Saturday, September 25, 2004

I have had a canker sore all week. I would have said I had a cold sore, but I just learned that canker sores and cold sores are not the same thing. Cold sores occur outside the mouth, canker sores inside the mouth. And canker sores are not contagious. So that's good to know; thinking I had a virus of the same family as genital herpes ravaging my body was unsettling. I was actually doing some stock research to avoid studying, and found out that a company I was considering manufactures a cold/canker sore product, which led me to this realization. The company, Closure Medical Corporation (CLSR), looks promising, but is a bit richly valued, so I intend to purchase their canker sore product and make my decision based on it's efficacy. Unfortunately, my cold sore is almost healed, but I should get an idea (and I'll have the product handy the next time a canker inflammation strikes).

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I'm back from Vegas. Actually, I got back Wednesday. Had a pretty good time. Lost a little money, but not too much. Was winning until the last night, when I just got hammered. A miracle comeback Wednesday morning, before I headed out of town, helped make my loss more manageable.

I left for Vegas Monday morning. As I mentioned, I got my oil changed over the weekend, so that my car would be prepared for the drive. When I stopped in Temecula for gas, I figured I should check the oil, make sure they filled it up all the way. I open the hood, when I discover they failed to replace the oil cap. Oil was all over the engine and the underside of the hood. So I had to find a Kragen and buy a new oil cap. So that pissed me off; I guess I won't be going back to Evans Tire after all. Other than that, the drive was plesant enough; I listened to Peggy Lee, Johnny Cash, and the Urinetown soundtrack on the way to Vegas.

Checked in to Green Valley Ranch around 2:45, and found my room about as nice as I remembered them being. Unfortunatley, construction of the new wing of the hotel blocked my view. But I still consider Green Valley Ranch the nicest hotel I've stayed in. Big room, big bathroom, very comfortable bed. A comfortable plush chair by the window (maybe they could improve on this, with a small couch or something in the king-size rooms). Coffee maker, robes in the room, iron and ironing board, all that jazz. Very nice place to stay. For free, how can I complain?

Well, turns out free isn't exactly free. I've stayed here several times in comped rooms, and this trip, for the first time, was charged a $5.99 resort fee for each night. They've been charging this fee to guests for some time, but apparently they just changed their policy and now charge guests in comped rooms the fee, as well as paying guests. So that pissed me off. Not so much the six bucks, but the fact that I only found out about the fee when I checked my room charges on the television, and saw the fee charged there. If it had been revealed when I made my reservation, I wouldn't have cared ($6 total charge for a room as nice as Green Valley Ranch's is a pretty sweet deal), but to have it sprung on me was aggravating, and will discourage me from staying there again. I filled out a comment card with stern comments about the new fee policy, I'm sure that will make a difference.

But allow me to stop complaining about the fee for a moment; I shouldn't really bitch about that when they did give me a $100 resort credit. Since I didn't feel like getting a facial at the spa, I saved the credit for dining during my stay. Had their buffet for dinner the first night. Didn't care for it; maybe if you're more of a meat and potatoes guy than myself, you'd like it (it's reasonably priced), but it didn't have anything I particularly enjoyed. Ribs were okay. But when the only food really of note in the buffet is the spaghetti squash, that can't be a good sign. The Italian restaurant, Il Fornaio, was much better. I had it for lunch the next day, and really enjoyed the tuna salad appetizer, easily the best thing I ate all trip. The pasta wasn't as exciting, but was still pretty good. I've found that whenever I eat at fancy Italian restaurants, the appetizers are always more exciting than the main pasta dishes. But I was very happy with the food and the service, and the total bill before tip only came to about $20, not too bad a deal for up-scale Italian. I had China Spice for dinner; not bad, but not particularly stand-out. The crab rangoon wasn't bad, and the lemon chicken wasn't bad; a bit bland, but I prefer that to the overly sweet lemon chicken you usually find. I had tempura bananas for dessert, a nice way to finish off a meal. Again, fairly reasonably priced, compared to other slightly up-scale Chinese restaurants in Vegas, but I prefer the cheap Chinese food back home; I would recommend you go for the sushi place next door instead. Expensive, but pretty good. I would have eaten there, but wanted to try as many new restaurants as I could. The Original Pancake House was pretty good, a bit expensive for breakfast. I had the blueberry pancakes; I was disappointed by the meager amount of blueberry compote served with them, but since there was no way I could finish all the pancakes anyway, the point was moot. Anyway, I managed to eat pretty good this trip, and all it cost me was the $5.99 resort fee. So I shouldn't complain.

