Friday, August 31, 2007

E Friday

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to 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.

E likes to have breakfast outside when she is at our house. After we moved in (a little over four years ago) we converted the massive grass filled yard over to desert landscaping. Well, the water bill was horrendous and the LV water authority basically paid us to do it, so it didn’t take much to decide that yes, we would take there money and work our butts off. Part of the conversion resulted in a nice big concrete patio along the back of our house, extending to the side providing a nice sitting area outside of our kitchen. We added a nice high metal roof to keep the sun off (rain, what rain?) and I converted the kitchen window into French doors, providing easy access. We got a nice glass table and padded outdoor chairs and here we are, sitting outside having breakfast almost every day of the year.

So here is E, enjoying her blueberries. She was in a blueberry phase, don’t know what she is into now, but since we could get fresh ones and she demanded them that is what was provided.

The lady bug sippy cup is from my favorite place, Star*bucks. She likes it, along with the pickle spoon Grammy found someplace. And underneath is the nice blue seat that boosts her up high.

She doesn’t always agree to it, but here is her Elmo bib. Yes, Elmo is her current fav. Please don’t mention that purple dinosaur, we have not (and will not) introduce her to that thing. Maybe Dora though.

Hey, that does make our back yard look pretty green. Well, we didn’t get rid of all of the grass, we left a little half circle out front and this strip under the trees out back. This was all before E of course, but it did work out nicely to have grass and shade for her to play in.

And sunshine, of course this is Vegas so sunshine is kind of the default condition.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fashion update

The big fashion show upstairs closed yesterday. I was able to hit up the coordinator and got a free pass for B to come on out and see the kinds of things I talk about when I come home from work, and unfortunately she left in the mood to go out and get some new clothes. There were booths scattered about with some colorful items, but most were displaying the current style, which fortunately she doesn't follow.

I thought that I would follow in the footsteps (well, mousetracks) of Bossy and test my ability to use Photoshop for something other than adjusting camera image size prior to posting (I don’t think any of you want me to post the 20”x24” things my camera puts out.

Here is my impression of the current female fashion trend.

Sorry for the all black, I am still learning of the ability of Photoshop to manipulate colors. Hey, don’t laugh too loudly, circles and straight lines are still stressing this programmer’s artistic abilities.

But the color scheme, as it was when this show was here in February, is black and white. Black pants and white top, or just black over black. The second overall theme is the one that Paris and Nicole follow, and that is called skinny. Yes, if you weigh over eighty pounds then you are overweight. You should preferably also be about six feet tall as well. The above is a back view (or front).

The trend is black pants with the legs so thin they almost look painted on, so the impression is of a stick sitting on top of two thinner sticks. You could alternately wear a skirt or shorts so short that the rear silhouette is still about the same - no material extending below what some of you call your girly bits, but still tight to the body. I have no idea how these young ladies sit down, but I kept hanging around the lounge area that was filled with chairs hoping to find out. Mainly because there were lingerie booths scattered about showing the latest style of those items, filled with nothing but strings sometimes topped with a butterfly or little heart. Hey, I'm willing to spend a little time standing around investigating, so as to keep you all informed.

The shorts can have a little cuff rolled up, but I don’t see how there was enough material in the legs to permit anything to be rolled up. Curves are not allowed. An alternate to the thin pant legs all the way down is to have a little bit of a bell bottom on the ends. But still the portion above the knee must be tight to the leg. I don't see how they pull these things on unless their ankles pivot somehow to permit a foot to be inserted down those small cylinders of material. Denim is still the preferred material for pants shorts or skirts. Usually black but denim blue also permitted.

From the side the image is a little different, as you don’t get to see two legs.

And there are some curves permitted here. Mainly I assume by the surgical implant procedure; at least I don’t see how these skinny sticks of women would have not an ounce of soft area anywhere but up there without it being inserted by those surgeons that advertise. On the bottom are skinny shoes with heels - usually about five inch tall spikes.

I think there were some guys walking around the show too, but I'm not sure. Wasn't paying attention in that direction. Unfortunately no fashion models this time, not counting the endless stream of attendees. But there was one big booth with models - it was for men's underwear, some new undershorts with little legs (longer than the outer shorts the girls were wearing) that I guess are supposed to replace briefs or something. Looking at the ones on display indicated that the fronts seemed to be padded for some reason, probably for protection from baseballs or knees or whatever might come flying by. There were big hunky guys walking around wearing them, eye candy for the girls but it seems the male models were paying more attention to each other than the girls trying to examine the clothing. At least I think the girls were looking at the clothing, at least the padded parts.

I knew some of you would be interested in keeping up with the latest style. Though I assume that by the time this show returns next February it might be different. We’ll see. In two weeks we have the big bridal show back, for those girls successful in attracting someone via the above clothing styles.

Since I haven’t put up a motivational poster in a while we might as well go with one that seemed somewhat appropriate.


OK, finally found it posted on YouTube. Miss South Carolina Teen USA.

Yes, impressive display of our educational system (Yes, they were given the questions in advance so this is her planned answer). Well, she is a blond (response, D?)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Around town in August

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, but it’s been rather busy here in Las Vegas. We were woken up about 3:30 on Monday morning by all of the thunder outside (fortunately it was outside) and the sound of rain on the skylight. We’ve got a well insulated attic, but there is a skylight in our ‘master bath’, so when it rains all of the dripping noises come from there. We also put up a large patio out behind the house with a steel roof that sounds marvelous in the rain and hail, but you have to be outside to hear that.

