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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Big City Lights

I just got back from Las Vegas. Wow, that was weird. That was the one place I was pretty sure I would never ever go. I would have been willing to bet on it.

It's strangely appropriate that I would have lost that bet.

You see, God doesn't want me to gamble. Every time I do, I lose. It's to the point of being a little spooky. I don't even get lucky in board games. Anything that has to do with a spin of the wheel, roll of the dice or deal of the cards, I'm going to do badly in.

When I was a teen-ager, I believed God had a special angel that followed me around and ratted me out every time I did anything I shouldn't. That's how I got caught in the girls dorm at Valley Grande Academy at 2 AM. I got punished harder than anyone. Some of the guys got off scot-free! They had been crawling through the girls' chapel window for weeks. I went along, almost by accident. I didn't do anything naughty while I was there. But I got nailed for it!

Fortunately, I had long since decided to behave myself and cooperate with my teachers. As a result, everyone didn't get kicked out because the principal didn't want to have to kick me out too! Being respectful of your teachers, bosses and colleagues is very helpful when your guardian angel is busy firing off flares every time you break into the kitchen freezer for a leftover Eskimo Pie. That night the principal did a run through on his motorcycle and Dave Dameron and I had to hide in the freezer in our shorts for half an hour till he left. That's how Dave caught a cold in May in 100 degree weather.

I learned early that if you're a decent person (with occasional, but not major lapses), you can get a slide on most minor failings. It's something worth remembering. Treating other people the way you want to be treated might not be very satisfying if you're one of those people whose sense of balance in the universe depends on getting even if someone does you wrong, but following the golden rule works better than anything I know for getting along with your fellow man (don't ask me about women - they're a different species and I still am learning their language).

We went to Vegas to visit The Secret Garden, a tiger and dolphin exhibit at the Mirage Hotel run by Sigfried and Roy. It was beautiful. My boss at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge sent Sheila and me there to see how they ran the place. It was lovely. We hope to raise about 8 million to build a similar facility at Tiger Creek for the big cats. I can hardly wait to start pouring concrete!

While I was in Vegas, I lost some money in a slot machine, saw pirates sink a ship and dance with scantily clad women and was, I think, almost propositioned by a prostitute (Sheila let me out of the room for 30 minutes without an escort).

Outside my window I could see the Sphinx, The Eiffel Tower, a pyramid and a volcano. It was opulant, decadent and well designed to relieve you of the burden of your money. A strange place, not devoted to the service of God. I felt so like a stranger in a strange land.

It was beautiful, amazing - a Disney World for grownups (well, not really grownups - more like for adult children). I got to thinking - if a terrorist wanted to set off a nuke, Las Vegas would be the place. Catch it during one of those computer conventions or something and you could take out a whole segment of the nation's economy. There were a lot of well-connected people in town.

Pretty weird!

Just one man's opinion.


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