Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Location, at Home, CA

Over the last few days I have had a unique experience, at least unique for me.

Last summer I purchased a new Dell PC with a Blu-ray DVD/CD player. I had no reason to use it so much to my surprise when I did try to use it around the holidays last year it didn’t work. It kept rejecting the disc.

A call to Dell support and a new unit was shipped to a local tech group for in-home installation. A few days later the tech brought the new unit and installed in 10 minutes. All seemed to check out ok.

However, a few weeks after that, the new unit again rejected any disc I put in.

I finally called Dell support again and they had me run a diagnostic test which showed the unit had a bad spindle. Another unit would be sent to the tech group. A day or so later I received a call that the unit no longer was in stock but they would offer me a new unit which was like my old one but included a Blu-ray writer. Suweet! What a deal.

Yesterday the tech installed it and after checking read and write functions, all is good. Will I ever use the Blu-ray options? I doubt it. But then again, who knows.

I have a 26 inch Vizio LCD TV in the RV. It started having vertical lines on the left side of the screen. My warranty is due to run out in a few weeks so I put in a call to the “Big Box” store support service where I bought the TV. They called Vizio who wanted photos of the unit and the vertical lines.

Yesterday Vizio called and said the unit would be replaced. Today they called and said that particular unit was out of stock and would I “accept an upgraded LED TV which is just slightly smaller in width” than my original.  Would I? Of course I would. The original unit was 720p and the new unit is 1080p. What more could I ask?

I must say that both Dell and Vizio stepped up to their responsibilites in replacing faulty units. For that I am grateful.
A good week except for my cold.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Break in Las Vegas.

Location, at Home, CA

Another busy week completed!

On Sunday we drove to Tehachapi and spent the night with friends Budd and Brenda. Monday morning about 10 AM we left Tehachapi and drove to Las Vegas to meet our son Tim and family. They were driving from Houston while on spring break.

We met late in the evening at the Silverton Casino where we will be staying for 4 days.

The next 3 days were filled with seeing the sights and included lots of walking as we visited Casinos, malls, and other tourist sites. Matthew and Ivy were intrigued by the spray can artists on Fremont Street. They rode the zip line at Fremont Street, and the roller coaster at New York – New York.

Tim and Matthew with a couple of "Show girls" on Fremont Street.

Ivy with her dessert.

Matthew and Ivy waiting at the top of the zip line.

In the air!

Texas family at New York-New York.

Ivy's painting in progress.

While Tim and Family toured Hoover Dam on Wednesday, Clyda and I paid a visit to O’Sheas Casino which will close on March 31st and be demolished to make way for a project called Linq. It will be a shopping and entertainment area located between Imperial Palace and The Flamingo Casinos. It is always sad to see all the old casinos demolished to make way for something new.

On Thursday night Tim and I attended an Umphrey’s McGee concert at the Silverton.

(From Wikipedia)
Umphrey's McGee or UM is an American progressive rock jam band based in Chicago whose music is often referred to as "progressive improvisation", or "improg" (as per a progressive sampler released by the band in 2009). Although the band is part of the jam band scene, like Phish and the Grateful Dead (with ever-changing setlists, improvisation, two sets per night, open taping policy, etc.), they are much more influenced musically by progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Frank Zappa, and early Genesis, as well as heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden. The band also identifies The Police, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin as primary influences.[1]. UM experiments with many genres including progressive rock, funk, jazz, blues, metal, electronic, bluegrass, and everything in between.

Tim has been following the band for several years. One of the reasons he came to Las Vegas was to see the band perform. Diane decided she would rather not see the band this time so Tim invited me to attend in her place.

The venue was a large semi-permanent tent in the Silverton back lot with standing room only, no chairs except for handicapped people. The band played from 9 PM to Midnight with a 25 minute break. The first song lasted 15 minutes while the second lasted 40 minutes. The music they played was a harder rock beat than what is featured on their released music.

Several people at the concert asked me if the “music was what I expected?” I knew going in what the music was going to be as I have some on my iPod. I think what they were really asking was “how come a white haired old man like me was at the concert”.

I did enjoy it as it was loud but not too bad and really had a beat. Also, the improvisation with each song was intriguing. I listened to Satellite Radio channel 29 called Jam-on on the way home and caught 2 songs by Umphrey’s McGee. The songs were good but not as good as in person.

