Three+ intense days in the sensory overload capital of America.  A taxi ride that covers four blocks costs $10.  The noise level is loud and constant.  And everyone is looking for a tip.
The last 72 hours have been a blur.  I gave four different presentations to the sales or technical sales teams that will be selling IBM collaboration software in 2004.  I saw familiar faces from across the years, but struggled to pick them out of a crowd of 16,000.  I walked on miles of brightly colored and patterned carpeting, with the "bing" of slot machine payouts constantly in the air.  I danced with a crowd comprised half of IBMers, mixed with people half my age, at Studio 54.  I strolled along the Venetian "Grand Canal" while window shopping at Kenneth Cole.  
Things that stood out for me:

  • Happy birthday to Beverly DeWitt -- if you see her at Lotusphere next week, be sure to ask about the big night out.  (No, no, it was all good, really -- she didn't end up pulling a Britney. ;))
  • Dry, dry, dry.  I know I spent most of my time indoors, but I've done conferences elsewhere and not felt so dehydrated.  I had two nosebleeds in three days.  I can't imagine how the casino dealers, the waitresses, and everyone else in the service industry manages to work in that environment (add in cigarette smoke in more abundance than normal in the US).
  • Don't go to Vegas seeking bargains.  Somehow, dinner each night worked out to about $60 a person, and we weren't even eating in the high end restaurants.  Yowsa.  
  • Don't go to Vegas seeking the best Starbucks.  The MGM Grand had two Starbucks just for itself, but for some reason their Frapuccinos weren't as good as I thought they could have been.  I did have an enjoyable caramel macchiato, but had to go a long way to get it.
  • Don't go to Vegas seeking solitude.  On a day when I really wanted some time to myself, I couldn't find a single place to sit and think.  Outside the hotels is as noisy as their casinos and lobbies.  Walking along "the strip" is a constant assault of enticements (hawkers, piped in music, and the ever-present brochure people).  Even finding someplace that seems like it might be quiet gets disrupted by helicopters and sirens.  Nor is a  taxi ride a chance for isolation: seeking better tips, every taxi driver I rode with this week wanted to chat, about sports, women, weather, or, of course, Vegas.
OK, close that chapter.  Seven days home before jetting off to Orlando....

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