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Friday, May 26 2017 @ 08:46 AM MDT

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Vegas - Day 4

VegasI didn't want to leave, but they made me. We actually got a break from the construction Sunday morning, which sucked because it was the one morning we needed to wake up relatively early. We passed on getting a big breakfast and decided to wing it at the food court. While Maria got her food, I went to the business center and printed out our boarding passes. I should have done it on Saturday, but just didn't think of it, which meant we were in line C for the first leg of our trip.

After that, I grabbed a bagel and hung out with her a bit. We had both packed and had to leav e the hotel 8:30ish to make sure we got through security OK and everything. Our flight was at 10:30 a.m. After I ate, I went and donated another $30 or so to the Monte Carlo via Rapid Roulette (first time all week I lost at that) and blackjack.

I cashed out and then placed my pro football bets before getting ready to go. I really wanted to stay and watch football all day, but home (and work) beckoned. We got a cab at the hotel and headed for home. I played some slots at the airport and actually won a little. Then it was in the air, to Indianapolis for a quick stop and finally home.

I couldn't believe how much we did, yet how much more we could have done. This ranks up there with our best anniversary trips sinply because I now know how much I love Vegas. I had always wanted to go and now I know why. Even Maria had fun - she said she would be open to going back in a few years.

Me, I can't wait that long. I'm sure I'll be back soon. After all, I can qualify for a free Southwest trip with my Rapid Rewards points and American Express rewards.
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Vegas - Day 3

VegasAlarm clocks are good things. They help us keep appointments and make it to work on time. But alarm clocks don't belong on vacation, especially when they take the form of heavy machinery.

I knew there would be construction around the Monte Carlo before our trip. We asked for a room high enough to avoid the noise and ended up on the 27th floor. That wasn't good enough. And to be fair, we couldn't hear that much, but it was enough to wake us around 6:30ish on Saturday morning.

So we got an early start and ate breakfast in the cafe downstairs at the hotel. It wasn't bad and I was starving. Maria decided she wanted to shop and I knew I wanted to play in the 9 a.m. poker tournament so we split up for the morning.

I got my name on the list for the tournament and hung out in the sports book - placing my college football bets first - before the tournament started. I had a good time playing poker and did OK. I finished 13th out of 30 and had a good time. It was close to 10:45 by the time I got knocked out so I went to the sports book, grabbed a beer and basked in the glory of all the televisions.

There is nothing like watching multiple football games in a setting like that. A sports bar can't compete because not everyone at the sports bar is intently watching the TVs (or has money riding on what's showing). I had a morning beer, which was one of my goals for the trip.

Around lunchtime I went up to get Maria and we decided to walk around some more. We were going to catch an afternoon movie, but nothing we wanted to see was playing across the street. We started walking toward the MGM and stopped for lunch at Salsa Cantina. The food was good and the beer was cold. So it was a success.

We kept going toward MGM and walked around a bunch. We ended up going to CBS Television City and signing up to be part of a focus group for a TV show. I was hoping for a comedy or compelling drama.

Wrong. I had to sit through the worst 40 minutes of television ever. Andrew Zimmern is a food critic who has some show on the Travel Channel (or is unfortunately going to have a show ) called "Bizarre Foods." I had to watch this asshat travel around India with a goofy-ass backpack slung over his shoulder, wearingTJ Maxx-looking solid color polo shirts every day and eating all this weird things. And guess what? He liked almost all of them!

It was horrid. I'm still angry they used up people's precious time to film and then screen the show. And my wife didn't absolutely hate it, which bothers me.

Anyway, we walked around for a while, then headed back to the hotel. We had a little while to relax and change before going to Desert Passage to see the Fab Four. We bailed on dinner since we had such a big lunch.

The Fab Four were awesome. They really put on a good show and I recommend them to anyone who likes the Beatles. Sure, the guy playing Paul looked more like John Stamos at the end of the show than Paul McCartney and "Ringo" looked like Keanu Reeves on Ecstacy, but they sounded amazing.

We swung by the Brew Pub again for drinks and a quesadilla. Neither of us was that hungry. After that, Maria crashed and I went to the poker room where my winnings for the weekend completely disappeared. It was ugly, but the table had a good group which soothed the soul.

I then played some roulette, hanging out with a dude from Texas and winning a little. Some older guy came up and asked me how Rapid Roulette worked. After I told him, he watched for a while until some chick came up and started talking to him.

