Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vegas Nights!

Part of our joint celebration of Christmas with our daughter was to go to dinner and a show in Las Vegas,  We decided to keep it simple and have both at one resort - the MGM Grand.  Dinner was at Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak.  The show was the Cirque du Soleil's 'Ka'. 

Dinner was first, kind of early at 17:30 but we are all early birds and staying out to midnight isn't our style any more.  Craftsteak doesn't look it but is a surprisingly large space.  We started with a drink at the bar - $40 (including tip) for two wines and a beer is pretty normal for the strip; not so much for the real world.  When we got seated, we were in a kind of a hurry so didn't order much - salad for me and the daughter, soup for my wife, a steak entre for each and a side of potatoes to share - not a lot I would have thought.  Add in an $85 bottle of quite nice California Cab and the bill was $350 before the tip. 

My wife and I have dined in a lot of expensive places; sometimes on our own dime, sometimes on our employer.  You get tired of the pretense that this steak is so much better than the other guy's.  I guess you would have to say that we are disgruntled foodies; or maybe never foodies at all.  Anyway, the food was good but jeez.  The salads were good, large but nothing special.  The lobster bisque was, as we heard on the web, excellent. My shortrib had fantastic flavor.  I'm only sorry I couldn't get the sauce out of the pan - they seem to think diners like kitchenware since they don't plate anything but serve everything in a pan..  Our daughter had an aged New York Strip steak; aside from being much larger than advertised I couldn't see it had a lot going for it.  My wife had the Wagyu beef flat iron steak; she loved it.  The fingerling potatoes were, well, potatoes.  Would I do it again, nope.  It just isn't worth all the hassle.

The show, Ka, was an athletic masterpiece.  The cast must number fifty, each one a aerial performer of significant talent.  The 'story' is of a young brother and sister who are on a journey.  It is interrupted by various trials and tribulations but they manage to fight though all that.  The 'star' would have to be the staging - the main stage is this huge space, perhaps 20 ft by 50 ft (7m x 17m) that is mounted so it can move forward and backward and can tilt up to almost 90 degrees.  There is lots of acrobatic climbing, running and jumping and a significant about of flying about on ropes.  We liked it but again, don't need to see it again!

So I guess that's the end of Christmas.  Maybe I don't have to do that again either.  We'll see.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We made it; now for some fun!

We made it through Christmas so now for some fun:  New Year!  I have always liked celebrating the new year.  One reason is that we always make it very low key, just me and my wife celebrating alone at home.  We usually have a special dinner but nothing elaborate, maybe an especially nice steak or, back when I could eat shellfish, lobster.  We usually have a fairly nice bottle of champagne as well even if it doesn't go particularly well with our dinner.  After dinner we will talk about the year gone by and the year ahead.  It's time to talk in broad terms about trips we might make, changes to the house or yard, earthshaking stuff like that.

After the first of the year, I'll be looking at our investments.  Perhaps it is time to lose a couple that haven't done well or perhaps it's time to take a little profit.  I used to try to make those decisions before the end of the year but I found that the holiday made me hurry, and maybe make decisions that weren't the best. 

I was standing in a line next to a total stranger the other day.  He found the card he wanted on the first try.  We talked about maybe it was an omen for the new year.  It would be good if we could all have a better 2012 than 2011.  Here's hoping it turns out to be so.  Have a good one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almost ready....

Ready for Christmas, that is.  It's getting close.  We aren't doing a lot of gifting, it seems silly between adults.  But there are a few things under the tree.  What do you do?  After a child is over some certain age they are earning their own money, making their own decisions; what does a shirt from the folks really mean?  If they don't know they are loved, you've sure screwed up!  If they need the shirt, they've screwed up.  Or we can blame our current economic troubles but I do have some trouble with that excuse.  It's the answer to whats wrong with everything. 

I was watching Anthony Bourdain's new show, Layover.  He zooms into some city and eats and drinks too much for about 30 hours then zooms back home.  This particular show was about Singapore.  I've read things about the place for years but have never visited it.  From what was shown it must be an amazing place.  The architecture was fantastic.  The public transportation was unbelievable.  Everything seemed clean and new.  It seemed a true melting pot of a place with leftovers from colonial days, all the new building, and people from all over Southeast Asia, China and India, not to mention ex-pats from Europe and the English speaking countries.  It sounded like New York must have seemed years ago.  It made me wonder if the place of the U.S. in the world hierarchy isn't much lower than we think. 

There are, of course, downsides.  Though Bourdain claimed to have never seen a policeman, he spoke of the severe penalties for drug possession.  I'm sure firearms laws are even more strict.  They have no traffic problem because the license required to buy a car costs more than the car itself (per the show).  According to Wikipedia,  Freedom House calculates that the people are only 'partly free'.  And the jury system has  been abolished leaving a suspected criminal at the mercy of the judge.  The execution rate for criminals is said to be very high.  All in all, when I win the lottery I may visit Singapore but I'm thinking I won't move there.  I haven't broken a law other than speeding in about 30 years but their brand of justice is just a little scary.

Have a good holiday if that's your thing; and all you Druids, happy belated solstice! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Las Vegas Day

We left home about 10:00 and spent the rest of the day in Las Vegas.  My wife and daughter wanted to do some shopping so I was officially released from duty for a few hours.  I tried my best to get into trouble but you know how tough that is when you are trying!  LOL 

There is an outlet mall on the south end of the strip and I walked that thing from one end to the other.  Whew!  Didn't buy much but that wasn't the case for most folks.  Business seemed to be pretty good; certainly there was a crowd for a Tuesday afternoon.  This particular place has little stands lining the sides of the mall between the store window fronts.  The worker will have one to five different stands, each with it's own kind of trinket.  There is every kind of bead necklace or stone polished and made into whatever.  Tons of cheap games or covers for your cell phone or practically any glittery thing you can imagine.  It gives the place a kind of carnival atmosphere unlike your usual suburban mall.  Of course there is massage, either by a person or a machine, tooth whitening, oxygen therapy and I don't know what else.  Fun to look at but I'd be afraid, very afraid, to participate!

Later I drove over to the strip and walked around in the MGM Grand casino.  I walked steadily for 15 minutes from the place I parked the car to what I thought was the other end of the casino.  In between is the hotel lobby with it's Golden Lion surrounded by metalic Christmas trees.
Sorry about the quality of the photo.  Every tourist wanted his/her photo taken in this spot and I'd left the camera in the car anyway.  The trees were actually silver I think but the gold of the entire room took over. 

In the end we got home in time to go out to dinner at a local bbq place.  They make a nice rack of pork spareribs for $22; a nice relief from the prices of anything in Vegas!  They have a nice menu but my wife and I really can't get beyond the spareribs.  Well, we don't try that hard either.

Have a good one!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yesterday...

The day started off a mite foggy.
The wind sock is about 200 feet away.  The house behind us is probably another 200 feet away.  The good news is that the fog burned off after a while and we had one of our usual sunny days.

The only thing I did of note yesterday was to buy a bunch of toys for the annual Marine Reserve Toys for Tots drive.  Jeez, toys are really expensive!  I only hit the toy aisle once a year so I kind of forget.  There are tons of $40 and up toys out there, all of which I ignored!  I can do an $8 soccer ball or a $10 doll but that's about my limit.  One thing I found was a bunch of books illustrated with Cars that were teaching math.  I bought several!  We have way too many people who think math is difficult so they try to ignore it.

Gotta go.  Have a good one.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Food Drive

Like most communities we had a food drive this weekend put on by our local radio station.  I heard them talking about it yesterday but promptly forgot it.  Today I had to take my library book back so I popped the radio on - then I heard that I had 16 minutes left before they were closing up!  Grrr!  You would have laughed to see me zooming around in the store trying to find stuff and get checked out in under 16 minutes!  One of the groups that have problems are some homeless vets who live out in the desert.  I figured I'd buy for them since we did a turkey and stuff like that on Thanksgiving.  I was absolutely amazed at the number of things that you can get that don't require a can opener!  Canned fruit, soup, stew, tuna - I don't think I bought anything that needed a can opener.  We don't usually buy these prepared items so it came as a major surprise to me. 

After all that excitement, I went looking for a billboard I thought I'd seen on one of our trips to Vegas.  It was closer to town than I expected and on the opposite side of the road from my memory of it but there it was.
Someone from the Philippines is going to open a mission out in the desert!  I'm just speechless but good luck to them. 

