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Posted by on Dec 12, 2012 in Blog, Essays | 2 comments

The End of the World

 

 

Wouldn’t it suck to win the lottery right now?

Imagine pocketing the lump sum of $250 million.  Your dream of a big house, fancy cars, and a trip around the world has just come true.  You’ll never have to work another day in your life.  Then, on the way to the bank, a giant fireball suddenly appears up in the sky.

Kaboom!

There’s a potential Twilight Zone episode in there somewhere.

 

………………..

 

In case you missed it, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012.  At least, that’s what some ancient Mayan calender predicts, which marks the final day of a 5,125-year cycle.  Never mind these savages spent most of their lives running through jungles and commonly sacrificed virgins to the gods.  Today, some people actually believe these tribesmen possessed unique insights into our future.  Despite their civilization utterly vanishing without warning more than a thousand years ago, they have supposedly alerted us to the very day when life on earth will end.  Now, that’s impressive.  Hell, I can’t even figure out what time Monday Night Football comes on each week.

This is a lose-lose proposition for a shitload of people.  First, we’re all pretty much screwed if the prophesy comes true.  We can all agree on that.  I don’t see a lot of upside in the entire world’s population being sucked into a deadly black hole — although I sure as hell will be applauding when it’s Kim Kardashian, Howard Lederer, and Donald Trump’s turn to enter the giant celestial vacuum cleaner.  That’s almost worth hoping it will happen.

But if the prophesy is false, some people out there will have lots of explaining to do.  There’s going to be enough egg on the faces of soothsayers to make the world’s largest omelette, assuming we all miraculously wake up on December 22nd, and there’s still an earth under out feet.

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Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas | 4 comments

What Strength Really Means — A Story of Two Cowboys

 

Personal Note:  In the coming days, I’ll be posting stories of people and incidents that have inspired me.  Hopefully, these special people will inspire you, as well.

 

How would you define strength?

Ponder this question for a moment.

How is strength best defined?  Take a moment and consider the possibilities.

Okay, so perhaps you have an answer.  Now, permit me to have a go at this.  Perhaps by the end of this essay, you may want to re-think your answer and consider alternative ways that strength is revealed in our society.

Here’s my take.

Strength isn’t manifested in achieving superiority, nor by making others inferior.  Strength isn’t exhibited in anger or intimidation.

To the contrary.  Real strength is embodied in personal sacrifice.  It’s going out of one’s way to help a fellow human being.  It’s putting another person’s comfort above your own.  It’s dealing with the bad breaks in life and making the most out of them.  That’s real strength.

I still have a lot to learn.  I have a long way to go.  No doubt, I have inner demons to conquer.  But life has taught me it’s the small things that really matter.  It’s the small things in life that bring joy and nourish optimism.  Small things, like a glass of vintage wine, a meaningful conversation with family or friends, a comfortable resting place beside a warm fireplace, hearing your favorite Christmas carol, or watching a golden sunset.

Each of those things might not seem exceptional.  But they are!  They are indubitably rewarding.  When we look back at our lives, I think most of us remember the simpler things we have done and experienced that brought us the most happiness.

It’s also the small things that often provide us with the most profound lessons.  A seemingly trivial moment in the middle of the day can reveal a great deal about what’s really important.  Our values stem not so much from formal education or access to the most learned academics.  Life’s most meaningful lessons are taught in the classroom of daily life and come directly from one’s own experiences and observations.  Our values are challenged and often reaffirmed by things that happen to us every single day.

 

………………..

 

The National Finals Rodeo is in town this week.  Every December for the past 27 years, thousands of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls come to Las Vegas from all over the country — indeed from all over the world — to watch and participate in the national championship finals rodeo.  Up and down the Vegas Strip, it’s backed up bumper to bumper with pick-up trucks and horse trailers — with license plates from Oklahoma, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Manitoba, Texas, and all points in between.  Cowboy hats are everywhere — whether it’s elegant Venetian or down-home Sam’s Town.  Almost every visitor has shiny new belt buckle and wears a pair of blue jeans or coveralls.  An “invasion” of cowboys would not be too strong a word.

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 1 comment

Listening to Your Inner Voice

 

Thanksgiving 2012 at South Lake Tahoe

 

Writer’s Note:  Tonight I had the great fortune of enjoying yet another extraordinary dinner and deep discussion with friends and colleagues.

Steve Schorr, Race and Sportsbook Manager at Harveys Lake Tahoe (pictured standing at center in photo) made the mistake of including me in his good graces, an invite that’s always sure to result in an assault on the liquor cabinet, several off-color comments, and a sink full of dirty dishes. 

Gracie, his longtime companion and our host extraordinaire for the evening (standing with Steve in the photo) served a dinner that would have made Henry VIII bust his pants. The only thing more pleasing than the fresh salmon and glazed lamb chops was the company.

On second thought, while the company was indeed wonderful, those smoked lamb chops served with a reduction sauce were pretty damned good. Sorry Steve, you’ve been upstaged by a slaughtered lamb.

Naturally, with good friends and wine comes interesting conversation. The following essay was prompted by our discussion.

 

 

Another dinner.

Another epiphany.

If we have a sixth sense beyond the known five, it’s probably instinct.

Think about that for a moment.

Instinct.

An inner voice.

A feeling.

Were I to define instinct, it would be perception which cannot be measured nor transposed.  But it’s real.  Just as touch is a tangible sensation — a neurophysiological process of transmission from body to brain — it’s not necessarily defined in the abstract.  After all, we see objects, we hear sounds, we taste flavors, we smell odors.  But touch isn’t quite the same.  Accordingly, isn’t it quite possible – even probable — that all the evolutionary tools we’ve come to master over hundreds of thousands of years are now manifested in a greater awareness of our surroundings and a dominion as to how to optimally react to stimuli?

Alas, this is what I call instinct.

It’s taken me most of my life to erase what amounts to fifty years of ignorance or indifference to instinct.  I’m hardly alone.  We’re all inundated with second-guessing and self-doubt.  Killers of human instinct.  Assassins of truth.  Which gradually leads to loss of confidence — and ultimately to sadness and depression.

Why is this so?

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Posted by on Nov 18, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 3 comments

Who Would You Most Like to Have Dinner With?

 

Top of Harvey's Lake Tahoe 2012

 

Photo Caption:  Dinner tonight at “19,” which is high atop the Harveys Resort and Casino at beautiful Lake Tahoe.  I wolfed down a 20-ounce coffee-rubbed rib-eye, with garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, a house salad, a full bottle of Pellegrino, two double expressos, and two bottles of Caymus (shared, of course).  Epic dinners like these always bring about great conversation, especially when you are with great company like Steve Schorr (Race and Sportsbook Manager) and Glen Cademartori (Caesars Entertainment Marketing Director for Northern Nevada).  Dinners like this are what living life is all about.  Tonight’s dinner prompted the following thoughts and column:

 

I wish there were 36 hours in the day, instead of 24.

I wish there were eight days in the week, instead of seven.

I wish I had more time.

 

There’s not enough time to read all the books I want to read.  There’s not enough time to listen to all the music I want to hear.  There’s not enough time to travel to all the places I want to go.  There’s not enough time to make all the friends I’d like to meet.  There’s not enough time to covet those family relationships and friendships that I’m already blessed to have.  There’s not enough time fulfill a vast cauldron of desires.

Indeed, each of us lives inside an hourglass.  The sand beneath our feet is always shifting and slowly disappears, one grain at a time, one ticking second at a time.  At some point — no one knows exactly when — the sand runs out.  Our hourglass becomes empty.  And then, we will be gone.

When you think about it, other than our good health, time is our most precious resource.

Why then do we waste so much of it?

 

Tonight at dinner, the conversation turned to living a good life.

A random question came up that made me to pause and think.  And quite frankly, I got stumped.  I usually have quick answers for just about everything.  That’s what comes with being opinionated.  But a question was asked that I still have trouble answering.  Perhaps you’d like to pretend you’re dining with us over a few bottles of wine and you suddenly get asked the following:

If you could pick one person in the world to have a long one-on-one dinner conversation with, who would it be?

Let’s embellish this just a bit.  You must make two choices.  The first choice must be someone living.  The second choice must be someone deceased.

I find this a very difficult question to answer.

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Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

The Extraordinary Genius of Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci Photo

 

Forget the two abominable movies called The Da Vinci Code that soiled his name.

Let’s talk about the real man that Leonardo Da Vinci was.

Today, he’s widely thought of as an artist and painter.  Were that the case, his masterful brushstrokes on canvass would alone be worthy of universal adoration.  But Da Vinci was so, so, so much more than that.  He may very well have been the most extraordinary man that’s ever lived.

 

There are three classes of people: those who see.
Those who see when they are shown.
Those who do not see.
~ Leonardo da Vinci ~
 

In today’s column, I’d like to tell you a little more about Da Vinci.  First, here’s a bit of what you probably already know.

Da Vinci painted what is arguably the most revered masterpiece in history — the Mona Lisa.  He also painted The Last Supper, which is the first revelation of Jesus and the 12 apostles ever in human form.

But….

Da Vinci was also a scientist.

He was an inventor.

He was a philosopher.

He was a sculptor.

He was an architect.

He was a mathematician.

He was a geologist.

He was a cartographer.

He was a botanist.

He was a writer.

He was a luminous force in a dark world trembling in fear and ignorance for a millenia.  The world was a horribly dark place largely because of that one universal inhibitor of all humanity — the church.  Which all goes to show that the 21st century we live in now isn’t all that much different from the oppressive mind shackles that buckled down most of the world way back in the 1500s.

Consider the remarkable risks Da Vinci personally took in the pursuit of knowledge.

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