On The Road by Judy @ 8:57 PM

#1 Son and I go to Las Vegas for Christmas. I know that seems weird to some people. Las Vegas isn’t really the most “Christmassy” place on earth. But it’s become something of a tradition with us to get out of town during the holiday madness, and so we travel. To Vegas. Each year I make our reservation in a different hotel. This year it was The Aladdin. And each year we go on some sort of tour. This year it was to be a ghost town and gold mine. But, to begin at the beginning:

Part One: The Airport

#1 Son and I travel light and never check bags, so I usually check in and print our boarding passes over the ‘net the night before. That way we can go directly to our gate without any stops along the way. I printed #1 Son’s pass, but there was some glitch (or so I thought) that prevented me from printing mine. I kept getting a message that said: Print it at the airport.

We usually park in the economy lot and take the shuttle in. But, after dropping the fur kids off at the Cat B & B, we arrived at the airport to find the economy lot full — so full that barriers were up preventing us from even entering. Signs suggested parking in long term. But long term was full. Signs on the long term lot suggested parking in the garage. At $18/day. So far we’re doing great. NOT

Inside the airport I stopped to print my boarding pass, and then we headed for security. Since the Great Bullet Belt Debacle I was a little more cognizant of what items we were attempting to carry on board a plane. The bullet belt was left at home, as were all scissors. I had checked to make sure that knitting needles were allowed before I brought my half-made socks along. (One is now completed and the other 1/2 finished — pics when done.) What I hadn’t counted on was being singled out myself for a little extra attention.

In the security line, #1 Son was sent down the normal path, but I was shuffled off to the side, where the “special” people get to go. There my purse, bag, shoes and sweater were thoroughly examined, searched and otherwise pawed through. And a fairly rude woman patted me down, front and back, and used a metal-detector wand. I was required to unbuckle my belt, and since the pant I was wearing are rather loose, this had the unfortunate result of revealing my lovely undies to everyone in the terminal. You’re losing your pants. The TSA woman said helpfully, while the TSA man chuckled appreciatively and continued pawing through the undies in my bag.

When I was finally deemed harmless and allowed to depart the security area, I found #1 Son just putting his shoes back on. He had also been subjected to wanding because he’d forgotten to bring the key to the lock that fastens the chain around his neck, and so set off the metal detector. He had not only been wanded, but also patted down. I was neither notified nor asked permission. He wasn’t even asked if he was a minor.

Yes, I’ve complained to TSA, although I waited until I got home.

At the gate, #1 Son pointed out helpfully to me that since he had a bic lighter and a can of hairspray, he possessed what amounted to a flame thrower. I suggested that we not discuss that with any airline or TSA people.

On boarding the plane, when I presented my boarding pass the airlines employee said, Here’s the red boarding pass. You must be the dangerous woman on this flight. I made some noncommittal sound, and he replied by reading my name slowly and loudly enough for everyone at the gate to hear, thus subjecting me to further humiliation. #1 Son’s flame thrower became tempting…

Yes, I’ve complained to the airline, although I waited until I got home. (No sense in jinxing the return trip.)

Part 2: The Aladdin

So this particular vacation got off to a great start. But the flight down to Vegas was at least uneventful, and I finished the first sock while in the air. At The Aladdin, the check-in line was short. Our room was on the 17th floor near the elevators, and if we squeezed behind our table and craned our necks a little we had a reasonably good view of the Bellagio fountains. The bathroom featured a tiled shower with a glass door and a large soaking tub, but only one sink.

Every room in The Aladdin is equipped with a monitor, keyboard and mouse and has internet access via the hotel’s network for $9.95/24 hours. Yes, it’s more than most dial-up providers charge per month, but at least the access is available and “day” really is defined as 24 hours so there’s no extra charge for partial days. Our mouse didn’t work so I made sure that everything was plugged in correctly and rebooted the in-room part of the system. When that turned out to be ineffectual, I called the number provided (it turns out that the provider is Sprint). Since it was Sunday, no technicians were available but I was told that a “trouble ticket” would be issued and someone should be by in the morning.

The Aladdin has thoughtfully provided a PF Chang’s on the casino level. Since that happens to be one of my favorite restaurants, and one where vegetarian dishes are no problem, our dinner plans were easy to make. Although we had to wait for quite awhile to be seated, PF Chang’s was well worth the wait. I’m addicted to the lettuce wraps. Mom’s take on PF Chang’s: starstarstarstarstar

For entertainment Sunday night, we looked no further than The Aladdin itself. Steve Wyrick is the featured act at the hotel. Billed as “Vegas’ Magician Of The Year,” Wyrick’s show promises bad motorcycles, hot girls, killer music and mind-blowing, bigger-than-life illusions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver. The motorcyle (1) is there, and the girls, but the music is hardly “killer.” The illusions may be big, but they aren’t particularly mind-blowing. (Raise up curtain, roll airplane on stage. Yawn.) The smaller illusions are better. But his patter is annoying at best and his “teasing” of a woman who spoke absolutely no English and so didn’t understand the joke fell completely flat. Wyrick just doesn’t have the panache to pull off illusions of the size his act contains. After the show, the theater exit leads through the magic shop, where one is encouraged to buy everything in sight. VIP ticket holders can have their free magic books autographed by Wyrick. Non-VIP-ticket holders can get an autograph, but they have to pay for the book. We passed, and left wondering who votes for “Magician Of The Year.” If you’re in Vegas and want to see a magician, take in David Copperfield at the MGM Grand, or head over to Monte Carlo for Lance Burton. Mom’s take on Steve Wyrick: starstar

More tomorrow, including Chucky meets Fargo at The Flamingo and the hazards of sudden downpours in the desert.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 12:22 PM

Perhaps someone out there can answer this question. I learned yesterday that there is a memorial to JFK at Runnymede.


I mean, I realize it’s a nice geture and all. I just don’t understand any connection between JFK and the (at least to me) far more important signing of the Magna Carta.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 7:30 AM
tags: ,

Yeah, I know… my nearest and dearest would probably say I’m a bit off all the time…

In any case, there won’t be much bloggage from here for a few days as #1 son and I will be busy with family holiday stuff. We tend to do things between Christmas and New Years rather than on either holiday. Don’t know why… that’s just how we are.

I’ll report more fully later.

Happy Boxing Day and we’ll see you in a few.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 10:33 PM
sock in progress

Now that #1 son is a proud possessor of that wonderous thing, a learner’s permit, he naturally wants to drive everywhere. And I want him to learn. Really. And I have to admit he’s doing pretty well. There are a few things he needs to practice: Turning is still a little shakey. He sometimes forgets to look both ways before entering traffic. And he has a propensity to drift far to the right that makes traveling on streets that have no right shoulder interesting. Other things, like pulling into the garage, he’s surprisingly good at. All in all, for a brand new driver he’s doing well.

Last night I let him drive a few blocks to a friends house. And this afternoon, figuring that the traffic would be pretty light, I handed him the keys and he drove all the way over to his girlfriend’s house in NE Portland. I know that I can be a bad passenger sometimes, so I took along my knitting to keep my hands busy with something other than clutching the door.

You can see from the picture (click to embiggen) that, after a few false starts, I’ve managed to get a sock going pretty well. It even fits me. 😀 I’m working a 2×2 traveling rib over the instep and up the ankle. I messed the pattern up in a couple of places, but the colors in the yarn keep it from being too noticeable. The heel could be better (it was worked in the car), but the toe came out pretty well.

The yarn is called Moda Dea Sassy Stripes. It has a lot of random colors that make stripes and interesting patterns as you knit or crochet with it. Unfortunately it’s acrylic, but it does have a nice soft hand. I’m thinking that these will make good bed socks or wear-around-the-house socks, and at least they will be washable.

Tonight we went to a movie and #1 son drove home. I live down what’s been described as “a really scary road.” I don’t know that I’d go that far, but there are no lights, and there is a stream running through a culvert on the north side, and it does go up and down and around some curves. And #1 Son does have that tendency to want to drift right while driving, and the stream was on that side…

It was too dark to see, but it probably would have been a good thing if I’d had my knitting with me.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 8:45 AM

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Or, perhaps we should say Happy ChristmaHanuKwaanzaka to you!

Nah… that’s way too politically correct.

Merry Christmas.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 1:39 PM

I left work at noon yesterday to spend a little quality time with #1 son. I had promised him that we’d head over to DMV to get his learner’s permit. 😯 All of his friends have been driving for ages, and he’s past the usual age of permit-dom. But I’ve been discouraging rather than encouraging because, well… have a kid driving is a scary thing for a parent to face.

Plus #1 Son had his first real paycheck, and I’d promised a trip to the bank to open up his first checking and savings accounts.

Step 1: DMV

All the way across Beaverton to DMV #1 Son kept up a non-stop quiz on driving rules: How far behind do you follow someone? How do you know who goes first at a 4-way stop? Is it OK to make a right-hand turn from a one-way street to a two way street if the light is red?

I haven’t been in a DMV for awhile. I think taking a number and waiting to be called is a distinct improvement over standing endlessly in line. We only had to wait for about 20 minutes before we were called up to the counter. I had been sure that we had all the necessary documentation… let’s see… SS card, proof of address, proof of school enrollment, school ID… birth certificate? oops…

The nice DMV man was kind enough to give us a get-out-of-jail-free pass so we wouldn’t have to stand in line upon our return.

Step 2: Home

What do you do if an ambulance or police car comes down the street with lights on and siren going? What do you do if someone wants to pass you? Is there a minimum speed you have to go? How do you know when you have to go 20 MPH in a school zone?

