Thursday, February 7

Visiting the local Indian casino

Today was the day to go pick up an old friend, and with her and the family go out to celebrate my birthday. I know, it’s a couple of weeks late, but we managed to schedule her in. (My birthday takes up a little over a month before the celebratory fever finally dies down and I can resume a normal life without all the paparazzi and such.) Actually she lives in an even boonies-er part of the country than us, and was stuck for fifteen days because her two-wheel-drive car couldn’t get out after the recent snows. The county doesn’t clear the snow from private roads. When we picked her up, I noticed that she hadn’t lost any weight, but had a lot fewer cats.

We decided to go to the nearby Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino since it has seven restaurants and a reputation for excellent food. And acres of slot machines. I hadn’t been in a casino for over 40 years,* and was fascinated by the numbness of the zombies sitting in front of the rows of slots hitting the play button like robots. This is fun? There isn’t even real money used; they plug in their playing card that’s attached to a lanyard around their neck. When the card runs dry, they stagger over to the nearest ATM-like machine and punch in some more credit. The table game rooms off to the side of the main floor seemed mostly empty. Too much brain power needed there; you have to know how to add to play blackjack, and it gets really hard when you have to remember that an ace could equal either 1 or 11. Gives you a headache.

I’ve been hearing that gasoline prices are about to drop by as much as 50 cents a gallon, so today’s travels helped us rid the tank of the expensive old stuff, making room for the upcoming cheap stuff. So all in all, it could have been pretty profitable.

*Actually I had been to a casino only a few years ago, this very one in fact. But I had to wear a hard hat because we were invited by a friend who owned the concrete company that had just finished delivering its fifteen-thousandth cubic yard of concrete to make this gargantuan place. He wanted to give us a tour during the only time when the 24-hour-a-day construction schedule was paused for one day to give the workers a breather. One room in the basement had a wall probably forty feet long that was covered by cables coming from all the slot machine locations on the floor above, each cable with a numbered tag tied to it giving the location of the other end of the wire. The temptation to switch a few tags was so great. I still kick myself for acting like a grown-up.

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