Posted on 19 May 2013 | No responses
I had a pretty nasty cold this last week. I rarely take drugs for any type of illness. I don’t pop Advil or aspirin or cold pills or go to the doc for a scrip every time I sniffle. This time, though, was an exception. I hoofed it into a local Walgreens last Sunday, plopped down my ID and walked out with a box of cold pills fortified with pseudoephedrine.
I don’t know if it was the stimulant in those cold pills or what, but I despite the sniffles I got a bunch of stuff knocked off my to-do list. Including tasks that have been rolling around for years.
- Finally finished the migration of old content from the “old” HTML site to the “new” microsite, for the Quality and Productivity Section of the American Statistical Association. I’m in the third year of my appointment as Q&P’s webmaster. I should have done this, oh, two years ago, but could never seem to find the time. Now, I’m done — and I’ve even offered an informal webinar for one of my fellow section officers on how to update the site.
- Wrapped up a Joomla site transfer. A friend subcontracted the project out to me, and we finally got through the giant mess that he inherited from his client.
- Booked the stuff for my Isle Royale trip, and even sent out a couple of query letters about it. I might — might — have a bite from one of the higher-profile hiking magazines to do a piece on the trip. I’d love to get the publishing credit on that one.
- Completed, for the most part, a registration-productivity project at the hospital that’s bedeviled me for three years. Getting a license to Tableau — a data-visualization tool — helped immensely. With Tableau, we can pull in hours-worked payroll data as well as transaction files from our two primary registration systems. Tableau then lets us visualize — down to the hour — how many cumulative transactions and patient encounters we’ve performed, by staff member. Cool stuff.
- Started the surprisingly complex process of moving my free-text notes for the local journalism text I’ve been working on with Alaric. I’m transferring the rough outline we collaborated on using OneNote, into Scrivener. Each section has a synopsis. The point of all this is to take the entire book and plan it down to the 500-to-2,000 word sections, thus making writing a modular process. The upside is that this approach puts pride of place on planning before writing. The downside is that, so far, the projected target word count will top 160k. Heaven help me.
Moral of the story: Apparently I’m more productive when I’m on stimulants.
Posted on 12 May 2013 | No responses
Last week, I said that I’ve got a family of ferals in my garage. These four felines have prompted quite a bit of discussion among my friends.
First, the Lenin question. What is to be done? Abbi and Brittany advocate TNR — trap, neuter, release. The idea is to crate the cats, take them to a local clinic that does free spaying and neutering for ferals, and then put the fuzzy four-legs back where they came from. The argument is that TNR is the most humane way of addressing burgeoning urban populations of feral cats: You don’t kill them outright, but you do remove their ability to procreate, thus controlling their numbers and limiting their footprint upon the bird and small-mammal populations.
Stacie, by contrast, echoes the official line from PETA, which is to trap and euthanize. Their argument is that there are too many feral cats already, killing birds and otherwise disrupting the local wildlife while simultaneously leading Hobbesian lives of nasty, brutish conditions. Better to painlessly euthanize them as an invasive species and be done with it.
Of all the ethical positions to take, it appears that the least laudable is precisely the one I’ve taken: I am feeding them. I’ve been giving Snowball and her three shorties a cup of dry food per day plus a plastic dish of clean water.
My strategy leads directly to a second point, regarding the line between feral and domestic cats in general. The mama of the bunch — which I’ve cleverly named Snowball because she’s solid white — went from hissing at me if I got within 10 feet, to meowing (happily) when she sees me and letting me pet her when I feed her. She actually comes to me when she sees me in the driveway. All this, within one week. Yes, her behavior is Pavlovian. But it’s interesting, because my two indoor cats pretty much act the same way. Granted that the indoor kitties are litterbox trained and don’t scratch stuff up, the question remains whether they’re really all that different from Snowball.
Dogs domesticate. Cats don’t, really. Snowball could probably never be an indoor cat — I wouldn’t even try. My indoor cats would probably die within a week if they were released into the wild. But habituation and domestication are wholly separate concepts.
