Vegas Recap

~ Hit ABQ Sunport with about an hour to spare. We walked around, mostly people watching. OK, people critiquing is more like it. First thing we notice is that nobody has any fashion sense and that nobody is smiling…
~ Arrive Vegas and didn’t even have to wait for a cab. Never had that happen before but just another sign that it’s not so busy in Vegas. Quick cab ride to the Mandalay Bay and we were in our rooms by 5pm. To think that I was thinking we would be rushed to be at the show in time! We walked around Mandalay and over to the Luxor. Jill was properly amazed. We had a ginormous BLT sandwich that was truly worthy of our bellies. My intent was to leave the hotel at 6 pm to make it across to the MGM for a 7 o’clock show. Ended up making it downstairs about 6:20 AND it had been raining! We thought that a cab would be more prudent but did not account for a Stevie Wonder show that had traffic backed up. We couldn’t even get out of the cab without taking our lives into some crazy driver’s hands. They added those concrete barriers to prevent jaywalkers which made it even more difficult.
While waiting I got to talk to Shannon who was to accompany us to the show. Sadly she thought it started at 8 and would be late. We got our tickets and literally sat down as it started. The Ka show is part of the Cirque de Soleil shows. The theater is amazing – very steam-punk-ish. I was lucky enough to have seen the show before although there was a LOT about it that I had forgotten. It is an amazing piece of theater – a fantasy story in true Cirque paegentry. Cirque should do a promo on their invented ‘language’ for their shows. A mix of inflections and nonsense that conveys the emotions with no tangible words. It’s pretty amazing. Shannon texted me a little after 8 as she had been stuck in traffic and would not be coming in. I felt bad for her to go through that much effort for nothing. Jill was happily amazed!
~After the show we walked around the MGM. I introduced Jill to gambling with a Wheel of Fortune slot machine. I gave her $20 and within a couple minutes she had $35 and smartly cashed out. After some more siteseeing there, we started walking. We went across to New York, New York – thus starting our trek of ‘things-to-show’. The next stop across the new City Center property.
Jill in front of City Center - with Paris and Planet Hollywood in the background
This place has seemed like it has been 10 years in progress but I bet it’s been more like 5. Either way it is impressive and one (of seven) tower is scheduled to open in the next couple of weeks. Just in first impressions, it is too huge! You would never leave the property unless they gave you a personal golf cart and driver just to take – and retrieve – you to the property lines! It supposedly will have everything and I guess that is the idea.
~ I wanted her to be able to see some of the casinos so that she could compare the ‘vibe’ of them all. We went over to the Planet Hollywood – the old Aladdin for us fogeys. I give the Aladdin credit for doing a Vegas remodel well. You can still tell that it’s all the same, but they did a nice job of adding lights, pillars, and other stuff to make it look ‘hip’. I think it’s my favorite looking casino. We were at the Paris when we got a lucky crosswalk break to cross over just in time to watch one of the fountain shows in front of the Bellagio. The fountains were choreographed to Gene Kelly’s ‘Singin’ In The Rain’.
Jill in front of the fountains at Bellagio
It was amazing. We walked on into the casino and showed her the crazy glass umbrellas in the lobby and then into the garden display. It was still the ‘fall harvest’ set-up and was amazing. Jill couldn’t believe that they had all of that as a ‘temporary’ setup. From there we went into Cesar’s Palace and I showed her the ‘original’ table pit room that has been the same since I have been going to Vegas. It’s very ‘old school’ for Vegas seeing that they typically tear down stuff like that. We walked over towards the shops and I showed her the replica of the Trevi Fountain. Again, just more proof that ANYTHING can exist in Vegas.
~ We hopped in a cab from Cesar’s to go to the Palms since we were so close. I had texted Bryce to see if he was up for visitors. I got to see Joe Maloof hanging out. I wonder if he would remember me? Doubt it! Bryce had the KISS show in the Pearl showroom and it was done. He still had to take care of some things but he led us upstairs to the Playboy Club/Moon in the tower. The Playboy Club is exactly as I remember it. Kind of slow, but it was only 10:30 or 11 – still early. We went upstairs to the Moon dance club. It has a retractable roof that open up to the sky. Sadly, the two of us found ourselves feeling very ‘old’ there. The music is too loud and the people looked like kids. We laughed as we were able to totally people-watch. We both decided that it was getting late and we went downstairs. Bryce wanted us to hang out a bit longer but I told him we were just old anymore. He told us that GhostBar was more ‘mellow’ and to try it. We went up to the top of the other tower and indeed, it was more mellow – and a bit older crowd. By this time, I think we were both on the verge of falling asleep. We took a cab back to our hotel and passed out. I think it was about 1:30 am.
~ Sunday morning my phone rang at 6:50 am to remind us to check in online for our flight out. Stupid alarm function. We couldn’t fall back asleep as the noise of the airplanes taking off was CRAZY. We laughed that the ONE day that neither of us had ANY family responsibilities – we could not sleep in. Fitting. We finally crawled out of bed and went downstairs for some breakfast. Raffles cafe at the Mandalay Bay was just good, straight-forward food. We split a large omelet and a stack of banana-nut pancakes. The service was incredible.
Awesome breakfast at the Mandalay Bay - Banana Nut Pancakes
