Thursday, February 28, 2008

Are we in Venice or Las Vegas?

Friday evening a group of us went to the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. This place, so like the rest of Las Vegas, is a fantasy world, much like "Hollywood." There was all kinds of shopping and dining, and evening entertainment, all under one roof. But the roof is what was so fantastic - or at least the ceiling was. It was hard to believe you were indoors for all of this. Everywhere you walked you could look up and see a beautiful blue sky with clouds. It looked like daylight, and it was so realistic it made you think you were outdoors, even though you knew it was dark outside. This was the restaurant where we had dinner - Wolfgang Puck's Postrio. Very good food, moderately expensive, and way too much to eat! It certainly was an enjoyable dinner, and the entertainment while we ate was a group of musicians (on a stage) playing all Italian music. Very nice atmosphere.
All along the shops was this "river" full of gondoliers, not only taking patrons from one place to another, but also singing. Yes, singing - Italian songs, of course. The atmosphere was to get you to think you were in Venice. There was a charge for "transporting" people, but I forget was the cost was, and it was by reservation only.

When we finished our dinner, a friend/colleague of mine and I decided to walk on the Strip, heading back towards our hotel. On our way back we saw Planet Hollywood across from The Forum and The Forum Shoppes (where this photo was taken). The white fog in the lower left corner was the steam coming up from the pond in front of the Forum. In the background behind Planet Hollywood you can see Caesar's Palace.
Anybody a Jimmy Buffet fan? I thought these neon lights were quite attractive. This is Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.
Overall, it was a very fun visit to Las Vegas. But I will say I must be a birder or bird watcher at heart, because the highlight for me was walking through the Garden at the Flamingo Hotel and seeing all those exotic birds there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More bird photos in the garden at Flamingo Hotel

These are the last of the photos I took in the garden at the Flamingo Hotel. Again, I have no idea of what this bird is called. I figured it was some kind of hen. Any guesses anyone? Such a plump body. I wonder what it would taste like; I wonder if it would have a similar taste to our domestic chickens. Then again, maybe it isn't a game bird at all.

The activity of the day seemed to be preening. Almost every bird I caught a picture of was preening itself.

OK, now I'm ready for you to take my picture. Don't you like my coppery colored feathers? How about that little touch of white on my rump? And how about my colorful legs and bill? Don't you think I'm one of the prettiest ducks around here?

Oh, hello again. Here you go; take a picture of me and my sweetie.

And this is Sylvia, again, the African crowned crane. Is she having a bad hair day?

And here is another shot of a few more flamingos. You know, it's amazing that I got to see so many exotic birds, and I didn't have to leave the country. And I didn't have to go to Florida to see flamingos. Cool.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More birds at the Flamingo Hotel

For those of you who have seen my previous post you will notice that some of the birds were difficult to identfy. Here are two more "ducks" that I could not ID, but they were certainly photogenic.

And here is (I think) an immature Trumpeter Swan. I was standing on the "bridge" looking down at the swan.

This photo is showing one of the koi and a hooded merganser paddling away. This merganser was the toughest bird to capture. He paddled too darn fast for me to get a good shot of him. Oh well. Maybe another time I might get a better shot elsewhere.

Again, I was on the bridge looking down, and I took a shot of this unusual looking duck. Most likely not native to North America. This duck is also pictured in the first photo above.

OK, can someone tell me if this is a Redhead? This is the other bird/duck pictured in the first photo. It's just looking at it from a different angle.

And this is a Black Swan. Again, not native to North America? This swan came to the edge where there was a drop of about 2 feet. It was fun watching to see what the swan was going to do. It just slid on down without any concern, probably used to doing it several times a day. It was funny though to watch a couple of birds/ducks that stayed away from the drop. One of them was the hooded merganser.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the garden of the Flamingo Hotel

Staying at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas had one highlight that I found attractive. I was even asked if I wanted my room overlooking the Strip or the Garden. I chose the garden even though I had no idea what the difference would be. First of all, I was on the 18th floor and I didn't expect to see much below me, yet I was able to see a garden with flamingos in it. So a friend of mine and I took a mid-morning break from the events on Friday (mostly presentations) and chose to check out the garden. I was pleasantly surprised that there was more than flamingos in the garden. Here is one of my photos I took of a few flamingos.
And this gorgeous bird is Sylvia, an African crowned crane. I could tell she was used to getting her picture taken. I was able to take several shots of her from different angles. And she stood there as if she were posing, and asking folks "How's this angle?" Or "This is my better side."
This unique looking bird is called a sacred ibis. I forget which country where it can be found. I think it is from Asia somewhere.
And this is a black-necked swan. Again, from another country outside of North America.
Here are a couple of ducks, I think a little more "locally" known.
And here is a turtle sunning itself on the rocks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Bellagio and All That Jazz

