Monday, January 29, 2007

On the job

Wow, one week on the job and I'm still totally confused. Jumped from something I am familiar with - programming in FoxPro for twenty years - into Microsoft's new thing, .NET, ASPX SQL Server web pages - well, new to me. Quite a change. I've taken classes and gone through tutorials, but it's not the same as looking at an accumulation of code that is really not very good, but it is working, and trying to figure it out.

As soon as I settle down I'll get some pics of the new environment, but for now let's go back to something familiar. With breakfast.

Monday, January 22, 2007

New job

Well, today I started something new. After two years with the bank I am no longer with the bank. Living in Vegas, I guess you can say I moved over to “the dark side”. I can’t tell you where I work, but here is one of the main entrances – looks a lot prettier than the old tilt-up warehouse type bank building.

Actually, I don’t work there – I work in the basement here. But they are both owned by the same company so it’s almost the same (but not quite). I do get to walk around the canals at lunch break, as the buildings are connected together.

I support the web site used to take orders for booth space and tables and internet access and stuff (almost 5,000 different items in the order list). And the programs that accounting uses to collect money for all the above. Only one other programmer and myself, but lots of network installers and internet guys that support the in-for-a-week installs and removals.

Here’s a quick quiz for you – these are shots of two hallways that are pretty close together, can you pick out which of these is the hallway the public sees, and which hallway the back of the house employees work in?

Hint – you can see the ‘information technology’ sign out in front of our door.

Friday, January 19, 2007

E Friday again

Christmas is over – if you remember, this is what the Bellagio conservatory looked like a few weeks ago.

We took E there, she liked the big carnation bears.

But I took Anna to look at it when she was out, and this is all that she got to see

The workmen just pulling it apart. Oh well, at least she can see the pics here if not in person.

Back to E Friday –
We’re doing some front courtyard work, and she likes to wander around looking at things. Putting in a new fountain, and she really enjoyed the water spouting up.

While taking her to the Bellagio back before Christmas we stopped at the King (don’t tell her mom). She had some of a burger, but liked the fries, and the strawberry flavored applesauce.

And she really likes granddad pushing her high on the swing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another time waster

Bouncing around reading things, as I do not often get to do, I came across this and had to take a break from reading. courtesy of Ruth located somewhere in France, you can spend some time here. Click your mouse button to change colors.

Also, while reading her stuff, down lower is Ruth's cheese tour. One of the things I loved about our trip to France was the cheese selection - definietly not the pasturized dull American safety insured by the government cheese we can get here - but those little shops with their selections -

Sunday, January 14, 2007

OK, Christmas is over

Oh – better finish up using those Christmas photos before it really gets too late.

The collections department had a cube decorating contest for the holidays. Some of the groups were really quite inventive.

Lots of cotton snow was in evidence.

Just wondering how many poor cotton plants gave their lives for this.

Those of you that were out for CES and skipped out early missed our winter weather – last night it was down to 19f (-7c). Our fountains are all frozen, and an inch of ice in our buckets. The high for today was 40f (4c). The Adult Video Awards were last night, hope the attendees got to dress for the weather outside at least.

Friday, January 12, 2007

E Friday

Sitting here at work with listings for a few older pics that I don’t think I’ve posted before, but if I did, sorry. They’ve tightened up internet access rules here, and I don’t get to read or post as much as I used to. But that will be changing in a week.

So, here’s E sitting with one of her favorite friends.

Not much to say about that sequence but that she knows how to work a camera, doesn’t she?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Desert Passage

A few weeks ago we went to see the Bellagio conservatory Christmas setup. As I usually do when hitting the casinos in the middle of the Strip (by my definition) I park in the Dessert Passage parking garage, then we walk through the shopping mall and out to wherever we are going. I park there because I can get to it via the back streets and avoid driving on the Strip and the main tourist spots. This is attached to the Alladin casino, soon to become the Planet Hollywood.

Afterwards we had dinner at the Commander's Palace, part of the chain from New Orleans.

Mid level expensive, and just announced that it's closing next week.

