Thursday, October 28, 2004

More Rain

Lots of rain the past two days. We had rain last week for two days also. By lots, I mean on Mt. Charleston, about an hour north, there was 9.75 inches in one day. At the airport here, our official weather site, there was .12 inches over the two days. Notice the decimal point. LV gets a total of around three (3) inches a year in rain, so two days of clouds were noticeable. We usually have blinding sunshine. Even after the rain today I had to wear my shades on the drive home. So a grey sky is something different. Sounds real nice on my new tin roof out back though. Scares the dog, but he's a wimp anyway.
Here's what it looked like:

This is traveling down Desert Inn, headed west. This is my commute home from work. I live about three miles west of the strip, just off Desert Inn, and work about two miles east of the strip, on Sahara (the main road just north of Desert Inn). I usually travel from east to west across the valley on DI, as that is the only road that actually goes underneath Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) instead of negotiating through the traffic lights across it. Compared to other streets the time savings can be significant, especially during heavy tourist season when the streets are full. It's much easier now that there are pedestrian crossings at each major intersection on LV Blvd, but some of the streets do not yet have the crossings and traffic is slowed by the mobs crossing the street. Construction is under way where Spring Mountain crosses the strip. At this intersection is TI, the new Wynn, an expansion of the Venetian, and the Fashion Show Mall. It's about at the northern range of most tourists who walk up and down to see the casinos. The construction of the Wynn, and the new Venetian are prompting the construction of the pedestrian overpasses there. I guess it's part of the permit process for the big towers, to put aside land for the crossing. Most casinos on the corners tie the crossings right into the second floor of their buildings. This lets them suck people in who cross the street before they get back down to the ground.
We're about a mile and a half east of the strip in this photo, facing west. The big building close to the left, and extending across the road, is our main convention center. Off in the distance you can see the new Wynn hotel - looks like the tallest on the strip, except for the tower. And no sunshine.
Further down DI (Desert Inn) across 15 is this fine edifice, Jaguar's Gentlemen's Club.:

One of the newer topless bars I was talking about. I think the cover charge to get in is $20, plus drinks and of course tips and whatever you blow on lap dances. I've never been to one of these, so I don't know what an evening would cost. But you can see from how it looks like they must take in enough, kind of like having a fancy casino. You know it's paid for somehow.
This rain was probably a little less here, but since it was a lot colder Mt. Charleston had a different effect:

Looks nice? They usually have skiing on Thanksgiving weekend, but it might start earlier this year. I hear the resorts around Tahoe got a lot of snow also. I got the picture from our local paper, here is Review Journal article that I snitched the shot from. There are other photos there.
And finally, one of the nice things about storms is that clouds come with it. Usually our sky is a clear blue, without many clouds. But when not blocking the sun totally we get nice sunsets and sunrises. This is looking east from my front door. It doesn't have much color, but I liked the ripples in the clouds:

And if you didn't go to with the penguin, here is one commercial from Japan that I found to be highly amusing. Usually it's the guys on the beach doing this, but girls can be like that too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Just Vegas

Thought I'd put up a few photos, in between what seems to becoming a word blog instead of a photo blog. Guess I'll have to take the camera out for a weekend photo shoot to build up some more.
But, here's the strip from the southwest

From here it doesn't look as fancy as it does from right on the strip. To the right is the Mandalay Bay, the pyramid, the New York skyscrapers, and the back of the Bellagio.
And how about my favorite place - I am a homeowner, who likes to do things around the house. So I probably should do a direct deposit into their account.

Though Las Vegas has the nickname of 'sin city', it became a family town a number of years ago. But some of the nudity is starting to come back to the big hotels. Very few of them have topless shows, and none with nudity any more. There are some rumors of a return.
But the prudes did have some say a while back. Prostitution is legal in all of Nevada, except for counties with a population over 100,000. Out of more than 20 counties, of course only one has the population cutoff - yes, Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. You have to drive out to Pahrump to get to the nearest legal brothel. Unless you call an 'escort' service. Our yellow pages have over a hundred pages of escort services and visit-your-hotel 'dancers'. We do have a few topless bars, and even a few that offer live nude girls. Due to zoning, all of them are clustered along Industrial Boulevard, which runs along 15 just a short cab ride from the strip.
Foxy Girls is one of the older ones.

