July 30, 2009


Twitter has come up eighty or so times this week. Can I just say how annoyed I am by the word “tweet”? In most cases I have no problem embracing change, I’m all for advances in technology, but I simply cannot jump on the Twitter bandwagon. Call me old school, whatever, I don’t think we should abandon grammar and complete sentences. I don’t think we should all communicate in some foreign abbreviated manner. Over the last few years we’ve been dumbed down enough by reality tv, lack of real news, etc. Do we really need something that makes us appear more foolish? Are we all suffering from ADHD? I suppose there are a few instances where it can be beneficial. Like last year, a friend was evacuated from her home because of a hurricane. She was able to keep friends and family updated via Twitter. I set up an account so I could keep tabs on her status. I haven’t used it since.

Eh, what do I know? I don’t even text. It’s too time consuming, I have an archaic Razr, by today’s standards, anyway. The only way I could see myself texting is if I got a phone with a qwerty keyboard. Otherwise, it’s much simpler to hit a couple buttons speak a few words and go about my business. It beats fumbling and scrolling through the alphabet and wasting seven minutes of my day.

Again, I must be old school.

Before I’d get terribly irritated when there’d be a fellow driver not paying attention – swerving, can’t pick a lane, driving 10 mph below the speed limit - you know the deal? Nine out of ten times the moron was on a cellphone. Now, I encounter the same behavior twice as often, half on their phones just as before, but now the rest of the asshats are texting. It’s unbelievable. Maybe they’re tweeting? I nearly caused an accident. Teehee.

In other news, on Monday, I ordered the Canon Powershot D10 I’ve been drooling over for the last few weeks. I planned to order it a couple times before, but stuff kept popping up and the extra cash was spent elsewhere. This week funds were available, I found a great price on some random camera site so I went ahead and bit the bullet. I had high hopes that it would arrive before Amy and Nicky leave. I wanted to get underwater shots of Nicky. Yesterday, they sent an email stating there was an issue. I called today much to my disappointment the camera is on back order, they expect it won’t ship for six weeks. I cancelled the order. I don’t want to wait. It figures it was a great price, fifty bucks less than anywhere else. I think I’ll shop around more, maybe I’ll get lucky and find a deal for a camera in stock? We shall see.

And to make today, just that much greater, the air conditioning at the office died around noon. It is 103-degrees currently, almost ninety inside. Lovely.

July 29, 2009

A treat!

Frank called me at work yesterday asking about dinner. I had grilled pork chops planned, he was thinking Delmonico. We compromised and decided on Stratta. My mom gave me belated birthday cash last week to put towards a meal. With the Taste of Wynn special, Stratta was a perfect fit.

I headed over to Wynn directly from work. I had an hour to kill before Frank would meet me for our reservation. I thought gambling would pass the time. It did for about eight minutes. I played Jacks or Better video poker and video keno. I don't know why I bother? I was down thirty bucks, I surrendered. I didn't see my luck changing. I walked around the restaurants checking out menus to pass the time. Okada has an Imperial Peking Duck Tasting Menu for $89/pp. What a great splurge that would be?

On to dinner, Frank arrived and we were seated just after 5:30. I selected calamari, sea scallops and chocolate toffee cake. Frank chose Caesar salad, bucatini amatriciana and tiramisu. We started with fresh bread, cheesy crackers, and delicious pesto.

The Caesar was fine, but lacked anything special. The calamari was thick cuts, reminscent of fries. Tender and delicious, we especially enjoyed the remoulade sauce. The scallops were a bit different than what I've had previously, they are now served with asparagus, pea shoots and sweet corn. The dish is still wonderful. The bucatini was quite good, the pasta was al dente and had a fair amount of spice. I thought it'd be better if it were hotter, but that'd be too much for most palettes.

Next up desserts... What can I say? They are pure bliss. The pastry chef won the award for the second year in a row for best desserts. I taste why in every bite. Frank still says he's going to cheat on me with her. I said as long as he comes home with cake. I'm okay with it. The meal was a steal at $99. I suspect we'll be back soon, perhaps while Frank's parents are visiting?

