Aria Hotel and Casino–Las Vegas

I just got back from a week in Las Vegas, and stayed at the Aria. I thought it might be nice to share my opinion with the world, not that any of you really care, but I will share anyway. Smile

Technology – I have to admit that I was impressed by the room technology. From the panel by the bed, you can easily control all of the lights in the room, the temperature, and the TV along with the window coverings. You walk into the room, and you can have it automatically turn on lights, and turn on music or the TV. Pretty nice. The room keys are proximity keys, and I have to admit that I liked them.

Bars – I visited a couple of the bars, and the prices were not too outrageous considering that it is Las Vegas. However, there was nothing special.

Casino – Yep, they have all the typical Casino games. Nothing new, here.

Shows – Zarkan by Cirque du Soleil looked like a great show, but I never made it there. I was just a little too busy.

Food – Lots of different places in the building, and lots of options for the type of food. Nothing out of the ordinary, though.

Mini Bar – EFF ME! The prices are just absolutely stupid. They will even charge you $50 a day if you want to put something in the fridge to cool it off.

Fit and Finish – I have to admit that I look at the construction more and more when I am at hotels and restaurants. I noticed that the marble tiling was poorly laid, and badly chipped at the seams, and very poorly grouted. The carpet was poorly laid. The seams were obvious, and in many cases were frayed. When at The Buffet (food was meh, service was poor), I noticed that the counters were horribly built. Not only was the stone not fit closely, the caulking was coming out and each and every seam was clearly visible. For the amount of money involved, you would think they could make sure that quality materials and workmanship went into the construction.

Summary: Nothing special, and certainly not worth the money.

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A Bed, a Shower, and Waffles with Strawberries on Top

It has been a long time since I told this story, and today just seemed like a good day to share it with everyone.

Many years ago, back when the Earth was flat, and so was my stomach, I had many life altering experiences, but this is one of my favorite ones that I am allowed to legally share. Smile

I was with my squad in the Jungles of Central America. We were lost. Very lost. Lesson 1, never let the newbie navigate no matter how good he says he is or how much experience he thinks he has. We were supposed to be out for three days. It was day number 5. No food. Not safe water. We were on the last battery for the PRC 77.

We were lucky, and we made contact. After a few hours, a chopper circled over head, and they said they couldn’t pick us up, but they could pick us up the next day at a clearing that was about 6 klicks away. In the meantime, they were going to drop water to us. The idea was to tie some ponchos onto five gallon plastic cans of water and drop them to us. Well, imagine how well that might work. It sounds good in theory. In practice, it means that heavy plastic bombs fall on you, and explode all around. We were wet, and were blasted with bits of plastic shrapnel. Yeah, not fun.

Good news, we were no longer lost. Bad news, we still didn’t have food or safe drinking water. The news became worse as the rains started hitting us and soaking us to the bone.

That night, we managed to build a very non-tactical fire. It was huge. We managed to get dried out and then somebody said the magic words, “It could be worse.” Yeah, it could have been worse, we were about to have a wounded soldier as I was about to kick his ass. For the Young Frankenstein fans out there, yes, it was raining again.

I can’t remember who said it, but somebody said, “Hey, let’s talk about would make it better rather than what is making the suck suck more.” So, we had a quick round of negotiations and decided to tell each other what three things would make life so much better than it was at the moment, and they had to be small things. It couldn’t be that you were at the hotel with room service or owning a yacht.

My three things were:

  • A shower – even a cold one would be fine
  • A bed – no blankets or anything like that was needed
  • Waffles with strawberries on top

If I have a really crappy day that depresses me beyond belief, I remember that situation, and then I go to Denny’s, IHOP, or Village Inn.

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Dream–Raising Polar Bears

The cold weather just does something to me. In this case, it appears to have influenced my dreams.

I found that it is really easy to acquire Polar Bears over the Internet. I ordered two of them as a breeding pair, and they were delivered. Along with the bears, I also ordered tons and tons of ice and snow. I had them put it all in my back yard, and, in preparation, I had my fences raised and reinforced. As I was worried about the bears digging under the fence, I also had steel bars driven deep into the ground.

The bears really liked my back yard. I could sit out on my deck and watch them play all day. They are so beautiful and awe inspiring.

