30 September 2006

New Month, New Look

We're heading into October, and I for one am glad. September was a slow blogging month for me. There are several reasons why, not the least of which is my new schedule. Jesse and I have gone diurnal. We're up so early, the early bird is still snoozing. It's been three weeks now and I think we're fully adjusted.

As a result of the new schedule, I have been even more organized. I've resumed a comfortable gym schedule, I cook more, and I eat healthier. I've been working nights for years. I've forgotten what it's like to be able to run errands after work. It's fantastic. So I'm happy.

But it took some adjusting. And while focusing on getting into a routine I enjoy, I didn't do much. Ergo there was not a whole lot to share. Or if I had a topic, I just didn't have the time. There are some developments, some of which make me wish I had held on to my stock in Google.

A word to the wise: if you happen upon a drunk financial planner trying to get with your friend, don't take his advice. Maybe that seems obvious to you. It's obvious to me now. But he had been hired by Merrill Lynch. Shows you what they know.

Jesse and I have started using Google Calendar. We use it to mark schedule changes, concerts, company picnics, even national holidays. If you need to sync your schedule with anyone, or if you don't have Microsoft Outlook (or just don't like it), I highly recommend it. Also from Google, Picasa. It's the program we use to store and upload our pictures. But the latest version of Picasa lets us have online albums visible to anyone for as long as we want. It's like Ofoto, but you don't have to sign up for anything. I put my album here. I'll add a link to the sidebar. Speaking of sidebars, if you've seen Jesse's lately, you've seen his Google Reader. It's a list of articles that interest him. It's constantly updating, so it's constantly worth checking out.

Plus, blogger has upgraded its blogs, there are features here that weren't here before. And even though it still has the same list of templates, you can change some of the colors. Be sure to tell me what you think of my new dots. They just tickle me to no end.

So welcome to October. I'm sure it'll be really interesting. Lucy is moving in next week. And if you thought Jesse and I were fodder for a sitcom before, you'll be floored once we throw Lucy into the mix.

28 September 2006

My Name is Sonia

Actually my name was Sonia Saturday night when I went out for the 3 D's - dinner, drinks, and dancing. Now (at the risk of spilling some of our female secrets) I'm going to tell you the story of five girls who had a fantastic night on the town.

We start with only four girls having dinner at Gordon Biersch. The guest of honor was Lizbeth, who shall be referred to as "Paulina" forthwith. With Paulina were her roommate "Thalia," and friends "Sonia," and "Melissa-Faith." As the four friends ate and plotted out their night, five guys sat down at the table right across from their booth...

So there we were, minding our own business, when these dudes came and sat next to us. They peeked over, and we ignored them. Then one started talking us and we started talking back, just as we got our bill. We had every intention of leaving but they had every intention of making us stay. They bought us a round of shots. Then they bought us another. Then our 5th friend arrived and we were treated to three or four more rounds of drinks. That's the thing about Vegas, a lot of people come here with corporate credit cards. I'm not saying they spend all of their money buying drinks for girls, but a lot of them do.

Either way, they had somewhere to go and so did we. We headed one block south to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. There, we met at the Circle Bar and devised a plan to both skip the line at Body English and not pay the cover charge. I'm not going to tell you how we did it, but we did get to skip the line (probably between 50-100 people) and we didn't have to pay the cover.

Once we got inside, we started dancing near a rope. That's important because the people on the other side of the rope have paid for bottle service. That means they get seats, a table, glasses, alcohol, ice, and juices. Someone on the other side of the rope fancied Thalia. So we sent her to the other side. In return, they sent us some drinks. Delicious.

Our prime real estate got too crowded. So we found a more spacious place at a bachelor party. We all got to sit and drink, and we didn't have to sacrifice anyone. But there were a lot of lap dances. Two of our corporate friends from Gordon Biersch showed up and the party with them continued. I had a lot of fun. I really didn't even want to go home. But I had been up for 23 hours and I didn't want to crash while I was driving.

The night was fantastic. Paulina had a happy birthday. None of us spent a lot money and I will say Body English is my favorite club that I've been to in Las Vegas. I mean, just look at the pictures, we're having a blast!

23 September 2006

Sex & Violence: Sex

So we've covered violence and I don't have much to say about sex. I would just like to tell parents to stop dressing their daughters like whores. That's all.

If you haven't been around young girls lately, let me fill you in. They walk around dressed like miniature versions of The Pussycat Dolls. It's disgusting. Parents are letting their daughters wear short skirts, skimpy tank-tops, camisoles, high heeled shoes, and make up. I'm talking about girls as young as eight or nine walking around Las Vegas with red lips, knee high socks, and purses. If it reads like a pedophile's dream, imagine how it looks.