July 28, 2009

Go, go, go

The weekend was great. It was fun running around with Andie, squeezing in all we could during her whirlwind trip. Thursday after she got in we headed downtown. We walked all around Fremont so she could see the sights and snap photos. Meanwhile, Frank played some crazy three-hand blackjack game. I’m sure the odds are stacked against you, but the extra gamble looked fun.

After work, on Friday, I picked Andie up at O’Sheas. We shopped at H & M to kill time before our reservation at Fiamma. Traffic was ridiculous getting around between heavy weekend crowds and construction. The hassle was worthwhile; we each walked out with cute finds. Next, we headed over to MGM for dinner. We both opted to have the summer tasting menu. I had Caesar salad, Fusilli Carbonara with tiger shrimp and Panna Cotta for dessert. Yum! I just love their panna cotta it's served with white balsamic honey, dried mission figs, and topped with marcona almonds. I was able to sample Andie's selections, as well. She chose Gamberoni with grilled prawns and strawberry panzanella, skirt steak, potato purée and spinach, and tiramisu. Her dishes were tasty, too. Another great meal at Fiamma.

After dinner we met friends at Harrah’s Carnaval Court. We took the monorail over. After the dealing with the traffic earlier I thought it’d be best to leave the car in valet. The monorail was quick and convenient. I was surprised to see Cook E Jarr still around. He was still as awful as ever. We had a drink and visited, but good grief it was hotter than hell in there. It was terribly humid and inside the court there was no cross breeze. I was dying. I felt bad for everyone visiting, it was the wettest weekend we've had in years. Normally, Vegas’ summer nights are very comfortable. It was getting late. Andie had sights to see before it was time to go so we parted ways.

We walked to Venetian, Mirage and down to Bellagio to see the fountains. At Mirage, we spotted Steven Tyler and ZZ top at Rhumbar.

Here are my ridiculously awful attempts to capture them; needless to say I'd make an awful paparazzi.

Believe it or not, in all my years of visiting and living in LV they were my first celebs spotting. I've usually been too clueless to notice.

After Bellagio, we walked to Bally's to catch the monorail back to MGM. We retrieved the car, and then I managed to work my way across six lanes of traffic to make a left on Las Vegas Blvd so we could hit the LV sign. It was a major feat. I was so excited. Andie and I high-fived, yes, I’m a dork. We saw the sign quickly and then jetted to the airport. We said good-bye. I think she made the most of her time here. I'm glad she visited.

Saturday, I ran errands and had lunch with Frank at Siena Deli. It’s always a treat to grab a bite there. It’s over on the eastside so I don’t get over there often enough. We ordered a Sicilian sub, eggplant parmesan sandwich and a couple slices of Sicilian pizza. That eggplant parm was out of this world. Just the thought of it has me craving another sandwich. An excellent lunch! Frank got off work shortly after. We had a wonderfully lazy day. We laid in bed and watched the first disc of Breaking Bad season one. We picked up the show at the second season premiere. Now, we’re going back to see what we missed. That pilot has got to be one of the best ever. Beautifully done, I see why it won awards.

The family arrived around 7 o’clock. We had dinner at BJ’s brewhouse. Dinner was fine, but I think I’ve grown tired of it. We returned to the house for a night of swimming and relaxing in the hot tub.

Sunday, we swam again, surprise – surprise! Until the storms chased us out. Earlier in the week, Amy and I took Nicky to the strip to see Spongebob at Excalibur and the lions at MGM, but we were too late. They are only on display until 7:00pm daily.

After seeing Spongebob, we rode the tram to Mandalay Bay to occupy some time. Nicky loved it. We rode it over and over again. Eventually, I had to tell him the tram was tired and had to go night-night. Ever since, that’s all Nicky has talked about. So, Sunday afternoon, we went back and we took uncle Frank and grandma along with us.

