Las Vegas (Part 1): CES 2011 & Good People

You’re gonna have to bear with me, as this is gonna be a long one.

A great confluence of events brought me to Las Vegas with very short notice. First, was a trip to Disneyland over New Year’s which had me in need of retoxicification. Disney tried to leach all of my vital anger, alcohol, sarcasm, and bloodymindedness and replace it with joy, cheer, togetherness, and love for my fellow man. It left my back and shoulders a rock hard knot of stress as I defended myself against the hordes of people and pleasantness. What I needed was a return to good bedrock values of venality to relax. I needed excess and indulgence. Steeping in sin as if it were a hot tub. I needed Vegas.

Second, CES 2011. A chance to see the coming year’s toys in all their splendor. A new friend I hadn’t actually gotten a chance to meet yet, Ed Zitron, was going to be working the show, something he was notified of with short notice. I had been trying to instruct him on the finer points of my favorite game in the casino, craps, and had rapidly run into the the brick wall of “This is much easier to do in person”. I suddenly had a chance, plus convenient craps tables to teach on.  Also, there was a several year old outstanding promise to my Lovely Assistant regarding a Cirque d’Soleil show that had come due.

While mulling all this over, Steinwielder Vegas Prime placed an order for a 1000ml FMJ. That clinched it. I asked if he would be willing to accept hand delivery because, with that, I was going to Las Vegas.

WORDS OF WISDOM: Beware driving under the influence of BBotE with Megadeth blasting on straight desert highways. You will be tempted to drive very fast. Your car doesn’t go faster than the California Highway Patrol and they’ll make you stop in the middle of Bat Country.

We arrived somewhat late in the evening, courtesy of the CHP delay in Barstow, at The California Hotel near Fremont St. I would like to take this moment to marvel not only at the Boyd Gaming market strategy (i.e. the regional targeting of the Hawaiian gambler with daily flights to Kona & Honolulu), but at how happy everyone was there. I’m not just talking about the front desk and dealers, who have strict pleasantness policies imposed on them, but housekeepers and ancillary staff like the shopkeepers in their arcade. People actively seek positions here, and fight to keep them, for the work environment because it is fun and pleasant. The fact that the sister casino across the street by skyway, Main Street Station, has a brew pub and 20x odds craps certainly helps raise it in my esteem.

A few things about CES 2011, for which I must give glorious thanks to the Steinwielder Vegas Prime for providing passes to the Lovely Assistant and I. It was big, very big. I’m to understand it has been larger but I don’t see how that would have been survivable as an attendee. I could go a long time without every seeing another iPhone or iPad case again and after your 10th or so 70″+ flatscreen TV they start to blend together until you stumble upon a 92″ one. Cars at an electronics show were a bit of a surprise, including the electric conversion for the Smart ForTwo for the American market (still a far cry from the European offering). I also got to give Logitech a piece of my mind about their lack of actual ergonomic offerings, so that was a plus.

But there were two things I would have put my ill-gotten gains toward if I could. The first is Sphero, the bluetooth smartphone/computer controlled rolling robotic sphere. If I could have bought one on the spot I would have as it is the best cat toy I have seen since the laser pointer. People, it is a ball your cat can play with…which you can suddenly cause to chase your cat. Comedy gold may not get much better than that.

The second were the Polli-Bricks by Miniwiz. Re-melted and blown office cooler water bottles turned into structural material, power generation and lighting. It is playing with Legos on a monumental scale but the hexagonal groove structure reminds me of a structural pattern I saw in the occassional Roman herringbone brick-courses. In that pattern, there are no clear “lines of sight” from one side of the wall to the other in mortar gaps, adding strength and thus explaining why that wall is still standing 2200 years later despite earthquakes and time.  They have other toys too, but the bricks are what impressed me to the point that I think the boothie was concerned I was going to do something unclean to his display.

Also, I bestowed upon Mr. Zitron a couple bottles of BBotE along with a bag of sample vials, more than he could safely consume himself, and set him loose upon CES. If you were very, very nice to him he might have shared with you. He was still wide awake when I dropped him back at Harrah’s so I have no idea how much he consumed vs. shared. All I know is that it didn’t go home with him on the plane as the silly bugger didn’t bring any checked luggage.

A review of Cirque d’Soleil’s “Zumanity”: Very flexible naked people with good music. Pleasantly bawdy humor, but we’ve got a way to go still to hit the humor of antiquity. That’s traditional values I can get behind.

Next: The Atomic History Museum and the sad tale of SL-1.