I just returned from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons convention in Las Vegas, 1 of 40,000 orthopedic surgeons turned loose in Sin City for, ahem, education. Las Vegas may be the top trade show destination in the country, but let's just say that it's not in my top 10 picks for venues. Some of the issues:
- Hotels. Each hotel-casino is neatly positioned near the convention center. No surprise. You have to venture past the slot machines and blackjack tables to gain access to the hotel elevators. I didn't savor starting my morning walk to the convention as I passed countless sleep-deprived, hardcore gamblers, still positioned at the craps tables in hopes of hitting it big. It was easy to spot the biggest losers: They were the ones snorting antacids!
There was more smoke in my hotel lobby than the recreation room at San Quentin prison. To make matters worse, they spray the casino air with some chemical cocktail akin to rosy napalm that results in a pungent smoke/floral bouquet hybrid odor that is not kind to the senses. The fitness center is located on the first floor, adjacent to the lobby. I endeavored to work out one morning, but after 10 minutes on the treadmill I suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. I had a headache that required industrial-strength Tylenol. The only people benefitting from the fitness center were the medics.
- Porn. My wife accompanied me to Vegas. Sadly, I was more than embarrassed when we would walk, arm in arm, down Las Vegas Boulevard only to be approached by a random skin-show solicitor wielding promo cards for the next performance. It was all I could do to tear myself loose of these pathetic porn panhandlers and rejoin my wife en route to a real talent demonstration, such as Boyz II Men.
- Mobs. The Las Vegas Strip was wall-to-wall people. I clutched my wallet like it was my pacemaker. There were more beggars than Times Square and I saw more tattoos than in a Navy shipyard. The convention center was no better. Some of the talks had standing room only. One lecture was so packed that I dozed off at 2 p.m. and didn't hit the floor till 4!
- Party scene. Vegas is called Sin City for good reason. The opportunities to indulge are boundless, and many took full advantage of the innumerable bars and cocktail receptions. The countenance of conference attendees in the morning said it all: Hangovers were more prevalent than on March 18.
- Recycled talks. I would like to say that the conference content was illuminating. Sadly, I seemed to hear the same old talks repackaged in different formats. The same subject matter seems to manifest every year. If I hear one more talk on ACL reconstructions, I am going to boycott!
Not all bad
All in all, the convention was indeed memorable and there were many positive aspects. I was able to rekindle friendships with former residents, fellows and colleagues. The average temperature was about 70 degrees, and I thoroughly relished morning and evening meals with my wife of 27 years, Marie. And I did learn quite a few new things.