Thursday, June 25, 2009


Sandrine had an old post that displayed this

Ah, the freedom to dance and laugh on the beach -

Of course, not being Greek this one is probably more danceable for me

Summer purple

Last week it was purple time here in the valley. Springtime in Vegas is primarily yellow, most of the desert trees and shrubs bloom with bright yellow flowers, and lots of yellow pollen. It is a nice prelude to the bright sunshiny summer to come, but my nose can do without all of the pollen floating around - the area by our front door just collects it, and it’s almost like walking through yellow snow (no, not that kind Zappa fans) to get to the door.

The other desert color we see is purple, which comes from all of the sage brush. We’ve got a couple of dozen sage planted in our yard, a few different kinds that bloom in shades varying from pink to deep purple. Haven’t figured out the bloom cycle, supposedly they are driven by the humidity, but whatever it is last week was purple time in the Las Vegas valley. The first ones to bloom in our yard was a variety called Texas Ranger.

We weren’t sure that our plants would have any flowers on them. Things started blooming out around the area and ours were still just green. We have a row right outside the kitchen window, and we would see these little bitty sparrows bouncing around inside the bushes, and it took a while to see that they weren’t eating bugs but eating the flower buds before they had a chance to open; I guess the flowers taste good to them. I’d stand at the sink looking out and see a dozen or more of these grey brown birds, about the size of canaries, hopping inside the bushes and just chirping at each other and pecking and eating away. We thought they might have chomped down on all the buds, but then last week the purple did appear.

Most of the sages planted by businesses have been trimmed into round balls or other unusual shapes; when these bloom you end up with a big purple ball with most of the green leaves covered up by the flowers. We let ours grow however they want to, and this past winter we followed some local advice and just cut off a few older branches down at the base. As a result some of our plants look rather unusual. After five years in the ground most of the sage bushes are about four or five feet high and the same across, with one or two strange branches sticking out. The plant behind this one was a big yellow mass a few months ago.

Out front we planted a row just behind the wall along the street. The ones right under the big palm are not very large, stunted either by the shade or the lack of water from the palm sucking it all up. Our last grass out front was the semi-circle under the palm, but we covered that up last winter, pulled the sprinklers out and put in a soaker hose for the palm under a layer of crushed rock. Our neighbor across the street liked the green surrounded by his circular driveway so rather than convert to rock he got some artificial turf that stays green all the time. Doesn’t take much water, and it does provide a nice lead in to his purple sage.

Here is that row from the other end.

The tall palms across the street were just trimmed the weekend before, and look kind of empty. I need to have ours out by the pool trimmed back. That big palm in front of our house doesn’t get skinned like those, I cut off the bottom row of fronds when they drop down and touch the ground. You can see that we don’t have curbs and sidewalks in this area, or street lights. The lots are all half acre minimum, with horses and other animals permitted. We liked this section of town because of that, it seemed more rural while still being close to things. The guy right next door used to have chickens, and raised some turkeys for last Thanksgiving. One of the houses behind those across from us does have a corral and several horses, as do others around. We see them riding past the house some mornings, but it seems to me that there isn’t really enough room here to go for nice rides, but just a few minutes trailering up to Red Rock there are lots of horse trails up into the mountains.

Around the side of our house is the strip of bushes under our kitchen window. These are the ones that are always full of birds. You can also see a pile of lumber to the left: that was my Father’s Day work.

Here is that row from the other side, from where our outside dining table is. The sage blossoms have a very slight sweet smell, B really likes it. The rest of the year the plants have the typical sage smell, especially when you brush up against them.

Driving home from work on Tuesday I noticed something:

(you will notice I did wait until I stopped at our house before taking the picture) It seems summer has finally arrived. June was rather cool, I think this is the first time it has gotten up to triple digits in June, even though it got up to 103 in May. Yes, I did have the windows up and the air conditioning on, though again this was the first time I did that. I like it when it’s hot, and when driving alone usually just roll down the windows, but when B is in the car windows are up and air is on. The forecast in today’s paper showed 102 followed by triple digit days for the upcoming week. Hopefully we don’t go over 110 until mid July, but who knows?

The sage blossoms don’t last for very long, the Texas Rangers have all dropped their blossoms and some lighter pinks of a different variety are blooming out front now. As a result we end up with this view of the flowers

And under the mesquite tree that was a big yellow ball a few months ago we have the remainders of it’s blooming.

