>My plan was to keep up with a daily update on my work trip to Vegas, but failed miserably. By the end of each day it was late and I was spent, and didn’t bother to write anything. I did get the photos I took uploaded, so at least it wasn’t a total waste.
All of the sessions we were tagged to present were scheduled first thing in the morning. That is good on one hand, because afternoon sessions tend to be the ones where participants fall asleep. On the other hand, 8:30 AM sessions can be hard to prepare for if you spent the night before carousing! Wednesday wasn’t bad, as Tuesday night ended early . . . and I didn’t have to do any more than just watch. A guy from one of the companies we developed data collection software for was doing a presentation, and my boss, Jeff, was there to provide backup. Jeff is the guy I report directly to; he is also one of the 3 owners of the company. This is Jeff:
He’s a guy that used to be a diesel mechanic years ago, decided that wasn’t much of a future, so he taught himself to write code. He is pretty much the technical brains behind our operation. He and his wife adopted a couple orphan kids from Russia a couple years ago. He also plays keyboards, and when I was out in Ohio I ran sound a few times for the band he was in at the time. He is literally one of the nicest people I know.
Here are a bunch of the data collection devices we support. I only know how to operate a couple of them, but I can fake it better than anyone.
Chris Meyer is also an owner, and is the president of the company. He is also a great guy. I think the reason I get along so well with these guys is because our relationship was defined before I ever went to work for them, and I also tend to tell things like they are without being nervous because they are “in charge.” Certainly there are times when we have to play the Boss — Employee roles, and we have butted heads in the past (mostly over cultural differences), but once we figured out what this relationship was going to be like, it has gone pretty well. I may not like my job all that much, at least the nuts and bolts of what I do, but I recognize these guys have been more than fair and have given me a pretty sweet deal, so I have no complaints (no valid ones, anyway). Too bad they are both diehard Republicans, which I can’t understand at all. They seem so smart!
Here is a picture of Chris:
Wednesday night was the only night of relative debauchery we spent the entire week, and I didn’t have my camera with me. Even then, it was pretty tame. We started out walking about a mile or so up the strip to have dinner at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Las Vegas restaurant. Yes, you read that right. I hate Jimmy Buffett; we spent a couple hours there the last time I was in Vegas. It’s as awful as it sounds. I tried to get out of it by reminding Chris that Buffett is a diehard Democrat. He said, “Yeah, I know, but I can let it slide. If Springsteen comes on the radio, though, I change the fuckin’ station!”
We had dinner there and drank a few beers. Every hour, a big video would come on with some Buffett song blasting, and all these dorky performers would come out. I couldn’t really see what was going on, but then this busty woman would come out and dance around on a volcano thing that towered over the floor; for the finale, she would disappear into the volcano then pop out again among false flames, slide down a slide into a big water-filled martini glass, where she would splash around and press her boobs against the glass. Nothing but the highest-brow entertainment in Vegas, people! Chris snapped this dim shot of me sitting at our table with his cell phone:
When Jeff and Chris could endure no more Jimmy, we headed to the New York, New York to visit a place they had been before — a placed called Nine Fine Irishmen. This is a fake Irish bar that was reasonably cool; the band playing Celtic rock was damn good. We were drinking Smithwick’s, which was friggin’ great. We had a good time here, just laughing and being stupid. Jeff and Chris were telling stories about the old pubs they visited while visiting the UK on one of our international projects (I retaliated with stories from the pubs I visited in the Czech Republic on my biggest international project). After a couple hours, it felt like we were in a real old pub, so it was a shock to stagger out into the fake New York street of the hotel.
By this point, none of us were feeling any pain, and we had been out several hours. Knowing I had a presentation to do for 150+ people in just a few hours, I was ready to call it a night. As we staggered past the Bar at Times Square, Jeff insisted we go in. We did. Jeff and Chris switched to Crown and Cokes, but I continued to maintain with beer. So while I just cruised at the same level I’d been for hours, they quickly fell over the edge.
An hour later, well over $100 in tips for the piano players (mainly to win an Ohio vs. Michigan contest), we headed out. They wanted to find the Coyote Ugly bar; thankfully I talked them out of it. It was rough enough herding them back to our hotel. This is when I wished I had a camera, as the sight of neither of them being very successful in navigating up an escalator was particularly amusing.
Thursday – Flying Solo
The presentation first thing in the morning went better than expected, despite everyone being a bit bleery. We got through the day, knocked off a little early, then planned to take a nap and meet up for the evening conference event. That event– dinner, drinks and a live band around the MGM pool — was pretty lame. Afterwards I thought we were going back out, but Chris and Jeff decided they were content to just watch movies in their room. I opted to go wander the strip with my camera and take a few pictures. Here are some highlights. . . .
After watching the Planet Earth DVD lately, seeing these penned up lions bummed me out. They are impressive animals, nonetheless. You can walk in this tunnel beneath them and look up through the plexiglass at them. At one point they suddenly became very alert; some attendants entered their pen with big chunks of raw hamburger, which they walked the perimeter of the pen with while throwing junks of it against the glass. The lions would lunge against the glass and eat it, much to the delete of all the onlookers.
I walked through this thing. Like a couple other places in Vegas (the Venetian and Caesar’s), part of this thing is built to look like an outdoor market at twilight. It looks kinda cool, and really fake at the same time. Lots of trendy, high-priced shops. Seeing the American Apparel store was coming soon, it made me feel like those assholes have finally completed their crossover to the Dark Side.
I completed my night wanderings by heading over to the Excalibur to play some Skee-Ball Horseracing. That is literally the best part of Vegas. Julia is a skee-ball fantatic, and we played when we were there together a few years ago. These damn crumbsnatchers kept defeating us, though, so I was back to claim victory. On my way in, it was good to see that her boyfriends appear to still be going strong.
I got into the hotel, then made my way downstairs to where the kiddie arcade is. A few years ago Vegas was making a big push to make it seem like a “family” destination, but I think they’ve scrapped that marketing plan. The attendants at the games all looked real bored, as there wasn’t much action going on down there late at night (by now it was around 11 PM or so). I found the skee-ball table, watched a game, then sat down and jockeyed horse #13 to victory on my first try! Trip = Success!
Flush with the thrill of my dominance, I headed back to the hotel. A little sleep, one more presentation, then I was headed home. Another trip survived, and I didn’t get fired for being too much of a hippy either. All in all, not a bad week’s work.