Monday, October 30, 2006

Around the Strip Casinos

OK, back to Vegas topics. I wrote about things to do around the area, then on the strip, today we’ll discuss my views of the big strip casinos. Remember – these are my impressions of the place, even though we’ve been here for a few years I still haven’t been into all the casinos, or know all the hidden (or probably very visible) corners of each property. These are just places that I like to walk through and take visitors to.

When going down to the Strip I divide it up into three pieces. Las Vegas Boulevard is rather long and it is just a little too far to hit every place during one trip. Besides, it’s nicer to walk slowly and look at where you are, then go again to another section. My pieces are also divided up by where we park: locals know not to drive on Las Vegas Boulevard, so I look for the parking garages that can be reached from the back access roads. Each of these sections create a walk that takes anywhere from four to six hours, depending on how slowly you go, what you look at, and how often you stop and sit. We usually walk slowly, stop a lot, and look at everything. Since we live here there is no rush to see everything in one day. Even if giving tours to visitors we spread it out over several days.

1. Driving in from the west we head down Desert Inn Road, and there is a nice off ramp that winds us right into the parking garage for the Fashion Show Mall. There is lots of parking, I can grab a Starbucks first to get me moving, and if hungry we can hit one of the restaurants there. This is our base for hitting the north end casinos, which include Wynn’s, TI, Mirage, Caesar’s, and the Venetian.
2. If we say on DI, which is the only east/west street that doesn’t have a light on the strip but goes underneath it, we come to Paradise Road, which runs on the east side of the strip down to the airport. Turning south on this we can get to the parking garage of the Aladdin, which is also the Desert Passage shopping center. This is a little different mall, laid out to look like walkways through a foreign city – that is now, as the Aladdin has been sold to the Hard Rock group and it might change. This is our starting point for mid strip properties, including the Aladdin, Paris, Bally’s and the Bellagio.
3. Instead of taking DI we can go down Twain, and follow the path I take to work every day. This leads to Frank Sinatra Drive, which runs along side I-15 just to the west of the Strip casinos. Following this I can get into the Mandalay Bay or Luxor parking garages. We start here for our south Strip foray, which includes Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, Excalibur, Tropicana, MGM Grand and New York New York.
4. Can’t forget about downtown and the old section of the city off of the Strip. We like to go there at night, when the big signs that are seen in all the movies are lit up and the show is overhead at the Freemont Street Experience. Here we park at the Gold Nugget parking garage, and get a stamp in the casino – all parking downtown costs, while the strip parking is free.

Here is a picture I cut out of the paper a few years ago, I keep this handy to remind me where everything is.

There are a number of casinos that are not on my usual tour, because they are not really convenient to walk through and are rather older. These are the more northern places, like Circus Circus, the Stardust (which is about to be torn down), the Riviera, the Sahara and the Stratosphere. Circus Circus is interesting to hit, just to see all the activities available for the kids. It also seems to always have really grimy carpets, from all of the candy and treats that the kids seem to drop and walk over. The Stratosphere might be a destination just to go up in the tower. You can hit the rides up there (too high for me for a ride) or the revolving restaurant. It’s not rated as one of our best for food quality, but you can’t beat the view. The Sahara is the center for Nascar, so those racing fans among you might like to stop. The Hilton is off by itself to the east, a place to go if you are into Star Trek.

So, considering that those three parking garages are my starting points, here are the paths I take and the things to see as we walk.

For the north, we wander the Fashion Show Mall, looking at the shops and perhaps seeing one of the fashion shows that occur throughout the day. Then out and across the bridge to TI. This used to be known as Treasure Island, originally one of the first big themed hotels built by Steve Wynn. It used to be all pirates inside, with skulls and bones, the waitresses in pirate outfits with short skirts, a really big arcade for the kids and the classic pirate ship battle out front. It’s been converted back to an adult resort, with some fancy ‘ultra lounges’ overlooking the lagoon out front. The pirate battle has even been changed to the Sirens of TI, with scantily clad young women. It’s still interesting to watch – the battles happen hourly each evening, schedules changing with the seasons (posted out front). TI is also the home for Mystere, the first Cirque du Soleil show on the strip.

You can then either walk over or take the tram to the Mirage. Here you should go past the registration desk, and see the first huge salt water fish tank behind the check in counters. The theme of this casino is more jungle, interesting to walk through. Also the site of Sigfried and Roy’s big cats and exhibits.

