Thursday, December 31, 2009

Las Vegas Welcomes CES 2010

Attention all gadget and technology lovers! From January 7 through 10, the International Consumer Electronics Show will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The latest and greatest in every type of technology will be on display. Since it’s an industry-only event, the general public can’t get in to gawk at all the fabulous new stuff, but those who are lucky enough to score passes will be rewarded with exhibits featuring all the new technology they can stand (check the CES website for information on prices and the necessary credentials).

If you’re heading to Las Vegas for CES, check out my NileGuide CES guide for tips on what to do when you’re in town. When I wrote the guide in early December, some excellent hotels still had rooms available at CES rates: the Aria, the Hard Rock, and the Hilton. Those properties are now sold out, but amazingly enough, the Circus-Circus and Alexis Park are still showing rooms available on the CES website. On the CES Facebook Fan Page, I noticed several people looking to share rooms, and I imagine a search of Downtown properties or off-the-Strip hotels might turn up some rooms.

If you’re a CES-bound Las Vegas resident, you’ve got your room covered, but you’ll still want to check their online guide to identify your must-see exhibits since there are 2,700 to choose from. Don’t even think about trying to park at the Convention Center. Get a ride, or park remotely and use the Monorail or CES Shuttle. The last time I tried parking at CES, I wound up walking all the way from Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. And did I mention you’ll want to wear really comfortable shoes?

I have to admit that I’m a little bit jealous of the technology writers who’ll be covering CES. I love gadgets and technology in all its forms, but my travel writing credentials just don’t cut it for a press pass. Maybe one day they’ll have a travel technology section—heck, I can dream, can’t I?

Image courtesy of Dez Pain at

Las Vegas Tells 2009 Good-Bye

Some years you savor the memories of the previous twelve months, and some years you're just glad for the hope a new year brings. For Las Vegas, 2009 falls in the latter category.

The economy shocked everyone in Las Vegas with its record-breaking drop in 2009. I hesitated to write about my own experiences until I realized I was far, far from being the only one. My wish for 2010 is that I won’t feel compelled to speak out about any collective financial hardships. For all those who were steamrolled by the economic collapse in Southern Nevada, I raise my glass with you to toast the end of 2009. Let’s look forward to better times in the new year.

What does 2010 hold for Las Vegas? Unfortunately, my crystal ball is in for repairs. I hope we’ll see a steady turn-around in the economy—more jobs, a rise in home values (hey, I’m an optimist), and a resurrection of our once-vibrant construction industry.

Tonight, Las Vegas does what she does best: put on a spectacular show. The Strip’s hotels will entertain the crowds with an awesome roof-top display of fireworks, and hundreds of thousands of revelers will celebrate in the street below. I believe New Year’s Eve on the Strip is evidence that while Las Vegas may be down, she’s not out.

Happy New Year, Las Vegas!
Image courtesy of Billy Alexander at

Monday, December 14, 2009

From Las Vegas To Washington: We Need Jobs Now

My weekly hike has been suspended indefinitely since I’m once again hyper-focused on finding more work. Although I have one steady writing assignment, a weekly writing group that I facilitate, and a part-time retail job (all of which I’m incredibly grateful for right now), none of it can compensate for the near total lack of work for my hubby. It’s difficult to make up for a 75%+ drop in household income.

On December 3, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President Kara Kelley was the only Nevadan at President Obama’s White House Job Creation Forum. I guess Las Vegas’ status as the Detroit of the West simply isn’t enough to warrant more attention. Or maybe it’s more of the same attitude that we who live in Las Vegas are expendable, immoral, and unsustainable—despite the 37 million people who travel here each year.

In order to keep from bursting blood vessels or suffering from high blood pressure (especially since we had to give up our health insurance), I’ve had to stop thinking about the current unemployment quagmire that is sinking our city. I’ve instead chosen to focus on the fact that there are jobs out there. Maybe not as many jobs as we need, maybe not very many well-paying jobs, but jobs are out there. It’s like a treasure hunt, only you get to lose your home and live in your car if you can’t find that elusive Job With a Living Wage. In my case, I’m very lucky because I can look for jobs on two fronts: writing assignments and whatever is available in the brick and mortar category—writing is often in cyberspace and on the phone, while administrative jobs usually require you to put on make-up, look pretty, and appear in person at someone else’s office. I’m also working on finding a way to go without sleep, which will make working around the clock so much easier.

Of course, I’m not just applying for administrative and writing jobs. I’m applying for anything for which I’m qualified. That includes dog watching, taking inventory, and stocking grocery store shelves. I’ve discovered that being self-employed is a strike against me, that personality tests really do have right and wrong answers, that just getting a response from a job application is a major achievement, and that scammers and computer hackers are busily preying on job seekers these days.

So here’s my message to Washington and our leaders: We need jobs. Now. Not $8.00 an hour jobs; jobs that we can use to stay in our homes. Construction was one of Las Vegas’ major industries, and the housing and financial crisis blew a hole through it—a hole big enough that my husband could drive his idle Kenworth right through it. Unless something is done quickly, a second wave of foreclosures, loan delinquencies, and bankruptcies will sink even more people—people like my husband and me, who have managed to hang on for the past three years but who now are running out of resources. Do we really need more committees and forums to understand that? Here in Las Vegas, where the unemployment rate is 13%, how much more bickering do we need to have over highway projects and high-speed trains? Can we just form a committee devoted to bickering so the rest of our “leaders” can devote themselves to creating jobs?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to looking for work.
Picture information: My husband’s Kenworth, which worked for about 20 hours last month.