In My Room

Looking north you see how far civilization goes and how abruptly it stops. Vegas doesn’t thin out. It just stops. Homes on one side of the street, a desolate desert wilderness for hundreds of miles on the other.

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We’re on 27. In Las Vegas that doesn’t necessarily mean the 27th floor. They count oddly. No floors in the unlucky 40s. There’s a lot more hotel above us.

The view is to the north. The Wynn/Encore complex block the northwest.

Las Vegas (The Meadows) sits in a broad desert valley. The region is flat, ringed by mountains.

Looking north you see how far civilization goes and how abruptly it stops. Vegas doesn’t thin out. It just dead ends. Homes on one side of the street, a desolate desert wilderness for hundreds of miles on the other.

Sunsets here often resemble the mixed drinks you find on cruise ships. Tonight’s did.

Don’t Lose Your Credit Card In Las Vegas!

Sometime during lunch Helaine dropped her credit card. She didn’t know it was missing until she got a text from Chase.

While she was reading the text I was looking at an email. Chase was pulling out all the stops. They wanted answers. They were in a hurry!

Hello Mr Geoff Fox, please respond immediately

Action required  Please confirm activity   geoff.fox gmail.com   Gmail

Are you kidding? $3121.50! They didn’t want to turn down a legit purchase this size. My call really was important to them.

I can’t be sure, but the initials GCA appear on the fraud notice and the ATM’s at the hotel we were visiting. It’s likely whomever found the card tried to get $3,000 (plus fees) in cash.

Why? Because Las Vegas!

Diogenes wouldn’t have liked it here.

By the time Helaine got Chase on the phone more purchases had been denied. In one store the crooks were asked for ID, then said they didn’t have it with them.

There was a time merchants would be told to hold onto the card. They don’t that anymore. Too dangerous in the 21st Century.

The bank has limited their exposure by freezing the account. Chase 1 Crooks 0.

Meanwhile, the Foxes are minus the card while away from home. And, of course, we will have to inform everyone AGAIN!!!

Yippee.

Las Vegas Oddities

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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&#176. 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

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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   geoff.fox gmail.com   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!

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I Wish I Was At CES

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

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

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