First we saw the lions. Then, we made our way back to the tram. Grandma and uncle Frank weren’t up for riding the tram back and forth so they got off at Mandalay Bay to try their luck gambling. Meanwhile, Amy, Nicky and I rode for at least an hour. People watching is entertaining for us, and Nicky just gets the biggest kick out of it. Amazing how such simple things can amuse kids for hours. On one ride, Nicky and a little girl about his age worked the pole. It was hilarious. Can you imagine when they’re 21?

The tram had a long day and was getting sleepy so we went to collect uncle Frank and Grandma. We took one last ride back to Excalibur, much to Nicky’s dismay. He wasn’t buying my night-night excuses, it was still light out.

We had dinner at Fuddruckers, tasty as always. They had the balloon lady making stuff for the kids. She came by and made Nicky Patrick from Spongebob. Nicky was in awe. It was cute to see his reaction. Trouble was after he kept wanting to pop the balloons. It was tiresome trying to explain why that would make Patrick garbage. Kids and their neverending string of why? Last stop of the night was to Madhatter Cupcakes, next door to Fuddruckers. There’s nothing like an Island Joy cupcake to cap off a fun-filled weekend. Yum! The family went back to Pahrump and I crashed. Instantly.

July 23, 2009

Who knew the kid could play?

Years ago, the Chicago White Sox promoted "The Kids Can Play". Under Jerry Manuel's lead they put together a great team with fresh blood. Frank and I knew they were special. We thought it'd only be a matter of time for them to gain experience and then they could be unstoppable. It took five years, a few changes, including a new team manager, but the White Sox did it. They were 2005 champions. We were in awe.

One constant through all that and onto today is, left handed pitcher, Mark Buehrle. I've related to him because he's just a year older than me. I've feel like we've grown together, it's been a joy to watch him hone his technique and skills over the years. It was a proud day when Buehrle threw a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers on April 18, 2007. Then earlier this month, he represented the Sox at the 2009 All-Star Game, where he pitched a perfect third inning. It must have been practice for today, he threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the eighteenth perfect game in Major League history. What an achievement! A job well done.

Mark Buehrle. That kid can play. It's another proud day for this White Sox fan.

July 22, 2009

Time out

Funny how kids dread time out and adults beg for it.

Eleven days straight of go-go-going wore this girl out. By the time Monday rolled around I was beat. It didn't help matters that my allergies were giving me fits. The last two days when not at work you could find me in bed. Frank and I have been glued in front of the tv clearing out the dvrs. We've also had ourselves a Mad Men marathon. I tuned into Mad Men shortly before season two began, last year, but Frank hadn't seen an episode until recently. We finished season one last night, season two is on the dvr and season three will air August 16. So, we'll be ready with a rye and gimlet in hand, and an endless supply of cigs at arms reach. Okay, not really. But we will be set.

Tomorrow, a friend arrives, she has a quickie 30-hour trip planned. She'll stay with us. We intend to hit Fremont Street right after the airport, relax in the hot tub before catching a few winks, and then on Friday we'll have dinner at Fiamma and meet up with other friends in town to celebrate a lucky couple's upcoming nuptials. It should be fun.

No clue what's on tap for the weekend aside from time with the family. We've yet to make plans. Time is winding down, though, only two more weekends left before Amy and Nicky return to Chicago.

The day they leave Frank's parents arrive so we still have a while before we settle back into familiar routines.

After all our visitors leave, Frank and I will have one weekend together before he starts his football season schedule (mon/tues off - leaves us with no common day off). We're thinking of camping in Utah. I want to see the Arches, Zion or Bryce. It'd be nice to scratch one off the bucket list. It'll be here before I know it so I should start researching options.

Tonight the family will come by, I'm thinking maybe we'll take Nicky to another park. If not, we'll stay home and swim. Nicky amazes me with how well he does in the water. He started with jumping, then he learned to hold his breath, and eventually mastered going under on his own. He thinks waving to each other underwater is just the greatest. This past weekend, we worked on swimming, he'll now jump in and swim to us. All without inflatables, I should note. Amy picked him up one of the life jacket bodysuit/swim trunk combos and it's allowed him to learn the movements and provide some security. We had to build his confidence, but he's done really well in a short time, especially since he's only two.

