I do like some things about this town!

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I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I wasn’t planning on doing a photo essay. So I left the Nikon in the hotel room.

Too late I realized there were some interesting photo ops.

SO I figured it was time to learn how to better use the camera in my iPhone.


Las Vegas is a place where you buy a Stetson, and they serve you Jack Daniels.

This is of course probably necessary, have you seen the price of a Stetson 20X lately?

Not that I’m complaining, Stetsons hold up for ever with minimal care and I wear mine a lot in the snow & rain of winter and early spring.

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Las Vegas is a place where if I lived here, I’d walk or ride my bike more than I drove.

Traffic is nuts, but walking isn’t too bad in and around the center of town. That being said, once you get out of the unreality of the strip Las Vegas is a pretty normal slice of suburbia.

The thing is, like most of suburbia it’s spread out and homes are usually at a distance from business areas. So it’s still possible just as in California that covering the distance from “home” to work would be impractical walking or riding a bike. Is it any wonder we’re becoming a nation of fat asses, myself included?

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The tramway is cool but it should really go a lot further. I think it would be great if they made it connect all of the “Strip” even if you had to walk through casinos to access the next station. I think they’d have to do that because of the shapes of the hotels and the layout of the strip itself.

Right now it just goes from The Monte Carlo to The Bellagio. You can access Caesars via a bridge and then walk on to The Flamingo. I didn’t explore much further than that.

I will say this, it’s very disconcerting to get off at “Crystals” (A mall) after having had a drink or two. God help you if you also had recently taken Viagra because you’d be absolutely sure you were going blind. Or perhaps having a flashback to your drug hazed hippy phase.

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FYI, It’s not you… the lighting changes to blue, pink, and a couple of other colors. But at night when you exit the tram into that intense color it can really mess with you.

The weird thing about the casinos is that after a short time they all look alike.  They’re on the darker side and they’re a labyrinth of tables and machines & lights. Even the faces of the people begin to blur together after a while.

Instead of perceiving the “grandmother in the corner happily playing the two cent slots” she becomes “generic old woman type #5 playing slots” it’s weird.

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Where the Casinos excel is in their shopping  and hotel areas.

I really like Caesars Palace! Yes, it’s all a big set piece but I like the marble and columns. I like the statuary and I appreciated the illusion of an open sky in their mall.

You have to understand these are all pretty high end shopping centers and I’m betting that they make money hand over fist.

The traffic through these places is very high and I noticed that in almost every one of the mall areas, there were Tiffany’s, Coach, Vuitton, and half a dozen other high end vendors.

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I even sampled the latest in Tom Ford scents. Although the sales lady spritzed me with some really nasty floral smell.  I washed it off in the mens room, rather, I tried.

The thing about really good colognes, & perfumes is that they’re made with more oils and far less alcohol. This means; first, that you need very little. Second that it soaks into your skin almost immediately, and stays with you for a long time.

The sales lady did me a favor. I like tobacco & wood scents, they work for me.  Gardenia is just right out of the picture. Gardenia is exactly what one of the major components of the cologne she spritzed me with was. Just as well, had I stayed I’d have probably purchased one of the new Ford scents, they’re pricy! a single bottle lasts a long time but it will put a dent in your budget.

IMG_0254I did enjoy the art and architecture of the shopping centers.  I liked Crystals the best, they’ve got a nice open air plan and some really cool or dramatic architectural elements.

Yeah, I’m not a gambler. Could you tell?

I’ve gambled, I’ve put quarters in slot machines, I’ve even won!

The odds are so not in your favor. While I enjoyed the heck out of spending a few quarters, winning, then spending the next few hours losing my huge $40.00 winnings, I can’t see it as a regular thing.

I like walking through the hotels, and shops, and treating Las Vegas like a Disneyland-esq place for adults.

I like being able to drink anything, almost anywhere on the strip. I like the general feeling of immorality of the city. I like that you can offend someone, (as my brother did by carrying a beer in a plastic cup into the elevator going up to the room.) and that they can’t really do or say anything about it.

I guess the bottom line is that I enjoyed the trip. I needed the time with my brother. I needed the time away.

As always when I come back from trips like this I ask myself why I don’t take more short trips more often.

I’m not sure that I have an answer. I guess it has to do with the other half not having weekends off and while I was working, not being able to take time off during the week.

I suppose that over time, that scheduling conflict has created a habit and the habit became a “normal” way of life.

I’m thinking it’s time for me to break that habit and do more. I need to find a traveling buddy, and spend more time doing fun stuff.

