"A mind once stretched by a new idea can never regain its original dimensions." ~Oliver Wendall Holmes

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cockroaches and crickets

I had forgotten that there are so many cockroaches in Las Vegas. They are a very common insect here. And it's not like the only time you see them is if there is a mess or some food left out or something...NO! They are everywhere...not like swarms of them, but one or two here and there. Scampering across the sidewalk, hiding out in the garage, crawling around in strange places where you least expect them. Generally I'm not really freaked out too much by insects, but cockroaches give me the willies and gross me out every time.

I found the info online about Las Vegas roaches....
The cockroach may be the most objectionable household insect. They consume human food and contaminate it with saliva and excrement. They also produce secretions that impart a characteristic stinking odor. There are more than 3,500 known roach species, 57 of which are in the United States. Most of the roaches observed in the Las Vegas area are German, Oriental, American, or brown- banded. Cockroaches can carry boils, dysentery, hepatitis, plague, salmonella, typhus, and several other diseases. Cockroaches are primarily carbohydrate eaters. They feed on just about anything of vegetable origin. But cockroaches also like meat. While they prefer starch, they thrive on grease, sweets, paper, soap, cardboard, book bindings, ink, shoe polish, and even dirty clothes. They've been known to gnaw on a fingernail while people sleep and on infants' eyelashes. They are especially fond of beer. Cockroaches can live for 3 months without food and for 30 days without water. Since they taste their food before eating it, they learn to avoid chemically-treated products. Therefore, most chemicals do not provide good long-term control. Pesticide sprays, such as chlorpryrifos, will kill only nymphs and adults. Therefore, to be effective, the pesticide would have to be applied 2 or 3 times at 2 week intervals to kill new nymphs as the eggs hatch. The one-shot killing of mature cockroaches may provide the homeowner with a false sense of security because the egg stage remains a potential pest problem.
Crickets are another very common insect in Las Vegas. If one gets in the house at night and cant find its way out, it can be VERY annoying. It will chirp all night. Generally they stay outside though and it you go out and sit in the quiet of the night you will undoubtedly hear them calling out....chirpchirp, chirp, chirpchirp.

Living in Bethel, I'm really not used to having any kind of insect around anymore, so it's weird to see/hear insects living around me. Vegas also has several types of poisonous spiders such as the black widow and brown recluse, but I havent seen any of those this summer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What is Freedom to you?

I always get the biggest rush of freedom when I'm cruisin down the highway at 70mph with the windows rolled down and the stereo cranked up. Just the idea of being able to come and go as I please gives me a wonderful sense of freedom. The feeling of having the open road under me and the ability to go wherever I want is exhilarating at times. I am really thankful that my cousins had an extra car sitting around so that I could enjoy my favorite freedom this summer.

Click here to check out this Utube video...it kind of sums up my feelings and is a great cruisin down the highway song. I used to crank it up when I was driving the backcountry roads in Spain.

"To be free,
to be wild,
and to live
just like a child.
And if I get lost,
I really dont mind
cause I'll be,
doin' just fine."

Mike Oldfield, lyrics to the song 'To Be Free'

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A hope for my future

The other day I was at the grocery store with my cousin and her 18 year old daughter(who would also be my cousin). As we were walking through the store, I noticed several times that they were holding hands as if Lea were still a little girl. It was very sweet. I tried to sneak a picture of it, but every time I whipped out the camera, they would let go for a minute to pick up something.

I HOPE that when my kids are 18 years old, that they will still be willing to hold my hand in public.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Are you someone's hero?

I gave blood today. That's my good deed for the summer. As we were leaving, they said, "Thank you for being someone's hero!"