Their parents seem to be oblivious. It must be okay to buy your 10 year old a thong if Barbie is smiling on the crotch. I see these girls all the time (not in their underwear) but I see them wearing t-shirts that read things like "Big Flirt," and "Hot Stuff." I see these girls and I immediately look to their parents. But a lot of times those parents aren't there. They just let their kids run around malls without supervision. It's like they're asking for their daughters to picked up.

I tell Jesse I want to approach these families. I want to ask to take a picture of these future harlots. If the parents ask me why, I'll tell them it's for a web-site, and that people will pay for pictures of such a pretty young girl. Jesse thinks that will give people the wrong impression of me. I tell him that's okay, if it makes parents think twice before dressing theirs daughters. I mean really! And I'm not the only one who has noticed.

19 September 2006

Sex & Violence: Violence

At some point in history violence and sex were events, more than they were topics. Those events made people feel. When the Shock and Awe campaign started in March of 2003, I cried. I watched the video and thought; "there are people under those explosions." In June of 2004, I watched Nick Berg's beheading. I was more shocked by the brutality of the saw-wielder than the actual beheading. Now, three years after the war started, I read about dozens of people blown up every day. I read about bodies found in trenches, failed army checkpoints and suicide bombers. And I don't cry. I ask myself how I can tell that story in a way that will make people care. I don't have an answer. Because it's not just the war in Iraq. It's partly the genocide in Darfur with a pinch of Israel starting a war (and not being able to win). Mostly it's Americans, and our glorification of sex and violence.

Today: the violence. I think it has a lot to do with video games. Not that the people responsible for the violence play video games, but that a desensitization caused by video games decreases the outrage to these atrocities that might otherwise be instinctual. I think for a lot of young people (mostly boys) video games are the first time they are rewarded for hurting or killing another person. My brother and I played video games growing up. I think we started with Doom and progressed as far as Mortal Kombat. I enjoyed the challenge. There's something to be said about having the fastest fingers and beating your opponent. But video games have come a long way. And from what I can tell, they've been heading downhill.

For example, Jesse downloaded some demos on his XBox recently. One of the games he found and started playing is Deadrising. Don't worry parents, your child has to enter their birth date in order to view the site. If s|he is honest (and too young) I doubt s|he'll be allowed in. Of course if your 10 year old can't figure out how to pass that security check, I dare say you're failing as a parent anyway. But just so we're all on the same page, I've included a screen shot.

The premise of this game is simple: zombies are taking over the world and you (as this heroic dude) are trapped in a mall with them. I know. Why didn't I think of that? The whole game is this guy walking through the mall and using everything from CD's to golf clubs to his bare hands to literally splatter the zombies. When they catch him, they eat him. And we get to watch. The whole thing is ridiculous to my not-so-impressionable mind but I think it gave Jesse nightmares. He has a very active imagination you know.

The only realistic part is the blood, which spills brightly and loudly. It's super gross. In light of the reality I read about on the daily, I was mildly offended by it's nonchalance. It got me thinking about the kids who will read hype about this game and play it. They'll grow up even more desensitized than I did. In their lifetimes, there'll probably be nuclear warfare. And I bet their only fear will be that they'll miss out on developing mutant powers.

13 September 2006

Tale of the Teacher Who Lost Everything and Received Even More in Return

This is the story of Holly Shaffer. Shaffer is a new teacher here in the Clark County School District. She was hired over the phone on a Tuesday in August. She was living in Indiana at the time but the following Thursday, Shaffer and her fiance were here in Las Vegas with everything they owned (and wanted to relocate). By Friday they were down to just the clothes on their backs.

Shaffer and fiance were staying at
Sunset Station Casino and Hotel in Henderson. They drove here in a pickup with a U-Haul trailer attached. It was stolen from the casino parking lot. Shaffer called the school district and the district alerted the media.

And here is where I find the interest. Shaffer's story was told. It was told in the same manner reporters tell other stories about children dying in county care and boxing gyms closing because they lack community support. But when Shaffer's story was told, people here cared. And they were willing to pay for it. Shaffer and fiance started off with a free stay at the casino. Then the casino gave them gift cards for the nearest mall. From there, the community pitched in and the result was more than $20,000 in cash. Plus prizes.

In the end, Shaffer's U-Haul was found. It had some of candles inside, but little else. We also learned she wasn't the first new teacher to have her stuff stolen from the Sunset Station parking lot. It happened to another teacher a few weeks before it happened to Shaffer. By the time that teacher got to television, Las Vegas' generosity was tapped. But Shaffer did share her booty.

