Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer's not over yet

It’s the end of August, Labor Day is about here and kids are going back to school. I don’t know who every started the concept of summers off, supposedly back so the farmers could have help but that doesn’t make sense as planting is earlier and harvest is later, but whatever. Our daughter taught year ‘round school, which seems so much better as the kids have less time to forget, but even then too many parents, where both work or only one has the kids, can’t really find day care for several months or can’t afford it. Why not just let the kids stay more? I know, teacher unions and money, all comes down to that.
But here it’s still warm.

This is from yesterday’s paper, already shifted up, expecting 107 today. The pool is nice and warm, water temp up around 93 or so and just really nice to float in at sunset. We had the big crowd over last weekend, and the pool was a riot of noise and activity. Fortunately I did not get in the water with that crowd, just played host and served food and drinks and talked nice.

Our local car dealers are still fighting for business. There seem to have been a lot of sales due to the government rebates, but dealers are adding more on to keep people coming in. We’ve had a lot of dealerships close over the past year. One I wrote about before had a follow on advertisement, or it seems to be following the same direction. Remember this ad I complained about?

Well a few weeks ago this one popped up from the same dealer. I wonder if people were supposed to remember the first one when viewing this one?

Whatever, neither one makes me want to rush out there and get a car.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

M Resort breakfast

Last week we went out for breakfast - I love hitting a nice place for breakfast, it’s usually the cheapest meal of the day, and you can get some nice meals for a lot lower cost than diners. My favorite breakfast place is Bouchon at the Venetian, if you want a really nice atmosphere, great food and delicious baked goods give them a try, on the tenth floor of the old Venezzia tower, but it will probably run you $25 each for a full fresh OJ, coffee, baked basket and meal, but it’s worth it. My second favorite place is the coffee shop at the Palms; it’s an OK atmosphere, the coffee is good, and usually the place is fairly empty as the Palm caters to a younger crowd that stays out late and doesn’t come down to breakfast. It’s also the closest casino to our house.

Anyway, last week we thought that we’d try the new M Resort. It’s the latest place to open in Vegas, came on line just a month or so ago. It is located at the far south end of the Strip. By far south I mean it’s about the last building before you hit California. Well, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration there, but it is quite a few miles down before you hit the southern hills. It is the first big place visible when driving up from California, visible between the mountains before you turn into the Vegas valley. We took the drive down - it’s about twelve miles from our house - to check it out. From the news reports M was really crowded the first few weeks, it is the newest casino down south, where a lot of homes and developments were recently built, so locals in southern Henderson have a closer place to go away from the main Strip traffic. Green Valley Resort is another nice place that services the same area, but it is quite a few miles away from M.
The casino looks like all the others in the new style, same slots, but swirly carpets and lots of wood and rock.

The coffee shop is off the main casino floor, with views to the west and south, the two corner walls are all glass. It is not an intimate feel, the Palms coffee shop is in the middle of the casino with no windows, but a nice open style.

They have the same good O’Douls coffee that the Palms has. I ordered the French Toast with cherries and whipped cheese - it sounded much better than it looked. And the fresh cherries turned into jam.

But it tasted OK, the bacon was crisp, but it ended up costing about twice as much as a similar Palms meal. Almost up to the Bouchon price range without the excellent food.

Right outside is the M pool. You can look down at the swimmers while eating, and at the end is their outdoor stage. In cooler weather you can dine outside, and watch the setup. Probably see the concerts at night, though there may be a waiting line for that.

They were setting up for Crosby, Stills and Nash when we were there. This is taken from the same place but looking north. You can see the big Strip hotels off in the distance, with the farther northern mountains in the background.

Driving back we came up Las Vegas Boulevard instead of the parallel I-15, just to get a longer view of the ride. From here it still looks like desert, and the main Strip area is still seven or eight miles away, with the airport between.

End result? B liked the location and the views, said the food was ‘OK’. I would say the same thing, not worth going down just to eat, but perhaps to take tourists. For that price I would do Bouchon - especially for the pastries. I’ll still stick with the Palms breakfast for the price and quality. The menus posted outside the fancier restaurants seemed to match the good quality Strip high costs, we might try some but probably not.

Friday, August 21, 2009

E wet

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.

The main reason she wanted to visit us in August was to use our pool. Up in Portland where she lives now there is a pool in the park near her house, but it opens for use on July 4 and closes the week before Labor Day, and she does not get to go up there very often. But at our house the pool is available all year, except that the water is rather cool in the wintertime. She wanted to try warm water, so we left the pump on and the cover closes and our water is now at a nice comfortable 93f (34c), and she rather enjoys floating around.

