Sunday, March 27, 2005

New rides

The Stratosphere has opened another ride up on the roof - who would have thought that you could find a freeking amusement park 1000 feet up in the air above the Strip (I think that's 300 meters for the American impared).

It's called Insanity. You get strapped into a little chair thingey stuck on a finger of a giant hand, along with a few other people on other fingers. This hand then swings out over the edge of the tower, and starts to spin. You end up looking almost straight down to the strip - I wonder how diluted the puke is before it hits the ground? Just don't look up if you are underneath. This is along with their roller coaster, teter toter, and big vertical shot.
You can see videos of them all here, Stratosphere rides.
And Steve Wynn is ready to open his new place next month. He's been bragging about the $2.7 billion project (that's $2.700.000.000. - about half that in Euros, thanks W). Cost more than any other project in the world. Eighteen restaurants, big rooms, lots of gambling, and before it even opens he is planning a new $500,000,000 resort on the same site. Boy, wish I had those dreams, let alone that kind of money. No rides on the roof, though.

Monday, March 21, 2005

What's going on

It seems like a lot. I feel like things are flying right past and there is no time to stop. Got the word at work that too many people are spending too much internet time, so it looks like I can’t post while there, or even read blogs very much. For some reason they feel like we should work when we are at work. The nerve. But I like the place, so I guess I have to put up with the rules.
When I get home I’m not in the mood for computers, for some reason. Instead of long nights at the keyboard I can now go for three days without even turning it on. And I’m up to about a dozen junk emails a day now – our other account gets about 150 spams a day. I wonder how long before I’m up to that count. Probably not too far off.
So here is what we’ve been up to.

Twenty tons of Mojave Gold 3/8” rock. Doesn’t look like 20 tons? Well, let me tell you that one old guy, a shovel and a wheelbarrow working all the daylight hours for a Saturday and Sunday can move 20 tons by himself. From the road out front where they dumped it around the yard. Most of it to the back, to level out the area behind the patio. When we poured the concrete last year we had to start at the back door and slope it away from the house, which left a hill where the concrete stopped. With this winter’s rain proving that water runs down hill our patio was muddy and flooded, well, at least the far end of it was. So with the help of a few friends we dug the hill away, down to a nice shallow trench. Thoughts of a dry creekbed channeling water around to the side of the house from the back came around to just making it level and easy to walk on. Filling it with the rock we did the yard conversion in makes it match, and the water will still flow down under the rock and out, well, hopefully. Looks like we’ll have to wait until some summer thunderstorms to find out.
This was the week before the train meet in the back yard.

For some reason I spoke up and volunteered my place. Down in San Diego we used to have around a hundred out for our summer BBQ. I was president of the SD Computer Society and PC Club, around 2,000 members combined. We’d just invite over the ones we ran around with. Cy would spend all morning with ribs out on the grill, we’d set up tables and chairs, and around 2 would start greeting friends. Good ribs, thanks Cy. Maybe I can find some old photos and scan them in someday. But we had burgers here, and about 40 people. Not as many as I expected, but besides the wedding our first real gathering out back.
One week night we finally made it to the burger place in Mandalay Bay. I’ve been reading the reviews, and they do make good burgers.

Little place, fifteen minute wait on a Tuesday night (I don’t want to think about a Friday, locals don’t usually do weekends out, let the tourists wait in line). Basic Burger Bar burger starts at $7, then you add for every addition. $1 for cheese, $1 for grilled onions, $12 for foi gras, $30 for truffles. Yes, foi gras and truffles – their ‘special’ with foi gras, truffles and Madera sauce comes in at a special $60. For a burger! They’re good, though. I had a cheap one. And a glass of the local beer – don’t usually drink, but for some reason wanted some with the burger there.
Outside the door are the shops. Mandalay Place, a bridge between the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor.

Walking over to the Luxor I tried some shots with the camera that doesn’t like indoors without the flash. But go to their site and view some of the virtual tours.