In addition to the thunder we had our in-bed vibrator to inform us that something was going on. Yes, we sleep with our two dogs. Max is the vicious one, he is a ten pound terrier mix we got at the dog pound in San Diego eleven years ago. Buster is a little calmer, he’s the same size but is more of a Chihuahua mix that came home a day after Max from the same place. Our vet thought Max was a year old and Buster around four, so that means they are starting to get old. Max is tri color, mostly black with part white and a very little brown. Buster is all brown with a longer coat.

But Max is king of the house. He barks at everything, tries to bite every ankle that dares come in the door, and is really mean to Buster. Well, after all, Max was here first, if only by one day. But he’s a wimp when it comes to things he can’t control. He loves the concept of going for walks, but by the time we are two houses away he realizes that he doesn’t know what’s going on and he’s ready to go home. If we are out on the street and another dog barks at him he jumps a foot and tries to run. As far as thunder and the sound of rain on the roof, well, he turns into the best ten pound fuzzy vibrator you can find, hiding under the covers and looking for an armpit to hide his nose in. So for an hour on Monday morning it was no sleep because of scared-e-cat (er, dog).

I did wander out back to stand under the metal roof and enjoy the noise. I love thunderstorms, especially here because it’s still warm, standing out in the strong wind, listening to the rain and the sharp cracks and long rolls. But it was exciting in parts of Vegas.

Somebody about a mile away had a lightning strike on their roof. For some reason out here its standard house design to have our air conditioner/heater up on top of the roof. I guess the lack of snow and ice and rain means that the equipment can take just the heat. But that means there is a big block of metal up high, which does make it attractive to lightning. So somebody woke up to a flash of light and a big bang to find their roof and attic on fire. At least there was some water to cool it down a little while the fire trucks made there way over, in the local storm story.

About a half mile further up hill – Las Vegas is basically a valley, with interstate 15 running north/south down at the bottom and the Strip just a half mile off of that. If you head east or west from the Strip it’s a gentle rise up to the mountains on either side, each hilly strip about ten miles away from the bottom. We live about three miles west of the strip, it’s a high enough rise that there is a nice view of the casinos, or there would be if the houses across the street weren’t there. Back to half a mile further west, the heavy thunderstorms resulted in some flooding, as discussed in our local paper.

The concept of a ‘gated community’ is really popular out here. Where a developer buys ten or twenty acres, puts on a few hundred houses and plunks a big concrete block wall around it all, with one or two roads with automatic gates. Everyone gets a garage door opener that works on the gates, the more expensive places have guards to do the opening. Included in the deal is a homeowners association, which is basically a bunch of old grouchy people that wander around writing you tickets for breaking the association rules. We lived in a place with an association back in California, and I’ll never do it again. Some people like it, if done right all the homes then look similar, are usually kept up and clean and tidy. If the enforcers are too grouchy you get a fine for leaving your trash barrel out fifteen minutes past collection time, or parking your car with the bumper overhanging the curb, or letting your grass get too long or having a rose bush dry up and die. Heck, I would much rather put up with the house down the block being painted a hot pink, or the other guy with the car with a flat tire parked out back than have somebody always watching how I do things.

But on Monday morning one gated, walled area had a problem. That was when the storm dropped two inches of rain in fifteen minutes. The storm drains were not designed for that, and the surrounding walls just kept the water in, so several houses on the downhill side ended up with a few feet of water inside. Being uphill and living in the desert meant that no one had flood insurance – pay for flood insurance when you live in a desert? So homeowners insurance does not cover water damage like that, and the owners are now trying to find somebody to sue. The original developer, for putting up the walls (that made the owners want to buy there), the city for not keeping the storm drains clear, or the county for not requiring bigger storm drains, or God for dropping so much water from the sky?

There was more water just a block east of the strip. A large section of the west side of the valley drains down into a large wash, which winds its way eventually to the Las Vegas wash and into the lake. Unfortunately buildings and streets sometimes infringe, and the wide wash is channeled down into smaller concrete lined sections. The water is confined to some large tunnels under the strip and surrounding casinos, but it emerges just behind Harrah’s at Koval Lane, the first street east of Las Vegas Boulevard. By great planning the pipes that go under Koval are much smaller than the tunnel under LV Boulevard, so the water makes it under the Strip just fine, but then emerges and is directed into some small pipes. This works fine unless a big thunderstorm runs up the west side, as it did Monday morning. The result is water four feet deep on Koval. I know, nothing compared to Michigan and the Midwest last week, but for us it’s adventure. Dumb people that try to drive through it getting stuck with water up to their dashboards, screams of terror and stupidity. A few hours later it’s all dry, with nothing to show for the flood except for muddy cars and trash pushed up against a fence.

But that is the road we take to get into our parking garage, I come from the north and had no problem, but the road was closed just to the south of us, and so half the people in our building ended up circling down to the Strip and sitting in traffic for two hours to come into work late. The end result: well, our official US weather site is at the airport, which received .58" of rain. Which brings our total for the year (since last January 1) to a little over 1.5 inches (under 4 cm). Well, it is the freekin' desert (but still a little low, we should have about twice that by now).

