Thursday, March 23, 2017

Palazzo Lunar New Year

Whenever I visit Las Vegas, I head on over to the Bellagio Conservatory to take pictures of its seasonal floral garden.

The very next thing I do is jump in my rental car, or a taxi, and motor over to the Palazzo Hotel & Casino, connected to the Venetian just down the street on the Las Vegas Strip.

Their atrium and lobby displays usually echo the Bellagio's in their theme, but they definitely are not copies in any way. All of their displays have their own special beauty and charm.

And so it was, that I visited them for the first time in three years during the recent Super Bowl weekend in February.

Enjoy! I did.

Here's wishing you a very
Happy Lunar New Year!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bellagio Lunar New Year

Every year, I try to get to Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend so I can bet on the game (it's a lot more fun watching the gridiron spectacle when you have a stake on the outcome).

Unfortunately, I had to skip two years due to family circumstances. However, I was able to wrangle a trip this year for the Feb. 5, 2017, game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots.

As usual, my first outing when I got there was the Bellagio Conservatry. During Super Bowl weekend, the theme is usually the Lunar New Year, and this year was no different--the Year of the Rooster.

Lately, I've been taking most of my pictures on my iPhone, but when it comes to blog article pix, I always fall back on my Sony cam. It's just more versatile and easier that way.

Hope you enjoy these:

Have a Belated
Kung Yee Fat Choy!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Random Musings 33

If a zombie opened a residence inn, would it be classified as a “dead and breakfast”?

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I wonder if hummingbirds ever hold drag races.

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Since I wear the pants in the family, why does my wife keep telling me which pants to wear?

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Say I wanted to buy a prosthetic leg, but didn’t have enough money to buy a brand-new one. Could I get one at a second-hand store? Or would I have to find a second-leg store?

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What do mummies do when they have to take a dump? Unwrap?

Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm Ba-a-ack. Fe-e-ed Me!

On a recent vacation to Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend, I decided to have some meals at restaurants I'd previously enjoyed, but hadn't been to in a while. 
When I was writing my restaurant blog, "A Place for My Taste," old favorites often took a back seat to new culinary adventures.
As I slowly age myself out of those exciting "Sin City" sojourns that I used to take four to six times a year after client business meetings and professional conferences across the United States, I need to re-experience the familiar.
I needed this step back. Here's where (and what) I ate during my recent Las Vegas deja vu adventure.
Chart House
Golden Nugget Hotel, 129 Fremont Street Experience, downtown Las Vegas
Half-Dozen Raw Oysters
Broiled Cold Water Lobster Tail
Cafe Bellagio
3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd. ("The Strip")
Bellagio Classic Eggs Benedict
Market Street Cafe
California Hotel and Casino, 12 E. Ogden Ave., downtown Las Vegas
Char-Broiled Butterfish in Miso Marinade
1029 S. Rainbow Blvd.
Mediterranean Omelet (feta, spinach, olives);
Pot of Raisin Bread and Cheesy Grits
Ferraro's Italian Restaurant • Wine Bar
4480 Paradise Road
Osso Buco
Insalada Mimmo, Tiramisu
Dupar's Restaurant and Bakery
Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, 1 Fremont St.
Corned Beef Hash and Eggs
California Noodle House 
The California Noodle House is actually a new restaurant that replaced Pasta Pirate at the California Hotel within the past year. I included it in this post because it was new to me (start of new memories).
California Hotel and Casino, 12 E. Ogden Ave., downtown Las Vegas
Sea Bass Poached in Soy Miso Broth, with Good Fortune Noodles
Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Comparing Hawaiian Airlines Class Meals

Catching up ...

Last Thanksgiving, the wife and I visited our grandson in California and were able to experience both economy-class and first-class meals on our flights—economy going, and first-class returning.

Hawaiian always pride themselves on being the only airline that serves meals to its passengers on all flights out of Hawaii. Of course, as you move up in class, the quality of the meals are supposed to improve.

