Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’


Las Vegas Oddities

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

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Michael and I just returned from a trip down the Strip to Encore. It’s a beautiful luxury hotel, sister to the equally elegant Wynn. My friend Jon Schneider from Cheshire is visiting. We had coffee. Very nice.

The rolling signs advertising “Girls That Want To Meet You” are still driving around, though as Michael noted, they’re looking faded. Some of the women pictured on the signs must be in their forties by now.

The world’s largest Ferris Wheel is now visible, though seemingly not yet running.

It was cool–high was near 60°. There were still people out at the pool this morning. For some people, being in Las Vegas this time of year is like receiving a pardon from winter.

The Wynn is all dressed up for Chinese New Year. The influence of Chinese culture is very visible in Las Vegas. Some of the casinos’ best customers are of Asian ancestry.

Here’s a perfect example. We’re staying on the 50th floor. Except it’s not. It’s really the 40th!

The express elevator counts 38, 39, 50, 51, 52, etc. My understanding is “4″ is an unlucky number to some Chinese people.

At some point in the constructions some contractor must have said, “Renumber the floors? Sure, we can do that.”

There’s also a large Buddha shrine with fresh flowers as you enter the lobby and red everywhere. Red is a lucky color.

At the Wynn/Encore, where their players club card is called, “Red,” there are Chinese gardens with large red ornamental dragons hanging from the ceiling.

Everywhere you go there are statues of horses. It is the year of the horse.

This is smart marketing. I’m sure the Catskills marketed this way toward my parents and their friends in the 50s and 60s.

A Hike In Red Rock

Saturday, February 8th, 2014


Most people think of Las Vegas and stop at casinos. That’s easy to do. They’re built as one-stop shops to separate you and your money. Luckily, there’s a lot more going on here in the desert.

Just west of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area. Red Rock Canyon is located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip on Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159. The area is 195,819 acres and is visited by more than one million people each year. In marked contrast to a town geared to entertainment and gaming, Red Rock offers enticements of a different nature including a 13-mile scenic drive, more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with exhibit rooms and a book store.

Red rock 2   GmailMostly, it’s undisturbed desert with great views.

With temperatures in the upper 50s today was perfect for a walk. We chose a trail with little vertical climbing and started out.

We’re actually not sure how long we were on the trail before we lost it. There were still plenty of footprints in the dry river wash we followed and we didn’t go too far astray. We just lost the actual trail!

My Cousin Michael was quick to note, no birds. We did see one tiny gray bird Mother Nature has made nearly indistinguishable from the rocks it lands on. That was it. One bird… and we were looking.

It’s also interesting to see the colors of the plants. Many of the living desert species have colors normally only seen once a plant has died!






I Wish I Was At CES

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Between the reading tweets and news coverage I’ve become disappointed I’m not at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Las Vegas is nearby. CES has all the toys.

Technology is constantly changing. The big deal at this show is how much processing power can be put in how small a space, like Intel’s Edison Development Board.

It’s the same size as an SD card, commonly used in point and shoot cameras. It has a two core processor, with WiFi and Bluetooth already integrated.

Intel says, wear Edison. Here’s their suggestion for a baby monitor.

Start with a computer that really is the size of an SD card.
Attach it to a regular onesie and sensors that monitor the baby’s temperature, breathing, and motion.
Then, set the Intel Edison board to trigger actions on other connected devices, like this automatic bottle warmer or this coffee cup.
Each one of these has the Intel Edison board inside, communicating with the others to deliver amazing solutions to age-old problems.

Helicopter parents, your prayers have been answered.

This baby surveillance system is just a demo. It’s a taste of what the device can do so other developers create more products using it.

There’s lot of talk of 4k video at CES. It’s a new, higher standard for video. 4k video is sharper and more lifelike than HDTV.

I’ve seen 4k. Spectacular. The improvement is immediately noticeable.

