomorrow. We were in last Saturday, and are supposed to be in next Saturday, but tomorrow is fun time (well, work around the house time).
Can't see my tie, but we all wear them - corporate image or something.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Personal responsibilities

I've been looking around and wondering why so many people complain that what happens to the isn't their fault. I think I've written about this before, but it's come up again and again. I feel that people should accept the fact that they can control themselves, and really nothing else.
This evening I was driving home from work and was repeatedly passed by cars going faster than me. I was in the center lane of a street with three lanes in each direction. I stay out of the fast lane, because in LV that means REALLY FAST LANE. I stay out of the right hand lane to avoid those idiots that turn right without signaling, and the equally #$%* people that pull out of driveways and side streets ignoring cars coming at them. This leaves a lane on each side for people to fly past.
I was doing a little over the speed limit, which is 45 on most LV larger surface streets, and I would guess that I was being passed on the right by cars doing at least 25 faster than me, and on the left by people doing even more. (yes, really zipping by). As we crossed the freeway and came down to a light all three lanes were slowing because of a backup. It usually takes three turns of the traffic signal for me to get across this intersection from the point I was stopped at. So we have three lanes stopped, and there were still cars doing about 50 flying by on the right shoulder - not very wide, and with a concrete barrier next to them. Past a side street that merges in.
And cars on the left, not wanting to wait for the light cycles, were going up the curb onto the center divider and driving down that to get to the left turn lanes. Not just big cars, but smaller ones, up the big curb and down the strip.
I sit there, and wonder where these people get their brains. WalMart? It takes a while, but I try to stay calm, and say to myself, 'self, drive the way you want to. As long as you are comfortable with the speed you are going, ignore what those Bozos are doing'. (Yea, I talk like that to myself, don't you?)
I'm a programmer, and where I work I support a floor full of telephone people that are just abused all day. People phone up to cancel their membership with us, or complain that we took their money and now they can't make their rent payment, and who are we to do this to them? My response, since I don't have to talk on the phones, is to say 'Stupid - you are the one that called three weeks ago and asked us to take the money!' These people are fully informed about what will happen and when, but then they abuse the poor operators as if it was their fault. Come on! Take responsibility for what you did. I just hope the operators realize they have no control over what the customers say, but I see the dejected faces and short employment spans, and realize that what others say can hurt.
I like my job - I enjoy the work I am doing, my new boss has some great ideas for improving the networks and software process, and I am good at what I do. I just wish the company attitude for motivation wasn't negative - the 'do it right, do it now, or I'll fire the whole lot of you and hire a new staff'. Again, I tell myself, 'self, (yea, just like that) as long as you are doing your job, and are satisfied that you do it well and quickly, you have no control over their attitude'. Easy to say (see, I just said it) but hard to keep the stomach from turning over with all the yelling and #$%*& going around.
Those customers in a recent post, drunk on their butts, blaming the cops for stopping them. People that look at those with more than them, asking for handouts because they didn't have the 'advantages' and thus deserve to be given things. Sorry, when I'm driving home I can think of all kinds of things, but sitting here at the keyboard they all drift away. I'm just trying to say that we should just control the things we can, and realize that what others may do is not something that we can affect.
Well, I feel guilty about not posting photos of LV. I get to work around sunup, driving due east with the sun in my face so I can't take photos of things I'm looking at. At night I leave at sundown, driving west with the sun again in my face, or else it's too dark for shots. On weekends I've been working around the house, so no shots there either. Maybe someday I'll get back to the camera. But I like to read people's thoughts, and it lightens my evening when I see that someone's posted something new. So I figured I'd better put something up here too.
And Phoebs - what's your web site address? You can email me with it if you want me there, else ignore my request.
We went to a friend's wedding in SD back in the summer, John is into piercing and tattoos, and owns a parlor in Ocean Beach. I suggested we do a web site for him, and recently came across some interesting tattoo styles.

This one is kind of interesting - a little different than the barb wire or tribal band usually seen around an arm.
And one site shows a new style of 'oriental' tattoos. I thought the colors and styles were really neat.

These are nice pastels, I wonder how they would hold up over the years - and notice the fairy on her hip. (Jo??)
And a more overall style?

I wonder how many hours it takes.
Flip to the other side -

For full sleeves, knees (that must hurt on the bones), Looks like the right leg is still being worked on, and down the center not a tattoo but some method of putting something under the skin to produce raised areas, kind of like buttons. You can see it better in other photos, but it seems there was too much traffic on the site and it's closed now.
That's it for now - some pics, but not of Vegas. Sorry for all the nasty words.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Lawyers and lawyers

