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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Notes From College

Welcome back to school!

I've quit my job and have gone back to college.  I'm only taking two classes this semester, but they're obviously going to take some work.  I'm 47 years old and a bit rusty when it comes to school now.  The two classes I'm taking are Intro to Information Systems and PC Repair.  My first class was the Intro one and that was back on Thursday.  And yes, I was nervous.

Before I go on and on about school, let me just say that my last "serious" class was probably when I was in the United States Air Force over 25 years ago.  I had classes while I was working security yes, but to be honest they were stupid classes and I found it pretty hard to take them seriously.  College classes are different.  You take them seriously or you fail.  It's that simple.  And I don't want to fail.  I want to work with computers for a living and in order to do that, I need to pass these courses!  So onward we go!

I was anxious to get to my first class.  I didn't have a book for it, though.  There was a book listed online for my PC Repair class, but not for the Intro to Info one.  I asked at the college book store, but they weren't sure either and told me to ask the instructor at my first class.  Ok, no problem.  So I showed up for my first college course with nothing.  No notebook, no paper, no pen, no book, and apparently no forethought.  *chuckle*  When I told my niece about this (She's a straight A, 4.0, Associates degree in Business girl), she was horrified!  "Why didn't you at least take something to take notes with?" she asked me.  I don't know.  I guess I just wasn't sure what to expect.

The professor was really good about things though, and I wasn't the only one there without a book.  He went through everything and basically told us that if we don't want to show up for class, we don't have to!  We also don't have to pass.  He's not there to push us to succeed, he's there to teach.  If you don't want to learn, that's fine.  He said he doesn't like failing people, but last semester he failed a third of his class.  Wow.  That's...harsh.  But if you study and put in the work, you can easily pass the course.  And it WILL take work and study, too!  I can't just show up for class and then pass the tests.  I have to read the course book and if I want more than just a "C" for the class, I need to do the extra projects that will be assigned.  I want to do all the extra because that will not only help me with the tests, it will better my grade and help me learn the things I want to know.  The first assignment for this week:  Read chapters One through Five.  That's a good amount of reading, but I can do it.  Oh, here's a look at my "book":

On the left, you can see the five chapters that I've finished reading.  On the right is what's left.  Now as you can see it really isn't a book.  It's a bunch of loose leaf papers that don't have a binder.  So now I can either haul around a bunch of loose papers, or go and pay more money for a binder to put them in!  These papers cost me $112.50!  Part of that expense was for a code to get into something called "SAM" so I can do extra projects and things.  Another bad thing is that they won't buy this book back.  Because you're paying for the "code" inside, you can't get it used.  Oh well.  You can bet I'll probably be selling my PC Repair book back, though!  *chuckle*  I did buy that one used.

Today I head for my second class, the PC Repair one.  I have to drive way across town to get to the campus for this class.  I'll be heading there early just to find the classroom and to make sure I'm there on time.  And once I find everything, I'm sure there will be someplace where I can sit and read the course book while I wait for class to start.  And yes, for this class I'll not only have my book, I'll also take a notebook and pen to take notes with.  *chuckle*  I'll be a bit more prepared.  And hopefully this class will go just as well as my first one did.  I guess we'll find out.

More later...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not Guilty?

Strangling people for fun

I've seen a lot and people will still surprise me.  I've both seen and read about people doing things that I can't even imagine, but tonight while reading USA Today I saw an article that pretty much took the cake.  It's a story about a 16 year old girl who strangled her 43 year old boyfriend to death.  She's not guilty though, because it was a "sex game".  Did any of that get past your brain yet?  Here's the article:

The first thing you may notice is that the girl's mom apparently had no problem with her daughter having a boyfriend old enough to be her father.  How do you possibly think it's ok for your 16 year old daughter to have a 43 year old boyfriend?  I guess that doesn't matter.  She's probably a good mom letting her kid do anything she wants, right?  It's no wonder this happened.  Another thing that really stuns me is this horrible attorney's response to what happened.

This attorney named Julio Laboy says that the girl is a victim.  His exact quote goes like this:

"It is not self-defense and it is not reckless as she was being victimized in the moments this action took place presumably by a middle-aged man who held sway over her and took advantage of her age to influence a young girl who can't consent" to sex, Laboy said.

