Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Almost Christmas, and Vegas is well decorated. All of the casinos have some form of generic holiday stuff up – usually trees and lights. We’ll go wander the Strip later in the week and take lots of photos so you can all share.
In competition with the Santa race earlier in the month there was also the Rock ‘n’ Roll Vegas Stiletto Dash at the Palazzo, where young women dressed in short skirts and very high heels (minimum three inches) ran across the casino floor. Not to be sexist, there was a separate run for men in heels (no word on short skirts there). Over at the Bellagio there was the Downy Unstoppable Scavenger Hunt with a $20,000 first prize. Downtown at the Beauty Bar was the Freakshow Wrestling, one of the main events was a guy in a banana outfit wrestling a big, pink furry Elvis. (Hey, it’s Vegas). On the other side, Catholic Charities ran a ‘Phone Home’ event, with free phone calls for the homeless with clothing and toiletries given out. At Aliante Station there was an event for our local Army reservists being deployed to Afghanistan. In Boulder City the railroad museum ran train rides with Santa. Quite an assortment of things to do.

We were at the Harley Davidson CafĂ© for my companies’ holiday party. As usual I parked a distance away so that we could walk through a few casinos to get there. Being old folk we normally hit the Strip during the day, this was our first evening outing in a while. The tourist style does change after dark. Though it was only 9pm and not the opening time of all the fancy clubs (they open doors sometime between 10pm and 1am depending on venue) there was a definite switch from sweat suits and jeans to nice evening wear, with quite a few young women wearing very short, very tight dresses. My wife is convinced that the absence of visible panty lines was due to the wearing of Spanks, but I think there is a simpler explanation. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your (or my wife’s) point of view) I was not able to investigate thoroughly.

Just to throw in a few photos, here are some more of Tivoli Village. Yes, the sun is shining, though cold at night (around freezing this morning) it does get up near 60f (15c) in the daytime.

Outside the Scoops Ice Cream parlor

Main street

Security didn't seem very busy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MIB coming back? more 80's music

Oh, I really liked these guys – nice to see them coming back

As long as we are doing Monday videos (on Tuesday) let’s continue with those 80’s hits that we all love so well. I loved the ears on these guys

For standing on the street corners, these guys had a good beat

At the start of that video there are some clips of fans greeting Johnnie Ray, someone I had never heard of him. Wikipedia says he had a number 1 hit in the UK back in 1956 with this one

Personally, I’d rather hear Huey, who else would be brave enough to wear an orange suit?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Cupcake Sunday

For those of you in Las Vegas, the lovely ladies at Pick Your Poison cupcakes
(who make absolutely the best cupcakes in the world) will be shown competing on Cupcake Wars on the Food Network this Sunday night.

The girls are also having a viewing party at The Lady Sylvia speakeasy, 900 LV Blvd south, from 7 to 10 on Sunday, with drinks and cupcakes to sample. If you follow them on Facebook there is a map and link.

weekend events and E

A new restaurant is opening at the Excalibur – a BBQ joint partially owned by Lynard Skynard. Yes, these guys

Older versions of those guys of course. If you show up tomorrow for the grand opening they will be putting on an acoustic performance inside to kick the place off. I like that song, but most people would list this one as the band’s most played, so I’ll include it.

Other events this week include the ongoing Grand Finals Rodeo, directed at that audience are performances by Dwight Yoakam, Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker, Merle Haggard and more, for other directions there are Jay Z & Kanye at the MGM, Jane’s Addiction, Andrea Bocelli, Ron White, Bill Engvall, Jenny McCarthy, Skrillex and a lot more scattered around town.

