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One quick update before the week starts

Right, then…

I wanted to circle back on one thing and open the topic on another, before I trundle off to bed.

In the last post, I mentioned that I signed up for, so I can locate folks to climb with at my local gym. Straight out of the chute, I connected with someone that was looking for a partner the same day and time that I was looking for, and we arranged to meet…but – well, if this were a date, I’d say I was stood up, because she didn’t show. The main point, however, is that so far, it seems that the ClimbFind app is fairly slick (human frailty, aside), so I actually look forward to calling out for climbing partners to see how well it actually works.

Also, after dinking about, I’ve decided to give minimalist running a try. Since Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) became popular, I’ve been intrigued by them. In fact, I was eyeing some at REI yesterday, but backed off when the sales guy offered to let me try on a pair. After thinking about it, I remember that a former roommate bought some “invisible shoes” (or Hurarches) that he liked, so I just ordered a pair – which are approximately 1/2 the cost of VFF’s, so if I don’t like it, I’m not out that much. Note that while I’m getting a custom pair made (I had to send them a trace of my foot), I could have just ordered a kit which consists of sole material and lacing and made my own…maybe I’ll try that with the next pair. In the meantime, I’m going to work on building up some foot muscles by walking barefoot around the neighborhood (0.5 mi or so), so I don’t inadvertently tear something out the first time I try to run on these things. It should be interesting…


I’m not interesting all the time; most times, I’m rather mundane.

Right, then…

It’s been over three months since I last posted.  There’s no good reason for this other than not much has been going on.  I was expecting to have at least a trip or two to the snow for cross-country skiing or snowboarding or something, but…well…you can’t visit the snow when there is no snow to visit.  Could I have gone camping or backpacking?  I reckon so.  But to be honest, my heart just hasn’t been in it.  I think it’s a combination of winter doldrums and work (I had a few projects in January and February that required late nights and some weekend work). 

I did get a bit of travel in, though.  The first week of February, I flew toNew Orleansto help a friend celebrate a milestone birthday.  By the by, if you haven’t been, go.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something aboutNew Orleans.  It’s funky and weird and I would never want to live there, but I like the town in a visceral sense and look forward to going back.  Does that make sense? 

Being that I don’t drink, the trip was about food.  Ye gods, the food.  We ate constantly.  Only one morning did we have something as mundane as eggs; every other morning it was beignets at Café du Monde.  Beignets – for the uninitiated – are these square puffy donut pastry things (OK – you try and come up with a better description), which in and of themselves are quite good.  Improving on that is the fact that CdM serves each order (3 beignets per order) with approximately 9 pounds of powdered sugar.  Apparently, you’re supposed to put the extra powdered sugar in your coffee, to create some sort of sugar/caffeine slurry, or something.  As I drink my coffee black, I did the next best thing which involved tearing the beignet open and filling it with the powdered sugar.

I could only do this two or three times, before my vision started to blur.  I suspect it would have taken a Geiger counter to measure my blood glucose levels. 

Thusly fortified, we set out on our daily excursion.  One day, we visited Mardi Gras world – this is where the build the floats for the parades.  Another we did a walking tour of the local graveyard (St. Louis Graveyard #1 in the Treme neighborhood).  This was surprisingly interesting.  Not so much for the fact that they bury their dead above ground due to the high water table.  Nor for the fact that these are almost considered apartments, as they need to be bought and maintained by the family.  What I found interesting is how old some of the graves are.  Additionally, I learned that folks just don’t leaveNew Orleans(something that baffled the rest of the nation during Hurricane Katrina).  That said, after visiting, I can appreciate the logic.  I don’t understand it, but I appreciate it.

As an aside, whilst in the Treme section, I saw several production trucks, ostensibly there filming for Treme.  I was looking for John Goodman, so I could ply him with a hearty “Do you see what happens, Larry?” but he was nowhere to be found.

