Thursday, September 30, 2010

Strip casinos

We’ve been hearing about the new City Center project for years. It finally opened around last Christmas, and we had yet to visit this $7,000,000,000 project while seeing photos of it. Last week we finally went down to the Strip and walked around the place. We parked behind the Excalibur as that parking garage is rather easy for us to get to from the back, walked around there, across the street to New York New York, over to the Luxor, took the tram to the Bellagio to see their conservatory show and then walked back through City Center itself.

It is different than most other Las Vegas casino/hotels in that it is modern. There is no theme to the place, theme casinos having fallen out of style a while back with Treasure Island being rebranded to TI and removing all piratey stuff from inside. New places are more generic and not kid oriented. CC is definitely for adults, no suits of armor or boats or anything. All the surfaces are hard and shiny, very few carpeted areas were to be found. Most Vegas casinos have full wall to wall carpets, probably to keep noise down, but CC is all tiles.

I’ve got a lot of photos, and will be dribbling them out. Here are some shots of the other casinos we walked through the same day. I like the fairy tale castle theme of Excalibur:

The Luxor pyramid is one of my favorite places. It’s always fairly dark and feels like it’s night inside because of the lack of windows and high ceiling. There is now a big flag hanging from the peak inside:

Walking back through New York New York we passed the sports book, which is quite small in comparison to other casinos. There are not very many places to sit, but there are sure a lot of big TV screens on the wall:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random girls

We are supposed to be heading down into our very comfortable Fall weather, this being the end of September, but for some reason the weather is not agreeing to this transition. High today is 39c (103f), about where it will be for the next three days before cooling slightly to a high of 32c (90f) on Monday. I was just thinking of my trip to Sweden last March, right now they are having highs around 12c (54f) all week, quite a bit different than us.

I’m listening to my New Zealand radio station Zed FM on the internet where they are headed into Spring and looking forward to warmer weather. The weekend DJs are a little strange (what – FM radio DJs strange you say?) and quite often have contests and activities going on in the studio while broadcasting, and frequently have guests in to interview. They posted a photo of this young woman with one of the DJs, but did not mention why she was invited in.

Perhaps she’s a nuclear physicist or something, or might be playing a hobbit in Peter Jackson’s next movie (filming now down there). That shot reminds me of one I recently came across: the same radio guys were talking about Geri Halliwell, one of the Spice Girls. This prompted me to bring up Google and find photos of her, to compare how she looked when in the group and what she is like now. She seems to have filled out a bit:

I’m just wondering what she is looking for in there. Hopefully most of it has been there for years and should still be the same. Celebrities must love always having the paparazzi around with telephoto lenses.

Lady Gaga has been on radio play lists all over the world. There was a comparison photo of Stefani Germanotta and the Lady G. Guess we all came from somewhere.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday videos - Adult Sesame Street

There was some controversy last week about Katy Perry appearing on Sesame Street. I really like Sesame Street, and still watch it when I can. I still like the older Muppets, but E, like most kids, loves Elmo. I started watching before Elmo came on, I think Gonzo is probably my fav. But Katy did one of her recent songs while having a play date with Elmo, the clip was somehow published on YouTube, and the resulting complaints about the amount of skin she exposed has caused SS to suspend inclusion of that segment. (the new season of SS starts today, don’t know when this clip was scheduled). In a press conference today Elmo said he would be very happy to have another play date with Katy. It looks like the video keeps being removed; let’s see if this link works:

Some people have had their kids watch the clip, and kids didn’t mention her outfit they all wanted MORE ELMO!!! So to kids the skin was no big deal. Yup, adults strike again.

On other fronts Scaryduck posted a video that we didn’t get to see over on this side, but it does remind me of the 80’s anyway. It’s not an adult video, but will probably only be remembered by adults.

(anyone want to admit to having hair like that?) Don’t think I’ve ever Jacked, was that dance popular here? Wow, enough synthesizer in that.

For our last one, let’s keep with the Sesame adult theme, but please don’t play this one when the kids are in the room. Not because of the breasts but because of the song. The Blogess pointed to a version of Peaches Teaches: I don’t think I’ll ever look at Miss Piggy the same again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

E Friday - BBKing

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.