But on Fridays I usually post photos of my granddaughter E, so here are a few from back when she had more hair:
She still likes to read

And drive

And eat cereal for breakfast (she goes along with Grammie for Honey Nut Cheerios)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

City center lights and the marathon

It was a busy weekend here in Las Vegas. The marathon ran on Sunday, and I didn’t realize that this year they ran it at night – the start time was 5pm. Starting at Mandalay Bay on the south end of the Strip, runners proceeded up Las Vegas Boulevard north to downtown, running on Freemont Street and back. The half marathon returned to Mandalay while the full marathon turned west and wandered around a bit to get to the full 26 mile mark. This was put on as a Rock N’ Roll Marathon, with live bands playing every mile or so. It must have been a nice run, between the casinos and all the lights to the Freemont canopy with music along the way. It was cold though, at the start the temperatures were in the low 50’s (around 12c) and cooled off from there. But moving the run to the evening hours did spark attendance – over 44,000 runners, the third largest marathon in the US.

The timing required that Las Vegas Boulevard be closed for most of the day, which caused a lot of problems with our other big event: the National Finals Rodeo. The Rodeo itself is taking place at the University center, which is a few miles east of the Strip down Tropicana. When it let out at 3 there were thousands of people that had to get back to their hotel rooms, which was a challenging task with the Strip closed and traffic not being able to cross except at limited points. But the rodeo went well. We walked the south end of the Strip on Saturday night, and cowboy hats and very short skirts were much in evidence. The hats come and go, but the skirts are around most nights, no matter how cold it is. We also walked through the Monte Carlo and New York New York casinos and noticed the new trend in the big places of putting scantily clad dancers up on a bar right on the casino floor. (one in Monte Carlo did have on a cowboy hat, which probably covered more skin than the rest of her outfit). I was distracted walking past, I wonder how the players like it. It must work at attracting and keeping gamblers putting out their money or the casinos wouldn’t do it.

In keeping with the Strip theme, here are a few shots taken at the Crystals shopping center at City Center: first, I liked the birds on this store’s windows

From the upper level the center shows it’s interesting interior shapes

Down at the bottom is this sculpture, where the plastic sculptures keep changing colors

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost December!

We just went through a nice long Thanksgiving weekend and are preparing for Christmas. December used to be a quiet month in Las Vegas, but that has changed with several groups converging here. This weekend will see the annual Cowboy weekend with the Nationals Final Rodeo at Thomas and Mack center with sub events all over, Nascar will be back at our speedway up north, the Rock and Roll Marathon takes place on the Strip, and on Saturday will be the Santa Run (the one I participate in). So whatever your interest there seems to be something.

Out in our backyard it is finally Fall, the leaves on the peach tree have turned yellow and almost all fell off suddenly, and the ash tree is a nice bronze color.

The only unfortunate thing is that all the Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten up. I just love turkey sandwiches.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steam engines

I play with toy trains, and at times like to look at real ones also. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Union Pacific Railroad, and as part of their celebration they are having one of their two steam engines, UP844, tour the country. It's in Arizona right now, and on Sunday will be coming to Las Vegas from San Bernardino. Due to arrive Sunday afternoon and be open for tours at the rail yards downtown Monday from 9 to 5. This is the first steam in Vegas in eleven years, there are only a handful of running engines around the country and it is something you don't see very often. If you haven't seen a live steam engine then this might be your only chance - they are big and impressive. This one was built in 1929 and has been restored by UP.

It's pulling a train of pretty yellow UP passenger cars.

Not many computers in the cab.

It is more impressive up close (in Gilbert, Arizona last week).

There are some nice Videos here.

All photos from the UP Facebook page

I plan on driving down to Kelso on Sunday morning to see it running through. Probably joining a big crowd of steam enthusiasts, but we'll see.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

from space

Kevin posted this, and I really thought it beautiful, especially the lightning in one pass

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday videos - 80's girls

Looking up the YMCA video last week just forced me to look at a bunch of 80’s videos that were listed along the side as related. But before we get to those, LMFAO just came up with a new one that I found rather amusing. It even has Ron Jeremy dancing:

OK, back twenty five years. Let’s do the girls and girl groups today. I don’t think this one would get airplay today, much less back then. It would have been remade with a different top. Those things sure want their freedom

I rather liked Bananarama (at least the name). They came through town a few months ago.