More interesting are the kittens. When I first saw them, they were old enough to eat dry food and explore on their own, but not so old that they didn’t occasionally nurse. The kittens remained afraid of me; only one let me touch him when they dared to approach the dry food I left out. And now, I haven’t seen any of them in the last two days. So do I still feed Snowball, when she doesn’t seem to be managing a litter anymore?
Decisions, decisions. Perhaps the best insight came from Alaric, who noted that presuming to make any interference with the cats — TNR, euthanasia, even feeding — is to presume to intrude upon the natural order of their lives, so right off the bat any choice violates their autonomy as creatures operating in the natural world. Every other ethical choice follows from that first-order violation.
Who would have thought that something as commonplace as a transient family of ferals could prove so ethically complex?
Posted on 5 May 2013 | 1 response
Today’s exercise in stream-of-consciousness blogging follows. Hold on to your buttocks.
I am now apparently hosting a family of feral cats in the garage. A white cat with a little black nose and sapphire eyes — I’ve named her Snowball — has taken residence of the garage attic, along with her three children. The kittens are old enough to scurry about independently, but young enough to occasionally nurse. One is solid white, one is solid black, and one is solid grey. Advice from Stacie is to simply trap them and have them humanely euthanized. Others suggest a trap/neuter/release program. The advice mirrors battles among animal-rights activists. My solution, which I freely admit is the least responsible thing I could do, is to give them food and water.
The last few weeks have featured a packed social calendar. Yesterday I saw Iron Man 3 at Celebration South with Julie, Steve, Brittany and the “other” Jason; the week before I caught Oblivion at Celebration Rivertown. Last week, Tony came to town to record and we ended up enjoying some cigars and premium adult beverages before trekking to Erb Thai for some tasty, tasty curried food. On Friday, Stacie came over to meet my cats and slog back a few beers. Last week, I had cigars with The Irritable Bastard. The week before, Tony and I hoofed it to Horseshoe Hammond for the Midwest Smoke Out.
Life has been interesting on the writing front. I’ve been making more progress on some of my sundry manuscripts and I also purchased three of my friend Duane’s recently released novels, from Amazon.
Since last month’s deluge, the weather in West Michigan has been downright cheerful. Consistently in the 70s, with a mid-80s day last week, and sunny. Fairly moderate humidity, too. I think I’m going to go for a nice long walk along Kent Trails later today. I hope this pattern holds for the Isle Royale trip at the end of the month. On the extra-special bright side, it’s transitioned into “walking around with very little clothes” season, and so far the folks with the best bodies are the ones most likely to flaunt them. Please, oh please, let the trend continue. Remember: Just Say No! to muffintops.
I finished reading The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama. Most of the book was solid and well-presented; his conclusions largely tracked what I’d expect from a political science perspective of evolutionary social biology. The key insight I pulled from his work — which ended with the French Revolution — is that political order waxes and wanes and one of the forces leading to social decay is repatriomonialization. This fancy term identifies the tendency for political elites to create systems that support their kin or tribe. In small societies, the kin are usually blood relatives, but in larger societies, the tribe may well include fellow elites. Hence the tendency for the political class to resist change that harms the political class, and the reason why elite activists favor the erosion of federalism. Fukuyama’s belief, obliquely expressed, is that violence is typically the tool used to undo repatrimonialization. Hence, the only way to break gridlock and self-serving behavior in government is to overthrow the government, because political leaders are almost never willing to voluntarily cede their elite privileges for the good of the state as a whole. His observations should give pause to those who dismiss recent public opinion polling that suggests that a large minority of the American public expects widespread political violence within the next decade.
All for now.
Posted on 28 April 2013 | No responses
In the April 29, 2013 issue of The Weekly Standard, Ivan Kenneally writes in “Is Traditional Marriage Toast?” that
… same-sex marriage is a culmination of a long-brewing development, an unspooling of essential modern premises. The relentless logic of modernity is unrestrained individuality, the lonesome sovereignty of the singular person. The pith of matrimony is natural gregariousness, our completion of human beings through coupling. It was only a matter of time before the crashing tide of autonomy reached the shores of conjugal union, pitting the inviolability of the individual against the venerableness of the family. If anything, it is remarkable marriage has remained intact for so long, a testament to its profound allure even in a culture whose trends undermine it.
