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Thoughts on Las Vegas, and a return to normalcy

Just got back from Vegas. I was there on business for the <anglebrackets> web developer conference.

I had a great time! But it’s good to be home.


Las Vegas is a like a playground for adults. Really, it’s like Chuck E. Cheese, but for grown-ups.

Casinos in Las VegasChuck E. Cheese's

Like Chuck E. Cheese’s, there’s a non-stop light show, a never-ending music stream, and tons and tons of games with buzzers and jingles complete with the psychological hook: the promise, rarely fulfilled, of winning it big, a huge return in the form of tickets casino credits.

The ‘adult playground’ theme doesn’t really stop there.

Adults like adult things, like gambling, and sex, and drugs. You might say Las Vegas is the modern equivalent of ancient Babylon, except the old gods have been replaced with the modern humanistic trinity of money, sex, and drugs.

Drugs: I was three times asked if I wanted cocaine. Not just in some back dark alley, mind you, but once on the main strip, and again as I was walking through one of the super luxurious hotels.

And it’s not really hidden at all. I took this snapshot of Elvis, one of many characters walking the Strip, right before he was handed a blunt by the Mexican fellow on his left.


(Tangent: I just noticed the arch in the background. Is that modeled after the Arch of Titus? I hope not.)

Sex: Prostitution is legal and regulated in Nevada. I think. In any case, it’s everywhere. I was twice approached by women looking for “someone to spend the night with.”

Pornography is everywhere in Las Vegas. From the scantily-clad showgirls walking the Vegas Strip, to the billboard advertisements. On every street corner as you walk down the Strip, Mexicans (not sure why - illegals?) hand out rent-a-girl cards by putting them right in front of you as you walk by. And on every block are newspaper stands filled not with newspapers, but with rent-a-girl advertisements. Oh, and various trucks drive down the Strip, not towing any cargo except a giant billboard displaying naked women and a phone number.

(By the way, if you bring your kids to this place, you do not deserve to be a parent. I was wide-eye shocked to see some kids there. Folks: gambling, drugs, and sex are not for kids, mmmkay?)

One of the speakers at the conference joked,

I have nothing to do in Vegas. Literally, I have nothing to do here. I don’t drink in excess, I don’t gamble, and I don’t cheat on my wife. I have no reason to be here.

The audience laughed, but I don’t think he was joking.

One good thing I can say about Las Vegas is, you can talk to anyone. Everyone’s there to have fun, so talking with people is easy. For me, this is the most fun part of Vegas; just meeting people and hanging out. I did this mostly with nerdly folks at the conference, but also with random people I met at the hotels. I grew up homeschooled and super introverted, with poor social skills. For the longest time, I have been in fear of talking to people.

Las Vegas has helped me break that. I’d sit down in the Mandalay Bay music lounge, grab a drink, and just talk to people. Live music was played, and there’d be some dancing. I love doing that. (I never danced growing up, also likely attributed to homeschooling, and I think my older self is making up for lost time!)

Meeting, chatting, and just talking with people is really a lot of fun for me.

The architecture in Vegas is mind-blowing. It’s a city created in the middle of nowhere. You fly out there, see nothing but desert for miles and miles. No trees, no houses, no roads. Nothing but dry, barren desert.

Then suddenly, this massive city like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Billion dollar hotels. Mimicries of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, a royal castle, the sphinx, and a pyramid with the most powerful light beam in the world pointing straight up to the heavens.



(By the way, as a follower of the God of Israel, I find the old pagan Egyptian mimicry slightly uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just me.)

In any case, it’s impressive, staggeringly-large architecture. And all in a single city, all along this single road called the Strip.

After a few days in this, like a kid who’s eaten too much candy, you get tired of all of it. The flashing lights become obnoxious, the constant music turns redundant and tiring. And you feel bad for all those people throwing away their paychecks into mechanical games rigged to favor the house. (“Oh, but I was *so* close! Just one more pull…”)

All in all, I’m glad to be back home. I do feel recharged. I needed time away from obligations. I’m not a robot; I need time off occasionally. It was good to relax in a plush hotel room, recline at the Wet Republic pool, and even chat up people while listening to Frank Sinatra impersonators.

Now I’m back, and I’m feeling recharged.

To a recharged life, fine Kineti readers.

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