An Up Evening

Since I took my best friends oldest two kids to see Transformers yesterday, it was only fair that I take Essiney and Falen, the youngest two, to the movies today.
We stopped for dinner at the MacDonald's Playplace so that they could burn off some energy before sitting in a movie theatre for two hours.
They met a couple other kids and played hard for about an hour. Aren't they cute?
Then we went to go see the movie UP in 3D. The 3D was awesome...it's amazing how far we've come with that type of technology since I was a kid. No more of those cheap, flimsy, paper glasses with red on one side and blue on the other. Here we are with our 3D glasses on after we got home.
It was so funny when we were standing in line for popcorn, I opened all of our glasses and gave them each their pair. Falen put his on first and Essiney looked at him funny for a few seconds. Then she looked at me and said, "They're kind of dorky, I think I'll wait until we get in the movie to put mine on."
The movie itself wasnt that great. The concept was good, but it moved too slowly for the younger kids and I could even see older kids getting bored with it easily. The storyline was way to mature for a kids movie, not in a bad way, just in the way that the storyline would be over most kids' heads.

Overall though, we had a great day. Again, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to make these memories with the kids while they're still little.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Transformers Rock!

When I was here two years ago visiting before moving up to Alaska, I took Avery and my best friends two oldest kids out to Hoover dam for the day and then to see the new Transformers movie. At the time, we didnt know that the movie was partially filmed AT the hoover dam and when those scenes in the movie came on the kids thought it was so cool that they had just been there earlier that day. So, when I found out that Transformers 2 would be coming out while I was in Vegas, I made plans with the kids to take them to see it (except Avery, he's in Ohio, you know).
So tonight, I took Bryant and Desiree to see Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. IT WAS AWESOME! We went to dinner first and then to Walmart where we loaded my purse with pop and candy for the movie. Then we got there an hour early so that we could get in line because the movie was sold out and we wanted to get good seats. We saw it at the IMAX on the huge screen and we had to buy our tickets two days early just to get in. The hotel where the IMAX is had the Bumblebee car outside...how cool is that! We had a blast! I'm so thankful that I have this time to make memories with them before they grow up! Enjoy everyday that you have...they go by so fast!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Breaking records in Vegas

Record Report

Statement as of 10:00 PM PDT on June 24, 2009

... Record rainfall in Las Vegas today...

Here in the desert city of Las Vegas... .record rainfall occurred
this afternoon. 0.10 of an inch of rain was measured at McCarran
International Airport... easily breaking the previous record of a
trace last set in 1992.

I can tell you this much....we didnt get a single drop out here at my cousins house...NOT ONE DROP! And, of course, there's the realization that breaking a record of a trace in 1992 basically means that it hasnt rained on June 24th since 1992. WOW! I still lived here then...I was 12!

Day at the Museum

I took my friend Niomi's son, Devin, to the Lied Children's Discovery museum a few days ago. IT's one of those hands on museums for kids. They had some really cool stuff that I havent seen at other museum like it He had a blast. We played with the bubbles FOREVER! Here are some of the pictures that resulted from our trip.

See the big blue airplane in the background? That was the thing he liked the best.

In other news...It's supposed to be 108 degrees today. That's gonna be rough!

Finally showing signs of progress...

I spent most of the last winter thinking about buying a Wii and a Wii fit to give me something to do to stay active during the long, cold, dark, Alaskan winter. So, I broke down and bought one a few weeks ago and have been playing it like an addict ever since. I wanted to wait and buy it while I was in the "lower 48" so that I wouldnt have to pay the shipping fees and could just take it home with me in my suit case. Then when I got here to Vegas, my cousins have one that I used a couple times. That's all it took to convince me. The more I play it, the more I think that the people who designed this are GENIUSES. I mean, really, it's such a spectacular idea. It's a video game, but you have to be up and moving to play it. No sitting on the couch only giving your thumbs a work out. All the games that I've played so far (only 3...wii sports, wii play, and wii fit) are games that you have to move around to play.
I've been using the wii fit pretty regularly and it is FINALLY starting to show. Today was my 17th day using it (it keeps track for you) and I am finally starting to see my graphs dip downward. I love that it keeps track of everything...your wieght, BMI, wii fit age, and wii fit credits (time that you work out each day) and then makes a continuous chart of your progress. The graph above shows my progress since the day I started. The red line going across is the starting point and the purple line going down is my progress. It is so motivating to see the line on the graph move each day up or (preferably) down. Also the way that the game scores each activity that you do and gives you points for it is so motivating. I am always trying to beat my previous scores.

