October 15, 2004

Tcl 2004, Days 2 and 3

Day 2 of the conference was much like Day 1, except that it rained outside. For the purposes of this blog it was of interest mostly because of an observation I made about elevators. You know how, in elevators, everybody all turns so they are facing the same way?

It ain't so.

All this week, and on other recent occasions, I've noticed a distinct tendency for people not to line up facing the same way. Instead, folks tend to stand against the wall, facing into the center of the elevator. I conjecture that although people frequently do act like sheep they don't like to be caught at it, and have become self-conscious about all turning to face the same way.

Pay attention next time you're in an elevator, and let me know if you notice the same thing.

Anyway, today was the last day of the conference, which reminds me that I should say something about the food. This year's conference was sparsely attended, due mostly (I think) to insufficient publicity--but the contract with the hotel mandated a fixed price for the food. That meant that we got more meals, and more kinds of food (and better food) at each meal. I Am Not A Foodie, but I have to say that we ate well. Two of the afternoons they gave us chocolate brownies to die for, and the dinner last night was steak and lobster, with an open bar. I didn't drink much (I never do), but I have to say I like Abita Amber, one of the local beers.

Taken all-in-all, and disregarding the food, I'd have to call this year's conference a success. A lot of good discussion went on between (and, in some cases during) the various talks, and a lot of folks who couldn't make it were able to sit in via a cobbled-together webcast.

But all good things must come to an end, and the conference wound down a little after lunch today. Dave and I fly out at 7AM tomorrow morning, so we had an afternoon and evening to enjoy New Orleans--and we worked at it. We started by walking down to the French Market, which Dave hadn't seen yet, and then up Barracks St. to Kaboom Books, where I found a copy of Allan Sherman's autobiography, A Gift of Laughter (we used to have a copy, but it's long gone) and a book by Nevil Shute (cheers to you, Ian!).

The bookstore owner suggested that we check out the neighborhood next door, Fauborg Marigny; the Quarter was getting too expensive, she said, and a lot of folks had moved down to the Marigny, which was now a lot more "real" than most of the quarter. We took a turn in that direction, and concluded that "real" == "bohemian" == "a little cruddy and smelly, if picturesque". Eschewing the Marigny, then, we walked all the way back to the west end of the Quarter, where we caught the Canal Street ferry. The ferry takes you across the Mississippi river to a part of the city called Algiers.

There wasn't much in Algiers except some pleasant if slightly seedy neighborhoods; however, we passed a comfortable hour sitting outside a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant drinking/eating "snowballs". A snowball is basically a snowcone in a big cup; the ice is shaved finer than your typical snowcone, but not nearly as finely as Hawaiian shaved ice. Then we caught the ferry back across the river and walked back along the riverfront to the French Market for dinner.

On the way, Dave was accosted by a black fellow with dreadlocks who said, "I bet I can tell you where you got those boots at."


"I bet I can tell you where you got those boots at."

"Oh, no you can't," says Dave.

"I can. Shake on it for honesty?"

So Dave shakes hands with him, and he turns to me. "And you'll shake on it as a witness, won't you?"

Having been warned about this by Clif Flynt yesterday, I just said, "Oh, I'll be a witness all right."

So our man turns back to Dave. "Now I will tell you where you got those boots at. You got those boots at the end of your feet, resting on the ground here in New Orleans."

Dave ended up paying him $20 for a bootshine, and we continued on to dinner.

Dave and I had gone to a fancy place called Sbisas on Monday night, Dave's choice, so we'd agreed that Tuesday night we'd go somewhere where I could get a good cheeseburger. Instead, a group of us went to ZydeQue for cajun barbecue; and then the hotel provided fancy dinners both Wednesday and Thursday nights. So tonight we headed to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe, right by the French Market, where I had reasonable expectations of getting a Cheeseburger in Paradise. And when we got there, things took an abrupt right turn. Instead of the cheeseburger, I ordered a local dish, red beans and rice with sausage and corn sticks, and Dave got the cheeseburger. I don't know what came over me, unless it was the margarita, except that I ordered dinner before our waitress brought me the margarita. I dunno. But it was all quite good.

And then we lumbered back to the hotel, both weary and footsore and ready for some serious alone-time before getting up at some absurdly early hour tomorrow to get on the plane. And here we are, and tomorrow I fly home.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 15, 2004 04:59 PM