Time is the one thing we can never get more of.

Don’t waste yours.

 

Rites of passage

This one has been banging around in the draft folder for a while. Figured I’d publish it. Feel free to add comments. I’ll move the good ones into the body of the post. This list is not complete. I’ve been adding to it when I think about it.

These are things that we experience but often forget to share. As men, we should share this stuff, if only anonymously. The younger men ought to know what to expect. And hopefully we’ll get a laugh out of their horrified looks. Hey it’s what we do to each other!

In my life, the rites of passage I’ve experienced or witnessed have been, in no particular order;

Camping out by myself. Wow, look at those stars, My camp site is cool but I should have done X, Y, & Z differently. I’ll do those things differently next time.

Penthouse, Hustler and Chic, Magazines, So that’s what THEY have down there! And apparently MY junk recognized it… Even if I didn’t.

Firing you first gun.

Hitting your target with a bow.

Killing and eating your first meal.

1st wet dream, Oh my god!!! I wet the bed… no wait… what the hell is this??? I’ll ignore it maybe it will go away and not happen again.

Taking a brutal kick to the groin, there’s nothing like it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

The First Climax… AKA “Jacking off”,  Oh wow, rubbing that feels REALLY good! Oh nooo something is wrong! I hurt myself… I’m never doing that again… well maybe just this time, and 10 minutes later and 10 minutes after that. Then finding out other boys also found this neat thing their body would do. Then enjoying our smugness while we could exclude the boys who knew nothing of what we were talking about.

A couple of fights, Yeah, I’ve been punched in the face, bloodied up pretty good. I’ve been on the loosing and winning side of a fight. You learn a lot from both experiences. When you have your ass kicked, you decide that you want to know how to not let that happen again. You also learn to be a somewhat gracious winner. At least in school, in my case being decent about having won the fight and helping my defeated opponent to his feet is all that prevented us from being suspended. We got off with a stern talking to.

Finally understanding mercy and why it’s important in this world.

Being part of the winning team, and the pizza party afterwards

Being part of the losing team, and the pizza afterwards.

Your first body hair, Whats that? OUCH! it’s attached. Oh… cool!

Your First Shave, topped by your Dad giving you your first non-disposable razor.

Seeing a hardcore adult toy catalog, Oh so that’s what it looks like when people screw. Damn! that guys dick is huge. Why does she look like it hurts? Does it hurt to have sex? If it does why do people do it?

Learning to be judgmental 

That feeling of RAGE when you realize someone stole your shit!

Your First serious Girlfriend, She’s holding my hand! She’s letting me kiss her, she’s kissing me back uhhh oh I hope she doesn’t notice the tent in my pants. Shit! she noticed, hey shes smiling at it… She touched me through my jeans…. Wow! she’s putting my hand between her legs! I’m liking the way she’s moaning when I touch her… I’m liking even more how shes rubbing my dick… I just shot my juice with a girl!

Figuring out how to get condoms

First broken bone This is real bitch! why can’t I just walk like a normal person? Yeah, give me the walking cast, there was a question about needing this?

Understanding betrayal firsthand

The first broken nose Do you fix it yourself or run to the doctor? Fix it yourself of course!

Losing my virginity to a lovely lady in a seriously clumsy sexual escapade (I still grin about that one)

The first BJ, Oh YEAH, HELL YEAH!

A Driver’s license I’m never going to be home after today! Wait… I have to pay for gas AND insurance?

The frustration of being mobile, having condoms, and the house to yourself, and yet being unable to score.

Watching a porn movie in a theater...

Watching porn at home

Learning how to forgive

Knowing when to leave a party. Finding out later that you left just moments before the cops busted the place.

That first paycheck Wait! what the hell is FICA? Who is SSI? Why did they get my money before I did?

My First Apartment  The first night sleeping on the floor (I had no furniture) But it was MY PLACE all mine. The next day… I bug bombed the hell out of the place. While the bug bombs were driving the nasties into everyone elses places, I was out buying dishes, silverware, a frypan, a couple of pots, a Mr. Coffee,  and a cheap microwave. My waterbed was filled by nightfall and I slept like a baby that second night.

Purchasing my first Brand New Car  The little head was doing all the talking that night… I CHARGED the down payment yep… on my Mastercard… But I drove the hell out of that car and enjoyed every minute of it.

