Saturday, January 02, 2016

Happy Holidays!

I wrote this just before Christmas but things have been happening (more about that later).  I still wanted to share with you why I celebrate this time of year.  I hope your Christmas was great and that 2016 brings you wonderful things.

Sometimes I'm all in favor of political correctness and sometimes it just seems like a pain in the ass.  I mean I entitle this missive 'Happy Holidays' on the off chance that someone reading this celebrates something else.  From Wikipedia: "By the late 20th century, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the African American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa began to be considered in the U.S. as being part of the "holiday season"  Well, my wife and I are agnostic so we don't really give a damn what you call it.  But we do celebrate it.  Gotta ask yourself why.  (BTW, this time of year Wikipedia is asking for donations.  If you can afford it for heaven's sake give them some money.  There isn't a better source of information anywhere on the web so cough up!  We do every year because we sure use the site and I personally admire the people who put it together.)

The reason we celebrate is only marginally complex.  It starts, of course, with our parents.  Both sets of our parents considered themselves to be Christian though none of them attended church regularly.  So we started off with some parts of a Christian upbringing.  Then we started thinking for ourselves and kind of got over it.  (Our favorite, if rude, comment came from some movie or tv show refering to one's belief in God as having an "imaginary friend".  Sorry but I had to say it!)

So now we are in our mid-60's; haven't had any religious feelings in probably 50 years and yet we have our Christmas tree in the living room.  What's with that?  I wish people "Merry Christmas" all over town.  Huh?  Am I just full of crap?  I would argue not - but who wants to say they are full of it?

First of all, I don't believe in all the religious stuff but one of the most important founding principles of this country is freedom of religion.  That's one of the reasons I'm so proud of being a vet, I support your right to practice whatever religion you like even though I don't agree.  And if you wish me "Merry Christmas" all I do when I respond in kind is to basically say "I hope you have things to celebrate in this holiday season".  It's verbal shorthand.  Well, who doesn't like a party?

Now our tree.  Now our tree has become the story of our family.  The tree itself is a 4 foot (bit over a meter for your world dwellers) guy that we bought our first Christmas in the Netherlands.  So, just looking at it reminds us of one of the great experiences of our lifes.  So then we dress it up.  The lights do absolutely nothing for us except make it prettier.  The pointed ornement on top is simple and not religious.  (It also reminds us of the time many years ago when my brother-in-law made a star out of aluminum foil for our tree but that's another story.)

The ornements are the point for us.  We have all kinds of things hanging on that tree; our tree of life.  There are things the kids made when they were kids; not 40 somethings!  There are things my wife's mother gave us.  There are swarovski crystal things we bought back when they made different things every year.  (Last time I looked they were just hanging a '2015' sign on their annual star these days.  Needless to say we stopped buying them!)  There are little straw things we bought in the Netherlands.  Every item has it's story.  It's the story of our lives; our family; our love.  Isn't that the whole point of the holiday season?  So call me a fool but don't touch my Christmas tree!

Happy Holidays, folks.  And Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and whatever greetings of the season that you may prefer.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Snowy Christmas!

Woke this a.m. to find a snowy Christmas scene.  NOT expected in southern Nevada.  Have a Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Holy guacamole Bat Man!  Really, it's almost a month since I posted.  Who the heck wants to read something like that?  Well, sorry but I am a lousy correspondent via snail-mail so I guess expecting me to be a better blogger might be kind of wishful thinking.  So has anything been happening?

In a word, yes.  Most importantly my wife had some dental surgery planned IF this one blood test came back right.  As it turned out, the test suggested that the surgery should be put off so that got canceled.  Of course, having that sort of thing going on still involves trips to the lab, the dentist (in Vegas) and plenty of phone calls to the insurance people, etc.  It's not a minor deal even though the surgery was canceled.