Looks comfortable there, huh? Well, today it’s supposed to get up to 110f (a little warm for later August) , and we usually wait until later in the evening to swim, when the water is shaded, but in the above shot she had just gotten here and just had to jump in. Fortunately she changed into her swimsuit, put on some sunblock, her sun hat (as seen in her carry on bag photo) and floaties on her arms before jumping in. The next evening there was shade, so she did without the hat and goggles.

And then we had the triplets +1 from across the street – I didn’t know five kids aged 4 and 5 could make so much noise, or splash so much. But we had a sufficient number of pool toys to keep everyone amused. We are due to have eight that size over tomorrow afternoon, I’m debating about what type of ear muffs to use.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The area that we live in here in Vegas is zoned Rural Residential, with the houses on a minimum lot size of a half acre, with about every third house on a full acre. There are no sidewalks or streetlights, though new residents sometimes try to talk the rest of us into paying big bucks to upgrade the area and we always vote it down. One of the reasons we live here is the quieter nature of the place, you can go a half mile over and get sidewalks if you want that. New construction now puts ten homes per acre (plus streets and sidewalks), which gives you six feet between houses and a back yard about ten feet deep. The RR designation is one up from Farm, which means that we can keep a limited number of animals if we wanted to. On a half acre we could have a half dozen chickens, two horses, two sheep, or other farm animals. We don’t have anything beyond our vicious dog; the birds just fly in for free food and water. But some people keep horses, and they frequently wander past. I was out the other day and caught some out front, but by the time I ran in and grabbed the camera they had continued to mosey on

Back at the BHRCND from where I used to work I caught another bride

Yesterday B went up to the top of the Stratosphere for lunch and she found a wedding in progress up there out 1,200 feet above the strip (no pictures though). So far I’ve seen Vegas weddings on a pirate ship, in a gondola, in the lobby, on the Strip sidewalk, even caught my own son getting married, but they did one of the wedding chapels.

A few days ago somebody showed up here; let’s see if you can figure out who it was from the contents of their carry on luggage.

If you can’t tell, that blue fuzzy thing with the dog on it in the upper left is the carry on, it’s a backpack but has a handle and wheels so you can pull it too. Inside were: a watermelon slice potholder, a bananagrams banana full of letters, a jump rope, a blue ball, a container of bugs (but there were only two bugs in it), a black ladybug and a sunhat.

Well, if you guessed my granddaughter E down from Portland you’re correct (and did you also guess that she packed her bag herself?).

Here for a week or so to spend every day swimming in our warm pool (water temp is 89, but we’re trying to warm it up because that’s too cold for our daughter, should have it up to 93 by Friday).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Harry Potter 6 review

We were up in Portland last month when the new Harry Potter movie was released. As our daughter is a big HP fan we went to see the new movie on the first day of its release, at an old little one screen movie theater that’s been showing films for over eighty years or so. There was a large crowd; it looked like the place was sold out even though it was not a big screen fancy surround sound place, and mostly a ‘younger’ group. As this is a long movie, and the showing we went to started at eight, there were no kids but probably mostly college age (sorry RSG, younger college age) . We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, it followed the book fairly closely but as usual when putting a 600+ page book into movie format lots of scenes and characters were left out. There was an opening sequence dealing with the Weasley’s house that was not in any of the books, but it seemed to get the dark angle of this movie going. I was most amused towards the end when a white hand reached out of the water to grab Harry almost everyone in the movie (including me), though expecting it, still jumped and screamed.

Prompted by the movie release I had started to reread the whole book sequence again, but was only into the second book when we went to see it. Since I have some time at home now I have continued reading, and on Monday finally finished book six, the one this latest movie is based on. So yesterday we went off to our local casino movie theater to see it again. Here in Vegas almost every large entertainment venue is attached to a casino. The majority of movie theaters are in casinos, though there are a few located in shopping centers. We usually go up to Red Rock Casino where there is a sixteen screen Regal cinema attached to the end. HP was still playing on two screens, and we figured to try something different so paid the extra bucks for the 3D Imax screen showing. Since we were given 3D glasses in anticipation of something marvelous we were pleased to see that the previews showed were also for upcoming 3D movies; the best looking will be the animated ‘Chance of Meatballs’, which looked really good in 3D and seemed like a fun flick. Fortunately there were only two previews, so we were not stuck with fifteen minutes of preliminaries prior to the main event.