Losing family to death and having to be strong for the rest of the family

Taking a date to a nice restaurant, only to realize too late that she was ‘Eliza’ from My Fair Lady and I could have had more fun with another young lady, or that I could have gotten what I wanted by taking her to a Mc Donalds.

Being laid off from your job the first time.

My first hangover

Learning to take time in the sack and how to have a lazy, unhurried, guiltless, sexy screw on an beautiful Sunday morning.

My first auto accident. OH DAMN! that’s going to be expensive to fix!

Learning you’re good in a crisis, and learning that it’s OK to freak out a bit and have the shakes after the crisis is over.

The walk of shame the morning after a night of debauchery (That one still gets a grin too)

Learning to control your own fear, and learning that by your controlling your fear others around you are also less afraid.

Understanding you can change if you want to

Calling the Dr and having to answer the question… “What’s the reason you’re making this appointment?”, My answer was “I’m very irritated Down there!” Which is when I found out my dick doesn’t like Nonoxynol 9, but at the time I was just sure I had VD.

Turning down sex for the first time… What the hell just happened? I never turn down getting laid

The first prostate exam, DOC, you are going to do WHAT???

How to lose it all and survive, It’s all just stuff… Stuff does not make me who I am.

Learning how NOT to be judgmental 

Losing friends to death and learning how to grieve.

First Gray hairs… on my balls! Oh Hell no, that just ain’t right!

Learning that happiness or sadness isn’t about what’s outside, it’s about what’s in you.

 

We read your beads without ever talking to you…

 

NewImageWe know you don’t belong here.

We don’t have to ask, all we have to see or hear is the way you race your little wanna be drifter car with it’s flatulent exhaust into our neighborhood.

We know you’re out of your element precisely because of your dark windows.

We smile seeing you lock up your brakes when the pavement runs out.

We know you’re lost, led astray by your GPS.

We see your confusion at being lost because you don’t understand the failure of your technology.

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I’ll give you a little hint… Mountainous terrain and the mineral composition of the mountains can, and often does introduce errors in the GPS signal.

If you’re depending on your phone to give you guidance you better hope that you’ve got a cell signal too.

Not that I care… I personally wait for the day when one of your morons goes flying up my street, and straight into the wash.

I don’t necessarily hope that you die but I’m a big believer in Darwin awards.

Not that any of you would understand what the above sentences mean, you’re dumbfucks and you deserve what you get.

To you, technology is magic, never wrong, and using your mind, or eyes, or the barest shred of common sense is a totally foreign concept.

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You’re lemmings, sheep, Prey… People like you are why Americans in most parts of the world are thought of as morons and easy marks.

Thanks for that by the way…

When you drive off the road into the wash and your little POS car is broken, there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll try to sue the GPS maker or the county or the local residents for your stupidity. Because after all you’re not responsible for your actions are you?

Believe me, you hit one of the local kids because you were going too fast, on single lane residential roads & your bleached bones might be found in the mountains… eventually… if your family is really, really lucky.

Word of advice…

Slow down, remember that in your haste to get somewhere you often miss the beauty of where you are…

BTW, your phones navigation system will most likely work better too.

As if anyone was wondering.

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We made it official on Tuesday.

We adopted the R dog. He seems to like the place and the toys.

On thing that is very nice is that while the S dog tends to leave toys all over the place, the R dog tends to collect them into one place.

Does anyone notice an agreeable symmetry?

Training continues. Walks are less of an ordeal for all of us. The R dog is stronger, his paw pads are toughening up and he’s less mindful of some of the new scents.

He’s trying very hard to please. He still doesn’t like to go out in the back yard without the whole pack being in attendance. This will present a challenge in the wintertime when I’m not going to feel like hiking in the backyard at -20F

In general he seems happy. His elbows are healing too. He had rough skin patches that dogs get from spending too much time on concrete and not enough time on grass, dirt, or other softer more natural surfaces.

As part of the adoption we found out a lot of other stuff we didn’t know about him and that knowledge is playing into who he is and how we train him.

The other half is happy again and enjoys being greeted with a happy woof.

While I’ve been essentially the soccer mom, handling the day to day issues of walks, feeding, poo patrol, and training. The other half is getting to be “The Fun One”.

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Which isn’t to say that the R dog and I don’t have a connection it’s just that I’m not always FUN!

It is nice to come out of the shower and have both dogs guarding me. Even if that means that I have to step over them to get out of the bathroom.

10 Seconds of preaching.

I know that puppies & kittens are cute and cuddly and that you don’t have to undo someone else’s mistakes. But please, before you decide on buying that puppy or kitten in the window, check out your local animal shelter. Contact a rescue organization for the breed of dog or cat that you’re interested in.

