Thursday, May 3, 2012


I've been listening to a lot of classic rock from the 70's and 80's lately on iTunes and Spotify. I grew up with the music of Boston, Journey, Van Halen, Steely Dan, Kansas and Foreigner. I also reminisced while listening to Styx, Air Supply, Supertramp and Jefferson Starship. All the great memories I've been sorting over this week and not all of them pleasant. Even Madonna's music had an impact on me through the last century.

As I got older, I listened more to Alternative Rock by artists like Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, Evanescence, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty and Nirvana (among so many others).

As life moved forward for me there were happy times, exciting times, lonely times and times of sorrow. I accomplished things and I messed things up. As long as I can remember there have been people who hurt me, emotionally and physically and there have been people I've hurt. Many cases because of immaturity or ignorance.

The most important thing I've learned from all these experiences is that I've learned from all these experiences. I've learned to be more patient with others. I've learned to hesitate before I act and I act more rationally in situations that used to get me flustered and excited unnecessarily. I still make mistakes and I still do things I look back on and wish I hadn't done but then.... don't we all?

Click Image for Large View: 

I really love the music of the 70's, 80's and 90's. It reminds me of the people that have crossed my path in life that made a difference in who I am and taught me lessons I needed to learn. Some of these people I fell in love with, some I hated and some didn't care much for me at all. Some of those people loved me and I was too blind to see it, though it's a lot clearer now (and too late). There are so many things I wish I had done and so many I wish I hadn't done but for the sake of those people who touched my life and made me who I am, if I had the chance to go back and do it all again I would probably do it all the same way. Well, perhaps I'd change just a few things. =:^)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Recently, the subject of speed limits along Highway 160 through town has made it's way into discussions among Pahrumpians on Facebook and the comment sections of traffic-related accidents in the Pahrump Valley Times. Most of the comments are from people that apparently support the idea of increasing the speed limit from 35mph through town to 45+. One comment suggested that raising the speed limit to 45 would only result in drivers, who already exceed the posted speed limit, will simply drive that much faster and I tend to agree with that speculation.

Many drivers around Pahrump completely ignore and far exceed the speed limits all over town, even in school zones and it disgusts me to see. Accidents abound in this town and greatly outnumber the common ratio found in other small towns across America. Just this year alone we lost 2 local citizens in fatal traffic accidents including the high-profile case involving a detention center employee last week. This past week a motorcyclist was critically injured when he was struck by a car. Late last year a motorcyclist was killed riding through the intersection at Highway 160 and Basin during the Fall Festival because the driver that hit him "didn't see him" when they turned left in front of him.

And not all of these accidents are being caused by elderly drivers. During the holiday season last December, I witnessed a newer model pickup truck traveling at about 60mph South on Homestead Rd approaching the Lakeside casino and the driver was in such a hurry decided to dangerously pass three cars in a single pass as he crossed the intersection of Homestead and Thousandaire. It was insane! Had someone been exiting the parking lot at Lakeside, the convenience store/gas station or simply crossing the intersection there would have been a fatal accident for certain. The driver apparently didn't care that his construction business placard was on the side of the truck so I know who it was. Obviously he knew he could get away with driving recklessly in this town or he would have removed the placard.

What we need is the local Sheriff's department and local division of the Nevada State Patrol to enforce the speed limits already in place and not just along Highway 160. I also believe our county should consider more automated signals in those critical intersections where accidents seem to happen every week.

I walk a lot around the center of town on the weekends, it's great exercise and saves on gas, not to mention the reduced risk of being a victim in a car accident however I'm afraid of the way people drive and I'm wondering how long before I'll have to dive for my life to avoid someone that thinks they're invincible and immune from having an accident while in a rush to get no-where fast.

Don't raise the speed limits, enforce the limits we have. Make the people of this town aware that they either abide by the law and think about the safety of our citizens, including our children, or pay a hefty fine until they do. And for you ignorant, simple-minded, inconsiderate drivers that think you'll never be involved in an accident that involves serious injury or death PLEASE SLOW DOWN!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Weather Is Perfect Here This Time Of Year

Spring and Fall are definitely the best seasons of the year and here in Southern Nevada, that's no exeception with clear skies and temperatures in the mid- to upper-80's. At night it cools to the low-50's and if the wind is light it's nice. It does get pretty windy here in the Pahrump valley though. Last week we had gusts upwards of 40mph and that's not unusual for this time of year.

