Friday, November 09, 2007

Sushi, sapphires and Cirque du Soleil

The three add up to a pretty great night out - at least in Vegas. I suppose I could've titled this "How I Spent My Vacation" but I prefer the alliteration in the above title.

Vegas was wonderful. Another early morning flight to get there, but on a Saturday, the airport is chock full of people and we barely made our flight. Well, ok, we had 5 minutes or so to spare as other late arrivals struggled through the security/customs gauntlet. Then 5 days of sun, shopping and sin. Oh come on, it's Vegas. Ya gotta expect that to be thrown in somewhere.

The gambling wasn't as profitable as last time, but we had another great last day at the slots. Once again, I didn't find time to participate in hold-em. I did find time to hit 2 outlet malls, including the one at Primm. Gorgeous one and worth the bus ride out to it. BTW, that is comped if you stay at the MGM.

Speaking of the MGM, our hotel (the Signature at MGM) was fantastic. Jacuzzi for 2, king sized bed, balcony overlooking the strip, kitchenette and giant flat screen TV for about the same price as other hotels. No casino in the hotel itself, but 10 minutes of walking will get you to the MGM casino and the shops and restaurants included therein. Sadly, the MGM casino doesn't seem to do much about Children wandering around inside the casino - or in one case, standing and watching the parents gamble, then getting their picture taken in the casino WITH the ticket from the slot machine. Other casino's have done a better job of moving children through and I've noticed this problem before at the MGM.

Another issue I have with many of the hotels/casinos is the number of timeshares being pushed on people. Everywhere you go - often even in the casino or a hotel's shopping area, you'll be offered free show tickets to anything (including KA) in order to get you to go take a look at the condos. It's hard to be rude enough to just ignore them. One group on the strip (outside the casinos) were particularly bad and quite honestly, if I were to decide to buy into a timeshare in Vegas, I would purposefully stay away from that one. It seems the hotels don't understand their guests all that well.

From what I can tell, people go to Vegas for 4 reasons - gambling, drinking, shows and shopping. Your gamblers - the people the hotels make their money off of - don't want to stay away from the casino. They take the elevator to the casino and there they are. Move that person out of the casino connected building, and they may spend more time thinking about where they want to gamble. And it might not be your hotel. Drinking - these people are typically young, dumb and cheap. They are likely single and not timeshare material. Shows - I picked my show because of where I was staying. Proximity is important when you're putting on a nice outfit and heels. Would I still book a show if I was staying off strip - likely, but it makes it less convenient. Shopping - these are the people who are likely to buy into a condo. If they aren't there for the gambling, they have no need to be connected to a hotel, but they likely enjoy the ability to just go down for an hour before dinner and wander through shopping.

I can see people doing the timeshare thing in Vegas, but I think their approach to the sales is too high pressure and quite honestly annoying as all heck. The last thing I want to do while on vacation is talk about spending that kind of money. While I"m sure they make sales (otherwise they'd have tried another approach), it really did turn me off of certain casinos and hotels and I will remember that for next time.

We found a decently priced breakfast at La Salsa Cantina right on the strip, but most of the time we stuck to Nathan's famous and Starbucks in the MGM. Nathan's was a tad expensive, but it was a big breakfast. Starbucks was $0.50-1.00 more expensive than ones outside of casino's (and we counted 4 of them inside the MGM alone!) but it worked for tea and a scone to get my day started.

Tuesday was our big night out. We started with Sushi at Shibuya in the hotel. Our gambling rewarded us with an $80 comp for the evening, but the chef's tasting that we both enjoyed pushed our total above that. The restaurant has an excellent selection of Sake as well. The only problem with the meal is that it's ruined me for sushi here at home for awhile. It was a fantastic 7 course meal with beef so tender it melted in your mouth. Even the desserts were fantastic, but the dark chocolate/sake one was a bit to much for me. I know! Odd that I wouldn't finish dessert!

Midway between courses, J pulled a lovely little velvet covered box out of his pocket. Inside sat a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring. Of course, I said yes. I had to wait until today to post about it so our families could be told first.

After dinner, we headed off to KA. Another great Cirque show, although I think I still prefer O. Very talented performers though, and sitting as close as we did this time, I got to see much that would be missed at a distance - facial expressions, costume details, etc. Not much more to say about this, however the Jack Sparrow-esque usher was wonderful as well.

Walking the strip just isn't for me. Too many people. Too many rude people. However, I love the shops, the casinos, the restaurants. I love the excess of the place, but only for a short time. Once again, I added to the casino's I've seen and went down to Freemont Street for one evening. All in all, a fantastic trip, and a memorable one for a long, long time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Letting Go

It's funny. I used to feel this need to have everything go my way. I tried to control things - very ineffectually since I'm pretty much not aggressive in the least (well, except maybe on the ice, but that's different). Last spring, that passive-aggressive control thing became an issue. After some counselling where I dealt with anger issues as well as how to assert myself, things have changed - significantly.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't just the counselling. It's having a couple good role models in acceptance and peace. It's finding people I value in my life and getting rid of the ones I'd hoped would change. It's accepting myself with all my flaws and doing the same for others.

Regardless, all aspects of my life seem to have squirted through their respective bottlenecks and are now flowing along smoothly. This week, I got the news of a promotion at work. Up a pay level recognizing my hard work.

Curling is effortless all of a sudden. I'm not trying to force anything - even on the ice. I'm back to auto-pilot. I call the shots and they get made (or not) and things still turn out just right. Undefeated in my ladies league.

And finally things with J absolutely perfect. We've now survived 2.5 reno's. A bathroom, flooring and finally pushing an extension off the bedroom for more closet space. We're living in an extremely cramped spare bedroom with a queen bed, 2 night tables, a dresser and exercise equipment without a single argument. I think it helps that he's doing it while he's off work and it isn't stressing him at all. It may change when he starts the new job later this month, but I don't think he'll be nearly as stressed as he had been before leaving his last job.

The families met last weekend and things went wonderfully. We had dinner Saturday night, then J's mom made dinner Sunday night and invited us all over. It was great after spending 2 days laying laminate.

And now I look ahead. T and I may be hitting the airport again - this time with a greater destination in mind. Europe somewhere - the final destination is yet to be determined, but it should be fantastic. Using J's tour company from his Turkey trip. But more on that as our plans get solidified. I need to start realizing my travel dreams. Being debt free is going to speed up much of that. Soon money won't be a concern and we've lived through renovations (another reason high on the list for divorce).

But it's time for a meeting and earning that promotion and raise. Have a good couple weeks folks, it would seem I have little to say lately.