~ Our Spa Mandalay appointment was for noon and we got there a little after 11. I think that this was my first time to a ‘spa’. I’ve been to Ten Thousand Waves and to different places that have had massages but I don’t think I had been to a men’s spa prior to this. I have to laugh a bit at myself as it’s a bit disconcerting to walk around when your first response is to cover up when you see someone when you ARE naked. Regardless, I opted for a dry sauna for about 20 minutes before the massage.
The massage was awesome. My therapist had been working at the spa at Mandalay for ten years! She said that quite a few of the workers had been there that long. I asked about the economy based upon what she saw and she said that people that come to Vegas have money to spend and that will never change. She said that people used to not think twice about spending $400-$500 and now it’s more under $200. She said that the crazy tipping is gone. People think more now, she thought.
After the massage, I went back into the spa for about an hour. More sauna, cold plunge, hot tub then the showers and back to the room. Jill had said that she was going to hang out for a while and since I couldn’t find her (and I knew she wouldn’t have a place for her phone) I went back to the room and then back down to the casino.
I went for my normal slot machine – Wheel of Fortune. It’s just a slot machine, but there’s something exciting about watching that damn wheel spin. On a quarter machine, I hit a forty coin win ($10) and then….
I hit a 1,000 coin win! I have only done that one other time and it was in Albuquerque at the Sandia Casino. That time was on a dollar machine, still this did not suck. I continued playing for a bit – something that you should NEVER do. I still walked away with $250. Jill called and I met her upstairs.
I just won $250 on the Wheel of Fortune Slot machine
~ We cleaned up a bit and decided to head out again. I showed her the casino at the Tropicana. The most noticeable thing about the older casinos was the crazy amount of cigarette smoke there is. The newer ones must pump Febreeze or something through them. We took the Monorail from the MGM up to Imperial Palace. The Monorail was very shaky feeling – like it needed some nuts tightened up somewhere to make it less of a rocky trip. Still, we got there fine. The Imperial Palace is another old-school casino. We walked across to the Mirage. I was actually impressed with the remodel job over there – it really looked nice. It’s kind of strange to see the new bars and restaurants – one of them is where the white tiger cage used to be! We decided on some apps at Stack. It’s run by the Light Group who operate several restaurants and several clubs around the Strip. We split an app of lobster tacos with ‘avocado puree’ – something the rest of us know as ‘guacamole’. I had a big ol’ bowl of hearty, tomato soup and Jill had a salad. We were laughing that all the employees could have been models. We walked around Mirage at bit more and then went over to Treasure Island. It’s funny how in the old days you would walk along Las Vegas Boulevard to get everywhere. Now it’s all done in the casino and via monorails and trams. They have actually rebuilt a lot of the walkways so that you do not even get near the street. I showed Jill Fashion Show Mall, it was closing for the night but it’s pretty impressive from the outside. It used to just be a ‘normal’ mall – now it’s way fancy. We went across to The Wynn and was even more amazed at simple things like the flower arrangements and the inside landscaping. We went over to the newly opened Encore as well. WOW! Even more extravagant. The use of the color red is impressive.
We got in touch with Byrce and Shannon and opted to meet at a bar in Bellagio so we started ambling back towards that part of the strip. We went in through the shops at the Palazzio and down through the Venetian. They have that whole place all messed up as far as getting around in it. I actually got us lost only because they closed off an entrance or exit or something. Again – more proof that anything can exist in Vegas. We stopped in a few of the shops. There was a very cool glass place that had some incredible objects and even had some carved wood pieces that looked like fabric. Wow.
By this time we were getting a bit crazed in the head as we were tired, hungry and not looking forward to the 6 am flight in the morning. Once we made it back to the Bellagio, the bar that we were going to meet at was closed for a poker tournament. Jill and I were physically tired and mentally done with the trip. The early flight was weighing heavily and we almost bailed. Intead we waited at Fix, which was strangely similar to Stack – same group. The bartender, although we could NOT understand him was fun. We were the ‘first’ customers he had ever had from New Mexico. That was strange. Bryce and Shannon came up and Jill and I were getting our second wind. We opted for dining across the way at YellowTail for some sake, some rolls, and some edamame that kicked butt! We enjoyed the fountain shows from the inside and some stellar conversation about all sorts of topics. It’s amazing how much I miss conversations with other adults. We closed down the restaurant and said goodnight to our friends. We cabbed it back to the hotel, went upstairs, packed our bags and hit the beds.
~ That alarm came early. We ran downstairs, hopped a cab for the airport and left – just a mere 37 hours after arriving. It was a whirlwind trip. We got to laugh at other people, laugh at ourselves, eat some good food, and escape our ‘normal’ lives for a bit. In some ways I wish we had a few more hours there and in others I was happy that we had the time we had. We didn’t solve any of the world’s problems – or even our own. But I think that we realized that we all have issues and the only way that you understand how normal that is – is for you to share with others. My life hardly seems as complicated and maybe the best thing that I think we both got out of the trip is that we need some time to escape and see the other side.
I had someone tell me last week that the thing that I most need is some ‘me’ time. I think I got it…. 🙂

