Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last day

Just a little post to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Tonight the Strip closes for our party, expecting about 280,000 people down there. Two events are planned in addition to the midnight fireworks, one is a motorcycle jump over the volcano in front of the Mirage, the other a motorcycle jump landing on top of the Arc de Triumph in front of Paris. This is what Las Vegas Boulevard was like this afternoon around 12:30 - sunny, with a temperature of about 59f. Across just to the left of the Mirage they are starting to build a blue ramp which will be used for the jump there. This section of the street will be closed off to walkers between 6:30 and 9:30 as they set up for and do the stunt. The whole Strip will be closed off to car traffic between 6pm and 1am so people can walk around.

People were riding the gondolas out in front of the big Hotel Casino Resort next door to where I work, enjoying the sunshine and songs.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Last Monday of the year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Things are busy, and I haven't even pulled up the photos from cowboy Christmas, much less real Christmas. The kids all were out of town at home this year, so B wanted to get out and go somewhere. I had to work Friday, so we just took advantage of the cheap rates (hah, cheap compared to other days) at the big Resort Hotel Casino next door for Christmas Eve and spent a night away from the house. It was very pleasant - fancy food at a great steakhouse, drinks and a good band down next to the casino, a great breakfast at Boudon's, where I have wanted to go for ages, and some time at a different place. The room was very nice - pictures to come. Not bad for the biggest hotel in the world. Last year occupancy was 40% for the eve, this year with lower rates it was up to 85% and the casino was fairly crowded. Wynn is having some specials next month, so we might do the one night thing again. As for New Year’s Eve, well, it’s just probably getting to sleep early as we have been doing.

Not much under our tree this year; since it’s just the two of us we don’t really wait until the end of the year to get things, if we want something we just get it without fanfare. It makes it difficult that way to get anything for the other guy, but I did get B some books and CDs she wasn’t expecting. I got her some nice necklaces last year, but she is not really into wearing jewelry so there was nothing like that this year. She got me some tools that I didn’t have - something unusual in itself, as I tend to buy a new toy whenever I have a new project. We did a video conference with Portland, and got to watch E dancing around. It was mid afternoon, and they were still opening presents. It’s not that she got a lot, it’s just that she had to play with each item as it was opened without regard to the concept of opening everything at once. If she opened a book (of which she got quite a few) she had to sit down and read it, ignoring the calls to open the next thing. If she got a toy she took time to play with it, disregarding the others still wrapped. I hope that it stays like that, but I am sure that next year it will be ‘is that all?’ We’ll see.

Our day of snow has come and gone, and we are into the cold month. Temperatures at our house differ from the ‘official’ weather station down at the airport. Last night it was 35f there, but 27f at our house when we got up. Today it should get up to the mid 50’s then warming up the rest of the week, with our twenty degree swing between night and day that means 39f at night and 60f during the day, not too bad for New Year’s celebrations. This year they are still expecting 250,000 out on the Strip, not much compared to Times Square but still a crowd. The fireworks will be a little tamer, no shooting them off of rooftops due to new fire regulations but just out of parking lots down on the ground. We did get up last year to watch the fireworks from our front yard, we get glimpses of the Strip down the hill between the houses across the street. Hope you all have fun (but please do not drink and drive).

I didn’t get to say goodby to Ertha Kitt last week, she died on Christmas day. But her rendition of this is one of my favorite holiday songs. Here live in combination with Old Fashioned Girl:

I don’t remember much of her singing, she seemed to be over in Europe a lot due to her outspoken political stands, but do remember her from the old Batman TV show, where she was one of the many that played Cat Woman. Here with both the Joker and that Batman theme, the one with the lyrics that were so difficult to remember:

And for no reason other than I like it let’s throw in a little Billy Holiday. Along with one of the best lineups of classic Jazz musicians.

Oh, sorry I missed E Friday last week. We left early and I just ran into too many things to do at home. Here, have one to hold you over.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Ok, sorry yesterday's videos weren't music, but I need a laugh once in a while. Here's a few cute ones: (sorry they load so slowly, I guess MTV buffers a lot of stuff - and commercials, ug)

And for DM, I know she will love this one:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Video Monday - Red Dwarf

OK, too many people are getting serious about Christmas, with all the shopping and relatives and screaming demanding kids so I thought we’d do a few non-serious videos today. Don’t know why because I’m still singing about the dead skunk in the middle of the road (thanks FN)

Not a music video, but a clip from the Young Ones, an old British tv show that we really liked when it was on.

Keeping in the non-music video mode, one of my favorite tv shows ever is another British one, the Red Dwarf from twenty years ago. When a accident kills all but one crew member on the mining ship Red Drawf, Lister(kept in statis for 3 million years), along with Rimmer(a hologram of his dead roommate), Cat(a human/cat that evolved from Lister's pet cat on the ship) and Holly(the ship's computer) must find a way back to earth. In a later season they were joined by a robot, and at times other holograms wander through. Here is the opening episode.

But Cat is my favorite character. Here he gets some fish out of the food dispenser.

And here he marks everything as his.

OK, have to have some music we can do Elmo and Martina McBride

And we can end up with one referred to by my New Zealand radio station, evidently the #1 downloaded song from Itunes last week. It’s the Lonely Island (with PG lyrics, so not with the kids around unless you want to explain)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Just thought I'd share some of our lovely weather with you. Yesterday we had six inches of snow down on the Strip. This was the most snow down there in over thirty years. It forced our airport to close - well, we don't have snow removal equipment and the runways were slippery for incoming planes and outgoing planes could not get the snow off of them. The schools declared a snow day, the first in thirty years, so kids got to stay home and play in it. Most of the snow did not stay on the ground, it was still too warm and just melted. It did stay white in the trees and bushes, and on some grassy areas. (below two pictures taken from our local Review Journal)

The mountains west of us are much higher, and usually have snow on them during the winter. Mount Charleston is over 14,000 feet with a skiing area on it, that starts getting snow around Thanksgiving and with snow making machines is usually open for ski season then.

