Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Canyon start

Well, we finally made it away from the house for a few days. My wife made the arrangements, and we spent four days up at the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It's only a five hour drive from here to the rim, but it seems a long way. From a hot 106f to a plateau high of 74f (low of 54). Haven't been that cool in months.
I'll post more later, but for now here are two shots:
Me out on Angel's Point

For those of you asking for my picture. I'm the one in the blue shirt. Here's an better overall view:

And here is my wife out on the viewpoint in front of the Grand Canyon Lodge.

She's the one in the blue and white striped top.
Had a great time - took lots of photos - I'll post more after I've had a chance to Photoshop them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

But it's a DRY heat

Yea, yea, yea, I've heard it.

I didn't get home until it cooled off yesterday, but it was 113f at my house in the afternoon, dropped down to 107 by the time I got the camera out. I wondered what kind of picture to take that would demonstrate the heat, but the best my fevered mind could come up with is the lame shot of a thermometer. Sorry for the lack of imagination. It does cool off at night, dropped to 82f by sunup this morning. Back to 112f this afternoon. No significance to the penny. You can see that our air conditioner works.
Humidity was around 20%, which is rather high. Thunderstorms were not predicted but there were some clouds around. When I lived in New Jersey it would not get much over 85f, but the humidity was around 110% and at night it seemed to heat up by a few degrees. I remember many summer nights laying in bed just soaked, hoping for a breeze through the window that never came. Give me the dry heat. I know, I know, as I say, it's dry in an oven too, and the meat gets done. Probably does. But it was 123f in Death Valley, just an hour's drive if I really wanted hot.
Here's a shot of the beautiful window view that I have at work.

That's the window to the right. You can see my desk, with computer, coffee cup and banana. If I lean over I can just see the top of a palm tree outside. The bookcases prevent much of a view, but it's more of a window than anyone else in the room has.
The picture on the wall is of one of my favorite spots, taken in Baynac, France a few years ago. That's my wife addressing postcards for the masses. Red striped umbrellas, and the ever popular world wide plastic chairs.
I found that to be about the most calming, pleasant place in the world. And the site of some of the best meals I have ever had. The foi gras in brown sauce on walnut toast was to die for.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Closeup waving man

Looking at my last post I realized that it was difficult to see the elements I was talking about.

I look at the waving man across the street several times a day. I try to get up from my desk and walk at least once an hour. Sitting for ten hours a day tends to make my legs swell up - guess I'm getting old. Walking seems to help so I try not to sit too long without getting up. This poor guy is loosing his arms, at least I can feel sorry for him out in the hot sun all day.
And behind him is grafitti row.

It's still hard to see, but the building fronts are all covered too.
Thought I'd do some short entries more often, seems like I missed the past few weeks, so I'll try just a pic or two every other day.
One of my favorite blogs is Little Red Boat In today's post she discusses a trip that didn't go over very well.

My favorite line from this story discusses the small room she ended up with - "It was like one of those things, like a cleaners cupboard, but, because it was in a "four-star hotel" and supposed to be a "bedroom", it was a cleaners cupboard in which a big fat suicide-chintz-fairy had exploded and no-one had got around to scraping the aftermath off the walls yet.". I'm not sure that I'd like to see a big fat suicide-chintz-fairy, or the results of her explosion, but I can picture it.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Bats at the pool

We were floating around in our pool yesterday evening at sunset, about the time we usually hit the water – it’s too sunny to use the pool in the daytime, when most people would think to swim. Sunburn is too active a word in Las Vegas, and even with waterproof sunscreen you still burn when outside. So we swim after the pool is shaded. The temp is still over 100f even after sunset, so it’s warm enough.