Got less than an hour before they arrive, I better rest up, time out is nearly over.

July 20, 2009

Back to Wheeler's Pass

Saturday storms came through overnight. Thunder and lightning held strong for a good three hours. It's not often we get a good storm. We even got a good amount of rain at the house.

The storms made for a terribly hot and muggy Sunday. Fortunately, we had plans to beat the heat and run Wheeler's Pass with my mom, Amy and Nicky.

When we arrived in Cold Creek it was rainy and cool. It was about 65-degrees. It was hard to believe just an hour before we were sweating like mad in 110 temps.

The mountains looked especially green on our way in. They were beautiful.

When we got to Cold Creek, we stopped to hike and have a look around.

Boys will be boys

Back on the trail. We tried to spot wild horses, we heard them, but never saw any.

We stopped at Wheeler's peak, 7,700 ft, to have our picnic lunch. Nicky only took a few bites then he was off to find yucky bugs.

Hmmm, maybe under the tree stump?

Give it a kick and look and underneath


Gotta keep lookin'! Oooh, YUCKY BUGS!!

Mom! Yucky BUGS!

She's way up the hill, she can't hear you...

Let's head back. Nicky steals my seat.

It's storming back where we came from.

Nicky wants to take pictures.

He captured something other than the ground, he's improving.

he even got his finger out of the way.

Oops, and we're back to the ground/feet shots.

Heading back up the hill so we can continue on the trail.

Pretty rock formations in the canyon

We wound on down into Pahrump. Another fun run with gorgeous views. It was wonderful to escape the heat and humidity, too. We picked a great day to go.

July 17, 2009

Isn't it ironic... don't you think

Or maybe it's a fail?

You may need to click on this one and see the full size image. Spotted outside the Harrah's Employment Center, in a parking space for applicants.

July 16, 2009

It’s a dry heat

So, they say, but not today. It’s a scorcher; it was 90 degrees at 8:00 this morning. 110 is forecasted. Humidity had been extremely low the last two weeks. Currently, we’re at 20% so it was feeling pretty muggy out there - Welcome to monsoon season.

When you live in a dry climate you get used to low humidity…

Cold drinks don’t sweat.
Bathrooms don’t get steamy from a hot shower.
You dry immediately after showering.
Blow dryers aren’t necessary, 20-30 mins and you’re good.
Good hair days happen often.
You barely sweat, there’s never that icky sticky feeling.
No biggie if you leave clothes in the washer overnight.
Mildew in general isn’t much of a problem.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Therefore, when the humidity climbs you notice the difference in an instant. Cold drinks, my hair and the stickiness are my main gauges for humidity. It feels odd to feel droplets when taking a drink, my hair increases in size and my skin no longer feels smooth.

But not all is great with low humidity…

You need to moisturize, often!
You get static electric shocks regularly.
Dry throats and eyes, and bloody noses can occur.
Wood, rubber and plastic dry out.
I can’t tell you how many tires have dry-rotted since living here. It’s one of our top auto repair expenses.

The one that never fails to surprise me is how it affects you after swimming.

It can be 100+ outside, 86 in the water, and when you get out of the pool your teeth chatter and you’ll be covered in goose bumps. What? How is that possible? I remember first encountering it days after we moved. We were staying with Frank’s grandparents; they lived in Sun City Summerlin. They went for an afternoon swim everyday. It became part of our routine, too. Vegas was experiencing a June heat wave, it was 115, I hopped out and I froze. My body shook like it would on a chilly winter morning (in Chicago), while waiting for the engine to warm up. I couldn’t understand it. It happened again and again.

It still happens today. I don’t remember when I learned lack of humidity was the culprit, but that’s definitely key. The last two weeks have been brutal. Max humidity has been ten percent with most days hovering around three or five percent. Yep, you read right, it’s almost inconceivable to those of you back east or in the south, huh? It’s bizarre how it’ll feel hotter than hades one minute and as cold as ice the next, then you’re left to ponder how could 100+ feel so damn cold? Nicky has encountered this each time we’ve swam lately. I tell him to stay in the water to keep warm, but he likes to go in and out to jump. Eventually, the chills don’t go away and I bribe him with ice cream so we can go inside to warm up.

