Eat, Work, Sleep – Part 3: Sleep

Eat, Work, Sleep – Part 3: Sleep

Sleep… it’s one of those things that make us all the same. Granted, what we do in our sleep varies dramatically from person to person. Take me for example, now according to my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie, I flip over more times than a flapjack competing for a gold medal at an event where such things get people gold colored metals, or a blue ribbon at the very least. As for Angela, I really can’t say, I’m usually asleep before she is. Unless I can’t sleep, then I sneak out of bed, go to my office and work… or play, until I’m exhausted and ready to sleep.

I think one of my favorite things about sleep is how people react when they reach that deep state of slumber where Michael Stipe and his band mates begin making your eyes twitch rapidly. One of my favorite experiences of this happened during the first year Angela and I were together. We would take turns crashing at each others place because it was way too soon to get a place together. Anyway, one morning, a good twenty minutes before I was to hit my snooze button for the first or many times that morning, Angela woke up to the sound of singing, muffled, face in pillow singing, but singing just the same. She sat up and looked at me. Apparently, I was jerking my body around in little movements along with the incoherent song I was mumbling out of the side of my mouth. She then asked me, “Are you singing?”

This question pulled me right out of my dreamy rehearsal and into a reality where my dream was interfering with my honey’s sleep time. In a half sleep stupor and replied honestly and directly, “Yes, we were rehearsing for the big show that opens tomorrow. We only have one more dance to get through before we’re done.” She started laughing, and I went back to sleep so I could get back to rehearsing because I knew everyone was waiting for me.

She was kind enough to return the experience a few months later. It was probably three in the morning and Angela starts shaking me with one hand, and in a very concerned and worried voice told me, “Richard… Richard, there’s a bug on me. Get it off. I’m not even kidding. Get it off of me. It’s huge. I can’t move.”

I got out of bed, walked over to the light switch. As I flipped on the slights, Angela squeezed her eyes such and feinted away from the lights overhead. Seeing nothing on the blanket on top of her I asked, “Where’s the bug?”

Angela answered with laughter. She told me she was having a dream that we were camping and, well, you can probably guess what happened. We still laugh about that one from time to time, particularly the “I’m not even kidding” part.

There are times when sleeping can be a touch more dangerous than you would expect it to be. I have one friend that would have ninja battles in his dreams. The problem was that his wife turned out to be his opponent. He’d be facing off with some evil warrior and start kicking… in both his dream and real life, resulting in accidentally kicking his wife out of her sleep and onto the floor. Because his dreams were so vivid if she would get back in bed, he thought that the opponent was coming after him and would try to kick her out of bed again. When he woke up in the morning and found his wife asleep on the couch he was a touch confused. When he found out it was because she was afraid to get back in bed with the Sleeping American Ninja he talked to some people to get things sorted out. It’s now an incredibly rare occurrence as opposed to a once a week event.

One thing about sleep is when it’s good it’s like dessert for your brain… a sort of crunchy topped creamy yummy thing that the French are just crazy about, or that Italian cream filled cake that people who love the flavor of coffee just can’t seem to get enough of… or a combination of the two like some sort of tiramisu flavored Crème Brulee. Of course when it’s bad, it’s like a lot like poring yourself a tall glass of fresh brewed ice tea and half way down your realize you just poured yourself a glass of the vegetable soup stock that was made the night before, which has two key flavors that you’ve been gulping down, garlic and onions. It’s not an experience I’d wish on anyone, and it’s really not the way one should start off their day, but it sure will wake you up. Even after brushing my teeth three times I still couldn’t get the flavor out of my mouth… The point is you end up waking up tired, which I’ve always considered it to be a complete waste of time. It’s always a disgruntled morning when sleep leaves you tired.

Sleep is maintenance for your body and mind. Getting some sound sleep is like running your virus scan on your computer daily. It does help. And if you do find yourself a bit under the weather, get more sleep. Your body will thank you, your brain will thank you, and the people that could catch whatever it is you had will thank you for staying home to get some extra sleep until you felt well enough to come back to work. One last thing, when sleep comes over for the night, trust me… do not kick it out of bed. You deserve it.