How did this guy "hold sway" over her?  So this attorney thinks this guy forced the girl to tie him up, strangle him to death and then cut him up?  Funny how this "attorney" hasn't been "retained" for the case, but found a way to force himself into giving his opinion to USA Today.  


Monday, January 20, 2014

Keep clear of the moors

Evil English?

I love movies. And it seems that in movies now a days everyone wants to make their villain English.  What is it about the English that makes them so good at being the bad guy?  Maybe it's the setting that makes them so good at being evil?  One of my all time favorite movies is An American Werewolf in London.

Now this movie doesn't really have a bad guy unless you consider it to be the werewolf.  And the werewolf is an American, but the setting is a huge part of this movie.  Keep clear of the moors!

Moving on, how about the movie Die Hard.  The bad guy may have been supposedly German, but he spoke with an English accent and was played by an English actor.  Hans Gruber was played by Alan Rickman, an actor born right in jolly old London!  (He also played Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies, but then everyone was English in those, weren't they?)

Doesn't he look evil?  And with that English accent, everything he says seems to come across as so smooth!  Dark sided and English, what a combo!  I'm certain he's a really nice guy in person, but I really love the evil characters he's played.  Mr. Rickman also played Alexander Dane in a very entertaining movie called Galaxy Quest.  He played a classical English actor stuck in a role for a horrible American space television series that had been off the air for years (Think Star Trek).  He had some fantastic lines in this one!  Good guy or bad guy, some of these actors and actresses get the best lines!

My latest favorite is from a movie I saw only last night.  It's called Oblivion and stars Tom Cruise.  Yes Tom is American, but one of his co-stars in the movie is Andrea Riseborough, born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.  (What a great name for a village!)  

I won't spoil the surprise about her character, but as you watch the movie, she doesn't seem quite right.  You can't put your finger on what it is, but there is something funny going on with her.  And she does such a good job in the roll, that until the secret is revealed, you never see it coming.  At least I didn't see it coming.  She even goes so far as to shed real tears in the roll.  Fantastic actress!

In the movie The Great Escape most of the English prisoners who are recaptured at the end are executed.  This was pretty true to life during World War II and the film was based on a true story.  You get to know a number of these guys throughout the movie and it's horrible when they're shot!  

Now we've moved on from English actors being a fantastic villain to English actors just being fantastic!  *chuckle*  There are some pretty talented Brits out there!  Here's one more old movie with a lot of English actors in it.  I haven't seen this one in years, and there's only one token American main character in it.  It's Sylvester Stallone.  The movie has not only English, but also some European soccer players.  It's about how a bunch of World War II prisoners of war end up challenging the Germans to a soccer match.  They plan to escape during the match, but as the movie goes on the match grows more and more important to them.  You'd think it would be cheesy and have a horrible plot, but this one is actually pretty good!  It's called Victory in America, and Escape to Victory in other parts of the world.  If you get the chance to see this one and have the slightest interest in soccer (Or World War II movies) this comes highly recommended!

So I guess the point of this blog is to tell how much I've been enjoying English acting lately!  *chuckle*  They're getting some good roles now a days.  So support an English actor if you know one (Or English writer, I have a few of them for friends!), they're absolutely brilliant!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The bad and the really good

The horrible hotel

If you know me then you know that last year I quit my job.  I had worked for the Luxor hotel for over ten years before quitting.  The place just became too bad of a place to stay.  Abusive managers, fights, a guy even stabbed two people a few days before I quit.

Now one of the things I quit my job over was the fact that the "security managers" who were in charge of the security department were having a lot of "private parties" in their offices with some of the security officers they really liked.  I obviously wasn't one of those favorites.  But now I was faced with the fact of working in a place where I could potentially get stabbed, or have to stop a stabbing all by myself because the other officers who were supposed to back me up might be at one of the private parties.  These supposed "managers" wouldn't be any help either as they were usually either hanging out in front of the dance club called LAX, or after that had closed they would go down to their offices and start having their own parties.  Not much management going on there.

