I began my morning with a cup of $4 casino drip coffee before acquiring a badge for entry into the Black Hat keynote talks.
I took a seat 8 rows back and just to the right of the stage where Ambassador Cofer Black gave a very interesting opening speech including an overview of 9/11 ten years later. He warned of the danger of inadequate threat acknowledgement contrasted with the strength and general response advantage of psychological preparedness. He compared Cold War era nuclear defense concerns with today’s emerging cyber defense. “The Stuxnet attack is the Rubicon of our future,” he said at one point.
Ambassador Black was interrupted at a key point by an alarm and a robotic voice bidding everyone remain calm. A hotel fire alarm: shennanigans. He went on to finish his talk through the siren and robotic caution, and by the end of it, I was a little surprised how much I enjoyed the talk and how I wished he could have gone on longer.
I made my way out of the Black Hat area and back to the casino floor, then went wandering from there. Things were laid out such that the casino areas could not really be avoided. Nevertheless I tried to skirt the areas as best I could, reluctant to come in contact with the machines or the clientele. There was something depressing about it which I could not overcome.
I wandered down a few different corridors and ended up passing a couple different wedding chapels and a special office that handles Bridal affairs, which struck me as somewhat bizarre. My parents were married in Vegas a little over 30 years ago at one of those little drive-in places. It was very spur of the moment and the actual event was short and sweet. According to the ads outside this agency it looked as though couples would be planning out much more elaborate affairs, which in my opinion destroys the spontenaity and charm of a Vegas wedding … I have to admit the vague romanticism I’ve been harboring for such a thing is somewhat spoiled after that.
Beyond that was the spa and fitness area. T had given me a card that granted me access to some of these amenities, so I took it to the front desk to inquire about it. She was exceptionally warm and sweet to me until I showed her the card, which turned out it only gave me access to the gym. She went cold on me and pointed me to the rooms on the right. How funny.
I completed the circuit and ended up back at the fountain at the hotel entrance. I wandered outside where I risked fire and blindness. I think I heard someone say it was maybe 105 degrees out. I’ve become rather spoiled by the temperate Northwest, and this was a strange dry heat which was different from the humidity of North Texas. I moved from one concrete structure to the next until I ended up at a diverging path, one leading to Bally’s and the other to the Bellagio.
More dimly lit casinos and bright shop windows. I found myself taking pictures of windows and glass light fixtures and a cute little atrium with birds in glass enclosures next to a koi pond. I took this for the high point of my explorations and turned back to Caesar’s at this point and made a detour through the swimming area. I think maybe the heat started to get to me and the fact that I had not eaten anything but chocolate since lunch the previous day, so I went back to our room.
When I had recovered a bit from the heat I resigned myself to hunting for some sort of food court, which I found after venturing through a whole other gambling area. A friend had texted me a playful caution not to gamble away all my money while in Vegas, to which I had to respond there was little chance of that happening since I was having trouble enough finding something affordable to eat. She of course suggested one of the famous Vegas buffets, but I’d already glanced at prices in passing which ranged from $20-30 per person. $10 for a slice of cheese pizza and a bottle of water was the best deal I could find.
Refueled, I continued my wandering in the same general direction, moving through the Forum Shops which was essentially a shopping mall styled on the streets of Rome, I assume, complete with artificial ceiling. I couldn’t derive much pleasure from window shopping since it seemed to be almost exclusively high end clothing/shoe/handbag/eyewear/jewelry retailers specializing almost entirely in a sorty of trash-glamour glitz.
I encountered a spiral escalator, and this is where the insidiousness of Vegas architecture become really apparent. I had to go down 3 levels to reach the ground floor, but rather than take the escalator continuously, it was designed so that one emerged at the next floor and then had to walk the entire round circuit to find the escalator traveling down yet another level. Therefore a person had to walk past every single shop before finally arriving at an opportunity to exit the shopping area.
One has to kind of step back and appreciate the psychological insight and planning that went into creating such structures. At the same time, the nature of the beast puts my hairs on end.
T and I finished out the night attending a private Black Hat party dj’d by the Crystal Method at one of the nightclubs contained within Caesar’s. It was an opportunity to celebrate a little bit with T, enjoying the city lights from the top of the building.