v-v-v-viva las vegas!

i spent a good bit of last week in the strangest place on earth – las vegas.  i was there on business, which went very well.  i also had a pretty good time, didn’t gamble a cent, and saw a couple of great shows.  i was there on election day too – so got to watch the returns coming in while there.
in many ways, las vegas is the symbol of much of what’s wrong with our culture.  rampant consumerism (somebody buys all of the crud in the shops).  throwing money away on useless stuff (gambling).  very poor use of natural resources (like the big lake in front of the mirage that must evaporate at a shocking rate when the temperature hits 110).
the philosophy behind casino design seems to be to replicate many of the world’s landmarks (statue of liberty, eiffel tower, sphinx and pyramids) in order to draw people into your adult amusement park.  what do people really think – once they’ve seen the great pyramid in the nevada desert, that there’s no compelling reason to travel to egypt?  i just don’t get it.
throwing some statistics around for thought.
my employer paid for me to go to las vegas.  many other people pay their own way.  the average person apparently drops around $700 in three days at the tables or slot machines.  that seems like a significant chunk of their paycheck, doesn’t it.  i do pretty well, but would definitely notice if that much money disappeared from my bank account.  add about $150/night for a room, perhaps $250 for airfare, $100/day for food and drinks for two – that’s about $1700 in hypothetical expenses.  it doesn’t count tickets to shows, shopping, or even more of a hit at the tables.
had wanted to run the nearby valley of fire marathon next weekend, but can’t, owing to a nagging knee injury.  would have been interesting to contrast the gaudy opulance of the city with the winding trails through red-rock desert … with some luck the i’ll be able to try the marathon next year.

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