We were served lunch in the economy section outbound from Honolulu, and breakfast in the first-class cabin outbound from Oakland.

The economy lunch was teriyaki chicken with mixed veggies and rice garnished with shredded egg and flavored seaweed, accompanied by a bean salad and dessert cookie.

It really wasn’t bad—the chicken was tasty, the mixed vegetables were overcooked and a bit soft (but what do you expect from frozen?); the bean salad was good, one of my faves; and the cookie was … well, it was a cookie.

First-class breakfast was a bit different, fancy in concept. We started off with Baked Brie in Phyllo, with Honey Berry Compote and Crispy Prosciutto Chips. A very nice start.

The wife isn't quite the cheese lover, so the baked brie didn't much strike her fancy.

This was followed by a Caramelized Butternut Squash and Onion Bread Pudding with Chicken Apple Sausages and Wine-Poached Pear. Both the bread pudding and sausages were a bit dry by the time we were served. The pear wasn’t bad.

Finally, I had hot green tea and a slice of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake for dessert.

You know what? I’d rate the economy lunch and the first-class breakfast about the same. One was better than I expected; the other not so much.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jabber Jabber Yadda Yadda

Jabber Jabber Doo
Dateline Honolulu: Nov. 22, 2016

If I thought being in the Economy Cabin with a lot of children on my flight from Honolulu to Oakland was annoying, my flight back home rivaled that in a different way.

A 50-something "I love to talk continuously" fellow sat in front of me in the First-Class cabin. He was in seat 1-H. (Bulkhead) and I was in 2-H, right behind him.

The acoustics of the seating, ceiling, overhead storage compartment and the timbre of his voice ensured that every word he said was over-amplified and clear as a bell. It started as the plane backed out of the gate.

It wasn't until two hours later, after completion of the brunch, that he reclined his seat and shut his eyes—for about five minutes, before the woman next to him asked him a question. It was very apparent that they knew each other; maybe they were going to Honolulu on company business. Anyway, that reignited his talking engines.

He talked about: 
  • Business strategy, how to prepare for meetings, and other perhaps-confidential information that I could have recorded if I were in corporate espionage.
  • Advice to his seat mate after she gets to hotel and checks in: "Go across the street and get your Ricola at ABC, it's the best."
  • His arthroscopic gall bladder surgery—three small incisions and all that. His declaration: "My first organ to lose. Less I have to take with me when I die."
  • His mom's strange habits at the dinner table and how it annoyed the family
  • Being a self-declared social butterfly who likes the trite "meeting people" habit.
  • Not liking being wrong when he was younger.
  • And on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, yadda yadda yadda. 

I have no music, videos or movies downloaded on my iPad to watch and block out his voice. I usually stream them. I don't like to listen to the airline's music or watch their videos or movies either. Plus I can't find my noise-canceling earphones (where did the wife hide them anyway?) so I tried using the airline's padded earphones. Unfortunately, all that did was cancel out the ambient jet noise, making his voice much clearer.

Sometimes, Jabber-Jabber-Doo wins out.

Jabber Jabber Too!
Dateline Honolulu: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017

Do I have the words "Keep on talking, I love it" on my forehead? An irritating jabber-on experience happened again, while I was at the gate waiting for my flight from Honolulu to Las Vegas.

A dozen seats to my left sat a guy in I'd say his late 30s, who talked nonstop from the moment I sat myself down at 9:15 a.m. until a little after 11. 

The targets of his discourse were two elderly guys (one in a wheelchair) across the aisle, who were listening semi-intently, dozing off at times, nodding disinterestedly every now and then, and basically trapped.

He went on and on, smoothly transitioning from one unrelated topic to another. And his voice was hard to ignore—slightly hoarse, slightly voluminous, and blah blah blah.

I think the guy and his audience were friends. Thank goodness, he went to the toilet around 11 a.m., and when he returned, sat next to his friends so he could speak in a softer voice.