Did you ever walk like the Bangles


Cyndi is still around having fun

And a young Kylie

OK, enough big hair already

Friday, November 11, 2011


I knew Vegas was the destination for entertainers, most names come into town for a few hours or weeks (or years) to put on shows and make some money. Usually tickets to a show here are three times the price of the same show in any other city. Sometimes we even get acts that have been around for a while (Elton John? I remember him from . . ., and Cher?) but was surprised to read in yesterday's paper that the Village People will be putting on some shows next week. You remember them, of the YMCA fame? (sorry, no embedding allowed). (I really like that leather guy's mustache) Anyway, that YouTube search led me to many hours of old videos.

Normally I put up a few photos of my granddaughter E, so let's get back to that.

When Grammy was up visiting over the summer they wandered through fields of flowers

And put some in their hair (even though it was Portland and not San Francisco)

They put a lot of time into visiting restaurants and smiling too.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Cold already?

I sure don’t like this daylight savings time change. Now I drive in to work heading east with the sun in my eyes and I drive home driving west with the sun in my eyes. I was used to getting to work when it was dark and watching the sun rise through my window, and having some time in the afternoon when I got home to do yard stuff. Now the sun is going down and I’m stuck inside. This is ignoring the cold – it was only 0c (33f) when I got up this morning (outside - yes we have the heater on inside) which probably has already taken out our tomatoes. We usually can pick tomatoes until the first frost, which some years has been around Christmas. This is much too early for it to get cold here. In the afternoon it warms up to around 17c or so (62f) but I would much rather have a longer fall with warmer days. This year it came too fast. Friday we had some light rain, and on the mountains just north of us it came down as snow - not much, but the hills and mountain were all white. I wanted a photo, but by the time we dug out the camera Saturday morning it had all melted. Oh well.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dr. H's open house

I've written about Dr. Hammargren before, about how I much admire his collections (and would love to have a Statue of Liberty arm sticking over my back wall). He had another of his annual open houses last Sunday, and someone posted a few minutes of video taken around his place. (now what would my wife say if . . . )

Monday, October 31, 2011


E was a kitty this year, in costume made by Mom and face painting by Grammy.

This just in - sorting the haul (looks a little light to me)

Friday, October 28, 2011

E Friday - short hair

We haven't done an E Friday for a while, and I've got a small backlog of photos, so here are some of them.

As a new reader E really concentrates on understanding what books are trying to tell her. Usually you can almost hear the gears grinding in there as she studies things, and sometimes it shows. But I guess learning to read is a serious thing

Since that photo she has had her hair cut. Recently they went on a trip up to Seattle, and ended up in the top of the Space Needle looking over the city. I guess this is more fun than reading, so a smile can come by once in a while

Also in Seattle is a flat maze for kids to figure out. I guess it was easy, because it looks like she's running through it

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cooking with Joe - French Fries

For today’s cooking lesson we will go over how to make low oil French Fries (or Freedom Fries for you Republicans). A little healthier for you than deep frying but still full of carbs.

We start by peeling some potatoes and cutting them up into whatever size you like. I go for the thicker wedge style fries.

Then place into a plastic zip lock bag and put in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and whatever spices you desire. I use seasoned salt and a little Creole seasoning for kick.

Zip the bag shut and knead lightly until the potatoes are all coated with oil and the spices are evenly distributed.

The onto a tray and into a 450F oven for twenty minutes, more or less depending on how thick you cut the slices and how crispy you want them. No after picture as they were eaten before I could pick the camera back up.

And finally for something totally different – did you have hair like this in 1985?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mt. Charleston trees

Back to our walk up Mount Charleston a few weeks ago. There are a lot of trees up there, well, a lot compared to most of the desert and mountains of southern Nevada. Because it is still a desert up there the trees are not very big or numerous. But they are interesting. Most are pine trees, of the assortment found out in the west.