There are a lot of sweet, well behaved, and honestly deserving dogs & cats who need good homes.

End of preaching

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The last 2 dogs came from the animal shelter. The R dog came from a retriever rescue. We’re members of that rescue and as soon as the R dog is fully integrated and settled in our household,  we’ll be opening our doors to another homeless dog.

That one we will be fostering, training, and loving, and then we’ll pass him or her on to another loving home.

At least that’s the plan…

But I’m a big ‘ol softie when it comes to animals.

Here’s a rare sight.

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This is a nice Tarantula. He just walked across my drive way like nobodies business. I ran in and grabbed the camera then caught up with him in front of the neighbors driveway

They’re indigenous to the area but we don’t see them very often. In fact this is only the second tarantula I’ve seen in the wild since I moved here in 1991.

I didn’t want to scare it or cause it to feel threatened.

He froze when I started taking pictures and while he didn’t seem to be threatened he was justifiably cautious. I snapped only a few pictures, then let him be on his way.

This critter had someplace to be, it was moving pretty darn fast, but it wasn’t running.

After looking up tarantulas native to southern California on the web it turns out that there are only 2 species in this area.

This is an example of the Black Tarantula (Aphonopelma reversum) and this one is probably a male. He’s also a big boy the specs say his body is usually about 1 inch or so, this dude is double that.

I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the other species which I’ve never seen. It’s and I can’t help but chuckle since this is California… The Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes) They usually show up a couple months after the Black Tarantulas. But as I said, I’ve never seen one.

This guy has probably become sexually mature and is doing what males do… Looking for a mate.

Unfortunately for him, if he finds a mate she’s likely to kill him then eat him. after sex of course…

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Wow talk about a harsh punishment for not pleasing your partner!

This is one of the reasons I like living here. You never know what you’re likely to encounter, and more often than not the encounters can be very cool and no-one gets hurt.

There are of course exceptions to every rule but thus far my encounters have been of the peaceful variety I hope that continues to be the trend.

My pride was hurt once when a California King Snake treed me on top of my motorcycle.

Being raised in the South, we were taught to fear the Coral Snake. The California King mimics the color pattern of the Coral Snake and to a Southern boy like myself seeing a certain combination of colors moving out of the corner of my eye will cause a dramatic leap to the top of anything nearby.

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My so called friends had a big laugh, and honestly I laughed too once I processed the following; I’m above 6000 ft, In California, and that snake is WAY too big to be a Coral snake.

In fact, that Kingsnake lived in my yard for many years, and I saw it often while gardening.

I think it was seeing if it could make me jump again, probably had a mean streak or a great sense of humor.

The 1st picture is of a Coral Snake. (Venomous)

The 2nd picture is of a California Mountain Kingsnake (Non Venomous)

Yes they’re very different, but when assessing the danger factor if you assume the snake is poisonous odds are you’re going to live!

The California Kingsnake comes in a bewildering variety of colors.

After doing some research, I found out that the California Mountain Kingsnake appears to mimic the Arizona Coral Snake.

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The last photo shows an Arizona Coral snake. Like it’s Southern cousin, it’s very poisonous They are related to cobras and their venom is a neurotoxin.

Which is why, when it comes to snakes, it’s always a good idea to leave them be.

On this Memorial Day…

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I know that it’s not Veterans Day but I think that we should say thank you to our warriors today nonetheless.

I want to thank my brother for his service. I love you bro, you’re a good man and I know Dad was prouder than shit of you.

To everyone else active duty or not,

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for believing in We The People.


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Thank you to my friends & family who are no longer with us for their service. I humbly pray that they rest in peace and are not forgotten. 

John, I miss you, love ya man. Keep the beer cold and the party hot I’ll see you again.

Dad, I miss you and I love you more than I said in life. I think of you often, and god knows I’m trying to be a good example of our family. A little nudge in the right direction from time to time would be appreciated.

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Grandpa E. You were like the Tanks that you drove in WWII big and rumbling. I didn’t understand you very well, But you loved me and that was all that mattered. 

For all those who have given all that I didn’t personally know.

Thank you for my freedom, my rights, and the thousand little things that I take for granted every single day. I may not know your names but you’re my heros anyway.

Have a very loving Memorial Day.

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Give a vet a long strong hug. They’re remembering lost friends and need to know they’re loved, respected, appreciated, and that we’re grateful to them.