Tuesday after a low sleep Monday morning led to desires for early bed time. Well, you know us old farts with all the kids moved out, we can sleep again when we want to. But there were stories of a full lunar eclipse coming, and since they are not very common B and I thought we’d get up to see it. The paper said it was scheduled to start at 1:30 am, so B set her alarm for that. We got up, looked at the gorgeous full moon directly overhead for a while and didn’t see anything happening so we rescheduled for forty minutes later and went back to sleep. That alarm went off, back out to look, and less that a quarter of the moon was covered. Back to bed. Up again at 3:30 and we finally had a fully covered moon in the sky. I do realize that it takes the moon 28 days to orbit the earth, and so the apparent speed at which it moves is not very great, but I did not realize that it would take two hours from the start until the eclipse would be full. Anyway, multiple awakenings aside, we got to see a full lunar eclipse in our own back yard. But when my alarm went off at 5:30 I really was not prepared for a second night with such a lapse in quiet time.

Here is how it looked to our local paper:

Other stories around town deal with the local pool scene. As you probably have heard, Las Vegas has quite a few late night venues for people. For just a few swipes of your credit card you too can drink three hundred dollar bottles of vodka with semi famous Hollywood celebrities. Most of the fashionable places open at 10pm, with the fun really starting around 2, and the noise quieting down around sunrise. But for those of you that want to party you can now also do so in the daytime. The Palms pool has become the hot place to be (besides the 106 degree temperature), standing around in your trunks talking to hot bodies with not much material covering them paying outrageous prices for watered down drinks. The Tao pool at the Venetian is equally the spot to be, as is Caesar’s pool and the Hard Rock pool. Last weekend the Palms held their version of Playboy’s Midsummer Dreams party, where the fewer clothes you wore the quicker you got in (for the ladies at least). Well, the new Palms tower does have the Playboy suite, and is a home away from home for Hef’s Girls Next Door trio.

Land prices are continuing to rise, if not for houses, which here too are having a hard time selling right now, but for casino property. The Harley Davidson Café, a rather run down place on the southern end of the Strip, across from the new City Centre construction, was recently sold, at a price that ends up being $37,000,000 per acre. No word on when that will be coming down so a big place can go up. The New Frontier recently sold for only $35 million per acre. That hotel/casino is closed and awaiting destruction before rising again as a western Plaza Hotel. Makes me wish I had bought that desert property which used to be out in the middle of nowhere.

Credits: I usually only put up my own photos, but these are courtesy (and copyright of) of our local Las Vegas Review Journal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Calm down

Thanks to Kevin for this one (sorry Twat, no Kylie again):

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thanks, D

OK, thanks Deana. I don’t usually do these, but for a sexy blond I guess I can get talked into most anything (like most guys).
1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Well, I don’t have a middle name. I’ve never thought about having one, but the one I find most amusing is Mortimer, don’t know why (sorry if any of you are named Mortimer). But for a hit like this I should pick something short, like Bob – hey, that would work, Joe Bob, sounds pretty redneck, doesn’t it? Or if you look at how I sign my blog ‘Joe In Vegas’ I guess I can use the name ‘in’, huh? But let’s go with the Mortimer, even if it will take longer. (That reminds me, I still have a crayon one to do, but that takes more imagination).

M – is for money. Yea, I don’t live for it but for some reason I seem to spend a lot of it, requiring me to work instead of lay around the pool.
O – is for ornery. (well, Word dictionary did take that on so I guess it’s OK). When I set my mind on something I get rather stuck, and it takes quite a lot to make me see things differently.
R – is for rationalize. I usually need an explanation for everything and have to rationalize other people’s behavior, though I usually still don’t understand most of it.
T – is for time. There is so much that I want to do that I don’t seem to have enough time for it. Yes, I talk of laying around the pool, but my list of things to do and places to go and people to see is still out there.
I – is for imagination. I’ve got a pretty good one, and all it takes is a little phrase or glance or small push to get my mind wandering all over the place. It does come in handy when programming, as I have no problem in bouncing around a problem in seventeen different directions and coming up with good answers.
M – is for macaroni. Don’t know why, but I just can’t think up another M word. Well, I can think of more M words but macaroni is more polite in mixed company. But more relevant would be music. I can’t stand silence, and so always have a radio on in the background, or now my Ipod Shuffle clipped to my shirt listening to my favorite list of songs (as in right now). So, let’s say music and ignore the macaroni part.
E – is for effort. Whatever I do I put a lot of effort into it. For some reason it doesn’t seem right to just skate by without working hard.
R – is for responsibility. If I get involved in a project for some reason I always feel responsible for a good outcome. It doesn’t matter if I’m part of a team or just helping somebody else, if it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to then I feel responsible for it.

And no, I will not ask anyone else to do this. If you want to please feel free, but then go tell Deana that you did it.

Fashion shows

This week we have several big fashion shows filling our halls. These come twice a year, the last time was in February, the first big show after I started working here at the big convention place. Downstairs is one that can best be described as Kmart meets Target. It’s full of things that are not fancy but can be quite sparkly and pretty. Upstairs is fancy, aimed more at what used to be called the punk crowd. There are big white and crystal balls hanging from the ceiling, and no carpet as bare concrete is more ‘cool’.

Downstairs, with the lower ceilings and two thousand little ten by ten booths is a maze of color. Upstairs with the high ceilings and larger spaces is all black and white, because black and white are cool. (or whatever the current word of the moment is to describe things that are ‘in’). Over in a smaller section upstairs is an accessories show, filled with bags and glittery stuff. And in the big hotel next door ballroom is a lingerie show, with live models and all (have to see if we can get in that one).