One of the unusual sites in the mall is what looks like a quick food place, but if you look closely it's a bar - home of Sin City Brewing Company, where you can grab a beer and sit or carry it around the mall. Ah, Vegas, land of booze and entertainment.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If this is Tuesday

Yes, NWM put together the pieces correctly, this is the hand of Anna of She of the clever stories and world wide ramblings. I keep waiting to she how she portrays my new home town. It's interesting to learn how someone sees things that are in front of me but perhaps not noticed the same way.

Anyhow - this is how I've been seeing her mostly

And her hands are trim and nice. I look forward to seeing her views in words and in images.

It has been a different few days - I got to have dinner in Paris with a loverly young lady that wasn't my wife, commenting on the fountains across the street and the size of limousines and the quantity of 'escort' services available in town.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Visitor (finally)

Well, excitement here – one of the people I read quite often has come to Vegas, and told me about the visit before they arrived (not a month afterwards like some of you).

We got together and had a jolly good time wandering around – here’s a little hint of who it was

She did want to point out that it was a dollar slot, not a nickel or penny one, and it was at the Bellagio. So there was some class involved.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

E Friday - Christmas Day

Back to E Friday, this time with pictures from Christmas Day.

She had fun – doesn’t understand the concept or anything, but liked the presents. And she learned how to open them. But after the first she just wanted to play with that one and not be distracted with another. I know next year it will be ‘is that all there is?’ but for now it was more than enough.

This was the look of the day – surprised at what was going on.

But she enjoyed a drum and music set Grandma got her. I don’t understand it – the loud toys were supposed to go to her house, not ours.

She does seem to work the sticks well

Another item was this toy where you pound the balls down.

Doesn’t have that concept in place, but she likes playing with the balls.

She also got some picture books, and likes to have Grammy read to her and point out things in the pictures. And she knows how to work that tongue.

She really likes to color. Guess we got her started when we go out to restaurants – most have a small pack of crayons and a page to color. So we got her a bigger book and a big set of crayons – the fat ones that don’t break easily, and are washable.

She doesn’t share them – as you can see she tried to stuff the whole pack into every pocket and belt loop that she had.

And when toys were done it was back to Beef-A-Roni. That and cheese ravioli are the current favorites.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Security rants for the New Year

I was listening to a story on PBS radio the other day – it’s usually on in my car so that I can think about things and yell at the idiocies without disturbing my workmates – about a man that intentionally breaks the rules. (oh my, intentionally) This individual is very incensed about the current rule in this land that you have to show a photo ID when flying. His opinion is that having to show an ID is one step from the government fully keeping track of where you go and want you do (as if they don’t already).

But perhaps he’s giving the government too much credit. Other stories abound about keeping track of visitors. It seems the government is very good at recording who enters the country, and evaluating their dangerousness, and trying to keep out those on it’s ‘keep out’ list. Unfortunately they are incapable of tracking when people leave, so if you come in on a two week visitors visa and end up staying for seventeen years they have no idea that you didn’t go back home. After three years and several billion dollars the Department of Homeland Security is still unable to keep track of departures.

Back to the first individual – he flies a lot for business, and as his protest he refuses to show ID at the airport. But rather than stand on principle and refuse to show, he just uses the excuse that he lost his wallet. Poor excuse for a protestor in my mind.

At our airports when going to board a plane you usually first go through a security line to advance to the gates where the planes are located. At the start of the line is an individual that looks at your tickets and ID, then directs you to a line where you can wait for up to an hour, depending on the crowd and the airport, to go through a metal detector and pass your belongings through the X-ray machine. When he presents his ticket he says ‘no id’ and is then directed around the line to a full security screening, where they look at him and talk to him and wand him and X-ray his stuff, then send him on his way. He says that despite the intense screening he usually gets through security in about a quarter of the time than if he just acted normally. So it again doesn’t sound to me like he’s protesting anything, he just figured out a way to speed up the system.