I drive in to work every day down the same street (Desert Inn) and pass a series of billboards. Las Vegas is big on signs and billboards - the current fad for signs is to have a giant TV screen as part of the sign. When I say giant, I mean big - the one in front of the MGM Grand is probably 20 feet high and 50 feet wide. With blinking pictures and promos for the upcoming concerts and ads for the night clubs flashing away. Really gives you something to look at when sitting at that *** slow traffic light on the corner of Tropicana and the Strip. But back to my original premise -
One of the billboards I pass is for a law firm that will go to court for you if you get a traffic ticket. Sounds nice - even help the little guy. Reminds me every morning of one of my customers in San Diego. It was the law firm of Mr. Ticket and Mr. DUI. If you can't tell from the name, they represent people who are stopped for traffic infractions and drunk driving.
Mr. Ticket handles traffic tickets - I think his base fee was around $150, and he would go to court for you and 95% of the time get your ticket dismissed. In California $150 is probably the average price of a fine for conviction on a ticket, so this way you paid about the same, didn't have to take a day off work to go to court, and didn't get that infamous hit to your car insurance when the company finds out how bad you really drive.
Mr. DUI handles drunk driving offenses. I think his up front fee was around $2,500. If you had enough money he could get you off from just about anything. There are legal experts that can argue about how bad a blood test is, how waiting 20 minutes to take a urinalysis could not possibly represent your blood alcohol level at the time you were stopped, how the last meal you ate affected the breath test - you get my drift. There are paid professionals on every side with every opinion. If you could afford the best for your side then you win. Probably like just about every court situation around. Ask OJ. (sorry, didn't really mean to bring that back. Yea, I know he wasn't convicted, that's my point)
At times I appreciate the services that attorneys present. If I ever got a ticket I probably would use these guys. But there are times when, as an outside observer, it seems things may be excessive.
One night I was leaving their office after putting in some program changes - they were open nights and weekends so as to be available for their clients. As I was about to leave one of Mr. DUI's clients was just leaving. This was his third time being represented by this law firm. Both previous representations were successful - he avoided conviction on his DUI arrests. I opened the front door for him, and he had problems in just walking out. He appeared to be totally drunk on his ass. (I must say, I am NOT an expert in this matter. But I have observed the strong smell of alcohol, the bloodshot eyes, the slurred speech, the inability to walk straight, and usually these indicate the presence of alcohol in the blood. Again, I AM NOT AN EXPERT - DO NOT TAKE MY OBSERVATIONS AS EVIDENCE) He proceeded to walk, or rather stagger, out to his car parked out front, get in the drivers seat, and after a few minutes of trying to get his key in the ignition, he quickly pulled out and sped off. After visiting his lawyer on his third DUI offense (at this law firm, I don't know his prior history). I was very tempted to get on my cell phone and call the cops about an apparent drunk driver, but I don't think my client (the lawyers) would appreciate me turning in one of their clients. But thinking about it, maybe it would have been OK because then they would have the opportunity to represent him in another case. $$$$ fees.
My point is, that everyone deserves representation and an active defense. But I have to drive on the same roads as guys like this. My wife crosses the street with drivers like this roaring down at her. My son may date OJ's next ex wife (OK, sorry to pick on OJ). I know that sometimes the government does not do things correctly (ask at your next IRS audit) and people need lawyers to represent their interests. But at what point should the lawyer start representing the good of the people instead of the money of their client? Shouldn't Mr. DUI have noticed the restricted abilities of this individual, and done something about it?
OK, I know that at times I am unrealistic in my expectations. For some reason I think that everyone should do sensible things, but my definition of sensible evidently is not the same as everyone else's. I try to be a nice guy, not cut too many people off in traffic, try not to hit too many kids in the cross walk, try not to squeeze too many loaves of bread in the supermarket before finding the softest one. Shouldn't everyone just be nice? Why can't we all just get along?
Legal disclaimer - these are my personal opinions. If you are a lawyer, please do not sue me over this. If you are Mr. DUI, I respect your work. If you are the client I mentioned, STOP DRINKING AND DRIVING. Personal opinion again.
Sorry, no pictures again. Guess I better change the subtitle on my blog.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving (and my jeans still fit)

Sorry, Miranda, looks like most everyone posted on Sunday. I was busy with my honeydo list. We've got guests coming for Christmas - DD's in laws from Canada. They've been to our house once before on a Vegas trip, but we are doing Christmas Eve dinner here. Time to pull out the old Catholic white no meat cookbook.
But since they have been here my wife wants the house to look different, which of course means work. Pulled out the front room carpet and put in the Pergo in Spring. Got the patio cover up. But she wanted more lights (easy to do, attic is accessable) and to cover the fireplace.
Our fireplace is brick, painted white, and big. Fills part of a wall in the family room. She wants brick covered up with drywall, and maybe some tile. So I spent yesterday drilling and putting up wood strips that the drywall will go on and chipping up the old hearth tile. Evening out the uneven bricks, filling the air with brick dust and sawdust and noise. Now I just need to put up the drywall, her job to paint and make it pretty.
In to work on Monday, and you can see how anxious I am to get to programming.
Oh, the white no meat cookbook? It's an old Catholic thing. No meat on Friday (well, new pope said it's OK now, but old folks still don't), and special meals on special days. Christmas Eve is one, to fill you up waiting for midnight mass. I just remember that it was all white. Some kind of dull fish. Cream of mushroom soup. And some flat wafers made out of the same stuff as communion wafers, but bigger and we got to put honey on it. The only thing I would eat. I didn't like fish, at least not the dull probably boiled east coast fish, do like some grilled salmon with honey ginger sauce now. Still don't like mushrooms. They got the wafers from the church, (plotke? - old Polish term) so Google pointed me to a church in New Jersey that's selling them, no email response to mail sale offer.
The in laws are from Canada, east - Hamilton, between Buffalo and Toronto on the lake. Well, most cities in Canada are on a lake - kind of like Michigan. So they are old area people. My daughter said no salmon, get some kind of white east coast fish, but they would probably go for the mushroom soup. So on to new (well, old really) culinary adventures.

Monday, November 22, 2004

More fun at work

I forgot to mention a blog someone referred me to: I hate this job blog. I sent him an episode at work a few months ago, and just sent him words on the last two session. Doesn't look like he's keeping it up to date. Must be having too much fun at work. Oh! ther is a fun at work blog. But that one looks like Ava isn't having too much fun at work, hasn't updated in over a year. Sorry, Ava.