Gambling-wise, the trip went okay. I won a fair amount right away, then got creamed the last night. Was playing with a delightful woman, drunk on grasshoppers, losing an obscene amount of money. Once stood pat on a total of 6; I'm sure the casino loves her. But she was really annoying me, so I should have just left, but instead I kept playing, and got creamed. I drove out to the Las Vegas Hilton late at night and tried to win it back, but they also cleaned my clock. Fortunately, I had some good luck the next morning, and won most of my original investment back. Got a pair of treys, split them, ended up spliting to four hands, and doubling down on one of those hands, with a substantial bet out, and the dealer bust. So that was pretty sweet. I was very close to getting back into the black, but had to hit the road. The drive back wasn't too bad, I was in the desert still at five, so I missed rush hour, more or less, and only had to contend with fairly light traffic once I got to around Escondido. Pink Martini, Magnetic Fields, and Randy Newman accomanied the drive home. And so now I've been home a day or two, and I'm already chomping at the bit to go back (though it looks like I won't be back until November). I actually found an invitation to go back to Green Valley Ranch on my birthday, for the Halloween weekend. They invited me for a slot tournament, and they are also having a costume contest for $5,000. Unfortunately I don't have enough lead time (and don't think I'd be able to go to Vegas that weekend, anyway), because I think I could win with my costume of Evel Knievel from an alternate universe where he didn't make it over the fountain at Caesar's Palace--just get a jumpsuit like Evel's, and have part of the fountain sticking out of your stomach. I think it's a real winner. Maybe next year.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I got a coupon from the blood bank for a free oil change from Evans Tire. So I figured I'd give them a try. Last time I took it in to the dealer, they tried to sell me their deluxe package, where I get spark plugs and a new air filter for the rock bottom price of $250. So I figured I'd get a tune-up today, since I wasn't paying anything for the oil change. And the guy at the store actually talked me out of it, saying that since I have platinum plugs, I don't need a tune-up until 60,000. So not only did they not sell me crap, they talked me out of buying more crap. So I think I'll use their services again (even if it was a three-hour wait for an oil change).

Friday, September 10, 2004

Having been watching the U.S. Open this week, I realize my dog is not a sports fan. I don't watch sports very often, and Tanner doesn't understand that when I'm yelling at the TV, I'm not yelling at him. So it's been stressful on him, especially with all the great matches. Watching Roddick go down last night was a hoot, though I was sad to see my favorite, Davenport, fall today. It looks like Capriati will go to the finals, if she holds this last serve, but the way this match has gone, who knows?

Of course, about 45 seconds after I type that, Dementieva has a double-break point opportunity. So I guess I should stop jinxing the poor players. A good match, however you look at it, though.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Another piece of the Las Vegas Monorail falls off; monorail again out of service. Yet again The Simpsons looks like the most prescient show on TV. I'm just waiting for the next headline: "Family of Possums Attacks Monorail Riders." "I call the big one bitey."

Of course, none of this will most likely influence my willingness to ride the monorail. I will be very reluctant to drive underneath it in the future, however. So I guess this could actually be good for their ridership.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Since I know you turn to this site for the latest and greatest tennis news, I should follow-up on my previous post to say Capriati was able to follow-through and win the match. A Capriati/Davenport final would be a good match.
I ran yesterday for the first time in about two months. I ran on a treadmill, because it would be easier on my foot, but mainly because it's just been too hot out to run. My foot hasn't really felt that good since I took the splint off, and so I was concerned how it would hold up. It's a little sore, but enough that I'm going to try to run on it again soon. Unfortunately, I'm coming down with something, so it might not be for a few days.

I did enjoy watching the U.S. Open while at the gym. I got on the treadmill when Davenport was serving for match point, set the timer for twenty minutes. The match almost took that long to conclude, with I believe 9 deuces. Really good game, though. I'm watching right now as Capriati tries to carry out a remarkable comeback, serving for match now, also. I'm not a huge Capriati fan, but still it's an amazing thing to watch.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Another Las Vegas Monorail accident shuts down the entire system. Reading about these incidents, all due to employee incompetence, does not make me particularly eager to ride it again on my next trip. Though I've had no problems the times I've riden it (and it sounds like this time, the only people in danger were those walking beneath the track).

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I just learned that Pink Martini's new CD, Hang on Little Tomato, will be released October 19th. Very exciting; I absolutely loved Sympathique, and was starting to think a new album would never come. I see they will be playing in Los Angeles, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, for New Year's. I'd love to go see them, and see the much-discussed venue, but don't feel like driving home from L.A. with the drunks on New Year's. So I think I'll miss that, but a new album should provide more than enough satisfaction.