Las Vegas, NV

There are a great many people in Las Vegas, and just as many places to put them; in front of poker machines or gambling tables, in restaurants, in shows. But although there’s a wide horizon and a nice flat desert outside, you never see people walking on the street. Today it’s apparently a record heat at 114 degrees, which is 45 Australian degrees. Thankfully, you don’t have to venture into it, and you can happily live your holiday inside with the air conditioning, so I’m actually feeling a little cool as I write this.
All around, people are working to set up the giant CA World conference, this year in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. A huge room is being set up with computers and assorted signs and stands, so that computer people like me can show off to other computer people like me.
I’m staying in a giant pyramid a short walk away; the Luxor. While the Mandalay has a sort of Pacific Island feel – with palms and beaches and marine animals everywhere – they’ve thrown piles of Sphinxes and Mummies on the Luxor to make it feel like ancient Egypt. I’m quite impressed with some of the technical feats they would have had to perform in building the hotel: you have to travel by ‘inclinators’ which are elevators which need to travel up at 30-something degrees instead of straight up. The window wall in my hotel room is also slanted so you’re looking directly into the Nevada sun.
In keeping with the spirit of excess, the hotel boasts the ‘brightest beam of light in the world’ – which is pointing directly up out the top of the pyramid. You can see it from space, they say.
So, for the next few days I’ll be learning and teaching about computer software and avoiding the constant distractions of rampant tourist marketing. It’s so tough to work in a place like this.
Random thoughts from the last few days:
* The first thing you see when alighting from the plane in Las Vegas airport is a slot machine. They have gaming machines *in the airport terminal*, for crying out loud.
* What is it about me that I can’t walk through a casino or major shop without someone asking me for information? Do I really look like I know what I’m doing?
* Every now and again, you see a slot machine with the figure ‘98.2% paid back’. That’s clever marketing. Note that it doesn’t mean you have a 98.2 percent chance of winning, but that you’ll only win back 98.2 percent of what you put in. Do you need any more proof that this is a mug’s game?
* There’s a kid’s shop here my the name of ‘Tiny Tut’s’ – cute.
* There are next to no external windows *anywhere*, especially in areas which have slot machines.
* There is a major billboard near the casinos touting a vasectomy reversal service. I can’t imagine why that would be a big industry here.
I’m carrying the new Palm camera with me, and I’ll put photos here as they happen.

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