I am on a mission to complete number 5 on my birthday list. So far? I've lost 5 pounds in 17 days! Not as much as I was hoping, but still AWESOME...it took my body a little while to start responding to all of the activity. I've been swimming each morning and doing wii fit most evenings along with a good helping of frisbee golf thrown in in the afternoons. It's been fun! And I'm starting to see the results which is MEGA encouraging. I'm down a notch on my belt!

Hope your summer is going well! Have fun! I am!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beautiful scenery, new friends, and summer solstice

These bushes are in bloom all over the Las Vegas Valley, but they are particularly striking in the backyard here at my cousins house. Where I got out to swim each day. I have really been enjoying my daily swim. I do exercises in the pool everyday and laps and the whole sheebang. I love loungin' out there. The view is wonderful and they live on the edge of town where there's no noise from all of the traffic. It really is quite nice.My new friends, Quan and Lilly, usually come out with me when I swim. If you splash too hard, Quan gets excited and acts like she's going to jump in and rescue you. Then she paces around the pool. The summer solstice is upon us. According to the weather man, it was 25 minutes ago. Tomorrow is the longest day of the year. Live it up! So, I got to wondering what the really means depending on where you live. Here's a rundown of my three hometowns...Las Vegas...the sun sets so early here!
Actual Time 5:23 AM PDT 7:59 PM PDT
Civil Twilight 4:52 AM PDT 8:30 PM PDT
Nautical Twilight 4:15 AM PDT 9:07 PM PDT
Astronomical Twilight 3:33 AM PDT 9:49 PM PDT
Moon 2:59 AM PDT (6/20) 6:10 PM PDT (6/20)
Length Of Visible Light: 15h 37m
Length of Day
14h 36m

For Van Wert...
Actual Time 6:06 AM EDT 9:13 PM EDT
Civil Twilight 5:33 AM EDT 9:47 PM EDT
Nautical Twilight 4:50 AM EDT 10:29 PM EDT
Astronomical Twilight 3:59 AM EDT 11:20 PM EDT
Moon 4:30 AM EDT 8:30 PM EDT
Length Of Visible Light: 16h 13m
Length of Day
15h 06m

And for Bethel, Alaska...
Actual Time 5:11 AM AKDT 12:23 AM AKDT
Civil Twilight

Nautical Twilight

Astronomical Twilight

Moon 2:54 AM AKDT (6/20) 11:08 PM AKDT (6/20)
Length Of Visible Light: 24h 00m
Length of Day
19h 12m

Interesting, eh?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Triple digit day

Today was the first day that it was over 100 degrees. So, what do you do on the first 100 degree day of the summer? Go to the beach with your cousins, of course. Beach? you ask. In Vegas? you say. Yes! Mandalay Bay Resort/Hotel/Casino (whatever they call themselves) has actual beach sand that they've imported from California. The beach sits in front of a pretty huge wave pool.
We swam and tanned and swam and tried not to tan (in their cases). There was also a lazy river and a couple other smaller pools besides the main wave pool. It was packed! There were people everywhere! We had a couple of frozen beverages to compliment our hot poolside day.The clouds in the sky were absolutely beautiful, especially when they silhouetted all of the tall palm trees all around. The pool at Mandalay Bay is rated as one of the best pools in Vegas, so I was pretty happy to be able to go check it out.
The landscaping was beautiful and the hotel all around was pretty too. It is one of the newer hotels on the strip and it is very nicely done.
All in all, it was a really great day. And I didnt even think it felt too terribly hot. But, then again, when I wasnt by the pool, I was in the house.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Air traffic