So then there is the great bed purchase investigation.  We have had our bed for eight years and it is increasingly annoying.  It's not a standard size (2 inches too narrow er, 5 cm?) anyway that means sheets don't fit; it is foam so it is hot; it weighs a ton so can't be moved.  Ask my wife, I'm sure she has four or five other reasons to get rid of it.  Of course, shopping here is limited so after checking the local options, it's off to Vegas.  Off to Vegas five or six times that is!  Every bed place wants to sell you a Tempur-Pedic since they are two or three times the price of a regular mattress.  Happily for me, my wife really liked this one mattress that we saw early in our search.  Unhappily (in this case), she believes in investigating the market place so we had to hit six or eight other sales rooms.  FINALLY we got back to the first place and bought the darned thing!  Then, of course, it takes an act of Congress to the it delivered.  I love living out here but the once every 2 or 3 week delivery schedules are kind of 1870's.

Also on our list was our trailer.  Last time we used it we has a couple things that bothered us.  The big thing was that the linoleum in the main room was lifting up around the edges.  We loved the stuff when we had animals because it was so easy to clean.  But you've gotta agree that having it lift up is a bad thing.  Plus we had half a dozen other minor problems.  We scheduled a stop at the dealer so went over to Vegas a day early to get there at a reasonalble hour.  That was a happy thought.  We stayed, as usual, at the Las Vegas RV Resort on Nellis ave.  The spaces are kind of tight but it's all paved (level!), clean, 24 hour security, kind of every thing you would like in a city RV park and it was $30.  Can't beat it. We didn't have anything to eat so went out to a local place Aces and Ales.  It is a nice little sports bar-pub that has a huge selection of different beers and some not-bad food.  We each found a different porter to drink and some pub-grub to eat.  What's not to like?  To make it even better when my wife texted our daughter our whereabouts she responded "I'm on my way".  Well, I guess the way to the girl's heart is via a pub.  Who knew!  So we had a nice little visit with her.  Dropped off the rig then off home.

Of course we had to go get it a couple days later.  Back to the Resort for another night.  This time off to dinner at Casa Di Amore for an interesting experience.  The good:  the decor is 'classic Vegas' done well, the food is respectable.  The not good:  there was a huge birthday party of about 20 people making the place both really crowded and really loud.  We were lucky and got a booth on the edge of the room but it was still really loud.  And, of course, the service wasn't great since almost all the servers had some part of that huge party.  It's a place we might go back to but the clam linguine was kind of short on clams and whatever I had was forgetable since I've forgotten what it was! 

The good news about all this back and forth is that we got two breakfasts at Blueberry Hill.  We hit on this place years ago when we were visiting Vegas and it's still pretty good.  My wife loves the crepes and they have lots of other stuff.  Not cheap but it is Vegas!  There are several locations and I'm not enough of an expert to prefer one to the others.  Still, if you want breakfast that is good food and not on the strip; it would be my go-to place.

Having had the RV in the shop there are, of course, things we needed to do as well.  Highly technical stuff like putting Protect-All on the roof, replacing burned out light bulbs, replacing the anode in the water heater:  stuff like that.  It all takes time.  How did we do all this crap when we were working?  Oh yeah, we didn't have an RV.  Replacing the anode did have it's high point.  Ok, it's not tough, socket on the anode and unscrew, right?  Well, I kind of forgot that we'd used the trailer and there might be some pressure buildup in the water heater.  Result?
Yeah, I'm pretty covered in the crap that was in the water heater.  The impressive thing is that I'd taken the old anode out a few days earlier and had rinsed the heater.  Apparently I'd not done a very good job!  LOL  Anyway, it's cleaner now! 

On a less dramatic note I spent a day wandering around Nye County (here!) with some folks learning about testing our ground water for nuclear particles.  The Fed's had been doing it but now the county has taken it over so they wanted to show us all what a great job they are doing.  Actually it was kind of interesting.  The water testing itself is totally dull; it's the wells that are interesting. 
The photo is of our group checking out one of the wells supplying water to the town of Beatty, NV.  That little well house is really well insulated and from the parka in the foreground you can tell why.  It was darned cold up there!  That was a public well that is always in use so the water is always 'fresh' from the ground.  In other wells, it required hundreds of gallons of water to be pumped out before you could be sure that you were getting water from the groundwater source.  Apparently water in the pipe gets contaminated FROM the pipe so you have to pump it clear.  One of the wells being tested is in a place called Oasis Valley.  There is a spring nearby so it's relatively 'green'.  The unusual thing about that well is that some scientist from UNLV checked the water and there are elements in the water whose DNA is unknown.  Who knew water had DNA?  But apparently most water has stuff in it whose DNA is common; not like yours or mine but common for water.  Anyway, this place has DNA that just doesn't fit in with regular water.  The guy who noticed it will probably spend his career working on that little unknown thing.  Who knows what it might be!

