From our illustrated November 2002 road trip journal
Comdex. For those of you who didn't know, Karen and I spent the last week driving to Comdex via L.A. Well, Claremont, actually. Anyway, I'll leave the mostly uninteresting saga of gusty prairies, red rock canyons, ghost towns, rustic and roach-infested motels, and the like for another, possibly evitable, time.
For now, Comdex. Las Vegas hosts the big computer industry gathering, and in years past the entire city was sold out. With the expansion of the city, and the collapse of the industry, the town is as crowded as during the busy season. But this is the season of the big lull.
Anyway, the usual Vegas crowd and the Comdex contingent are easy to tell apart. Striped button-down shirts with pen-filled pockets and slacks with an assortment of belt-mounted cellular accessories are a sure sign. But what I was looking for as I waited this morning by the elevators, was the different energy level. The gaming and shows folk seem older at a given age. The Comdex folk are animated in the mornings. Most of them have seeking eyes and brisk body language. Many of them have foreign accents; one hears a lot of U.K. style English spoken. Spanish doesn't count as foreign, here.
But, once they converge on the huge convention center, it seems more like cattle. Signs heard them (us) to registration and badge-holder pick-up. We queue up between ropes all hoping for something good at the end as we shuffle along. Moo.
The technology on display is interesting, if you like that sort of thing. I won't bore you with the details of what you'll have to have in 10 years. Or by the end of this year, even. Karen was enjoying some of the shows, and the ergonomics and massage appliances, furniture, and demonstrations.
At the convention, several older-middle-aged women pulled wheeled carriers to collect free stuff. They didn't strike me as techies. I talked to one young woman from Glasgow while waiting for the shuttle in the afternoon. She had an Exhibitor badge, but really was just along for the ride; much like Karen.
So, outside of the convention, the nerds, pardon me, technical professionals do the usual Vegas things. Well, few gamble much. Any game guaranteed to take away your money more certainly the longer you play has little appeal to the professionally numerate. Me? I lose so regularly that the romance of gambling dies quickly each time I try.
At the buffets, we eat. I watched two Asians trying to cope with forks. It's like watching most Americans with chopsticks. In line I heard a perfect English boarding school woman's accent at the buffet, and turned to see a perfectly Chinese woman attached to it. Her colleague spoke English as one who translates a phrase, rehearses it in his mind, and pronounces it as if expecting to be corrected. They both were asking for the same type of cut of beef from the large joint the server was partially hidden behind. One doesn't eat at these buffets often if one wishes to fit into ones clothes for much longer. All these folk belly up to the trough and gorge, in perfectly polite manner, of course. Moo.
So, in case any of you were wondering, we are out of town, and unable to get to our regular email. My Verizon cell phone (my home phone) gives better service over most of America than it does at home. One of the rare occasions in which we were in a roam area, we received a call. We were glad to know that our housesitter had gotten in, so it was worth the extra pennies.
Room with a view. We've stayed at this hotel, Circus-Circus before. It's cheap, has a good buffet, and is toward the North end of the Strip; out of the way. Our room faces into the well between the 3 hotel towers, but is on the 26th floor. This is well above the top of the old section. We have a great view south toward the strip. We are several hundred yards back from the Strip itself, but the view is quite nice. The Stardust glows an eerie purple in the kilowatt black lights, with a simple pattern of neon orange in contrast. The MGM Grand is a distant emerald glow. About 3 miles. The Luxor pyramid is hidden behind the StarDust and the Venice, but its 1,000,000 candlepower (or is it watt?) vertical spotlight beam is a little more visible from a mere 3 miles away than it was over 30 miles away as we approached the valley. Even the McDonalds sign up near the strip has twinkling lights and neon climbing patterns in perpetual animation to fit in with the beautifully garish facade of the Riviera across the street.