When I was a kid we mostly lived on the East side of Vegas. The busiest of McCarran Airports incoming runways runs east and you can watch the planes line up in the sky waiting to land. When we were kids, my friends and I used to sit outside of our apartments and watch the line of planes come in. Sometimes if the night was dark and the sky was clear, you could count up to 8 planes in a line. It always amazed me how precisely they lined up one right after another. I mean, it's the sky, it's not like there's an actual lane up there for them to fly in. But they line up perfectly behind each other.The other day I was driving down Sunset right next to the airport and again saw all the planes lined up. I could only see four since it was during the day, but it brought back a flood of memories. Can you count 4 planes in the top and bottom pictures? They're there...look closely!

It has consistently amazed me this summer that I still know how to get around Vegas so well. I remember so many old neighborhoods and memories come flooding back as I'm driving around town. Vegas is really actually pretty easy to get around though. It's just a big grid.

My luck has run out as far as temps go though....it is forecasted to be 101 by friday and up to 110 by next week. I might just start to melt now. Luckily there's a pool in the backyard to help kick the heat.

I've been here 3 weeks today. I havent had a pair of socks on since I left Bethel. I love it! Tank tops, shorts, and sandals...who needs anything else!?! Oh yes...slurpees. Oh thank heaven, for 7-11.

No luck on the job front and I've pretty much stopped looking. Looks like I'm not going to be accomplishing Number 9 on the birthday list. Oh well. Cant win 'em all! I'm only going to be here for about another 5 weeks anyway. Time is flying already.I did, however, finish reading my June book for Number 2 on the Birthday list. It was about a man's quest to climb Mt. Everest. It is supposed to be based on a true story. It was good. Not Archer's usual style, but good. I enjoyed it better than his last book so that's good.

Well, I hope you all are enjoying your summer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Circus Circus Adventuredome

Circus Circus built the Adventuredome in 1993. It was one of the first attempts by a hotel in Vegas to cater more to kids. It was the beginnings of Vegas moving more towards attracting families and not just gamblers. I remember how COOL it was when they first built it. I was 13....it was awesome! It was were we used to go and hang out all day. It was the place to be when we were in Junior High.
I went to the Circus Circus Adventuredome with the kids last week. It is exactly how I remember it, and yet, NOT. It seems so small now. So not cool. So kiddie. And it is. But it still must be the place to hang if you're in JH because there were lots of JH age kids there hanging with their friends. On their website, they say that it is the biggest indoor amusement park in America. It sure seemed HUGE when I was a kid. Now it seems kinda small. But I guess it is pretty cool considering that there is a roller coaster INDOORS. Which is really the only way you could do it in Vegas. It is too hot here to have an outdoor amusement park.
Here are some of the kids in the family waiting in line for a ride. They thought it was pretty cool, so that just proves that the coolness of a place sometimes depending on your age.My cousins, Lea and Ali, hangin out. These are the two cousins that I grew up with and am close to. I cant believe they're so grown up!And my cousin, Christy, and I hangin out the Dome.
After we were done in the Adventuredome, we went over to the actual Circus Circus Midway to see some of the circus acts and play some midway games. Here you can see the casino below and the carnival games above.
The kids got a real kick out of the acrobats. This guy is going to attempt to limbo this crazy low bar. Think he can do it?
Heck, yes!

It was a fun, good day, but different going back to the adventuredome as an adult.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Believe (or don't)

My best friend, Crystal, and I went to see the new Vegas Cirque du Soleil show last night. I had bought the tickets for her birthday. I was excited to see the show and had to wait two weeks after getting here to go see it.
If you know anything about me, then you know that I am a HUGE Cirque du Soleil fan. This is the 8th show that I've seen. I have been on a mission to see as many Cirque du Soleil shows as possible since I saw my very first one in 2005. If you ever get the chance you should go see one of their shows. They are amazing. You can check them out on their website here.
When I had to choose a Cirque show to go to in Vegas (there are 6 to choose from), I choose the Criss Angel Believe show because I wasnt sure how long this show would last considering that it is a partnering of Cirque du Soleil with Criss Angel. So, I wanted to see it while it was still around. I didnt really know a whole lot about Criss Angel before going to this show, except that he was a magician (illusionist) and that he was supposed to be pretty amazing.
Even though I got the the tickets on a discount (buy one ticket and bring a friend for $25), they were still about $190 for two. If I would have read the reviews, I may not have spent that much on these tickets. The clowns were about the best part of the show. I wish I would have bought tickets to Ka or Mystere instead. It would have been a better show, although, I'm glad I did see this show because after reading the reviews and seeing the show, it's clear that it WONT be around much longer.
Just like all Cirque du Soleil shows, it started out with the clowns walking around the audience and messing with them. The clowns were funny, as usual, which is a good things because the show pretty much went downhill from there. Then Criss Angel came out and began doing the whole 'look at me, I'm a celebrity' thing. He was getting the crowd all wound up and basically just stroking his own ego.The costumes and the stage were amazing. As was the dancing. But that's about it. There were no classic Cirque du Soleil circus acts. It was just all dancing. Good dancing, but just dancing. No acrobats, no trapeze artists, no jugglers, no crazy stunts, nothing but dancing and Criss Angel's ridiculously predictable illusions. And many of the things that are in the program and on the website trailers didnt even happen. Like the character, Crimson...she never wore the costume below.And then there was the story line that was kind of sketchy. But basically went like this....Evil lady falls in love with Criss and gets jealous when he flirts with a pretty audience member. Then she messes up one of his "magic" tricks involving electricity and he gets hurt. The rest of the show is basically a crazy dream/nightmare that takes place while he is unconscious. There are some illusions built in to the show performed by Criss, but they were all obvious and predictable and not very well done. Most of them were based on trap doors in the stage and body doubles. They didnt even look convincing at all. Once again, the costume above was never worn in the show.He did a illusion with pigeons that was cool and he did a thing where he walked down a curtain. Those were the only illusions that even looked remotely convincing. I think many people came to the show thinking it was going to be like his MindFreaks show. It wasnt. Those fans were disappointed.
Other fans, like me, came to see a Cirque du Soleil show and, they too, were disappointed. It was not. The costumes and stage (scenery) were up to Cirque du Soleil calibre, but the rest of the show was just dancing. Great dancing, but just dancing. These doll characters were cool and there movements like marionettes were well choreographed. They were my favorite characters.
At some point in the show, Criss falls in love with this woman and they are married. But the evil lady murders her and then cuts Criss in half among various things. It was all extremely dark and absurd.When reading the reviews of all of the shows in Vegas, all of the Cirque du Soleil shows got A ratings, except for the Criss Angel show...it received a C+. I think that + was a bit generous, maybe a - would have been a bit more like it. Below is an example of another costume/character that was not actually even in the show.
All in all, by combining the two entities, each overshadowed the other to their own detriment. It was neither a Criss Angel show, nor was it really a Cirque du Soleil show. There was no uncontrollable clapping at the end of the show, nor was there an excited buzz while leaving the theatre as one would expect from the audience leaving a show that they really enjoyed. I feel kind of bad for Criss Angel, this show may be ruining him. All of the reviews online are terrible. One thing that I did enjoy was going back into one of my favorite casinos, the Luxor. Growing up, I thought the Luxor was the coolest thing that had been built on the strip yet. And it was, then.

Well, Crystal and I had a great time even if the show was a bit of a disappointment. I wouldnt recommend the Criss Angel Believe show. If you're coming to Vegas and want to see a Cirque du Soleil show, go see any of the other shows....Ka, O, Mystere, Zumanity, or Beatles Love.