Next down the strip is Caesar’s Palace. Coming from the Mirage you pass their big lake and erupting volcano. You first come upon the entrance to the shopping mall. Enter here and you will find a grand entrance – with the circular escalators leading up to the top level, where you have to go to get to the rest of the mall. See the expensive shops, and perhaps some celebrities shopping. Stop at one of the shops for a coffee or soda and sit at an outside table (well, not outside outside but outside of the shop on the mall) and watch people. By now your feet will start to hurt and it is a good time for a short rest. Proceed through all of the arms of the mall, looking for the big fish tank and the talking statues. There are several circular courts where there are periodic shows. You might come upon Anthony and Cleopatra and their Roman Legion guards walking through; stop them for a photo op.

Then end up at the casino itself. There are several really fancy restaurants around Caesar’s, you might hit one for lunch if you feel rich. The casino has been upgraded recently, it used to be one of the old classic style casinos, but the ceilings have been raised giving it a different feel. Exit out the main entrance and work your way south through the courtyard, perhaps stopping here for another drink at the outdoor bar (really outside this time).

If you really feel like walking you can continue over the bridge south to the Bellagio, but we usually cross over to the east side of the strip and pass by the Barbary Coast and the Flamingo. This is the site of Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburgers In Paradise restaurant/bar, and where I would suggest you have lunch. If the weather is nice you can ask for an outdoor table, or just hit the top level outside bar and look across at Caesar’s. Sitting in the main room to eat is an experience, with the entertainers and erupting volcano.

Continuing north you pass the Imperial Palace and Harrah’s, which are older and I just quickly wander through. You then come upon the Venetian. Like Caesar’s, there is a large shopping mall (not as large, but nice stores) but this one is upstairs along side the Grand Canal. You can watch the gondoliers floating by, they all sing a little song at the turn around point which you come to first. Wandering around you eventually come to St. Mark’s Square. Grab an ice cream cone or drink and sit again and watch the entertainment. Take a boat ride if you want to – there are also boat rides out front if the weather is warm. Take the escalator down to the casino level and wander some more. There is a good restaurant here, not fancy but the Grand Lux Café has a good menu and another nice place for lunch or not really expensive dinner.

Outside again, past the front lagoon and construction site for the new tower you cross the bridge over to Wynn’s. Here you walk through the trees, past the waterfall into another short shopping mall. These stores are really high end and $$$$. There is a nice ice cream parlour near the entrance, a place to sit either when you go in or you leave. You can walk past the stores and have a drink at the up and down bar, overlooking the lagoon. Wander around inside – we still haven’t made it to the main shops farther inside the casino. The coffee shop off the casino is another nice place for a sandwich. If you’re into cars you might stop at the Ferrari dealership and look at what a quarter million dollars can get you (they do sell a lot of cars, it’s rated as the dealership with the highest sales in the world). Used to be free, but so many people were wandering around getting in the way of paying customers that it now costs $5 to walk through. Pick up a Ferrari keychain or hat. If you’ve done really well at the tables pick up a real Ferrari. (quite a few people have; that’s why they’re there)

When you’re done there it’s across the bridge and back to the Fashion Show, for more shopping or just to get to the car.
Next part, center Strip. From the parking garage we wander through the Desert Passage streets. We do like a number of the stores here, and there are quite a few tourist oriented shops, including a nice store for Vegas trinkets in gold and silver if you have a bracelet that you add to for every vacation. Stop at the dock area, and watch rain fall from the ceiling into the lagoon. You can grab an ice cream cone and sit and wait for it (every half hour or so).

The Desert Passage is attached to the Aladin hotel and casino. This is due to become the Planet Hollywood soon. The new organization is busy upgrading the mall and casino, so things will be changing during the near future.

After your wanderings go on outside and head north to Paris. I like this casino – it’s full of trees (artificial) and wandering paths and metro stops supposedly looking like a walk through Paris (yea, sure, a Paris filled with slot machines). There are back passages and a really nice coffee shop with some nice pastries. Sitting here with an espresso and pastry does feel a little like a Paris side street café. You can ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a nice view up and down the strip. There is a good restaurant up there, we haven’t tried it yet. I have had reports that it is a pleasant place to eat, and look down upon the center of the strip.