Another rainy weekend

Another rainy weekend. I didn't enjoy it, as I've come down with a bad cold. Went in to work this morning and left early. My wife chased me to the doctor today, thought it might be something treatable like a sinus infection, with antibiotics, but no, just a cold. I had to switch doctors a few months back, my old doctor really was an old doctor and he just retired. The office I go to, selected from the big book from my insurance company, has more doctors, so I told them to just pick one. I ended up with one younger than the last, but fortunately he has a Physician's Assistant helping. She (the PA) is fairly young. Been a nurse for a number of years, and went back for more training to become a PA. Doesn't want to do all of the time to become an MD. But in Nevada PAs get to prescribe and do most things an MD can do. So far I've been in four times, never seen the Dr just the PA. But she is very nice and intelligent. Plus she is very good at taking time and explaining things. I had some tests last time and she took almost a half hour to go over the results. On insurance I'm usually lucky to get 7 minutes of Dr time, must keep up that quota. So the medical change thing ended up OK.
Looks like winter's come again. Snow on all the mountains, it's down to 41f right now. Different plants blooming. Still getting tomatoes from my garden, though. Switched from air conditioning cool over to heat exchanger heat. Last month was really nice, windows open all the time, no air, no heat needed yet. Lowest electric bill since we moved in.
I'm a computer programmer. Sit at work all day in front of a computer and press keys. Well, mostly think, then press keys. I also get to go spend time upstairs in one of the phone rooms watching people use my programs, finding bugs, things they do differently, things that need changes. I used to bring in my Ipod so I wasn't distracted by the noise around me. But lately I've been listening to French radio stations over the internet. Why French? Well, went to France a few years ago and I really loved the place. Plus I don't understand French at all. So when listening I don't understand the commercials so they are more like songs without background music. The guy next to me listens to Russian radio - same reason. I'll have to get his station list and try it.
The one I listen to most is French Lazy Radio. About 60% American songs, a little above easy listening but calm enough to ignore and work. One thing I find amusing is their attempt to translate some things over to English. Reminds me of those emails telling me I've won a million dollars, just send my bank info. You can tell that English is not their first language. Well Lazy Radio had some problems last week and this is what displayed:

Their logo is that little guy sitting in the beach chair. Can you guess that English is not their native language? But they are probably better than most of the phone people where I work, so no complaints just observations.
Wow! Exciting News!!!Sitting here I just got an email from Mrs. Dora Newman, 'We are Diplomatic Corp that works as a courier service and also holds special and valuable consignments for reputable clients that are honest and trustworthy.' and look, they have something for me - 'In your case, the funds in the package is USD15.6M (Fifteen Million,Six Hundred Thousand U.S.Dollars)'. And nobody in Nigeria had to die to get it to me. Just want my bank info for the transfer. Just in time for me to give notice at work. But maybe I better wait for the money to show up first, huh?
I started this blog back before I got this full time job. Had lots of time back then to take pictures, and I enjoyed sitting in front of the computer writing. Now that I'm forced to be in front of one for ten hours a day (yea, not an eight hour day here) I don't seem to want to sit at home and spend more time.
Too many word postings, and not enough of the reason I started, pictures. Maybe over Thanksgiving (yes, we are working Friday) I'll drive around and take some. Should be putting up the Christmas (no, not Hanukkah) decorations at some of the hotels. The Bellagio always does up the lobby and atrium very nicely.
Here are two 'low water' yards in my neighborhood (yes, I will get to other neighborhoods for pictures soon).

Some of the rock work looks good, and some just seems in poor taste. Which one do you like better?

One of the newer homes in a small grouping has done a really nice job:

So much for desert landscaping. I'll take some shots of how my yard is growing in.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Another exciting week

Not much going on around here. I've been out of it with some outside activity.

Just reading an article in the New Yorker magazine - not totally safe in our new 'keeping ignorant' path, as they did officially endorse Kerry for Pres, and in this issue the front part sounds too much like sour grapes - after skipping past the editorial section. Just finished an article on motherhood, and the apparent interest in $$$$$$$s worth of goodies to make life easier and safer for baby. Evidently there is a web site, baby Kate's blog, that goes into exquisite detail on the items purchased, or just desired, for baby.
Makes me wonder how much we will spoil the grandkid. DD (is that the correct term?) was over last night discussing DGK (again, is blog terminology going to letters like cell phone instant messaging?) and how much time we will spend babysitting while our daughter is teaching at school, bringing the kid by periodically for nursing duties.
Yea, right.
See if I change any diapers. Probably will get rooked into it, but not jumping at the thought.
My favorite cartoon was seen in a Sunday paper section, don't remember which one. It shows a mother walking with a smaller daughter saying 'I hope when you grow up you have a child just like you are so you can see what you put me through'. And in the next panel the daughter says 'funny, that's what grammy says she told you'. So, now I get to fill the kid up with coke and sugar and send them home to run around in circles. And I kept all of the old high school pictures and report cards. So when the kid does something and mom yells, I can pull them out and say 'lets look at what mom was like at your age'. Revenge is a dish best served cold?
But we are looking forward to more relatives in the neighborhood, no matter what I say.
Guess I should start a baby blog, with those 14 week sonogram shots.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

