Apr 14

26 minutes

The thing about New Orleans, I’ve discovered already, is that everyone wants to give you their restaurant recommendations. This is a good thing, so long as restaurant suggestions don’t play like car mechanic recommendations. Everyone has a A Guy, and they are sure he is better than every other guy. And if you don’t go to your friend’s guy … well, you’re taking your carburetor into your own hands, aren’t you?

We have a list of suggestions — not a suggestion, but lists — from at least three different people. Our friends at this conference are arriving today with similar lists. It is a remarkable thing.

One of the places we were told that we must go was a little dive bar and grill. The directions were “Go here and look across the street.” The idea being that you’d never see this place if you were looking for it:


We were told two things. First, order the macaroni and cheese, which is not on the menu, and they will treat you like locals. We forgot this instruction entirely, mostly because we were trying to work up the courage to follow the second piece of advice. The second tip was that we had to order the peanut butter and bacon burger:


The burger was, we were told, life changing. As in you will leave the place a different person. That’s a lot to say, and a lot of pressure to put on a burger. Oh, but this burger brings peanut butter and bacon to the party, too. The waitress agreed, this was a good burger. So we ordered them:


It was OK. The peanut butter overwhelmed the burger and you only occasionally noticed the bacon. It was very filling, go figure. It was a half a pound of beef with a whole lot of peanut butter. But we’d walked five miles last night. When I woke up this morning I was sore and tired and dehydrated. And then we went down to the fitness center and ran a 5K before lunch. The burger was fine, but it wasn’t something that you should order often because beef, bacon and peanut butter. So maybe it is a “when in New Orleans” thing. And you wouldn’t need it very much more often anyway.

We emerged from the place the same people. But later tonight I found myself thinking about how a peanut butter burger sounded like a pretty good idea …

This is the view from our hotel room in the Sheraton. Down that road there are some great neon signs that I’ll have to take pictures of later. The river is nearby. We found Jackson Square last night. Bourbon Street, which we haven’t even considered visiting, isn’t too far away. We’re apparently in the center of the business/tourist haven.


Now almost all of our conference friends are here. The conference begins (and my first panel presentation is) tomorrow.

I’d tell you about the place we had dinner tonight, which was also on a list from well-meaning friends, but the dining experience left something to be desired. Let’s say it this way, the meal was so weird that someone looked at a watch and wondered how long it would take us to go from getting the check to leaving the table. Consult this post’s title, above.

Apr 14

Travel day

In New Orleans, this is the Cathedral of St. Louis King of France (a minor basilica).


The first church on this site was built in 1727. In the 60 years that church stood, parishioners saw colonial children and the children of slaves baptized inside. At least a dozen people were buried inside. Change came after a fire ravaged the neighborhood in 1788. The “new” church was finally finished in 1794, and a quarter of a century later the central spire and the clock face went in. The bell still rings today. Restored in 1844 at the order of the Baroness Pontalba, the church had already seen two presidents, Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor. It was restored and rededicated in April of 1976 for the bicentennial. The church still considers “the greatest moment in the history of the St. Louis Cathedral was the visit of Pope John Paul II in September, 1987.” He celebrated an outdoor Mass for over 200,000 on the New Orleans lakefront.

I think the night shot was better:


The building next to the Cathedral is the Cabildo. It was the seat of colonial government and is now a museum. The original building was destroyed in the same fire, of course, and this one was built just before the down of the 19th century. Among other things, the Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in 1803. It was also the home of the state’s Supreme Court during much of Reconstruction.

Across the square, in our foreground, is a statue of Andrew Jackson, who looks wild and crazed on his horse. It fits.

Here’s a shot from the Tremé Brass Band.


But you really need a video of the Tremé Brass Band:

We walked five miles. We had gumbo and red beans and rice and a po’boy. We met some people from Atlanta. We saw amazing musicians on almost every street corner. It was a fine evening.

Mar 14

My ride: It felt like pneumonia without the pain

Took this while I was panting and wheezing and considering the alternative hobbies life might enjoy. I’d just gotten off my bike, the first exercise I’d had in a week since I couldn’t shake my illness and the first time I’d been on the bike for two weeks for other shameful reasons.


I’d decided late this evening that the weather was nice. It was a beautiful day. And I allowed myself to ignore my coughs and listening as I rationalized how I felt so much better, really. And I did, on the sofa, or in a chair or on the bed. I even felt good pedaling off my little neighborhood street, and then over the freeway and through the old neighborhood and all of that was fine. Right up until the first little hill, where I realized I couldn’t take any breath into my lungs.

It felt a lot like pneumonia, but without the pain, so at least there is that.

My route was going to be a simple one. A few weeks ago I saw a guy riding up the ramps of one of the parking decks and I thought That’d be fun. So I laid out a little route to get two of the parking decks. I figured this would be about six miles all told, just enough to stretch my legs and get the parking decks off my mind.

So I did the one and then the other and I thought, There are those other three parking decks … so then I had to do those. Four of them were great fun. The fifth one, the oldest one, was a bit narrow and sketchy. It has a nice view of … rooftops, though. So I sat up there and had a banana and smelled the smell of the barbecue coming from next door and looked out over the air conditioning units and satellite receivers of downtown and feeling a little like Batman, which is to say self-conscious in spandex.

About that time The Yankee texted me that she was going for a ride, so I descended the parking deck, got back on the road and had a woman almost pick a fight with me because she doesn’t understand traffic laws or how she almost hit me. She had her window down, so she heard my reaction to all of this. Anyway, I went back through another old neighborhood, by one of the city parks and up a little hill where I met the local riding group coming from the other direction. So I felt the need to make a good showing for them, standing up out of the saddle and smiling when I really wanted to be panting and moving listlessly. My legs felt OK, but it seems my lungs aren’t as over being sick as I’d like them to be.

Down another two hills and then onto the back of the local time trial route. On one end I passed my beautiful bride smiling and riding the other direction, “I know you!” she said.

So I turned around to follow her, but she was off like a rocket. Took me forever to catch her, and that was just before she got back home. Somehow my two parking deck, six-mile-or-so adventure turned into a nice 20 mile meandering course. Watching the sunset I wasn’t sure how I felt about any of it. I told her that I regretted the ride, which seemed the wrong thing to say after a bit. I’ve only regretted one ride, and that was just the abrupt and unexpected end of that particular ride, really. I didn’t regret today’s ride, just how I felt on it, and that it had been two weeks since I’d been in the saddle.

Hate when that happens.

Mar 14

The month’s workouts

Here’s what I did this month. The red is on the bike, as you can see. The dark blue is obviously running and the light blue is in the pool. It is another month without enough work, which is now not only disappointing to say, but even more so when I realize I’ve said that for several months in a row. On the other hand, I did do these things …


I just need to do more

Mar 14

Catching up

The weekly post with a week’s worth of homeless pictures. We’re making space for them as a place-holding post. Brilliant!

Our dogwood is just about ready to unfurl:


And the maple’s bloom is in progress, too. The maple seeds, or samaras, always make me smile. One year, as a well meaning and adoring child, I collected them all up and brought them to my grandmother. I was being helpful. She said she’d make them into beans that night, and she did.


It was years before I figured it out.

Our first spring-time sunset. It was about a week late, but it got here:


A closeup:


How Dewayne the balloon guy does rally caps:


They’ve shifted the paradigm for tea dispersal at Price’s Barbecue House. The containers now face the customer. And there are labels. This is a change of almost 20 years of habit for me. Maybe this is the first time they’ve done this since they opened in the 1970s. This will take some getting used to: