Hello Friends and Family,

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Las Vegas After NAPP

New York, New York After the conference closed, Mizuki and I played. Easy to do in Las Vegas. Part of the fun is just exploring these incredible resorts --- or should I say "resort casinos" since that seems to be universally the case here.

This may be a bit familiar for those of you who have been to Las Vegas --- but the strip changes so quickly --- old hotels being torn down and new mega-resorts or mega-condo rising in their place --- that even the semi-frequent visitor is likely to see something new.

Statue of Liberty This photo and the one above are from New York, New York. Guess what their theme is. Actually, these photos are the result of my playing with the camera in my iPhone --- as I mentioned briefly last week. I honestly did not expect to get much picture quality from a cell phone camera --- and was thus quite surprised with the results. I can see that the photos are not as good as those produced by my Nikon D200 --- if they were, I would feel rather foolish paying big bucks for the fancy camera --- and lugging it all over Hawaii, New Mexico or wherever. The only serious deficiency I noted was noise in the photos taken in dim light --- which is also a challenge for the expensive cameras too.

Belagio Dancing Fountains It was getting late in the afternoon when we passed the Belagio and their dancing fountains --- but still the photos were turning out okay.

By the way, if you have never been to Las Vegas, when you eventually do come --- note how much water this desert community uses. It is even worse than Phoenix.

But, of course, you have to impress the tourists and the dancing fountains certainly do that.

Hermes Most of the high-end resorts have expensive shopping to go along with the expensive rooms and expensive food and expensive entertainment and the Belagio is no exception. My palms get sweaty when we walk along this path --- since Mizuki is an Herm├Ęs aficionado. This day, we made it past without further financial damage.

Eifel Tower And how many places in America can you find an Eifel Tower? Only one place I know. Actually, the strip is a pretty cool place for a photographer. Even one using an iPhone camera. And if you bring a good camera and a tripod, the scenes you can photograph at night are incredible. In addition to wasting a lot of water, Las Vegas also wastes a lot of electricity. But the shots you can take at night are of a fantasy world.

Just don't take any photos in the casino --- they don't permit photography for fear you might figure out a way to cheat the machines or the dealers. Of course, with so many cell phones with cameras, I don't think they can stop it anymore --- unless you are so very obvious when you're taking the pictures.

Penn Saturday evening we went to see Penn & Teller. In case you don't know about these guys --- they are an eccentric team of magicians who have been performing together for some 30 years. Penn is a big guy and does all the talking --- Teller does not talk (at least not on stage). They sometimes will actually reveal the trick behind some of the classic illusions --- as they did the night we were there. In addition to their live show, they also have a program on Showtime called Penn & Teller: Bullshit! We don't have Showtime so I have not seen it --- but I expect that would be quite entertaining.

That is Penn after the show having his picture taken with some of the folks that came to see the show. He wears his hear in a pony-tail then undoes it when the show ends and he meets with the audience.

Excalibur The show started at 9:00, ending around 10:30 --- a bit late for me --- and therefore we just went back to our room afterward. [Backtracking] The Mandalay Bay was not offering conference room rates once the conference ended. I would have expected that they would for the night of the last day of the conference --- since some folks had long ways to travel home and might not be able to schedule a flight after the 3:00 closing session. They offered us a rate some $100 more than the conference rate. When I planned the trip, we had to decide whether to fly home right after the conference, pay that outrageous room rate or find another hotel. We found another hotel --- the Excalibur. Not as nice as the Mandalay Bay but some $80 cheaper --- and almost neighbors, so switching hotels was relatively painless.

As you can see from the photo, the theme is the time of the Knights of the Roundtable. Okay, but I just want a clean comfortable bed. Got that. And a decent view

Wynn As I mentioned above, Las Vegas is always building new resorts. New since my last visit is the Wynn. I asked the taxi driver what the theme of this resort is and he said it was like a luxury fantasy. Hmm. I guess so. But they do have lots of water and I found this pool with sculptures of human figures to be most interesting. It was also my favorite picture that I took with the iPhone.

Coincidentally, my friend and fellow HP retiree, Roger and his wife Patty visited Las Vegas when we were here and stayed at the Wynn. I still need to get his review of this new resort. We tried to schedule time to get together but it didn't quite work out. Ironic that we both live in the Phoenix area and we have to go to Las Vegas to visit. Gotta fix that!

Mizuki I also captured this wonderful photo of Mizuki. She usually does not like the photos I take of her --- but this was was "acceptable". I guess those trips to Santa Fe are really paying off.

Venetian With only a little time left before departing for the airport, we stopped at the Venetian. We stayed here once on a business trip --- another conference, of course. Of all the places we have stayed in Las Vegas it is our favorite --- mostly because of the rooms --- all suites. Nice. And doubly nice since it was on HP's dime.

B. DavidThe gondolas continue into the shopping area --- where we found a new extension of the shops linking to a new hotel, the Palazzo, opening in 2008. Here Mizuki had the chance to play photographer with her iPhone.

It was a fun trip --- both the Photoshop World Conference and playing in Las Vegas afterward. Now back to real life.

 Life is good.

 B. David