Imablog Perspectives of a Canadian in the Old/Deep/New/Geographic South: This is where I ramble on about nothing in particular and post a few nice pictures.

Posts from Fun Stuff

Pleasant morning at the Aquarium

Had a pleasant morning at the Aquarium. Today was the first chance we had to go there in a while, so there were a few new exhibits to check out. Spent a nice relaxing hour and a half cruising around checking out the fish and animals. Much fun. I love going to the Aquarium just to hang out.

This is a lionfish that was hanging out in one of the tanks in the Unidentified Floating Objects display.
A lionfish at the aquarium

In other news, the 5 day track from the NHC shows Isabel turning more towards the North Carolina coast. Better for us if it stays on that track, but that means it's headed to where my wife's parents live. Still not good.

Clever microwave tricks

Hey physics profs and teachers. Want a neat microwave trick for your students to try out? Measure the speed of light using a microwave and chocolate. It's a simple experiment using a line of chocolate chips and a microwave. The principles are discussed in the article and according to the article, gets pretty close to the answer. And when you're finished with the experiment, you can eat it!

Fount at Slashdot.org

More time wasters

Some more time wasters for your internet pleasure

Yeti Sports - with 4 more Yeti/penguin games!
Prank calls using the soundboards at ebaumsworld.

Geek toys

Oh, I like this. Still planning on getting the binary clock from ThinkGeek one of these days, but a binary watch would be even geekier. I want one...

Found via peetm.

Glowing holiday fun

I have my little Christmas tree glowing happily away on my desk at work now. With just under 4 weeks to go till Christmas, I figure it's probably time to start getting into the spirit of the season. I'm thinking one of these might also look cute sitting next to my tree. I still think $12.99 is a little pricey though.

Roomba in infrared

Just for kicks and giggles, I dug out my Sony video camera and used it to take some video of Roomba. It's one of those Sony cameras that does the 'Nightshot' thing letting you see in low-light conditions by illuminating the area with an IR emitting diode. It also lets you see the IR lights that Roomba and its various components use. The pictures are posted over in the gallery.

Roomba_IR1.jpg
This is a picture of Roomba in infrared. You can clearly see the 4 floor-directed IR lights.

Base_IR1.jpg
This is Roomba's base station. The IR signal it broadcasts out the top is what Roomba uses to find it's way home. It comes on automatically when Roomba is turned on or is removed from the base station.

VirtualWall_IR2.jpg
This is the light pattern broadcast by Roomba's Virtual Wall. It's actually a circular beam. It just looks like that because I have it pointed obliquely at the wall. The VW has 3 range settings which simply controls the intensity of the IR beam that is broadcast.

I just thought it would be a fun geeky thing to do.

Babylon 5 movie!

Sweet! Seems a movie based on Babylon 5 will start filming in April.

Can't wait to hear more about it.

Heads up from Slashdot

Christmas pains

Heard one of the more amusing variants on 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' on the radio today that I've heard in a long time. It was a song called 'The Twelve Pains of Christmas' and I got a pretty good chuckle out of it. I particularly liked the guy trying to rig up the lights.

The Twelve Pains Of Christmas

Chorus:
The first thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Is finding a Christams tree.