News at home

We had exciting news at our house. Tuesday our daughter came over with her husband. She's the third grade teacher that we followed to Vegas. She had a present for us, and as my wife opened it and dug through the tissue paper I heard her scream - it was a baby rattle. Followed by some 'I'll be at Grandma's' clothes. Yes, our first close up grandkid. At least the first we'll change diapers for. Due May 13.
We do have three in Sweden with our 'adopted' doctor son. I think I wrote about Ulf before, he came over for two months as a summer exchange student. When we lived in Temecula we signed up for several programs, and had a few foreign students over the years. But Ulf really found California to be different than Sweden. He was 18, so I guess it was over 20 years ago. He came back almost every summer. We took him to the beach, and he really liked it when the waves were up. He would stand out in the water off Newport Beach up to his waist and loved having the waves break over his head. He would stand in the water for hours.
Ulf went on to become the youngest cardiologist in Sweden. He now flies all over the world to give talks to other cardiologists about studies and things he has found. I didn't realize that Sweden was such a good place for research studies, but with socialized medicine and all hospitals being government owned they can follow patients for years and keep track of their progress. There are very few private doctors in Sweden. Ulf complained that with his student loans - the government paid tuition but he needed living expenses, books, etc. - and government controlled salary he was taking home a lot less money than the factory workers he was seeing.
He talked about moving to California, but part of his requirements there was compulsory military service. I don't know if every Swede does that, or if it was part of his student stuff. He became an officer in the Navy and did his one month every year thing. At least he didn't end up in Iraq for a year (sorry, just one relapse in rants). Now that he is older he still talks about moving, but California would require he do a residency all over again, and he doesn't want to do those 35 hour shifts.
We finally visited him in Sweden when he was married several years ago. He is the 'typical' tall thin blond. He was looking for a California girl, found a few tall blonds, proposed to one, but ended up back in Sweden getting married to a tall blond Swedish airline stewardess. The kids will probably end up being tall blonds too. Their wedding was in an 800 year old church. The reception after was very interesting. We sat next to the bride's friends, two stewardesses from England. The only other native English speakers there. They put up with our American English.
All the Swedes knew English, most quite well. In Sweden they have three TV channels, and most of the shows are American still in English but with Swedish subtitles. So they can get an English lesson just by watching. The get MTV from London, so most of them speak English with a British accent. They all made fun of Ulf for having a 'California' accent. I don't know why that was funny, they all watched Baywatch - I remember seeing it on several times at a few houses. The Baywatch sun and sand were quite different from Sweden, as was Pammy, but then she seems different than most girls. But, everyone wanted to practice speaking English with the Americans. So we were almost as popular as the bride and groom.
We had a great time, and look forward to going back soon. Their first son showed up two years ago. And a few months ago twins came along. Alex Joe Sunestrand and Sven Sunestrand. So I do have a 'grandson' named after me. I think he is the only Joe in Sweden. They brought the oldest, out on a visit last year, just before the latest pregnancy.
Our other grandson popped up a short time ago - I related our son's wedding in September. Well, in addition to gaining a daughter (in law) we gained a grandson at the same time. I wanted to get a photo of him sitting on my knee, but the wedding party was kind of busy and I missed the chance. It would have looked like Mr. T sitting on Mad Dog Murdock's knee, so picture it in your own minds. Except Etiene doesn't have shoulders that big or a mohawk, and I'm not as thin as Murdock. But it was the best comparison I could come up with on short notice. He lives in the San Francisco area, so next time I see them I'll get a shot.
This then is the first grandchild we will end up seeing on a regular basis as they grow up. That is unless our daughter makes her threatened move to Portland, to get away from the poor Nevada school system (of which, as a teacher, she is part of). And unless we make our threatened move to New Zeeland.
Well, looks like I just can't get away with a short post. But look, one with no pictures and not even a single link.

more more at work and home

Last Monday we had an IT staff meeting. I usually work from 7 - 4, but was in the middle of something at 4:30 when told that I should stick around. Seven programmers, five IT techs, the two owners, the president and the ceo all in the conference room. This was my first contact with one of the owners. I have already relayed (several times) contacts with the other.
What resulted was a three hour session telling us all how useless we were, and how things better change or the next meeting will be with a whole new staff. It was very uplifting.
The owner I had not seen before did most of the talking, telling us how when he started eight years ago he wrote all of the programs by himself, and had no problems and how the f**k he could have seven programmers and get complaints all day about crashes and errors and bad reports when he did it all himself perfectly. The other owner only spoke up a few times, because it was a technical meeting and what the f**k he didn't f**king know f**k about f**king computers (I think I'll switch to one *, less pressing the shift key, you can fill in the f and *k yourself). But if * we * couldn't * get our * act together * well we * could * find * another * job, as he * was * done with * putting the * up with * from * us and he * well would * find another * crew to * do * the * stuff * we * couldn't.
There were probably a lot more * between the other words, but again I forgot my tape recorder.
End result, after three hours (5pm - 8pm), we had better shape up. Real end result: most of us left that meeting and spent the rest of the evening at home cleaning up our resumes. We've had * enough of all the * words.
Yesterday my manager (only been here a month or so) asked if we had seen Sunday's paper. He said they were advertising for all of our * jobs, except for his. And he would not be surprised if the owners came in on Wednesday or Thursday and 'canned our asses' and replaced us all, except for him, so we better get moving. I thought we were doing well the past week, but it's all in the perception. Again, his uplifting style resulted in us all moving faster (to send off those resumes we cleaned up).
One programmer has already given notice, and I know of a few interviews people are going to this week. (that reminds me, I have a call back to do myself)
REally exciting, huh? Anyone out there want a job?