I talked about our little Christmas tree:  here it is.


It's only about 4 feet tall (1.3m) but works for us.  The ornaments are from all over - straw ones from the Netherlands, crystal from jewelry stores, home made ones the kids did 30 years ago.  The skirt was made by my wife's sister probably close to 30 years ago.  We have one box to hold the tree and one to hold the ornaments.  Just the right amount of stuff to store away.

Have a good one!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas cards

Tis the season for Christmas cards.  We do emails to most of our friends but some of the older folks aren't quite ready to give up on the cards so we do send and receive a certain number.  Unfortunately those same older folks are having health problems so the annual Christmas card is when we learn that this cousin has cancer, that one has Parkinson's, and so on.  Just to make it a truly jolly time of year, we got a call this morning informing us that another cousin passed away last night.  It all just really puts one in a crappy mood. 

We are trying to organize our holiday season; you wouldn't think it would be too tough since there are only two of us but, ha!  You'd be wrong!  We've got at least three trips into Vegas planned, probably within the next 8 days.  Good thing the RAV gets pretty good mileage.  Today is decorate the house day.  As atheist's we probably shouldn't but we like a party as much as anyone so we do our thing.  Our decorations reflect our lives - some that the kids made when they were small, some purchased locally, some from the Netherlands, some that are just old.  They range from paper to straw to wood to crystal.  You can't say we've got a dull tree.  I'll take a photo after it gets put together.

Here's hoping for a safe rest of year!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Moonrise

Couldn't help myself from taking a couple shots of the moon rising last night over the Spring Mountains to our east.  I just love the red color the mountains take on when the sun is setting.

Yeah, if you know me, you know I ran to get the camera when I saw this happening.  Anyone up for a contest to make this into an 'alien attacking' photo? 

Have a good one!

Friday, December 09, 2011

On your mark!

Get Set!  Go!
Yep!  It's started already.  Ron Paul supporters are out putting up the first sign.  Gotta give them credit for being the early birds. 

We went to a little craft sale thing in one of the casino parking lots this afternoon.  Got mugged by another bunch of Ron Paul supporters.  OMG, one guy told me how he joined the John Birch Society back in 1989.  He was also of the opinion that President Obama idolizes Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.  Another guy asked if I thought the President loves America.  When I said I am sure that he does, the guy zoomed off to bother someone else.  Jeez.  All the nuts aren't in the can!

Don't get me wrong, I'm severely disappointed in the job Mr. Obama as done.  I'm amazed at how little he has gotten done and how his relations with the Congress seem to be non-existent.  Of course the fact that the Congress is totally mired in party politics makes them all look like idiots.  (Ok, maybe the fact that they ARE mostly idiots might have something to do with it.)  I don't mind a lot of what Ron Paul has to say when he is being a libertarian but there are a few items that don't work for me.  For instance  (this is from a handout we got from his supporters),
1.  Phase out the IRS
2.  End income tax
3.  Stop foreign aid
4.  End the Federal Reserve system.
I guess I've got to pass on this guy.

Someone sends a message around every now and then asking for an amendment to the constitution saying something like:  Congress will pass no legislation pertaining to themselves that does not pertain to the entire population of the U.S.    The idea is that all the special benefits given to members of Congress should be abolished.  I'm good with that, I just wonder why all the new Tea Party candidates who were elected last year haven't proposed the legislation.  Or for that matter, why hasn't Ron Paul gotten it passed.  LOL  I'm shocked and amazed.

Well, it's going to be an interesting year.   Have a good one.






Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Brrrr

Nice and chilly out here today.  18F (7C) and the birdbath was totally frozen.  Brrr.  I know it's nothing where it really gets cold (I was born in Iowa and 18F ain't that bad there!)  but here it is about as cold as we get.  The birds may be chilly but they are still hungry!

 We keep trying to count the number of finches on the sock but they move so fast it's tough.  Then there are the guys waiting in line for a position to open up.  It's life in the REALLY fast lane for these little guys!

I watched a movie yesterday that was really interesting for me.  Let me put this is prospective:  I'm an older white guy.  I grew up in rural Iowa in the 1960's when segregation was still a fact of life in the South and there were absolutely NO 'persons of color' in my little town.  My folks brought me up to see people as people regardless of skin color.  However, it is true that I've had relatively little contact with people of other races.  I've worked with people of different races but I've never had a friend of another color.  Well, I'm kind of a loner so I do have lots of 'acquaintances' and very few people I call 'friend' but the fact remains.  Anyway, the movie was called "Something New".  It was made in 2006 and starred Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker.  The premise is that a rather upper class black woman meets a rather middle class white guy and after the usual difficulties they fall in love.  Ok, a typical romantic comedy.  What intrigued me was the discrimination that the woman's family felt about her marrying outside her race.  I've seen it discussed in other movies but this one seemed to do a really excellent job of portraying the situation.  Gotta say, I like it a lot.  I'd give it at least an 8 out of 10.

Have a good one!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Photo

Two of our local casinos have huge flags flying.  On a day like today you can really enjoy it.





Just had to share the sight.  Take care.

Regular stuff

The weather is doing it's usual crazy stuff around here.  Thursday I reported on, Friday was calm as anything and today it's blowing like crazy again.  Oh well, it's not like I'm out trying to put up fence panels or something.  And the good news is that the mountain is looking like the photo on the blog again.  It's been pretty brown for the summer and now I have snowy peaks in front of me.  ('Snow Peaks' - sounds like it should be the title of a soft porn movie.)

This cool weather makes me want to make comfort food so yesterday I made choucroute garni - there are a million different takes but mine is sauerkraut with smoked pork chops, kielbasa, potatoes and seasonings.  Many versions require several different sausages but that's tough to find around here and we are happy enough with the kielbasa.  One of these days I'm going to go hit Whole Foods or somewhere and get the real thing.  Unfortunately then we'll have a version that will feed 4 people for three days and there are only two of us.  You cook it together for a couple of hours and you are good to go.  Some recipes are for the stovetop and some are for the oven; I go stovetop just because it is easier to check on.  Usually I use chicken broth and vermouth but didn't have the vermouth so I used pinot grigio (don't tell my wife I used her wine!). 

I was checking out this story on Yahoo about the saddest cities in the U.S.  Well, I should have guessed, number 1 is our very own Las Vegas!  They looked at things like unemployment, suicide, all the stastics you might expect.  It pretty much goes downhill from there for me because both Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida are on the list.  Before we moved here we lived kind of equidistant from each!  Maybe I owe Las Vegas an apology for bringing my own personal rain cloud?  Maybe I should go visit Afghanistan? 

Gotta go.  Have a good one!



Thursday, December 01, 2011

Brrrrr

There is a weather front north of us bringing in rafts of clouds that look like giant gray mud flows.  The wind is 25 mph (40kph) with higher gusts.  NOT pleasant.  The good thing is that the desert north of us is relatively untraveled.  Closer to town where people use ATVs in the desert as a car, there is a lot of blowing dust.  Here we are just getting a share of it without the 'duststorm' aspect.

We've spent much of the morning watching the birds on the feeder.  It's on the south side of the house so the wind isn't too awful.  I'm not sure what caused it but we have just a pile of finches.  (If anyone would like to correct me on what a whole bunch of finches are called, I'd be more than appreciative.)  Feeding the birds has become quite a quest here.  I've no idea where it came from since neither of us has ever cared much about birds.  Five years ago I doubt if my wife could tell a robin from a wren and I wasn't much better!

Here's the lesser gold finches enjoying the thistle sock.



I said it was blowing - here's the wind sock that my wife bought for me - no slack today!
Have a good one!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lazy? Me?

Fraid so!  Well, at least I sure was yesterday.  We started out the day watching the Brazilian GP and then segued into doing pretty much nothing for the entire rest of the day.  Watched a lot of tv, read a bit, heck, I was even too lazy to surf the web!  I would have had to either walk into the den and sit upright at my desk or carry the computer into the living room. What with one thing and another, we have not taken our daily walk in almost a month.  We are planning on changing that today.  It's such a good habit for us and we need to get back into it.

I'm wishing for a crystal ball right about now.  This whole Euro zone foolishness is driving the whole world batty and I'd sure like to know what's going to happen.  Honestly I cannot see any country leaving the Euro simply because logistically they don't have a pile of any other currency laying around.  But whatever they are doing is sure wrong.  There isn't an easy answer so I imagine there will be a few more governments brought down and a few more months of crisis.  Whether the Euro disintegrates or whether it becomes a much more unified area seems to me to be the choices available.  Time and the bond markets will tell until then I'm thinking 'bouncy ride'.  Here's hoping it isn't too long.

