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Your Las Vegas Tips And Ideas Please!

This summer, I made plans to go to Vegas in October. My trip happens in about two weeks so I am in full planning mode.

My friend Sarah is meeting me for part of the trip and after that, I'm on my own. I've been emailing companies for informational interviews, contacting other bloggers to arrange meetups, and am even trying to get in a visit to UNLV (they have masters programs in media and business administration). Still my plans have yet to solidify and I will have tons of time to explore the area.

So what are you favorite places in Vegas? Any local foods/restaurants I have to try? What is totally overrated and lame? I am open to all experiences and while I've been reading a lot of travel websites, I take much more stock in your comments here. Thanks for your help!

Lakeside Catalog Gifts (Includes Bonus Lesson on Meaning of “Primitive”)

My mom and sister were raving about Lakeside catalog the last time I visited. They even made me take home a copy of it. I personally thought the fake 80s jeans comme lounge pants were quite a find for the 80s loving guy in my life so I took the thick catalog with me.

I just started looking through it the other day. Eighty percent of the catalog costs less then $20. It seems to be a lot of knick-knacky stuff, with a strong preference for the "primitive" style of decorating. Now I just tried to look up a definition for primitive and I couldn't find one. While there isn't one online, my sister has taught me the concept by showing me examples in hers and my mother's home decorations. Check out the photo illustration for some examples of primitive and not primitive:

Primitivevsnot

I think you get it. I bet my sister is rolling her eyes as you read this. (I got a little obsessed with pointing out primitive objects to her a few months ago, to the point of annoyance I think.)

So if you like primitive, check out Lakeside Catalog. But don't worry, Lakeside has lots for those who aren't so primitive. Here are ten of my picks from the Lakeside catalog.

1) 80s style lounge pants for your favorite 80s man
2) Little Miss or Mr. Men books for your favorite kiddo (or friend who embodies one the qualities)
3) Taste of Home cookbooks for your favorite cook
4) Book of Useless Information for that guy or gal who has (or knows!) everything
5) AKC Stuffed Animals for your favorite pet who likes to rip the heads off cute plush animals
6) BYO Laptop sleeve for your favorite techie
7) Scrapbooking supplies for your favorite crafter
8) Three canvas photo prints for your favorite nature lover
9) Detoxifying foot patches for your favorite health nut
10) Fake croc wallet clutches for your favorite fashionista

Since we are all going to be spending less money on holiday gifts this year, I'm guessing stores like Lakeside will become more popular.

If you have any discount catalogs you like, do share.

Lakeside Catalog Gifts (Includes Bonus Lesson on Meaning of "Primitive")

My mom and sister were raving about Lakeside catalog the last time I visited. They even made me take home a copy of it. I personally thought the fake 80s jeans comme lounge pants were quite a find for the 80s loving guy in my life so I took the thick catalog with me.

I just started looking through it the other day. Eighty percent of the catalog costs less then $20. It seems to be a lot of knick-knacky stuff, with a strong preference for the "primitive" style of decorating. Now I just tried to look up a definition for primitive and I couldn't find one. While there isn't one online, my sister has taught me the concept by showing me examples in hers and my mother's home decorations. Check out the photo illustration for some examples of primitive and not primitive:

Primitivevsnot

I think you get it. I bet my sister is rolling her eyes as you read this. (I got a little obsessed with pointing out primitive objects to her a few months ago, to the point of annoyance I think.)

So if you like primitive, check out Lakeside Catalog. But don't worry, Lakeside has lots for those who aren't so primitive. Here are ten of my picks from the Lakeside catalog.

1) 80s style lounge pants for your favorite 80s man
2) Little Miss or Mr. Men books for your favorite kiddo (or friend who embodies one the qualities)
3) Taste of Home cookbooks for your favorite cook
4) Book of Useless Information for that guy or gal who has (or knows!) everything
5) AKC Stuffed Animals for your favorite pet who likes to rip the heads off cute plush animals
6) BYO Laptop sleeve for your favorite techie
7) Scrapbooking supplies for your favorite crafter
8) Three canvas photo prints for your favorite nature lover
9) Detoxifying foot patches for your favorite health nut
10) Fake croc wallet clutches for your favorite fashionista

Since we are all going to be spending less money on holiday gifts this year, I'm guessing stores like Lakeside will become more popular.

If you have any discount catalogs you like, do share.

No Blogging Today, But A Time To Think

Due to the extreme awfulness of today, I am not going to blog.

I found out this morning that the father of one of my best friends (and a great man in his own right) passed away. It was sudden, and he was young. He was a good man that many people have fond memories with. I remember feeling how she is probably feeling right now a little less then a year ago. I wish I could take it away but I know that we are all forced to go through these things in our own time.

I've also found out today that a personal mentor of mine, one I've worked closely with in the past, is dying of pancreatic cancer. She reminded me in a phone conversation tonight that she is old and has had a wonderful, full life. She is thankful for this time she has to get her life in order, and for thinking all these things I think she's pretty brave. I knew she was brave before all this actually. I am hoping that I'll get to see her one last time, and I'm thinking of what it'll be like to say goodbye to someone in person. I've never done that before.