Friday, November 05, 2004

Political repercussions

Wow, an exciting week. Somebody at my house was really stuck on the elections. After weeks of watching every TV show and complaining about the Republicans, we ended up with a group over to watch election returns. I picked up two bags of Chinese food from a local place we just found out about. Not much cheering going on in front of the TV, but the food was good and I got two new lights installed in the garage and cleaned out that slow drain in my bathroom sink (I wasn't going to sit and watch, no matter the results) and the group sadly broke up around 11.
As a result of it all, we have now cancelled the subscriptions to our newspapers, one local, a real Republican paper, and the Wall Street Journal. I like the WSJ as it has some fairly detailed articles on things you don’t normally hear about. But they were pretty one sided in this election. On the Friday before the election one editorial stated in bold letters that the Journal does NOT endorse any candidates, and then the seven other editorials on the page proceeded to denigrate Kerry and talk about how great Bush was. It was pretty evident from the two editorial pages the direction they were leaning in, no matter what they said about endorsement. We’ve also stopped watching the TV news, and now put on the commercial free cable music stations. We can watch TV as long as it’s the food or home improvement or movie channels.
We’ve even started to look into New Zeeland. That sounds pretty maximum, but we look at a bigger Republican majority in the house and senate, along with a probable appointment of several Supreme Court judges. All lead by the movement in the country to repress civil liberties, and impose religious ideas upon us all. It is the vote of the citizens that put us here, and continues to move us into a repressive direction.
So we have decided to join the majority of the population, and live in ignorance. We know it affects our lives via taxes and loss of job opportunities and increased repression and National Guard troops at the airports and National Guard planes shooting up public schools (yea, just read about it) and creation of national databases on what hotels I stay at and planes I fly on. We can live without knowing about these things being put in place, and just surface to vote based on stupid single micro desires. Some people at work came up with these reasons for their vote: 'I don't want gays to marry', 'God doesn't want the killing of a fetus that can't cry', 'The world is safer now that Sadam is out', etc........ Don't look at the big picture, or the economy which really affects your life, or the over 1100 troops killed, or .... (come on, you've heard it before, too many times and IT DIDN'T MATTER TO THOSE PEOPLE ANYWAY).
The other choice is to leave. Then we will be subject to whatever laws are present, but can kind of look at it as non-voting outsiders. We’ve considered Canada, Vancouver is kind of nice. But after all these years in San Diego and Las Vegas I don’t want to face the cold and snow again. I love France, but probably could not work without knowing how to speak and read French, so that isn’t a quick option, but it is there. And their political system is even more screwed up than ours, with numerous strikes and all. For English speaking countries, England is nice but cold. Australia is full of beer drinking Aussies (nothing against Aussies, but...). New Zeeland has Hobbits, and now that the Dark Lord is down from his tower it should be a pretty nice place. And I hear they encourage computer people to come in. We are looking into weather and our dogs and house prices. Probably a trip in the Spring (their Fall) to find out.
On to something completely different:
In reading some of the comments on Annies Little Red Boat I came across a few web sites that are rather interesting (???). One sounds like a great idea, a cheap way to found your own country: Sealand is currently the smallest state on earth. It doesn’t look like a place I’d like to live, not many trees, but no taxes or Big Brother to watch over you.
Two sites that show you can put up a web site on anything, busstops IN THE Ukrane and pylon of the week show how simple you can be, and thanks to these references, along with all the others, probably with lots of hits.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

More Rain

Lots of rain the past two days. We had rain last week for two days also. By lots, I mean on Mt. Charleston, about an hour north, there was 9.75 inches in one day. At the airport here, our official weather site, there was .12 inches over the two days. Notice the decimal point. LV gets a total of around three (3) inches a year in rain, so two days of clouds were noticeable. We usually have blinding sunshine. Even after the rain today I had to wear my shades on the drive home. So a grey sky is something different. Sounds real nice on my new tin roof out back though. Scares the dog, but he's a wimp anyway.
Here's what it looked like:

This is traveling down Desert Inn, headed west. This is my commute home from work. I live about three miles west of the strip, just off Desert Inn, and work about two miles east of the strip, on Sahara (the main road just north of Desert Inn). I usually travel from east to west across the valley on DI, as that is the only road that actually goes underneath Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) instead of negotiating through the traffic lights across it. Compared to other streets the time savings can be significant, especially during heavy tourist season when the streets are full. It's much easier now that there are pedestrian crossings at each major intersection on LV Blvd, but some of the streets do not yet have the crossings and traffic is slowed by the mobs crossing the street. Construction is under way where Spring Mountain crosses the strip. At this intersection is TI, the new Wynn, an expansion of the Venetian, and the Fashion Show Mall. It's about at the northern range of most tourists who walk up and down to see the casinos. The construction of the Wynn, and the new Venetian are prompting the construction of the pedestrian overpasses there. I guess it's part of the permit process for the big towers, to put aside land for the crossing. Most casinos on the corners tie the crossings right into the second floor of their buildings. This lets them suck people in who cross the street before they get back down to the ground.
We're about a mile and a half east of the strip in this photo, facing west. The big building close to the left, and extending across the road, is our main convention center. Off in the distance you can see the new Wynn hotel - looks like the tallest on the strip, except for the tower. And no sunshine.
Further down DI (Desert Inn) across 15 is this fine edifice, Jaguar's Gentlemen's Club.:

One of the newer topless bars I was talking about. I think the cover charge to get in is $20, plus drinks and of course tips and whatever you blow on lap dances. I've never been to one of these, so I don't know what an evening would cost. But you can see from how it looks like they must take in enough, kind of like having a fancy casino. You know it's paid for somehow.
This rain was probably a little less here, but since it was a lot colder Mt. Charleston had a different effect:

Looks nice? They usually have skiing on Thanksgiving weekend, but it might start earlier this year. I hear the resorts around Tahoe got a lot of snow also. I got the picture from our local paper, here is Review Journal article that I snitched the shot from. There are other photos there.
And finally, one of the nice things about storms is that clouds come with it. Usually our sky is a clear blue, without many clouds. But when not blocking the sun totally we get nice sunsets and sunrises. This is looking east from my front door. It doesn't have much color, but I liked the ripples in the clouds:

And if you didn't go to with the penguin, here is one commercial from Japan that I found to be highly amusing. Usually it's the guys on the beach doing this, but girls can be like that too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Just Vegas

Thought I'd put up a few photos, in between what seems to becoming a word blog instead of a photo blog. Guess I'll have to take the camera out for a weekend photo shoot to build up some more.
But, here's the strip from the southwest

From here it doesn't look as fancy as it does from right on the strip. To the right is the Mandalay Bay, the pyramid, the New York skyscrapers, and the back of the Bellagio.
And how about my favorite place - I am a homeowner, who likes to do things around the house. So I probably should do a direct deposit into their account.

