Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Vegas Experience

First off, to everyone that knows where I live but chose not to rob me while I was away in Vegas, a big THANK YOU!

Because coming home to a broken in house would pretty much have capped off an otherwise fairly crappy weekend in Vegas.

I've been to Vegas a few times before, and I'd have to say, this was the least impressive of all of those times. My flight was delayed over an hour by weather (but thankfully not the 3 hours they were initially predicting), though so were my friend's flights so we actually came in closer to each other than I expected.

The initial night we went to the Olympic Garden because, hey, when in Vegas for a birthday party, you have to hit a strip club. It's a moral imperative. As expected, everyone had a good time, including the ladies in our party. Most of us left around 4pm, but a few, including the birthday boy stayed until about 5pm. Mostly chatting that time with a few girls that were really cool to hang out with. That has to be the highlight of the weekend for me, though after making a friend, it's hard to say "Goodbye, I'm probably never going to see you again." That part sucked.

The next night we went to Smith & Wollensky for a fine steak dinner. Except I made the fatal choice of wanting chicken. They give you a whole damn chicken with a knife stabbed through it's breast. Thanks, not quite that hungry. But that's the story of Smith & Wollensky, big food, and even bigger bills. I would have been OK with that if I hadn't had to choke down the chicken. It was so dry that I had to drink water in order to be able to swallow it. Paying $70 that meal (no wine, just water and 10oz of diet Pepsi) was a bit much if you ask me.

After dinner we went to Studio 54 at the MGM, which was cool. Dancing and a wire work show. It was a total bummer that one friend couldn't get in because he was wearing tennis shoes. Another almost didn't get in because he was wearing black tennis shoes with orange stripes. I believe the bouncer's quote was "Yeah, they're fucking ugly, but???" when he asked his supervisor if he could let Jimmy in. The initial reply was "I don't want him in my club." but eventually he caved and let him in. "His" club? Damn, didn't know the CEO of the MGM was working the doors.

Sunday some of us had to leave, reducing the group to about 6, but we still had fun. First we went to see Penn & Teller at the Rio, then we went to the VooDoo lounge at the top of the Rio for a view of the Vegas lights. However, that view was cut short by the rain that moved in that night.

Penn & Teller is a cool show, but I wasn't quite satisfied. I was expecting more stuff I hadn't seen before, but I suppose that might have been a bit much, since I try to see everything they do. However, our seats gave a clear vantage point to the slight of hand and behind the scenes trickery that I'm sure we weren't supposed to see, which actually kinda spoiled some of it. Not enough to ruin the enjoyment, but it definitely put a dent in it. I got to lean over the balcony and give Teller a high 5 as he left the auditorium though, which was definitely the high point for me.

Monday I headed back to the airport early since everyone else was too. I got there about noon to check in for my 6:15pm flight home. I tried to fly standby, but the preceding four flights were all booked up. Even at the airport I couldn't catch a break. I decided that I could use a massage and 24 Hour Fitness was offering them for a reasonable price, so what the heck. Turns out that the massage lady was tired and wanted to go home, so about 5 minutes into the choking chair massage, she asked if it would be OK for her to comp me the massage and just call it quits. I wasn't impressed with the massage, so I said "sure." She worked for maybe another 10 minutes and then called it quits. Just my luck, can't even get a decent massage in Vegas. It wasn't like I was looking for a "happy ending" or anything...

Oh well, hopefully the next time I go the stars will align, my karma will be clean, and I'll have a smashing good time. A guy can dream, can't he?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Vegas Baby!

This weekend I head off to Las Vegas to meet up with about 30 friends for a massive birthday celebration. It should be interesting, and hopefully not too expensive. I'm hoping it will be lots of fun. If nothing else, it will give me a chance to catch up with some friends I've not seen in about six months.

I wonder what we'll do for three days. The B-Day guy isn't into strippers (that I'm aware of), drinking, or gambling, so I'm guessing it will just be a lot of night club dancing. I've tried to pack accordingly. I hope to be able to see a show or two. With 30 of us there, I imagine that we'll break up into half a dozen groups until we try to meet up for dinner and dancing later in the evening.

Checking the weather shows that Vegas is going to mid 50's and raining all weekend long. Well, that's about 50 degrees warmer than Minneapolis, so I'll take it. Most of my friends are from the San Francisco bay area where the weather is about the same as Vegas. Oh well, who knew? I'll have to bring my raincoat though. Ugh.

I feel a bit guilty leaving Lucy behind for three days, but she should survive. I got her a multi-day feeder and waterer, cleaned both litter boxes, and left the toilet seat up (just in case she knocks her waterer over, plus it entertains her). As long as she doesn't get into any trouble, she should be just fine. I imagine that she'll just do a lot of sleeping.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Fountain of Youth?

I saw this interesting link on Excite about rats with young blood performing better than those with old.