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Saturday

Life: Happy Work: Indifferent
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
Yesterday was another kind of strange day. Lots of work to get done. Real quiet phones – that’s not a good sign. My brother has been in a different plane of existence as the rest of us these past few days so that makes things a bit more difficult.
I had a long-standing lunch at Thai House with Jen and I had her order it when she got there as it’s not exactly the quickest place to have lunch. It still didn’t help. In peeking at the kitchen – it looks like it’s a one-cook show. And possibly just a few pans. I think that it’s more of an issue that she can only make one tables’ order at a time and depending on who’s order gets in first depends on how long you are waiting. Just a theory. Whatever the excuse – it’s like heaven on a plate. We love that place and this one dish – #32 Pad See-Eaw. Wide noodles, meat, peppers, I think an egg, some kind of caramelized peanut based sauce that rocks. Very, very good.
Back at work it was kind of crazy still and customers started coming in too. Some customers from Texas came in and got some furniture. I think that we have sold more furniture in this month alone than I have sold in the past eight months total. Standing back and looking at the past two weeks’ worth of customers I reflect:
~ The people that have been buying are happy. They are not sad.
~ They do not appear to be having any issues about spending their money. These customers are not questioning whether they will be paying the credit cards.
~ Everyone seems oblivious to what is being reported in the news
I notice this because it stands in complete opposition to what the news says and what my friends and family are dealing with. New Mexico tends to be a little more insulated than the rest of the country – economics-wise.
~ Our pay is less, which means that we are used to dealing with rising fuel, utilities, food, etc. a little better. We don’t save as much as others, but that allows us to make faster decisions like – oh, gas is up, I won’t eat take out today/this week/this year.
~ Because we have a greater mix of employment – industrial, education, agricultural, service, etc – we are not hit as hard as other states. Something like Nevada with such a high service industry gets hurt much harder and the affects are felt more quickly throughout the state there.
~ There’s a lot of ‘contract’ type, temporary work in New Mexico. No, it’s not regular, but New Mexico has always been a place that an enterprising person can find day / week jobs just by asking. That could be specialized jobs, data entry, labor or whatever – but you actually have to work at not working here.
This insulation works against us during recovery because it is not realized often for six to twelve months after the fact for the exact same reasons.
If you listen to what people are spouting – things suck. Things are difficult. People are worried. People don’t want to spend money. Looking at what I have seen lately – that’s not the way it is. I have met people that are building 4,500 sq ft homes. I have met people that are updating their homes. I have met people that are just taking advantage of good deals. No worries.
I have to preface these next comments with the fact that our front office has several photos of little Bush hanging on the walls. This makes a lot of customers assume that we are all Republicans and some tend to say some things that would get you arrested in other countries. The thing that I hear most often, and I will admit, mostly from people over 60 years old – is that they don’t agree with all the ‘services’ that are being provided. They argue that the country is getting rid of the incentive to do better for yourself. It’s kind of funny to see how there is a common thread in all of their thinking. I don’t know if it’s that generation or if the photos just bring that out in those people 🙂 HA! I just stepped away from the computer and came back and lost my train of thought! Oh well… C.O.G. syndrome I guess.
Regardless of the social commentary – I have been happy to have had the business these past two weeks and look forward to next weeks’ sale too.
A few more facebook finds this week, good to catch up with some old friends that I haven’t heard from in a while. Some are going crazy with posting photos from the ‘old’ days. Some are very frightening. It is pretty funny. With the family gone I have been talking on the phone a lot more than I normally do and have been talking about the past more often than not. How we all made it today is pretty amazing and when you look at the paths that we all have taken to get here – you kind of realize that everything kind of works itself out. Whether we have made poor decisions, great decisions, lucked out, or just flown by the seat of our pants – we (mostly) have all made it through unscathed. Some of us have some more baggage than others, but we are okay.
As a younger guy, I was bullet-proof. I did not take well to anyone telling me that something was not possible. I grabbed life by the balls with no concern and very little caution to the affects of others. It served me well. Luck? Experience? Intelligence? I’m not sure I’ll ever know. As I have aged, and more to the point – aged with children. I have become a lot more complacent and less risky. I feel that my choices affect me – and now, my kids – more and I don’t quite like what I have become. A reality that I think exists tells me that regardless of what I do, we will be okay.
I am happy to announce that my next adventure will be in the space-travel industry. I am selling my house and moving to Carlsbad to petition Virgin Aerospace to hire me. It may be hard at first but I just KNOW that it will all work out well. Throwing caution to the wind!
[i kid]
It’s a rainy morning and I have lots to get done. The first of which shall be making a breakfast burrito with lots o’ chile and possibly a mimosa to wash it all down. Some computer work is in order and playing with the puppies – who are really missing the little ones.

