Friday, January 05, 2007

Back from the Weirdest Place on Earth

No blogging recently as I spent much of the holiday season in Las Vegas/dealing with family medical emergencies/being lazy.

I've been to Vegas twice now, both times solely to visit family. I seem to have absorbed that tight-fisted Scots virus that infects so many Canadians, and the idea of gambling more than $1 at a time makes my teeth itch. I eventually managed to go up to a grand total of US $3, which I played on penny slot machines at five cents a spin. I won a net total of $4.40 playing the awesomely bizarre Alien Vs. Predator slot machine. I was the only person playing this game, even though there was a whole bank of about half a dozen of them. I don't think the oxygen-tank-sucking retirees who were the bulk of that casino's patrons really got it.

Other Vegas notes:

- The first thing you see when you walk out of your plane into McCarran Airport is a row of slot machines.

- The ad board over our baggage check advertised The Gun Store. "Shoot a real machine gun." The accompanying image was of a busty blonde woman holding an assault rifle. This is a good intro to the level of subtlety Vegas upholds.

- There are wild quail living in the suburbs. Presumably they inhabit the same ecological niche as crows, but they're much cuter.

- The plants around Vegas are the product of millions of years of evolution to deal with a dry, high desert climate. They have waxy needles or leaves, twisty trunks and a shrunken look. They are obviously ready to survive privation and extremes. This makes them an odd contrast to the massive 24-hour excess binge around them.

- In suburban Vegas, there is so much gambling money sloshing into the municipal tax coffers that they just pave everything. You will never see such nice roads again in your life. A medium-density suburb will typically be serviced by four-lane roads, with left turn bays at the corners and double-left turn suicide lanes down the middle. Of course, they still have four way stops because there isn't enough traffic to justify signal lights yet...

- You almost never see anyone walking anywhere.

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