Head On Collision

On Sunday we started the process of finding a new car for my wife. The process was a success in so far as we eliminated several possibilities; Audi A4, Cadillac CTS, Buick Lacrosse, and Mercedes CLS are all off the table after test drives.

One car that is still a possibility is the Volvo S60. We took a couple out for test drives. As I drove it back into the dealer, a set of bollards were pointed out to me. This seemed superfluous, they were obvious, I was hardly going to run into them. Then the salesman told me to speed up and drive right at them. It is not easy to point a car at an object and accelerate; years of instinct tell one that this is a bad idea. However, being British I also have an instinct that tells me to do as I am told. I depressed the accelerator, gathered speed, and then the car decided that this bollard hitting thing was a bad idea. The car applied the brakes and came to a halt before impact.

Published in: on 26 February, 2014 at 7:00  Comments (1)  

Not Enough Choices

Maybe I drink in the wrong places, but bar staff never give me a full range of choices. If I order a Manhattan, I will be asked what Whiskey I want. If I order a Martini, I should be asked for a brand of Gin; unless it is the sort of undesirable place that assumes I want Vodka.

Never have I been asked a question that is just as important for both drinks; what brand of Vermouth do I want. For a Manhattan choosing Martini & Rossi or Punt E Mes makes a vast difference to the drink. Unless you believe, like Churchill, that a Martini I made with ice cold gin and a bow in the direction of France, then once again your drink will be very different with M&R over Dolin.

I suspect the problem is that whilst most bars have a range of Gin and Whiskey, they stock only a single Vermouth – so we are stuck with the lack of choice when ordering Manhattans and Martinis.

Published in: on 25 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Topless Show in Vegas

The title of the post is somewhat misleading; ok it is very misleading. We did not go to a strip club whilst in Las Vegas. We did see The Eagles do a show in the MGM Garden Arena. Before the show I purchased two bottles of water. The vendor informed me that he had to remove and retain the plastic tops from the bottles. This seemed odd, as there were plenty of people with metal cans, which seem far more suitable for use as weapons than plastic caps.

Published in: on 24 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

I have lived in California since 2006. Smoking is banned in restaurants, bars, hotels, and public places in general. A similar situation exists now in England and Scotland. I am no longer used to inhaling the waste products from other’s addictions. That makes it such a shock to walk onto a Vegas casino floor and, despite the high ceilings and powerful air-circulation systems, find oneself smelling the reek of tobacco. I understand the economics of allowing smoking in Nevada casinos. It does surprise me that there is not one casino in the city that is non-smoking.

Published in: on 19 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  


The Manhattan cocktail is a classic recipe. It has just three ingredients; American Whiskey (I prefer a Rye, but Bourbon works too), Sweet Vermouth, and Bitters. That is hardly a complicated list to remember. If you work in a bar in a Vegas casino you should know how to make a drink, or have a cheat sheet to hand. On Saturday night, I had to ask the bartender to add Bitters to the shaker.

I can accept a barman shaking the drink; although it should be stirred. Although most recipes call for a 2:1 or 5:2 ratio of Whiskey to Vermouth, I have grown to acknowledge that most bars make it with more emphasis on the spirit – a habit I guess has been learnt from the way in which Dry Martinis are made. My tolerance does not stretch to omitting the Angostura Bitters.

I am glad I was watching as the drink was prepared, to catch the omission in time for correction.

Published in: on 18 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Whining about Storage

We have racking for 500 bottles of wine in our wine pantry and a fridge for 50 more bottles of white wine. I have, in the past, considered this more than adequate. Whilst in Vegas I developed a case of wine storage envy. We went to the Aureole restaurant at the Mandalay Bay. You walk down a flight of stairs to enter and the stair case wraps around a massive four-storey tall wine tower. There are nearly 10,000 bottles stored in the tower. If that sounds excessive, that pales in comparison to the Vegas manner in which wine is taken from the tower; “Wine Angels” on harnesses abseil down the racks to fetch the desire bottle.

Below is a video showing the process.
Wine Angels

I doubt that I would be allowed to install such a unit in our house; we only have two floors on our home, I can’t fill a 500 bottle cellar, and my wife might not be happy with the need for those two staff in the house.

Published in: on 17 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

No Flying Cars

On Friday night, I went to see Ka by Cirque du Soleil . This sounded as though it would be a show about a small Ford car.

The show was spectacular and as the tag line promised was gravity defying, but bereft of cars made in Detroit and Dagenham.

The show was a Fusion of dance, acrobatics, and puppetry. The events of the story start with a vibrant Fiesta that is interrupted by an attack. The two twins at the heart of the story and split up and adventure through across many a diverse Territory. One of them has an Escort to help them through their Endeavors as they try to Escape those chasing them.

There were several breathtaking scenes, including one on which the stage becomes vertical and the heroes climb it, chased by several of the pursuing Raiders as arrows are shot by characters in the theatre aisles. Not all of the characters make it and tumble over the Edge of the stage.

The feats of athleticism combined with the amazing staging and simple story line made for a show to remember; I can see why this show is so Popular. There was nothing like it when I was growing up in east Anglia.

Published in: on 16 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

What Happens in Vegas Stays on the Blog

Our flight on Thursday night was delayed by about ninety minutes. The good news is that we knew about the delay earlier in the day; which allowed us to leave home later. We arrived after 1am at our hotel; one of several new towers behind The Strip that were not there on my last visit, in 2006. On checking in we were told that two complementary bottles of water were provided each day. When we got to our room, there was no water. Given the hour, I did not want to call and wait on room service, no travel the 36 floors down to the lobby.

I mentioned this morning about the lack of water on our way out. Returning to the room this afternoon, we found eight bottles of water. They had also fixed a table lamp which I had reported as being defunct.

On the way out this morning we saw a poster announcing that The Eagles are playing Saturday and Sunday in Vegas. To our surprise and delight, we were able to secure tickets for the Saturday gig. My wife and I have music tastes which have a very small intersection; The Eagles not only lie on that part of the Venn Diagram, but we both consider them among our favorite acts. We are both very excited.

A shot, taken on the iPad, from our hotel window. Taking a photo through glass into the sun on an iPad is not an ideal situation.


Published in: on 15 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

No Smoke

One of the odd differences between the US and the UK looks as though it may be slipping away. I had previously noted how strange it was that Pharmacies (Chemists in English) sold tobacco; a product at odds with their stated purpose of helping peoples’ health. One of the largest pharmacy chains, CVS, has announced that it will stop selling tobacco later this year; which will wipe $1.5bn from their annual sales, so it was probably not an easy decision for them to make.

CVS Quits

Published in: on 14 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

We Has Poor English

I have already mentioned on this blog that we are planning to spend the Presidents Day weekend in Las Vegas. The flight, car rental, and hotel were booked last month. This week I made a reservation for airport parking at Oakland; despite concerns prompted by the shockingly poor English on the company’s website.

Published in: on 13 February, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment