mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
(The, uh, less coherent part is here.)

I wasn't sure whether renting a car in Las Vegas was really a good idea, but I would absolutely do it again - besides, I still want to go out to Red Rocks (or whatever that place is called) and we didn't get around to it this trip. We had a little bit of trouble parking at the Golden Nugget, which makes sense since it's downtown and it was Friday night and there were a lot of people at Fremont Street. And I had a bit of trouble navigating here and there but it's not like you can't see the landmarks from most places in Vegas. Parking turned out to be free just about everywhere, which I didn't expect. (The Golden Nugget does charge, but not for guests; noplace we parked on the Strip did.)

We got in so late Friday night so we didn't do anything except go to the hotel and check in and collapse. The Golden Nugget is nicely remodeled, and they're in the process of building another tower - which I certainly hope will include more parking, since we had to go from bottom to top to bottom of the parking garage twice before we found a space. I was happy to see that downtown looks just like it did nearly 25 years ago when I first came to Las Vegas, although frankly I think more places than the Nugget could stand to do some remodeling. (All I care about preserving is the exterior, really.) My sister Paula and her boyfriend Dave were already there when we got there, but they had been walking around all day and had gone up to their room by the time we finally arrived.

When we finally saw them at breakfast Paula was flashing that ring around - it's a big wide ring and I wasn't immediately sure if it was intended to be an engagement ring, but it was. They had already been talking about marriage in December when I was there so I wasn't terribly shocked. Dave is a nice guy and seems much more grounded than most people she's dated, so it's not like I disapprove. They haven't known each other all that long, but as I said yesterday, she's doesn't seem to be any hurry about things, anyway.

They had already been to a lot of different casinos, but Paula said she hadn't been to Paris so that was where we went. I've been there enough times that I had stopped thinking a lot about it looking different from other casinos, but it does, and she loved it. It's true that every other casino does look pretty much alike, as far as the actual casino goes. We wandered around and gambled a bit, and then we went up the Eiffel Tower. I was the only one who had done it before. (Paula has been to Paris, the real one, a couple of times, but didn't go up the real tower, either - she said the lines were too long.) Rob had some pretty serious vertigo on the way up, just like I did the first time. It didn't bother me so much the second time. Everybody was ok once we got up to the top, though, even though we could feel it swaying, which I don't remember noticing the first time. I sure wouldn't want to go up there on a windy day!

After that we walked down to Margaritaville and had late lunch/early dinner - it was about 3:00 by then. We had to wait in line for a good while but we goofed around in the gift shop, which was a fairly interesting place even if you're not a Parrothead. (I really wanted to buy a t-shirt that said "Yes I am a pirate" - don't ask me why that appealed to me so much, but it did - except that I really don't wear t-shirts so it would be a big waste of money, and I wasted enough money gambling that I didn't have much budget left for junk.) The food was pretty good and the drinks were better. The place was hopping and noisy but it was fun.

That reminds me that I can't really say I saw much sign of a recession, overall - although I'm sure most people were paying considerably less for their hotel rooms than they would have a year or two ago, and of course that's having a big impact on the casinos' bottom lines. But people were sure eating and gambling and buying stuff like crazy, as far as I could tell.

The other place we went before we went back downtown was the Rio, where none of us had been before. And it wasn't all that impressive, except for having the cheesiest cocktail-waitress outfits, by far. (And some of them climbed up on podiums and danced, from time to time, too, so I guess they were doubling as sort of go-go dancers, as well as waitresses.) There were sure a lot of people there, though.

That was enough walking that I was starting to have blisters on my feet, by then, so we went back to the hotel and regrouped. I put some neosporin on the blisters and changed shoes, and that gave me enough of a second wind that we were able to go down and see the light show on Fremont and wander in & out of a couple of the casinos down there. I had thought I would want my coat down there after dark but I hardly ended up wearing it at all. It really didn't feel that cold. We did win a little money gambling, Rob and I both did. (He ended up about $100 up for the weekend and I was probably nearly that much down, overall, so hopefully we came out even, or a bit better.)

So that was Saturday, and I've already talked a good bit about Sunday. The only thing I didn't mention was that we were still on the kick of checking out off-Strip casinos, so we did go spend some time at the Palms Sunday before we left. We liked it better than the Rio. It seemed a bit more upscale (although it had just about the most penny slots I've ever seen anywhere) - and it has a movie theater inside, which is something I don't think I've seen anywhere else.

