Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bellagio Conservatory's 2014 Spring Display

It's one of the first places I go to whenever I spend a few days in Las Vegas - The Bellagio Conservatory. Every few months, with the change of seasons and holiday focus, they change the displays at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard.

It's one of the classiest hotels in Las Vegas, and I've had the good fortune of enjoying their hospitality on more than one occasion.

One can spoil the mood by talking too much, so instead, as usual, I'll just post a few of the pictures I took. Enjoy!

Nice, huh? I can't wait to go back and see what they do next time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Random Musings 24

How does one prevent having second thoughts? Wait, let me think about that again.

* * * * *

What can I do to remember how “mnemonics” is spelled?

* * * * *

Do horny male sheep hang around the shearing station waiting for the female sheep to come out without their fleece?

* * * * *

Why do so many people want to be one of a kind? Don’t they know they’ll just join the ranks of all the “one-of-a-kind”-ers?

* * * * *

If bees are THAT busy (i.e., “busy as a bee”), why don’t they just stop and smell the roses?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter

It's a craze, I know.

Over the past year or so, one by one, my friends from Hawaii have been raving on FaceBook about Trader Joe's Cookie Butter. Trader Joe's, as you know, is a favorite spot in Las Vegas for Hawaii residents to shop for omiyage (gifts to bring back home after a trip).

So when the wife and I went to Trader Joe's in Fremont to get some mini-biscotti that family members like to munch on more than cookies, I saw a display pimping the cookie butter.

You know I had to buy a jar to try it and see what all the fuss is about.

You also know me ... forgetful. So there it sat on the kitchen table, right in front of my eyes every time I sat down to eat. For a long time. Two months, in fact. And I kept on saying I'd better give it a try. But did I try it? No.

Well, I finally did. You know what? It's pretty good. Not amazingly fabulously delicious the way my friends were raving about it, but pretty tasty. It acts like peanut butter in your mouth and tastes like cookies, smooth with a bit of a crunch. I had it with lavosh and toast. The jar recommends eating it with other stuff like crackers.

I'm thinking it might taste good on fresh, crisp apples. Or celery. Gonna have to try that. Hope I remember to do it soon.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Where Hawaii Ranks 27

Some pretty bad news here for Hawaii folks, although there IS one bright spot Okay, okay, it involves spending money, but who cares?

Longest Wait for New Patients at VA Facilities (Veterans Health Administration, 2014) 
  2. Texas, VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend, Harlingen (85)
  3. North Carolina, Fayetteville (83)
  4. Maryland, Baltimore HCS (81)
  5. Oregon, Portland (80)
Best States to Eat Locally (Locavore Index, 2014)

  1. Vermont
  2. Maine
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Oregon

Costliest Summer Vacation Destinations (, 2014)
  1. San Francisco, CA ($508 average daily cost for two)
  2. HONOLULU, HI ($431)
  3. New York, NY ($501)
  4. Boston, MA ($491)
  5. Seattle ($484)

Lowest Discount for Bundling Auto and Homeowners Insurance (, 2014)
  1. Florida (5% discount)
  2. HAWAII (7%)
  3. New York (11%)
  4. North Carolina (11%)
  5. Rhode Island (12%)

Lowest Athletics Subsidization, Big West Conference (Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center, 2014)
  1. HAWAII (40.13%)
  2. California State University, Long Beach State (68.1%)
  3. California Polytechnic State University (77.99%)
  4. California State University, Fullerton (77.48%)
  5. University of California, Davis (78.56%)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Room at Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas

Red Rock Resort Lobby
On my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I stayed at Red Rock Resort for two nights as a guest of the hotel, which meant a complimentary room. Of course, I had to pay the resort fee, and I forget exactly how much that was, probably in the range of $25 or so.

I like staying at Red Rock. It's a bit of a drive on the I-15, or going west on Charleston, but it's nice when you get there. It's not really crowded and noisy, it's classy, and it's fairly new. The Summerlin shopping areas are pretty close, which means there are ample restaurants around whenever the tummy starts grumbling.

The first time I stayed there, I hung around the casino for two days, trying nearly all the restaurants at the resort. This time, I was a little more relaxed as I didn't feel obligated to eat every meal at a restaurant that was new to me.

My room was nicely appointed, not as spacious as the one at Bally's, where I spent my first and second nights, but it was very, very comfortable, as you can tell by the picture above.

I think I wrote at length about the bathroom in a previous post a few months back. It's the one with the TV set over the bathtub and the sink faucet that made me want to go to the bathroom. In the picture, the shower is off to the left (couldn't get it all in one picture, even with the panoramic feature).

(Click on the picture for a larger view)
Looking outside my picture window was Red Rock Canyon. You can see it in the middle of the picture. I've been to the Visitor's Center there, but didn't do the drive into the canyon. Didn't feel like doing it this time either. And those houses in the foreground on the west side of the I-15 weren't there a couple of years ago when I first hit the slots and tables at Red Rock.

If they offer the free room deal again, I'll be there in a jiffy.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Questionable Book Titles/Subjects 6

And now, here are the last of the incredulous book covers that sport titles and subjects that many people would consider unnecessary, out of place, and racy.

This group has to do with body parts ... specifically a male body part. You know what I'm talking about:

That's it, that all the book covers I have. What do you mean, you want more? Sorry ... go find some and send them to me so I can share with the others.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Phone Pix 25: Wall Art

Here are a few phone pix of art that I've encountered on walls. Most are inside, but one is outside. And not everyone will consider that one "art."

Be that as it may, here they are:

Mimi's Cafe, Sept. 4, 2013, Las Vegas, NV

Creations Parking Lot, Sept. 16, 2013, Honolulu, HI

Food Talk Cafe, Sept. 22, 2013, Fremont, CA

Food Talk Cafe, Sept. 22, 2013, Fremont, CA

Tango Cafe, Dec. 24, 2013, Honolulu, HI

Sunday, June 15, 2014

View of an Accident Scene

Since we're still at Bally's Las Vegas (see last two posts), I should tell you about this.

After taking the room and out-the-window shots, I happened to look down from my 17th-floor room to the street below (Flamingo Boulevard), and the parking structure just east of the new Cromwell Hotel (where the Barbary Coast used to be).

Actually, I didn't really pay attention until I heard a fire siren wailing and saw two emergency vehicles shove their way down the street, cross the median strip and head back up to park in front of the garage entrance. Traffic was blocked for a while as they maneuvered into position, then one lane was opened to accommodate the dozens of cars that had stopped and waited.

It was then that I started paying attention, noticing that someone was lying in the driveway with people hovering over him. It looked as though a car and a cab had tangled (its right front fender was buckled). Or, perhaps the cab had struck a pedestrian as the driver was turning right into the garage.

Either way, the guy on the ground was in a bad way and was carted off into an ambulance and presumably taken to the nearest hospital for treatment.

I tried to find out something/anything about the incident in the news and online, but to no avail.

What a way to start a vacation, no?

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Room at Bally's Las Vegas

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days at Bally's Las Vegas before moving to a two-night complimentary room at Red Rock in Summerlin. And, since I talked about Bally's in my last Wandering post, I thought I'd stay on-subject.

As usual, I look pictures of my room:

My Queen Bed

View of Room from the Bed

The TV and Clothes Drawer Armoire and Work Desk 
Not too shabby, and if memory serves, a lot better than when I last stayed there in 1989 (lawdie, that's 25 years ago ... a quarter-century).

Here's a view out my window. That's the 550-foot-tall High Roller, the world's tallest Ferris wheel, that opened on March 31 of this year. It wasn't running when I was at Bally's in late May.

Oh well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Big Change at Bally's Las Vegas

If you haven't been to Las Vegas and passed by Bally's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino since Thanksgiving, are you in for a surprise (What, another?) when you drive down the Las Vegas Strip.

Bally's began construction on its $50-million, 60,000-square-foot Grand Bazaar Shops on the corner of Flamingo and the Strip last December. You know, that area where the circle arches and moving sidewalk took you from the Las Vegas Strip into the casino itself. Yeah, where you felt you were in a space station. That one.

They plan 150 retail shops, food places (including two full-service restaurants) and bars there, to open in the fall.

Meanwhile, here's what it looks like now:

Too bad my camera can't look into the future.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Liver and Onions

Oooohhh, I do NOT like liver and onions, Sam I am. I'd rather have rib bones, I'd rather have ham.

