Tag Archives: New York Times

I’m having Vegas withdrawals


What is it about local people and Las Vegas?

We can’t seem to get enough of Sin City.

My grandparents used to go several times a year. I have friends who book weekend jaunts every year. And it seems like every public school is holding their reunions there.

Even though I’m not much of a gambler, I find myself daydreaming about Vegas. I browse the menus of restaurants I haven’t tried and check the Megabucks progressive slots online regularly.

You’d think, since I’m there at least once every two years, I wouldn’t find anything new or interesting to do. And that might be true for most U.S. cities — but not Vegas.

As Elaine Glusac wrote in Thursday’s New York Times: “From a tourism perspective, Las Vegas is ever the chameleon. New restaurants, shows, clubs and hotels are constantly reinventing Sin City with the aim of getting repeaters back to the tables. Big construction projects continue, and there are currently two competing Ferris wheels under construction on the Strip.”

So true. And so Vegas.

She mentions new restaurants I want to try — L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, for example — and a strange hour-long Yoga Among the Dolphins at the Mirage Las Vegas.

It’s really true — even if you’re not a gambler, there are still lots of things to do — The Neon Museum, anyone? — and see.

So I’m throwing it out there: what it is about Vegas that we love — or maybe hate to love? You have an addiction like mine?

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Oh, the places I want to go — in 2013


Every January I wait for it, the New York Times’ list of places to visit.

It’s a quick list of cities around the world that are worth traveling to, and I often browse the list during the year as my little escape from deadlines and weekly staff meetings.

Every year I try to pick at least one place on the list to visit. Last year I went to two — Tokyo and Costa Rica. (Space — and yes, it made the list — was out of my price range.)

So this year’s list was just released and on it are 46 must-visit destinations around the globe.

A few standouts that I’m considering: Nicaragua (great surf), Amsterdam (a friend lives there), Singapore and Bangkok (they’ve been on my short list for years), New Zealand (Hawaiian Airlines is starting its route there this year), Washington D.C. (during spring break), and Ireland (just because).

Already been to No. 16 — the Big Island — I can cross that off my list.

Look over the list.

Any fantasy trips you’re taking right now?

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College-educated, jobless and already in debt

Mark Twain famously said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”

And that cabbage today would be jobless and in debt — hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Not a very successful cultivar.

The New York Times published a very telling series on this crisis — with students, not cabbage — called “Degrees of Debt.”

The Times reported that 94 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow money — through federal and private loans and from relatives — to pay for higher education. That’s up from 45 percent in 1993.

In 2011, the average college debt level was $23,300 but 10 percent of graduates owed more than $54,000 and 3 percent owed more than $100,000. What 22-year-old can pay back $100,000 in loans — with interest — fresh out of college? It’s no wonder 1 in 10 borrowers who started repaying loans in 2009 defaulted within two years.

The series featured a recent graduate of Ohio Northern who owned more than $100,000 in student debt. Her monthly payment was more than $900 a month and she was earning just $225 a week working two waitressing jobs while she continued to look for a “real” job.

That’s insane.

I’ve been out of graduate school for more than 10 years and I’m still paying student loans. It’s not $900 a month, but it’s still money that I could use for other things like, oh, rent and groceries.

It took me awhile to come to terms with the amount of money I’m paying each month toward a degree I already have in hand. I realize now — years later — how valuable that education is, that if I can make more a month than my monthly student loan payments, I was doing alright, the degree was worthwhile.

But I can’t say that for everyone.

I have friends who are still paying student loans and not working in their degree fields or — worse — not working at all. There are some who are paying off these loans and other loans, including business loans and mortgages.

You can see why we’re a generation that feels overwhelmed.

As much as it hurt to write that check every month, I can honestly say it was worth it. The experience I had, the friends I made, the learning that took place — all of it was worth the monthly payment I’m still making.

Anyone got a horror story about student loans to share? Do you think college is too expensive? Dish here!

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Can men and women be ‘just friends’?

Growing up, I didn’t see how guys and girls couldn’t be friends.

And I think I was partially right.

At the time, sure, guys and girls could hang out on the basketball court, play Trumps and just exist as friends.

But once those “guys” became “men” and those “girls” turned into “women,” things changed.

The question — “Can men and women be just friends?” — has long been debated and played out in sitcoms and movies such as “When Harry Met Sally.” In fact, it was in that movie that Harry, played by Billy Crystal, famously says it’s impossible “because the sex part always gets in the way.”

“How do you know?” asks Sally, played by Meg Ryan.

“Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.”

And that conversation pretty much summed it up for a lot of us.

The topic was resurrected in Sunday’s New York Times. Essayist William Deresiewicz said that platonic relationships with the opposite actually aren’t rare at all. “But [sex] doesn’t always get in the way. Maybe you’re not attracted to each other. Maybe you know it would never work out, so it’s not worth screwing up your friendship. Maybe that’s just not what it’s about.”

So what do you think? Can men and women be “just friends”? Or do you think it’s never that simple?

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Update your travel bucket list

Update your travel bucket list

Every year I eagerly await the New York Time’s list of places to go that year.

And, to be honest, I was surprised to see Panama topping this year’s list.

Aside from the Panama Canal and baseball, I don’t know much about this southernmost country of Central America. (I don’t even know if there’s surf!)

According to the story, Panama’s economy is booming, with high-rises and hotels filling the skyline and other visitor-friendly endeavors — like the BioMuseo, a natural history museum scheduled to open in early 2013 — are in the works.

It was a provocative addition to the list — but not strangest. Those were Oakland (No. 5) and Space (No. 20).

Anyone been to any of the places on the list? Or want to go? Or got a city that should have been on the list instead?

I really need to get a credit card with travel miles…

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