12 September 2006

My Latest Visitor: Michelle II

August 12

While Jesse was walking down an aisle with someone who is not me, Michelle and I slept. We woke up and ate cereal and toast. We got dressed and went grocery shopping. Like I told you, there was not a whole lot of "spectacular" in our time together.
We ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, where we both had the Twisted Macaroni and Cheese. The food was scrumptious and the service was fast. It was almost too fast, as if our waiter had stolen two other orders of macaroni and cheese from another table. We ate and enjoyed. Afterwards we went back home, where we watched a lot of television.

Later that night, while Jesse was buying champagne by the bottle, Michelle and I went to a drive in movie. It was my first ever. I've known about the drive-in here for more than a year but I never went. I imagined it was dodgy. After going to the discount movie theater here, I was sure it would be dodgy. But I was wrong.

Michelle and I went to see The Ant Bully. It's one of those movies Jesse refused to see with me. He has a deep dislike for cartoons other than Looney Tunes. I know, I shouldn't trust an elitist but I'm keeping my guard up.

The drive-in was unique. It's on the edge of town and it has lots of mounds. People with SUV's ride up onto the mounds to bring their high vehicles higher. When little Hyundais like mine roll in, they have to creep along the side and park in the aisle just to see the screen. The movie was highly entertaining. Of course it had a lesson for the kids and cut animated fun for me.

Once the movie was over, we made an appearance at a going away party for a coworker. It was way further north than I thought. By the time we arrived I was ready to leave. And after about a half hour we did just that.

August 13

On Sunday we did even less. We could barely drag ourselves out in time for dinner. We ate a Johnny Rockets, where we both ordered grilled cheese on wheat and french fries. What can I say? We have similar tastes. It made it a lot easier to be housemates.

After dinner, we went next door for ice cream. Not frozen yogurt, not sorbet and not that low-fat good for you stuff either. We went to Cold Stone Creamery. There, we did not order the same thing but we sat for a long time and talked about nothing.

And guess who we saw? I'll go ahead and tell you, since it was way to random and you'll never guess. We saw Louie Anderson. He just walked in and got in line. He ordered a large something or other and tipped $3. And then he walked out. We didn't see him get into a car (and we were watching) so we guessed he was staying across the street at the Hard Rock Hotel. Since then I've realized he's doing a show at the Excalibur. So he probably wasn't staying at the Hard Rock.

After ice cream, it was time to pick up Jesse. His flight had been delayed twice. That night we watched more TV. And Michelle returned to retirement the next day.

11 September 2006

My Latest Visitor: Michelle

My most recent visitor was Michelle. Michelle and I met in 1999. I was a Resident Assistant and she was a resident. We were both sophomores. We lived together (with another roommate) our senior year. In 2002, we graduated. I went to Fargo to work and Michelle went to Arizona to retire.

Actually she stayed with her newly retired parent until she got a job in Boston. This year, Michelle is on the west coast, getting her MBA. Before school started, she came to visit.
The story of her trip will be a hard one to tell, since there are no pictures from that weekend.

I know, I'm usually really good about taking pictures but on that particular weekend I did not have a camera. Jesse took it to Minnesota for
Adam & Amber's Wedding. I had planned to go (even though Jesse didn't want me too - go ahead, ask him why) but then I planned my trip to Fargo and told Michelle to visit that weekend. So Michelle and I were sans camera. But that will not stop me from giving you all of the details you didn't want to know.

Actually, there isn't that much to tell. Jesse would have certainly called me a bad host, had he been around for this visitor. Michelle arrived Friday, August 11th. That, you may recall, was not the best day to travel because of the brand new high security put in place on August 10th. But she arrived in one piece, with her checked luggage.
I brought Michelle to work, gave her the tour and let her loose on the strip. She came back around 2 with lots of bags and ready to eat. We had lunch at Gordon Biersch, where we both had the Southwest Chicken Sandwich. Delicious.

After work we went to the Barbary Coast. Here's a not so little known fact about the Barbary Coast, or BC as I will forever call it: during the summer, the drinks are $2. And I'm not talking about draft beer or well drinks. I'm talking about everything at the bar. Long Island Iced Teas, Martinis, daiquiris, the whole enchiladas as they say. It was a promotion they ran until the last weekend in August.

Better than the booze, is the band. There are bands that play the BC from 4 pm to 5:30 am. For Jesse and I, the real show is what you get when you mix the booze with the band. The result is something like this:
*Note: Michelle and I did not see this dancing machine. I saw him later in August, when Heather and Scott came to visit.
*Picture provided by HMS.

