The way things were: Remembering Vegas

The way things were: Remembering Vegas

frank sinatra, vegasTrue nostalgia is an ephemeral connection of disjointed memories.                     ~ Florence King

So first, I apologize for missing my weekly post last night.  I headed to Vegas a day early in order to meet up with my cousins and their two young boys.  The older one (3 years-old) is a full on wildman, his younger brother at 9 months seems destined to follow in his steps.  Both are really adorable fun kids and it was great to spend some time with all of them last night and for breakfast this morning.

It’s hot in Vegas right now folks, we’re talking temperatures in the 108 to 110 range.  For someone who has spent the last two years living in the Mojave Desert, I’m as used to this type of heat as I think a human can be, but boy it’s hot.  So, I’m spending my afternoons napping and writing.

las vegas, happiness, travel

Vegas Baby!

Free things to do in Las Vegas

A few days before I came to town I was the guest speaker in a career exploration class and at the end I opened it up for questions.  I had talked about traveling cheaper at one point during the talk and had mentioned heading for Vegas.  One of the students asked me how to travel cheaply in Vegas.  I related to him what I had done some years ago and had a blast doing it.  I had looked up on the internet all of the super cheap food and drink specials as well as all of the free giveaways, free spins etc… all over town.  So I spent a day walking miles and miles collecting free decks of cards, mouse pads, taking free spins on machines, eating 99 cent shrimp cocktails, hot dogs and ice cream sundaes and finished up with a $7.99 steak dinner.  My nieces and nephews got a huge bag full of trinkets.

So I related a bit of this information to the student and then before coming into town I redid the search.  I owe that student an apology, time goes by fast and things change and almost none of the things I did on my free day actually exist anymore in Las Vegas.  Now there are still lots of free things to do in Vegas.  Although most of these things now are basically the front face to the casinos or decoration within them.  However, there are gardens, artwork, dancing fountains and a volcano.  I’ve also heard that Treasure Island, now known as TI, might be bringing the pirate show back, that would be awesome.

The times they are a changing

Another little thing happened right before I got into town. I’d heard that some of the casinos had been adding parking fees to parking at the casino and yes, the place I’m staying had jumped on the bandwagon.  I also came across another change, I play craps, and one way to actually gain an advantage on the casino, the only game where you can, is high odds, and low place bets on the craps table.  Pretty much universally craps tables offer something call 3-4-5x odds.  So if you can find a table with more than 3-4-5x odds, and less than $5 dollar minimum bet, you have an affordable table game where your odds are better than anything else you can get at a casino.  But now, Wynn hotels have gone to 2x only odds on craps tables, this on the heels of it becoming incredibly hard to find a game on the strip with a less than minimum $5 bet, heck it’s even getting hard to find $5 tables.  I get it, the casinos are about making money, but just like the airline industry they are starting to gouge in every possible way.  Honestly, this will make me less likely to come to Las Vegas in the future and really makes me conscious of which casinos I spend money in.  Might be different if casinos were losing money, but that is not the case.

Nostalgia, remembering the way things used to be

So all of this made me a little nostalgic for the old days in Vegas.  No, photo above aside, I was never in Vegas in the old Rat Pack, Sinatra days.  But I very much remember my first solo trip to Vegas.  There used to be an old Holiday Inn where the City Center and Cosmopolitan used to be that was really reasonably priced.  I was in the room and it had a view out toward the desert and an amazing thunderstorm lit off.  I laid on the bed and for about 30 minutes with the lights out just watching the storm, it was a great night.  In that same area years later, there was a strip mall that had an absolutely amazing New York style pizza place that I absolutely loved.

I was reminiscing about cheap craps, and walking down to the Riviera that had thousands of square feet of penny and nickel slots.  Back in those days even quarter slots was a bit extravagant for my $200 per trip gambling budget.  Back then Circus Circus didn’t seem so unbelievably old and I used to love the cutting edge arcades around town.

Not all of it was awesome, actually using coins in slot machines left your hands utterly filthy, even though there still is too much for me, the levels of cigarette smoke in the casinos was absolutely disgusting.  The rooms and the pools were certainly not as nice and the strip didn’t look as amazing as it does today.