Guess I could do a whole series on these places. The newer ones look like palaces, the older ones like biker bars.
Something else that is very prevalent in Las Vegas - pawn brokers and loan places.

Where, if you are short of money and have a job, you can write a check for $135, which the place will cash in two weeks, and give you $100 in return. Not interest, but a check cashing fee. No laws against that.
And a week ahead of the election, one just for me that I thought looked cute -

And some one emailed me this short flic, but I couldn't figure out how to remove it from the email. Found it on a site a friend pointed to. When you are having
one of those days and feel like everyone wants to just slap you upside the head.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Going to Goa

Annie just told us that she is going to Goa for a few weeks, and will ‘see us in November’. Thought of something there – wait – that was ‘See you in September’ going through my head. Wrong month, sounded the same, so I’ll sing along correctly now, thank you. Which brings up another song title – did you ever have a song going through your head, and for the life of you (what kind of phrase is that?) you couldn’t remember the title, or that one chorus in the middle? The one that always got me was the Three Dog Night song that started with ‘somebody was a bullfrog, he was a good friend of mine’. I’d go for hours trying to remember the name of that damn frog. Sticking random names in, finding nothing that fit. Really caused a brain melt for a while. (no, I’m not going to tell you, figure it out for yourselves). I guess that shows my age, Three Dog Night for dog’s sake (guys, you’ve got me doing it). I remember riding with our daughter in the car many years ago (back when she was teenager) listening to Simon & Garfunkle on the radio, and she called it ‘old fogy music’. Made me feel like an old fart (no Schmo, not that kind, but the windows were up).
Anyway, back to Goa. Made me wonder where the heck Goa was. Annie’s from London, so I tried to figure out where they go for vacations. Our friends in Sweden hit the south of Spain. Lie on the beach, get burned. But the British don’t seem to like most of Europe, took a long time to agree to the Chunnel. Greece is the destination of choice for most of the British I know. Poirot even went to Mesopotamia and Cypress; he is Belgian, but lived in London. With Google on my desk there was a quick way to find out, and Goa just popped up. West coast of India – looks really nice. And India was a British colony, so it makes sense there. Looks like a nice place, but India has not been high on my list of destinations. I’ll hit an Indian restaurant periodically, mostly (well OK, only) when our daughter drags us out. Lots of vegetarian stuff at Indian restaurants, and her being in a anti meat phase sends her looking for places unlike the Sizzler.
Sitting at work writing this, I’m usually the first one in the office. I had to leave early yesterday for a doctor’s appointment. Brett just came in and told me that I really missed an interesting meeting yesterday. Eric, one of the owners (I described a past phone call from Eric a while back – how do you guys link back like you do, can’t figure it out) called a group meeting. All of the computer guys figured we were going to be hit again. It ended up being a meeting with all of the managers and supervisors from the call floors as well, about a hundred people. Eric proceeded to talk about all of his money, his Lamborghini, his Bentley, his $80,000 watch, and how he had lots of money. He went on to say that productivity was down, conversions were down, and people were not working as hard as they should. Billing was down 20%, and we had two weeks to bust butts and if we were not back up to speed by then he would close the company down and just rent out the building. He didn’t need all of the headaches involved. As he left the room somebody closed their notebook (some people brought notebooks, thinking they would need to take notes on whatever he was about to tell us what to do), and Ben, our president, said ‘don’t leave yet, I have a few things to add. This caused Eric to turn around and say ‘see, can’t wait to leave, can’t sit for a few minutes, well, (to Ben) you should just fire a few to show how serious I am’. After Eric left Ben proceeded to say how serious Eric was, and we better get moving or in two weeks we would all be moving.
Things like that are worth videotaping. That phone conversation should have been recorded. Two items to go into my hall of good job memories, and I had to miss one. Oh well, I guess in a few weeks I’ll probably hear another good talk. Unless we come in to find the doors locked and guards on the building. Had that happen to us when I worked at Xerox, 4,000 people locked out and told to go home, we’ll be contacted. No speech, though.