We had some thunderstorms a few weeks ago, and it was cold enough to come down as snow up on the mountain. With the addition of some man made stuff the ski resort up there was able to open for the weekend, and was quite proud to advertise that it was the first ski resort to open in the country for this ski season. All of the white stuff up there has melted as it has warmed up again (it's 29c - 85f right now down here) but another cold front is moving in. Ski season usually starts with Thanksgiving weekend so this was quite early.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

E with pumpkins

Getting into Fall and close to Halloween. Yesterday E went to a pumpkin patch to pick out some future Jack O' Lanterns.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tivoli Village

Back again to Tivoli Village, a shopping center that opened up over on the west side. It's basically a small outdoor shopping mall. It was sitting untouched in the middle of construction for several years, then finally finished and opened a few months ago. Most of the storefronts are still empty, business being what it is. There are several restaurants and a large underground parking area. I think it was supposed to be part of a condominium complex, but those buildings are probably quite a few years off if to be build at all.

It's a different type of architecture, not sure what they were going for but the name makes me think of someone's idea if Italian.

On weekends they have a band set up on the central street, and a small farmer's market.

Most of the trees are big versions of those tacky crystal trees I associate with grandma's parlor, but about twenty times as big.

The pizza parlor there was pretty good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Casino remodels and Aria

It’s been a nice week here in Las Vegas. The weather has calmed down and we are running our seasonable temperatures, with afternoons up around 32c (90f) and nightly lows around 15c (60f), with typical sunny skies.

Last weekend seemed to draw some old style music. Both Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were playing, but at different casinos. And for even older Mitzi Gaynor was here as well, (remember her singing ‘was that man right out of my hair’ from South Pacific?) her first appearance in Vegas since 1978. She was a regular singer back in the ‘good old days’ in town a lot. (OK, can’t resist)

It was also IndyCar racing at the local motor speedway, which unfortunately was halted before it got very far. The Strip was closed ahead of the races as the cars sipped up and down Las Vegas Boulevard in front of Caesar’s and other casinos before large crowds.

One of the Republican debates will be held tonight at the Sands. There is hope that at least one of the candidates will mention the mortgage problems ‘ordinary’ people are having. Last year was rated as better than the year before, with only one housing unit out of eight getting repossession notices, the highest rate in the country. (and 12% was better?). wow. Our unemployment rate is at an official 14%, but admittedly is around 20% counting everyone not eligible for unemployment insurance, or who have used it up.

Business is picking up at the casinos, no big projects planned but many casinos are renovating to make them appear more modern. Wynn just spent $99,000,000 to upgrade their 2,700 rooms (in their five year old building). The Stratosphere spent $20,000,000; Bellagio underwent $70,000,000 in changes; $35,000,000 at the Plaza downtown and $180,000,000 at the Tropicana. Latest to announce remodeling is the MGM Grand, spending $160,000,000 on their 3,570 rooms and 642 suites along with changing the whole casino floor and all other public spaces.

Over at the Venetian there are plans to install a synthetic ice skating rink out front, on top of the Grand Canal, so you can skate while gondoliers row people alongside. This will be for their “Winter in Venice” celebration running from Thanksgiving through New Years. Lots of other entertainment activities are planned for what is usually the slowest month for visitors in Vegas. It won’t be cheap to skate - $19 per half hour. If you get sick of the snow season come on by in December, rates are usually low, shows offer two for one tickets, and though it isn’t too warm we usually average around 24c (mid 70’s f) in bright sunshine. You can still lay out and get a sunburn.

I don’t have any MGM or Venetian photos for you, but here are some from City Center – this is the Aria pool just outside the buffet windows (one of the only buffets in town with windows)

One of their indoor brass trees

And if you want to hit their shopping mall, it’s fairly open and a little different than the others around town

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Sorry to give the impression that the Cosmopolitan is devoid of people. We just went upstairs and wandered around the convention area. Next door at Aria it was rather busy

They do have slot machines

And crowds at the check in desk

And even here people bring along those big plastic drink containers

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Back to the Cosmopolitan.

