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.