Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stuff & nonsense

We have been having a pretty quiet time lately.  Our big excitement over the weekend was a visit with blogger Ed and his dog Patches.  Ed has a medical appointment in Las Vegas on Wednesday and I volunteered to keep Patches while he is gone.  We thought we would get together ahead of time so Patches would have a chance to know me and my wife; not to mention our dog and cat.  As it turned out, everything is pretty cool.  Patches is really good with people; pretty good with the other dog and really amazed by the cat!  It was actually pretty funny.  Scotchie, the cat, is 17 and has been around a lot of dogs and he isn't taking any guff from them.  Patches would sneak up behind Scotchie and take a good sniff and Scotchie would turn around and whack Patches in the nose and Patches would run off.  LOL  Scotchie has no front claws so isn't going to do any harm but it sure surprised Patches.  So anyway we had lunch and everyone got to know everyone else.  Wednesday should be a piece of cake.

Late breaking news:  Ed is getting picked up for the trip to Vegas at 05:50 a.m.!  Hell, it will still be dark!  But I guess we'll live through the experience. 

I went over to pick up Ed and Patches in our truck which has hardly been out of the garage since we got home from San Diego.  Somehow it has developed a pull to the left and a shaking like something is out of round.  Took it down to a local tire place and sure enough, there is a bulge in the tread of the right front tire.  We had one tire grow a bulge in the sidewall on our trip to Washington in 2011 (approx. 20k miles); we had another grow a bulge in the tread while in San Diego (30k miles); and now at least one of the remaining tires has a bulge.  Hmmm.  I guess I can't really recommend the Continental tires that Ford put on the truck!  I think we'll just have the local guy replace both front tires (the old ones) with another brand.  We could chase around getting warranty work from Continental but that entails a trip to Las Vegas plus tying us to them for any future problems.  I think having a guy right here is the way to go.  The Continentals have been replaced under warranty pro-rated for the service we've received but that is still $120 + tax; new tires will probably run me $220 each but they won't carry the Continental name and if I have a problem the seller is about 4 miles away.

We are finally in our few moments of fall-like weather.  That means mid 90F days (35C) and mid 60F (18C) at night.  It's a big improvement over summer.  Of course it means other things:  Walmart has their Christmas stuff out!  The rest of the stores are focusing on shorter-term goals like Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Maybe it makes me sound old and grumpy but I think I prefer waiting just a bit longer for the attack of the Christmas sale. Ok, so I'm old and grumpy; but you knew that already!

Have a good one anyway!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I have been reading blogs lately whose writers are anticapating some sort of incredible collapse of our society - soon!  I disagree but I am in sympathy with them.  Our society is clearly in trouble; and not just ours but seemingly the entire world.  Let's see what sort of collapses I can find.

1.  The economic state of the U.S. - Public Debt is just crazy, the economy in general is dull at best.
2.  The euro - bailing out the poor countries will be awful; kicking them out ditto.
3.  Islamic unrest - is it out of control?  How does a primarily Christian country like the U.S. but believing in a separation of church and state respond to a religous war? 
4.  Will terrorists start sneaking serious bombs into our country?
5.  Is there a threat from China?  Clearly they make everything we use, buy all our debt, are establishing a huge military presence, may have the abliity to undermine our infrastructure.
6.  Our infrastructure is dying on the vine anyway since our country isn't investing in it at all.  And basic scientific research is dying without investment - if you don't think that is important you are sadly mistaken.

Of course I've not mentioned the things I don't think are dangers (and why) - like:

1.  Whether or not Mr. Obama was born in the U.S. (It's a done deal folks!)
2.  Increased gun control. (Against - I like guns AND the Constitution; read the 2nd amendment.)
3.  Immigrants. (This is the melting pot, let them in.  Legalize them!  In a generation, we'll all be better for them.  No one is complaining about the Irish any more.)
4.  Paying for abortions via Medicare. (Would you rather support the kids on welfare?  How about paying for orphanages?)
5.  The decline of morality.  (This does bother me but I don't see it as a danger as long as we don't try to impose any specific definition of morality on our society.)
6.  Religion in general.  (Read the damn Constitution!  Whatever you believe, as long as you keep it reasonably to yourself, go ahead.  Yes, even Scientologists, Islamics and athiests.)

