Friday, March 31, 2006
Things to do in Vegas
Feeling good today – lots of things lined up to do at home. Need to start working on that front courtyard this weekend. Have to figure out exactly what kind of overhead to put in. We don’t want a solid roof like we have out back, it will make the front room too dark, so I’ll probably do a steel framework like out back but then put some 2x6 wooden boards on edge, spaced a few inches apart. That way it’ll look substantial, provide some shade, and not need too many horizontals to hold them up. We’ve started some vines, they’ll be trained up over the top so in the summer we should have shade from the leaves, but in the winter the leaves will fall off and there will be more sunshine. Because of the winds here I’ll have to dig some fairly large holes and fill with rebar and concrete for footings, to bolt the verticals to on each corner. B picked out some concrete pavers, hit a construction yard last week and bought four of them to lay out, to insure it will look as planned. We found it’s always best to buy a few first and play with setting them out. That way if it ends up not being what you want you will only be out the money for the few, instead of jumping in and getting the whole project done and being unhappy, and out big bucks for something that isn’t liked. After taking out the concrete slab a few months ago we need to get some fill to bring the level up to the desired height (even with the tiled entryway). So I’ve got to figure out how much fill will be required, and how many pavers to get.
lorum asked what there was to do in Vegas besides gambling, so let’s put in a few seconds of thought and come up with a short list – I’ll think about this over the weekend and probably add to it in a few days.
Things to do in Vegas:
1. Walk the Strip and Fremont and see the casinos. This is kind of like Disneyland without the rides. Just to view the architecture, ideas, and people. You can go from New York to Egypt to Paris to Venice in a day.
2. Free stuff. Giant fish tanks at Caesar’s and Mirage, Caesar and Cleopatra wandering around Caesar’s, overhead shows at the Rio, free concerts under the canopy downtown, fountains at the Bellagio, Vixens and Pirates at TI.
3. Paid attractions at some casinos, such as Shark Reef at Mandalay, Imax at Mirage, car testing at the Sahara, Star Trek at the Hilton. gondola rides at the Venetian.
4. Do the roller coasters, like Grissom used to do on CSI – there are a bunch, from New York to Sahara to the rooftop rides on the Stratosphere.
5. The free shows – most casinos have one or two cocktail lounge areas where you can see some pretty good entertainers for the price of a drink.
6. The shows you pay for – there is no place in the world with so many entertainers with permanent shows; Penn & Teller, Lance Burton, Celene, Barry Manilow, Elton John, the Blue Man Group, Circ du Solei’s stuff, traditional feathered showgirls, Madona and Bette Midler are considering moving here. Or hit one of the traveling shows, from the Rolling Stones to Reba to Sting to whoever you can thing of.
7. Restaurants – there is nowhere in the world that has so many great places so close together. Every casino has at least one, the Bellagio and MGM and Mandalay each have a half dozen magnificent places. And some of the buffets have pretty good food, lots of it. Sit at the outdoor place at Paris and watch the Bellagio fountains, or go high and try the one at the top of the Eiffel Tower, top of the Stratosphere, Mix on top of Mandalay Bay.
8. Nightclubs – again, Vegas is the home of the ‘Ultra Lounge’, where you can dance the night away. Stop at Paris Hilton’s party, or dance with whatever Hollywood celebrity is at the same place as you.
9. Swimming pools – you will never see as much skin and silicone anywhere, from topless to Playboy centerfolds at the Palms. Each hotel has one or two or three or more, with different styles from floating on tropical streams to sand beaches with waves to plain concrete and palm trees. In the summer there is nothing like sitting in 110f with a cold drink watching people turn red.
10. Sports – we have an AAA baseball team and big league teams visit, the University does hoops, the South Coast does horse events, the National Rodeo passes through.
11. Art shows & museums, from Wynn’s collection to the Hermitage to Elvis or Liberace.
12. Plants and gardens – our Desert at the Springs preserve offers a view of the SouthWest deserts, plants and animals, with guided tours and lectures and walking trails with little signs and all.
13. Hoover Dam – tours of the biggest pile of concrete anywhere.
14. Outdoor parks – Red Rock, Valley of Fire, the Wetlands Preserve, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon. Drive through them, walk around, or just sit and look.
15. Helicopter tours – to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley or just along the Strip.
16. Rent a scooter or golf cart and cruise the Strip slowly. They tried renting the Segway, but there are too many people on the sidewalks so the county would not permit it.
17. Conventions – there are always several in town, either find somebody to get you tickets or some have paid days, from the International Tea Convention to electronics to furniture to porn stars (sorry, ‘Adult Entertainment’).
18. Exercise – walk or bike the many trails, from the Red Rock loop to assorted desert trails.
19. Water stuff – water ski at the lake, white water rafting below the dam, jet skis, fish, or just float around.
20. Shopping – from Maseratti and Ferrari at the Wynn to rain falling from the ceiling at the Desert Passage to million dollar diamonds at Caesar’s or the Bellagio, Gucci, Jimmy Chu, Prada, to models at the Fashion Show Mall.
21. Spas - spend the day getting pampered and massaged and made over; quite a few of these at the bigger hotels.
22. Adult entertainment – Vegas has over twenty topless and a half dozen nude clubs (topless can serve liquor, nude can’t), some pretty fancy. There are still topless shows, a new one ‘Headlights and Taillights’ will feature cars and Playboy centerfolds showing off their ‘headlights’. For the girls there’s the Thunder from Down Under and a few others.
23. More adult entertainment – Clark County is the only place in Nevada where prostitution is illegal, but there are almost 200 pages in the phone book yellow pages listing ‘escort’ services (level services depending on tips of course). And every limo driver will be happy to take you on the one hour drive to Pahrump which has several legal brothels. For the women Heidi Fleiss is opening a brothel for the ladies. Don’t know how that will work, the level of involvement seems much different for male prostitutes.
24. Arcades – though the MGM theme park is gone, Circus Circus still has a floor for kids, and most big casinos have an arcade area. You can hit the one at the Sahara and sit in a real Nascar or Formula One racecar and ‘drive’.
