Thursday, May 31, 2007

I have no idea where this one came from

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Move in day

There is a big jewelry show being held here this week. The show doesn't open until tomorrow but some of the jewels are being delivered out to the floor now for preliminary setup. They are using those flat wheeled carts, like we use in Home Depot to move the bags of manure. But these carts are piled high (head high) with white plastic bags the size of trash bags enclosing boxes. A row of six carts just went past, each with two armed guards pushing them. There seems to be a continuous flow of these carts out to the floor filled then empty back to the four rooms being used as vaults, kind of like a train of ants moving a pile of bread crumbs.

Sorry D, can't seem to distract these guys and take one of the carts out to my car. I probably wouldn't get too far anyway; when I came in this morning there were quite a few police cars parked around the building, and a lot more people with guns all over the place.

So I sit here at my computer in our little office down in the basement and hear the carts go down the hall right outside our door. Noisy carts, with wheels squeeking and making thunking noises. Noisy people, lots of them right outside there. A line of guards in chairs along the wall watching everything. I walked past the four meeting rooms being used as vaults and see the white tyvec bags piled all the way to the ceiling in each one. Inside the bags are metal boxes with lots of locks on them, about a meter long by half by half, and pretty heavy from the way the guys in the rooms heft them onto the empty carts. There is a big pile of empty bags growing by each door. Each time one of the carts goes by I think 'another million dollars, another million dollars, another . . '. I don't know what's in the bags or how much each one would cost, but there are probably fifty people wearing guns out in that hallway now, which probably indicates something, but mostly tells me that I really better not try to push one of those carts away. Again, sorry D.

This is what the loading dock looked like this morning.

Lots of trucks still being unloaded, and armoured car down there among them. The rest of the trucks are in line to turn the corner and go down to the loading docks, they are delivering the daily requirements to run a place this size. And get ready for 60,000 or so people that will be there on Friday as attendees and people with booths.

This is what it looked like around the corner, back at the employee entrance.

The convention center employee (sorry, team member) entrance is on the right, the line of doors are emergency exits from the halls, the big hotel next door is on the left, the truck line goes down under the center where the two come together - loading docks down there. There are always food and beverage trucks delivering the things consumed in all of the restaurants. This week even more because of all of the extra non-hotel guests here for the convention. Imagine planning on how to feed an additional 60,000+ people for the five show days, plus extra days for setup and takedown. And another two police cars parked here in line too. You can also see the new tower construction in the center. When I walk down here each morning it kind of seems like walking between the big buildings in NYC.

Inside they were not encouraging photos, so I palmed my camera and took this shot as I walked by. sorry it's a little blurry and crooked.

This is one of the carts piled with the bags that contain the metal boxes with all the locks on them. All of the people in the photo were armed, the one guys standing and half hidden is an in uniform metro police officer. The guy in black to the right was with the security company that pushed all of the carts around. There are four big rooms to the right just piled to the ceiling with these bags and boxes. I think that companies attending the shows were given the boxes months ago, they filled them and bagged them and then armoured cars picked them up from whereever and brought them here, to be kept safe and today delivered to the individual booths. The really expensive stuff will be locked up each night, but the 'average' stuff, what you would normally find in your local jewelry store, will be left in the display cases. After all, you only need a big safe if nobody is around. With all the doors locked and all the armed guards around I think stuff left in our hall will be a lot safer than stuff locked in safes in all the shopping malls in America.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Show setup

For the past two weeks there have been setup preparations for a big jewelry show where I work. At our facility there will be over 4,000 booths with over 40,000 attendees expected. In addition to our spaces the big hotel next door will have several floors of their conference center used for the high priced items. And several tower floors of the hotel suites will be used for the really expensive stuff. So if you’ve got $10,000,000 or more to blow on a simple necklace for your lady or yourself then you can get an invite to one of the suites, spending a little less then the convention center floors, the low life with only a few thousand will be out on the main floor, along with buyers for most of the jewelry stores in the country. I have no idea how many billions of dollars in rocks will be present at this one location, but I am sure that it will be quite a lot of sparkle. Not to mention the number of off duty police, security guards, FBI and whatever else in the way of protection will be on hand to keep all of that stuff here.

The main show opens on Friday, and today they are starting to move in very large safes which will be used to store stuff overnight. During a typical show setup it is not unusual to see fifty or so forklifts zipping around the main halls, but it is unusual to see those same forklifts driving down the carpeted hallways moving large boxes and items into the small meeting rooms.

Employees will not be allowed on the show floor once the exhibits start showing up, and we can’t take pictures. But I walked around the lower floor yesterday and it looked like a never ending series of jewelry stores. Each booth has the same glass display cases and sharp spotlights that you would find in a high class store. Only here there are aisles and aisles of them; imagine over four thousand jewelry stores all crammed together, all sparkling with diamonds and other gems, pearls and gold and silver. OK, not into bling, but it still is impressive. You have to be a store buyer to get into the show, and be invited upstairs to the private rooms and suites.

