Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Off-The-Strip, Weight Loss Las Vegas Experience

While some prefer to be in the thick of the brilliant lights, over-the-top glitz and dizzying spectacle of the Las Vegas strip, I opted instead to settle a mile or so east at the Holiday Inn Las Vegas – Flamingo during my recent three-day stay. I enjoyed this vantage point from beginning to end! The five-story hotel is new, clean, quiet, away from the madness, and in an off-strip area of good restaurants. The lobby and rooms are HGTV-style in contemporary interior design and décor. Most of all it was convenient to the University where I attended a social media conference. UNLV is also an off-strip haven, with contemporary architecture in earthy adobe colors and airy walkways next to desert gardens.

My business associate, on the other hand, stayed on the strip. However, he said he couldn't sleep from the overstimulation of electricity and sound that surrounded him along Las Vegas Blvd. On the strip itself, you wait in line to check in your hotel, wait in line for cabs, pay up to $15 for wi-fi costs, wait in line to get into a restaurant.

But after each one of my conference days, I returned to my hotel and checked e-mails and social media at the Holiday Inn free business center. Hardly anyone else was there. Then, after a bite to eat, I took the hotel’s free shuttle to and from the strip to check out how Vegas has drastically changed since my last visit years ago. The hotel staff and shuttle drivers are friendly, authentic and couldn’t do enough for me. Since this hotel is relatively new, not many people yet stay there, so I received special treatment and quick service at breakfast.

Breakfasts, such as the garden and California omelettes were excellent. Enjoyed a nearby Spanish tapas restaurant called Firefly, around the corner on Paradise, with visiting relatives. Try their bacon-wrapped dates or veggie empanadas. And across the street from the hotel is Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. Entrees there are usually around $25 or so, but I stopped in during happy hour, weekdays until 6:30 p.m. and had two filling appetizers and a small glass of wine, all for $15. Try the lobster California maki or the beef tenderloin skewers with spicy vegetables.

I didn't choose Priceline name-your-own-price on this hotel like I usually do. That's because I was set on staying at this specific hotel: as I said close to the University, easy to get a cab (they call for you), the free shuttle to and from the airport and from the strip, new, non-smoking, cool décor and free wi-fi. Cost was far less than the strip. I found a $2 off coupon at the hotel for the nearby Atomic Testing Museum, which was better than I imagined, although quite an oddity. One of my relatives told me I must have been “desperate for something to do” to go there, but you never know when a poem might spring from such an unusual experience.

Living on appetizers and an occasional energy bar, walking mile after mile along the strip, taking in a session at the Breathe oxygen bar at New York, New York to keep me going, I actually lost weight while in Vegas, but never felt hungry. ◦

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Characteristics of the Creative Personality

In his classic book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, author and creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi outlines the characteristics of creative individuals. He wrote, “If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude.”

Some of the creative characteristics to look for, which he discusses in his book:
1. A great deal of physical energy alternating with a great need for quiet and rest.
2. Highly sexual, yet often celibate, especially when working.
3. Both extravagant and spartan.
4. Smart and naïve at the same time. A mix of wisdom and childishness. Emotional immaturity along with the deepest insights.
5. Convergent (rational, left brain, sound judgment) and divergent (intuitive, right brain, visionary) thinking. Divergence is the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas, to switch from one perspective to another, and to pick unusual associations of ideas. Convergence involves evaluation and choice. Creative people have the capacity to think both ways.
6. Both extroverted and introverted, needing people and solitude equally.
7. Humble and proud, both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident.
8. May defy gender stereotypes, and are likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other as well. A kind of psychic androgyny.
9. Can be rebellious and independent on one hand, and traditional and conservative on the other.
10. A natural openness and sensitivity that often exposes them to extreme suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Despair alternates with bliss, despair when they aren’t working, and bliss when they are.

Does this sound like you or someone you might know? If so, keep up the creativity! ◦

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil
Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Weather Reporter Extraordinaire
Halfway between the dawn and sunset of winter,
it’s the high noon of the season.
Will old sol wear sunglasses today
and keep his rays of warmth and wisdom to himself,
or take Punxsy Phil by surprise?

Phil ascends with bleary eyes
from watching “Groundhog Day” over or over
again last night in his public library lair,
and looks as puzzled and ruffled haired as Bill Murray
as he pokes his head out of the tree stump, wondering,
“What did I get myself in the middle of?”

He stands on hind legs and raises his paws
you’d think he were Santa Claus the way the cameras flash,
causing artificial shadows of himself
to loom in every direction,
like a dozen enormous cut-outs of T-rex, vexed.

Halfway between Christmas and Easter,
between the solstice and equinox,
between a native ritual and a European tradition,
between a squirrel and a woodchuck,
Phil’s stuck,
here, with all these people.
He keeps looking over the crowd
for Andie MacDowell, but only faces strangers.

Then Phil sees the sun peeking out from behind
a billowy cumulus cloud,
and hears the sudden roar of the crowd,
because everyone finally notices his real shadow
is what’s on the ground,
and think he’s afraid when he looks where they’re looking,
then exits the other way back down the tree stump hole.

But he’s not scared at all,
just plain tired of all the fuss
and from staying up so groundhog, doggone late,
when any other rodent worth his fur
would know to hibernate.

~ by Cynthia Gallaher

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Night Before Snow Day

The Night Before Snow Day
It hasn’t snowed a flake
since Christmas Eve,
but that was weeks ago.

Clouds are thick above my head
on a school night here below,
it’s so hard to go to sleep tonight,
cause I fear that it won’t snow.

Sun Valley School could use a Snow Day,
it’s been mighty overdue,
I could almost eat a tray of ice
to make it all come true.

I wear pajamas inside out
before I go to bed,
do a snow dance
'round the table,
even shampoo my dog Fred.

Later, in the deep of night,
I hear scratches at my window,
and it's not the squirrels
but crazy whirls
of snowflakes hitting glass
real hard.

And in my yard,
snow comes drifting up the stairs,
hiding all the flower pots,
'cause there is lots
and lots of snow.

Even TV says it’s so,
when I turn on early morning news
and find out

Schools are closed down on the south side,
up north schools are chained and locked,
schools 10 miles away are closing,
plus the one I go to down the block.

Sun Valley School is closed today.

Sun Valley School? What did the newsman say?
I yell Snow Day! Snow Day! Snow Day!
I can’t help myself from screaming,
I wake my little brother,
to tell him I’m not dreaming.

I make plans to build a snow fort
and sled down parkside hills,
fill our day with well-packed thrills,
make a snowball bowling alley,

Hold a no-school, snow-stoked rally,
cause our one-and-only Snow Day's
here, at long last, in Sun Valley.

~ by Cynthia Gallaher