The Imax version of HP6 was the same as the smaller one we had seen previously, with no new scenes added. Unfortunately only the first fifteen minutes or so was in 3D, at which point we were prompted to remove our glasses. The 3D effects were very good – this technology, using video projection and polarized glasses instead of the hokey old red/blue glasses produced great results. Everyone flying around seemed to come off of the screen, and things fit together very well. I just wish the whole movie had been made like that, it was rather an expensive charge for such a short portion of the film. Watching it in the Imax format, with dozens of surround sound speakers and a fancy sound system, made the film much more active.

End result, if you haven’t seen it yet and it’s still around, go see Harry. A lot of the film was directed at the next one coming up. Fortunately the seventh (and last) book will be split into two films, so hopefully more of the book will end up on the screen. It’s obvious that they are waiting too long for the filming, the actors are all looking a little too old for high school. Daniel is 20, Emma a year younger and Rupert (Ron W) a year older is getting so tall they do a lot of filming with him sitting down. But it still all works well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dogs on Tuesday - Rose (late again)

Didn’t think I’d end up with another version of Dogs, seeing as how we are now down to singular Buster, but I dug through some old photo albums and found a few pictures of our previous love, Rosarita. We were living in Temecula, at that time a small town an hour north of San Diego with a population of about 2,000. We moved there from Los Angeles because of the houses - I am a computer programmer, and had started working for Xerox back in Rochester New York when I left college up there. I had been out to California when in the Navy, and wanted to leave that place of cold and snow for sunnier climes. I told my new boss that he could have me for a year, and then I would be moving west. My first job was to help Motorola convert their software over to a new Xerox computer, so I was sent out to sunny Phoenix Arizona for a six month tour. My return flight, when the task was completed, into Rochester was in mid January, and we were diverted elsewhere because the Rochester airport was closed because of snow and high winds. Finally arriving back, after leaving warm Phoenix, I told my boss that it looked like he might not get a full year from me. Fortunately our group was getting more west coast business, so four of us were sent out to LA to open a new group office there, getting space in the Xerox computer manufacturing facility in Manhattan Beach. When Xerox decided to stop making computers there were about four thousand of us facing locked doors one morning, and then looking for work elsewhere.

The need for programmers was pretty high, so I proceeded to look all over the state for my next job. Unfortunately we chose Temecula because the house prices were so low, and there were some gorgeous new homes that B fell in love with. I say unfortunate because it was a newly built up area, and the nearest computer jobs were an hour commute over windy two lane roads. We lasted there for ten years, me commuting for hours every day, until I talked B into moving to San Diego, where most of my jobs had been. During those ten years there one of the guys I was working with at NCR had a business on the side, and since I could use a little extra money we decided to work with him. Yes, B and I became Amway distributors, working our way up to Direct Distributor and pulling in some money. I credit that stint with my finally being able to stand up in front of people and talk. Up until then I was like most computer geeks, happy to hide in my cubicle and interact with my computer (kind of like right now), and was not good at presentations or talking to others. I slowly learned to stand up in front of groups, and as a result later became president of the San Diego Computer Society and giving talks in front of a thousand people at our meetings, which did lead to a fair number of jobs and some pretty good income at times.

What does this have to do with dogs? Well, B used to visit a customer up in Hemet, our nearest big town about thirty miles north. When she got home she used to talk about this strange little creature that would hide under end tables and complain about her being there, once in a while venturing out to bite her ankles. This customer eventually decided to move out, and travel the world for a few years, and asked B if she wanted her little creature. After discussions we brought home Rosarita, a long haired Chihuahua. Rose weighed in at a whopping four pounds, and was always a nervous high strung barking little thing.

Rose had the typical Chihuahua bulging eyes (like Buster) and shape, but having longer hair was slightly different. This long hair wasn’t nice and flowing like on Lassie, but grey and wiry, sticking up in all directions. Sorry I don’t have any good pictures, but being before the days of electronic cameras I am left with scanning some fading photographs.

Impressive looking, wasn’t she? Yes, that’s full grown, she was probably 8 years old in these pictures. She was too short to jump up onto the couch or bed, so we had a series of pillows or hassocks for her to work her way up. This was fortunate, as being so small we were able to keep her sleeping in her own little bed on the floor rather than joining us in ours, from fear of rolling over on top of her. She was always cold, and so we put hot pads under her bed and always kept them warmed up. Especially after we moved to San Diego, where it always seemed cool. I don’t know how little dogs would survive in snow country. But in both Temecula and after moving to San Diego we put little doggie doors that lead to our back yard, and she was able to get outside on her own. Rose lived with us for about fourteen years and was just a joy, always wanting to be held and was really in love with B. Her favorite place was up on a pillow on the couch in the front room, where she could look out the window and see what was going on outside.