I took some pictures last week as they were starting to setup.

This is the smallest hall upstairs – you can see about 10% of the total hall square footage. It all needs to be swept clean between shows. Here are three of our crew pushing brooms and working at this – I guess it would be like farming, up to one end, turn around, back to the other side, turn around, repeat about a million times.

Don't know why nothing stays between shows. When a show closes they clear out everything down to the bare concrete. A group then comes in with plans and marks the floors, then everything is put back in. Just a little different each time, but all of the stuff comes in to fill the empty halls, then is pulled out quickly so the next one can be set.

Then the electricians come in and drop power lines from the ceiling, and put outlets to every place power will be needed.

There is a little red light at each power plug, when the overhead lights are killed between work sessions it looks like a field of bright red flowers, reflected in the shiny concrete. (sorry if the pictures look confusing, our upstairs hall has 45 foot ceilings while downstairs the ceiling is only 18 feet high.)

Next comes carpet installation.

Different colors are used for each show. Usually the aisles and open areas have a different color installed than the booth floors. Each booth can also request (well, they pay for it too) different colors or styles of flooring. Carpet is not always laid in the aisles at setup, so that it is not damaged by the fork lifts and delivery trucks. Sometimes it gets put down after all the setup is done. That's over thirty acres of carpet that goes down and comes back up a few days later, different stuff for every show.

Next the fleet of big delivery trucks pull into the hall, and that fleet of fork lifts goes into action, distributing boxes and boxes all over the place.

After setup the boxes are taken back to the warehouses for storage, then returned after the show to be filled up as the booths are disassembled. All of the plastic and cardboard is left scattered around, to be removed by our cleaning crews.

Each show is managed by one of the two large show management companies that we deal with. These companies have large warehouses that store the items sent by exhibitors, along with all of the carpeting, chairs, tables, draping and other items used to put on a show. They make up all of the large signs and show displays ahead of time, contract with the trucking and rental companies, and coordinate when everything shows up, where it is put, and how things are put together. We just provide the room, power, food and other services. The show management companies do all of the real work.

In addition to all of the rental fork lifts that show up we also end up with a fleet of these things.

I guess people don’t like walking around. If you’re important you get your own electric cart to ride around in. Didn’t know Hertz rented so many things, did you?

And when it’s all done you end up with a pretty hall filled with happy attendees.

This is from the really fancy show that was here a few weeks ago – the one with the miles and miles of draperies hung to divide the space.

This place is a lot different than all of the places I’ve worked for in the past. Programmers are usually stuck in back rooms or down in the basement, just sitting at keyboards all day expected to work off of written specifications or by direction of the managers. At most jobs I used to interface with the end users; those poor unfortunates that had to sit at other keyboards and use my programs. Here my work is more of support, and I get to wander around and watch all of the other people do all kinds of things. I love it, even if I don’t get to see the sparkles. (Sorry B, nothing coming home from this show)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

E Tuesday

Tuesday – wow, been home for four days and I missed E Friday (sorry VG) so let’s catch up a little. Let’s start with some before they get too old. It was a little warm here at Easter, so rather than do the ‘traditional’ Easter Egg Hunt out in the back yard we used a dozen little stuffed bunnies. These were much more fun to find.

Of course, she needed the frog and the duck to help her with the search.

(it took her quite a while to find that one in the car)

A few days later we were all having lunch outside. As you can see, the boys were on hand to supervise (and look for things dropped)

We tried some cheesy goldfish, they usually are good, but I guess the color of this one was a little off. Thought we would try something other than the traditional 'gold' goldfish, guess I should have known better.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Smart USA!

When we visited France several years ago one of the things (among quite a few) that I really liked was the Smart Car. I just found out yesterday that next year Mercedes will be selling them in the US!!!!

I just think it's so cute. I usually drive a Toyota Echo, which when I got it was the smallest car Toyota made. I've always liked small cars, not to mention the 40 MPG it gets (OK, I mentioned it). But go look at the Smart Car.

I'm putting my name on the list to get one. One of the car dealers near my house has sold a few, they bring them in used from Canada and make modifications that the US requires, which resulted in some pretty fancy prices. But new ones will start under $12,000, which is pretty low compared to American car prices. As for safety, you can go to Youtube and search for Smart Car, there are a few crash test videos that indicate it does fairly well. But still when a multi-ton SUV tank runs into you it really doesn't matter too much what you are driving. There was a well publicized accident locally a few weeks ago where a drunk in a big truck ran a stop sign and plowed into a big Mercedes SUV (supposedly pretty safe, huh?) killing seven people in the Merc. Truck driver not hurt at all.