Upstairs is so cool that they have entertainment. We are all looking forward to it down here in the working bowels of the building. At eleven it’s the Shaolin Monks Kung Foo Demonstration. For those of you old enough to see reruns, back before he learned the five finger whatever it was on Kill Bill David Carradine was a Shaolin monk that wandered the American west, fighting for good using his special Kung Fu techniques. I don’t know if the guys upstairs will be walking on rice paper, but it’s interesting to know that there really are Shaolin monks that know Kung Fu. Wonder if they’ve ever seen the TV show, or if they are tired of all the comparisons.

Video Monday - dancing

OK, enough of the Kylie abuse. (run out of her videos anyway). To compensate let’s have something completely different today.

I’m not a horse person, but for some reason the announcers seem to think this dancing horse is something tremendous.

B says it’s hard to teach horses things like this, I just know she had a friend with a horse that they couldn’t get to go into a trailer, had to ride it miles down to a trainer that kept the horse for two weeks (no idea what he did) to get the horse to trailer so that they could take it off for rides.

But I understand little treats work for dogs, at least for my dogs. But I still can’t teach my guys to do anything except pester me for treats. I’m more impressed with the dancing dog that Savadoty points to.

So, two animals that can dance better than I do.

D – you’ve got both dogs and horses, have you trained yours?

Friday, August 24, 2007


Watching TV today we noticed the same advertisement repeated several times on several different channels while flipping through the news. It shows several middle age guys sitting around a living room playing guitars and singing Elvis' song 'Viva Las Vegas' (appropriate for me to write about, no?) but when the get to the chorus instead of saying 'Las Vegas' they sing 'Viagra'. As in 'Viva - Viva Viagra!!!!!'

My wife hates the commercial. I had one question, perhaps somebody has seen one that I missed - why is there never a Viagra commercial with women singing the praises of this drug?

E Friday - the tongue thing

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to 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.

When E and her mom were down from Portland visiting in June/July (yes, that’s when most of these pictures were taken, I’ll not get any more to replace them until they visit again, whenever. B it due to go up in September, so hopefully I’ll get a batch from that trip) we took them to E’s favorite restaurant, the Red Robin. She likes the food there, and the one close to our house has a number of animals similar to ones that were on merry-go-rounds; there's several horses and a big lion and a tiger that we usually sit next to - you can see his striped leg behind us. A great many of the pictures I’ve been posted were taken there, mainly because I had the camera and just filled up that little digital chip with my continuous clicking. Guess I should just get a digital movie camera and let it run continuously and just pull out the frames that look good. B is having too much fun when they are around to think about taking pictures so it’s mainly up to me.

While sitting waiting for our food E was playing with the crayons and coloring the little kid’s menu that they give out. As we were sitting for some reason she started making faces. I think we were comparing the size of our mouths when discussing how much we could eat.

We began comparing how far we could stick out our tongues. I think she won.

Looking at some other photos from the visit it seems that the tongue thing might be a more familiar pose than I remember. Here she is on the bigger kid’s swing in our back yard, which she finally learned to sit on. Up until then she was always in the chair swing strapped in with her animals. She played on this swing by laying on her stomach, but never quite got the concept of holding on with her hands to keep from falling off. She hasn't even tried moving her legs to keep herself swinging, since granddad (oh, that still doesn't seem right) or grammy is always at hand for a push. A short while after this shot she forgot again and started waving at things, resulting in her ending up on her back in the grass. Fortunately, as you can see, I did not hang the swing very high, so it was not a long fall.

Look Lisa, stripes!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Three things

For Clare:

1. Fresh blueberries and raspberries both in hot Scotch cut oatmeal for breakfast – the tastes and texture all goes well together.
2. Sitting out on the patio eating breakfast oatmeal with coffee and fresh orange juice, watching the hummingbirds squabbling over the feeder, the loudest continually challenged and chasing the others away. But some sneak back for a quick drink while he is off chasing the next one, as if they planned the distractions together.
3. Thinking of Clare's camping trip, and imagining sleeping out in the old British woods among the ferns and fairies.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A short history of film

Gahhh – I feel so inferior at times. That’s because of you guys – putting up such interesting and varied posts. Today I am having problems with Rob’s posts again. He seems to write about such intelligent things, that I am forced to think. These alternate with discussions on the plays and musical events he attends and at times participates in.

Then there is Bossy, who posts picture stories with circles and arrows on the back of each one (oh, sorry, it’s not Alice but Bossy, well, circles and arrows on the front then). Her recent posts about college visits just make me feel like I’m driving along with her, with commentary provided. Makes me want to do more with Photoshop than make the pictures brighter and smaller, and come up with some witty commentary.

As for the rest of you, don't get mad - I think there are bunches of funny, itelligent blogs out there, many of which I try to read as often as you can. I just picked on these guys today. Your turn will come.

OK, so I’ll try to post something intelligent once in a while (well, maybe not too often) and try to avoid comments on Kylie’s undergarments (though I will think of them). This past week I’ve been spending some time on Youtube looking at quite an assortment of videos. (no, not all Kylie either). I am impressed with the historical stuff that some people post, in addition to old Osmond and Cher videos. My background before computers was photography, so I am always interested in history. Wait a minute – did I really post a video of the Osmonds? Hold on, let me check. . . . . Oh, I really must apologize for that. I can take a skinny Cher dancing, but the Osmonds? Sorry again, I have nothing to blame for doing that, maybe an early onset of Alzheimer’s or the heat or something. Please, promise me that if I ever do something like that again you’ll hit me upside the head. Ouch – wait – ouch - Kylie in exercise togs with big hair is OK, now stop that Zoe.