Though Las Vegas has the nickname of 'sin city', it became a family town a number of years ago. But some of the nudity is starting to come back to the big hotels. Very few of them have topless shows, and none with nudity any more. There are some rumors of a return.
But the prudes did have some say a while back. Prostitution is legal in all of Nevada, except for counties with a population over 100,000. Out of more than 20 counties, of course only one has the population cutoff - yes, Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. You have to drive out to Pahrump to get to the nearest legal brothel. Unless you call an 'escort' service. Our yellow pages have over a hundred pages of escort services and visit-your-hotel 'dancers'. We do have a few topless bars, and even a few that offer live nude girls. Due to zoning, all of them are clustered along Industrial Boulevard, which runs along 15 just a short cab ride from the strip.
Foxy Girls is one of the older ones.

Guess I could do a whole series on these places. The newer ones look like palaces, the older ones like biker bars.
Something else that is very prevalent in Las Vegas - pawn brokers and loan places.

Where, if you are short of money and have a job, you can write a check for $135, which the place will cash in two weeks, and give you $100 in return. Not interest, but a check cashing fee. No laws against that.
And a week ahead of the election, one just for me that I thought looked cute -

And some one emailed me this short flic, but I couldn't figure out how to remove it from the email. Found it on a site a friend pointed to. When you are having
one of those days and feel like everyone wants to just slap you upside the head.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Going to Goa

Annie just told us that she is going to Goa for a few weeks, and will ‘see us in November’. Thought of something there – wait – that was ‘See you in September’ going through my head. Wrong month, sounded the same, so I’ll sing along correctly now, thank you. Which brings up another song title – did you ever have a song going through your head, and for the life of you (what kind of phrase is that?) you couldn’t remember the title, or that one chorus in the middle? The one that always got me was the Three Dog Night song that started with ‘somebody was a bullfrog, he was a good friend of mine’. I’d go for hours trying to remember the name of that damn frog. Sticking random names in, finding nothing that fit. Really caused a brain melt for a while. (no, I’m not going to tell you, figure it out for yourselves). I guess that shows my age, Three Dog Night for dog’s sake (guys, you’ve got me doing it). I remember riding with our daughter in the car many years ago (back when she was teenager) listening to Simon & Garfunkle on the radio, and she called it ‘old fogy music’. Made me feel like an old fart (no Schmo, not that kind, but the windows were up).
Anyway, back to Goa. Made me wonder where the heck Goa was. Annie’s from London, so I tried to figure out where they go for vacations. Our friends in Sweden hit the south of Spain. Lie on the beach, get burned. But the British don’t seem to like most of Europe, took a long time to agree to the Chunnel. Greece is the destination of choice for most of the British I know. Poirot even went to Mesopotamia and Cypress; he is Belgian, but lived in London. With Google on my desk there was a quick way to find out, and Goa just popped up. West coast of India – looks really nice. And India was a British colony, so it makes sense there. Looks like a nice place, but India has not been high on my list of destinations. I’ll hit an Indian restaurant periodically, mostly (well OK, only) when our daughter drags us out. Lots of vegetarian stuff at Indian restaurants, and her being in a anti meat phase sends her looking for places unlike the Sizzler.
Sitting at work writing this, I’m usually the first one in the office. I had to leave early yesterday for a doctor’s appointment. Brett just came in and told me that I really missed an interesting meeting yesterday. Eric, one of the owners (I described a past phone call from Eric a while back – how do you guys link back like you do, can’t figure it out) called a group meeting. All of the computer guys figured we were going to be hit again. It ended up being a meeting with all of the managers and supervisors from the call floors as well, about a hundred people. Eric proceeded to talk about all of his money, his Lamborghini, his Bentley, his $80,000 watch, and how he had lots of money. He went on to say that productivity was down, conversions were down, and people were not working as hard as they should. Billing was down 20%, and we had two weeks to bust butts and if we were not back up to speed by then he would close the company down and just rent out the building. He didn’t need all of the headaches involved. As he left the room somebody closed their notebook (some people brought notebooks, thinking they would need to take notes on whatever he was about to tell us what to do), and Ben, our president, said ‘don’t leave yet, I have a few things to add. This caused Eric to turn around and say ‘see, can’t wait to leave, can’t sit for a few minutes, well, (to Ben) you should just fire a few to show how serious I am’. After Eric left Ben proceeded to say how serious Eric was, and we better get moving or in two weeks we would all be moving.
Things like that are worth videotaping. That phone conversation should have been recorded. Two items to go into my hall of good job memories, and I had to miss one. Oh well, I guess in a few weeks I’ll probably hear another good talk. Unless we come in to find the doors locked and guards on the building. Had that happen to us when I worked at Xerox, 4,000 people locked out and told to go home, we’ll be contacted. No speech, though.