Anyway, a subsequent trip led us to the aquarium.  Now – all in all, this is a nice facility.  The problem is, is that I’m spoiled:  My “home” aquarium is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is world-class, thus the NOLA aquarium did not really speak to me.     

Finally, we did a city tour, which involved being bussed around town (it was a nice bus) and given local history, color and humor by a native.  Of the different sections that we went through, the one that got to me was – of course – the 9th Ward. 

I have to admit that when Hurricane Katrina hit, it was one of those things like 9/11:  I can see it on CNN and I believe that it actually happened, but my mind treated it like a movie – I could never make it connect to any reality that I was in, 2000 miles away.  Seeing the 9th Ward, made a lot of connections for me.  Especially the fact that – almost 7 years later – there are still condemned houses with the USAR marks.  On some houses, you can still see the high water line.  Further, while the survivors continued on with their lives (they’re good at that in NO), they’re still hurt by it – not just the actual incident, but how and why it happened, and the complete lack of support or admission of any wrongdoing from the US Government, after the fact.  But, admittedly, they soldier on.

Soldering on is what they’re good at.  I learned something interesting while I was down there.  It’s well known that they like a good party in NO…or a bad party or anything, so long as it involves going to excess.  The reason why, I learned, is that – since its inception – New Orleans has been fraught with things that could up and kill you – Hurricanes, Alligators, disease, bugs that carry disease, invaders, murder, generalized mayhem, malfeasance and bad form – you name it.  The threat of impending death, then, led them to develop a “Laissez les bons temps rouler” (Translation) attitude.  I can’t say that I blame them. 

If you go – again, recommended – do the tours.  It helps pump money into the economy, directly to the locals who need it.

Now – back to the food.  In addition to pastry, we hit Acme Oyster house twice.  Part of our group wanted the raw oysters, the other part (the two guys, I might add) were not up for mucus on the half-shell.  Now – once upon a time, I used to eat these.  This is the part of the conversation where I remind folks that alcohol (lots of alcohol) was involved during these times.  In fact, I used to do oyster shooters when I would go down toKey West.  Since then, a friend informed me that if I had to drown something in vodka and hot sauce to eat it, that I probably didn’t like it much to begin with.  Sage words, those. 

On this trip, I “discovered” barbecued oysters.  Now – here’s my new favoriteNew Orleansfood (in addition to Jambalaya).  We had these at Acme and then at Drago’s.  For what it’s worth, Drago’s had a better flavor, but Acme’s were larger.  Regardless, both were outstanding, and came with a sauce that is dead-nuts on perfect for dipping bread in (which I strongly recommend).  In addition to the aforementioned, we also had the seafood etoufee, red beans and rice and po’ boy sandwhiches.  All classics, all good.

Being that my mind is starting to cavitate thinking about this (and that I’m not really a food writer…or I’m not really a writer at all), I’ll wrap up stating that we also had dinner at Mr. B’s Bistro (filet mignon), Muffaletta’s from the Central Grocery and a whole mess of different items at Mother’s.  All strongly recommended.

I did get out and run a couple of times while I was there.  Being a low-grade literary dork, during one run I sought and found the Ignatius J. Reilly statue in front of the old. D.H. Holmes building (it’s the Chateau Bourbon Hotel, now).  Here are several pictures that are better than the one that I took with my camera phone. 

This trip was spread out over five days, after which I had had enough.  While I had a great time, I wanted to get back on a plane and head back to the Bay Area.  Since I’ve been back, I lined up a new consulting gig, which will allow me to work closer to home.  I started taking TRX classes at Planet Granite, but I’m going to lay off of those and re-focus on climbing, again (I got out of my rut with vacation, illness and work).  I just signed up for, which should help an introvert like me find folks that want to climb during my off days…

..of course, the new gig is down near 3rd avenue in Foster City, which seems to be a popular kite boarding area…that looks like a terrifying new crack habit to get into…