Back to history (well, can’t forward to history now, can we? Unless you’re Marty McFly, then it’s ‘Forward to the Past’) (can you tell I really liked Firesign Theatre and Monty Python and random quotes – my brain does that at times, yes, it really does) of motion pictures, bouncing around old music videos (which will get posted eventually) I came across this one: Emile Cohl - Fantasmagoria (1908) considered the first fully animated film ever made.

For a full description of Emile’s life you can visit Wikipedia, but just watching that video makes me wonder what kind of drugs he was on. I just loved the hands near the end gluing the head back on – how do people think up things like this?

On a related link was some film by the Lumiere brothers, who took and showed the first moving pictures ever:

Interesting how they thought moving pictures would never catch on, and so even though they came up with film with sprocket holes and invented the camera used they declined to sell any of them. The group getting off the boat were fellow photographers, I like how they were tipping their hats to the camera crew. Kind of makes me want to go out and get a boater, maybe hats will come back. They even started the concept of comedy on film, with the short of the gardener. Charlie Chaplin couldn’t do it better.

So much for your education today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Whole Foods

I was out shopping the other day and made the mistake of stopping at Whole Foods Market. Now, there is nothing wrong with the food there, that’s the problem, it’s all really good stuff. For those of you not familiar with Whole Foods, it’s a chain of supermarkets specializing in organic and natural foods.

This Whole Foods is fairly new, located up on Charleston on the west side of town, near the area called Summerlin; one of the more ‘upscale’ areas of Las Vegas. It is a fairly large store, with a really large fresh fruit and veggie section and a beautiful butcher area. I try not to go there too often, not because we don’t like what they carry, but because I can’t afford it. We have about a half dozen large supermarkets nearby representing several of the big west coast chains. Each store carries a few different things, but mostly 95% of what you see in one store is exactly what you will find in all the others. WF however is 95% unique.

Most of the stuff in the produce area is certified organic – I’m not really a health or organic nut, but I will buy it if available, and the stuff at WF always looks so nice and ripe. I mainly went to get some steel cut oatmeal (not a regular item in the other stores) but the layout of the store takes everyone past those beautiful veggies as soon as you walk into the store. Knowing the temptation I took a hand basket rather than a regular shopping cart so as to restrict myself a little. I figured I would just get some bananas as I usually have yogurt and a banana every morning. But then the little baskets of blueberries looked so, well, blue. And there were pretty raspberries, and the pears and apples. I also like to make an assortment of steamed veggies for dinner once in a while and skip the meat, so wandered over to that section. Well, into the basket went a handful of beats, right next to the purple ones were some yellow ones so those had to come along, and on to the broccoli and cauliflower which resulted in the hand basket becoming almost full. Eventually I had to out of that section without looking at what was piled in the back half.

Over to the cereal area, there were lots of boxes of organic stuff that is not stocked at the other stores. I located the cooked cereal area, and found a nice big tin of steel cut ‘Scotch’ oats. Fortunately there was still a little room in the basket for the tin.

Before leaving I did have to go to the cheese section. Though no American store can ever match those marvelous fromage shops I found in Paris, WF does have a pretty good selection in that department. Unfortunately all American cheese is pasteurized, and so those wonderful tastes and smells that you can find in the French cheeses cannot be obtained here. Also unfortunately WF charges quite a lot for those unusual non-packaged items that you cannot get anywhere else. Each little handful can cost between $5 and $10, which means that filling a basket with a small selection and not looking at prices can result in quite a ticket when you get to the cash register. I was able this time to just get away with a nice pretty chunk of Ementauler, but that little wedge still ran me around ten bucks.

I did avoid the meat counter there. WF has the best counter outside of a dedicated butcher shop, which is hard to find around the US any more. There is one here in Vegas I drive past, have to stop in some time and see what it’s like. But back to the WF meat counter. If you are a non-vegetarian this is one impressive place. There are lots of different red meats, and the steaks are really thick: because of costs and changing diets most of the pre-packaged steaks you find in supermarkets are now under a half inch thick. I know that still seems fairly obscene compared to what was served in French restaurants, but a good American barbeque with thick steaks is a great way to spend a warm summer evening. But again, here quality comes with a price, which at WF is a rather large price.

So I love to go to Whole Foods, but unfortunately I can’t afford to go very often.

So, let’s leave you with another motivational poster.

Elvis again

OK, I am not really a fan, but he really was energetic, and did have a nice voice. Let's not mention the hips (or the imaginative lyrics). Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show several times, but supposedly he was 'too suggestive' with his dancing and after his initial appearence Ed only permitted him to be filmed from the waist up. Milton Berle had a competative show on a different TV network, and did let Elvis come on and do more than Ed permitted.

This video is of the same show. The quality is not as good, but there is a long segment after the song that includes Milton's interaction with Elvis.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Video Monday - Elvis

Briefly turning away from the Twat's favorite object: last week was the 30th ‘anniversary’ of Elvis’ death. I think they should celebrate births not deaths, but Elvis is big business here in Vegas. I think I like the youngest version.

We overtook Memphis quite a while ago in the Elvis category, even if Elvis-O-Rama closed. I don’t know how many ‘tribute’ artists we have, but you could probably hit two or three shows a day during your week’s vacation in Vegas. The most amusing to me is ‘Fat Elvis’.

Last week the Osmond Family held their 50th anniversary reunion here in Vegas. When tickets went on sale the show sold out in less than five minutes.