But on Christmas day it looks to be a little warmer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow and Crissy

Yesterday was a snow filled day for the western part of Las Vegas. None down here on the Strip, but big flakes at my house which is three miles west, and four inches on the ground out another two miles. Not much for you country folk, but more than we have had in almost forever. Since I didn’t see it I have no pictures, but you can go look at the ones our newspaper posted in a story about the snow. And also notice the palm trees and green trees and green grass under the snow.

Last week the Mirage had a grand reopening of its volcano. For those of you that haven’t been to Vegas, the Mirage was the first big fancy hotel on the Strip, built by Steve Wynn as he worked his way down doing ever bigger and fancier places. Out in front is a small lake and a volcano that used to erupt periodically. It has been redesigned by the company that made the Bellagio fountains, but instead of water shooting up the Mirage has flames, coordinated to music. The music was written by Mickey Hart, the drummer from the Grateful Dead, so of course there is a lot of drumming involved. Again, our paper did a short video story of the Mirage Volcano. Take a look.

On other fronts, I finally figured out how to hack into the video network of the big Hotel Resort Casino next door. This was done as a promotion for Crissy, the Queen of F**king Everything. A short while back she was voted to be the sexiest mommy blogger, so I thought she should be honored here in Vegas which is the home of many things sexy. In pimping for votes Crissy promised to post a photo of herself naked, and since she did win the election she did follow through on her promise. Unfortunately it was a rather sedate naked, but heck we’ll take what we can get. I thought that this picture would look good as a billboard here, but though we now have several dozen of those huge video billboards I couldn’t figure out how to get into them, but since the big HRCnd has two large video screens out front I wondered if I could manage something there. Being a programmer I figured it wouldn’t be too hard, but it did take a while. So, in honor of her elected office, here now is Crissy being exposed to the Strip

Oh, did find a cab that I could put the same picture on, all the cabs here have advertising signs on top and on the back and sometimes wrapped in.

So, if any of you other ladies would like to be up in lights, now that I know how to do it, please feel free to send me photos of yourself naked. (please) I can’t guarantee they will make it up into the sky, but I will appreciate them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No shows and skunks

This was a busy weekend. We spent Saturday finishing up E’s presents and baking cookies, and Sunday I went off to Boulder City and played with trains all day. There is a state park there that has a real train that you can ride on and in December Santa is on the train on weekends and hundreds of kids and parents come out to ride. I didn’t ride the big train, our group set up our model trains (don’t call then toys!) along with other groups and we showed off our marvelous scenery creation skills and kept yelling at little kids to keep their fingers off the trains!!!! The good news is that gifts are done and wrapped and B will be off to the packing and shipping place to get them on their way this morning, and I finished up with piles and piles of cookies. Well, B made her Pecan Sandies and I did a half dozen other types along with some fudge. Pics to follow, whenever I get computer time to format them.

At work things are quiet. There are no more shows this year, for some reason people would rather stay home for Christmas than come to Vegas for work. The first week of the year will be used for setup for two of our largest shows, which then open. The first shows here are the electronics show and the adult expo, collectively called the week of freaks and geeks. The electronics show will have some of the latest inventions and upcoming items, but people tend to dress up in fancy costume for the adult show; most of the costumes are rather skimpy in nature and not too unusual for Las Vegas, but would probably get the wearers (or non-wearing depending on what is being emphasized) arrested in almost every other city in the country. There is no parking garage for our facility, show attendees must park in either the tower or the underground area in the big hotel casino resort next door. This requires them to then walk through the casino floor or the shopping area and the restaurant corridor before getting down to our space. The ‘professionals’ that are staffing the show usually are dressed more conservatively than some of the fans, but conservative is a relative observation, with some of the men favoring chaps (just the front chap part, no pants underneath) which produces interesting views, like these but without the jeans or shirt:

The women tend toward emphasizing the much enhanced chestal regions, with small strips of cloth offering no support but very immodest coverage, or just a few appropriately placed band aids, coupled to miniskirts that have a better relationship to belts than to skirts, with a few strings as undergarments optional. That’s the clothing for people working the show, people attending the show tend to wear less, or different. Sorry, no pictures here but you should be able to easily find some on the internets someplace if you really are interested. It is amusing to walk here from the main casino areas following attendees and looking at the faces of people just here to gamble. We all are looking forward to a few quiet weeks followed by these interesting shows.

Off reading First Nations and something she said brought this to mind.

This brings back my skunks story: have I told you this one before? Probably, but my mind is not that good at partial remembrances so if you heard this one before feel free to just skip onto your next blog. For those of you not in the states let me first describe a skunk. It is a rather midsized wild animal, usually a little larger than a house cat, with a very bushy tail and distinctive coloring, usually all black with a white strip running down the top from head to tip of tail. They are very easy to recognize.

When threatened they stamp their feet and hiss at you, followed by their raising tail and fluffing it out. If that is not enough to scare you away then they turn and face away from you and again shake their tail, followed by squirting you with the most foul liquid you will ever smell. Wikipedia describes it as a mix of rotten eggs, ammonia and burning rubber, but there are really no words that describe how bad it is. They dig and eat grubs and other small things, so their sense of smell is quite good, but their eyesight is very bad. Consequently the major cause of death is vehicular. Usually sleeping all day and coming out at night, if you wander the wilds of North America you will probably come across one.

We had them living in the canyon behind our house in San Diego, frequently wandered up into our back yard. Our dog Max met a baby, and from then on was able to recognize the scent. Unfortunately he met it one night in our back yard on a weekend that B was away. So I was awoken at two in the morning by a crying, stinking dog which had to be washed off repeatedly. Max hates baths, which made it even more difficult. There are formulas for cleaning, with tomato juice being an old remedy, but nothing will take all of the scent off, so having a wet skunky dog in bed under my nose was not pleasant.

Back when we lived in Temecula (halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles) we often had foreign exchange students stay with us. This is how we met the Swedish doctor that we see and correspond with. One summer we had an Australian student, and on a nice summer day (well, in southern California every summer day is nice) we took him and two other Australian girls staying at another house off to Disneyland. After a pleasant day we drove home after the park closed. It was about an hour drive, through some pretty empty countryside at the time. The road was three lanes in each direction, with not very many cars out. I don’t remember what brought it up, it might have been that song playing, but we were discussing skunks. Australia doesn’t have any, so our verbal descriptions were just starting when one wandered across the road in front of us. As he asked ‘what does one look like’ I just had a second to point and say ‘like that (thump) and that’s what they smell like’. Just like in the song, we were in our little station wagon, which smelled like skunk for many weeks afterward.