Also on the naturalist side of things, our annual cowbird invasion has come and mostly gone.  I've no idea where they live in the winter or the summer but in the fall they come through here and pretty much take over!  They are late this year but there were plenty of them.

They are much more aggressive about the bird bath than our normal pigeons.  There would be a dozen standing on the lip of the bath and three or four more bathing.  They are the only birds other than pigeons that we've seen actually bathing.  Don't know what the deal is but if it works for them, ok.

Well, that's enough for this post.  I'll do another soon (I hope!) so until then, thanks for stopping by.  Take care.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Well, it hasn't been boring!

As I said before, I hope everyone had either a good Thanksgiving or at least a good Thursday.  We actually had a very nice one.  Number One Daughter brought a friend so there were four of us at dinner.  The turkey came out early as usual but it turned out ok.  He was a tough little devil and it took longer than usual to sub-divide him into dinner-sized portions. 

Friday was pretty normal:  my wife and I mostly rested!  This cooking thing takes it out of you.  As I often do while watching tv, I fell asleep in my recliner.   I usually wake around midnight, go to the bathroom and off to bed.  This night I woke as usual and made it to the bathroom then it hit, vertigo! 

If you haven't heard of it, vertigo is severe dizzyness.  I've had it three times in the past four or five years.  The first time we went to the emergency room because we were both terrified not knowing what was going on.  Basically they gave me a drug called meclizine to ease the dizzy feeling and sent me home after a few tests.  When we learned meclizine is an over-the-counter drug, I bought a bottle!  The two other incidents were minor in comparison. 

Anyway Friday night I headed off for my chair again but didn't make it:  I face planted into the carpet in the living room.  After a while I managed to make it back to my chair but it was a struggle.  There was no way I'd make it to the bedroom!  So I spent the remainder of Friday night in my chair.

Saturday morning my wife found me and went into 'super-nurse' mode.  It was a good thing.  I lay in the chair with my eyes closed taking meclizine for the remainder of the day.  I really couldn't open my eyes for more than a few minutes and turning my head was out of the question.  Food for the day was a small turkey sandwich. 

Sunday I felt better.  I could turn my head if it was done slowly.  I certainly wasn't walking anywhere without leaning on my wife.  Lunch and dinner were pretty low key as well.  Monday I still needed help walking.  Finally, today, I can walk unaided.  We even went to the casino for breakfast.  The real reason for going out was to see if I could manage being in the car because my wife has a medical appointment in Vegas tomorrow.  We needed to figure out if I would be ok in the car or if I was staying home.  Looks like I can go!  I'm still light headed but it's not bad.  I wouldn't want to climb a ladder or walk a narrow path but it's not bad. 

My advice is that if you can avoid vertigo, do it!  This is three days after the face-plant.
Gotta go.  It's time for more left-over turkey!  Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Getting ready....

Yep, Thanksgiving is just around the corner for those of us in the U.S.  It's one of the favorite holidays in our house because we have a lot to be thankful about and we know it.  It's also a pretty nice time of year in this part of the country; the extreme heat has finally let up and it isn't actually snowing yet.  I have to wonder if the number of traffic accidents doesn't skyrocket though; people are just crazed about getting that 'just right' turkey or a special tablecloth or something.  Personally I prefer to hide at home if I can!  The cooler weather also means I can post a photo like this:
In the summer our oven doesn't get much of a workout since the a/c has plenty to do without the additional heat.  The bbq is definitely our go-to cooking method in the summer.  This little piece of pork loin came out really nicely and the bacon added something to the peas even after it had contributed it's good moistness to the loin.  Yum!

On a completely different subject, I take a lot of photos.  I'm currently using two cameras and my cell phone.  I guess I could use the computer but not that many people want to see photos of me!  The cell phone has both forward and backward facing cameras so you can take photos of yourself and something else at the same time.  My wife and I were fooling around the other day and I took this one that is so bad it's funny.
I saw some famous guy on tv talking about his selfies where he takes a photo of someone else with just maybe one of his own eyes in the photo.  I thought I'd try it with this feature of the phone.  It actually turned out better than I'd hoped when my wife tried taking a photo of me at the same time.  Hm, another life in the fast lane moment! 

I'm probably going to be busy until after the big day so I'll take this opportunity to wish all of you in the states a Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Thursday to the rest of the world.  Let's hope it is a peaceful and loving one everywhere.  Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What to do in Vegas....

I've just discovered a really great view of Las Vegas.  It's off the top of the Rio Hotel.  The Rio is aging but is still alive.  If you want the view you need to go the the Voodoo Lounge.  You get into the elevator and press the only button - the one marked 51.  And out into the sunshine you go and UP.  You are going up the side of the tower on the left.  The lower building comes into the story later.  Did I mention it's a glass elevator?  Hope you like heights!

Happily, as long as I have something to hold on to I'm ok with that.  Not ok enough to take my camera out and take a photo but....  And this isn't my story!  My lovely wife has been known to taunt her daughter into doing things that she, the daughter, might not like doing on her own.  (Unbeknownest to either of us going up in that elevator was one of them!)  Anyway we wandered up and ended up in the "Voodoo Lounge".  During the day it's pretty dark and dumb like any nightclub.  When you go outside you have a great view of the Las Vegas strip.  I guess at night it's really cool looking at the lights of the strip from north to south.  The Rio also has the Zipline.

The Zipline is a little trip you can take between the 50th story of the main building and the top of the 20 story building on the right in the earlier photo.  The company is pretty careful about what you can carry:  they actually scan your body like the TSA before you leave on the ride.  Then you are strapped into a mini-seat and off you go.  Unlike most ziplines you don't just get off at the other end; you get towed back to the top backwards.  It's fun to watch while you are waiting for a red light but I've got to say it's better from the top of the building.  Yep, my wife managed to get her only daughter to go on it with her.  Privately I told my wife that I'd go if the kid couldn't manage it but she did and I got to take pictures!

And they are off!  You can see there is quite a view off to the west.  However I'm told that mostly they were looking at that red building that was to be their landing point.  Anyway, after the trip down (15-20 seconds) it's maybe another minute while they are towed back to the tower.

So finally we had a visit to Las Vegas that wasn't just visiting the various store we don't have here.  Our daughter kept asking me if my wife was this crazy when we were younger.  What do you think?  LOL  Life in the fast lane and all that!  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day!

Here in the states it's a day to remember our military veterans and you know I've got to say it, you deserve it!  Thank you for your service!  Some of us did very little, like me, some gave all.  Let me tell you, you just don't know what's around that next corner.

Aside from the holiday I still don't have any exciting news.  Our weather has cooled to highs in the 60's F (15C).  Sometimes we get a shoulder season and sometimes we don't.  This is one of the 'don't' years.  We did get some rain in the last month and it's caused some havoc.  Much of Death Valley National Park is closed due to flood damage.  That's pretty lousy and some of the areas like Scotty's Castle is going to take some extensive repair.  It is going to be closed for quite a while.  I'm a member of a public advisory board for the Nevada National Security Site aka the Test Site.  It is where the U.S. tested nuclear weapons from the 1950's through 1992.  They had some pretty substantial road damage due to flooding as well.  Happily that whole area is carefully monitored so we can know that there is no radiation washing down off the test site or anything like that.  I always get a kickout of this photo showing people sitting out in the desert on folding chairs waiting to see the bomb go off.  A different time indeed!  This photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Field Office.

 Well, that's it for today.  I've definitely got to get out and do SOMETHING!  Take care and have a good one.