That's two flights in a row for me. Aren't I the lucky one?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Phone Pix 79: Black/White Around the House

Some photos look better in black and white, particularly inanimate objects. Here are some pix that I took around our house and my son's Fremont house, and converted to monochrome.

Hope you like 'em!

Gabled Sky, Fremont Home, Sept. 28, 2013

Bare Bush Branches, Fremont Home, March 20, 2016
Garden Hose, Honolulu Home, Feb. 26, 2015

Big Branch Scar, Honolulu Home, Feb. 26, 2015

Dead Stump, Honolulu Home, Feb. 26, 2015

Dead Branch Remnant, Honolulu Home, Feb. 26, 2015

Stone Lichen, Honolulu Home, Feb. 26, 2015

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Telephoto Turkeys

Whenever I visit our family in Fremont, California, I keep my eyes open for wildlifeturkeys and deer in particular, which seem to wander around in no particular pattern, just living life they way they're used to.

One day on Facebook, I saw a mini-telephoto lens advertised for about 20-30 bucks or so. As you know, I'm a sucker for these things, so I ordered it.

It's small, but rather heavy and bulky for its size.

Whenever I use it, the camera tends to lean forward on its own, so it's definitely a two-hand operation to take a telephoto picture.

Not only that, trying to align the camera and telephoto lens is a pain.

Finally, the resulting pictures are not sharp. I can do just as well using the camera's enlargement feature.

So ... I gave up using it as a telephoto lens and now use it as a mini-telescope. It does that well.

I'll show it to my grandson, and perhaps, just perhaps, he'll want it and I can score more grandpa points with him.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vending Machine Fuel Rod

While waiting for our flight home from Fremont last November, I noticed a vending machine when I wandered back to the waiting area from the restroom (not that the restroom has anything to do with it).

Curiosity got the better of me ... the vending machine was selling portable device fuel rods. Y'know, for your cell phone, iPads and tablets. The price seemed reasonable ($20) and included free replacement when the power ran out.

So I got one 'cause I'm a sucker for things like this. First thing I did was check the Internet to see if it was offered cheaper. It wasn't. In fact it cost $5 more for postage and handling.

And it works. I used it on my flight.

About a month later, my grandson visited us for Christmas and while he was playing with his iPad, it ran out of juice and he couldn't finish what he was doing. So instead of letting him suffer while his iPad recharged, I let him use the fuel rod.

He was so impressed that I gave it to him.

Now I needed a replacement, but either had to wait until I got to Oakland International Airport in the spring, or spend the extra 5 bucks and order one online.

No need. A couple of weeks later, I saw something similar on sale at the impulse rack at a local supermarket for $10. I bought one, just to give it a try.

It works! I scored again.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Zephyr Hotel (Fisherman's Wharf)

I've stayed at the Zephyr Hotel at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf before, but it had a different name and it sure has changed since I was last there ten years ago.

I think it used to be a Radisson, which was transformed into a classy boutique hotel. That re-designation brought along with it higher nightly rates and a hefty $50 a night parking charge ($52.50 if you desire valet service).

The best thing about the Zephyr is that it's in walking distance of Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay, all the wonderful seafood restaurants, and the plethora of tourist shops. It's also on the Muni streetcar line, which takes you to the Ferry Building and Plaza and back —practically door to door.

Some of the pictures I took of the Zephyr:

The Room and One of Two Beds

The Recreation Corner

Shower Amenities. Didn't Use Them, They Felt Oily..

Glass Sink and Counter Area

Dart Board with Magnetic Darts that Took Nose Dives

Desk  and Counter Panels Made by Boos,
Makers of the Famous Kitchen Cutting Boards
About the parking charge ... we paid it because we drove there in our rental car, a nearly two-hour freeway trip in heavy traffic from Fremont on a Monday afternoon.

We didn't park in the cheaper Pier 39 parking structure because it was quite a walk, not good for older folks if you're walking at night. We also took the valet service because we're old, and our legs don't work so well any more.