Monday, December 31, 2007

Party time!!

Just a few thoughts on why Vegas is now listed above NY Times Square as the place to party on New Year’s Eve: 303,000 people expected to visit for the weekend, but in addition to locals the four miles of the Strip will be closed to cars and open to party, much more room than in Times Square; 10 new nightclubs opening around New Year’s Day (the new tower of the big hotel next door opened yesterday, so JayZ’s 40/40 Club can be open tonight, $700 to get in the door but Beyonce is supposed to be there too); fireworks from the roofs of seven of the big hotels all along the Strip, with more sparks than just about anywhere else in the world. Of course, it will be about 35f out there tonight, but no wind expected. It’s about time to make reservations for next New Year’s if you want to party then, for now; I think every hotel room in town is taken this year.

Other big club venues include: The Bank at Bellagio ($250, packages start at $5,000 for four including two bottles of liquor and one of Dom Perignon and some mixers); Body English at the Hard Rock has Backstreet Boys ($500); Moon/Playboy Club at the Palms ($300) hosted by Jaime Pressly; Pure at Caesars ($250) hosted by Pamela Anderson (no word on which husband or ex will appear); Tangerine at TI ($300 VIP) hosted by Kevin Federline; Mariah Carey at Tao ($250), the Hilton sisters at LAX ($278.88 - don’t ask me), Avril Lavigne at Prive Planet Hollywood ($200), Jet at Mirage will have a James Bond theme, dress as your fav Bond character ($200), plus dozens of others at assorted prices, including the big party downtown on Fremont Street ($60) with several big bands including the Doobie Brothers and the Bangles. Shows not at parties include Earth Wind & Fire, BB King, Tony Orlando, Goo Goo Dolls, Kanye West and Debbie Reynolds, so there is something for everyone.

So, too late for this year, but you can plan ahead for next.


Here is what it looked like this morning - images taken from the web site of the Las Vegas Review Journal, not by me.

That was over eight minutes of sparkles from seven strip resorts, all synchronized to music blasting all over the strip. We turned on our TV to hear it and stood out in the front yard to look down at part of it. Even three miles away our windows shook from the concussion of all of those explosions at times.

In our local paper, read the RJ article directly. If you wanted to go downtown to the Fremont Street Experience there were probably a few more people per square foot, but I hear NY Times Square had a million. So with less than half that on our four mile long Strip it was probably a lot more comfortable here.

Oh - all those parties - they go on like that all year round. They just don't charge as much to get in, and don't close the street for fireworks. So if you want to come to Vegas to party, yes, bring money. Most of the clubs don't open until 10:30pm, and the real party doesn't start until after midnight, but you do get out to take advantage of those big breakfast buffets.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Video Monday

One of my favorite songs from the Muppet Show is Mahna Mahna.

Don’t know why, perhaps because I can remember all of the words, and it’s fun to sing along to. And it’s got Kermit in it, so it has to be good. Recently I came across a version of this with Sandra Bullock, and yes, Kermie again. But this time it sounds like she’s saying phenomena. Oh well, she dances along like I do.

What’s that you say, I missed E Friday? Well, looks like you are correct. Sorry. But with not being able to post from work, and running around doing other things, I have been a bit remiss. Did almost make all of November though. OK, here you go.

Yes, that is 2 1/2.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holiday prep

What did we do to prepare for Christmas? Well, the weekend before was rather windy, resulting in the last of the leaves to be blown from our trees, so we spent Christmas Eve raking and bagging.

The evening before it was rather cold, the first time it was below freezing for more than a few hours, and we had our first ice on the courtyard fountain. Granted, it’s not much, but it is hard water.

Down on the strip the new $6,500,000,000 MGM City Center is coming along, haven’t heard when the projected opening date is, but it looks at least a year away.

And at the big hotel next door to where I work, the new tower is done on the outside and in the midst of county fire inspections, with hopes of opening the new 40/40 night club for a big party tomorrow, and an even larger one on New Year’s Eve. Beyonce is due to help with the opening.