It's as wide as a 'regular' car, but only half as long - it only has the front seat. Imagine taking your car and cutting it in half behind the front seat, and getting rid of that long hood up front. As far as legroom, with the seat pushed back it's got more than my big Toyota. And the seats are about as wide, so us fat Americans should fit. Yes, no big trunk, but I'm all alone in my car 90% of the time anyway just driving. It will not be good if you have kids and it's your only car, but if you are single or like us and have two (or more) than it can be the commuter's car, especially with that good gas milage. And small enough to park almost anywhere - great if you need to parallel park; you can just about fit two of them in one parking spot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jane's seven things

Oh, thanks a lot Jane (which you have told us is not your real name, so whoever-you-are):
Seven Things About Me That May Surprise You (difficult to find seven more, I think I’ve done this three times now):

1. Though I’ve worked with computers as a programmer for over twenty-five years and create web pages for people I haven’t figured out how to make things italicized or bold in my own blog. That’s why Just Jane’s (OK, I’ll keep with the Jane, maybe it should be J.J.?) title is bold and mine is not.
2. Even after doing this for over three years my wife still doesn’t know I have a blog. Even after meeting Anna when she came to Vegas she didn’t realize how I know her. She does comment periodically on whether or not these women over in England that mail me things are trying to find an American husband. She creates web pages and sits in front of her computer for hours each day, but just goes out to read the news and doesn’t read blogs unless I send her pointers. No, I have no idea when I’ll tell her.
3. I used to love creating things on my computer, but now when I get home from work I sometimes don’t even turn it on. And I have several customers with outstanding (overdue) requests. But I am learning many marvelous new things at this new job – including Ajax and business web based programs.
4. I’m having a really hard time thinking up seven things. In all these posts somewhere I think I’ve said about everything. What should surprise you is that I think that, even if it’s probably not true.
5. Though I love living in Vegas, I think I would much rather live abroad – only been to France once, but a big flat in Paris would be marvelous. I liked the UK, but it seemed too cold. I would also like to travel and visit all of the interesting people whose stories I read from around the world, but I’m concerned that my vacations will probably all be to Portland instead of to new places.
6. I would much rather play with my toy trains than do things around the house, though I do spend much more time on home improvement projects. Right now it’s a bathroom re-do, next on the list is a built in cabinet by the fireplace, then on to a full kitchen make over.
7. My name is not Jane.
8. OK, that last one doesn’t count, by now you should know my name is Joe, but it looked like such a nice line on Jane’s list I just had to repeat it. But I’ve got a horrid sense of humour. I find many things amusing that no one else does, I tell jokes that no one else find funny, and I frequently tell stories to amuse that people just seem bored hearing. Inside my head I am really very funny, but don’t know how to pass that on to the outside world. I sometimes go to great lengths to set up an amusing episode that then falls absolutely flat. A while back I sent off for this hat just to support somebody’s football club.

OK, enough thinking. I have no idea what you would be surprised with. But thinking about it, after visiting the UK probably lots of things that Americans do would be surprising to the British, so I guess I could put almost anything down (right Jane?).

The rules:

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the city/state and country you’re in.
Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
Velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia(London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
Tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Todd (Louisville, Kentucky, United States)
Miss Kendra (los angeles, california, u.s.a)
Jiggs Casey (Berkeley, CA, USA! USA! USA!)
Tits McGee (New England, USA)
Kat (Ontario, Canada)
Badgerdaddy (Ludlow, Shropshire, England)
Dandelion (England, Great Britain)
All Cobblers The Sticks, England.
JoeInVegas (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location. (Thursday note, after seeing other people's reviews I had to come back and write more)
This one is hard to do (and wait a minute, isn’t this a different meme?) as there are a lot of places we like to go to.
1. Rosemary’s up on Sahara – very nice atmosphere, and really good food. Don’t go often enough. Guess this would be called ‘Continental cuisine’ or something, it’s not French but it’s really good stuff. Price in the evening is $50 prix fix. The Sahara strip mall location is nice for locals, you probably will not find any big players here but the room is nice, the servers pleasant, and it’s usually always full.
2. Mon Ami Gabi at Paris, an outdoor place right on the strip across from the Bellagio fountains. Good steaks and brown soup. After eating in Paris I would relate this to fairly good brasserie fair, not standard French but a good Vegas impersonation. The best part is the view. Just a few feet over the sidewalk in the middle of the Vegas Strip. You sit and watch all kids of people walk by, examine the continuous stream of limos a few feet away. And right across the street is the Bellagio, with the lake and fountain show going off all evening. This is THE place to sit and enjoy a good meal and nice wine, watch people, catch the sunset behind the Bellagio tower and watch the fountains dancing.
3. It’s not fancy, but the place we hit the most is the Red Robin for good hamburgers and shakes. B and I usually split a Banzai Burger (with pineapple) with fries and a side of onion rings. Big thick fries, good tasting burger. And a really creamy Dreamsicle orange cream shake. The malts are nice too.
4. The Lone Star Steak House for barbeque ribs. Mmmmmm. This is a chain, and I assume that they all use the same recipes. We did stop at one on the east side of town, but they were OUT OF RIBS that night. Can you believe that, a place that lives off of it’s ribs and they run out? Anyway, when our son came to Vegas to get married we had the party in our back yard. He wanted barbeque so we hit all the places we could find over here on the west side to sample their wares. Phil’s in San Diego is still my all time fav, with meat that just melts off the bones, but the Lone Star will do.
5. My own back yard. We can do up some pretty good stuff on our own grill, sit by the pool and enjoy the quiet. Come on over and I’ll cook up some salmon or steaks or burgers or brats for you. If you make reservations in advance I might even bake one of my chocolate cakes.
6. OK – I know the instructions say five, but I do have to list a good steak place, just because I like it. My choice here would be the Twin Creeks Steak House at the Silverton. It is not on the Strip but a good ways south, probably more locals there than visitors, and you better make reservations any night of the week. But the steak is about the best in town, and you can get a nice filet, salad (with every meal) sides and desert for $20. Can’t find a meal at that price up on Vegas Boulevard.