I guess we're going to hear about the freaks doing massive "young blood" transfusions now. Eeek.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Wintery Mix

Last night I had fun driving home from my weekly get-together in Minneapolis. It's about a 30 minute drive, and to make things interesting, I took the navigation suggested route, which gets you off the highway and puts you on back roads and county roads for the last several miles.

This route was made interesting because it was snowing and raining (sleeting), and had been raining a little earlier (to give a nice little layer of ice below the snow). Add to that the fact that the plows weren't out yet on these roads, and you've got a messy driving situation.

I had a couple of close calls where I got into the deeper bits of slushy snow with a couple of wheels, which dramatically increases the drag on that side and pulls the car in that direction. The steering wheel has no effect at this point, but you turn it anyway in the hope that when it starts working again you'll still have time to avoid the mailbox/tree/ditch. Gets the adrenaline pumping, that's for sure.

I watched the compact truck in front of me slide off the road about 50' before a 4 way stop. I think he got caught out in some slush that dragged his light back end out into the center of the road, pointing him at the ditch, and when he got traction there was nowhere to go but down. Unfortunately, he slid into a ditch basically sideways. Add to that the fact that it's been quite warm in the preceding days, and he ended up in a few inches of mud, sitting on a 20 degree angle slope. I suggested that he might be able to drive along the bank, up to the intersection and up the other side, but he decided that discretion was the better part of valor and he was going to call a tow truck. Probably a good idea because if he slid into the corn field, he would probably be instantly up to his axles in mud, and there was no guarantee he would be able to drive up the ditch since the approach angle was steep and he wasn't in a 4x4.

One more attempt by my car to throw itself off the road was averted, and I decided that 40mph in a 55mph zone was the best I was going to be able to do.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to be getting new brake pads soon. The SVT pads work fine when wet, work OK when cold, but absolutely don't work worth a damn when cold AND wet. It's like you have no brakes at all, which is very disconcerting when sliding down a hill towards an intersection where you're the only one with the stop sign.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

House warming

This Saturday evening I had my house warming party. I wish that more people would have showed up, but I got about dozen all told, so that's better than nothing. A couple of coworkers even brought little gifts, which was quite nice of them and something I wasn't expecting (especially since I said "no gifts please").

But what is it about a party that often leaves me sad? Maybe it's knowing that the happiness will be fleeting, gone when all the people leave. Maybe it's the stress of trying to get everything perfect, from the directions to the food. Whatever it is, it's certainly complicated and slightly frustrating.

I need to work on my happiness. Find it, create it, steal it -- something. It's not that I'm homesick (I feel very much at home here in MN), or even lacking friends (I've got a couple and we hang out about as much as my friends and I in CA did), but there's definitely something that I can't put my finger on. But I was this way in CA too, to it's not like it's a new thing.

I feel like I should be doing more. More work on the house, or the Miata, or myself. But there's lethargy in the way. I suppose it's mild depression, but I feel like I can kick it if I can just find the right "something". I don't think it's a "someone", and it's probably not a "thing" in the classic sense. It's most likely a way of thinking trapped inside of me that I'm not in touch with. I need to work on getting in touch with it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Yea! I electronically filed my Fed and MN taxes and mailed off my CA taxes this morning. Boo! I forgot to put my W-2s in the ones I had to mail to CA.

Oh well, I've done that before, and all that happens is they mail you a letter asking you to send them your W-2s. Last year only CA (or was it the Feds?) asked for my W-2s, even though I forgot to send it to both of them. Shows you how much they really check, doesn't it?

Well, that monkey is off my back and I'm feeling glad (they all owed me money!). Of course, now I'll probably get some revised form from some bank or something that's going to require me to file an amended return, because that's the kind of luck I seem to be having lately. But, a guy can dream, can't he?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Superbowl Party

Yesterday evening I had a Superbowl party for my coworkers (and their wives) as a way of passing the time. It certainly worked. Unfortunately I didn't get to see much of the game, I was busy showing coworkers around my house and making sure that everything was up to snuff. I did get to see a few plays, but generally things happened as expected, the Eagles lost. However, I'm happy it was a reasonably close game and not a total blow-out.

There were 10 people, including one two-year old, over, so the sofa I bought the day before definitely came in handy. It seems I could use a coffee table though as many people had issues finding a place to put their drinks (I always put mine on the floor).

I missed most of the good commercials that night, which was a bit of a bummer as that was mostly what the party was about. The one I did get to see, I thought was great (cat spills tomato sauce on floor, man who is chopping vegetables grabs cat by scruff of neck, knife still in the other hand as his wife walks in the door to see him holding the cat & knife with tomato sauce all over the floor in a Fatal Attraction kind of moment), though I hear now that animal activists are up in arms about it. The commercial was about not judging too quickly, so of course people are going to get all upset. Who lets these losers on the planet anyway?

Well, if yesterday was any prediction of this Saturday's housewarming party, things should go pretty well.