Friday, April 22, 2016

Vegas, Baby! — part 1

When the weather was still cold in North Carolina, we flew to Las Vegas, Nevada for my niece's wedding.

We stayed at the Downtown Grand, which was lovely, except that nothing in Vegas is the quoted price. They hit us with significant extra fees before allowing us into our prepaid-online rooms.

Restaurants are expensive, with a mixed-drink around $14. We really liked the Triple George, where we ate and relaxed out on the sidewalk several nights.

Culture shock continued as we ventured beyond the casino-filled lobby and our hotel block. Apparently Vegas laws don't require clothing. At least, not on Freemont Street.

The Downtown pedestrian area was an overwhelming sample of "Sin City," full of lights, casinos, restaurants, and ... strange folk. An overhead light show plays every night, punctuated by screaming zipliners.

Beggars abound. So do artists – both the visual arts and the musical kind – and costumed people posing for photo ops. I liked many of them, from Darth Vader to Bumble Bee (the transformer) to David Bowie.

"Downtown" is the original heart of Vegas, whereas "the Strip" is the newer area filled with mega-hotel-casinos like the Luxor and Ceasar's Palace. We walked all around Downtown, visiting the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop where the reality show Pawn Stars is filmed.

We took a bus tour to the Hoover Dam. Our driver told us how the mafia started Vegas. As law enforcement cracked down and things got too hot for the mob in Chicago and New York, they moved to this desert area where gambling and prostitution were legal. There's a Mob Museum Downtown, but I didn't visit it.

We went down into the dam and power plant. It's amazing how power (and water) for the entire area is still supplied by state-of-the-art 1930s technology. Public areas are decorated with Art Deco carvings and signs.

The dam and newer bridge were very similar to the one I visited last year at Glen Canyon.

Next time: from the depths of the dam to the heights of the towers.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Born for This!

Only three more days 'til Chris Guillebeau's new book Born for This hits the stands!

I signed up to be part of Chris' "street team" because I was so excited I didn't want to wait until the April 5 launch date. An advance copy arrived on my doorstep – literally – in late January.

Similar to his previous work, like The Happiness of Pursuit (which inspired me to go on my cross-country trip last year), this new book is full of inspiration for the entrepreneurial lifestyle with successful examples. It's not just for online entrepreneurs; Chris offers advice and examples of "hacking one's job" or improving your current career.

I liked that, instead of giving the popular advice of finding a niche, this book acknowledges people who have multiple interests. Sometimes the interests have a common thread, like me with genealogy, archives work, and antiquarian bookselling. One takeaway for me was the "side-hack," or creative side job that could either become a future career or just provide near-term financial support.

Born for This is great for a secular book about finding meaningful work. I'd love it if Chris could combine his energy and world-traveling insight with somebody spiritually grounded like Rick Warren into writing that provides practical steps with heavenly priorities.

By the way, I spent half a day yesterday revisiting my draft book about Thomas Maness and researching two of his five wives. I was on such a roll I had to make myself stop to shower and eat lunch – that's how much fun I was having. As I finally tore myself away from the laptop and stretched, I thought, "Yeah, I was born for this!"

As mentioned, I received an advanced copy of the book, the only obligation being to buy my own copy when it's available (which I did). There are also affiliate links in this blog.