This is my favorite hotel in town – the inside looks like a pyramid just like the outside. The rooms are all along the angled walls. The elevator doesn’t go up and down, it goes at an angle along the slope of the pyramid. Interesting. We stayed there for a few nights before we moved here. So you come in the front door and look up at the thirty floors of rooms angled overhead. An impressive entrance. These shots are taken from the arcade area on the second floor over the casino. Most of the casino is covered by the second floor, I guess the designer thought people gambling wanted a more intimate feeling. There are open areas around the edges.
Here’s what the center looks like -
That’s an Imax theatre tower in the middle.
So, busy getting ready for the crowds, and doing stuff around the house. But still have some time out.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Road trip -Shosone

We went of to Shoshone last weekend – doesn’t sound familiar? It’s the entrance to Death Valley – just an hour drive from LV. We went down for the crepes – our son in law heard a radio show about the place, and visited once before. It was a nice warm drive, good food at the end, a walk around the desert and down to a date grove for some cookies. Shoshone and Death Valley are in California, not Nevada, so we did get to travel out of state.
Here we are driving out – the locals would say ‘see how green everything is?

But coming from New York I don’t think that would be my first thought.
There were a lot of mines in the area, and a hundred years ago not many trees for building houses. Some of the miners dug themselves small living spaces in the cliffs near town.
. Not very big, but they were dry, and a little view.
This is from the front door (well, one room, so only one door)

The clump of trees down the middle is Shosone. Population 46.
About twenty minutes north we stopped at a date grove – down in a small canyon that is really hidden. The restaurant owner directed us, and we would not have found it otherwise. You can still get out by yourself even now. We wandered around, bought some dates and some cookies, then headed back.

And then driving home at sunset, straight ahead were the snow covered mountains to the north.

And that same straight road.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My group is better than yours

What makes your group the ‘best’? Is this really an important concept, groups that we are part of?
I’m listening to a local radio station this morning, and the morning pair – Mark & Mercedes (is that the current status for every top 10 morning station, a pair of DJs to banter back and forth?) started talking about the TV show American Idol. They suggested that everyone phone in and vote for two of the contestants that are from Las Vegas. Not to vote for them because they are the best, or should get our votes for some other reason, just because they are from Vegas.
Is everything the best simply because it’s your community? (Tribe, family, whatever it might be called). Seems like this concept causes a lot of problems.
In the US it’s fights at sporting events – my team is better than your team stuff. I think it’s called soccer hooliganism in England when sports fanatics have to defend the honor of their club. The annual San Diego Charger football game against the Anaheim team always resulted in multiple fights in the stands as people defended ‘their’ team – I don’t get it, hos is it ‘your’ team if all you do is live in the same city? You didn’t pick the players, pay their salaries (well, ticket prices are pretty high) or participate in any way other than living there. In LV we are having problems with gangs – people wearing red are ‘better’ than people wearing blue, so let’s shoot the other guys. Last year we had some problems with high school students in one of the ‘better’ sections of town. Ended up with big rocks through the windshield of a car, smashing up somebody’s face pretty badly. The US invaded a foreign country in order to ‘give’ them democracy, because our system is sooo much better than theirs was. (I don’t know, just had to throw that last one in there).
Does the concept relate back to our early pack days? I know my two dogs find it necessary to defend the homeland, and keep other dogs, and people, that are not part of our pack away. Through intimidation (barking mostly) and action (biting ankles directly, well, they are small dogs). Cats don’t seem to care. Fish seem to chase other fish away, but I can’t tell why. Most animals carry the same concepts – keeping their area clear of similar animals that are not part of their group or family.
Is this attitude still necessary? Is it part of the individual attitude that ‘I know best, do it my way’ or is it something else? It seems necessary for people to feel they are part of a group, but why does violence seem to come into play so frequently, to either punish somebody that is from a different group, to defend your own feelings of oppression, or to force someone else to conform to your attitudes and beliefs? For some people it’s pretty extreme – die with a bomb strapped to your body to kill others that are different, crash a plane into a building or blow up a car or just throw rocks at others. Or drink poisoned cool aide because you are threatened.
John Lennon’s song Imagine seemed to touch on this area. I can’t imagine not owning things (that Communism idea is a little too far out for me) but to imagine there are no countries? How would we pick the leaders we feel we have to follow? Or am I just thinking too much again?