So, here is another post without pictures. I was disturbed about not posting very often, realizing how I look forward to hitting the blogs I like to go to (listed to the right) every day, and really feeling good when a new post was up. The list is changing, as people drop out, and I find new ones. I emailed myself at work the link to Blogspot on how to post that I use at home, but did not email the ftp address and password where I put my photos, so I can’t upload any pictures. It’s OK to type things here, still looks like work, but I couldn’t get away with editing pictures, too obvious that it wasn’t work related.
So I better at least put in some links for you guys. Here is one I came across quite a while back, but the posting site stopped showing it because of all the people hitting them. It’s an example of why you should not put your picture on the internet. I hope this one stays up. For those of you that like to make images in your mind instead of looking at pictures here is an unusual story, gotten to from the Lioness.
That’s it for now – better do some work so Eric doesn’t can us earlier.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Another political rant - read at your own risk

We went to a ‘meet the politician’ thing at a neighbor’s house last night. Got to eat cheese and talk to somebody running for office. Nothing thrilling there, but some of the comments at the meeting, and in some blogs, leads me to diverge from my normal boring Las Vegas happenings and into the sticky world of politics. Sorry about that, I know you came here to avoid other people’s opinions and rest your eyes on some pictures of another world (yes, Vegas is another world) but now you have to be faced with lots of words and no pictures. I spend some time at work now and then reading blogs on the internet, but after ten hours here and the commute back home I am not usually in the mood to sit at my computer and put in more time doing things too similar to work. Well, bad news for you, my boss is not looking over my shoulder this afternoon so I get to sit here and write this stuff.
But I read the blogs, and enjoy getting an insight into how people think, and feel that maybe once in a while I should write things too. I’ve been modifying my ‘blogs I like’ list to the right, and hopefully have inserted some that are of interest. I like reading about
Dave’s daughter, Miranda’s classes, Keri’s kids, Ann’s household, Jo’s activities, Anna’s ideas, Annie’s subway journeys. These people write interesting stories that I look forward to seeing. It’s nice to find a post popping up after several days of no change, or even several showing up every day.

Back to the political topic – boy, there are sure some people out there that can’t see the obvious.

During the question session last night one woman wanted to discuss medicines. The politician had led into this by commenting on Bush’s direction of leadership, in making importing drugs from Canada illegal, and restricting the Social Security Administration from negotiating drug prices. The assumption was that big business (meaning drug companies and insurance companies in this case) was able to influence our ‘independent’ politicians into passing laws that favored them. What an outrageous thought. But her question was a little off of that topic. She has been using Vioxx, and instead of paying the US rate of $500 a month for her needs she was obtaining the drug illegally from a Canadian pharmacy for $240 a month. Well, admitting right there that she was a criminal, admitting guilt to committing a felony every month kind of restricted my view of her. So what if she couldn’t afford American prices, she has a responsibility to keep the drug companies profitable. Besides, those Canadian drugs could be supporting terrorists and be of inferior quality coming from unknown drug labs overseas. Doesn’t she know that the Canadians don’t now how to regulate their own companies?
Back to her topic. She just received a letter from a law firm asking her to be part of a class action lawsuit against the makers of Vioxx, for creating and selling a drug that was alleviating her pain (why she took it to begin with) but was also damaging her. It doesn’t matter that she suffered no side affects, or that she has been able to function without pain while taking it. As a user it was her duty to sue. Her problem was that she wanted to talk to her doctor about the Vioxx, but the letter from the lawyer told her not to talk to anyone, especially not her doctor. So, feeling guilty about even mentioning it in our group after the letter told her not to, she wondered about whether or not to talk to her doctor before participating in this lawsuit.
I hesitated to call her an idiot, not wanting to offend idiots, but in the group situation I kept quiet. Somebody did suggest that since she did not suffer any side effects she might consider just throwing the lawyer’s letter away. The politician was being a lawyer and a politician and suggested that everybody’s situation was different and she had to consider things herself. Somebody else said that side effects were not always apparent, and she should ask her doctor if she had been affected. But again, the response was that the letter said not to talk to her doctor.
I did restrain myself, and did not hit her over the head and say ‘Idiot, you are the type of person responsible for higher medical costs because of your stupid class action lawsuits’. OK, I know some lawsuits are valid, and do help change things, and do compensate people for wrongs. Without my requesting it I’ve been part of some class action lawsuits – one against Wells Fargo for overcharging on late payments. That one got me (and several thousand other sufferers) a $00.12 refund check, and some law firm a $22,000,000 fee for bringing it. Tell me that wasn’t worth it. But for attorneys to go looking for clients when people don’t even know they are victims – I see ads on TV from attorneys looking for people that might have worked in the asbestos industry, or at Yucca mountain, or just visited someplace where they might have been affected. To me that’s just wrong. There were no condos built in San Diego for the past five years because the odds were 110% that a builder would face a lawsuit for construction defects and so no insurance company would cover construction. First time home buyers did not have the lower cost condo option because of some lawyers that made a living looking for things. OK – there were some condos with problems, but to shut down a whole industry to me was rather a sorry outcome.

Back to political complaints –

Reading last Friday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal brought up an editorial in which they said that the Journal was independent and fair and ‘does not endorse candidates’. Out of the seven other editorial columns, six had some severe anti Kerry sentiments. It might be nice to say that you are ‘fair and impartial’ but it was rather obvious that they were not.
The guy sitting next to me wearing his Bush button – Don’t you see where the country has been the past four years? Yes, 1.6 million jobs the past six months, but they don’t overcome the millions lost in the previous three years. Make the world safer because of Iraq? Ask the Israelis killed in Egypt by the Al Quida bombings last week. Ask the families of the 1,000+ US soldiers killed over there if they feel safer (patriotic maybe, but better off?). Ask that lady mentioned above how she would feel being a convicted felon for drug importation, because she can’t afford to buy here, or why her insurance is so high, or why her doctor gave up his practice because of high malpractice insurance. Ask my neighbor who’s job is being done by somebody in India for $5 a day. I don’t know if Kerry can do any better, but he would have to do quite a lot to make it much worse.
Ok, that’s my political concept for the day. Gallager used to call them ‘mind farts’, but at least they were funny when he said them. I guess that would apply to shorter outbursts, but it still is just a smelly wind that blows away and hopefully only offends a few. Wait – I hope it offends a lot, but makes you think. And no, I will not put that Bush poster in my front yard just to be fair.