One night recently, the last time I was in Las Vegas, I had dinner at Cafe Siena in the Suncoast Hotel & Casino, out there in Summerlin. And what do you know, right there, smack dab in front of the menu was a picture of their Thursday Special ... Liver and Onions.


I've never gotten used to liver; Mom used to make it when I was a kid. I guess she and Dad liked it, though. I learned to tolerate it when it was cooked with bacon and slathered with Ketchup.

When I did the advertising and public relations for The Columbia Inn restaurant in Honolulu, the manager, Gene Kaneshiro, had it on his menu. Why? Because, he said, some guys love it and they can't get it at home because the wife refused to cook it and the kids hated it. So they came to the restaurant and ordered it.

And ... The Columbia Inn sold a lot of liver and onions meals.

To each his own, I guess.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Easter Brunch in San Jose

Yeah, yeah, I know ... Easter was nearly two months ago. I'd meant to write about our Easter brunch at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose much earlier, but circumstances colliding with laziness forced me to forestall that plan.

Suffice to say we had a nice bunch there. I'll write about the dining experience in early July in my "A Place for My Taste" blog (link in the right-hand column), so for now, I'll just post some pix taken outside of the brunch itself:

Beautiful Flowers at the Front Circle

Family Taking Pictures with the Easter Bunny

More Beautiful Flowers at the Front Circle

Activity Tents at the Mansion

Complimentary Lemonade
The food wasn't bad, Too bad you have to wait a month to read about what we had to eat (Wicked Evil Grin).

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Nesbitt's Orange Soda

When I had breakfast at Stewart+Ogden in the new Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, on the wall directly in front of me was this poster.

Boy, did it bring back memories of opening one of those old-fashioned soda vending machines with bottles immersed in icy water, slipping a nickel into the slot, and pulling out a bottle of Nesbitt's Orange Soda. Y'know, the one with a bit of orange pulp inside.

How many of you remember Nesbitt's Orange Soda? It came in a funky rippled bottle and was a big competitor of Orange Crush in the late '30s, then surpassed its competition in the '40s and '50s.

Guess who was one of the models in its advertising ... Marilyn Monroe.

However, Fanta overtook it in popularity and Nesbitt's faded away. The Clorox Company (wha-a-a-at?) bought it in 1972; they then sold it to Moxie Industries (Monarch Beverages) of Atlanta three years later. Borden bought it in the '80s, then Big Red of Waco bought the trademark.

Big Red only promotes its Nesbitt's California Honey Lemonade, but hopefully someday they'll resurrect the California Orange.

'Til then, I'll be waiting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Raisin Raising Raison

I'm not a huge Bobby Flay fan, but I do enjoy watching his Brunch with Bobby series on The Cooking Channel (or is it the Food Channel? I forget). Why? Because he makes brunch dishes that include breakfast favorites done up in a more creative style.

A little while back, I had to stop the show, back up, freeze frame, and read what was on it, just to make sure I wasn't having vision problems.

The intro graphic that they showed promoted his rum raisin pancakes. Only they called it "RUM RAISON PANCAKES." Now, I only had two years of high school French, but I do know that "raison" is French for "reason" ... as in raison d'etre, or "reason for existence."

Is Bobby Flay trying to tell us that rum is the reason to have these pancakes? Huh? Huh?

I can't believe they made that mistake, that nobody caught it in proofreading. But there it is, forever indelibly stamped in my mind ... and now, yours.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Phone Pix 24: Travel Shots

A smart-phone camera is a handy thing to have when one goes out of town. I use mine to take pictures of places I visit and things that I come across. Many are the result of stopping my car on the way to a restaurant in Honolulu, but quite a few were taken in California and in Las Vegas.

Here ... let me unload some from my files for your viewing pleasure:

Berth 35, April 20, 2013, Honolulu, HI

Lin Yuan Dim Sum, Sept. 21, 2013, San Jose, CA

Sonoma Rock & Mineral Gallery, Sept. 23, 2013, Sonoma, CA

Bodega Bay Marina, Sept. 24, 2013, Bodega Bay, CA

Children's Play Area, Hogue Park, Sept. 29, 2013, San Jose, CA

My Son's Yard, Jan. 9, 2014, Aiea, HI

Nuuanu Valley, March 11, 2013, Honolulu, HI