Oh - FN - partially cloudy this morning, 34f when we got up. It was raining here on the Strip at lunchtime, but my wife says it was snowing at our house. We're about three miles west and up a hundred feet in elevation. Our place is usually 8f lower than the official low (at the airport) in winter and 5f higher in summer. I'll take pictures if it's still there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Random E Friday

Looking at the weather page in our paper this morning, and I notice some changes for the coming week’s predictions. B said it snowed in New Orleans, so I shouldn’t feel so bad, but next week almost every day it’s supposed to be down around 32f, (0c) with a chance of snow. Wait a minute - this is Las Vegas - snow? It’s been a dry year, only 1.49 inches of rain so far (that’s since January 1 - an inch and a half all year), with this week’s cold temps it’s the first time in 297 days the low temperature was below 40f - that was back in February. So I guess I can put up with a few months of cold.

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.

Just a few random ones from back when B was up in Portland in September. First, working the chalkboard down at the bread company kid's room.

Yes, it looks like they sometimes get sunshine up there.

And flowers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Busy week, Christmas prep

Oh, the end of year is coming and we are busy here at work. We have been using part of a new accounting package for several months now, and the accounting department is not at all pleased with it. Everything takes just too much time to do, and the way it was designed does not match the way we do business. The software being replaced was written in house and designed to exactly meet our business format, and we were hoping to rewrite it all, but somebody in the corporate offices in the big tower next door decided to buy something that would be used on all properties worldwide. For some reason our organization was tasked with trying it first, even though we didn’t want it. And now it ends up that the big corporation decided they don’t want it anywhere else, but because it cost so much we have to keep using it. Thanks go out to the analyst that picked it out, who transferred to a different group the week before it went live.

Anyway, the company we bought this thing from says it does not work right because we are not using all five of the pieces we paid for. So corporate again decided our accounting department should use it all. This decision was made a few weeks ago and also that it should all be in place by January 1. Well, if any of you have done accounting work for companies that bills over a hundred million dollars a year and deal with thousands of customers you know that it is a big task to change accounting packages. Months of planning, laying out how the magic account numbers are used and what accounts inventory will go into, not to mention the keyboard time required to enter everything into the new system. No, corporate did not authorize additional funds to have existing data converted, after all, that’s what all these employees sitting around doing nothing are for, to enter all of this data manually. So I have been busy installing and testing modules. Yesterday was spent finding MICR fonts and formatting the new accounts payable checks to meet our bank’s requirements.

At home I’ve been working on E’s Christmas presents: making use of that new jigsaw again to create some marvels out of wood. Last time it was a puzzle and an arc full of animals, this time it’s some boats (finished last month) and a fire station with car and fire truck and firemen. With the group out over Thanksgiving we lost the two weekends I could have been cutting wood (but I wouldn’t trade E being here for working with wood) so it’s been a frantic rush to get the wood cut, assembled and painted and shipped so it will get up to Portland before Christmas. I finished up assembly Sunday and B has been painting away since, hopefully it will all be done this coming Sunday for Monday mailing. Painting takes a while because of all the details: put on one color, wait for it to dry, do a different one, and so on. She is taking some time with the people, making them really pretty as well. Only problem is the size again; the fire station building is two feet high, plus a garage and all the extras. B plans on hitting one of the shipping stores and letting them do the packing as well as shipment, so it will all get there safely.

Saturday is set aside for me to bake cookies. I usually do a pile and we give them out to the neighbors – that is, the ones I don’t eat while baking. Besides watching all the home improvement shows on TV I also watch the Food Network, and subscribed to their Twelve days of cookies, one recipe a day. There are several of them I plan on trying this year besides the old standards. B does pecan sandies, I always like tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies plus whatever else feels good. If you want to trade cookies drop me an email with your address and I’ll figure out how to pack them. My mother used to do these little cups of ground walnuts she called Tassie cookies that I loved, have to see if I can find the recipe she used. They are a lot of work but really nice. With all the ones I want to try it probably means about a dozen different recipes. Ah well, it’s only once a year and the house will smell good all day.

Sitting here listening to that New Zealand radio station Zed FM and they just played this one, I like the simple style: Because I Do, by Pearl and the Puppets:

Here are a few random pictures taken while on our lunchtime walks around the building. It’s getting a little too cool to walk outside (OK, it’s Vegas, cool to us is the 61f it was today) so we have moved inside. It takes a little over a half hour to walk quickly on our inside route. Sometimes a little longer, if we stop to watch the singers or interesting people. Here is my favorite gondolier just making the turn at the end and reaching the climax of her song:

Down the side alley from the water are some shops we wander past. At least weekly we come across people dressed strangely. Well, since we see them so often I guess we can’t call it strange, just a little different than the rest of the passer bys

And then back to our part of the building, and out front for J to have his cigarette. Last election we passed one of those no smoking inside laws. I think it’s all of those greenie Californians that moved here and now want to remake Las Vegas into the California mold. There are a lot of places in town that are bars with full kitchens and a few slot machines or video poker machines built into the bar. The law outlawed smoking where food is served, so these places had the choice of giving up food or banning smokers or building a wall to separate the food from the smoking bar area, and not serving food to people in the bar. Different places took different approaches, but generally all businesses had a decline in income because of the law. Now with the economic downturn even more places are in trouble. I understand not wanting smokers nearby when you eat, but don’t force it on places, just go where smoking is not allowed. I really dislike people that have to force their opinion on how things should be onto others, whether it be smoking or religion or color or taste or sexual orientation; can’t we just all get along?

Anyway, back at our place we stop out front so J can get a smoke in. When there are shows the driveway is usually filled up, with two rows for cabs, a place for limos, and the outside lane for trucks and through traffic, with dozens or hundreds of people moving around, getting out, in, or just standing around talking and smoking. This basically is the only smoking area for our facility, so if we have a big show with forty or fifty thousand people inside we will end up with quite a group of smokers out here as well as the arriving and departing traffic.