Kenneally runs through the standard libertarian boilerplate that same-sex marriage is odd, but that the institution itself is not the unchanging bulwark of domestic bliss that it’s often alleged to be.
The SSM angle aside, what struck me about this argument is the implication that conservatives, by and large, have taken perhaps too seriously the drive to stop social change without really thinking about the usefulness of their objections or the seriousness of the battle.
Change is inevitable. True, much change that originates from the Left is not so good; in broad strokes, progressive social change de-emphasizes institutions in favor of radical individual autonomy. Except in economic contexts, of course, in which progressives favor socialization — mostly to pay for the net result of their focus on equality of outcome.
The conservative movement relies on a reflexive No. Often, standing athwart history makes sense. But too frequently, conservatives rely on reflex and never evaluate whether it might make more sense to shape change rather than to block it.
Consider same-sex marriage. Love it or hate it, it appears inevitable. So what’s a conservative to do? Some duck their heads in the sand, some advocate ideological purges, others don’t give a rip. Very few conservatives publicly acknowledge that SSM isn’t the disease, it’s the symptom. Marriage is an increasingly incoherent institution. It serves basic legal purposes, but other institutions could serve those same purposes.
A prudent conservative would look at SSM not as a broadside, but as an opportunity to refine and make more useful an institution that’s been undermined ever since easy contraception and quick divorce made a joke of the “bonds of matrimony.” Maybe that newly reinvigorated institution includes SSM (or polygamy, or whatever) or maybe it doesn’t. But the first step in “saving traditional marriage” comes in acknowledging that SSM isn’t the most lethal enemy on the radar. It’s probably not even in the top 10. Heterosexuals have done more to screw up traditional marriage than homosexuals have, and the culture of indulgence that promotes “the lonesome sovereignty of the singular person” is a much stronger threat to family life than same-sex spouses ever will be.
In other words, the marriage debate opens up a door through which conservatives should gleefully charge, instead of hitting the alarm button and reaching, panicked, for the deadbolt. For as long as conservatives abandon the ideas to the Left, the Left gets to twist the ratchet of change.
Posted on 21 April 2013 | No responses
I scurried about sundry vistas in this soggy city this afternoon to catch a few (mildly) interesting photos of the Grand River flooding.
See my Tumblr for all 10 images. Here’s one to whet your appetite:
Posted on 21 April 2013 | No responses
It’s been a week, hasn’t it?
- Boston Marathon. Two young Chechen males bombed the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. That’s bad. First responders in Boston lived up to the heroic archetype. That’s good. Many marathon runners crossed the finish line and kept running until they hit the hospital; so many, in fact, that the hospital had to start turning people away. That’s inspiring. Regardless of the subpar performance of the press this week, and setting aside a “we must do something, no matter how useless” response from federal leaders, Boston proves a point: You can bloody Americans, but you can never kill the American soul. God bless Boston.
- Gun bill fails. Joe Manchin and Harry Reid proved incapable of getting a federal gun bill through the Senate. President Obama was mad about that vote — more angry, in fact, than he seemed about Boston, and he berated Republicans directly with victims of gun violence (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and families from Newtown, CT) as stage props behind him. America’s gun laws are a mishmash of crazy; reform at both the state and federal levels seems necessary. But wrenching regulation ever-tighter isn’t the sort of reform we need, nor is using the grief of victims as a rhetorical ploy for strong-arming flawed bills the kind of tactic we need to advance the legislative process.
- West, TX plant explosion. A fertilizer plant in Texas exploded. Many are dead, wounded or displaced. We send them our prayers, and we mourn the volunteer firefighters who lost their lives in the explosion.
- West Michigan floods. The torrent of early April rain led to record flooding. The Grand River crests today, considerably higher than the previous record flood of 1904. Lots of prep work and lots of localized flooding, but no real sense of panic or disruption seems to grip the city. Infrastructure planning over the last few decades has undoubtedly paid handsome dividends now, even as we chuckle a bit as Mayor Heartwell counsels people to “shower with a buddy” to reduce stress on the water treatment plant.