Before E and her mom came down to visit us last we redecorated her room. I made a new bed and B painted and made it all pretty for a bigger girl. B would sit with her every evening and read a story before she went to sleep.

One evening we went down to BB King’s House of Blues for dinner. E and her mom shared something, and as the band played (loudly) they followed a New Orleans tradition of waving your napkin in the air in appreciation.

They also went out on the dance floor and had a good time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Next Harry Potter

A new trailer is out, and for those of you Potter fans (as opposed to Twilight fans) it looks pretty good - and in 3D too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dogs on Tuesday - Buster sleeping

I don’t have many pictures of Max here in Las Vegas, like kids, you take a lot of shots when they are young but eventually you get used to them and stop taking photos. But here is one of him down in San Diego, in our back courtyard with a bandage on his back leg when he tore a nail.

Buster is now around 20 years old, missing one eye and almost blind in the other and fairly deaf. He doesn’t jump around because he can’t see in addition to probably being fairly worn out. He usually sleeps most of the time, and has given up jumping onto the bed or couch, so he just lays down when he gets tired. This means we have to watch where we walk.

(no, haven't changed the kitchen floor yet) Sometimes we put him up on the couch, when it’s hot and we have the air conditioner on and the fan going.

But if we don’t pick him up he will just stop anywhere.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday videos - some strange ones

Feeling in a good mood this morning, so let’s go with some interesting videos, supplied thanks to Jenny, who posts some strange stuff at times.

Not sure what this one is about, but it’s different

Or Pickle Surprise?

Or Pork – the meat of kings?

I don’t think this is in the same league, but we can’t forget Shoes with Kelly

Friday, September 17, 2010

E Friday - guitar

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.

Several years ago we got E an electric guitar, the kind that has buttons instead of strings, and also plays background tunes while you play notes and drum sounds. E used to like putting it on the floor, starting up a song, and then dancing in a circle around the guitar. Now that she is bigger she has learned to put the guitar on and play songs rather than just be content with listening. On her last trip she performed for us several times.

Looks like she even learned some rock moves.

With a few dance steps thrown in.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Joke of the day

I go to Wondermark periodically to see their interesting period cartoons, and for some reason this one from yesterday just struck me as amusing:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More pirates

Comments on pirates made me go look for some clips. Errol Flynn is one of the first, and best, pirates, Captain Blood:

He talks more like a gentleman than our traditional image of a pirate, the way that people imagine pirates talk comes mostly from the portrayal of Long John Silver by Robert Newton in the 1955 version:

He even had a parrot on his shoulder. But perhaps the most amusing version of Long John was by Tim Curry:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Talk like a Pirate

Ahoy Maties - Arrrg – this be a reminder te ya tha international talk like a pirate day be just one week away. Next Sunday, Sept. 19, everyone a ya should be talkin like a pirate – Not this kind of pirates

But them kind

For more information yer can goes ta the Official HQ page. This event seems to be more fun over in jolly old England than here in the colonies.

So remember, don’t be talkin like this guy

Unless you dress like him too. But the good news is those last two maties will be in a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, in production now.

Arrrr, you've asked how to talk like a pirate matey, from the American site

Friday, September 10, 2010

E Friday - at the Springs

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.

Earlier in the year E and her mom came down for a visit and we took them to the Springs Preserve. Way back before the current round of invaders came to take over Nevada the prior invaders (the “Native Americans”) were living in this area because there was a natural spring and meadows in the valley; even though we are in a desert there is still some water in places. Since then pumps have been sucking the groundwater up, lowering the water table so that the natural springs are not above ground anymore. The area just west of the 15 freeway between Sahara and Charleston is where the springs were, and some of the homes there still have problems with dampness, and the trees grow very well from the higher water table. Some of this area has large lots and fancy homes, and is where the original casino managers used to live, and our current mayor lives there.