Friday, December 05, 2008

E with dirt

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. So here we are back in Portland, and actually there is a little back yard with some dirt. No grass, but a little dirt.

It is fun to dig some up, then dump it on a table and look for worms.

I don’t think she found any.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quick week

It’s been a quick week so far. Several new projects from the boss to work on, and the cowboys are back! Every December Vegas hosts the rodeo finals, and the town fills up with cowboys. The big convention center has a show, we host the country Christmas show, and several of the other hotels with convention and meeting space host events associated with the rodeo. Our lower hall is filling up (the show opens tomorrow, for the next 12 days) with trailers (they let them park down here) and booths full of stuff like steer horns and ropes and saddles and hats and stuff. It smells like leather out there. Just back from walking through the hall; one of the booths selling trailers has a cd player on, with ‘Tumbling Tumble Weeds’ playing, and I can hear off key voices from three guys in different trailers (setting them up) singing along. I guess cowboys do like that music.

Coming in to work last month I caught the full moon going down over our roof, next to the construction cranes for the new condo tower next door. I’ve carefully Photoshopped this picture so you can’t tell where I work, don’t need the corporate attorneys next door searching and finding unapproved things being posted about the place. But it looked pretty.

It’s Wednesday, and I have a turkey sandwich for lunch again! Yea, I love turkey. My wife is over with it, the rest is for me. She can do leftovers for a max of three days, while I just keep going on. It looks like there is only enough for some final hot sandwiches tonight, so that’s the end. Ah well, I can look forward to the next one.

B wanted to do something different for Christmas, as none of the kids are coming out. Unfortunately it’s on Thursday this year, and I have to work the day after. A computer guy is always needed here, and we take turns as to who gets off when, my turn to stay. But I made Christmas Eve reservations at the big Hotel Casino Resort next door. Its ‘all suites’ and I wondered how nice the place was to stay at – it is really nice to walk through. That night is the lightest night of the year for hotel guests, so most places in town have special rates. Next door the rate for that night is one fifth of what it will be the week after, so for one night I can afford it. Not much, but we will see what the place is like fairly empty, hope some of the restaurants are open, and even for one night we can pretend. No, no employee discounts, but we’ll see if I can talk the desk clerk into a free room upgrade when I check in.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving weather

Wow, long weekend, I could sure get used to not coming in to work. Especially with E at our place, she is just a joy. Anyway, thought I would not post any pictures of turkey, since most of you have probably seen enough of it. My last post discussed rain - something that usually is not seen around here. Well, we ended up with a whole .29 inches of rainfall on Wednesday, then it rained again on Thanksgiving day, bringing down a whole more .14 inches. (for those of you metrically declined that would be about 12mm of water) Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is for us. And here E was down from Portland to enjoy the sunshine and we ended up having rain. Oh well. So I thought I’d share the rain with you.

On Thursday it looked like one of those Hollywood movie rains - where the sun is shining yet water is falling (probably from some big hoses, but here it was real). Sorry you can’t see the raindrops too well in the picture, but they are there.

And see here, on our acacia out front, real water that fell from the sky!

I also talked about the yellow leaves from our peach tree. Well, the whole tree didn’t turn yellow, just a few random leaves before they drop. Here is what it looks like now:

The ash in front of the peach is a little bronzy, that’s the color it turns, but usually a nice deep shade. Again, I blame the warmer fall weather. Up against the wall - that’s our grapes still keeping the leaves on as well. In front is our line of rosemary up against the low wall. We put in thirty or so little bushes along the hundred foot stretch when we pulled out the grass and did the desert landscaping. It’s all full of little blue flowers and lots of bees. The other flowers in the garden are still doing well. That flow of white is alyssum, and the grass there is doing its winter part and turning brown.

Some of the trees are blooming as well. The most intrusive are our two shoestring acacia trees, again only four years old and already about thirty feet tall. Right now full of little yellow flower puff balls just throwing off pollen, filling the air and noses of people with allergies.

The Chinese evergreen has funny little flat pink flowers, not very noticeable but does offer a change.

And those leaves under the peach tree? Well, when the sun came out on Friday some of them were pulled together and put to good use.

Yup, on Friday it got back over 71f and was sunny and warm all weekend. It’s heck living out here.

For Real?

I didn't realize the two of you were like that, but for Rollie:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

E Friday (OK, I know I'm early, call it Virtual 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. Yes, I know, it’s not Friday, but I will probably be too busy then to post, and I said it wouldn’t come but here it is. Suffer.

Look who I found at the Las Vegas airport on Saturday:

Some little one (there in the middle) dancing around after two hours on a plane. I was sitting just watching people go by when this little voice came up ‘Where is grammy?’. That’s it, not interested in granddad at all except for a pointer to grammy. Ah well, at least she noticed me.

After finding grammy down the other side looking for her E proceeded to dance around while we waited for their luggage to arrive. I said two hours in the plane not because the flight was that long but because one of our runways is being repaved, which requires planes to wander around a bit after landing. (we have four runways, two east-west two north-south, use depending on wind direction). They were in the plane for almost a half hour after landing before they could get off, between the plane taxiing around the construction then waiting for a gate to open up.

And what did she do after getting to our house? Yup, shoes came off and she hit the swing.

As you can see, the leaves on our peach tree have finally turned to yellow and are starting to drop off. B raked it all the day before but a little wind came up and dropped some more. The peach and ash trees out back have not really turned colors this fall, guess it was the relatively warm weather. When out on the swing here it was around 71f (about 21c).

But a cold front moved down and today we have rain. It’s been raining for about an hour straight so far this morning, not much for many of you, but this is the first long rain in about six months and the first time it has rained this long in probably a year or so. Vegas usually gets thunderstorms that roll through the valley rather quickly, dropping a lot of water in a short amount of time. Unless the storm moves over the airport, where our official weather station is located, the water falling in other parts of the valley does not show up in our official statistics.