In a related part of the story was an individual that is suing the government about the same ID rule. He asked to see the law that required an individual to show their identification when flying. He was told that the law was a ‘secret law’ that made itself hidden so that no one could know what was in it. His first response: if the law’s a secret, how can I know when I’m breaking it and what I have to do to obey it? His second response: file a lawsuit to open the law and make it’s provisions known. The government’s response: if the terrorists knew what was in the law they would know how to get around it. We will probably end up hearing the Supreme Court’s response in a few years.

Sounds to me like the dean’s double super secret probation in Animal House. So secret nobody knows about it.

I think the Bush 2 years will go down for me as the time we lost (mostly willingly) our civil liberties. Lots of political cartoons about it (in those pinko commie rags) (wait, not commie any more; terrorist lovers?). Have to take your shoes off? Take away your toothpaste? No Ipod? (wait – changed their mind on that one). Have your phone tapped without a warrant? Get arrested, declared an enemy combatant, and locked up in solitary without access to a lawyer or the outside world for two years? Throw hundreds behind chain-link in Guantanamo with no end projected?

And the fear and paranoia indoctrinated into the population by all the White House stories. Down here they are building a bridge across the Colorado River about a half-mile south of the big dam: right now the road drives right across the river on top of the dam. The reason for the bridge? A truck might bring a bomb on to the dam and blow it up. So trucks are now forbidden, causing a fifty-mile detour for them, and causing all cars to be searched before crossing in fear that there will be a bomb in your trunk. Right, one that will do anything to that amount of concrete. And last week a letter to the editor in our paper, about forbidding trucks from crossing on the bypass bridge when it’s done, because after all terrorists might put a nuclear missile on one of those trucks and stop on the bridge and shoot it right at the dam and blow it up.

On CNN a few weeks ago – a small road in Ohio closed because somebody saw a box next to an overpass: terrorists might have planted a bomb to blow up the bridge. Right, I can just see Bin Laden in his cave with a road map of the US, saying “OK, this little bitty two lane road here in nowhere Ohio – let’s blow up that bridge and bring terror into the hearts of the infidels!” Right. Turned out to be a box of trash blown off a garbage truck. But it destroyed some poor commuter’s morning, trying to get to work.

Here in Vegas – have your car searched in order to pull into a casino parking garage on the strip. What the heck are they looking for?

Poor stupid Jose Padilla. After four years plus in prison he is close to a trial. The government’s original story had him meeting with Bin Laden himself and planning a dirty bomb in a populated area. Hauled off and locked in solitary, with no windows, radio, mirror, mattress, reading material or human contact outside of his guards for two years. When he was moved from his cell he was blindfolded with muffs on his ears so he couldn’t hear anything. He was strung up and interrogated, not permitted to sleep, beaten and tortured (oh, sorry, we don’t torture – it’s “intensive interrogation techniques”. A lawyer finally got the Supreme Court to intervene and require a trial. Two years later, not there yet. The government now switches it’s story again and says Padilla was part of a plot to put bombs someplace in Russia. (WTF? We’re prosecuting him for bombs in Russia?) The judge was outraged, and it looked like the Supreme Court had another shot, but again a change in the accusations and finally a move to the civilian court system. He finally talked to a defense lawyer, who has a problem because Jose thinks his lawyers are part of the government interrogation team. His lawyers want the judge to throw out the case, because of the severe government conduct up until now. The government’s response: well, the torture allegations are irrelevant because they are not using anything they learned from the interrogations in the trial. In other words, it’s OK for them to do anything they want to you in jail, as long as it does not become part of the evidence against you. The judge ordered some further psychiatric evaluation and might just put Padilla into a prison mental ward. In other words, the government gets what it wants; Jose ends up being locked up for life. So being a US citizen arrested in the US does not mean the constitution applies to you.

And let’s not get into the billions and billions of dollars and thousands of lives being thrown away overseas. Debts for my granddaughter to keep paying on. And the new Democratic congress? They’ll still pass the funding resolutions – can’t let our boys down now, can we? Come on, we elected a new group to change things, not to continue.