Just came across a good restaurant list for those of you coming into town that have a LOT OF MONEY. The average meal for two among most of the places listed will probably be around $200. But hey, how often do you get to visit Vegas?

3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged.
Nope, not going to force this on anyone. If you haven’t done it yet go ahead and then post in the comments here so others can see.

Around the yard

Last week I wrote of three things going on in my yard. Here are views of some of those.

One of the trees in our front yard is a Desert Museum Palo Verde. The trunk is the same green as the leaves, which are thin and narrow, as are those of many desert plants. It doesn't provide as full a shade as the big trees in cold country, but rather looks like a wispy green cloud. In springtime it's covered with yellow blossoms, which create a golden layer underneath.

Walking up close to the tree I came upon a large black bumble bee visiting the flowers. He didn't appear to mind my appearance, and ignored me as I moved my camera up close. He's (or she's) bigger than my thumb, and makes a loud buzz as it flies from branch to branch. I know it's not a bird, but I figured that maybe if I got close enough it might match the marvelous photos of Barbara's birds. But it's black, and not colorful. Sorry B.

Our tomato plants in back are doing well - getting on in size and filling out the raised beds. In another month this one plant will completely cover this four foot by eight foot planter and spill out into the walkways on all sides as well. It has lots of flowers, and I'm looking forward to sweet tomatoes right off the plants. This is a cherry tomato, we also put in one Hawaiian Tropics which produces large fruit.

We put a shade cloth over the plastic pipes to keep the fruit from becoming sunburned when ripening. We also put some ropes around to try and keep the plant in the planter and not all over the walkways.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Warm weather

And what do I do when I get home from work in the evening?

(well, water temp is up to 90f)
And see - clouds in the sky!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Assorted things happening

Lots going on here – working on our bathroom this weekend. It was the last room in our house that still had the old 60’s wallpaper, along with a cottage cheese ceiling in the attached walk in closet. Of course, B has the big closet. Should it be any other way?

The bathroom has a long vanity that runs along the whole back wall, eight feet long, with two sinks (so we don’t have to fight when toothbrushing time comes around). It had a full mirror glued to the wall, which we pulled down – wow, that’s a big piece of glass. B wanted some different lighting, so that entailed pulling off a lot of the wallboard on three walls and the ceiling to run wires, which now results in taping and filling in prior to painting. We also pulled up the ceramic floor tiles. That resulted in the renting of a small jack-hammer and a weekend of pounding for me, trying to get up all the mastic and underlying vinyl floor covering (which they left under the tile in places). I still have no feeling in some of my fingers. B already picked out a floor covering (no hard tile; a nice soft backed vinyl) and is trying to lay out what new cabinets to put in the closet. With all the nice cabinetry available we end up with not much furniture in our bedroom – all the built in closets and drawers and shelves replace dressers and wardrobes. But it should look pretty when it’s done.

Here at work they are in the process of setting up for a big show. This is the annual jewelry show, which will be the largest show since I started working here. Scheduled to have over 3,000 booths and 40,000 attendees, it’s not open to the public, just those ‘in the trade’. The big hotel next door has an attached five story ‘conference center’ that will also be used for some additional show activities, and the really fancy jewels will be up in some of the tower suites – they close off several floors during the show and only those with really big bucks get to go up there. I’m told that the number of armed guards and police that will be on site (in uniform and under cover) will comprise quite a small army of security. Employees have already been warned about where not to go, and what areas to avoid.

This is one of the two shows that employees are not allowed into – the other being the ‘adult video awards’. So we miss out on the sparkle and the silicone. One of the guys says just standing at the bottom of the stairs during the adult show is probably better than walking around the hall, but the sparkle next week is not visible except in there and in all of the safes that are being brought in.