Most of the desert plants have fine leaves, and the flowers are very small, so you can’t rake up what falls, especially with the bare dirt and rocks underneath, it just has to stay and be blown away by the wind. We do get some tremendous winds here, but depending on the direction and the layout of your yard you might end up with more stuff deposited than blown away.

Oh, and that pile of lumber before? B finished painting it, and I had the pleasure of installing out front on top of that metal framework I installed in December.

So now our front patio looks like this.

The wisteria on the ironwork is green, there were a lot of blooms on that this spring, and it will be trained up over the boards to provide summer shade and let us enjoy the spring flowers hanging down. We have a solid covering out back; B wanted a little sunlight here out front. It went up just in time for the full heat, now I just have to get up some misters and replace the front window with some big French doors. The front of our house faces east; if those trees weren’t there you’d be looking down on the Strip in the above shot. We can’t see much because of the houses, but the guy across the street with the two story house has a balcony out back off his bedroom that has marvelous views. He gets to see all of the Strip fireworks shows on the fourth of July and New Year’s Day. Our back patio is on the west side, so on summer evenings when the sun is down a little and shining onto the patio around the cover we plan on coming out here where it will be shady. Yes, it will probably be 110f but hopefully with the shade and misters we can enjoy our margaritas and suck on the ice and just chill out; as much as you can chill out when it’s 110. (That’s about 44c for you guys that think metric).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Harry Potter!

Waiting for the next movie to come out next month, Vegas Princess pointed to an interesting version - HP, the musical!

But I like the puppet version better. (come on, sing along)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dogs on Tuesday - car rides

Ok, you are saying, why start out a Dogs on Tuesday post with a photo of a motorcycle guy? Well, you aren’t looking closely.

Coming back from a thrilling meal at our nearby Sweet Tomatoes salad bar restaurant this guy pulled up next to me at a traffic light. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera, but at the next light (a mile down) we ended up side by side again. Good thing I got the shot there, because he soon turned left while I continued on. Don’t worry, that little guy looked like he loved being up there. B looked over as we drove off and she said he had his nose up in the air sniffing and his ears flopping around, just like dogs do hanging out of car windows. There is a short leash from his halter up to the guys coat, so even if he slips he won’t go far, and from the way he pawed that tank he was very familiar with standing there.

Our guys differed in how they handled car rides. Max loved them, he would stand in my lap with his head out the window, leaning on my arm, and just enjoy things.

But only if we drove slowly, over 25 and the wind was too much for him and he pulled back in and whined for me to slow down. Buster does not care about car rides, he just curls up on your lap and goes to sleep. Buster is more into walks - he just loved sniffing everything, while Max was ready to be picked up after two houses. But they both enjoyed this spot:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Video Monday - guitars

Let’s do some guitars today. A while back First Nations sent a link to this one, by Buddy Guy

Links on the same page link to Buddy from quite a while ago playing backup to Big Momma

Buddy played quite a few times with Eric Clapton

Can’t do guitars without including those guys from Texas with the long beards and fuzzy guitars

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Food prep

I currently work at a large convention center which has a large banquet kitchen. This is my first exposure to what a high volume banquet kitchen is, and I am fascinated by how much work it takes, and how many people are involved, to get the food out. We have events that vary in size from twenty people in a conference room to over a hundred thousand people attending large shows. For the big shows there can be several dozen food outlets, serving food that ranges from simple sandwiches to a carvery serving up beef and turkey to salad bars, pasta stations, burgers, kosher, and on to whatever show management requests. Sometimes large conferences will contract for served food, one software firm had sit down meals for seven thousand people three meals a day during their four day conference.

A banquet kitchen differs from a restaurant kitchen in that it is designed to serve mass quantities of food rather than individually prepared portions. You can’t call our kitchen and order a special steak, you’d have to order twenty. But we are attached to a big resort hotel casino (BRHC), and they have quite a few kitchens over there; with over seven thousand rooms and many more guests wandering through you can get room service or food service from one of their kitchens whenever you want, so if there is a request for specialized food then we don’t prepare it, it comes from next door.

We have two kitchens, one for preparation of cold food and one for cooking and preparing hot food. The cold kitchen has it’s own chef, and they mostly make sandwiches and salads. There are several walk in coolers and lots of table space for preparation. When there are big events there can be over a dozen people in here putting things together and packaging them.

There are racks filled with bowls and dishes, several meat slicers, lots of knives and cutting boards and all kinds of other implements for making stuff. There are standards for how everything is made, and I found this sign taped to the front of a cooler to be rather amusing.

There is a corridor separating the cold kitchen from the hot kitchen, which also runs down the side of the kitchens and over to the warehouse and some of the kitchens of the BRHC next door. This is where all of the carts roll up with supplies and stuff and other carts wait to be filled with food and rolled out to the serving stations and meeting rooms.

There are also closed carts also used to transport food but that also have electric heaters or coolers used to keep foods at the correct temperature while waiting to be served. Most of these are about two meters high and get really heavy when filled with plates and food. It usually takes two or three people to pull and push them over to wherever they are needed.

Each shape has a different name; the only name I have heard is ‘Queen Mary’, supposedly given because the box is so big and heavy that it moves like a boat. I don’t know which of these is a QM, perhaps the Banquet Manager can recognize what is what.

The kitchens and halls all have tiles on the floor. It’s pretty clean back there, someone is always steam cleaning and between shifts the stainless steel work surfaces are scrubbed and steamed and polished. I’ve seen the back work areas of some fast food places, some of those can get pretty bad, but our kitchens are always nice. The county department of foods health inspectors are always wandering through, sticking thermometers in things to make sure food is held at the proper temperature and looking for unsanitary conditions. We’ve never gotten a write-up for those things, I guess it would not do good things to our reputation, and getting a few thousand people sick with food poisoning would likewise not be nice.

We have three full time chefs on staff; one each for the cold and hot kitchens and one head chef. All the other food service staff are hourly people called in as required. We have a favorite Chinese chef that works a carvery station for big shows who we enjoy talking to. My favorite is Mary, a fast moving fast talking cook (the chefs have the fancy hats and smocks, the cooks don’t dress quite as pretty) that is almost always called in for any event. She usually creates the pasta sauces and works on a fry station when the food outlets are open, and works in the hot kitchen preparing things. Here she is cooking up some Alfredo pasta sauce.

I always pictured kitchens as having large kettle type soup pots for cooking liquid stuff, but in our kitchen there are three of these flat devices used to prepare soups and sauces. You can see the size, it’s about a foot deep and evenly heated. There is a crank that tilts the back of the unit up, and the stuff being cooked then pours out of the spout in the center into large vessels for freezing or storage, ladles are used to scoop smaller amounts out into serving containers.

There are several kettle type cookers, but these are used to make other things; here she is cooking large chunks of beef.

The beef is cooked in a liquid to keep it moist, and it is cooked until it just falls apart; the same chunks of beef are also roasted in large ovens and carved for sandwiches and plates of roast beef. In this method of preparation the liquid is kept for us in sauces and soups, and the meat is shredded for use in several of the Mexican items we serve, such as tacos and burritos.

I never really thought about it before, but if you are serving 100,000 people that are here for a three or four day show then it takes quite a lot of food. All of that food has to be delivered to our facility in trucks, stored in a warehouse or coolers or freezers until needed, then prepared, delivered to the outlet location and served. Anytime I walk out back there are lines of huge delivery trucks lined up waiting for an open spot at the loading docks downstairs. Besides our facility the BRHC next door has thirty or forty restaurants that all require supplies, kitchens that create banquets for groups and kitchens that prepare individual items for room service, and a large staff cafeteria. The BRHC is one of the few on the Strip that does not have a buffet, relying instead on the specialized restaurants, which are each run by outside companies and not the hotel itself. There are about fifteen thousand employees working over there; if you work a full eight hour shift you get a free meal, so the employee cafeteria is open 24 hours a day as the casino is always open and there are always lots of people around all the time. Our convention center is run as a separate company so we don’t get to go to the cafeteria, but talking to people that do eat there rate it as one of the best employee places, and rate it above most restaurants in town, so it is a pretty good perk to be able to eat there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday videos, randomness

Some Mondays I try to do video themes, and some days there are just a bunch of random things floating around, today is a random day. Somebody was referring to ducks, and a commenter posted a link to a funny video. I hadn’t heard of Pat Robertson’s quote that legalizing gay marriage was a step towards having sex with ducks, but it sounds like an interesting idea, but the feathers might be a little sticky. But Misty might like the idea.

As long as we are into thoughtful discussions, see if you can figure this one out

To complete our randomness, we can go back a few years

I really wanted to link to Wild Boys, but embedding is disabled. Oh – there’s a version I can put in line, OK, here you go.