It didn't take long for me to realize she was a hooker. "What do you like to do for fun?" was the real tipoff for me. He didn't consummate the deal, but I was intrigued so spent a while walking around trying to spot the hookers. It was a pretty fun way to end our trip, especially when one offered me a threesome. I awkwardly declined and decided it was time to crash.
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Vegas - Day 2

VegasA little delayed in the story, but here we go.

I usually don't get too hungover, but Friday in Vegas was one of those rare occasions. Combine an assload of free beer, three-ish hours of sleep (thanks Vegas construction!) and flying cross-country and I had an award-winning headache.

Normally, these things go away with a nice, greasy breakfast to coat my stomache. Not this time. We visited the buffet, and I could hardly eat anything. What I did eat made a return appearance, so to speak, an hour later. Not a good start to the day.

I finally mustered the energy to get moving and made my way back to the living thanks to some walking, water and Gatorade. We hit the pavement, dealt briefly with the time-share dudes out in front of the Monte Carlo and headed for the Bellagio.

What a massive place. We hit the art gallery gift store and the conservatory. I don't know how much I wouuld like staying there. Sure, it's beautiful, but I like how compact the Monte Carlo is comparatively.

We also walked through Caeser's some. I gambled a little and did OK. Then went and got a photo of me in front of O'Shea's. We stopped in Margaritaville at the Flamingo for a while and looked at stuff, but didn't buy anything. We checked out the habitat there, then ate lunch in their cafe. Not bad.

Then we hit Paris. Maria shopped while I played Rapid Roulette and won some money. Then we walked through Desert Passage and she check out all the shops there. We bought tickets for The Fab Four on Saturday night, then got ice cream.

We headed back to the hotel because we needed to rent a car for the REO Speedwagon concert that night at Red Rock. After that, we headed over to New York, New York. She shopped while I gambled. Across the street at the Excalibur, same thing. I was doing really well overall at the tables.

We decided just to hang out for dinner. She rested some, then got Mickey D's from the food court. I gambled, then got Sbarro. We finally got ourselves together for the concert around 8, an hour before the show started.

The drive out to Red Rock was no problem. We found the pool - the concert was outside - with some help and checked out the area. They had blackjack tables out by the bar so you could play before (and during) the show. I won a little.

This was the most interesting concert I have ever seen. Musicaly, it was OK. People watching was spectacular. We saw one guy escorted out with his hands on his head. A bunch of chicks with what we branded "sparkle-ass jeans." And Kevin Cronin had on leather pants.

All in all, very surreal. But lots of fun. I was glad we did it. We drove back and crashed. I was wiped. I made it the whole day without drinking so I could be ready for Saturday.
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Vegas - Day 1

VegasSo we headed to the airport plenty early on Thursday. We had a 1:50 flight out of BWI that landed in Vegas at 5 pacific time with a short stop in Lousville. For the most part, the flight was uneventful. I slept a little.

Small fiasco at the airport. We went to grab a shuttle to the Monte Carlo, but just missed one. They didn't tell us it would almost be 30 minutes for the next one when we bought our tickets so we were stuck waiting. Rookie mistake.

Good thing the Monte Carlo is the first hotel on their run. We got dropped off and headed in to check in. They bumped us up to a "suite" for $10 a night. It was really just a bigger room, but I had saved almost $140 from my original booking rate so I didn't mind paying the exra money. We were on the 27th floor, which still wasn't high enough to drown out the construction noise (more on this later). We got a strip view and headed up to our room.

After we got settled, we just decided to eat at the hotel. We headed down to the Brewpub and got some drinks and appetizers. It was a long day so we didn't want to get a full dinner. Maria had a so-so margarita and a very good Cosmo. I had two really good beers. After we ate, we walked around the shopping and casino for a little.

She was tired so headed upstairs to watch TV before she crashed. After all, it was Thursday. She promised to give me reports on all the shows in the morning, so I grabbed some cash and headed out to gamble.

First stop was the casino at the Monte Carlo. I played some blackjack and did crappy, then lost a little more in the poker room. Finally, I bailed and grabbed a cab to hit O'Sheas. I just had to go there.

Won some at poker there while a Scottish guy with an unintelligible accent sat next to me. He's a Rangers fan and still thinks selling off Claudio Reyna was a bad idea.

