Saturday, August 27, 2016

Miss and Don't Miss #2

As the days pass (quickly I might add), the things left behind in New York and those that are new to Las Vegas become more pronounced. Anyone who says that NY is better than LV or vice versa is not considering all the facts. Both places have appeal and both places have negatives. In actuality they are not much different although there are plenty who will argue this statement.

Each day wandering around North Las Vegas and its environs I am reminded about those things that I “miss” and “do not miss” about both towns.

Traffic : If you listen to morning “drive-time” radio in Las Vegas you would think that traffic is a nightmare – back-ups moving south on I15, a pile up on the 215, Flamingo Road barely passable. Any and all of these traffic bulletins involve waiting to get where you are going for another 10 minutes maximum.

Since arriving here a little over 3 months ago I have been depending on Google Maps to get me from point A to point B – this kind of navigational guide is a must in Las Vegas for anyone coming here from the east coast since every strip mall looks exactly like every other strip mall and every housing development is chock full of little brown and tan houses all in a row (no distinguishable landmarks, no way points that stand out). Those of you who use Google Maps (and if you do not I recommend it highly over other GPS apps and devices) know that the “smart” part of the program turns heavy traffic roads from yellow to orange to (God forbid!!!) red when traffic is at its worst. Driving around NY you make U-turns over grassy road dividers when you see red! In Las Vegas? Meh!!!! A red road means that there are more than a usual number of cars on the road – not stopped mind you, not moving under the speed limit mind you, but just more than an average number of cars on the road.

For me this is wonderland. I have not been in a traffic jam (a New York style traffic jam) in three months. For those of you unfamiliar with a New York style traffic jam, let me give an illustration.

My wife and I sold our home in New York and decided to forego the all-around stress of taking our two not so well-behaved small but annoying dogs on a plane ride out here. We opted for a closing in the late morning, a quick lunch, and off in the car we would be on a five day jaunt across the country. You’ve heard about the “best-laid plans?” Once we were all in the car, the dogs safely strapped in the back seat since otherwise our Shih-Tzu prefers to lean over the front seat and whine while our Maltese prefers riding shot-gun digging his small, lethal paws into my wife’s legs, we set our minds on the far west. Not so fast. The Mercedes CLA 250 lease we were driving, an otherwise reliable but over-rated car, had been trouble free up until that point when a “warning” light blipped on the dash!!! A quick look in the manual informed us, yes, you guessed it, “bring the car in to the dealership to get this checked out ASAP”. So instead of heading west directly for the George Washington Bridge, we headed east toward the dealership in New Rochelle.

After some begging and suggesting that we weren’t moving the car out of the Service Department entrance until they helped us, they agreed to take a look at it. Unconsciously they hurried up the process as much as possible after we exited the vehicle and sauntered into their posh Waiting Room with our two dogs in tow.

Their fast is not my idea of fast and after almost two hours they informed us that the “sensor” that tripped the warning light was defective and they did not have the part to replace it. They assured us the car was running perfectly and to have the part changed once we arrived in Las Vegas (we still have not by the way!).

Back in the car we re-mapped our escape route and since we were now on the east side of the county we opted for I95 to the Cross Bronx Expressway, to the GW Bridge. Simple! Straightforward! Efficient! Except we did not factor in that this was a Friday afternoon (now about 3:30 PM) in New York City.

New York traffic is so bad that the radio routinely does not report traffic snarls that are routine and normal – translation, anything that happens on the Cross Bronx Expressway! From where we started this leg of our trip to the New Jersey side of the GW bridge is 5 or 6 miles at the most. At 6:30 PM (3 hours later) we were crossing the Hudson River and already exhausted. That’s RED traffic on Google Maps and I sincerely do not miss that kind of New York Traffic at all.

Fast Food : First things first. I am not a big fan of fast food. I will eat an occasional Kentucky Fried Chicken meal and I find myself at MacDonalds far more often than I’d like. Fast food has its place in our society – something to eat when you need to get it FAST.

Somehow the “fast” part of fast food has been lost at many venues in LV as opposed to New York where you can get a hot dog or a gourmet meal from a food truck in a split second! The idea of having food ready to serve at the request of a diner involves having the food you are selling already prepared or very close to being prepared. I’m sure that at the end of the day many fast food establishments that do all of this the correct way have a certain amount of waste to deal with – prepared food waiting to be bought but no one bought it! My guess is that many Las Vegas fast food establishments are attempting to cut down on this sort of waste. However, in doing so they eliminate the essence of “fast.”

At a local casino that my wife and I frequent there are a number of decent sit down restaurants and a small food court. Food courts are designed for fast food, right? Not so fast. Of the Dairy Queen, Nathan’s,  Capriotti’s, Panda Express, Rubio’s and Johnny Rocket’s there, the only one that has food ready and waiting is the Panda Express and often the display trays are down to the bottom and you have to wait for another batch to be prepared.

 Nathan’s hotdogs? Waiting on the cold side of the grill for a customer. Fries? That’ll take 3 – 5 minutes in the deep fryer. A burger? You are looking at a good 10-15 minute wait!

What I’m saying is if I lower my standards enough to order fast food, I at least expect it to be fast. Think again in Las Vegas. I miss New York fast food.

 Poker Update : I am relieved that I came to Las Vegas to retire, and not to attempt to make a living playing poker. If I had tried surviving on poker by now I’d be holding a sign on the corner advertising my willingness to work for food!

 I have finished first in a small online tournament which paid about 20x my buy in. That was very satisfying. On the other hand I have gone out of similar tournaments on the bubble twice! That’s heart wrenching.

Live play is not going well. No tournament cashes in about 6 attempts and 2 out of about 10 winning seats at cash games. I’m not ready to give up yet although I am tightening up my play a good deal. Thankfully I enjoy playing and I am not losing the farm!

Time will tell.

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