(And I should note the latest example of excess: the conference has something like 3000 people, all at this keynote, and we are *dwarfed* by the room, with fabric walls surrounding us to make it feel the right size. If you removed those, I believe the room would seat something like 8000 in reasonable comfort. It is an understatement to say that it is the size of an aircraft hanger -- this is the size of a *Zeppelin* hangar.)
I note, not especially to my surprise, that going to a conference by myself isn't a lot of fun, and Vegas makes it worse. When one is naturally shy, not on the make, and on one's own, this most extroverted of towns loses something. We probably need to try it together sometime, and see if it works better.
That said, I eventually manage to find Tsunami, which is clearly the right restaurant for the night. I drown my sorrows in sushi and saki, feeling that there is something very Japanese about sitting at the sushi bar and reading comics. Also very geeky, but what the hell -- Dragon Roll is a fine cure for most ills.
I wander the casino for a bit, gradually internalizing that this has little to do with what I think of as gaming. There's something distressingly institutionalized about the gambling at a casino -- I see little of the sense of fun that inspires my poker table. I will probably play a bit of Pai Gow, just to say I did, but I fail to be deeply inspired.
While I've been warned about it, I am taken aback at how thoroughly the hotel attempts to mess up my sense of time. I've gone through this entire day without seeing a single real window save the one in my room. It takes me until midday to finally realize that I am subtly tweaked by the absolute lack of wall clocks anywhere, a utility that I simply take for granted normally.
And the Grand Canal is a breathtaking illusion -- I'm startled when I step out into the midday street (well after sundown outside), and realize that all of those sunny advertisements I see on TV are shot indoors. The gondolas pass under the bridge as I cross it, the couples enjoying the lovely blue sky that is so convincingly painted on the ceiling. (Reminding me of nothing so much as my Masonic Lodge.) The illusion fails after only a moment's scrutiny -- but I actually have to *look* to convince myself that I'm inside. Again I am reminded of Disney, but the inside of the Mexico pavilion was never as perfect as this.
Agenda for the rest of the night: first, go have a pastry. The advantage of the all-night town is that I can let dinner digest with confidence, knowing that the patisserie won't be closing for hours yet. And then have a bath. If they're going to give me a room that has a shower *and* a full-sized bathtub, I may as well indulge...