Hey kids, what time is it? Why it's "Live vicariously through Bil's Blog in Vegas" time. Yes, Fear and Loathing finally hits the Vegas trail and we're here in DevConnections at Mandalay Bay for a week of fun, frolicking, gambling our life away, jumping out of planes wearing flashing-Elvis suits, and giving a presentation or two at the conference.
Yesterday started off with a bit of a cough and a snort. We woke up around 3AM to catch a 7AM flight out of Calgary. This was a huge mistake, not only because I live an hour from the airport but because of how airport time works in Canada. At 5:30 they open up customs and security area, so until then there's no way to check in as we have to be strip searched and all our water confiscated before entering the evil United States of America (bad, bad, naughty Canadian water!). However there's also another rule (or more of a guideline) that you should be at the airport 2 hours ahead of your flight for checkin. This proves to be a set of business rules that conflict with each other, something I thought I would avoid on a trip like this. The solution, as far as the Calgary Airport Authority is concerned, is to not check people in at the flight counters until after 5:30. Great. The backup was huge and we spent the better part of Sunday morning in lines waiting to be processed. In any case we basically walked right onto the plane as we shuffled through checkin (US Airways, get some freakin' computer checkin consoles), customs, and security. Mental note to self: Don't fly at 7 in the morning again. Ever.
We hopped onto the flight and after sitting through an excruciating 3 hours of playing Cranium Trivia on the overhead projector we made it to Arizona for a stop over. Two things with the flight to Phoenix. First was a Katherine Hepburn clone in the seat behind us. All through the flight as they played Cranium on board (which was a cool thing) she would bark out the question, along with an answer (usually wrong, or rather *always* wrong) then some silly story about how old she was and that her brain didn't work so well. You think? Nice try Grandma Dynamite, but please keep the comments to yourself. Second was the connecting flight. We were trying to see where the flight was at and was greeted by this:
How appropriate. Julie Lerman commented a few days ago how they had to "re-boot" the airplane, now we're getting error dialogs at the airports. Luckily our flight was on another monitor, but too bad for the poor schmucks on the flights were you couldn't get information. And this was on *every* monitor (rightly so as it was a server problem). Well I am going to a Microsoft-centric conference. Wonder if the airline departure screen would have done this if it was SharePoint (don't answer that, it could be worse). So another 45 minute flight and we were in Sin City.
Las Vegas airport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. And slot machines! At the airport! OMFG. That was just weird with a capital "W". Rather than taking a cab or shuttle we opted for a limo. When in Vegas, do like the Vegans. So after a 10 minute wait it was a 10 minute ride for $60. Not bad considering I'll probably blow that much in 10 minutes on the casino floor. What was weird (with a small "w") was that as the luggage was coming off the rack, Jenn commented that it was vibrating. Yeah, probably somewhere between Calgary and Barstowe my electric toothbrush had gone off and was vibrating ever since. Time for a new battery.
I was completely horrified and devastated to learn that CSI (the original cool Vegas one, not one of the crappy rip-off ones) isn't actually filmed in Vegas. Most of the filming takes place in California with 2nd unit shooting in Vegas (sometimes). So no Gus Grissom for me. That alone was almost enough to send me packing, good thing they have 24 hour buffets here to tide me over.
The room at Mandalay Bay is great except we're not looking down the strip, which I had hoped for, and no amount of screaming or complaining or flashing my MVP badge would help. Instead it's a beautiful view of the Nevada mountains and the airport. It's quiet though except for when the fighter jets take off for Area 51, but you don't notice it much (probably all the ding-ding coming from the casino drowns it out). As for the conference, well, it's huge (I'm worn out just walking to pick up my speaker stuff) so that's another blog.
Todays Gambling Debt: +$300 (Thanks to the slot machines!)
P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of the pics, I'm missing my image software and working with a new camera so trying to get used to it.