Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hoover Dam reminds me of...

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Transformers.

Yes, remember that classic scene in the first installation of the movie where the gigantic leaders of both the Autobots and Decepticons; Optimus Prime and Megatron were hot on each other's tracks like they were in a cat-and-mouse chase? (Maybe cat and mouse did not seem to be such an apt description for two gigantic bots, but you get the idea)
They were tumbling after each other; practically, over the high boulders and the upstream, gates, well, pretty much all over the place.

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Those images stuck in my mind for years and when I was heading towards the entrance of this prominently featured dam, believe it or not, that was the first thing that came to my mind.
That was how profound of an effect from that movie, and I believe the producers and filmmakers of the movie would be very pleased to hear that, and extremely proud of themselves.
I was even half expecting Optimus and Megatron to continue their battle; and unleash more destruction around the mighty dam when I was there - such imagination.

Hoover Dam was definitely built to withstand such pressures though; not destruction I mean, but the might and resilience of the structure was definitely eminent, holding the breath and awe of every visitor.

The dam, is more than 70 years old; from its birth between the years of 1931 and 1936 and its construction was massive with the efforts of more than a thousand workers, and claimed more than a hundred lives during the process.
It is devastating to learn of loss of lives involved in the establishment of the famous dam; as with most of the other complex buildings and landmarks in the world. These are the unsung heroes; the ones we did not know who put their lives into presenting a prominent landmark to the world today.

The Dam was dedicated by the ruling President Franklin Roosevelt during his time; on the 30th September 1935 but it was after the former President Herbert Hoover the dam was named after, raising much controversies back then.


Lake Mead, the largest reservoir by volume in the whole of the United States were confined within the territories of the Hoover Dam, making the dam one of the most important water storage areas in the country.


Hoover Dam is not just important for its water storage capability, but was also designed to serve its multiple purposes of storing, retaining, regulating the water, flood control and also the source of hydroelectric power generation  

On top of all that, Hoover Dam ranks as one of the tourist attractions and recreational area; witnessing more than  a million tourists annually.

Controversies surround the name of the dam; where the locals refer to the dam interchangeably between the officially named Hoover Dam and the Boulder Dam, with reference to its location near the Boulder City of Nevada and the neighboring Boulder Canyon.

Wedged between the two canyons; Black Canyon and Boulder Canyon, it is more precise to point that the location of the dam was in the Black Canyon, where the famous Colorado River runs.

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It is interesting to note that this is not just any ordinary dam; which we already know by now (as I conjure images of the giant bots once again), following its remarkably captured photo-worthy location in Hollywood movies and apart from the entertainment aspect, this is also the world's 38th largest hydroelectric generation site.

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Thus with a reputation like that, it is definitely not surprising to learn that the dam is safely guarded and protected by their very own police force; officially known as the Bureau of Reclamation Police, a federal police force and regularly known as Hoover Dam's police.


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Due to the importance of the dam, the federal police were delegated and dedicated to protect the integrity of the dam's purpose and establishment, along maintaining the security within the dam; safeguarding the place from possible crimes and acts of terrorism.
Collaborating with the security guards of the Bureau of Reclamation, the police scrutinize the access to the reclamation facilities and conduct routine checks throughout the restricted areas on the premises to maintain the safety of the site.

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The infamous terrorist attack which took place on the 11th September 2001 led to the expedition of the construction of the Hoover Dam Bypass project; which was intended to reroute the U.S Route 93 above the Hoover Dam due to the dangers and risks it imposed based on the location as advised by the officials and also the incapacity of the route to hold the projected traffic volume across the top of the dam where it was situated.



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The arch bridge; the major link or the key to the Hoover Dam Bypass project, is also known,or rather, originally known as the Mike O' Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (named after Mike O'Callaghan, the governor of Nevada and Pat Tillman, a football player from Arizona who went on to serve the United States Army, later perished in a fire).


The list of interesting trivia surrounding the dam are anything but limited, as the vast areas on the premises beckon to the important roles they play to the country.


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If you ever want to be in two places at the same time; this would be it, as Hoover Dam is located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, which runs on the border of both the states of Nevada and Arizona.

Voila, as Landon would say to Jamie, "You're in Two Places at Once"

(Quote from A Walk to Remember)


Now, that would be a nicer way to picture Hoover Dam than purely mega battles, wouldn't it? 


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I Like (Or Not) About Las Vegas

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Las Vegas, or Sin City, whichever you call it, is a much publicized city in the movies, commercials, anecdotes, that it has risen to that prime spot for reputation internationally.
So much has gone into that fame that Vegas is today a world tourist destination, and I am sure the locals couldn't be more pleased (in whichever context) with that pouring fortune coming in from all the tourism and of course, the investments in their luck here at the well-established landmarks surrounding the center of the city.