As far as the rest of our house – it’s all covered in a thin film of dust; the product of sanding the drywall. But there are a few things not around any more:

Somehow I’d rather have more things to stumble over. (don't think I'm spoiling her with too many things, do you?)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why I like it here

A recent six day forcast as published in the local paper:

Sunny - sunny - sunny - sunny - sunny - sunny - and nice. We sat out and ate ice cream and watched the sunset tonight. This is our SPRING forecast. It will warm up for the summertime. But they were a little off; today is the Saturday listed, and it was 100.9 in our backyard this afternoon.

Oh - water temp in the pool is up to 90f (32c), looks like we'll be swimming tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

E Friday - suchi birthday

Somebody is two years old today. She had chicken soup before getting her cake.

And she got birthday cake, and she waited paitently.

Yesterday they went out for suchi.

She tried to use the chopsticks, I don’t know if she was frustrated at the speed of food arriving at her mouth or at dad’s attempt to guide her.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Random E

OK, I know I should include this in my three things, but for Clare I try to just put short words to match her.

Three Spring things

For Clare

1. We have a small fountain in our front courtyard; it’s a stone pillar about a meter high with water coming out the top flowing down. B notices a movement, and it’s a bright hummingbird, holding on to the front of the stone taking a shower in the water flowing past. We watch the drops fly as he flutters his wings and dips his head under the flow.
2. The big palo verde tree out front is in bloom. It’s a cloud of yellow, and the blossoms fallen underneath look like yellow snow. (no, I didn’t eat any)
3. Walking closer to the tree I see a big black bumblebee, moving from flower to flower and ignoring me standing just a few inches away watching. He’s bigger than the blooms, and the flowers droop when he grabs hold, having to hang on to keep from being dropped off.


OK, passed on via Lisa (who didn't take this test) on to Anna (who did)

What Kind Of Whovian Are You?
Your Result: Classic series n00b

You were recently compelled by the crackly black & whiteness to investigate further...but you don't really see what the fuss over the new series is. god bless you, young padawan...

New series n00b
Hard Living Demon Fan
Good natured jumper wearer
Frothing fanboy
What Kind Of Whovian Are You?
Make a Quiz

Mainly because the US is TWO FREEKIN' SEASONS BEHIND!!!!

(for those Americans that have no idea what I am talking about, it's time you moved on to cable and got BBC America, or at least the Sci Fi reruns)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

News around town

Well, bad news for Anna. The New Frontier hotel has been sold, and it looks like the new owners will be tearing down the old (well, New) and putting up some newer. What does this mean to Anna? Well, it means that Gilley’s Bar will no longer have a home, and the place of bikini bull riding and mud wrestling will be on the strip no more. So the next time she comes out with her beloved for a show she will not be able to participate. Sorry.

The new owners also own the Plaza Hotel in New York City, and supposedly will reproduce that hotel out here. In back shall still be the two new golden Trump Towers – The Donald is due out next week for the topping out ceremony of the first tower, the second will be started soon. The purchase price? Only $1,200,000,000; which comes out to around $33,000,000 per acre – a new high for even Vegas. All to tear the place down and build anew. When we lived in San Diego there were people buying oceanfront houses in La Jolla (a fairly ritzy area) for millions just for the lot, to tear down the old house and put up a new one. It’s still hard for me to comprehend that somebody does that here with dozens of acres and billions of dollars.

One of the bad things about the closing - besides losing the bikini mud wrestling and bull riding - is the loss of a low cost hotel in the middle of the Strip. The Frontier advertised $44 rooms, right across the street from the Wynn where the typical room is ten times that price. Circus Circus will be about the only Strip hotel left with lower cost rooms, and now that the MGM Corp has finished it's purchase of that entire block south of Sahara it probably will also get caught up in another round of City Centre type renovation.

There is an RJ article about it. Oh, just read the article – the last line talks about Gilley’s having ‘live mud wrestling’. Makes me wonder what the alternative is – ‘dead mud wrestling’? Kind of like those places that advertise ‘live nude girls’ – I sure hope guys going there don’t expect something else.

Also for you country fans; Shania seen with Mutt around town, haven’t read much about her since she moved to Switzerland. She’s in town for last night’s Country Music Awards, which provided a nice show. All of the stars can be seen at various nightclubs, including Toby Keith at his own place. But Vegas always is a good place for seeing celebrities around town – you might be walking through the Caesar’s Shops some lunchtime and catch almost anybody having lunch at the assorted places there.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday notes

Just a few quick items –
Thanks to Lisa for finding a Muppet flick that I missed last week. I was looking at originals and not current ones.

And it included my favorite; the twist scene.