It didn't seem like we walked as much as we did on the last couple of trips to Vegas, but I'm still exhausted today. Actually I just don't think it's possible to go there without walking a lot - unless maybe you're a star and can have your limo pull right up at the front door. (And even then, it's still an awful long way across some of the casinos!) Even with driving ourselves around, well, they don't put the self-parking anywhere convenient, that's for sure!
mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
I posted about the lack of weddings, but I failed to say that there is in fact an engagement, a very official one, this time, with his mother's diamond ring and the whole bit. Paula seems to be in love but she is a bit reluctant when it comes to the actual marriage - which is how it should be, as far as I'm concerned. Why hurry?

We got along well with them, all weekend. We didn't spend every minute with them but we mostly moved around together, generally - we would separate and pick a new meeting place for a half-hour or an hour at a time, but we were basically with them all day yesterday and a chunk of the day today. We were supposed to go eat brunch fairly early and then we were going to go drop them off at the airport - I didn't mind, it's not far - and since their flight was earlier than ours then we would have a little time to kill before time for us to go. That was the plan. What happened was we got up early and did our stuff and got dressed, and then I called Paula at 9:00 and she was still in bed and they had ordered breakfast in bed and were planning to go back to sleep and furthermore that they had decided to stay until tomorrow. (I found out later that this was because Paula wasn't feeling well, but they didn't say that at the time.) So we decided that fine, we were hungry and we were going in search of food and furthermore in search of a breakfast buffet. The Golden Nugget's buffet was under renovation and noplace else downtown appealed - they all seem a bit seedy - so we drove back down to the Strip. To the Luxor, actually, whose buffet I had been to before and liked, and I also figured they were better set up for big crowds than TI, which is the other one that we thought of. (As near as I can remember, the basic brunch menu is very similar, between the two.) (People who were at TUScon - wasn't the name of the buffet at the time - nearly five years ago now!! - wasn't it "Pharoah's Pheast"? Well, no longer. it's "More" and their slogan is something like, "Less is not more. More is more." I roll my eyes every time I see it.)

I am sleepy and you are only going to get scattered bits and pieces out of me. One thing is that sunset is still very early in Las Vegas in January - 5:00, it's starting to be twilight; by 5:30 it's dark.

The weather today was lovely - about 68 this afternoon and bright and sunny. We had to figure out how to turn the a/c on in the rental car. (Which was a Pacifica SUV because we got in late Friday night and all the midsize cars were gone.)

In the fast-food line at the airport, the woman behind me was telling her friends about how she had been arrested the night before. She was not particularly young - didn't appear to be the party-girl type, let's say. But apparently there was some drunken hooting and hollering in support of the Arizona Cardinals, and she seemed to feel that if she had been been hooting and hollering for a different team, it would have gone over better. (There was discussion of what her husband would say, and then inevitably, somebody said, "Well, what happens in Vegas...")

Ok, I give up. I will try to write something more coherent in the morning when the drugs wear off.
mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
[livejournal.com profile] columbina , you did see this, right? Sad to see another newspaper go bust, even though I do agree with that piece about why this keeps happening.


We're leaving for the airport in an hour or so and I am still packing, which is par for the course. I did get my missing prescription (muscle relaxers, in case my back decides to be cranky) but my sunglasses are still MIA. I may have to buy some cheapies tomorrow - I can manage without here, in the wintertime when the sun's not so bright, but I betcha it's still awfully sunshiny in Las Vegas even in January.

I'll be back Sunday late. Particularly since my sister's going (is already there, actually), I'm sure to have plenty to say about this trip!

mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
Rob brought home a crumpled piece of newspaper last night containing the news that Tilman Fertitta, who owns about half of Galveston as well as the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, is giving anybody who lives in Galveston County (and can prove it) two free nights in Vegas. Rob pointed out that we do have a credit on Southwest from the trip to Ohio in October that we didn't take.... so what the heck, we're going to Las Vegas again next month. MLK weekend, to be exact. (I never thought that Rob would like Las Vegas as much as he did. People surprise you sometimes, no matter how well you know them.) I suspect that Fertitta's motives are not 100% charitable, since he's trying to get gambling legalized in Galveston and this can't really hurt his chances, but still. Free room, hey.