The second thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Husband:  Rigging up the lights,
  Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The third thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Inebriated man:  Hangovers,
  Husband:  Rigging up the lights,
   Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The fourth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Frustrated man:  Sending Christmas cards,
  Inebriated man:  Hangovers,
   Husband:  Rigging up the lights,
    Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The fifth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Five months of bills,
  Frustrated man:  Sending Christmas cards,
   Inebriated man:  Hangovers,
    Husband:  Rigging up the lights,
     Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The sixth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Frustrated wife:  Facing my in-laws,
  Chorus:  Five months of bills,
   Frustrated man:  Oh, I hate those Christmas cards,
    Inebriated man:  Hangovers,
     Husband:  Rigging up these lights,
      Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The seventh thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Angry man:  The Salvation Army,
  Frustrated wife:  Facing my in-laws,
   Chorus:  Five months of bills,
    Frustrated man:  Sending Christmas cards,
     Inebriated man:  Oh, Jeez!
      Husband:  I'm trying to rig up these lights!
       Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The eighth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Loud kid:  I WANNA TRANSFORMER FOR CHRISTMAS!
  Angry man:  Charities
   Frustrated wife:  And what do you mean, "your in-laws"?!?
    Chorus:  Five months of bills,
     Frustrated man:  Oh, making out these cards,
      Inebriated man:  Edith, get me a beer, huh?
       Husband:  What we have no extension cords?!?
        Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The ninth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Another frustrated man:  No parking spaces,
  Loud kid:  DADDY, I WANT SOME CANDY!!
   Angry man:  Donations!
    Frustrated wife:  Facing my in-laws,
     Chorus:  Five months of bills,
      Frustrated man:  Writing out those Christmas cards,
       Inebriated man:  Hangovers,
        Husband:  Now why the hell are they blinking?!?
         Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The tenth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 Mother:  "Batteries not included",
  Another frustrated man:  No parking spaces,
   Loud kid:  BUY ME SOMETHIN'!!!!
    Angry man:  Get a job, ya bum!!!
     Frustrated wife (sobbing):  Oh, facing my in-laws,
      Chorus:  Five months of bills,
       Frustrated man:  Yo, ho!  Sending Christmas cards,
        Inebriated man:  Oh, Jeez, look at this!
         Husband:  One light goes out, they ALL go out!!!
          Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The eleventh thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 TV Critic:  Stale TV specials,
  Mother:  "Batteries not included",
   Another frustrated man:  No parking spaces,
    Loud kid:  I GOTTA GO TO THE BATHROOM!!!!
     Angry man:  Charities!!
      Frustrated wife (sobbing):  She's a witch!  I hate her!
       Chorus:  Five months of bills,
        Frustrated man:  Oh, I don't even KNOW half these people!
         Inebriated man:  Oh, who's got the toilet paper?
          Husband:  Get a flashlight!!  I blew a fuse!!!
           Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

The twelth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
 A few guys:  Singing Christmas Carols,
  TV Critic:  Stale TV specials,
   Mother:  "Batteries not included",
    Another frustrated man:  No parking?
     Loud kid:  WAAAAAAH!!!!  WAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!
      Angry man:  Charities!
       Frustrated wife:  Gotta make 'em dinner!
        Chorus:  Five months of bills,
         Frustrated man:  I'm not sending them this year, that's it!
          Inebriated man:  Shut up, you!
           Husband:  FINE!!  If you're so smart, YOU RIG UP THE LIGHTS!!!!!
            Chorus:  And finding a Christmas tree.

From the album "Bob Rivers Comedy Corp: Twisted Christmas."

Lyrics from LaughNet

Tron 2.0

No, not the video game.

From SciFi Wire comes news that Disney is remaking TRON. Should be interesting to see what kind of story they come up with and the liberties the screenwriters take with the original TRON concept.

Canada Q&A

My sister sent me these. I have no idea if they're real questions (probably not) or something somebody made up (probably), but I thought they were pretty funny anyway.

Now that Vancouver has won the chance to host the 2010 "Winter Olympics", the following are some questions people the world over are asking!!!!!

These questions about Canada were actually posted on an international Tourism Website.

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow?(UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed Beaver. (Italy)
A: Let's not touch this one.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada?(USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your North . . . oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get there and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y,which is....oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, right after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, We don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth.Can you tell me where I can sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. )(USA)
A: It's called a moose. They are tall and very violent,eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: I was in Canada in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Surrey, BC. Can you help? (USA)
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Order of the Stick

Order of the StickMike put me onto this amusing online comic, The Order of the Stick that I think is just a hoot. Anyone who's ever been into role playing games will find it funny. Anyone who's hasn't probably won't see the humour in it at all.

It's probably best to start at the beginning.