Weird, I say. Just like yesterday, I left work to grab lunch. When I got in my car I had to roll down the window to let some cool air in. Not sure when 108 became cool, but it felt significantly cooler after rolling down the windows. Okay, so maybe I let the hot air out? Either way, it messes with your idea of cool and hot.

Monsoon season will stay put for the next month or so. So, I ought to get used to the mugginess. It's likely here to stay. At least, we'll get a break from freezing after a swim.

July 15, 2009

Celebrating at Southpoint

Last night, Frank's uncle invited us out to celebrate Lauren's 21st birthday. Dinner would be at the Steakhouse inside Southpoint, the plan was to have margaritas beforehand, after all, it's not everyday you're only niece turns twenty-one.

Frank got stuck at work so I had to meet him at the Southpoint. Pete was already there when we arrived. Primarily Prime Rib has happy hour specials for Patron margaritas, but we didn't realize they were closed Monday and Tuesday. Since that was out, we had drinks at the casino bar while we waited for Lauren. She arrived, we ordered another round and caught up. We haven't gotten together since last year shortly after her mom (Frank's aunt) passed away. She's currently looking in our area for a rental, maybe we'll see her more often since she'll be close by?

After drinks, we moved on to dinner at Silverado Steakhouse. We were seated right away. Pete ordered a bottle of Chardonnay for the table, it was good. We actually had two. We had crab cakes and duck spring rolls to start and then snacked on bread until our next course arrived. Both appetizers were tasty, the crab cakes were better than I expected. Breads were fresh and hit the spot. Pete and I had the house salad with champagne vinaigrette, it was very good. Frank and Lauren had French onion soup. They said it was quite good, as well. Next up the main course, halibut francaise for me, double cut pork chop for Frank, Pete and Lauren both had a filet trio served with three sauces: bearnaise, roasted garlic & mushroom.

The halibut was a bit bland, but it was large and tender. Frank's pork was served with caramelized onions and apple brandy demi. It was good, but the meat itself was dry and a little tough. There were no complaints about the filet.

All in all, it was a good meal. It was nice listening to old stories and reminiscing.

After dinner, we went to dollar Wheel of Fortune. Each of them put in twenty bucks and they'd split winnings. Sadly there weren't any. They spun the wheel twice, both on Lauren's turn, and each time paid $30. Those were their greatest wins. They eventually ran the credits down to zero.

Pete left, he had to be up early for a golf tournament. We thanked him and said good-bye. Frank hit the tables, and Lauren and I hit the penny slots. We hopped around, I was up and down until the last machine I played. Outback Jack, I think? I hit the bonus round and it paid me $56. I was thrilled. I ended the night $40 richer. Lauren stayed even, and Frank made $80 on blackjack. It was after 10:00 so Frank and I said our good-byes and headed home.

Another great night!

July 14, 2009

Just another Monday

But it was a busy one and fun filled, too.

First we met up with friends for dinner at Casa Don Juan. It was our first visit. The restaurant is located downtown outside the Arts District. It's a cute place with bright colors, reminiscent of Mexico. It had the homey authentic flair, it had promise. See, we've had trouble narrowing down a really good Mexican restaurant. We've tried over a dozen, but none can master it all - each falls short in some aspect of the meal.

Casa Don Juan's shortfall is the salsa. It is weak. It was runny and really only tasted like tomato. We asked if they had another, they claimed it was mild. But I think he misunderstood what we were asking. The new salsa had a better texture, it actually stuck on the chips, it was more flavorful, too. The chips were quite good, by the way. I don't like re-fried beans but Frank said they were good. We also had guacamole. It was alright, a bit bland, smooth and creamy for my taste. I appreciate a lumpy guac with a lot of flavor.