We could have gone next week (assuming we could get reservations) but I didn't think it would have worked out like it did last year - last year Christmas was on Tuesday, and so we left for the airport to head to LV after lunch on Christmas Day, stayed three days and got the heck out on Friday before (a) the big crowds got there and (b) the prices went up for the weekend and New Year's. This year, with Christmas on Thursday, I didn't see how that was going to work as well. First you have a holiday weekend, which would be, what, the 26th-28th, and then presumably by the 30th, if not before, you start getting people coming in for New Year's Eve. (And NYE was also the only day blacked out on the free-room deal.) I didn't go and research this but I just couldn't see a big gap in there like there was last year. AND Rob is off next week but has to work some days the week after (I think it's Monday, Tuesday and Friday, but I forget, now that I don't have the calendar sitting on my desk to look at all the time). He does have a three-day weekend for MLK so that was why we picked that. And the airfare was only $30 more than what we had already paid. I also got a rental car, the first time I've done that in LV. I hope I don't regret it - but I never stayed downtown before, either, and I didn't want to choose between depending on taxis and being stuck downtown. I haven't even been downtown in years, but my memory of it is that it's a pretty small area. I'm inclined to think we're going to want to make at least one jaunt over to the Strip.



Random holiday-related stuff:

I love that Tor is sponsoring a Traditional Jewish Christmas (consisting of a Chinese buffet and Monty Python movies). Sounds like a blast to me.

Scalzi's guide to spotting fake Santas

The Guild's version of A Night Before Christmas (last year's Guild Christmas special is on that page too)

Oh, a small thing, but some of us are picky about stuff like this: if anybody is looking for the perfect red fingernail polish for seasonal purposes, I think I'm wearing it: OPI "An Affair in Red Square". I think I bought it last year but presumably it's still around. "Russian Red" might be a pretty good description of it - it's sort of a deep metallic red, just a hair darker than fire-engine red. I really like it a lot so I thought I'd share.
mellificent: (breathe)
We made it to Austin, although I hadn't driven down that stretch of I-35 in years and I can now confirm that it's as awful as everybody says. We got in around 4, and had dinner with my sister and her very interesting boyfriend - a character, this one is. I am going to the quilt show tomorrow and having dinner with [livejournal.com profile] anjea . I am sort of utterly exhausted so I can't think of much else to say right now.

Oh, but we did figure out that the condos right in front of us (right on the Seawall) have power. That doesn't mean our apartments do, but it's encouraging.

mellificent: (breathe)
We were supposed to be in Ardmore tonight (further south and thus closer to home) but we had an unexpected stop in Wichita this afternoon and decided that was going to be over-ambitious. The unexpected stop was that the "Maint Req'd" light came on in the car. Consulting the owner's manual revealed that this seemed to only mean that it was time to get the oil changed, but I could tell it was going to bother Rob as long as it was on, so we went and got the oil changed in Wichita. It only took an hour or so AND they had free wi-fi and I actually pulled out the laptop and changed our hotel reservation while we were waiting. It was kind of a pain but hey, it worked.

I am too tired to write much more. We may be later than I thought getting there so I doubt that I am going to make the quilt show tomorrow. [livejournal.com profile] anjea , I am planning on calling you tomorrow but call me if I flake out and forget! (Anybody else interested in meeting up? [livejournal.com profile] ms_hooligan ?) I have persuaded Rob that to try to get back to Galveston on Sunday would be insane given that we have to have someplace to stay in case the apartment is unlivable - which it probably is - and given that there is still a strict after-6pm curfew. So we will probably be able to stay a bit longer on Sunday than I was thinking. At least I think so!
mellificent: (Dr Who - blink)
Notes from the road:
-- Stuckey's is apparently not completely dead. On the way up we saw several "Stuckey's Express" places (Tennessee-ish, but I won't swear to which states exactly that was) but today we saw what was apparently a full-fledged Stuckey's in northwestern Missouri. We didn't stop to verify this, though.
-- There are actual bluffs in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
-- There is a chain of convenience stores - we mostly saw them around Des Moines - called Kum & Go, which utterly cracks me up. I can only think that they have been around long enough to pre-date porn culture - it just seems like one of those names you can't really get away with any more. I think it would have to have been grandfathered in, so to speak.
-- In Illinois there were Burma-Shave style signs in several places for several different things - many of them were for a pro-gun site called (I believe) gunssavelives-dot-com. (No way I'm linking to it directly.) Unfortunately I didn't think to write down any of the jingles.
-- We saw a big wind-farm apparently in the process of being built in central Iowa. I had seen a truck pass us earlier carrying one of the rotating arms for the things, and I was wondering what that huge white thing was, but I had no idea until I looked at the assembled one and noticed the resemblance. They are actually sort of creepy because they're so huge. I am sort of hoping we will see some that are actually functioning when we get into Kansas and Oklahoma tomorrow.
-- In the pantheon of chain restaurants commonly found along interstates, we have decided that Bob Evans is the star. And Cracker Barrel seems to be sliding further downhill. (I can't vouch for the rest of Bob Evans' menu, actually, but the crepes are stellar. So all I ever eat is the combo with sausage, eggs and a crepe. I have tried the crepes out in blueberry, strawberry and apple varieties and they are all good.)
-- Iowa was much prettier than I expected - I think I thought it would be flat. It's pretty because of the hills. Monotonous, but pretty.