25. Racing – yes, Nascar comes here. We have a really big racetrack just to the north, which surely has other events.
26. Participant racing – lots of go-cart tracks, even one indoors for those that don’t like driving outside.
27. Movies – most hotels have multiple screens. We usually hit the Orleans or the Palms or Texas Station, each of which have all stadium seating and a dozen screens.
28. Skiing – Mt. Charleston is visible from the Strip – a dozen inches of new snow there last week. Ski lifts and snowboarding for those of you that like cold.
29. Weddings – another Vegas tradition. It takes an hour to get a license, and you can be hitched by Elvis or a Borg or a tuxedoed minister. Or just go down to one of the many chapels and sit in the audience and watch. Didn’t plan on a wedding? Well, do a Brittany and get drunk, you can always get it annulled the next morning when you sober up.
30. Tattoos – lots of places here. Go to Hart and Huntington in the Palms and you might even have your skin on TV getting done up. Just be careful not to combine it with the drunken wedding, or you’ll have more to take care of the next morning than an annulment.
31. Driving - rent a Harley Davidson for a day or a week, go wild with a Ferrari for a day, or just take a limo for an hour, drive down the Strip and stand up in the sunroof for one of those classic movie scenes.
32. Karoke - (just for Beth & Dana) - lots of places for this, and in this town you don't always know who might stop in. Some of the leads from big groups have fun on their 'off' days.
33. Gambling – left for last, probably don’t even have to mention this one. From high roller poker to penny slots, to slot machines at the end of the walkway at the airport and in every supermarked and 7-11. My wife can make a twenty last for four hours, or lose it quickly on three cards.
OK, enough for now, have to get back to work. But let’s not forget what’s at home. Eli is walking now, with help:
She really likes wandering around the house holding on to this little car that converts to a walker.
Oh, do you like the bubbles? I looked for the stars but couldn't find them.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Down in San Diego it was the same way, but then the fire department decided that they wanted to do the paramedic stuff since so many firemen were trained in that stuf, and they responded anyway. I think the fire department purchased some ambulances and was added to the emergency rotation.
All of the ambulances here are the ‘new’ style, looking like a big boxy truck. So the patient is rolled inside and can be worked on while driven to an emergency room. There are lots of emergency rooms in the valley, but like other cities too many people are relying on emergency rooms for care that should go to a doctor or an ‘urgent care’ center. But if you don’t have money or insurance a doctor will not see you while emergency is required to. This ends up causing ambulances to be re-routed to other less impacted hospitals. But that’s a different topic.
Back to the article: The city is requiring both companies to add an ambulance capable of handling ‘larger’ customers. The one company interviewed in this story last year responded to 75 calls involving patients weighing over 600 pounds (272kg?). This new vehicle, and required equipment, costs over $250,000.
I flipped through a tv show last week about a 750 pound man. At 500 pounds his knees were unable to hold him up. He crawled over and into his bed, and now is up to 750. I guess it’s his wife that feeds him and cleans up. Must be some cleanup – too big to get out of bed or use a bedpan, and I thought baby diapers were bad. Anyway, he was a BIG guy, all he could do was lie on his side in bed. I know how hard it is to lose weight, I’m working on 40 pounds myself, but to get that big – wow.
So if one of the services handled 75 calls, that means that probably 150 people weighing over 600 pounds needed emergency medical attention last year in the Las Vegas area. (if it was one call per person, might have been several calls per person, but that wasn’t discussed) I had no idea that there were that many people that weighed that much. I doubt if Vegas is atypical in this, so how many people across the country are that big? And every one requires a caregiver or two that bring food and clean up.
I keep seeing stories about how the average American is getting bigger, accompanied by photographs of ‘large’ people walking around. But this size?
One of the discussions on NPR this morning was about children that have a problem wetting or pooping in their pants. A surgeon in Portland has found that this is often caused by a medical condition called Tethered-Cord Syndrome, where a sheath at the end of the spinal cord in some children does not stretch as they grow, causing pressure on the nerves, which results in problems. She operates and cuts this sheath. According to the NPR story this is effective 90% of the time. My daughter several times has talked about students in her class with problems. One kid in her fifth grade class several years ago continually filled his pants, did not smell very good, and had no friends. Our daughter talked to his parents several times, and thought the problem was emotional and caused by the situation at home. Looks like it might have been a correctable physical condition. See the things you learn on NPR?
Las Vegas has two ‘Public Radio’ stations. One is affiliated with the university and follows the talk format, with new shows and interviews throughout the day, some of the shows being created locally and about Las Vegas topics. The other is at the community college down the street from us and follows the jazz format, with some of the national NPR stories periodically. I listen to the news one in the car, my wife listens to the jazz one at home, as background music. The news one is currently having their periodic fund raising event. Which means that for about fifteen minutes out of each hour they are trying to make you feel bad about having any money, please phone in and give it to us. I understand this situation, working with the San Diego PBS station.
A majority of their operating funds are from donations, so these radio and TV stations are forced to beg for money on air in order to stay alive. I just wish there was a way for me to set the radio to indicate that I sent in my money, just skip the commercials and go back to regular programming. This means that my listening for this week and next, or as long as the beg-a-thon goes on, is rather irregular. Instead of just listening I now push a button to switch stations when the local announcers come on. Unfortunately, most other stations are also filled with commercials, and at times I can push all six preset buttons on my car radio and find no music at all. So I play the game of ‘which one will play a song first’ and suffer through the commercials that keep the stations on air. Guess if I didn’t want the commercials I could pay for satellite radio, which it looks like I am about to do. Probably Sirius, so that I can hit Howard Stern periodically.