Conference center waiting area

Some all art

Nice to wander around and not just face slot machines

Monday, October 10, 2011

Red Rock climbers

We had some friends from Texas visiting last week. They didn’t want to go down to the Strip so we took them out to Red Rock Park. They’ve been camping their way across the Southwest in national park campgrounds, but still would rather see more dirt and rocks than glitter and neon (well, no more neon, it’s all LEDs now). With the storm systems moving through we still have a lot of clouds.

There were quite a lot of people out there enjoying the cooler weather. Most of the rocks had people climbing on them. Calico is the most colorful

Right next to those are more distinctive stripes.

Over by the quarry they were down closer.

Still a bit too slippery for us to try, we were all satisfied just watching.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Rain in Vegas

It's been a rainy week in Las Vegas, and unseasonably cold. When we got up this morning it was only 46f - normal is usually much more than than. But should be back up to the mid 80's by Monday.

Because of the rain we have had some dramatic clouds. Coming in to work one morning I caught a double rainbow over where I work

Which terminated right in the middle of the Strip.

Somebody was probably down there pulling the slots looking for that pot of gold.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


When I was a kid I had a hard time making a Yo-you go up and down, never imagining doing anything like this. (letting go of the string? Unheard of!)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Monday sing along

A recent posting by Rob presented someone I hadn’t seen before, and I also found him rather amusing. Currently going through this with my six year old granddaughter E (who loves to read) I can see her responding like this

Though it doesn’t sound appealing to me, different people like different samiches

As long as we’re singing, this one goes through my mind many mornings when I’m driving in to work and some idiot blasts past us on the shoulder

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Like Bernie?

I'm way behind, this one has never crossed my path

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


TI - formerly known as Treasure Island, but now all (well almost all) the pirates have been taken down - recently changed owners. It was part of the MGM empire, but they needed money to finish up City Center. Phil Ruffin had just sold the New Frontier and had lots of cash, so he was able to buy the place mortgage free.

Treasure Island used to have a pirate theme, with skull and crossbones symbols all over, employees dressed like pirates, a kids arcade and a small lagoon out front where there were daily battles of pirates versus the good guys. (depending on your view of who the good guys are) A while back the place was converted to more of an adult contemporary theme, the arcade pulled out and the pirate battle changed to a ship battle between Sirenes (attractive young women dressed in bikinis) fighting pirates. (spoiler: the pirates always lose, and their ship sinks)

The new owner decided to do a minor makeover: instead of competing with the Wynn and Venetian which are on the same intersection (average rooms there: $189) he moved to the lower priced market, with $ 49 rooms. He pulled out the Audinger night club and brought back Gilley's (which he had at the Frontier). He kept the Cirque show Mystere.

This is what Sirene's Cove and the ships look like from Gilley's window:

Monday, September 26, 2011


I used to work right on the Strip, in the middle of all of the casino activity. I now work about as far away from it as you can get and still pretend you are in Vegas. Out at the eastern edge of Henderson, about 25 miles away.

Those are the casino towers, over to the right way down there.

Every payday these two guys show up to wash cars. They bring a little tent and a truck with a water tank and power sprayer and do a pretty good job.

Must be nice to work outside in the shade. When it gets up to 110 they can spray each other with the hose.

We have two little grass patches out front. Since we are out in the desert a lot of animals come by. I've seen roadrunners and quail and coyotes and chipmunks, but the most obvious are the bunnies. Looks like one family, as it started out with two big bunnies, moved to two big ones and four or five little ones and now they are all about the same size. They move between the two grassy areas, munching and just sitting. Usually in the evening all of them are gathered together at the corner, just waiting. They are used to people walking by, and just stare back not moving. But walk towards them and they'll sprint away.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tday be Talk Like a Pirate day

Ahoy Maties - Arrrg – this be a reminder te ya tha international talk like a pirate day be taday. Everyone a ya should be talkin like a pirate – Not this kind of pirates

But them kind

For more information yer can goes ta the Official HQ page. This event seems to be more fun over in jolly old England than here in the colonies.

So remember, don’t be talkin like this guy

Unless you dress like him too.

Arrrr, you've asked how to talk like a pirate matey, from the American site

So remember, ye be talkin' like this