- New bishop in Grand Rapids. This week, we learned that Pope Francis has named David John Walkowiak, a priest from Cleveland, to succeed Walter Hurley as bishop of Grand Rapids. For local Catholics, this is a big deal. Many dislike Hurley, although they struggle at identifying why. Insiders within the diocese didn’t appreciate the clean break between Hurley — who aggressively pursued parish consolidations and cleaned the roster of abusive priests — and Robert Rose, who was significantly more lax and let a handful of lay people effectively run the diocese during his tenure. (Kevin Britt actually succeeded Rose, but he served only a year before dying unexpectedly in 2005.) I worked with Bishop Hurley as one of his masters of ceremonies. He’s a good man, and a far-sighted administrator. I will eagerly welcome Bishop-elect Walkowiak, but I will miss Hurley.
What to make of all of this?
First, the words of Blessed John Paul II should be declaimed from the rooftops: Be not afraid. Neither guns nor bombs nor wild floods should shake our cores. We will survive; we always do.
Second, we should remember just how lucky we really are. Even when our lives seem to suck, we still enjoy unheard-of levels of prosperity and freedom. Whether we’re cleaning up after a terror attack or sandbagging before a flood, we still are better off than so many others in the world. Truly, even our worst days are better than the best days of many people in North Korea or sub-Sahara Africa. Remember that.
Third, we should not allow tragedy — man-caused or natural — to serve as an ideological inflection point. Bad things happen. If we let those bad things turn us into a herd of panicked minds, shepherded by opportunist politicians, then we help the first evil to grow deeper and more corrosive than it otherwise would have been. So when you see victims on stage, using their tears to affect legislation, the only right answer is to stand athwart the legislative process saying Stop.
This week was one for the history books. Let’s work to ensure that our response to these events earns fair treatment in those history books.
Posted on 14 April 2013 | No responses
If you believe my grandmother, I’m apparently writing this from behind the walls of a Texas prison. If you believe the GPS unit on my phone, I’m writing this from Grand Rapids. Where, oh were, could I be?
Funny story. So last week, my mother calls and asks, point-blank: “Where are you?”
I was brutally honest in reply: “Well, I’m on my back porch right now, with a bit of grog and a cigar. Where are you?”
To which, she burst out in laughter. Her own mother — St. Dorothy the Matriarch — had just called her upset because she had received a collect call from a Texas prison from someone whose muffled name may have sounded like ”Jay.” Of course, granny didn’t accept the call that she feared may have come from her own flesh and blood. Instead, she hung up and called my mother to demand that she figure out where I was. My mother, ever the practical sort, dialed my cell phone. So although I do intend to visit the Metroplex at some point (perhaps this fall?) to see my friends from the Denton Dallas and Beyond podcast in their natural environment, I am not presently in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
So what’s up with the prison call? It’s a scam, of course.
Tidings of social merriment:
- Last night, I enjoyed wine and cheese at Reserve with my friend Michelle. The server slipped me a note with the name of an online-only wine retailer that, in her view, makes the best “nerdy whites” on the market. I’ll have to check it out.
- Friday was WriteOn. Writers and pizza and creative brainstorming, oh my! We even had the rare twofer of Cassidy plus AdamSmash.
- Two Saturdays ago, I had cigars and cocktails with Brian and Mark. That was fun.
- My new department at the hospital had an “un-birthday” party recently, to celebrate everyone’s 27th non-birthday all at the same time. We went to Ichiban and had sushi and assorted adult beverages. Mmm.
- A few weeks ago I trekked to Lansing for a recording session with Tony that transformed into a dinner (at Gilbert & Blakes) and cigar (at The Corona) extravaganza with him and his lovely better half.
- This coming Wednesday is the monthly Cigar and Cocktail Evening, to be held at 7 p.m. at Grand River Cigar. All are welcome, no RSVP required.