We tend to do the same thing at home with television. It seems that the percentage of time stations devote to programming is really going down. On the main networks it looks like fifteen to twenty minutes of every hour is spent in commercials. When the show switches to commercial I usually just sit there, but at times the commercials are so lame, or Volvo tells me about the population problem for the sixth time in a half hour that I just have to hit the change button. My wife is really bad, I thought it was guys that flipped channels, but when a commercial comes on she just starts pushing buttons on the remote, and I get totally lost. Though, it is very difficult to understand how we can flip through fifty stations (we are signed up for Cox cable, and get about 150 stations, some never watched) and find that all of them are in commercial breaks. Maybe there is a big national signal sent out that switch all stations from show to commercials at the same time. Once in a while (usually several times a night) even the shows are bad, and I find myself cycling through all the channels.
Back to reality, which is already in progress.
At home, E has found a new friend to play with:
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
At the HIlton
Last Friday we ventured out to see the play Menopause the Musical at the Hilton. Down in San Diego we went and saw Forever Plaid, a story about four guys singing old songs. This one is four women singing old songs. Songs from the 60’s and 70’s with the words changed around. It was about women growing old, how things change, weight goes on, kids don’t talk to you, mom keeps asking questions, really aimed at women. My wife laughed through the whole thing, I found parts amusing, the younger guy next to us didn’t understand anything at all.
It was put on in one of the Hilton multi purpose rooms. The show we saw was at 7, at 9:30 came the show Dragapella, four guys dressed as women singing. After that the room becomes the Shimmer cabaret – late night partying at one of our new ‘ultra lounges’. Yes, it’s basically a bar with a small stage. Heads in the way, waitresses pushing drinks, but a fair bit of laughter.
The Hilton is one of our middle aged hotel/casinos. It’s where Elvis stayed (in the penthouse of course) and lots of stars used to perform at. Right now Barry Manilow is the headliner. Reba McEntire is coming soon ($138/$225 per ticket), as is Johnny Mathis (remember him?) and Donna Summer. The International Tea Convention is there right now in the convention center area. The main casino area is rather tight
There is a monorail stop at the hotel, it’s close to the big convention center. The ‘big’ thing there is Star Trek – the Experience. You can get a blue drink at Quark’s Bar, experience a ride and show, or even be married by a Borg. One of the main bars, the SpaceQuest Bar, is made up to look like the inside of a spaceship.
I guess if you’re into Star Trek it’s the place to go.
New show on TV last night, Teachers. And who should I find in it but Sarah Alexander, last time I saw her she was in labor on Coupling (give me the f*cking epidural NOW!!). Looks like she crossed over to the US for drivel like this. Come on, the next generation of cute blonds after Felicity Kendall, who is now on some mystery show as the crackpot old lady investigator. At least it's a regular paycheck, until the thing is cancelled. She's the main reason to watch either show. Except perhaps to listen to Jeff make excuses.
OK, can’t get by without having at least one shot.
Standing quite well, learning about steps on the little slide out back, walking while holding on to things, and smiling all the time. Well, at least when I’m there, I understand she does not like hitting the crib for her naps.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Monday new homes
I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here new houses are put up in big tracts, where all the homes look the same, all the yards are one of the three variations the builder offers, everything is neat and sterile. This house had a lot of windows, but it’s only eight feet between houses and you just look out at blank walls. The back yard is less than twenty feet deep, looking out at a big block wall with a house towering up right back there. Most new homes are now two stories, because the lots aren’t big enough to get much square footage on one level. Their next door neighbor has been in that house a few months, and already put a pool in the backyard. This means there is no dirt left in their back yard, just a pool and surrounding concrete. To me laying by that pool would seem like laying in an oven with a pan of water next to you. Small, square box with towering houses all around, blue sky right overhead but no view except for the other houses.
It’s around 1,800 square feet (167 sq. meters) and costs $380,000. Back in Cincinnati it would be $150,000 but out in California probably close to a million ($1,000,000). But the yard size; it seemed like a little prison to me, looking out the windows at walls, the back yard seemed more like one of those prison work out areas than a back yard. And he said the lot was listed as a ‘premium lot’, being larger than normal. We drive down the roads looking at houses over the block walls, and can see that the new average back yard is only five to ten feet deep. His is big enough for a small pool, so I can understand the rating of ‘premium’, just not the rational. It’s more like a condo or apartment, but with some air between you and the next guy.
Worked a little more on our yard as well. Put down the rest of the flagstone, tried to figure out what we will do to the front courtyard, and moved some pipes around back. I had put a deep sink out along the side wall, useful when potting plants, and an easy place for washing up after yard work. But we moved some sheds around earlier, and now the sink was out by itself. So I moved it over to the front wall, more hidden by the big oleander and one shed. Part of the move was to reorganize the electric valves, used to automatically water parts of the yard. I still want to move an electrical outlet over to the new work area and move the electronic timer over as well.
The California poppies are blooming quite well now.
Each plant has lots of bright yellow-orange flowers. These are surrounded by the black olives that have fallen from one of the big trees in our front yard, not yet picked up but loved by the pigeons and mockingbirds.
Imagine a California hillside, covered with green grass and just blanketed with so many flowers you almost can’t see the green for the colors. Some years there are areas outside of LA that look like that. We just have plants scattered around the yard, surrounded by our basic desert rock. But they still look pretty.
A nice field scene from Wikipedia.
And now somebody at our place has teeth –
Not very many, but it’s still cute.
Friday, March 24, 2006
There's snow in the hills
(Go to Randa's site, I don't really like using other's pictures, especially copyrighted stuff. I really need to park and take some shots of my own, but when going home I just want to get there.)
But that’s taken with a telephoto lens, makes it look too close, while it is really at the end of the airport runways, kind of by itself. Pics on this site with the sign in 360 are more representational, but taken several years ago. The opening shot has changed, all the dirt area to the left is now a golf course, with high dirt berm along the road, with trees on top. All of the trees are gone from the median now, just empty dirt. Except for at the sign – last month the county put in some artificial grass right at the base of the sign, so there is a little green in all of those tourist pictures.
