Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A bit about Phoenix

I discovered last Sunday that, although I know about Frank Lloyd Wright, I knew nothing about his history and his Arizona connection. His establishment outside of Scottsdale he called Taliesen West, where we took a short tour. I must admit that most of the architectural talk leaves me cold, but the historical aspect was interesting.

We also took a drive that afternoon down to South Mountain, where we hoped to get some good vistas for photos of the Phoenix area with the sun behind us. Wouldn't you know: this was the one Sunday in September chosen for "Silent Sunday", when all roads in the park are closed to automobiles. Not interested in 100 degree hiking, we moved on. (This goes along with our trip through the Panama Canal a couple years ago, which got cancelled becasue the canal was closed for a day or two due to too much water. The first time that had ever happened)

Note that use of "two due to too". Ain't English great?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The best of times, the worst of times...

The Grand Canyon, both rims, have the most stupendous views imaginable. If you don't like the view, wait one minute. The sunlight ever changing, clouds filtering the sunshine at rare moments, the picture never stays the same. Sunset especially. We saw sunset from the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim and Yavapai Point on the south rim. Both were spectacular.  I would have enjoyed even more were it not for my acrophobia. I get nervous when other people get near the edge. Strange place for me to go on a vacation. (But flying doesn't bother me.)

The key drawbacks to our visit to the north rim had to due with the human aspect of the place: the food was terrible, and the lodging was less than good. Dinner at the Lodge consisted of the lamest "prime rib" I have ever encountered. We chose it because it was recommended by the waiter. It actually made my last airplane meal seem gourmet.

In addition, I ordered what was allegedly a Lumberyard Hefeweizen beer. It came with the color and consistency of Coors Light. The waiter said that it was a special filtered beer. The Lumberyard web site specifically says its beer is unfiltered.

The other drawback was in our cabin: i was a good thing we delayed showers, because in the morning as the john was flushed the sewage came right up through the tub's drain.  Nasty.

Despite the dinner complaints and the sewage issue, nobody made an offer of a discount or partial refund. The apparent message was "situation normal". Evidently they confused that with SNAFU.

More later...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morning in north Las Vegas

Flew out to Las Vegas yesterday on a Southwest nonstop from Albany NY. A 5 hour flight in which you received a couple small bags of junk food and a beverage or two. (Ah, but my bags flew for free!! My mother-in-law points out regularly "it's not free, its included".) For the first two hours it was mildly bumpy, so the crew had the "buckle up" signs lit. Visiting the loo was a treat because it normally took 4 trips out of your seat before you managed to beat the competition. Nobody could stand in line, so the race was from the starting blocks, I mean seats.

Since we're headed to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, we chose to stay for a night up by Nellis Air Force Base. Definitely not a vacation spot, but its a different perspective of the Vegas area, as previous trips have kept us on the "strip".  At any rate, it's got great coffee and its near interstate 15, so the two major needs were met.

The big debate this morning as to whether there will be either cell service, WiFi and/or TV at the north rim. Doesn't matter if you've got a good book for after dark.

More later. Maybe.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Talk About Stoopid!!!

New York City has now supposedly and allegedly passed a legal limit on portion size for sodas and other "sugary" beverages in food service establishments.  Talk about DUMB!!And DANGEROUS!!

First, Mayor Bloomberg claimes it is a step in the fight againest childhood obesity. Who is he kidding? He'd be better off, and more helpful, pushing for more physical activity among kids, both in and out of school. Limit expenditures on interscholastic athletics, and bring back intramurals, where all can participate. Get'em off their butts and away from computers, gameboys, TVs, etc.

Second, if  this isn't knocked down eventually by the US Supreme Court, the court might as well disband. For any government at any level to regulate portion size of a ginger ale is absolutely Big Brotherish. Not for the soda itself, but for the discovery of how easy it was to enact. What's next? Mandatory portion control at Ruth's Chris?

Get real Bloomberg. And get realistic and effective, too. And, while you are at it, fire your Board of Health for rubber-stamping your idea.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New (Republic)?

For years I have been a subscriber to The New Republic. The thing I liked most about the magazine was that it didn't use glitz and glamour to lure people to its articles.With almost no photos or graphics and very few ads, TNR clearly tried to meet its fiscal needs by attracting readers using just the quality of its written word.
Three years ago I became a Kindle user. Skeptical at first, I slowly was hooked, and greatly hooked when I was recovering from eye surgery. (Find me a book in which you can change font size!)  I subscribe to the Kindle version of the  New York Times, which is just OK for its content, but great for its portability.

The TNR and Kindle: what a great match.
This week I received an email saying I could access TNR at no extra cost on an Ipad. Not a Kindle. Just an Ipad. Great.

A long time ago, when I learned that the Ipad, with no external ports or drives for media, was merely an umbilical cord to the Apple company, I vowed to purchase Apple no more. I guess I'll be stuck with the paper TNR.  For a while...

As it is, the new majority owner of TNR is one of the founders of Facebook, another digital entity I have vowed to stay away from. (When I think of Facebook I think of lemmings.)  He was quoted in the papers as saying that most TNR readers will be reading  digital versions in 5 to 10 years. I hope they expand beyond Ipad by then, or they will have lost a steady reader.

Unless, of course, the Facebook politics change TNR from what it has been for years: one of the best written publications on the planet.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thank-you, Time Warner (Maybe?)

This is the opening week for NFL football. The Giants have already lost, but that game was extra early due to Obama's speech at the convention. The real deal begins this weekend.

The second week will begin next Thursday night. I am not sure who is playing (without checking the schedule) but I know I won't watch it on TV. The game is on the NFL Network, which does not appear on our Time-Warner cable network.

TWC has taken a stance with the NFL Network which I personally wish it had taken with about 300 (maybe 400 or more) other channels. TWC does not want NFL has part of its basic package, which I guess is where the NFL wants it. I suppose TWC is still trying to calculate the losses possible by people leaving for a carrier that carries the network, vs people who leave or do not join because of a higher rate. The one guarantee is that if and when TWC does carry the NFLN, people who receive it will see an increase in their cable bills.

I only wish TWC would poll its customers on the issue, and/or let them do the negotiating with the NFL Network.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Do facts matter?

In a discussion with some liberal-minded friends of mine, it was mentioned, by one of them that our 55 mph speed limit law had been brought into law in the Carter years and overturned in the Reagan years. The subject quickly changed when it was pointed out that the law had begun during the Nixon years and repealed in the Clinton years.