This particular guy had a thing for much older women. He was bopping around giving them all his mini striptease in hopes they would dance with him and let him grind up against them. Few took him up on the offer.

Anyway, Michelle and I saw our own inappropriate dancers at the BC. We also gambled a few dollars. My advice to anyone gambling with Michelle: her advice is good. So it'll seem natural when she says "bet it all" to do just that. That's when you'll have to snap out of the fog and say "woah Michelle, that's crazy." Otherwise she won't stop until it's too late. We got it in our heads that we has to see the Sirens of TI that night.

We rushed ourselves and sloshed some drinks to get to Treasure Island for the last show. Ten minutes before showtime the show was canceled because of wind. Looking at the trees, we saw no wind. But we know little of the sensitivities of pirates and scantily clad women. Maybe it was too windy for them. It was certainly too late for us. We went home and went to bed.

10 September 2006

Let's Get Up To Date

It's been more than a month since I went to Fargo. There have been a lot of happenings since then. I wanted to blog them as they happened but I like to tell stories in order. I feel that it keeps people connected and limits confusion. It took me way too long to blog about Fargo (for no reason in particular) and since my last post, I started and finished The Stand, By Stephen King. I picked it up (from our darling bookshelf) just days after I finished Cell.

I read the 1990 reprint of The Stand. Apparently that version had an additional 400 pages that were "trimmed" from the original 1978 version. I spotted a few places where I would have been glad to give Stephen some scissors but certainly not 400 pages worth. On the other hand the print was small, so I can't be sure.

Overall the story was really good, although I'm not quite sold on the climax. I said to myself, "a thousand pages to get to that?" Still, I'm glad I read it. It's probably the longest book I've ever read. I don't think I'll be reading it again any time soon. As I was searching for a website dedicated to the book, I came across supposed mistakes. I'm sure there were mistakes in the book. I read a few typos. But I did not check this list out. I just don't have that kind of time. But they are interesting. Here are some examples.

  • In Chapter 48 of the un cut version of the Stand, the MGM Grand is mentioned as being where Flagg's followers stayed. A fire destroyed the real MGM Grand on 20/21 November 1980, and the new MGM Grand opened in 1993. Because the book was set in 1990, the new MGM Grand was not opened, and thus could not have been mentioned.
  • Stu Redman is supposed to be from a town 110 miles away from Houston. On the key chain that he attaches to Kojak's collar, his phone number starts with area code 713. A town 110 miles from Houston in any direction would have the area code 281 or 409.
  • The movie version of The Stand, Mother Abagail is noted as being 106 years old, while in the book she is 108.
Like I said, I back these mistakes up, but they're here if you have a copy of the book and some time to waste. The book was made into a mini series in 1994. I've never seen it but people who haven't read the book say it was great. People who have read the book say the movies were worthless. Now that I've read the book, I doubt I'll bother with the movie.

But I digress. This week I am going to catch up. I'll be posting every day, so stop in once a day to see what I've come across in the last month. Once we're caught up, I'm sure something else will happen.

05 September 2006

Fargo: Fin

July 31

That Monday, I slept in way later than I had planned. As a result, there aren't many pictures. Heather and I met Tracy the Reporter for lunch at the last Fargo restaurant of the trip:
Doolittles Woodfire Grill. It's a chain, but it certainly hasn't made it as far West as Nevada. After lunch, I went to work with Heather. I mostly sat around until Jerimiah the Producer brought me to the airport around 7. I didn't do any actual work while I was at the station.

But I caught up with several people, mostly those with whom I am not close, but who I enjoy. With these people there's no pretense of keeping in touch. In these relationships, all parties are content with a 'Hey, how have you been' and nothing more. I think it's nice to have these sorts of relationships with certain people.

I took a few pictures. This one is of me & Heather MCS. I saw her again Just one month later, right here in Las Vegas. But that's another story for another time. The other picture is of Jerimiah the Producer, Heather the Producer, and Lisa the Anchor / Reporter. She is not to be confused with Lisa the Meteorologist / Reporter, although they have the same first and middle names.

At the end of the day, Heather (of Heather & Nick, not pictured) transferred me to Jerimiah and he brought me to Hector International Airport. There I found out the flight for which I was two hours early was running 90 minutes late. I ate what was supposed to be my mid-flight meal and watched the sun set. Ryan was flying overhead at the time (he's a pilot remember) but I missed him both times.

