Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another rant

An open letter to Mr. Leader of the Free World:

I know that you like to fly around the country on my money, delivering speeches at places that I cannot go to crowds I don’t fit in with (especially the big donor angle), but please, why do you make us have to put up with the byproducts?

For those of you not from around here, this fine gentleman (?) and his entourage arrived in our fine city late yesterday and spent the night in the big hotel next to where I work. I guess it’s a nice place to stay, as it is now the largest hotel/casino/resort in the world after that $1,900,000,000 new tower opened. Besides, our big boss owns the place and he let you stay for free, in addition to having you over to his house for lunch today after your speech in that gated community to an invited only crowd.

The side effects: keeping your big trip a secret, some of us found out by reading it in the paper this morning. The rest of us employees (about 5,000 of us) found out when we got to work and tried to get into the team member parking garage, only to find a different team of searching every car (twice – good teamwork) so that we would not be bringing anything strange in to work on a day we didn’t know was any different, into a parking garage a freekin’ half mile away from the tower you are staying in. This resulted in the trip from the side street to the parking garage taking over an hour and a half. Yes, that’s what I said, to go a half mile took over an hour and a half for those that made it in. So many side streets were being blocked that eventually the police just waved everyone else off and sent us on our merry way to find other places to park. This being the middle of the Strip that meant the only place was the customer parking garages at other casinos.

I ended up at the casino across the big street, the one that complained about our employees parking in their garage last year. Some of the other guys in my office space also parked there, but I figured I better be a customer too so I bought some expensive coffee on the way in and stuck a buck into a slot machine on the way out. (Yea, one buck, one button push, all it took, but at least I was a paying customer). (that makes it almost $3 now that I’ve spend gambling since moving here almost five years ago – wooo hooo!!!) Most of the people that were late were hourly employees, and were penalized for showing up an hour and a half (plus the walk from wherever).

And, we are in the middle of a big show that takes up the whole facility. Usually hundreds of cabs and a pile of shuttle busses drop people off out in front, but because we were next door the driveway was closed off, and just about every motorcycle cop in Nevada was parked out there. I didn’t know there were so many. But no cabs or busses, and the street out front was full of employees trying to get into the garage, at least the part that wasn’t cordoned off, so I have no idea where the 20,000 or so show attendees were let out. Then at 8:30, just before the show doors open, the whole street was closed off so that all of those motorcycles, and an unknown number of police cars, could escort you away. Streets for blocks around came to a halt, my wife was in part of the traffic jam two miles away wondering why it spread so far, and getting ready to roll down her window and wave two middle fingers at you if you drove past, but the motorcade didn’t go that way.

Sorry if it kind of rambles on, I was thinking of curses all day long and nothing cohesive or straight came to mind but I just thought I’d tell you how I felt. Next time, just stay home, we don’t need you or want you here., except of course for our boss, the third richest guy in the US and sixth richest guy in the world, who donates to lots of candidates, and undoubtedly will be hiring you to make speeches after you leave this job, like most of the other recent residents of that big house do after they move out.

Of course, I left out the shutting down of our airport for you to land last night and then take off this afternoon, plus whatever streets were closed off for those to trips around the airport. And the freeway closures for you to get to that place on the west side of town and back again. But, of course, the cost of all of our local law establishment support comes from our city treasury, and the time lost by thousands of people comes from our individual pockets. So why should you care?

And for something completely different (well, perhaps) from the past (1986). You probably weren’t wearing a tux, but I envision the place you went to was somewhat similar.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Complaint and show setup

I park in a big ‘team member’ parking garage every day. As with most parking structures in Vegas they are devoted to the spaces, not the aisles that we use to drive our cars to the spaces. At times it is very challenging to get down an aisle if somebody doesn’t pull their car all the way in, or if they have a big car. There are quite a few fellow team members that feel it necessary to drive large vehicles; this includes big SUVs as well as large pickup trucks.