What is one of your sleep stories that always puts a smirk on your face?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: couple sleeping, dance rehearsal, ninja battle, and crème brulee.

Labor Day Weekend… Sharing My Past with My Present

Labor Day Weekend… Sharing My Past with My Present

“Those are big sheep,” Angela said from the passenger’s side of the front seat.

I made a quick glance into a field and as my eyes returned to the road I chuckled a bit and said, “Um, honey, those are llamas.”

She turned around to look out the back window and double checked. “Oh! Well I only saw their woolly backs.”

It wasn’t my cutie-baby-sweetie-pie’s first animal misidentification of the trip and it wasn’t going to be the last. The first happened as we were traveling along the freeway across some sagebrush infested plains. She looked out the window and said, “Oh look, deer.”

Focusing more on passing a Winnebago than looking at what she saw I made one small assumption and asked, “Are you sure they’re not antelope?”

“They could be. They are funny looking deer.”

People have different strengths, identifying animals in nature is really not one Angela’s. But she still tries… and I love that about her. Plus it keeps us laughing as the miles roll by.

For Labor Day weekend this year, we did something that we had not done in years… we left town. It was actually a joint effort. Three of our dear friends, one of which grew up in the same town in Wyoming as I did, and Angela and I decided to go to Star Valley for Labor Day weekend to do some hiking, and so our friend and I could introduce them to the place we identified as our “hometown” on our Facebook profiles. Our friend’s parents, who still lived in town and had the extra space, were kind enough to put us up for two nights (Saturday and Sunday).

We all arrived at our friend’s parent’s house within the same half hour. After we got our cars unpacked, we all piled into Angela’s car and headed up the canyon to go on a hike to see the world’s largest intermittent spring. Sure there were a lot of cowboy’s and jacked up trucks I had to deal with growing up, but the water… it’s liquid perfection. Whenever I have the treat of being able to drink some, it always takes me back. It is the flavor of my youth… well that and Mountain Dew.

After our hike, which is now mostly a stroll due to a lot of trail reformation thanks to excessive use of a CAT, we made our way to a little chocolate shop on Main Street. We even parked next to the only street light in town; a flashing yellow light where a crosswalk is in the middle of Main Street. It just so happens to be resting on right under a mammoth (as in large and not the extinct animal of the woolly variety) arch made of elk horns that spans across the entire four lane width of Main Street. The claim is that it’s a largest elk horn arch in the world. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it’s always stricken me as an odd source of town pride… and it’s been there as long as I can remember making the people of Afton very proud.

Star Valley is beautiful… I will give it that well deserved credit. I say Star Valley instead of Afton because Afton is in Star Valley. See there are about nine or ten little towns in the forty mile stretch that makes up Star Valley. So even though there are a bunch of elementary schools there is only one junior high school and high school, both of which bare the title Star Valley. So when I say Star Valley I do mean Afton as well, but I also mean all of the other towns that make up the valley as well.

One thing I did manage to do while driving everyone around town was to show them all of the buildings I had climbed on top of and thrown tomatoes, water balloons, and eggs off of. There was that one Molotov cocktail that was thrown off the movie theater once, but I had nothing to do with… I mean I was there, but I didn’t help make the thing, or light it… or throw it… I might verbally suggested that the culprit give the thing a toss once it had been lit, but that’s it, I swear. It was late at night too, so most everyone was asleep and the flames only lasted about five minutes anyway. The police never even showed up to investigate… and the flames were only about 100 yards from the dispatch center, so it’s not like they would have far to go if they had noticed.

It’s funny, but after almost 20 years of not living there, most things still look the same. There are a few new buildings that are pretty and a few remolded ones that are the kind of eye sore that had your eyes their own appendages they would poke themselves in the eye just so they wouldn’t have to look at it. I’m talking about you Courtesy Ford.