Play boss in your own Cube Farm

These look like amusing toys to play with. The Cubes. Each set appears to come with a cube-headed office drone, parts for his cubicle and stickers to decorate said cube with. There's even an expansion set with cube-headed assistant drones.

Who needs a dollhouse. Build your own corporate cube farm! Ha!

How badly can you hurt him?

Stair Dismount (Porrasturvat) was a cheesy fun little game I found a few years ago. The premise is simple. Select an impact point on the dummy's body, click at the desired impact power level and watch it fall down the stairs. See how much damage you can dish out to the dummy.

Another variant, Truck Dismount (Rekkaturvat) puts the dummy in a truck with positionable ramps and 6 different dummy locations. Some of the hits the dummy takes make me wince.

I'm not sure why I find it so amusing. Maybe it's a strange fascination to push stuff down stairs and watch it tumble. Maybe it's watching the dummy's head pop up when you hit it right, or the contortions it goes through as it falls. Could be the cheesy porn movie music, or the sound effects with each impact. Whatever it is, there's usually something that makes me chuckle.

OoTS on first

Today's OoTS is a highly amusing variant of Abbott & Costello's Who's on First routine.

Very funny stuff.

Dilblog

Scott Adams has a blog, and hosted on TypePad no less.

Should make for some entertaining reading.

I better keep my day job

Well, I'm certainly not going to get rich blogging. Good thing I never planned to.


My blog is worth $5,645.40.
How much is your blog worth?

Found at Walk This Way

(Almost) Everything Trek

Just in time for the Christmas shopping season: The Ultimate Star Trek Collection. Even though it hasn't been released yet, there are already 7 reviews of it at Amazon, most of them complaining about how it can't be the Ultimate collection because the animated series isn't included.

At Amazon's discounted price $2500, it's a little bit of a spendy gift for someone, but definitely something I wouldn't mind having in my collection. 212 DVDs all in one collection...I'll need to get a comfy chair for this one.

Wine and song

Yesterday was an uncharacteristically busy day, but a fun day.

Sunlight filtering through ine leavesThe past week was pretty busy, and Nala was cooped up inside for most of the week, so yesterday we spent most of the morning out at the dog park letting her run around and play with some of her dog park buddies. Then it was off to a local vineyard (Irvin House Vineyard) with some friends for their 'Blessing of the Vines' event. It was the first time out to a vineyard for most of us, so it was a pretty good time. We rolled up just in time to see the priest's blessing, so we unfolded the lawn chairs, grabbed some BBQ and some popcorn, and sat down under some shady oak trees to watch. There was some reasonably decent music to listen to, and afterwards we strolled through the vineyard and looked at the muscadine vines. There were even a few grapes left too, but they were still ripening or on the way to becoming raisins. Our friends hadn't encountered muscadines before though, so the wife educated them a bit and showed them the innards and described how to eat muscadines.Muscadine grape cluster Admission to the event came with a glass of wine, so we sampled a few of them. I think our group found them passable, but not terribly impressive. Perhaps this vintage wasn't one of their best. The wife and I tried their Mullet Hall Red and the Magnolia (one of their white wines). I'm not really a big fan of red wines, but the Mullet Hall Red was enjoyable, light and not to tannin-y like most other reds. The Magnolia was supposed to be their sweeter white wine, but wasn't nearly as sweet as some other muscadine wines I've had (although those were almost too sweet for my liking). I think I'd have to try a few more varieties and vintages to see if I really like the Irvin House wines.

After we got home, one of the wife's friends stopped by to hang out and help finish off some of the extra food left over from Friday's post-exam party. Then it was off to the John Legend concert at The Plex. It was a pretty good sized crown at the event, and we even ran into a few people that we knew there. It was a pretty decent concert overall, although the John Legend part of it didn't actually start until around 10, and went for about an hour and a half. Most all the people there seemed to be pretty into the concert though, including the opening acts.

First concert I've ever been to where I was patted down and frisked. Just the guys too, not the women. "Welcome to our world", the wife says.

Firefly marathon

The wife would probably kill me if I took the day off and did nothing but sit my plump butt in front of the TV all day, but I'm seriously considering doing that Jan 6 for SciFi's Firefly marathon and SciFi Friday. Starts at 8 AM, all 12 episodes and then into the second half of the season for Stargate: SG1, Stargate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica.

That's 15 hours of some of the best TV on the air now (the wife would have other things to say about that). Mmmm, I'm getting all wobbly just thinking about it.

Anybody want to join me for this SciFi orgy?

Date night

Wife and I went out on a rare date night last night. Started with dinner at Atlanta Bread Company where we enjoyed their soup loaves, because they're just so yummy. I love their loaf of chili. Then a quick trip to the bookstore to kill a bit of time, where we picked up a copy of Marley & Me, a book about a lab retriever and his family that we'd heard a lot of people talking about. And to finish off the night, we went to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Growing up I read the series countless times, so I was looking forward to seeing how the movie version would be. I was quite impressed with the screen adaptation. I thought the movie followed the book pretty accurately (as accurately as it could in 2 hours anyway) without feeling too rushed. The acting was well done, and the actors cast in the rols of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy did a good job of capturing the spirit of the characters from the book. Definitely a movie I'll plan on adding to my collection.

A nice quiet night with some tasty food and a good movie. Can't ask for much more than that.

More SciFi goodness

Looks like in preparation for the Jan 6 continuation of Stargate: SG1, Stargate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica, SciFi is showing all the episodes from the first part of the season for each show back to back to back.

Monday Jan 2 from 1200 to 2100 is Stargate: SG1. Wednesday Jan 4 from 0900 to 1700 is Stargate: Atlantis, and wrapping up on Thursday Jan 5 is Battlestar Galactica from 0800 to 1600.

Maybe I'll take a few more days off work...

A day at the beach

It's been a delightfully lazy weekend. Being uncharacteristically warm (for me anyway), the wife and I decided to take Nala out to the beach and go for a walk. The breeze cooled things down a little bit and the water was a little cool on the feet, but otherwise it was a nice stroll on the beach.

Warm enough for shorts and sandals!Wait, let me get this sand off my nose first

Things in Threes

My friend Mike sent me another one of these meme things, so here goes:

Three names you go by.

  1. Eug
  2. Spandex Ninja
  3. Lurch

Three parts of your heritage.

  1. Canadian
  2. Chinese
  3. Chinese

Three things that scare you.

  1. Clowns. They're just plain creepy
  2. The Burger King king
  3. Things with large pointy teeth

Three of your everyday essentials.

  1. Internet
  2. Chocolate
  3. Coca-cola

Three things you are wearing right now.

  1. My ID badge
  2. Dockers
  3. Rockport shoes

Three things you need in a relationship. <other than real love>

  1. Friendship
  2. Humour
  3. Communication

Two truths and a lie (in any order).

  1. I've never met a chocolate I didn't like
  2. I live for tequila

Three Physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you.

  1. They're soft and curvy
  2. Eyes
  3. Butt

Three of your favorite hobbies.

  1. Reading
  2. Sleeping
  3. Cycling

Three things you want to do really badly right now.

  1. Finish off the chocolate ice cream in the freezer
  2. Play some hockey
  3. Splurge on a new computer

Three places you want to go.

  1. Vegas
  2. Barbados
  3. Edmonton

Three things you want to do before you die.

  1. Go skydiving
  2. Fire off some really big guns like the Mail Call guy gets to do

Three ways you are stereotypically a girl/guy.

  1. Tools, need more tools
  2. I like to take things apart

Three ways in which you are not stereotypically a girl/guy.

  1. Just not a big sports watcher
  2. I'm not terribly mechanically inclined

Three things that annoy you.

  1. Idiocy
  2. Late people
  3. My own stupidity

Just when you thought you knew everything about me...

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Eugene!

  1. Eugene can turn his stomach inside out!
  2. The condom - originally made from Eugene - was invented in the early 1500s!
  3. If your ear itches, this means that someone is talking about Eugene.
  4. A thimbleful of Eugene would weigh over 100 million tons!
  5. Eugene is worth his weight in gold - literally.
  6. Long ago, the people of Nicaragua believed that if they threw Eugene into a volcano it would stop erupting.
  7. Eugene is black with white stripes, not white with black stripes.
  8. Eugene can drink over 25 gallons of water at a time.
  9. While sleeping, fifteen percent of men snore, and ten percent grind their Eugene.
  10. There are roughly 10,000 man-made objects the size of Eugene orbiting the Earth.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Nabbed from Walk This Way

Nethack code

Based on v1.2.2 of the Nethack Code
NH 3.4.3L D eugenem-Mon-Hum-Mal-Law HP:115 Pw:134 AC:5 L:18
[+ )+ i 2- P S+ D+ p+ $+ t- s+ W+ E++ PS- PP-
!G C- I++ Ps-- @W(d) N-- !Y X So+ Sp+ sb+ wb +many

Las Vegas in one word: Gaudy

Capital G gaudy, but an interesting place. Slot machines are the first thing you see getting off the plane, and they'll probably be the last thing you see leaving. Got some time to kill waiting for your flight? Feed the one-armed bandits for one last chance to leave Vegas on the plus side. Waiting for your partner to finish the grocery shopping? Spin the slot machine wheels to try to win enough to pay for them.

On today's itinerary was the Bellagio where we started with the brunch buffet, then wandered around the expansive resort to check out the scenery. The Fine Art Gallery at the Bellagio was the wife's attempt to instill some culture into me. Nice paintings but Impressionism, which was on display, wasn't something that ever really appealed to me.

Lots of upscale restaurants to spend even more money on at Bellagio. $12 iceberg lettuce wedge salads and up from there.

The next stop was Mandalay Bay and the Shark Reef exhibit. It's basically a large aquarium based on predatory fishes and other sea creatures. Mandalay Bay was pretty expansive with even more upscale uber-pricey restaurants, mostly Asian themed.

A Fry's Electronics shop was the final destination this afternoon for checking out their goodies. Plenty of things for a geek to drool over, including a quad-Opteron MB for just under $1300.

The final event for the day was Cirque du Soleiel's Zumanity. Not your typical Cirque show, and definitely one the kids won't be able to see. Great show with some great performances. Not quite as acrobatic or circus-y as some other Cirque shows I've seen, but still very good.

Go to Vegas...to go somewhere else

One interesting thing about Vegas (at least on the Strip anyway) I've observed is that lots of people come here just to go to a replica of somewhere else. Just about everything on the strip seems to be a replica, down to the fake stone benches outside in the valet pickup areas.

This morning started off with dim sum, something we look for everywhere we go since there isn't any in Charleston. The one we found, Chang's Hong Kong Cuisine, wasn't too far away, so we headed out there mid-morning and fortunately weren't disappointed. The selection wasn't extremely large, but they were good and had all my favourites. The prices were decent too.

Then, with full bellies we headed off to the Luxor, that large pyramidal behemoth of a resort. We wanted to check out the King Tut exhibit and the Lion Habitat. Both were a little disappointing and didn't quite measure up to our expectations. The Lion Habitat consisted of a smallish glass enclosure housing two lionesses, both of which seemed to be pretty domesticated. At least they weren't trying to eat the handler in there with them at the time anyway. Inside, you could shell out $25 to have your photo taken with a lion cub if you wanted and if the cubs were in the mood for it.

We wandered around the rest of the Luxor to check out the scenery, shops and restaurants. Like Mandalay Bay, Luxor had lots of pricey upscale restaurants with famous chef's names attached to them.

Then it was off to MGM Grand to have a look around there. MGM Grand seemed to have about the largest casino floor of all the ones we'd seen so far. It also seemed to have the largest sports book area of the four resorts we'd been to so far. For the more budget conscious diners, MGM at least had a food court area where you could get some McD's, a Nathan's hot dog or even some Haagen Daaz. MGM also had its share of upscale restaurants too, including a couple of places with Joel Robuchon's name on them, although most of them were priced a little more reasonably than the ones at Mandalay Bay or Luxor.

We finished off the afternoon with a much anticipated trip to M&M's World just up the block from MGM. Four floors of just about every conceivable item you can think of related to M&Ms. Pillows, key chains, magnetic letters, dominos, cookie jars, candy dispensers and more. The place was packed too, particularly around the M&Ms Wall of Colour. It's hard to resist a wall of M&Ms even if they are $9/lb, so we ended coming out with about four pounds worth of them.

The wife's parents made it back from their side trip to LA, so it was dinner at the Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay. There was lots of tasty food with a couple of carving stations and a pasta bar where it's cooked right in front of you. Not quite as large as the buffet at The Bellagio, but I thought the food was better. At $25/person for the dinner buffet, it's a little pricey, but you can stay pretty much as long as you want and eat as much as you like.

The evening's entertainment was La Femme at MGM, a topless cabaret style show brought over from the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris, France. Interesting show and very entertaining.

Wear comfortable shoes

Even if you're just wandering through a couple of casinos to sightsee, it's not difficult to put on 8 or 9 km worth of walking around. Finding a place to rest your feet and take a load off can be a bit challenging too. Most of the time the only seats around are either in front of slot machines, at the gambling tables or inside restaurants. You can sometimes find benches scattered about, but those are usually few and far between.

Horseback riding was on the schedule for the afternoon, so we took it easy in the morning and didn't do much. After a bit of some miscommunication (either they didn't record our reservation or forgot about us), we ended up making the 50 mile drive north of Vegas to Sagebrush Ranch (not much of a ranch...just a few trailers and storage buildings and some horse pens) for their Sunset trail ride and dinner. It's actually not too far off I-15, but feels like it's in the middle of nowhere. A few more riders than they were expecting showed up, so the trail ride got off to a bit of a late start because they had to saddle up some extra horses.

The ride itself was pretty cool. Rode down through some dry stream beds, up to the top of some hills, back down through some flat areas and saw lots of desert with the mountains for a backdrop. Clouds obscured the sun setting behind the mountains, but it probably would have been really cool. Because of the late start, we ended up spending the last third of the trail ride in the dark. There was no moon in the sky either, so it was really dark, although you could still see the dark shapes of the brush and other riders nearby. Good thing the horses knew where they were going.

After being on a horse for almost two and a half hours, most of the riders were glad to finally make it back and get off the horses. The evening ended with dinner (either steak or chicken) and marshmallow roasting over a campfire.

A rainy day today.

Fortunately we had mostly indoor things planned for today. We had planned to go to the Lost City Museum today, but decided to change that to later because of the rain. The original plan had us checking out Chinatown Plaza to check out another place for dim sum. On the way we encountered a bunch of students walking down the street escorted by police demonstrating for immigration reform. They were between us and Chinatown Plaza, so we ended going back to Chang's. The rest of the morning was spent doing some shopping at one of the outlet malls. One of the things we ended up buying was another suitcase to fit all the other stuff we bought.

Yesterday's horseback riding had the wife still a little wiped out, so we ended up spending most of the afternoon just resting and hanging out. For dinner we decided to check out Rumjungle over at Mandalay Bay to see what their rodizio Brazilian grill was like. Food was pretty decent, although the flavours of some of the meats seemed a little confused. At $40/person it's a little pricey, but go hungry because it's an all you can eat thing. Then when you're done, stick around for the nightclub action (if you can still make it out of your seat).

After dinner we headed over to catch Folies Bergere over at Tropicana. It's a very entertaining variety show with lots of dancing, singing and pretty costumes. A comedy routine in the middle provided a very humourous intermission. Pretty good show, although if you're looking for something a little more risqué, you're probably better off looking somewhere else.

The walls of Las Vegas

We hadn't driven around Vegas too much, but from what we've seen, people seem to like living behind walls and gated communities around here.

Today we decided to try Dishes, the buffet over at Treasure Island. Smaller than the other buffets, but for breakfast/lunch it was pretty tasty and fairly reasonably priced at $12/person.

After breakfast, we made a road trip out to check out the civil engineering wonder that is Hoover Dam. It's only about 40 miles south of Vegas, so it was a pretty easy trip down a nice scenic route. Aside from some road construction traffic we encountered in Boulder City, the trip was pretty uneventful. Part of the route takes you through this residential area, which seemed kind of odd. Then as you round a corner at the top of a hill all of a sudden you see an expansive valley that looks down onto Lake Mead. The fortunate residents of this area have a very impressive view.

Then it was mostly downhill until you reach the Hoover Dam visitor center. There's a security checkpoint just before you get there, but they just seemed to be waving people through without doing any inspecting. The drive over the dam was pretty neat and presented some pretty nice views of Lake Mead and the river valley downstream of the dam. Plenty of parking areas off the road allow people to get out and take pictures or walk around a bit.

Hoover Dam is a pretty impressive sight in person. There's a tour you can take that starts off with a short film that talks about the history of the dam, then a descent 500 ft down to the complex where the generators are. It's pretty impressive to see the size of these generators. Then it's back up to the surface for some more tour stops and pre-recorded presentations. The winged sculpture and floor were an interesting display. Laid into the ground beneath the winged statues are stars and constellations as they appeared in the sky at the time the dam was dedicated. We were going to walk across the dam, but it was starting to get a little late so we decided to head back.

After a bit of a nap, we headed out to another buffet for dinner (it was seafood night next door at the South Coast resort) and then to check out Caesar's Palace. It's definitely a spectacle from the outside and inside. We even saw some people dressed up in Roman costumes walking around. The Forum shops at Caesar's were pretty cool. Lots of high end stores to spend your winnings on (or anything you might have left over). The ceiling is painted sky blue with a smattering of white puffy clouds and is illuminated to give you the illusion of being in an outdoor market. It's an illusion that actually works quite well too. The lighting also changes from being daylight to dusk and finally turns dim to simulate night. All the ceiling needs are some pinholes to stimulate the stars when the nighttime illumination kicks in.

There's a cool sound and light show over at the Atlantis fountain that happens every hour. We happened to catch the end of it. Around the fountain is a large saltwater aquarium with lots of colourful reef fish.

For car buffs, the collection of cars at Exotic Cars is definitely worth checking out. You can see the insides of Lambhorghini's, Ferarri's and even a Maybach 62 (a sweet, sweet ultra-luxury car). If you've got $20 000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can even buy a race car simulator that'll beat the pants off any Xbox 360, or you can just try it out ($20 for 5 minutes).

You know you're a physics geek when...

you look at the curved mirrored exterior of the Wynn Las Vegas resort and wonder what the focal length of the building is. Seriously, it was the first thing I thought of when I drove by the hotel.

Today's our last full day in Vegas and our last chance to cram in a few more things to see. On the docket were the Atomic Testing Museum, Star Trek: The Experience, Chinatown Plaza, dinner at the Stratosphere and Cirque du Soleil's Mystere at Treasure Island.

The first stop of the day was the Atomic Testing Museum. I have to say, this is one cool place. The museum chronicles the history of atomic weapons testing and has plenty of artifacts and models to go along with the displays. You learn all sorts of neat things like how various things associated with the blast were measured, different types of tests conducted and the tools they used. I could have spent the whole day there, but the in-laws were starting to get munchy, so we headed down to the Chinatown Plaza for more dim sum.

Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton was another place I could have spent a good chunk of the day at. There's a complete timeline of the Star Trek Universe to browse through along with lots of props, models and costumes to check out. Klingon Encounter was the better of the two rides at the end, although both were pretty cool. When you're done, the gift shop has some cool Star Trek props to buy if you've got some cash to spare, or you can have something to snack on at Quark's. Lots of fun, but I could only stay there for a few hours.