Out front is the boulangerie restaurant, you can grab a sandwich inside or better yet wait for an outside table, which is just a few feet above the Strip sidewalk with a view across to the Bellagio fountains. Take your time to eat, watch people walking by, and wait for the water show across the street. Afterwards wander back through the casino and back corridors into the rear of Bally’s. Go on through this casino back to the Strip, passing through the old outside tunnels and moving walkway.

Take the bridge over to the Bellagio. This entrance is right at the shops and fancy restaurants. You can stop on the bridge over the strip and take some nice photographs both north and south. Perhaps catch the fountain show from up here. The Bellagio shopping area starts here at the north corner. In addition to the fancy shops there are some pretty fancy restaurants. If you have the money you can dine fine and overlook the fountain show from behind. During nice weather some of the restaurants have dining out on the balconies overlooking their ‘lake’. Meals here are about ‘Strip average’ for a nice meal – around $100 per person, plus wine. There are some wide spots in this passage that they decorate for different holidays.

Keep wandering and you will eventually come to the casino floor. If you keep to the left wall there are more fancy restaurants. We usually just keep following the main path through the middle. You will come upon two small cocktail areas raised a few steps above the main floor, one in about the center and one down by the lobby at the other end. Either of these is a great place to stop, take a break, and have a drink, coke or coffee and watch the crowds go by. Both have a piano, and live entertainment at assorted times.

Continuing on you will eventually come to the lobby. Take a break again here. Look up at the ceiling – it’s covered with big glass flowers. Sit a bit and watch all of the people checking in and out. Turn right and you will come to the conservatory – this is one of our favorite places on the Strip. First, it’s free. Next, it’s a big glass ceiling room filled with flowers and decorated for the season. The Bellagio changes the decorations here every six to eight weeks, so you can keep coming back and see something different each time. Last year they purchased a huge banyan tree from someplace in Florida, cut it up and trucked it out here. It shows up periodically in the back, something big to walk through. At the back of the conservatory is an area where you usually walk through the plants. One Christmas there was snow falling from the ceiling. Usually there are some of their unique fountains spurting water overhead.

At the rear is the entrance to their coffee shop – we haven’t eaten here yet, but there is usually only a short line. To the other side is an exit that leads back to the new spa tower and the chocolate fountain. This is another place that sells some great pastries and coffee (and chocolate) so you can try something fancy here as well.

When you’re done here exit through the main lobby. Turn right and take the moving walkways back to the Strip. There are places to get off if you catch one of the fountain shows during your ride. At this point I would suggest that you walk back north up Vegas Boulevard, and look at the lake and fountains from this angle. There are benches to sit on, and it’s a nice shady walk. Take the overhead bridge back across, and walk past the front of Bally’s, Paris and back to the Aladin.

Just south of the Bellagio is a lot of construction, this is the site of the new seven BILLION dollar (that’s $ 7,000,000,000 ) City Centre construction project. Looks like it will be another stop on the tour, and a place to kill quite a few hours.

Our last segment is the south strip. For this section we usually park in the Mandalay Bay parking garage. The entrance from the garage is right into the main restaurant area, at Lenin Square. Wander through here and keep turning right. You’ll pass their Black and White coffee shop and head towards the convention center. The walkway is nice, full of plants and water fountains. Some of the restaurants are pretty nice just to look at. The most romantic restaurant we’ve found is here – the Fleur de Lys. It’s a really nice place – you can get an intimate table surrounded by draperies and have a nice quiet romantic dinner. We went for our 30th wedding anniversary, and I would highly recommend it. Of course, dinner here is a little above Strip median, probably running $250 or so for two of you. (but hey, you’re not in Vegas very often, are you?). If you want a view rather than intimacy then hit Mix (description later, photos in an earlier post). Next to Fleur de Lys is Aureole, with it’s famous four story wine tower. You can look at it through the round windows, and if you go by when it’s open you can see the ‘wine angels’ flying up and down the tower on wires, picking out bottles. Next comes Shanghai Lily, probably the next fancy place we’ll try – supposedly some pretty great Oriental food. Look at the tiles on the outside as you go by.

Round the corner and head to the convention center. To your left will be a wall of windows looking down on the pool area. You can see the wave pool and in the center the concert stage, where you can stand in the water and catch some good groups during the summer. Past the wedding chapel, and you will eventually come to Shark Reef. A place where you can wander among the fishes and kill another several hours.

Backtrack a ways and get back to the casino. If you are in Vegas for a few days then you can really treat yourself to a day (or half day) at the spa. The spa at Mandalay Bay is rated as one of the best, for guys or gals (not mixed, separate areas), a good way to pamper yourself with a facial or massage or just lay around for a few hours. We’ve sent some relatives there, and treated B as well. Nothing to really look at in the spa area, just something to think about.

Through the casino, near the end off to the right is the House of Blues, site of a noisy Sunday Gospel Brunch, as well as stopping place for some good groups. To the left is the entrance to The Hotel tower. This is where you can catch the elevator (in the corner, you have to look for it) up fifty floors to Mix; the bar and restaurant. Mix used to be rated as one of the best restaurants in Vegas, but it changed management and dropped down, but I’ve recently heard from people that have gone to eat that it is pretty good once again. And the view is about the best you will find anywhere. (see photos below). The elevator doesn’t open until 5pm, so no more daytime views until time change in the Spring, but go up and have a drink anyway. Sit out on the balcony if the wind isn’t too much.

Back down and keep heading north (inside the casino) and you’ll come to some escalators that take you up to the shopping area. Just next to the escalators is a bookstore and coffee shop – this is the site of some evening book and poetry meets, if you’re into that. Some different shops along this area. There is a kid’s store that I would recommend you all go into – some really cute stuff (but at $400 + per outfit a little past these grandparents budget). There is also Urban Outfitters, a chain around the west. In the center you’ll some upon the Burger Bar – my choice for a few meals (probably $15 each or so, some good local beers here too if you like that. Unless you go for the $60 burger; haven’t tried that one yet, usually just get the Kobe beef with fries.)

Continuing on you’ll go through some doors and be on the upper level of the Luxor. Some tourist shops here, along with an Imax theatre. Look up at the inside of the pyramid, with the peak thirty stories above you. Wander around up here, then go on down to the casino level. More wandering, and eventually exit via the main front doors. Turn around and look at it as if you are coming in - this is about the most impressive casino entrance I think you’ll find anywhere. Two huge Egyptian statues, a shiny floor, and thirty stories of the inside of the pyramid opening above.

Exit here and you can either take the tram and walk north to the Excalibur. I think this place looks best from the outside – a tall wall with openings at two corners, with a fairytale castle inside. The casino isn’t very impressive. You can have dinner downstairs and watch the jousting matches if you like action.

Exit here and cross the bridge north to New York New York. I like the inside of this casino too, similar to Paris, you walk the streets of New York City. Wander to the back through the narrow streets, stop for a coffee, and you will eventually come to the entrance to the El – really the roller coaster. Grissom from CSI used to like this one; though he hasn’t been riding coasters for the past few seasons. Back out the main entrance and continue north along the strip, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to the Monte Carlo. Haven’t been into this one so I don’t have anything to say. We usually just take the bridge across the strip over to the MGM Grand.

The MGM is still rated as the largest hotel in the world (number of rooms) with over 5,500 hotel rooms. Soon to be outdone by the Venetian, when their new tower opens next year. Out back, when Vegas was pushed as a place for kids, there used to be an MGM theme park, with rides and stuff. It’s been closed, and the area is filling up with condo towers. You used to meet MGM characters wandering the casino, from Dorothy to the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, but they are gone along with the park. There are some top rated restaurants here, along with three or four ‘ultra lounges’.

When you’re done wandering the MGM you can go a bit north to the M$M World (I think it’s still there) or just cross the bridge south to the Tropicana. One of the older places on the strip, unfortunately it looks like it. Walk back towards the hotel rooms, there is a bridge down the center with pools and green space on either side. The bridge used to be lined with parrots and other big birds that you could talk to. (don’t know if they’re still there).

Eventually exit and cross the street back over to the Excalibur. Take the trolley south back to Mandalay and you’re done.

So there you go – three smaller segments that cut the Strip up into smaller pieces. If you walk slow, stop to look and stop at the coffee shops or bars for a drink and to people watch each of these can take a full day. If you walk fast and try to get through it all you can at most do only two in a day – no way you can see the whole strip at once. Please, don’t try – take your time and enjoy your self. If you don’t see it all this trip you can always plan to come back. After all, the Venetian and City Centre projects are under construction. And the Stardust is due to close in a few days, to be imploded and replaced with a four billion dollar ($ 4,000,000,000 ) new project up north of the Fashion Show. Rumors have it that the Hilton will also be replaced, and the Tropicana has been sold with more rumors of implosion and replacement. Vegas is always changing.

