June 28, 2005

Time killer

Want to be driven crazy by a fun little game for a while? Have at it. I mostly suck at it, but (warning!) it's addictive. There are some parts of it that I simply cannot master. Have a ball!

June 27, 2005

Buildings of mystery

In one of those cruel twists of life, something you treasured as a child -- Summer, that precious, magical time you counted down the days to get to, and which could never seem to last quite long enough before you were back in the stores buying your new school wardrobe -- turns into a vast, tortuous wasteland of television reruns and sundry "entertainment" crap. ("I Want to Be a Hilton," anyone?)

Given this state of affairs, I've found myself drawn into the TNT miniseries, "Into the West," almost against my will, simply because it's new programming and will go on for a number of weeks. I'm not really a big fan of Westerns or, as I tend to think of them, stories of how the West and its native peoples were royally screwed over by European hubris. But TiVo has made it so easy to watch this one on my schedule that I got sucked in by boredom, curiosity, and a preview for the show that made use of the Sarah McLachlan song, "World On Fire," which I happen to really like. (And which you may have heard about, back when the video came out, for her charitable contribution.)

It's not the best miniseries ever, and it can be a bit confusing to follow because there are so many characters in so many places over so many years, but it is interesting. They show the episodes a bunch of times each weekend, if you're inclined to check it out -- I'm sure it would be easy to catch up.

Why am I going on about this, you may be asking? Today I finally got a look at the photos I took during my most recent trip and some of them reminded me of the sad fate of those native tribes.

These pictures were taken at Wupatki National Monument in Arizona, in the Box Canyon ruins. There were other ruins in the area, but if you look at the sky in the first picture you will see how overcast it was becoming, and I chose to head back to the car when the sky opened up.

The enduring nature of the structures is pretty amazing to me, as they have been there for some 800 years and so much is still intact. I didn't learn as much about inhabitants as I would have liked, since my visit was so short, but I do recall that the Anasazi were among the those who are believed to have lived here. As there is so much mystery surrounding what happened to them as a people, it was a little surreal to be standing alone in what might have been a sacred site of the pueblo, with the wind whipping and the thunder and lightening going on all around me. I'd like to go back sometime to explore it further.

June 26, 2005

The Scream...in stone

I'm hoping that this fixes the picture problem!

Much to my delight, Blogger has finally added a picture function directly into our posts, so (if it works) no more futzing with Hello or the Yahoo! site I've been using these past two months with limited success.

For the moment, I'm going to leave up the picture that has been there for the last little while, as a comparison. It would be great if those of you who continue to not be able to see the one that should be over to the right of this post (which, as cbeck pointed out, may be at the bottom of the page instead) would let me know if you can see the picture that should now be directly to the left of this text. It would be equally wonderful if those of you who have had little or no trouble seeing the pictures on the right would let me know if the size of this one is better versus the other, or any other feedback. (I can change the size if needed.)

I just realized that this will also take care of the problem of people not realizing there's a new picture up, because there will now be a post the accompanies it. I expect to hear rapturous words of praise here, people!

Oh, and about the picture. This is a close-up of a portion of the Mound Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs, in Yellowstone, that reminded me of the painting The Scream.

June 23, 2005


Greetings from Flagstaff, AZ or, as it should be known right now, Lightening Central.

Who, can you tell me, expects there to be pouring rain, rumbling thunder and wicked lightening in the desert in June?? I certainly didn't, as my wardrobe for this trip could certainly attest. The only pair of shoes I even brought are sandals! (Rita, feel free to express your shock at this.)

There I am in the Grand Canyon, expecting it to be so hot that I'd be near-miserable, running around in my cute little shorts and top and sandals, and raindrops the size of gumballs are pelting me from above. I actually had to shell out for one of those flimsy, plastic ponchos!

We still got to see a great deal of the South Rim, although the lighting and clouds were more dramatic than might be best for good pictures. We'll have to wait and see how they look when I get back. If there are any good ones, I'll post them. Because of the weather, we didn't do any real walking about and such, but we got a good taste of the place.

On the drive back to Flagstaff, though, the lightening was truly magnificent. We were up high enough that we could see it all along the horizon, and it was hard for me to keep my eyes on the road instead of the sky. I should mention that my mom hates lightening in equal proportion to how much I love it, so needless to say only one of us was delighted by the display Mother Nature was putting on for us.

Tomorrow we head back to Las Vegas in order to catch our flight home. I wish I'd planned to stay another night at the Wynn on the way back -- the place was so amazing. Hmm, now that I think about it, I'm sure Southwest would be more than happy to switch our flight to Saturday...

Hey, Mom, can I see that credit card of yours again for a minute? :-)

June 20, 2005

Days late, dollars short

I guess I should be more careful when using the word "guaranteed." The weekend was a lot more busy than I had anticipated, so I just never had the chance to sit down and write what I had planned to write.

And now I'm on my way out the door on my trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon with my mom.

So, long review short, Batman Begins is a really good movie, both in terms of how it was made and enjoyability. I never saw the last Batman movie, but I saw the other three and I would have to say that this one is equal to the first one. Christian Bale really pulls off the role and he has a great supporting cast. The only weak spot, acting-wise, in my opinion would be Katie Holmes. But then, there wasn't a great deal required of her character in terms of development.

If you like the comic book, action-adventure type of movie in general, I think you will enjoy this one.

Hasta luego, see you next week!

June 17, 2005

Here a bug, there a bug

Guess what? It's me, and I've actually got something to say. You may or may not have noticed the dearth of posting lately, but it's simply a matter of not having a great deal that's calling out to me to be written about.

