Saturday, September 29, 2007

Las Vegas with Emphasis on Wynn

The Wynn Hotel and Casino is one of the most luxurious hotels not just in Las Vegas but in the world, and it that caters to upper class clientele. Named after long-time Las Vegas investor Steve Wynn (who had enough ego to name a hotel after himself or possibly his wife), this majestic property was spared no expense towards its grand completion. Here are a few pictures taken from outside the property as well as from inside the property. Some of the outside property shots of Wynn were taken from the Fashion Show Mall - another high-end establishment - located right across from Wynn.

Disclaimer: I'm still getting comfortable with my camera, so some of these pictures are not the best. My "eye" needs more maturation so I can see those shots before I take them.

O.K. this first picture is not the Wynn property, but rather a snap shot of a new tower that is being built by the Venetian. The reason I've included it here is so you can get an idea of how close the airport is to the Las Vegas Strip. Off to the side, you can see a Southwest Boeing 737 beginning its ascension right after take off. If you stay at the MGM, you can literally see the runways from your hotel room.

This second picture is a side view of the Wynn property. This shot of the property is the side facing the Las Vegas Strip.

This angle shot reveals one of the most unique and imaginative kiosks in all the hotels in Vegas. Can you see the triangular shaped "board" that has Wynn written on it? Well, it operates very similar to an elevator. It has the ability to slide to the top of that vertical structure and back down again. As it ascends to the top, it will cover that white, luminous "Alex" advertisement revealing a new add beneath it. Once it reaches the top, it will remain there for a few seconds and slide back down again. As it descends, another ad will appear above. In this picture, it is all the way at the bottom and the advertisement ( the "Alex") is above.

The following series of pictures reveal the many (and expensive) shops that are available at this property. With some of these pics you wont believe your eyes.

Rolex anyone?

For you choc-aholics there is a pastry shop that will have your eyes popping from their sockets.

Louis Vuitton, mademoiselle?

Jean Paul Coutier is a label with success that has eluded conventional wisdom since its conception. Can anyone tell me what is the big deal with this guy's fashion? Must be the celebrity names that made a big deal out of nothing. (Thanks Madonna)

Dior. Another brand that escapes me.

Oscar de la Renta.

Chanel is the historic label made famous by celebrities and first ladies. I don't think men constitute a significant portion of their demographics.

Cartier. Very luxurious; very expensive.

The following pictures are of a restaurant/ bar at the Wynn Hotel that is absolutely breathtaking. That beige structure that you see towards the back is a waterfall. In the water you can see statues of people playing.

Now we start getting into some serious toys. But before that, here is a picture of the Ferrari Store. In this store you can buy accessories for your Ferrari (everyone these days has one, right?), as well as Ferrari memorabilia.

If, by chance, you would like a REAL Ferrari to go with your Ferrari memorabilia, why not step inside this Ferrari dealer and buy yourself the real McCoy. That's right. If you stay at the Wynn property, you can take the elevator down to the first floor, walk a few feet through the casino, and buy yourself a Ferrari.

All this shopping, fine dining, and amenities can be very expensive. But if you hit this jackpot called Megabucks, you'll be able to make the return trip and buy more Ferrari's for some time to come!

A waterfall outside Wynn at night.

This is another picture of the Wynn kiosk, but taken at night time. The "Wynn" is beginning to descend, revealing the beginnings of a new ad right above it. As it descends, the greater portion that is now visible, "Reservations Call 770-..." will be completely gone and the new advertisement will completely appear.

Tom in Vegas


Something for the guys: One picture(s) I did not dare take was that of the cocktail waitresses. I'm not sure what it is about Wynn and its cocktail waitresses, but suffice it to say, my jaw dropped when they came along!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some Bad News

On Monday I took my dog to the doctor because he had been going to the bathroom quite frequently. At first I thought it was do to his hyperactive, unruly nature, but that rationale did not feel like an adequate explanation. Well, I got the call today from the vet and it appears that he has an enlarged prostrate that is causing him to go to the bathroom so much. If you didn't know this about me. I'll tell you now: I am an animal lover and I treat this little Critter like he is another member of the family. He has taken on the qualities of a human being and he is loved immensely. I am worried sick about him. Next Wednesday I have to take him to the vet so he can perform an ultra-sound on him and possible biopsy. Please say a prayer for him.


