Monthly Archives: March 2013

Johnny Vegas

My wife is a gambler.

It’s not a problem if you win, is it?

Peggy likes to play slot machines. There are no legal slot machines in Texas, so we make the three-hour drive to Lake Charles and go to L’Auberge du Lac. Sometimes we stay here on our way back and forth to Baton Rouge to visit our son or to attend events at LSU. And she plays. For hours.

This trip we went to Dallas to spend Easter with Peggy’s mother. After visiting with her we made the drive to Lake Charles to spend a couple of days and allow Peggy to relax. The weather is nice so we will spend time in the pool and have several nice meals. Then after dinner she will play penny slots while I entertain myself.

Here’s the thing. “Penny” slots aren’t. She is typically playing two dollars a pull. And on most spins she wins something, usually something less than two dollars. But every so often she wins more. So she keeps playing.

The casino has a rewards program. They give you a point for every $5 you bet while you are playing slots. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you sit there and keep playing you can accumulate some points. Peggy starts every night with $100. She plays until she gets tired or until she runs out of money.

In a year she has accumulated 15,000 points. Do the math — that means she has bet more than $75,000 this year. And because she has accumulated 15,000 points everything we do at the casino is free. The hotel rooms are free, the booze is free, and much of the food is free. Because she plays penny slots.

Sometimes she loses her $200. But usually she comes home with the same $200 she started with. Or more. And we stay at the hotel free.

I know there has to be a catch somewhere. But I haven’t found it. The hotel room would cost at least $200 for the weekend, but we get to stay here because, you know, she plays penny slots.

I have stopped trying to make the math work. I just stay in the pool.

It is March 31 and the weather is great. Happy Easter!
Easter in Dallas with Peggy’s Mom

How many pairs of glasses do I own?

I never promised that all of my thoughts would be deep…

I have a pair of glasses in every room in the house.

I don’t need glasses to watch TV, but if I get a text message I need a pair to see my phone. And, yes, I even keep a pair in the bathroom in case I want to read something there now, too!

At the office, in the car, in the briefcase, in the suitcase… I have begun to buy in bulk, and the ones that are available in bulk are the most flattering glasses you can find.

Fortunately, vanity is not really a problem at this stage in life.

If you need them, rock them!

Now, where are they?

…is worth two on the desk.

Adulting is hard

One of the things that sucks about getting older is loss. Loss of hair, loss of stamina, loss of strength. Even harder is the loss of friends. Worse is the loss of loved ones.

My mother died unexpectedly at the age of 68. Always healthy and active, still an outstanding athlete, she starting having breathing difficulties and went into the hospital for tests. While hospitalized she suffered a brain aneurysm and died. I was 39.

I was very close to my mother. She was a world-class smartass, and it was years before I stopped picking up the phone to call and tell her something funny that happened. Peggy was very close to her, too. We started dating in high school, so in many ways my parents were intimately involved in raising Peggy to adulthood. Losing my mother so young was hard.

But it might have been easier than what Peggy is going through now. There is clearly more than one way to lose a parent.

We visited Dallas for Thanksgiving in 2011 and noticed a few changes in the behavior of Peggy’s mother. Mary had worked as the office manager for a pediatric practice for many years, and her record-keeping reflects that. Every month’s bills are paid and filed by month, checkbook balanced monthly, everything in its place.

When we came back to Dallas to see her for Christmas we noticed a few month’s worth of bills unopened on the desk in her office. She explained that she had set up some payments automatically and we really didn’t think too much more about it. Until we came back a month or so later and saw past due notices for those same bills.

That began the process of making appointments with different doctors. It soon became apparent that the news was going to be bad. We were afraid of a diagnosis. We got it. And more. The biggest blow was finding out that she was not really capable of living by herself anymore. And it was explained that she could not come live with us because the doctor said she cannot imprint new information, so moving her away from Dallas would be tantamount to torture.

Peggy has worked and driven herself to death to make sure her mother has a wonderful place to live and is being taken care of by people who care. So far Mary knows us every time we come to visit. And she is delighted to see us, so the visits are always comforting.

When we leave Dallas I always try to have something fun planned for Peggy so she can began to relax. Today it was lunch in a place we have always enjoyed. When we come back in a few weeks for Easter I am going to take her to Lake Charles for a few days. Next time it might be the lake.

She needs to be able to get away. Because this hurts. And it’s not going to get easier.

A stop at the downtown Chuy’s on our way out of Dallas

Rodeo Houston

It is rodeo time in Houston!

If you are not from Houston, you really would have to visit to understand the sheer size of the event. If you are from Houston those words conjure images of 80,000 people in a football stadium and the best rodeo cowboys and music acts in the world.

My company is a corporate sponsor for the event and we buy tickets every year to entertain our customers. Additionally, Peggy and I are sponsors so we get passes into every night of the rodeo for all three weeks. We attend as often as we can.

Contrary to popular myth, not everyone in Texas is a cowboy or cowgirl. But just about everyone in Texas owns boots and a hat. The rodeo is the place to show ’em off.

We have attended three nights this week and it is just a blast. The best cowboys in the world show up every year because the money for the event is higher than at any other rodeo in the country except the National Finals. The quality of the competition is outstanding, and the rodeo runs like a well-oiled machine. No downtime is allowed and everything moves speedily to get the musical acts on stage before 9:00.

So far this year we have seen Alan Jackson, Styx and Lady Antebellum. Not all of the acts are country performers, so there is something for nearly every musical taste. We’ll be back later this month to see Bruno Mars, Blake Shelton and George Strait. It’s a blast.

If you ever get invited to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo you need to drop what you are doing and go.

It is a spectacle you just need to see to believe.

Excited to see Styx
Enjoying the rodeo before Alan Jackson performs