Have I ever been wrong?  Of course!  All the time!  But really folks, I don't think the sky isn't falling any more than usual.  And even if it were, no one gets out of this life alive anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another Vegas trip

We wandered into Las Vegas again yesterday on a kind of different mission:  my wife and daughter wanted to go see the musical Wicked at the Smith Center.  I went along just for some quiet time in Las Vegas.  We left about 15:00 for a 17:00 reservation at a restaurant named Mundo which is near the theater in the World Market Center

They bill themselves as a Latin chic restaurant; it was fine.  We only had appetizers and drinks.  While the drinks were good and fairly inexpensive, the appetizers were quite unusual and in the $12-15 range.  For example, ahi tuna on a tostada - my wife loves ahi so she had to try it and I even had a bit.  It was surprisingly good though certainly different!  (I should have tried taking photos of the food but I'm usually too hungry; at least that's my excuse.)  I'm sure quite a lot of their evening business comes from the Smith Center crowd since it is so very convenient.  There are city and county buildings in the area that probably contribute to the lunch crowd not to mention other businesses in the World Market Center. (Ok, the name is pretty presumptuous but the building is quite interesting.  Maybe the 'Our Little Glitzy Corner of the Desert Design Center' wouldn't have the same ring!)

Anyway, while the ladies whiled away two & three quarters hours seeing the show, I took off and ran around the city just checking a few things out.  For example, wandering around in Frys isn't as much with my wife along; she is too practical!  I can look at these weird things and dream about doing outrageous stuff.  It was certainly more fun for me than going to the show!  Cheaper too!  I guess they liked the show and thought the cast talented but thought it rather long.  They also thought they might need crampons to reach their seats! 

In the end we made it home by midnight.  Reason enough for us not to do this too often!  However it was only about 65F (18C) so we could open the windows and cool the house off.  Very nice for sleeping!  Today we are recovering from the long day and working on those leftovers I have been whining about.  We need to take it easy on creating them in the future; this eating the same thing for a week is getting tiresome.  

Enough whining.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 again

I doubt if there are many in the Western world who don't remember 9/11; where they were, what they were doing.  My smartphone tells me it is Patriot Day.  Well, I don't mean to be a grouch but who really needed a named day?  And what the hell does it have to do with patriotism?  Tragedy Day; Terrorism Day; those mean something but Patriot Day?  The soldier who gets killed today in Afghanistan is a patriot.  The people killed in the terrorist attacks were mostly victims; the first responders might be called heroes; but I just don't care for the term Patriot Day. 

Ok, rant is over.  My wife and I are self-described weird people.  Take our eating habits for example.  We will start out a week with the fridge almost empty then we cook several days in a row and then darned thing is stuffed with leftovers.  Does anyone else do that?  For example, right now we have a big tub of ham & bean soup; another of a beef & barley stew; several pieces of leftover steak; some leftover salmon; leftover taco filling and more!  There is enough food for a dozen people; no wonder I'm overweight.  One thing we are both proud of is that we don't eat a lot of processed stuff.  No Hamburger Helper in our cupboard though we do have at least 30 different spices.  We might cook up some noodles and put hamburger in with them but it won't be out of a box. 

Of course that isn't our only weirdness.  Take vehicles; we keep them quite a while. It's not a contest or anything; I don't like unreliable vehicles but we keep them and take care of them.  Our last truck stayed with us for 9 years; the car 15 years; the one before that 10 years.  We are having a party in December; we'll be paying off the RAV4 after three years.  (Toyota was offering 0% interest & I just couldn't say 'no'.)  That means we'll have 6 to 10 years without a car payment.  That makes life a lot nicer!  The truck is an 08 model, nearly five years old, paid for, but it's only got 30,000 miles (48,000 km).  We are planning on keeping it for quite a while too.  What do we care if it's old? 

