This past weekend I went to Las Vegas for a friend's bachelor party. It was probably the first time in years that we've been able to gather all "the boys" (a group that's been close since early childhood) in one place. We stayed at the Las Vegas Hilton, off the strip, taking taxis on occasion to hit the strip for gambling, eating, drinking, dancing, whatever. Vegas, my friend Carlos says, "has super powers." It's definitely got something about it that's simultaneously exhilarating and disturbing. It's a city whose function is to leave morality outside. A city where adults forget who they are, where they are, what time it is, how much money is worth. Many forget that they're married. In general we're a smart bunch, I think, and nobody got into any trouble (not counting losing a ton of money as trouble, of course). Still, it was a bachelor party. These are a whole bunch of friends that have known one another for a very long time. And this was in Vegas. Whenever I get home from Vegas I feel as though I've successfully crossed a canyon by tightrope. Then again, it turns out I'm pretty good at Blackjack--gambling, in my case, resulted in a free trip. As usual, it also resulted in weird conversation. I urge every grad student to try this: spend an entire night drinking and dancing in a Vegas night club, follow it with a few drinks at a random bar on the way out of the place that hosted the nightclub, and sit at a blackjack table sometime around 4:30 am. After a couple of complementary glasses of whiskey, strike up a conversation: it will inevitably result in "So what do you do?" Now try to explain what it is that we "do." Try to explain how your funding package works. It's really a very unique way of looking at this life we lead.
The moral of the story? None. I just came from Las Vegas, don't ask for morals.