Work has started on the new condo tower, no idea when that one will start taking tenants.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Books books books

Last week I received an unexpected package in the mail from somebody in the UK. It was all full of literature on the area around Nottingham.

Now, my only experience with Nottingham is in watching movies about a band of guys that live in Sherwood Forest and are continually chased by a sheriff that supposedly comes from there. But it looks like I will be learning a lot more about the area. Hopefully someday soon I’ll get to return to the UK and visit some people scattered around the countryside– I have a growing list.

I also finally received something I ordered from Amazon a month ago – it’s a book about living with a Twat. It gets added to my pile of books written by bloggers that I read on line, and have made the transition to publishing on paper.

Clockwise from the top right, there is One Stop Short of Barking by people related to the Underground, then comes Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl by Belle de Jour, two books from Deana’s husband Martin about life in the south, the new arrival, My Boyfriend is a Twat by Zoe, and the Dying of Delight by Clare, who also has moved into live storytelling and also directly distributes her short unique stories, two of which are also pictured.

Soon to come is another book by Clare and a third one from Martin. I have found all of these to be interesting reads, and am looking forward to more stories about the Twat as I get into that one, along with learning a lot about an area of England I am unfamiliar with. Thanks all for expanding beyond the electronic word.

Friday, December 21, 2007

E Friday - swings

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.

Today let’s do E on the swing. She really likes to sit in the two swings we have in the peach tree out in the back yard, as well as the swings at the park. Unfortunately she is just not big enough to sit up comfortably in the bigger kids swings, though she tries. Usually she lays in it looking at the ground.

That’s our typical southwestern playground, lots of stuff to climb on, shade over some of it, sand and the concrete is covered with two inches of something made out of ground up rubber so that it’s soft to fall on.

Out in our back yard it’s about the same.

But she likes swinging back and forth, and can stay out there for quite a while, just swinging and looking at the grass. She can put her feet down and push off to keep swinging on her own like this. But if you help her sit in it she can hold on to the ropes and stay up. Hasn’t learned to pump her feet to keep going so somebody has to be out there pushing, but she likes this too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


When flipping channels I stopped to watch a county planning commission meeting on the public access channel on our cable tonight, because the name of the big hotel next door came up. There is a proposal to build a new version of the convention center that I work at about a block to the east, further away from the strip. This is because of the huge increase in property prices on Las Vegas Boulevard. The most recent large purchase was of the New Frontier last year, that property going for about $34,500,000 per acre. This is much higher than past prices, bringing the land that our center is on to a much higher value. By moving the convention center off strip the current property is then available to flatten and put up several new hotel towers and a bigger casino space.

The big corporation is applying for a waiver in order to construct fewer parking spaces than required by law. Listening to the planning discussion it was apparent that no property has ever been held to what is required by law, and everyone has gotten waivers on everything. This leads me to wonder why we even have these laws, if no one is held to them. The request of a waiver seems to be a big farce, with every one granted after long discussions and much money spent on lawyers. Needless to say, the corporation got their parking waiver.

One of the problems is that the Wynn Hotel, located right across the street, has constructed an employee parking garage between our current site and our new site, making the two properties ‘non-contiguous’. The Wynn has constructed a bridge over Sands Boulevard so that employees parking in the garage do not have to cross the street to go over to the Wynn resort. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you realize that this is about 10,000 employees crossing the street, with most of them going to work in the morning and getting off in the evening at about the same time. There are three shifts, in order to keep the place running, but the night shift is much smaller than the day shift. Here is what that bridge looks like.

This is Sands Boulevard looking west, with the garage to the left, the Wynn resort off camera to the right, and the pedestrian bridge crossing the picture. Overhead is the tracks for our monorail. Visible under the bridge is our convention facility, with the tower of the big hotel next door behind.

