Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

Choose a Topic:

Dec '05

Las Vegas Vomit and More

Last week John and I visited Vegas for the Pioneer Bowl where BYU played Cal-Berkley. BYU lost by one touchdown. Big disappointment. But it was still cool to see a bowl game.

As for Vegas itself… Too much cigarette smoke and noise. It had been two years since I’d been there last, and I don’t feel inclined to go back again anytime soon. The city in general was summed up for me when I walked past two college-aged guys at 9:30 a.m. near the casino at the Luxor. One guy was laughing hysterically and pointing at his buddy–who was puking his alcohol-laced guts into a trash can.

Keep in mind that is was nine-thirty in the morning.

Yeah, I really believe those beer commercials now–it’s just fun fun fun when you drink!

Some highlights in photos:

View from our room at the Luxor.

View from Hotel Dec 2005

This was actually our second room. The first night our room had a door adjoining the room next to us, which was occupied by several single young men who were L-O-U-D and swore a lot. Imagine rap music at 8 a.m. turned up so high you could sing along if you wanted to, and you’ll get the idea what it was like.

My sister Tara and me outside the Ethyl M. Chocolate Factory.

Tara and Shan at Ethyl M.

You can’t go to Vegas and not stop to walk through the Ethyl M. Chocolate Factory. It’s one of the best free things to do in that town. You get a free piece of chocolate when you walk through the place, and then if you buy a box of chocolate, you can try as many pieces as you want as you pick your selection. It was fun. And fattening. But so, so yummy.

And outside is the Botanical Cactus Garden“>largest cactus garden in Nevada, and one of the largest in the world. Big whoop, you might say. But it really is a peaceful little walk around the place.

John and me at the Botanical Cactus Garden outside the Ethyl M Chocolate Factory in Vegas.

12.23.05 John and Shan at Cactus Garden

Notice the Christmas lights wrapped around the cactuses? Yeah, the garden was fully decked out for the holidays. There were even lighted gingerbread men and reindeer tucked among the desert foilage.

Very odd, really. But then again, it is Vegas.

Dec '05

One of life’s greatest pleasures…

…is getting free stuff.

Magleby's Icon

On Friday night John and I ate dinner at Magleby’s Grill in Provo. We’ve eaten there once before and weren’t impressed with the food. But we opted to eat here on Friday because we had a two-for-one coupon and because the restaurant is near enough to John’s office that it was convenient for him to break from work to eat and see me before returning (he had to work late that night).

[SIDE NOTE: I’m going to reveal a little secret of Magleby’s Grill. If you visit the link above to Magleby’s Web site, you’ll notice that it lists Hazelnut Chicken (“Hazelnut encrusted and topped with an orange rosemary sauce”). This Hazelnut Chicken dish is only served on Wednesdays. Do not be deceived as I was, who visited Magleby’s Web site first and then went expecting to get Hazelnut encrusted chicken breast with savory orange rosemary sauce on a Friday night, because you’ll be sorely disappointed and end up reading and re-reading the menu trying to find anything that sounds as remotely tasty as hazelnut encrusted chicken breast with orange rosemary sauce. Remember, it’s a Wednesday-only special.]

Okay. Now you know.

I ended up ordering macadamia nut-encrusted orange roughy with a coconut sauce, which was pretty good overall, even if the mashed potatoes on the side were cold. John ordered steak, cooked “medium.” Instead, it came well done. It was dry and tough, and I could see that John’s night was looking bleaker by the second–overcooked steak and a full night of work still ahead.

I suggested he mention the problem to the waiter, and he did. Our waiter responded immediately by saying he was sorry and that he’d take care of it. John didn’t want a new steak, so the waiter offered to give us the steak free. We told him that we had a two-for-one coupon, so he offered us free dessert instead. Not one, but two free desserts.

We couldn’t turn that down.

John ordered quadruple-layer chocolate cake and I got buttermilk pie. The pie was bland, but the cake was fabulous. It’s the only menu item I officially recommend so far from Magleby’s.

When our waiter came with our final bill, he handed us a $20 gift certificate to compensate our disappointment and encourage us to come back.

Two free desserts ($10 value) and a $20 certificate. Basically, we made off like bandits.

So with twenty dollars burning in our pockets, I guess we’ll be going back to Magleby’s sometime. I wonder how much chocolate cake $20 will buy us….

Dec '05

Announcing . . .

Logan Michael Holt, born December 7, 2005, at 1:56 p.m. in Salt Lake City.

Josh and Sleeping Logan

Josh and Baby Logan 12/9/05

(Note: Sadly, this child is not my own; but he’s a pretty darn cute nephew. That’s my brother Josh–a.ka. new proud dad–holding Logan.)

Dec '05

Cast-off Building in the Boondocks

My company is split between two buildings. Last spring they moved me from Glorious Main Building to Cast-off Building in the Boondocks. My company shares the Cast-off Building with a bunch of broadcasters. Since our offices are just cubicles, we can easily hear the sundry noises from the broadcast employees around us. Like a couple weeks ago when I listened to an hour-long heated telephone conversation between the guy across the hall and his apparently soon-to-be-ex-wife.

(And I have to add that I didn’t listen by choice. I was wearing earphones, but his voice carried over my music. )

Given the nature of the broadcasters’ jobs (or at least I assume that’s the excuse they use), there’s a TV at every desk. They can—and do—watch movies, the news, or sitcoms while they, ahem, work. This is very strange to me, especially coming from Glorious Main Building where we weren’t allowed to use instant messenger or even have personal photos as screen savers or desktop backgrounds.