Right before I woke up, they were just delivering the life seals so that the bears can hunt them. I can’t believe how much seals cost. It is ridiculous!

Anyway, I called the HOA today. They said that there is no way that my dream can be a reality.

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Emergency Bag

In our current world, it is really easy to think that if I have a cell phone, that is all I really need. I can call for help in an emergency.

It is now getting into the cold months of Winter here in Colorado, which has made me think that it is time to re-assess my limited view on this topic. I think it would do us all a great deal of good to think about what we would like to have for an emergency, and more importantly, what we would like our loved ones to have available to them in the event of an emergency.

In the world of preppers, this kit of materials is also referred to as a Get Home Bag. Meaning, what would you need if it hit the fan and you were on the road and needed to get home. My view of materials might be close to a prepper’s point of view.

Anyway, let’s cover some of the basics.

  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency Food
  • A change of clothes – warm ones
  • and????

The first aid kit is an easy one. There are lots of them available and they can be cheaply acquired. Make sure the kit includes stuff like antihistamines, antibiotics, and pain killers.

Emergency food is also fairly simple. Foods that provide energy and can be stored for long-terms in cold or hot times. Also, don’t forget some bottled water. Maybe a couple of MREs that you can get pretty easily from an outdoors retailer. Eating utensils would be a good edition, if needed.

Clothes are also fairly easy, but it is also easy to steal from the kit. Oops, I forgot my gloves and it is cold. Oh well, I will just take them from the kit. They should also be weather resistant. I would strongly recommend a rain poncho or two, as well.

The last section is the hardest one. So, I thought I would provide my thoughts, and see what makes sense. So, what should be included in the and section?

  • Backpack – You will want something to pack everything into, and something that can be carried in the event that it is decided that the car needs to be abandoned.
  • Self Defense – This may be something as simple as pepper spray, or an assault pen, or even a baton. I know many people that would include a gun cleaning kit and extra ammo, but then there are many people that don’t believe in guns. I would also include a good whistle in this area.
  • Money – Not just folding cash, but some change to use in vending machines and possibly pay phones.
  • Auto road side kit – You can probably get one from AAA or any good auto parts store. It should have jumper cables, and basic tools. Let’s not forget everything required to change a flat tire. How about a tow strap?
  • A couple of good knives – While this might fall under self-defense, I can think of so many reasons to have a good knife or two.
  • Lights – This would include flashlights, preferably nice and powerful LED hand held lights, and I would also recommend some chemical lights and flares. Something with a red lens, too, in case there is a worry about being too visible to others.
  • Plastic bags and space blankets– Large garbage bags that can be used to keep the rain off as well as many other reasons as well as some smaller ones for keeping your stuff organized as well as dry.  Space blankets are great for helping to maintain body heat without taking up much room.
  • Fire starting materials – Matches, lighters,  and a Ferrocerium fire starter.
  • Personal hygiene items – Who can’t use some wet wipes and even a wash cloth? How about some toilet paper? I am sure you can think of other items. Keep it small, though.
  • Para cord – It has many uses for short and long term survival.
  • Water filter – I am starting to like the idea of having a life straw included in the kit.
  • Folding shovel – Maybe an entrenching tool as it can be used as an ax and as a hammer.
  • Cat litter or sand – Traction for the tires, and this would not need to be put into the back pack, though.

What did I miss?

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Shared Private Road–A Tax Analogy

I started using this example a few months ago to explain shared assets and how they are financed. It is pretty interesting, to me.

Scenario: There is a county road that comes close to two homes. The two homes are exactly the same distance from the road. A private road needs to be built. The road will run directly between their homes and connect to their driveways. The owners use the road exactly the same, and both use small passenger vehicles. Neither use trucks, heavy equipment, or anything that would stress the road. Below is a rough drawing.

The road will cost $1,000 dollars.

image

The question: How much should each person pay?

The expected answer: When I ask this question, almost everyone says it should be 50/50. Some people say that the guy that makes the most should volunteer to pay more of the bill, but nobody has every told me that the guy that makes the most should pay for it all.

