CES 2012: My PSAs for visiting noobs to Vegas

January 29, 2012

imageRight before CES 2012 started, I wrote a series of PSAs on Twitter for the noobs coming to Vegas for the first time.  Here’s a recap:

  • When you get to your hotel room, task #1 is “Wipe down the TV remote with a Purell alcohol wipe.”
    There have been a variety of studies that have concluded that the most bacteria laden item in the hotel room is the TV remote control.  It’s never wiped down, it’s never cleaned, it’s in use constantly, and it’s next to the bed.  Yes, the sheets may get cleaned but that remote is definitely NOT clean.
  • Before you leave your room for the 1st day, leave some $ for housekeeping w/ a Thank You note.
    Ask yourself, how much is your gear worth.  Is it worth at least tipping housekeeping $5 just for them to keep in mind that you’re not worth ripping off?  Don’t take the risk.  Besides… you may want to have them leave you an extra pillow or something.
  • Ask the front desk for a humidifier to be sent to your room before everyone else does.
    Remember that you’re in the desert.  At night, the air gets even drier than it is during the day.  Dry air means static laden carpeting.  Static is badbadbad for electronics – not to mention your sinuses.
  • Buy $25 gift certs for Mandalay Bay restaurants @ 60% discount using coupon code “FUN”.
    If you plan on visiting Mandalay Bay, it’s very easy to get restaurant discount certificates for at least $25 for only $2-$3 each.  http://t.co/ApMXugbE
  • Picky about your pref for Coke vs Pepsi?  Here’s a map of what Vegas hotels sell which. 
    Nuff said.  This is a curiously fun map that provides the pickiest soft drink drinker with a guide to their favorite beverage.  Don’t laugh.  I’ve met more than my share of individuals that have a VIOLENT reaction when the waitress says that “they don’t sell Coke – only Pepsi”.  http://t.co/B11CjiGO
  • To avoid getting longhauled, let your cabbie know that they have a sliding tip coming.
    The difference between a normal cab ride and a longhaul can be $10 or more.  Don’t get longhauled.  Pre-notify the driver that you’re going to tip him but only if he minimizes the fare.  http://t.co/qrgcD80j

Is your dog itchy? Scratching all the time? Try changing shampoos & adding a conditioner.

January 21, 2012

SCN_0002Today, I put Sheepa’s leftover shampoo & conditioner in a box to send to my Mom.  This might not seem like a big deal but it put a big lump in my throat a couple times that I had to swallow.  I’d refused to ever believe that Sheepa would leave us so I always bought all his necessities (food, medicines, doggie bags, grooming supplies, etc.) in Costco level bulk.  So I have a lot that Sheep ‘left behind’.

So, in memory of Sheepa, I decided to turn this into something positive. 

  • Is your dog constantly scratching/itching?
  • Have you tried oatmeal shampoos?  Milk baths?  Cortizone-rinses?

Sheepa used to when we first got him.  But we found a ‘cure’.

Sheepa’s left over shampoo and conditioner was from a group called “Isle of Dogs”.  This is a professional grooming shampoo & conditioner that our groomer, Irene, first used on Sheepa to make him stop scratching. 

We noticed that when he first came home after his grooming with Irene & the Isle of Dogs products, he just… DIDN’T ITCH.  It was a remarkable transformation: He smelled great, he completely STOPPED drying/flaking & scratching, and it made his fur virtually unnecessary to brush except for right after his bath – and we used a blow dryer to fluff him up while we brushed him out.  For weeks it would stay, untangled, unmatted (he NEVER had mats – EVER) and really soft.  We’d bathe him just so that he wouldn’t be smelly – and brush him only for his pleasure.  He loved being petted, stroked, or brushed.

Isle of Dogs.  Amazing stuff.  You could tell he was irritated & dry before we started using this stuff and he was a much, much happier dog after we switched away from all the cheap, oatmeal-esque garbage.  (Even the really expensive “milk baths” didn’t work for him – but this stuff did, so we became believers quickly) 

It’s also fairly expensive at $30-$40 a liter bottle however one bottle can last for more than a year for a dog Sheepa’s size (20-22lbs) so it’s really worth it!  Here are links to refills for each:

Here’s their web site.  They used to be professional groomers only, but apparently, they got so popular that they started to mass-produce their product. 

A Dog’s Purpose?

January 17, 2012

PICT0006Sometimes, I do an insta-copy into my blog from some email someone forwarded me.  This is one of those times. 

A Dog’s Purpose?

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued,

‘Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

What'sThisCameraThingHereI miss Sheepa so much. It’s been more than 4 months since he’s gone & it still hurts so badly.

I wish you were here, ol’ pal.

What is the Vegas “tunnel”? An illustration.

January 8, 2012

I thought this would be fun.  People talk about getting ‘longhauled’ through the ‘tunnel’ in Vegas but I’ve never seen it illustrated.  So here’s a map of where the tunnel is & why it screws visitors by taking them “out of the way” & increasing the cab fare.

Below you can see McCarron International Airport.  The main road that leads out of McCarron is Paradise which heads north past UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center, toward most of the strip properties.


Now if you look south of the airport, you can see a label that reads, “Freeway Tunnel Under Runway”.  This is the infamous tunnel people talk about and as you can see, it’s headed NO WHERE NEAR any of the hotels.  In fact, it’s headed in the opposite direction of of the strip properties.  Usually from there, an unscrupulous cabbie will take the freeway, running up the miles driven & further increasing your fare.

This ‘detour’ unnecessarily adds $5-$15 to your fare & no matter what the cabbie says, it’s NEVER NECESSARY.  Here’s a list of excuses I’ve gotten from cabbies that have attempted to explain why they want to take the tunnel:

  • TRAFFIC:  There is no traffic jam bad enough that your taxi needs to take the tunnel.
  • SPEED:  The tunnel will never get you there quicker than Paradise Rd (usually turning on Tropicana Rd or Harmon Rd.)  It may seem like you’re getting there faster due to the fact that you’re going at 75mph, but that’s because no one else is stupid enough to let their cabbie take them this route.
  • SOUTH END HOTEL:  Even Mandalay Bay, at the southern most point of the strip, is best served by taking Paradise to Tropicana.

HOWTO: Avoid getting longhauled on the Vegas strip

January 8, 2012

It’s pretty easy to avoid getting longhauled from McCarron airport.  (Just tell your driver  ‘shortest distance’ – and to really emphasize it, “DON’T take the tunnel.”)  But I was asked the other day:

“How do you keep from getting longhauled on the Vegas strip?”

It’s basically all about incentives.  I’m incented to get there in the shortest time, with the least amount of cash.  The cabbie is incented 1st & foremost to get the best tip, but not knowing that, to secure the largest fare possible.

So it’s simple:  Incent the cabbie with a sliding tip before you start moving.  This is what I say:

“I’ve got $10 for this fare.  Anything left over is the tip, got it?”

You’re not only letting your cabbie know that you’ll tip him/her, but that their tip is directly proportional to how much the cab fare is.  Bigger fare?  Less tip.  Simple as that.

With this incentive, I assure you that this will be the fastest, shortest, & possibly wildest cab ride you’ll take in Las Vegas.  You’ll be beating lights, cutting through parking lots, taking shortcuts through dark alleyways you didn’t know existed.  In many cases, you’ll find that the meter “suddenly & curiously” gets shut off as you’re driving into the destination property.

Now, the trick to this is preparation.  You need to know what is a REASONABLE estimate to throw at the cabbie.

This is the guide I go by from Mandalay Bay & a pointer to the map I use to make estimates from.  Some of these are a little liberal but this is to take into consideration traffic during conventions & such. 

  • Mandalay Bay
    • $8 to Luxor, Excalibur, Trop, Hooters
    • $10 to Monte Carlo, New York, MGM Grand, Aria, Vdara, Mandarin
    • $12 to Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Bally’s
    • $15 to Caesar’s, Mirage, Venetian/Palazzo, TI, Imperial Palace, Harrah’s, Casino Royale, Wynn/Encore, Fashion Show Mall, Rio
    • $18 to LVCC, Riviera, Circus Circus, Stratosphere, Palms
    • $18 to McCarron International Airport
    • $30 to Downtown anywhere

Note that the cabbie will probably take Frank Sinatra Drive for properties on the westside of the strip or Koval Dr for properties on the eastside of the strip.  This is normal.

I’ve assumed that you aren’t going to call a cabbie that you have a personal relationship with.  I actually do have a good relationship with two cabbies whom I “incent” well and they’ll be at my hotel doorstep in 15 min if I call.  This overrides these rules above & you usually don’t have to go through this if you have a trusted driver that you know’s not going to longhaul you.  I recommend everyone get the phone number of a cabbie that they like & start calling them directly for rides.  Why?

  1. LINE CUTTING:  Cabbies that are called don’t have to wait in the cab line at hotels.  This allows them to cut the line at your hotel, thus making fares faster.  Additionally, you don’t have to wait in the cab line either since the cab is specifically for you.
  2. CONSISTENT TIPS:  Cabbies want tips.  (Or “tickets”)  If you tip, they’ll prefer a sure thing over someone that might stiff them.  Plain and simple.
  3. GOOD FARES:  Cabbies want decent fares.  Don’t call a cab if the fare is $4.50.  Example: Wynn-to-Mirage * Venetian-to-Caesar’s are not decent fares.  Remember that the cabbie waited probably 15-30 min in a line of taxis for you to load up.  The only time you pull this is if you have a girl with heels on.  And then you ought to compensate with a good tip.