Back to this morning: today it was a group if Mini owners. Two had pulled their cars up on the median right in front of the sign, a third was parked in the turn lane taking photos. Wednesday on the way home from work it was another wedding photo – big limo at the curb, long white dress next to a tuxedo under the sign. Before that was some form of TV commercial – it’s easy to tell the ‘professionals’, lots of lights and reflectors and a couple of trucks full of accessories. It’s nice that the police don’t seem to bother the picture takers. There are three lanes of traffic in each direction at that point, and it does slow the going-home-from-work traffic quite a bit with gawkers slowing down to look. Every evening I usually have to dodge people running across from the nearby hotel.
Lots of work on Frank Sinatra Drive, the route I take coming in to work in the morning. That’s where MGM is building the six billion dollar City Center project. The employee parking garage is the first thing being built, to free up the lot where they park now. The employee garage will have over six thousand parking spots (that’s the employee garage). It’s now about seven stories high, but still having concrete poured. Half of FS Drive is closed off, some new sewer and water lines are being pulled from about a mile down the street. There are three of the biggest mobile shovels out there that I have ever seen – the buckets on them are big enough for me to drive my car into. When driving by in my Toyota the treads are higher than my car. There are two built in cranes working on the parking garage, and one mobile crane – the boom is high enough to lift things up around ten stories. What’s more impressive than the size of these things is the idea that they just showed up – somehow they are trucked in in pieces (no way can they fit whole on a truck) and put together on site.
I drive home in the evening on a different route. Frank Sinatra Drive runs on the east side of the I-15 freeway, behind some big Strip casinos. In the afternoon it’s full of cabs and people going to check into the hotels. When it first opened last year it was a good route, but now too many people know it’s a good parallel route to the Strip, and a lot less traffic. But it’s backing up so I just go a different way. I drive past a big lot where lots of big frames made of colorful pipes are piled up. It took a while before I realized that these are the tower parts for the big built in place cranes, all stacked up and laying around. When stored these frames are about fifteen feet high and fifty feet long. When on site they are stood on end and attached end to end to reach whatever height is desired. Some of the towers being built will be close to a thousand feet tall, with the cranes having to put things on rooftops they end up being even taller. That’s a lot of weight and torque to be placed on those relatively small frames. Usually I’m scurrying to get home quickly, with daylight still present now I’ll have to bring the camera and get some photos of the yard.
In agreement with Teri today (again), I too am trying to drop back the pounds that time seems to put on. When young I weighed 126lbs, and stayed at that weight for many years. I ate tons of stuff and never moved. But a few years ago something happened, and there was quite a change in size. Back in SD I signed up for a medical program, and was able to drop sizes significantly. But since moving it seems to drift back up. So I’m back to lunchtime walks and meals from those little microwave packets and lots of fruit and veggies, and it seems to be working. But me really loves my chocolate.
Tuesday was a really cold day – the coldest March 21 on record. The high for the day was only 51f (OK Beth, no laughter now), 20f under our normal temp for the day. And there was snow relatively low in the surrounding mountains. There was white in the hills all around the valley. Peter, one of the help desk guys, lives in Summerlin close to the Red Rock area. It’s just west of the Strip, a half hour drive up Charleston in traffic. The park is about a thousand feet higher than the bottom of the valley, and it did snow there. The ski resort on Mt. Charleston got over two feet of snow, which is reviving springtime skiing and snowboarding (less than an hour from the big casino hotels).
Here it's not deep, just a white dusting, which melted before noon as usual. But it still looks pretty, with the Joshua trees up front. But today it should be around 78f (25C), a more comfortable temp for me. I like it hot.
And a new addition to my title. Thanks to Misty, where I snitched the skipping penguin. Don't know what it has to do with Vegas, but I like moving things (still need to grab and test that cursor one) and thought it cute. Thank's Misty.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Thanks Rob (and Sami)
And loads of thanks to Rob for sending me an email tagging me with the specific request that I do Clare’s book meme. I had been avoiding Clare’s requests – at least she had the courtesy of not putting down names. And then Sami (also known as Choogles) had to publicly put down my name also. Jeez, it’s nice to be noticed (I guess). So since two of you had to point fingers:
1. Briefly describe an aspect of your life for which 'The Dying Of Delight' would be an apt title.
Ok, ‘The Dying of Delight’ is the title of a book written by the aforementioned Clare, a seemingly (well, I haven’t met her in person, just via her writings) interesting writer in England. I purchased the book from Amazon last year and did find it to be pretty good. But I really am having a hard time coming up with an aspect of my life that fits this title. Perhaps the most appropriate angle would be my working life over the past few jobs. I really enjoy programming, but my last job (discussed at length in posts last year) really pulled me down. Some demands placed by management here also seem a little shallow, and I think I’m now ready to become a blackjack dealer or something totally away from computers.
2. Pick another book whose title has some resonance in your life, and write a little about it.
Wow, I’m sitting here at work and can’t think of any book titles right now. My shelves at home are filled with things I’ve read but my mind is just drifting away. Since I have to, I’ll pick Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer. I apply that to lots of things I have to do that are rather unpleasant, while in the midst of things I am continually looking for a door into summer, or trying to find the way out to a place that is nice and warm and sunny. I love Vegas summers. 110f out in bright sunshine, nice and warm and bright. So as I do something I can look forward to finishing it up, and my reward would be sunshine and smiles. It makes tasks go faster, and by reference makes things enjoyable that other people might find totally disturbing. So if you see me elbow deep in sh*t and smiling, it’s because in my mind I’m laying by my pool just feeling the warmth. I can see that door at the end and as long as I keep walking I know it will eventually be reached. This isn’t the Twilight Zone after all, where the hallway keeps stretching out more and more. (well, I sure hope it isn't)
OK, for those of you still in snow, let's put some color in here (or should I say colour):
Can't you just picture yourself sitting there? So next time you find yourself in a pile of something, just imagine opening that door and sitting next to me. Would you like a Mai Tai?
3. Write one more short personal piece - one which matches the book title chosen (in part 2) by the person who tagged you.
