Monday, July 30, 2007

Fish and chips without smoke

Last week we felt like having a bit of fish and chips, so we went off to our favorite Irish pub. Sean Patrick’s is not far from our house, and a pleasant place to visit, and with Guinness on tap it can’t be all bad.

Please notice the 'Great Food' part of the sign.

But we ran into our first experience with the relatively new no smoking regulations here in Nevada. At our last general elections there was an item on the ballot that would ban smoking at establishments that served food. Nevada is one of those states where anything can get on the ballot, as long as the sponsors can get enough signatures on a petition. California does the same thing, and they have had quite a few unusual items there. This is a provision that lets the ‘ordinary’ people propose things, when you can’t get your government to pass laws that you want.

So the smoking ban was a big one. But the casinos thought it might cost them business, as lots of people like to smoke and drink while gambling. The proposed law was changed to not restrict smoking at establishments that had a Class One gaming license, which covers casinos with table games or more than fifteen slot machines. Class One licenses are not required for the small bar or the supermarket that might have a row of slot machines. It is also an expensive license that also requires a lot of bookkeeping and reporting.

So the law passed, and as expected it had no affect on the big places. But it did have quite an affect on the smaller places. Some businesses with bars that served food thus had a big choice; either continue to serve food and make the smokers go outside, or to stop serving food. This was one consequence that was not widely advertised during the campaign before the election, but was much discussed after passage. We read about smaller bars that decided they made more money off the smokers sitting and drinking and playing video poker than they did off of the food. Supposedly a lot of food handlers would find themselves out of work. There were some news articles back when the law became effective, last January. But our visit to SP was our first introduction to this.

Several places just ignored the law. They did take away ash trays and matches, but nothing in the law says the owners have to enforce it. And the police have been declining to do anything about it, they felt time was better spent on other crimes. The law just provides for civil penalties, I think a $100 fine per smoker, but the penalty is assessed against the smoker, not the establishment. Kind of like a parking ticket or something. So far no one has been given one of these tickets yet.

But SP decided to enforce the regulation. Believing that they would lose more business if they kicked the smokers out they thus stopped serving food. Evidently we haven’t been to SP in quite a number of months (don’t know when they did this, I don’t think it was back in January) we were surprised to find a little sign inside that said ‘No Food’. So much for our fish and chips and Guinness.

But then B remembered another pub, one that we had been to once, and she had been to with her Red Hat group. This was McMullan’s Irish Pub, down across from the Orleans.

That's the Orleans across the street on the left, and off in the distance you can see the Empire State Building of New York New York down on the Strip, about two miles away.

It was a little too dark inside for photos, and I didn’t want to disturb the others with a flash while they were eating.

McMullan’s took a more expensive tack. As their restaurant area was larger than the bar area, and they always advertised the food, they didn’t want to go in either of the above directions. So they built a wall between the bar and the restaurant and changed their air conditioning systems so as to keep smoke away from the eaters. Basically they became two different businesses sharing the building. But bar patrons are still free to walk through the door and order food as take out, then carry it back into the bar and continue to smoke and drink while they ate. The law just prevents establishments from serving food where smoking is allowed, it does not prevent people from eating food there. A story in yesterday’s paper discussed other bars, that started placing menus on the bar from local food places that would deliver there, thus also avoiding the serving law.

So we ended up with our fish and chips and Guinness, and the evening was good.

Friday, July 27, 2007

E Friday

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to E Friday, where I post photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics. Well, I like to look at them also. Let’s go back three months ago to when she first moved up to Portland – cold back then compared to here.

Park near her house. Mom had to get her a warm fuzzy coat.

With things to climb on.

And slides to slide down.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Three wet things

Three things for Clare. We’ve had a few days of thunderstorms here recently, the first measurable precipitation in 97 days. And it drops the temperature down from 43 (108f) to 30 (85f).

1. The sloooshy sound of car tires driving by on wet pavement. (hey, it’s the desert, we don’t get rain much here)
2. Sitting under our metal patio roof having a cup of coffee, reading the paper and listening to the sound of raindrops plunking overhead.
3. Standing in the yard and watching lightning off in the distance, counting the seconds until the thunder rolls by. Big brave Max dives shivering under the pillows at the noise.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random Vegas news

Not much going on around town - the month of July is rather calm here. For some reason not many people want to visit Vegas in July. Oh well, room for us locals to roam around.