Have a good one!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Day After the Night Before....

Well, not exactly!  Our kids wandered off to live their own lives leaving my wife and I to just go back to our lives.  I cannot tell you how wonderful that is! 

The kids are great and seeing them is wonderful but, you know, we have a wonderful life without them.  They are all like 40-somethings so we have this weird adult-child-adult relationship.  They will always be our 'kids' (including the SO of course) but they are normal adult human beings with most of the BS that that entails.  We have no grandchildren (and will have none, I'm promised) but otherwise it's the American Dream thing going on. 

In reality we don't have the proto-typical American Dream.  We've got divorce, single parenthood, abortion, child molestation, anger management problems, even murder to deal with.  But, you know, isn't that the reality of our world?  The Nelson family was there in the '50's and '60's, Ozzie and Harriet had their moment but they are long gone.  Their son Ricky died freebasing coke in an airplane; taking the whole plane full of his band with him.  David just died this year; quietly, of cancer.  But the American dream is alive, it just incorporates all of life including death.  Just ask one of the millions of people who have emigrated to this country.  It's still the land of opportunity, the land of freedom, the shining beacon for the oppressed people of the world. 

Have you noticed I'm still proud of the place?  It's not the only wonderful place on earth but it's pretty good.  Hope you had a good day today and have a better tomorrow!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Family Time

This is Thanksgiving in the U.S.  It's special for us and is made more special because both kids will be here.  So not too much to blog about.  Eating too much, probably drinking too much, talking waaayyy too much!  I'll take a few photos but nothing I would  post.  Not only will they be boring photos but private as well.

My wife and I have been cleaning for the last couple days.  Did the windows and vacuumed in places that haven't been touched in the three years we've lived here.  Amazing stuff to be found!  Well, if it won't put you off your meal, it was mostly dead bugs and cat hair.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Breakfast will be when the son & his significant other wake up; maybe not too early since they went out to the casino last night.  (I almost wish they would marry so I could just say 'wife', unfortunately I'm both lazy, detest the term 'girl friend' when the female is over about 20 and politically correct!)  Our daughter is scheduled to show about noon with various goodies to keep us happy until the turkey makes it's appearance about 16:00.  Who knows what will happen after that!  Maybe the kids will all wander off to the casino again and my wife and I get a little down time.

At any rate, for those of us in the U.S. Happy Thanksgiving and for others I hope you have a very good day!  Take care.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Ready...

It's coming up on Thanksgiving and that's pretty much our favorite holiday of the year so we are excited.  I mean how excited are we atheists supposed to get at Christmas?  What we are expecting is that it will be my wife and myself, our daughter, our son & his significant other (SO) together for a few days.  So it won't be a really big thing but we have seen so little of our son (her son, my stepson) and his SO that it's still exciting for us. (A sidebar:  I'm not one to intrude in others lives but I do wish he'd just marry the woman.  They've been together for 16 years and this SO shit is so boring!)  My wife is almost over her cold and I seem to have avoided catching it so at least we can have everyone here.  Wouldn't that be nasty:  go for a holiday visit and catch some nasty bug!  

Of course the holiday means that we have to have the house looking a bit better than usual.  We've already had the carpets cleaned one day last week.  I managed to clean the deck/patio area yesterday.  It's a favorite hang-out of the birds after they have visited the feeder so you can imagine the mess.  After hearing from a friend in Florida, it occurred to me that I ought to have a pressure washer so I bought one.  It sure makes a difference in the amount of work it takes to clean the deck and the furniture!  It also cuts down on the amount of water used as well; as a desert dweller I'm loving that.  Next up is washing all the windows.   I'm beginning to think that if we didn't have visitors we'd never do a deep cleaning ever.  Hmmmm.

Our big deal this weekend will be shopping for the local foodbank.  The radio station will have a stand in front of a store and we'll help them to fill their box.  For me it's the worst to think that there are people in this country who are hungry.  We are the wealthiest country on earth, we have the highest standard of living, and we still have people who are hungry.  Isn't that just awful.  I don't really give a toss about the drunks and drug addicts who might be hungry, I'm talking about families (who might even be working!) who can't afford a decent meal.  It gives an opportunity for relatively wealthy old folks like me to practice some charity but otherwise I'm pretty appalled.  

As always, have a good one!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nasty Statistics

I had a pretty quiet day today.  We went out to breakfast then came home and did a few chores; not the stuff of good posts!  However something I read got me to thinking about some of the statistical differences between black guys and white guys here in the good old U.S.A.

The first thing that got my attention was that blacks, especially guys, are quite a lot more likely to get HIV/AIDS.  I'm giving you the URL if you want to check it out yourself.

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/us.htm
Blacks continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV.
 1.  Blacks represent approximately 14% of the US population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2009.
 2.  At some point in their life, approximately 1 in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV infection, as will 1 in 32 black women.
 3.  In 2009, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black men was six and a half times as high as that of white men, and more than two and a half times as high as that of Latino men and of black women. In the same year, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women and over three times that of Latina women.

Then I got to wondering about the prison population.  First surprise is that we have by far the largest prison population of any country.  Apparently this is in large part due to the long sentences that are mandated.  However, again, there's a lot of black guys in prison.

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/factsheets.html
Facts about prisons and Prisoners
1.  One in ten (10.4%) black males aged 25-29 was in prison or jail in 2007 as were 1 in 28 (3.6%) Hispanic males and 1 in 59 (1.7%) white males in the same age group.
2.  40% of persons in prison or jail in 2006 were black and 20% were Hispanic.
3.  Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives; Hispanic males have a 17% chance; white males have a 6% chance.

What's with this?  Discrimination does not really seem to be dead; hell, it doesn't even have a cough!  Of course ALL these guys can't be innocent but you've got to figure some were picked up because of their color.


Then there is this story about how successful black women aren't getting married; the number of black men in jail is part of the story; their educational failure is another part. 
An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903454504576486492588283556.html

He's written a book on the subject as well.  Here's a plug.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/ralph-richard-banks-black-women-marriage-book_n_1070310.html

Gotta tell you, there's 15% of our population that is really going to waste.  I'm not sure anyone is coming up with any fixes.  Having a black president MAY encourage some children in the future to stay out of trouble and in school but I'm not sure I'm that much of an optimist.

Have a good one

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Trains

A week or so ago I went to our local arts and crafts show.  It had all the usual stuff, paintings, beading, bags, dolls; nothing exciting or even very good there.  However there was a display put together by the Tonopah and Tidewater Historical Society.  Tonopah is a small town in the northern part of our county.  Mining made it important at the time when the county lines were drawn and it is still our county seat.  It's got well under 10% of the population of Pahrump but changing county lines or even the county seat is difficult to do.  Anyway, a group of people have a plan to build a scale model of the Tonopah and Tidewater Rail Road.  Apparently they already have permission to use a building in Death Valley Junction, CA.  They had a little display to give the public a taste of what they want to do.  They also were selling raffle tickets at $5 each to finance this little plan.  Here are photos from my cell phone of their setup.





The U shaped building in the top of the first photo is an actual building and is where the display is intended to be located.  We'll see what happens.  Have a good one.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good day yesterday

I had some fun yesterday going in to Las Vegas.  As I've said before if you can't get it at a supermarket, drug store, hardware store or Walmart; it's not in Pahrump.  It was time for a supply run so off I went.  I did take the time to check out a couple places that I usually pass by. 

The way we get to the northern part of Las Vegas takes you on NV 159 past Blue Diamond and the Red Rock Canyon area.  I drove through the town of Blue Diamond.  It's got a few hundred people but that's about all.  It is open to the BLM land and the wild horses and donkeys roam around regularly.  I didn't see any animals but there were droppings all over the place.  Clearly they have figured out that the grass people grow tastes pretty good.  Next I drove on to Bonnie Springs.  There is even less there though they do have a small gauge rail setup. 

I didn't really investigate it but left after grabbing a photo.  As I left town I ran into a traffic jam.  

There was a small herd of 6 or 8 donkeys.  Obviously they've gotten a handout or two from folks.  I guess it's just payment for all the photos we were taking of them.  Unfortunately I didn't have anything for them.  Guess I'm a bad customer.