Saturday consisted of enjoying dinner with our friend’s parents, followed by a discussion about post-modern movement of philosophy. It was actually a lovely discussion, which we rewarded ourselves but getting shakes at the local drive-in restaurant the Red Baron, which is still as good as I remember. Well done and thank you for not letting my nostalgic taste buds down. Then went and caught the late show at the only theater in town, which is part of that same eye sore car dealership of a building.

Because Star Valley was settled by religious folk, and the offspring of these said religious folk still make up 95+% of the entire valley’s population this can only mean one thing… nothing is open on Sundays. So to address this issue, we went to Jackson (Jackson Hole) for the day instead, because in Jackson, tourism trumps religion every time. It was a bit blustery, but we still made it to some nice spots and took lots of pictures of the illustrious Tetons. We even had another Angela animal sighting… turned out to be an elk… pretending to be a moose.

We stopped at the grocery before leaving town so we could A) get some food for dinner because the grocery in Star Valley was closed and B) so we could buy some wine for dinner. Let’s just say liquor stores in Star Valley are not renowned for their wine selections… unless you consider all of the flavors of Boone’s Farm flavored malt beverages to count as wine. For my ‘take home and save for a special occasion’ find I scored a bottle of ‘Old Codger’ an Australian Port. I have no idea if it’s good or not, but seriously, how could you pass up a port called ‘Old Codger.’ I smile every time I look at the bottle.

Sunday evening ended with us sitting around the dinner in the guest kitchen, eating cheese and bread, enjoying aged balsamic vinegar with the cheese and bread and filling the night with sips of wine and conversation about how we came out of a small Wyoming town ‘normal’ and with a liberal perspective. We then topped the evening off with a few eyefuls of stars thank to our friend bringing his telescope.

I do have to say though, that there was one thing that kept cracking me up the whole trip. I’m sure I was the only one to notice, but it was the constant use of the phrase, “I’ve got 3G coverage here,” or the other just as used phrase, “I’ve got no signal here.” I guess when you use your phone as a paper weight with a monthly payment plan phrases like that never come to mind. But for those that use their phones to update Facebook, use the GPS so we don’t miss our turn, or Google one of the little sites we are seeing to get a more in-depth history about it, I can see how that could be important.

All in all, it was a brilliant Labor Day weekend… and I only scared the hell out of my wife about 23 different times passing cars on the small back highways the lead out of Wyoming back to Utah… but for the record, we did make good time, and that nervous twitch in her eye is gone now. As for Star Valley, I’m glad I don’t live there anymore, but it is a groovy little place to spend a weekend…. you know, before the snow sets in. Thanks for the memories you little valley of stars.

How was your Labor Day weekend?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: road trip couple, periodic spring, elk horn arch, Courtesy Ford, Cunningham’s Cabin, Old Codger port, and Star Valley.

Norah Jones… A Concert to Remember

Norah Jones… A Concert to Remember

Last week I went to see Norah Jones in concert at a lovely little place in Salt Lake called Red Butte Gardens. They always put on a concert series, but only during summer due to it being an outside venue. It is a beautiful, and always a great show… unless you have allergies… or a freak rain storm blows in… or if any other extreme and tedious weather mishaps occur. For my night with Norah, it was perfect.

The other groovy thing about concerts at this particular location is that it is an open bar venue… as long as you bring the bar. So with a cooler in hand, well, it was a cooler on wheels so I just had to hold on to the handle and let the thing roll along behind us, we found a spot on the lawn and began to enjoy our dinner and some wine as the warm up band began warming up. It was almost the perfect evening…

There was a collection of little nuances that helped sculpt this evening into a night that will not be soon forgotten. First was the wine, all very yummy, but a little difficult to get to at first. For the record we remembered the Swiss Army knife. The down side is that we grabbed the one without the cork screw. This was easily rectified thanks to the couple sitting next to us. They, being wine drinkers as well, were kind enough to lend us their de-corking apparatus. So in a fit of brilliance, I opened all three bottles at once so we would not need to bother the couple again each time we wanted to open a bottle. This would have worked perfectly had we not been so pressing in our re-corking of the freshly opened bottles. One of our reds had the cork returned a little too much. Then trying to remove the cork by hand, the little thing tore right off. But the nice couple retained their nice trait and lent us the wine opener again. (We even gave them cookies to as an offering of our gratitude.)

At one point in the evening while we were still enjoying our wine and cheese, and before the sun had completely set and Norah had come out, there was a bug that had chosen to nestle in my hair without my consent. I didn’t care because I couldn’t feel it. My sweetie-baby-cutie-pie on the other hand did notice it and felt very adamant that this bug was crossing the social etiquette line. So in response she reached up and swiped at the bug to get out of my hair. The bug was a trifle petite and suffered from an incredibly weak constitution and from Angela’s little swipe jumped out of my hair, landed in my ear and proceeded to instantly die.

At this point Angela began laughing and tried to get the dead bug by sticking her finger in my ear, hence pushing the newly deceased insect deeper into my ear. I then acquired the disposition of an ex-junkie with a permanent tic having an acid flashback. I started out with shaking my head from side to side. The dead bug remained. Next, I started banging my head again my open hand while tilting my head so the ear with the bug in it was facing the ground. Then I started fanning my ear with my hand in an attempt to create a small breeze that would dislodge the bug and let it slide out of my ear. Eventually this, along with the occasional banging my head against my hand freed my ear of the deceased intruder. Angela was kind enough to continue laughing though this entire debugging process.

Finally, Norah joined us all and came out on stage. Spirits were high, and two bottles were now completely empty. As her set played on, I did notice something, as Norah was playing her set I was enamored with the songs she was playing. They were from her newest album, which I’ll admit I’ve not listened to as much as I would have liked. Then, when she got to her tried and true songs that people who listen to her know and love, I wasn’t nearly a smitten. I enjoy her recent stuff a lot more than the music that got me hooked on listening to her in the first place… I’m not sure that has ever happened to me before.

Then at one point during her set, as she finished one song and the audience started clapping, and cheering, and woo hooing, one of the friends we were with, would had topped off most of the third bottle all by himself at this time, belted out, “I love you Natalie!” This was followed by his wife briefly explaining to him that Norah Jones was on stage and not Natalie Merchant, which was followed by a round of giggling from our corner of the audience.

The only mishap apart from the bug in the ear was when I finally got to my car during the mass exodus after the show ended. The white SUV I had parked next to was long gone by this point, but they had been kind enough to leave a white strip of rubbed off bumper along the driver’s side of my car. If ran the length of both doors. I guess the driver was lacking in the “backing straight out” skill that helps compile the “competent driver” skill set that I thought was necessary for people to get their drivers license. Wishful thinking on my part I guess. The white bumper streak wiped off pretty easily though, and since my car is a tool that gets me to work and back and not something I pamper and wash once a week, and weep when it gets violated as such, I’m not all that emotionally attached to it. It wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, it certainly added to the overall experience of evening.

All in all, it was a great night and a brilliant concert. If you get chance, by all means check out one of her shows. I recommend three bottles of wine per four people, but feel free to play with that number depending on your budget and your consumption level limits as a professional drinker. Oh, and don’t forget your cork screw!

What was one of your more memorable concerts?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: Red Butte Gardens, Swiss Army knife, bug in ear, Norah Jones, and bad drivers.

Do I know you?

Do I know you?

Have you ever been hanging out with a good friend, family member, loved one, significant other, or some other combination signifying that you know the other person very well, and have known them for quite some time? Then one day, as you are in the middle of a conversation with them, they come up with something so incredibly random and out of character that the only logical reaction is to say, “Do I know you?” Another variant of this is, “Ok, who are you and what have you done with the real (insert name of the person you are talking to)?”

I managed to have this happen twice last week with none other than my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie. The first incident occurred while we were in her car going out to dinner. As we were going over how each others day had gone up to that point, which is a pretty standard practice for when we both get home at the end of the day. Well, in the middle of her telling me about her meetings that day, and going over her schedule for getting ready to leave town for two weeks, she suddenly shifts topic and says, “I ate a hot dog for lunch. I know I’m trying to steer clear of meat, but my justification for it was hot dogs really aren’t made of meat. So it’s technically ok.”