Here’s the Osmond five singing and dancing, no embedded link but you can click on it to see 'little' Donny.

Here they were dancing with Cher, in her really skinny days (not that she is much heavier now).

And here is what they look like today.

All sitting down – guess there isn’t as much energy fifty years later.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Three things

In honor of Clare:

1. Floating around in the pool at sunset after a hot day. Looking up at the big bright half moon dominating the sky as the sky darkens and the stars come out.
2. Watching the birds disappear as they go to bed to be replaced by the bats as they flit around overhead catching insects.
3. Enjoying the quiet time alone in the pool after a day spent with some noisy and ever talkative friends. Talk is nice, but quiet at times is also nice.

Friday, August 17, 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.

We’ve got one of those ride in plastic cars in our backyard. E loves to get pushed around in it.

This is another shot at the Red Robin, with E fascinated with the big bird himself – as long as he was across the room. B was equally amused.

She did get a balloon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Warm weather

We haven't had the record setting string of really hot days this summer that Phoenix has. Last year we had some 46C days in July, this year there were only a few days over 43C. In August we usually taper downward, but this year it is still warm here.

The actual temps have been a little higher than the forecast, today it was 44C and tomorrow predicted to hit 43C. So it's still a little warm.


Thursday – the big gift show is breaking down after lunch, guess I’ll go up and see if I can get an armful of stuffed toys for E. A lot of the exhibitors at the shows are from China and Japan, and rather than pack up and cart their stuff home (shipping at times is higher than the manufacturing costs) they sell samples out of their booths. Most of the shows put on here are ‘trade shows’, meaning that there is no retail selling, the exhibitors are showing their stuff for people that are buyers or wholesalers or have their own stores and are looking at the new upcoming merchandise. This week is a rerun of the February gift show, full of thousands of booths of glass and stuffed animals and toys and Christmas junk (sorry, highly refined objects of art depicting Santa Claus and/or angels). After the February version I picked up a soft rolling animal backpack and filled it with stuffed toys for E; I understand she is wearing it almost every day around the house in Portland. Next week comes appliances (hopefully I can get a new cooktop and ovens for our kitchen redo), and off-price clothing and wedding apparel and over in the big hotel ballroom ladies lingerie. Maybe Kylie will be there modeling her new stuff – well, we can dream. If not Kylie I know it will be other skinny girls.

Lots of background noise here in the office today. We have one of those water coolers that take a five gallon bottle of water in here. After I left last night someone put a new bottle on, and there was a crack in the plastic water jug, resulting in five gallons of water on the floor. It was mopped up off the tiled area, but the carpet is still soaked. So I went off to the warehouse and borrowed one of those fans used to blow air down and dry carpets – there are a lot of them in there, so I guess wet carpet is a common occurrence. So between the big overhead ventilation pipes roaring away there is now a noisy fan blowing air around in front of my desk. Time to pull out the Ipod, or find some other music on YouTube.

I was having a discussion with someone from the UK about fresh fruits and stuff available at the supermarket. I guess I am used to shopping at California and other west coast major stores that have large veggie departments. This is the one at the store I usually shop at:

Most of the big stores around us have similar sections. It’s stocked all year, with stuff coming from South America when it’s out of season here in the US. Things do change with the seasons – strawberries and cherries when they are ripe in California, moving from summer peaches and stuff over to winter apples, but there are always greens and bananas and lots of standard items. I do like to visit big markets when we travel overseas, and usually don’t see fresh sections as big as ours, though I do remember quite a large store somewhere in the middle of France.

Vegas doesn’t have much local produce, so there are no major farmers markets around. California was great for framer’s markets, with some beautiful ones up in the Frisco Bay area. Tesco is supposed to open some stores here in Vegas soon, so we’ll see if the British food offerings increase or they just become an imitation of American stores.

Now to leave you with a motivational poster that seems very relevant for several people I know:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Vegas

Summertime – warm August days with kids dreading the return to school. I grew up in New Jersey, where the school year started the Wednesday after Labor Day the first week in September. So the last two weeks in August were the end of vacation and the dreaded trips to buy clothes and supplies for the upcoming school year.

Back to the big hotel next door to where I work. A few months ago we noticed this new game out on the casino floor – a modern version of roulette. It seems that the trend for new games, and this one shifts players from putting chips on a big table to touching a video screen.

So people sit on stools in front of computer screens, insert their money into a slot in front of them, and place their bets. There is still a wheel, but it’s in the center of the circle with a video camera on it. A motor keeps the wheel spinning, but a dealer still starts off the ball. A computer is attached to the camera and determines what number the ball stops at. It then looks at bets and gives points to the winners. This prevents dealers from trying to change the game, and players from palming or moving bets around.

I’ve read about test versions of a computerized poker game. There will be no dealer; each player has a computer screen in front of them for their cards with a larger screen in the center of the table for the common cards. Players would still have interaction with each other, but there would be no chance for a dealer to mess up the deals or for players to see cards as they are dealt. All bets will again be via the computer interface, with no chips out on the table.

Somehow that doesn’t sound like as much fun as it was – people could just stay home and do all of this on their computers. But then you wouldn’t need Vegas and I wouldn’t have all of these pretty lights to look at or good food to eat (as if I could afford it).