Unfortunately, in 2014 having 4k capability is like having a car that can do 160 mph. So? Where can you use it?

Cable, satellite and Internet delivered video are all compressed mercilessly before we see it at home. Modern TVs are capable of much better images than what we see. I’d rather get less compressed HDTV (and hold onto my current hardware) than compressed 4k.

Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! spoke today. Her arrival has been widely applauded among the Technorati. Whether Yahoo! becomes a bigger player, as they once were, is another story. Their stock’s doing well.

1,700 were at the Hilton to see her. Katie Couric talked about her involvement with Yahoo News. David Pogue’s Yahoo! tech site was shown off.

It’s still more smoke than substance. They seem to be moving in the right direction. It’s a company full of smart people who should be able to figure things out.

This is the nerd prom. I need to attend. Maybe next year?

The Sad Life Of The Retired Neon Of Las Vegas

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Since its gambling days began Las Vegas has been known for its garish neon signs. No more. The signs are still garish but the neon is gone, replaced with LEDs and computer wizardry.

Many of the signs have been lost. Not all. Las Vegas hosts a Neon Museum.

We went to visit on a recent trip. I’m glad I went, but disappointed in what I saw.

Most of the signs are intact, but unrestored. Most can’t be lit. Colored spotlights shine on the signs adding a look that never existed when they were originally on display.

It’s sad. I wish I didn’t have to say that. This is more a specialized junkyard than museum.

We took the one hour tour. Too long. I would have preferred an unguided tour with some written material, but that’s not an option. Guided tour or no go!

I’m sure the museum is operating on a small budget with limited resources. I wish they could do more with what they have.

Here are a few of the shots I took. I’ve converted them to black and white to try and capture the grittiness and condition of the signs today. I think it gives them a 1950s retro feel.

All the photos are clickable for a larger view









Three Las Vegas Timelapse Videos

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Yes, I am too obsessed with timelapse video. It’s a gimmick, but it’s often the best way to see mainly static scenes in a new light. At least that’s what I’m trying to convince myself.

Here are three timelapse videos. They were all shoot out our hotel window on the 24th floor of Aria in Las Vegas.

Windows are terrible for photography. That goes double for double pane windows, which is what we have here.

Of course there’s no choice. These windows don’t open!

If you’ve never been to Las Vegas this might wet your appetite.

From The Poker Room

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013



I am at Aria, a beautiful hotel in Las Vegas.  I’m at a poker table playing in the seven o’clock tournament. I brought my tablet. Yes, tablets are OK in the poker room. Welcome to the 21st Century!

The truth is it would be impossible to ban cellphones and their cameras. Petiole are using them everywhere. And the casinos are photogenic. Social media is free advertising.

Aria has a tournament every day at one and seven.  Poker tournaments are played at ten person tables.  We each pay a fixed amount, tonight $125.  Each gets $10,000 In tournament chips. 

So far 52 people have bought in.   The final five all get paid.  The last man standing will get $2119. Number five gets $303.

It’s all guys at my table. Women play, but maybe ten percent are women.

Everyone is intense.

Tourists dominate this tournament tonight. Locals play, but usually cash games.  Everyone here wants something to bring home and brag about.

This room also hosts some of the highest stakes games in Vegas.  I have seen chip stacks as big as a yearly salary–real money chips.

Even at my level of play I’m seldom the best player at my table, but I hold my own.

Most people think of poker as a card game.  It’s actually a betting game!  Having aces doesn’t mean you’ll win a lot.  Position is important, so the order of the deal rotates around the table.

As a rule, poker players are not comped.  A lot of players tonight are staying elsewhere.

This is a great room. Nicely lit. Comfy chairs. Excellent cocktail service, though for me it’s coffee or diet something.

If I play well I’ll be here until two am.  I’d like to have something to brag about.

