It's 4 am in Vegas, where I'm attending the Netroots Nation conference.
Starbucks is closed, and I'm dying for a cup of coffee, having crashed last night at 10 (1 am for the Eastern time zone programmed into my Circadian software). Now it's 7 am for my addled brain, but 4 am for the cocktail waitresses who wear their lingerie to work, though the casino floor is still chock full of unsleepy patrons staring into the whirring, clanging and buzzing slot machines.
If I sit at one of the machines, however, they'll bring me strong cups of delicious coffee until my already-overloaded adrenals and my smoke-filled respiratory systems collapse.
And, oh yeah, there's much to tell about yesterday's LGBT pre-conference activities. Wait, let me just spin those wheels one more time. This machine is hot.
Yesterday, host Mike Rogers held a breakfast get-together for all the LGBT glitterati attending the pre-conference. I got to put a face to the name of many bloggers, like Jane from FireDogLake's LaFiga blog. After some healthy fruit, my resolution immediately gave out, and I stuffed down a delicious sesame bagel with a dose of cream cheese.
Then we processed downstairs to the conference room where we heard intros from each participant, each of whom was allowed exactly three words to express why they're at the conference. Not five, not four: three. Mike explained this was to avoid the long, turgid explanations that windbaggers like us often produced.
I agonized over my three words as the number of participants before me dwindled with alarming rapidity. I chose to choke out "Pass ENDA Now," though I don't believe that possible, but if I were there for any reason other than a free ride thanks to the generosity of the LGBT Blogger Initiative, it's that.
Wait, I have to push the SPIN REEL button every so often so they don't throw me out of here as I blog on my cellphone. I have a system. Hey, don't laugh. I won a hundred bucks yesterday when the single payline machines that my mathematically- disinclined brain prefers hit the 2x, 3x and triple bar. I was able to kill another two hours destroying that win. I'm fond of saying it's a simple regression analysis. I play only one credit at a time, despite the annoyingly insistent blinking MAX CREDIT BET button promising riches beyond belief. That way I don't blow my stash too quickly. I get a small win for a few dollars every 10 spins or so. Then I hit the MAX button and blow a dollar or so for one spin. Every 10 or so of those produces a win, and then I get a big payout, 20, 30 or even 100 dollars. The key is the "or so" qualifier that I so blithely threw into the last sentence. This intermittent reinforcement allows me to go on and on spending my money in hopes of a big payout. But the House always wins. I think Vegas and Washington have a lot in common.
So back to the conference. We heard a 5 min presentation from each organizational rep, and there was a pretty broad diversity of groups from HRC to GetEqual and everything in between. I was hauled up impromptu to give a short explanation of where ENDA's at, though I'm not part of an org. It wasn't hard, since ENDA is basically nowhere. I didn't hear anything I didn't know, but what blew my mind was the opportunity to get these disparate elements together for a civil conversation. I was very impressed with that. As Mike Rogers said to me, it's not about what I know or don't know, it's about the fact that they didn't know me, and now they do. He's a pretty smart guy, and I can roll with that.
By midafternoon, I was exhausted, and dying to go sit by the pool in the 112 degree heat, but I stuck it out as we divided into two groups, one to discuss immigration and another to discuss ENDA. Of course, I hung out with the ENDA group. I was again asked to give a rundown on ENDA and I gave a more extended analysis, and we discussed among a dozen or bloggers and org reps what we could do to make the case and move the bill. I noticed Dan Choi listening intently, made more poignant by his participation in the Tuesday GetEqual ENDA protest that shut down Las Vegas Boulevard. He's getting clobbered by the blogosphere right now, but I admire the fact that he's not going to come along quietly. We ought to be mad and throw a fit given how we've been kicked in the balls several times in the last few months on ENDA. The consensus was that we ought to be putting the stories of people who've been screwed over in the workplace front and center, like the DADT advocates did with soldiers' stories. The general public, including many in our community, don't really get why ENDA is that big a deal. Yeah, workplace discrimination is wrong, but our economy has screwed so many people -- what makes our screwing anything special? But strong men prevented from serving our country or sweet lesbians prevented from marriage -- that's just wrong.
Then I pleaded exhaustion and went to my room, where I unsuccessfully attempted to nap, so I went to the pool. It was like a sauna, but dipping in the water forestalled heatstroke long enough to make it glorious.
Time to press the SPIN REEL button again. I know I'm gonna hit it big one a these times. It's a simple regression analysis.
P.S. The pic at the top -- I hit that just as I finished this post. Do any of these machines have "ENDA" on the payout line?