Overheard walking down the hall - somebody yelling to a friend "You tell her, I don't know nuthin'". There was a lot of talk a few years ago over Ebonics that seems to have disappeared. I was watching My Fair Lady this weekend, and always laugh at the professor’s line in the opening scene while singing ‘Why Can’t the English?’, with a line about speaking English properly: The American’s haven’t done it in years. Which leads over to Petite, where there is a pointer to an interesting translation web site; put yours in: gizoogle.

And for those of you interested (or not), the follow-up on that Luxor bombing last week, The RJ explains that it was what I thought: an ex boyfriend wanting to get back at the new boyfriend. A little put off that an earlier story about the victim that discussed his wife and one year old son coming up from Mexico to visit him. If he was such a good guy and husband, where did the girlfriend come into this?

Friday, May 11, 2007

E Friday and things to do this weekend

Around town this weekend – the Academy of Country Music Awards are here at the MGM on Saturday. This means that quite a few CW artists will be performing around town. Downtown under the canopy will be some free afternoon shows, with Gretchen Wilson being one of the singers. The VH! Rock Honors will be at Mandalay Bay, where you can see Ozzy. Other performances around include Chicago (are they still together?), Foreigner, Chris Isaak, Jay Leno and Johnny Mathis. And Sir Elton is back at Caesar’s during Celene’s break. Something for everybody.

For VG, I still have some E pics left. We set up the camera last weekend and now grammy and E can see each other over the computer. She doesn’t talk much, but really likes to show off dancing. Before she left we got a stack of kid’s music Cds and she liked to dance to several of them. B used to take her to the local library each Tuesday for the small kids reading program, and the leader there played assorted songs for the kids to dance to during the morning session, those are the ones she really knows how to rock to.

In her stripes for Lisa.

On Sunday mornings I like to sit and drink my coffee and read the thick newspaper. I usually save the comics for last, as dessert. E stayed with us one weekend while the folks were scoping out Portland, and though she can’t read yet she did want to see what granddad was interested in.

Almost seems that she knows what’s going on, doesn’t it? Now if I can just slip some coffee into that sippy cup.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

luxor bombing

D asked about the Luxor – seemed like a local event until it showed up on the networks – several network video trucks drove up from LA to hit the Luxor after the reported explosion in the parking garage. If they didn’t follow up, there was a report of someone killed by a bomb in the Luxor parking garage. Someone left a bag on top of a car, and when the car owner lifted the bag it blew up, killing him.

Police closed that floor of the garage for almost fifteen hours while they gathered up all of the little bomb pieces, causing the owners of the other 500 cars parked there to wait for their vehicles. Most of the cars on that floor were owned by casino employees. The individual that died was a night time employee at Nathan’s at the Luxor. He also had a day job at one of the fast food places at a different casino.

Police believe that the bomb was targeted at the person that died, and are trying to find out who would want to do harm to that individual. It is not believed that is a random act or an act of terrorism. You can read this RJ story.

Sad that some individuals have to resort to violence, whether it be via knife or gun or bomb.

More tests

For Rob and Lisa, guess I'd rather play than read this morning:

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Science/Math Nerd

(Absolute Insane Laughter as you pour toxic chemicals into a foaming tub of death!)

Well, maybe you aren't this extreme, but you're in league with the crazy scientists/mathmeticians of today. Very few people have the talent of math and science is something takes a lot of brains as well. Thank whosever God you worship, or don't worship, so thank no deity whatsoever in your case, for you people! Most of us would have died off without your help.

Literature Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
Drama Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Three things walking

Three things for Clare. I don’t have the access to wander among field and stream as she does, my walks contain a little more concrete.

1. Riding down the escalator to the casino out front and riding up there are: a woman wearing a motorcycle helmet; a woman wearing a Harley Davidson headscarf with her; a man with a cowboy hat. I am assuming that the women have left their motorcycles up in the parking garage, but wonder where the cowboy left his horse.
2. Riding the escalator from the walkway over Sands Avenue down to the front of the Wynn resort, and descending into the wonderful scent of blooming flowers. I can’t recognize what flower it is from the sweetness, and don’t see where they are, but appreciate the odors.
3. Walking through the Sharper Image store in the mall and seeing all of the interesting new toys, trying to figure out how I can afford to get them all, and leaving the store with none.

Friday, May 04, 2007

E Friday

Wow, three posts in one day! I’m turning into DA (well, that might not be a bad thing, but my wife probably wouldn’t go for the tattoos)

I realized that this is Friday, and I promised VG to give her an E fix until I run out of pictures. So, for today, let’s show her in things that she normally isn’t in:

E and Max dancing in the big shoes out on our front patio. Well, Max isn’t dancing, but he is supervising.

OK, OK, yes, she climbs into the laundry basket quite often. I guess it is a comfortable place, especially with all of your friends.

This is the big kid’s swing. She has figured out how to work it, though, and it seems to fit quite well, without too much danger of falling off.

Three non picture things

OK, for Clare I guess that I should post a more traditional version of Three Things. She puts down such pretty words, especially her recent posts about wandering along the nature trail; it makes me wish I were better with words, I can see why she works as a writer. But as below I try more with photographs.

