Monday, April 29, 2013

Brandon visits and a neighbor yells for help

My best friend Brandon (he lives in California) visited over the weekend.  It was good to see him.  He's in Arizona to go to a safety workshop in Scottsdale today through Wednesday.  Before going to the workshop, he flew to Tucson a couple of days early for the visit.

I picked him up from the airport Saturday afternoon, we ate dinner at La Casita De Molina on Valencia Road, then went to Casino Del Sol to play some bingo.  Sadly enough neither one of us won.  After that, we came to my apartment and hung out with Anthony.  On Sunday, we had lunch at In-N-Out Burger at El Con Mall after a stop at Walgreen's, then went to Shoe Carnival, a brief walk through of Burlington Coat Factory, and a trip to Walmart Neighborhood Market on Craycroft Road.  I took him back to Hertz car rental on Speedway Blvd. today and he was off to Scottsdale.

Lucky was better this time during his visit.  He didn't hide the whole time, although he didn't eat at all on Saturday and only ate some dinner last night after Brandon went to bed.  He stared endlessly at Brandon.  I'm not sure if it was a protective thing (Lucky doesn't growl, bark or bite) or nerves.

Before I get to the photos, there was one incident I have to share.  Brandon and I were outside at about 2 a.m. on Saturday night chatting when we heard someone say "help, help".  We saw a man between building A and B to the south down on the sidewalk.  I wanted to walk over and see what kind of help the guy needed but Brandon wanted me to keep some distance and call 911.

I'm a person with a low level of fear about things like that.  Brandon was insistent that I let the police handle it.  I reluctantly made the call without going over to the guy.  I didn't think there was any danger and I thought it would be helpful to the 911 operator if they knew what they would be dealing with (serious injury, just drunk and stupid, basically how urgent the call really was).  Anthony caught wind of this when we went inside for a minute and he got quite agitated that I had even considered going over there.

The end result was that a couple of officers showed up, helped the guy up after determining he wasn't seriously injured, and got him into his apartment.

I often feel that one thing that is sad about the times we live in:  There are not enough people that are willing to help out a stranger.  I'm disappointed I didn't have the opportunity to handle it the way I wanted to.  It's likely that the police didn't even need to be bothered and I could have helped the guy.

Oh well.  There's always next time!

Brandon eats tacos at La Casita De Molina on Valencia Rd

Brandon checks his phone while playing bingo at Casino Del Sol
He hasn't noticed yet that I'm taking his picture.

Now he noticed.

Smile, you're being photographed by the Kenparazzi!

Brandon and Anthony in the leg wear aisle at Walgreen's.
Can't have enough panty hose.

Sneaky photo #1 of Anthony:  Shopping at Walgreen's.
I almost got the photo shot before he noticed.

got milk? Magic Straws at Walmart Neighborhood Market at 22nd and Craycroft.
I think the magic is... there is no milk in the milk straws.

Gerber Macaroni and Cheese with Vegetables
Apparently babies prefer their macaroni and cheese (and vegetables) as pure liquid.
It certainly comes out the other end that way.

Baconnaise Lite
"Everything should taste like bacon"
I can think of a few things that shouldn't... like genitalia, for example.
Or water.  Or Diet Coke.  Or chocolate chip cookies.
By the way, it was on the clearance shelf.

Super Macho Dietary Supplement
"Bovine Glandular Concentrate"

The guy in the white shirt pushing that walker wasn't a very good walker driver.
I should have pointed out the Super Macho bull pills to him, maybe that would have helped.

Pudd'n Pouches
Go ahead, pound your pudd'n.  Just lock the bathroom door first.

Anthony and Brandon pushing the cart full of groceries to the car in the Walmart Neighborhood Market parking lot.

Sunday breakfast / lunch at the In-N-Out Burger at El Con Mall.
I asked Brandon to pose like this for the photo.
It's the first time I've told him to 'open wide' and he actually did it.

Anthony orders coffee and cake pops at the Starbucks drive-thru at El Con

Brandon tries on shoes at Shoe Carnival at El Con Mall while Anthony checks out Brandon's butt.

Brandon tries to decide which black shoes he's going to get.

Anthony bought me a new pair of dress shoes.
Thanks for your KENerosity!
(He's waaaay cooler than I am because I've never carried a Starbucks drink around a store and that's popular these days)

Sneaky photo #2: Anthony didn't catch me this time (and neither did Brandon).
They're in the water aisle at Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Anthony and Brandon: Tank top twins
(Don't you hate it when you get deodorant on your clothes?)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marshmallows fly with the Blue Man Group

I take lots of photos, but I consider myself an amateur photographer at best.  The newest photo skill I've been working on teaching myself is how to utilize faster shutter speeds to freeze motion.

A couple of members of the Blue Man Group (not in their trademark blue makeup) visited the show to promote their performances at the Tucson Convention Center.  I had an opportunity to try out some faster shutter speeds while shooting photos of their segment.

One of the things they regularly do during their shows is catch multiple marshmallows in their mouths.  We asked if they'd help us out with some marshmallow throwing and catches, and they were kind enough to oblige.

The first photo below is show host Amanda tossing a marshmallow to Russell from Blue Man Group.  He caught it in his mouth.  Then, he threw one to Amanda and she caught hers.

I turned up the shutter speed on my camera to 1/225 and managed to freeze the action.  I thought it was especially cool that in the photo below where Amanda is catching her marshmallow, I got the photo of it while it was mid-air.

I've learned that using faster shutter speeds indoors with no flash can be tricky sometimes, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Amanda tosses Russell from the Blue Man Group a marshmallow which he catches in his mouth

This photo freezes a marshmallow in mid-air while it was on it's way into Amanda's mouth.