And yes the first thing out of my dumbfounded self was, “Do I know you?”

“I know!” was really all she could come up for in her defense.

I did find it a little comforting that she was just as shocked by her actions as I was. It was clear that there was no rhyme or reason for it. She is so consistently opposed to the American version of the hot dog (bratwurst, usually chick filled is acceptable to her) that the consumption of one is kind of like going to dinner with a vegan and having them order a rare steak wrapped in bacon with a side of squid salad, and Spam flavored ice cream topped with caviar for dessert. She blames the odd craving on her childhood, and it rarely happens, but when it does it always catches us both off guard. We finished the conversation by laughing at the stranger in the car named Angela. And that was the end of our “Do I know you?” moment.

The other one that readily comes to mind also took place in her car. We were on our way to a friend’s birthday party (woo hoo Frank!) and as we were flipping through the radio stations Angela stopped at a song she knew and loved, and starting singing along. I’ve ‘Smirked’ about the topic of Angela’s singing ability before, and her cunning and consistent ability to sing along with the sounds instead of singing along with the actually lyrics of the song.

There were two things that left me a touch concerned that the woman in the car was a possible Angela impostor. First was the song… Sweet Child o’ Mine by 1980’s defining hard rock band ‘Rifles and Carnations’… I mean ‘Gun N’ Roses’. The second thing is that she knew all the words, and belted them out with the same fervor as someone who is singing in the shower, or alone in their car. I just drove, baffled as she sang though the whole song. Then as the next song started, within the first three seconds of the song, she comments, “Ooo, Barracuda,” then after noticing my look added, “… by Heart.”

“Who are you really?” I asked.

She just laughed and changed the station.

Neither was major in any way, the exact opposite really. It’s just those random 180 moments that catch you a bit off guard, and make you rub your eyes to make sure that you are talking to the person you thought you were. Followed by a possible little pinch you give yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. Regardless though, they always seem to be quite entertaining, and well worth the unexpected laugh or two you get from them.

What are some of your “Do I know you?” moments?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: confused look, singing in car, and couple laughing.

Do I know you?

Angela's Birthday Weekend

Recently my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh had her birthday, and as birthday’s go this one went rather well. The celebration of which managed to expand over a three day period, which is almost the amount of time it takes to watch the Lord of the Rings Extended Version Trilogy back to back… almost being the distinguishing word there.

So what made this birthday so grand and drawn out? There were a couple of elements added to this holiday. The first and main reason, it was Angela’s birthday and in truth I could just stop there. When the one you love becomes a year older what better cause for celebrating for three days in a row. As far as age goes, I am going to break all southern etiquette rules… or is it female etiquette rules? I am going to break all southern female etiquette rules and let you all know that it the fourth anniversary of Angela’s 29th birthday. And that means only one thing! Butterflies! I’m pretty sure that the symbol of the fourth birthday anniversary is the butterfly. At least that’s the theme I went with. Of course having Angela overly smitten with most things butterfly caused this choice to work out pretty well.

Saturday evening began the birthday festivities in a tri-celebration. Two additional friends were also in the season of their birthday so in the spirit of giving I made a vat of fruity alcoholic happiness. One of the birthday people had brought two questionable bottles of wine. The type of wines that had exceeded its stay in its home of fermentation and over the years had become a bit withered and grumpy, and constantly yelling at all the young wines to stay out of its rack. One was a white zinfandel and the other was a seven year old bottle of Chianti. After trying each it was clear that both had gone over to the dark side. I used my mixing mastery in to save these poor decrepit wines from being undrinkable, and turned them into the base for my beverage dispenser of fruity birthday toasting.

We did end up putting a skull and crossbones sticky note on the drink dispenser though. Apparently if you fill something with fresh fruit, ice, and make the liquid in it a happy and festive summer color, little kids tend to think that it was made specifically for them. I learned this as I was finishing up the drink and a line of little people formed asking if they could have some. There was a chorus of adults loudly denying this request. “That drink is not for you.” echoed throughout the party and a pitcher of lemonade was quickly produced and poured into the little one’s cups.

As the party came to a close and birthday people began to head home, we had the present opening portion of the evening. To Laurie, our gracious party host, and whose husband Dwight and friends serenaded our birthday honorees with live music, we gave her a cage for naughty candles that refuse to play nice with others. At least that’s what it reminded me of. It was a round wire cage with a twisty bottom that you could remove and place a candle on, and then twist back into place so that the candle was in the cage. It also had a long wire handle so you could hang it on a ceiling hook in a corner of the house when you decide to put the candle in time-out.

Then there was Mike, who received the collection dollar items for the sole purpose of filling a lovely leather travel toiletry bag that had a water proof lining for Mike to take with him on all his many travels… to meet up with his wife who travels all over the world for work… which means she now has a very nice travel bag to take with her when she travels and that will always house one extra tooth brush for Mike for those occasions when he gets to meet her somewhere in France, Germany, Michigan, wherever really.

I did manage to get Mike a new t-shirt though, which is inherently him. Some people collect spoons, others collect spices, which is a lot more people than you might think. Think I’m kidding? Go to your kitchen and look in your spice drawer, you just might be surprised at how many spices you have in there that have never been opened. If you have more than five, then you are an unknowing spice collector. Welcome to the club.

As for Mike, he collects vintage looking food t-shirts. Like his red shirt with a big McDonald’s M on it, or his brown t-shirt with the A&W logo on it. He loves them. It’s a sort of tie to his youth when junk food tasted better, was cheaper, and was probably better for you than it is today.

For you slightly out of your twenties folk, do you remember the Tootsie Pops commercial with the owl and the little kid asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? The owl takes the pop licks it three times and then bites the pop off the stick, and hands the stick back to the kid telling him, “three.” Well it just so happens that I found a t-shirt that had Mr. Owl sitting on a branch with the word POPS in the back ground, and a caption under the owl that read, “How many licks?” When Mike unrolled the t-shirt and saw what it was… it was like looking into the eyes of a six year old who had just eaten his first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It was the look of pure joy.

For Angela, I gave her the one thing she always seems to need more of, time… sort of. It was a watch, actually two, but I gave her the second one on her actual birthday instead of at the party. I guess you could say that I gave her time pieces symbolizing how time flies, but that just means that the watches I gave her had butterflies on them. Yes, accessories with butterflies on them truly is the one thing she currently seems to need more of.

Getting her two watches started when we were in the Fossil store a few weeks back, which happens to be the same store where I got my sun dial. She saw two different watches that had butterflies on them and fell in love. She self debated for a good twenty minutes over which one she liked the most. Once she reluctantly decided I told her we’d come back as soon as pay day arrived. Then the next day I went and got both of them for her. My birthday message to her mimicked a message that she has been sharing with others for a while now. To paraphrase the message… you don’t have to settle in life, you can be happy in personal and business relationships, healthy, wealthy and enlightened. Life is not about living in just one of those areas, while the rest suffer. Life is about all of them and living in a way where you have a balanced and whole life. In short, you deserve it all, and Angela deserved all of the butterfly watches she wanted.

Day two of the celebration consisted of sleeping in, and moving slowly once we got up as a result of moderate alcohol consumption and an assault of vindictive pollen beating my allergies into a state of sneeze filled exhaustion. One we hit the post shower level of begin awake we went over to Laurie and Dwight’s and helped clean up the party mess. Once that was done, we hit the last day of the Utah Arts Festival. We spent five hours wanders around looking at booth after booth of various forms of art, such as painting, jewelry, ceramics, glass work, pencil drawing, sculptures, stained glass, and so on. All the while we were being followed around and tempted by the savory fragrance of cinnamon roasted almonds… that mouth watering tempter of sweet crunchy goodness. We did manage to resist its temptation though.