Don’t know why, it’s just been going around my head today.

OK, Misty really wants to impress the ducks upon us, here is one that has no music

Thursday, June 11, 2009

E Friday - hair cut

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. I ran out of photos, but B went up for E’s fourth birthday, and while she was there E got her first haircut. I liked her with the curly hair, but she also looks cute like this.

No, it's not Mom working, she went to a real hair cut place. She also has ‘that look’ down. I understand it makes dad drop to his knees (well, granddad sometimes falls for it too)

She can also be thoughtful

Here is a while back with hair

So, what do you think, long or short?

Monday, June 08, 2009

random Video Monday

Haven’t done a Video Monday for a while, and the list of videos has been building up, so here are a few random ones just to brighten up your beginning of the week. We can start with an oldie, that for some reason wasn’t on MTV even back when it was playing music instead of just reality shows. Frankie goes to Hollywood - Relax. I liked the song, now that I have some images to go with it it’s even better. I can totally see Kevin at a party like that. (I would like a party like that)

I’ve always liked Christopher Walken, we were watching the Graham Norton show yesterday and Robin Williams was on. He discussed working with Walken, and did a very good impression of how he talks. A little segment from Pulp Fiction

But what I really wanted to show you was him dancing, unfortunately it is not embeddable, so you have to click this link here.

And finally, we can do some techno thanks to Hallie. I’m a Gummie Bear

Thursday, June 04, 2009


There is a web site called Fail that posts photos and videos of things that didn't quite work out as the originator intended. For some reason this article just struck me as funny. I think it's the last line in the story that did it. I'm sure the author just wanted to supply an explanation.

see more Fail Blog

So where is the Fail?
1) The poor girl whose brains were shot out?
2) The author of the story that felt require to tell us she was a blond?
3) The blogger that fell for a made up story and posted it anyway? (Is this story real or made up, printed poorly, and submitted as if it really happened?)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Random things

The big jewelry show that comes around every year is over, and they are in the process of cleaning up now. There were still armed guards down one hall this morning, guarding the last of the 'product' that hadn't been moved out yet. It was interesting coming in yesterday; whenever the police come to our facility they park on the sidewalk out near the corner - it’s about thirty feet from the curb to the steps up to our building at that point, so there is a lot of room. There were about a half dozen black and white units there, along with about fifteen unmarked cars and a half dozen big black SWAT SUVs. In addition to those there were four panda units on the sidewalk around the corner and another five on the center divider right out front. Three motorcycles were parked on the west sidewalk as well. As I walked past the parked vehicles there were SWAT guys putting on their armored vests and taking rifles out of the back of their cars. All this was in addition to the private armed security that was here, and whatever undercover guys that were roving the halls. Nothing dramatic happened, but I did walk by some SWAT guys in one hallway putting handcuffs on someone. You usually don’t read about any bad things that happen to tourists in our paper, or see stuff on the news, anything negative on air is usually about locals getting in trouble. I guess they don’t want to scare off any of the money that comes to town, after all tourists are the only reason for Vegas being here.

It’s noisy next door and overhead. My office is down in the basement, over on the side of the big downstairs hall. We usually hear noise upstairs, through the foot or so of concrete that makes up the floor/ceiling, when setting up as they tend to drop things to the floor, not while moving out because they are lifting and putting stuff into trucks. But we can hear the forklifts drive over expansion plates when they are heavily loaded, and when they push things around. For an event like that, which took up all of our halls and meeting rooms and had around 75,000 attendees, we usually bring in 500 or so temp workers. That is in addition to all the people hired by the event management such as the security guards and ticket takers and all, as well as models in the booths, so a big show can provide a few weeks of work for quite a crowd, in addition to the food and drink suppliers and construction people and electricians. Now that we are headed into the summer the number of big shows drops dramatically. There are still a lot of smaller things in the meeting rooms and in the convention tower next door, but no show will take more than one of the halls until the fancy clothing show comes at the beginning of September. Our food and beverage department has been busy for weeks, with the show opening last Saturday they didn’t even get a weekend off; there are only eight full time people there, so most of them will be taking a few days off now to recuperate. July is our slowest month, with August next then December, so those are the only times that management would like us to take vacations.

Here in Nevada our legislature is wrapping up their session. According to our state constitution the legislature only meets once every two years, which gives them less time to mess things up. This year our governor has vetoed more bills than any other governor, and the legislature has overridden his vetoes a record number of times as well. There are a lot of bad laws and restrictions that have been passed, but there is one that I am happy to say was passed after being vetoed; that is our state domestic partner bill. This bill provides unmarried couples with some legal rights regarding community property and the responsibility of debts. It also provides them with rights regarding hospital visitation and the like. This puts us a little ahead of California, but unfortunately back in 2002 (before we lived here) a constitutional amendment was passed that defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman. I’m glad our legislature was able to overcome the governor’s objections and move this along. Personally I don’t see why people like to put restrictions on others, geez, come on, how can it hurt your marriage or your ‘god’ if two girls are living next door. One of the main arguments for passing this was protection for the elderly, when an older couple, both surviving spouses, lives together but don’t want to get married again, who then legally have no standing in medical decisions for each other or an interest in shared property. This brings to mind a video made in response to California’s recent voting:

I’m listening to that New Zealand radio station, Zed FM again. I have read about drinking in Australia, but from everything I hear over in NZ it seems that getting drunk is a national pastime, even more so than here in Vegas. They usually have some interesting things on their web site, but I just noticed a listing on ten tips for what to do when you wake up the morning after and don’t remember what you did. Here are ten tips on how to reconstruct the previous evening's bender...

1.) Take stock of where you are and what you're wearing: Do you know where you are? Are you naked? Any distinctive stains, smells, or rips that jog your memory?

2.) Feel for aches and pains: Are your calves sore, like you ran from something? Does it feel like you've been in a fight?

3.) Search for receipts: Check your pockets, your wallet, and the area around your bed for receipts that could place you in a specific location at a specific time the night before.
That includes ATM receipts, which is also a good time to make sure you didn't overdraw your account.

4.) Count your money: Assuming you know what you started with, this should tell you just how much fun you had. Finding MORE than you started with is never a good sign.

5.) Check your credit cards: Go online and retrace your steps using your credit card statement.

6.) Look at your call history: Don't just check the numbers on your call log, pay attention to the call length. Did you leave an embarrassing message when you drunk-dialed your ex, or did you spend the better part of an hour with them?

7.) Don't forget social networks: Be sure to delete any drunk-dialed Twitter comments or Facebook statuses.

8.) Gather visual evidence: While checking your phone and Internet activity, see if you took any photos or video. Also check YouTube for any hot new "drunk guy" videos that might feature YOU.

9.) Watch your roommate's reaction: Are they afraid of you, or angry with you. If they just look at you and laugh, that's just as bad.

As a last resort, you can call the people you started the night with and make sure there are no warrants out for your arrest.

I may be getting old, but I still don’t see why you would get that drunk. What fun is that? To me it is much more entertaining to drink coke and watch the drunks, taking photographs so that you have something to talk about for weeks to come.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dogs on Tuesday

Haven’t done a dogs on Tuesday in a while, so here are a few pics and a background on our guys. We have had a few dogs along the way, and quite a few cats. Down in San Diego we had four cats at one time, and as they left us we noticed an increase in birds in our back yard: strange correlation. We also like the birds chirping around, and so haven’t gotten any new cats. Now here in Vegas we have some fountains out front and in back that really attract the birds, we like watching them come by for a drink or a bath; two hummingbird feeders which this time of year need to be refilled a few times a week; and we fill a bird feeder out back on an irregular basis as it tends to empty very quickly (and we are too cheap to constantly replenish the thing). This time of year the mockingbirds are singing away and the finches and starlings come through in flocks, chirping away and arguing with each other, filling the oleanders and hitting the fountain.

When growing up I never had any pets, as my brother had some severe allergies. Our first dog in California was a pure bred Sheltie (Shetland sheepdog) that was just a big bundle of fur. Our next dog was a little strange; B visited somebody on an irregular basis and talked about this strange little thing that she had, which would hide underneath the end tables and bark at her. On one visit the woman said she was going to travel to Europe for a year and couldn’t take her dog, so was going to put it to sleep. That seemed strange, why do that to an animal when there are people that would be happy to take care of it? Anyway, B said she would be willing to take the dog to our house, and when it showed up it was amusing. Rose was a long haired Chihuahua; her hair was a mix of grey and black and not soft but stiff, sticking up in all directions; at less than four pounds she looked like a Brillo pad with four pencils stuck in it. She was noisy and bouncy and ran all over the place, but most liked to be held, which was easy to do as she was so small, so she would probably do quite well now as a celebrity purse puppy. Rose was with us for about twelve years, and was really B’s dog, constantly following her everywhere. It was a challenge to walk around as she was smaller than your foot and always down below, so you had to be very careful not to step on her or kick her. Rose was too small to be able to jump up on the couch or bed, so we had some small hassocks that we would put by the couch and she would jump on that first as a step then onto the couch. She liked our bed, but we didn’t let her sleep with us as we were afraid of rolling on her and breaking something, so she slept in her little bed next to ours. B was devastated when she died, and it took us a while before visiting the animal shelter to get another dog.