Monday, October 18, 2004

He's Back

A while back I talked about the view out my window at work. Well, for a few weeks now I've been missing my favorite feature across the street, our waving man. Well, he's back.

A recent report discussed how his arms were slowly disappearing. Las Vegas has a pretty constant wind, not constant in that it always blows the same, but constant in that there is almost always wind blowing. Sometimes quite briskly. This wind tends to blow things around and away. In addition to the wind is our beautiful sunshine. I like the view behind him - from Belagio in Italy on the right past Paris and New York and on to the Egyptian pyramid. (update - sorry, looking out the window I realize that the Eifel tower and the Belagio are off the photo to the right. But at least you can see from New York through Excaliber to the Pyramid.)
Waving man fell prey to both features. The sun breaks down everything left outside, and the wind helps by physically breaking it up. So our waving man lost his arms.
He's been gone for two weeks, and in that time he's grown quite a bit. His arms are back, longer than ever, and his legs are also much longer. Now when he waves his arms are higher than the roof of his building. But the longer legs seem to make him a little unstable. With even the slightest wind he seems to be doing some strange dance, where he leans over backward and touches his head to the ground. But I guess if you are that tall it is something to do to keep from being bored.
My wife has been volunteering for some activities around town. A while ago she started working with the Habitat for Humanity, helping to build a house near central Las Vegas. Last Saturday she went out to Henderson (just east) and put in a day on a new house out there. One of the local builders arranged for a large crew to show up, and they put up all of the walls in just the one day. Here's a shot of the last piece going in.

Seems like a nice thing to do - even Jimmy Carter is still swinging a hammer to help. I guess it's a concrete thing to do that shows results. I had helped at a homeless shelter in San Diego that tried to help people learn how to get and hold a job, which seemed a lot more useful than having a prayer and a sandwich.

I've got a whole segment on Las Vegas conventions, but part 2 of the Farscape return is about to come on, so not tonight -

But here are some blogs that I came across while wandering. These are probably more amusing to the women out there, but I did find them interesting.
Annwn talks about why women go to the restroom in pairs. Something I didn't really want to know about, and why you don't sit down.
The Lioness discusses her cat's trips to the restroom. She writes well, be sure to look on down the posts for the cat stuff.
And there is someone out there who is A Little Pregnant. Her amusing tale is about selected
body parts that tend to grow during pregnancy. It sounds somewhat interesting, but leads me to feel that Pandora Peaks (from last week's post) isn't all that unusual.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Say goodbye

I've been reading the papers and seeing the news and looking at web sites this week and thought that it was time to say goodbye to a few people. Not all are gone forever (hopefully) but some will not return, and others will be with us a long time in memories.
My first career was going to be photography. I majored in Photo Illustration in college, and thus appreciate fine camera work. One of the finest people photographers is Richard Avedon.

Richard was the first staff photographer for one of my favorite magazines, the New Yorker. Until Richard the NY used drawings. He specialized in people. He has taken photos of many famous and not famous people over the years, and he will be missed. One of my favorite photos that he took is of the actor Kevin Klein, getting in costume for his roll as FalStaff, for the New Yorker.

Another famous people photographer is Russ Meyers.

Russ was one of Playboy's first centerfold photographers back in the 50's, but is best known for his 'cult' movies, which specialized in women with very very large breasts. The Internet Movie Database lists over twenty five movies he directed, starting back with The Immoral Mr. Teas through Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. One of his well known actresses was Kitten Natividad

who was in the film 'Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Vixens", and the 72HHH star Pandora Peaks, as you can see well named. Not many shots of her covered up available but LOTS of her without clothes. I still don't see how she can stand up without falling on her face.

Rounding out the men that have left us is Rodney Dangerfield.

A well known comedian that didn't get no respect, but I enjoyed his humor as he did not make fun of others but concentrated on himself. Rodney was popular in Vegas - lots of stories in the columns about him today. Seen many times around the MGM in his pajamas - I guess he liked to be comfortable.
And we also lost a famous woman,

not her best image, appearing in quite a few movies but best known for the noisy shower scene in Psycho, Janet Leigh. Married to Tony Curtis for a while, mother of Jamie Lee Curtis. Here are Janet and Jamie together.

also well known for a topless scene, not in a Russ Meyers movie but in Trading Places with Dan Aykroyd, at least in the movie version but covered up in the TV version. Tony Curtis is a Vegas resident, and active in the charitable scene around town.

That's it for people, but I am also mourning the loss of two web sites that I liked to read daily, and used to have links for over on the right -
Off to do a book, is Belle de Jour. A London Lady, Belle never the less was very good at her writing style and covered a topic that I am not familiar with.

Another lost blog is Above Average Jo,

Known for her fairies, I dropped her link after she changed names due to some comments left by uncaring others, but kept reading her new site which is now again closed due to more commenting. Sad to see you go Jo.

So that's by list of goodbye's for today. Looking at it like this, it sure is a ramble of different ideas. Sorry there are no shots of Las Vegas this time. But goodbye to all of these, and many others I left out.