1. Taking my lunchtime walk from my office: I first walk through the lower convention hall and pause briefly to watch all of the people at work. They are setting up for a new show, and there are dozens of folks scattered around scurrying busily. There is a line of custodial workers along one wall moving chairs, about forty people, they go in one direction pushing some empty carts designed to hold a stack of chairs, and then cycle back in the other direction pushing a stack of chairs towering over their heads. It reminds me of a line of ants working on a pile of bread crumbs, approaching empty and walking back with a crumb that is bigger than them. In the middle of the hall is a line of large trucks, with a steady stream of small fork lifts driving up into them and taking piles of pallets and boxes out to noisily deposit around the hall, similar to the line of workers with their wheeled carts. Off to the side of these workers are others unrolling big rolls of carpet; during a show the concrete floor usually disappears under an assortment of carpet colors. Just behind the unrolling crew is a lone person on his knees using a ‘kicker’ tool to stretch out the carpet; he kicks it twice, then pulls it up and moves forward a foot to plant it and kick it again. I look at this one person, then over the rest of the space, noticing that he only has thirteen acres of carpet to do down here, wondering how many kicks it takes to do that much carpet. I envision a gardener with a tiny pair of scissors, cutting one blade of grass at a time, looking across the football field or soccer pitch, realizing that by the time he gets to the other end the grass back at the start will probably be three feet tall.

2. Walking out of the lower hall and up the escalators into the big hotel next door that I don’t name here I enter into a big square that imitates a similar location in an old Italian city that has a lot of water. But here the sky is always blue, with little white puffy clouds, and it is always just before sunset. The square is filled with smiling people taking photographs of each other. There is a performer painted white standing on a low stage with a small pile of dollar bills in front of him, standing absolutely still, with a crowd standing around taking more photographs and marveling at how somebody can just stand there. Over on the steps a small group of entertainers dressed in what is supposed to be old fashioned Italian garb gather, in preparation for taking the stage over from the living statue and putting on a little song and dance number. I wander along the canal, following the slow walking tourists, and pause at the end to listen to a gondolier singing some lively Italian ditty to his small group of passengers, and receiving a round of applause from the crowd standing on shore.

3. I continue on outside, realizing with a short shock that even though it might be brightly lit inside nothing can compare to the Las Vegas sun at noon. It takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the brightness, gathering in the noise of the eight lanes of traffic down on the strip filled with cars and buses and trucks and taxis and limos and advertising vehicles and the talking of others around me looking down from the balcony. For some reason the level of people’s voices seem to match the brightness of the surroundings, increasing dramatically from the stores inside to a much higher level out here in the sunlight. It’s cool today (only 90f – 32c) (well, cool for us locals) but the sky is a clear bright blue, and descending the escalator down to the street I walk down past the new construction. It is nice to be out here with the warm sun on my face and the crowd of people around me, but I think of Clare wandering through a wood with flowers and birds and butterflies, enjoying where I am but at the same time wishing I was there walking next to her.

Random bits

Latest news around town is about Celine’s replacement. It was announced yesterday that Bette Midler will be replacing Celine Dion at the Caesar’s Coliseum next year. CD’s last show will be in December, after a five year run. Bette will start up on Feb 20 – giving time to rebuild the stage and create whatever sets she will be using. Tickets are already available, and prices range from $95 to $250 (plus tax and charges). CD put on 150 shows a year, Bette will only be doing 100, leaving room to alternate with Sir Elton but also leaving 50 days open. Rumors (well, Norm, our gossip columnist) say that Cher is still considering coming around. The Divine Miss M has only signed a two year contract, and has stated that she will not be buying a house in Vegas as she already has two in New York and is quite happy there thank you.

For a lighter note – the loverly Rob points out a traffic problem reported in the news: the reason behind unusual traffic problem. And Lisa (guess I’m on a UK trip today) leads to an interesting interview with Edward de Bono who discusses using lateral thinking. He brings up several examples, but Lisa referred me to one that he came up with dealing with my last post, how to get out of Iraq. He suggests that we set a date on which our armed forces will depart, then state that for every week with no killings we will advance that date by one week, every week with killings we will delay by one week. This way the terrorist, instead of being looked at as trying to force the US out, will be looked at as the reason we are staying: each death causes the US to stay longer. Interesting concept.

As for me, I’ll go back to the Muppets:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another political rant

I’ve been neglecting my political thoughts in deference to my rubber duckie compulsions. Somehow it’s easier to forget things going on elsewhere and just play. I also do that here at work – ignore the program and write stuff and read.

With our grand and glorious ‘surge’ proceeding along it is interesting to hear that last month was the worst in four years for American deaths. Iraqi deaths have also risen dramatically – of course, the US does not keep figures on anyone other than ‘insurgents’, but then many of those counts include women and children in the area that also died. Some figures list over 68,000 Iraqi dead and 110,000 wounded. What a toll on a country, but at least they are free of that evil dictator. They should appreciate what we have done for them.