Exciting yesterday - we had some thunderstorms around town during the afternoon and into the night, more predicted for the next few days. Vegas does not get the same precipitation as I was used to back east, where the clouds move in and periodically or continuously water falls from the sky. Out here most rain comes as part of thunderstorms, fast wind, lightning off in the distance, then water falling on random places around the valley. One area might get three inches of rain in fifteen minutes while the sun is shining a mile away. The 'official' weather station for the valley is located at the airport. Yesterday it recorded 0.03 inches of rain; the first measurable precipitation in 97 days. (OK UK, feel free to send some of yours over here).

For those of you celebrity spotters, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas is giving a concert in the Pearl music venue at the Palms. Fergie is a favorite of the younger Los Angeles crowd, and expected attendees include the trouble-prone celebutante trio of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. I don't know, just out of prison or rehab, they all are over 21 now so there may be some serious partying going on around town. Britney is also hosting the opening of the new club LAX at the Luxor next month, so they all might be back again. Don't ask me for direct reports, this old fart will be in bed asleep.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sorry, Lisa, not the Doctor

I have it on good report, by no less than Scaryduck himself, that "Doctor Who failed his medical exams in 1857, 1869, 1902, 1928, 1967 and 2038". Sorry Lisa, guess we have to stop calling him The Doctor.

OK, unless it's an honorary title, or part of his name, like Doctor Doctor in Catch 22.

Sorry, back to politics

OK, sorry, I said that I was not going to go all political any more and try to just do nice posts, but Udge just had to go and point something out that I missed. Yea, takes one of those darn furriners to tell us red blooded Americans that we are doing something wrong.

I’ve complained about the erosion of our civil liberties for the past six years. After 9/11 this president has had the attitude and ability to restrict so many facets of our lives that it is really disgusting to me. OK, if you feel ‘safer’ living in a police state then good for you, but I thought America was the land of the free and the brave, not the restricted and scared.

The latest item of concern is Executive Order 13303. This order gives the Secretary of the Treasury the right to freeze the assets of someone believed to be (that’s believed to be, not convicted or charged or anything specific) an enemy of the state. It’s initially worded to only affect those threatening the stability of Iraq, but there is no restriction on only those threatening Iraq, which means that it can be applied to anyone. Not only does it freeze the assets, but it also makes it illegal for anyone to give any type of support to somebody so affected.

I know, you’ll say ‘well, shouldn’t we prevent people from supporting the enemy? This will not affect me’. But the first application of the Patriot Act back in 2001 was not against anyone dealing with overseas entities or threats to the security of our country; it was applied to politicians back where I lived in San Diego, thought to be accepting bribes when dealing with zoning regulations on strip clubs. Yes, there have subsequently been several convictions of bribery, but for an act that was supposed to keep terrorists from blowing things up and killing people it was really widely applied.

What does that mean? Well, if applied as was the Patriot Act, it could mean that the county commissioner down the street from me could come under investigation for how he votes at the next zoning meeting. If a Federal prosecutor becomes involved, as in the cases in San Diego that spread to Las Vegas, this order could be applied. My neighbor could have all of his bank accounts, house, cars and all assets seized. With no court order, no conviction, no indictment, no court review, no appeal. And it would be illegal if I gave him a meal or even let his wife and kids sleep in my guest room, so I could then have all of my assets seized as well. Don’t think it can happen? Well, come on, I can see the affects the patriot act had on my neighbor. And this government does not have a very good track record at restricting the application of rules as promised.

So, our white house can issue Executive Orders without congressional approval or the review of anyone. And these orders can be worded so that they apply to anybody in any situation. I have no doubt that the next step is to issue orders that make it illegal to tell anybody about the order. There are similar things out there, some part of the Patriot Act – where somebody under investigation is prevented from saying anything, or even being told they are being investigated. This has resulted in businesses being served and torn apart, and the person involved is not even permitted to talk to their lawyer about what has happened. If they do both the lawyer and client can be arrested and prosecuted. Don’t say no, it has already happened here in Las Vegas, but of course it is illegal for me to even talk about it myself.

Discussed further at the Muckraker. If you want to you can read the Official text.

Not happy with what YOUR government is doing? Well, do something! Tell your freekin’ Congressman that you are not happy. Yes, I know you will be ignored. But still, speak up. And most importantly, vote next time! I don’t care who you vote for (well, yes I do) but at least get off of your butt and be part of the process. Hopefully King George will not further defy the constitution and will be voted out. Yes, I can just see some big ‘attack’ just before the elections, and in order to protect our nation all elections will be put on hold and the country put under martial law. It’s not something beyond Cheney’s thoughts.

Friday, July 20, 2007

E Friday

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to three thing E Friday, where I post three photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics. Well, I like to look at them also.