The new convention center will be behind the photo, off to the left behind the Wynn parking garage. A new pedestrian bridge will be build connecting the new facility to the old one. This will run over the sidewalk on the left side of the photo. The main problem is that the Wynn bridge is right where this new one will have to be, so it seems that there will be an overhead intersection where the two bridges will meet up in the sky, causing big pedestrian traffic jams in the morning when Wynn employees cross to go to work and convention visitors cross them to get to the new convention center. Better than another thousand cars at this intersection.

Here is what it looks like from the other direction.

Totally confused? OK, but it matters to me because I will be walking back and forth on this new bridge every day, and am wondering what it will look like. Of course, this is two years in the future, if I still work there, but it is something to think about.

For something completely different, the yucca in our front yard has just finished blooming again.

And a few weeks earlier the sage was also looking good.

But I get up in the dark to go to work, and get home near dark. Not as bad as Iceland, but I am ready for it to start turning into Spring, looking forward to longer periods of sunshine and warmer weather. Yes, I know it’s not officially winter yet, but it’s cold.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday videos - Christmas

Back to our videos on Monday, let’s go with Christmas songs to match this time of year. I try to pick out old historical videos to enlighten you youngsters and show you what things were like back in the old days.

One of the most widely recorded is The Christmas Song, written by Mel Torme and first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.

An old cartoon classic is the Christmas Song as sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks. This used to be one of the ‘classic’ cartoon shows played during the holiday season, but I haven’t seen it on TV in a while.

Finally for the politically incorrect, there’s ‘Holy Sh*t it’s Christmas’ by Red Peters and his hamsters. Probably best not to play when the kids are around or you’ll have the little ones dancing around the house singing it.

Saturday, December 15, 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.

Let’s go with the smiles today. She seems to smile all the time – but then, I’m not around for those grumpy periods.

For Lisa, let’s go with some subdued stripes

And drawing with crayons in the restaurant.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday videos

It’s been a semi-quiet week at work. The only show going on is Cowboy Christmas, in the downstairs hall. This comes in every December, matching the National Rodeo Finals taking place in town. The hall is full of boots and big buckles and black hats. I thought only bad guys wore black hats, but now it seems that almost everyone does. So I thought I would present you with some of my favorite quiet songs. First is Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World – not much trumpet, but he does have a voice that fits.

As long as we have Louis, here is one with a little more trumpet, from 1967 Hello Dolly

I was going to switch to something completely different, but why not stay with Mr. Armstrong. Here is a much earlier movie short featuring him, Rhapsody in Blue from 1932.

Boy, talk about black stereotypes from that period, dressed in leopard skin and everything.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

E not really 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.

No theme today, these are just some of the random shots I’ve got piled up marked as not yet posted. If you have seen them before, well, here they are again.

Out in our back yard we have this little push car that E likes. She fits inside, but hasn’t yet got the hang of moving forward very fast.

Doesn't she look like she's ready to take on those vicious Vegas drivers? Look closely, if you are familiar with these cars, and you will notice that her feet are not down there pushing her along - she has learned to pick her feet up and wait to be pushed, but not the scooting along stuff.

And back on the grass is a small climbing box with attached slide that she has gotten very good at sliding down on.

But most of all I like the hair.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Well, evidently due to changes at blogger and security settings at work I am now unable to post from there or put up any comments on all of your places that use Haloscan or other log in comments. Sorry, but all of my immediate fun responses have to wait until I get home, and thus are forgotten. Oh well, I still come by to read.

Presents away

Well, finally finished up the woodworking, boxed it up, and shipped off E’s Christmas present.