To keep the players going there is a nice food court along side the gaming floor. There are small tables and soft padded chairs. Upstairs is the more typical food court, with hamburgers and Chinese food and other

One of the strangest things I’ve found is people’s fascination with things that are different. Up at two ends of the canal are small stages where people painted white just stand. That’s it; they just stand there and don’t move. And people stand around and look at them. Somehow I just don’t get it – what is so fascinating with someone just standing there. But you can always find a crowd just standing watching somebody just standing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday videos - Kylie

Video Mondays – that sounds like a good theme. I can do E Fridays and then videos after the weekend. That us, until I run out of E pics and videos I don’t want to share. Too much junk on Youtube, but I do tend to watch a few things over and over.

Let’s keep last week’s theme going with more videos for the Twat. I don’t think I was very familiar with Kylie before he started raving about her. That’s Kylie Minogue, from Australia; she first made it big in the US back in 1988 with a remake of Locomotion

Oh, the hair – and back when those exercise clothes were in. And can we all say ‘skinny’. But I remember her from a video made probably ten years after that one:

Doesn’t look like she gained much weight in ten years. The song is nice, but as with most guys that isn’t really why we turned around when MTV played this video. Compared to last weeks’, it looks like certain garments from her lingerie line really work. Can we say ‘perky’?. I’ve also read things about the magic of double sided tape in costume design. All I can say is that it seems to work too well, but how do you get it off? (can I apply for that job?)

But of all her music videos I think I like this one the best – not because of the song, but because of her costar:

For something completely different – this song sounds like something Lee Hazelwood would write. I wouldn’t listen to this song very often but it's more like a short movie than an MTV music video. (does MTV show music videos any more?)

OK, enough of the music, for my last Kylie post, here’s an interview with Little Ant and Dec. I haven’t seen them before, but I guess they are a popular interview duo in the UK. They do a good job with the questions.

For you ladies, there is even a Little Ant and Dec interview with George Clooney. Not going to post that one, go to George Clooney interview.

Friday, August 10, 2007

E Friday

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to 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.

E is very friendly when eating, or at least she was back when visiting us a few months ago. I understand that now she is more into the Twos than ever. Our daughter relayed a conversation about lunch the other day, which seemed to go along the lines of:
What kind of jelly do you want on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?
No jelly!!!!!!
OK, here’s your peanut butter sandwich.
No peanut butter, jelly!!!!!!
OK, here’s your jelly sandwich.
No jelly, peanut butter!!!!!!!!!!
(and repeat, with the number of !!!!!!!!!! getting larger and larger)
I’m sure that those of you with little kids have absolutely no idea what was going on there. I just know it was too many options. Should have just set it down.

But anyway, back visiting us we provided fresh blueberries with her cereal for breakfast. She always seemed willing to share:

We went down to E’s favorite restaurant, the Red Robin. One of the thing she likes there is the little kid’s packet they give out, with a coloring pad and some crayons. These she doesn’t share.

While there Mr. Red Robin himself came out. She was fascinated – from a distance. She just couldn’t take her eyes off the big red guy. At least, until he came by our table, at which point she dissolved into tears; I guess a six foot red bird is more enjoyable from a distance. But until then it was big eyes and interest.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Random local notes

Back to Vegas topics today. The big hotel next door is adding on an additional tower. This one will add over 3,000 rooms to the complex, an additional 50,000 square meters of meeting space and a doubling of the shopping area. Originally scheduled to open in October, the official date is now December 20. This was the scene out on Sands Boulevard recently with a crew working on the side façade:

What is that, twelve levels of planking? Reminds me of the erector set I had as a kid, imagine putting all of those pipes together to make such a monumental structure.

The shopping arcade on the second floor will be an extension of the current one. Several months ago they build a small dam out of sandbags, cutting off the end of the canal. A wall was put up and the shops down at the end were knocked down as the connection is being made. The builders did put in some small windows so that people could look at the progress of the construction. This is the current view:

That’s the canal in the center, with a larger turning area at the end. I think they will move the boarding area down there, as the lines do take up quite a bit of the big palazzo. The fancy street lights are up and working, but with all the plaster dust it looks like a Dickens snow scene.

Downstairs there is another area that few visitors get to see. This is the loading dock downstairs, where all supplies for our convention center and the hotel are unloaded.

It’s empty in the photo, but today there is a long line of trucks waiting to unload food. This area is also used for partial staging of construction stuff for the hotel expansion. You can see some of the workers in white getting off shift. There is a crew of several hundred drywall and plasterers working three shifts on the new tower. With over 3,000 rooms – not standard hotel rooms but suites, on up to several

All of the halls down here are busy with setting up for a big show next week, one of the gift shows. It takes all of the halls and several of the big meeting rooms. Yesterday they started ‘marking the floors’ which entails measuring out for the 4,000 + booths and putting down strips of thin white tape. Today the carpet is being unrolled and the dividers and drapes are going in. Tomorrow will be the supplies and then Friday and Saturday will come the exhibitors, with the show opening on Sunday. So enough food has to come in to feed the show and exhibitor staff along with an expected 45,000 attendees. I imagine that there will be a lot of trucks every day.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Stupid video Mondays

Quiet Monday – the big furniture show broke down on Friday and the halls were empty by Saturday night, so we have some big empty spaces today. Next week is the big gift show, which takes all of the halls and most of the meeting rooms, with over 35,000 attendees expected. I don’t know what I like better, the quiet times between shows or the busy times when I get to walk around the halls and see everything.

How about some videos today? The first one is for all you Canadians, to show how well Celine can cover an AC/DC song. (anything with Celine is usually good for a laugh, though my daughter likes her) Also has Anastasia, so it can’t be all bad.