For the past few months I have been parking my car down the street when I come to work. There is a ‘Team member’ parking garage out back, but in a effort to save land area it is not very large but it is fifteen floors high. Since our facility now has over ten thousand employees, and is open ‘round the clock, the lower floors are usually filled all the time. This means that when I get in to work, which is around 6:30am, before the day shift starts, I end up on the tenth floor or so. This results in driving in lots of circles to get up or down. The entrance to the garage is poorly placed, down the back street which is also the exit for the main parking garage for our big Hotel Casino Resort next door and also for the two casinos along side. This means that sometimes it takes forty five minutes just to get out of the parking garage due to all the traffic backed up on this little back road; one day my exit coincided with a show closing, and it took almost an hour and a half just to get a gap in traffic and get out of the garage. So I have started parking down the street. It’s a twenty minute walk to the car, but then I just turn the corner and roll out rather than doing circles in the garage then waiting for a break in the traffic.

So this morning meant walking in the rain down the street. I found a device in the closet that is a small cylinder made of metal and cloth that opens up to form a protective cover over your head to keep the falling water off of you. It’s called an ‘umbrella’, and I have not used one in years. It took a while to remember how to open, but then it worked fairly well when I held it over my head. The only problem with the walk was with cars driving by. Since it rains so rarely there are not very many drains in the streets to carry water away. In some parts of the valley there are no storm drains, and all the water just runs downhill to catch basins or to just flood the streets, but near the strip, which is fairly level and also at the bottom of the valley where all the water ends up, there are some storm drains underground. But since it hasn’t rained in a while the first rain ends up gathering all the dust and oils and dirt and whatever that has accumulated on everything and moves it down to the street. These two factors end up causing a six inch deep stream of filthy water in the gutter, which again due to the relatively flat street means large puddles well out into the driving lanes. The speed limit on the street here is 45mph, three lanes in each direction with a center divider and the support poles for the monorail running down the middle as well. So cars are usually going by at around 60mph (Vegas is not known for drivers that obey traffic regulations).

If you are walking on the sidewalk and a car doing 60 drives by in the right lane through a six inch deep puddle then you are guaranteed to have a large wave of dirty water thrown up upon you. An umbrella over your head does nothing to slow this horizontally moving water. In Vegas most sidewalks are right against the curb, with no protective strip between the cars and the sidewalk. For the long block that I walk there are large parking lots with tall chain link fences right up against the sidewalk. This provides no room to let you get away from the waves. So my walk down involves evaluating where the deepest puddles are, where driveways into the parking lots are, and gaps between the traffic coming by. I end up timing the gaps, walking quickly past the deep sections hopefully when no cars are zipping by, and pausing at the driveways further from the curb where water is lowest so the groups of cars can get past before I move on down to the next low water area. Fortunately water was not falling as fast today as it has in the past, and the puddles were not up over the curb onto the sidewalk. The last big thunderstorm not only had me doing this same timing to avoid the waves it also had me walking through three inches of water in places as well.

But it’s Thanksgiving Wednesday, E and family is here, the refrigerator is filled with food ready to prepare tomorrow, a four day weekend is ahead, and here at work it is rather quiet as all the executives, and many employees, have taken the week off. There are no shows this week so the staffing level is down. The cooks and most of the Food and Beverage department are taking a few days off now, as another big computer based show and cowboy Christmas are coming, which means three weeks of no time off and long days for that group. The customer service department also is down to two people this week, the other dozen employees are hourly and told not to come in, but they will more than make up for it in overtime next month. The accounting department is furiously working to put everything in for month end so that they can get a few days off, but I know there will probably be a half dozen of them in on Saturday and Sunday working on invoices and billings and numbers anyway.

I hope those of you in the US that celebrate Thanksgiving have a nice holiday, and for the rest of you around the world, well, I’ll think about you as I carve the turkey. I am also looking forward to lunch today, as the group is coming down and we will be hitting the noodle bar upstairs in the big HRCND. (Hotel Resort Casino Next Door)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Just sitting here at work listening to this, and I just wanted to share it again. There are about six versions of this song posted, from his long hair days to now. But for this one, I really like the guy on the organ, it took a while for me to figure out what instrument it was.

OK, OK, here he is with long hair and a woman instead of an organ. (that sounded vaguely pornographic)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Video Monday - Annie Lennox

I saw that on yesterday’s music awards Annie Lenox was given an award for achievement (whatever that means) so I figured that I would put up some of my favorite Annie songs. Well, I thought I would, but it looks like all the ones on YouTube are blocked from embedding, so here are some links if you want to bounce. One of my favorites is TheThere Must Be An Angel, I don’t know what I like best, her rhyming towards the end or Stevie Wonder’s harmonica. Here, more for the strangeness of the video, No More I Love You's.

How about Hugh Laurie before House? Another video that looks like it’s been made by the same producer, in the French court of the late 1700’s style, Walking on Broken Glass.

It’s interesting how YouTube puts up some strange links under related videos. For no reason other than it was there, here’s the Techno Chicken

And because it will be the ‘official’ start of the Christmas shopping season on Friday, though this year looks lit it might be a bust for retailers, who have had decorations out since freekin’ SEPTEMBER (what’s with that?): Elvis and Martina McBride doing Blue Christmas.

On another topic, Danny Ganns has finished his run at the Mirage. He was a favorite of Steve Wynn, starting there back when Wynn ran the place. He became the top biller on the Mirage sign after Sigfried and Roy departed the scene. Now that a second tower is being added to Wynn, called Encore, there is a new theater being created for him and in February he will start at Encore. As his closing number Dannie, who specializes in imitating voices, performed It’s a Wonderful World as ten different performers: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, Kermit the Frog, George Burns and, of course, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, who first released the song in 1967. So let’s show Louie’s version:

Friday, November 21, 2008

E in the house

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. Probably will not be posting any next Friday, as it is part of the holiday weekend and E will be down here in person, refilling up the disk drive with new photos to post in the future!

When we were up in Portland for E’s birthday we were walking back from a nearby coffee shop and found somebody giving away a little plastic play house. We carried it back to our daughter’s place, cleaned it up, and E seems to enjoy it.

It has windows with shutters that can be closed, to make it more comfortable when it rains (which it seems to do a lot up there), and also can be opened

Grammy fits in there too, so it’s a nice place to sit and talk knee to knee

And when the sun does shine it gives a nice yellow glow to whatever it is you are talking about

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Las Vegas is joining the rest of the country by having a slowdown in the economy. This means that people are not coming here and spending their money on frivolous things like gambling and food and hotel rooms. What’s up with that people? Forego that next car payment and come on out here and have a good time and keep us going. B has a niece that works across the street at the big casino resort hotel that used to be a pirate themed place but still has the ships out front in the moat. She works advanced reservations, was told that reservations servicing was being outsourced to India for all the MGM/Mirage properties, and cut back from a full time job to thirteen hours a week. With rumors going around about the whole place being shut down and whatever people want to come stay in the hotel being put up in the sister property next door, the one with the volcano. Oh, Merry Christmas, employees.

Along that line, our largest hospital is also not doing very well financially. Medicaid and other government health plans have severely cut back on their reimbursements, so a lot of the services that the hospital offers are being cut back or cancelled altogether. The problem we have here in Las Vegas is that if a service is not available we have to drive several hundred miles down towards Los Angeles in order to find other medical centers to get treatment. Some of the services that will be cut off include most outpatient services, including dialysis, prenatal care and cancer treatment. The story on this included an interesting comment by the hospital spokesman. He said something about wishing the people that were being turned away could find service elsewhere, as some of the treatment was very expensive, up to $10,000 per session for the meds alone. Most of them did not have insurance, and about 150 of the 400 cancer patients were not documented. This is semi-political speak for ‘illegal aliens’.

So my question today is: what are your feelings on this? Over a third of the people receiving medical services, and expensive services at that, are in this country illegally. They and the others are now being denied service because the money has run out. Is it the job of the hospital to insure that everyone is receiving the service to which they are legally entitled? Should these undocumented people be referred to the INS? Would this then make people hesitant to receive treatment? Should the US offer support to the world? Are we overextended, or is it the right thing to do?

On a related note, a recent story on PBS radio discussed a change in regulations by the state department, placing a number of countries on the list where citizens coming to visit the US do not require visas, with stays of up to three months permitted. One of these newly listed countries is South Korea. The story went on to discuss new travel companies that had sprung up, called Birthing Services, who arranged for South Koreans to travel to Guam in the eighth month of their pregnancies. The trip included hotel until they gave birth, and a drive to the local hospital, so that the child would then be a legal US citizen. Several families interviewed were saving up for this, so that when the kids got to college age they could then attend school in the US and would pay citizens tuition, not the much higher foreigner’s tuition. Based on the fourteenth amendment, written to give legal status to former slaves, stating that all persons born in the US or possessions are considered US citizens. Some people are upset that anyone can travel to the US, legally or not, and give birth to a child that is then considered a US citizen. Coming from San Diego I know there were people that crossed the border from Mexico just to give birth here. Hospitals could not deny services to a woman in labor, and there are many unpaid hospital bills all along the border because of this. So, second question: comments on this area?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Banquet serving

The other day I discussed the feeding of penguins over in G hall and it rather confused DM, sorry about that. But here in Las Vegas we refer to the banquet servers that come in periodically as penguins. This is because of the ‘uniform’ they all wear, long sleeve white shirt, black shoes, pants, vest and bow tie. When we see them all in a group descending upon a banquet room, or leaving after an even, it looks like those videos we see of penguins all waddling together. I don’t know if the same term is used elsewhere.

Which leads me to a few pictures taken at recent events: how do you serve lunch to a few thousand people? Call in eighty banquet servers, a few kitchens full of chefs, cooks and other workers, runners, and support people and set up a few hundred ten tops:

Ten tops are the name used here for the round tables that seat ten people. This was not served meals, but was buffet style where everybody had to walk past the serving tables and take what they wanted. The banquet servers just kept everything refilled, cleaned tables and kept water and drinks flowing. And a week later downstairs, it was setup for serving around ten thousand people three meals a day for four days.

This was accomplished by setting up a thousand ten tops, though to cram more people in eleven chairs were put at each table. The picture was after table setup, before the linens, silver and serving stuff was distributed. (no, we don't make people eat on plain wooden tables) Around five hundred banquet servers were called in, along with the required supporting crowd. I think for buffet style eating they assume one server can handle two tables of ten, depending on how much money the organization putting on the event wants to spend and union regulations.

So for those of you putting on holiday parties this year, imagine how many turkeys and beef roasts are cooked for this size crowd.

Election update!

Thanks to Rock Candy we have some late breaking news on the results of our recent election. I too have been noticing this problem at my house and around town here, and it looks like a lot of the news videos were taken in Portland, so for you up in the rainy corner, sorry. (you should like this one Terri)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Video Monday - funnies

It‘s the week before Thanksgiving, and I thought we would do silly songs today for Video Monday. But before we start, I just walked through G hall (our lower hall) and they are feeding a group of food servers again. There is some type of computer organization having a show upstairs this week, and evidently they signed up for served meals from the big Hotel Casino Resort next door, which means we supply the banquet servers and feed them. So there are about sixty penguins down there having breakfast, and one of the temp chefs was refilling the breakfast burrito tray. We have three full time chefs in the kitchen; they are the only full time staff in there. Their job is to order things, figure out the menu, cook sample meals for demonstrations to groups, and generally manage things. When shows come around we bring on temp help, the number depends on the size of the show. There are several of the temp chefs I am familiar with (don’t know names, the chefs do not wear name tags like everyone else, guess it’s unsanitary or something); there’s the Chinese guy we hit up for the carved turkey and roast beef on bigger shows, the hyper skinny gal that talks really fast and makes great waffles, and out there today are the girl missing one front tooth and the round guy. He kind of looks like a bowling ball bouncing down the hallway, and always wears berets instead of those tall chefs hats, it’s a white one today, but he also has lots of colors and some plaid ones that are really sporty. I don’t want to know the names they give us computer guys.

And thanks to Brighton for some reason I bounced over to look at some shoes she was talking about, at Naughty Monkey. I really like some of the names; Animal Thunder, Candy Craving, Bonk Her, Quickie . . . on your feet! While I don’t think they are particularly pretty, good choice B!