I did the cutting and gluing, B did the nice sanding and finishing. Yes, the top lifts off so all the animals can ride inside. The boat is about 24" long. Unfortunately, I wanted to use a nice hard wood and picked up some red oak at our local HD to make it from. I say unfortunately, because it was hard, and a real chore to cut and sand. And it probably weighs so much that it will be years before she can pick it up. But it probably means the animals will last just as long. We’ll hear how the basement floor works out after she launches it down the stairs a few times.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wheelie bins

There is a fellow blogger who shall not be named that seems to be having a problem with wheelie bins. Well, not really wheelie bins themselves but employees of a company that manufactures wheelie bins. For some reason these employees of the wheelie bin manufacturer are out to search the web for sites that mention wheelie bins in the hope of somehow obtaining information on their company or other employees at their wheelie bin company. (well, did I say wheelie bins enough to get Google to put me on their wheelie bin search list?)

So I thought I would join in the effort to flood the blog-o-sphere with wheelie bin posts in the hope of confusing all employees of wheelie bin manufacturers who search Google for wheelie bin postings.

Our daughter lives in Portland, and there all residents are required to use wheelie bins supplied by the rubbish company that has the contract for trash pickup. She has three, one for trash, one for greens and one for recyclables such as paper, aluminum and glass. Unfortunately the city is trying to force recycling; Portland is well known as a modern productive city that believes in such things; and thus the wheelie bins are rather small. They are picked up weekly, and our daughter and family have no problem in confining their weekly trash to one bin. They do not subscribe to a newspaper, and do not drink much so the recyclables bin is usually fairly empty. They do have a yard, and in Portland, with all the rain, things grow very well, so the greens bin does tend to get filled up. The problem they have though is in home improvement.

They have been in their house since May, and are trying to make it a better place that fits their lifestyle. This means a different place that what the previous tenant had in mind. This requires modification of the house and garage, which sometimes entails the removal of walls and other hard items as well as the installation of new walls and things. The result of removal and insertion is some amount of construction rubbish. The only place to put this rubbish is the one small trash bin, which is already filled with their house trash. This means that they must cut this rubbish into small pieces and keep a pile in the back yard and then slowly put it into the empty space in their bin prior to each week’s pickup. This they have been doing for the past several months, with not much of a diminution of the total pile. Yes, they could request a large construction dumpster and put their pile into it, but unfortunately their pile only requires about a fifth of a dumpster, which would have to sit in the street in front of their house for three days. I say unfortunately because you pay a base dumpster fee, plus the trash is weighed and you pay a per pound fee. As they have seen, any dumpster left on the street will be used by other homeowners wishing to get rid of their old refrigerators, mattresses, and their construction debris. This means that our daughter would end up paying a lot of money in order to dispose of other people’s trash. A full dumpster with disposal fees costs over $1,000, depending on weight. This seems rather excessive, as the total costs of their remodeling effort is less than this, thus resulting in the disposal fees being several times higher than the construction costs. Plus, there are some additional yard modifications that they wish to do as well.

I understand the desire of large cities to reduce their trash, what with an increase in population resulting in an increase in trash, with no corresponding effort made to increase the landfills into which this trash is placed. The city refuses to permit her to get additional wheelie bins for her trash, stating that a house of the size she is in only rates one bin, and her family should reduce their outgo in order to meet what is specified.

Down in San Diego we had to convert from normal trash pickup to wheelie bin pickup several years before we moved. Each family was given one large bin for trash and a smaller one for recyclables, and labels to put on the old bins to mark them as greens only. The trash company reduced their truck staff from two individuals, one to drive and one to toss, down to one, who drove and then directed an arm out of the side of the truck to pick up the wheelie bins. In concept this was nice, but it did not result in a decrease in our monthly trash fees. The result was a decrease in services. Where before we could put anything out on the curb and it would be picked up we now were restricted to what fit into the one bin we were given. This meant that if you purchased a new mattress there was no one to take away the old mattress. If you purchased new furniture or appliances you could no longer put the old ones out on the curb for pickup. We were also told that since it was a mechanical arm that picked up the bin instead of a person we could fill it up and not worry about the weight, which might cause a person to injure themselves while the arm could handle quite a lot. This worked for about the first year, then the trash company started adjusting the controls on the arm, so that it no longer lifted heavy bins. This weight adjustment was reduced each year, until we eventually were finding our wheelie bins at the end of the pickup day still full, but with notices attached that said they were too heavy. Well, if you are putting your trash into the bin and it is too heavy there is no other place to remove some of it in order to reduce the weight. Fortunately the owner of the house next door was older and alone, and thus had very little trash in his bin and he permitted us to put some of ours in with his, thus reducing our wheelie bin weight down to what the adjusted arm said was acceptable. However, this did not provide any recourse to the removal of trash that was too big to fit inside the wheelie bin. Fortunately we had an old pickup truck, and thus could fill that up and drive to the dump (sorry, the sanitary landfill) directly and dispose of the items.

