Friday, April 10, 2015

A Penguin Goes to Vegas

The first time I passed through Las Vegas was in the middle of the night, changing planes on my way back from Alaska. That was the night Billy-Bob was denied boarding and his mother-in-law wailed about leaving him all alone in Sin-City - leaving him drunk in Vegas - he didn't appear to be to upset about it, but it delayed the middle of the night flight by an hour while it was all sorted out. It was not the airlines finest day, the following morning my plane backed into another plan, twice - but that is another story. There are slot machines in the airport in Vegas- if you are ever stuck there in the middle of the night for an extra hour.

The second time I went to Vegas I was able to spend a few days.  A lot of my travel is work related, and I work in a field that has a fair share of social-do-gooders.  Las Vegas is on their untouchable list because it has gambling, and "adult entertainment."  Things that they scream exploit women and poor people.  So my conferences are  never scheduled for Las Vegas.  That year was no exception, the May conference was scheduled for San Francisco, I had made hotel reservations and was about to book airline reservations when the hotel workers union in San Francisco started emailing everyone saying, "we have an ongoing labor dispute with the hotel, if you show up we will set up a picket line that we know many of your neo-socialist attendees will not cross."  In a last minute compromise, the hotel chain and the organizers moved the conference to Las Vegas, with rooms at less then half the price of San Francisco. Apparently exploiting strippers and cocktail servers is less distressing then exploiting underpaid hotel housekeepers.  I was so happy.  I booked round trip airline tickets the next day.

Then, I got invited to participate in a program at Stanford Law School, on Tuesday of the week following the conference that finished Saturday morning in Vegas.  Now I had a choice, fly back to DC on Saturday and fly back to the west coast on Monday, or stay in Vegas for the weekend - at my own expense.  If the city is not busy hotel rooms can be cheap in Vegas, as I recall I paid $28 a night for the extra couple of nights - and got a coupon book with about $100 in free drinks and two-for-one gambling deals.  I stayed in Vegas.  I ended up no-showing for my return flight from Vegas, it was cheaper to book a new ticket from Vegas to the San Francisco and San Jose to DC, then it was to change the round trip to Vegas.  Technically I didn't no-show, I called the airline the day before I told them I was staying in Vegas and would figure out how I was getting home when the winnings ran out, he said we hear that all the time, enjoy the bus ride home (just kidding.)  

I like Las Vegas, it is crazy, and zany and alive.  I like slot machines and video poker.  I am good at setting limits, so I don't fear what I might spend (lose.)  I left town about $40 ahead, I never was  more than $50 behind (about my limit) I should have quit when I was ahead about $100 at one point, as the old song tells us, "you have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them."(Admit it, you read that in the Kenny Roger's voice.) I played roulette at the Flamingo and bet on the Kentucky Derby in a sports betting room (won a couple of dollars on a $2 bet.) I love Vegas, it has interesting people, interesting buildings, it is crazy and zany and out in the middle of the desert.  I don't think I could live there, but I will go back.  


  1. my boss went to vegas in march for a conference. he tells me it's ok, but he is not a gambler.

    never been to vegas, but I have been to reno and carson city. they have one-armed bandits in the restrooms!

  2. A most entertaining post.

  3. Avoid Vegas
    Abjure cards and loose women.
    Shun gambling and hard liquor.

  4. Part of me would like to visit Loss Vegas but the other part says "Stay away!" Bright lights, flashy women and gambling . . . . a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one. I visited Atlantic City once shortly after they began gambling . . . . . . not a good feeling. Didn't gamble, just took in the "ambiance" . . . . bright lights, flashy women and poor (mostly) people gambling what looked like their monthly mortgage payments. Not fun. Not at all. I'll take Hollywood anyway. No bright lights or flashing women there, just a boulevard of broken dreams.