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Tuesday

Life: Indifferent Work: Indifferent
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
I took the family to the airport and made it into work before 8 am and was the most tired I have been in a long time. I tried to get started but I just couldn’t kick start my brain. I tried more than my one, self-imposed, cup-o-coffee. Nada. I tried walking around. Nope. Nothing really worked. I had forgotten that I had set up our Worker’s Comp audit for 9:30. That didn’t help. It sucked not being awake.
The overflow of customers that I was expecting didn’t occur. My one lady from out of town came in and that failed miserably. She was actually the first relatively rude person I have had as a customer in quite a while. Oh well, I can’t win all of them.
A few more ridiculous meetings and then the day could continue. I finished the paperwork and then went home. Actually I stopped at WalMart to get some groceries. There are quite a few things that I actually know how much I pay for things and I was amazed that those things that I notice were at least a buck to half off how much I pay at the other grocery stores. If I saved a buck on everything that I buy, that would add up quickly. I’m just sayin’….
By the time I made it home – a quick dinner and then I had a hilarious conversation with my friend about our kids growing up. Part scared. Part excited. Part freaked out. Damn funny conversation though.
I ended up catching up on three episodes of Rescue Me. I think I like it when Denis Leary’s character is getting drunk and sleeping around more. I think it also goes along with the concept that we like people that are messed up more than we are. He wins.
I was about to turn off the tv when Inside the Actor’s Studio was on and had Conan O’Brien on. He was damn funny but I also agree that he is a damn funny person. It kept going and I was barely awake at this time – when, I remembered, that I can hit the ‘record’ button and it would ‘record the show for me’. I love technology.
Today – I have at least two customers coming in that I know of – a few meetings and I need to do payroll too. A normal day…

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 7:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Saturday