Also, frankly, the days tend to blend and meld into one another when they're not guided by the structure of the work week.

Don't get me wrong, I'm completely not bored and I'm enjoying each and every single day of my time off without exception, but it just doesn't seem as long to me since I last wrote as it may to some of you. But today I have not one, but two things to write about. Try to suppress your excitement -- they may not be as interesting to you as they are to me.

As my mother pointed out to me today, I've always had a certain fascination with ladybugs. I think many people do, actually, yet my interest was piqued once again by finding and buying a ladybug "village" a couple months back. Because of my recent bout of travelling, however, I had not yet started raising any little 'uns.

But today I had the opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do but never really had a reason to: release ladybugs into my garden. Unfortunately, the lovely roses at my current residence have been set upon by pests -- aphids and something else I'm not certain what they are -- and I decided that it was time to bring in those heavy hitters of the aphid-eating world, the Ladybird Beetles.

So off to the nursery I went and I bought a tub of them (did you know you can do that?) while I was out doing other errands after lunch. According to the advice I read, though, you shouldn't release them until at least late afternoon/early evening, so I carried them around with me for most of the day, lest they get too hot sitting in the car. I kept waiting to drop the tub accidentally and have a small swarm of ladybugs exploding out of the bag, much to the astonishment of my fellow, unsuspecting shoppers. Thankfully, that didn't happen and we all arrived home safely, waiting for the sun to go down.

I watered everything down to give them plenty to drink and thereby encourage them to stick around, draped a sheet over the bush with the worst infestation in order to make sure as many as possible stay in that area, popped the top off the tub, took a deep breath, and started sprinkling them all (a purported 1,500 of them) on the bushes. To my surprise and gratitude, everything went exactly as planned and there was only one confirmed fatality when I put the lid back on the tub. Oops. The real test will be tomorrow when I go out in the morning and see how many of them are still there, brunching on our pest buffet. Wish them (all 1,499 of them) luck.

Oh, my, look at the time. I got so caught up with telling you about my little beetle friends that now I have to get going. It's time to go watch some Formula One action -- did you know that the U.S. Grand Prix is in Indianapolis this weekend? Well, it is; today was practice, tomorrow is qualifying and the race is on Sunday. If you have access to Speed TV, I highly suggest you give it a try -- it leaves boring ol' NASCAR in the dust...literally. (Ladies, the drivers are pretty damned cute and they all speak with these dreamy foreign accents, not regional American twangs. Worth a look-see, trust me.)

So I guess my other topic -- a review of the newly opened Batman Begins -- will just have to wait until tomorrow. But then, at least I'll have a guaranteed reason to post again sooner than I otherwise might!

June 10, 2005

Less than picture perfect

Well, I don't know what to tell you all about the picture. It's there, one has been there each day since I got back from Yellowstone, and I can't understand why it's there sometimes for some people and not there other days, or not there at all, or there every time. I use Mozilla Firefox and it's up there where it's supposed to be each time I refresh the page; when I check it in IE, it's there but the formatting isn't quite right.

Not being a computer geek, that's as much as I can tell you. If the spirit moves me, I'll check out Flickr (unless someone has a suggestion for something better) -- in the meantime, all I can suggest is checking browser settings and/or Firefox.

In other news, I've got my next (and final) trip of my sabbatical planned at long last: my mom and I are heading for the Grand Canyon! I've never been to the South Rim, and she's never been there at all, so after a brief but luxurious stop back in Las Vegas -- staying at the gorgeous, new, $2 billion Wynn hotel -- we'll be off to bump along in traffic in the park with all the other tourists. As excited as I am for the trip itself, I think I'm equally as relieved that we finally just picked somewhere to go...it was not an easy process. I'll be away for this one the week of the 20th. If anyone has any "must see" locales or "must eat" restaurants in the South Rim area, please share them in the comments.

June 08, 2005

Keeping my hand in

As I have learned that there are certain people (who shall remain unnamed...for the time being) who do not come here unless some sort of service tells them that I have made a new post -- and who have, therefore, been missing all the neat pictures I've been putting up on days I haven't written anything -- I thought I'd better whip up a little something to say hi, I'm back again.

I survived Vegas, even though April tried to kill me by introducing me to the evil joys of poker -- and other poker bloggers...even if they do all speak some strange and exotic language all their own -- and by making me stay out on the town until all hours of the night. (Please note the post time. That's real.)

I now have a working knowledge of many poker rooms in Sin City and have lost my first $20 in a live game of Texas Hold'em. I can also tell you: exactly where my favorite slots machines are in the Excalibur, the MGM Grand, and the Tropicana; how nice it smells in the casino area of The Venetian; how many miles it is to walk from the parking lot of the Rio to their convention area where the World Series of Poker is being held; which casinos have the best women's rooms; which hotels not to stay at in the downtown area; that you should definitely rent a car if you're going to be there a few days so as not to spend an absolute fortune in cabs; that you should valet park said car at every casino possible so as to save some shoe leather for a couple bucks; that you should always tip your dealer when you win a pot; where to get the best steak and lobster when most people in the rest of the country are fast asleep in their beds; and where to get deep-fried Oreos at the Fremont Street Experience. (Yes, I tried them.) Oh, geez, almost forgot the most important one: in which casinos you can now get Krispy Kremes, whether or not they make them on-site.

So, that covers the high points for the most part. And no, I'm not going to repeat what has become (in my mind) the most hackneyed phrase in America regarding that particular city, but it's not like I'm going to spill all that many details. You kind of had to be there.