Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on Vegas....

I recently did a stint in Vegas at a technology conference. I hadn't been out there in a while, and there are always things that strike me about Vegas when I go there, so I thought I'd note a few of them here:

1. I always expect Vegas to be a bit more glamorous (okay, a lot more glamorous) than it turns out to be. Despite visions of people dressed to the nines at the craps tables (too many Bond movies, clearly) what I find is that the casinos are generally full of people who are overweight and underdressed. A constant disappointment and a very sad commentary on people in general. I am often embarrassed for the human race by the time I leave Vegas.

2. Something I would never utter myself, but clearly a significant amount of people in Vegas must say something like this: "Hey, honey -- How about we load up the toddlers and go to Vegas?" Because it never ceases to amaze me how many people are pushing baby carriages in and out of casinos there. Something about that just seems so wrong to me. IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD A SITTER, STAY HOME. What the hell are you doing gambling your kids' college money, anyway?

3. As if there weren't enough pairs of bare (and nearly bare) breasts in Vegas, apparently people feel the need to bring their own. I have never seen so many amateur breasts on display in one place in my life. It's as if women just set them free once they get there.

4. There is no shortage of short, fat, hairy guys from New Jersey named Tony. Every casino fills their quota, especially at the swimming pool. Ick!

5. All casinos smell the same. I don't know what it is, but it must come in a can called 'Eau de Casino', and every single one of them uses it generously.

6. Every casino has managed to somehow cultivate the $15 hamburger. It doesn't appear to be any different than the $8 variety, but it must be, since they are able to get away with charging almost double for it.

7. In case you had your doubts, let me set you straight -- there is NOTHING that is not fake in Las Vegas. Check out the green, grassy medians along some of the boulevards as you wait in traffic. Ah, yes, they are blissfully green. Ah, yes, they are blissfully fake. In Las Vegas, even the grass is plastic.

8. Pay no attention to the hordes of Hispanic men who stand on the Strip and try to hand out hooker cards to your husband as you look on. They're just doing their job.

9. No matter how many times I go to Vegas, I never see Robert Redford at a craps table waiting to buy a night with me for a cool million. Not even once.

10. If you are approached by casino personnel who want to offer you a free stay in the penthouse on them.....this does not mean you are a high means you're betting too much and are losing a lot. Put your money back in your pocket and leave immediately.

Vegas is definitely a must see at least once in your life, maybe even a few times. But quite honestly, unless you are an uber gambler with piles o'money to burn, you only need about two days in the place. Any longer than that, and it could suck out your soul.

Memorial Day

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day, a time to stop and think about those who have given their lives so that ours may be better. These are men and women far better than I; people who felt a higher calling and sense of purpose; people who gave their all for the freedom of others. What greater gift is there, truly?

My family's roots go deep into this country. My mother's family has been here since before the Revolutionary War, my father's since about 1900 or so. Both families have offered their sons, brothers, fathers in the service of this country. We have had at least one family member in uniform during almost every war in U.S. History.

My mother's family joined the patriots and fought in our struggle for independence from England in the 1700s. Generations later, this same family had sons fighting in the Civil War -- on both sides actually. Cousins unknowingly fought against each other, each fighting for their own way of life. Still, generations later, both sides of my family had men in uniform during World War I, II, Korea and even Vietnam. Some rose to high levels in the U.S. military, recognized as leaders and heroes in service to their country.

So today, I salute all of them. No matter how politically unpopular a war may get, I am always reminded that we are forever in debt to those who step up and fight for freedom. It doesn't matter whether you agree with the reason they go -- fact is, they go, and they do their duty for all of us honorably.
It is truly the soldier and not the poet who has given us freedom of speech. It is because of those who kept watch during the darkness that the rest of us can peacefully sleep. We should never, ever forget that.
Thanks to my own family members and all other veterans who have served so honorably. Your sacrifices have not been forgotten.