Today we present scenes from a restaurant, where B and daughter went for lunch when they were down here. Of course E went along, and was rewarded for being so cute with a nice sugary desert.

I’m not sure, but I sure hope that she had help in converting what was delivered in the first photo into the results shown in the last pic. If not, it sure might explain the breakdown shown in the video last week. I think B might have made it more interesting if she had taken the extra spoons off of the plate in the pictures though.

Harry Potter Movie

Got back a little while ago from seeing the new Harry Potter movie. We went to the Palms Casino - in Vegas most of the movie theatres are located in casinos. The Palms has fourteen screens, and HP was playing on the big Imax screen in 3D. We got to wear funky 3D glasses, but the polarized kind not the old fashioned red/blue ones.

The movie was pretty good - fast paced, didn't have to cut too much out of the 900 page book. The 3D effects were only during the last fifteen minutes - the big fight scene at the Ministry of Magic. With those glasses it was a pretty good effect. But if you go to see HP DO NOT GO TO THE 3D SHOW!!!

Here we are home for over three hours and I still am cross-eyed with a splitting headache, as is B, from the 3D stuff. I think they create the effect by alternating frames; shooting alternating frames polarized differently, then your mind puts them together. The problem is that this means the effective frame rate is only half of what it should be. Which means that when things are moving they look really jumpy and jerky. Which is really reall BAD FOR YOUR EYES. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

When people were standing still, and the slow flight sequences getting from Hogwarts, things really stood out and the 3D effect was very good. But during the fight scenes everybody was moving around so fast that it all was a blur, but a jerky disorienting blur.

So, go see the movie, but see it in a regular theatre.

Book is due out at midnight - I ordered from Amazon six months ago, or whenever they started taking advanced orders. At that time it was $17.99 or so. Clicking through I saw they were offering a $17.99 discount if ordered early. That didn't seem right, but I clicked through the order anyway. Confirmation of shipment came in an email yesterday: book $17.99, shipping $3.90, discount applied $17.99, total due $3.90. Sounds pretty good to me. But I still have a hundred or so pages in book five to read, then book six to catch up before I start on the new one. So please don't tell me who dies.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


My goodness, I have been reading so many interesting posts by so many different people (yes, it is slow here at work) that it makes me wish I could write as well as they do. Go ahead, you can read them too; most of them are over there on the right.

I was going to write about Harry Potter, but it seems that there are already way too many words floating around about the movie and the book, and after looking at what I wrote it seemed way too juvenile, but I guess that is the way I am inside at times. I just try to put on my adult face and confuse people.

Some mention of Superman videos were just going around the office, and I went to IMDB to look up the actors – that’s one of my favorite sites, used all the time. But anyway, I was looking up Pamela Stephenson who was in Superman 3. IMDB says that she also is the wife of Billy Connolly, who has been highly amusing in many things. On a different site was a discussion of Pamela wanting to make a change in her life, and how she “was desperate to escape her humdrum existence. So she embarked on a mid-life adventure which saw her sail 19,000 nautical miles in ten months, visit uncharted islands and resist a hunky fisherman.” Sounds simple, taking off on a boat to circle the world or something. But then the next sentence put it more in perspective: “But this was no primitive idyll. She travelled in a 112ft super-yacht with a crew of seven.” Yeh, real mid-life adventure, taking off with a crew of seven.

Just to show you a little attitude, here’s a video that’s been bouncing around for a while, but I can picture E in something like this – it’s about how she talks.

The Landlord

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Three political things

With apologies to Clare for converting her Three Things but still putting up three:

1. 33% of the country supports President Bush and thinks that he is doing a good job. I find it very impressive that somebody can continue to keep happy such a small minority of the people he is supposed to represent while continuing to ‘stay the course’ and do whatever he damn well wants to do.
2. 26% of the country supports our current congress. Equally impressive is such a body that was elected because they were going to change things, and we find that all we have is a new group that still plays by the old rules. Pork Barrel Projects that supposedly were going to disappear? More money than ever is being earmarked for specific single purpose things. Out of Iraq? This is the most ridiculous keeping of a promise: all night sessions for publicity? Why not get off your butt and do something. Less corruption with Democrats than Republicans? Hah!
3. 29% of Iraqi citizens want the US military to stay in their country. It looks like Mr. Bush has fairly shipped our democratic government over there as he promised – that such a small minority of the population can force their will onto the rest rings of a great democracy, and fairly falls in line with support over here as well.

So Clare, these are definitely not beautiful things. Sorry to so pervert your loverly tradition in this manner, but the similarities of these numbers just impressed me.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Found somebody else in town - LoraLoo

Thanks to her, I now know that someplace that creates lame internet quizzes has rated me
77% GeekMingle2

Three photo E Friday

Continuing on with Clare’s three things, I guess I can combine it with granddaughter’s E Friday, because VG seems to like those photographs.