There were five different stages at the Arts Fest and through our walkabout we did see two spoken word performances, a collage of different dance performances, an obnoxious pigmently challenged rapper, an Ani DiFranco sounding angry anti-folk singer, and a fairly groovy soul/funk band. Our evening ended with us going home around 9:30 as a result of me falling asleep on the grass while Angela was listening to the music. I really tried, but I was on a losing battle against the summer horror that is allergies.

Day three, which was the official date of the celebration, consisted in me taking off work and spending the day with my sweetie. Again, sleeping in was our first accomplishment for the day. By 1PM we were out of the house and heading downtown to eat at Angela’s favorite Mexican restaurant. It was so good, but so… much… food… We didn’t eat anything else the rest of the day/night. The margaritas were strong and left Angela enjoying a birthday buzz as we went shopping the rest of the afternoon. Before lunch I did give her the second watch, and a card/sketchbook. Meaning I gave her a sketchbook where I sketched something on the first page and wrote an inscription along with it so it could serve as a birthday card. She cried when she read it, but in a good way.

I’m not sure why it’s become common practice to always add that clarifier when you mention you made someone cry. I mean whose going to advertise that they were a jerk and made someone cry? Ok that is who beside Don Rickles, or a politician publicly apologizing for making their wife cry because they are a liar and cheater? Oddly though, every time I hear someone mention they did something to make their significant other cry, they always clarify it with, “In a good way?” It’s always quickly added as well, as if there is some very large man close by holding a cricket bat ready to smack you in the kneecap while yelling, “You don’t make women cry!” Still, we feel compelled to clarify every time that phrase is uttered.

All things said and done, it was a wonderful three day celebration for my beautiful wife’s fourth anniversary of her 29th birthday. I love you honey! Next year I hope the celebration lasts a whole week… you deserve it!

Any thoughts about today’s Smirk?

Image Source:
Google Images, key words: Happy Birthday Angela, fruit punch, hanging candle holder, tootsie pops owl, fossil butterfly watch, Utah arts festival, and red iguana Utah.

Do I know you?

Wanna Bet?

It was on day two of my most recent Vegas experience that I one of the people there asked me if I had been gambling yet. Yes, I say Vegas experience because Vegas isn’t just a bunch of casinos or a city in the desert, or a weekend destination, Vegas is an experience. Take every small individual and minuscule thing and throw them in a blender, add about half a fifth of tequila, hit purée, and what you can remember at the end of it all is just a small factor of what is called the Vegas experience. If there ever was a city you never be without your towel and that could use a huge sign that says, “Don’t Panic” I think Vegas is it. There is something about the experience called Vegas that could use that constant reminder.

Considering that I arrived in town around 9PM on Tuesday and called it a night after shortly checking into our friend’s condo. I didn’t actually go to bed until after enjoying a Mike’s Hard Lemonade and an episode of the Daily Show. On a personal note, considering this was my first night in town, I do feel it was a raging success. Well, maybe not raging, but a success all the same.

If there is one word that most people find synonymous with Vegas it’s gambling. One thing that I’ve learned about myself when it comes to gambling is I’d rather be doing most anything else. I’ve tried it on a few occasions. The first time was on a river boat in Kansas City… actually I take that back, my first time was on an Indian Reservation in Washington state. I lost my entire gambling funds for the evening at a black jack table… in one hand. Granted, I only had $5 to gamble with and the minimum bet for the table was $5.

My friends keep pushing me to just do it, to remove the petals my proverbial gambling flower and, “just do it.” So I walked over, dropped the five dollar bill on the table, and was handed a queen and a six. I held. The dealer flipped over his cards, a jack and a king. I turned around and walked back to my friends and that was it. It took me a total of one minute and four seconds to lose my “gambling virgin” title, and replaced it with the “been there, done that, got a tee shirt to prove it” saying that most novices seem very proficient at sharing at social gatherings in an attempt to be part of a conversation, even though they really don’t have anything to add to the conversation.