Have a good one!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

Today is the day that at least some of us remember our military veterans: the ones among us, the ones who died for their country, and those who preceded  us.  For some, like me, it's better than Christmas.  I can easily believe in the men and women who have fought and perhaps died for freedom while that all seeing God thing is beyond me.  I think I prefer the name this day has in other countries, Remembrance Day.  It's not just about veterans; it's about remembering the horrors of war and why we should avoid wars.  Don't get me wrong, veterans are great.  We signed an oath offering up ourselves to protect the freedoms this nation offers.  It's just that we need to remember that war isn't a good solution to any problem.  I certainly wish Mr. Bush had remembered that prior to sending our troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. 

I'm also pretty unhappy with the way we got entangled in Vietnam even though I never went there.  It started out with fear that communism would take over Southeast Asia.  Then the hundreds of 'advisors' turned into hundreds of thousands and we were involved in a totally f@5ked up situation.  It was basically a lesson in why you don't intrude in another country's affairs.  Obviously history is a much underrated class in our schools.

I was watching what passes for the news on our local Fox affiliate.  They have two news anchors; a man and a woman.  The woman very nicely thanked her husband for his military service.  The guy also thanked him; he had no one he could think of who had served.  Wow!  That really got to me.  My grandfather served in the Spanish-American War, my mother's brother served in WWI, my dad served in WWII, my father-in-law served during Korea, I served during the Vietnam conflict, my wife's brother served for 27 years up to 2000.  This current conflict, in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the first time we haven't had family involved in well over 100 years! 

It's a cloudy day here in Nevada; fairly unusual.  Had to look it up!  Las Vegas averages 73 cloudy days a year and this is a good and cloudy one.  Check this out.


Have a good one even it it is cloudy!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Quiet Sunday

We are having a quiet day today.  The weather is a little weird.  Over in the west it is bright sunshine, in the east it is cloudy and snowy looking.  Kind of like the economy:  in eastern Europe things are looking pretty cloudy but here in the Americas some measures are perking up a bit.  Guess we'll just have to work through it all.

Since it's been chilly I've been cooking comfort food.  Now we've got an embarrassment of leftovers.  Does that happen to you?  One day we have nothing but cheese and salad in the fridge, seemingly the next day we've got about a week's worth of food.  Of course, we had a ham yesterday and that's a lot of leftovers right there.  My wife managed to come down with a cold so she isn't even interested in eating.  I may have to experiment with freezing some of this stuff! 

I've been hearing for months about how the price of food is going to rise because the corn harvest wasn't good.  What I have trouble with is using corn to make ethanol .  It's really about the dumbest thing ever, using  a food crop as fake gasoline.  You've got to know the politicians (and their friends the lobbyists) were involved in that decision.  Even the science behind the decision is crappy.  It is enough to make me ashamed to admit I'm from Iowa.

Gotta go.  Have a good one.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Cloudy? In the desert?

Yep!  We have clouds.  I was trying to get a screen capture of the radar view of all this but couldn't find a good one.  You'll just have to trust my photos.  But we do have clouds.  Rather than the low 30's (1C) we had a night where I woke to 50F (10C).  Not bad!  The clouds insulate us from heat loss and they also make the mountains look more spectacular than usual!



Sorry about the first photo, it's from my cell phone.  Why anyone thinks cell phones will take over from even point and shoot cameras is beyond me.  The camera can do so much better!  The first shot is of the clouds to the southwest just before sunrise.  The second is perhaps half an hour after sunrise, a photo of the Last Chance mountains to our northwest in the cloudy-sunny light that makes them so beautiful. 

I'm just loving life out here is the great American West.  Hope you are having as good a day!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Have you heard of this?

Found a link to this story in my internet wanderings.  It's from something called the 'Canada Free Press".  It is about a planned test of the U.S. government's Emergency Alert System (EAS) on November 9 at 14:00 EST.  The test will be nation-wide including radio, television and satellite radio.  The writer tries her hardest to make this sound like some sort of plot.  Come on folks, get a fu*king life!  Testing this system has been going on forever but, as the writer points out, it's never been done on a nation-wide scale.  Well, my question isn't 'gee is this a plot of some kind' rather it's why the hell haven't they tested this damn thing before?

One of the things she points out is that millions of drivers will be going along and their radio's will go silent.  She's worried that everyone will get all worried and lose control of their cars because the radio went off.  Of course in the next paragraph she writes about how everyone is familiar with the beep-beep-beep that precedes the test.  Grrr!  Dumber and dumber by the minute! 

This idiot actually points out that the date of the test is 9/11/11 if you reverse the day and month as is done in Europe and by the U.S. military.  Like that's supposed to mean something.  Jeez, I thought that shit went out of style with playing the Beatle's records backwards!  AND she adds this special note "As commenters to various news sites point out, Nov. 9, 1938 is also the anniversary of Hitler’s Kristallnacht and Nov. 9, 1923 the date of Hitler’s failed Munich coup." 

Well, at least I can hope that this idiot is from Canada; that would be proof that all the fools aren't 'born in the U.S.A."!  Have a good one.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Lunch!

Ok, after our rafting trip it was time for lunch.  I'm a fan of all the foodie shows.  I'm not much of a cook but I like watching them.  I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a few days ago and found an episode that was about "The Coffee Cup" in Boulder City.  They talked about it as basically a breakfast place that was also open for lunch.  Had to go!

I'd never been in Boulder City before.  It originated as a place for the workers who were building the dam - a place where they wouldn't be seduced by the alcohol and gambling that Nevada was known for even back then.  As their history web site explains "Since 1969, liquor has been legal in town, but opposition to gambling and prostitution remains and growth ordinances keep Boulder City from duplicating the sprawl of Las Vegas."  (I should mention that the casino where we met the raft company is way outside town!  There is no gambling to this day.)  The town itself is a cute little town filled with antique shops, lots of parks and very narrow streets.  "The Coffee Cup" is on the main street; indeed it seems to be the hottest place in town.  It's fairly small with a main room that is about 20' x 40' (7 m x 14m) and another narrower room next to it.  The decor is original - many license plates, water skis, photos of soldiers.  It is obvious it means a lot to the owners and, presumably, the regulars. 

Someone (I think on Yelp) had talked about their chili verde so I was pretty primed for that.  My wife ordered a mushroom cheese burger. Our server was polite and fairly quick.  It was about 12:45 and they were quite busy.  (They close at 2 p.m.)  My chili verde was very good.  I did find one piece of onion that was the size of a quarter of a small onion but the soup was tasty and well done.  Unfortunately the hamburger was not so nice.  They called it a 1/3 lb (150g) burger - no, the chef's finger must have been on the scale as well.  And it was very well done; they didn't even offer it any other way so I guess we can't complain about that except that if you 'hold the feces' you don't have to overcook hamburger!  To make matters worse, the meat was unseasoned; not even salt and pepper.  We thought the cole slaw served with the hamburger was excellent.  So, it may be the only game it town but I doubt if we'll be back.

On the way home we had an unexpected treat.  We were coming over the pass and almost at the top saw a group of 5 or 6 mountain goats!  We were doing about 50 mph (80 kph) and quickly dropped to about half that.  The goats were grazing on the side of the road and there wasn't much room there.  They weren't spooked by the traffic though so I'm hoping they decided to eat elsewhere before they got hit.  There is always some idiot trying to see if he can better his last elapsed time up the mountain.  We've seen them a couple of other times but never so many in a group.  Exciting stuff!  No photos though.  I wasn't thinking or I would have turned around and gone back to check on them.  Duh!

Gotta go.  Have a good one.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cool stuff!

A couple months ago my wife found on offer on Groupon that sold you their 45 minute tour for half price; that's $15 each.  We bought them but held off using them until it got cooler.  Like today!  So we hopped up this a.m. and set out for Boulder City, Nevada.  The tour company, Black Canyon River Adventures, has an office in a casino where you can park your car while on the tour.  First the good news, the tour was pretty cool!  This is the short tour and basically you sit in a boat at the bottom of the dam and take photos of the dam & some of the historical stuff that the guide tells you about.  You don't really go more than a couple hundred yards (or meters) but there is a lot of stuff left over from the building of the dam that made our 45 minutes go really quickly.  We all got lots of dam pictures too.  (Jeez, don't let me get started on dam jokes!)

