January 29th, 2009, 10:35 am PST by Greg

Okay, I give up: I’m going to start Twittering. I have created an account (@ggbaker) and everything.

Given that I can’t usually be bothered to update my Facebook status, I don’t know how this is going to go. I figure if a few people are following it, that might motivate me.

Vegas Summary

January 20th, 2009, 12:29 pm PST by Greg

We’re back from Vegas. Many pictures were taken. A small amount of money was lost, more was spent. Some highlights from me:

  • We had a meal, and took many pictures at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. My favourite courses were probably the lobster carpaccio and the sea bass.

  • Now that I think about it, I might have been up slightly. I have photographic evidence of being up a total of $85. I only lost money when I sat at a slot machine a couple of times. The dollar slot that Kat told be was good was the worst of it. I reckon I’m up $20–40.

  • At one point, Kat wanted to play a dollar slot for a while. I said I was going to see if there was a quarter slot or something nearby. I circled a couple banks of slot machines and came back. Kat was done, having lost $40 in like two minutes. Stay away from the slot machines, kids.

  • My best gambling experience was when we found a roulette table with a $5 limit (as opposed to $10) at the MGM. I sat down and started playing pretty randomly. Every bet on the roulette table has a house edge of 2/37, so it’s not like my decisions meant much anyway.

    The dealer was nice and very helpful (since all of us cheapskates at the $5 table were amateurs). I got a free drink while sitting there, and happened to come away $43 up (actually $48, but I left $5 with the dealer). That was pretty much everything I wanted from the casino.

  • The best picture I got in the casino was right before a pit boss walked up to me and told me that “for future reference, pictures are allowed anywhere else on the property, but not in the casino.” Polite but firm. Very good.

    There are probably 27 ways to cheat at the tables using a digital camera, none of which I would be able to figure out.

  • The Neon Museum/Boneyard was really good, and a great opportunity for pictures. Definitely recommended for anybody going to Vegas.

  • My 30mm f/1.4 lens did come through very well for some night shots on the strip.

Vegas Update

January 17th, 2009, 9:49 am PST by Greg

My Vegas status: total bets $26, total winnings $36, so I’m up $10. I’m trying, but I just can’t bring myself to put $10 down (the table minimums) on, well, anything where all I might get is the thrill of losing $10. I want my $10!

Kat’s status: down significantly more.

We went to the Neon Museum/Boneyard yesterday, which was cool and provided many picture-taking opportunities.

We had dinner at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon last night. It was really very good: one of the best meals I’ve had, although both Kat and I agree that our first meal at Lumiere (when Feenie was still there and it was a fixed menu) was better. One gets extra critical as the bill blasts past $100 each. 🙂

Cirque de Soleil tonight. I’m hoping to get out on the strip tonight with my f/1.4 lens to get some cool night shots. Many pictures on our return.

Vegas, Baby

January 15th, 2009, 2:11 pm PST by Greg

As some of you know, Kat and I are heading to Las Vegas tonight. Of course, we will see things and do stuff, but that’s not what I’m worried about right now.

I’m psyching myself up to actually gamble something while I’m there. Any previous gambling experiences I’ve had have ended with me thinking “shit… now I don’t have five dollars.” But, I figure I’m probably not going back to Vegas with any regularity, so I’d better do it while I’m there.

So, I’m worried about how to look the coolest while I’m losing whatever money I decide I can part with. My options, as I see them:

  1. Slot machines: These are easy enough, but I might as well put curlers in my hair and chain smoke. Plus, the house advantages are criminal.
  2. Roulette or Craps: These two are easy enough to understand, and have decent house advantages. But they rely entirely on luck, so how cool could one possibly be while playing them?
  3. Blackjack: Very good house odds, and require intelligent choices on my part to do well, so that’s pretty cool. But getting the good house odds depends on playing well, which for me would require sitting there with a strategy card. Decidedly uncool.
  4. Of course, there’s always the last option: I’m too old to look cool anyway, so I should just give up and hit the buffet.


Edit: Eugene’s comment reminds me of another option: poker. I refuse to be one of those guys that sits down at a poker table practically screaming “I started playing poker when it was trendy and have played with my friends three whole times” and then proceeds to lose everything to guys who are actually good at poker. Plus, I’m not even that good at it.

I wonder if they have Euchre tables.


January 12th, 2009, 12:52 am PST by Greg

Even those familiar with the food court in Metrotown might have missed a place called “Cultures”. In fact, the best description I can find of it online is a page offering a franchise.

The place basically does sandwiches and salads (in the potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad vein). There are some other wraps and lasagna and stuff that I haven’t tried. I have been going there for a while out of fast food fatigue: it’s all tasty and different than the usual mall faire. They have a sandwich and two salads combo: I usually get a tuna sandwich, potato salad, and some pasta salad. It’s like having a little personal picnic in the middle of the mall.

But, I’m not blogging to praise their food: it’s good, but not worth blogging about.

The place is run by a Chinese family (or they seem like they might be a family). As far as I can tell, between the group of them, they speak the following English: “sandwich”, “tuna”, “white bread”, “brown bread”, “toasted”, “mustard”, “mayonnaise”, “drink”, and the various numeric/money/change-making vocabulary. Even at that, about half the time, somebody other than the first person that addresses me has to be summoned to deal with complicated things like “tuna”.

I’m also not blogging to point out that there are some people in Vancouver who don’t speak much English. Nobody who has adopted the city as their home would be bothered by that.

I’m blogging to point out that there is pretty much no such thing as Chinese people (who are from China, with Chinese tastes in food) who like potato salad and pasta salad and beet salad and whatever other salad they serve. That means that every morning, these people wake up, follow some recipe that they got with the franchise, and think “I can’t believe white people eat this. It would be so much better with MSG and some kind of dried fish flakes or something.”

I’m blogging to praise their entrepreneurial spirit. Anybody can sell a product they like. It takes some real stones to sell a product that you probably are at best indifferent towards. I couldn’t do it.

So, go to Cultures when you’re at Metrotown. Get a sandwich and marvel at their courage.

OMG! Chinky sunglasses!

January 2nd, 2009, 11:38 pm PST by Kat

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sunglasses since I lost my last pair. Tonight I went on the Oakley site, and (OMG! OMG! OMG! *jumps in chair while typing*) they have Asian Fit sunglasses and goggles! Now, this may seem strange to non-Asian people, but finding glasses/sunglasses that fit properly has always been difficult for me (and presumably other Asian people). Usually frames are too tight around my temples, slide down my nose, and touch my cheekbones (creating unsightly dents in my cheeks that take a while to go away). And now on their Asian Fit frames Oakley has made the ear stems more rounded to prevent touching at the temples, narrowed and deepened the nose bridge so the glasses will stay put, and reduced the curvature of the front to prevent touching at the cheeks and temples. I am so excited to try these on. I wish I had seen this two weeks ago when the mall was still open at 10:30 pm. I hope they didn’t sell out of these on Boxing Day.

UPDATE: As of this afternoon I am a proud owner of a pair of Oakley Asian Fit Five 3.0’s. 😀