My Very Cool Las Vegas Day-To-Night Timelapse

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

As promised, here is a timelapse video shot through the window of our hotel room in Las Vegas. We’re on the 49th floor. The view is pretty spectacular. The camera is looking west, toward the setting Sun. The rest of the Las Vegas Strip is hidden off to the left. Downtown Las Vegas is far to the right, also hidden.

I expected the haze and cirrus to produce a beautiful red glow. No such luck. You’ll hardly miss it.

In case you’re wondering, this timelapse was shot one frame every two seconds. That makes this sixty times normal speed.

It’s pretty obvious why you don’t want to shoot through a window. In this case it’s two windows! Double panes are used for noise and climate control.

All things considered, not too bad.

I’m Happy To See Haze

Monday, June 3rd, 2013


I just came up to our room to get something and looked out the window. It’s the kind of view you can’t get enough of, courtesy of a cousin who checked in before us and finagled a room on the 49th floor!

The sky is hazy with a very thin layer of cirrus clouds. Only 100° now! We’re down from the high.


That’s my limited perspective speaking. Perfect, because haze and see-through cloudiness produce the best sunsets! This room looks west. I’m hoping to make a sunset timelapse.

gopro-mount-on-windowIf you’ll look closely at the window you’ll see the housing for my GoPro Hero camera already suctioned on the window frame. The idea is to shoot the Sun going down then continue rolling to catch the lights of the city and its traffic.

This double paned window with water spots from the last rain isn’t ideal, but no one’s letting me the roof. I’ll close the curtains to keep any room light from creating glare or reflections and hope for the best.

Las Vegas sunset is 7:53 PDT (10:53 PM EDT) tonight. If it works the results go online before I hit the sack.

On A Plane, Again

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

wpid-20130601_122649.jpgOnce again Helaine and I are in the air. We somewhere over Iowa at 36,000 feet in clear air, well above the clouds, but bumpy. The forecast says another hour of rock and roll before things settle down.

We’re headed to Las Vegas. Considering we move from Connecticut in 2½ weeks, this trip is a little ill timed.

wpid-wp-1370107060051.jpgHowever, Stef’s birthday is Monday. As good parents, fly we must!

This has been a real, “Say Hi to Geoff” experience. The guy across the aisle follows me on Twitter. The woman next to Helaine shot a photo of me (mouth open), then took one with me. The people directly behind me caught on to what was happening and said hello too.

Will I miss this celebrity on the West Coast? Yes, I will.

No need to be dishonest. I enjoy the fame and have always tried to remember it’s a two way street. My job is to be gracious and let people know how much I really do appreciate their years of viewing and trust in my weather judgement.

I’m not sure it’s been mentioned here on the blog yet, but I would like to continue forecasting when we get to SoCal. It would be great to find some part time or freelance on-air work in LA. Whether that happens is another story.

If you’ve got contacts or advice you’d like to share, drop me a line.

I do plan to continue creating websites through DopplerDesign. Web design is a fun challenge. I especially enjoy working from home in pajamas!

Sully just told us we’re over Nebraska with 2:20 to go before Las Vegas. I’m ready.

The Farewell Las Vegas Photo

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Stef stopped by our hotel for a few hours after work. She was going to take a cab ‘home’ to her hotel across the Interstate, but I offered to drive and she took me up on my offer.

As we approached the Palms she told me there was a place for me to get nice photos of the Strip. I turned into the mostly empty parking garage and headed up to the roof. It was a vantage she’d noticed from her suite.

I started shooting, trying to get around the two main towers at the Palms which were in the way. As I was clicking away a security guard bicycled up to us. I assumed he was going to politely ask us to leave. Instead he suggested going to another garage on the east side of the property for a better shot!

Thank you Maloof family.

This photo consists of 20 separate shots. It was pieced together in Microsoft ICE, a free application for Windows PCs and many cellphones. The original is a 145 megapixel image!

Click on the photo for a better, more detailed look. There’s still some cleanup and tweaking necessary before I print it, but I’m pretty happy with what’s here now.