On Friday, we drove home arriving about 5:15 PM.
It rained about an inch Friday night with scattered showers yesterday. This morning the snow on the mountains is about 2000 foot level which makes it cold here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Some thoughts on Kauai, HI.

Location, at Home, CA

I have had some thoughts on our visit to Kauai last week.

Kauai is called the “Garden Island” because it rains a lot and is lush and green. That certainly was true for this trip which also results in lots of waterfalls. Those were lacking when we first visited several years ago.

It can rain very hard in one area and 100 yards away be very dry. We used that knowledge on Sunday to drive to the west side of the island and visit Wiamea Canyon where the sun was shining.

Parking lots flood. Park on high ground.

Houses are built inside of old volcano vents. I wonder who finances those? Of course, the whole island is the remains of volcanos so where else would you build?

Nobody uses an umbrella. So you get wet. No one cares. If you carry an umbrella, you are from off island.

Chickens are everywhere. Don’t feed them. Remarkably few are killed by cars.

Swimming pools are not heated except by the sun. So go in the summer or fall for the best pool time and less rain.

Bring your own grocery bags as none are supplied by the stores. You just might end up carrying everything in your hands so bring a friend shopping.

Everything is recycled. Help by doing your part.

Don’t even think about bringing home a fancy plant or fruit. Everything is inspected by the Agriculture Department before you check your bags for your flight.

Airport facilities are minimal. Hopefully you are under a roof when it rains or there is no rain while you board your flight as there are no jetways.
Have a nice trip!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kauai, Hawaii

Location, at Home, CA

We are home from our Hawaii trip. Arrived here about 6 PM last night.

On Friday the 25th we drove to Walnut Creek and spent the night at our friends Cindy and Gary’s house. Saturday morning about 4:30 we all got up and drove to the Oakland airport for a 7:30 AM flight on Alaska Air to Kauai, HI. I drove our car and left it at an off airport lot for the week.

The flight was 5 hours and 30 minutes long which is a long time to sit in those airplane seats. We arrived at 1 PM Hawaii time, picked up the rental car and drove to Costco to stock up on food. The condo has a full kitchen and we prefer to eat in most meals. After getting more food at a local grocery store, we drove to Po’iPu’ which is about 30 minutes driving time in normal weather. It had started to rain and came down quit heavy.

We eventually arrived at the resort which is called “The Point at Po’iPu’ “ and is a Diamond International Resort. The Chairman and CEO, Stephen J. Cloobeck was featured in the season premiere of Undercover Boss (US) on January 15, 2012. We actually saw that episode.

Our condo was on the fourth floor of a four story building with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, separated by a full kitchen, living room, and dining area. It also had a veranda with table and chairs. It also had 3 flat screen TV’s. Very Nice!

The rain continued all Saturday night, very heavy at times and tapered off Sunday afternoon. The airport reported almost 7 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Sunday afternoon we drove west to Wiamea Canyon and actually found some sunshine. The waterfalls were spectacular.

On Tuesday we drove up the east side of the island to Hanalei and again the waterfalls were terrific.

We lay around the pool, drank Mai Tai’s at happy hour, explored the Magnificent Grand Hyatt Resort nearby, drove lots of island roads, and in general had a great time.

The pool at the resort.

Koi ponds above pool.

The point with the resort in the background.

"Spouting Horn at Po"iPu"

Chickens are everywhere after Hurricane Iniki blew them all over the island.

Wailua Falls near Lihue, the islands biggest town.

Shipwreck beach in front of the Grand Hyatt Resort.

Sunset over the point.

On Saturday morning, Gary and Cindy dropped us off at the airport for a 10 AM flight to Honolulu while they had a later flight which took them to Maui for another week in paradise.

We flew from Honolulu to Kona on the big island with a 3 hour plus layover before our Alaska flight lefty at 4 PM. We arrived back in Oakland about 11 PM.

We picked up the car and thanks to Cindy who had printed out coupons from online, we didn’t pay any parking fee for the week. Thanks Cindy!

We drove back to Walnut Creek and stayed overnight at Cindy and Gary’s house and entertained the cat. We drove home on Sunday.

Great trip!