Even the most prolific desert weed, the Tumbleweed, takes advantage of the windy Southwest. That's where they get their common name from. They're not actually indigenous to North America, having been unintentionally imported from the Ukraine. In early Fall they grow large and green. Very annoying and seriously prolific. They're not difficult to uproot but once uprooted they spread terribly when the plant dies and turns to it's familiar brownish tan color. As they "tumble" around in the heavy winds, seeds fall off and, if in the right conditions, will be set for the next season. Rain is not frequent here but when it does the dirt turns to puddles of quick-sand-like mud and the seeds sink in and germinate. They take advantage of the water and grow quickly.

Most geologists speculate that the infamous "Sailing Stones" of Death Valley are moved by the heavy winds when the ground is wet and muddy though there are many theories about how they make those long tracks in the hottest part of the U.S. but then crazy theories about a lot things abound here in the Southwest.

The weather for the most part though, is perfect this time of year. Every now and then a Pacific storm blows cold wind and icy rain but only once or twice in any Spring season. That's different from the Gulf storms that come in from the Southeast during the Fall season. We get a lot more rain and humidity in the Fall but those storms are warm and muggy since they're coming in from the Gulf region.

It won't be long for the heat to set in. We commonly see triple-digit temperatures begin in mid-May to early June. Last year the hot season was late with 100°+ temps starting in mid-June, which is rare for the hot season to start so late into the year. This year it appears that we'll see the century mark in mid-May like normal. In July and August temperatures will average 110° to 115° during the day and drop to a comfy mid-70's to low 80's at night. I don't really care much for the hot, daytime temperatures during the Summer but the Spring and Fall makes up for it. People are most active at night during the Summer months. Sporting events such as little-league baseball and soccer are generally played after sunset when the temps are more comfortable.

Originally from the SF Bay area in California, I've lived in the desert since 1989, first in the Phoenix, Arizona area for 15 years, where the night temps during the Summer don't fall off much from the day temps of 120°, and then here in the Southern Nevada region since 2003. I love the desert because, except for the summer heat, the weather is generally close to perfect year-round.

If you have plans to visit the Southern Nevada area, May is the best time to do it. And while you're out here, don't forget to check out some of the other great things our high-desert has to offer. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and Death Valley National Park are awesome, natural wonders that are must-see for those visiting the Southern Nevada desert. About 25 minutes to the Southeast of Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam and in Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is about a day's drive.

I'm off now, going out to enjoy the weather! =:^)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Racism is alive in Pahrump!

I was deeply saddened when I heard about the little boy that died last week here in Pahrump. My own kids go to Floyd Elementary but didn't really know the kindergartener who died from complications associated with an asthma attack. My deepest condolences to the family through this difficult time. It's heartbreaking to lose a child and I hope I never have to go through what they must be dealing with right now.

One of our local, community advocates came forward to help raise money for the child's funeral expenses. This isn't the first time that Stephanie Lopez, founder of the hugely popular Facebook page "Positive Pahrump" has stepped forward to help someone in crisis here in Pahrump. Most recently she organized an ongoing joint effort with the local school district to educate school children about the negative side of bullying. She also organized a drive for Easter Baskets to collect and donate to less fortunate children. Last year Stephanie organized a failed recall against Nye County Assessor Shirley Matson who made some racial accusations about construction workers and while it was failed it drew a lot of attention in the community about racism here.

And so I was shocked when I read the first reader "comment" in the Pahrump Valley Times news article about the unfortunate incident regarding the child. Deborah wrote "Boy, it sure would be nice if this kind of compassion was extended to legal citizens and children here in the Valley and not always and ONLY supportive of non English speakers."

WHY do people here automatically assume that a non-English speaking poor family here is not legally in the U.S. ? This is clear and ugly racism.

Deborah then wrote "Once again Positive Pahrump ONLY supports who it deems politically correct." First, of course Positive Pahrump (PP) only supports who it deems politically correct and I would like to point out that, in my opinion, anything that is honorably charitable is politically correct. Second, Deborah seems to be suggesting that PP only supports causes that involve the Hispanic community, which if you followed PP on Facebook you'd know is completely untrue and unfair to accuse.