My second experience gambling was the river boat in Kansas City. I doubled my gambling limit this time and had one whole ten dollar bill for the sole purpose of sloting away the evening. The thing about slots is that $10 doesn’t really contribute to a lot of time consumption in the gambling realm. For about five minutes I pushed a button and was done. This whole experience was a little disheartening. I had always wanted to pull the lever of a slot machine. It has always been one of those small goals in my life, a very simple accomplishment that really only takes a quarter, and lever, and an able and willing hand, which I had then and still have now.

Turned out the lever was all for show and completely useless. In fact I checked 87 additional slot machines and every lever there was purely for show. So I pushed a damn button for five minutes and every time I won I put the shinny slot machine vomit that spewed out into my pocket. At the end of five minutes I had about eleven dollars in change and had had my fill of the river boat casino.

Once I found I my friend I attempted to bribe him with the two things that I knew he enjoyed more that gambling. I suggested we get some food and then go back to his house to watch some MST3K. The thing was, was that he had already lost about $200 and had about $100 on the game he was playing. It was some bizarre electronic touch screen game thing. After he would win a roll he could pick 5 things on the screen, which had hidden bonuses behind them to add to his total. As I walked up to him he hit a bonus round and got to pick his bonus gems, he even let me pick one. I picked a peach colored gem and with that and the other ones he picked he got some mega, super-duper, yippy-ki-yay, hallelujah type bonus making tipping his credits past the $350 mark.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed about gambling is, when people start winning, they start betting faster and faster. I told my friend Ryan that we should go. He told me ok, and kept pushing buttons. I tried it again, and said, “Dude, cash out and let’s go.” To which he agree again, “Ok.” and kept pushing buttons at a little faster pace this time.

“Ryan! You’re ahead. Stop betting and let’s go.”

“Just a sec.” he said and started tripling his bet.

At this point I was now the mother trying to motivate a 5 year old to eat their vegetables, so I did what mothers have done from the beginning of time and I took matters into my own hands. I reached over and pushed the cash out button. As the big dollar tokens began to pour out of the machine he started grabbing two and three at a time and pushed them back into the machine. It wasn’t until I slapped his hands and said “NO!” that he finally stopped. He was still about forty bucks a head when he exchanged all his tokens. The sad thing was that in that five minute time span of me trying to encourage him to stop he had lost over $100 dollars of his winnings. Still, he was $40 ahead for the evening, so he took me out to dinner just so he could break even, and to say thanks.

My third encounter with gambling was during my first trip to Vegas. My sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh was so excited about taking me to the Vegas for the first time she started saving all of her change so we could play penny slots all night, well, at least until the our show was about to start. So before we left our room she filled her purse with all the spare change she had saved up and off we headed to the casino. I have no idea of the actual net worth of the change, but her purse was about 10 pounds heavier as a result.

Here’s a little nugget that should help you out if you happen to find yourself in Vegas in this similar situation… there are no penny, nickel, or dime slots anywhere in the MGM Grand. There are a lot of dollar slots that will allow you to make a lot of penny, nickel, and dime bets… but there were none that let you add any of these coins by hand. There are a few that do take quarters, but only a few. The problem with our plan is that we only had about $12.00 in quarters. That left Angela with 24 quarters and me with 24 quarters.

So to get our money’s worth, so to speak, we would put one quarter in the slot at a time and then press the button. My favorite part about the whole thing was during my turn gambling. Every time I would win Angela would reach across and slap the cash out button, with ninja like reflexes I might add. Ding! Slap! And out would pop the little ticket displaying our winnings. By the end of it all I think we had just enough to tip the valet guy when we left.

I guess you could say I did do a little gambling while I was in Vegas. A friend from work gave me a recommendation to an Asian restaurant in the Chinatown part of Vegas, which we checked out. The gamble paid off, the food was quite tasty. Oh, there was one more gamble, we did some label shopping at Trader Joe’s and out of the 18 bottle of wine we brought home with us, over half of them are new, so we’ll have to see if that gamble paid off. Cheers!

What was your first gambling experience?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: gambling, black jack, slots, cash out button, jar of coins, and No.