On to the videos! First, some good advice, especially for you Greens up in Portland but applicable to anyone, Canvas Bags:

And I suppose this is good training advice, could use it on E. But I don’t see standing around singing about it:

This one isn’t musical, but is about my favorite Monty Python sketch, Mr. Creosote from The Meaning of Life. (hey, I mainly watch it for the big ‘just one thin mint’ part.

OK, we’ll end up with a song. Popular a while back from Shaggy

Wasn't me . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

E Friday - shoes

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. Back to Portland in September, it looks like the sun does shine once in a while, and it does get warm enough for shorts. Not warm enough for going barefoot though.

Trying to remember three years old, and when you finally were able to put on your own socks and shoes. The magic of Velcro means you no longer have to learn how to tie the shoe laces.

How do you do it? Very carefully, and one foot at a time.

And I hear that she is very good at reading now. We have been buying her books, and mom has been teaching her how to read. She loves looking at books, but I don't think she quite knows the words yet. Unfortunately mom has also combined the reading with another new activity. E is learning how to use the potty, and to keep her there longer mom has given her books to read while sitting. Now, I understand, she spends a good deal of time in the bathroom reading. But she has taken after dad as well, for if you try to go in you will hear this little voice 'may I have a yittle pivacy, peese'.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why not?

For those of you across the country that voted to deny rights to others, why?

But of course you don't come here, so my questions will go unanswered. But if I were overseas on vacation with the person I had been living with for over a dozen years and thought of as my wife, and something happened and I was ignored, then it would be rather tragic. It's rather tragic now. How does this affect your life, by denying things to others? Perhaps we just should get out the old noose and start lynching people. (gays this time).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A post a day?

Last year I tried it, but then decided to join the Queen of Shake-shake in a protest, so:

No daily postings here. But I will try for more than I have been doing.

And happy Veteran's Day to all of you that served your country, whichever one it is, and perhaps are serving now. There should be a day for the civilian husbands and wives, that have to put up with what it takes to be married to a military person. I did four years in the Navy a long time ago, and though I can look back on it now with sea stories it would not be fun with a wife and kids at home, walking desert streets hoping you make it back. Thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video Miriam

We had an unusual guest show up yesterday. It was a gentleman from some little bitty town named Yellow Knife way up in the middle of Canada. He told his wife he was going to Vegas, but I caught him having dinner with a sexy blond at a Mexican restaurant on a Venetian canal.

Let's see how he talks his way out of that one.

On a different topic; just as I was getting out of my car this morning after driving to work I heard that Miriam Makeba just died. Way back when that was a famous name in music, one I hadn’t heard in a while, back in the sixties I heard a lot of her music on the radio (how old are you Joe?). She was a singer from South Africa, traveled the world singing songs of her country. Because she spoke out against apartheid her citizenship was revoked, she found out about it when trying to return home for her mother’s funeral - what a time to find out, and be denied entry to your homeland.
So, in her honor, MM gets to be the subject of my Video Monday.

This was the song that first got her the most notice in the US: Pata Pata. Turn it up when the kids are around, bet they'll be dancing all over the house (I was).

She toured with Harry Belafonte, not a South African, but remembered mostly for his banana boat song. After singing the song for many years he finally performed it here for the first time on television. (besides, how could I pass up posting him with these guys) (and remembering the song from Beetlejuice)

She also toured on Paul Simon’s Graceland tour. Also on the tour was Ladysmith Black Mambazo, shown here performing in Zimbabwe. If you click one of the little pictures at the bottom that show up at the end you can see Miriam singing with Paul as well.

Goodbye Miriam.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Middle Finger Revolution

No, I am not giving the finger to Heather, I am joining her in giving the finger to the grand state of California, a place I called home for over twenty five years.


I am sorry to say that the one state I thought was progressive and approved of alternate lifestyles, didn't care about how other people lived, and was a rather pleasant place to call home has shown that it is as close minded as the rest of the Republican country. How dare you tell someone else how to live? Just how does it affect your family if the people next door are married and of the same sex? You heterosexual couples have not proven to be very reliable in the child rearing department, with the divorce rate at what, a bit over fifty percent? So if you get married the chances of you getting divorced are higher than of staying married?

And my wedding ring? That's the first time in over five years it has been off of my other finger. Sorry to say that I am not pleased with this post at all.

It's over

Yesterday I was quite pleased with the results of the election. Then I had a long discussion with my boss and came back to the realization that yes, there was very little difference between the current Republican and Democrat parties. It doesn’t matter who is in office, all they do is make government bigger, give more money away and thus need to take more in. I don’t care if it’s millions a day in a ‘war’ that is never ending and useless or gas for some woman too stupid enough to get a job or a bailout for banks lending to people that should never have gotten a loan to begin with, it’s still my money and I am the one that should have the right to use it as I want to. Do not take it away and say that you are better at spending my money, I know you can do that (the spending part) very well.

And both sides feel it their ‘duty’ to pass more laws, putting more restrictions on my rights. Look, I just don’t care what the heck you do in your house or off on your farm or inside your head; don’t tell me what to do in mine. If I am not hurting you or damaging your property then just leave me alone. If I want to marry who I want to it is my business, and I fail to see how that has any affect whatsoever on your family. If I want to watch movies of frogs doing unmentionable things on the TV set in my house then it is my business, stop looking in my windows. Why the heck do people feel it is their job to force me to conform to their way of thinking? If God is going to punish me for something then it’s God that will do that, it is not your job here to do his job. What, you think you are as good as God and therefore should tell me how to act and what to think? That sounds pretty obnoxious, to compare yourself like that.

So, I will again try not to make this a political place and will go back to why I started, to share my thoughts and pictures about Las Vegas. (Haven’t I said that before?)

When we go for our lunchtime walk we alternate between outside (when the weather is nice) and inside. Whatever path we take it still is about a forty five minute walk. I see some pictures posted by people that get to walk along streams and rivers and canals and trees and yes, I do sometimes wish I was there. But I also like to look at people, and with that concept I am in the right place. There are some trees and flowers along where I walk, even if most of them are plastic. There are waterfalls and canals filled with gondolas, but mostly there are people. And yes, please, if you want to stop to take a picture don’t stop in the middle of the freakin’ sidewalk and block everybody else.