Roasting marshmallows on a space heater

Allison, the producer that I work with, is full of creative and awesome ideas.

Today, after she brought in marshmallows for the Blue Man Group to catch in their mouths during a show segment, she decided to find out how difficult it is to roast a marshmallow on a space heater.

The answer:  Turn the heater up to high, and it works great!

Roasting marshmallows on a space heater.
Sounds like the name of a country music song.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Grand Opening event at Aloft Hotel Tucson

I was lucky enough to be invited to the V.I.P. grand opening event at Aloft Tucson University Hotel at Speedway and Campbell.

It was a really nice event.  They had acrobats, live bands and a dj, "light bites" (appetizers to you and me), and an open bar.  I skipped the drinking because I really didn't want a Wednesday morning hangover.

Arizona Wildcats head football coach Rich Rodriguez spoke at the event, along with executives from Starwood Hotels, and the General Manager of Aloft (Craig).  He was a guest on the Morning Blend a couple of weeks ago.

The hotel is a top to bottom redo of the old Sheraton Five Points and other than the shell of the building, it's brand new.  It has a very artsy / art deco edge to it.  I didn't get the chance to go up to a room so I'm assuming they're nice.  The hotel is tall enough that if you have a room on the north side on the upper floors I'm guessing there is an awesome view of the mountains.

I brought along my Kenparazzi camera to share the experience with you.

Aloft Hotel at Speedway and Campbell in Tucson from across the street to the north.

Wxyz lounge

Wxyz lounge on the right, the front desk on the left

Refuel over near the window, which has sandwiches, snacks and drinks

Acrobats perform in the lobby.
Either that, or this was foreplay for some random couple.

Two female acrobats perform while a whole bunch of people in the lobby watch.
What a bunch of pervs.  Oh wait, I was watching too.  Never mind.

Here's a position I've never tried before

I am calling this move "Holy crap, why are you so heavy? Did you have a big lunch?"

Arizona Wildcats head football coach Rich Rodriguez spoke at the Aloft Hotel grand opening event.

Aloft General Manager Craig Martin

I wasn't the only one in the crowd taking pictures

The man at the podium is the President of Starwood Hotels (I think that is his title), although I missed hearing his name.
But, he seems like a nice guy.

The beginning of the ribbon cutting ceremony performed by Flam Chen
She has the ceremonial scissors

Flam Chen works their way toward the ribbon in lace outfits and on stilts

Two guys from Flam Chen on stilts hold the woman in the air who will cut the ribbon

The woman with the ribbon cutting scissors is upside down on the shirtless guy's back.
This is my favorite photo of the night... because it looks like fire is coming out of her butt.

The guy from Flam Chen with the blue sash has the ceremonial scissors

The girl from Flam Chen who looked like she had fire coming out of her butt a few photos ago does the ribbon cutting

Guests inside getting "light bites".
I am pretty sure they don't do cheeseburgers at this hotel, but I forgot to ask.

My buddy Corbin is on the left with two friends.

The lobby of Aloft with two random dudes playing pool.

A view of the backyard at Aloft with DJ Dibs on the left under the umbrella.
It took all of the willpower I had not to ask him to play some Justin Bieber.

Looking up at the south side of the hotel from the backyard.

Partygoers at the Aloft Hotel grand opening event in the hotel's backyard at sunset.

A sign outside of the hotel

A view of Aloft Hotel from the north across the street on Speedway at sunset as I walked back to my car.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

First visit to the new Walmart Neighborhood Market at Golf Links and Kolb

A couple of new Walmart Neighborhood Market stores opened this week in the Tucson area.  Anthony and I decided to visit one of the new locations on Tucson's southeast side at Kolb Road and Golf Links Road. (The other new store is at Broadway Blvd and Camino Seco).

The exterior has a more plain and barren look than the other Neighborhood Market stores I've visited in Tucson.  (I go to the store at 22nd and Craycroft most every week and I've visited four of the stores in the Tucson area, so I know the Neighborhood Markets well).  The interior of the store has the same barren feel inside as well.  They've done a product arrangement in the store that is a bit different than the other stores.  There is no in-store deli counter, for example.

The store wasn't busy when we went at about 8 p.m. tonight.  Of course, just like every Walmart on the planet, the checkout lines are unbelievably slow.  It was especially annoying considering that there was a light amount of customers in the store.  The associate who was running the checkout we were in seemed to have almost no idea how to run the cash register and struggled with anything besides running products over the scanner.  Speed at the checkout seems to be an issue that Walmart as a corporation has no interest in improving.  Never plan on going there if you're in a hurry.

This store was okay but not as cool as the Craycroft, Oracle, Valencia and Grant Road stores.  They had my favorite potato salad.  But, they don't have individually wrapped breakfast pastries like they do at the other Neighborhood Market stores in Tucson.  That's an item I buy every week so I can slam a bite of breakfast in my office to start the day.  Hopefully they realize they forgot that item and add it to their shelves somewhere.

The new Walmart Neighborhood Market store at Golf Links Road and Kolb Road in Tucson

Most of the store looked like this when we were there at 8 p.m. (empty)

YoCrunch Maple Fat Free Yogurt Waffle Bites
Waffles and Yogurt with maple flavor... now THIS is a good idea.

The sneaky Anthony photo of the day
He caught me taking the photo, and had to restrain himself from punching me in the face.

Cheez-It BIG crackers
Size matters.

Quaker Dinosaur Eggs Instant Oatmeal
If a dinosaur starts growing inside of you after eating these, you may want to open your own Jurassic Park. 

Waiting in the slowest checkout line on the planet.  I took this photo to pass the time.
Anthony is under that grey hoodie.
At least I think that is him.