The bad part was that the staff at the casino has the personality of a rock and was just about that helpful.  Our 10:30 tour was called that so everyone would show up for an 11:00 departure.  Isn't that helpful.  Then, of course, the fat slob who was driving our van was 15 minutes late. So we get there a little early for 10:30 then have an hour of sitting around without a word of apology.  Not a very clever group of people running the operation. 

As you can tell, I wasn't particularly inspired in my photography.  Don't know but some days it's too much trouble to take my sun glasses off to see the viewfinder.  The guide was into ornithology and was really loving the birds but he did know a lot about bits and pieces that look mysterious and were really important parts of building the dam.  I'm not too sure I'd recommend it at full price but at half price it was a very good deal.

More tomorrow.  The excitement just keeps growing and growing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Breathing just not posting

I'm still breathing, if anyone wonders, but haven't had a lot to post about.  Guess I could blither about the stock market or the Occupy Wall Street story but frankly, I don't give a damn.  So that leaves my personal life and that's pretty dull!  I did go to the doctor today and got the stitches out of my head where they cut out my basal cell but that's the excitement.  Not the stuff great blogging is made of!

We did go to our local Japanese restaurant for lunch today.  (The owner has another place in Cedar City, Utah.)  It's called Ohjah Japanese Steakhouse Sushi & Hibachi - a long name for what is a pretty fancy place by Pahrump standards.  My wife was ready for sushi and she got a plate they make up with 5 pieces plus a spicy tuna roll for something like $11.  She liked it and was filled up long before the food was gone.  I should mention that she got miso soup as well.  Personally I'm just kind of amazed that decent sushi can be had here at all!  It's a long swim from the ocean.  I had a chicken teriyaki since I'm not a big sushi fan.  It was a nice thin breast of chicken with warm sauce poured over it.  Sides were white rice, three pieces of a vegie roll and a couple of small spring roll things.  This came with miso soup and a salad.  I thought the soup was rather thin but acceptable and for $6 it was a ton of food!

In local news, the FBI tipped the sheriff off about some local guy who was spending time at child-porn websites.  The sheriff got a warrant and checked him out - now he is facing 5,000 counts of possession of child porn!  Jeez, a charge for every pornographic image?  Don't know but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Why not just one charge with supporting information?  There must be some legal quibble there but I can't imagine what it might be. 

Then there are the local 18 year old twin girls who got in the news about a month ago for trying to pawn a stolen laptop.  THIS time, they got a couple of dim-witted friends to try to pawn the stolen computer for them.  Duh!  Didn't work the first time, didn't work this time either. 

A couple weeks ago we had the tale of a young man, 20, who was charged charged with statutory sexual seduction for sleeping with a 15 year old female; his ex-girlfriend reported him out of jealousy.  At first the 15 year old denied that anything had happened but changed her story when she learned that he had already confessed.  Along comes the 19 year old man who lives with the  15 year old - yup, he's off to jail as well - charged with statutory sexual seduction of course.  Wonder if the two guys will share a cell as well? 

Don't you see why we just love it here?  Where else could you come up with all these amazing neighbors.  Have a good one!

Monday, October 24, 2011

WTF!!

I'm all for being truthful and not overly politically correct but really!

Maybe I've reached my limit.  Have a good one.

Monday, October 17, 2011

500 Posts!!

It's amazing to me but I've managed 500 posts.  It's over several years, of course, and some are pretty pitiful but still, 500.  I'm amazed. 

I went to Las Vegas today.  Our truck needed an oil change and I prefer to use the dealer if they aren't too outrageous.  The nearest dealer is in the middle of town on Sahara St.  It's kind of a pain to get there but I either make the effort or take it to someone who may or may not know what they are doing.  I'm especially concerned because the engine in the truck has multiple turbo's; double fuel filters and all kinds of weird stuff.  Plus it was only used in the 2008 and 2009 model years so there aren't a lot around. 

Got the oil changed.  It's kind of sad walking around the neighborhood, it's deteriorating almost as you watch.  There had been other car dealers around but now it's just a couple of cheap looking used car lots.  Many of the businesses have stopped advertising in English and use Spanish.  Sorry but that's not really a good sign for the neighborhood.  So the car dealer is having a moving sale.  They are moving way across town so they will be probably 10 miles (16km) closer to me and they will be next door to a Chevy dealer so they will again be among peers.  Good deal!

I ate in an Applebee's, a chain that is trying to be hip, I think!  It was actually ok.  I had a Spicy Chicken Sandwich that was actually quite spicy.  Skipped the bun and just ate the chicken & cheese.  The fries that came with it were the most salty fries I've received in a LONG time.  I managed to keep it to 1 small Sam Adams though. 

Here's a photo of the road coming home from Vegas.  This is a divided 4 lane road; lots of traffic as you can see.
Gotta go.  Have a good one!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not so quiet

This has been a week.  I'm glad it's almost over!

Wednesday we took the cat to the vet.  He's got an undercoat that gets all matted and there just doesn't seem to be anything we can do to help him.  He's 16 years old so isn't as good at cleaning himself as he was when he was younger.  We brush him, buy special brushes, whatever, he still gets mats.  Our vet worked on him once before and, after sedating him, was able to just comb the mats out.  Not this time!  When we went to pick him up, we got back a lion!


Actually it seemed as though this procedure didn't bother him as much as the combing.  Perhaps the sedation was more complete?  Who knows.  He seemed pretty normal after we got him back home.  Now the DOG thought he was from Mars and just could not get enough sniffing and carrying on.  Pretty funny!

Today it was my turn to go to the vet, er, quack, er, dermatologist.  I had a growth on the top of my head that I was told was a basal cell carcinoma.  I saw the doctor's PA a couple of weeks ago.  He's here one day a week but for the surgery you need the doc and he's only here one day a month!  So you can imagine he's got patient upon patient to see.

It's an out-patient procedure but can be a sort of pain.  Depending on the position of the carcinoma they want to remove the entire thing but, of course, no more.  You wouldn't want a larger than necessary scar on your face for example.  So they numb you up and cut it off.  Then they go check the removed tissue with a microscope to be sure they have a 'clean edge'.  If they haven't gotten all the cancer, you have to get numbed again and cut on again.  Some folks who were there when I got there were still there when I left!  They were getting to see the doctor two or three times in one office visit.  Jeez.  Because mine was on the top of my head, there was no scarring to worry about and they got it all out on the first try.  But, as they say, now I'm cancer free.

I've got stitches that will have to come out and I'm on antibiotics for a few days but that's about it.  I'm on aspirin too since the head is kind of sore.  This growing older thing doesn't have a lot going for it but I guess it's better than not.  Have a good one!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Quiet Time

My wife and I were talking this morning about how quiet it is where we live.  It is quiet.  It's not unusual to have only a few cars on the road with you.  Of course it does vary with the time of year.  It's getting to be snowbird time and the local RV parks will be full again soon.  That probably doubles the number vehicles on the roads and lots of them are big trucks or motorhomes.  It isn't really warm enough here for dedicated snowbirds but if they like the gambling and the nearness of Vegas, I guess it works.  It is also pretty cheap, RV spots can be found in the sub-$300 a month category.

When we go over to Vegas we are always taken by the rush and the noise and everyone going somewhere at top speed.  We noticed it when we were in San Diego as well, I guess they are even faster over there!  I noticed too our son & daughter-in-law seeking out quiet restful places during their time off.  They have stressful jobs so spending some quiet time wandering around in Balboa Park works for them.  I remember those days when I was living in a small apartment and needing to visit a local park for relaxation or even just being able to feel the grass.  These days all I have to do is look out the window; across the road is open desert; a few houses but not many.  Of course, if I want to see a tree... it's a different story!  LOL  Actually there are lots of trees in the valley.  Every one is irrigated but there are plenty of them.

When I was a kid my parents lived on six acres (2.5 hec.) out in Iowa (middle of the U.S.).  We had various crops that neighboring farmers planted and harvested for us.  They did the work and got half the result for their pay,  I guess it worked out for everyone since it worked that way for years.  But that was REALLY the quiet life!  It could easily be an hour between cars going by on the road.  It was a time before there were a lot of aircraft as well, now you can go outside almost any time and see a plane flying East or West at 30,000 ft. (9,000 m.)  They don't make a lot of noise but there is some in the background.   (Vegas's excellent airport was a selling point for us.  When we want to visit Europe again, it will be easy!)

