Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Airport Update

It's quarter to 9 at McCarran International Airport (LAS), and I'm killing time waiting for the red-eye. On the Ted flight in to the city, the pilot suggested getting to the airport three hours ahead of our return flight because of the enhanced security measures TSA has in place for LAS.

I don't particularly mind getting to an airport early (Evelin would say I'm pretty neurotic about making sure we are early), but considering how little I enjoy Las Vegas and the pilot's suggestion, I got here four hours early.

[ASIDE: It was after an earlier version of this tradeshow in Vegas that taught me that you are not allowed to check in for a flight any earlier than four hours before the flight. I am always ready to get out of Vegas long before my scheduled departure time.]

All in all it was a pretty hectic show. Dealing with OS X issues, some hardware problems, and the usual scrum of PR people and others who want special coverage in the on-site newspaper made for a very busy, stressful time.

On the plus side, I did get away from
The Strip to go to the zoo (and the more I think about it, the more I find myself liking the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park).

Today, the newsroom was pretty much broken down by 2 p.m., and a few of us took the opportunity to split. After a bit of equivocating about what to do, we decided to head to The Mirage to visit Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.

All in all, I was more impressed with the zoo. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were cute and seem to have a pretty good setup (three interconnected pools, no forced show routines), but I'm a tad skeptical about the claims of it being a research facility.

The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) looked uncomfortably overweight and she had only a turkey in her enclosure with her. I could be wrong about the sociability needs of an elephant (and it could be that her life in the circus and then magic show have left her a bit of a loner), but it seems she could have had a better setup.

[ADDENDUM: Digging some more, Gildah, the elephant, is a mainland elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) from Thailand, and that subspecies tends (at least according to Elephant Nature Park in Thailand) to be smaller and stouter than the Sri Lankan subspecies (Elephas maximus maximus); of the elephants at the National Zoo, Shanthi, Ambika and Kandula are all E.m. maximus, while Toni is E.m. indicus. That said, Gildah still looked uncomfortably large.]

The lions, tigers, panther and leopard looked like they were doing okay (only one tiger was exhibiting stereotypic pacing), but they definitely were well fed.

I probably should have gone over to MGM Grand (so that I could see the trifecta of Vegas lions -- Zoo, Secret Garden, Lion Habitat), but instead I headed back to the hotel to gather my baggage and get to the airport four hours early.

[FULL DISCLOSURE: Composed at the airport; posted from home, but backdated to time of composition.]

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