So, here is another post without pictures. I was disturbed about not posting very often, realizing how I look forward to hitting the blogs I like to go to (listed to the right) every day, and really feeling good when a new post was up. The list is changing, as people drop out, and I find new ones. I emailed myself at work the link to Blogspot on how to post that I use at home, but did not email the ftp address and password where I put my photos, so I can’t upload any pictures. It’s OK to type things here, still looks like work, but I couldn’t get away with editing pictures, too obvious that it wasn’t work related.
So I better at least put in some links for you guys. Here is one I came across quite a while back, but the posting site stopped showing it because of all the people hitting them. It’s an example of why you should not put your picture on the internet. I hope this one stays up. For those of you that like to make images in your mind instead of looking at pictures here is an unusual story, gotten to from the Lioness.
That’s it for now – better do some work so Eric doesn’t can us earlier.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Another political rant - read at your own risk

We went to a ‘meet the politician’ thing at a neighbor’s house last night. Got to eat cheese and talk to somebody running for office. Nothing thrilling there, but some of the comments at the meeting, and in some blogs, leads me to diverge from my normal boring Las Vegas happenings and into the sticky world of politics. Sorry about that, I know you came here to avoid other people’s opinions and rest your eyes on some pictures of another world (yes, Vegas is another world) but now you have to be faced with lots of words and no pictures. I spend some time at work now and then reading blogs on the internet, but after ten hours here and the commute back home I am not usually in the mood to sit at my computer and put in more time doing things too similar to work. Well, bad news for you, my boss is not looking over my shoulder this afternoon so I get to sit here and write this stuff.
But I read the blogs, and enjoy getting an insight into how people think, and feel that maybe once in a while I should write things too. I’ve been modifying my ‘blogs I like’ list to the right, and hopefully have inserted some that are of interest. I like reading about
Dave’s daughter, Miranda’s classes, Keri’s kids, Ann’s household, Jo’s activities, Anna’s ideas, Annie’s subway journeys. These people write interesting stories that I look forward to seeing. It’s nice to find a post popping up after several days of no change, or even several showing up every day.

Back to the political topic – boy, there are sure some people out there that can’t see the obvious.