I had written an 11 page letter explaining most of the reasons why I had resigned and then mailed a hard copy to both the Luxor chief of security and the "president" of Luxor.  Being 11 pages long it's a bit too long to post here in my blog, but if anyone wants to read it, I'll be happy to email a copy out to you.  Just ask, and you shall receive!  When I resigned I had 80 hours of vacation accrued.  I was assured I would be paid for this, but then Luxor reneged and didn't bother to pay me.  Now you might think them holding back the pay for my vacation was because of the letter I had written, but I waited almost two months before sending the letter just to make sure it wouldn't affect my vacation pay.  It obviously didn't make any difference because I don't think they were ever planning to give it to me.  Vacation is considered a "benefit" and once I resigned they suspended all my benefits.  Even though I was assured I would receive the vacation pay when I was out processing, they still didn't care.

Moving on, I had written the letter because hopefully someone would read it and then make a few changes for the people who were still working there.  The other night I received a text message from a friend who still works at Luxor saying that things are worse than ever.  Nothing has changed, the "managers" still have their private parties and are still abusive to both employees and guests alike.  I suggested my friend quit like I did, but he said he needs the job.  He doesn't want to try to get another job somewhere else because he would probably have to take a cut in pay.  I guess it all depends on your priorities, either work for an abusive company, or take a chance and find another job and start over with your pay.

Now I've been through a lot of bad treatment at the hands of Luxor.  For the Christmas season of 2012 employees were offered a free lightbulb.  Yes just ONE lightbulb!  I didn't bother picking up my lightbulb because if you did go and get it, they would tax your pay for the 99 cent thing saying it was worth $5.  I remember a time when for Christmas each employee was given a really large, nice duffel bag and a really expensive sweat type jacket!  Of course this was when Luxor was owned by the "Mandalay Bay Corporation" before MGM/Mirage had bought them out.  And we weren't even taxed for those gifts!  But if you picked up your free lightbulb, you were taxed.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Check out some of the reviews for Luxor if you get the time.  There are your normal generic reviews that say things like "had a great time" or "great place", but they don't usually tell you why they gave those reviews.  Read the bad reviews, these people get pretty specific.  *chuckle*  Examples of rude staff, old and dirty rooms, bad treatment from hotel managers, hidden fees.  These get pretty specific.  Now when you work for Luxor, for a while they were making everyone sign a "non-disclosure agreement" stating that you wouldn't post any kind of review about the hotel or any of it's shows or restaurants online anywhere.  You weren't even allowed to post anything about the hotel on any kind of social media.  So no Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or any of that stuff.  If you did and they found out, you could be fired!  So you would have to ask yourself why wouldn't they want employees to post about the hotel where they worked?  Could it be that the place was so bad, so crooked that they felt the need to try and do anything to keep the people who knew the truth silent?  Wow.

As an author I've found the internet to be one of the best promotional tools in the world.  For instance I can post something here on my blog and it can be read by people in most countries.  So if I owned a hotel or business, in my opinion I would want to treat my employees well enough that if they did post things online about my business, it would be positive.  Wouldn't it be great to own a business and see posts about your business that say things like "I love working here!" or "This place is like my second home!"  But no, Luxor doesn't want anything posted about it by its employees.

Now on to the good:

A Really Positive Place in Las Vegas

After I quit my job I got myself together and decided to go back to school.  Security isn't really a good job and it's not very challenging mentally.  I love computers and so registered for a PC Repair class and a class to introduce me to information systems.  I registered at the College of Southern Nevada.  And every time I have dealt with anyone from the school, they have been welcoming, friendly, and always tell me that if I have any issues, questions, or just want to say hi, they are available.  I have to buy one book for school and it will be pretty expensive, but I do think it'll be worth the purchase.  If I have to pay a bit to learn a new trade, then so be it!

