long blocks, tired feet

The first in a series of 2004 CES posts. -Ben

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 – It was a really long day today. I got up at 4:45 this morning so I could get to the airport and make a 6:30 flight to Denver. On the plane I watched part of the Indiana Jones DVD set bonus disc and continued to read Kevin Mitnick’s “The Art of Deception.” After arriving in Denver I moved down a few gates to catch my fight to Vegas which was leaving in about an hour. United discovered that they had way overbooked the flight and even as they were giving away free tickets for future flights were having a hard time getting people to give up their seats as they couldn’t confirm you on another flight until 11 Thursday morning. At the last minute they apparently got enough people to give up seats and assigned me a seat. Though I had checked in at Minneapolis I had not been assigned a seat on the Vegas flight yet. After I got on the (very full) plane I discovered there was someone in the seat assigned to me so they re-assigned me to another seat which I took, then the guy showed up for that seat! After waiting a few tense minutes (yeah, I held up the flight) they bumped the guy in the seat they had originally assigned to me. It looked as if he had agreed to be bumped, got the free tickets and then boarded anyway. Eventually we were on our way, though I was worried for a bit that I wouldn’t get here until Thursday which would have caused much complication. After landing in Vegas I collected my luggage and picked up my CES badge holder at the airport, took a free shuttle to the Key Largo Casino & Hotel for my first night. With all the time changes it was only 10 by the time I arrived at the hotel and checked in so after getting situated and downloading my email over a 9Kbps cell phone connection I decided to go out in search of some food. I thought it would probably be a good idea to take in “the strip” and find somewhere to eat all in one fell swoop so I headed down the street towards the strip. One thing you learn quickly here in Vegas is that they have long blocks, really long blocks. I eventually reached the strip near Bally’s and the Belliagio and decided to turn South. I took a stroll through the Bellagio and I must say that it looks like a fantastic hotel; you can tell that they take excellent care of their guests. Unfortunately none of the restaurant options there particularly appealed to me at the time so I continued down the street stopping to walk through New York, New York, where I ended up having lunch, the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Luxor and Excalibur. All this walking took some time and was quite hard on my legs so a little after 3 I decided to head back to the hotel for some rest before going to Bill Gates’ pre-show keynote. I thought I’d be doing well to make it back to the hotel in an hour from the south end of the strip (Excalibur) as it turns out it took almost an hour to make it back to Bally’s at which point I still had about a half hour walk back to the hotel. I got back about 4:30 and knew I probably needed to leave by 5:00 to get a seat at the keynote, I snuck in a half-hour nap as I was exhausted (from walking and being up since 4:45 central.) At five I started out for the Hilton where all the keynotes are held. It took an hour to walk there (I kept my eyes open for a bus, alas I saw none come along though there were shelters) I probably could have made better time had my feet not already been shot. When I got to the Hilton I found huge numbers of people in lines, but eventually got seated in an overflow seating area, so I saw it on TV rather than in person but they had free ice water which was great considering all the walking I’d been doing. I’m sure that notes from the keynote will be available all over the net so I’ll spare the details here other than to say we had a little excitement with a fire alarm in the middle of it, though they told us to stay where we were while it was investigated and eventually found out to be false. After the keynote they had shuttle busses back to the strip which I took with the idea of getting some desert at New York, New York that I had eyed when I was there for lunch. I did get a slice (massive) of cheesecake which was quite good. Of course I was back towards the south end of the strip again and almost as tired as I was earlier, yet I pressed on heading North and taking some photos of the strip at night. Of course I got to see the fountains at the Bellagio which was a fantastic display. When I got to Bally’s I was dead tired so I found a city bus (which took quite a long time to show up, but I digress) to take me the rest of the way. I stumbled back into my room, set my alarm for eight and was promptly sleeping. So what do I think of the city so far other than the long blocks? I liked the interior of the Luxor best because I didn’t expect it to have the vast open space inside that it did, I like the number of food options best at New York New York and the hotel best at the Bellagio and MGM Grand. If I were to gamble I would feel the most comfortable at the MGM Grand or New York, New York though I can’t qualify why that is. I also think the Hilton Casino looks terribly dated.

Thursday, January 08, 2004 – Though I had originally intended to make it to the opening keynotes this morning I decided against that last night when I was dead tired and thought the sleep would do me better anyway. After getting up, packing and checking out I took a shuttle to Harrah’s (the Taxi line at Key Largo was taking far too long) where I walked several blocks North to the Frontier and caught a cab to EconoLodge although that in and of itself was slightly adventurous as the cabbie had no idea where he was going, I got him there after pointing out he had driven past the place (he wanted to even drive further) needless to say his tip was not large at all. After I checked into my much more expensive and not nearly as nice hotel room (where I get to spend three nights as everyone else in town is sold out) I caught a southbound city bus to the Rivera where I caught a shuttle to CES. My first stop at CES was the TechTV booth where I had my picture taken with Leo and got the obligatory autographs. I started out browsing the show floor (all 1.5 million square feet) and got to see some of the up and coming set top DVD recorders, the DVD-RAM booth, the worlds largest (80″) plasma screen and was just about to chat with a Kenwood rep about ham radio when I got a call from Vinny that he and Minnie had arrived, I set a meeting time in fifteen minutes with them at the TechTV booth. I spent a few minutes with the Kenwood rep and had a fantastic discussion with him about the future of digital communications radios. I soon met up with Vinny and Minnie of Leoville, having met MissDaisy over the summer I had prior experience with the “known you for a long time but this is our first meeting” thing. Going around the show with Vinnie and Minnie was an absolute blast the sense of humor these two have is fantastic and makes a trade show so much more interesting, of course the fact that Vinnie knows everyone can’t hurt either. When 3:30 rolled around we were getting hungry so we packed it in for the day and headed over to Palace Station for dinner which was great fun. I have discovered that doing anything with Vinnie is an adventure, on the way back to drop me off at my hotel Vinnie took several wrong turns leading me to believe that no one in Vegas has any idea where they’re going or what they’re doing, but taking a turn down a dark, deserted ally gave Minnie and me quite a laugh. Come to think of it I still have a headache from laughing so hard. I’m resting my feet at the moment, but I think my next move will probably be to take a bus down the strip to find some desert, possibly at Excalibur where I spied some good looking food the other day. Tomorrow or Saturday night I’ll probably go the other direction towards downtown for the “Freemont Street Experience.”

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