During the question session last night one woman wanted to discuss medicines. The politician had led into this by commenting on Bush’s direction of leadership, in making importing drugs from Canada illegal, and restricting the Social Security Administration from negotiating drug prices. The assumption was that big business (meaning drug companies and insurance companies in this case) was able to influence our ‘independent’ politicians into passing laws that favored them. What an outrageous thought. But her question was a little off of that topic. She has been using Vioxx, and instead of paying the US rate of $500 a month for her needs she was obtaining the drug illegally from a Canadian pharmacy for $240 a month. Well, admitting right there that she was a criminal, admitting guilt to committing a felony every month kind of restricted my view of her. So what if she couldn’t afford American prices, she has a responsibility to keep the drug companies profitable. Besides, those Canadian drugs could be supporting terrorists and be of inferior quality coming from unknown drug labs overseas. Doesn’t she know that the Canadians don’t now how to regulate their own companies?
Back to her topic. She just received a letter from a law firm asking her to be part of a class action lawsuit against the makers of Vioxx, for creating and selling a drug that was alleviating her pain (why she took it to begin with) but was also damaging her. It doesn’t matter that she suffered no side affects, or that she has been able to function without pain while taking it. As a user it was her duty to sue. Her problem was that she wanted to talk to her doctor about the Vioxx, but the letter from the lawyer told her not to talk to anyone, especially not her doctor. So, feeling guilty about even mentioning it in our group after the letter told her not to, she wondered about whether or not to talk to her doctor before participating in this lawsuit.
I hesitated to call her an idiot, not wanting to offend idiots, but in the group situation I kept quiet. Somebody did suggest that since she did not suffer any side effects she might consider just throwing the lawyer’s letter away. The politician was being a lawyer and a politician and suggested that everybody’s situation was different and she had to consider things herself. Somebody else said that side effects were not always apparent, and she should ask her doctor if she had been affected. But again, the response was that the letter said not to talk to her doctor.
I did restrain myself, and did not hit her over the head and say ‘Idiot, you are the type of person responsible for higher medical costs because of your stupid class action lawsuits’. OK, I know some lawsuits are valid, and do help change things, and do compensate people for wrongs. Without my requesting it I’ve been part of some class action lawsuits – one against Wells Fargo for overcharging on late payments. That one got me (and several thousand other sufferers) a $00.12 refund check, and some law firm a $22,000,000 fee for bringing it. Tell me that wasn’t worth it. But for attorneys to go looking for clients when people don’t even know they are victims – I see ads on TV from attorneys looking for people that might have worked in the asbestos industry, or at Yucca mountain, or just visited someplace where they might have been affected. To me that’s just wrong. There were no condos built in San Diego for the past five years because the odds were 110% that a builder would face a lawsuit for construction defects and so no insurance company would cover construction. First time home buyers did not have the lower cost condo option because of some lawyers that made a living looking for things. OK – there were some condos with problems, but to shut down a whole industry to me was rather a sorry outcome.

Back to political complaints –

Reading last Friday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal brought up an editorial in which they said that the Journal was independent and fair and ‘does not endorse candidates’. Out of the seven other editorial columns, six had some severe anti Kerry sentiments. It might be nice to say that you are ‘fair and impartial’ but it was rather obvious that they were not.
The guy sitting next to me wearing his Bush button – Don’t you see where the country has been the past four years? Yes, 1.6 million jobs the past six months, but they don’t overcome the millions lost in the previous three years. Make the world safer because of Iraq? Ask the Israelis killed in Egypt by the Al Quida bombings last week. Ask the families of the 1,000+ US soldiers killed over there if they feel safer (patriotic maybe, but better off?). Ask that lady mentioned above how she would feel being a convicted felon for drug importation, because she can’t afford to buy here, or why her insurance is so high, or why her doctor gave up his practice because of high malpractice insurance. Ask my neighbor who’s job is being done by somebody in India for $5 a day. I don’t know if Kerry can do any better, but he would have to do quite a lot to make it much worse.
Ok, that’s my political concept for the day. Gallager used to call them ‘mind farts’, but at least they were funny when he said them. I guess that would apply to shorter outbursts, but it still is just a smelly wind that blows away and hopefully only offends a few. Wait – I hope it offends a lot, but makes you think. And no, I will not put that Bush poster in my front yard just to be fair.

Monday, October 18, 2004

He's Back

A while back I talked about the view out my window at work. Well, for a few weeks now I've been missing my favorite feature across the street, our waving man. Well, he's back.

A recent report discussed how his arms were slowly disappearing. Las Vegas has a pretty constant wind, not constant in that it always blows the same, but constant in that there is almost always wind blowing. Sometimes quite briskly. This wind tends to blow things around and away. In addition to the wind is our beautiful sunshine. I like the view behind him - from Belagio in Italy on the right past Paris and New York and on to the Egyptian pyramid. (update - sorry, looking out the window I realize that the Eifel tower and the Belagio are off the photo to the right. But at least you can see from New York through Excaliber to the Pyramid.)
Waving man fell prey to both features. The sun breaks down everything left outside, and the wind helps by physically breaking it up. So our waving man lost his arms.
He's been gone for two weeks, and in that time he's grown quite a bit. His arms are back, longer than ever, and his legs are also much longer. Now when he waves his arms are higher than the roof of his building. But the longer legs seem to make him a little unstable. With even the slightest wind he seems to be doing some strange dance, where he leans over backward and touches his head to the ground. But I guess if you are that tall it is something to do to keep from being bored.
My wife has been volunteering for some activities around town. A while ago she started working with the Habitat for Humanity, helping to build a house near central Las Vegas. Last Saturday she went out to Henderson (just east) and put in a day on a new house out there. One of the local builders arranged for a large crew to show up, and they put up all of the walls in just the one day. Here's a shot of the last piece going in.