Life: Happy Work: N/A
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
Yesterday was like a morgue again. Even the phones are dead. Looking back at what we wish we paid more attention to – neither of us remember the phones being this dead. I spoke with a few Home Depot people that basically told me to push back at our merchant – basically to grow a pair. Tim seemed very nervous over the whole thing. I doubt he slept last night.
We were kidless last night!? That hasn’t happened in a very long time. I picked Sunnee up and we went to a new restaurant / bar by the house called Jinja. There’s been one up off of Paseo del Norte, this new one is 1/2 a mile from Casa Hendricks. It was packed since this was it’s 3rd week open. It’s very dark inside and at 6 pm on a Friday night a mix of early bird special folks, happy hour folks, and people from the neighborhood. We opted for a few apps and a few drinks. The apps arrived before the drinks did! Sunnee had a gimlet that was made from green-tea-infused vodka. Actually it was kind of tasty. I had a margarita. The menu reminded me of something very similar to P.F. Chang’s – only about $5 more per entree. It’s not inexpensive. We started with some Yin Yang Shrimp and some Lettuce Wraps. Strangely the description for the shrimp doesn’t state ‘fried’ anywhere in it. They were tasty though and a nice couple of dippy sauces. One sweet n’ sour-y the other citrus-y with a bit of spice. The lettuce wraps said it included a mix of chicken, smoked ham, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. It was tasty, but a bit salty. The lettuce was crisp and offset that but the mix of fillings made it almost taste beef-y. It was very strange. Sunnee still needed one more app so we went for the calamari. Mistake. It had the same breading as the shrimp did – tasty on the shrimp but not on a dry calamari. It was too dry. The sauce that came with it was a ‘lime and mint sauce’ but it was like lime extract. VERY lime-y. We asked for the other sauce from the shrimp and it was a bit better. The lack of moistness just could not be overcome and it was a sad way to end the experience.
The strangest experience was the CD that they were playing as background music. I thought I heard Rod Stewart and what seemed like Ella Fitzgerald but could not be sure. I fired up ‘Shazam’ on the ol’ iPhone and even over the noise of a restaurant it PICKED the song out. Ends up it was Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton(!) – who knew. We got about fifteen minutes of amazement over the fact that that little app is freakin’ COOL!
We went from Jinja to the dollar movie version of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ – although the dollar movies are now $2 🙂 I pretty much ignore anything that wins an Academy Award but of our options for the night, this seemed doable. O.M.G. The movie seemed to last about 9 hours, I think it’s just short of three. My butt was so tired that I had to keep shifting in my seat just to make it through it. The story is intriguing but just so damn long. There’s some amazing makeup and CGI – but no notable acting prowess as was warranting best actor statues. I almost feel that it would have been best as a series with each episode dealing with a ‘chapter’ in his life. I think it could keep people’s attention for seven or eight episodes. It was like they spent so much time on his ‘old’ body that they rushed through the rest of it. Taking a thirteen year old to a brothel? Getting him drunk? I don’t get that. What was he doing in India? Why so much on WWII? The recurring theme of loss needed to make you appreciate someone was pretty much thrown out every couple of minutes.
I remembered a lot of comparisons to Forrest Gump – and it’s definitely along a similar vein. It was 10:30 when we got out of there and we went home and crashed.
This morning it’s strange not to have the kids screaming at each other or to hear SpongeBob or a video game in the background. Very strange that it feels unnatural….
Tonight is my Mom’s birthday party so it will be another busy evening. Maybe Dirk can get some work out of me this weekend?

Published in: on March 28, 2009 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Sunday

Life: Indifferent Work: n/a
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
Another nice sleep – except for an awakening phone call at 6:30 am that nobody was on the line…. oh well.
It appears to be gorgeous outside, no wind, blue skies. I think my bike is calling me! Maybe a trip out to the volcanos is in the cards?
Yesterday I went to the factory for four hours – I moved a lot of stuff – finished paperwork – moved more stuff from upstairs – and basically got a jump start on this week’s world. It was needed.
Last night we had tacos and I watched the last episodes of “Kitchen Confidential” on It’s a show, loosely based, on Anthony Bourdain’s book from the early 2000’s of the same name. It aired on FOX in 2005/06 and was cancelled after four episodes. Thanks to the magic of hulu we can watch all 13 episodes. It’s mindless entertainment. Lots of eye candy for the masses – pretty girls and boys – and decent episodes. Some of the kitchen/restaurant referrals are dead on. They should be – based upon the source. Bourdain’s award-winning blog is worth bookmarking. I hope that it’s actually him making the entries – they are witty and insightful and again, good, mindless, fun.
I am trying to keep myself busy so I don’t think about NOT being in Las Vegas today. In my head, waking up in Vegas is spent lounging, drinking mimosas and bloody mary’s, enjoying some flaky croissants and walking to Fashion Valley Mall. Maybe some table games before getting ready for a great dinner and wine with friends.
Stupid Mark…

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Sunday

Life: Indifferent Work: Indifferent
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
A quick note before having to go over to the Home Show…
Last night we went to dinner at Brasserie La Provence down in Nob Hill. I thought it was even newer than this, but it has been there for two years. Neither of had was aware of it’s existence until Stephanie had mentioned it. It’s a small place, there’s a larger dining room in the back – perhaps for larger parties but basically it’s about six tables in the main room. For apps we had the escargot and some truffle pate. The pate was wonderful – nice consistency and full of flavor. The escargot were tasty, and plentiful for an app, but it was a pesto based sauce and pesto is not one of my favorites. The Salad Mignone we shared was beautiful! A Red wine poached pear stuffed with whipped goat cheese over mixed greens with candied walnuts and finished with cider vinaigrette. Taking a bite that included a bit of everything was like a party! I could have stopped there, but of course we didn’t. Sunnee had the quail, Caille Farcie, Fresh Quail stuffed with wild mushrooms and pears oven roasted and finished with a wild berry red wine pan jus served over a boursin cheese polenta cake. YUMMY! I had a scallop dish with a citrus sauce and a goat cheese risotto thing as a side. The scallops were large and tasty and seared just perfectly. The side dish was heavenly as well. In true Mark fashion, I forgot to ask how much the special was as it was twice the price of everything else. Oh well, it was good. We had a nice wine as well. The service was just ‘eh’, but the night was great.
I need to run to the show. Have a great day!

Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Saturday

Life: Indifferent Work: Indifferent
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
I wish I felt well enough for a bike ride today! Oh well.
I actually turned on the TV for an hour or so last night. Wow. Nothing on. It has to suck to be a television network competing with hundreds if not thousands of other channels. You would think that this kind of competition would spark originality or some kind of creativity – No. Just hundreds of channels of crap. I can’t remember if I wrote about it or not, but we finally receive all our local channels in HD. Something was misaligned and we have never had them. Now I get all the local crap in HD as well!
A funny thing about HD – the detail and crispness on the TV is AMAZING. So amazing in fact that you see every detail on everyone – wrinkles, gray hairs, bags, puffy eyes, blemishes. On standard def, you don’t really notice. I mean we all have them so it’s not that bad. We all have those pictures of us that someone took that is not our favorite because it shows a bad profile, or just is otherwise unflattering – but on HD it’s EVERY picture! It’s kind of funny to be able to notice things like that now.
I did some computer work last night and ended the night logging onto Toontown again. I think our subscription to that ends this month. Good thing Jaeden REALLY wanted that. I think he played for about two weeks. Then I figured I would shame him into playing it by beating his levels. Nope… I became addicted. It was mindless entertainment to get me through until I was sleepy.
Today is Sunnee’s birthday. We are all going to skee-dattle out of here so she can be alone and then we’ll go to dinner tonight. A new place by one of the original Scalo partners and his chef. On related notes, Whisque – one of our favorite newer restaurants closed last week. In trying to make other reservations, two others’ phones were disconnected. That’s sad. I don’t mind so much when chain restaurants go under, I think we lost Carraba’s this past week as well, but local places are in a pile of hurt. Sad.
Haircuts for all of us today!

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 10:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Thursday

Life: Indifferent Work: Indifferent
Weight: ??? Hours of Sleep:
Last minute travel changes. Tim was supposed to go to L.A. and Bay Area and I was supposed to be in Oklahoma City and Tulsa….
Lots of changes over the weekend and L.A. and OK were cancelled. I got the stick to go to Bay Area. Reluctantly…. NOT!
Flew out Tuesday afternoon, barely got payroll out before leaving. I normally go for the direct flights but had wanted to get to town with enough time to get some good food! It started in Albuquerque – the flight was late because they were waiting for a First Officer to arrive for our flight – waited 30 minutes. The weather was not my friend – I purposely flew through Vegas since it was weather-free. Sadly, the rest of the nation was under poor weather so it made EVERY flight late or cancelled. So it was almost sixty minutes late. In my eyes I’m 90 minutes late. Yet, we landed only 30 minutes after we should have. I didn’t get it. I actually spoke to the person in the seat next to me instead of sleeping. That was strange for me.
Landed and by the time I made it back to where the hotel was – it was almost 10pm. I almost opted for no food since it was so late. I noticed that there was an In’N Out Burger nearby and made the trek. It did taste good though. I really like the fresh french fries.
This is the trip of cashing in reward bits. I stayed at the Hyatt Place for free. Nice hotel. Small rooms but they have nice stuff in them so you don’t mind. The downstairs lobby is like a little cafe/restaurant/bar/lounge thing that could be fun if there were some fun people staying there. I was too late for any of that.
Driving around went well, I added two more unscheduled stops even!
I met with the Atlanta people and the class was okay. A few more stops and then across the bridge to San Rafael just in time for traffic. I stayed at the last store for over an hour just to avoid the road. Eileen drove up and we went for some sushi. It was very good and TJ took great care of us. It was very tasty. A few rolls, some nigiri, and a couple of beers. It was surprisingly affordable for northern California. Matt couldn’t make it as he had a last minute, late meeting. We made one more stop to talk concerts, famous people and the election before calling it a night.
Last night I drove north to Petaluma and my last stop before leaving.
Answering emails took a bit and now I’m off for the day. One store then to the airport and back home – hopefully in time for dinner.

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Today is Saturday

Life: Indifferent Work: Indifferent
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
So I was in the Austin area – driving some 700 miles all around the neighboring burgs and towns. I didn’t have internet at my $45 / night four-star hotel (NOT!) so I wasn’t able to update much so here goes:
– Tuesday – arrived fine – started driving – out west of Austin, up north and back into town. I was supposed to get my normal Dodge Charger. When they don’t have those they upgrade me to the 300’s. I like them, they are quiet, have Satellite Radio and a pretty comfortable. They ‘upgraded’ me to a Mazda CX-7. I didn’t feel like it was an upgrade. The Austin Airport Dollar was not exactly a friendly lot and I was not in an argumentative mood. Once I got out on the road I was sorry that I hadn’t demanded the 300. I opted to stay north of Austin, in Georgetown to save 30 minutes of driving the next morning. I also opted for my dinner/movie where I watch a movie and my dinner consists of lightly buttered popcorn and a diet coke. I’m sure I get something beneficial from this but I doubt it. I opted for ‘Four Christmases’. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. BORING. I had seen a trailer for it sometime last month and it looked like it had the potential for some funny parts. Ugh. It started out like it could be funny but I saw through what was happening and then it never regained any momentum. Halfway through, when I had finished my dinner – I thought about leaving early. Sadly, I always feel like I spent my money anyway and should sit through the end in case something exciting happens. It has a lot of surprising actors in it and that was what kept making me think that something good was going to come out of it. Robert Duvall ended up just being a cranky old guy, Jon Favreau played a dumbed-down role that you wonder why – maybe it was to be Tim McGraw’s brother?, Mary Steenburgen and Dwight Yoakam – that was interesting, Sissy Spacek could have been a funnier situation, and Jon Voight seemed to be doing a personal, public apology to his real daughter in his ‘spotlight’ speech. Sad movie all around. I wish someone had warned me about this before I went.
Wednesday I woke up early and headed out for 400 of my miles. I should have called it my ‘college tour’. I went through Austin (home of University of Texas), Waco (home of Baylor University), and College Station (home of Texas A & M University). Lots of driving in a noisy car and no satellite radio to go to when I was out of range of earth-bound stations. Grrrr. In other technology woes, my GPS was not taking me the ways that I wanted to go. I have to figure out ways to get it to go the ways I want to to – not necessarily the quickest ways. I thought I had set the preferences correctly. Apparently not. It messed me up tonight and took me back towards Austin when I really wanted to stay south of town.
I found Ellen and we continued our tour of places that she hasn’t been before. It’s actually pretty hard to find restaurants. I used Yelp and LocalEats from the iPhone and we had been to six of the ten places already! That’s pretty funny.
Bess' Bistro in Austin - Good Eats!
Sandra Bullock has a place downtown on 6th Street (the main drag) called Bess’ Bistro. No wait for a table on a Wednesday night with cold weather moving in so we got right in. Nice place. Hip but not hip enough for me to be included. The server was nice, kind of reminded me of Sandra Bernard in retrospect.
Our Server...
(Our last server reminded of us of Billy Crudup.) Nice wines by glass, relatively short menu. The beer braised pork belly caught my eye because it sounded good and was fun to try to say out loud! Ellen was going to have the same and we figured we should share so we went for the seafood risotto. The server concurred and we started with a nice crawfish bisque. Very creamy, good flavor. Conversation was wonderful and we hardly noticed the normal extra time that risotto takes to make. The food was nice. Large enough portions to share. The pork belly was tender and tasty. It reminded me of the beef cheeks that Dirk and I had in Vegas! The risotto was nice – the scallops were unfreaking believable. More great tastes. We opted to drink our desserts and went down the street to Star Bar (no website link, sorry). It was pretty dead but we just wanted to talk anyway so the tarbender kept our drinks coming. I opted for Gran Marnier and El went for the tequila. We laughed about all things in life and left early enough to know better that we have jobs to do in the morning.
Thursday morning came quickly and I ran off to my 8am class. I get there and there’s three people in the class. I was expecting ten. The class went okay, but it’s hard to get excited with that few of people. I had plenty more stores to hit afterwards and went on my way. El and I were going to go someplace else tonight but she got a migraine at work and couldn’t come out and play. That ended up well as I just found a good meatball sandwich and went back to the hotel and packed. Perhaps I had a bit too much time to myself as I found myself really contemplating how our current business model was not living up to it’s expectations and how we can change things to be able to survive until this economy can start climbing out of the barrel!
Another early rise for a 7:30 departure to… MORE STORES! Two more Home Depots and a Direct Buy location that used to do more business but hasn’t sold anything this year. The guy there was a bit standoffish at first but then warmed up. I really think he would be good for sales in the future.
One more stop to a ‘green’ built house that wants some of our doors. It’s perhaps an 80 year old house that the builder is going ‘green’ with the insulation, hot water heater, etc. It seems like a nice project but I wonder how much of it is capitalizing on the word ‘green’ and how much it’s actually for the environment. I can’t tell yet. It’s a small house in an old part of town that is being revitalized which means that everything is becoming overpriced.
I made it back to the airport in time for my second favorite thing at the Austin airport. First is the fact that they have musicians throughout the airport. Second is the chair massages! They have a little setup there – basically $1 a minute. The therapists are top notch – several ‘studied’ in Santa Fe. It’s always my last minute treat before coming back to the ‘real’ world.
The flight back started interesting when the guy in the aisle seat was forced from his seat by a young man that was deaf that was trying to say he needed two seats but basically made the guy move. The new guy’s seat-mate was lead onto the plane and she was deaf as well. I have had conversations with other people who have worked with deaf people and they seem oblivious to the fact that they are making sounds when people who can speak would not normally. I mean, you can feel the vibrations of making noises – why don’t they? Also, and it’s kind of funny, deaf people pass a lot of gas. Again, there’s a certain vibration that occurs, can’t they tell? It’s not like their sense of smell is impaired. So, the first leg was noisy, smelly, and consisted of my having to fight for my own space as the young girl tried to sleep, covered herself with her smelly jacket – and me too, and became very excited about flying a few times.
Luckily they both got off the plane in El Paso and I had a nice continuation of the flight.
I got back home to sort of welcoming kids and an asleep wife. No dinner. A stack of clothes that could be climbed with the proper gear. I made some paper snowflakes with Railee and opted to go straight to bed. Sunnee had woken up sometime and got on the phone for two marathon, loud phone calls. I finally drifted off to sleep…
This weekend is cold and windy so I don’t know what I’m up in for. Laundry. Obviously. But who knows what my family has in store for me!!!!!!

Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Wednesday

Life: Indifferent Work: Indifferent
Weight: Hours of Sleep:
I made it back – I was in San Antonio again. I REALLY miss my Express Jet. Having to go through Dallas to get to San Antonio added 7.5 hours to my travels. It was a matter of convenience, I became spoiled by being able to get a direct flight, real food (at least for the first year), and a website that was almost as easy to use as Southwests’. RIP Express Jet.
Bill Miller Bar B Q
I actually did eat some Barbecue while there. Bill Miller’s Bar-B-Q is EVERYWHERE in San Antonio. I counted at least 62 from their map. You can’t throw a stick without hitting a store. They are all nice and – get this – affordable! We were talking how Barbecue has gotten real expensive. We mostly have chain barbecue in Albuquerque – County Line, Rudy’s, Dickey’s. Wait, we have quite a few locals – Powdrell’s, JR’s, Golden Pride, and Quarters. Okay, I am wrong. Either way – all of them are quite expensive. It’s not a ‘normal’ restaurant stop because for four it is often about $10 a head to eat.
Here, you can have lunch for $5.29 and actually be full – that includes a big ol’ glass of Sweet’ Tea. You have to say that with a Southern drawl to make it correct. It’s also better if you say it ‘Hon, will you be having some Sweet’ Tea with us today?’. Look at their menu page here. A Family Dinner for $20? That’s what restaurants were intended to be – an affordable way to feed your family when you don’t have time to cook. A replacement, not a need to take a second mortgage. Great place. Great food. Everyone always is smiling and they all thank you when you go to leave.
And another thing. Texas does another thing right. TURNAROUNDS.
Texas Turnarounds
For those who have not been lucky enough to drive the Highways of Texas – these are the best planned things in the world. So, you miss your exit – or have to get to the other side of the highway to get to a business. In New Mexico, and most other states, you drive to the next exit and try to back your way via side streets. Sometimes you can exit and have to make it through two lights to be able to get back onto the other side of the freeway. It takes time. In Texas, EVERY exit has a turnaround – you don’t even have to stop. You do have to slow down. Here’s an example:
Texas Turnarounds
Those red lines are the turnarounds. Brilliant planning folks!
Good to be back. Need to go to payroll. Try not to screw it up. Try not to screw it up. Try not to screw it up…

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment