Thursday, February 28, 2013

Here I Come to Save the Day!

(That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!)

You knew that Guam has a big problem with brown tree snakes, don’t you? If you didn’t, well now you do.
Those slithery reptiles arrived in baggage during World War II along with American soldiers who were being shipped from elsewhere in the Pacific theater to Guam. They got loose and they thrived. So much so that there aren’t any birds around (brown tree snakes love eggs in the morning, just like me).
I’ve been told by people I know who lived on Guam for a while that it’s eerie not to hear any birds in the morning (they can come to my house to hear birds in the morning if they like … those little buggers just won’t shut up).
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is trying hard – their latest gimmick is to load up dead mice with acetaminophen tablets (y’know, Tylenol) and parachute them into the forests. The chutes snag on the trees and the mice mummies just dangle there, waiting for a hungry brown tree snake to slither by.
The chutes prevent the dead mice from reaching the ground, where other animals might eat them. Since the tree snakes live in … er, trees, it seems the technique is pretty specific to them. They eat the dearly departed mice (apparently they have no problem with carrion), the acetaminophen metabolizes badly with their body chemistry, and they die.
One might question the effort. After all, wouldn’t carrion-eating birds like crows and owls and hawks and eagles get to the mice mummies first? No. Remember, the snakes got rid of them by eating their eggs a long time ago.
Stay tuned. If I learn anything more about the campaign’s success, I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gecko Toes

So I was headed outside yesterday morning to sit in my favorite director's chair and read my current book when I looked down at my slippers ("flip flops" to you people on the mainland).

There where my left-foot toes would soon be ensconced was a longish pale lumpy tube of something. Not waiting to start off with gooshy stuff on my feet, I picked up the slippers and saw ... a dead gecko.
See?
 
It wasn't completely pale; it had black spots and its head was red and reddish-brown. Apparently, that's where someone stepped on it.
The question therefore, is ... Who dunnit? Was it me? And if it were me, was I walking around yesterday with a gecko dangling between my toes? I don't recall feeling anything strange, but who else could have done it?
This incident reminds me of another, maybe 20 years ago. Wearing slippers, I stepped out of my car in the parking lot of McDonald's on Keeaumoku Street. My left slipper fell off as I did, and when my foot landed, I stepped on something soft.
It was a little sparrow, and it had met its doom underfoot. I figured it must have been under the car and tried to fly off when it had the misfortune to fly right where my foot was descending. Poor thing.
I wasn't too hungry after that, but I bought a Big Mac anyway.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The 47th Super Bowl

 
I did tell you that I went to a Super Bowl party in Las Vegas again this year, didn’t I? I didn’t? Ah … excuse me.
As I did last year, I hoofed it on down to the Tuscany Suites & Casino on Flamingo Boulevard, about a half-mile or so east of the Las Vegas Strip. Over the years, I’ve found they offer the best venue for viewing the game – four large screens, good food and beverages at reasonable prices, and lots of enthusiastic fans (49ers on one side, Ravens on the other).
Plus, they give out door prizes.
We all know how the game turned out – it ended up just fine for me, very exciting at the end, but my team held on to beat the 4.5-point spread.
I sat next to an elderly couple from Maine who come to Las Vegas from October through March each year to avoid the New England winter. Somewhat like the snowbirds who do the same thing in Hawaii, spending the winter in a more temperate clime.
The lady was in a power scooter chair festooned with all kinds of red, white and blue foil streamers, bead strings, you name it (per her description, every holiday under the sun). Very friendly and chatty woman, and a very knowledgeable, polite husband. I found myself opening up to them and had to put the clamps on things before I gave away all my closeted secrets. Great people to enjoy the game with.
I mentioned drawings. For the drawings, my ticket number was 23292. Number 23290 won a $25 American Express cash card. Later, #23296 won a $50 American Express cash card. Finally, the last number called, #23294, won a 39-inch flat-screen TV. Just missed, oh so close three times, but no cigar.
On the other hand, had I won the flat-screen TV, I would have had to lug it back to the hotel, go to the UPS office there, and have them pack it and send it back home. Or, I would have unloaded it for a hundred bucks to any local who wanted it.
Good thing I didn’t win. At least, that’s how I consoled myself.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Silent (Auction) Night

One of the Auction Tents. That's Brother-In-Law Warren on the Right
This past Saturday night was interesting ... the wife and I went to a silent auction and testimonial dinner honoring the soon-to-be-retiring Head of Hanahauoli School, where my eldest son spent his elementary school years.
 
Get this: We drove across the street from our house to a valet area at Punahou School (less than half a mile), only to take a shuttle bus to Hanahauoli School. The bus itself took a round-about route and because the school is close to where we live, we probably could have walked to Hanahauoli faster than it took to take the shuttle.
 
But the thing is, our house is on a hill with a very steep access street, and it was a rainy night. No way in hell were we going to walk in the rain, then bust our patooties walking up the hill late in the dark.
 
Sony Cyber-Shot Camera: $200 Value, Open at $60, I Bid $160, Didn't Get It
The event itself was nice. I did get to see some very interesting, intriguing, classy and desirable items, services and travel options on the block. Nothing really appealed to me, at least nothing I'd like to have around the house, so I bid on only one item, a brand-new Sony Cyber-Shot camera that just came on the market this month.
 
Small Area of the Dinner Tent
Dinner was interesting. It was in a big tent, which was fine. It rained. It downpoured. The heavens opened up. Yet, we remained dry, despite huge seam leaks and garbage buckets filling up with downflow, despite water running around our shoes. We survived to enjoy the nice buffet and stand a few times in ovation when the honored guest was on stage.
 
I met several friends whom I hadn't seen in ages: A former student who made me smile when he said he's always quoting me on something I said in class, a public relations counselor whom I've known for years, and a marketing director for KFC who used to be my client when I was with the ad agency. Very nice seeing them all again.
 
Thanks to my "cousin" Gary, whose two daughters attended Hanahauoli School, and who invited the wife and me to the dinner/auction.
 
Now ... here are some of the silent auction items that intrigued me:
 
"Hummingbirds Triptych" by Janet Marlette: $150 Value, Open at $45
 
Toto Toilets!
 
Gift Selections
 
Fresh Water Pearl Necklace: $3,000 Value, $3,600 Buy-It-Now, Open @ $540
 
Night-Blooming Cereus Photograph, Japanese Calligraphy
 
There were, of course, so many more items up for bid. But the battery on my smart phone was running low. So we caught the shuttle to the Punahou School valet parking area, got our car and drove across the street back to our house.
 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

White Star Laundry Hanger


I found something interesting yesterday. Lying on the back of the couch was this vintage wooden clothes hanger from the White Star Laundry, Ltd. in Hilo, Hawaii (“THE LARGEST LAUNDRY & DRY CLEANING PLANT IN HILO, PHONE 2000, KAMEHAMEHA AVE”).
When I asked the wife about it, she said she’d been using it to hang her jacket. Amazed, I told her that it’s very old, just look at the four-digit phone number. I figure her father, who originally was from Hilo, had taken it with him when his family moved to Maui, then just continued to use it, using it to carry a clothes item from house to house whenever he moved.
So it ended up in his closet here, and the wife began using it.
White Star was founded in 1909 by Luso Joseph Fernandez, an employee of Elite Laundry on Kalakaua Street. The original White Star was on Kapiolani Street by Hall Street. Fernandez wold it to Hilo Steam Saundry in 1910, who then resold it to Bob Gillespie when the bank foreclosed.
Gillespie sold it to a Japanese employee group led by Takeo Tanabe, who operated the laundry before moving it to Kamehameha Avenue in 1924. John Kai bought it in 1929 and renamed the laundry White Star Laundry. It went through a couple more owners – John Magoon and Doc Hill, who eventually closed it for good in 1938.
In 1935, the first Hawaii modern trade union was organized – the International Longshore & Warehouse Union – by Harry Lehua Kamoku (1905-1957). Joining the union sometime between 1936 and 1938 were workers at White Star Laundry.
White Star employees participated in the Hilo unions’ support of the Boatsman Union, which was on strike in Honolulu. According to Gabriel Manning, the “Hilo Massacre” of August 1, 1938, White Star Laundry girls jumped into Hilo Bay when shots were fired.
The laundry building became the site of the Western Store (that’s what I remember occupying the building) until McDonald’s moved in.
Wondering what the value of such a relic (in good condition) is, I checked eBay and found that one recently sold for $9 on Dec. 8; soon after, one sold for $12 on Dec. 30.
So now, the question is … what do I want to do with this obviously very old souvenir relic of my hometown’s past? The wife gave it to me and told me to do whatever I wanted with it. She’s not the very nostalgic type, and getting a few dollars for it would make her happy.
Me? I enjoy looking up the history of things and writing about it. But then again, I tend not to be so sentimental about holding onto old stuff these days.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Changes at the Luxor in Las Vegas

Click on Picture for a Larger Panoramic View
I’ve stayed at the Luxor Hotel & Casino once, a rare stopover in Las Vegas on my way to a conference somewhere back East. Normally, I stop by on the way back to Hawaii. The good thing was, the wife got to join me.

The Luxor is a little weird for those used to perpendicular hotels with elevators that go straight up and down, and not at a 39-degree slant. In fact, those elevators are given a special name – Inclinators (because they incline).
When I stayed there in 1994, the atrium mezzanine above the casino floor featured an Egyptian action-adventure story in three parts (motion-simulator ride, 3-D movie, and IMAX movie), a tour of King Tut’s tomb, and a Nile River Tour along a weaving waterway.
That’s all changed. The architecture remains the same, of course (after all, it cost $375 million to build and they’re not going to tear the iconic pyramid down). The registration area, which used to be on the north end of the pyramid, is now situated on the east side.
Instead of the Egyptian-themed attractions, Luxor now houses “Bodies … The Exhibition” and “Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition,” both of which I saw when they were located in the Tropicana Hotel across Las Vegas Boulevard.
 
In fact, the first thing you see when you enter Luxor from the Strip is a giant heart that immediately grabs your attention. Take the escalator up to the mezzanine and wander around some pretty impressive structures, and prepared to be accosted by some vendors trying to sell you stuff.


I couldn’t find the little snack shop that had some of the best pickled tomatoes I’ve ever had. That’s to be expected, I guess. When they clean house, they really clean house. It’s still an interesting place to visit and if you get a chance to ride the inclinator, please do. It’s weird. But you can’t do that anyplace else in the U.S. of A.

Friday, February 22, 2013

'Duh' Headlines

Isn't it ridiculous how newspaper headline writers sometimes get so close to their work, trying to make a headline fit into the space alloted, that they begin to state the obvious?

Maybe it's nothing to criticize, for after all, it does produce some "duh" moments and gales of laughter from those of us on the outside!

Here ya go, enjoy:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Well, DUH! You don't say!?!

Like 'em? I got more.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Excalibur Fun Dungeon

About eight years ago, the Excalibur Hotel & Casino underwent a major transformation that softened the medieval/Renaissance theme made popular during the family-oriented “theme resort” strategy of 1990s Las Vegas.
 
Most of the theme aspects have been removed, including the entertainment area under the casino, which is known as the “Fun Dungeon.” When last I visited the Excalibur, the Fun Dungeon was full of kids cavorting and being entertained by singers, puppeteers, magicians, and other like-wise costumed characters.
 
It was a fun, joyful place to walk around while you carefully tried to avoid stumbling over unfettered youngsters.
 
 
I’d heard about the changes, and wanted to see what they had done. So I paid them a visit (my first in a decade or so). The casino is pretty much the same. I mean, a casino is a casino, lots of jingly beeps and boops, flashing lights, garish signs. But the Fun Dungeon has changed immensely.
No light-hearted fun anymore. Everything down in the dungeon is very … well, dungeonesque. It’s dark down there, and not too many kids are running around. It’s mostly video arcade games, with a few carny-type games that they tried to upgrade to a classier level.
 
The entrance to the jousting dinner show – The Tournament of Kings – is down there, and I suppose that when the shows are over, the place sees more action and probably makes a lot of coinage. I doubt that the Thunder from Down Under show produces as many Dungeon patrons as the knights on horseback show does.
 
 

Still, one should remember that the largest Megabucks jackpot of all time was hit at the Excalibur. Someone walked away with $39.7 million in March 2003.
Hmmm, I wonder if s/he spent any of it in quarters at the Fun Dungeon?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Free Electric-Car Charging

One of the realities of today's world is the existence of electric cars, including hybrids that run on both electricity and gas.

Finding a place to refuel an internal combustion engine car is not a problem unless you're stuck in the mountains or desert somewhere remote where there aren't any gas stations around.

It's a little more difficult to find a place to charge up your car's batteries. Although they are situated in places either convenient or inconvenient, such as your workplace, those who run them are reluctant for members of the general public to plug in and recharge.

The reason? The cost of electricity. Somebody has to pay for it, and it's the company that owns the recharge station.

Recharging isn't as easy as you would think, even if your company provides a recharging station. My son, who lives in California, works for a company that has free plug-in stations for its employees. The problem is that by the time he gets to work, they're all occupied. It's like having to go to the bathroom and finding all the stalls in use, no?

So it's refreshing to see free charging stations sponsored by community-minded companies (albeit those with a message to promote and/or sell their services) set up around the community. Like this one in the Kamehameha Shopping Center, near Long's Drug. That one is sponsored by First Insurance Company of Hawaii.

Good for them. And lucky for you, if you own one. I noticed this one wasn't in use ... maybe those who live in the neighborhood don't own electric/hybrid cars? Even more fortunate for those who do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Room at the Flamingo Hotel

Click on Picture for a Larger Panoramic View
I hadn’t stayed at the Flamingo Las Vegas since June 2003, nearly a decade ago. That was when it was still the Flamingo Hilton, I think.

Things changed a bit at the hotel, and yet things remained the same. There are new restaurants, but the general layout of the casino is still the same. There’s a new casino section called Margaritaville where just a hallway to restaurants used to be.
The room has improved somewhat. The floors are now wood, whereas previously they were carpeted. Instead of an easy chair, there’s this backless couch that’s actually a loveseat-sized bench, not exactly the most comfortable place to sit and relax.
There’s a flat-screen television set installed now, so that helps. The bathroom amenities are much improved. The bed was nice and firm, and four pillows ensured my head was properly propped up when I wanted to read. Which is good, because that backless couch was no place to sit and read.
In general, the room was better than before. Previously, if you’d been in one Hilton hotel room, you’d been in them all – they were all set up so similarly. They do have an early check-in charge that I'd never encountered before; but I was too tired after my long red-eye plane ride to wait another six hours to check-in, so I just paid it ... $30.
Conclusion? Satisfactory.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where Hawaii Ranks 17

More rankings of interest to those of us living in Hawaii, or those who’ve visited and/or will be visiting Hawaii:

America’s Most Diverse Metropolitan Areas (Forbes, 2013)
1.       San Jose, CA (35% in largest ethnic group)
2.       New York, NY (39%)
3.       Oakland, CA (40%)
4.       Houston, TX (40%)
5.       HONOLULU, HI (43%)
America’s Most Diverse Neighborhoods (Forbes, 2013)
1.       Irving, Dallas, TX (25%.7 in largest ethnic group)
2.       Queen’s Village, New York, NY (26.4%)
3.       Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA (27.2%)
4.       Lakemont, Houston, TX (27.9%)
5.       WAHIAWA, HONOLULU, HI ((28.5%)
6.       KAHUKU, HONOLULU, HI (28.7%)
Most Teacher Absences (Center for American Progress, 2012)
1.       Rhode Island (50.2% of teachers absent more than 10 days)
2.       HAWAII (49.6%)
3.       Arkansas (48.5%)
4.       Oregon (48%)
5.       New Mexico (47.5%)
Leading Travel Reservation Destinations for 2013 (Flipkey, 2013)
1.       Kissimmee, FL
2.       Naples, FL
3.       Siesta Key, FL
4.       Marco Island, FL
5.       KIHEI, HI
Average Mortgage Debt (TransUnion, 2012)
1.       California ($324,867)
2.       Washington, DC ($375,353)
3.       HAWAII ($315,721)
4.       Maryland ($248,251)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Riviera Pinball Hall of Fame

 
Every once in a while, during a vacation in Las Vegas, I discover something I hadn’t known about.
This time, it was the Pinball Hall of Fame in the Riviera Hotel & Casino, across from the Circus Circus, at the northern end (the old ... er, the “vintage” ... end) of the Las Vegas Strip.
Turns out it’s no great shakes, unless you played pinball a lot. I was expecting to see the really old ones – the ones without flashing lights, just holes that you tried to get the balls into by gently rocking the game.
Click on Picture for a Larger Panoramic View
I remember guys playing for money in Hilo, and in downtown Honolulu when I got to college. They’d pay a nickel to play, then win money when they reached a certain amount of points. It was actually illegal, and hanging around a pinball parlor was tantamount to being labeled a juvenile delinquent.

Apparently, the games on display are classics, new and old. Even some of the featured characters are familiar (bet you never thought they’d be considered old characters, huh?) – Donkey Kong, Centipede, Space Invaders. They’ve got arcade games like the Rubber Ducky game, hockey, and gumball machines. In all, maybe 30 or so machines.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Most of these look like the 25¢ to 50¢ machines. In my day (don’t you hate when people say that?) it cost 5¢ to 10¢ when I was a kid and forbidden to play; the price was up to 25¢ when I was in college, and 50¢ when I came back to Hawaii in the mid-‘70s.
I wonder what it costs to play today?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Real Meaning of Some Words

These were sent to me by a good friend; I can’t resist, I have to share them with you.

·         Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

·         Beauty Parlor: A place where women curl up and dye.

·         Chickens: The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

·         Dust: Mud with the juice squeezed out.

·         Egoist: Someone who is me-deep in conversation.

·         Handkerchief: Cold storage.

·         Mosquito: An insect that makes you like flies better.

·         Raisin: A sunburned grape.

·         Secret: Something you tell to one person at a time.

·         Skeleton: A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.

·         Toothache: The pain that drives you to extraction.

·         Tomorrow: One of the greatest labor-saving devices of today.

·         Yawn: An honest opinion openly expressed.

·         Wrinkles: Something other people have, similar to my character lines.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Going to the Chapel and I'm ... Going to Get Married


Conversations overheard near the Tuscany Suites meeting rooms in Las Vegas:

Bride: Where IS he, anyway?
Bride's Mother: He'd better show up. Does he know where the wedding chapel is?
Bride: I told him it's on the second floor, past the meeting rooms on the right.
Bride's Mother: He does know it's today, doesn't he? (Looking at watch) He's already five minutes late.
Bride: Of course he does. I talked to him this morning!
Bride's Mother: *$%^#&%!

Groom: Okay, where is she? I've been waiting her for a half hour already?
Best Man: Why did they build the wedding chappel in the men's room? I don't see no altar or nothing here 'cept toilets!
Groom: *$%^#&%!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to Make a Marriage Work


Dedicated to the wife on this Valentine's Day. I share Earl's secrets to a successful marriage!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monkey-Face Banana Joe!

Look at him. That's Banana Joe. Doesn't he look like a monkey? Maybe that's why Banana Joe's breed, the affenpinscher, has been nicknamed the "monkey dog."

The little toy pooch capped a career of 85 Best-in-Show titles with the granddaddy of them all, Best-in-Show at the Westminster Kennel Club's 137th annual competition at Madison Square Garden in New York last night.

Wait ... I gotta say, he looks like an Ewok from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Don't you think?

No matter. He's a cutie, and I got to see him win. Okay, so I saw the late rerun on USA Network instead of the live feed earlier in the night, but that's because I didn't know the Westminster show was on this week. And if I hadn't seen a promo while flipping through the channels, I would have missed it altogether.

I love those dogs!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Music With Passion

I went to a birthday party this past Sunday, the first birthday of my wife's brother's brother-in-law's daughter's daughter.

(There must be a simple word or phrase to describe that relationship, but if there is, I certainly haven't heard it. In Hawaii, we call it "calabash," a bowl full of people related by marriage somehow.)

Be that as it may, that's not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the entertainment during the Hawaiian buffet.

The entertainer was Derrick Lee, a young man with a terrific voice, and a repretoire that brought back memories of my college and post-college days. Music of the '70s. He's quite versatile too; his business card mentions he performs rock, rhythm and blues, soul, country, ballads, reggae, and Hawaiian music.

He can also provide mobile dj services, sound and lighting, and backline audio equipment for other entertainers. Lee provides his own recorded background music, plays an electronic guitar, and sings along with his music.