The Las Vegas Water District offices are nearby, and they used to have some demonstration gardens adjacent to the office buildings, where you could walk around and look at plants that grew well here, and talk to Master Gardeners about plants and things. Across the street is a 180 acre parcel where the original spring, and current large pumps and water tanks are located. Last year the water district fixed that area up and moved the demonstration gardens over there, now calling it the Springs Preserve. The Springs Preserve web site says “features museums, galleries, outdoor concerts and events, colorful botanical gardens and an interpretive trail system that meanders through a scenic wetland habitat”. Tickets to get in to everything cost $9.95 for residents, $18.95 for nonresidents. Before they opened the hope was to make it a tourist destination, and pay for it all through ticket sales. That never happened – I guess visitors to Vegas didn’t want to pay that kind of money to walk through gardens and see a natural habitat when there are so many more exciting things to do here. But it has become a destination for locals, we go and walk through the gardens (which are free) once in a while and some neighbors have yearly passes.

Anyway, we took E to the preserves, and walked the nature trail and played with the kids interactive exhibits. It was a little cool, so she wore her pink coat, played in the sand with Grammie, and generally had a good time.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Medical care?

When eating my lunch I’ve taken to reading books. One I just finished today is Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. We’ve been reading the New Yorker Magazine for a very long time and he is a regular contributor there, and the book is about Paris, my favorite city, so when I heard of the book I just had to get it. He, his wife and young son and their five years living in Paris between New York stays are described in the book. Their daughter is born during the last year of their stay, and the French medical system is touched upon several times.

France, like many European countries, has universal medical care, for citizens as well as visitors as the Gropniks were. Since the US is still debating the most recent health care system modifications, and a lot of people are complaining about the costs and how them durn furriners come north just to get free care, well, one of his lines in the book seemed to fit my thoughts.

Adam is describing the French ‘standard’ of giving a woman four or five days in the hospital after giving birth as opposed to the American tradition of insurance companies giving (grudgingly) only one day, or if the doctor fills out tons of paperwork, two. More than that and it takes a serious act to get an insurance company to pay for additional hospital days:

“All human desires short of simple survival are luxurious, and a mother’s desire to have a slightly queenly experience of childbirth – a laying in rather than a pushing out and a going home – seems as well worth paying for as a tobacco subsidy or another tank.”

Just thinking about how much in subsidies we give to rich people and farming corporations (how many ‘family’ farms are there anymore? And how many of them are eligible for Federal funds?) and how much the ‘wars’ (no, Congress never did declare war, did they?) in Iraq and Afghanistan cost (still costing) us? Are we better off because a huge percentage of our taxes go for the military?

Sorry, not usually political, but that section of the book just made me think of how much my finger accident cost, and how much Suzy had to pay for her fall, and what it costs for heart surgery on young kids and still wondering why we just don’t take that large payment employers and individuals give to insurance companies and just put it in taxes for medical care. I know, too many people don’t want government ‘interference’ even when they jump through hoops with insurance companies, too many medical companies and doctor groups pay large ‘campaign contributions’ (no, not bribes, those are illegal), and darn if my money will pay for those illegals to get free care.

And by the way I liked the book and would recommend it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rain! (and bbq)

Yesterday we had our first measurable rainfall in 137 days: a whole 0.24mm (0.01 inches), as measured at the LV Airport weather station. Usually we get half our rainfall for the year during the summer monsoon storms, but it seems that we were left out of this year’s storm flow up from Mexico (where our monsoon rainstorms come from). Today it is cool (relatively) and pretty windy, gusts up to 80kmh (35mph). Hi today 34c (93f) and low tonight will be 21c (69f) full sun with no clouds in the sky at all. With the small humidity increase we had a beautiful orange ball of a sunrise, and our sage will probably bloom again. They usually go all purple whenever there is an increase in humidity (even this slight).