Is it quiet where you live?  Is that a good thing or a bad thing for you?  Have a good one.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Leftovers

Does anyone else NEED leftovers?  I may be strange (aside from all that other stuff!) but I am actually uncomfortable if there isn't some sort of leftover in the fridge.  Maybe that's why I'm such a soup and stew guy.  I made the cajun roast the other day, yum!  Leftovers!  I'm always making soup enough for about 10, yep, leftovers.  My wife and I could easily share a steak but no, I have to cook two.  I guess I'm just strange.

I often read blogs and websites of preppers - those folks who think something apocalyptic is going to happen at any time and they want to be prepared.  I don't really agree but maybe having leftovers is my level of preparation.  Who knows.  Living where I do water is the only thing that really concerns me.  Occasionally I think about buying a couple 55 gal. drums (208 liters) and filling them with water.  Then you have the storage issue so I don't bother.  (No I haven't forgotten the 60 gallons (225 l) or so in the hot water heater.)  There is a company in Utah that sells a huge drum for storing water; I wish they made a flow-through version so it was constantly used & replentished.  Then you wouldn't have a storage issue but you would have some water available for use if the system went out.  Hmmm, maybe I need to start a new business! 

Here's hoping you have something good in the fridge as well.  Have a good one.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Gamble or not

I had a couple comments on investing in the stock market is much the same as gambling at the casino.  Well, I don't really agree.  At the casino there are mathematical odds in-favor or against the player in every position.  Not so in the stock market.  In the market you are making a reasoned choice; maybe your reasoning is good or faulty but the market itself is not inherently, mathematically against you.  

RandomRoger has a great post regarding illegal behavior in the markets.  He suggests that there are always cheats and only some of them get caught.  He's suggesting that it is simply part of life that people are always looking for an advantage.  If they can get an advantage legally, they are called 'good traders'; if it's illegal then they get called 'crooks'.

Steve Jobs - RIP

Yahoo's finance editor has done a nice job of commenting on the importance of Steve Jobs, I recommend it if you are interested though I'm sure every news outlet has a similar piece.  I was glad to find that I wasn't the only one who couldn't put a finger on his genius.  It will be interesting to see what happens to Apple now that he is no longer there.  I've told the story of my iMac; it started falling apart about a day after the warranty ended.  That combined with their total proprietary attitude killed it for me. 

We had a gray day yesterday with overcast and a 'Seattle rain' for most of the day.  It inspired me to make the Cajun Roast from Justin Wilson's cookbook.  It's a chuck roast basically.  You cut slits in the roast and put a slice of garlic, jalapeno and shallot in each slit.  Next salt & cayenne pepper the outside and put in it a roasting bag.  Add potatoes, onions, carrots to make it a traditional pot roast, then comes the trick.  Use a cup of red wine and a cup of white wine and some bitters for the liquid.  I add either water or broth to bring the level of the liquid up to the top of the meat.  Close the bag and cook at 350F for 3 hours.  (That's a medium-low setting.)  The darned thing starts smelling pretty good after about 45 minutes so it's tough to leave it alone but it's worth it in the end.  It's spicy but not hot, the vegies, if you've cut them intelligently, still have a bit of a crunch, and the juice is fantastic.  Of course the alcohol would have cooked off probably before it started smelling good, but the remaining flavors are great.  Let's just say, my wife doesn't eat very much bread but she'd send me back to the store to get rolls if I tried to serve this without them for soaking up the juice!

Have a good one!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Another day...

From AP:  "The Dow Jones industrial average was down nearly 200 points with 40 minutes of trading left. It closed up 153."

That isn't you and me making the market flop around like that.  Honestly I don't think anyone has a clue about what is happening to cause all that volatility.  The news providers have all kinds of reasons but I really can't believe them.  After all, the Greek debt crisis didn't start this morning and I doubt if it was solved this afternoon.  The debt problems here in the U.S. aren't going away either, neither are the ridiculous retirement deals our cities and states have made.  So we are left with volatility for it's own sake.  And isn't it fun!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Excellent Dinner

Ok, I admit, I was surprised by the excellent dinner our daughter produced.  It was really very good:  pork loin, asparagus, garlic bread and salad.  Simple and very nicely done.  As always happens, there were surprises, like the pork got done about 15 minutes sooner than expected, but she caught it and adapted very well.  Good for her!

We went to the casino this morning for breakfast.  We always gamble a bit afterwards (video poker).  I don't know what the deal was but it was really quite a long session; at least 30 minutes.  Someone had left their money in the machine, all $.04 of it, so I played with it.  It was one of the unusual machines that lets you play betting only $.01, I actually got up to $.13 at one point!  Amazing.  But don't worry, it was a fluke.  As usual I lost in the end both my money and the $.04.  Someone has to be sure the casino stays in business.

In that other great gamble, I'm up another half pound or so, to 224 lb (101.6kg).  Grrr, going the wrong way again.  But what are you going to do.  We've been walking as usual but I have been exercising with the weights as well.  Maybe I can convince myself that I'm adding muscle weight!  LOL  Yeah, that's it.  Sure! 

Look on the bright side and have a good one!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trying to invest

I spent most of today looking at investing options.  I make most of our investing decisions and rely on various sources for ideas.  One of the sources is RandomRoger; he's pretty definite that the U.S. is facing some financial headwinds that maybe other countries might be avoiding so he likes investing outside the U.S.  I'm pretty much convinced that he's right about our headwind problem so I look elsewhere as well.  It's just that it's a heck of a lot of work!  LOL

Looking at individual companies in this country is easy; when it is overseas it gets more difficult fast.  So I turn to ETF products that are focused on either the area or the industry that is of interest.  You know, there is still a world of choices out there.  Anyway, my head is spinning from all this stuff.  So I'm taking a day off.  You know 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' - well, I'm going to Vegas!  The hell with it.

Actually, it's just another normal shopping trip that will include dinner with our daughter.  She's cooking!!!  This woman (she's 40 for heavens sake, can't call her a girl) has NEVER made us a meal.  She's done lots of salads and stuff but to actually cook a meal; nope.  Should be interesting.  "Food TV", "The Cooking Channel" and all the rest have a lot to answer for.  If you don't hear from me for a couple weeks, you'll know it didn't go too well.
 
As an aside, I got a flier from one of our brokers the other day that had articles on options and on currency trading on the FOREX.  Jeez, I know I'm more conservative than most but I consider both of those ideas to be about as useful investing ideas for the ordinary person as the video poker machine down at Terribles.  I'd be willing to sell covered puts I guess but that's about it.  Some day-trader playing with a bank's money can probably do pretty well most of the time but I'm certain the rest of us would be losing big time.

Have a good one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trip Report - San Diego

I've got a minor report on our trip to San Diego.  We towed the trailer 671 miles(1080km).  Drove a total of 833 miles (1340km).  Spend $242 on fuel getting an average of 10.8 mpg (21.7 liters/100km).  I'm kind of surprised at how low the mileage since we had about 160 miles (260km) of non-tow miles.  I suppose going over the Cajon Pass didn't help mileage.  It is also true that traffic in San Diego is pretty fast and I was definitely keeping up with the Joneses!  LOL

I'm trying to get back into a regular work-out mode.  Damn, it's tough!  I used to work out daily, strength training that is, only for 15 minutes or so but daily.  I've fallen off that wagon though and need to get back on it.  I need to include more stretching as well.  Getting older is tough enough but losing muscle mass and flexibility in addition is just a recipe for discomfort.  I already notice problems with movement that just shouldn't be there.  The walking we regularly do is great but it's not enough. 

Ok, I'm going to go work out.  Have a good one!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rain!

Had a bunch of thunder, lightning and a bit of rain yesterday afternoon.  The drama and beauty of thunderstorms is so cool!  I should build a glass room on top of the house so I could sit there (in air conditioned comfort, of course) and get a panoramic view of the storm.  Wow, that would really be something.  Of course, 360 days of the year it would be hot enough to bake bread.

It's Sunday during the F1 racing season so later this morning we'll be sitting down to breakfast in front of the tv watching the Singapore Grand Prix.  I've been following F1 since the days of Jimmy Clark in the 1960's.  When my wife and I got together, I managed to infect her with the disease - F1-itis.  You start recognizing the names of people unknown to about 90% of Americans but who are super-stars in other countries.  The venues are amazing.  Some, like Monza, have been around for many, many years.  Others, like Singapore, are new but very exciting all the same.  Monza is a race track and as been nothing else it's entire life.  Singapore is a temporary circuit carved out of the streets of the city.  There is even Silverstone in England that was a WWII airfield before it was modified for racing.  Can you tell I love it?

