Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter sunshine

It was a very pleasant Saturday here in Vegas, temps were right around 20c (68f) all afternoon with bright sunshine. We usually get a few weeks of nice weather at the end of January, then it cools off a bit. We usually spend this time cleaning up the yard and trimming the trees and bushes. This year B decided to do quite a bit of cutting back, as our sagebrush (now about seven years old) are over six feet high. They are really nice several times a year, when they are covered in purple blooms, but are a bit too large now. I know, there are varieties that stay small, but not when we bought these. The results of the pruning?

Piles and piles of branches waiting for bagging and disposal. You can see the results behind, we left them about a meter high. Beneath one side we found some paperwhites blooming already.

And the sunset sky was nice and clear, just a little mist and the aircraft vapor trails leaving LA.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bathroom done - finally

It’s a bright sunny day here in Vegas. On Monday we had a record high for that date, a whole 23c (74f), and it’s been up around there all week. At night the temp drops down to around 6c (42f) but the weather report for the next week shows sunshine every day. It’s why I’m here, but I still like the summer highs better. Sorry about you guys back in the next storm path.

We finally finished our bathroom remodel, just in time for our holiday guests. This all started because of rust in the water: when our granddaughter came she takes baths, and in filling the tub the water was rusty for the first few seconds. In order to look at the pipes I had to take off some tiles to get into the wall, this is the original tiles put up when the house was built in the ‘70s.

I had installed a small plastic shower stall when we first moved in, there was only a shower head over the tub, and my mother couldn’t lift her legs up to get into the tub so a walk in shower was a requirement. The original bath redo was only supposed to be new tile around the bath, but then in a phone conversation my wife had with our daughter she suggested we dump the plain white shower and tile it all. Well, lots of work later:

The area around the tub is what was supposed to be done. The only thing original left in here now is the tub; it’s an old cast iron one, and still looks fine so it’s still here. For a break B thought we should put some decorations, so we went with the small colored stripes around eye level, and also put them on the shower floor. The field tiles were 24” x 24”, left that size on the floor but cut in half to 12” x 24” and put on the walls vertically. That was a lot of work, especially with the rental saws not cutting nice straight lines. Oh well, next time we buy the right size (they weren’t available for this tile, which B really liked)

Yup, I figured out how to put in those niches to hold shampoo and stuff; another pain to do. We were going to leave in the sink cabinet, and when starting on the floor B asked if I had enough extra tile to go under the cabinet if we ever tore it out and went with a hanging one. Well, that lead to ‘might as well do that now too’ and so a cabinet was ordered, another wall torn out to put in supports for the hanging cabinet, and a fancy sink and faucet also on the order list. That all showed up and after the floor went in was installed. We finally found a countertop that B liked, which showed up just before Christmas, so here is the end result on that side.

It’s a small bath, just 2m wide by about 5m long (6’ x 16’), fairly normal for a ‘60s bathroom. New energy efficient fluorescent spots over the shower and tub, and a fancy fixture over the sink to light it all up, and there we are. Next project will probably be the kitchen. But that will come after I recover from the no job for a year salary hit, so don’t hold your breath.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Three things E

We had the delightful company of E and her parents this Christmas. They drove down from Portland through all of that California rain and flooding to stay with us for a week. During that time we were entertained and got to enjoy the energy of a five year old. (does that sound like we were totally worn out?)

She got a new pink outfit for Christmas, which matched her pink sneakers very well. One of her front teeth fell out just before they left Portland, so she was continually smiling in order to show off the gap, and wiggling the one next to it just so that she would fit the ‘All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth’ song. Nope, didn’t fall out while she was here.

One day the group went hiking up at Red Rock park. This is a National Park just a half hour drive from our house. There is a nice bike trail and a mixture of short and long hiking trails there, but E most liked climbing on the rocks (in her pink coat of course).