Rob selected Speaking Up – well, this one I could go on about for a while. Like most people, in the past I would much rather blend into the background. When in college I ended up being the Social Chairman for our College Union Board – I put on all the concerts and big events for a year – and had a very hard time getting up in front to introduce things. Much later, out of school and into the real world, needing more money than my job at the time provided, I became an Amway distributor (don’t laugh). I liked the stuff, and ended up standing in front of groups speaking and demonstrating. As a result I have no problem standing up in front of an audience and speaking up. I also have no problems in meetings or at work, speaking up for the little guy, or the person that just sits in back and is affected by whatever decision is about to be made.
But Sami's post used The Human Stain, (at least that’s what I think she picked, there are a half dozen book titles in her post). I really can’t think of anything appropriate to this title, even though she was able to go on for several intelligent paragraphs. In reading her eventual point, I guess I too would say it affects my interaction with people. Usually in my mind I say ‘boy, isn’t he (or she) an idiot’, rather than paying attention.
4. Take your favourite little-known book and plug it to your readers. Authors need incomes, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell books.
On this note I should pick the book I wrote, ‘Assembler Language Routines for Basic Programmers’, but since it’s been out of print for many years, doubtfully would be amusing or useful to any of my readers, and is really not appropriate any more, I think I would push Clare’s Dying of Delight. It doesn’t seem to be ‘little known’ in the circles I am reading, but from her posted sales figures I guess it is. It was a little challenging following the divergent story lines, which did all come together at the end, but I liked it.
5. Sit back and marvel at the magnificence of this meme. It was brought to you by an out-of-breath author, reduced (on account of her publisher* having expired) to trundling copies of her book across the internet on a rusty old trolley with one wheel missing, sweating and shouting "Buy me book, Gov?" Now visit http://www.thedyingofdelight.co.uk/ and see if you'd like a copy for yourself.
OK, made it through that door. Ahh. Hand me that cool drink.
6. Tag five people with this meme.
No way I’m going to ask anybody else to do something. Jump in if you want. Tess has already come up with another listing one I’ve got to work on.
*Diva Books, ceased trading Feb '06. RIP.
Rereading Rob’s and Sami’s posts on this topic just reminds me how stifled I am by my writing ability. There are so many thoughts flying through my head that I am usually disappointed by how poor they appear when written (OK, typed) down compared to others. Rob really can put together some nice lines, and Sami also is pretty good at stringing thoughts together. So go read their stuff too.
Back to the real world, which is already in progress (another Firesign Theatre quote there, if you didn’t catch it):
I’m listening to my morning radio station, and just heard an advertisement for ‘On site dental’ – for people too busy to get away from their jobs, a dentist will bring all his stuff to you and work on your teeth at your office. What is this, a drill-in-a-briefcase? I can see it now – John across the way sitting in his cube, leaning back in his office chair, with his mouth full of tools, a drill grinding away. I can’t stand that sound when I’m sitting in the waiting room, much less from the cubicle across from me at work. It sounds like something that would go over really well with fellow employees (there’s Lisa’s sarcasm font at work again). As if the guys with offices that have doors wouldn’t take off for a medical visit.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
|You Are Austin|
A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
You're totally weird and very proud of it.
Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.
Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick
Favorite toy of the moment. Guess it's nice to crawl inside of things.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Our yard is large enough to permit us to plant things in front of the walls, making them hidden rather than stand out. It’s best not to paint them, as with the heat and sunshine any paint tends to quickly break down, requiring reapplication every few years to keep looking good. The wall straight out back is seen under the peach tree, and is what we see when looking out of the back room or on the back patio. So we decided to put up a wooden trellis type thing to at least add some variety to the basic block. I finally finished it up:
It matches the pattern on our front gate. Hopefully this will last a little longer than plain paint, only time will tell.
On my lunchtime walks I go past a lot of office buildings. Again due to the heat and sun we are limited in the plants that survive here. Most office buildings use grounds maintenance companies, that come by every few weeks to pick up trash and keep things confined. They want plants that require little maintenance and last for a while. One building, across from the bus transit center, has a mix of trees and low shrubs. Rosemary is used a lot in plantings, we have a lot of them along our low wall, but this place also uses artichoke plants. I hadn’t seen them out here before, but they seem to be doing well. And one of the plants is now developing fruit (or is it flowers?)
I’ll wait and see how they do, and if the grounds crew cuts off the heads or just lets it grow. If they get big maybe I’ll cut one off and see if it’s edible, or just an ornamental variety.
Several months ago I found an amusing Lord of the Rings (with Buffy) parody, and for some reason it came to mind again. Still well done.
Of course, let’s continue with our E photos:
She seems to like strawberries and bananas.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Five things (again)
(I think I did this already)
1. I like to play with toy trains.
2. I'd rather sit at home and watch an old Busby Berkely movie than go out.
3. When we go out, my favorite thing to do is hit a good restaurant and have a slow, long meal talking with friends, lingering over coffee and dessert. (yes, I do tip big to make up for the time I keep a table)
4. I do most of the cooking at my house (and make a killer chocolate cake) but B handles the BBQ - I make everything 'well done': really 'well' (think charcoal).
5. I live in Vegas but don't gamble or smoke (almost two requirements for living here).
Sorry if they are the same answers as before, I don't remember when, but that's the way things are. And a real big thanks to Virginia Gal for making me do this. I just love these things. (Yes Lisa, there's that irony font again).
I was talking prior about trees in spring bloom. This is the pink one around town –
It’s the purple leafed plum. No fruit, but the leaves are a nice deep purple, quite a contrast to the dull grey-green of native plants. They don’t last too long due to the climate, so no really big ones around, but they are loverly this time of year. I’ll try to get a shot of the white ones. This one is in front of my workplace, about twenty planted along the street – makes for a nice show.
For politics, thanks to Rob for pointing at another good Guardian article.