Yesterday I parked my car, and when returning to it after a full day of work I found someone with one of these long trucks parked a few spaces away. Here he is (I say he because usually the pickups are driven by guys, the SUVs by women)


This truck has dual tires on the rear axle and four doors. This means he takes up two spaces wide and tends to have the front of the truck sticking out farther than the surrounding cars. Fortunately today he was parked on the wider end aisle, but I have come across this truck parked in the narrow center, or even worse in an end space where you have to go around it to get to the down ramp. You can compare it to my car, the red one second from the right.

This week we have a large show filling all of our spaces. It is dedicated to floor, counter and wall coverings. (I usually do not put down the name of a show, I don’t need people Googling the name and coming across my comments). Booths fill all the halls – over 1,700,000 square feet, and most of the meeting rooms are also in use. This was the first big show I saw last year after I started working here. Last year the major suppliers built whole houses inside the hall, putting their nice wood and tile floors down all over. This year the booths are more open, but probably half the hall is paved with fancy wood and tile. And most of it has been cut to fit the space, and will not be taken up but left for the cleanup crew to dispose of. Most of it will be disposed onto the floor of their houses, but hey, I would do the same thing myself. Why pass up hundreds of thousands of square feet of nice top of the line wooden flooring that probably costs five to ten dollars a foot. This shot is of one of the larger booths near the front of the hall being set up.


And here is another, the booth is probably 50’ by 50’; with a really pretty floor and these large trees overhead. The aisles were full of packing crates and forklifts so I couldn’t get around to take many pictures, but the show will open tomorrow and I’ll wander around for some more.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Portland!

Well, B has just returned from a week in Portland visiting daughter and E. She returned with some photos, not as many as I hoped. But the first one in the camera was a surprise – something she saw in downtown Portland:


Imagine that, flying up from Vegas to find that Elvis had already arrived. I thought all of the Elvi were living here.
She did get to see that she was not in Vegas anymore, most obvious in January is that in Vegas it hits 55f or so during the day, while in Portland it sometimes does not get above freezing. Clothes are appropriate.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Three Things

In following the tradition of Clare, I try to think of three nice things every day. Today:
1. I hope that our city motto ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ is really true. Every morning on the way to work I drive past Scores ‘Gentlemen’s’ Club. This is at 6:30 in the morning, and there is a long line of cabs our front just waiting to take guys back to their hotels. I sure hope the corresponding wives and girlfriends don’t find out what went on, or just how much money is spent (those places are not cheap)
2. It’s nice that there is always something new to see. With all the construction on the Strip and around town there is always a new building opening every six months or so, such as the big one in the hotel next door to where I work. I am still impressed with how nice that place is.
3. Sunshine! It might be cold outside (OK, for us a high of 55f in January is cold) but there are no clouds in the sky and the sun is shining. I can take the cold as long as I can see the sun.
4. (an extra today!) Back before the internets when people had computers set up that others dialed into there was a famous one that was just amusing. I had a machine set up full of programs and programming tips that was always busy. But this one was about the most popular around, and all that it had was a dumb little song and a poor quality cartoon. It was also one of the first sites on the internet that was relatively amusing. You can still find the web site, though updated at Hampster Dance. The song is still around, and the cartoon has been updated, but it’s as infective as It’s a Small World. Be sure to turn it up for the kids, they will always dance to this one.


For those of you that have never been to Disneyland (are there people like that?) there is a ride that is about ten minutes long. It was originally at the 1966 New York World’s Fair and made it back to California, becoming a must ride for everyone with kids. And leaving everyone with this stupid song stuck in their heads after ten minutes of it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not much going on

After the big electronics and adult shows last week there is not much going on. Two of the halls upstairs are in use for a sporting logo and tailgating show, which is not much overhead. It's like most of the shows, not open to the public, so we don't have very big crowds. Saturday is the big grand opening party for the new tower next door. They've been setting up tables around the new shopping area and waterfall, Diana Ross will be the main entertainment (for $121.50) and all kinds of things will be going on. What it means for us is more traffic in the employee parking garage. Tuesday it took me 45 minutes to get from the traffic light at the corner into the garage and up to an empty spot at floor 11. When I get there at 6:30 this normally takes about two minutes, but I was a little late and guess I caught the shift change, getting to the light at 6:50. What a difference a few minutes makes. The new tower has 3,000+ rooms, 50 new shops, a dozen new restaurants, and brings 4,000 new employees into the facility.