How many other people in our community feel the way that Deborah does? Why do you believe anyone here of Hispanic descent must be here illegally? How can people so blindly assume negative things about a group of people just because of their race? I am just appalled and embarrassed. I think you must be severely lacking in education, Deborah, because I can't imagine any other reason for your racial comments.

A local, less fortunate family here in Pahrump tragically lost a little boy last week. My heart goes out to them, Hispanic or otherwise. I applaud Stephanie for stepping up to unite the community to help those in need. You just keep doing what you do. =:^)

Update: The Pahrump Valley Times has removed the racial comment and replies to such.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pets Are Family, Too

In 2008, when the financial crash dealt a heavy blow to so many Americans, my friend Dan was no exception. He had bought a house down the street from me just a couple years before but after being laid off from work had to let the bank foreclose and he moved to the next street, into a trailer on a piece of property owned by a guy that had multiple rentals and a large, steel building on his 2 1/2 acres. When his wife was also laid off work his situation clearly became more strained and he moved once again into a small house next door to mine. He had an arrangement with that owner to "fix up" the property in exchange for his rent, while searching for work. Within about six months he and his wife both found good, steady jobs and had to move across town into a small apartment, where they couldn't bring their 10-year old Boxer, Chance, since pets were not allowed there.


Dan asked me if I would adopt Chance since I also have a large piece of property for him to run. At the time my Beagle, Scooter, was only about year old and loved that he had another dog to play with, even if he was a senior. Shortly thereafter, I also adopted a small Terrier puppy and other dogs over the past couple years... but this story is about Chance.

Even at his age Chance loved to run and jump a lot. He actually thought he was still a puppy. It was funny watching him try to curl up in Scooter's puppy bed, which was barely big enough for Scooter anymore. Chance would curl his big butt onto the puppy bed and the rest of him wasn't even close but he thought he fit snugly.

Chance was the most well-behaved dog I've ever had. He'd obviously been trained well and by a professional. He would come when called, sit when told and do everything else you would expect on command.

Scooter, still a puppy and not neutered at the time, would dig his way under the fence and wander the next street over and Chance was a follower. Scooter never went far and always came back soon. Chance, however, would find his way back to that property with the steel building to lay on the cool concrete floor in the shade. I had to go pick him up a few times before I finally secured the fencing and decided that Scooter couldn't be left unchained in the yard when I was gone. Chance liked to hang out with Scooter so if Scooter was chained then Chance wouldn't take off.

Scooter when he was about a year old

At first, Dan came by a few times to see Chance and that always made Chance really happy. He'd get excited and jump around. Eventually, Dan said it was too hard for him emotionally to visit because he missed his dog so much.

It didn't take very long for Chance to make himself part of the family here. I've recently joked about how I've got a dog in every size category: my rescued long-haired Chihuahua Dolce fits the "toy" category, Sweetie is a rescued Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix that fits the "small" category, Jojo is my medium-sized "Terrier-mixed-with-something" (too timid to let me take his picture with the other dogs), Scooter is a Beagle fitting the "big" category and Chance, a Boxer, the "large" category. It was ruff, er, rough taking care of 5 dogs, along with my 3 cats (2 rescues), my rabbits (once 4 but now only 2) and a pen full of chickens out back.

Scooter, Sweetie and Dolce

Chance did have a jealousy at times. Whenever any of the other dogs got "loving attention" he would moan and grump, "what about me?" while wagging his stumpy tail. He was very tolerant of the other dogs, too. He never showed any kind of anger and he never snapped or barked at them. Scooter and Peanut (rip) would play and jump using Chance as an obstacle and Chance would just lay there like nothing was going on. Now it's Scooter and Dolce using Chance as a barrier for play. If one of the dogs nosed his/her way into the bowl Chance was eating from, no problem, he would just move to a different dish and continue eating.

Chance had a bit of an arthritic condition with his hind-legs and an inexpensive, over-the-counter supplement helped greatly and you'd hardly noticed he had any problems at all. Chance has been here nearly 3 years and has been doing very well until just recently. A few months ago he started losing weight and quit running and jumping. He showed difficulties walking and over the past few weeks displayed symptoms of dementia. He would turn circles in the living room like he was getting ready to lay down but then would end up staring into the wall or the side of the entertainment center. He often wavered about, confused about where he was or what he wanted to do. He'd go to the front door and ring the bell hanging from the handle (the bigger dogs use it to signal when they need to "go") and we'd let him out but then he'd stand on the front porch for a minute or two and scratch at the door to come back in (apparently he forgot why he went out). Then, a few minutes later he would do it all again. He's recently had some difficult nights, wandering around the house crying as if in some pain.