When we walk inside we pass a wide spot amongst the shops where at times people sing and perform. But for most of the day there is a single person dressed all in white, with white makeup, who does nothing but stand there not moving very much. I don’t know why, but people find this fascinating. So there is usually a crowd of people standing looking at somebody just standing. And they take pictures. And they just stand and look and point. Why? I have no idea.

Sometimes they even get up on the little stage and stand with the white person and have their photo taken together. The white person does move a little bit, and usually holds their hand, but otherwise tries not to smile too much. (these photos were taken over a month apart, but I could probably go up there right now and it would look about the same)

Several months ago we had the big fashion show in here. They come by twice a year and fill up the whole place, complementing similar shows around town. Unfortunately this one did not bring any young ladies in swim suits (painted on or real), but the setup was about the same as before. In the middle near the food counter they put out a boardwalk and sand, which then has beach chairs applied. This is just of one side; they do this in four places. The chairs are usually full, with people standing around drinking pretty drinks (hey, it’s Vegas, it is legal to sell alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day) and talking loudly. But during setup those piles of sand in the middle of the concrete floor look rather lonely.

Turning around and facing the other direction you can see the loading doors, where trucks pull in and forklifts drive around unloading crates and pallets. This was the first day of move in, so not much stuff is scattered around, don’t know why the sand went in first. But more trucks will arrive and soon all the shiny aluminum and white plastic booths will come out and be set up, and then the vendors will show up with their crates of clothes and hang it all.

This week there is an auto parts show here, filling up the entire building. Downstairs it’s all foreign suppliers, lots of booths from China and Taiwan and India and Turkey, filled with people talking different languages and hoping their tables of metal parts and light bulbs and rubber belts will be visited by buyers. The show is much larger this year, B says it’s because of the content, this is for ‘after market’ parts. This means replacement parts and repair parts and tools for repair; a market that does better when people hang on to their old cars and have to fix them. So if the economy is down then new car sales decline but car repairs increase, and shows that cater to this market do well.

I just have one tip for the foreign exhibitors: please hire a native language speaker when you go to another country and put up big posters describing how nice your plant is or what your manufacturing plant does or how good your product works. When you take English as a second language, or try to speak in any language not your own, you will not be as good as someone born there. So as to the proficiencies produced by the application of the attitudes and experience in making of products of superior does not always apply to the creation of signs of understandabilities.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election day (finally)

It’s been a fun week here in Las Vegas. Bette Midler appeared at a fund raising party for Obama at one of the big clubs one evening and was discussing her television viewing. She observed that the commercials varied between political advertisements and discussions on products such as Viagra and Cialis. She said the view varied - ‘election, erection, election, erection . . .’ and figured that part of that would change soon. Down at the Bootlegger, a south of the main Strip restaurant and club usually attended by locals and owned by one of our former lieutenant governors (no, not Dr. H) there was an unusual jam session; forty or so trombone players came by after a big concert and jammed the night away. That must have been an impressive display of brass. (see the things you missed on your last visit?)

Our Monday paper has gotten rather thin lately - looks like it might not be coming around much longer. As I move through the second section my eye sometimes stops on the obituaries. Yesterday was notice that Yma Sumac passed away. She was a Peruvian singer, a genre you don’t hear much of. She did some movies in the 50’s that look like typical colorful location reproductions. And her voice is a little interesting.

Today is election day (as if you couldn’t tell). B is off getting out the vote, and I imagine we will be spending the evening viewing news results. There have been requests floating around for pictures about our voting experiences. We voted almost two weeks ago, as apparently over half of Nevada’s registered voters did (except for Terri of course) but the lines are still expected to be long today. At least we don’t have to sit up until midnight waiting (unless things are too tight), hopefully good results will come out of Virginia around 5 our time, so we can start celebrating.

If you haven’t yet - GO VOTE!

And thanks to Iceland Weather Report, if it does happen we might just follow this advice.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dr. H. Annual open house next Sunday

Dr. Lonnie Hammargren is having his annual open house this Sunday. I’ve written about him before, when I was able to tour his place as part of my wife’s Red Hat club. Dr. H is a neurosurgeon and former lieutenant governor of the state of Nevada. He has purchased four homes side by side in an older part of town to the east of the airport and turned them into a museum of Nevada history. Basically, he has the money and buys whatever he feels like buying and sticks the stuff around his house. This includes just about every neon sign from torn down casinos that don’t make it to the official Neon Museum, a full sized steam train engine, one of the Apollo space capsules, one of the paddle wheels from the old Showboat casino, the roller coaster from the Stratosphere up on the roof, Liberace’s dressing room from the Hilton, one of the Venetian gondolas (in his front room), and whatever else strikes his fancy.

I really like having a big arm and torch from the statue of liberty hanging over the back wall. I think that would be neat, and have told B that if I ever find one I’ll be getting it too.

Somebody posted a rather chaotic video taken at one of these open houses:

Dr. H had a heart attack a few year ago which caused him to think about death. One of the things he did as a result was to hold his own wake. He figured it would be nicer to hear what people had to say about him rather than be locked in a box when it happened. I like that thought, but not sure if I really want to hear what people think about me.

You can go to the Nevada Days web site for more information. So, if you are in town this weekend I would highly recommend going. If you are lucky you might catch one of Dr. H’s personal tours around the place.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

other weekend activities

OK, enough of what I did this weekend. Here is what B did.
She stood in line for a half hour along with quite a few women wearing these

Then stood on the grass shoulder to shoulder with 18,000 other people for three hours in order to hear 22 minutes of talking by this guy.

See, she was fairly close. Didn’t get to shake his hand, but happy she went. Even happier that she wasn't standing around for four hours in freekin' high heels. Come on ladies, he can't see your feet - try sneakers once in a while. It was at the high school about a mile from our house.

A few weekends ago we spent the morning with several thousand people wandering the hills in Summerlin. This was for a breast cancer walk - see all the pretty pink t-shirts?. A very pretty morning, and we had breakfast afterwards at the JW Marriott Resport & Spa (and casino) there (seen in the background), which was a not very exciting meal.

And I see this guy on TV almost every night, somehow here he looks a little older.
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die