So tell me, how can a beautiful two year old that looks like this

A few short hours later turn into this?

Look – I was even able to get a few seconds of video

I am told it’s because she turned two, and learned that the ‘nono’ she has been saying for a while should be attended to rather than ignored. NO, we are not torturing her (oh, there goes that rating again) and she is not in any physical pain. She has just been denied something; I think it was milk in the ladybug cup instead of the sippy cup, or something else equally important. Those of you with two year olds will undoubtedly recognize the symptoms.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Careful - rated R

I don't know why he goes around looking at other people's ratings, but Rob
pointed something out and so I had to go and find out why.

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

torture (4x) suck (1x)

Wait a minute - this is Vegas - we don't torture people (oh, there goes the count up). Strange, this does not at all match the American movie rating, which seems much more concerned with boobs and sexual antics than violence. I guess I better start going to the nudie bars and topless shows and change the attitude over here, sorry to be so violent.

Oh, just went back and found out why Clare is also rated R:

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

sex (9x) hell (3x) hurt (2x) breast (1x)

I guess they do follow the American movie rating system after all. I wonder what kind of correlation there is to gather from these two, that one torture = 2 1/4 sexes? Oh hell, might as way go all the way in the ratings. After all, I think I'm not hurting anyone, but if you want to email photos of your breast, please feel free.

Thursday three things

Still trying to be positive, for Clare’s three things:

1. Coming in to a quiet workplace – there are no shows for several weeks (I work at a convention center, for some reason July in Las Vegas is not the month that people want to put on conventions or trade shows) and most people are on vacation, so the halls are empty, the offices are staffed with not many people and the ones here are vacationing in their minds and not really asking much out of the IT department.
2. Learning some new programs while I have time to learn. At my last job I was doing the work of three and really overloaded; it is nice to have a job where there is time to learn something new instead of being asked why I am so far behind.
3. Typing at the computer and anticipating meeting my wife for lunch. She drives down DI into the back entrance of the parking garage at the Fashion Show Mall in a nice short straight drive and misses all of the Strip area traffic. I walk over to meet her – yes, two bridges and a nice walk in the sunshine, and it is only supposed to get up to 43c today – and we will probably walk back to the big hotel next door. I’m trying to figure out which of the dozen restaurants to eat at: we’ll probably try the noodle bar down next to the poker parlor.
4. (OK, four things today) Listening to Gwen on YouTube:

Thinking about J who sits right behind me in the corner. He is the other programmer here, I’ve worked with him at other jobs and he helped me get this position. He too is on vacation this week, off to a wedding in Seattle. J likes this song, and periodically he breaks the silence in here and we all hear him back there singing ‘weee hoooo’ and know that Sweet Escape has rolled around on his IPod. The other three of us in this room usually join in, it must sound strange to people walking by in the hall outside when we do this. (I've pushed replay five times now, that weee hoooo is kind of habit forming.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Three things

Back to more positive things, I think I’ll try a more friendly approach for a while, and try not to be too controversial (since it doesn’t do much good anyway). So, back to Clare’s three things:

1. A sweet cup of iced coffee after work, sitting out on my back patio reading Harry Potter book #4 again, to get familiar with things in preparation for the new movie (tomorrow!) and last book (two weeks!!) And yes, I do sit outside in the evening after work, and the temp yesterday was 43c when I was out there.
2. Watching our dog Max chase the pigeons away from under the bird feeder. I put out seeds, and only smaller birds can sit on the small pegs, with pigeons underneath grabbing the seeds that fall. Max is about the same size as the birds, but they all scatter when he runs over. But they just fly up to the wires overhead, and come back down as he starts to walk away.
3. Watching Max run from one side of the back yard around the house to the other as he barks at other dogs being walked down the street. He vocally protects his yard from intrusions, and it seems to be working as no other dog has yet opened the gate and come in back.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Wynn

The newest casino on the strip is the Wynn. It’s located across from the Fashion Show Mall near the north end of the Strip. Built on the site of the Desert Inn, the Wynn still retains the Desert Inn Golf Course, the only on Strip course attached to a casino left in Vegas. The Wynn is host to Le Reve, a Cirque du Soleil style show, in addition to Monty Python’s Spamalot.

Steve Wynn should be credited with creating the expensive Las Vegas. He started by building the Mirage and the Treasure Island, then moved on to build the Bellagio. He sold each resort in order to obtain money to build an even bigger one. Somehow he was persuaded to put his name on this one, so I don’t know how he would be able to sell it and move on.