Gotta go cook then see the race.  Have a good one!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moments of Duh!

I wrote earlier how much fun we had in San Diego.  One of the things we did that was unusual for us was that we bought beer when our son was coming over for dinner.  Having beer brings up the problem of refrigerator space.  RV fridges are small and ours was already pretty crammed.  So I did the obvious thing and bought one of those $3 styrofoam coolers and a bag of ice.  Worked great!  Kept the beer cold and we had half a bag of ice leftover so we didn't have to fool around with making ice cubes for rest of the trip. 

We got home and threw the leftover ice into the freezer side of our home fridge.  For a couple more days we have those nice clear cubes.  Ok, that's fine, until the ice maker in our refrigerator freezer stopped working.  Grrr!  There might be a repair person left in Pahrump but I rather doubt it.  And if the quality of the work is the same as the electricians we've had working here, you have half a chance of getting a complete idiot.  (Our 2nd electrician was excellent!)  So we are using the ice from the bag and reading the freezer instruction book and scratching our heads.  I won't tell you how long it took us to figure out that the plastic bag was blocking a sensor that tells the ice maker that it's full so not to make any more!  It was just way too long.

Aside from the ice making fiasco, things have been quiet.  I've been spending way too much time on the computer trying to figure out what kind of tv and dvd player I want in the den.  Love those reviews on Amazon and other sites.  If they aren't real purchasers they've got me fooled.  (Not that being fooled is all that impossible!)  But at least I'm reading the specs of many different options without having to hoist the boxes.  Don't you just love the internet.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Home again

Hi there, y'all; we been gone!  Took a quick trip from here to San Diego.  It's about a 6 hour drive since we 1) tow our trailer and 2) obey California's STUPID 55 mph (88kph) speed limit for people towing.  Geez, it gripes my butt every time I think about it.  Here you have a bunch of untutored, text-messaging assholes flying along at a legal 70 mph (112 kph) and they are having to dodge a vehicle, a big cumbersome vehicle, that is doing 15 mph (24 kph) less.  Grrrr!

Had a great trip though.  We had rain here the night before we left so when we got over the mountains into California there had been run-off.  There was dried mud across the road many places and in one place we found several inches (say 15 cm, I didn't measure it!) of water flowing across the road.  We left about 09:00 on Sunday and got there by 15:30 or so.  The only bad part of the drive was around Riverside, CA where I-215 is being worked on; has been for the two years we've been using it to visit San Diego anyway!

We spent our week doing tourist stuff like Old Town and Balboa Park.  The trip was mostly to see our son & his 'girlfriend' of 16 years.  So far they have resisted marriage & I wish them success.  I know I was worried when my wife and I decided to stop 'living in sin' and make it legal.  Guess it worked out since it's been 27 years now.  You never know how people are going to react though so I can see not screwing with a good thing.  We ate together a lot & talked quite a bit.  Had good food and some that wasn't quite so good.  Happily it was all good when we ate at their house and when he ate at ours (she is a nurse and was working some weird shift).

Photos?  Nope.  Except for the flowers around the dog run at the RV park!  Here's one from my cell phone:



Came back on Sunday.  It was my wife's idea to do all our traveling on Sundays and I must say it worked out well.  We had what I would call moderate traffic all the way.  We decided to stay on I-15 going north rather than take the I-215 and that was pretty successful too; not being torn-up is much easier on the nerves and it's only about 10 miles (16 km) farther.  Even at $4.15/gallon ($1.06/l.) and using 1 gallon every 10 miles (23 l. per 100 km ), it's a no-brainer.  Traffic towards Vegas wasn't bad but there was quite a lot of it.  Traffic from Vegas back to California was nasty.  There is an Agricultural Check point on I-15 in California; they had a miles long backup at 13:00!!  When we went through the previous week at about 11:30 it was nowhere near that bad.  No idea if that is always the way it is or not but I did see a few vehicles on a road going parallel to the Interstate.  Guess if I was in a hurry I might consider getting off the Southbound highway at exit 206 and try out the other road.  No idea where I'd get back on but  it would at least be fun!

We get off I-15 at Baker, CA and drive up to Shoshone, CA then cut over to Pahrump.  On the road between Baker and Shoshone (55 miles or 88 km) I counted oncoming vehicles: 3 semi-trucks; 3 work trucks, 20 private vehicles (including motorcycles). We were passed by 7 private vehicles.  My kind of traffic!

Got used to eating three times a day in San Diego; I'm hungry.  Have a good one!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Silly market

There is an old saw about getting out of the market in April and returning in September.  Isn't working well this year!  Dow is down over 300 points today.  Up a hundred one day, down a hundred the next, makes you seasick watching the darned thing.  Oh well.  Not much I can do about that!

We've spent the morning cleaning the house.  At least that's productive!  A friend mentioned cleaning their deck with a pressure washer.  I don't know why we hadn't thought of getting one before but we did and it sure makes short work of the deck.  It looks a 1,000% better in half an hour and the pressure washer uses less water than we'd use with just a hose and a brush.  Life is good!

I was reading Random Roger (as usual!) and he commented that it seems many people of retirement age still have a lot of mortgage debt.  Well, why not?  Having EXCESSIVE debt is always bad regardless of the origin of the debt but the key word is 'excessive' not 'debt'.  We owe $10K or so on our car as well but Toyota offered us a 0% loan.  We get to keep our money invested and pay off the car over several years.  What's wrong with that?  It's not like we trade vehicles every year.  Our cars last us a while:  Mazda 626 (10 years); BMW 325 (15 years); Bronco II (10 years); GMC pickup (9 years).  Aside from this 0% deal we haven't had a car payment since about 1995.  Well, that's not quite true.  When we bought our current Ford F250 they had a deal where if you financed the truck you got an additional $1000 or so off the truck.  We financed it for something like three months then paid it off.  The things we'll do for a grand!

Gotta go.  Keep your head.  The sky isn't falling quite yet!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tragedy of a sort

Here is the desert we have only a few sorts of wild creatures.  One is the burrowing owl; we knew of two.  One lives in a culvert that passes under a driveway.  The other was living out in the desert where we walk.  Yesterday morning we found that one dead.  We aren't sure how he died but he was sure gone.  This morning his corpse is also gone; only a few feathers remain.  Well, at least some scavenger got a meal.

Another creature that we have become aware of is the white tailed antelope squirrel; they have decided that the seeds that fall from the bird feeder are pretty tasty.  There are two or three of the little critters here most mornings.  They are able to burrow down into the rock and get at seeds the birds have trouble getting.  As long as they are living across the road and don't decide to try to live in our house we'll get along just fine.  When we lived in Florida a neighbor had squirrels living in his attic and that was a big problem! 

Guess it's time to go before I start writing about birds and bees and things.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Still whining...

It's still hot here and am I whining!  It affects everything, for example, the guys fixing the road around one of our three stop lights don't work when it is this hot.  How hot is it?  Well, it's 11:00 a.m. and we still have lots of warming up to do.  But here is what the birds think of it.

They are hiding in the shadow of the bird bath.  When the sun moves around to the west, they'll be on the other side of the bath.  They aren't dumb, that shade really makes a difference.  There was even one little guy hiding in the shadow of the bird feeder!  As an aside, I was expecting the birds to actually bathe in the bird bath but all they do is stand on the side and drink.  We put a large rock in the middle to act as extra standing room but they don't seem to use it much.

Have a good one.

Monday, August 29, 2011

MIA all over again

Well, I've fallen off the 'regular blogger' wagon again.  No particular reason except a distinct lack of thought on my part.  We've been having record high temps lately.  Las Vegas broke 4 or 5 high marks and the low temps were also hotter than usual so the weather guy has been having fun.  Missing out on Irene didn't hurt anyone's feelings.

This morning we walked our 2.5 miles (4km) then showered.  We had the radio on and when we got out of the shower the announcer said it was 85F (29.4C).  By the time I'd shaved and brushed my teeth, he announced it was 89F (31.6C)!  That's just silly.

In an article on Yahoo taken from The Street a guy from Standard & Poors is saying that the stock market will remain volatile for at least September and probably this is a new normal situation.  "Who or what deserves the blame? High frequency trading, hedge funds, inverse and leveraged ETFs, take your pick," he says.  Well, doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy!  He's probably right though.  All these new products that weren't available in the past (except hedge funds) have got to be changing the rules.  It's up to the investor to sort out ways to deal with the new reality.  So far my response has been to buy something I like and hold it for some time.  It's kind of a head-in-the-sand approach but as long as I'm diversified and can take some profits when they appear it should work.  At least I hope so! 