Back to current day, Buster is now about 19 (we got him at the pound fifteen years ago), and a vet at that time thought he was four. He spends most of his days sleeping, the rest of the time he just wanders around bumping into things. He lost his left eye a few months ago, and has cataracts in his right eye, so we think he can only distinguish light and dark shapes. He is continually bumping into things, we can hear a distinctive thump as he hits the cabinets in the kitchen, and when he is lost among the chair and table legs as well. Outside he tends to walk in the direction of his good eye, and this is lost in the middle of the yard wandering in circles. When we leave the house he does go out the doggie door, which he can eventually find, but he ends up in the middle of the yard not able to find his way back in. Since it’s now summer and over 100f outside we don’t want him out there wandering for hours and end up getting heat stroke, so we have to close off the door when we leave and face him being stuck in the house for hours and do the cleanup.

We just got a new refrigerator (you should have read about that) and changed from a white one to a stainless steel one. It seems to have confused him, because he was used to something different being right there. Now we find him standing nose to refrigerator just standing there for extended periods. I know he can’t see well enough to make out a reflected dog shape, and have no idea what is going on in that little old man brain of his. But we often find him there.

Most of the time he sleeps. And as he is now without many of his teeth, including the front ones, his little tongue just doesn’t always stay in his mouth when sleeping. We put towels on the couches he likes to frequent, to keep them a little cleaner, and usually he is on the couch in the TV room, just snoring away.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Summer bugs

Well, it’s August here in the desert and for a few days we have cold weather. That’s cold by our standards - a storm front is moving in and the winds are blowing, up to 59mph gusts today, and a high of only 94f (34c), about the same for the next two days. We are now into the bug days of the year. These have been buzzing around for a few weeks, B calls them June bugs, even though they used to come around in July down in Phoenix, she remembers tying strings to them and pinning one to her shoulder, so it would fly around her head. They are pretty, but keep bumping into everything. From the top they are just dull green

But on the bottom it’s a loverly iridescent blue green, that really sparkles in the sunshine.

And we have dozens of these all over our patio

They grow up in the grass, but at night for some reason they migrate down onto the concrete. They used to get into the house, but a few years ago B signed up with a bug man a friend uses; now all we see are dead ones every morning. No, I didn’t sweep these together, they are all over the outside each morning. If we walk out into the grass when it’s dark it’s almost like a carpet of bugs, and our compost bin has almost a solid layer of them in the dark, but all disappear when the sun comes up. I guess the birds eat them so they hide during the day.

I put up a third feeder, moved the backyard one over to right in front of the kitchen window and put the new one back by the table.

This morning I was sitting out there reading the paper and drinking coffee watching these guys - there are about a half dozen regulars out back, but two are the boss. I can recognize a few of them, they are just dull grey, some have bright green heads, and some of them have different buzzing sounds when they fly, one is really loud. These two each sit near one of the feeders and chase everyone else away. It’s amusing watching them squeaking and zipping past, and seeing somebody slide in to get a quick drink before the boss comes back and chases them away. There is another similar group out front. Each feeder takes a cup of sugar water, and I have to refill all three twice a week, so someone is keeping their energy levels up.

Out in our front courtyard we have a small fountain, and the birds come sit on the iron fencing on top of the lower wall checking if it’s safe before dropping down for their drink. I am pretty sure that this is the area where they usually sit.

It’s all small sparrows and finches, no big birds have been seen here. We have another fountain in the back that is also used quite a bit for drinks and baths, but back there we just have trees out in the gravel, so the evidence is not this striking.

We’ve been using the pool most evenings, water temp is a nice 90f, really pleasant to float around in, watch the sunset and see the birds going off to bed and the bats replacing them, bouncing around over our heads chasing insects. I don’t know what they catch, as we don’t have to use screens because there are really no flying bugs around (just those crawling ones above, and the pretty green beetles) , no flies or mosquitoes around our place.

Hope you all are enjoying summer.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Videos - Rock and Roll

We have the smoooooth jazz station on, and for some reason a Fats Domino song was played. He doesn’t really fit in with the pattern, but it made me start looking up songs on YouTube and enjoying that old time music. Fats was well known for Blueberry Hill in 1956, along with a bunch of other hits.

Down in the Related Videos list so nicely supplied were some contemporaries that also had rockin’ songs. Jerry Lee Lewis

And the first rockabilly song, written by Carl Perkins in 1955, but I think Elvis’ version is more widely known.

And finally one more to keep your toes tapping, Bill Haley

Dare you to listen to those and not want to get up and dance, or sit and bounce and sing along.