Archive for the ‘in the news’ category

New Las Vegas Strip Resort is Finally Opening

September 16th, 2009

City Center - Las VegasThere is a new super-mega resort on the Las Vegas Strip that is finally ready to open – some of it, anyway. If you’ve been to Vegas in the past couple years you may have noticed the giant construction project on Las Vegas Blvd between Bellagio and Monte Carlo.  That pit has risen to become the new CityCenter complex. I can’t figure out why MGM-Mirage would pour more than 8 Billion Dollars into a new resort and name it with such a bland, meaningless name. It inspires no vision, no imgaination, and for those of us who already live in cities, why would anyone long to vacation in a “city center” resort? Names like Caesars Palace, Rio, Bellagio, even Wynn all conjure images consistent with an experience that is out of the ordinary. But CityCenter sounds like Wall Street or some giant convention complex.  Not even a whiff of experience – whether luxury, exotic, or even party. 

Anyway, it is finally opening several of its core buildings including Aria (better name than CityCenter!), Crystals shopping, Vdara and Marndarin Oriental hotels.  MGM issued a video press release extolling the virtues of CityCenter, but it since has been taken down.

The complete press release with detail on each  can be found at PRnewswire, and as follows:

» Read more: New Las Vegas Strip Resort is Finally Opening

My Report on Local Economic Indicators

March 2nd, 2009

Following is another in a series of reports on the US economy. My Report on Local Economic Indicators (RLEI) is not scientific at all. Purely anecdotal, with really no fact at all to back it up. Culled from the personal powers of observation, deduction and reasoning of, well, me. This brand of shoddy reporting is a cornerstone of web blogging in 2009, isn’t it?  But I digress.

In our own way, my wife Kristin and I are trying to stimulate the local economy of suburban Chicago by pumping literally hundreds of dollars into local home improvement retailers such as Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, and a hardware store once known as Ace, now under the name of Bill’s. We are leveraging the current availability of short lines at the checkout, huge sales and discounting, and generally favorable market conditions to gut and remodel our kitchen.

We hired an under-employed neighbor who does excellent work (call me if you want a referral) for the heavy stuff of taking down two kitchen walls to half height, breaking up our tile floor, re-routing some plumbing and electric, drywall installation and shoring up the once load bearing walls that are now empty space. Kristin has done all of the skim coating, sanding, priming and painting with the exception of one ceiling which I bravely and confidently rolled out! Ok, before I am judged for the workload imbalance, consider I work full time and Kristin stays at home working full time as a mom but having more flexibility of schedule to do these kinds of things. Plus I am verrry deliberate in how I work so frankly her output is about twice my capacity anyway. Also, I get overwhelmed easily when it comes to “handy work”. Another digression.

Back to my Report on Local Economic Indicators (RLEI). The solid cherry-wood cabinets have been ordered (by Kristin, natch) so we went to Home Depot and Lowes over the weekend to zero in on counter tops. We are going with solid surface acrylic by LG called Hi-Macs.  Nice stuff.  What I observe though, is hundreds of thousands of square feet of no customers in either store. Seriously, at both Lowes and Home Depot, employees outnumbered shoppers!  To my mind, neither of these retailers are normally staffed very heavy; there always seems to be two or three lined up to question a clerk that may have been cornered by a in-need customer. Not this past weekend. It was kind of spooky to have the stores basically to ourselves at these large major retailers on a weekend. Not a good sign.

Yes, I saw the headline this morning that insurance behemoth AIG lost 61.7 billion last quarter.  I did the math – that is $685 MILLION per day for three months, an astonishing number, almost incomprehensible. But what I saw or in this case didn’t see at Home Depot and Lowes over the weekend is equally disturbing. C’mon people, spread some money around!  The government can’t spin this downward spiral around all by itself.

Paul Harvey. Good day.

February 28th, 2009

Paul Harvey.

The President Embraces Technology

January 24th, 2009

I love a lot of things here. I love that the President of the Untied States embraces technology and posts his weekyl address on YouTube. I love that within this weeks address, he says “hold my administration accountable” for his plans. And I love there is a PDF download right under the video, outlining in more detail the plans proposed and benchmarks with which to measure success.

Kayla and Barack

January 20th, 2009

My beautiful and brilliant 9yr old niece Kayla had her story published today in the Daily Herald. She met him at his Chicago campaign headquarters over the summer, and the Daily Herald asked today for her story…

We asked you to tell us what Barack Obama’s inauguration as president means to you, and you responded with eloquent essays, poems and even paintings commemorating this moment in history.

‘Even when you’re important, you’re still like everybody else’

By Kayla Cook

When I met Barack Obama, he told me to work hard in school and dream big dreams.

I got to meet him because my Uncle Pete Dagher was running the Chicago Obama headquarters.

Me, my mom and my dad went there one night. I was really excited because he was a United States senator running for president.

That day at camp, we had an activity. We made bracelets out of a red, white or blue pipe cleaners and red, white and blue beads for the Fourth of July. I chose blue. And I did a pattern of blue, red and white beads.