Oh, also, we crossed the river into Omaha, mostly just so we could cross a state off our list (Rob has entered into this nonsense too, btw) and we saw Rosenblatt Stadium, where they have the College World Series. So we thought that was cool.

Tomorrow? KC, Topeka, then take the turnpike down towards Oklahoma. I believe our hotel reservations tomorrow are in Ardmore. And we may start buying some of those fun necessities from those lists we posted earlier (mosquito repellant, etc) before we get to Texas.

mellificent: (breathe)
(Written earlier tonight)
We are at the Hampton Inn in Moline, Illinois, and there is no internet. There is supposed to be internet, but there is not. The front desk is extremely apologetic (especially since I am now a Hilton HHHonors silver member thanks to my frequent hotel stays) but there is no internet just the same, and they're not sure when it will be back. Sigh.

I got on WoW again before dinner, briefly, and it seemed to be working fine. Columbine, as usual, managed to find the answer even though he disavowed any knowledge of Windows Vista - he still knew where to look, or figured it out. (I had to left-click on the icon and click 'run as administrator' to get it to install correctly.)

I am going to have to post the entry I wrote yesterday - or maybe it was day before yesterday, I'm not sure - before I post this one so you will have the background about all the indecision about what route to take coming home. But we decided to take the more northern one. If we really had more time to screw around I would have gone all the way to Fargo, probably, because I am crazy, but this is about as far north as we are going. In case you are not all that up on your Illinois geography, Moline is one of the Quad Cities, across the river from Davenport, Iowa. You know last spring when they had all those floods? That was partially around here somewhere, I believe.

We went across Indiana and Illinois today, and made sort of a big circle around Chicago. Tomorrow we are going to drive ALL the way across Iowa and poke our noses into Nebraska before we start south. It's a long way to go just because I think I-55 is boring, isn't it? Well, I don't care.


Now it is 10:20 - at least if I have my time zones right, but I'm pretty sure I do because we are west of Chicago and I KNOW Chicago is Central - and the internet came back just about the time Col gave up on me showing up to play WoW and went to bed. Which is just as well under the circumstances but frustrating. We will have to try again tomorrow.

So let's see, what haven't I covered? It's rather difficult for me to remember right now. I applied for FEMA assistance yesterday morning (back at the Lima Panera Bread) and got an automated call from them last night saying we were approved for the hotel expenses - sort of frighteningly efficent, isn't it? We still have no real idea what is going on at home so we may try to find a place to use for a home base until we find out for sure whether our apartment is livable or not. We can have assistance for a month from the time of the storm - I think they said until October 14th. I think we were eligible for some other kind of reimbursement also but I forget what it was. Nothing big.

I am generally much better today, just mostly travel-weary. Regarding what I was stressing out about yesterday, my father-in-law correctly pointed out that if there had really been as much water in the vicinity of our apartments as my father was trying to imply there was, not only would my car have moved but the dumpster it was parked next to would have, too. Here is the satellite picture as linked from the Galveston paper:

satellite photo of galveston

The original is on flickr, and really gigantic, but if you blow it up all the way and look at the right spot, you can clearly see my car right where I left it, and the dumpster right where it was, too. So I think it is fairly unlikely that there was all that much water - at least not, you know, probably not six or eight feet or anything like that. That's not to say my apartment is not wet, but still. I am back to having hope. And I thumb my nose at my father.

(I put some annotations on the Flickr page, to give you an idea, if you're interested.)
mellificent: (breathe)
OK so. Where to start. I am writing this on the new laptop, which is a, um, shiny new Dell of some sort... apparently it's an Inspiron 1420. I'm sure that means something to somebody. It has a 14" screen, I believe, and a dual processor and 3gb of memory and a 250gb hard drive, as I recall. Which actually means it should theoretically be faster than my desktop. I really know next to nothing about laptops, as far as security and so forth. I am on the hotel's network and it said it was unsecured and then it asked me for a password, so I am all confused about that. Is it secure? Not? (I suspect it's iffy so I am being a bit cautious about logging onto things.) Everybody is welcome to chime in on what I need to fix.