You would think that the Big Head Broadcasters originally purchased the TVs so their employees would watch their TV station. The one they work for.


Everyday I know it’s 10:30 a.m. when I hear the M.A.S.H. theme song coming from the broadcaster’s office behind my cubicle. We often work to the tunes of Disney movies or to the voice of Bob Barker on The Price is Right. Yesterday it was Dr. Phil. I overheard the movie Madagascar the day it was released on DVD because Loud Lady diagonal to my cubicle picked it up at Wal-Mart on her lunch break and apparently couldn’t wait to get home to watch it.

Couch Potato

The day before Thanksgiving we threw a small shindig for our hard-working employees and projected the movie Madagascar onto the wall of our work room. One of my coworkers overheard Loud Lady griping to a fellow broadcaster, “What are they doing, watching a movie? What kind of work ethics does that company have anyway?”

My coworker couldn’t decide whether to laugh or confront the woman about all the TV-aholics working for her broadcasting company, including Loud Lady herself. She resigned herself to laughter.

Dec '05

Big Foot

Big Foot

I love my dad, to be sure. But sometimes I loathe that along with all his wonderful genetics he passed to me his big-feet gene. He wears size EE (which, for all those shoe-size-illiterate people out there, is really wide). I wear size D (which, for those same folk, is a notch or two under really wide, but still pretty darn wide).

I didn’t realize my feet were extra wide until high school. In elementary school and junior high I was going through a moccasin phase (hey, it was the late 80s and early 90s after all), and moccasins are made of thin, soft leather that stretches easily to fit any width feet. It wasn’t until high school when I bought my first pair of nice, preppy brown hard leather shoes that I realized there was something wrong with my feet. I remember walking up and down the aisles of JC Penny to try on the new preppy shoes, my feet burning in pain, telling my mom that they hurt my feet.

“Leather stretches,” said the sales girl.

“We’ll take them,” said my mom.

“There’s an unearned commission,” thought I.

I wore those shoes for two years. Two years. And did they ever stretch enough to stop hurting my feet? Nope. (Darn sales girl.)

My first pair of shoes that fit were Dr. Martens that I got in high school. I still can’t remember how I managed to talk my mom into spending $100 on a pair of shoes. Probably complaining about the awful rip-off preppy shoes and convincing my mom that my feet would be permenantly deformed as a result. And it would be her fault.

Getting that first pair of Dr. Martens was the best initial investment I (ok, my mom) ever made. I still have those shoes. The traction on the soles rubbed away completely about four years ago but I still wear them (just not when it’s icy outside). Now I have five pair of DMs, and over the years I’ve expanded to also wear Birkenstocks (love them) and Danskos (kiss kiss, hug hug). I’ve discovered that New Balance makes their athletic shoes to fit all widths (God bless that company). I have been a faithful annual contributor to New Balance sales ever since.

The only type of shoes I haven’t had much luck locating in extra wide is dressy, high-heeled shoes. I want a classy pair of black pumps (closed toe) for church and dressier functions. I’ve never owned a pair because I’ve never found them in 7D. Nordstrom’s has shoes worth drooling over, but do any of those fancy schmancy designers ever think of using their big bucks and designing teams to come up with a to-die-for size D shoe?

Apparently not.

Anyway. I’ve been looking. I checked out Nordstrom’s Web site and was disappointed. Not surprisingly, I might add. I was actually impressed to find any shoes in my size. They were mostly New Balance shoes, with a few eskimo-ish boots thrown in, and some strappy high-heeled sandals. Not what I’m looking for. They do have closed-toe high heeled shoes, but they’re awful. The dyable kind. And sling back. And pointed toe. Gegck.

So I’m still looking. Anyone who knows where to get classy dress shoes (closed toe) for size 7D, let me know!!!

Dec '05

Top Cat

Cat in Rafters

Most mornings when I come downstairs Kyra, our cat who lives in the basement, hears me and meows to be let up into the first floor. This morning when I was gathering together my things for work I heard Kyra like usual, but her mewing was louder and more frequent than normal.

When I go to the basement each morning to feed her, she’s usually waiting with her nose pressed against the basement door, ready to run out into first-floor freedom when that door opens. Today she wasn’t there. I walked downstairs and called to her. She mewed in response, but I couldn’t see her.

Our basement is unfinished but framed for a family room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Last night when I fed her I noticed she was sitting in some of the framework, about two feet off the ground. No big deal.

This morning I followed her mewling to the back of the basement and looked up. There she was, perched on a two-by-four near the ceiling. I have no idea how she got up there. I stood and looked for any conceivable stepping points to where she ended up, and I saw none.

I’ve heard of cats getting stuck in trees and not being able to get down (which is, in fact, featured in The Incredibles). But I’ve never seen it for myself.

I dragged over something I could stand on and pulled her down. Immediately she started purring.

If Kyra were a person, I’d tell her, “Let this be a lesson to you, young lady. Never climb higher than you can safely descend yourself.” In fact, I did tell her that. But Kyra’s a cat, and cats have a very short term memory. At least our cat does. I won’t be surprised if I have to rescue her again tomorrow.

(P.S. The picture above is not actually our cat, but a representation of her. The look in this cat’s eyes is pretty close to Kyra’s this morning….)