We also made posters. Mine said, “Obama Rocks!” because I knew I was going to go to the headquarters.

When we went there that night, I was sitting comfortably in an orange chair. And then I heard his footsteps. Then I had to stand up. He walked in. I was standing between my mom and dad. He walked right past my mom, who was on my left, and he went straight to me.

All I could see was the bottom of his chin because he’s so tall.

I said, “Hi, I’m Kayla.” He shook my hand and said, “Hello, Kayla.” Then he shook my mom and dad’s hands.

I nervously gave him the bracelet and poster that I made. I wondered if he liked them. He studied them and held onto them.

Then he walked over to a desk, asked for a piece of scratch paper and a pen, and he wrote me a thank-you letter.

This taught me that, even when you’re important, you’re still like everybody else. It’s important to say, “thank you.”

My mom and dad couldn’t believe what they were seeing. My mom was totally caught up in the moment.

Then Sen. Obama said, “Kayla, I’m sure your mom would like to take a picture.” It was like he was cueing her for her lines in a play. My mom took out her camera and took one picture.

I am not surprised that he is going to be president because he was so kind and caring.

On the night of the election, when Barack Obama was proclaimed the new president, my dad told me that it’s an executive order – I have to work hard in school or I’m breaking the law.

• Kayla Cook, 9, is a third-grader at Madison Elementary School in Lombard and the daughter of Daily Herald Opinion Page Editor Anne Halston.

Kayla Cook with Barack Obama   Barack’s note to Kayla

White House website

January 20th, 2009

Shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama I visited the official White House website.  It sure didn’t take long for them to transition here…

Whitehouse.gov 1pm central today

CNN and Facebook Inauguration Webcast

January 20th, 2009

Watching a Presidential inauguration is always a fascinating experience for me. Watching a usually somber outgoing President and then looking with hope to the new President always makes me wonder what those individuals are thinking in that moment. 

 I like the pomp and circumstance, the protocol, the orchestrations of an inauguration. It really is remarkable to witness such a peaceful and orderly governmental transition. I watching it on a shaky internet feed from CNN.com through Facebook. Clearly CNN was not prepared to scale their feed to serve the likely millions of simulaneous web viewers. The Facebook side of the event seemed more stable and frankly pretty intrguing in watching my “friends” update their statuses in realtime, mimicing a chat. The CNN video feed was choppy at best, frozen and contanstanly buffering in spite of my T1 connection. The audience for this webcast was probably off the charts; unprecedented, so perhaps they did ok.  But in no way was it a smooth video experience.

Jerry Lewis to get Honorary Oscar

January 15th, 2009

Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review Journal reports…

Comedy giant Jerry Lewis is getting a ceremonial Oscar.

Lewis, 82, will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the 81st Academy Awards on Feb. 22.

He’ll be presented with an Oscar statuette to honor his decades of work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Lewis has been MDA’s national chairman since 1952 and has raised more than $2 billion through his Labor Day Telethon since 1966.

“Jerry is a legendary comedian who has not only brought laughter to millions around the world,” said Academy President Sid Ganis, “but has also helped thousands upon thousands by raising funds and awareness for those suffering from muscular dystrophy.”

The award is given periodically to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.

Lewis, who has made Las Vegas his home for much of his life, joins a list that includes Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, Danny Kaye and Quincy Jones.

The award is named after Jean Hersholt, who served as president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund for 18 years.

Lewis, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, won a Golden Globe award in 1966 for his role in “Boeing (707) Boeing (707)” for Best Motion Picture Actor in Musical/Comedy.

Change I Can Believe In

December 10th, 2008

In the news today… President-Elect Barack Obama gave a wide ranging interview that included:

Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital.

And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

“I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” Obama said Tuesday, promising an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”

The world, he said, “is ready for that message.”

This world of ours needs so much healing, more understanding and tolerance, it’s good to see the incoming administration recognizes this and is willing to reach out. Now that is change I can believe in!

New Mirage Volcano in Las Vegas Opens

December 9th, 2008

The Mirage once again set the standard for Strip-front attractions today as its redesigned signature Volcano premiered to the world. When The Mirage first unveiled The Volcano in 1989 the landscape of Las Vegas was forever altered. This all-new audio/visual spectacle again raises the bar with never-before-seen fire effects and an exclusive soundtrack composed by Grateful Dead drummer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Mickey Hart, and Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.

Tasked with bringing the latest innovations to the project, WET forged a primal volcanic environment of sound, light, music and heat. WET’s choreographed FireShooters – which send massive fireballs more than 12 feet into the air – were designed specifically for The Mirage using the latest developments in flame-expression technology. The FireShooters punctuate the performances with eruptions of fiery “lava” that flow down the mountain’s fissures in a series of lively flames. As the eruption ignites the surrounding lagoon, the FireShooters bring Las Vegas’ signature blast within feet of spectators.