We were late leaving Bryan yesterday, and we spent most of the day getting out of Texas. You either have to go to Dallas, which is out of the way, or cut across country, and after some waffling about it we chose the latter. It turned out to be fairly fast, though. We may just have gotten lucky there. We hit I-45 and Highway 59 at various times, both of which go to Houston, and we saw whole convoys of electric trucks along with the stream of people returning home. When we stopped for lunch you could tell that nearly everybody was an evacuee, most of them going the opposite direction from us.

We spent the night last night at Arkadelphia... oh, that reminds me. I haven't read friendslists or anything yet, and I'm sure this is not news, but gas has seemingly been going up up up since we have been on the road. We paid maybe $3.59 or so in Bryan last Friday. Yesterday on the way out it didn't seem that much higher. Rob swears that when we first pulled into Arkadelphia last night they all said $3.80-something and by the time we came back out to go to dinner they had all changed their prices to $3.99. And outside of Nashville this afternoon we paid $4.09 and we saw higher prices than that some places. (We still figure it's going to be cheaper than paying last-minute prices on the airfare, though.)

Anyway, we stayed at the Hampton Inn at Arkadelphia, and we are also at the Hampton here. The one at Arkadelphia was much newer and nicer, although this one is ok. They both seem to have identical breakfast buffets, from what we could tell coming in. It was pretty decent, we thought.

Sorry this is a bit disjointed. I feel disjointed. Aside from just being tired from the travel, I woke up in the middle of the night last night worrying about whether we were going to have to clean mud or whatever out of the apartment and how bad it would be and how long it would take... and I finally got up and took another half an Ambien to shut my brain down. I am trying not to think too much about that, and succeeding, for the most part. There's no use in worrying about it - bear in mind that we don't even know that there was any water actually in the apartment at all. And there's still no phone service to Galveston so we can't ask.

My boss said that the big boss said that it would be at least a month before they called us back, they thought. (There was 4 feet of water in the bottom of our building at work, for one thing.). Rob finally talked to his boss today and he didn't seem to be saying that they would be going back any earlier than anybody else, which was what we were worried about. I was intending to go to Austin next weekend to the quilt show there, and if nothing happens to bring us home earlier than that we will probably just head back and keep those hotel reservations. We are not inclined to think we will want to stay in Ohio any longer than maybe the beginning of next week, anyway. (For one thing, the bed in Rob's parents' house hurts my back.)

This thing is not bad to type on. But I am not too crazy about the touchpad - I guess I'll get used to it - and it bugs me not having a number-pad because I use mine an awful lot. I am going to get a lot better about navigating with the keyboard, I suspect.
mellificent: (breathe)
Alright, they finally posted a thang and said that there will be no classes for at least a week and normal clinical activities will not resume for at least two weeks. That's not to say they couldn't call us back earlier, but at least a week seems likely. So unless we hear something in the morning to stop us, we are probably headed to Ohio sometime tomorrow. We're just going to drive on up there and take our time (going, at least) and kill two birds with one stone. It doesn't sound like the power will be back on in Galveston any time soon and right now there's no water, either, so home isn't liveable even if everything turns out to be okay there. Hopefully they'll give us 48 hours on having to return and we can get back in that time if we really need to. (It's two loooong days or 3 shorter ones, from here to Ohio.)

We went to Wal-Mart and looked at the laptops and as usual with Wal-Mart and electronics, I got frustrated because they were all locked up and stomped out. We'll have to find a Best Buy somewhere, or maybe an Office Depot or something.
mellificent: (breathe)

They finally let the news helicopters fly over Galveston, and we have our first tentative "news" about home - a quick flyover shot of our apartment complex, revealing no visible major damage and no visible standing water, and cars sitting in the parking lot looking normal. It went by too fast for me to pick out MY car or anything, but the very fact that they moved on so quickly is sort of a good sign - because if they'd seen anything the news people thought was interesting they would've slowed down. So there's that.

We're toying with the idea of driving up to Ohio for a few days. We're guessing that it's going to be at least a week before things can get back to (semi-)normal at work, maybe more, so we're thinking we may just take off and go. We're trying to get hold of our supervisors and see if we can get any confirmation that we wouldn't get in trouble there by doing this. If we can't get them we may just go anyway. If worse comes to worst we can get home again in two days, and surely we'd have that much notice.

mellificent: (buffy quote - ep 1 bored)
It's 6am and we've already been through security and are sitting at the gate eating breakfast. In Ohio in a couple of hours.

Time away

May. 13th, 2008 09:39 am
mellificent: (buffy quote - death star)
We are going to Ohio tomorrow, barring further airline bankruptcies - and since we're flying Southwest this time, I assume we would have heard something if they were in serious financial trouble! (Knock on wood - I'm a  bit superstitious about this topic right now.) Anyway, I got up this morning and printed boarding passes, since we are flying out at oh-my-god-thirty tomorrow. (I think it's 6:50am, if you really want to know. We are going to try to leave the house around 4. Like I said, OMG - what was I thinking?) But at least we'll be there nice and early. I think we're supposed to be in Columbus before noon - but we'll fiddle around in Columbus and eat lunch, and then it's still about a 2-hour drive to his parents' house from there, so it'll still be midafternoon at the earliest before we get to his parents' house. A long day any way you look at it.

I told[personal profile] columbinathat the enforced time away from WoW might be good for me. (No internet access at my in-laws' house.) I wouldn't say I'm overdosing on WoW but there's something about it I find much more tiring than GW. I can't quite put my finger on what it is - probably it's a combination of several things. Information overload, and different style of playing from GW, and so on. But I'm enjoying it much more than I expected, on the whole, and Col says he is too. After the little mini-vacation - we'll be back Saturday night - I'm sure I'll be ready to go again.

Oh,[personal profile] iko, if you're listening, we have baby blood-elves on Runetotem. You said you wanted to play horde, so I thought I'd mention it! Obviously it will be next weekend before we get back to that much anyway. (We're not even to level 10 yet, at the moment.)
mellificent: (spring flowers)
The funny thing is, one of the reasons I wanted to drive around the Hill Country in the first place was because we've been talking for several years about moving up there when we retire. But New Braunfels never occurred to me, I don't know why. I was thinking of places like Wimberly and Dripping Springs that are a bit closer to Austin. But New Braunfels is a decent size town (~40,000 pop.), and it's on the freeway more or less halfway between Austin and San Antonio - a little closer to San Antonio - which means both of them are easy driving distance. And it's really pretty, I have to admit. And Rob is in love. (And it's not like we're moving up there next week, or even next year, in any case.)

We didn't really get on the road until about noon Saturday. We left the house at 10, but we stopped to eat breakfast and then stopped again in Clear Lake to give the listing papers to the realtor, finally. (It's listed, now, but doesn't yet have pictures online, darnit.) Then we drove straight down I-10 for 100 miles or so. I usually think I-10 west of Houston is ugly, but either the trees have grown up a lot more, or it was just the time of year - or possibly both - but it was very pretty and green, pretty much all the way. There were wildflowers, although not as many as I have seen in past years. (I don't know, does the state of Texas still do all that seeding on the side of the freeway like they used to? That would explain why there weren't so many, if they've stopped.)

We got off the freeway at Luling, and cut across to San Marcos. I can't go on a holiday and not go shopping a little, and San Marcos has all those outlet stores. It was late in the afternoon by the time we got there, so while it was still busy, it was possible to find a parking place. We didn't stay long - but we did buy some stuff at the Pottery Barn/Williams- Sonoma outlet. It was mostly kitchen odds & ends- some of it we'll be giving to Rob's Mom when we finally get up there, since Mother's Day is coming up and her birthday is right after that.

Then after that, we went down the freeway to New Braunfels. I wasn't even originally planning to spend the night there - I think I tried San Marcos first, because I was thinking it would be cheaper since NB is more of a tourist town, but they weren't. I ended up with the Hampton Inn in NB, partly because it had a "hot breakfast" included in the price - it turned out to just be sausage and eggs that were hot, but it was still a decent breakfast. Anyway, it was around 5:00 by the time we got there and we decided to go ahead and get dinner, since we had had a late breakfast and no lunch. I had seen a billboard for a restaurant called Oma's Haus which I'm pretty sure has been around forever, so we went there. It was pretty unprepossessing from the outside but the food was good, as it turned out. You could tell it was one of those places where the locals go, not just tourists. I didn't realize it, but Rob had never really had German food before. (No German restaurants in Galveston.) He had chicken schnitzel, and I had a potato pancake plate, which came with sausage. (It came in Oma size and Opa size, but I stuck with Oma, and just had one pancake.) And we split an apple strudel for dessert, which was oh-my-god good, it really was. It's a good thing we only ordered one - I think I could've eaten about two by myself!