Being atheists marks us as weird too.  I doubt if I could get elected dog catcher in this country; much less in this town.  We have a church around every corner and at least two church related schools.  (Oddly, there is  no Catholic school here though there is a fairly large church; the fundamentalist sects are the ones with schools.)   It must be a reflection of my age and upbringing that I am unfamiliar with churches like The Rock Vineyard Church or The Foursquare Faith Fellowship or the Heritage Bible Church.  I'm more used to the couple different kinds of Lutheran or Baptist Churches. 

Speaking of religion; I came across an article on Thomas Jefferson and his religious beliefs.  Apparently he didn't care for the entire bible so he selected the parts he liked and physically made up his own version.  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/multimedia/videos/A-Brief-History-of-the-Jefferson-Bible.html  For me it is an astonishingly thoughtful and ambitious undertaking.  Apparently he was a person who took his religion seriously.

On that odd note I will leave you.  Have a good one.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was doing a little gardening yesterday.  Well, it was actually weeding.  Well, one weed anyway.  It was a pretty little thing.
 Unfortunately look at the spikes on that stem!  They were sharp too.
Boy I wish I could get things we want to grow to have protection like that!  You will note that my tool of choice was a pair of pliers, gloves would have been totally useless.

My wife and daughter are planning a short trip to Ensenada, Mexico next month.  They will only be gone a few days so I get to hold down the fort alone.  It's always weird when one of us is gone.  I should be able to stay out of trouble; whether the wife and daughter will is more of a question!  Two years ago they took a cruise on the Mexican Riviera and really liked Ensenada.  This time they will get to see more of the city.  I'm already really happy that I'm not going.  The thought of three days with our manic daughter is enough to drive me to drink.

The folks over at Because We Can are visiting Europe again.  It is making me want to go back; I miss it.  They took a guided tour of Normandy which actually sounded like quite a lot of fun.  We visited on our own  back in 1993.  Good lord, almost 20 years ago! 
I guess Mont Saint-Michel doesn't change that much!  I remember we were walking past a bar and heard the unmistakable scream of a Formula One race car.  We went in and asked the bartender about the race.  Alain Prost wasn't winning so he was bummed out.  The beer was good though.

Have a good one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Election in Quebec???

Ok, I know the US is insular but this is carrying things too far!  There was an election in Quebec and the new P.M. is a separatist.  The Las Vegas Review Journal had not a word about the election; even though there was even a shooting involved!  Grrrr!  (Some nut came into the hall where she was speaking and managed to kill someone while missing the new P.M. entirely.)  The point for me is that Canada is an important part of the world and we don't have any knowledge of what's going on there.  Jeez!   The way I heard of the whole election/shooting was via my smartphone.  I think it is just sad that our traditional news media has become so isolated. 

Someone sent me an email the other day suggesting I watch a documentary on our local Fox affiliate on President Obama.  Are you kidding me?  What possible credence would Murdoch's right wing empire have with any normal thinking human being when talking about a fairly centralist candidate?  Oh, but I forgot, thinking is a very old fashioned virtue and isn't much done any more.  It certainly isn't allowed on television!  Every time I catch myself watching a show on Fox is pisses me off knowing I'm funding his empire. 

In an attempt to lower my blood pressure, I'm going to change the subject!  I am looking forward to the new vans that Ford and Dodge are supposed to be introducing.  I've always liked the look of the Transit van and some of the Fiat vans are pretty good looking as well and should be pretty cheap to run.  They all come from places where $5 a gallon fuel is the rule rather than a political scare tactic.  They should give the Mercedes Sprinter a run for it's money.  I don't see the traditional U.S. pickup being abandoned even though they do get awful mileage; they are kind of like cowboy boots, a tradition.  Besides, I've never seen a viable substitute.