We have never had a house with a pool before, San Diego was really too cool to use one much. When we first saw this house we did not want it because it had such a large pool, but after looking at over sixty houses, and finding that probably 80% of them had pools, we found the pool was not such a negative. The pool is 24’ by 40’, quite large. But it fits in the side yard well, and has a cover which really helps keep it clean. We have found out that the cover also warms it up. By preventing evaporation, and trapping the heat, our pool ends up being quite warm. Last weekend the water temperature was about 101f, which was a little too warm. We have found out that 95f is about right, feeling more like a bath when you get in, then just right when you float around. But 101 was too much like a hot tub without the bubbles. Our solution – install the fountain –

When we had the cover replaced it came with a pump, so that we could pump out the water from the cover after it rained. We haven’t used it much for the intended purpose – LV only gets 6 inches of rain a year. But I did get a fountain head, and a piece of pipe and was able to attach it to the pump. As you can see, it does make a nice spray overhead. And you can see the colorful noodles that we use to float around on.

We left the cover open for two days and nights and left the fountain on. The water level went down about an inch (some evaporation, but with 109 days and about 6% humidity, it really blows away) The water temp dropped to 90, and the fountain came out. My son in law calls it Little Bellagio – I’d like to get more, and hook them up to a computer, but maybe some day. We started covering it up, and last night the temp was around 92. Better, but should be just right in a few days.

For the title – laying around just before sunset a bunch of swallows fly overhead, collecting insects. As the sun goes down we are then visited by small bats. My wife counted six – I’ve never seen more than four around, over our pool and down by the stables a few blocks away. Too dark for pictures – but the flew around overhead for almost an hour, until the sky was too dark to see them anymore. Some came down quite low – just inches over the water. I guess the insects were out in force. We weren’t bitten, but the bats wouldn’t stay unless they had food. Interesting to watch them zoom around.

Another shot last night – didn’t come out too good.

It was the night of the blue moon – which is the second full moon in one month. For some reason Vegas moons always look big, but last night it just seemed to fill the sky. Made it pretty bright outside too.

Here are a couple of shots that most tourists don’t see. Just a block east of the strip on Sahara is Paradise Avenue. On the corner of Paradise and Sahara is an old MacDonald’s restaurant that I drive by every afternoon going home.

It looks like one of the originals – still has the golden arches that made up the structure, and there also are some unusual medallions on the sign and in the arch. It looks like the face of a small waiter in a white chef’s outfit. I don’t know if this was on all of the old stores, or just this one for some reason. Anyone familiar with the original MacDonald stores from the 50’s or 60’s?

And right across the street is the end of our new monorail. It opened a few weeks ago, running from Sahara’s south to the MGM. One day it is supposed to make it all the way down to the airport, when it will really be useful. And this end is supposed to continue north to downtown Freemont Street. It’s privately funded, so we’ll see how it goes.

They'll have to take out the palm trees. The track that curves off to the left goes to the 'car barn' where they park and fix the trains. To the right is the back of the Sahara, which has a bridge that crosses Paradise for people to get to the station. So you can get across Paradise without meeting any cars. Sorry for the reflections, but it was 109 and I had the car air conditioner on. I usually drive with the windows down, but for some reason when it's over 105 the air feels much nicer than the wind.

And a few blocks further east down Sahara is the place where I get to spend my days. My office is on the third floor, and walking to the end of the room I find a window that looks south across Sahara.

Across the street is a uniform store. To attract attention they have a big blow up man in front. I’ve tried to catch the crew that sets him up, but just haven’t made it to the window when they are doing it. In the morning he’s not there, then sometimes around 10 he shows up, waving his arms and bowing to the wind. He’s starting to loose his arms. They are down to mere stubs now, and shortly will disappear. You can see the Hilton over to the right, the convention center in the center, and just to the left is a fancy wall. The image resolution isn’t good enough, but it’s a large graffiti image covering the entire wall of the building next to the uniform shop. Some mornings the uniform shop is colorful, but they send out an employee with white paint to cover it quickly. This part of town has a lot of graffiti, which I find depressing. And a lot of trash, and old cars, and people sleeping between the buildings. But it’s where I work not where I live.