Let's see, after that we went and checked into the hotel - which turned out to be practically right across the freeway from where we already were - and we watched a little of the Astros game, and then decided to go driving around before it got dark. The thing about New Braunfels is, it has two rivers right in the middle of town, which makes it really pleasant and pretty and green. The original tourist attraction was just the river itself - you rented tubes and went floating down the river. (I did it once or twice, years ago.) Then a while back they built this huge water park - Schlitterbahn - which was so successful they've now built a couple more, including one in Galveston. But while the town has grown since I was last there, it still feels like a small town, in a good way. I think Rob liked it so much because it felt sort of Ohio-ish to him - there are some very similar little German towns in Ohio.
mellificent: (buffy quote - oh dear)
We have new plane reservations to Ohio, on Southwest which will hopefully not go bankrupt in the next month.  I asked my boss about when would be good in May and June - our budget process usually gets rolling around June, and we get busy, and she said the earlier the better. So the middle of May, it is. This means my planned early May trip to Austin will have to get postponed - actually, I went ahead and cancelled it and used the funds to pay for part of the trip to Ohio. I'll figure out the Austin part later. (I suppose I could have gone to Austin one weekend and Ohio a few days later, but that sounded awfully exhausting. I'd rather spread my travel out a bit more than that.)

We are on vacation until the middle of next week, so woo! Tomorrow I am going to work on taxes etc., and Saturday we are going inland to see bluebonnets and baseball. The taxes aren't so much fun as the other part, but such is life.
mellificent: (Austin)
Since we are not going to Ohio (at least not for a month or so), we got tickets to go to the minor-league baseball game in Round Rock on Sunday. We are going to drive up that way and mess around for a couple of days. We are not going to see my sister. Is that terrible of me? We're really not planning on spending much time in Austin at all - we are spending the night (at least one night) in New Braunfels. I haven't spent much time in that area in years and I just want to poke around a bit! And hey, bonus: wildflowers!

Apparently the credit-card companies require the airlines - at least the shakier ones, like Skybus - to maintain special accounts to cover people like me in case they go out of business. I haven't called Bank of America to ask yet, but that makes me a bit more confident that I will get my money back. (I hate making phone calls so I've been putting it off. I wonder if I could get away with e-mailing them instead.)

I got a call saying a spot had opened up in the Plaza parking garage, which is the closest garage to work, for me - I don't care so much about that, since where I am now isn't that much further, but they are also supposed to build a building where I'm parking now before too long, so I figured I'd better take it. But jesus, $62.50 a month? That's nearly twice what I was paying before. Our cost of living has already skyrocketed in the last year, it's just one more thing. At least they take it out pre-tax.

I have now seen the new $5 bill in person and it is scary. If I hadn't known about it ahead of time I wouldn't've thought it was real money. (Also, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's new website cracks me up - "moneyfactory.gov.") 
mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
Speaking of Las Vegas (well, we haven't spoken of it lately but it's still my default icon!), I think I have created a monster. Rob said yesterday that he wants to go back to Las Vegas - luckily he wasn't specific as to when - and furthermore, that we have to stay at TI again so that he can play his favorite set of slot machines, which are, as it happens, right by the elevators at TI. (I have this theory that they put slot machines which pay off slightly better in prominent places so you'll get hooked. No idea if that's really true.) Oh well, could be worse. I like Las Vegas anyway, and it's not like he's given to gambling indiscriminately. We'd probably better not wait 5 years or anything to go back, though, or his favorite slot machines might have been replaced, and then where will we be?

The University is restructuring again. At least it's not layoffs this time. (There are rumors of a possible hiring freeze, actually, but nothing official on that front yet.) Our division (Finance) is getting moved yet again - the last time around, they split us up into Hospital Finance, Academic Finance, and so forth, but now we are all getting rolled back into one big division again. We suspect that our division head is sort of getting left out in the cold in the process, although theoretically he got new employees out of the deal. But he would be the logical person for that third EVP position, and his name is pointedly not mentioned even though he does seem to be performing those duties on an interim basis. (It's not in this article, either.)

Also discussed in the Town Meeting was new dormitories, which affects my husband since the old ones are where he works. (The presentation from the meeting, which I think you should be able to access, has a drawing of the new building on page 5.) We don't know what sort of job changes will shake out of this, but our theory is that we have at least a couple of years to let it sort itself out, since it's highly unlikely that the building will actually be finished by December 2009, as it says there, considering that UTMB never does anything very fast and work hasn't even started on it yet. (It took them three years to build a two-story parking garage, after all. And you'd think that would be a much simpler thing than a regular building.)

I'm wearing my pink plaid shoes again, which I love unabashedly. I do seem to sort of have a thing for pink, don't I? (There are also these beads, which came in my Fire Mountain order yesterday, and which will probably be a bracelet - and possibly matching earrings - before the weekend is over, if not today.) (The pink shoes don't seem to be available on Target's website, but Target is where they came from - they're Keds knock-offs, branded Merona. Keds usually calls this type of shoe "skimmers" - sort of ballet-flat shaped, but with a white tennis-shoe type bottom. Just in case you're interested!)

Leftovers

Jan. 6th, 2008 09:54 pm
mellificent: (Vegas - shiny)
(Written Saturday)
I know I said I was done with the Vegas posts, but I keep thinking of little things. And I'm still sick(ish) so you have to bear with my whims, sorry! I've barely been out of the house for a whole week, for goodness sake. Apparently I have had the full-fledged flu - I had a flu shot ages ago but they said there's a strain going around that wasn't included in the shot this year, so that probably explains it. I am getting better, but slowly. I ended up calling in sick to work again yesterday so I sure hope I'm fit to go back on Monday. Seems like I ought to be, though.


For one thing, there turns out to be a Zumanity game online - you can see quite a bit of the "hula hoop" act if you're patient enough to mess with it - and more and more of "Julia" too, apparently. I wouldn't really call what I saw of it NSFW but it may get there eventually - I didn't get far enough along to be sure. I don't know that most people's work would approve much of that game - or at least of Julia's outfit! - in any case. Depends on your workplace, I guess. (You get an introduction by the lovely Antonio, for a bonus. And bits of the music, too.)

Also, apparently the Zumanity emcee is a guy named Joey Arias, who has been with the show from the beginning - four years - and is leaving as of the first of the year, so that means we saw one of his last performances.





(We are going to spend a night at Beau Rivage in April, when we go to Ohio, since we're flying Skybus out of Gulfport, anyway. I'm not holding my breath that we'll repeat our fabulous gambling luck, but oh well.)
mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
(Written in our hotel room, Thursday, Dec. 27)

One thing I haven't said about Las Vegas is that whoever it was who told me that the crowd this time of the year might be different was definitely right. More international, they said – and well, I guess Americans were probably still the majority, but if they were it wasn't by much. Lots of people speaking Spanish. Lots of people speaking French. I still can't usually tell one Asian language from another (to my chagrin), but there were lots of those, too. There has started to be a new influx of Americans, though – it's much more crowded, generally, than it was yesterday. I assume these are people coming in for the holiday weekend. (Rob doesn't like the big crowds; it's a good thing we're leaving.)

So today was really just more of the same – we walked all around Caesar's and otherwise just generally wandered. We did finally get to see the damn Bellagio fountains – set to the Hallelujah Chorus, no less – at 3:30 this afternoon, after which we headed back to TI. It was already getting twilight-ish, by then – it gets dark noticeably earlier here than at home – and I was cold and we were both rather cranky. And we had dinner reservations, so a good rest seemed in order.

After much discussion, we decided to keep our original dinner reservations at the TI steakhouse. And I'm glad we did. It was awfully damn expensive, but it was very good. We even got our picture taken. (I suspect that that will make its way online at some point.) I had homemade tater tots, a thing which I never thought existed (tater tots only come in Ore-Ida, don't they?) and homemade fucking ketchup, for god's sake, and a glass of shiraz, and a salad and a filet mignon. Rob had a NY strip and a cocktail (and a giant baked potato). Neither one of us had room to even contemplate dessert. I ate every bite of the filet, which was miraculously cooked exactly the way I like it, and that is something I am very, very picky about. It was just plain scrumptious.


Whine list

Jan. 1st, 2008 09:31 pm
mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
I called work and left a message saying that it was very probable I won't be in tomorrow, unless I make a miraculous recovery. I still feel like crap. I suppose at some point I'll have to think about going to the doctor if I don't start getting better, but I'm gonna give it one more day, at least. I have no real reason to think it's more than just that same cold that Rob had a week ago - except that he was only really sick for one day, and I still feel terrible after four. I'm coughing and hacking, and I feel totally exhausted, which is the thing that's worrying me a bit. One of my co-workers was diagnosed with mononucleosis before Christmas - but his doctor said that it's actually not very contagious, and unless we'd actually been kissing him we shouldn't worry. Which of course I have not! But honestly, that's kinda what I feel like. And I've been home from Vegas for four days, so that shouldn't be it, and I have literally not been outside since then. I have been too tired. I haven't so much as been out on the patio. All I have done is sleep (quite a lot) and read, and goof around on the computer. I haven't even finished unpacking or thought seriously about taking down the holiday stuff or anything like that. Well, so anyway, we'll see. I felt less tired earlier in the day today, so maybe tomorrow I'll feel a little better too.

So I've been getting some of the pictures up, gradually.

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