After having Rose I found it was nice to have a little dog around, the big ones tended to just stay outside and not be as interactive. So I started going to the big animal shelter in San Diego looking for a smaller dog. Rose was just a little too small; at less than four pounds she was too easy to not see underfoot, and a little fragile. The animal shelter had a lot of big dogs, but they said little ones tend to not come in and be adopted very quickly when they do, so I kept going back every week for quite a while before any smaller dogs showed up; I guess like Rose it is easier to find somebody to take a small dog and they don’t get dropped off at the shelter very often. One day this little black and white miniature terrier was in one of the cages, and so I went in to sign up for him. I ended up number fifteen on the waiting list, as others had seem him first. The shelter had rules for adoption of animals; they wait five days just in case it was lost and the owner is looking; if an animal is dropped off they add five more in case the owner changes their mind and comes back; if neutered an additional five days are added; for small dogs they add five more days. I guess they have had problems in the past with emotional owners coming to reclaim pets, or try to find lost ones. I went back the next day and there was a second dog of about the same size in the cage, and I found myself as number ten on the list for him. I guess people really were interested in the small dogs, as these were the first two I had seen after six months or so of trips down there. A week later a smaller Chihuahua was in the cage with the other two, so I put my name down for him as well, figuring that with so many people on the list I would not end up with either of the first ones. A few weeks later I got a call from the shelter that I could have the black and white one, as everyone ahead of me on the list had declined or couldn’t be contacted. So I went down with B and we adopted Max. While filling out the paperwork they said that I could also have the second dog as no one ahead of me on his list came forward either, but we had to wait another day for the holding periods to expire on him. I figured two guys would keep each other company so I agreed, and the next day we picked up Buster. I was called a week later about the Chihuahua, as I was first on the list, but B said two were enough and the shelter said the list for that one was over 25 people so they would have no problem giving him to someone else.

The vet estimated Max to be about a year old and Buster around four. He said Max looked to be a full miniature tricolor terrier (there is a spot of brown someplace) and Buster was some type of Chihuahua something mix, having the more typical eyes and face of a Chihuahua but a lot larger than normal. They both were just under ten pounds, and even though we spoiled them they have stayed at about the same weight. That was a little over fifteen years ago, so Max is about 16 and Buster around 19. If one dog year equals seven people years then Buster would be what, around 130 or so years old? He is acting like an old man sleeping more and walking slower, but still bounces around the house begging as usual.

They liked laying in the sunshine close to each other but not too close. Black Max got hot pretty quickly, but Buster would lay out there when it was 100 in the summer and just enjoy the hot. But when it was a little cooler Max could fall asleep sitting outside. He seemed to like sitting out there better than lying down, waiting for us at the front gate to get home or come inside after yard work.

Max was always the boss. After all, he was stuck in that iron cage with the other guys for several weeks, after probably being spoiled at his prior home, and he did get to our house a day ahead of Buster. It was very apparent that they didn’t like being locked in jail like that and more than ready to jump in the car to go anywhere else. When we walked in with Buster the next day Max was very disturbed, probably thinking 'hey, I was stuck in a little concrete box with that guy for weeks, and now I get this cushy house and all this lovin' and he shows up? No way' and proceeded to quickly bite Buster on the butt and try to chase him away. But they both learned to put up with each other, laying on the couch at the same time but not touching. Even now Max will try to chase Buster off the couch when he tries to get on, and frequently Buster ends up with a sore butt from those sharp teeth of the other guy. He doesn’t usually fight back, but just walks away.

When they first came to live with us Max was a lot more active than Buster and was the jumper. He could jump really high, but had not learned how to tie moving forward with the jumping vertical thing, so when he tried to get up on the couch he just ended up bouncing up and down in front of it. It was amusing to be sitting watching TV and have Max come over wanting to join us. He would get in front of the couch and start jumping, reaching your eye level, but being unable to figure out how to get up onto that couch itself. Eventually he learned to get closer, putting his front paws out and on top of the cushion, but still he could not get the forward thing in there and would bounce up and down for several minutes before we stopped laughing and felt sorry for him and picked him up. It took him a few years before he figured out how to jump up onto things. Buster evidently had figured that out a long time before, and so he was always up on the couch or chair next to you. We figured that he lived with a little old lady before joining us, as he immediately latched on to my mother; as soon as we took him off of the leash getting him home he jumped up into my mother’s lap. She had never had a lap dog, and it took her a while to learn to put up with him, so he had to be content with just sitting next to her where we would usually find him.

Since he could jump we ended up sleeping with Buster in our bed from the first night. We had gotten doggie beds for both of them, and would put the guys in their own beds down there at night, but Buster would wake up and join us so we just gave in. Since Max couldn’t jump up he was stuck in his bed, but seemed happy with that. During the winter we put hot pads under their beds to keep them warm down on the floor, and sometimes on cold days we would find them over on their hot pads instead of up on the couch. After moving to Vegas I started picking up Max and letting him sleep next to me. We tried having them sleep at the foot of the bed, but when Buster moved or rolled over Max would bark at him and bite him, so I had to pull Max over to sleep next to me at the edge of the bed. Buster moved up between us and likes to snuggle, so some nights I would end up pinned unable to roll over with somebody stuck on either side. If I moved Max would growl at being disturbed but Buster was easy and you could raise the sheets and just roll him over out of the way.

A few months ago Buster got an eye infection and had to have his left eye removed. He has cataracts in his right eye, and can just see movement close up, so now he bumps into walls and chair legs, and circles the house trying to find people. If he circles around so that you are on his left he hasn’t yet learned to turn his head back and forth looking, so he will go right by. He is deaf in one ear and cannot hear very well out of the other, so besides being almost blind he is also almost totally deaf. Last night I was at the computer and saw him wander through three times, yelling at him as he went by each time, before he finally came over and found me. He also had all his front teeth removed, leaving not much for a smile.

Max was our guard dog, always barking at things, and he used to like to come and sit and watch whatever you were doing. E was a popular topic, as she always seemed to be doing fascinating things that required supervision.

Max likes to lie on the couch in the front room, where he can see out the window and bark at anybody walking by, to let them know it was his house and they weren’t allowed on the street in front of it. He would really go crazy when the UPS guy or anybody would ring the doorbell, and would bite people (on the ankle of course, couldn’t reach anything else) as they came in. We had to keep the guys locked in the bedroom when having guests over, but as they get older this has slowed down a bit and now Max is permitting people in the house, as long as we are in the same room. Buster’s favorite spot is the middle of our bed. He also likes the grassy area out back under the peach tree, and goes out there to just lie in the shade or wiggle around with his legs up in the air scratching his back and coming in covered in grass. Sometimes when we are not home Max gets in the bed, and seems to like my pillow.

Buster likes going for walks. When we pull out the harnesses and leashes they both get really excited, but after two houses Max is ready to be picked up and carried home while Buster keeps going, marking everything he can reach. Max would much rather go for rides in the car, standing in my lap with his head out the window, leaning on my arm because he is too short to comfortably see out and sniffing. But only when we drove slowly, at faster speeds the wind bothered him and then he pulled inside and sat down, whining for us to either close the window or slow down so that he could look out. He would get really excited when we drove by another dog, but since this is Vegas and not many people walk that didn’t happen very often. Buster doesn't care for car rides, and just sits in your lap and does not look out the window. At least neither of them get car sick.

At his checkup last year Max was diagnosed with some type of heart murmur, and has been on some fancy pills twice a day since then. Two weeks ago he was not eating and coughing all night, and an expensive visit with blood tests and xray showed water buildup in his lungs. That was another pill which helped, as he was jumping around last Sunday chasing pigeons away front the feeder, which he hasn’t done in a while. But the water pill damaged his kidneys and the replacement one didn’t work as well; late last week he started coughing again and early Sunday morning he jumped down from the bed and we found him on the front room couch. We went looking for him when we woke up later and found that he went out to lie on the grass in his favorite spot and didn’t come back inside. After fifteen years of him greeting us at the door, or back there behind the gate barking as we drive up, it is strange entering a quiet house. Buster can’t hear us, so we find him asleep on the bed. He too has been circling the house looking for his buddy. At his age it will probably not be too long before he is out back with Max again.