BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Gas.”

Better late than never

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022 Alive 18,830 days

A late notification from the Constellation Apartments in Las Vegas, Nevada

I just received a notice from Constellation Apartments that my service request has been completed.

It's worth noting that I haven't lived at Constellation for 16 months.

I wonder what took them so long to fix.

❖ ❖ ❖

Extra pickles

Friday, October 28th, 2022 Alive 18,812 days

A holy, sacred McRib sammitch

I only rarely go to McDonaldʼs; maybe three or four times a year. So I was surprised and delighted to find itʼs McRib season!

The McRib is the finest fast food sandwich there is. Better than a double Fisch Mac. Better than Starbuckʼs Thanksgiving panini. Yes, better than Chick-fil-a.

Itʼs never McRib season in Las Vegas, so for the seven years I lived there, I had to make my own — Driving three hours across the Mojave Desert to the nearest McDonaldʼs that had them, in Barstow, California. I never did find out why the McDonaldʼs franchises in Vegas donʼt carry McRibs.

Here, in Houston, McRib does exist, so I grabbed a loaf of that sweet, smokey, salty, crunchy, sesame seeded goodness.

Pro tip: Serve the sandwich on top of a pile of fries so that the sauce drips onto the fries, and you donʼt waste any of it on the plate.

❖ ❖ ❖

Good location, though

Saturday, September 4th, 2021 Alive 18,393 days

I went to the Church of the Annunciation today. Itʼs one of those urban core Catholic churches that churches under the radar, serving its neighborhood for hundreds of years while the nearby cathedral gets all the attention. Most large American cities have one like this. Places like Saint Joan of Arc in Las Vegas, Assumption Catholic Church in Chicago, and the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis are other examples.

Annunciation is old-school, in both style, architecture, and message. While I did the special kind of musty funk that fills old American Catholic churches, Iʼve never been able to get used to using a Communion rail. Perhaps I have weak knees. Or I donʼt like people looking at my butt.

Still, if youʼre looking for a just-barely-this-side-of-Vatican-Ⅱ experience, this could be the place for you.

❖ ❖ ❖

0xDEADBEEF

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

A malfunctioning gas pump

I have no idea how much I paid for gas. I think the credit price for Plus is “Burp.”

❖ ❖ ❖

You bought them out, right?

Sunday, August 1st, 2021 Alive 18,359 days

Halloween-themed candy from the Terrible Herbst

August 1st, and the gas station is already loaded for Halloween.

❖ ❖ ❖

Dangerous wet dogs

Friday, July 30th, 2021 Alive 18,357 days

The monsoon has been generous this year.

I never thought I would miss the smell of creosote, but I will. When the rain falls on tumbleweeds, it makes a weird wet dog smell. The outflow boundary from the thunderstorm carries the smell far and wide, and is a much more reliable indicator of rain coming than radar is.

Protip: If you're ever in a slot canyon or a dry gulch, and suddenly you smell a wet dog, run. I've lost count of the number of stories I've seen in the newspapers this year about hikers and homeless people killed in flash floods. Dozens, at least. Always under blue, unsuspecting skies. The news helicopters sometimes follow a flash flood coming off one of the mountains as it weaves through the gullies and washes. Once, KTNV showed a car speeding down the road trying to outrun the water. It didn't.

❖ ❖ ❖

Package deal

Saturday, July 24th, 2021 Alive 18,351 days

A list of fees at a UPS Store in Las Vegas, including $75.00 for the notary to perform a marriage ceremony

If you can get married at the UPS Store, you might be in Nevada.

❖ ❖ ❖

Everyone go to the window and stare

Monday, July 12th, 2021 Alive 18,339 days

A graphic from the National Weather Service celebrating one-tenth of an inch of rain

Pretty much the definition of “celebrate the little things.”

❖ ❖ ❖

Wholesome and surprisingly good

Sunday, July 4th, 2021 Alive 18,331 days

Goose Bumps coffee from Vesta Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Goose Bumps from Vesta Coffee in Las Vegas.