Michael Jackson is staying in town with his kids (in a suite at the Palms) - they've been seen round and about at different attractions. Since Ms. Ross is one of his favorites we are wondering if he will show up to see her performance.

IN the next few weeks we will have all the halls filled with a big floring and surface covering show - the first one I got to see last year when I started here. Followed by an even bigger fashion week, filling us as well as the whole conference tower next door, and quite a few hotel suites for the expensive clothes.

This was what the upstairs looked like a few weeks ago during pack up for one show.


(yes, this is inside) I liked all the different colors on the trucks. At times there are up to fifty big trucks in this hall loading or unloading, along with a hundred fork lifts driving the stuff around. Makes for more interesting things to look at between the shows.

OK - I know it's supposed to be E Friday, and you are asking where is that kid. Well, our Granddaughter is up in Portland, and grandma is up there for a few weeks visiting. Reports are that things are going well. Here are a few shots from the last visit down here.

Pizza for dinner one night. I think it was enjoyed.


And just sitting in the back yard thinking about what to do next.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why do I do this stuff?

Ok, I saw it first over at Deana's so go there and find out how to do it. But it ends up creating your own band's CD cover. Now me, I'd rather have the big old record album, you remember, those large black CDs? Well,



The band name is Ekipa, which was a short-lived sports daily published in Belgrade, Serbia. The name of the CD comes from "It's hard to take over the world when you sleep 20 hours a day." by Darby Conley appearing in Get Fuzzy, one of my current favorite comic strips. The picture is called The rabbithole. I don't know, just what kind of music do you feel my group would do on a CD that looked like this? Maybe classic German Electronica?

For those of you unfamiliar with Get Fuzzy, Satchel is the rather inept dog and Bucky is the rather bossy know-it-all cat, most of the strips feature either one or the other, sometimes both. The line we usually say is 'poor Satchel'.


To see more go over to Comics.com.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Attendee recognition tips

How to recognize a female attendee of the Adult Entertainment Expo:

1. More skin visible than clothing. This usually includes a backless, low cut (very low cut) top and a skirt that looks more like a semi wide belt, sometimes but not always covering most of the g-string. (assuming there is a g-string)
2. Looks like she is hiding some type of sporting equipment under her blouse, such as two: footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, beach balls, or some even larger objects.
3. Extensive tattoo coverage, including but not limited to neck, full sleeves (from elbow to shoulder) and calves. The old 'tramp stamp' on the lower back visible between the low cut jeans and short top is not to be considered as too many 'normal' girls already have one.
4. Her clothes look to be skin tight, but on closer examination it's not clothes but just paint. (this is usually for women not included in #2)
5. She is wearing heels higher than your first step ladder.

One or more of these attributes will normally be present. Sorry guys, no photos, I was a little self conscious and besides I didn't want to get in the way of the geeks fighting to have their photos taken with these young women. They usually traveled in pairs or in the accompaniment of a gentleman that looked like a 'guido' or pimp. Of course, this being Vegas some of these women might just be local girls out for a walk or on the way to work.

Update: I should give a little disclaimer here, in that employees were not allowed in the hall, and I did not get to see the G4 version of this on television last night (I meant to, but just forgot when 10pm rolled around), so I did not get to see what went on inside. These observations were made in the main hall from the big hotel next door, where individuals were mixed in with attendees from the Consumer Electronics (geek) show, as well as in the complex lobby. Unfortunately I did not get to see the young women mentioned in item 4, but several of the people in customer service, who's counter faces the hall entrance, said that show management had to chase them back into the hall from the lobby several times (there was a spray painting booth inside where you could get done up if you wanted to). The rest of them were direct observations.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

E Friday outside

Here we are again with close to the last of my November E pictures. I haven’t looked at the ones B took on her September Portland trip, so we may go backwards in time to grab some of those soon, and she is off for Portland again next week to keep me stocked up. Well, I don’t think she is going just to take pictures for me, but it is one of the side items that come from the trip.