Speaking of vans and trucks reminds me that we haven't traveled anywhere lately.  I'm not sure what's next.  There are lots of places in California that we want to visit that aren't far:  Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, the wine country, the list goes on and on.  However, most likely it will be another run to San Diego but after the new year.   Dull, that's me.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Lots of fun stuff.....

Thursday I took the F-250 over to the Ford dealer in Las Vegas for a service.  This is a 30K mile service so they do extra stuff - sale price is $500+.  This would be a reason not to buy a diesel!  However, pulling those mountains out here in the West is a reason TO buy one.  Decisions, decisions; well, the truck needed the service.  Took it in and was told that they couldn't really give me an estimate of when it would be done!  WTF?  Well, but it would be today.  Then the guy offered me a 'loaner'; a rental car from an Enterprise agency that was right on the property.  They would pay the fee and all I would have to pay would be the gas used and the taxes.  Weird but I jumped on it.  It meant I got to have lunch, check out some of Las Vegas and not be bored silly sitting in the showroom.  It was a great deal all around!  I arrived around 10:00 and decided to return to the dealership about 15:30 - the truck was done and it was pretty painless.  It cost me an extra $10 for the car but that was a heck of a deal! 

There was a very interesting (to me) article on Yahoo talking about the fact that Ford has decided to stop building the Econoline van series - the E-150, E250 & E-350's are gonners.  They are going to be bringing over vehicles that have been built in Europe (and perhaps other places) for at least 15 years.  The new vans will be taller, thinner and powered by more efficient engines both gas and diesel.  Van people know that an E-250 will be lucky to get 15 mpg; a Sprinter (by Mercedes) will do 22 mpg.  In Europe Ford has vans like the Sprinter but they haven't bothered to bring them/build them here.  The article suggested there might be some level of collusion to keep the status-quo but it's unlikely anyone will ever prove anything.  Still, better vans are something we need in this country.

We did make yet ANOTHER trip to Vegas on Friday.   My mom was the last of nine kids so I have a few cousins on her side.  There is a family get together back in Missouri that we are going to miss this year but one of the cousins was coming out here visiting friends so we had to get together.  We met at a Red Lobster restaurant; had a meal and a nice talk.  I met this guy maybe once or twice when I was a kid then didn't see him until I was over 60.  Not a close relationship (!) but I don't seem to have much trouble re-connecting with my cousins.  It was a nice visit but short.  (As an aside, I haven't been in a Red Lobster for probably 25 years.  They have changed and have food that is much healthier than way back then.  I'd definitely go back.)

So now we've had a couple quiet days.  Hanging around Pahrump isn't too exciting at the best of times.  We went out to breakfast yesterday; went out to lunch today.  We manage our usual couple of mile walk most days.  It's definitely low key stuff.  I've got to admit that we are planning yet another visit to Vegas.  We are cheese addicts and the local stores just don't have the stuff we crave.  I don't blame them; they probably wouldn't sell five pounds (10kg) of gouda a month not to mention some of the more common French and German cheeses.

My wife got the itch to clean our bookshelves; now there is a nasty job!  I'm guessing we have in excess of 300 linear feet of books (100 m); taking the book down, dusting it, dusting the shelf and putting it back is a giant pain in the whateverfloatsyourboat.  But trust me, it isn't fun.  It does need doing from time to time though so I'm slaving away beside her.  If there was ever a reason to have electronic copies of books, this is it!  My problem is that I'm a mystery fan.  Not just any mysteries, most of the books I have are copyrighted before 1960.  There aren't electronic versions; not to mention who would buy the electronic version if it were available.  I'll buy some new electronic books and read them on my pc but they will be few and far between.  I don't really care much for modern writers so I'll continue to haunt the used book stores.  Hope to see you there.