Seems like a nice thing to do - even Jimmy Carter is still swinging a hammer to help. I guess it's a concrete thing to do that shows results. I had helped at a homeless shelter in San Diego that tried to help people learn how to get and hold a job, which seemed a lot more useful than having a prayer and a sandwich.

I've got a whole segment on Las Vegas conventions, but part 2 of the Farscape return is about to come on, so not tonight -

But here are some blogs that I came across while wandering. These are probably more amusing to the women out there, but I did find them interesting.
Annwn talks about why women go to the restroom in pairs. Something I didn't really want to know about, and why you don't sit down.
The Lioness discusses her cat's trips to the restroom. She writes well, be sure to look on down the posts for the cat stuff.
And there is someone out there who is A Little Pregnant. Her amusing tale is about selected
body parts that tend to grow during pregnancy. It sounds somewhat interesting, but leads me to feel that Pandora Peaks (from last week's post) isn't all that unusual.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Say goodbye

I've been reading the papers and seeing the news and looking at web sites this week and thought that it was time to say goodbye to a few people. Not all are gone forever (hopefully) but some will not return, and others will be with us a long time in memories.
My first career was going to be photography. I majored in Photo Illustration in college, and thus appreciate fine camera work. One of the finest people photographers is Richard Avedon.

Richard was the first staff photographer for one of my favorite magazines, the New Yorker. Until Richard the NY used drawings. He specialized in people. He has taken photos of many famous and not famous people over the years, and he will be missed. One of my favorite photos that he took is of the actor Kevin Klein, getting in costume for his roll as FalStaff, for the New Yorker.

Another famous people photographer is Russ Meyers.

Russ was one of Playboy's first centerfold photographers back in the 50's, but is best known for his 'cult' movies, which specialized in women with very very large breasts. The Internet Movie Database lists over twenty five movies he directed, starting back with The Immoral Mr. Teas through Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. One of his well known actresses was Kitten Natividad

who was in the film 'Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Vixens", and the 72HHH star Pandora Peaks, as you can see well named. Not many shots of her covered up available but LOTS of her without clothes. I still don't see how she can stand up without falling on her face.

Rounding out the men that have left us is Rodney Dangerfield.

A well known comedian that didn't get no respect, but I enjoyed his humor as he did not make fun of others but concentrated on himself. Rodney was popular in Vegas - lots of stories in the columns about him today. Seen many times around the MGM in his pajamas - I guess he liked to be comfortable.
And we also lost a famous woman,

not her best image, appearing in quite a few movies but best known for the noisy shower scene in Psycho, Janet Leigh. Married to Tony Curtis for a while, mother of Jamie Lee Curtis. Here are Janet and Jamie together.

also well known for a topless scene, not in a Russ Meyers movie but in Trading Places with Dan Aykroyd, at least in the movie version but covered up in the TV version. Tony Curtis is a Vegas resident, and active in the charitable scene around town.

That's it for people, but I am also mourning the loss of two web sites that I liked to read daily, and used to have links for over on the right -
Off to do a book, is Belle de Jour. A London Lady, Belle never the less was very good at her writing style and covered a topic that I am not familiar with.

Another lost blog is Above Average Jo,

Known for her fairies, I dropped her link after she changed names due to some comments left by uncaring others, but kept reading her new site which is now again closed due to more commenting. Sad to see you go Jo.

So that's by list of goodbye's for today. Looking at it like this, it sure is a ramble of different ideas. Sorry there are no shots of Las Vegas this time. But goodbye to all of these, and many others I left out.