We had just enough time after that to go check out the fountain show at the Bellagio (very cool. prepare to get misted depending on the wind direction) before rushing back to get dressed up for dinner at the Top of the World restaurant at the Stratosphere. Nice place, great food, fantastic view. Make sure you have lots of money to spend, because it's rather pricey. The food is good though, but the Chocolate Stratosphere we had for dessert was a little disappointing. I though the mousse was a little too dense to be called a mousse. Tasty if you like chocolate, but a little pricey at $10.

The last show of the week was Mystere at Treasure Island (forgot the tickets back at the room so we had to run back to grab the tickets after dinner) which was another good Cirque production. The big dinner beforehand had me a little sleepy though and I ended up dozing off a little bit during some of the slower parts.

We were all pooped at the end of the show, so we headed back and called it a night. Lots of packing up to do before leaving the next day.

What do you mean there's no water?

The flight home was pretty uneventful although a little long. Fortunately we had some DVDs to play on the laptop to keep us entertained, although I think some pop may have spilled on the keyboard because it's been acting a little flaky since the flight.

Arrived back home to news of a water main break that disrupted water service to pretty much the entire area. Apparently the break occurred in a 48" water main near the treatment plant, so it wasn't exactly a trivial issue. Serviceable water pressure was restored reasonably quickly, but they've been telling people to boil water before drinking or cooking with it.

Vegas was fun overall. Had a good time checking out the resort casinos that we've been watching all about on Travel Channel. We managed to pack in a lot of things over the week we were there and had lots of fun. Almost would have liked another day or so maybe, but we were glad to be getting back home. Maybe we'll make another trip out there another time. Who knows, the wife might even want to go there after she finishes school. I guess time will tell.

Vegas pics!

Finally got around to posting the pictures from our Las Vegas trip in the gallery. Haven't had time to caption them yet, so feel free to make up your own while you browse. :)

The weekend's going to the dogs

Lots to do this weekend and it all involves dogs.

First up on Saturday morning is the Charleston Dog Show downtown along with the Farmer's Market. Farmer's Market is always a fun place to take Nala. Add in the dog show and it's madness. Much fun though. Just watch your step.

Then we rush out to a spring picnic hosted by the local lab retriever club for more fun with even more dogs. Just labs this time though.

Silly physics humour

Two Hydrogen atoms are sitting at a bar.

The first says to the other, "Hey man, you look glum. What's going on?"

The other replies, "I've been worried all week. I think I've lost my
electron."

To which his sympathetic friend says, "Are you positive?"

While I'm on the topic, World of Physics is a really cool place to browse around (if you're into that physics thing anyway)

How to conquer the world

This is something I will definitely have to add to the DVD collection.

Dangerous foods

Shamelessly stolen from a Lab Board posting

A Doctor was addressing a large audience:

"The material we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting here, years ago. Red meat is awful. Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG. High fat diets can be disastrous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water. But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?"

After several seconds of quiet, a 75-year-old man in the audience raised his hand, and softly said, "Wedding Cake."

The next gathering

Heather raises a very important subject this morning: Where and when to have our next blogger gathering. A Picnic Gathering at that.

I vote for a beach picnic. Go leave a comment and let's get the planning started!

Remastered Star Trek:TOS

According to StarTrek.com, the new remastered episodes of Star Trek will start going on the air this weekend. They show it being aired by WTAT, which is the local Fox affiliate. Apparently they don't want anyone to watch it because the programmers at WTAT seem to have scheduled it at 1AM on the 17th. Looks like WMMP (the new MyTVCharleston station, formerly UPN) might be showing it too at 9PM on the 17th, but after that it starts showing up at 4 frickin' AM! Who the hell is up at 4 in the frickin' morning if they're not working! Infomercials get better treatment!

Bastards.

Now I'm going to have to reconnect the VCR or get TiVO or something.

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