And this doesn’t cover downtown or the Rio, Orleans and Palms to the west or the Hard Rock to the east.

I’ll try to pull my casino photos together, and list them along with links to the major casino web sites. Restaurant reviews and suggestions to come in a future post.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Three driving in again

Driving in:

1. Driving in to work, down Twain headed almost due east, the sun is almost up but looking in the rear view mirror the mountains to the west are already lit up, and the bright red bands of rock (above Red Rock Canyon, appropriately) are really standing out in the morning light.
2. Looking straight ahead down to the strip, seeing the new Venetian tower going up. The central elevator/service core is already poured and up to fifty stories or so, looking huge, with the steel framework of the surrounding building reaching up about halfway. Seeing bright flickering points where the steelworkers have been welding all night long and are still at it.
3. Turning the corner onto Frank Sinatra and going past the City Centre construction site, finding all of those digging machines that were visible last week are already down low enough so I can’t see them. The central core of some of the buildings (it’s a $7,000,000,000 project with several major buildings) already up above eye level, heading up to whatever they will eventually be. A little further down there is a concrete batch plant that has been built on site and the row of big concrete mixing trucks parked there (about fifty of them) are warming up, their red lights blinking in the shadows, waiting to pull out, fill up, and move over to the pumps to add to the growing buildings.

Thanks to Clare.

And for VG, a little of E Friday, on time again.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

OK, enough being nice, back to complaints

Ok, ok, enough nice stuff. I do like reading all of the three things that people are posting as opposed to complaints and sarcasm, but there is only so much I can ignore.

Did you notice the upper right corner? The ‘official’ Iraqi death toll is over 655,000? That’s the number of people that have died that would not have if we weren’t there. It includes civilians ‘accidentally’ killed in action, bad guys, people killed by the death squads, people that died from lack of medical care because we destroyed all the hospitals, people that died from disease because they no longer have electricity or clean water, basically the number of people that died because of us. Over and above those that would have died anyway, or been part of Hussein’s plans. For some reason I find that a pretty disgusting figure.

But our government feels it’s OK, people are better off with the democracy that we provided. All of the friends and relatives and family members of those that died, I imagine, probably are saying that it was all worth it. They are more than happy to offer their loved ones, and to put up with only two hours of electricity a day (if they get that), no clean water, bombs in the marketplace, food shortages, fear of soldiers knocking down your door looking for insurgents, possibilities of being kidnapped and killed while walking down the street and whatever else they are presented with. Because they have democracy it is all worthwhile.

It’s evident in recent polls, where somewhere around 65% of the Iraqi population want the US to pull out immediately. That means that over thirty percent of the country wants us there! Yes, reason to stay the course. After all, we have to stay until we achieve ‘victory’. I’ve never heard the current definition of victory, but somehow in my mind it doesn’t fit with the above number.

And the number of US troops killed or wounded? I watch the pictures and names going by in silence every night on the PBS NewsHour. Letters to the editor in our RJ compare the deaths to soldiers killed in World War II. It’s much lower, so we should have no complaints. I’m trying to remember my history, but didn’t we have a reason for entering WW2? Something like other countries asking for help, and a little thing called Pearl Harbor? Don’t tell me the World Trade Center stuff is comparable, that might be a good reason for going into Afghanistan, but do not try to convince me that Iraq was behind it.

So our headlines are filled with stories about congressmen and pages, bribes and kickbacks, other stories that indicate that we are tired of seeing stories about Iraq and just want to forget about it. There are now only a few dozen reporters imbedded in Iraq, down from hundreds when this started. News stories are shifted to inside pages if printed at all. Photos of the coffins coming back are not permitted, We are told to trust our leaders, and stay the course. What freekin’ course? The one the Titanic took through the icebergs?

And I too ignore it. I bypass the stories of death, how October is the month with the highest number of US deaths in a long time. The stories of mass murders, and people disappearing. Why? Because I too feel powerless. What can I do? Nothing but complain, and complain to people that have no power to do anything either. (I’m assuming that W doesn’t read this blog; he hasn’t left any comments).

Sorry I’m not posting as much. Hours at work have become strange again. Management actually wants me to do work! Imagine that! And hourly phone calls at 1am and 2am and 3am – just far enough apart for me to almost be fully asleep – do not lead to productive days. Besides coming in at 4 to help with problems yesterday. OK, enough excuses.

And now for something completely different.

There, does that take your mind off of things? It does for me.

I was taking my lunchtime walk (yes, I’d rather walk than write, sorry) listening to my Ipod and imagining some local sightings. Imagine hitting your favorite place for Karaoke, the guy up before you doing a fairly nice job on If I Every Lose my Faith in You, and on your turn you get Every Breath You Take. Looking out as you sing you think that last guy looked pretty good, in fact, yes, he did look a lot like Sting. Could you keep singing? OK, Sting hasn’t done it here in Vegas but a while back Bono from U2 showed up for Karaoke. (and I’ve got Sting on my Ipod, not U2). Usher has been showing up for pick up basketball games at a local health club. Celine Dion takes her kid to the supermarket for shopping sessions. Liza Minelli wandered the Fashion Show mall last week. Not to mention who you might be sitting next to at one of the Casino restaurants, or just who is that person at the next blackjack table? Robin Williams and Lance Armstrong riding bikes around Red Rock? Didn’t seem to happen very often in San Diego. We did bump into Russell Crowe sitting at an outdoor restaurant there, but that was a while back. I know, doesn’t happen very often, but something to think about while walking. Wish I did know Sting, to take him out to sing up in Minnesota or someplace. They closed down the Strip a few months ago for Jerry Lewis to conduct the LV Symphony for a piece shown during his telethon.

The town is getting ready for the next marathon – haven’t seen the route for this year, but last year it was just a block from our house. I have a hard enough time walking, but it might be nice to run down the Strip, between all the casino lights. Last year the marathon started before sunrise, going up the strip, turning west and winding in a big circle to end up back at Mandalay Bay. I think it’s December 10 this year.

OK, enough, back to work.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Driving home 3 and E Friday

Driving home:

1. Driving past the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and finding two big limos parked on the center divider out front, with wedding party and bride and groom (in Tux and white lace wedding gown with long train) posing in front of the sign for photos. Looking again and seeing that the bride and groom both look to be in their 70’s (at least).
2. Stopping at the light in front of the little wedding chapel, about to make my left turn off of the South Strip and head west, and seeing the sun reflecting off of the big golden Mandalay Bay building right in front of us. With the season change I get to drive into the sun when headed west and also drive into the reflected sun heading north as well.
3. Turning the corner to find all three lanes of traffic at a stop, realizing that it’s going to take me almost an hour to get through all the traffic lights rather than the ten minutes it takes me on a fast day. Time to listen to music and think.

Thanks to Clare.

And for VG, a little of E Friday, on time for once. (well, a little late in the day but it’s still Friday)

E has now switched to teacher mode, and is showing Elmo (her absolute fav Sesame Street character) how to read a book

Grammy takes E down to the park almost every morning. Somebody gets to ride in style, while the guys check the wheels out for notes from other dogs.

And at the park E is now doing the big slide (well, with grammy’s help). OK, not the really big slide, but the bigger kids big slide, not the really big kids big slide seen in the background. You can see the play structures that are in most Vegas kids parks. And E usually brings along (well, grammy brings, E eats) a bag of granola and raisins for a snack.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

E laughing video

OK, trying something new. Deana and Jack have posted videos, and I thought that I’d pull some out to show off E. Yes, I know, this has seemed to change from a Vegas blog to an E blog, but I promise to get back to shots of Vegas. I’m working on a listing of the big casinos and things to see on the strip now.

D used Youtube, which does seem to have a nice interface, while Jack just pointed to a link. Let’s try Jack’s method first – here’s a shot of E laughing. Probably too big for those of you on phone in. Let me know if it works or not, and I’ll try other options.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lunchtime walks

On my lunchtime walk - now that summer is over and it's cool again I'm back to walking. Yesterday was really nice, around 82f at noon and sunny (well, it's Vegas, it's always sunny)

1. Walking in front of that fancy Italian place with big windows overlooking the airport and the strip beyond and seeing a big stretch limo at the front door with the driver just opening the back, wondering just who is about to get out for lunch. Vegas has become the place to be for the Hollywood movie and music crowd, so if you are in the right place you can catch anyone from local Elton John to Robin Williams to Hugh Hefner and his three girls to Paris Hilton to Liza Minelli to Bill Clinton to Kirk Douglas to Jenna Jameson. Never know who will be getting out of that limo. (you can read Norm's gossip column every day to see who is around)
2. Walking past that fancy Italian place and looking around the corner to see the New York skyline in the distance, with a pyramid close by, the fairytale castle along side and the Eiffel tower a little further down, and realizing you do live in Disneyland.
3. Walking past the big empty lot that’s being prepared for a new office building, finding a forest of big plants in large boxes ready to be planted. There are two dozen pine trees about thirty feet high, making it feel like you’re walking into a mountain pass.

Thanks to Clare.

And for VG, a little of E Friday, on time for once. Our gardener in action, with more Lisa stripes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Three into work

On my morning drive in to work

1. Looking over at the City Centre construction site and seeing thirty or so big digging machines (used to be called steamshovels, but haven’t used steam since before I was born) scattered around, with their big booms sticking up like giant’s elbows, in a variety of colors and sizes, from fifty feet high with buckets big enough to drive my car into down to little machines eight feet high, in white and yellow and red and rust, all digging away filling up long lines of huge dump trucks, which then pull out in front of traffic and fill the sky with clouds of white powdery dust.
2. Driving past the famous much photographed ‘Thanks for coming to Las Vegas’ sign (well, it says ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ on the other side) and finding a large group of motorcycles parked on the center divider, with a bigger group of leather clad riders standing behind getting their picture taken in the early morning sunrise.
3. Turning the corner to head east along the airport runways and seeing a row of planes lined up to land. Four or five up in the air in a straight line, separated by perhaps a mile or two, with landing lights on providing a dwindling line of lights disappearing into the distance. Thinking of all the people inside looking forward to their stay in the adult Disneyland that I live in every day.

Thanks to Clare.

Seeing E arrive for a day with Grandma. Yes, in more Lisa stripes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

For VG, a late E Friday (really late)

OK, sorry VG for missing another Friday. Here’s a late Saturday E post:
First, showing the latest in fashion, stripes with a diaper (OK Lisa, she’s halfway in style)

And the latest fashion accessory, a nice orange tape measure. Good for lots of things. But not for opening that cabinet behind her. Hasn't figured out the fancy locks yet.

On to the proper method of eating as well. Granola with raisins is fine, well, at least the raisins are.

And what kid doesn’t like spaghetti? Just before taking a nap. That is, if she can get out of the chair before falling asleep.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Three sounds

1. The sound of a train horn off in the distance – the tracks are three miles away, but when it’s quiet and the weather is right we can hear the horn when going out our front door. Makes me think of places the trains go, riding one of those old glass domed cars up through the canyons into Colorado I’ve seen in movies.
2. The zzzzzipppp zzzzipppp of bagels sliding down through the slicer at Einstein’s. I picked up a dozen on the way to work this morning, it made the anticipation of fresh chewy bagels and cream cheese come forward during the drive in. (yes, I waited, smelling those fresh bagels and a Mocha Valencia from Starbuck’s next door during the twenty minute drive)
3. The shoosh shoosh of car tires going through rain puddles. Hey, it’s the desert and we only get to hear that a few times a year.

OK, one more
4. The sound of rain on our metal patio roof all night long. Also on the bathroom skylight when I go in there in the dark. The sound moves from a light plink plink to a thunderous applause as waves of water come and go.
OK, OK, just one more
5. The sound of thunder off in the distance, at times moving closer and louder. Causing our brave vicious little Max to shake like crazy lying next to me in bed.

Thanks to Clare.

Here’s what our sky looked like last evening.

Don’t get sunsets with clouds out here very often.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Udge's tag

OK, thanks to Udge (Germany):

The Rules of this tag game are:
1. Grab the book nearest to cheating!
2. Open to page 123.
3. Scroll down to the fifth sentence.
4. Post text of next 3 sentences on to your blog.

Function Main()
DTSDestination(“CUSTID”) = DTSSource(“CUSTID”)
DTSDestination(“BALANCE”) = DTSSource(“BALANCE”)

Mark Chafin, Professional SQL Server DTS

Is that what I was supposed to do? I’m reading at work – what kind of book did you expect?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday short three

1. Coming back to work after being out sick one day and realizing how much they missed you (from the emails stating ‘I thought you were going to call in from home and do this . and this . and this . over the weekend – why isn’t it done?’)
2. A cloudy sky instead of normal sunny blue (OK, we have about a dozen cloudy days a year, need to appreciate some of them) without any rain.
3. Getting a discount on something just because ‘you’re a regular customer’.

Thanks to Clare.