Our food quickly arrived. I had a chile relleno and cheese enchilada with rice. Frank had a pork chimichanga and our friends had combo fajitas (steak, chicken, shrimp), and bean and cheese chimichanga. Tortillas are made fresh in house. I love fresh tortillas they can really make a dish. Everything was quite good. The chicken was the best of the fajita combo. The servers lacked personality but they tended to us just fine. Tasty food, good company, what more can you ask for? Prices were reasonable, too. We'll definitely come again.

We parted ways with our friends. I made plans with friends visiting from Chicago, we were to meet up after 8 o'clock. Rather than going home, I suggested we go to Bellagio to kill time. Frank agreed.

We checked out the conservatory. I didn't love it. They've had better summer displays past years. I attempted to take photos, but my camera went haywire. It looks like I may be getting that new one I have my sights set on sooner than later. We had winnings from Friday night (Thanks, PT's) so we gambled to pass the time. I lost twenty bucks and Frank broke even. We saw $10 blackjack tables, Frank was tempted to play but it was time to go.

We met up with our friends at Margaritaville. We had a group of eleven and no real plans so we just wandered between Casino Royale and Bellagio. We stopped for drinks, chit-chatted, gambled, and saw the sights. Weirdest one being three guys in full Ghostbusters gear walking through the Imperial Palace. I haven't seen such detailed costumes since I was twelve at Universal Studios, Fl.

Table limits were bizarre. "low limit" joints like Casino Royale, O'Sheas and Bill's all had ten dollar minimum bets on blackjack. Craps were three or five bucks most places. And they were all packed. The $10 table were practically empty at Bellagio, the casino was dead as a whole. But everywhere else we went was packed.

At one point, the girls and guys of our group split up. Guys went to hit the tables and us girls were on a mission to the daquiri bar at Imperial Palace. We ended up getting swayed inside Tequila Joe's club with free drinks. We entered with coupons in hand, went directly to the bar, got our free round, and jetted out. Thankyouverymuch. Made our stop at the daquiri bar and then continued on to meet up with the guys. The night continued bouncing between bars, tables - just gambling, drinking and chatting. We ended the night at Bill's, we were highly amused by the Karaoke and cheap drinks. It was after midnight so we decided to call it a night. It'd had been fun. We said our goodbye's and headed back to Bellagio. Walking through the casino we noticed they, too, had $10 tables and even one $5 table. How strange is that? They weren't even very busy, I suppose that's why the had the lower limits. We could've stayed at the Bellagio and played there. Oh well, we made out well and had a good time. Final night's gambling tally, I lost $20 and Frank made $210. You gotta love this city, I know I do!

July 13, 2009

Mt Charleston

Sunday we planned to do the Angel Peak Loop at Mt Charleston, Amy and Nicky joined us. We came down Kyle Canyon Rd. and turned off on what we believed to be the way, but we went wrong somewhere. We ended up in a heavily treed wash area. The Suburban was too large to continue. The truck suffered some carnage from hugging trees too tightly. We dented the driver side passenger door, broke a taillight and drivers rearview mirror.

We stopped and had a picnic. Then, decided it was best not to continue on trail we haven't done before, with Nicky onboard. We got out of that squirrely area just fine, no reason to risk it. So, we headed back to paved road and headed up Mt. Charleston. We parked at the Trail Canyon trailhead and decided to try a short hike.

We didn't go too far, before we turned around and headed back to the car. I'd love to go back and actually hike the trail, I must convince Frank to give it a try.

After hanging around Mt Charleston, we continued on to Lee Canyon.

and we wound around to the Desert View trailhead at 8200 ft. There you can see NV Test Site, and Area 51. Also, coral and other sealife fossils have been found so it is believed that it was once underwater.

Miles and Miles away... During A-bomb testing people would come here to watch. Today you can see maneuvers performed by from Nellis AFB.

From there we headed home. It was a long day and we were ready to swim. There's nothing like groovin' to dirty 80's on the way home. Nicky thought it was great! Everyone dance!

We had a great day even if we didn't do the Angel Peak Loop as planned. That'll leave us another adventure for next time.