I've kept Dan up-to-date on Chance's condition but this past week he decided that perhaps it was time to do something for him. When he came by today with his wife, Chance was ecstatic. He walked over to them and was shaking all over, happy-crying to see them, making that "give me attention" moan. I kept his harness and gave him a big hug before Dan lifted him into his truck. He's taking him to get "checked out" and possibly put-down, depending on the outlook of his condition but it's a high probability that Chance won't be back. Interesting considering his name. He still thinks he's a puppy, too.

I am going to miss him. A lot. He was part of this family. I loved him. =:^(

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The TRUTH about aliens and Area51!

One of the features of living out in the rural Nevada desert is the exclusive areas that are supposed to be all "hush hush". Did you know that a very large section of central Nevada is owned by the federal government? Nearly 25% of the Nevada desert is federal military reserve territory used for Air Force testing, originally established in 1941 (set aside by the CIA in 1955). The government has only recently admitted (2003) that they test top-secret aircraft, other secret military weapons and research projects out here and now call it the Nevada Test Center. Just off the middle section of the range is a dry lake bed called "Groom Lake". Groom Lake is better known to most as Area 51 and has long been suspected of housing secret technologies gained from alien visitors.

Click Thumbnail for Large View from the Wikipedia site: 

I love to go out for hikes during the Spring in this high desert region although you have to be really cautious in this neck of the woods because if the feds find you within the boundaries of the test center they could shoot you... and there are plenty of signs posted telling you so. For example, in this picture I linked from the Wikipedia site of one of the warning signs, take notice of that pickup truck in the distance.

Click Thumbnail for Large View from the Wikipedia site: 

I usually spend a couple days out here and this weekend was no exception. I came out yesterday afternoon for what I thought would be just another uneventful hike and skirmish with federal goons tasked with keeping the place secure but what an adventure I ended up with!

I was out early this morning just after sunrise doing my usual sneaking around and with weather being as perfect as it's been lately I couldn't resist hiking in as far as possible, knowing that "those guys" in the black SUV's, dark sunglasses and plain, black business suits would catch up to me pretty quick and escort me out, like they usually do. What's funny is these guys are just like the characters in the movie Men In Black played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones although, far less sociable.

I can hardly believe what I saw... just about a mile away from me in the open desert a huge UFO (read: alien spacecraft) landed and shortly thereafter an alien was out and moving towards me. I was terrified out of my mind and suddenly, strangely felt very woozy but somehow managed to get my Blackberry out and took a photo before running away like a rabbit ditching a hungry coyote.

I couldn't wait to post this message and photo on the blog for you. Not sure why the thumbnail uploaded from my mobile is blurry but the full-size image displayed when you click the thumbnail is crisp and clean, check it out.

Click the thumbnail below for a larger, crisper view: 

I'm going to make my way back to Pahrump now and I'll post more pictures and updates when I get back. Keep checking here for the updates.... =:^)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pahrump vs Las Vegas Casino Slots

One thing I've noticed that's different in Pahrump from Las Vegas are how the slot machines are set to pay. While some table games offer far better odds for players the fact is most people who gamble love spending time sitting at their favorite slot game.

At the major casinos on the strip (Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM, Bellagio, Mirage, etc) I've discovered that certain slot machines are set to pay more frequently than others. That's not to say they pay more, however, just more frequently.

I wouldn't expect to hit any jackpots anymore than normal but knowing a few key points could mean the difference between leaving a casino with more than you came in with versus leaving broke. Of course, big jackpots are nice but if you play with the goal of hitting a jackpot you'll more likely end up spending all your money.

Casinos like when players get excited, shout and scream when they win something and it doesn't have to be much of a win. They want you to get the attention of those that are not spending money and get them thinking that they should and could win, also.

Obviously, if everyone were winning, the casino would be the one going broke so they turn up the frequency of payouts on certain machines while turning down the frequency on others. While the machines all have to pay back a certain percentage based on local gambling establishment laws, there is some flexibility the casinos have to work with and they use it. High traffic days tend to be better, also.

Here are some tips based on my own observations from playing slots at some of the large, strip casinos:

  1. Slots at the ends of the row are generally set to pay more frequently. People are walking by and tend to notice when a slot is making noise by adding credits.
  2. At some casinos, the slot machines close to a change/cash cage are set to pay better.
  3. Ideally, slot machines closest to entrances will also pay more frequently because lots of people walk into a casino and try to feel the "presence of winning" and will walk back out if they don't see winners within just a minute or two. The perception is that if the machines they see as they come in the door are paying then all the machines in the casino must be paying and so it's worth sticking around and dropping cash. 
  4. Always play max-bet. I know it's not easy to commit to spending $4.00-$6.00 per round on a penny-slot especially if you've only dropped twenty bucks into the machine but the slots are set to pay more frequently if you play max. Of course, another advantage here is that when you do win something back it's going to be proportional to your bet so maximizes the return.
  5.  If you've at least doubled your money (you put in $20 and your credits=$40) it's time to cash out and move to another machine. The ultimate goal of every slot machine is to take your money so the old saying "quit while you're ahead" is prudent to pay attention too. You might also consider cashing out and moving on if you notice the machine starts taking back what you've won without giving you anymore tidbits.
  6. Bonus games aren't always the way to make the bucks. Many players will continue to play a machine because it gives them bonus games frequently but if the payouts from the bonuses aren't that great then it's no better than a worm on a hook trying to entice a fish. Pay close attention to every payout and look for frequent returns that quickly double or triple your balance.
  7. If the machine doesn't pay something by the 4th time you've hit the bet button, cash out and find another machine. 
  8. Get and use a member's club slot card. Many casinos will offer incentives and bonuses for slot card members and this could increase your chances.
Things are quite different in Pahrump casinos, however. I'm not really sure why they don't follow the same, secret rules as the casinos on the strip in Vegas. I've practiced my theory in several casinos in Vegas and at least half the time walk out with $50 to $100 more than I walked in with after starting with only $20 or $40. In Pahrump, I've not been able to discover any pattern at all other than some days of the week seem to be better than others.

This might change soon, however, since the gambling company Golden Gaming, which already owns The Pahrump Nugget Casino, has recently purchased/traded for their biggest competitors here, The Terrible's Town Casino and the Terrible's Lakeside Resort & Casino. Now that they own three of the four major casinos here we might start seeing some of the Vegas style frequency of payouts. =:^)

Friday, March 23, 2012

And just where exactly IS Pahrump?


Here's a map showing the Southern Nevada region that includes Las Vegas and it's surrounding areas. Pahrump covers a lot of area but has a population of only about 40,000 (very opinionated) people. Trips to town usually involve seeing lots of people you know and catching up on all the gossip.

State Route (Hwy) 160 basically circles Mt Charleston  which is between Las Vegas and Pahrump (though it doesn't really appear on this map), so one could drive North from Pahrump (the long way around) or, as most do, South from Pahrump to get to Las Vegas. The South route is about a 70 mile drive and takes just under an hour.

Pahrump residents are close enough to Las Vegas to have access to all the "big city" has to offer and yet far enough to be a true rural community. We do have casinos here but that part of Pahrump is a far cry from the casino life in Las Vegas.

Pahrump is only a few minutes drive from Southern California, though this part of SoCal is even more rural than Pahrump, offering little more than refreshing hot springs and access to the state's lottery. The nearest "big city" in California is Barstow, nearly a 3 hour drive.

Pahrump is also famous for brothels. The county, Nye County, is among the last in the country where legalize prostitution still exists. On the South end of Pahrump are the two most prominent brothels in the country: Sheri's Ranch and The Chicken Ranch.

Of course, neither of these brothels should be confused in the least with one of my other blog sites, The Nevada Hen House Project.  =:^)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome to the "Not Las Vegas" Blog

This is where I'll post my mutterings about the town I live in which is just minutes from the California border and about an hour West of Las Vegas.

Most of the content will just be my observations and/or criticisms about Pahrump and the surrounding rural areas, including some of the people that make this town "special". I'm also going to post some pictures occasionally and my hope is that you won't be offended by any of them.

My plan is to make this blog interesting, informative and, at times, humorous. Please enjoy. =:^)