The Strip side of the hotel features a small pine forest.

The main feature out front is their waterfall.

Which is also visible from several of the restaurants inside. Their name bar is Parasols, which has a view of the waterfall and small lake. At night images are projected on the waterfall.

The casino looks about like every other one in Vegas (don’t tell Steve I said that)

The main entrance is around the corner on Sands Boulevard.

There are two small areas that have plants and trees, but nothing like the conservatory at the Bellagio.

Attached to the hotel is a large conference center.

There is also a wedding chapel, and lots of rooms for meetings and banquets.

In the center of the lower level complex is a swimming pool and garden area.

Up front is a shopping arcade filled with high end shops.

Inside is Nevada’s only Ferrari dealership. So if you hit it big you can walk over and spend your money on a nice car. I understand this is the number one dealership in the world for selling new Ferraris.

Looking from the corner of Sands and Las Vegas Boulevard you can see the hotel tower fronted by all of those fancy shops.

Looking at the Wynn from the team member parking garage of the place across the street you can see the second Wynn tower under construction.

It must be nice to build the most expensive building on the Strip, and before the first year of operation goes by to plan on construction of a second tower to double the number of rooms.

Friday, July 06, 2007

E Friday

Yes, D, when E was here last week and it was HOT we did take her outside. It seemed that no matter how much water we put out there we just could not make that duck turn cold. But E seemed to like it anyway, it was a little different than Portland. I made a little sprinkler thing last summer that she liked – some plastic pipe with small holes that squirted up little streams of water. She played in the grass and ran through the water.

She seemed to enjoy it – but then again, it only got up to 102 or so when she was here.

It hit 116f yesterday (around 46c), after work I sat outside and drank some iced coffee and read the paper, but I will say it was a little hot.

E played with her rubber ducks in the water – takes them for rides on the swing, and lets them swim around in the bathtub.

And again, she still knows how to ‘smile for the camera’

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Today's post comes to you because of Dana. She goes to Karaoke a lot (well, a lot more than I do) and knows how people sing. In her last post she pointed to Wing, who probably is also a karaoke singer. Please go listen to the samples on Wing's site and come back here to let me know how you feel about her music. I particularly liked her version of Hell's Bells on Wing Sings More AC/DC.

Thank you Dana for leading us to things like this.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sporting goods

Pamela Anderson celebrated her 40th birthday over the weekend. She is currently here in Vegas working as an assistant in a magic show at the Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin), which is also where her party was held. As Norm, our local gossip columnist, explained it "A tickled-pink Pamela Anderson celebrated her 40th birthday Las Vegas-style: amid wall-to-wall pink flowers, a sparkler-topped pink cake and enough champagne to float a small boat". I’m just wondering two things: Which 40th birthday is this, and I’m impressed a woman like that admits to not being 39 anymore. At least she had ex Tommy Lee and her two kids there as well.

I’ve got a dozen photos from the Wynn, but will probably put those up later in the week. Today let’s spend some time at the recent sporting goods show. I am always impressed with the little companies that are at these shows, trying to make an entry into the big world with one product. There are also companies that have been around for a while that specialize in something, showing off a dozen varieties of the same thing. There were booths at this show filled with nothing but baseballs, others with just baseball gloves, others with karate uniforms, you get the idea – all flavors of the same stuff.

Our weather report has been revised - upwards. Fourth of July Wedensday is supposed to top out at 116f. But again, it should warm up to nice levels near the end of the month, usually our warmest time.

This booth had nothing but slippers. The same slippers, emblazoned with the logos of your favorite teams.

I guess there are guys out there that surround themselves with team stuff – I see enough being sold. So you can get slippers, lounge chairs, even pool tables with team logos instead of green felt.

Here are boxing gloves in assorted colors. Somehow some shoes snuck onto the bottom shelf.

This is a Chinese company that made balls. These are those big exercise balls that you roll on or sit on, some have handles that you hold onto while bouncing around.

As you can see, the Chinese exhibitors did not spend a lot of money on booth decorations.

If you want to start a gym then there were lots of machines available.

For something a little different, there was a booth with sports kilts. Somehow I just can’t imagine the New York Yankees running around the field dressed in these things. Or even Mike Tyson, as they seem to be pushing boxing. Maybe rugby, makes those pileups more interesting to be in, if you are that kind of guy.

But for most of the employees here this was the booth that we were looking for.

When there are shows we get free food – and this is our favorite chef. Get to know him and you’ll get a nice pile of roast beef (or turkey breast), mashed potatoes and gravy and veggie.