Somehow, a skinny girl doing air guitar just doesn't seem right. At least Anastacia's voice fits a rock song, and she is keeping up with her ab workouts. Speaking of skinny girls:

Something for the boys out there. Whenever she goes on vacation Zoe’s boyfriend the Twat manages to post a Kylie video. I thought in his honor I might as well put a link here too.

That one is rather cute - I like the video work of her walking around in a circle past herself again and again, with different stuff happening each time. I can just picture the army of behind-the-scenes workers repositioning everyone as the camera spins around, and wonder how many takes it took to get it all right, and how much computer time went into it - you know, like, 'move that ladder two feet to the right, you jump on that stone now, put the poster over here'. But it was rather tame. Kylie also has her own line of clothing, and I’m sure the Twat hopefully is not picturing a world filled with five Kylies, or dozens of them, and is most impressed with her demonstration of the flexibility of some of the articles.

OK, as long as I’m putting up Youtube videos I might as well go back to one of the most famous ones. This one was used on quite a few tv news shows as an example of how anyone can be famous for five minutes. Let’s keep Gary up for a little longer.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Three E Friday

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to 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.

Let’s go back to April so that I can use up the photos of her in the cooler weather before it rolls around again.

Here we are back in the park with WonderGirl. Pretty strong for a two year old, to jump up and grab those rings and just move herself along, huh?

Well, the photo might be cropped to cut out daddy down below holding her up, but I’m not saying anything.

And how about trying to figure out this thing? We don’t have them in Vegas, probably because some kid got hurt on one and rather than face lawsuits all parks thus pulled them out. Or else because of the sun the seats end up at something near frying pan temperature and nobody dares sit on them.

Here’s her new back yard – yes, that is all of the grass that’s back there in this photo. But she does have pretty flowers right outside her bedroom window.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Three coins in a fountain

I work at a large convention center which is attached to an equally large hotel/casino. Most days after lunch my fellow programmer and I (yes, there are only two of us to support the convention center, the hotel has about a hundred programmers) usually go for a walk, to get in some exercise and put feeling back into our butts which get numb from occupying chairs all day.

On nice days we have a little route; up the back employee’s entrance, into the parking garage, out to the front hotel entrance and around the corner, back to our front door. This is about three kilometers (two miles) or so, and we stop to look at the boats on the lake out front and listen to the accordion player and look at the people and the construction for the new tower.

On hot days (we don’t get rainy days here, and at lunch time on cold days it’s still over 18 (65f) and warm enough to walk outside) we have an inside path that we take. Depending on how hot it is (I like the heat, but my partner doesn’t (Yes, why is he in Vegas then?)) we walk out from our office, deep in the bowels of the building (programmers never get window offices; well, here nobody has a window office, there are no windows) to the front area, up to the hotel meeting spaces, through the casino to the front door, around to the stairs up to the second floor where the shops are, along the canal (yes, there is a long canal inside), through the big hall and back around. This too is about the same distance as the outside walk.

On both walks we go past a large lake or canal where you can take a boat ride, and have somebody sing Italian songs as you glide along. When we are outside it is too noisy, with all of the traffic next to us, to hear the singing. But inside the boats reach a little wider area where they turn around and go back, where the designers created a high arched ceiling. The singers reach the end of a song at this point, slowing the boat as it turns around, and most of them usually end on a nice loud phrase that echoes off of the ceiling, while some of the singers kneel in the boat behind their riders and sing a soft love song. There is usually a crowd standing in this area, looking at the boats and taking pictures. They sometimes applaud, if the singing is loud enough. Going on this route as often as we do we’ve learned which gondoliers have good voices for the big songs and which are good on the love ballads. So we usually stop and wait for a few boats to go by, and look down the canal to see if one that we like is on their way down.

Standing there on the canal the other day I noticed something.

Down under the water, those sparkly things, they’re coins. We see the same thing outside; coins in the lake. (yes, this is the canal inside - nice sky overhead, isn't it?) I don’t know how often the canal is cleaned; the water is nice and clear and the bottom is smooth blue concrete. I’m sure there is a water purifier, as water at this end either pours out of the cast faces around the canal or bubbles up in the middle of the turn-around wide spot. The shopping area and the canal are closed from midnight until early morning, so there is time for people to get in a scrub everything. So I don’t know how long it takes to build up a layer of coins.

But it makes me wonder why people like to throw coins in water. You can see it all over town – anyplace there is a public fountain or concrete pond or lake there are usually coins in it. There is the old movie Three coins in the Fountain, and the Youtube version of the song from the movie, but I think the tradition of coins in a fountain has been around a little longer (though quick searches don’t show anything).

So, do you throw coins in fountains? Wishing wells? Canals in Las Vegas?

Three things

Three thilngs for Clare.

1. All of the activity when a show is going on. I work at an expo/convention center, which periodically hosts large activities. Today is a home furnishing expo; attendees are people with furniture shows or designers, here to see the latest and greatest offerings of suppliers. It takes up three halls upstairs, most of the show is in the Market Center downtown, but still we expect 60,000 people to wander over this way this week. This means the back halls are filled with food servers and housekeeping and electrical and hundreds of people that aren’t usually here pushing carts and food racks and riding little electrical carts around.
2. The difference between the upstairs hall, full of lights and booths and people and blinking signs and noise and the downstairs hall, which is not being used for this show, where it is dark and cool and quiet, with just footsteps echoing back from the concrete.
3. The quiet between shows, when the halls are empty and all the temp workers gone, and we can to background work instead of taking care of emergencies.