My writing group embarked on a year-long voyage of creative discovery through the development of Mechlanberg, a steampunk-type city for which we’re all collaborating on a series of short stories. Each member of the group is responsible for one aspect of the city’s development. My assigned area is “crime and danger.” Every meeting, we discuss and rehash various aspects of how the world functions — its history, topography, culture, economy, etc. I’ve started writing a series of short stories based on the crime/danger paradigm through the eyes of a young girl named Elyse entering Mechlanberg from the desert to become a “firefly” (a member of a prostitute’s guild). I’m underplaying some of the more “out-there” aspects of Mechlanberg lore — like memory water and tentacle forests — to focus on a character-development story arc. If I keep doing one short story each month, and each builds on the last, then I’ll have developed a novella before NaNoWriMo ’13 kicks off. Not a bad accomplishment.
Of Marathons and Half-Marathons and Iron Men
The plan, at present, is that Tony, Jen and I will compete in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in mid November. They’re thinking “half marathon,” which makes sense given everyone’s relative level of fitness. The event is one of only two times a year that The Strip shuts down to vehicular traffic (the other time is New Year’s Eve) and the run occurs at night so the lights of Las Vegas take pride of place.
There’s also the North Country Run, an event I just learned about and fully intend to attempt in 2014 (registration for 2013 has since closed). It’s a trail run — half, full or ultra — in Manistee National Forest, presumably along a segment of the North Country Trail. Apart from a brief loop on a semi-paved road, the entire race is conducted on the single-file foot trails of the forest and includes such features as roots to trip you up, mosquitoes to drain your blood and flags to guide you so you don’t accidentally run off-trail and get eaten by a bear. Sounds heavenly.
I’m still pondering a triathlon at some point. My cousin Callista completed an Ironman event last year and that’s just freaking awesome. She worked really hard at it, and I respect her for that. I just need to work on my biking skills a bit and re-learn how to swim without a tank on my back.
… and speaking of the outdoors, it’s a 95-percent probable “go!” that I’ll be doing a backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park in late May or early June. The expedition involves an eight-hour drive to Houghton, followed by a six-hour trek by boat to the island. Spend four nights on the trail, then return the same way. Scheduling isn’t final yet — I have to stagger it with other people’s vacations and a three-night training trip to Madison, WI, in May — but I have everything lined up for a peaceful trek in the Lake Superior backcountry, with just the island’s wolves and moose to keep me company.
Readers of this blog know that I don’t post a lot of pictures. No LOLcats, no funny pictures with meme-style overprint, no “look at me, I’m drunk in an exclusive club” selfies, no “look at my hippie dinner” Instagrams.
So here’s your exception:
Yes. I now have two cats. Long story, but they’re fabulous little critters who are perfectly litter trained, people-friendly and just all-around adorable. Even when they wake me up at 4 a.m., having decided in their feline wisdom that it’s time for me to get up and pet them.
Posted on 8 April 2013 | No responses
Yesterday my friend Duane launched an inaugural podcast dedicated to the craft and business of writing. He did a great job with it, sharing some of his own experiences and then riffing, briefly, on what it means to be a writer.
Prompted some thought.
From my vantage point, a writer is someone who:
- Consistently pushes out work product, even if it’s not intended for widespread readership
- Writes for compensation but nevertheless aims to release polished and useful prose
- Loves the craft
You know who isn’t a writer? Someone who merely intends to write, or someone who pushes out paid work product with no regard for the feel of the prose (i.e, a hack).
To be a writer means more than just putting words to paper. The concept requires something more — a desire, deep down, to either tell a story, or to relay information with elegance and with an ear for the ebbs and flows of the language.
I know a lot of people who’ve never been published, but still put in the time. They’re writers. I also know a lot of people who get paid to write but don’t much care about what the final product looks like — these people aren’t really writers. They’re more like hired guns.
As a writer, I’ve seen my fair share of successes ($200 articles for 30 minutes of work, woohoo). I’ve seen my share of failures, too. Like rejections by editors who clearly didn’t understand the subject matter. No worries. I keep plugging away, just like Duane does.