Like many around the world (I am sure many have the same initial perception as well), Vegas, to me, is this city of entertainment and filled with many 'interesting' activities; particularly skewed towards the more adventurous side.
The city is like a large Wheel of Fortune to me; where one can spin or look all around the city and rest his/her eyes on something that would catch their eye or that probably just looks fun, in their very own perception.
It sounds like there is something for everyone to do in Vegas, but to be honest, is that really as they make it out to be or is it just another promotional tag for the travel brochures?

For many, there is no doubt Sin City has its own foundations to build to its reputation/name and it is definitely not wrong to land in that perception. Gambling, or trying their luck at making it big at their fortunes (as they call it) is just one of the vices to begin with. Gambling sounds like a harsh word, definitely, but we are not far from the truth. To soften the allegation of the negative aura surrounding the word, it would definitely be more acceptable to look at it, or even refer to it as one's attempt to try their luck.

Sampling your luck, or just taking it up as a challenge is probably a fun way to look at it, and it certainly is when one is just simply in it for the fun. However, often some get too carried away that they no longer focus on the fun and have indulged in the commitment to the table; staying confined to that space until they have lost focus on their loss and are intent on continuous investment of their fortune, just betting on luck. Scientifically, it is not all about luck when it comes to gambling, as there is a certain probability tied to it, but that is only made known to certain individuals who probably wrote a thesis on it (and made big fortunes with their science knowledge).
The point is, when one starts to believe seriously and lose themselves (and money) in changing their luck, and lives on that table, that is when this becomes a vice, and negatively so.

I am not an advocate of gambling; never was, and that was probably why I had never see that as one of the attractions in Vegas. That is just me, though I do find it fascinating the creativity invested in these fortune makers and masterminds behind the casinos, in coming up with many different types of modes/machines/avenues to cajole people from all over the world and we are talking about diversity here in masses, to just place their bets (their fortune) to contribute to these folks' fortunes.
Walking through the casinos, I would never be even tempted to even attempt a coin slot to try my luck; simply because I am not just a strong believer of pure luck.
(That's probably a different topic altogether, and it's not because I am just so negative about the lack of luck or anything like that). Neither am I a weak-willed person who cannot control myself and just fall into temptations; no, it's just not like that. I just don't like to gamble, or placing my trust and fortune on a machine/table, period.

There may be many people enjoying it, but I am saying, that if it doesn't lead to any negative emotions or situations, then it would be considered fun, otherwise, I am not sure that I like the idea of how it changes a person to the darker side.

Las Vegas can be a very vibrant city that comes to life, especially at night, obviously.
I liked how happening and lively the city is like, but at the same time, it could get a little rowdy and packed at the same time. Crowds can be suffocating, merry, gay and yet disturbing all in the same context. I probably made this sound confusing, but you get the idea.
It can be exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping to see how excited people get, and how people are just so open and fun to be around with in the large crowds. It is as though there are no boundaries; it does not matter where you are from, who you are, why you are here - everyone is just there to have fun.
That is the interesting part about Vegas, or even United States for that matter, where total strangers could be hugging or placing that high-five and just start a conversation with anyone in a friendly manner just right there on the spot.
Loud music are playing everywhere in Vegas, and that's where people would sing or even dance along, mind you, and it's all normal to see dancing on the streets.
It is just pure FUN, and I am amazed at how people are able to take that term "Let your hair down" to that extent, and I just love that concept.

At the same time, some could tend to get too close to comfort, especially the drunk crowd or those over-friendly people and social problems tend to come to mind. It is no-brainer that one has to watch out for their belongings; not just in Vegas, of course, but it is good to put your guard on (especially if you are a lady) when being pushed around or shoved(probably squeezed a little) in that mass of crowds. Definitely not for the claustrophobics, I would say.

There are just so many things to look forward to in Vegas, as I have covered in my previous articles, and I am sure there are more on others' lists compared to mine.
It is all about fun, and having a good time in this city, as we have all seen in movies depicting the atmosphere of the city (and it is always at night, if you have noticed because that is when the city really, really comes to life) and I can't say I fully disagree.
That's probably why the city is a little over the top in the commercialization part; and to a certain extent, the city probably is just too commercialized to my liking.
It is not a bad thing, of course, particularly for the financial and commercial growth of the city but when things become provocatively commercialized, identity takes on a different turn and in a totally different light.

In a nutshell, Vegas is a city which is just so full of life and excitement that it is not for the conservatives or the faint-hearted.

Visit Vegas with an open mind, and take in what the city has to offer rather than setting your very own levels of expectations, just like how traveling ought to be anyway, wherever you go.
Some may not find it is their cup of tea, but hey, at least, you have seen Vegas in her true form and you can say, "Been there, done that" and tick it off your bucket list.

I have been to Vegas, and yeah, done that, definitely! :-)

And remember, Vegas, is a large, Wheel of Fortune, spin it around, and take in from all around the angles!