Today let’s remember the warmer weather of early November, when it was still cool enough to enjoy the outside and wear little jackets, and as normal full of Vegas sunshine. We can start out in the local playground, finding pine cones in the sand.


Just before she came down it was a cooler day in Portland, where jackets (for rain and cool) are worn much more often. And the sun was shining in her hair.


But down here the outfits are just as colorful, we wear hats and sun visors, and know how to ‘smile for the camera’.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Just Vegas

This is the week of one of our bigger shows, the Consumer Electronics Expo. It is split between us, the big convention center, and the Hilton. The city is expecting 140,000 people in town because of this show, and from looking at our lobby today, a great many of them are drifting through our facility. The show runs from today through Thursday.
Wednesday brings in a totally different show, the Adult Entertainment Expo. As titled, this has booths representing almost everything in the adult entertainment world, from videos to magazines to lotions to gadgets. Walking through the lower hall, the main company is still setting up booths and distributing pallets, and tomorrow the exhibitors will arrive to set up their own booths. One booth had a pallet filled with bags of sand. That display should be interesting. (brought up a discussion of sex on the beach, but I thought that was a trendy drink)
Internally, this week is spoken of as being filled with freeks and geeks. It should be an interesting combination.
What is very evident around town this week are things that look like this:


We have about the biggest, longest, fanciest limos found anywhere. And hundreds of them will be lined up in front of our door, as every movie 'star' that will be appearing at the downstairs show expects one. And the rich guys at the upstairs show expect theirs as well. I doubt if the chairman of GM, or the former chairman of Microsoft (both keynote speakers this week) drive themselves, or take cabs.

We had a rainy weekend. Over a foot of snow in Mt. Charleston, about an hour drive away, snow ringing the valley, and after two days the official city rain gauge at the airport registered (ready for this?) 0.07 inches. What is that, 2mm? For two days of clouds and winds? But it was sunny today, so I will put up with it. (what choice do I have?)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Boxing Day in Vegas

On Boxing Day (Dec 26 for you Americans) we thought that we’d get out of the house and walk the Strip, seeing the Christmas decorations and having lunch somewhere nice. We figured it was the slowest period of the year for Vegas, with people concentrating on family rather than fun. Well, we were wrong. It was no different than a typical Saturday, with lots of people everywhere. Our first thought on Christmas day was to go out for lunch, assuming that most places would be empty. But the waiters on Boxing Day said Christmas was packed. Oh well, no more slow times in Vegas.

We woke up to a nice crisp clear day, with stripes in the sky to the south, from planes flying from destinations back east out to LA.


Wanting to first hit the middle of the Strip, I parked in the Desert Passage parking garage. Well, that’s what it says on the back entrance, even if it’s labeled the Miracle Mile Shops on the front. That’s where I got my first indication of the crowds, from the fact that we had to go all the way up to level seven to find an empty space. We wandered through the mall, seeing how Planet Hollywood, the new owner of the Aladdin, was slowly converting it from a desert themed place into a standard mall. We did some shopping: I found a great sale on some square plates I have been wanting at Z Gallery. We then hit Paris for lunch on the balcony overlooking the Strip and the Bellagio fountains.
After lunch we walked back through the casino and over to Bally’s. The same company owns both, so there is a connection inside. Making it to the exit closest to the Flamingo corner we took the moving sidewalk through the old fashioned circles.


Going up the escalator to the pedestrian bridge we looked back at the activity over at City Center. Lots of cranes there, and several of them were moving, indicating workers going at it.


Entering the Bellagio at the Flamingo corner we walked through their shopping mall. Decorations this year were large fancy boxes, located at several wider spots along the walkways.
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Getting to the Conservatory, we found that the gardeners had left the center walkway with its overhead water fountains, and the big tree that was used last year in the back.


Over to one side of the tree were some larger ornaments around another fountain.


To one side was the penguin family, and the other the reindeer covered in walnuts. I wonder if they left the nuts on from last year or recovered them?


After wandering here we wanted some coffee and dessert, but found the chocolate place behind the conservatory packed. It’s the one with the overhead chocolate fountain and the marvelous pastries. Not wanting to wait, we thought of the sweet shop up at Wynn’s. So we drove up there, parking in the Venetian parking garage and walking through their lobby and checking out those Christmas trees. Over at Wynn’s we found a forest of trees and lights. But the sweet shop has been converted from pastries to sandwiches, so no dessert here.


Walking back through the Venetian canals we stopped at a pastry shop there, and finally satisfied our sweet tooths. (sweet teeth?) We took our time, and enjoyed watching the crowd wander by.

So see, we can fill up an afternoon, walk for miles, and not spend much money, and still have a good time.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New tower opens next door

On Sunday the big hotel next door opened its new tower, the first big resort property opened on the Strip since the Wynn in 2005. It is the tallest hotel in Las Vegas at 50 stories, over 3,000 hotel suites (not rooms), over 100,000 sq ft of casino floor, 50 shops, a dozen restaurants, and about the most beautiful d├ęcor of any place I have ever been in. The place is just marvelous; it outclasses the Wynn, Bellagio and everything else here.

Sorry, no outside shots (too cold) but a lot of pictures from the inside. When you first come up the circular drive you enter into the long lobby area. This is what the entrance doors look like from inside. The place looks empty because I took these shots this morning around 7:30, well before most tourists are awake and about.


Walking in, this is the view that you have.


In the center of the lobby is a large sculpture and statue – it’s over fifty feet to the glass dome overhead.


This view is looking west, behind the fountain are large doors leading directly to a balcony over the Strip, with the TI pirate ship right across the street. Walking around the fountain you come to the check in desk. The casino had a ‘soft’ opening, meaning they were ready to take your money, but the official fancy opening is not for three weeks or so, none of the hotel rooms are ready for guests but the casino floor is open for gambling. Yes, those are people behind the counter, so how high would you say the ceiling is?


Turning from the center lobby to the casino brings you to your first view of the casino floor.


Turning around, this is what the central lobby look s like from there.


Lots of room on the floor, big slots and big chairs in front of them to keep you comfortable. It really is a classy casino, with very high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and skylights.


Walking through the casino turning towards the old hotel you come to a large atrium. This is what the casino floor looks like from that angle.


The atrium is full of fountains and flowers, and it too has a glass dome fifty or sixty feet overhead. Three stories of shopping arcade are concentrated here. Going up the escalators you come to the end of a canal, where you can ride a gondola indoors and be serenaded. That's the entrance to the old hotel to the left under the escalator.


Walking behind the escalators into the current property and turning around, this is what the atrium entrance looks like. So if you hit the old place first this is the face of the new from inside.


I continued on down past the auditorium where the men painted blue entertain and through part of the conference center. This is the main hall in the old hotel conference center. Well, I say old hall because it is what, eight years old now?


Continuing downstairs you arrive at the convention center where I work, built in 1990 it is getting a little tired and old, and construction on its replacement should be starting any day now. When that is done this will be torn down and replaced by three new towers and another grand casino.


So when the hotel opens this facility will have (OK, time for the ad men) over 7,000 hotel rooms, making it the largest hotel in the world, over a hundred fifty shops scattered around a canal located on the second floor (inside), several dozen of the finest restaurants anywhere, several hudred thousand square feet of casino floor, and over 2,300,000 square feet of convention and meeting rooms. Probably around 10,000 employees work here, our lowest price room starts at $199, and the average occupancy runs over 96% for the year. I checked on room rates in the new tower, the smallest room is over 700 square feet (well, suite really not a room) and the rent varies from day to day. Most Vegas hotels use a software package that adjusts room rate based on demand. If the place is empty the rooms are cheaper, if there is a big show and high demand the rates are high. Looking over a three month period this spring, the smaller suite was $199 for one day, went up to $249, 299, and as high as $599 during the big jewelry show week. Must be nice to be able to charge based on demand. It would be like a restaurant that had one price for food when the place was empty, and raised the prices on the menu as more people came in, charging three times as much on a Friday when people were lined up to get in.

So, if you are in town stop by for a tour. And do drop some money in the slots or at the tables.