blogging

When in Rome

Another phrase I don’t really “get.” But it seems to be the common wisdom, so i took it to heart and flushed $7 down the toilet last night.

I couldn’t have had a more dichotomous day yesterday — I spent the daylight hours among glorious red rocks and rolling hills, taking about, mmmm, a thousand pictures. I climbed up dusty paths for a better shot of the rocks against a stunningly blue sky.

And then, I came back to the hotel and walked in my dusty boots through the casino. This fish survived to later meet up with a colleague who is very enthusiastic about the slots. So I decided to join in the “fun” (that’s just not the first word that springs to mind when I look out at the face of people sitting at the slot machines, but that’s what they claim.)

I asked her for the cheapest games I could play, and she told me the ins and outs of the penny slots. I decided to live it up and put five dollars in and play the 30 cent bets. I know, I know — “Slow down, girl!”

So, for the first few minutes it was fun because we laughed at my losing. Then I won a few cents back. And so it went, back and forth. At my highest I had about $15, which of course I should have cashed out, but with the small amount I had out in, it was really more about entertainment then making money, so I kept going. Eventually I had 10 cents left on the machine, which wasn’t enough to play again. So two times I put a dollar bill in to play some more, each time losing, and each time with me thinking it would get to zero.

Finally, after I was down to 20 cents, I printed out my ticket. I should have taken it up to the cashier, but I figured I would keep it as a souvenir but then I saw the penny machines and figured I get the full “entertainment” out of my money, and about 10 minutes later, it was all gone.

It was fun because it was just a little bit of money, and we were laughing and joking as we played. But for me it was the fun of making the best of a situation. I mean here I am, I am going to experience it.

I would very much like to go do something else today — and luckily, my conference begins today — yippee!

Like a fish out of water

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I always thought that phrase was a bit hyperbolic. I am fairly uncomfortable in Las Vegas, but to say that I am like a creature gasping for air and destined to die if I don’t return to my natural environment is a bit over the top.

Still.

I can’t even honestly say that everyone should come here once in their life because, no. There are so many nicer places. on this planet. The only reason to come here is if you are on your way somewhere else, like Red Rock Canyon, just outside the city, or Hoover Dam up the road. But Las Vegas itself?  Save yourself the effort of travel and just drink a lot and then literally flush your dollar bills down the toilet. Have the Las Vegas experience — without the annoying time difference!

Some readers may be getting a little upset with me now, because I understand there are people who actually enjoy Las Vegas. Maybe I just haven’t found the right things to do here. I was here once before and saw Penn and Teller, and yes, that was fun. But incredibly expensive and not a ticket I would have purchased on my own. Maybe if I was a big Celine fan, but no.

All I see when I look around is ordinary-looking people sitting in front of slot machines, inserting a dollar, pushing a button, and repeating the process over and over again. Hey that looks like fun!

And then nothing says Americans value the sanctity of traditional marriage like a wedding party trooping through the casino, drinks in hand, the trail of the bright white wedding dress dragging across the casino floor.  Good thing kids can’t see this.

But wait! They can!  Because you can’t get to anything without going through the casino, kids CAN walk through on the way to the restaurants and shops. “Daddy why is that man kissing his dice and crying?”

If I were a millionaire and wanted to experience luxury, I would go to Paris, or London, or New York. But I am not a millionaire and I don’t have money to throw around. So to me, playing these games and acting this way as if we were all loaded just seems … silly! But what do I know — many years ago, some very nice people set up shop out here in the desert just so others could have a little fun and enjoy themselves. What nice, selfless people they were.

Flush.  Wheeeeeeee!

 

Friday, dear Friday

It was a tradition in the previous iterations of this blog to post a video on Fridays, and I think this is a fitting one for the way my week has been going. Fair warning, tomorrow I will be traveling and there is a SLIGHT POSSIBILITY I will not post tomorrow.

I promise to have pretty pictures when I post next.

Must. Write. Something.

Why is it that as soon as you announce your grand intentions, everything seems to conspire to blow up in your face?  From the man behind the house who was banging around in his shed at 1:30 am today (and the dog barking which followed that), to the web site I manage suddenly going down at some point last evening — this has not been the most peaceful and reflective of times.

Sometimes previously I’ve used the long drive of my commute to mull over topics for the blog. Today I was so deep in thought about the website and about my Dad’s birthday and about getting cat food before I leave on a business trip in a couple of days, that I drove right past my exit off the Parkway.

Well, I promised to write something every day.  I did not promise it would be profound.

“I am trying to resume my pen”

I suppose there comes a time in one’s life when you have to accept who you are and just run with it.  If you have any sort of creative bone in you at all, that can be tough when more of your bones are filled with insecurity and self-doubt. I don’t need a therapist to tell me what it means that I struggle to draw or paint — I know I’m supposed to just brush upwards in one bold stroke … but I can’t. I worry about how I’m holding the brush, about whether I’m pressing too hard, will it look stupid. And voila! It becomes a mess!

Yeah, painting’s not really my thing.  But I do like to write, and I do feel slightly more confident in my writing abilities than in my painting abilities. And just like everyone else who enjoys writing, I have a million story ideas running about in my head. The rub is getting them down on paper.  Sure I’ve read books on writing. (Which by the way, is a great way to avoid actually writing.) They all say things like “carve out time in every day to write, even if it means getting up an hour earlier every day.”  I already get up at 5 am for a long commute, so I don’t see that happening. Yet I know that some of the best authors in history also had a full time job while they wrote their masterpieces.  For years I wondered about Nathaniel Hawthorne working at the Customs House and writing, and then I came across these words he wrote to his friend Mr Longfellow:

I am trying to resume my pen… Whenever I sit alone, or walk alone, I find myself dreaming about stories, as of old; but these forenoons in the Custom House undo all that the afternoons and evenings have done. I should be happier if I could write.

See? I should be happier if I could write, too, dear Nathaniel! Much as he must have found time here and there in every one of his days, I hope to write something here at the old blog every day.  Some days it may just be a paragraph, other days it will surely be longer. Some days it will be serious, but generally not.

I look around at the elders of my family, and I see lives well lived, fully lived. Today is my aunt’s 97th birthday, in a few weeks my Dad turns 90. When we lost my mom last year to a stroke, she was just shy of her 92nd birthday. It’s quite possible I could live another 40 years, all the time saying to myself, “I really wish I had time to write.”   So instead, this place is going to be my exercise, my structure, my daily rant. Call it what you want. This little blog has been a faithful friend to me in good times and bad. As I flirt with Facebook and Twitter, Nailing Jello to the Wall is always here waiting for me. If I took the time I spend reading summaries of posts about celebrities on Facebook, and instead spent that time here, well. I think we know when there’s too much junk food in our diet. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Gawker.

So let’s do this thing.

(Hawthorne quote from: Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87745-332-2.)

You like me. You really, really like me. Eh, not so much.

Spammers have  embraced the art of the suck-up.  Whereas a few years ago, spam in the comments here mostly consisted of links to Nike shoe sales and the occasional XXX link, today’s version is much more sophisticated. Another blogger has termed these “affirmation spam,” and that just about says it all.  In a twisted version of your grandmother’s advice to “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” spam comments now begin with the most enthusiastic opening lines. “Gosh!” I think.  “Why don’t my regular commenters ever gush like this:”

“Wow! Fantastic blog layout!”

“This piece of writing is truly remarkable.”

“Excellent content provided!”

“The overall look of your site is wonderful, as well as the content!”

Heh. Too bad these lines are followed by such phrases as “I urgently need info about retina-a dosage.” And “related with viagra price and all related info.” The commenters’ log-ins use revealing monikers: “cheap vacation packages,” “retina dosage,” “viagra price,” etc.

Crap. Spammed again.

Day 30: Self Portrait

So, last year (yes, last year) I started this 30 Day Photography Challenge. Nobody ever said they had to be 30 consecutive days, and so it has taken me a while to complete the challenge with this final post.  Yes, I am in there somewhere if you look really hard:

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Now, here’s the other thing. I have found it very difficult to focus my writing here at the blog, and after much reflection I realize that the interconnected, networked, facebooked, twittered world in which we live is kinda giving me the heebie jeebies. I really want to focus my writing, and I once read advice that a writer should treat the endeavor like they would dieting: either tell everyone about it, or tell no one.  I lean toward the telling no one, myself, and this instant publishing to the world of my blog posts that are not necessarily my best and brightest work is pretty intimidating.  I know many writers who thrive on it. It seems to have the opposite effect on me.

So here’s the deal. If you’ve read this far, you are likely to have been a follower of Nailing Jello to the Wall for a while, and are likely to make the slightest of effort to click here again. I mean, you’re still reading, right? After today I will be taking my link to Facebook off of here, so that new posts will not show up in my Facebook feed. Yes, I’m getting off the Zuckerberg train, as far as this blog goes. That means if you got here via Facebook, you won’t be doing that in the future. You can, however, still get an email notification of new posts here, by clicking over there on the left where it says “Email Subscription.”

I hope you’ll follow along in this less brave new world I’m working on here. Your thoughtful comments are always welcome.

Day 29: Black & White

I used to take lots of black and white photos, back in the day of 35 mm film. It was interesting to go out on a sunny day today and do this with my new camera — I haven’t really thought too deeply about f stops and shutter speeds since I went digital point and shoot, I must admit. Getting a digital SLR gives you a lot more control, which of course means you need to know a little more. After all the photography classes I’ve taken, all the hours spent in the darkroom, I do know this stuff — it’s just a little cob webby. But because I had so much fun with this one, I thought I’d give you a few shots. Especially since you’ve been so patient as I get my blog off life-support. I’m just fiddling with these, but thanks for taking the time to look. (Click for a larger look — the current blog layout isn’t really optimal for photography.)

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