Tag Archives: las vegas

Random Vegas Observations

There is an amazing variety of people in Las Vegas:  young; old; fat; thin; rich; poor; barely-clad; wildly overdressed; fancy; schleppy; drunk; sober.

Middle-aged ladies in Bryn Walker linen and Børn* sandals are, as a general matter, not one of those categories.  At my age, I would  fit in better in either (1) dyed-brown  helmet-hair and Talbots; or (2) a dyed-blonde bouffant and stretch capris.

Corollary:  I can’t go shopping in Vegas because casino shops generally don’t have Bryn Walker,  Børn, Lands End, LL Bean, or Best Buy.

New business plan:  The Introvert Hotel and Spa.  Next door to — but separated by weapons-grade soundproofing from — an ordinary casino, the IHS will feature quiet, sunny, reading areas with quiet waitstaff quietly bringing you umbrella drinks and quiet spa facilities where quiet massage therapists deliver relaxing, yet quiet, massages.  Projected client base:  nerdy introverted spouses of nerdy introverted poker players.

Related observation:  MGM moved its poker room from the former, centrally-located, area next to what I think was a strip bar with a limited playlist of brain-liquifying techno music, to a side area that was quieter than the entire rest of the casino.  Perhaps the MGM has realized that poker players are different from the rest of their slot-playing, beer-bong-toting, bachelor-party-reveling patrons.

Unrelated observation:  Who on God’s green earth brings their infants and toddlers to Vegas? It can’t possibly be fun for either the kids or the parents.

Lobster corn dogs: just the wrong amount of wrong.

Gatorade looks awesome in a wine glass:

{Image:  Bright blue liquid in a wine glass against a neutral background.}


* Yes, I enjoyed finding the “ø” in WordPress, but then you knew that.

Vegas at Sunrise

The views from  our hotel at sunrise:

{Image:  orange sunrise with the silhouette of a building in the lower left-hand corner of the photo.}


{Image:  mountains and sunrise reflected in the windows of a highrise building.}


{Image:  sunrise over the mountains, but in the foreground, a busy airport runway and the neon "6" of a Motel 6 sign.}


And we really enjoyed a small oasis of beautiful music amidst the mayhem.


{A female cellist with cello and a male violinist with violin on a pedestrian bridge over a street in Las Vegas; the background full of neon signs and traffic.}

Yes, we tipped them, both for the music and for the photo opportunity.

My $150 investment in figuring out I’m not a landscape photographer.

So I took the Ferrari out for a spin — the fancy lens that I rented for our Las Vegas trip — and made an important discovery:  I’m really much happier with my Honda, photographically speaking.

That is, I really prefer macro-like or at least small-scale photography to landscape photography, at least for my own shooting.  I guess I should have figured this out, since my preferred photographic genre is Random Shit.  But I thought I’d see what I could do with a giant lens that could open up to f2.0 through the entire zoom range of 35-100MM.  (Photo nerds – did I say that right?)  A lens that was described in reviews as having “buttery soft bokeh, with a good nose, hoppy notes, and a peaty finish.”  Or something like that.

Of course, I can’t blame the incredible lens for my lack of skill and preparation.  I actually did a lot of theoretical preparation — checked the time of sunrise on The Photographers’ Ephemeris and set an early wake-up call — to make sure I was at Red Rock Canyon for the beautiful early morning light.  But it turned out that I’d miscalculated sunrise, and I then found myself — this was both hilarious and devastating to my carefully-planned timing — unable to make the stove work in our hotel kitchenette,* requiring additional time to grab some breakfast on the way.

By the time I got there, it was long past sunrise, but I still got some pretty cool shots:





When I got bored with taking landscape photos, I took a couple of exposure-bracketed shots and had fun with HDR,** which at this point requires no talent whatsoever.  I toss three bracketed photos into Photomatrix Essentials, and voila!  HDR!


But not just default HDR, “painterly” HDR:


“surreal” HDR:


and “black & white artistic” HDR:

AR104056_7_8_B&W artistic-1

I’m a regular Ansel Adams!

HDR collage

Stop her before she noodles again!

At this point in the morning, I switched to my Nifty Fifty*** and took the sort of photos I enjoy both shooting and looking at later.  For example, I like the landscape on top of a cactus


more than the landscapes above.

Here are some more sorta kinda**** macro — or at least small & random — photos.






More fun with HDR:


And some fun with Lightroom:


I had hiked the first couple of miles of the 13-mile circuit through Red Rock Canyon, then hiked back to the car — that’s serious distance for this desk potato! — and drove the rest of the way around the Scenic Drive.

Red Rock Canyon

I stopped at the High Point Overlook for lunch and more amazing scenery.