You know what else was a bad idea? Drinking a lot of beer until late in the morning, then walking home in the rain. Having picked up some cash soothed my feelings. I crashed way too late to the sounds of the 24/7 construction work next to our hotel.
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Language Barrier

Columns Several best-selling books over the years have discussed how men and women see the world differently.

Some of the books even say that the genders speak completely different languages.

Apparently, thatís not good enough for my wife. She has started to take Spanish lessons.

Many people might see something like this as a good sign. Many people might encourage their spouse to broaden their knowledge.

Not me. I know sheís just going to use this against me.

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The TV Saga Concludes

BlogI never gave the ending to my TV saga from a little while ago.

So after I told Best Buy to go screw themselves, I realized I needed an HDTV. As in really needed it. I had held out for so long, but now I couldn't. So I sucked it up and started searching for a good deal. A little bit of money I wasn't expecting to get helped me decide to go up from the 19-inch model to a larger screen size.

Wal-Mart had a good deal on its brand (ILO). Built-in tunrer and everything. I was psyched and took the set home. Then I setup for the cable company to get us a HD DVR. I was all set.

Well, until the TV wouldn't show an HD picture. I tried everything, but it wouldno't work. First, I worried that we got a dud box from the cable company so I switched that out. Didn't help.

I had to tape the box back up and take the TV back to Wal-Mart. It was pretty simple, actually, so I went to the back of the store armed with almost $700 in cash (I used my debit card so they had to give me cash back, they said) to see if I could find a name-brand in my price range in the back of the store.

BINGO! Sanyo 26-inch on sale for less than the ILO model I had returned. Bought it, took it home and set it up with almost no problem. Now I can sleep easily.

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I Blame Jake Plummer

BlogMy friends tried to warn me. They really, really did. But I went ahead and picked Denver, laying 10.5 points to Kansas City in my weekly football pool.

I only have to pick four games, but settled on this one for some reason. I figured the Chiefs wouuld suck since they had to rely on Damon Huard. Sure, Denver was awful in Week One, but they had to get things going, right? Plummer would rebound and lead them to a two-touchdown win, right?

Not in a million years. They won 9-6 in a game that only had one redeeming value - I have Jason Elam on one of my fantasy teams so scored a sweet nine points that way.

I went 1-3 in the first week of my pool and really wanted to be perfect in the second week since you have to in order to win any money. New England cooperated. So did Baltimore and New Orleans. That SOB Plummer killed my chance. I'll listen to my friends the next time.

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Podcast Update

BlogI really got into the whole podcasting thing earlier this year. I had two ones going - one on soccer and one on the mindless stuff that occupies my brain. I was having a really good time.

Then, I got busy with some summer travel. Then, I got a PS2. Then, I spilled beer on my audio mixer.

The order of those might be a little different in reality, but that's what happened. I spent much of July on vacation, then struggled to catch up with work and life in August. Getting a PS2 helped occupy some of the time that I used to use to create podcasts. And I did spill beer on my mixer, which doesn't work anymore.

I can record without it, and I do plan on dropping another $30 to get a new one at Radio Shack, but the motivation was gone for a while. I think I have it back though.

I have a new podcast which will hopefully follow the show "How I Met Your Mother," one episode at a time. I'm a total geek for the show and figured this was a good way to get back into podcasting.

You can visit the podcasting site here. I hope to have a feed link and iTunes link available soon. Bear with me. I also plan on getting back into the swing of things with Soccer Talk and Regular Guy Radio.

In the meantime, check out the first episode and let me know what you think.

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A Real Education

ColumnsWhen I was growing up, I thought I had a pretty good view of the world. After all, I knew kids who went to a whole lot of different private schools.

Now that I have watched my daughter go through one year and a few weeks of public school, I realize how much I didnít know back then.

I have had nieces and nephews go through public school, and my wife is a public school graduate.

But Iím finding out little by little that my image of public school is way out of whack with reality.

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The Only Way to Enjoy a Yankee Game

BlogIn recent years, I have soured on baseball in general. Sure, I still enjoy my fantasy league, but Peter Angelos has taken all the fun out of being an Oriole fan. Plus, I have just enjoyed soccer more than baseball.

But it doesn't matter how much you follow the sport, you can still hate the Yankees. It's what brings us together as a nation. And what better way to cement that hate than to show how little Yankee fans really care about the game.

I give you, Rob. These guys had a buddy pretend to be lost on the way back from the concession stand and it enthralled sections of people. That's how stupid Yankee fans are.