(Las Vegas, NV) – As we left Reno, Nevada Wednesday morning – as spoon as I got Peoplenomics published,  we couldn’t have had a better stay than at the Peppermill Casino/Resort.

One reason is the food:  Chi Chinese was great on night one and then in the Milano coffee shop for breakfast and dinner Tuesday.

After that, it was a long, though speedy drive down to this – which is what the view from our room looks like:


This is the real deal (taken by Elaine) and not retouched.

I wish I could tell you that the reason Las Vegas was at my feet is because of my gambling prowess.  It is not.  Although being up $300 at one point, I failed to heed my own good advice about walking out when you’ve got a double.  “Fold money and walk out… “

When you don’t do that, you lose.

Having done that (and losing a total of $50 bucks on the trip and having gotten maybe six hours of gambling (did I mention free drinks?) out of it, I thought things were going OK.

– – – – –

The trip from Reno down to Las Vegas is something of a ball-buster (well, not for Elaine, but you get the drift…):  There are miles and miles of tamarack, sage, and some greasewood to be found along the way.

Then there was this oddity, which Elaine was kind enough to write up so that I could snag three minutes of vacation from writing and thinking about writing:

“On the highway US 95 corridor from Goldfield, Nevada there were animal carcasses splattered across the highway for some distance.  Like from seven to eight miles.

After that, it thinned down to only a few scattered victims on the newly surfaced highway going into the small town of Beatty, Nevada.

The next hour, or so, was spent discussing why this was very much like a dead zone for wild life.

The jack rabbits I could understand.  Back when I was a kid (half a century or more) up on San Juan Island in Washington State, hunters would go out with shotguns at high powered flood lights.  They called this rabbit hunting…though it was more harvesting.

The unwary rabbits, being all over the place, would look,, into the bright lights and being blinded became easy prey for the hunters.

Near as I could reckon, the same kind of thing happens at night up in the high desert:  jack rabbits aren’t too smart to begin with (although they don’t hold elections and come to think of it, they don’t pay taxes) and being blinded by the light just pushes them over the edge.

Not sure what to make of it, but due to the size of the carnage, I thought I’d come up with come kind of clever point to all this.  You know… like “Let’s register all cars and trucks” (along with knives, guns, billyclubs, stun guns, and bank checks…).  But that seems to have already been done.

On the other hand, registering all wireless keyboards to high powered websites hasn’t been done yet, but don’t despair, I’m sure there’s a pod of do-gooders out there who would string my keyboard up…if they could find it.

Hope they bring flood lights.

“A WHAT Fee?”

Before blowing out of Reno, which for us was the rude-driver capitol of the world, surpassing Seattle-Tacoma and Salt Lake with ease, I slipped downstairs for a bite of food.

Elaine stayed upstairs as a “lady” needs a sense of privacy in the morning…

In order to save time  (I have several bags of it now but it doesn’t keep well) I ate at the counter.

Next to me was a fellow who – it turns out – had retired and was down in Reno for a little friendly golf scramble.

Turns out he has retired from construction for a big retail outfit and we got to talking about home construction prices.

In my spare time (see the aforementioned bag of saved time) I have been running out wild and crazy ideas like “Why don’t Elaine and I build a brand new house?”

Now I know why that’s off the table.

This retired serious general contracting sort of fellow raised an eyebrow when I said I could build a reasonable house for about $100 per square foot for the house – not counting the land.

He then slowly walked me through the reasons that plan is just too much hot air in Washington state.  Let me paraphrase:

“Well, unlike your situation in Texas, we DO have building departments and they want to have plans for EVERYTHING on file./  This means you can’t do too much of your own wiring.

Then there is the architect sign off on the roof loading and so forth.

and THEN we have something called a Development Fee now…”

What the hell is a Development Fee?

“Well the idea is that when you put in a new home, you should kick in something for infrastructure – so in our area it is a fee of about 10% of the project cost…and that’s on top of the 10% the architects want and that only if you don’t have outside engineering like soils and so on…”

Holy crap!  Even a rebuilding of a shell home?

Nope – doesn’t matter.  you build, you pay. Old house or a heavy remodel.

Well crap.

On the safety side, I lay in all my wiring with 12/2 with ground.  If I live in a city, go to the building department, and pay a fee I can chintz and do 14-2 with ground.  IO don’t think that’s safe.. but the National Building Code is something of a “negotiated” document. 

The hard-working do it yourselfer gets screwed even if doing better that Code work most places.  (I will kiss the ground when I get home.)

What this real boils down to is that if you sit on raw land and you hook up to a sewer in the street 20-years after the fact when initial investments were made and that municipal sewage plant built, today’s breed of pocket-lining politicians want to retroactively screw you.

They assess on whim – not fully depreciated value of infrastructure and so on…go figure.

Back in the old days a property owner actually owned their property.  You  could put in a septic system and tell the county to buzz off.

But now?  Well, the hand-in-your-=pocket club has created a bazillion dollar industry screwing the little people who actually persist in believing that a man’s home is his castle.

It is not.

It is rented.

You rent from the government and your rent is a series of taxes and fees – including this here development fee – so that you can’t do what you want with your land, even if it doesn’t infringe on the happiness of others like neighbors.

No sir.  You need to keep government happy.

And if you want to know how achievable THAT is, call Bill Clinton and ask him.

Is it too early for a blood Mary?  I’m sure Elaine would like to drive in peace and quiet while my blood pressure settles down a bit…

Some Really Great News

Panama reports from the ranch that the County has been paving our road!

Hallelujah.  I didn’t need to run for office…an d I can live the life of poor (pink neck) gentry to the fullest.

Damn shame.  I was hoping to parlay this into a career, but it’s time to let some of the young come along and work on leadership skills.

Which they will be able to do, as soon as we can find some role models for them.


Write when you get rich (don’t hold your breath though)