Writing isn’t a glorious profession. Nor is it a functional description. Rather, it’s an avocation, a way of thinking and acting that recognizes that words mean things and that stringing them together requires inspiration, not just perspiration or aspiration. It requires a willingness to grow your craft, to learn and to advance and to experiment. It requires you to write.
Don’t let the bastards get you down. Then again, don’t let the bastards within stop you from starting in the first place.
Posted on 31 March 2013 | 4 responses
The meta-debate about same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court prompted a side conversation with a friend that highlighted my frustration with people whose opinions on any given subject constitute little more than a rationalization of the inverse argument offered by an ideological opponent.
Conservatives don’t care much for progressives. Progressives don’t care much for conservatives. Yet too many people from each camp content themselves to find an explanation — any explanation, no matter how flimsy — to justify their oppositional defiance to a caricature of the position of the other side.
Put differently: Not only do we lack 50 shades of political gray, we lack any shades of gray. Positions distill to paired binaries; you’re pro or con without any hope of a middle ground or an alternative position. Deviate from the black-and-white model, and you’re either a traitor to the cause or a wacko kook outside the mainstream.
Almost every political question being tossed about in the mainstream press — entitlement reform, gun control, abortion, same-sex marriage, defense spending — distills into a straw man. Policy issues with several distinct facets are ground into a single surface that reflects back a mere bumper-sticker slogan.
Consider just two questions: Same-sex marriage and gun control. On SSM, you’re either for “marriage equality” or for “traditional marriage.” Very little serious attention is paid to the best, ideologically hybrid solutions, like splitting religious and civil marriage or treating marriage like a personal contract like any other. On gun control, you’re either in favor or against tougher laws; not many have bothered to adjust their solution set in light of a copious stream of data that suggests that some regulations are useful and others aren’t.
America’s problems have solutions. Social discord has an exit strategy. But as long as we insist on treating every policy question like a zero-sum game with only one valid answer per ideology, we all lose.
Posted on 17 March 2013 | No responses
For the period 3/13/13 to 3/16/13, I was in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 360Vegas Vacation. The notes below serve as my official trip report.
- Left at 6:30 and drove to Detroit to catch an 11:20 a.m. flight on Spirit Airlines. Stopped for gas/food/ATM in Gaines Township.
- At DTW, my checked bag was slightly overweight, but the counter clerk let it go. The TSA doesn’t understand that a Microsoft Surface Pro is NOT a laptop; I was subjected to a secondary screening because I didn’t remove it from my carry-on. The flight attendants were hilarious and highly professional. Uneventful flight.
- Had a local cab driver ferry me from McCarran. He advised that many unionized cab drivers were on strike. Their “picket line” was a line of cars with roof signs and continuously blaring horns, driving up and down the strip. Annoying.
- Put my bags in Tony’s room at Harrah’s, then we explored The Quad (looks like Red Rock on the Strip) then enjoyed keno and drinks at Bally’s. The guard there “schooled” Tony on betting based on a frequency card.
- Stumbled across a Davidoff store at Paris Las Vegas. Bought cigars, then walked through Paris and then off to Planet Hollywood. We enjoyed Davidoff 5000s.
- I hit $122 on one bonus round on Cash Spin at PH.
- Jason and Tony ate at PH Spice Market Buffet … good, 4 of 5 stars. Tony made me buy because of my bonus hit. Even though he had a 2-for-1 coupon in his room.
- Went to KGB Burger for drinks (the White Russian was fabulous).
- Took the Las Vegas Monorail to LVH and walked thorough. I won $50. LVH looks like a property desperately awaiting its inevitable implosion.
- I went to get my bags from Tony and check in to the hotel (they were at 99.6 percent occupancy). Didn’t attempt a $20 upgrade. Did some work before retiring. We stayed at Harrah’s for the first time, because everyone else was either at Harrah’s or Monte Carlo. All things being equal, I still prefer Wynn/Encore or Caesar’s Palace, but Harrah’s wasn’t bad. The room was in very good shape, albeit small, and the housekeeping service was efficient and unobtrusive and my housekeeper made a point, when she saw me, of thanking me for the tips I left her.