The math: There are a few options:

  1. 50/50: So each of them pay $500.
  2. They pay based upon income: 30000/180000*1000=$16.67 for the guy that makes $30,000, which leaves $983.33 for the other guy. Fair? Some people will say that it is fair, but I don’t see it since they both get the same benefit and the one person is basically paying for it all, but gets a small token amount back.
  3. They pay based upon the way we do income tax collection in the US. Basically, the person making $30,000 doesn’t pay federal income taxes in most cases, so the other guy ends up paying for all of the road.

The reality: The guy making the most ends up paying for all of it, and the other guy gets a free road. It works that way because our Government forces it to work that way. If the guy that is better off refuses to pay his taxes, they will take him at gun point and lock him up.

A few facts:

Just a couple of simple facts, about 45-47% of the US households do not pay Federal income taxes. The top 20% pay over 90% of the Federal income taxes collected, while making no where near 90% of the income. So, the top 20% pay for almost everything for everyone else, and half get a free ride.

No, these facts aren’t from some ultra conservative web site, they come right from the CBO.

Source: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44604-AverageTaxRates.pdf

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Crazy Dream: Treat or Treat for Purses

I have to share this one because I think it is one of my better dreams.

In this dream, I am out trick or treating with Melissa Travers. Those that know Melissa will better understand this dream.

Anyway, in this dream, we are our current ages, but for some reason Melissa is in costume and I am in my regular clothes acting like her father and standing at the end of the walk while she goes up to the house. Melissa keeps getting purses at each house. Again, for those that know her, this makes sense.

This dream goes on for a bit with varying results at each house. In some cases, Melissa squeals like a little school girl and bounces around about her “score” of a really nice purse. At other places, she is not very happy about the quality of the purse and complains about the stitching. the material of the outside or inside of the purse, the handle or the strap. In a couple of cases, I have to hold Melissa back as she want to go back to the house and give them their piece of crap back. In one case, she started mumbling about a good trick like egging their house. It was at that point that I said to her that she was being way to cranky and it was time to go home to bed.

I completely forgot about this dream until Melissa posted on Facebook about how much candy she gave away today.

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Cost/Benefit Analysis–An Assistance Dog

I was told the other day that “Caring for an assistance animal is more effort than what the animal can provide in assistance.”

OK, I am open minded, so I asked what they thought was involved in the care. I got the following:
1. Feeding
2. Walks and exercise
3. Grooming
4. Vet care
 
These are all pretty easy to address. Yes, animals need to be fed. In the case of assistance dogs, that is usually twice a day. Both times happen to coincide with the needs of the person involved. I have heard from several people that it is their dog’s needs that often force them to get started for the day. It is also their dog’s needs for food that remind them to eat their meals. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn’t have volunteers pouring our of the woodwork to help with simple things like feeding a wonderful assistance dog.

Walks and exercise. Again, this goes hand in hand, so to say, with a person’s needs. Even the most handicapped person needs some fresh air and time outside. However, this also goes back to volunteers. So many co-workers and neighbors are glad to take a well trained dog for a walk and for some toileting.

Grooming is usually a perfect physical therapy tasks. In cases where nail trimming or other grooming is needed, the volunteers will also come out.

Vet care can be expensive, but I have always found vets that are happy to donate services.

I guess it really comes down to the fact that there is always help available when dealing with a service animal like a service dog.

What can they do to help? Well that list is LONG, but here are a few things:

  1. Open doors
  2. Turn lights on and off
  3. Pick up dropped items (this is probably the most valuable tasks for most people)
  4. Pull a chair
  5. Provide a brace to help stand for those that are not chair bound
  6. Bark, and loudly, when you need help, to alert others
  7. Help with handing money and credit cards to cashiers
  8. Pulling open drawers in the kitchen and at work
  9. Motivation to start the day
  10. Companionship – All pet owners can relate to this, dogs are part of the family, and they make the perfect bound. Not only are they man’s best friend, but they are the conduit to meeting so many other people. They are conversation starters, and they provide the reason for people to just come over and say hello.

I remember the first time that I talked to a lawyer that had an assistance dog. He said that having his dog helped him tremendously with just the simple task of picking up the pencils and pens that he dropped during the day. Prior to having his dog, he had to call his assistant to come into his office and pick up all of the dropped items. He felt it was demeaning to his assistant to have to crawl around the floor. His dog, however, was more than happy to help.

I think it is really simple, a good service dog is well worth the day to day effort.

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