OK, I’m sure I know where that birth certificate is. I had to have it the last time we went to Canada. I’m sure it’s in this file. I thought it was in this file. Why isn’t it in this file? Where the @$#% is it???

Oh, yeah… it was needed to replace a lost SS card and, er… mom didn’t put it back where it belonged. (bad mom! bad!)

Step 3: DMV

When you’re on a highway and a curve is marked with a speed sign, that means you start into the curve at that speed but go faster as you come out. Right? What should you do if someone is following you too close? What’s a three point turn? What sign is an octagon? If a sign is yellow and has an adult holding a kid’s hand on it, what does that mean?

We only had to wait for a couple of minutes, since we arrived with line-pass in hand. And we had all of the needed documentation. So we were shortly sent to wait in the examination line. #1 Son had been worried that the test would be really hard, since some of his friends had failed it 3 or 4 times — and they’re really smart kids, mom. He looked a bit worried as he headed into the exam room.

I sat and ponder on the fact that, after nearly 35 years of driving, I knew how to do it safely but some of the “rules” were obviously escaping me if I had to think about it. And it was probably a good thing I didn’t have to take that test.

#1 Son came out smiling, test passed with flying colors. It was easy Mom! He thus earned bragging rights among his friends who failed a few times.

Eye exam passed with flying colors. Picture snapped. Permit in hand, off we went.

I can drive, right?

I suggested that the beginning of rush hour on the last shopping day before a major holiday was probably not the best time to try out that permit.

Step 4: Bank

With myself behind the wheel, we headed for the bank.

I bank with Bank Of The West, and I’m going to give them a plug here because I just love their customer service. They take friendliness to new heights. When we walked into the branch, every single person said hello and Merry Christmas to us.

The New Accounts person, Janelle, introduced herself and shook our hands. We all sat down and #1 Son explained that he had his first paycheck and wanted to open his own checking (with ATM card) and savings accounts. We looked over the various options and #1 Son chose the one that looked best for him. (He made the right choice.)

Can I see your driver’s license? Janelle asked as she began to set up the accounts.

#1 Son proudly handed over his learner’s permit, still hot off the presses.

You just got this today?! said Janelle. And you have your first paycheck, and you’re opening your own accounts!

Yep, said #1 Son, to great appreciation from everyone in the bank. We’re doing all of the big boy stuff today.

I love my kid so much, and sometimes I’m so proud of him! And, by golly, he has an awesome sense of humor!

Step 5: Food!

Having not stopped for lunch, both of us were pretty hungry. So we stopped to get something to eat. While there, #1 Son asked if I’d do a little favor for him. He needed to go to work, but he also needed to make fliers for his band’s next show. He’d seem some before that were on stickers, and everyone thought they were really cool and came to the show because any show that would have such cool fliers must be a cool show. So if these could be on stickers that would be great. He would give me one to use for a master if I’d just run them over to Kinko’s or someplace and copy 200 on stickers. Thanks, mom!

Step 7: Kinko’s

So I dropped #1 son off at work near Beaverton Town Square and set off on a pre-holiday, shopping-madness, rush-hour trek across Beaverton to Kinko’s at Washington Square.

It was madness, I tell you. Madness.

Arriving at Kinko’s a mere 60 minutes after leaving the area of Beaverton Town Square, I explained to the nice Kinko’s Guy what I needed. He helped me make a master of 4 fliers on one page and loaded the sticker stock into the copy machine. He set everything up for me and pressed start.

Pages of sticker stock started shooting out of the copier and, bypassing the tray, scattered all over the floor.

That’s funny, said Kinko’s Guy. I’ve never seen that happen before.

It’s a new game… 50-sheet pick-up! It wasn’t all that fun. But, with 50 sheets of 4 fliers each in hand, I asked Kinko’s Guy how much it would be to have them cut apart.

We charge $1 per item for cutting.

There are 50 sheets, so that would be $50? I said, thinking to myself when pigs fly.

No, it’s $1 per item. You have four items on each page, so that would be $200.

I tried hard not to burst out in insane laughter, since I was sure that #1 Son and his pals probably have scissors (and probably run with them), and could probably cut the fliers out just dandy for a lot less than $200.

Kinko’s Guy must have seen the look on my face. We have a cutter over there you can use if you want to do it yourself.

The cutter takes two sheets at a time, maximum. Each sheet required 3 cuts to separate the fliers. That’s 75 separate slices needed.

We’ll draw a close to our little story, as Mom slices away into the evening.

But I’d really like to know how I could get paid what amounts to about $2.66+ per slice! Considering that it took about 45 minutes for me to slice apart all 50 sheets, well… that works out to about $267 per hour. That’s considerably more than I make in my day job.

I think I’m in the wrong business!

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Fatigues henley sweater


Jade Sapphire Scarf


#1 Son's Blanket


Cotton Bag