Friday, September 21, 2007

An Observation Poetically Expressed

The Fall of Icarus by Bruegel

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood: They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Musee des Beaux Arts, or Museum of Fine Arts, is a poem by famed twentieth century British writer Wystan Hugh Auden that succinctly and eloquently expresses what I call the "peripherals of suffering." By "peripherals of suffering" I mean the people, places, things, and conditions that envelope the individual who suffers, unnoticeably to the rest of the world. Auden writes, " it takes place/ While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along..." Isn't this typically the case? Your world is crumbling and people go on with their lives like nothing ever happened.

The "Old Masters" Auden alludes to are the fourteenth through eighteenth century artists whose Renaissance pieces are also referred to as old masters.

Auden sites the 16th century painting The Fall of Icarus by Netherlandish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, in which all of the characters in the painting, including a ship, carry on with their activities and fail to react to the drowning of a boy at close proximity to them. Not a single one of these subjects is disrupted or distracted from their interests by the drowning of Icarus.

Both poem and painting illustrate how at some point in time we all have found ourselves afflicted by the conditions of the small boy, or the apathetic tendencies of the indifferent.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Las Vegas Babble: Vegas at Night (but not the best pictures)

The above picture features the construction site of the prodigious City Center project that is slated to open in 2009. This picture was taken around 3 a.m. and the construction crews were hard at work (yes, crane included) in this very messy area of the Las Vegas Strip. Towards the right of City Center, and at some distance from it, can be seen the Bellagio, Ceasars Palace, The Mirage, and the Eiffel Tower of the Paris.

This pic shows the MGM kiosk and a screen (I forgot the proper name of it) that is so incredibly vivid you almost need sunglasses at night to look straight into it. The Excalibur and its colorful spires are featured here; the New York, New York and its exterior roller coaster; and behind the MGM kiosk can be seen the Mandalay Bay, and the Luxor beacon beaming from atop the pyramid-shaped hotel.

The above pictures displays the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. This intersection involves the New York, New York (cross the street) and, to the left of the picture (but can't be seen), the MGM Grand Hotel.

More of the City Center project and a small inclusion of the Monte Carlo kiosk.

Okay, so I made a mistake, but there is no better way of learning than by these knocks to the head.

I took a few pictures of the Las Vegas Strip in all its nighttime glory. Featured in this post are images of the MGM Grand Hotel, Excalibur, The Monte Carlo and its exterior roller coaster, the Paris, the Bellagio, and a few other hotels that are visible in the background. Included are construction images of the massive City Center project, which is being built by the MGM Mirage Corporation, owners of most of the casinos featured here.

Now, where is my mistake? Well, HOW ABOUT USING THE IMAGE STABILIZER OPTION OF A CAMERA THAT ALREADY COMES WITH IT?!! Yes, dumb Tom forgot his basics while taking these pictures. Again, I've learned from this snafu and have lots of other targets to shoot at before calling these set of pictures a complete loss. Unfortunately, this was as close to the Las Vegas Strip that I could come to from an elevated structure. I will most assuredly visit this vantage point and retake some of these pictures (using the IS) again. Also, applying the use of my tripod might also give greater stability, therefore enhanced clarity, to the photos.

I'm giving strong consideration to developing a satellite blog dedicated to Vegas imagery. Hmm...?


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

God Laughs when You Make Plans: A Bout of Introversion Pt. 2

I struggle to understand what unnameable something keeps our lives from unfolding the way we plan. What powerful opposition can repel our progress of moving towards the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams like we envision in the merriest of reveries. Is it the Fate clause found so emotionally in Tchaikovsky's symphonies as well as in the composer's private life? (Fate, that force which keeps us from being perfectly happy). Before you respond with the cliche rebuttals that normally accompany these types of inner observations, I'll have you know I'm already well versed in these. The problem is that I find them both terribly inadequate and banal. Clearly, there are reasons why life knocks us from our planned trajectory, and in many cases it turns out to be a blessing instead of a curse (this sometimes can only be seen in retrospect). But is this always the case? Is disappointment and disillusionment nothing more than Life watching our backs? Or is it that happiness is contraband in this world of ours? Does every square inch of the universe come encoded with instructions to cut us down the minute the "joy barometer" reaches a certain point? Clearly that's not the case (I think). But I am starting to notice a design quality to this condition. It's as if someone or something INTENTIONALLY made it this way.

My college psychology professor once stated that most of us walk the earth broken and unfulfilled. A reality first discussed by mystics that came centuries and centuries before he did.

I'm sure there are human beings out there, cynical and battle-weary, who look at a dream not as an idea of what to endeavor towards, but rather a symbol of something that will remain perpetually elusive. Are people like them mere misanthropes, or have they become aware of the facts of life?


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tech. Babble: Steve Jobs does it again

Just when I thought the current iPod in my possession would rule supreme for the foreseeable future, my good friends at Apple revolutionized the entire video and audio players in their inventory. I currently have two iPods: a third and a sixth generation players. I bought the latest one (80GB video iPod) about five moths ago thinking nothing would change at least till 2008. Was I wrong. A 160 gig iPod comes to the open market on September 10th, and a touch screen iPod (iPod Touch) follows close behind. Dam! Dam! Dam! I should have waited just a tad longer to acquire this 160 gig iPod or the more sexy iPod Touch. But you know what, it wasn't my fault. They kept this stuff under wraps to avoid hurting the sales of the current technology (aka milk the consumer) before announcing the upgrades. As a matter of fact, a new iPhone with greater memory is set to hit the market at a considerable lower price than the first iPhone that came out just a few months ago. Subsequently, Steve Jobs is refunding $100.00 to anyone who purchased the initial iPhone in hopes of avoiding a negative media firestorm over this last minute switch-a-roo.

The iPod Touch will be available is 8GB ($299) and 16GB ($399) capacities. Now, if you have a lot of movies and music already on an iPod classic, that amount of memory will not be enough. I strongly recommend that you do not dish-out $400 for these devices until they come out with at least an 80GB capacity iPod Touch. I guarantee you by then the 80GB iPod Touch will cost the same as the 16GB iPod Touch cost now, with the 16GB iPod Touch completely phased-out.

Mr. Jobs, I certainly do not want anything bad to enter your life, but I did hear that people who jog with their iPods are three times more likely to get struck by lightning than people who do not use an iPod.

Do you jog, Mr. Jobs?


BTW, at first glance, can you detect the differences between iPod Touch and an iPhone?


Perhaps one of the most theologically elusive and incomprehensible topics of discussion for me seems to be the subject of consciousness. Many years ago, while I was still a child, the most bothersome challenges to my faith were brought on by cosmology and the many theories of universal origins and ultimate fate generated by this scientific field of study. Well, exposing myself to the works of many theistic cosmologists and physicist (not to mention the Jesuits at the Vatican Observatory) has helped quell some of those misunderstandings, and has added clarity and dimension to more advanced propositions in circulation today. In subsequent years, the cosmology provocations have been taken up by the challenges and advancements in the biology demesne, specifically neurology. This seems to be the field in which atheistic intellectuals have their blaring hullabaloo. There is SO MUCH atheistic literature on this topic that I can scarcely recall the name of an author with respectable credentials that has written intelligently on this subject matter.

The irreligious have many theoretical propositions to explain the origins of consciousness, but in a nutshell, they believe that evolution alone can be credited with this phenomenon, even though consciousness remains largely unexplainable. "God" is an exanimate and anachronistic invention of the human brain, and a hindrance in the sociological development of mankind (let's not even bring up the laughable, hopeful expectation of an after life). Evolution does not contradict (in my case) Christian doctrine. As a matter of fact, Teilhard de Chardin saw evolution as something sacred, and not just a mere biological process. But what does bother me is the muted response by theologians and other theistic individuals to the atheist assertions of God, neurology, and the potential amalgamation of these two ideas.

Where are you guys? Is this not of interest or importance to you? Why don't you attempt to explain what the soul is, how it relates to neurology, and what survivable aspect of the human being continues after death? There is a thirst for answers not just with myself, but on the part of other struggling explorers who want closure to these questions. If neurology is the one place where the athiest have you at their intellectual mercy, then please say so, that way I can stop asking the same questions over and over again. If, however, you have not been defeated, then share your wisdom and knowledge, so I may come to know God as you know Him.