The coffee is pretty good, considering it comes from a city that prides itself on being artificial, superficial, and doing things “good enough.” Itʼs very smooth, which might be attributed to the relentlessly mineralized water that Vegas siphons from Lake Mead, before returning it to the lake after being processed by four million kidneys. The stated notes are “chocolate, graham cracker, sweet.” I certainly get the chocolate, and a bit of the sweet. But Iʼm not sensitive enough to detect graham or any other type of cracker in my coffee. Still, this desert coffee isnʼt a dessert coffee. Itʼs a nice weekend morning coffee, or a good reward in the afternoon after accomplishing some minor, yet dreaded, task. Iʼd buy it again because I like my coffee the way I like my women: wholesome and surprisingly good.

❖ ❖ ❖

So… howʼs the game?

Friday, June 4th, 2021 Alive 18,301 days

A Sears Poker Plus cartridge

I got a new Atari cart today. Itʼs Poker Plus, the Sears version of Atariʼs Casino.

This is the text label version, which is what I prefer because that means its an older version, and what I would have had in my home, if my family had this cart in 1978. But we didnʼt.

The version of this game with the Sears picture label is more unusual, but not quite what one might call “rare.” Just seldom seen for sale.

Itʼs a very minor topic of discussion in the realm of Atari nerds that Sears spent a lot of time and money making its own artwork for the Atari games it licensed. There are plenty of debates over which is better. I donʼt have a preference. But I do note that the Sears imagery is often racier than the Atari version.

Here are the Atari and Sears picture labels of the same Casino/Poker Plus game.

Atariʼs Casino
Searsʼ Poker Plus, from eBay, since I donʼt have this version

The Atari one is fine, featuring a slim young woman in a strappy white evening frock engaged in severely constrained enthusiasm. The Sears one features a Vegas showgirl wearing low-rise panties, a feathered headdress, and nothing else. Sheʼs covering her breasts with her slender arms, but not out of shame, based on her smile.

As a resident of Las Vegas, I am uniquely positioned to decide which label is more accurate. And I can tell you that the Sears version is more correct.

Not because there are lots of gregarious topless showgirls roaming the casinos of Sin City. There arenʼt. Except for street buskers, the showgirls are all gone. Itʼs Miss Atari who is wrong. The notion of Vegas casinos being populated by well-dressed, glamorous, interesting people died in the late 1980ʼs. If she was done up in crop-top football jersey with a tattooed beer belly hanging over pajama bottoms and Crocs, toting a three-foot-long empty plastic beverage container and a grudge against Southwest Airlines, then she would fit right in.

But graceful white evening dress and statement jewelry? This isnʼt Monaco.

❖ ❖ ❖

Summerlin hot dog: $24.95, ketchup extra

Saturday, May 29th, 2021 Alive 18,295 days

The blandly-named Las Vegas Stadium, seen from my balcony

As I write this, I can hear the announcers at the baseball stadium a block away announcing the starting lineup. Itʼs the Las Vegas Aviators against the Sacramento River Cats. I hope thatʼs a fish, since generally speaking, cats and rivers get along like hydrogen bombs and Pacific atolls.

A big league baseball team, the Oakland Aʼs, was here all week inspecting the stadium and the city and the showgirls. Since Las Vegas stole Oaklandʼs football team, it seems natural to try to steal its baseball team, as well. The move would happen before Las Vegas could built a real stadium, so until one can be erected, the Aʼs would play… wait for it… a block away from me. What could possibly go wrong?

❖ ❖ ❖

Inky fingers

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,289 days

Mise en place

Coffee and seven newspapers (thereʼs a Chicago Catholic under there somewhere). My day is set.

❖ ❖ ❖

Mr. Sandman

Friday, May 21st, 2021 Alive 18,287 days

Sandstorm weather forecast on an iPhone

Day two of the dust storm. Houston has crap air, too, but at least thatʼs just chemicals and not Mother Nature trying to bury the city.