Unfortunately the people of Iraq don’t all appreciate our efforts. According to Baghdad Burning it is currently not very pleasant to live in Iraq. Even with our surge. One of her quotes really expresses her opinion:

"Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile."

And we keep seeing that grin of our president on TV, more of a smirk, where he continually tells us that things are getting better. All we have to do is stay the course and we will win. Unfortunately he keeps changing the concept of what we are doing and what it will take to win. I thought that banner he stood under four years ago declared victory. Shouldn’t we have pulled out at that time?

I’ve said enough. Well, guess I haven’t as our troops are still there and our president is convinced we can win and our congress can't stand up to him. I still don’t understand what it will take to ‘win’. There is no other side to offer a formal surrender. No matter how long we stay people that hate us will continue the killing. I don’t know what will happen when we leave, but it doesn’t seem to matter if we leave tomorrow or in five years the same reaction will probably occur.

Time for me to send more letters to my congressmen and request that they continue to push for results and a time to withdraw. I think that congress would better support our troops by not passing any kind of funding bill. That might force them to be called home, reducing the number of deaths and injuries. A political cartoon this weekend showed Bush discussing the war, saying his concept of pulling out and declaring the war over is to leave it for the next guy. He just has to string this along for another year and a half.

Sorry, I didn't give Rob credit for pointing out this new post. I've got the site linked over on the right but don't always get down to it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Three (rubber duckie) things

It’s been a long time, sorry Clare, I’ve been remiss in putting up my three things. But since I try to be more than words let’s at least get a picture up:

1. Being able to take a lunchtime walk and look at lots of different things.

2. Starting out my walk by taking a shortcut through a cooler quiet area, providing quite a comparison to the warm sunny outside. There aren’t any flowers or birds like Clare has, but it is dark and interesting to me.

3. Finding some of my favorite characters on YouTube and being able to listen to them singing whenever I want to. And looking back almost twenty years trying to remember who all of those people are in the song.

OK – since we are doing three things today, I might as well make this a rubber duck theme as well and point to three different duckie songs. Let’s see if you can watch these and not sing along.

And the one that sticks in my head the most:

I bet that you have that ‘duck duck’ theme running in your head all day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Seen in the food court

Scene in the food court of the big hotel next door that I will not name here – oh, in the upstairs food court, because this hotel is so big that it has two, the upstairs one with the ‘cheap’ restaurants and food and one downstairs with the fancier places. The upstairs food court is filled with some of the ‘standard’ places that most people associate with food courts, except the prices are about twice what you would pay in a mall because of the high rent here. These are in addition to the two dozen or so fancy places to eat scattered around.

Back to Monday: we were upstairs having a Nathan’s hot dog the other day (employees get half price discounts at some of the places on some of the days, Nathan’s is Monday and I like their hot dogs with sauerkraut and fries) and sitting eating watching people. That’s the fun part of Vegas, watching all of the people. A few tables over was an older Japanese gentleman, wearing a black suit and white shirt without a tie. What made me notice him was the younger man kneeling at the end of the table. Yes, kneeling on the floor in the food court. We could not hear the conversation, but it was probably in Japanese anyway and I don’t understand anything other than English.

But the younger man was nodding and bowing (bowing while kneeling, kind of hard) as the older man apparently was disturbed about something. The older man was waving his hands and did not appear pleased with his minion. Didn’t know they still had minions that knelt and bowed in Japan, but it looks like they still do. At one point the younger man said a few things, met with more hand waving and frowns from the older man. Eventually the younger man nodded his head several times and partially stood up, taking a manila folder from a briefcase on the table in front of him. He started to pull a page from the folder and the older man got much louder and more animated. The younger one bowed a few times, put the paper away, and knelt again.

After a few more minutes of this one sided conversation the young man got to his feet and put the folder into the briefcase. He then backed away, bowing as he went, and after a few feet he turned and scurried off. I’ve heard the term ‘scurried off’ but this was the first time that it really looked like that.

The older man then leaned back against the pillar behind him. A few minutes later a young Japanese girl in a red sweater came by and leaned over the table and talked to the older man. This was not a conversation of servant to host as the last one was, and from the girl’s age and appearance I assumed it to be the daughter. (older men like these go for the tall blond American women, who would probably also be on her knees, but not bowing, at least not in the food court). She walked away and a few minutes later we noticed her and the first guy over in the Nathan’s line. They talked for a few minutes, and the guy scurried off down the hall away from the food court.

I have no idea what the discussion was, but it has provided a topic of conversation and some amusement here in the office. Also wondered why the older man was holding court in a food court instead of one of the fancy restaurants. Go ahead and make up your own conversation to fit this situation if you like.