- Tony went back to Bally’s and lost $300 in video poker.
- We were propositioned by hookers on the floor of Caesar’s Palace, on our way to breakfast. They were pretty hot, too. Tony’s response to the sultry question, “So what are you guys doing today?” was: “I’m headed to breakfast!” and kept walking without slowing down.
- Enjoyed breakfast at Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Place. Very well done; definite influence of Wicked Spoon on the serving methodology. Tony loved the Eggs Benedict.
- Tony won $65 on MooLala and $30 on Cheers, while playing slots at Caesars.
- Met up with Stephen and his wife (Denton, Dallas & Beyond podcast) for some gambling. We played the Magic Lamp machines at Caesar’s; the three of us, except Tony, kept hitting bonus rounds. Tony got mad — it was funny.
- The four of us transitioned to Bally’s for video poker at the bar. Jason won a royal flush for $1,000. Stephen and his wife departed after an hour or so. Steve (the bartender) was awesome.
- Celebrated the royal with a pair of Davidoff Year of the Snake cigars, while Diane the cocktail waitress served us stiff drinks. There are few things as enjoyable as sitting in the Bally’s video poker pit with a fine cigar and prompt cocktail service from Diane.
- When Diane’s shift ended, we went back to the bar. Jason hit $200 on quad aces. Tony: “You’re the luckiest mother[expletive deleted] I know!”
- Intended to hit PBR Rockbar for drinks and dinner for the opening of 360Vegas Vacation. Instead of going to the Miracle Mile shops, we went to Monte Carlo. We both knew better but neither of us grasped that went to the wrong casino.
- Ate dinner at Aria buffet. Nothing special. Reminiscent of the buffet at Mirage.
- Went to Paris for the 360Vegas bus, but couldn’t find it. Communications snafu. Missed out on Ted. Received hostile tweets from Keren, which is a sign she misses you. (She’s like PPQ, except from Illinois). I was disappointed by this because I really wanted to meet up with Ted of AccessVegas.com; not only has he been a good friend, but there were some ideas I wanted to pitch his way.
- Retired for the evening after touring Margaritaville. Wholly uninspiring little casino.
- Took a cab to El Cortez. Did a little gambling there, then Four Queens. Did breakfast buffet at The Fremont (not bad, but a bit scary — did the breakfast staples well, though). Bought souvenirs at FSE and Mob Museum.
- Dropped off our stuff at my room, then went to Caesar’s Palace for drinks and cigars with Stephen at Casa Fuente. Jason enjoyed a Fuente Fuente OpusX, plus an Old Cuban and a Casa Mojito. The three of us talked a fair amount of shop, which was fun.
- Tony went to Serendipity3 for drinks and gambling with the 360Vegas gang; Jason and Stephen gambled at Caesar’s. Went back to the Magic Lamp machines, then to Michael Jackson. I won $280 on a bonus spin at Michael Jackson.
- Stephen, his wife and I went to Bacchanal Buffet for lunch. Lunch was just as good as breakfast.
- Tony joined us at Harrah’s after lunch, whereupon we went to my room to record E-110.
- After the show, we went to Monte Carlo for dinner with the 360Vegas gang at The Pub. Dinner was mediocre and the service was slow, but the beer flights were tasty.
- Monte Carlo reserved a craps table for 360Vegas. We played $5 craps for several hours with excellent service from the Monte Carlo team. Cashed out, up $85. A good time.
- Cab ride back to Harrah’s. Packed.
- Took airport shuttle to McCarran.
- Bag was over-weight; assessed $25 penalty. Screw you, Spirit Airlines. I’ll pay extra for Delta Air Lines from now on.
- Uneventful flight home.
- Landed in Detroit around 7 p.m. EDT. Drive back was odd; traffic was both heavy and filled with dangerous drivers from I-275 to I-96 past Lansing. I was tailgated doing 95 on I-275 at one point.
- Home at 10 p.m. Cats were alive and well and did no damage. Unpacked, then went to bed.