Not that I’m not having a good time, I have good friends here and have the means to afford this place.  But taken all in, I miss those older and edgier days in Vegas.  Like Vegas, I’m changing as well but I’m still having happy days my friends, hope you are too.                       ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love and Happiness

Love and Happiness

love

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.Lao Tzu

Recently, I had a friend drop me a note and ask some advice related to her love life.  This got me thinking that perhaps I should write a piece on happiness and love. In addition to my thoughts I’m including a really touching story from the net, so fall in love and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Love is utterly insane, often causes us a great deal of pain and yet, it is that thing that all of us crave in all of its forms.  There is the love of good friends, the love of family, the unconditional love of pets and then of course romantic love.  All of the greatest pain in our lives, at least in mine, has been caused by people I love.  Of course it’s that way, you don’t care nearly as much about the people you don’t love, so they can’t hurt you as badly.  In the end though, almost all of us come back around to the same conclusion, love is worth it, because love can bring us a level of happiness that is worth risking everything.  Nothing I have ever read reinforces this thought more than the following story, give it a read and have a tissue you nearby:

The story of Katie and Nick courtesy of Anne Tan’s blog.  It’s a great read, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Other Great Reads You Might Enjoy

Remember the Sweet Things

Happiness is Candy

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wisdom of Paulo Coehlo

The Wisdom of Paulo Coehlo

happiness, paulo coehlo

Life was always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act. ~ Paulo Coehlo

Recently as I have been researching information for other pieces I have been encountering the words of Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist, again and again.  I looked up the book on Amazon and read something interesting about the author.  From Wikipedia:

In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life. On the path, Coelho had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage. In an interview, Coelho stated “[In 1986], I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – to use the metaphor in “The Alchemist”, I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer.” Coelho would leave his lucrative career as a songwriter and pursue writing full-time.

Given both my upcoming 2200 mile hike of the Appalachian Trail and my own desire to be a writer, I can only hope for a similar spiritual awakening and similar success.  So tonight some quotes and wisdom from Paulo Coehlo, and if by chance Paulo should read this, a message to him in his native tongue from my time in Brazil, Io tenho saudade para brasil.  Have a read, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.

I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.

Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.

You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.

he two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.

When I’m dancing, I’m not thinking about anything. I am here. I am totally there. You know? And the feeling is a sensation of being away from myself. My soul dances with the angels, and my body dances with my wife.

I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.

Posted in Happiness is Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Happiness

Thoughts on Happiness

Tonight just some thoughts on happiness to give you something for your brain to chew on, picked these up from the site below:

http://ankh-dum.tripod.com/AncasPersonalPage/id10.html

Constant happiness can accomplish much. As the sun melts the ice, a smile causes misunderstandings, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate…

~ Laughter is to life what shock absorbers are to automobiles. It won’t take the potholes out of the road, but it sure makes the ride smoother…

~ Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.
And if you can’t fight and you can’t flee, flow…

~ Forget the times of your distress, but never forget what they thought you…

~ Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful…

~ The secret to happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles…

~ Those who can’t laugh at themselves, leave the job to others…

~ Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind…

~ If you continue to live in the past, your life is history…

~ Don’t curse the darkness – light a candle…

~ Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully…

~ Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer…

~ Success is getting what you want.
Happiness is wanting what you get…

~ Every once in a while, take the scenic route…

~ If you choose one characteristic that would get you through life, choose a sense of humor…

~ The secret to happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles…

~ Those who can’t laugh at themselves, leave the job to others…

~ Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind…

~ If you continue to live in the past, your life is history…

~ Don’t curse the darkness – light a candle…

 

~ Always live by this credo: Have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter will always bring you out of unhappy situations. Even in your darkest moment, you usually can find something to laugh about if you try hard enough…

~ The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, not on our circumstances…

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness: Deciding that it matters

Happiness: Deciding that it matters

monks

I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams and desires. ~ Kahlil Gibran

So last week was truly a terrible week, I received some news that shook my world up more than a bit.  Of course everything is a pebble and when it hits the water, everything ripples and so I watched this news, my reaction to this news and all of the ripples that caused throughout the week, throughout my life.

Bad news leads to pain and disappointment and very often unfortunately the pain and disappointment come from unexpected directions.  Not from the pebble, but from the ripples.  So although the pebble was a shock it was the ripples that caught me and tossed me about.

The decision that I had to make was how to react, the same decision you and I have to make every day in every situation.  I chose not to fold up, break down or get angry, I chose to focus on the positive aspects of my life to the best of my ability.  I’d love to tell you my friends that I have transcended to a level in my life where I glided through the week with a positive attitude but I’m not quite there yet.  I had some good days and some bad days, I didn’t sleep worth shit, but overall I think I did pretty well.  What this illustrates is that no matter how the world hits us, and the only thing I can assure you is that the world will hit you, that it is our choice whether we let it grind us down or not.  We decide, we consciously choose whether or not to be happy.

A friend recently shared the following graduation speech, it is after all graduation season, and it excellently illustrates tonight’s point, enjoy the piece and choose to have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

 

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Lovely Fall Afternoon

A Lovely Fall Afternoon

lake fall photographyAutumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower. ~ Albert Camus

This evening no big lessons, no great realizations just simple gratitude over a really nice day during my favorite time of year.  It’s officially finally fall, my favorite season of the year.  I grew up in the Northeast and always absolutely loved this time of year there.  It was always a time for me to get out into the woods.  Even though you would still get the occasional warm day, the humidity was gone.  Walking around, the bugs that swarmed you in the summer woods were no longer there.  The trees begin to give back, whether in the form of acorns for wildlife, apples or even just exploding leaves of color, fall is a season for trees to shine.

Fall also means football and although I never played organized football I really enjoy watching it.  It’s one of the few sports where I enjoy both the college and professional levels of the sport.  The teams I follow are absolutely awful this year but I still enjoy watching them.  I even write a fan blog about my favorite professional team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, called Jack Lambert’s Toe.  I became a Steeler fan in an interesting way, when I was 8 years old (1972) I went to a Mets – Pirates game at Shea Stadium.  In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets, down by 1, had a guy on first, two out and Rusty Staub at the plate.  Staub hit a line drive sure walk-off homer to right field, Roberto Clemente climbed the right field wall, stole the homer and saved the game.  I was instantly a Clemente fan and by default the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Sadly, Roberto Clemente died later that year, while bringing relief supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake.  He had coached a Puerto Rican all-star team there and had lost friends, he wanted to help and lost his life in the attempt, he was a great man.

Appalachian trail, happiness, hiking

Fall on the AT

So fast forward a few months later and I’m playing Nerf basketball in my bedroom with my friend Jimmy.  He was a couple of years older than me and at some point asked me who my favorite basketball team was, I told him I didn’t have one.  He informed me that I was a guy and that as a guy, I was required to have a favorite team in every major sport.  I can feel the eye rolls, we were stupid kids in the early 70’s with the ideas of masculinity that existed back then.  Since I’d been to a Celtics game they became my basketball team.  I used to watch the Islanders on Channel 9 WWOR out of NY, so I became and Islanders fan.  Finally, for the NFL, I’d never been to a game, I hadn’t watched any on TV other than the Jets and even then I knew the Jets weren’t very good.  So, I had the Pirates and settled on the NFL team from Pittsburgh, the Steelers. That year, 1973, the Steelers came in second in their division.  Over the next 5 years they would become arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL.

So, even though it is often hard to tell it’s fall in San Francisco, it wasn’t today.  It was one of those quintessential fall days.  Today was 60 and sunny, there was a little breeze that coolish breeze that makes things just a tiny bit crisp.  I got up early and ran a couple of quick errands and headed for Mori Point to do my normal Sunday morning hike.  But today, I ran smack dab into Fogfest.  This left me parking a mile or so from the beach and strolling through all of the festival booths, bands, food and vendors.  It was a lovely little festival, so I changed up my walk and never quite got to the Mori.  Instead I took advantage of the lower number of folks down at the beach away from the festival.  I walked out on the commercial pier and hung with the fishers.  Took a stroll along the beach and watched some waves.

I came home to watch the afternoon football games and to cook, something else I love to do.  A faculty member had gifted me some okra so I made gumbo and I must say it may be the best batch I’ve ever made.  I can’t describe the taste I’m after with my gumbo, but the best I can do is a slightly seafoody sweet taste with a significant afterburn.  I nailed it today and I can’t wait to eat some more tomorrow, gumbo often tastes better after sitting overnight, the flavor seeps even more deeply into the okra, shrimp and sausage.  I also chopped up a really nice bunch of basil I bought at the farmers market so my apartment smells of fresh basil.

All in all, just a really nice fall Sunday.  A peaceful easy day filled with things I love.  I hope you had a happy day as well my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness is Laughter: Bumper Stickers

Happiness is Laughter: Bumper Stickers

happiness, laughter

 

Tonight a collection of bumper stickers to give you a chuckle, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

First from Buzzfeed 27 great bumper stickers

happiness, laughter

30 funny bumper stickers

happiness, laughter

Very funny bumper stickers

5 3 2 1

Other Funny Posts!