And for striped Lisa, here’s some competition:
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Thoughts on thinking
A few weeks ago Rob pointed to an article Guardian on thinking. Since I’ve been visiting Rob and striped Lisa I have been spending time reading that fine paper. Well, since it’s only dots of light on a computer screen it can’t really be called a paper any more, can it? It might be delivered and sold as a paper, but for me it’s just transitory electrons and thoughts. But unlike our local newspaper the Guardian seems to pay some writers to ponder more obtuse points.
I used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It too was filled with articles of incite and tried to educate readers in different areas, but during our last presidential election the Journal really was on a Republican rant, having nothing negative to say about our fine president or his policies, printing nothing but negatives about his Democratic rival and putting out long articles that were nothing but defamation of opponents. Some of the points pushed were absolute untruths, but the way the writers spent so much time on details before stating that some of the points might be opinions rather than proven facts left me wondering about integrity. So I cancelled our subscription at that point, but I really miss the other stuff they printed.
Back to the Guardian article on thinking. I have to agree – at times when confronted with a difficult problem it sometimes is better to read all the details, research the problem, then move to something else. At some point the proverbial light will come on and I will see how to resolve the first problem. This usually occurs when I’m driving home, thinking about other things, when a thought will pop up and I’ll say ‘yes, that’s the way to do it’. The article also had a suggestion on taking tests – to read ahead a few questions, then go back to answer the first. This fills your mind, and supposedly your subconscious can work on the other problems. I’ve heard something similar before – to read all the questions on a test, then do the easy ones, and move onto the more difficult. I guess this is similar, to let the harder problems float in the background waiting for answers to come forward. It seems the only tests I’m taking now are at work, the grades being my continued employment.
Reading my usual blogs I just noticed how many of the authors are continuing their education. I’ve been saying that I want to go back to school and get some additional education, guess it might be time to get off my butt and do something rather than complain. Heck, if I can get an MBA maybe I can move up to the front paneled hall.
Just to provide something visual, thanks to several of you for pointing here. It provides an interesting insight into what I put down – and makes me wonder what algorithms the programmer used for selecting words to create the images.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Happy birthday Dana!
Happy birthday to you -
Happy birthday dear Dana -
Happy birthday to you!
Thursday, March 09, 2006
For those of you that don’t have big place like this nearby, it’s like a really really big market, but it sells things in really really big sizes and volumes. You can’t go in and buy two rolls of toilet paper (bog rolls?) but a pack of 36. You can’t get a quart of milk (liter of milk), but two gallons. About a third of the place is devoted to food: oranges in ten pound packs, frozen stuff in five or ten pound bags, coffee in hugh tubs, giant sized containers of mustard and ketchup. You get the idea, big things. Fortunately we have some large storage closets in our garage, so we can buy these large packs and put most of them outside. I think it’s an American thing; big SUVs, gas by the gallon, and Costco.
There is no interior decoration. These places are just big tilt-up concrete warehouse buildings with high ceilings and metal racks and lots and lots of stuff. The shopping carts are BIG, or you can use a large flat cart and really pile up the stuff.
We usually go every few weeks and get some stuff. Things we typically purchase (not all at once, and not every week) include aforementioned TP, paper kitchen towels, chicken breasts (in frozen five pound bags, we also have a big freezer), soda, washing machine soap, vitamins, dog treats (according to the guys we BETTER have those always on hand), and candy bars (I keep a full dish on my desk as bribes).
They also sell coupons for movie tickets fairly cheap. And the latest DVD movies usually at 10% - 20% under store prices. There is a section with clothes, changing seasonally, but regularly having socks and underwear. Oh, also big packs of diapers (something we didn’t buy before but are now).
I always take the big car when we go, and often fill both the trunk and back seat.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Granddaughter is learning to walk. At ten months old she can pull herself up on things, and scoot around as long as she is holding on – travels from the couch to the end tables on her feet, then has to drop down and crawl to the next chair. Daddy is pushing her, I think when he gets to baby-sit and she starts running away he will regret it.
We got a toy box for when the Swedes came to visit in November, and filled it with stuff to keep them busy. Seems with Eli being able to stand she is enjoying moving the contents from inside the box to outside the box.
I think when she gets it empty she'll climb in, but she hasn't gotten that far yet. Guess grandpa overdoes it with keeping the toybox full.
I haven’t been keeping up with this, but for Clare (even though she is gone on a TEN WEEK vacation to the south of Africa) let’s do three things to be happy for:
1. Having kids around to do amusing things.
2. The kids being grandkids, so that they can be spoiled and sent home to mom.
3. Small kids that are smiling and happy and pleasant to be around. (I know, just wait until she’s a teen-ager, or even sooner when she hits the ‘terrible twos’).
At work or in school: I need to be
"hands on": I like to play games,
to compete, and to perform. I enjoy
flexibility, changes of pace, and variety. I
have difficulty with routine and structure.
My favorite subjects are music, art, theatre,
and crafts. I often excel in sports. I like
solving problems in active ways and
negotiating for what I want. I can be direct
and like immediate results.
With friends: Planning ahead bores me
because I never know what I want to do until
the moment arrives. I like to excite my
friends with new and different things, places
to go, and romantic moments.
With family: I need a lot of space and
freedom. I want everyone to have fun. It is
hard for me to follow rules, and I feel we
should all just enjoy one another.
What Color is Your Brain?
brought to you by Quizilla
Again, I like the color but the words don't seem to match. Guess that happens when you do multiple choice and nothing really fits. Along with just a few questions.
If I can get into the system, I will be closing my only outstanding work order! (our group is driven by two things, work orders for repair of problems, and business requests, for creation of new things). When I arrived here a year ago I picked up 60 outstanding work orders, some of them four months old. The company does not like to have work orders over thirty days, and all kinds of management reports and bells go off when WOs are older. I closed more work orders in my first three months than anyone else here, and got an employee of the month award for doing it. To be down to zero shows that I've gotten things pretty well squared away. Now on to learning .NET and helping create some new systems. Wo ho!!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Flagstones and birds
We went to the Sahara casino a few weeks ago to hear a lounge singer. A young girl from New Orleans, she was OK, but still needs more time on stage. While there I took some pictures of the entertainment area – in Vegas the gambling sections of casinos are not called entertainment areas but gaming areas. Entertainment is where side things go on – lounges with singers, showrooms, game rooms for kids, that kind of stuff. The Sahara pushes NASCAR. Down the north end, on the way to the video arcades are some old racecars and a whole driving simulator.