Met a couple of cyclists and convinced one to take a photo of me and my cool rental car.  One of them explained that he was going to do “18 or 19 miles today.”  I said, “wow – 19 miles!” He said — you saw this coming, right? — “No. 90 miles. 9-0.”

High Point Overlook

Oddly, I completely failed to convince Tim that I encountered carnivorous wildlife on my hike with either this photo


or this one.


As you can see from the previous two photos, the final stop on my Red Rock Canyon Adventure was the Visitor Center, where I strolled past a lot of the sort of informative displays that I’ve been studiously ignoring since elementary school field trips, but did get to meet Maxine the tortoise:


All in all, a gorgeous and satisfying photographic outing!


Extra bonus photo of Shibuya, the excellent sushi restaurant where Tim took me to dinner.  I love the food and the decor.  It feels like you’re dining in your own private tree house!



*In my defense, neither could Tim or our assistant, Dustin, who can make *anything* work.  Nor did housekeeping have a clue — they had the hotel engineer come by later in the day and write out instructions.

** From time to time, I remember what this stands for.  Not just now, though.  But it means superimposing three differently-exposed shots to take advantage of the good exposure in each.

*** OK OK, Nifty Forty-Nine.

**** I don’t think the Nifty Forty-Nine counts as a macro lens, strictly speaking.

Vegas Diary

Arrive at the Vegas airport with no power in the power chair.  Parking guy happy to help because he loves God.  No luck; battery is dead; charger is kaput; not really God’s fault.  Carrie IMs suggestion: buy a car battery charger at Walmart.

Of course Vegas has a 24-hour Walmart.   And of course Carrie has solved the problem.*

Breakfast Saturday morning the girl at the next table has a head full of pink rollers.

Tim heads off to play poker; I find quiet corner of a lounge to read.**  Overhear a guy explaining the relationship of free will to Christianity.

On the way to manicure, learn the reason for pink hair rollers and over-decorated 8-year-olds: MGM is hosting a cheerleading competition.  Also, said 8-year-olds look like they could kick my ass.

Get a manicure.  Nail polish is called Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ.  Love the color but love the name more.

Join Tim at poker where he is playing Texas Hold Em at a table with Orel Hershiser.  First time I’ve seen a World Series ring in person.

Out to  dinner wearing 4 inch heels.***

Christmas carols in the casino are a weird combination with the slot machine sounds.  Also just weird.  Perhaps for the first time in my half[assed] Jewish life, I find myself asking WWJD.

Sunday Tim plays Hold Em with Hershiser for another six hours.  He takes off the World Series ring to let me get a closer look.  It’s incredibly cool and diamondy.  Hershiser is funny and a mensch, offering to help Tim with cards.

We decide it would be too weird to ask for a photo, so you’ll have to take our word for it.

An introvert strolls down the Strip:

Wow!  This is so cool!

Vegas is full of such diverse, interesting, weird people!


A pirate!

A, um, little person dressed like Elvis.  Cool?  Exploitative?  He has every right to make as big an ass of himself as anyone else in Vegas, right?

Fat Michael Jackson impersonator.  Same questions?

Awesome people-watching!

Diversity!  Let your freak flag fly!

Why do people bring toddlers to Vegas?

Funny t-shirts!

Funny sexist t-shirts.  OK, well, it’s Vegas.

Disgusting sexist t-shirts.  Yuk. Sigh.

Skinny Santa alone with his Christmas tree.

Geez there are a lot of people on the Strip.

No, I don’t want Girls Girls Girls!

And wouldn’t the Girls Girls Girls proprietors have better luck if they gave their sales reps clean Girls Girls Girls t-shirts?

Screw diversity and freak flags — what is the fastest way back to the hotel??

This is actually an example of the Introvert Curve:

Rinse.  Repeat.  The social interaction can be anything, really, from strolling down the Strip in Vegas to attending a cocktail party****.   And what’s great is:  I also have some sort of Introvert Amnesia that makes me forget this curve as I ascend the left side, my need to Get Outta There coming as a surprise each time.

Anyway, we headed home Monday having accomplished perhaps the most important variation on the Vegas cliche:  What happened outside of Vegas stayed outside of Vegas.  We really needed a break from litigation, worrying about litigation, and litigating the case in our heads at 3 a.m. … and we got it.

Now back to reality.


* She specializes in ass-kicking lawsuits on behalf of radically underserved groups and lifehacking.  Ask her to assemble your IKEA furniture; she’s really good at that too!

** What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

*** Sorry no footwear photos.  Images of age-inappropriate shoes worn in Vegas stay in Vegas.

****  This makes it sound like we attend sophisticated gatherings where people dress up and drink interesting mixed drinks.  Mostly, we play poker and order out for BBQ.