Well, the trash hauler for Las Vegas is now trying to convert to wheelie bin receptacles, saying of course that it is for our benefit. But, as in San Diego, they would reduce the truck staff from two to one, and no longer pick up large items curbside. And I am sure they would eventually start adjusting that pickup arm until it barely lifted an empty wheelie bin, much less one filled. As we no longer have our old pickup truck we would not have any way to haul away our larger items. We did have the truck, but recently sold it, and did drive some stuff up to the landfill, but that is about a forty mile drive up to the canyon that is being used. Many people are in support of the trash company’s efforts to move to the wheelie bins, buying the line that it will reduce labor costs and thus keep them from increasing rates. However, many of us that have lived through such a conversion have no faith in the corporate line and just feel that rates will continue to increase while service will decrease, thus are opposed to the great wheelie bin conversion effort.

One of the reasons given for conversion is that it would be easier to recycle. Right now we have four square plastic bins, one for paper, one for glass and one for metals. The trash company proposes one wheelie bin for everything so that we would not have to sort, and a weekly pickup of this instead of the once every two week pickup that we have now. However, with larger wheelie bins being provided they would reduce our twice a week trash pickup down to once a week. Well, most houses in Las Vegas do not have a large garage in which to keep a large wheelie bin in addition to a car. Many houses are in areas with homeowner associations, which have rules requiring all trash containers be kept out of sight, either in a garage or behind a back yard fence. Since land costs are so high most newer homes are on lots that extend only a meter beyond the house to the property line on the side, and about three meters to the rear. This means the wheelie bins would be kept in the back yard, consuming a part of the small area available, and being visible. Now smaller plastic containers are used, that fit on the sides of the houses. Plus, reducing pickup to once a week would probably result in the increase in trash odor, as putting items into bins in the summer, when temperatures normally go over 110f (43c), and keeping it there for a week in the enclosed wheelie bin would result in some rather dramatic odors.

So, there are our wheelie bin stories. Are these of any interest to the employees of wheelie bin companies? I’m not sure, but if you are a wheelie bin employee and you have arrived here from a Google search of wheelie bin stories, please leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Video Monday - for fun

Back to my non November don’t post on weekend style. Sorry guys, it was just too much and I think next year I’ll join the Queen in the non-NaBloMo whatever event.

And for DM: sorry, again I did not make the annual Santa run, even though over four thousand people here did. Maybe next year. And I was playing trains down in Boulder City and missed the regular marathon on Sunday. This year saw over a hundred couples get married during the run, and 215 running Elvi also participated. I tried to link to photos over on our local paper, but they are tightening up on their copyright policies and just will not let me do it, so you will just have to picture standing in the middle of 215 of them in white and gold jumpsuits and big hair running down the street.

As long as we are doing funny things, let’s do some interesting videos. More blasts from the past, that also feature our favorite characters over at Star Trek. First it’s our young Mr. Spock doing his ballad about Bilbo Baggins.

And let’s not forget the captain’s venture into audio legend. Here’s William Shatner doing Lucy in the Sky, in a pretty hokey video.

OK, let’s move on to something completely different. Lisa passed on a reference to this absolutely brilliant stop motion video of two friends. It's not music, but please click on and watch this one, very well done.
Tony vs. Paul

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