❖ ❖ ❖

Hunker in the bunker

Friday, May 21st, 2021 Alive 18,287 days

A quick forecast from iOS

Today I learned that iOS has an icon for “sandstorm.”

Also, that I should say home today.

❖ ❖ ❖

On Dean Martin Drive

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 Alive 18,285 days

A newspaper clipping listing locations to get a COVID shot

If you get a COVID shot at a strip club, you might live in Las Vegas.

❖ ❖ ❖

Good day for a book

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

A rainy day at the market in Seattle in January, 2011

The atmosphere is having a nice little hissy fit in Las Vegas right now. A touch of rain about an hour ago, and now a windstorm. More interestingly, we had some thunder. We hardly ever get thunder here, because with the effort involved in getting over the mountains, thereʼs usually not enough energy for lightning. Itʼs the same story in Seattle.

People talk about all the rain in Seattle, but itʼs almost always a very calm, gentle rain. What the Navajos call “female rain.” I donʼt know what the Quileute in La Push, Washington call it. But when we visited, Darcie took a smooth rock home from the beach, and didnʼt find out later that youʼre not supposed to do that. We ended up having all kinds of bad luck right after that. Go figure.

Thereʼs a Door Dash guy trying to deliver something soggy and greasy to my neighbor, and the wind just made off with his big red bag. Run, Dasher, run!

❖ ❖ ❖

Just the tips

Friday, April 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,259 days

Screenshot from Apple Maps

If a nearby nail salon is called “Hand Job,” you might live in Las Vegas.

❖ ❖ ❖

Hands!!!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021 Alive 18,236 days

KNPR-HD3/Las Vegas on my radio

I think thatʼs too many exclamation points for smooth jazz.

Dixieland, maybe.

❖ ❖ ❖

Two kinds of gambling

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,208 days

A COVID occupancy limit sign at Caesars Palace

Having a 25% occupancy cap is not reassuring in any way when that means you still have to share the air with 11,018 other people.

❖ ❖ ❖

Both

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,208 days

Thing nobody asks at a gas station anymore:

“Regular or unleaded?”

See also:

  • “Check your oil?”
  • “Wash your windows?”
❖ ❖ ❖

A peak performance

Friday, February 12th, 2021 Alive 18,189 days

Sunrise illuminating the Rainbow Mountains

Sunrise was a little bit different today, so I broke out the good camera. I'll have to do some processing on it to get out the grain, but it's OK for this hour of the morning.

The clouds are over California. The mountain in front is Griffith Peak (11,063 feet), and the one in its shadow is Charleston Peak (11,916 feet).

❖ ❖ ❖

Weʼre all damaged goods

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 Alive 18,167 days

A friend of mine is mad at me because I wouldn't go have dinner with him when he was in town last week. Too bad, the COVID positivity rate in Vegas is through the roof. Iʼm not going to just hang out in a casino like nothing is wrong.

His entire family had it and recovered, so he thinks it's OK to take everyone to Vegas for his daughter's birthday. In his mind, if he's safe, that's all that matters.

Never mind the maids, bartenders, airline staff, janitors, and everyone else that has to risk their lives so he can have a good time. He should know better, because he's a scientist. Then again, as I've learned getting older, being smart at one thing doesn't make you smart at everything.

I know a doctor in Chicago who thinks drinking his own pee will help him live forever. I know a TV anchor in Phoenix who doesn't believe in dinosaurs. Not as a religious thing. They just don't fit into the way her brain works. My old neighbor is an international airline pilot, and doesn't believe COVID is real.

I guess everyone is crazy in their own way. I wonder what my major malfunction is.

❖ ❖ ❖

Go go Desert Truckster

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 Alive 18,160 days

I drove to the drug store today, and realized that I'm still using the same tank of gas I bought in July. And it's still half full. Itʼs hard to believe I used to drive across the country, bounding through the dunes and mesas and tumbleweeds just a year ago.

❖ ❖ ❖

Whispy

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

Sunrise

There were clouds in the sky this morning, so we had a nice sunrise. Iʼd forgotten that this area can have some pretty nice sunrises, but you need clouds to make them happen.

We even got what I call a "double sunrise" — the sun coming up turns the clouds over Arizona all pinky-orange, and when it starts to crest the eastern mountains, it lights up the clouds over California, too, so thereʼs a nice sunrise no matter in what direction you look.

On clear mornings, we get what I call a "false sunrise," which is when the sunʼs rays bounce off the bronze glass of the casino towers and make it look like the sun is rising in the west.

Most people here never see the sunrise, or the sunset. The houses have few windows, and people generally keep their shades drawn at all times. They might as well live in a steel shipping container.

Darcie and I enjoy the sun and the sky and let in all the light we can. Or at least all the light the windows will allow. They have several layers of coatings on them to keep the heat out, and it kills most of the color, too. This morningʼs sunrise was blood red in plain air from the balcony, orange from the dining room windows, and just a bland yellow from the library.

When I was starting on my career path in my 20ʼs, I made sure I went into a field that would keep me from spending all day locked in an office like my parents were. I guess I screwed that one up.

I predict that when we donʼt have to wear masks anymore, women will go nuts wearing bold lipstick colors just because they can. Equip your wife appropriately before the rush starts.

❖ ❖ ❖

Minimally moist

Friday, December 18th, 2020 Alive 18,133 days

The front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal December 18, 2020

You know you live in the desert when the newspaperʼs big front page ballyhoo is over 0.04 inches of rain.

After 240 days, youʼd think we could do better than 0.04 inches, though.

❖ ❖ ❖

Eleven

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 Alive 18,109 days

We got a notice from the health department that someone in the apartment complex has COVID, but it canʼt tell us who. The next day there was an article in the newspaper that a bunch of the players for the local NHL team have it, too. Some of the players live in this apartment complex because weʼre next door to the practice arena. Which was shut down because of the ʼrona on the same day as the newspaper article.

It doesnʼt take a rocket surgeon to add 1 and 1 and get eleven.

❖ ❖ ❖

Saturday, November 7th, 2020 Alive 18,092 days

I saw the paperboy for the first time today. She had lots and lots of newspapers in her arms for my building, so I don’t feel like weird old Uncle Bert for getting newspapers anymore.

❖ ❖ ❖

Is it a boutonnière or a stick pin?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 Alive 18,067 days

A screenshot from KLAS-TV

This is why being a weatherman in Las Vegas is the easiest job in broadcasting.

❖ ❖ ❖

What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, September 20th, 2020 Alive 18,044 days

The Entertainment section of the September 20, 2020 Las Vegas Review-Journal

According to todayʼs paper, you can now crush a car, operate heavy machinery, shoot a machine gun, detonate explosives, drive a monster truck, launch flaming arrows, blast flame-throwers, and drink yourself into a stupor all in one place. Because doing all those separately was too much work.

Oh, and thereʼs a brothel on the other side of the ridge.

I can only assume this started with someone from Texas saying, “Yʼknow, thereʼs just too many rules around here.”

❖ ❖ ❖

Gamblers all

Saturday, September 12th, 2020 Alive 18,036 days

Las Vegas is a different place since things have opened up a bit. Because the hotel rates have dropped so much, itʼs brought in the worst people. This is something that Darcie has known from day one, but itʼs only hitting the front pages of the local newspapers now.

Rooms that used to be $675 a night are now $100 or less. Itʼs gotten so bad that the head of Wynn Resorts went public saying that her regular customers are afraid to come to Las Vegas now. She says that some who have come to town have been afraid to leave their rooms, and wonʼt ever return.

Itʼs simply unprecedented for the head of a resort company to say anything bad about the industry, or its guests. But things are pretty bad out there now.

I went to the supermarket yesterday. I think itʼs the first time since April.

It looks like theyʼre skipping Halloween this year. There was just one small Halloween display. No aisle dedicated to candy and decorations and such. Pumpkins are only five bucks. I donʼt think Iʼve ever seen a pumpkin for under $15 here. Workers were putting together Thanksgiving and Christmas displays, but those, too, looked small. It seems like the supermarkets are mostly skipping all of the holidays this year.

Maybe because hardly anyone goes to the store anymore. It was almost vacant when I went there on Friday at 6pm. Still, even with no customers, there were still large gaps in the stock. The toilet paper aisle is about ⅓ full, which is an improvement. Still no cleaning supplies, though. Half the deli is empty. No salami or corned beef to be found anywhere, so I had to settle for pastrami. Pasta and soup sections were mostly empty. So were some other sections that I couldnʼt identify because they were not only devoid of product, the store didnʼt even bother to put up price tags.

❖ ❖ ❖

A one cow town

Friday, July 10th, 2020 Alive 17,972 days

A “Keep one cow apart” sign in the Nevada state capitol

Remember how the Navajo were advised to stay two sheep apart from one another? I guess the Nevada legislature is made up of cowboys, because this sign in the capitol was in todayʼs paper.

❖ ❖ ❖

Put it on their bills

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 Alive 17,873 days

Las Vegas locked down is a weird place. With no humans on The Strip, the city is being taken over by waterfowl.

Local media has been showing photos and video of geese and ducks all over the casinos. The theory is that they're attracted by the people-less fountains. Last week, I saw some video of a family of ducks that have made a home in one of the revolving doors of The Bellagio.

❖ ❖ ❖

Crickets

Sunday, March 8th, 2020 Alive 17,848 days

The good thing about the plague is that itʼs made things quiet again.

When I first moved to this block, almost all of the homes were military households; mostly Air Force and Nevada National Security Site people (mathematicians, nuclear physicists). Couples, no kids. It was always so silent around here, and I would sit on my bench on the front stoop and read my newspapers in peace.

Then last year all of the military households were relocated en masse. New people moved in. An architect family. A massage therapist family. A guy running some kind of fleaBay business out of his garage. A family from New York via Malawi, Frankfurt, and Copenhagen. Ordinary people and many many kids.

As recently as last weekend, the block was alive after 3pm and on weekends. The guy tinkering on his car. The knot of ladies and their fashion accessory dogs. The guy flying model airplanes and home-made drones at the end of the street. Mexican polka music wafting through the palm trees. And about 20 children running, jumping, throwing things, and playing at murdering one another. Noise. Noise Noise.

Now everyone is afraid to go outside. The block is silent. Once again, the block belongs to me, my newspapers, and my coffee.

❖ ❖ ❖

Thatʼs what happens when you use the garage as a front door

Sunday, January 5th, 2020 Alive 17,785 days

Today is January 5th. My neighbors just removed the Halloween pumpkins from their front porch.

❖ ❖ ❖

Wafers for lunch

Saturday, January 4th, 2020 Alive 17,784 days

Guardian Angel Cathedral dwarfed by the Encore casino

One of the things I miss about not working in the office anymore is that I canʼt squeeze in a quick lunchtime mass anymore.

I sometimes used to go to the noon mass at Guardian Angel Cathedral, but it wasnʼt exactly a contemplative atmosphere. Standing room only, and half of it tourists. Thereʼs a special Catholic church just for the tourists, paid for by the casinos, but the tourists still end up at Guardian Angel. I guess being a cathedral, itʼs got more gravity.

I see stories in the media all the time saying that church is dying, but I canʼt help but think this is just a cliché, and not based on facts. Yes, churches in Chicago are closing all the time, but thatʼs because of bad decisions made by the archdiocese in the early 1900ʼs.

Because the various immigrant groups in Chicago couldnʼt get along, instead of having a church for each neighborhood, each neighborhood was given several churches — one for each ethnicity/nationality/community. So, Bridgeport, for example, had a bunch of Catholic churches: one for Germans, one for Poles, one for Lithuanians, one for Irish. But now that everyone gets along, all those churches arenʼt needed, so theyʼre constantly consolidating. The church I went to in Chicago (Assumption) was an Italian church, formed because Italians in that area of town werenʼt welcome at what is now Old Saint Patrickʼs Church.

Here in Las Vegas, and most of the southwest, there simply arenʼt enough Catholic churches for the number of people who want to use them. I go to Saint Elizabeth either for the 4pm Saturday, or the 6am on Sunday, and both times it is absolutely packed. This is a church with a capacity of at least 750, which to me seems pretty big. Iʼve heard from a person I know in Ohio who says itʼs the same situation there.

There are Roman Catholic congregations here that meet in the lyceum of the Lutheran high school down the street, for lack of space. We had a similar situation in Seattle, where the noon mass at the cathedral was so packed that there was another Catholic mass down the street at the Unitarian church.

I feel bad for the people who live in small towns around here. Amargosa Valley and Pioche are 250 miles apart, and have to share a priest, so they only get a single mass every other week. Other towns only get mass once a month. Because of this, we have special dispensation from the Archdiocese of San Francisco to watch mass on TV. The church I go to records a mass on Thursdays that is broadcast state-wide Sunday morning. Thereʼs no communion, naturally, but it still counts somehow.

❖ ❖ ❖

Darkeness is next

Friday, July 26th, 2019 Alive 17,622 days

A grasshopper munching on a cactus in front of my house

Every once in a while Las Vegas is invaded by locusts.

There were 37 on the door when I got to work yesterday. Plus eleven more in the lunch room and nine in the hall.

Imagine that. A plague of locusts descending on a city of sinners in the desert. Sounds appropriately Biblical.

❖ ❖ ❖

Circle of trust

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 Alive 17,522 days

Police roll call in Las Vegas, New Mexico

6:00am, 43° in the town square. This is how the morning police roll call is done in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

❖ ❖ ❖

Very very Vegas

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019 Alive 17,449 days

A Louis Vuitton-themed house in Las Vegas

I came across this house on my way home from church this morning.

At first I thought it was over the top. But the Chinese dog statue and Bart Simpson really tone it down.

❖ ❖ ❖

Robotic leverage

Sunday, January 6th, 2019 Alive 17,421 days

A self-driving car on The Strip

Protip: Always get behind the self-driving cars. Computers know which lane is the fastest.

Protip: Self-driving cars in Nevada have special license plates that start with “AU.”

A sample autonomous license plate from the Nevada DMV web site. For some reason it shows “AD,” when it should read “AU.”
❖ ❖ ❖

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 Alive 17,315 days

A lady watching stripper videos in line at the Apple Store

If the lady ahead of you in line at the Apple Store to pick up a new iPhone is watching stripper videos on Instagram, you might be in Las Vegas.

❖ ❖ ❖

Saturday, August 11th, 2018 Alive 17,273 days

A map of a portion of Las Vegas, Nevada

This is what happens when real estate developers run out of names.

“Yeah, hello, Pizza Hut guy? Yeah, take a left on Spiced Butter Rum, then a right on Macadamia Nut, then a left on Frapuccino… *click* Hello?”

❖ ❖ ❖

Sunday, July 1st, 2018 Alive 17,232 days

There are only two occasions in life when you get to use the word "bevy." Quails and bathing beauties.

Guess which one ran in front of my car today.

Since I live in Las Vegas, the answer may not be as easy as it seems.

❖ ❖ ❖

Sunday, June 24th, 2018 Alive 17,225 days

An abandoned gas station

This service station is just a shell of its former self.

❖ ❖ ❖

Sunday, June 24th, 2018 Alive 17,225 days

Expensive emergency gas

When the nearest gas station is 94 miles away, you can charge $12 for two gallons of gas.

I found an ever pricier place down the road, commanding $20 a pop.

You call the number on the sign, give the person who answers your credit card number, and they give you the combination to the gas locker.

I can't believe I didn't think of this first.

❖ ❖ ❖