Yesterday my brother was nice enough to give me a lift over to the Henderson College of Southern Nevada campus (they have a few campuses in town) to get my school ID.  Everyone was friendly and helpful.  Each time I deal with this place it makes me want to go back and take more and more classes!  So far I really love the school and I haven't even started class yet.  That's coming soon.  From all I've seen so far, my classes should be quite a positive experience.  I'm really looking forward to school and 2014.  I'm ready to leave the bad behind me and move on to the good.  My advice to any friends who still work for Luxor would be to walk away.  Don't wait until you end up getting hurt there.  Go back to school and learn something neat!  Move on to something positive!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Food on a Budget #1 -- Making Ramen

Food on a Budget

I've quit my job and am going back to school which means I'll have to survive on the bit of money I saved up in the last decade or so.  Not very much, but enough to get by.  Now since my funds are limited, I need to budget my money for the food I get.  I figured that since I write a blog and have a YouTube channel, I would share the small bit of knowledge I have on budgeting for food.

My first video is how to make a bowl of ramen.  While this may sound simple, it's possible people have no idea how easy this is and have been passing it by.  Ramen is something a lot of college students know about I'm sure.  Now a days there are two kinds of "instant ramen" that you can buy.  One comes in its own cup and is made by a company called Nissin.  It looks like this:

These come in their own styrofoam cups.  You just add water, wait a bit and instant ramen!

These usually cost around 28 cents or so each, maybe a bit more.  Not a bad price, but we can do better! In the background you can see a bit of a package of Maruchan Ramen.  I think a lot of people pass these by thinking they may be more complicated than the easy styrofoam cup noodles.  But basically all you need for the Maruchan Ramen is a bowl and some hot water.  For the same price you would spend to get 12 Nissin Cup Noodles, you can get 20 packages of Maruchan Ramen.  The other difference is that the Cup Noodles have a few vegetables in them.  Trust me though when I tell you that you won't miss the one or two peas and several carrot pieces.  And so for my first edition of Food on a Budget I'll teach you how to make some Maruchan Ramen.

The quick explanation is to put the noodles in a bowl, open the soup base packet and sprinkle that into the bowl, add hot water (or cold water and then put it in the microwave like I do to heat the water up) and then give it a bit for the noodles to absorb a bit of the moisture.  If that sounds a bit complicated, I made a video showing how to do these simple steps.  Yes, my arms are in the way for a bit, but ignore that.  I'll get better as I budget my food and learn to make videos.  Here's the link for you to take a look at the video demonstration I made on how to make the Ramen:

I'll come up with a few more bargains for the next video.  For now, enjoy the Ramen Noodle Soup!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Madness

