Re: Las Vegas Locals

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Message posted by casper_n (Member since 01/24/2011) on April 04, 2022 at 11:33:49 PST:

I spent 8 years living in Vegas and working in the tech sector. Having grown up in Silicon Valley, I admitted to a coworker early on that I was surprised how deep the talent pool was and how many technical folks with serious chops there were in town.

He said, "Vegas has a major tech scene, it's just underground." He explained that the hotels' infosec guys were top notch, but quiet professionals, and that the Nellis Complex generates more than its fair share of very high caliber engineers and scientists.

As I stuck around for a few years, I would start to notice the type. The "quiet professional" moniker really stood out to me. There were guys that just came in, did their job, and didn't need to brag about it. You'd look them up on LinkedIn or received their resume and see some very generic information about their past employment. Some would mention military service, some would include EG&G, and it seemed like all of our hiring managers knew better than to probe too deeply.

I know for sure that three of my friends worked "up-range," which was what the military guys called "over the hill," but not one of them ever divulged a single thing. One was an air traffic controller, one handled some sort of transportation logistics and the other one when I asked him what he did for a living just said "I'm not at liberty to discuss that." Trying to make small talk at our church social gathering, I asked what he studied in college, "math and computers, but that's all I'm comfortable saying." I was new in town and didn't realize how seriously these guys take their secrecy agreements so I turned to his wife and said, "he flies to work every morning on those red and white planes, doesn't he?" And they proceeded not to talk to me again for the rest of the night.

When these guys get out, there are businesses that will scoop them up. One of my tech managers pointed out to me one day how there are an awful lot of nondescript office buildings around Las Vegas with no logos or signage on the buildings. This is not a marketing oversight. These guys don't care if you know who they are. They don't really want you to know who they are.

Again, it's just underground.

In 8 years in Vegas, I only ever heard two stories. One was from my uncle who was a sworn law enforcement officer with the SPCA prosecuting animal crimes. (He's the guy who took the circus' elephants away because they were mistreating them.) He was called to the base once in the late 80s or early 90s because wild mustangs were gathering around the runway and the Air Force wanted him to get rid of them. He believes he was chosen specifically because he had a military background (Ranger in Vietnam) so they assumed he'd follow orders. He was picked up in Vegas by a man wearing the uniform of a full-bird colonel. He said the guy reeked of spook and didn't look or act like any colonel he'd ever met. They drove to the base and my uncle spotted a terrestrial vehicle of the Vietnam era wearing an unusual skin. "Well, isn't that the weirdest looking XXX you've ever seen," he said.

"You saw nothing, sergeant!" snapped the faux colonel. "Now, what did you see?"

"Nothing, sir."

The other one was second hand from a coworker whose stepdad worked up-range. The day after the Bin Laden raid when the stealth blackhawk tail was on the news and that guy came out on Twitter posting about how he heard the helicopters fly over minutes before the raid this guy let a one liner slip. "Oh, they must have sent the old ones. The new one can hover 50 feet behind you and you'd never hear it."

So, yes, many people in Vegas (at least in the tech world) know people who work or have worked at the base. But none of them talk about it beyond maybe a quick quip with their immediate family.

In Reply to: Re: Las Vegas Locals posted by Joerg (Webmaster) on April 04, 2022 at 10:26:48 PST:


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