I have a great aloha for entertainers who perform at parties or functions where the people generally don't pay attention to the performers. Our musical group, The Januarys, performed at similar functions (i.e., weddings, luncheons) and it's pretty rough on the ego to put out with feeling and energy, and receive no acknowledgement from those in attendance.

But I was listening; I even sang along despite nobody even listening to me. One little girl, I'd say maybe 3 years old, went up in front of the riser and started swaying to his singing. That was cute, and that would have brought tears to my eyes had I been singing on stage in his place. It's always good to be appreciated.

He doesn't know me, and I haven't met him. But I'm impressed. Anyway, here's his information. If you need an event entertainer, call him. I believe you won't be sorry.

Derrick Lee, Music With Passion
Phone (808) 348-0500
www.derrickleemusic.com
derrickleemusic@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/YourMusicalFriend

Monday, February 11, 2013

High Roller Observation Wheel


The first thing I noticed when I opened the drapes of my 20th-floor window at the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas for the first time this last trip was an odd-looking structure that looked like four extra-slim cigarettes stuck in the ground at odd angles.
It wasn’t until I asked a cabbie as we went along Paradise Road behind the Strip hotels that I found out what they are.
They are the vertical supports of a giant Ferris wheel being constructed by Caesars Entertainment Corp. behind the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino (now known as The Quad). Part of Caesar’s Project Linq, construction of the High Roller Observation Wheel began in September 2011 and is supposed to finish late this year.
High Roller is scheduled to have 28 passenger capsules, aka cabins; each will carry up to 40 people.
(By the way, the faint ghost images of the photograph above are just the result of reflections in the Flamingo’s picture window glass, which must be pretty thick.)
Originally, the estimated price of a 30-minute, full-rotation ride was going to be less than $20, but it’s apparently risen to about $25 a head. That can only mean construction costs (labor, materials) and insurance have risen considerably.
They’d better hurry. According to what I’ve subsequently learned, a competing Ferris wheel known as the Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel, aka SkyVue, has also begun construction. That one is near the Mandalay Hotel & Casino at the south end of the Strip.
I have to say that while I was in Vegas for a week, not once did I see anybody working on the project.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bellagio Chinese New Year

(Click on Picture for a Larger View of the Chinese Children
Today is the start of Lunar New Year 4711 or 4710 or 4650, depending on when the reign of the Yellow Emperor began (scholars disagree, wouldn’t you know). And, several years ago, particularly after Hong Kong reverted back to China and Chinese tourism rose, the large casinos in Las Vegas began celebrating the Chinese New Year.

I’d never visited the Bellagio during Chinese New Year, but got my chance to see the displays at the hotel’s Conservatory, one of my must-see places whenever I visit Las Vegas as the displays change seasonally.
This year is the Year of the Snake (Shé), the sixth animal of the 12-animal Chinese calendar. Last year was the Year of the Dragon; next year will be the Year of the Horse. And, just so you know, I was born in the Year of the Monkey.
The Conservatory’s botanic display focuses on Feng Shui, which brings harmony, balance, and positive life energy. Each of the three main gardens in the display includes water, positive energy flow, and three “friends of winter" – pine (perseverance), bamboo (integrity), and plum (modesty).
An 18-foot money tree with 384 gold coins and mounds of I-Ching coins signify the hope that the coming year will be one of good fortune and improved financial status for all.
For me, the most striking element in the Bellagio display is a 9-foot tall King Cobra snake with more than 5,000 luminescent scales; and no, I didn’t count them. Neither did I take a tape-measure to the 35-foot long, 38-foot high, 5,000-pound 15th Century Chinese junk boat that floats in a pond of 200 koi (carp).
I just took their word for all of that.
Here are a few of the pictures I took on my first day back to Las Vegas:
The Year of the Snake
 
'Fu' ... Blessing, Happiness, Good Fortune
 
Chinese Junk
 
Incense Offering
 
Money Tree
Tell you what … plan your next visit to Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend. Then, you can not only place a wager on the game and watch it at one of the ubiquitous “Big Game” parties (many are free, except for food and drink), you can then take in the Chinese New Year display at the Bellagio Conservatory.

Sound like a plan? Good!