Thursday, August 07, 2008

Local happenings

I was writing checks to pay some bills this morning, and noticed one of the return forms: it was for a gas company credit card, which I use every few months just to have handy. They provide a series of boxes to fill in each digit of your payment amount; my form had eight boxes, indicating a maximum payment amount of $99,999.99. Now, I know that gas prices have risen lately, but just who would have a monthly gasoline bill of over ten thousand dollars, thus requiring all of those boxes? That’s a heck of a lot of gas, even at four dollars a gallon. (no, not me, my bill was for $ 63. – a fill-up for each car) One of the payment forms for a ‘big name’ credit card company has two more boxes. Imagine making a monthly payment of nine million dollars? (imagine having credit where you can put that amount on your charge card?).

Last evening I was floating in the swimming pool enjoying the warm weather and the sunset. This time of year we usually get most of our rain, though none has fallen at my house yet, so instead of a clear blue sky we had some nice puffy white clouds and a beautiful sunset. The weatherman on the local news channel that we watch had up his weather radar picture, showing lots of thunderstorm activity to the south and east of us. We get the moisture up from Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in the summertime, but we also get the Santa Ana winds up from LA as well, which this week are fighting it out and pushing the rain over to Arizona, keeping us dry. It’s interesting to watch those radar maps, with little red dots of rain springing up like some strange disease, drifting around but all outside of the valley.

Las Vegas does not get a nice steady rain, like most other places where I’ve lived. Because of all the mountains we just get the violent thunderstorm activity, quick bursts that drop three inches of rain over a six block area in ten minutes. This is accompanied by strong gusty winds and lots of thunder and lightning, driving our poor vicious little dog Max into a whimpering idiot that hides under the covers.

Anyway, back to the pool; we usually like to jump in around sunset. Our pool is on the north side of the house, but it is situated so that there is no shade at all on the water all day. There is a little pool house just to the west, which starts to shade the pool around six in the evening. With the air temp being over 100f and the sunshine bright enough to produce sunburn in minutes we tend not to want to float around during the brightness of the day, so we wait until there is some shade upon the waters. It was still over 100 when I dropped in yesterday, and floated around until sunset and the stars came out. It was very pleasant, watching the sparkle of airplanes taking off and circling around to the east; periodic stripes in the sky higher up from planes headed towards LA and SFO; the half moon coming and going behind the puffy clouds; the clouds turning orange and red and then darkening as the sun went down behind the western mountains; the birds flocking overhead, going to their favorite trees for the night; bats coming out flitting around chasing bugs; the constant buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz of the cicadas in the trees, singing to each other; the sky getting dark and stars popping out, airplanes moving from silver sunlight reflectors to blinking strobe lights in the darkness. It was a very pleasant way to end the day. The water seemed a little cool at first; I left the cover on the pool last week, and on Sunday the water temp was up to 94f, which was just a little hot, so I left the cover off for the past three days and it cooled down to 89f, which was cold at first (yes, strange how 89 seems cold, but with an air temp of 105 it did just that) but after floating for a while it seemed perfect. I usually like it around 92 or so, which it will be up to by the weekend with the cover back on. I’m not much for swimming back and forth, I go more for the floating around with a foam noodle, drifting over to the deep end where my toes don’t touch the bottom or laying back with a few noodles keeping my feet up as well.

Last weekend E was down, photos of her in the pool were posted recently. On Sunday we had a group over for her first pool party. We had the trips plus one from across the street as well as some other friends and relatives. This resulted in the largest group we’ve had in the pool since we have been here, at one time I counted close to fifteen kids (big and small) as well as that number or more of inflatable devices ranging from simple tubes to a full size shark (with handles on his back to hold on to). There was much splashing and screeching and laughter and enjoyment, with the only tears coming when mom said it was time to go home. The hamburger consumption was quite high as well. Sorry, no videos of this, close your eyes and use your imagination.

Also in the neighborhood recently were some interesting occurrences. On one of my walks a few blocks down across from the park I found a vehicle that I haven’t noticed before.

I have no idea what it was doing parked on the street. I don’t think we have any trees that size around to produce such a load, so I surmise that either the truck driver lived in a nearby house and was stopping while on a trip or someone was going to have quite a lot of firewood for the upcoming winter. Seeing that we usually have a daytime temp of over sixty almost every day of the year I don’t really know when there might be a reason to burn so much, unless the owner wanted to keep a reminder of our summer 100+ temps going all year round.

In our neighborhood Cox is the provider of cable television and high speed internet. As we only have four broadcast stations most people forgo the rooftop antenna and opt for cable or satellite so as to receive a few hundred channels and still have nothing worth watching. I heard a lot of noise over our side wall – we have a corner lot and normally just pay attention to the street out front – and peeked over to see what was going on. It looked like one of our neighbors a few houses down was having cable problems. I checked ours and everything was working fine, so I guess it was localized or something. Cox usually contracts out to some installation company for new customers, so this was most likely a problem or upgrade.

But really, there were nine Cox trucks and two supervisor vehicles out there. No wonder our monthly bill is so high, but I have difficulty getting help over the phone when problems arise, much less rating the visit from what looks like half the western region. I don’t know, it might have been free donuts or some nude sunbathers next door, but something sure caused a crowd to gather. This being Vegas I’d think it more likely nude sunbathers; if so I’ll have to find out which pool they were by and check it out myself.

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