Instead, as I sat and waited, I also thought. I reflected on my fun in Fargo and my life in Vegas. It's odd when one considers that of the two cities, most people can't imagine being happy in one or sad in the other. Yet I've been both, in both. The people in Fargo are certainly closer to my speed than the people in Vegas. And the customer service can't be compared. But in my career, success is measured by the size of the city in which you live. It poses a future problem for me, once my contract is up and I decide what I want to be when I grow up, and when Jesse and I decide whether to stay or go. It was never my intention to stay here, and I don't think Jesse has given it any thought. Still, the decision will have to be made one of these days.

04 September 2006

Say It Ain't So

Steve Irwin is dead. The beloved Crocodile Hunter was killed Monday by a stingray. I'm not at all a croc-afficionado, but I've always liked Steve Irwin. I admire anyone who makes a career out of what they really love. He was an odd inspiration for me. But I don't believe in canonizing people because they're deceased. Irwin did bring his infant son with him for croc feeding time. That was dumb.

Irwin was an animal enthusiast with a short film career. He died while filming a documentary about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It sounds like a freak accident from what I hear. The murderous stingnray struck him in the heart, and killed him with an otherwise artificial wound.

Irwin was not a big celebrity, but he stuck out. As Jesse put it last night, there's no one else doing what he did. Crikey! It's so sad. So here's to Steve Irwin, a animal lover with a family, killed in the line of duty.

03 September 2006

Fargo: Sunday

July 30

On Sunday morning, Ryan asked me to make pancakes. Clearly he had lost his mind. No I'm kidding. Well he really did ask me for pancakes. I told I'd love to make them, but he didn't have the ingredients.

See, in my time with Jesse we've kind of molded each other. He makes French toast without cinnamon and I make pancakes according to the recipe written on a yellow piece of paper. It's actually really easy and the pancakes are delicious. Jesse won't eat anything else. So when Ryan asked for pancakes, I looked for eggs and buttermilk.

Then Ryan produced the Fast Shake. It must be the laziest invention ever. All you do is add water. You don't even take it out of the box. You just pour water into it, put the cap on and shake it. Then you pour it on the skillet. Insane. I made these so called pancakes and I tell you they weren't terrible. They were certainly better than I expected. Ryan suggested I sneak them in the next time I make pancakes for Jesse. Trust me when I tell you Jesse will know the difference.

After breakfast, I'm pretty sure we did more nothing. That might have even been the day we took a nap. Boy oh boy do I love vacations.

For the last night of my stay in Fargo, I stayed at Chateau Vinje. Remember Heather & Nick? They were out here in December and then again in March to get married. Now they live in a condo in Fargo. Heather invited me over and I agreed to split my vacation in half between their place and Ryan's. But the split ended up being 75 - 25 because of my desire to stay out drinking and cavorting.

Heather and Ryan made the custody switch Sunday afternoon at yet another eatery unique to Fargo: Grandma's Saloon and Grill. Sarah the Reporter also came t eat with us. There was a lot of, well, eating. During which, I spilled on myself. After dinner, during "the switch," I took my only pictures with Ryan, effectively immortalizing the spill forever. Also, my hair was all on one side of my head. Part of it was because of the wind. But another, larger part of it was the fact that I was playing with it.

And so Ryan was done with me. He went back to the life of the single dude, living without cable or window treatments. Heather went to the grocery store. Nick and I went to Blockbuster. Later that night we watched Firewall and ate ice cream. The movie was as predictable as any Harrisson Ford movie, but I liked it for what it was It was a very nice and relaxing wrap to a very drunken weekend.

01 September 2006

I Stand Corrected

Lisa IS actually a meteorologist. After a not so anonymous comment left below, I called Miss Lisa and had her explain it to me. The following is what I think I learned.

When you graduate with a degree in meteorology, you are a meteorologist. You can then forecast the weather wherever you want. Now I doubt the average viewer notices, but when people forecast the weather on television, they occasionally have an "AMS" next to their name. That is the seal of the American Meteorological Society. In order to get that seal, you do NOT have to be a meteorologist. You just have to forecast the weather, get some experience under your belt, and apply. There are probably several fees involved. Lisa is not "approved" by the AMS, nor does she really care to be. It's not as prestigious as it used to be.

But what Lisa wants is the "CBM" label. The "CBM" mark would mean that she is a "Certified Broadcast Meteorologist." In order to be a CBM, one does not technically have to have a meteorology degree, just a lot of experience. It mostly means (I believe) that you do such a good job predicting the weather, that people can trust you. Lisa is eligible to be a CBM, which is impressive because I certainly am not.

So, in summation, the AMS seal means you probably know what you're doing. The CBM seal means you know what you're doing AND you're good enough to be broadcast on TV. Although there's nothing to stop an AMS seal holder from being hired to be on TV.  For us, this means "Lisa the ?" is "Lisa the Meteorologist."

L - Did I get that right?