Welcome to 2014

It's finally 2014 and I'm looking forward to a good year!  I've got a few things planned and have a bright outlook for things that are coming up.  On the other hand, 2013 wasn't a very good year for me.  It wasn't that good of a year for a few other people either.  Let's take a look at some of the really bad things that happened back in 2013.
To start off 2014 a woman decided she wanted to have sex with a dog.  This became news I guess.  Why was this news?  Who knows?  But it did happen, and it happened here in fabulous Las Vegas!  Was the dog pressing charges?  Somehow I don't think the dog was objecting if he wasn't biting the girl.  Although looking at her picture, she's pretty nasty looking.  Talk about having sex with a real dog...uh...ok, I'll leave this alone now.
Let's go back to 1999 for a bit.  People wanted to party like it's 1999 on New Year's Eve that year.  That meant doing the stupidest thing you could think of, I guess.  One guy decided to climb a light pole so he could...he wanted to...ok, I'm not sure what this idiot wanted to do.  He touched a live wire and electrocuted himself on live television.  I remember watching this.  They had him on camera and I watched as he fell off the light pole and hit the ground surrounded by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people.  And since this was New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip, there were a lot of cameras watching the scene.  Helicopters were flying overhead to watch the crowds and they of course zoomed in on the body.  Now when something like this happens, they can't move the body until everything is "investigated" and the person is declared "dead".  With the huge amount of people in the area, no one could get in there and declare him dead I guess.  So the police put up a few barricades and then covered the idiot with a sheet.  Well most of him.  I think his legs and feet were sticking out from under the sheet.  And every once in a while someone would rush past the barricades to poke or touch the body.  Then the police would grab this new person and put them in a nearby transport to be arrested later.  How nice, huh?  I'll always remember watching this.
Back to the end of 2013!  Here's a guy who thought it would be cool to zoom around on a motorcycle.  You can't die while driving one of those, can you?  Actually, you can.  Even if you drive sensibly and mind the road around you, a car can easily ram into you and kill you.  Motorcycles can be dangerous things!  That didn't happen in this case.  The guy riding the motorbike didn't think and went too fast to control it.  A lovely death on December 30 just before the new year.  So we didn't have to wait for this genius to climb a light pole and be electrocuted, he died before the new year even arrived.
But you don't even have to drive yourself around in Las Vegas if you're a celebrity, right?  Just ask Darren Jay Ashba from the band Guns N Roses.  He took his girlfriend on a ride in a police helicopter and then proposed to her.  It was a fabulous tour over Las Vegas that was paid for by city tax dollars.  We don't need to pay for police to take care of dead idiots electrocuted after climbing light poles, or motorcycle accidents that end in death.  We can just spend our tax dollars on flying celebrities around for free!  Notice that after the "investigation" nothing was said about Ashba at all.  I guess no one thought about charging him for the helicopter ride.  Let's just blame the corrupt cops.  At least blame the one cop still working, the "captain" retired and got off scot free.  So more tax dollars were spent for an "investigation" that really didn't accomplish anything after spending tax dollars to give a "celebrity" a private helicopter ride in a police helicopter.  Ah to be rich and famous!
Since the police were all tied up flying celebrities around in 2013, you could just shoot someone who aggravated you in traffic.  They catch you a few days later, but that doesn't prevent the shooting, does it?  "A heavyset black female" got mad, got out of her car in traffic and then shot a person in another car.  Then she and a guy with "no known address" fled the scene.  Doesn't "no known address" mean homeless?  Oh well, that doesn't matter, they were from California and had an illegal gun and shot someone.  But that's ok because the Guns N Roses guy got his free flight in the police helicopter! 
So now the "heavyset black female" is in jail.  They at least keep track of you in the jails here, right?  Or maybe not.  A woman who had been in jail since December 10, 2013 was found hanged.  So what was she hanged with?  And why did the coroner's office have to identify her?  They don't know who the people are being kept in the jails?  And was she just hanging in her cell since December 10?  What the hell?  I guess the people in charge of the jail were too busy listening to Guns N Roses music to pay any attention to what was going on in the jail.  And they ruled this a "suicide"!  Good job!  I wonder how long an investigation it took to come to that conclusion?  Tax dollars again well spent!  Maybe they should have taken the dead body on a police helicopter tour of Las Vegas while the "investigation" was ongoing?
This is all real news, folks.  Maybe we need time for some lunch?  Let's get a burger.  How about something from In N Out Burger?  That's a great place to eat!  Even if you've just kidnapped your ex-girlfriend and were beating on her while driving from California, there's always time to go through the In N Out drive-thru after she escapes.  No, I'm not making this up.  This idiot kidnapped his ex-girlfriend in California, drove to Sparks, Nevada (No, I don't know where this is either.), and when she ended up escaping at an In N Out Burger restaurant, he decided to go through the drive-thru and order some food.  No police helicopter ride for this rocket scientist!
Let's end 2013 with a crooked judge.  I mean why not, right?  The "ex-prosecutor" this "judge" was supposedly sleeping with is now dead.  She died in a bathroom, but no one seems to know what killed her.  Ah well, it doesn't really matter, does it?  The judge she was "involved" with was indicted over a three million dollar investment scheme, but was still allowed to collect his "$200,000 annual salary" since then.  So even if you run "schemes" and engage in "misconduct" as a judge, you can still get paid here.  He needs a police helicopter ride, too.  Although he really isn't a celebrity.  And he's obviously collecting enough tax dollars while running "schemes".  I guess we don't need to waste more money on him.  He'll waste enough tax dollars on his own.
So there we go!  Those are a few highlights from 2013 (and one from 1999).  None of this even goes into any of the personal problems I've had, but then most of my problems seem pretty small if you compare them to this kind of crap.  I'm looking forward to 2014.  Maybe if I'm lucky, I can get myself a ride in a police helicopter?  I'll have to work on my celebrity status first, though.