One of the new rules requires mutual funds to identify individual purchases of stock so for a fund like Fidelity's Capital Appreciation (FDCAX), Yahoo Finance shows 3 holdings of UAL, 2 of VMED.L and 2 of CVX in their top 10 holdings!  Well, isn't that just helpful.  Google isn't quite so stupid but I usually prefer Yahoo Finance.  Looks like I'll have to change my habits there as well.  Good thing I'm not totally stuck in the mud.

Gotta go.  Real life calls.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Roller Coaster Ride

Yahoo carried an article from 'The Street' suggesting that the wild gyrations that the market has been making lately may be less serious than they sometimes appear.  Here is a link; the guy points out some similarities to last summer and suggests some possible stabilizing influences that may or may not happen.  Certainly it is reassuring to thing that there might be a logical end to this foolishness; whether it is true or not I have no idea.  I really DO like the last line of the article:  "Although we expect volatility to continue, we foresee a more muted level than last week's market roller-coaster ride and a climb over the months ahead. In general, we advise investors to do what they normally do on a roller coaster: hang on tightly, grit your teeth, scream if you need to, but do not jump off."

It may be beating a dead horse but every investor should understand that the market is no place for money you are going to be needing soon.  The market does have liquidity but being able to sell something doesn't mean you'll like the price you receive.  That's one of the reasons I place as much emphasis as I do on dividend paying stocks; it makes waiting out the market easier if you get regular checks!  It is also good if you have read Benjamin Graham and are careful about paying as little as possible when you are buying.  Needless to say, that can be tough to implement.

Have a good one!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Innocent until proven guilty

The local paper has a story about some guy who has been charged with growing pot.  It's tough to get a job in the valley these days; apparently there are alternatives!  It's nice to hear about entrepreneurs in any field.  When we were in Colorado the papers were full of stories about cracking down on medical marijuana growers.  Apparently they weren't keeping good records about how much they grew and to whom they sold it.  The authorities suspect that maybe some was reaching an illegal market.  Hmmmm.

I would like it if we just did away with all drug laws for adults.  Clearly society has a responsibility to look out for children but if an adult wants to do virtually ANY drug; it's fine with me.  Do meth for a couple years and you won't have any teeth and then maybe things get bad.  But, you know, I've never tried it; don't want to.  The folks who DO want it can find it.  Why not just legalize it and tax it.  Companies would provide clean, probably cheap, product of known consistent quality.  The user would have a better experience.  The drug cartels of South & Central America would be out of business.  The drug gangs in the U.S. would be out of business.  Hell, even the lawyers, jail keepers and police would have to find something to fill their empty hours.   Nah, we can't do that, it almost makes sense.

Speaking of making sense:  Yahoo's sports page had a link to the Mark Cuban blog post that I quoted the other day.  They are giving him credit for warning about the stock market collapse; I read it that what was happening in Wall Street is uncontrolled and needs new rules, simpler rules to draw lines between investing vs trading.  He did say that what is going on now will lead us to a crisis.  He also said Australia has better rules; well, we can't learn from anyone else!  That's un-American!

Off to dinner this evening.  Last time the food was pretty awful.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy, warm times

Given all the foolishness in the stock market these days, it's great to be most of the continent away.  Hopefully it helps keep a clearer vision of the real world.  I've just been introduced to the blog of Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and an investor.  Here's a great post he wrote a year or so ago and recently re-posted asking what business is Wall Street actually in?  He's got some very interesting thoughts!

We are getting on enjoying our summer.  In Las Vegas the temperatures for August 10 were high of 106F (41C) and low of 81F (27C).  We get a little break out here for some reason.  On the same day our thermometer looked like this at 07:18 in the morning.  The upper numbers are the humidity and temp for outside; second row is humidity and temp of inside; third row is the time; fourth row is the date and the seconds value for the time.  (I didn't design it!!!)

Only 64F (18C) - it allows us to open the house and get some fresh air in the place!  Usually, by the time I go to bed about midnight we've got the windows open.

In the heat of the day, it was only 100F (38C).  It doesn't sound like a huge difference but it really does make quite a difference in your comfort (and electric bill!).  Here in the West, it just keeps getting warmer all day unlike Florida, for example, where the high would be about 15:00 then it would cool off a bit in the evening.  I took the photo at 17:04 obviously.  We do have our heat pump set to keep the house at 77F; apparently it was just about to turn on.

I do question the percent humidity that this thing shows.  In the lower photo it shows 10% outside and 2% inside; that's just tough to believe! 

Have a good one!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Good Job!

My wife did a really great thing over the weekend; she went to a self-defense course put on by our county sheriff's office.  Saturday was half classroom stuff and half demonstration.  There was a female deputy who did the talking and a male deputy who was the 'bad guy'.  She was really pumped Saturday evening.  She was learning a lot and really liked the class.  Sunday was the day when they got dirty.  The male deputy attacked each woman in the class three different ways and they had to fight their way out of it.  My wife has bruises on her breast, her side, both hips and more; the parts that aren't bruised are just sore.  The deputy did a great job of attacking physically but not being frighting emotionally.  The women ranged in age from about forty to something over seventy.  The class is free and graduates are welcome to come back for refreshers; one woman was on her seventh class! 

I'm really happy she went to the class and those two deputies are absolutely great!  We are pretty security conscious already but it sure doesn't hurt to be reminded that there are bad people out there.  Having an idea of what to do if you are attacked is really important.  Hell, I'd go to one of the classes if they were offered for guys but we are expected to know it all.  LOL  Yeah, sure, you betcha.  The only thing that keeps me from looking like a victim is that I'm over six feet tall and well over two hundred pounds (1.8 m and 100 kg)so I'm larger than lots of people and if I fall on you it would hurt!  Also I'm pretty physically confident and that counts for a lot.

I'm off to Vegas again today.  The excuse is that it's a booze run.  I'm saving $8 a bottle on cheap scotch so I've got to do it!  LOL  The real reason for me is to buy a birthday present for my wife.   I'm not entirely sure what it's going to be but, well, what husband wants to miss giving a birthday gift???  And no, we aren't in the economic strata where something from Walmart is going to work.  We were there once but not any more.  Besides, we've got a Toyota that's 18 months old and has less than 12,000 miles (19,000 km).  The dealer thinks we are dead.

Have a good one; I'm going to try to!  Oh, and Happy Birthday Bob, we're thinking of you.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Visit to Vegas

We went into Las Vegas yesterday to have dinner with our daughter.  It's a date between her birthday and her mother's so it was kind of a celebration.  We went to Ventano's in Henderson for dinner; made it an early reservation because she needs to get up early for work.  It's a nice room and has a great view.  The food was kind of weird.  Lots of seafood; according to my wife the shellfish was fine, and that's a tough road in Las Vegas!  I had a chicken scolopini.  It was tasty. The only problem I had was that it was served with a side of pasta; pasta with a very standard tomato based sauce; pasta that was plopped on the plate with my chicken & white wine scolopini.  Now that was weird.  As I said, everything tasted good but next time I'd specify that they spring for a separate pasta plate.  Service was fine but we were pretty early so the guy wasn't rushed off his feet!

After dinner, it was only about 19:30, we decided to check out the "M Resort" for a drink.  The M was built when everyone thought it was only time until the Strip needed expansion room and M was going to be the South end for a while.  Needless to say, things change, and now the M is out at the end of the strip and all alone.  Having said that, they are trying to lure locals and have a very nice facility.  We decided we'd like a view and their restaurant/bar Veloce did a great job!  It's at least near the top if not the top floor and you have a lovely view of the strip and all of Las Vegas from quite a distance away.  They had free seating in the bar and drink specials that made us "careful" people happy!  There is even an outdoor seating area that would be great when things cool off a bit.  We'll certainly be back!

All in all, it was a great night.  We ended up spending the night with our daughter and hitting Blueberry Hill for breakfast.  My wife loves their blueberry compote crepes and they have regular stuff for old fogies like me. It's not cheap but the food is good.  They have several locations; we've never noticed a difference in the quality of the food or service.  We've only had breakfast there so can't speak to the lunch or dinner - at least some of the places are open 24/7 and they do have alcohol and gambling it you need that with your food.

Gotta go.  Hope you had as good a day as we did.  Take care.