Lazy People

Miscellaneous Hilarity

Clean Jokes

Kids Explain the World

Funny Kid Pictures

 

 

 

 

Posted in Happiness is Laughter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happiness is the Desert

Happiness is the Desert

happiness, desert

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. ~ Edward Abbey

One night of easy living at the edge of the desert before I head out to camp for five days in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  This park is one of my favorite places and is a bit of a secret despite being voted as one of the best parks in America on a number of occasions.   Just to the south of Joshua Tree, Anza-Borrego gets overshadowed by the more well-known national park.  For example, I reserved my campsite two weeks ago and in Joshua you couldn’t find a campsite for this week over two months ago.  Also, Anza-Borrego is still one of those places that allows open primitive camping.

happiness, desert

The other thing about Borrego Springs is that it’s a dark sky city, so with so little artificial light at night and so much artificial space, this is one of the few places in America were the night skies are just layers of stars on stars.

happiness, desert

Being out here always makes me think about Edward Abbey, if you have never read his stuff, and you have an interest in the outdoors, it’s time to go get yourself a copy of Desert Solitaire or one of his other books.  I’ll leave my own philosophizing on nature til after days in the sand and the dust, there’s always a lot of inspiration in wide-open spaces.

happiness, desert

Although I’ll so some hiking each day, this place is not a great training ground for the Appalachian Trail (AT), not enough climbing for enough miles, but it will keep in shape and give me time to continue my decompression.  The next couple of weeks are all about getting ready for the AT both mentally and physically.  Physically I’m on my way, mentally, I need to keep slowing down, keep easing off of the throttle, becoming less dependent on normal everyday life in anticipation of a simpler new normal.  Not an easy new normal, but certainly a simpler one, perhaps a better one.  Hopefully you’ll find some time during the holiday madness to simplify, relax and find a new normal for yourself, and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Posted in Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness, personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happiness is Finding New Experiences

Happiness is Finding New Experiences

Ireland, nature, happiness

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.      ~ Anais Nin

Lately I’ve been traveling a bit and I love it, I love seeing new places, eating new foods and experiencing the different ways the world works.  The Cliffs of Moher, pictured above were magnificent.  Often, particularly in western countries there are subtle differences that catch me by surprise.  Recently in Ireland one little difference was the type of sandwiches for sale at the train station.  There were some of the standards like ham and cheese, but the one I bought was chicken and stuffing, after carefully slipping by the cheese and relish sandwich.  Now we have all of these things in the United States, we just deem not to make them in sandwiches.  I love chicken and stuffing sandwiches and have to admit to having made turkey and stuffing sandwiches after Thanksgiving.

Now sandwich options are pretty minor in life and in our pursuit of happiness, but the beauty of difference and experiences are that they create new possibilities.  See, as I said, our lives in the US and Ireland are pretty similar, the differences come from the choices we make with all of the same things.  In the same way two people make different choices in the same circumstances, we can choose to be happy or unhappy.  So, the next time things aren’t going right, take a look at things from a new angle, get a new perspective and maybe it’ll bring you a new experience and make you a bit happier.  As always, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts about Happiness and New Experiences

Happiness is Travel: Winnipeg  the Murder Capital of Canada

My Himalayan Travelogue

Happiness is Adventure & Travel

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happiness in Honesty,Simplicity & Gratitude

Happiness in Simplicity

happiness gratitude simplicity

A roadmap to more happiness

By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning. ~ Lao Tzu

So lately the following image has been flying around on social networking sites.  There is some real wisdom in this simple little sign and it’s about honesty, simplicity and gratitude.  We talk a lot here at the Ministry of Happiness about simplifying your life because complexity often leads to difficulty and problems which reduce our happiness.  Being grateful is something that allows you to have a more positive perspective on life and honesty will quite simply help you cut the through the bullshit of life.  As the sign says, if you miss someone contact them, it constantly amazes me how this simple bit of logic alludes us all at times.  All too often we sit around and wonder if someone we care about is unhappy or upset with us, but we don’t ask.  So many times when you ask that question you find out how imperfect communication is between people.

I am perhaps more keenly aware of this than others because I have always been a bit of a gypsy.  As a result, my friends and loved ones are often at a distance from me and I have to rely a lot less than other people do on the comfort of face-to-face interactions.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been misinterpreted or misinterpreted what was written in an e-mail or letter.  A quick phone call can create confusion between people because the other person is distracted on the other end of the line, no form of communication is perfect until we evolve to communicate mind-to-mind.

The answer is to just be as open and honest as you can possibly be, the people who really care about you will receive this better than you might imagine.  Be simple, take the easiest straightest path to the things you want and need in your pursuit of happiness.  Be grateful for what and who you have in your life, and for the opportunities this life presents us all.  Finally, as always, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments