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JUN
07

Gambling is Easy

I'd never really done it, see, other than a company party one year where they brought in a bunch of dealers and gave us all fake money. I won a lot of fake money that night, all on the roulette wheel, and it seemed like there were a few key bets that really had pretty good odds. Still, it's easy to take risk when it's not real money.

I go to Vegas once a year now for work, and the thought finally occurred to me this time that maybe I should try my hand at a real table. Put some chips down. And so I bet $20 on red, won, and walked away with $40. In truth, I was so afraid of losing it (and letting yourself actually lose money that you once had seems so stupid), that I quite literally ran to the cashier's booth. I wondered if they'd ever cashed someone out for $40 worth of chips. But seriously, 50% odds at doubling your money? It all seemed so easy.

I got curious again on my last night in town, wondering if I could replicate my luck. Placing $15 on black and $15 between 16 and 17, the first number that came up was black 17. My payout: $300. I couldn't believe it. I'd just yielded 10x my bet. On one spin. People at the table were congratulating me. I couldn't stop laughing from the glee of it all. At the cashier's booth again, still laughing, I watched her count out my $300 still in disbelief that it had so simply become mine.

So clearly this whole gambling thing is totally easy. And I know the trick is quitting while you're ahead, but as long as you have the self control to do the trick, can someone explain to me how gambling isn't a completely legitimate way to make a little money on the side?

Probably a good thing I only go once a year.

OCT
11

Life is Beautiful

I attended the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas last month. Ironic then that the man who opened fire at the Route 91 festival a week later was supposedly in a rented B&B a week earlier, looking over those of us at the Life is Beautiful festival, ready to make his move if he saw the right opportunity. I remember thinking to myself that it would be a particular blow to humanity’s morale if at the very fest where the beauty of life (art, culture, ideas, music, and, naturally, food) was being celebrated, a large contingent of it was taken. For my own sake, I remain grateful the shooter didn’t pick my festival, and remain horribly sad and disturbed that he picked any festival at all. I mean, should any of us have to spend these festivals—or any event with large gatherings—worried about this? What’s beautiful about that kind of life? 

It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot, and I know others have too. I’ve never heard more people remark about their uneasiness (to the point of changing future plans) at attending large events. I’ve never seen certain of my friends so down (to the point of not feeling up to their normal activities). “It’s a numbers game,” a lady at work mentioned after the Vegas shooting. Implying that the randomness and general uncommonness (when compared to how many concerts and festivals happen in the world every day) suggest you’ll probably be OK. But that hardly feels comforting. And even though we accept the possibility of our demise every time we so much as get in the car every morning, I understand our collective pause over this. I do.

And yet.

We must live our lives.

So I flew to Albuquerque over the weekend and took in the hot air balloon festival with an estimated 80,000 other people. It’s not that it didn’t occur to me that it would have only taken one of them to make tragedy for the rest of us, but I pushed through those side-minded anxieties and took in the world from a sky-high balloon as the sun rose. There were balloons in every direction up there, everywhere, all of us rising together in a mass ascension. When it comes to memorable views, I’ve never seen its equal.

The bottom line, see, is that life really is beautiful. It’s beautiful every day. I hope we can remember that. And I’d rather go out on a hot air balloon at sunrise than sitting in my house worrying about the state of the world. But maybe that’s just me.

JUN
16

Viva Las Vegas

I'm not exactly sure how it is that I've managed to get to this point in my life without ever having been to Las Vegas. Except that I do know. In that I've simply never chosen to go there. My impression of the city has never been favorable, I'm not a gambler (except that company Christmas party that one year that I totally rocked even though the money was fake and no one believed it was any indication of how I would fare in an actual casino....pppssshhh). After so many years of assuming Vegas was a bit slutty, now having been there--for a work trip earlier this month--I can report that Vegas is, in fact, a bit slutty. At the risk of incriminating our society at large (not that it's any secret), this obviously resonates with people. This idea of boozy, scantily-clad evenings spent frittering away money in smoke-saturated hotel bottoms. Sign me up. Except don't. Because that sounds terrible.

I was in town for the JCK show (THE jewelry trade show), and it goes without saying that the place (the convention center...not Vegas, hells no) was a lot like how I imagine heaven. In that there were diamonds, gems, and jewelry pretty much everywhere. Diamonds. Freaking. Everywhere. I even got to try some on (it pays to know people), and when the makers of this Garrard tiara (they design the tiaras for the British Royal Family...in case you didn't hear me, I said the BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY) asked if I wanted to try on this Princess Di replica, I very nearly wet myself. Between that and the limousine that transported me to my next event immediately after, I haven't felt so fancy in all my life. So I suppose if you spend several days in a diamond-filled convention center, your nights in an upscale luxury resort, and get to expense all your meals and cap everything off with a day sitting poolside, maybe Vegas isn't so bad. I may even look forward to next year. But only because of the tiara.

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