For some reason this reminded me of our Septembers back in San Diego. It was a lot cooler there, with the highs about equal to the lows here. I was president of the San Diego Computer Society, and used to hold picnics in our back yard. We had a large yard, on a canyon fairly close to the football stadium. My friend Cy would come over early on a Saturday morning with his BBQ rig and a pile of ribs then spend all morning slow cooking that stuff. People would show up early afternoon with an assortment of side dishes and we would all just enjoy the time together. We usually had around a hundred or so people, all celebrating Cy’s abilities. Here he is starting things up:

There was usually a breeze coming up the canyon, but spending six or eight hours out in the sun turning ribs every 15 minutes (that was his formula) he ended up pretty hot and red. Before coming he would have spent the night before preparing the meat, and using whatever his magic formula was to tenderize them overnight. They cooked dry, and he would put his magic sauce on as they were being served. If I remember correctly we never had any leftovers, no matter how much he cooked.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Hi, my name is Joe and I’m addicted to computer games. There, I’ve said it finally. It all started with Atari; I purchased one of the first ones, and ended up with a stack of the (very expensive) game cartridges. I just loved those little space invaders marching back and forth as I shot them from the skies. From there I moved on to an Apple 2, which I did purchase in order to write programs for, but probably spent more time playing games on. Apple Panic was one of my favorites, jumping over things and digging holes occupied many hours. Then I moved on to an IMB PC, which had a disk drive and let me get many more programs.

I am not very speedy of reaction, and so do not really like the shoot them up games. My sons are always on line, playing the soldier type things with their Xboxes, jumping around and shooting people and getting shot. I purchased several of the games they used, but got killed within a few seconds of getting on; with one (rather expensive) WW2 shooter I couldn’t even get through the stand alone training session on the wimp setting. So none of that interaction stuff for me, I don’t mind losing but I would like to be in the game for at least a few minutes.

I like the games that make you think, try out things and find stuff, and that let you try and try again to get better. Duke Nukem was interesting, it let me wander around and shoot things and find things, and if I got killed I could go back and try it over doing something different, Doom was similar. I am in the middle of Fallout, where you wander around a landscape after a nuclear war looking for stuff and trying to survive. Yes, you get shot at, but it’s by the computer and you can go back to a previous position and avoid the area or do something different, like having a second (and third and fourth) chance. Before that it was Spore, a different game where you fly around between planets and build cities and look for combinations of things. No getting shot in that one and it’s really big – you can go to hundreds of stars looking for stuff and build cities on thousands of planets. No real way to ‘win’ it, you just keep on going until you’re tired of building and looking because eventually everything seems the same.

My latest obsession is Starcraft 2, which I picked up last week. In the Starcraft games you direct little people/aliens/equipment around a map and have them construct buildings and wage mini wars. I just love setting up a sequence of events, then sitting back and watching those little figures scurry around the screen building things and running back and forth. Sometimes I get so involved in watching what’s going on that I forget it’s a game, and then the bad guys show up and destroy my base and I have to start all over. I tried to go on line and play with others, but again I’m thinking about things and building stuff and when I look up a whole army is descending on me and all I have are workers and factories and nobody to fight back.

I joined Facebook just to play Farmville and Café World. Yes, I put up a few pictures, but those are mostly for my European friends that don’t come here, and have more family shots than interesting Vegas images. Facebook games are similar to Starcraft, where you can just sit back and watch those little people wander around and do things. There is something soothing in watching your Café and seeing all the guests walking in through the door, sit down and be served a meal. Endless hours of productive time can be spent just moving a mouse and watching a computer screen. But then that’s very similar to the programming I get paid to do, so what’s the difference? (except I don’t get paid to raise crops in Farmville, at least not in money I can send to my mortgage company).

Quite a lot of people I know are on Facebook. A number of them used to be listed over there on the right but they enjoyed the short posting formats and quick responses there and have stopped updating their blogs (I mean you too Dana and Terri). I usually drop people off of the read list after three months of no posting, so my four queens are now down to two. A few have gone over to Twitter, and seem to Tweet more than blog (Suzy says she does) but until there are games I don’t see much reason to let everyone know what I’m doing in 140 characters or less. It might be interesting to hear (sorry, read) Suz’s jokes and thoughts but I’m not sure if I can handle my cell phone continually vibrating as new tweets come in.

So, here I am, not posting as much as I want, so it’s back to walkng the Strip and taking some more pictures.