After a full day of speakers and presentations it was time for some fun. I had signed up for a quick walking tour of the Strip in Las Vegas. The highlight of our walk was seeing the "fountain show" that is given every night in front of The Bellagio Hotel. I was told that the fountain show is done every 15-20 minutes all night long, and the show is done to different tunes. While I was there the tune "All That Jazz" was sung. It sounded like Liza Minelli's voice, but I don't know for sure. Here are a few photos - one before the show started, and the other two during the show. Below are a couple of videos I also captured. Not only can you see the fountains in "action," but you can probably hear the tune, "All That Jazz."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Elvis" in Las Vegas

The trip to Las Vegas is now behind me, and now it's time to share some of the highlights that I captured on video or in pictures. The trip was an annual meeting of medical librarians who are located in California, Nevada, and Arizona - aka Western MLA, held at the Flamingo Hotel on the Strip.

Some folks may think of librarians as fuddy-duddies, or prim and proper, etc. But let me tell you that is definitely not my perception. I truly believe librarians, especially medical librarians I have met or work with are real party animals. Let it be said here that if you should want a lively party, be sure to invite at least one librarian!

Our Welcome Reception kicked off Wednesday evening, sporting all-you-can-eat hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. And our entertainment for the evening was someone who was to make a "special" appearance. Our special guest was none other than "Elvis." Can you imagine how many of them are running around there in Las Vegas? Overall, I thought he was mighty young looking. I guess we were supposed to believe this was the "young" Elvis from many days gone by. I will at least admit that his voice had a quality that sounded a lot like the "original" Elvis. I had to chuckle as to the number of times I attempted to get a decent photo of him. But he never stood still long enough. That's when I decided to try catching a video of him. The second photo was taken by a professional photographer who made copies for each person who posed with "Elvis." I have taken the liberty to scan it into my computer to make it available for this blog. I'm located on the far left side (in pink). The other women in the picture are all local colleagues of mine.

And here are a couple of videos of Elvis performing for us. Now that I have viewed the videos here on the blog, I'm disappointed that they are showing so dark. My original videos are not that dark looking. Well, at least it gives you a small idea of what transpired that evening.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Since the color red is the token color for Valentine's Day, I thought I would share with you my Valentine's flowers. Well, at least that's what I'm identifying them to be. This has been an interesting week for me. I went to work on Monday, but didn't feel so great. I started with a cough and a headache. It was my first day back since my trip to Las Vegas. As usually expected, I got worse, so I haven't been to work the rest of the week. Today, I'm feeling better, but not well enough to return to work. But this is the first time I feel well enough to read some blogs and post one of my own.
The photo above is all three pots of amaryllis plants I have. The one in the background has three bulbs, but there are no flowers, just leaves for now. The two pots in front are all flowers without the leaves. The amaryllis on the left is called Minerva, and the one on the right is called Red Lion. Putting all three pots together makes for a decent composition. I'm really impressed with the Red Lion. Most of them popped open almost at the same time.

Here is a close-up of the Red Lion. And below is another composition of all three pots. They are sitting on a table, and I'm sitting on the floor looking up at them. Anyway, I hope you are enjoying them almost as much as I am. And Happy Valentine's Day to all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Are you in a funk?

Here are some floral pix of two of my houseplants that are blooming right now. And I dedicate these pix to my blogging buddies who are feeling a bit down. I hope this will brighten your day. These first few pix are one of my two Christmas cacti that are blooming. I keep them in the kitchen window at the sink which has two windows, so they get plenty of light since one window faces south and the other faces west.

And these photos are of one of my amaryllis plants. This is the first one to bloom so far. This one is called Minerva. I just love the red and white stripings. It makes me think of candy canes. Also take note of the reflections in the window. This window is an east-facing window. So these plants get sunlight at the beginning of the day. That's when the sun shines. I'm ecstatic! We've had sunshine for the past two days. The rain is gone for a while.

Well, I'm off to Las Vegas on a business trip for the next few days. A couple of colleagues and I are doing a power point presentation featuring a project we have been involved in doing for the past couple of years. And we thought it was time to share our project with other fellow medical librarians.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Clouds Before the Storm

Yesterday morning (Saturday), I went out to the kitchen to feed the cats as usual. It was between 6:45 and 7 a.m. I sensed an orangey or peachy glow around me and I looked out the large kitchen window and saw a most beautiful sunrise. Since it's been raining so much around here, I have rarely seen the sun in the past two plus weeks. I ran down to the bedroom to grab my camera, and by the time I got outside (in the front yard) the beautiful color was already starting to fade. But here are a couple of photos for everyone to enjoy.
And just to let everyone know, we got deluged with more rain yesterday. We even had more rain showers this morning. But this afternoon and evening we started to "dry out." But the sun still wasn't shining. I'm hoping to see some sunshine tomorrow.


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