Not alone, dad was always nearby and kept her off of the really steep parts.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quiet time in Vegas

This is a quiet period in Las Vegas. CES finished up last week and there is a little lull before the next big round. There were interesting comparisons, we had CES in town filling the convention center with a bunch of ‘geeks’ interested in electronics, the AVN (Adult Video) group was at the Sands with a big award banquet at the Palms, and the Miss America group was here as well. So we go from the wholesome ‘American’ girls in the pageant to the, shall we say, less clothed less formal group at AVN to the mainly male electronics people. Something for everyone almost, no religious group though, they don’t usually come to Vegas anyway.

Carlos Santana is back at the Hard Rock for his periodic two week appearance. He’ll be back again in April, but that’s it for his contract and he said he loves Vegas but wants to tour more. Cher is at Caesar’s Coliseum for her last shows, haven’t heard anything about touring afterwards. Most of the big shows are closed for two or three weeks during January or February to give the casts vacation time, so if you’re coming out be sure to plan ahead if there is something you want to see. Hotel room rates are down, and most of the shows are offering locals special two for one ticket deals. I walked around the middle of the Strip last night and there were very few people around compared to the warmer seasons, so it’s a good time to come.

Last night I had the pleasure of having coffee and talking with Charles, a blogger out on a business trip from Hong Kong. I read his blog along with that of his wife Tess and enjoy the stories of raising trips + 1 in Hong Kong. Charles is the third blogger that I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, so if any of you come to Vegas please email me in advance and we can get together. I like showing off the city, and too many tourists just spend time on the Strip unaware of all the things available.

As for the weather here – it’s sunny with a bright blue cloudless sky (as usual), cold but warming up. Supposed to be back up to daytime highs of 21c (70f) or so by the weekend .Hopefully the cold is over, but there is still a chance of dropping down below freezing through February. No more snow.

Let’s end up with a bit by Santana. I first heard his recording of this back when I was in the Navy stationed in California, in (can I say it’s that long ago?) 1970 on the Abraxas album, which we played over and over. He still puts on a great show, come to Vegas and catch his regular act or if he starts touring again please try and see him.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vegas snow

Didn’t get any snow last year, can’t say that about this year. Listening to how the southeast is now having problems, and the big storms in the northeast over Christmas, and all the white stuff in Europe, still makes me happy to be living here.

We did get some snow on January 3, but at my house it only took 20 minutes to disappear. Fortunately my wife was home to get some pictures.

That’s about it. Low of -3c that night, but got up to 10c in the afternoon, no chance of that stuff staying around. But it did look pretty coming down, and on the bushes. Mt. Charleston, only 100km away, got over two meters on their ski slopes, leaving us with white mountains in the distance.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday music for your brain

A recent posting by DA referred to this article that discussed how listening to music created the same chemicals in your brain as having sex. So to start out your week right I thought I’d post links to the three musical snippets that produced the most responses. Can’t guarantee anything, but enjoy.

Barber’s Adagio for Strings

Debussy's Claire de Lune

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony – Ode to Joy (I still wonder who Joy was)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

City center

It was a lovely New Year, a bit cold and windy but nice and sunny. We had a day of snow – looking out the window where I worked there were a few dozen flakes that fell, at home there were more but it all melted in a few minutes. Up in Summerlin they supposedly got three inches, but we didn’t drive the eight miles to go see. The mountains around all got a few feet, so now the valley is ringed with mountains that have white tops and gleam in the sunshine (shining on my shoulders as I type). Hotels were at 100% occupancy for New Years Eve, and we had 320,000 people out on the Strip watching the fireworks and freezing. But unlike New York’s Times Square people are allowed to have drinks out on the sidewalk, well, the Strip itself was closed so you could walk down the street drinking your drink of choice (only no glass allowed) and most people did. Pictures of the event show a lot of those tall souvenir drink holders that hold about a gallon of liquid. Most locals buy one and then refill it themselves with good stuff, the smart tourists drink a bit then dump in a bottle of vodka or tequila and keep going.

Everyone is off home, so we have a quiet house again. Not sure what I like better, having family visit or the quiet time after they leave. We mostly stayed at the house, but did wander down to the Strip a few times to see the new stuff and look at the Bellagio Christmas display.

Back in City Center, this is an interesting sculptural element inside of Crystals shopping center