So with all this news today, it seems like it would be pretty frivolous to blog about anything else. Whether you go slowly or quickly, young or old, death is something we can't escape. Some days, it's ok to take the time and think of this. I also can't help but think about my  life and how I want to be living it. So that's what I'm doing.

Thanks, I know you understand.

Money On The Side: Tutoring

This guest post is by my friend Sarah. While she was going to school in San Fran, she tutored as a way to earn some extra money. I had her answer some questions over email, and only now realized I don't have a recent picture of her cuteness to post with. Good thing she's smart, so check it out and you too may find tutoring a good way to make some money!

How did you come up with the idea of tutoring as a way to make extra money?
I have always loved working with students in small settings, and I have a few friends who also tutor. They helped me get started and figure out my plan. I also happened to get a part-time job working at a bookstore, so I knew I wanted something else part-time that would also make enough money to get by. (Bookstore jobs are lots of fun but not well-paid, as you would guess.)

How did you figure out what subjects/ages you'd work best with?
I'm a math person (Bachelor's in math, Masters in math education), so that was the clear choice. Ages was actually a little more difficult. I really love 3rd-4th graders, but there aren't many elementary students looking for tutoring in math. Flexibility is key! I tutored mostly middle school students, with a couple students in 9th and 10th grade. All of my students needed help related to math, but again I had to be flexible: one student needed help with physics, and a couple needed help preparing for the SSAT (a version of the SAT for 8th graders applying to private high school).

How did you find clients?
That was harder than expected. My tutor friends showed me a website for a local parents network, and that was the greatest help. The only problem was it was for a neighboring city (Berkeley, CA), not the city in which  I live (San Francisco). So I had to find other ways to find students closer to my home. Craigslist was ok for advertising, but I found it was most helpful for connecting me with local tutoring companies. I was paid less than if I had arranged things directly with the students, but the tutoring agencies were able to connect me with many more students. And they helped figure out my schedule. Hanging fliers in schools didn't work well at all, but word-of-mouth helped significantly.

What were some aspects of this job that came easier then you thought?
Getting around from student to student was easier than I had expected. I wanted to bike (save wear-and-tear on my car), but it turned out to be much easier to drive. And I was nearly never late, which honestly surprised me. And, once I had found students, I had a great time working with them!

What were some unexpected challenges you had?
I had expected my schedule to be a little challenging, but it turned out to be more stressful than I had expected. One of the issues was that it kept changing: one student would start a new after-school activity and need to switch days, or I would switch students (because they no longer needed me). It didn't help that my bookstore schedule wasn't steady. It took several weeks of trial-and-error for me to figure out which days and times were best for the bookstore. The other issue is that I had expected students to be able to come to me, but I quickly discovered that was not going to happen. The students had busier schedules than I did, it seemed!

Could you have done this job full time? Why or why not?
This job could definitely be done full time, but I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. The pay is definitely good enough so that you would only have to work about 25 hours a week, but that 25 hours doesn't include commute time. Couple that with the fact that most students aren't available during the day (though some have special arrangements with their schools to get tutoring during school), and you're pretty much busy whenever other 9-5 folks are free (meaning evenings and weekends). But this might be just the schedule for you!

What were a couple of techniques or life lessons you took away from this experience and applied to your everyday life?
I learned to be a lot less stressed about my schedule. Well, sort of! I learned how to ask for things, and how to determine when I could be flexible and when I could not (this was especially true with respect to my schedule, restricting when I was willing to work and when I was not). I also gained some perspective on how hard to work by watching my students; most of them were sleep-deprived and stressed, and I became thankful for my slightly-less-crazy schedule. And I tried to pass this perspective on to them, in return. Just because you "should" do something doesn't mean you need to do it.

Making The Most Of My Vacation…With Job Interviews

I decided to take the evening to research my upcoming vacation, but not for the reasons you might think.

I'm attempting to schedule a few informational interviews with communications and public relations companies in the Las Vegas area. Why crowd my vacation with business?

1) The more companies I meet and learn about, the easier it will be to know the kind of companies I want to work for. Everything from work environment to corporate values I can learn about by experiencing a diverse group of businesses.

2) I can exchange ideas with the people I meet with, possibily improving both of our businesses. A meeting may result in a contact or a collaboration or even just some great conversation.

3) It's something productive to do during the days I would otherwise be spending sitting at a pool. (I like to relax, don't get me wrong, but after a few days I'm kind of done with the whole doing nothing thing.)

4) It's always good to have a chance to practice job interview skills: asking thoughtful questions, listening effectively, presenting yourself professionally. An informational interview means nothing to lose and lots to learn.

5) Depending on how my scheduling goes, an interview could make my whole trip to Vegas a tax writeoff.

So I've sent a few emails tonight and will send a few more tomorrow. I also thought it would be fun to interview some Las Vegas based bloggers so if you know any (or are a Vegas blogger yourself), let me know. In true Breaking Even style this is going to be a fun vacation to be tourist-y and learn something.

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