The driving area is pretty neat – there are rows of cars, NASCAR type as well as formula one, in small open back rooms. In front of each car is a big wrap-around video screen, you can see three projectors on the ceiling above the car, so you can sit in a real car and drive assorted races and compete against a computer or other drivers sitting next to you. There are hydraulics attached to the cars so you actually bounce around while driving. None were in use when we were there, but it looks like something non-gambling that adults can do, probably very heavily attended this week.
As a follow on to yesterday’s post, we worked this weekend to place some flagstones between our concrete patio and steps going up to a higher grass area in the back.
We went from two pallets of stones
Down to this amount
We covered two areas, with a third yet to go. First we had to lower the ground level so that the new stones were the same level as the concrete, then play a jigsaw puzzle type game to find shapes that fit together. Only in this version there was no guarantee that all of the pieces were in the box.
B wanted some spaces between the stones. We did a similar project in our San Diego back yard, but there we planted moss and assorted low green plants between the stones. With the sun and heat here we just went with the surrounding groundcover.
That’s the view while sitting at the dining table we have on the patio, outside our kitchen. We planted low growing rosemary along the short wall, it's all been covered with little blue flowers all winter, and smells nice when brushed. It’s a winter view, with the trees not yet green, and our neighbor’s oleander and pomegranate across the wall trimmed down. I can sit here and drink my coffee and listen to the birds chirping away. When we get fifty or sixty finches and sparrows back here it can get quite deafening. You can also see Eli’s swing, and the bird feeder hanging from the peach tree. Already turning green, so we probably will not get a nice big pink cloud this year.
I don’t have as fancy a camera as Deana, or birds that are as colorful, but there was a crowd waiting their turn at the feeder.
It just looks funny to see the whole row of birds sitting up on the wall, chirping away, each periodically launching himself at the feeder, trying to dislodge somebody else already eating. No colorful birds here, all are dull dirty brown or grey. On the ground underneath are pigeons gathering up the seeds that drop, periodically being chased away by our vicious dogs, when they bother to run up there.
The mockingbirds are singing away, building nests out front in the palm and olive trees. Our hummingbirds are starting to return. And the weather channel shows a cold front coming down from Alaska this weekend. Supposed to have a high today of 67f, but on Saturday a high of 45 and a low of 34, with rain and possible snow predicted. Poor NASCAR, all those people sitting in the stands getting cold and wet. I don’t know if the continue driving in the rain.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Looks like it’s Spring here. The first flowers, besides the blooms on the trees, are our California poppies:
We planted a packet of poppy seeds last year. They bloomed last spring, and seem to have spread their seeds all over the yard. We have big arcs of plants, so it should be quite a show when they all start blooming.
The other plants that are in bloom are our acacias. We have two varieties, a standard bush and a feathery acacia. The one right outside our kitchen, buy our seating area has been blooming all winter. These are just to the left of the poppy above. You can see a green arc of poppy plants curving in the background.
But with the warmth it is really fragrant. We could smell the sweet scent all over the house (had the doors open all day yesterday). We’ve got about a half dozen acacias scattered around, two of the ones out front are big balls about eight feet in diameter, all of them are covered in yellow flowers like this one. This one is a dwarf variety, so hopefully it will not get over four feet tall. They all went in two years ago when we redid the yard, pretty good growth for such a short time.
We had three tons of flagstones delivered on Friday, and spend the weekend installing them in two areas in back. This is what the delivery looked like:
I took pics of the finished work, have to clean them and upload.
Oh, my anniversary just flew past and I didn’t even notice. February 27 started my second year posting things here.
|You Are an Irish Coffee|
At your best, you are: wild, spontaneous, and outgoing
At your worst, you are: too extreme and reckless
You drink coffee when: you want to keep drinking booze
Your caffeine addiction level: low
I don't think it's too accurate. I think I'm more of an espresso kind of guy. And booze? The last I had was some wine when at that Italian place four weeks ago.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Also subtitled: why not to get fed outside where birds flying by and the dogs barking and the noisy cars make you turn your head just as the spoon is about to enter your mouth:
And don't you just love the hair?
Friday, March 03, 2006
Anyway, the on screen advertisements talk about an interview with Nadiya. The description of her uses the word ‘pétillante’ which does not seem to have a direct English translation (the power of web sites), but comes out to mean ‘fizzy’ or ‘effervescent’. That sounds like a really nice way to describe somebody. I wish I came across as having an effervescent, fizzy personality.
Oh, some new blogs on my list. I have them in my ‘favorites’ but figured this way it would be easier to hit them – there’s Waiter's story and Choogles. I don’t know what she would rather be called, but from here notes that’s one of her dad’s names for her, and it sounds kind of neet. Choogles, Choogles, come on, I need a song to insert that into. Dana or Beth, anything come to mind that would be fitting? I know there is the obvious Credence one, but maybe something more subtle.
And thanks to Rob I now have a local clock. I like things that move and change and sparkle (as if you couldn’t tell). Now I just have to work on that new graphic for up top. I’ve got a Vegas themed one I just need to put some time into. Maybe tonight – B is off grandchild-sitting while the kids hit Avenue Q at the Wynn. We need to go soon, it’s closing to make space for Spamalot. I’ve got a list of shows to see: Penn & Teller (again), as I’ve got free passes for donating blood, Avenue Q, O (again, ‘cause it was so nice), Blue Man Group, Rita Rudner (has to be soon, she wraps up at NY NY next month), and a feather show, either at Bally’s, which offers a go-behind-the-scenes extra, or topless at the Flamingo, just to say I did. Problem is, most of these are $85-100 per person. So that’s a lot of bucks.
And thanks to Deanna for going all political. I know she has problems with doing that, her husband being a judge and all, but with only a 39% approval rating more people should be ranting against W. I just wish the damn Democrats would get off of their butts and pull something together. I wish there was some way to throw them all the heck out and bring in a new bunch of idiots.
Local news: Paula Abdul, two items. She comes to Vegas a lot, and seems really scatterbrained. A few months ago she was staying at the Silverton, was running late, and called the front desk and told them (didn’t ask, told them) to change her plane reservation. Well, I don’t know about hotels elsewhere, some of the fancy places do have a concierge desk that will do stuff for you, but the Silverton doesn’t. So the front desk clerk said she’d try, then the clerk was inundated by a busload of checkins. Paula finally made it to the airport and found she did not have a reservation. She eventually got the two clerks on duty at the Silverton fired. This week she is here staying at the Silverton again. Yesterday she made it to the airport late for her flight. Supposedly some fans stopped her for autographs, an airport staffer pulled her through some back corridors past security and onto the plane. When the plane arrived there was an announcement that somebody had bypassed security and everybody on the plane had to stay on, and be escorted through the advanced security checks before they could leave.
Now that second one is just as much a negative against the Homeland Security airport standards – I thought security was to prevent somebody from hijacking a plane. If the plane makes it to the destination, evidently it was not hijacked, so why do people have to go through security before leaving? All I could imagine is that some people might stay in the airport and change planes, thus being on another flight without hitting security, and be able to cause harm to that one. But why not just escort everyone back past the gates, and make the ones that have other planes go through normal security checking, while others just leave? Incompetence? But Paula can still be blamed for that one, emphasized by 9/11 stupidities.
So it looks like Paula Abdul has punctuality problems. I wonder if they have to hold up taping the TV shows waiting for her? Since she’s here so much and our local gossip columnist is looking out for her, I look forward to more stories.
Other news: yesterday they announced the most expensive house sale that went through a real estate agent. The story starts three years ago, when a woman was spotted in a Ferrari. She was approached by a Ferrari admirer, they talked, the admirer gave her his business card (he’s a real estate agent). A few months ago she and husband decided to move to Vegas, which resulted in a ‘wait – I have the business card of an agent’. Main specification: new house must have an indoor basketball court. OK, I know what you’re thinking – why the heck would anybody want their own indoor basketball court, and how many houses have one? Well, evidently a 35,000 square foot (3250 sq meters) $ 15,000,000 house in Vegas has one, along with an indoor pool and indoor tennis courts, and a lot more of everything. So the agent ends up with a $492,000 commission check. Says he might consider buying his own Ferrari now. That’s not the most expensive house sold in Vegas, just the most expensive one where an agent got a commission. How many houses could I buy for that commission check? Of course, that’s before paying income taxes, but I’d like to bring in a half mil before taxes. No, not spread over dozens of years, all at once.
Oh, B just emailed, our 3 tons of rock has just been delivered - I know what I'll be doing this weekend. That's about 300 sq ft of back yard that will take new pavers and stepping stones. I better take pictures for this one. If any of you need yard design and installation, let me know. Seems like I'm doing a lot of it. Still have to decide on what is wanted in the front courtyard. Besides pavers that will take the overhead as well as the big french doors. Lots of hours (and sore back) in that one.
And just to supply at least one image, I didn’t note who posted this one first, DA, was that you? But it fits for my Friday, just a fun week.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Another too early morning
Here’s my office at home. I took this pic several weeks ago, and it looked so messy I thought I would wait to take a cleaner picture, but no, it still looks about the same.
Our house was built thirty years ago, as a three bedroom three bath (well, one full, one with shower and a half bath). Seems like a lot of bathrooms for three bedrooms. Around 1990 the then owners added on, increasing the size by about 40%. This just expanded the master bedroom, the family room, and added a fourth bedroom (no, no extra bathrooms). Those guys seem enamored with oak. The family room was filled with built in oak cabinets and shelving units. The new bedroom has a wall filled with more oak cabinets and shelves. You can see them in the picture. We use it as an office space, with both of our computers. We also have a couch in there, which expands into a bed, so we can use it as a guest room.
The picture hanging over my computer is a water color of one of my favorite photos.
That's my wife B sitting on the deck of the Beynack Hotel writing postcards. We were there in May of 2002. It's about my favorite place ever. We were the only ones in the hotel for the first night. Not too big a place anyway, but they had a great restaurant inside. My first foi gras (pan fried, on toasted walnut bread with brown gravy - YUUMMMM) and duck confit. I'd eat there every day if I could. Nice little town on the river with a castle on the cliffs overhead.
Our friend Jane created the painting from my picture.
Back to the office. That's B's computer over to the left. Yes, I have two monitors hooked up to my computer. A new employee at a company I worked at a few years ago wanted a multiple monitor setup as part of his coming over, and management agreed. Once I saw how nice it was to have all of that window space I was hooked. It just takes a special dual head display card and two monitors. Makes it much easier when programming – I can run something on the main screen, and look at the code on the other, as well as have half a dozen other windows open at the same time and flip between them.
Back in at 4:30am again today. New software release last night, but this one is my program. So I’m here in case anything goes wonkers. But it’s 6:47 and no problems. At least with my program. Other stuff is going bad, as usual, and since I’m here Mike the night shift guy keeps calling me. He also calls me at home. As he did last night at 11:30 when I was trying to sleep before getting up at 3 to come in here. Well, really 3:15 on the alarm clock but it’s close enough. Rambling now, guess the 11:30 call did break me up enough. Hope the boss doesn’t expect too much of me today. But he might let me leave early, maybe as early as 4. We’ll see later. But for now I’m reading blogs and typing stuff up.
While reading my normal path Clare pointed to a new place I haven’t been before, it’s Choogles place. Well, that’s one of the names her father gave her, so I picked that one. Sounds like she is enjoying computer challenges and twin girls. She also sounds like a Brit relocated to California. See, Clare, you can come to warm country if you really really want to.